I hope this letter finds you well.
I have been
a shining example honorable extra good all most of this year, and I know you will agree. I’ve been extremely mostly somewhat selfless less selfish this year, and I’ve stopped cut back on the property damage. I’m sure you know that I only started three four eight fights by myself. Surely you can’t blame me for beating up drunken lechers, right? It isn’t my fault that the other bar patrons got involved. I did my best to keep everyone safe. I only let Aveline get punched a few times and I kept Hawke from getting her lovely ass face injured. I haven’t passed out from been thrown out because of been drinking to excess as often this year, and I am sure that when you review this year, you’ll see huge significant noticeable improvement,
I think staying with Hawke has been good for me. I’ve
stopped breaking into her home uninvited started using the front door like she asks, and I haven’t carved nearly as many lewd pictures into her furniture as I would have liked. I help her when she asks, and I bone fuck have sex with comfort her whenever she needs it. I have been trying very hard not to be a selfish lover, though she makes it so easy (I mean, have you ever felt her tongue in action? You can’t blame me for just enjoying that!). I’ve also paid all most some two of my debts off, and am swindling fools working hard to repay even more. I’ve stopped cut back on cheating at cards as well, and I’ve lost engaged in fewer drinking matches to boot. I’ve even rescued several of my friends a few times this year, and hardly even made Hawke pay me back in many sexual favors at all. I helped Aveline and the city guard break a slaver’s ring, and I didn’t even charge her for it. Much. I think you’ll definitely be very proud of me for my behavior this year.
This year for solstice, I would like:
Respectfully yours Sincerely Eagerly awaiting your generosity,
So when last we left off, I had just finished preparing my legendary curried crab with powdered lavabark. It was truly a sight to behold, bubbling and steaming without any other sources of heat in the kitchen. I was exceedingly proud of myself, though I did destroy Hawke’s favorite pot to do so.
After extracting a promise from me that I would replace her pot, Hawke went to greet the guests that were beginning to arrive. I put the finishing touches on my plate and then covered it in a large silver cover before taking it out to the serving table. Once it was in place, I took note of my competition.
Aveline had brought her roast. She hadn’t carved it yet, and it was blackened on the outside. It looked like she had cooked it on a spit over an open fire, while keeping a pot of vegetables nearby. They were stewed together, potatoes with carrots and celery in a thick soup stock. Don’t get me wrong, my darlings. I like a good roast well enough, and it can certainly be delicious when prepared properly, but it’s just so… plain. There’s not much to it aside from the beef and the vegetables. No wonder on your palate, no excitement, no tingling, no sensation. Just… old and steady.
The Iron Mannequin noticed me looking over her dish and sniffed disdainfully.
Merrill’s dish, on the other hand, was a wonder to behold. It was a large wooden bowl, filled with raw and lightly grilled fruits and vegetables of various types I had never seen before. There were greens of course, but also purples, blues, yellows, reds, whites and browns. It looked like a forest in there, complete with what looked like specks of dirt and mushrooms. She was chatting with Hawke and smiling and laughing when she noticed me peeking at her offering. She waved at me with a big grin before returning to Hawke.
Hawke had set out beverages and hot buttered rolls to eat along with the main dishes. She had set out a bottle of whiskey, chilled water, a bottle of wine, and fresh milk. A platter of the candied fruit pastries Varric likes sat at the end of the table; dessert for after the meal. Varric sat at one end of the table, a clean linen napkin tied around his neck, and holding a knife and fork in each fist. He looked tremendously pleased with himself as he looked at the foods available.
"Can we get started yet, Hawke? I’m starving over here!" clamored Varric, barely containing his glee.
Hawke looked a bit skeptical.
"Are you sure this is what you want, Varric?"
"Come on, Hawke. I’ve got three beautiful women who are all waiting for me to sample their delicious cooking. What could be better than this?" he chuckled.
Hawke shrugged and patted him on the shoulder.
"Don’t say I didn’t warn you," she replied.
And so we began. We drew cards from Varric’s deck for the order, and Aveline went first. I knew something was wrong when she took up a heavy carving knife and a fork and began sawing through the meat like it was a log. Her muscles tensed, and she began to perspire as she ground that knife through the meat. It took her several moments before she finished extracting a few slices of the beef and placing them on the plates before the rest of us. The beef was a stark greyish-brown all the way through, without a hint of moisture at all. She ladled some of the potato stew next to it, but the meat seemed to somehow repel the stew away from it, rather than absorb it.
"I just made a traditional Ferelden roast of beef. It has a bit of potato stew with some carrots and celery for color, and is sure to be hearty and nutritious enough for anyone in the barracks."
All eyes were on Varric as he happily began to cut.
At first, he held his knife and fork normally, but it soon became clear that it wasn’t going to penetrate the toughened flesh on the plate. His smile faded a bit as he applied more pressure, but the meat still refused to separate. He grunted and finally managed to saw a chunk off. He looked at it, then at Aveline, who was watching him intently. The poor dwarf licked his lips and put it into his mouth, and began chewing.
While he chewed, Hawke, then Merrill began to cut their own slices some. I waited for a bit, but Varric continued to chew without words, so I started cutting my portion as well. It had to have been as tough as Aveline herself! I managed to get a small piece and put it into my mouth, and I immediately knew what was wrong with Varric. All of the saliva in my mouth was almost instantly absorbed into the meat, and my mouth felt extremely dry as I chewed on what felt like shoe leather. There wasn’t any flavor to it at all It was just… there, like I had been gnawing on my own boot.
I tried to take a bit of the potato and celery in with it in the hopes of providing something wetter into my mouth, and it was… but there was no flavor. It’s as if she had done something to draw all of the flavor out of the vegetables, and leave them as tasteless mush.
"Well?" asked Aveline eagerly.
"It’s… certainly got quite a unique texture," began Varric.
"I don’t think I’ve ever had roast beef like this before!" chirped Merrill around her beef. She was still chewing away happily.
"I’m not sure I could eat anything else after having this," said Hawke.
"It makes me feel better about my own cooking," I said.
She glared at me.
"I was only making sure it was thoroughly cooked!"
"Oh, I think it passed thorough and circled around again twice for good measure," I quipped.
Varric coughed and I swear I saw him palm something in his napkin. He had stopped chewing, in any case. Whether that meant he had swallowed or had done what was necessary, it was time to move on.
"Oh, that’s me! I made a very special elven dish called ‘Forest’s Bounty’ for you. It blends a variety of delicious things like roots, berries, leaves and even some meats. I hope you like it," said Merrill with the brightest smile on her face. She took the large serving spoon and portioned out a generous helping of her fare to each of us.
Varric took his fork and speared a chunk of something orange and put it into his mouth. The others followed suit, so I looked down at my plate.
Something was moving.
It was some sort of grub, a mealworm or something, wiggling out from under a leaf. As I looked closer, there were other bits moving inside as well.
I paused with my fork part way to the plate.
"Kitten, what are these little wiggly things?" I asked, not quite sure I wanted the answer.
"Oh, those are lifeworms! I was lucky to find enough of them, they are very nutritious and an essential part of any forest’s bounty. I managed to find a nest of them in an old tree trunk," she replied happily between bites.
"They’re… they’re alive?"
"Of course they are, Isabela. That’s how you know they’re fresh. If you let them sit for too long, they’ll begin to rot and stink," she said. "Don’t worry, there are also plenty of crispbugs and sweetgrubs for flavor too."
Aveline began choking on her bounty. Hawke and Varric both hesitantly swallowed and looked a bit green in the face.
"Do you like it?" asked Merrill.
"It’s certainly remarkable," said Hawke.
"Daisy, it tastes like it just came from the forest," answered Varric with a completely straight face.
"Thank you for sharing your food with us, Merrill," declared Aveline after her coughing fit.
"Kitten, you’ve really done it again," I answered without a hint of deception.
I was inwardly crowing. This cooking contest was already won, and I knew it. I smiled, thinking about all the unpleasant things I’d force Aveline to do in the coming week.
"Well, we’ve saved the best for last," I declared, pushing my platter toward Varric.
"You don’t get to gloat, whore. Not yet," growled Aveline.
"Please, this will set Varric’s mouth to watering," I boasted. Then I pulled the silvered lid back.
A wave of steam billowed out and hit each of us in the face. The smell of spices was so strong that it set even my eyes to watering. The curried crab was still bubbling and steaming, a cheerful golden and red mass of deliciousness.
Aveline wrinkled her nose.
"What is that?” she demanded.
"It’s my special curried crab, Madam Muscles. A wondrous delight of spices and seasoning on a bed of egg noodle," I declared.
I used a ladle and portioned out several large chunks of crab and noodle onto each plate along with a generous helping of curry sauce, before sitting back and waiting for the pleased reactions.
My friends exchanged a flurry of glances, and everyone looked intently at Varric, who was most certainly not smiling anymore. He swallowed, and then forked a piece of crab meat. He swished the tender flesh about a bit in the curry sauce, then put it into his mouth.
He chewed a bit and then swallowed.
"Hey… Not bad, Rivaini," he said.
Aveline breathed a sigh of relief, and the others each took a bite. A moment later, they all looked Varric, who was visibly sweating and frantically looking about. Hawke, Merrill, and Aveline shortly followed him, scrambling for tankards of ice water.
"What’s wrong?" I asked.
None of them could reply, but they were drinking water like their lives depended on it.
I frowned and took a bite of the crab myself. It was tender and juicy, very flavorful. My taste buds did a dance of glee, tingling with sensation. I chewed it a bit, then swallowed.
"I don’t understand. Why aren’t you saying anything?" I asked.
Then it hit me. The tingling had grown steadily stronger, until it was no longer pleasant, but a searing, burning sensation. I could feel every inch of the path that the eaten crab had taken down my belly, because every little bit from my mouth to my throat felt like it had erupted into white-hot flame. It was like molten lava in my mouth and throat. I coughed, but the introduction of air only served to fan the unquenchable flames on my tongue. The heat spread into the very air I tried to breathe, causing the inside of my nostrils and sinuses to burn, and my eyes watered as the strength of powdered lavabark curry hit me full in the face.
"It’s… It’s really spicy, but it’s good," choked out Merrill, still trying to smile as tears flowed freely from the corners of her eyes.
"Ancestors, it’s like I’ve swallowed a live volcano!" yelled Varric as he emptied his tankard again.
"What have I ever done to you to deserve this?!" wailed Aveline, as she clutched her throat.
The faces of my friends rapidly approached the color of Aveline’s hair.
Through it all, Hawke still somehow managed to keep her composure. She had walked over to the untouched decanter of milk and poured herself a glass, sipping and swirling it in her mouth slowly.
"Ancestors’ broken stones, water just makes it worse!" yelled Varric somewhere in the background.
It was hard to concentrate with the feeling of a firestorm happening inside my throat, but I managed to stagger over to Hawke’s side and take the goblet of milk she held out to me.
At first, I gulped it down as if my life depended on it, but I felt Hawke’s hand on my shoulder as I refilled my cup. The milk extinguished the flame in my mouth only as long as I held it there; as soon as I swallowed, the heat returned with a vengeance. I mimicked Hawke’s behavior, slowly swirling the milk in my mouth and holding it in my throat, and the heat gradually began to abate. I looked at her gratefully, but she had already begun pouring cups for Varric, Aveline, and Merrill as well.
For the next twenty or thirty minutes, we all sat around the table silently swishing milk around in our mouths. Aveline seemed like she was trying to kill me with her death glare, while Merrill’s eyes were dancing full of merriment, Hawke remained her ever-inscrutable self, and Varric glanced at each of us in turn taking mental notes of this event for his tales. Finally, the milk quenched the heat in our mouths enough that we could speak again.
I was the first to speak.
"So who won?"
"I did," declared Aveline.
"I thought you said no mind-altering drugs, big girl," I retorted.
"At least he could get my roast down!" she bellowed.
"My dish was flavorful and tasty!" I answered.
"What about my dish? Didn’t you like the colors?" asked Merrill.
"I was the clear winner."
"No, I was!"
"If I might interject," offered Hawke, sliding herself in between Aveline and me.
We paused our argument for a moment at her voice, though we didn’t break the stare.
"You do have a judge. Why not ask him?" she continued.
We looked to Varric. He turned and asked a muffled “wut?” through a mouthful of the pastry.
"Hawke wins. Her pastries are always the best," he said with a shrug and a dismissive wave of the hand. His stomach grumbled loudly, and he resumed eating, heedless of the rest of us.
I will say that Hawke did collect her winnings - she extracted a week of service out of each of us, each for different purposes. And I can’t honestly say that my service in particular was entirely enjoyable, but parts of it certainly were, and getting dressed up in a fancy dress is enjoyable on occasion. But that’s another story for another time.
It seems some weeks ago that I mentioned where Aveline had challenged me to a cooking contest, and Merrill had joined along as well for fun, all because of a few harmless practical jokes I had played on Aveline through her food. She had established rules. No outside help, no mind-altering drugs, and no sabotage. Varric was to be our impartial judge, and we were to each make a dish for lunch at Hawke’s.
So of course, I had dragged Hawke with me to the market to purchase a few things for my entry.
"I thought Aveline said no outside help," mused Hawke as she stood beside me, hands on hips.
I was bending over at the spice merchant’s racks, looking for the right ingredients as I replied, “She meant help cooking. I need you to help spy on her. It’s totally different, sweet thing.”
I didn’t find what I was looking for, so I had to ask the proprietor of the shop for the special ingredients I was looking for.
"Did I hear you right? Did you ask for something called ‘lavabark shavings’?"
"It’s a bit of special spice for the dish. I’m making Isabela’s Spicy Curried Crab for the contest, and it needs that extra special something to catapult it to victory."
"But… lavabark? Is that fit for human consumption?"
"Don’t worry about it, sweet thing. It’s a special kind of tree that grows in Antiva, near sites of extreme heat. Active volcanos and the like. The temperature is what makes them flourish, and the special oils in the bark shavings bring a flavor you wouldn’t believe," I replied. That’s what I had been told anyway. And if you can’t trust dockside scalawags for good cooking advice, who could you trust?
Hawke looked a bit doubtful at my answer, but she shrugged and did as I bid her. The spice merchant did have some of the stuff in stock and handed it to me in a heavy ceramic jar. The jar itself was warm to the touch, It did cost me a hefty amount of coin, but it’d be worth it for Aveline to be my slave for a week. I’d put her to work sewing up my underclothing and cleaning out my room at the Hanged Man. Polishing my daggers, bringing me drinks, and fetching the things I order through the Blooming Rose. The thought brought a smile to my face.
I did manage to purchase a basket of live Fereldan crabs. Joke if you might about the country, but they do have some absolutely delicious seafood available in the icy waters around the nation. It’s a real pity that the inhabitants are so lousy at cooking… I swear, Hawke is the only one I’ve ever met that can cook worth a damn. She must have learned elsewhere.
I managed to gather a few other special ingredients for my curry as well. Red peppercorns from Dairsmuid, fresh butter, cream, and garlic grown locally, fresh coconut milk from Rialto, a bit of spiced yogurt, and some mixed herbs. I bundled it all together, along with some fresh eggs and flour to make some noodle to go along with the dish. You ought to know that curry takes a while to cook right, so I began preparing the night before. Optimally, the curry would simmer for several hours before serving, so the plan was to prep, stay over at Hawke’s, and then finish cooking in the morning.
Hawke had dutifully agreed after some cajoling and coercion to spy on Aveline for me, so she set off to do so in the early afternoon. I started the herb and spice mix shortly after she left, combining the butter, cream, yogurt, garlic, and ground pepper first, before adding in a heavy dollop of the ground lavabark. It was the first time I had seen it before, and it certainly smelled potent. When I drew out the first spoonful, the blackened powder began smoking as soon as it was exposed to air. It smelled a bit acrid as it came out, but I was confident that the herbs and yogurt would absorb the smells it put forth. I knew it was potent stuff, but I added a second dollop of the stuff just to be sure that my curry would have enough kick.
I set the pot over some very low heat to simmer, before looking for Hawke. She hadn’t yet returned from the spy mission I had sent her on, which was concerning. How long would it take just to drop in and see what the bearded battle-axe was making? She might not be trained in subterfuge, but surely Aveline wouldn’t be so callous as to turn Hawke away, would she? I found myself in Hawke’s study, idly leafing through some dirty book or other that I had given her as a gift when Hawke finally returned. She had been out for quite a while, but she looked clean and fresh as if she had just bathed. I didn’t take uch time, and retired to her room for our nightly exertions. After she had been properly convinced to give up the goods, she told me about what Aveline was planning.
"She’s making a roast. An old fashioned cut of beef, seasoned with salt and served with some potatoes and vegetables," said Hawke after I eventually tickled it out of her. The dish was simple, crude, and bland. Just like the chef herself. I inwardly crowed in triumph as I extensively rewarded Hawke for a job well done.
The next morning, I awoke to the sound of yelling from the kitchen. I got up, bearily rubbed my eyes and realized that the simmering must be complete. I must have forgotten to tell Hawke about the process, because she was livid. So the trick to making real lavabark curry is to let it simmer overnight, where it is supposed actually eat a hole through the bottom of the pot you’re simmering it in. The metal from the pot is supposed to add a specific tang to enhance the spice of the curry, and you’re supposed to place a heavy stone bowl beneath the pot in order to catch the resulting curry sauce. That’s what the scalawags on the docks told me anyway, and if you can’t believe them, who can you believe?
Speaking of believing, can you believe that Hawke has a favorite pot? Excuse me… had a favorite pot. She was a bit displeased that her pot had been sacrificed to make the most amazing curry ever, and let me have an earful. But we were only a short time before the meal was to be served, so I took the crabs out of the icebox and quickly steamed them. Then I cracked the shells, mixed them in with the curry to ensure maximum flavor coating, and added a bit of herbal garnish to make it look prettier. The best part of the presentation was that the lavabark in the dish kept everything noticeably warm - the sauce itself would steam and bubble without a single exterior heat source.
Bodahn announced from the kitchen door that our guests had begun to arrive. I smiled to myself. Things were about to become very interesting very soon.
I promise I’ll tell the rest of the story tomorrow, my ducklings. It’s been running a bit long as is.
Hello, my lovelies. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t thought too much about this week’s derriere before. I was never much for the fantasy tales of the future and all that, and I only have a bit of a cursory familiarity with the mythos of “Erect Mass” or whatever it is. Hawke does like it, however, so I had her give me the quick and dirty. And when that was done and we were resting, she told me about this week’s character. I will admit, he does sound rather intriguing now that she’s told me some about him. And I was curious, since some of you have requested this set of hindquarters as well.
So I brought it to the attention of the knight mare, and she just asked me what I was doing in her house. So without further adieu, this week we bring you the rear of the original master biotic, Kaidan Alenko.
Isabela: Do you know much about this week’s model?
Aveline: Only what I’ve heard from Hawke. Something about the future and traveling beyond the stars.
Isabela: Right. The fellow seems reasonable enough. Well-built, nice tone, and he has a reasonable looking rear end.
Aveline: He does wear armor, I’ll grant him that. That’s more than most of these people do.
Isabela: I thought you would like that. I don’t know, I’m not feeling it.
Aveline: Really, Isabela? You had to go there.
Isabela: Well, I think it’s reasonable. Serviceable. It’s got some nice curvature to it, and looks like you could get a nice handhold on it.
Aveline: I sense a ‘but’.
Isabela: You sense a butt.
Aveline: … You’ve been saving that one, haven’t you?
Isabela: You have no idea.
Aveline: Well, what was your original point?
Isabela: Well… Nothing in particular stands out about this particular rump. It’s got all the normal qualities, but from what Hawke told me about it, there are quite a few attractive men with similar rear ends. So what makes this one so special?
Aveline: Perhaps the people who asked you about them like his in particular.
Isabela: His rear does seem to receive more adulation than others. And the rest of him too.
Aveline: He’s a nice looking man. Clean cut, takes care of himself. From what I understand, he’s also attentive and compassionate.
Isabela: You probably wish he had some thick sideburns, don’t you?
Aveline: … *coughs*
Isabela: And she blushes.
Aveline: I am not.
Isabela: I do think you are right though. One cannot look at rears in a vacuum, after all. As proper judges, we must put our hands on the entire package.
Aveline: Stop. Please.
Isabela: We should embrace how much this man’s moon moves so many fans.
Aveline: What in the Maker’s name is that?
Isabela: The depths of their devotion to his hindquarters.
Aveline: It’s unsettling is what it is.
Isabela: How so?
Aveline: It looks like something that you would do.
Isabela: For an ass I liked enough, perhaps.
Aveline: You’ve roped me into a weekly discussion on all sorts of buttocks!
Isabela: Well… yes. What’s your point?
Isabela: It really isn’t healthy to bottle things up like that, you know. You’ll burst a blood vessel or something.
Aveline: I just… I don’t even want to talk about it any more.
Isabela: Given how much the people like it, I’m inclined to be lenient.
Aveline: Oh really?
Isabela: I’d give him a roll in the hay. Glue some wool strips on his temples and you’d probably consider it too.
Aveline: *blushes* Would not.
Isabela: … if you weren’t married.
Isabela: Come now, just because I don’t always respect the rules doesn’t mean that I’m not aware they exist.
Aveline: You’ve certainly fooled me.
Isabela: That bar isn’t set very high.
Aveline: Neither are your standards.
Aveline: Can we get on with the scoring then?
Isabela: Your score was remarkably similar to mine. I thought he was pretty, but I didn’t see the thing that makes his rear so much better.
Aveline: I think I agree with you. I do think that there must be something that inspires such loyalty from his admirers.
Isabela: I look forward to hearing about why people enjoy it.
Aveline: You know, solstice is fast approaching. Will you be joining us this year?
Isabela: Well, I don’t know… Family get-togethers aren’t really something I tend to do…
Aveline: You came to our feastday festivities last year.
Aveline: Merrill is coming. You’d hate to disappoint her, wouldn’t you?
Isabela: That’s„, that’s just-
Aveline: And Hawke’s already said she’ll be coming for Solstice as well.
Isabela: Oh that just isn’t fair!
Aveline: Do you really have anywhere else to be?
Isabela: How about lounging naked on a tropical beach?
Isabela: Well, I’ll be there, as long as you can convince Hawke to make that amazing meat and cheese pie with the tomatoes.
Aveline: We’ll likely be skipping solstice week and the week after due to the festivities.
Isabela: If you have a particular ass you’d like to see us get into, please let us know.
Aveline: For the rest of you, happy holidays and a joyous solstice to all.
Apologies, my lovelies. I won’t be able to post much for the next few days, since Hawke and I are making feastday preparations. You know how it is.
big-wired: Good evening, lovely pirate queen, a personal question if I may... how did you fare in comforting Hawke after the loss of her mother? You yourself said that you're not good with feelings, but I still wonder how things fared after Leandra's death.
Andraste’s sagging mummified tits, this is a difficult question. I’m just awful at trying to deal with feelings. Whenever I am in such a situation, I tend to just… flail about awkwardly. When that happens, I tend to fall back to one (or more) of three solutions that seem to work best for me.
And… yes, that’s basically all I’ve got in my “things to do if you need to comfort a friend” toolbox. I’ve already answered what happened the night of… you may wish to read those writings to catch up, my darling big-wired, but suffice it to say that I tried to get her drunk, and… well, she’s still ok, so I guess I didn’t flub it too badly. But things for Hawke certainly did change after Leandra passed.
I only recounted the events the night of before, but it was weeks until Hawke’s smile would reach her eyes. She put on a brave face, pushed herself into her work, into battle, into running all of a thousand little chores and things at home. She began seeing me constantly, and I could swear we had more sex those weeks than was going on at the Blooming Rose. But I’ll tell you this, I know when somebody’s self-medicating. I’ve seen it happen and done it myself enough times to recognize it when I see it, and Hawke was definitely doing that.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind the sex. It was still good, and she was still an amazing lover. But there was something that was just… missing during those weeks. It’s hard to explain, but the best way I can describe it is that it made me feel good, but it just wasn’t as intense as it had been before.
Things came to a head when we gathered for the funeral. Organizing that affair took a long time. Messengers needed to be sent out, people invited, arrangements made. Not just for the casket, but for the burial plot, the mausoleum, the location, the reception, the food… it’s a rather daunting task. Hawke spared no expense, and there was a large turnout at the funeral. Varric gave the eulogy. It was quite beautiful, and he didn’t even use the words “piss” or “shit” once.
There were dozens of people at the funeral… mostly lesser nobles, people who desired to be fashionable, people trying to ingratiate themselves into the House of Amell. Hawke hadn’t yet become the Champion so the funeral wasn’t as big a deal as it would be if it happened today, but there were still enough people there to try to curry favor. It was rather disgusting at how they tried to manipulate her while she was still grieving. I chased them away as I could, and she gave me a thankful squeeze on the arm for it, but even that couldn’t stop the words from coming. One by one, our friends each paid their respects and left until it was only Hawke and I remaining by the freshly piled earth over where they had buried Leandra.
Hawke hadn’t said anything for a while. In fact, I don’t remember her saying anything at all that day… she had only shaken hands, nodded, and bowed to acknowledge people. I waited there with her, not quite sure what to say. My first reaction was to crack a joke, or maybe try to steal a kiss, but it didn’t seem appropriate in front of her mother’s grave. So I just stood there awkwardly, not really wanting to leave her there alone, and not really sure what to do otherwise. It wasn’t until then that she finally broke the silence.
"I’m all that remains," she said quietly. "There’s no one else left."
I stood next to her and raised my hand to put it across her shoulders… but couldn’t bring myself to put it there the whole way. My hand hovered for a moment, before I dropped it with a sigh.
"You’re not alone, sweet thing. We’ve still got your back," I said. Maker’s testicles, I could barely get the words out.
She leaned against me a bit, and it was all I could do to stand steady… but I could feel her body shivering against mine. I managed to place my hand at her waist, to try to comfort her.
"Magic did this," she whispered. "It’s haunted me every step of my life, hasn’t it? My father, my sister, my brother, and now even my mother. They’re all gone because of magic. Some way or another, it always comes back to that."
She pressed herself against me, and I could feel how small and cold she seemed.
"You can’t blame the magic for being the problem any more than I can blame the blades that claimed the life of my ex-husband. It’s a tool, sweet thing, just like any other," I said before mentally kicking myself. Some comfort I was. My big mouth just seemed to make things worse.
She sniffled a bit as she shuddered against me. My tunic felt damp, as I realized that she had quietly begun weeping. It was only the second time I had ever seen her cry. The first time had been the night of Leandra’s death, when I had gone to try to comfort her, with about as much success.
"If it isn’t the magic, then it’s me. I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t fast enough. I should have been there, I should have made it. I always save the day,” she sobbed.
"It’s all right, sweet thing. You can’t blame yourself. Your mother loved you, and that’s more than a lot of people can say," I said, trying desperately not to sound like a fool.
"I just feel like such a failure," she murmured.
"Your mother told you that she was proud of you before she passed. You aren’t about to make her out to be a liar," I added. I hoped to everything the Maker held dear that I had remembered Leandra’s last words correctly.
"I…" Hawke began.
"You did make her proud, Hawke. Just like you make me proud to be your… friend," I managed to stammer. It seemed like enough to satisfy her, as she clung to me and continued to cry. I really am awful about these sort of things.
We stood like that for a few hours until the sun began to set and my legs began to ache. She finally took my hand in hers, and we walked back to her estate in silence. I wondered whether I should stay with her the rest of the night, but when we arrived at her estate, she touched my cheek with her palm and thanked me for all I’d done for her. She told me that she’d be by to see me and the others at the Hanged Man later after she took care of a few things at home, and at first I was a bit nervous just letting her be by herself, but she must have sensed my concern.
She kissed me gently and murmured her thanks again, but the kiss was different. It somehow held that old quality, the same, yet different sort of intensity that she had from before. That same intoxicating feeling had returned, and that brought me a profound sense of comfort that I had been missing for weeks. It was then that I finally felt like everything was going to be alright.
They’re like me. Spongy and soft in the right places, decadently sweet on your tongue, and go right to your hips.
You mean I could waggle $5 at you and get all of that? Intriguing, indeed.
You could, but you’d only experience that bliss for a few minutes, and then I’d be gone. You’d still have the memory of the taste (and probably still feel the warmth on your tongue), but that’s all you’d be left with. At least until the next time.
Anonymous: Are either you or Hawke Superstitious
I’m not sure what you mean by superstitious. I mean… what exactly is superstition, anyway? Belief in the supernatural? My lovely, I’ve dealt with magic, demons, dragons, and all sorts of craziness. Animated statues, ancient tombs, ghosts, darkspawn, abominations, and I’ve even been to the Fade once. I’ve seen curses in action, fought sea monsters, and my current lover has been known to cause her enemies to explode into little chunks of flesh. Clearly, the realm of possibility for me is a bit broad.
When it comes to the mystical, the supernatural, and the like… I tend to use one rule of thumb - how reliable is the source? I mean, if Varric told me that reciting the Seaman’s Prayer backwards three times would ward off diseases, I’d probably tell him at length just how full of shit he is. But if Hawke or Anders told me the same? If that were the case, I’d be reciting it on a regular basis. I mean… how do I know that there isn’t some magical connection between those words and the fade spirits, or of magic itself? I don’t know how magic works, I just know that it does work.
That said, there are a few little rituals I do for good luck. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a sailor who doesn’t, really. I don’t rename a ship if I can help it, since legend holds that it invites bad luck on the ship’s crew. I stay away from certain ports during a new moon, and others during a full moon. I also like to kiss the talisman Hawke gave me for good fortune, though I must admit it looks rather suggestive and has additional connotations that I like invoking. I don’t know whether these little rituals actually have any effect, but I do them anyway.
Hawke doesn’t seem to have any sort of little rituals like that. None that I’ve seen, at least. She’s very fastidious, and spends a lot of her time reading and researching in these old, musty tomes, and then experimenting with what she finds. She doesn’t seem to subscribe to things “just because”; she likes to isolate and figure out why things happen the way they do. She’s the sort who wants to know which ingredients help deal with illness, not just mixing a bunch of them together and believing it is good enough. The rituals she does do tend to be more like… “Give Isabela a foot rub and it will make her mood better. Start with the foot rub and work your way northward for a good time.” That sort of thing.