fereldanwench: (Hawke - Ansley - Smile)
[personal profile] fereldanwench
Title: Don't Get Dead
Characters: Ansley Hawke, Lorelei Cousland
Type: Gen
Words: 1826
Notes: Because I have a weakness for ladies looking out for each other and I wanted to see what Ansley and Lorelei could be like at Ostagar. This is totally (to borrow a phrase from ren) AO1 material.
Summary: Somewhat experienced Ansley Hawke offers a little advice and food to Lorelei Cousland during a brief encounter before the battle of Ostagar.


The ruins at Ostagar were unlike anything Lorelei had ever seen.

Tevinter ruins weren't uncommon in the Fereldan landscape, their legacy peppered across the land, and she had seen their lingering influences during a visit to the Free Marches two years earlier. She had been prohibited from visiting the Gallows in Kirkwall, but their gleaming marble shone warily across the sea, easily visible from her quarters in the Viscount's Keep.

Even in their glorious stature, however, she knew scale of the Gallows was nothing compared to the scale of towers and paved paths still standing in Ostagar.

Lorelei cautiously stepped to the jagged edge of the crumbling marble, peering down at the tops of trees that would be ten times her height on ground. She wondered what it would feel like to fall from this height. Death was certain, she assumed. Lorelei nudged a few rocks over the edge and watched them skip and bounce down the side of the cliff. Painful, terrifying death, as twigs and jutting rocks slowed the inevitable descent to the forest floor below. Plenty of opportunity and time to grasp at false hope. As if there were any other way to leave this world.

A demanding gurgle from her gut reminded her that against all odds, she was still very much alive, and in need of the usual sustenance to stay that way. Duncan hadn't given her much instruction other than hunting down another Warden, and he seemed to approve a search for some food, although he wasn't forthcoming with information on where to find some either. On a hunch, Lorelei began the daunting cross over the massive bridge that connected the landing of the Tower of Ishal with the camp proper, folding her arms under themselves to shield from the chilly wind whipping through the gorge.

The proper greetings from soldiers posted along the bridge were met only with silent nods, and Lorelei only spoke to ask one where the general encampment was located. There was a fleeting temptation to ask for King Cailan's location specifically, to see if she could persuade him to hasten Fergus' return, but an overwhelming lethargy countered her resolve. Lorelei didn't want to beg any longer for more help. She didn't even know what she'd say when Fergus returned. In some ways, his absence was a respite.

She thanked the officer for his directions and continued her tired walk through the bustle of gossiping soldiers, Chantry sisters leading fruitless pleas to the Maker, and mages caught in an enchanting dance with the Fade. When Lorelei reached the gate separating the rows of red tents from the rest of the settlement, the posted guard told her the area was off-limits to her.

Before Lorelei could even begin to process any indignation, a heavy arm draped around her soldier.

"Oh, come on, Emery, the girl is clearly in need of some food and proper armor," a bright, feminine voice said. The woman, almost half a foot taller than Lorelei, tapped on Lorelei's pauldron with her other hand. "This ceremonial shit won't help against the cold or the 'spawn."

"Then she can go to the quartermaster like everyone else with coin."

Lorelei didn't exactly fault him for the assumption that she had money, although it was in error. She had a few silvers in her possession, but even that money was from Duncan; he had given it to her after they departed from a roadside inn during the dark hours of the morning. Her family's wealth had been abandoned with their estate, likely in the unworthy hands of Howe by this point.

"Let me at least share my rations with her."

"Hawke." The guard sighed, rubbing his face.

"Emery," she replied, exaggerating his exasperated tone.

Emery propped open the gate and waved them through. "If she causes any trouble, it's on your head."

Hawke grinned and gave Lorelei a gentle slap on her back, urging her through the threshold.

"Um, thank you," Lorelei said as she began walking. She slowed her pace to let Hawke take the lead, realizing she had no idea where they were headed.

"The restriction is bullshit," Hawke explained. Her strides were long and Lorelei found herself having to double her natural gait to keep up. "They just plant soldiers at random posts and give them meaningless tasks to distract from the inevitable horrific death and dismemberment that's awaiting everyone." She pointed to a small tent. "That's me."

"I guess it's nice to make people feel important before they become darkspawn chow," Hawke added. She squatted in front of the modest fire, stirring the bubbling stew in the charred pot hanging over the flames.

Lorelei had no reply, unaccustomed to such candid talk about death, and if she were honest, still in shock from her own recent experiences with violent bloodshed. Instead, she took in the lines of tents pitched in the muddy grass. Men and women sparred in open areas, some shared drinks and food around similar fires, and the few bodies that occupied cots suggested fatigue or worse. She had never witnessed a battle encampment for herself, having only relied on her imagination from her father's stories or the surely dramatized drawings in history books. The camaraderie and boisterous courage thinly veiled the dread and terror that began to permeate through Lorelei.

When she sought out familiar armor, either by her own family's crest or the vivid blue of the Wardens, she frowned.

"Where are the Grey Wardens?" She asked her new companion.

"Probably fellating King Cailan. Or being fellated by him." Hawke cackled at her own joke, and then looked up when Lorelei didn't respond. The comment seemed especially crass under the circumstances.

As if coming to an epiphany, she pointed at Lorelei with a dripping spoon, shaking it slightly. "Ohh," she said. "You're one of the Warden recruits. That explains the whole...." Hawke just waved the spoon up and down, gesturing to the entirety of Lorelei's presence.

Lorelei wasn't sure what that explained at all, but she took the opportunity to properly introduce herself.

"Yes, I'm Lorelei Cousland."

"Cousland!" Hawke repeated. "And that explains the, ah..." She flashed her free hand near her own sullied pauldron, no doubt indicating the luster that still shown through the dirt and blood on Lorelei's armor. "Only royalty waste resources on pretty armor that can't actually save you."

"Nobility," Lorelei quietly corrected.

"What?"

"It did save me." Lorelei sat down on one of the damp logs across from the fire, the remembered sound of arrows pinging off the armor filling her ears.

"It does look like you've seen some legitimate action," Hawke replied. "You could probably trade it for something better, though. Last I heard, Wardens were pretty tight on supplies. Kingly fellating apparently doesn't buy new swords and mail. But the quartermaster does have some decent pieces."

Hawke licked the contents on the spoon, paused to contemplate the flavor, and shrugged before filling a small wooden bowl. She handed it to Lorelei.

"It leaves something to be desired as far as taste goes, and probably texture, but it's edible. And warm."

"Thank you," Lorelei said, soft but genuine. She had no idea why this whirlwind of a woman had taken pity on her, but she was truly grateful for her kindness.

"You should probably eat it before thanking me." Hawke laughed as she filled a bowl for herself.

Lorelei returned a bare smile and did just that, sipping the thick gravy from the rim of the bowl. The mushy stew was far from the culinary standards considered acceptable in Highever, but it was by no means as bad as her new friend suggested.

Lorelei cleared her throat after finishing her serving. She had no idea what the etiquette was in this situation, if she should make conversation or just say thanks and part ways. The sun was starting to dip below the trees, and she did still need to find this other Warden as Duncan had asked.

"So, 'Hawke' is..." Lorelei began, trying to ease into a conversation that would open a natural departure.

"My family name," Hawke answered around a mouthful of meat. She swallowed audibly. "I'm Ansley. And my brother Carver is around here somewhere."

"You're both soldiers?"

Hawke squinted and chewed, and then rolled her shoulders in a dramatic shrug. "Yeah, we are now, I guess. But it used to be that unscrupulous types would pay me to keep other unscrupulous types away. Usually with a sharp blade. Sometimes with a boot. Occasionally with a sternly worded threat and an intimidating face." Hawke narrowed her dark eyes in demonstration.

"So you're a mercenary?" Lorelei didn't intend to stain the word with the contempt, especially after Hawke's generosity, but the scorn came out nonetheless. If it offended, Hawke kept quiet.

"Yeah, sure. Then my brilliant baby brother decided to run off and join the King's army, and I can't let him run amuck without me." Hawke sighed, quiet but strained, as if the situation weighed on her more heavily than her jovial tone suggested. "Fortunately, desperation seemed to have lowered their standards."

"Fortunately," Lorelei echoed blankly, once again reminded of her own brother. She wondered if he was back in the camp yet.

As Hawke finished the remainder of her meal, Lorelei stood, holding the now empty bowl in uncertain hands.

"Well, ser Hawke, thank you very much for the meal--"

"--Time to be off then?" Hawke guessed. She extended a long arm to Lorelei, offering to take her dirty dish. Lorelei nodded as she passed off the bowl, but she was committed to saying her thanks.

"I truly appreciate you sharing your supper with me, but I have been tasked with finding the other Wardens," Lorelei said.

"Definitely don't want to keep them waiting," Hawke agreed, as if she knew something about keeping Wardens waiting. She set her half-eaten stew on the ground and rose to her full height. Lorelei had never felt so small in the presence of another woman.

"I'm serious about trading in that armor," Hawke continued. "Go for something with some leather, or heavy fur. Maybe a little mail. It gets fucking cold when the sun drops, and you'll be better off with something that'll keep you fast. The best offense is a good defense, and the best defense is being able to run away. Fast."

Lorelei nodded with no commitment, the idea of trading in her family plate for something weaker sounded counter-intuitive. She'd have to run the idea by Fergus, anyway. He might not want to see the Cousland armor sweltered down after recent events.

"Thank you again, ser Hawke." Lorelei dipped her chin in a respectful nod.

"Stay safe, Lady Warden Cousland." Hawke bent her right arm behind her waist and leaned forward in a sloppy bow. She grinned and eased back down to finish her dinner. "Don't get dead."

"I've made it this far," Lorelei replied with a smile of her own.

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