dun-dun

Marian rubbed the back of her neck as she groaned. Hawke this. Hawke that. Non-stop questions from everyone she’d passed since her first step into Skyhold. She’d done her best to escape it all, to keep her head down from prying eyes and loose lips.

I know it was her. I saw who I saw.

With a groan, she tugged her hood down further against her face, scooping up her drink as she ambled towards the barkeep. She sank onto one of the stools. Her head made a soft thunk when she let it fall onto the bar.

“Rough day?”

Marian glanced up at the man. Scruff covered the lower half of his face and the bags under his eyes looked like half-healed bruises. His nose was long, red-ripped, and askew as though it’d been hit a few times too many. Still, there was something about his eyes that drew her from her stupor. Brown, soft, warm, with a hint of weary wrinkles at the side. This was a man who’d seen and heard everything Thedas had to offer.

“Not really so bad, all things considered.” She smiled, taking a sip of her drink. “I haven’t been attacked by a gang of blood mages yet and that always manages to brighten my day.”

“Does that happen often?” His laugh was quiet, measured, like he feared drawing too much attention to himself.

“Often enough to make it annoying.” She rolled the tankard in her hand, enjoying the sound on the ale swirling. “You’re Ferelden, aren’t you?”

“Was it the accent or the dashing good looks?”

“Good looks, obviously.” Marian laughed and took another gulp, draining the cup. She ordered another. The man wore a simple tunic frayed at the edges, sleeves pushed up to the elbows. There was something about the way he moved that itched in the back of her mind. “Have you ever been in Kirkwall?”

He froze. His head turned slowly, eyes widening in recognition.

Shit.

She glanced around the inn and tried to make herself seem smaller. “Can we just pretend I never asked that? Please?”

“Wishing you could change your name?” He straightened with a smile, setting her tankard down in front of her.

“And my face. And my life. And… everything.”

His laugh was freer this time, his smile warm enough to make her chest flutter. “I know the feeling.”

“I bet you do.” Marian held a hand out to him. “Marian Hawke, at your service.”

The man paused.

“There’s no snakes tucked up my sleeve, I promise. Not this time, at any rate.”

The corner of his lips turned up with a smile as he shook her hand. “Theirin. Alistair Theirin.”