9/6: “People need stories to survive reality.”
I’m replaying Dragon Age 2 for the billionth time so please enjoy all the fanfic, i can’t help myself. also there are probably a lot of tense changes in this i can’t be bothered to pay attention to tense, jeez!!
Here’s a simple truth: People need stories to survive reality. It’s what keeps lowly serial writers such as myself in cheap Darktown ale. If my years have taught me anything, it’s that the kind of story doesn’t matter. Could be an in depth literary treatise on the state of mankind—could be Hard in Hightown. I think it’s the nature of being a story, the lure of escapism. That old story, recycled down through generations, that breathes life into the soul of a man.
Anyway. Feeling like I’m starting my own comprehensive treatise on the state of mankind, here.
I’m sitting on a cliff on the Wounded Coast and Hawke lays stretched out on the dirt beside me. It’s the sort of quintessential moment you’ll have with people that outlines that ineffable quality of your relationship. The breeze off the ocean blows cool and the sky is that perfect indecision between dusk and sunset, where the clouds are low and blue-violet and the horizon blushes pink. It smell exactly like the transition between summer and fall—you know it? I hope so, because I’ll be damned if I could describe it.
“What’re you writing?” Hawke asks somnolently, rolling over enough to bring his shoulder against my thigh. “Love stories?”
“Why yes, I’m composing several ballads devoted to the reflection of the sunlight off your biceps.”
He coughs with laughter, a sound that lets me know I startled him with my jest. It’s a sound that, through all the years we’ve known each other, never fails to make me smile. Hawke is a lot of things you’d never know from the stories, even the ones I wrote. He’s hilarious and sly and thrives on physical contact. He makes you feel like the funniest damn person in Thedas.
“Really though,” he says, and I look sideways at him. He looks just as bright and mischievous as always.
“Would it freak you out if I said I was writing about you?”
He smiles. “No. Does that make me terribly conceited?”
“Only if it doesn’t make me horrible that if you minded, I still wouldn’t stop.”
He rolls back over onto his back but keeps his arm slung companionably over my knee. I don’t mind. The way he carries on with Anders, I have my suspicions about Hawke—but he’s never given me any indication that he feels more than friendship toward me. Besides, even if he does, I’ve been propositioned by far uglier men.
I begin to write again but dusk has begun to melt into full sunset and I grow more and more preoccupied. Down the cliffs the ocean ripples, stirred by the indolent breeze, the stippled surface alight in shades of pink and orange. Across the tongue of the Waking Sea, the austere silhouette of Kirkwall rises, limned now by clouds shattered into a thousand shades of purple. I find it difficult to avert my eyes. Kirkwall isn’t a beautiful city by any means, but it has its moments.
“Mother was always telling us to enjoy beauty where you can find it,” Hawke says, voicing my thoughts. He has an eerie way of always doing that.
I look at him and he smiles.
“I don’t know what to do, now that she’s gone,” he says. “It’s like—my entire life has been this litany of protecting mother, making her proud. And now she’s gone. I don’t know what to do.”
“You know what I did when my mom died?” I say, and Hawke’s eyes flick up to find mine. “I read her the entire first novel I ever wrote, while she wasted away. And when she died, I destroyed it. Don’t be me, Hawke. Don’t tear apart everything you’ve worked for. She wouldn’t like that.”
He looks at me, and I watch the infinitesimal motion of his pupils for a long moment, both of us silent as the sun sets.
“I don’t know how,” he says. “All I know how to do is tear myself apart.”
I touch his wrist where it drapes across my knee. He twitches a little and then his fingers tighten against my calf and I notice he’s crying.
“Never fear, Serah Hawke,” I say as grandiosely as I can with my throat tightening around the words. “That’s what your gratuitously handsome dwarven friends are here for. To hold you together.”
“I have more than one gratuitously handsome dwarven friend?” he says, lifting an eyebrow.
I chuckle. “I hope not. You don’t want to make me jealous.”