silver_feathered_raven ([personal profile] silver_feathered_raven) wrote2011-05-13 01:23 am

Fic: The Stars Blindly Run - Chapter 3

Title: The Stars Blindly Run, Chapter 3
Previous Chapters: 1 2
Characters/Pairings: Anders, F!Hawke, Carver, Varric, Bodhan, with eventual Hawke/Anders
Rating: Pg-13
Word Count: 6525
Summary:Anders does not think that he will ever return to the Deep Roads, but, then, there are lot of things that he doesn't think he'll ever do again. In this chapter, Varric and Anders have some guy time, Carver has a bad day, and Anders and Hawke argue over the finer points of dealing with demons.


There is an ogre. And then a dragon. And there is a lot of blood and yelling, along with Hawke repeatedly kicking in the dead ogre's head as though it had done her some terrible wrong – and, in a way, it sort of has, by virtue of simply being an ogre.


That, and it had bashed Carver into a wall before Anders had managed to immobilize it, and that was not something the eldest Hawke sibling was okay with. The bashing, that is. Not the immobilizing. Anders rather thought that Hawke enjoyed seeing an ogre knocked down midstep by a well placed sheet of ice followed by a crushing prison or two.


They take a few minutes to wash the darkspawn blood from their skin – Hawke fusses over Carver, wiping at his face with a damp scrap of cloth until he snaps at her and tells her to stop coddling him. And she snaps right back, the two of them throwing words back and forth between them until the name Bethany is mentioned. After that, they are both quiet, and Carver allows Hawke to wipe away the last traces of the tainted blood.


Anders doesn't understand the two of them, does not understand these siblings and their squabbling. Justice understands even less, not understanding the concept of family, does not have anything more than the echoes of Kristoff and Aura and Anders' own memories of his mother and father to draw from.


But Justice does not much care for the youngest Hawke, disliking someone who should know so much of what mages must endure and yet does nothing. But Justice sees the world in black and white, and now that they have merged, Anders can see that as well. But he can still see things in shades of grey. He can understand a young man who has not yet found his place in the world – it had taken Anders years, after all, running away from everything that might have meant anything to him until he met Justice – and so while he can dislike Carver for many reasons, he can still understand at least a little bit of why the boy thinks as he does.


He worries about what it will mean when he stops being able to see that there are shades of grey in any situation. When he looks at anyone who does not stand with the mages against their oppressors and sees only enemies.


But Hawke and Carver are confusing, in many ways, with all the anger that fills the air between them. And yet there is some undercurrent of affection – and both of them are incredibly protective of the other, in ways that they both chafe under. Not that they both don't do some very stupid things, and Anders is honestly shocked that they have all made it out of certain situations with Hawke's magic still a secret. He hadn't been there when Hawke had confronted the Knight-Captain on the Wounded Coast, but to hear Carver tell it she had all but openly declared that she was a mage.


He remembers Cullen from the Circle in Ferelden, remembers him when he was an awkward, newly appointed Templar who turned bright red whenever certain girls would so much as glance his way, and he also remembers him in the aftermath of Uldred and how he had become increasingly volatile after what had happened to him.


That
Cullen is not the sort of Templar that Anders would have wanted to see anywhere near a mage, much less near Hawke. She might know when not to cast, but she's not the sort to curb her tongue. She speaks her mind, and when it is to defend mages – he has seen it firsthand, and while there is such...such approval, from Justice, from himself, at how she doesn't back down when she sees a mage wronged, there is also worry and even fear, because Anders, at least, understands how fine a line she walks.


In some ways, he has no idea how she has been able to evade the Templars for so long. Barring anything else, he thinks that she must be incredibly lucky.


The dragon, when it swoops down upon them as they enter a large chamber, turns out to be a bit more than they can handle, even collectively. Ogres they can take, even giant spiders – though Anders is very happy that they still had a vial of antidote left, because that could have ended very badly for him – but dragons are a bit much. It's the sort of fight that they all end up limping away from, and Anders is glad for all the lyrium around them, because without it he would probably be feeling completely drained.


They take refuge in a small alcove for a time, to exhausted to keep moving forward. Carver and Hawke slump against one another, both equally protective of the other in the moments after the dragon had caught Carver's leg in its mouth, after Hawke had been flung against a wall hard enough to knock her out. Anders has fixed them both – Carver's leg will be scarred, but he'll walk again. Hawke – well, Hawke's got a hard head, and while colliding with a wall wasn't
good for her, Anders had got to her quick enough to prevent anything from taking a bad turn. He's good at healing head injuries; spending a few months battling beside Oghren had given him ample opportunity for practice.


They're both going to be fine.


Anders, on the other hand, is exhausted. Too much lyrium and too much healing makes for a tired body and a restless mind. He's curled up by the door to the ruined room they have made camp in, pressed back against the wall, trying to will himself to sleep. But it eludes him and all he accomplishes is determining the number of stones used to make the back wall.


“Blondie, you should take your own advice and get some sleep.”


Anders glances over to where Varric sits. The dwarf had come out of the battle most intact, with only a singed coat and a few scratches that hadn't taken much effort to patch up.


“Can't sleep,” he says, his words more fragmented by his fatigue than he would like. “The lyrium won't stop singing.”


Varric's eyebrows draw together, his expression one of concern. “I've heard you say some pretty creepy things, Blondie. Justice isn't coming out to play, I hope.”


“What? No.” Anders shakes his head a bit, debating whether or not he should just use a rejuvenation spell on himself. He's done it before, gone days with minimal sleep and enough spells to keep his body from failing on him. It was something he had learned after his second escape from the Circle, when he had realized that any stops during the first few days would mean his capture. “I'm just...tired. The whole actually falling asleep thing seems to be a bit beyond my reach, though.”


“Huh. Might want to try fixing that. You look like something a giant spider chewed on.”


“Hah, hah. Witty, Varric. Real witty.”


“I try.”


There's a beat, a pause where Varric is silent and Anders watches the flicker of the little fire they have going.


“You really do look like shit, you know,” Varric finally says. Anders give a small laugh.


“Good to know you're keeping tabs on my appearance.”


“I'm serious. Am I going to have to knock you out for you to get some sleep?”


“Please, don't.”


There is silence again, save for the crackle of the fire and the constant murmur of Justice in the back of Anders' mind.


“So, Blondie,” Varric begins, and Anders allows his gaze to slide over to the dwarf. He knows that tone – it's Varric's 'I'm going to ask you a question about something you probably don't want to talk about but you're going to answer' voice. “Just why did you decide to join us on this expedition?”


Anders sighs. It's not an unexpected question – he's actually quite surprised it took Varric so long to ask. The dwarf enjoys digging for the motivating forces behind people – helps with his storytelling, he says. There have been more than a few nights at the Hanged Man – Isabela trying and failing to get him drunk – when he's heard Varric ask Hawke about one thing or another. What was her motivation behind doing something. To which Hawke would often reply that he was going to make the whole story up anyway, so why answer? But she tells him anyway, though Anders is pretty sure that she normally makes up most of it herself.


“Well, I'm a Grey Warden,” he says instead of anything more revealing of his own thoughts. “Grey Wardens and darkspawn just go together. Like kittens and balls of yarn. Or the king of Ferelden and cheese.”


“The king and cheese?” Varric raises an eyebrow at him. “You're crap at metaphors, Blondie.”


“It's a simile, thank you very much. And, for the record, King Alistair has an unhealthy obsession with cheese.”


“And you know this how?


“The Hero of Ferelden told me,” he says, just a little smugly. He'd picked up a lot of odd bits of information about the ruler of Ferelden thanks to the Commander's drunken ramblings. Not all of it was things that he was meant to hear, and not all of it was things that he had wanted to know.


“You know,” says Varric, moving about a bit, seating himself more comfortably against the stone wall, “I get the feeling that you have a lot of good stories from running around with the Wardens. You'll have to tell me them sometime.”


“What, you mean the ones the Wardens wouldn't kill me for telling?” Anders gives a dry laugh and then sobers. “Who am I kidding, the Commander is going to kill me if I ever see her again.” He mumbles the last bit to himself, but Varric still hears it.


“No love lost between you and your former commander, I take it?”


Anders shakes his head slowly. He'd like to think that they had been friends – he'd considered Nathaniel a friend, and he had been downright surly to him on more than one occasion. He and the Commander had gotten on well enough. Better than well enough.


He feels a slight surge of affection from Justice as their thoughts turn to the Warden-Commander. Yes, she had been a friend. To both of them.


“It's more that she doesn't do too well with people...leaving,” he says. Or with death, he doesn't say, but he remembers her face Varel had died. He remembers wishing that he'd been able to do something more, that he'd been there fast enough to save the man. “She's fun when she's drunk, though. At least, she is when she decides to be a happy drunk.” An odd though crosses his mind and he says it aloud before he can stop himself. “Wonder if Meredith is more fun when she's drunk. Wouldn't that be fun, getting all the Templars in Kirkwall drunk. Wonder if they'd start dancing. They've already got the skirts for it; they wouldn't have to dress up at all!”


Varric chuckles at that, but Anders's words trail off as he feels a wave of disapproval from Justice. It's only a feeling – though a strong one – with no words, but the intent is clear enough. That was not amusing. Do not do that again.


Justice does not understand humor. At least, not all of Anders' humor. And it is hard to continue to make quips and say irreverent things when there is a presence within his head that tells him not to. That disapproves of how he acts. Sometimes, it is easier to just not speak.


Varric is frowning at him now, heavy brows drawn together. “You just succeeded in getting me completely off topic. Didn't know you were that crafty.”


“It's a little known talent,” Anders says, and yawns, the bones in his jaw making a cracking sound that is loud to his ears. “I'm incredibly crafty. And sneaky.”


“You might as well answer my question. I'll stop bugging you with questions. About this topic, at least.”


He yawns again, eyes sliding shut for a moment. Maybe he'll actually fall asleep soon. “What was the question, again?”


“Why did you come on this expedition?”


Anders can most definitely feel himself slipping into sleep. “I wanted to...keep everyone safe...against the darkspawn.”


Everyone?” Varric asks, but Anders has finally fallen asleep and does not hear him.

 

*

 

They find the path they were seeking shortly after they wake, and then it is the long trek back to where Bartrand and the rest of the expedition wait. Carver is still mildly in pain, his leg twinging now and again, though perhaps that is just from him remembering it being impaled by a dragon's tooth.


He might not be the biggest fan of Anders, but the mage certainly knows how to heal, and for that he is grateful.


They've only just got back to the rest of the group when one of the dwarves – the older one who actually has a decent beard on his face - comes running up to his sister, and smiles and words of gratitude.


“I can't tell you how glad I am that you found my son, Serah Hawke,” he says, clasping his hands before him. “I shudder to think what might have happened to him if you hadn't come across him.”


“I'm glad he was safe,” Ismat tells him. “But I don't think he needed our help. He seems quite capable.”


“Oh, that he is. But we are in your debt, Serah. If there's anything you need, just let us know.”


“That's kind of you, Bodhan,” she says, looking a bit shocked by just how serious the dwarf makes this sound, how much he seems to emphasize this debt. “But there's no need.”


“I won't take no for an answer, Serah. Anything you need, me and my boy can help.”


Ismat looks a bit helpless and Carver rolls his eyes. She should be used to this by now, how she can do even the most simple thing for someone and they will start falling all over themselves to thank her properly. It's like Barlin back in Lothering used to say: Ismat got every ounce of charm from their father, Bethany got every drop of their mother's beauty, and Carver got whatever was left over.


He had thought that he would be able to make a name for himself by joining the King's army. And yet all he had gotten for that was a few scars that still hadn't faded and a long run from Ostagar home.


The expedition starts moving again, and Carver ends up talking with one of the mercenaries Bartrand had hired as part of his protection. The man doesn't speak as amazingly as Meeran does, and truth be told, Carver isn't that impressed by anyone that Bartrand has hired. Not that he's impressed by his sister's friends. Okay, that's a lie – he's very impressed by Varric's chest hair. He'd be more impressed by Anders if the man would just shut up about mages every now and again.


And if the man would stop stealing glances at Carver's sister. That would be nice. Granted, he knows better than to step in between his sister and any man, not after the last time he had thought it was his brotherly duty to do so – that had resulted in Ismat giving him a black eye and then not speaking to him for a week. He'd been thirteen at the time.


Still, he's got to admit that it's kind of nice having a Warden with them. Though they've gotten better over the past year or so, he's had nightmares about darkspawn ever since Bethany's death. They don't come every night, and some are better than others, watching his twin sister be crushed to death by an ogre is something that has never left his mind. And it is that which made him insist that he come on this expedition, even if he could have remained in Kirkwall, trying to find a path for himself in his sister's absence. Because if he found out that his last sibling had died down here, he would never be able to forgive himself.


The way around the blocked tunnel is much faster this time around, with no ogres or dragons or darkspawn swarming about, and they make good time. They run into a few more batches of darkspawn, but then there is a point where they just seem to vanish, and all they run into are shades.


They pass through caves that are no longer hallways, past veins of lyrium and crumbling stone, and eventually they make their way to an area that feels old. Well, older than what they had already traveled through. The air is stale, still, and the light comes only from lyrium and lava flows.


The first time they see the red lyrium veins, Ismat comes to a stop.


“Anders,” she says, not turning, just staring, the red glow highlighting the lines of her face. “Anders, you know more about lyrium than I do. Is this normal?”


The mage's brows are drawn close together as he leans closer to one of the veins. “I – no. There's something...different about this. It...sounds different.”


Ismat frowns, a rather confused look on her face. “Sounds different?”


Anders presses his fingers to the bridge of his nose. Carver would swear that there is the slightest glow of blue that flickers over his skin, but it is gone to quickly to be absolutely certain. Still, he knows what it means when the man starts glowing blue, and it's not a good thing. “Never mind,” he says, dropping his hand and stepping back from the lyrium. “It's not like the lyrium we saw before. That much, at least, is pretty apparent.”


But Ismat seems determined not to let the whole sound thing drop. “Anders, you can't say something like 'this lyrium sounds different' and expect me to not ask you annoying questions about it. It's not a mage thing, is it? I mean, I know I didn't have the best magical education, but I don't really remember my father saying anything about lyrium having a specific sound.”


“Could I just convince you that I never said that?” Anders tries, making some sort of pathetic face – Carver walks a little fast to pass them, so that, even if he has to hear them, he doesn't have to actually watch them.


“Nope.” Ismat is probably grinning at him, Carver thinks.


“Well, then you'll just be disappointed.” There's something quite playful about the mage's voice. Great. They're flirting over lyrium. “It's one of my secrets. Hey! Stop poking me!”


This is far worse than the time Bethany had a crush on the herbalist's son. At least she had been too shy to do any flirting then.


Sisters
.


Luckily, they arrive at the ancient thaig before he gets too annoyed at them. And then they are there, at the place this whole expedition had been set up to get to, and there's a long moment of silence where they all just stare out over the abandoned structure, at the cracked and ruined columns and the red lyrium threaded about them.


They set up camp just outside of the thaig, getting things settled before they actually begin exploring it. And though he is tired of being under the ground and practically aching to see the sun again, Carver is excited. This is an ancient dwarven thaig, older than anything he's ever seen.


“Ready to go treasure hunting, little brother?” Ismat says, coming up to his side and smiling widely. “Who knows what we're going to find here!”


“Darkspawn corpses and giant spiders,” he deadpans, and Ismat laughs.


“You're a ray of sunshine, Carver.” She claps him on the shoulder. “Come on, we've got dwarven ruins to explore!”


They don't take much with them – the bulk of their supplies are left at the camp. They take their weapons and water and food, but little else besides. Bedrolls, just in case something like the whole dragon incident happens again and they can't get back to camp for some time.


Inside the thaig is – well, it's dustier, for one, and the air smells of rot and decay – even more amazing than seeing it from the outside. Carver doesn't know a thing about dwarven architecture, but this is clearly different from what they've been traipsing through for the past weeks. Ismat keeps bounding from room to room, far more gleeful now that they've reached their destination, and she ends up finding a few bits of ancient technology that the group muses over for more time than they should, trying to figure out what it might possibly do. They give up after the third time 'nug launcher' is suggested, but her mood is infectious and everyone seems happier than they've been in days. It's almost enough to forget about the new scar on his leg.


They come to a heavy set of doors a couple of hours into searching the ruins, leading to a large room, with steps that lead up to an altar. And, when they reach it, there's another long moment where everyone just looks at what lies atop it, some strange idol that seems to be carved out of that red lyrium they've been seeing everywhere.


Carver might not be a mage, but there's obviously something wrong about it.


But Ismat picks it up and nothing bad happens and he breathes a sigh of relief. He half expected it to blow up in her face or turn her to stone or something – one can never tell with magical artifacts, or so his father always used to say when telling his outlandish tales of his adventures as an apostate on the run. A young apostate on the run, rather.


And then everything does blow up in their face. Not literally, but in more of a very tangible locking of heavy doors.


As Varric rages about his brother and tries to get the door open, Carver can do nothing but stand there numbly. They're locked in.


They're locked in
.


“Stand back,” he hears Ismat say, and he glances her way to see her whips out her staff. “Move, Carver.”


“What are you-”


Move.”


He does, and Ismat flourishes her staff. He can smell the electricity in the air, feel it on his skin, and it crackles around his sister. And then she casts it at the door.


It crashes against it, lightning dancing blue and purple and white over the metal and stone. It sparks and dazzles, but does nothing.


The pressure in the air changes now, so heavy that it almost chokes, and dust scatters around them as her magic slams against the door.


Nothing
.


“Anders, help me,” she says as she throws another spell at the door, this time stones that rebound and scatter around their feet.


“Hawke...”


“You're a better mage than me! Get over here and help.”


And she must be rattled to say something like that, he thinks, and there's a part of him that crows over her admitting something like that. At admitting she's not the best at something. The rest of him is still trying to process this, as well as the look on Anders' face which seems to suggest that he can't do anything to help with this.


He takes too long to do anything, and Ismat crosses the steps to his side and drags the older mage before the door.


Do something,” she insists. Anders' hands tighten around his staff.


“Hawke, I can't,” he says. “Magic isn't going to open this door.”


The look of panic on his sister's face is barely contained, and she turns sharply towards the door, sparks gathering around her fingers again. She's about to cast again, but Anders catches her wrist. The lightning sputters and dies on her fingertips.


Stop,” he says, voice harsh, and, again, Carver swears he can see lines of blue momentarily flare into life on his skin. “That's not going to do anything. All you're going to do is drain yourself.”


“I'm not going to be trapped in here!” his sister practically snarls, jerking her arm out of Anders' grasp.


“Hawke, Blondie's right,” Varric says, before she can resume casting. “That door's not going to open just because you threaten it with a fireball. We've got to find another path.”


“I wasn't threatening it with a fireball,” Ismat mutters, but her shoulders slump and she lets her staff fall. “I don't even cast fireballs.”


“For which everyone is glad,” Carver says. “Come on, sister. Don't you have some amazing plan to get us out of this?”


The glare she gives him is absolutely poisonous, but she doesn't say anything to him. Which is probably good, given that it would just devolve into name calling at this point.


Ismat presses a hand against her face and breathes deeply several times. “Okay,” she says. “Okay. We can do this. There has to be a way out of here.” Her head snaps up and she looks toward the altar. “A back door. There has to be a back door.”


And there is.

 

*

 

Justice is absolutely raging within his mind, and Anders' own anger is only making it worse.


What is she
thinking?


He would have expected it from Merrill; for all her sweet and adorable ways, the elf is clueless when it comes to the dangers of demons. But Hawke? She should know better, should be able to recognize a demon's trickery.


She should not be making deals with demons.


“What are you doing?” he hisses once they are out of sight of the overly eloquent profane, Justice barely contained within his skin. “That was a demon.”


“I know what it was,” she says, not pausing in her steps, and he increases his pace to keep up with her.


“Then why would you even talk to it?”


“I'm getting us out of here,” is her reply, and the part of his mind that hasn't been swept up in anger is trying to rationalize this somehow. It's the lyrium, he thinks, grasping for something, anything. She wouldn't normally do this, but she touched that idol and it had done something to her. Or she's inhaled too much lyrium dust, being in the Deep Roads so long.


She's cannot possibly have just made a deal with a demon of her own free will. She can't have.


“You should have killed it,” he insists, and she finally looks at him, jaw set, eyes narrowed.


“If you're that upset over this, go back and kill it yourself,” she tells him.


“That's not the point.”


She lets out a short breath of annoyance. “Look, I avoided a fight and got us information. We can't just throw ourselves into every possible battle. We can't afford to.”


We can't afford to make deals with demons, either!”


Hawke stops, shakes her head a bit, then turns to face him. “Anders, I didn't make a deal with it! Do you honestly think that I'm going to honor any 'deal' that I make with a demon? For Andraste's sake, Anders, I know it's a demon! I'm not going to barter my soul away!”


“You can't take the risk!”


“I can, and I will.”


He can feel Justice slipping out with his anger, far too much emotion spilling out to keep it all contained. “This is the road of a blood mage,” he says, and Hawke jerks, nearly takes a step away from him as cracks of blue light being to trace his skin.


“Stop. Glowing.” Her voice is harsh and she has shifted her stance subtly so that she stands defensively. “Either yell at me as yourself, Anders, or I will consider this conversation to be over.”


It's like fighting against the current, pulling himself back to the forefront. It's a struggle, a difficult one, but eventually Justice settles into his mind again, and when Anders comes back to himself Hawke is still standing there, blue light no longer reflected on her face.


“Can you talk to me without Justice getting involved?” she asks him, and he doesn't know how to answer that. When he doesn't answer, she just shakes her head again. “Then don't talk to me.” She pivots on her heel and continues walking.


He watches her for several moments before he follows, trying to get everything under control. Justice is nowhere near quiet, and there's a thought that circles through his head. Can't trust her anymore.


Part of him wonders why her making this...this arrangement with that demon is hitting him so hard, but that is a stupid question, even in his mind. It's for the same reason as why he joined this expedition in the first place.


She's not a blood mage
, he tells himself. We've never seen her use blood magic. She just...and that demon...she...


They keep walking, picking their way over uneven ground and through old passages, and they manage to avoid most battles. One or two profane decide to wander too close, and Hawke dispatches them without seeming to give it a second thought. Then again, none of them try to offer her anything.


Has he really misjudged her so badly?


It takes some time, but they eventually reach the area that the demon had told them of – at least, he assumes it's the area. It wouldn't put it past a demon to lie.


But even as they walk forward, there's the sound of stone scraping upon stone, and a panicked moment where they all look behind them to see something – a rock wraith, Varric says – rising up behind them, like the demon they had seen before, like the profane, but bigger.


A lot bigger.


“Oh, Maker, this is not good,” Hawke manages to say, before the creature strikes downward with the giant slab of stone that makes up one of its arms, missing her by inches. She staggers backwards, pulling her staff from her back as she does so. He sees her nearly trip over her own feet as she tries to move away.


The next strike sends both her and Varric sprawling.


“Not my sister, you bastard!


Carver rushes past him, placing himself between his sister and the monstrosity, blade brought up to catch the next strike; his feet skitter across the ground as he tries to brace himself, the rock wraith's blow so hard that Anders can see the tremors run through the boy's arms.


And then there's no time to be angry at her, only time to move and to cast, sketching a glyph before him in the air, trying to buy them some time by paralyzing the wraith.


It shakes off the magic like it is nothing but air.


It's Carver who gives them all enough time to get to their feet, to move far enough out of range that he and Hawke have the time to cast properly, for Varric to take aim and fire. The boy strikes at the rock construct, chipping away at its base. Its large stone talons swipe at him again and again, but he manages to avoid most.


Anders has never fought a creature like this before – never even seen one. He thinks he remembers Sigrun mentioning the name – rock wraith – before, some old dwarven myth used to scare children. He tries using ice – tries to slow its movements. Beside him, Hawke draws her staff through the air, a cage of white light forming around the wraith. It does little to stop it, but the combined spells slow it just enough that Carver has time to move away from it as it tries to hit him once more. He sweeps out with his sword and the wraith crumbles.


There's a moment where they all stare at it.


“Well,” says Carver, breathing raggedly. “That wasn't too bad.”


“I expected something more,” Hawke says, taking a step toward her brother. And then she stops, eyes widening. “Carver, move!


The wraith is not dead, not even close, and it coils in upon itself, rising up from the ground in a tight ball, light that is red like the strange lyrium that is all around them coalescing around it.


When it hits, none of them are ready.


It feels like his skin is one fire – something that has happened to him more times than he would like to admit, so he knows the comparison is sound – and his body bows forward, seeking some way out of the red light that fills the air. Pain covers every inch of him, but he looks up to see one of the pillars, and he thinks that the light doesn't reach there.


It hurts, but he moves, reaching behind him and grabbing Hawke by the arm and dragging her after him – Varric is too far from them, and Carver is caught in the thick of it – taking step after step until clear light breaks over his head and he stumbles forward, Hawke tumbling after him, crashing against his legs, and they slump against the cave wall.


“Carver!” she gasps out, pushing herself up, her hand pressing painfully into his midsection as she uses the leverage to get to her feet. “Carver!”


He catches her by the wrist before she can dash back out into the red light emitting from the rock wraith. “That's not going to help him, Hawke!”


“Let me go! Carver!


It's the most panicked that he has ever seen her, and from where they stand he can see both Varric and Carver writhe within the light. Anders pulls himself to his feet, still holding her, still keeping her from doing something incredibly stupid. But they're not going to make it, not if this doesn't stop, and he doesn't know if it will.


He gathers magic, directing it toward the two of them, and he can just see the healing glow that forms around them. It won't do much, but it will help.


And then, as soon as it has started, the air clears and they can move freely.


“We have to take that thing down quickly,” Hawke yells to the others as she move out from behind the pillar.


“Do you have anything more obvious to say?” Varric says, his voice strained.


“Sister, we have more company.”


There are more of the profane around them and the rock wraith is moving again. Too many – but Hawke is moving with determination now, her magic dragging at the creatures and slowing their movements, allowing for Carver and the rest to take them down as fast as possible.


They figure out the signs that tell them that painful red light is about to appear again and they rush to hiding places in those moments, and Anders uses that time to heal them all as best he can. They are growing tired fast, but the rock wraith appears to be faltering more and more, and it is only a matter of time before it falls, Hawke's magic and Carver's sword finally bringing it down.


The world tilts rather hazily before his eyes when it is done, and he feels drained and fatigued, too much magic spent over too short a time period. But they are all still standing – well, Carver is sitting, but it is more to catch his breath than because he is terribly injured. Hawke crouches beside him and the boy doesn't shove her away.