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March 14, 2012
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Title: My Lioness: Endings and Beginings
Author: MelpomeneTears
Game: Dragon Age 2
Characters/Pairing: Sekhmet, Carver, Bethany, Aveline, Varric
Disclaimer: Spoilers


Daggers itching in her palms she looked up at Carver.  "Are you ready?"

More than a head taller than her, his raven hair the night to her stark white day, he sneered down at her, "As ready as you are."

Her face softened, their relationship was filled with too much cruelty.  Papa would be so disappointed in them both.  She gave Carver a bit of a smile, "Don't die."

The rigid lines of his body, heavily muscled from wielding his greatsword, relaxed a little and he laughed a soft sound still tinged with a bit of bitterness but without its usual venom, "Not today."  

She couldn't read his crystalline blue eyes even though they were the mirror of her own, never could, but she hoped that he knew she loved him, and hoped that he loved her too even if they could never admit it.  His anger at her always kept them at an arm's length from each other, even now as they prepared to fight a nightmare back into the depths of the earth.

She tried to think of a time when Carver wasn't so angry at her, at the world in general, and was left at a loss.  She pushed aside the dark morass of her thoughts; there were more important things to be paying attention to right now.  

She glanced again at Carver as he held his heavy sword, the thing probably weighed as much as she did.   Lifting it from his broad shoulder he held it at the ready as rain started to fall around them.  The battlefield, over shadowed by the ancient bones of a ruin long forgotten, reeked of fear and wet dog.  The night was going to be long and cold and miserable.  Icy droplets ate the already waning light leaving the army in a murky twilight as the monsters advanced, a dark wave cresting between the trees of the Wilds.

It was only a few minutes before the orange glow of the enemies' torches lit up the sky ahead of them, a few at first then growing rapidly until there was a vast ocean of torch light rolling back across the far side of the field and flickering from the depths of the Wilds.   Sekhmet gasped, "Sweet Maker, there's a whole…a…"

"Horde?" Carver helpfully supplied, "We're in trouble now, where did your wit go dear sister?"  It was only a jest, and she was relieved he had chosen not to be cruel.  In the face of battle, death, and war they seemed to find an uneasy peace.

She wished she could be surprised that it would take such a drastic situation to quell the ever present animosity her brother held towards her.  But she wasn't, she had committed an unspeakable crime and his anger, his righteous anger was part of her penance.  So, pushing aside the lengths it took to get there she just enjoyed the simple jest, with a grin on her face she sparred back, "The same place as your humility I'd wager."  

The formidable tree that was her brother, taller than their parents and broad as any battle-hardened, lifelong soldier, flashed her a smile back.  It was a rare enough occurrence that she took a moment to treasure it.  Carver could be dour and bitter, his anger could burn like acid but he could be charming and sweet when he wanted, funny even.  Closing her eyes for a moment she gave her head a light shake, the sea of light trudging ever forward and her attention was needed back on the battlefield instead of buried under years of regret.

The soldiers around the two of them began shifting nervously belying their inexperience, but she and Carver remained still.  Long years of training and fighting together kept them calm despite the impending battle, perhaps even because of it.  And monsters were nothing new to the two of them; these ones just looked as monstrous on the outside as they were on the inside.

As the twisted black creatures marched towards them, it was the smell that got to her in the end.  Not the sight of so many torches, or even the ghastly faces she saw when the enemy was finally upon them.  It was the smell of rot and corruption and death that blanketed over the earth ahead of the Darkspawn that shook her.  She had experienced many horrifying things in her years but that smell, the pervasiveness of it, would haunt her all her life.

She and Carver slogged through the monsters cutting a large swath as those less experienced fell around them, their shrill screams all but lost in the cacophony of battle.  Sekhmet kept glancing at the Tower of Ishal in the distance waiting for the signal fire to be lit atop it.  Loghain would bring in his men from the flank and they would cut down these monsters once and for all.  And she could return home.  A victory here would give her something that Mother and Bethany could be proud of, something worthwhile.

Carver's young face, Maker he was so terribly young but already battle scarred, was twisted into a snarl as his greatsword chopped through the Darkspawn with ease flickering silver in the dull light and dripping black ichor in thick rivulets.  They were both covered in gore, hearts racing and fatigue pulling at them but as long as he could lift that monstrosity of a sword she would keep swinging her daggers.  It seemed to stretch on forever, an endless parade of nightmare creatures, the stench of the beasts and the screams of their fallen brethren interspersed with the enraged cries of the Darkspawn.

"Light damn you, light."  She gritted out between her teeth as she took down another shrieking monstrosity, the blades tied to its forearms clearly poisoned and its cries so shrill her ears rang with the sound of it.  A quick glance around her made her heart lurch in her chest, she and Carver were nearly alone on their part of the field now, just the two of them  and a still rising tide of Darkspawn.  

The two of them and Tyr, her coal black Mabari, meant as a gift for Carver to match his raven hair, but who had chosen her instead, another nail in the coffin that housed her relationship with her brother.  And he was as fearsome as any fighter she had ever seen, man or beast, and fighting with him by her side was as familiar as fighting with her brother there.

It wasn't arrogance, but experience that told her they were three of the best fighters in Ferelden.  The proof of it lay around the three of them, dying or dead already.  The knowledge was at least a little comfort to her, she wanted to believe they could survive, wanted to believe they could hold out until the reinforcements finally came.
  
Later it would strike her how well she and Carver worked in concert.  In battle, if nowhere else, the two of them got along beautifully.  When they fought together, side by side it was like dancing, like a beautifully choreographed dance of death and dismemberment.

********

Sekhmet's eyes flew open and as she took in her surroundings she groaned.  Stuck, in the hold of the ship like rats cowering in the dark, it rankled at Sekhmet Hawke, but many things did as of late.  There was nothing in the stinking hole to distract her and keep her mind off what they had just come from.  She glanced at those huddled closest to her.

Her mother was curled on the floor, she lay still as if sleeping but Sekhmet knew she was weeping silently for Carver.  Her silver grey hair was still brushed and tied back neatly even with them sitting in the bowels of this foul ship.  The cloth of her clothing was that of a peasant but the stitching was as fine as any noble woman's, hours of toil from her mother's own hands.  Sekhmet knew her mother's amber eyes would be red rimmed from crying.  

Let her mother cry tears enough for the both of them, she couldn't bring herself to weep for her younger brother, she was too angry at him and herself for not saving him.  Again, when push came to shove she was found wanting.  No, it was his own stubbornness, his hotheaded nature that got him killed.  What had he been thinking charging an ogre alone?

She sighed quietly to herself taking a slow deep breath and petting Tyr a bit to calm herself, there was nothing here to rage against.  At length she looked to Bethany.  Sweet Bethany, her little sister and Carver's twin, the mage child she had spent her life protecting, the girl was still and silent, staring into the darkness.

Sadness clung heavily to her and Sekhmet wished she could ease it.  For all of her sister's firepower there was something delicate, something fragile about her, Sekhmet hoped that Carver's death didn't leave her sister forever scarred.  She nudged Tyr a little and when the dog lifted its head to gaze at her she subtly canted her head towards Bethany.  He stood and shuffled over to Bethany laying his head in her lap and licking her hand.  Bethany didn't quite smile, but she seemed a little lighter at least.

Aveline, the ginger haired warrior woman they had run across on the way out of Lothering, sat a little away from the other three women staring up through the grate at the sky.  She hadn't said anything to any of them since she had been forced to end her husband's life to spare him a slow painful death from the corruption in his blood.  He had been weak and already dying when Aveline had put her dagger through his heart, but Sekhmet couldn't imagine it had been easy.  

Having that burden hanging over your head, that you're responsible for someone's death, someone you love, it's eats at you, can blind you and drown you if you let it.  But Aveline seemed like a strong woman, and Sekhmet had to respect her for having the strength to do it in the first place.  Bethany and Mother had both tried speaking with her, but the warrior woman had walled herself off.  Sekhmet left her alone; Aveline would speak when she was ready.

She pushed to her feet and stretched wishing she could take her boots and socks off, could stretch her feet out and to roam around barefoot but she didn't dare between the rough boards beneath her feet and the inevitable vomit from seasick passengers.  Sekhmet didn't like being confined in anyway, didn't like being caged.  It was why she had left Lothering finally, there was nothing left for her to do at home, Carver had made it clear they didn't need her anymore and she had felt like she was dying for years cooped up in the same house in the same town for all those years.

Right now what she really needed was something to keep her mind busy.  Idle she had too much time to brood, too much time to think about Loghain, the traitor who had betrayed the King and all his army leaving them to die at Ostagar.  And time to remember how she, Carver and Tyr had only narrowly escaped that bloody, carnage strewn field with their lives and only returned to their home mere moments ahead of the Darkspawn horde.
  
They had dragged Bethany and Mother from home without much chance to grab anything at all.  All they had owned and loved would be tainted, corrupted and taken by the Darkspawn now.  Never could she have imagined that she would be so grateful her whole life fit into a pack.  Her gaze wandered again to the large odd shaped and lumpy bag that lie on the floor beside her mother.  

The bag had belonged to Papa and Mother had not opened it since his death as far as Sekhmet knew.  It had been the only thing her mother refused to leave without.  So Carver had angrily grabbed it slinging it over his shoulder as he ushered Mother from their small house.  And when Carver had died Sekhmet picked up the bag, nearly as long as she was tall, and carried it the rest of the way to Gwaren.  

It was a heavy burden, filled with things she couldn't imagine and a few she could, stained with the blood of the only two men she had ever loved and chained to her aching heart.  No wonder Mother couldn't leave it behind, couldn't even speak of it as yet.  Her mother made them promises to show them what lay inside the bag when they were settled safely in Kirkwall with her family.  

Angry again, because anger was better was easier than the pain she felt, Sekhmet gritted her teeth.   Kirkwall, it was such a bad idea.  Ferelden had been bad enough with its Templars, but if the rumors were to be believed Kirkwall was crawling with them and practically run by them as well.  How was she supposed to keep Bethany safe there of all places?

Sitting back down she pulled her battered pack in front of her.  Her life had been reduced to just this bag, this small sack of leather and cloth she carried over her shoulders, but that had been a year ago and had nothing to do with the Darkspawn.  The only monsters Sekhmet had been fighting for the last year had been her own.  Impatiently, she pushed her hair back out of her face willfully ignoring any thoughts that tried to break through and slipped her hand into the soft darkness and found what she was looking for near the bottom.  

Her thin calloused fingers traced lightly over the intricately carved wood of the box.  "Papa, help me keep them safe."  She closed her eyes, the thought running through her mind over and over.  Tracing the familiar lines and repeating the well known mantra calmed her somewhat; it stilled her mind and soothed her anger.  There were no enemies here to rail against, other than herself; they had left them behind in Ferelden.

Heart soothed at least a little for now she was pulling her hand from her pack when her fingers brushed against a fine chain.  Little tingles shot across her hand as she touched the amulet.  The cost of her family's safety was this amulet and its safe delivery.  She thought briefly about not bothering to deliver it, there was something not quite right about the witch who had helped them, even the few Chasind they come across on their way through the Wilds had seemed to fear the statuesque white haired woman.  Sekhmet had never known a Chasind to show fear before.  

Aveline had called the woman a Witch of the Wilds.  Everyone knew stories about Flemeth the Witch of the Wilds.  A woman cloaked in mystery who supposedly stole your daughters and had lived for centuries.  She had flown across the wasteland that the Wilds had become in the wake of the Darkspawn as a great maroon, fire breathing dragon.  The Darkspawn closing in on Sekhmet and those who traveled with her had been charred to ash, most likely saving their lives.

They had all been surprised when she landed near them a tall, graceful and formidable looking woman.  If only she had appeared a few minutes earlier, Carver might have been saved.  But it had been Sekhmet taking down the ogre that killed her brother that had drawn the witch's attention.  Even as a woman the others stayed back from the witch.

Not that she had scared Sekhmet; it had been years since magic had scared her.  She hadn't known whether to be angry with the woman for waiting until her brother had been slain before she had swooped to their rescue or grateful that the mysterious woman saved the rest of them.  So she had fallen back on her smart mouth.  The same mouth that landed her in trouble more often than not, thankfully it amused the witch and she had agreed to help them travel to Gwaren to book passage to Kirkwall.

And so they had rolled across the blackened and tainted land.  The witch's power was like nothing Sekhmet had ever seen, she practically vibrated with it, her entire body lit up with a pale yellow light with each spell, shimmering along her skin.  And she seemed to be having a great time, peals of raucous laughter reverberated off the rocks around them as she destroyed the Darkspawn like they were pieces of kindling.

No, fear hadn't entered into Sekhmet's mind, whether because she was just too busy killing Darkspawn and protecting what was left of her family or because fear had become an alien emotion to her she didn't know.  But, the shimmering power in the amulet made her uneasy, made her want it gone as soon as possible.  It was obviously a powerful object and instead of it falling into the wrong hands she would deliver it to the Dalish elves as asked.

The Dalish were a proud people, some thought they were a fairytale so few people saw them.  Living so close to the Wilds Sekhmet had spotted them in their land ships a few times though she had never actually met one.  There were many stories of the Dalish, mostly told by city elves and servants, half of which she doubted were true.  But it was easy to believe that they had magic and had been using it for centuries without the stranglehold of the Chantry.  So she would deliver the strange pulsating amulet as asked.  Surely they would know what to do with the amulet and she didn't want to be still holding it if the witch were to come look for it.

********

Sekhmet hated Kirkwall the moment she set foot in it; it reeked of fear, destitution and repression.  The Ferelden refugees milled about disheartened and disenfranchised, denied entry to the city.  That  didn't stop the ships from offloading their passengers at a place called the Gallows, a stark place that offered little comfort and no hope.  Having quickly learned it had been a slave prison but had been turned into a Circle to house the mages of Kirkwall, anger surged through her at the thought of mages kept in a literal prison.

She could feel her teeth on edge as she looked around at the throngs of people waiting to get in, their faces showed their despair.  It was easy to tell which ones had actually seen something of the Blight, they looked haunted, their eyes like hollow pits, shuffling around listlessly.  They kept to themselves, quiet and looking nearly lifeless.

Though the city was supposedly barring any new refugees from entering it seemed you could still get into the city if you had gold enough to pay the necessary bribes.  Something most of the poor wretches would never be able to do having left their homes with only what they could carry and even selling most of that in order to book passage to Kirkwall.  And Sekhmet's family was no different, she didn't know what was in her father's bag but she doubted anything in it would be worth enough to get one of them within the city walls let alone all of them.  And she herself rarely carried more than a few silvers.

So Sekhmet bided her time, waiting as patiently as she could for her uncle to show up.  Her mother assured them that Gamlen would fix everything.  Her family, the Amells, were nobility in Kirkwall after all so as soon as he came to claim them they would be allowed to enter the city and everything would be set to rights.  Though what Sekhmet was going to do in a noble's household she had no idea.

Three days later when their uncle showed up Sekhmet cursed their luck.  The grey and washed out man was dressed in rags, not even as nice as their own clothing after weeks at sea.  His eyes were dull and his nose red, a long time drinker to be sure.  Mother didn't seem to notice, she just spilled her heart to him and he seemed reluctant, to say the least, to even hear her out.  But eventually the truth came out.

He had squandered the family fortune after his parents' deaths and didn't have the gold to buy them passage into the city.  But apparently he had fallen low enough to have dealings with suspect people who might be willing to buy their way into the city, for a price.  Ah yes, there is always a price.

Sekhmet felt Bethany's hand on her shoulder and kept her mouth shut, if only to appease her sister.  Bethany had been through enough already.  So Sekhmet agreed to speak with the smuggler and the mercenary that Gamlen had suggested.  Either of them were willing to pay the bribes for the group to get into the city, and Sekhmet was worried she knew all too well why.

Her fears were confirmed when they went to speak with the elvin smuggler, Athenril, a beautiful ash blonde woman who immediately caught Sekhmet's attention with her purple tattoos.  Even so, all she could really focus on was that their dear old uncle Gamlen had told Athenril and her cohorts about Bethany being an apostate; it was why they were willing to pay the exorbitant bribes.   Said bribes to be paid, of course, in exchange for Sekhmet and Bethany working for Athenril for an entire year essentially turning the sisters, as well as Aveline into indentured servants.   

Kirkwall was turning out to be a smashing success so far.  Even so, Sekhmet grudgingly agreed, only because Bethany did not want to force Mother to another city.  Hopefully, the year would pass quickly and they could get on with their lives.  And at least Athenril promised Bethany protection from the Templars.

********

The year passed in a blur of drudgery where Sekhmet used her skills and hid Bethany's as best as she could.  Aveline didn't stay with them for very long; she moved on to become a city guard.  Life as a smuggler didn't suit her and Athenril could have cared less, she had what she wanted, a mage on the payroll.  Sekhmet often told Bethany that she was glad to have a reason to be prowling around at night, to not be cooped up in the tiny house with Mother's disappointment and Gamlen's bitterness.

As the year came to a close Athenril proved reluctant to let her favorite team go, the Hawke sisters had earned a reputation for getting jobs done right.  Even just their name was enough to diffuse situations in some cases and that was not something that Athenril wanted to give up.  And so there were fights where Athenril tried to bully Sekhmet into taking another job for her and Sekhmet would mostly just laugh.

Everytime they thought Athenril was done and would be leaving the two of them alone she would pop back into their lives again.  After one argument where Athenril had literally dragged Sekhmet into an alley to speak with her, Sekhmet sent Bethany home and told her she would handle Athenril.  Bethany never knew what happened, but Athenril didn't try to press them into working for her again.

And though they were free of their servitude to Athenril, now Bethany had no protection besides Sekhmet.  And though she loved and trusted her sister, in a town like Kirkwall a woman like Bethany needed all the protection she could find.  And money could buy that protection, could give her something to shield herself with.

While her sister enjoyed telling stories and making jokes Bethany was listening.  She hated taverns, wasn't a big fan of drinking, but people talked when they drank.  So she listened to all of the slurred confessions and whispered rumors.  One snagged her attention, an opportunity that could just make them rich.  It could bring them enough money to afford her some protection.  An expedition into the Deep Roads, supposedly to a previously unexplored area and the rumor was they were looking for some protection to take along with them.  

She figured with their experiences in Ferelden fighting Darkspawn at Ostagar and Lothering the organizer would welcome a mage and an experienced rogue, especially since Bethany had been hearing the gossip for months about her sister and her immaculate record with Athenril.

She and Sekhmet headed off to Hightown to speak with the dwarf funding up the Deep Roads trek.  Bartrand was foul tempered with sallow skin and a permanent sneer who turned them down flat without even hearing them out fully.  He wrote them off as just two more refugees stuck in Lowtown looking for a quick way out.

Bethany felt utterly defeated; she was tired of living in fear all the time.  All her life it had been the same story, her family shielded her from the Chantry's ever present eyes.  Her family took care of any Templar who caught wind of her being an apostate.  She got to watch year after year as Papa's body became more scarred from protecting her.  Then it was Sekhmet and finally even her twin bore the scars of protecting her.

It was enough, something had to change.  But, here they were again, back to the same old story.  Without Athenril's protection the Templars could find them at any time.  And then she would have to watch her sister injured and scarred again because of her.  Or worse, they would manage to kill Sekhmet this time and she would be dragged off to live in that prison they called a Circle.  

Or maybe it would be worse, maybe the Templars would just kill them both and leave her  mother all alone in that crappy little shack with her bastard of an uncle.  She shuddered at the thought.  And Sekhmet's usual humor wasn't helping any.  She swore her sister couldn't take anything seriously.  

She was ready to lose it when a cutpurse stole the few precious coins Sekhmet carried.  A brief vision of setting him on fire right there in the middle of the Dwarven Merchant's guild flitted through her mind.  She pushed the thought aside; Sekhmet didn't need Bethany adding to her burdens.  As it turned out, their luck was about to change, an oddly cheerful dwarf got the coin purse back for them.  Pulling out a hulking monstrosity of a crossbow laden with gold he used a bolt to pin the would-be thief to a wall.  

Bethany watched him warily as he strolled up to her and her sister twirling the bolt that had so recently pinned the thief.  Tossing their coin purse back to Sekhmet he introduced himself as Varric Tethras, brother of the dwarf heading up the Deep Roads expedition.  Varric was a smooth talker, but Bethany liked him anyways.  He didn't seem oily like some men who were gifted with words.  And he was looking to form a partnership with Sekhmet, seemingly not even interested in Bethany though he knew she was a mage.

Sekhmet finally agreed to give it a try after some gentle prodding by both her and Varric.  The dwarf even offered to help them to find jobs around Kirkwall to make the coin needed for their share of the expedition.  She wondered just how bored he had to be if he was willing to do a bunch of drudgery work just to make a little coin.  He certainly didn't look like he needed the money.  

His leather duster was obviously finely crafted and she couldn't even imagine how many hours of labor went into the fine golden embroidery that decorated a large portion of his tunic.  And that crossbow, the wood looked like nothing she had ever seen, but it was all the inlaid gold on the thing that made it stand out.  It must have weighed a ton, and didn't seem very practical.

He caught her staring at him and barely batted an eye, but she felt herself blush nonetheless.  Men were still foreign territory to her, not that she hadn't had crushes before.  It had never gone beyond that though; it was too dangerous considering what she was.  It was a secret that felt too big, she had never been able to tell anyone herself.  If and when others found out it was either because they learned it from someone in her family, or because she had been forced to use her magic.

Varric seemed nice enough, a jovial man with a silver tongue and he already knew her secret, but something about him made her feel that even if she had been interested, it wouldn't be welcome.  No, not the romantic type, but he seemed a decent man.  It might be nice to have a friend she didn't have to hide the truth from.  

Once Sekhmet's decision was made Varric was clearly ready to leave.  Bethany could almost see the gears working in the man's head as he started no doubt making plans for their future together.  With a bright eyed rakish smile he invited them both to speak with him at the Hanged Man tavern later, or any time they needed him as that was where he stayed.  Dropping a wink to Bethany he turned and disappeared back into the crowd at the Hightown market.

Feeling a bit better she followed Sekhmet as she made her way back to Lowtown.  They ran into a few acquaintances along the way, Bethany hanging back as Sekhmet brokered deals Bethany wasn't supposed to know about.  Although, seeing Elegant, or Lady Elegant as it turned out, was rather nice.  If they were going to be doing any jobs that were dangerous it was nice to know they could still pick up potions from her.  Keeping Sekhmet still enough for her to make potions, let alone teach Bethany was absurdly hard, so now at least they had a reliable supplier.

Bethany tried not to look at all the things for sale at the Lowtown Market, it just depressed her bringing home the point of how truly broke her family was.  Sekhmet didn't share her opinion though and Bethany found herself in front of the weapons merchant as her big sister tried to explain the pros and cons of each of the weapons on display.
  
"Why does it matter?"  She hissed at Sekhmet irritated that she was listening to this prattle yet again.  

Sekhmet sighed a frustrated sound of her own.  "It wouldn't hurt you to learn how to fight."

"I know how to fight."  The conversation was almost second nature now; they had been having it almost weekly for a year.  

"Humor me Beth, please?  I worry about you.  Even you have your limits.  Let me buy you something and teach you how to use it."  

She could see Sekhmet was genuinely worried.  "You don't need to buy me anything, just give me one of your old weapons, its fine.  I'll try to learn, but I can't promise anything."

"It's your first weapon; it should be something special, memorable."  Sekhmet leaned over looking at the weapons before scowling.  Standing back up she looked at the man standing in the booth.  "Come on Nico, you know what I want to see."

"Show me the coin first, Hawke."

Bethany was sure that would be the end of it.  They clearly didn't have enough coin to get whatever it was Sekhmet had in mind.   She winced when Sekhmet smiled, the big one, like a large predator, the smile spoke volumes.  It said whoever was on the receiving end of it was in for a world of trouble and it almost never ended well.

"I don't need the coin, Nico.  I've got a stack of IOUs from Wicked Grace with your name on them.  So why don't you show me what I want, let my kid sister pick the one she wants and we'll call it even.  Sound like a deal?"  

Nico must have seen the smile before because he reached under the table and pulled out a beautiful wooden box.  "Get closer; I don't need the riff raff around here seeing these."  Slowly, he opened the box, it was lined in a deep green velvet and nestled inside of it were six beautiful daggers.

"Wow, what is that?  I've never seen anything like it."  Bethany had never been interested in weapons before but the daggers were truly breathtaking.

"And you likely never will again.  You know you're killing me here Hawke don't you?  These are supposed to be for my retirement."  Nico was trying not to scowl and failing miserably.

"Relax, you just hold on to these beauties for me and I'll either get the coin to buy them or I'll collect some more IOUs from you.  Go on Beth, try touching one of the handles."

Hesitantly, she reached out and gently touched the intricately carved blade.  The blade, a silvery olive color, was instantly covered in ice.  Bethany pulled her hand away, jumping back a little in surprise.  She reached out to touch another one and it erupted in flame.  A giggle bubbled out of her unbidden, she couldn't help herself they were so beautiful, so different and amazing.

Her sister was beaming, clearly pleased with herself that she had finally found a weapon Bethany liked.  She began speaking quickly, "The blades are ironbark, very strong, very light.  The handles are carved Halla horn.  And each dagger has a gem matching it to the magic it's imbued with.  Sapphire for ice, diamond for lightning, ruby for fire, amethyst for spirit, emerald for nature and the pearl is telekinetic.  Pick one, any one you want."

Only Sekhmet could have found a weapon pretty enough to entice her.  As jaded as her big sister could be she always went the extra mile for her and Mother.  And though there was nothing that could fill the hole left by her twin's death Sekhmet did her best and Bethany loved her for it.  The blade wasn't difficult to pick.

There was one spell she always felt she was weak with, it never felt strong enough or far reaching enough.  Maybe the dagger would bring her a little luck.  She picked up the dagger and ran her finger lightly over the diamond at the bottom of the hilt as lightning licked up along the blade.  Her sister was right; it was very light, almost like driftwood.  

She slipped it into her pocket as Nico closed the case and put it away.  Bethany was glad that Sekhmet seemed satisfied and left the miserable looking Nico to watch them walk away.  The day really had turned around, a new partnership, possibly a new friend, a beautiful gift and she had been able to make her sister happy as well if the smile on her face was anything to judge by.

"I'll make you a sheath for it.  Do you want a belt with it or do you just want it set up so you can add it to your own belts?"  Sekhmet was still beaming at her.

"I'll have to think about it."  She noticed Sekhmet was headed over to the armorer and decided to steer her clear.  There were things they needed to do today.

"Sis, we should get to the Hanged Man, I think Varric's waiting for us."

She paused like she was going to argue but seemed to change her mind turning and heading to the tavern.   Varric was set up in a huge suite in the back part of the tavern; it was nearly as large as Gamlen's entire house.  He greeted them warmly and bought them each a drink before sitting down with them.

You would have never known they had only met a couple hours earlier from the way Varric chatted amiably with them and laughed at Sekhmet's jokes, even the bad ones and honestly, most of them were bad.  But she felt comfortable with him, even inside the tavern.  Something about him made her feel safe and relaxed.

Eventually, he steered the conversation to the business at hand.  Varric shared some more bad news with them both, apparently not only did they need 50 sovereigns, a sum that seemed impossible, but they also needed to find an entrance to the Deep Roads before they left.  Bethany felt a bit overwhelmed but Sekhmet took the news in stride, just assuming they could do it.  For once Bethany was thankful for Sekhmet's often ill timed humor, it cheered her a little.

True to his word, Varric was a resourceful man and had heard rumors that there was a former Ferelden Grey Warden now living in Kirkwall.  Which surprised Bethany, she only knew of two Ferelden Wardens who had survived the Blight and they were both quite famous.  She was sure everyone in the city would be aware if either one of them were there.  Varric told them the Grey Wardens often went into the Deep Roads and he thought this Warden might know of an entrance.  So off the three of them went to speak with a shopkeeper named Lirene who was known to help Ferelden refugees to see if she could help them find this supposed Warden.

Lirene was hesitant to speak with them about the Warden at first, seemed the man was a mage and a healer who tended to the refugees for free.  But Sekhmet, as was her nature, gave the woman a smile and cracked one of her charming little jokes.

"Tell me he has killer eyes and a great smile and I'll marry him on the spot."

Bethany was standing behind her sister but she could picture the smirk on her face.  She also happened to agree with Sekhmet.  This healer sounded amazing, a mage like herself who was selflessly helping the refugees even though it put him into danger.  

Her imagination ran away with her, picturing scenarios as to why he had left Ferelden.  Maybe he knew some of the refugees and had come at their plea.  Maybe he had been sent on a goodwill mission.  Or maybe he was on leave from the Wardens and chose to spend his time helping his fellow countrymen who had been forced from their homes.

The shopkeeper laughed, and blushed just a little before responding, and Bethany almost missed it lost as she was in her own thoughts.  "As a matter of fact he has the eyes, but I've never seen him smile."

From there it was just a few well worded queries before they knew where to find this healer and Grey Warden.  Varric seemed pleased with Sekhmet; perhaps it was a relief that he wouldn't need to do all the talking all the time.  Her sister was more than a little gifted in that area, that was when she controlled herself and didn't let her mouth run away from her.  

As they left she was more than a little surprised when the three of them were accosted outside of Lirene's shop by other Ferelden refugees wanting to protect the healer, who Lirene had called Anders.  Sekhmet looked to Bethany, and trying not to roll her eyes at Sekhmet's assumption that she would keep the peace, Bethany calmed the group down by letting them know that she and Sekhmet were both Ferelden and just wanted to avoid the Templars.  One of these days relying on sweet innocent Bethany to diffuse a situation wasn't going to be an option, but for today it still worked.

The men tripped all over themselves apologizing before the one who seemed to be in charge bowed, "Maker Bless the reign of King Maric the Savior."

Bethany and Sekhmet watched them go, Varric standing a little off to the side before Sekhmet turned to her with a smile.  "Did you see that, refugees sticking up for an apostate?  Maybe Kirkwall's not as bad as I first thought, or," she drawled out the word, her smirk lighting up her face, "maybe I really will marry this mage on the spot if he warrants loyalty like that from Fereldens."

Bethany rolled her eyes, it was safer if her sister didn't know she was starting to fancy this strange mage she had never met.  If Sekhmet caught on she would never live it down.  "Enough Sekhmet, let's go find this boy wonder of yours."

Sekhmet nodded, "Alright, but I have to pick up something first."
First chapter of my new fanfic. If you are confused by anything feel free to ask. Some of the information (like Maric being King) is based off another fic series of mine that I wrote that spans from the beginning of Origins to shortly after Awakenings. That series is very NSFW and so is over on AO3.

I'm guessing that's going to eventually happen with this story as well, but for now it can hang out here.

And yes the three in the pic above the story are from left to right Bethany, Sekhmet and Carver.

Chapter 1: You are here.
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49
Chapter 50
Chapter 51
Chapter 52
Chapter 53
Chapter 54
Chapter 55
Chapter 56
Chapter 57
Chapter 58
Chapter 59
Chapter 60
Chapter 61
Chapter 62
Chapter 63
Chapter 64
Chapter 65
Chapter 66
Edit: Cleaned and Embellished a bit.

BTW if you're curious you can find the other series here.

As Always all characters and settings belong to Bioware, with the exception of Sekhmet's demented personality, that one's on me!
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:iconbarddoc1992:
barddoc1992 Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I saw your newest chapter today and now I have to go back and start from the beginning. Can't wait to take the journey you've written!
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:iconmelpomenetears1:
MelpomeneTears1 Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I hope you enjoy it. It's been a bumpy ride, but in the end I hope it's worth it.
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:iconijustwatchthebees:
ijustwatchthebees Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2013  Hobbyist
Great fic, loving it already! 
How should I pronounce Sekhmet though? 
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:iconmelpomenetears1:
MelpomeneTears1 Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Glad to have a new reader!  Thank you.  And it's pronounced "Sec-met"
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:iconijustwatchthebees:
ijustwatchthebees Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013  Hobbyist
You're welcome. And thank you, I apologize for my stupidity. X3 
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:iconmelpomenetears1:
MelpomeneTears1 Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
No stupidity.  It's an Egyptian name, unless you're interested in that sort of thing there would be no reason for most people to have ever seen it before!  I just liked it, and it suited her.  And I adore Egyptian mythology.
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:iconijustwatchthebees:
ijustwatchthebees Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2013  Hobbyist
Ah, that makes sense and that's pretty cool :D
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