“Oh, come on, Aly! Don’t be such a killjoy, it’s a beautiful day.” Bethany grabbed her hand and pulled her further down the path leading to the clearing. “We’re having a picnic and there is no moping allowed!”
Alyssa rolled her eyes and faked a smile. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. That she shouldn’t be here.
She shook her head. Lothering was her home so why was it feeling so foreign and unfamiliar?
“You heard Bethany, sister. No frowning allowed!”
Alyssa glared at her younger brother. “He says as he frowns…”
Carver shrugged and Alyssa struggled to keep smiling. Something was definitely wrong. It wasn’t like Carver to avoid a fight with her. And she still couldn’t shake the feeling they shouldn’t be here. None of them. That Carver and her had gone their different ways and Bethany… Something cold and heavy suddenly dropped from her throat to her stomach. Something had happened to Bethany. Something terrible. But what? And how?
“Oh look!” Bethany’s joyful voice interrupted her train of thoughts. “Everyone is here already!”
Alyssa blinked a couple times before taking in the scene in front of her. All her friends were there. Aveline and Wesley sitting together in deep conversation, Anders sitting a bit aside from the others and playing with a small animal, probably a cat. Varric and Fenris playing cards around a bottle of wine while Merrill was braiding daisies into Isabela’s hair.
It was… disconcerting. To say the least. Everyone seemed to be lazily enjoying some quiet, relaxing time. It was perfect. A little too perfect!
“Careful, Hawke!” Another voice full of laughter interrupting her thoughts, Varric’s this time. “You don’t want that frown to become permanent or you’ll end up like Broody here!”
“Haha! Very funny, dwarf!” Fenris tapped the ground next to him. “Why aren’t you joining us, Hawke?”
Alyssa slowly started making her way to the group, focusing. As lovely as this all seemed, it was wrong. It wasn’t like her friends to sit all together so peacefully. Isabela was too quiet, Anders wasn’t angry enough, and Fenris… The last time Fenris had spoken to her was when he had fled her bedroom after their first night together. She paused as her heart skipped a beat. That was three days ago. In her mansion in Kirkwall.
Varric raised an eyebrow at her and laughed. “What’s wrong, Hawke? Don’t tell me you’ve gotten shy now!”
“Me? Shy?? Don’t kid yourself Varric! I’ll grow shy the day you’ll grow a beard!” She took another step as the pieces slowly started to fit together.
Carver had become a Grey Warden, fighting darkspawn away from Ferelden. Away from the Free Marches. And Wesley had died of the blight all those years ago when Lothering… When Lothering had been destroyed. Her heart skipped another beat. Bethany had died that day too. The memory of her broken, bloodied body in their mother’s arms flashed before her eyes.
Alyssa closed her eyes as the memory of another broken body came back to haunt her. Mother.
She opened her eyes as she felt the world shifting around her. Her friends disappeared one by one until she and Varric stood alone, facing each other in the ever-shifting Fade.
“Why are you doing this?”
“What’s wrong, Hawke?” Each words sounding less and less like her friend. “You don’t like what I’m offering you?”
Alyssa gritted her teeth. “What do you want from me?”
“Wrong question, Hawke!” Varric’s shape slowly started to blur leaving room for someone, something, else. “I’m more interested in what you may want from me!”
An hesitation. A hateful moment of hesitation before she managed to strengthen her resolve. “Nothing!” A shout, filled with despair. “There’s nothing I want from you, demon!”
The being in front of her tried cajoling her. “Nothing? Are you sure, Hawke? I could make all your desires come true, you know…”
Alyssa clenched her fists, fighting the urge to see that perfect picture of happiness again. “Nothing!” She focused on her magic. She was stuck in the Fade, asleep after the worst day of her life. She needed to get out of there but the demon in front of her would not let her go without a fight. She knew that.
She focused her will until her head hurt, ready to strike with all the might of her sorrow. The demon laughed as a ball of fire engulfed it and suddenly…
Alyssa woke up with a start. Her heart racing in her chest, her skin covered in cold sweat. She sat on the bed, tears racing down on her face. There is nothing you can tempt me with, demon. I have already lost it all…