“We can do this,” growled Treva as she slammed her hands down onto the desk that sat in the Knight-Commander’s office. It was a move she never would have dared the last time she had stood in the room for fear it would provoke Meredith into action. Now it was Cullen behind the desk, a fellow Fereldan and one of the few templars she could actually call an ally. “We just have to try.”
Cullen leaned back in the chair he’d only occupied for two days since she had stormed into the Gallows wearing her dead lover’s coat – the coat she was still wearing despite having shed her armor – and blinked at her a few times. Treva immediately took it for the confusion it was and snapped, “I support the freedom of mages but not at the cost of all of us running wild. Without my father to teach me, I would have been just one more out of control mage for you to hunt. That was one thing Anders hadn’t thought of.”
The templar’s eyes narrowed slightly at the mention of the apostate then he shook his head. “I’m not sure,” he began slowly, “that many would take kindly to the changes you propose.”
“It’s what’s needed,” she growled. “And you know it as well as I do.”
Hazel eyes focused on her for a moment then he leaned forward, resting armored elbows on the desk. Cullen frowned for a moment then said, “Freedom didn’t keep the mages in the Tower from revolting.”
Treva snorted and he glared. “Please,” she spat, not at all threatened, “don’t pretend that the Tower was freedom before things changed after the Blight. My father was a Fereldan mage, remember? I was weaned on stories of what the Tower’s idea of freedom was.” She then paused, lips pressing into a thin line, before continuing, “The only bright spot of it is that they had more freedom than any other Circle I’ve heard of before that revolt.”
Leaning forward, she pointed at the papers between them on the desk that laid out her ideas to change the Kirkwall Circle into something her father would have been proud to be part of. Something Anders, not Vengeance or Justice but the man she had wished she had truly known, would have been proud to be part of.
“Make the change,” she said, her voice dropping to a near whisper. “Please.”
Cullen watched her for a moment then Treva blinked as he asked, “How is this plan any more freedom than your life?”
She thought of what Anders had asked her – Don’t you want mages to grow up with the freedom you had – and answered, “What freedom is there when you’re always running, terrified that the next village could be the one with the templar that takes away everything you’ve ever known? I don’t want to do that. Bring them here, yes, and teach them but by the Maker taking them entirely away the families that accept magic is just wrong.”
If the answer surprised him, he didn’t show it. Cullen continued looking at her for a long moment then let out a long breath before saying, “We’ll have to do it slowly. Weeding out the last of the Commander’s supporters will be the most difficult part.”
For a moment Treva didn’t think she’d actually heard him correctly, that he wasn’t accepting her proposal to try and turn the Kirkwall Circle into the haven of protection and teaching that the Circles should have always been. She might have very well forgotten to breathe to in that moment. Then it passed and she finally straightened from the desk with a small smile twisting her lips.
“I should think you’re the Commander now.”
Cullen shrugged one heavily armored shoulder at that. “Only until the Chantry appoints someone else officially.”
Or until the Circles revolt, thought Treva. She didn’t speak that thought aloud, however, as both of them knew it was coming and that they had to keep Kirkwall from following suit. “Why let them?”
There was a long silence in answer then he asked in a haunted voice, “You’ve never seen a templar in lyrium withdrawl, have you, Hawke?” When she blinked at him, he continued, “We need the Chantry for that if nothing else.”
Treva had a sudden sickening feeling in her gut then and breathed, “Carver?”
“He’ll be fine,” answered Cullen. “Just in case things get…bad…we’ve begun slowly lessening the lyrium given to those who took their vows in the past few years. That way we can keep a close to normal amount for those that would be affected the worst.”
“Thank the Maker.” She then frowned at him as she did some quick math and realized that hewas one of those who would be affected worst. “Would the Chantry take away your lyrium supplies if they found out what we were doing?”
Silence filled the office at that, leaving Cullen watching her expectantly and Treva with a sickening lurrch in her stomach. Then she shook herself, lifted her chin, and said firmly, “Well then, Commander, I suppose we’ll have to start stocking up by other means.”
He blinked at her, mouth opening slightly in shock, then – to her utmost surprise – he began to laugh. Not a small laugh or a quiet chuckle but a full-on belly laugh that made him lean back in his chair and his armor rattle. Shaking his head, Cullen looked up at her when he finally caught his breath to say, “I should have known better than to think something like that would stop you, Champion.” Then he looked thoughtful and nodded towards the door she had slammed shut behind her when she had barged into the office. “Since it seems we’re likely to be working together for some time, you’re welcome to take the First Enchanter’s office.”
For a moment Treva didn’t know what to say in response to that. The thought of taking Orsino’s office after what had happened to him…and she wasn’t even a Circle mage!
“And I’m likely never going to officially be Knight-Commander but that’s what I’ve become,” said Cullen, making her realize she’d said the last bit aloud. “You’re the only reason the city didn’t collapse after what happened. Take the office. The mages respect you, half my templars respect you, the whole of the Guard does…Maker, Hawke, I respect you. You don’t have to take up the title, just the position.”
“You respect me even though I’m a mage?”
“The feelings I expressed about mages when we met have changed, to say the least. What you’ve done in this city has been a large part of that. So, yes, I respect you even though you’re a mage.”
Treva stared at him for a moment then smiled, decided she would leave the conversation at that. With his having agreed to what she proposed for the Circle, there would be time enough for further conversations. Inclining her head, she said, “I’ll leave you to your organizing then.”
As she turned, opening the door and starting to step out, Cullen’s voice made her pause.
“Why did you do it?”
“What are you asking?”
“Why did you kill Anders knowing it would make him a martyr?”
Pain exploded in her lower lips as she bit it and Treva unconsciously lifted a hand to the fresh patch on the black robes. It was Merrill’s work, done the night after the battle when Varric had coaxed Treva into a bed, and rather sloppy as the elven mage had been terrified she’d wake to steal the coat back. She was grateful for the patchwork, though, and even more so for the fact that it was no longer stained with blood.
Bowing her head, she answered in a broken voice, “Because he asked me to. He didn’t want to hurt anyone else.”
She turned to look at him then, blinking away tears she hadn’t truly allowed to fall in the two days since…everything. Cullen looked a little lost but he smiled despite that and said firmly, “Go home. Sleep. Mourn.” Her eyes followed his hand as he reached out to pick up her papers from the desk. “I can handle starting the work on this plan of yours. Just don’t go running away.”
The thought of running had been something Treva had been toying with over the past two days but she’d come to the conclusion that actually trying to change things as she’d inteded was a better course of action. Now, knowing Cullen would help her, running wasn’t even in her list of options anymore.
“Why?” she asked, trying to smile and joke to lighten her own mood. “Would you chase me?”
A chuckle answered her. “And drag you back to help me with this insane plan of yours.”
“You agreed to it.”
“Well, I never said I wasn’t mad.”
That made her think of Anders and Treva choked on a sudden sob, barely noticing Cullen’s stricken look. She held up a warding hand as he stood up, mumbled an apology, and ran, running as much from the embarrassment of crying in front of him as the memory of Anders.
Racing through the Gallows courtyard half-blind was not the best decision and when she crashed against an armored chest, Treva reflexively brought lightning to bear between her fingertips. There was a whisper of will pressing against her mind in response, just enough to thwart her spell, then arms encircled her in a familiar embrace. She sank into it with a sob, clinging to what she knew was templar armor and probably looking like a madwoman because of it.
“Shh,” Carver breathed in her ear as he held her up when her knees tried to buckle. “I’ve got you. I’ve got you, sister.”
Treva clung to him, sobs wracking her body and lungs until she slumped weakly in his arms, one hand moving to brace itself against his chest. She looked down at the feel of something under her palm and started to laugh as she realized her hand was lying on top of the sword emblazoned across his armor. Her lungs protested the laughter but hysteria was consuming her now and she couldn’t stop. So she clung to her brother because he was all she had left and just tried to weather the storm of emotion that had finally caught up with her.
Unconsciousness caught up as well and when she came to, she found in what she guessed was one of the templar quarters, lying on the bed with Carver and Cullen nearby. Looking at the mage bent over her, Treva licked her lips and asked, “What happened?”
“You fainted,” answered her brother, his face twisted into that look of intense worry she knew so well. “You just started laughing and then fell against me, dead to the world. If I hadn’t been holding you already…”
“Luckily you were,” interjected Cullen. His eyes flicked to her face for a moment then towards the mage that was crouched next to the bed. “Siegfried, how is our Champion?”
The mage, whose salt-and-pepper red hair was at odds with his dark Rivaini skin, lifted his head and answered, “In quite excellent health, Captain…apologies, Commander. Messere Hawke is simply in need of a good rest and she will be well again.” He then frowned and closed his eyes, letting his hand drift out over Treva’s prone body again. Tears pricked her eyes at the all-too familiar motion and Carver moved towards her and knelt, gripping her left hand in his armored one as magic washed over her.
Siegfried’s eyes opened as his hand came to hover over her stomach and he blinked before looking up at Cullen. “Commander, I…”
“Speak, Siegfried,” said the templar sternly, though concern laced his voice. “The Champion is in no danger here.”
The mage swallowed, his throat bobbing wildly, and Treva felt dread swell inside of her to nearly the same fever pitch as it had two nights before. Dark eyes locked with hers and she could clearly read the apology in them as he said, “Messere…Champion…you’re…with child.”
For a moment the room froze. Then Carver’s initial look of shock turned into anger and he snarled a string of curses that he had to have learned from Isabela. Cullen pursed his lips into a white line then he nodded as Siegfried, motioning for the mage to leave before he followed. Leaving the Hawke siblings alone.
Treva just lay there on the bed, the words rolling over and over in her mind.
Despite everything from earlier, a sob managed to burst from her chest and then she was crying, the hand Carver wasn’t holding flying up to cover her mouth. She could just barely register him speaking, saying something, then he was shifting closer to her. One armored arm wrapped carefully around her waist and he managed to rest his chin on her shoulder despite the discomfort it was probably causing him. It was the way they’d used to sleep, the twins and her, when they had been younger and all crammed into a single bed. Treva tugged at the hand he still held and when he released it she brought it up to hug him as best she could in return, fingers clutching at his gorget.
They stayed like that until she exhausted herself again and turned her head to lean against his, her lips pressed against his forehead. Then softly, quietly, he said, “I don’t think he could have done it if he’d known.”
If Treva had had any energy left, that would have started her crying again. Instead she just made a strangled noise in her throat and shook her head. “Justice wouldn’t have let him stop,” she breathed. “Not for anything.”
“I couldn’t hope for it to be Fenris’, could I? Or Varric’s? Or…well, Sebastian is too much of a prude, so I won’t even ask.”
Somehow that made her laugh and she knew that had been her little brother’s intention. Kissing his forehead gently, she found she didn’t have the voice to actually answer him. He knew what it was from her response and his arm tightened cautiously around her waist.
“Maker,” breathed Carver, “you have the worst luck, sister.” Then he lifted his head to look at her and asked, “What are you going to do?”
Too many answers tumbled through Treva’s head but she knew, in her heart, there was only one thing she could do.
Tears welling anew in her eyes, she answered, “I’m going to keep the best thing Anders’ made in Kirkwall.”
Carver closed his eyes at that and sighed before resting his chin on her shoulder again. As she moved her hand downward, idly running her fingers through his hair, he said, “I hope you know what you’re doing, sister.”
So do I, she thought as her other hand drifted down to rest on her belly. Maker’s mercy, Carver, so do I.