Under the Blue Sky
I dunno if it was trolling or not, but an anon prompted me for Cecilia stabbing Anders and rather than ignore it since Ceci most certainly did not kill Anders after the Chantry explosion, my brain ended up running to sad territory. So I’m rolling with it. ;_;
This takes place well after the events of DA2 and was sort of painful to write.
Under the Blue Sky
“The nightmares have been getting worse.”
He said nothing for a time, as if the words had hardly reached him, blocked out by the sound of the breeze brushing past their ears, dancing across the grass in the field. He had heard her, however, and she knew it, knew that he couldn’t have missed the remark when they stood side by side, elbows faintly brushing. He was near enough that she could smell the soap he’d used to wash his face that morning even when the scent of grass and wildflowers threatened to overpower it. A sideways glance, even while brief, let her see the hasty stitching of a recently mended sleeve and the circles laying dark beneath his eyes. His exhaustion was as clear as the sky that day.
“How long have you noticed?”
The apology she heard in his voice gave her cause to reach for him, to take his hand and give it a gentle squeeze, offering a tiny reassurance. She had stayed beside him through the worst of times, had fought at his side and spared his life when voices had called out for its end. Their friendship had remained unbroken over the years no matter what had come upon them and the care she gave him, the trust, and warmth could hardly be shattered by a few sleepless nights.
“A week now. Bethany only just realized it a few days ago. You…the nightmares you have…they’ve never seemed so persistent before.”
The soft hold of her hand lingered, kept in place even longer when his fingers held back, as if silently thanking her for the concern she offered or perhaps needing the comfort the grip gave the both of them. Even with that touch, the warmth of clasped fingers and palms pressed together, he stared ahead rather than looking over to return the gaze settled on his face.
She swallowed the words threatening to lock up in her throat, attempting to fight back the desire to not ask the question burning on her tongue for fear of an answer too painful to imagine. In her heart she knew it already, knew what he would say. She’d anticipated it after he’d told her what the life of a Grey Warden entailed, dreading the passing of years since they’d left Kirkwall behind. She had expected the inevitability of what would one day come and that sense of knowing, that certainty had led her to venture out with him that day, leaving Bethany behind at their temporary home. Her sister had suffered enough without having to witness what might be coming and Anders had suffered even more.
“It’s almost time…isn’t it?” she finally asked, forcing her voice to be as strong as she could manage.
His hand slipped away, just as she knew he would slip away altogether one night in the coming days, confirming her fears with the simple absence of his touch. She knew and she hated it as much as she did the burning in the back of her throat, the ache in her eyes. The pain was familiar, signifying the tears she knew she had to fight back just as she had when she’d failed to save Carver and her mother. It was the ache of having another life she held dear slipping away while she remained utterly helpless to stop it. Cecilia was not capable of halting death even for all of the things she could accomplish. Fighting battles and a skill for diplomacy could not prevent the effects of the Taint in his body, soon to lead him in to a darkness she could not follow.
She couldn’t change what was meant to pass, but there were some paths which could be altered, even if the higher road was only marginally better.
“It doesn’t have to be the way you’ve planned it, Anders. I can…If you want it…I..”
Words failed her, tied her tongue in to knots, the offer lost on her lips when her emotions felt too strong, losing her grip on them. He turned to face her, to see the way his old friend struggled to keep the calm she’d always prided herself on, watching her hold faintly tremble around the dagger she clutched in her fingers.
He stopped himself, clearing his throat against the surprise of what she was offering, the uncertainty of accepting the relief of a death outside of the darkness awaiting him causing his own voice to falter for a moment.
“Cecilia,” he said again, the moment too important to waste calling her anything other than her seldom used first name. “Are you sure?”
He could see the sorrow of her offer in the clenched press of her teeth, in the quivering of her lips as she fought to remain the pillar of strength and support he’d come to rely on over the years. What she offered was not something to be taken lightly, hesitance making him balk in accepting what she held in her hand despite his own fear and weariness. Even in the end, when time was short for him, Cecilia stood with him, presenting more than he thought he deserved, giving him a chance for an end at her side rather than alone.
“You deserve better, Anders. No matter what you’ve come to think of yourself, no matter what you might believe, you are my friend and you deserve better. Let me be selfish. Let me give you something more than a dark cave and Darkspawn at your back.”
Perhaps it truly was selfish to plead with him, beg him to let her know that his final moments were free of confinement. She wanted to accept his parting with the knowledge that he could pass on somewhere with fresh air on his skin rather than somewhere too akin to being locked away in the Circle for her liking. He had spent far too many years imprisoned to meet his end in the same manner and when the breeze passed over them with renewed strength, reminding him of where they stood, his choice became clear.
Cecilia hadn’t expected the graze of his lips against her cheek as a silent farewell or the tight hold of his arms embracing her, squeezing her close for a moment before his grasp became loose to give her room to move. He’d bent his head down, leaning when he was so much taller than her to keep his cheek pressed where his lips had briefly touched, the feathers on his coat dancing before her eyes as the roughness of his unshaven face grazed her skin with some of the last breaths she knew he’d take.
The whisper helped her steel her nerves, allowed her to steady the shaking of her hand long enough to make certain her grip would stay firm. Her vision began to swim before the blade sank in to him, pressing deep until she felt the warmth of his blood on her fingers, dripping to the ground. Anders hardly tensed no matter how great the pain may have been, accepting it, embracing an end more peaceful than he’d ever hoped to deserve. It was slow easing him to the ground, mage and rogue alike lowering to their knees until Cecilia could lay him on his back, cushioned by the softness of the grass. The green blades caught her dagger when she pulled it free, casting it aside where it would be left behind once her friend had truly gone; a weapon she knew she’d never be able to use again. Not when the blood of a companion would stain it forever in her mind.
She could hear the weakness in her own voice, heard it breaking as she spoke his name and looked upon his face instead of the wound she’d inflicted. It was there, clearly seen in the blood spotting his smile as he looked at her, reassuring her with one look that it was all right, that what she’d done for him was all right even though it didn’t fully feel that way. Merciful though it may have been, she would always be the woman who had killed a friend simply to spare him a more painful death. It may have been for the best, but she knew the wound she’d inflicted on herself would never truly heal. No matter the reason or cause, losing someone she held dear would never fail to hurt or scar, and when he took hold of her hand the tears she’d been holding back fell freely.
Anders looked above him and in the few remaining moments of his life, with a spring breeze on his face and the sobs of a true friend beside him, he saw his last blue sky.
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