Two Hawkes are Better than None
She looked around cautiously, trying not to show her nervousness. She wasn't used to being nervous --at least she thought she wasn't-- but ever since she'd woken this morning, things had been... strange.
First of all, finding herself on a wild, deserted coast, rocky and dangerous-looking, for all the world as if she'd washed up from a shipwreck. There were indeed wrecked ships in the water, but the only ones visible had obviously been there for some time. She had no tent, no bedroll, no pack; just the armor on her back and twin daggers. There was a pouch at her belt but it only held some coins. A larger one on the back of the belt held some vials, flasks, and other sundries.
And she couldn't remember a damned thing.
Where had she come from? Blank. How did she get here? Blank. Where WAS here? Blank. What was her name? Irritatingly, annoyingly, terrifyingly, blank.
She felt her head; no knots. No injuries elsewhere on her body, either, although she found numerous scars. She couldn't even dredge up a memory of what she looked like! Although... she looked cross-eyed at the hair dangling in her eyes. White? Was she an elf? No, her ears felt normal.
She found a tidal pool that gave her a washed out reflection of a young-looking face. She traced the tattoos along her cheekbones curiously. It was hard to tell but her eyes looked grey. And her hair was definitely, startlingly, white. Well, at least she wasn't ugly, or old. Perhaps she'd had a shock; she'd heard that could turn a person's hair white, though she couldn't remember who said that.
She wasn't going to get any answers here. Perhaps there was a town nearby, something to jog her memory. She found a path leading away from the rocky coastline and began walking.
Now she was wandering the streets of the city the path had led her to, a city that felt eerily familiar. It was maddening! She knew the street forked ahead, and that there was a market around the next corner--and nothing else. The streets were crowded with people, and she didn't recognize a damned one of them.
She stopped abruptly. A male dwarf and a human woman were walking towards her, talking animatedly. That wasn't unusual; she'd seen many dwarves and elves. What was unusual was the shock of recognition. The woman was exotically dusky, dressed in what could only be charitably called clothing. It barely covered the minimum for public decency. The dwarf was gesturing expansively as they neared her, and she trembled, waiting for them to see her, waiting for them to say, "Hey, it's--"
They looked up--and walked by her, still talking. "Impossible! I've had hundreds of those in my hands, and they're never that size," the woman laughed.
She spun to watch them walk away. The dwarf sighed. "Would I lie about something so critical?" They disappeared into the milling mass of people and were gone.
So, they didn't know her. To her horror tears welled up in her eyes, but she couldn't fight them, or the feeling of utter desolation that threatened to overwhelm her. She began walking again, not paying attention to where she was going. She simply had to be moving.
Her vision wavered, making the view ahead of her smear in bright-colored blurs. So she didn't see the man turning away from a merchant until they collided with each other. She staggered and almost fell, but strong hands grasped her upper arms and held her steady.
"Sorry, serah, I didn't see--whoa, no need for tears!" The grip on her arms loosened, but didn't let go. The voice was deep and vibrant, with an accent that -again- felt familiar. It continued, more gently. "I'm sorry; are you all right? I didn't hurt you, did I? My sister says I'm a clumsy oaf that shouldn't be allowed to roam without a leash, but then she's usually the one that bears the brunt of my oafish behavior."
She blinked at the onslaught of words, and to clear her eyes. She found herself looking up into a craggy, handsome face framed by a shock of black hair. It fell over his forehead at a rakish angle, echoed by the short beard. Eyes of warm brown sparkled at her, crinkling at the edges as if inviting her to share the joke.
She couldn't help but smile back tentatively. "No, it was my fault. I wasn't watching where I was going." He still held her by the arms and she said more firmly, "I'm fine."
"Oh, sorry." He released her but didn't go on his way, instead eyeing her with an odd intensity. "Pardon me for disagreeing, but you don't look fine. You look," he hesitated, searching for the right word, "lost."
At the reminder her traitorous eyes filled again.
"Damn it, please stop that!" he said hastily. "Here, I have a handkerchief here... somewhere...." He rummaged frantically in his pouch for a moment before extracting a wadded lump of linen and extending it to her. "It's, ah, not that clean, I'm afraid. Didn't know I'd be encountering beautiful damsels in distress today, so I, uh... oh, take it."
She accepted it hesitantly. Beautiful? He must be trying to cheer her up. The handkerchief wasn't too filthy; she found a semi-clean section and dabbed at her eyes before holding it out to him. "Thank you."
He gestured back at her. "Keep it, please." He laid a hand dramatically over his heart. "It will give my day meaning to know that such a lovely lady carries my token." He winked outrageously.
She felt an eyebrow arch. So, he thought himself a dab hand with the ladies, did he? She'd met his type before... somewhere. But there was a cheerful, almost puppy-like eagerness to him that belied the roguish airs. "It's not a token; it's a dirty handkerchief," she said drily. "And you don't look like any knight I've ever seen." Had she ever seen any knights? Ugh, this was so frustrating!
He rocked back on his heels, hands on his hips arrogantly. "Of course it's a token; see, my initial is on it." Sure enough, in one corner mostly hidden by what looked like an ale stain, was a florid "H" picked out in red thread. "For Hawke. Garrett Hawke, that is."
She froze. Hawke?! It meant something, something importantbut what?
Mistaking her expression for awe, he grinned. "Heard of me, have you? I'm not surprised; I'm rather well-known." He looked down modestly, but the act was marred as he darted a quick look to see if she was buying it.
She'd just add it to the pile of familiar things that were driving her mad. "No, actually I was just shocked you knew Hawke started with an H."
"Ouch, that hurt!" He actually managed an injured expression. Briefly. "And what's your name? You must be new to the city; I'm sure I would have heard of a silver-eyed goddess in mortal form before now, otherwise."
Did he actually just say that with a straight face? "My eyes are grey!" she snapped, ignoring his question.
"Normally I hate to argue with gorgeous women, but I must respectfully disagree. A more plebian person than myself might possibly, vilely give such a mundane description, but I pride myself on being more eloquent, and your sparkling, scintillating orbs are most definitely, indubitably, silver." He grinned and she blinked, mesmerized by the flow of words. He didn't give her time to react. "And you didn't answer me. You admitted our collision was your fault, so you owe me. All I ask is your name."
She stared at him, wondering why her chest felt tight. The constant fear she'd kept at bay all day crashed in on her and something justsnapped. Suddenly she was angry. No, that was far too mild a description. Towering blind rage? Yes, that fit.
"I don't know WHAT my name is! I'm tired, I'm hungry, and I have had ENOUGH of this bullshit! I'm going to kill someone if I can't remember something, ANYTHING, soon!" She'd started out in a low voice, biting off each word, but by the end she was nearly screaming. She stopped, breathing hard and staring at his astonished face. Passersby were giving them a wide berth, pretending not to stare. The rage spilled out of her, leaving her drained.
"I have to go." She turned abruptly and walked away.
"Wait!" She ignored the call behind her.
He dashed in front of her, forcing her to halt or run into him. Again. He held his hands up to stop her. "You can't say something like that and just walk away."
She glared. "Why not?"
because now you've got my curiosity up! One of my few failings, I'm afraid; I have this need to investigate mysterious happenings. Sort of like a cat, I suppose; I just have to poke my nose into things. And this! A beautiful woman with no name bumps into me, steals my heart and then tries to vanish from my life?"
She stared at him, totally flummoxed. "You used 'beautiful' already," she said inanely. "If you were trying not to repeat yourself. And the 'stole my heart' line is way, WAY over the top."
He just grinned again, ignoring her comment. "Here, how about this: I'll buy you something to eat, and you can tell me your story." Without waiting for a reply, he stepped beside her and put his arm around her, urging her along.
She started to protest and he shushed her. "Now, now, no argument. You said you were hungry, and have you got anything better to do?"
Her mouth shut. No. No, she didn't. She let him guide her along the streets as he kept up a running monologue, making sardonic comments about the passersby, pointing out spots where he'd apparently routed huge gangs of thieves
she soon tuned him out, just nodding periodically. Before too long they were sitting in a quiet corner of a tavern in a better part of town than where they'd
met. He refused to let her speak until she'd eaten, not that she knew what to say.
Finally she sat back, covering her mouth to let a discrete burp escape. He grinned. He seemed to do that a lot. "Feeling better?"
She nodded. "Much, thank you." She reached for her pouch. "I can pay-"
"Nope, I insist. I invited you, so I pay. Besides, it's the least I can do for such a-"
Now she cut him off, rolling her eyes. "Please, no more flowery compliments. They aren't going to get me into your bed."
"I'm wounded that you think me so shallow! And on such short acquaintance, too." He really was very good at those expressions. She could almost believe she'd hurt his feelings, except for the hint of a devilish glint in his eyes.
She eyed him. "I know your type. You never remember a woman's name once they're out of sight, anyways."
Instead of being insulted, he laughed. "Oh, I guarantee you've never met anyone like me before. I'm unique. But, tell me your story. Maybe I can help; you never know."
She sighed, but really, why not? She related everything she knew, which didn't take long. When she finished, he sat thoughtfully for a moment. "So, you wake up on the Wounded Coast, but there's no ship."
"Wounded Coast? That sounds familiar. Is it on the Bloody Ocean?" she quipped.
He threw back his head and roared laughter. "Finally! Someone who thinks the way I do!"
"Now, that's scary," she muttered.
He ignored her comment, still smiling hugely. "I thought it should be Massive Head-trauma Bay."
"Of course, under the Scarred Bluffs, leading into the Sucking Chest-wound Sea?"
His eyes sparkled. "You're not supposed to one-up me!" He seemed pleased rather than offended, though. "Oh, and speaking of names --which, sore subject, I know-- but I have to call you something. "'Silver-eyes' is descriptive, but
She scowled. "I told you, they're grey."
He arched an eyebrow. "I can come up with even more descriptive terms than earlier," he warned. "And stop spitting at me! Reminds me of a cat that" He slapped his hand on the table, making her jump. "That's it!" He beamed at her. "Kitti!"
"Kitti?" She rolled it around in her head. It felt
not right, but not exactly wrong, either. And what did it really matter? Wasn't one name as good as another, if she couldn't remember what her real one was? "Fine. Sure."
"All right, 'Kitti', what are your plans?"
She slumped in her seat, depressed again. "I
I don't know. I've walked all over this damned city"
"Kirkwall," he supplied helpfully.
"The City of Chains?" Now where had THAT come from? She was so focused on trying to cudgel more from her recalcitrant brain she almost missed the way his mouth tightened. She growled, "I can remember that, but I can't remember my family! Or if I even have a family!" That
hurt more than she realized. "It seems that general knowledge is all still there when I think about it, but anything personal is just
gone. I see places, things, even people that I almost recognize, but it's like they're from a dream I forgot when I woke up." She slapped the table. "It's pissing me off!"
He waited while she fumed, seeming to realize that trying to calm her down would probably just piss her off more. When she threw up her hands in frustration and sat back, he leaned forward and laid his hands on the table. "I have contacts all over the city. I can ask around, see if anyone's heard of you. Shouldn't be hard; you're rather memorable." He winked and rushed on. "In the meantime, you need a place to stay. Now, don't get your back up, but my place has a few empty rooms, and" he held up a finger to forestall her, "don't give me that look, my mother lives there too, and she would tear strips from my hide if I took advantage of a
"At least you didn't say 'helpless'," she muttered. He just smirked and she eyed him suspiciously. "Why would you offer to help me? You don't even know me; shit, I don't even know me," she ended bitterly.
"I had some good news and I'm feeling generous, what can I say?" At her look he shook his head. "Maker, you're suspicious! Look, from your accent you're a fellow Fereldan. When my family" his mouth tightened again, "or what was left of itarrived here a few years ago fleeing the Blight, we had nothing but the clothes on our backs. And, of course, my brain and brawn. Now I've got it pretty good, and well, let's just say I'd like to help a countryman." He saw that she still was dubious. "Just
come with me, meet my mother, then you can decide, all right? This city is dangerous for a person alone."
Despite his assumption that she couldn't look after herself, she really didn't have to think for very long; it wasn't like she had so many choices. And his expression, like a lost puppy begging to be held, had nothing to do with it whatsoever.
She gazed around the large hall as Garrett and his mother ("Call me Leandra, dear") discussed some party they were having. By now she was almost used to the little shocks of recognition, but this was getting ridiculous! How in the name of Andraste's left tit could she know Hawke's mother?! Although something seemed a little
different. And yet he himself was a complete stranger. Surely she would have remembered such a bombastic, arrogant, smarmy, good-lookingshe stopped herself, shocked. Where had that come from?
She glanced surreptitiously at him as he argued some point with Leandra. Well, he was handsome, she wouldn't deny that. Tall, well-muscled from swinging that huge sword, and hmm, even his armor couldn't hide a very nice ass. She looked away, fighting off a blush. What the bloody blazes was wrong with her?
Interrupting her thoughts, a low growl sounded behind her and she turned to see a mabari walking stiff-legged towards her. She knelt and held out her hand, palm down. "Hey there, big guy." He sniffed it and gave her a steady, appraising look before woofing gently. She took that as an invitation to scratch behind his ears, and he promptly dropped down and rolled over on his back, begging for a belly rub. She grinned and obliged him. Looking up she caught Garrett standing over her with an odd look on his face. "What?"
"Nothing," he said hastily.
She let a smile show. "Did I pass?" She smirked at his expression. No one looked that innocent without being guilty of something. Mabaris were known to be fairly good judges of character; she didn't blame him for using the dog as a barometer.
He loftily ignored her. "C'mon Rabbit, quit bothering our guest." The mabari whined but after licking her face from chin to cheek, obediently trotted over to the fireplace to lie down. She shook her head in disbelief. Of course, he named a fierce war-hound Rabbit. As she stood, Garrett muttered something that sounded like "lucky dog".
She felt her lips curving up in a smug smile. "What, you want your belly rubbed too?" she asked archly. His gaze snapped to her face and he took a step towards her.
"Garrett," his mother called. "We still need to finalize some things." The look on his face was priceless as he hesitated, mouth open. Finally he snapped it shut, throwing her a look promising dire retribution and turned back to Leandra.
She went back to studying the house, a small smile still on her face.