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All the Broken Pieces [Closed]

Ferren Bairston

Guard-Captain of Highever
Staff member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
113
#1
(( 12 Haring, Mid-morning, Guard Captain's office - Mara Kerr ))

Ferren hadn't ever been very good at sorting things into tiny little boxes. Everything in his life ran together like a thin stew. People, places, events all thrown into the same pot and left to simmer. Sometimes one thing came to the forefront, sure, but for the most part it was all there all the time.

When Fergus had first told him Mara was going to be one of the Wardens stationed in Highever for a while, though.... Well, he'd done his best to shove his feelings on that whole thing into a box. Then lock it inside another, bigger box, then one more box aside from that before tossing the whole thing over the cliffs and into the ocean.

He'd been somewhat successful. Maybe. When Mara showed up with Wardens and mercenaries alike for the briefing he'd called, he didn't immediately feel that swift kick to the gut that stopped his whole world from turning. Seeing her hurt. It hurt a lot. But he was still able to breathe, and still able to do his job.

Right now that job meant letting the people who were working adjacent to his guards know what support they could expect. It wasn't a long meeting. Probably why it was called a briefing. But Ferren went over all the details he needed to get out there. All the things he'd told his own men, and the ways the three groups intersected.

"So, just t'say it again. If y' take away anythin' from this meeting, best to make it this: the Highever Guard is here t'help where we can. If y'need to pull a guard off patrol for something immediate and important, they've got orders to listen--so long as it's in the best interest of Highever and the folks living beyond the south wall. Anything planned needs t'be run by me."

He pressed the piece of parchment he'd been looking at flat, Everything he'd wanted to talk about was there in notes nobody would understand but him, along with a personal note that just said "Mara -- don't." Ferren wasn't sure what he'd intended that to mean when he wrote it, but it was sound advice from his past self.

"Right, I'm sure everybody's sick o' me talking," he said with a small grin, "if y'have any questions, I'm here. Otherwise that's all I needed."
 

Mara Kerr

Active member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
32
#2
This was a blessing and a curse all wrapped up in one. Mara stood still and attentive in the meeting room, one ear on the scratch-scratch-scritch of an attendant’s pen on paper beside her and the other on the words coming out of Ferren’s mouth. The quill was an invaluable distraction. Every time her mind would start to wander off on all the little things she wanted to say, invariably the scratch-scratch-scritch would bring her back to the moment.

Coming to Highever to help with refugee populations wasn’t exactly her idea of Warden work, but with no Blight in the foreseeable future (Maker willing), it wasn’t like the Wardens had anything better suited for her. Besides, who best to handle criminals than an ex-con herself? Nobody had said that to her face outright, but then again nobody talked with her about any of the crimes she committed, setups or otherwise. It was always off to the side - hushed whispers, stolen glances, quick shuffling steps away.

Maybe she was just being paranoid. She was well aware of her habit of overthinking things, and this was no exception. People had plenty to talk about, and it wasn’t like she was the only ex-con in the Wardens. She just so happened to be placed in a duty that suited her abilities better than most. It was reasonable. It was rational. It was why she was now standing in this room listening to the same man she’d torn apart little more than a month before discuss the expectations of their endeavor. The Maker had quite the sense of humor, but that didn’t mean it was all dreadful. There was a blessing beneath all that; she just had to reach for it.

"Right, I'm sure everybody's sick o' me talking.” Maker, she missed the grin of his, but she was pleasantly surprised to not feel that flutter in her chest at the sight of it. Instead, she felt some of the tension release from her shoulders. Better. "If y'have any questions, I'm here. Otherwise that's all I needed."

As the others packed up around her, Mara saw the guardsman beside her look down at the sheet before Ferren, raise his brows, then glance over at her before quickly making his way out of the room. What was that about? She considered calling after him, but it wasn’t important. What was important was standing right in front of her: an opportunity. She couldn’t let this one slip away.

“Ferren, I’d like a moment of your time.” Her hand reached up for the pendant that was no longer there. Right. Gone. Not important anymore. Moving on. Her hand dropped back down to her side. “I need to speak with you privately….if you would be willing, of course.”
 

Ferren Bairston

Guard-Captain of Highever
Staff member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
113
#3
Ferren wasn't sure what he'd expected from Mara. Maybe he thought she'd just ignore him. Or tell him--in the middle of the crowded office--that he could just fuck right off forever. He knew saying something personally to her would probably make one of those things a reality, which was why he'd taken down the note that Connell side-eyed him over.

Once the guardsman was gone, though, he found himself in pretty much the worst situation he could be in. Because Mara hadn't left with the others. She was still standing there, in the middle of his office, looking at him with those cautious grey eyes.

“Ferren, I’d like a moment of your time.” She reached up in a gesture he'd seen a hundred times, but... huh. Where was the pendant? “I need to speak with you privately….if you would be willing, of course.”

Ferren had been behind a lot of bad ideas in his life, but agreeing to speak privately with a woman who could probably destroy him--again--if he let her was quickly climbing that list, right behind shaving his head. Some dark part of himself he didn't like very much wanted to be cold and tell her she'd lost the right to talk to him privately, but that was stupid.

He was a grown man, and if whatever she had to say still had an affect on him, well... that was his issue to deal with. Besides, maybe it was a professional thing, not a personal thing. And maybe Lin would suddenly decide to do windows and couples.

"Uh, yeah, sure," he said, losing a bit of that Guard Captain confidence he'd built over the past year. "Let me get the door."

His office seemed like the safest place to talk. There wasn't any alcohol in here, for starters. Neither of them needed to be drinking during this. It also wasn't as cozy a place as his house. He could keep up his guard here, and if he needed to get himself out of the conversation, he could just make up some emergency. Probably not the most mature way to deal with his problems, but it was better than smashing a bunch of furniture.

Moving to close the door, Ferren let out a held breath, straightened up, and turned to face her again. "Guessing you're not here t' ask for clarification on all the guard stuff I just went over..."

His arms folded over his chest, like they could somehow keep her words from hurting as much. Whatever she said, it was going to sting, and he just needed to be an adult for once and deal with it.
 
Last edited:

Mara Kerr

Active member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
32
#4
Mara braced herself for the sting of a sharp rejection, but Ferren never unleashed it. She watched warily as he walked over to the door and closed it, waiting for the harsh words she knew he’d been holding inside. She deserved them. She knew she did, and she wouldn’t blame him if he’d closed the door just so he could start yelling it all out at her.

Except he never did. He was calm, somber. His arms were folded over his chest - a defensive gesture. She would’ve done the same had she been on his side of the conversation. Now it was her turn to finally speak, though, and after all those nights rehearsing all the different ways this conversation would go in her head, reality suddenly made it hard to find the right words. She took a deep breath. It would be best to start with the one thing she wished she’d said the most.

“I wanted to apologize.” She put up a hand before Ferren could interject so that she could continue. “I’m not asking for you forgiveness. Maker knows after all the things I said and did to you, I don’t deserve it.”

Her throat was already tightening. Her mind was stuck, fishing for the right words but it struggled to put all those thoughts into something coherent, something that wouldn’t come off as disingenuous or hollow. Another deep breath, this one to steady herself as the words started falling into place.

“That day, I meant to hurt you. I meant every word I said, but I meant it all in a way to upset you, and I...It’s difficult to explain why.” No it wasn’t. She could do better. She knew she could. “But I’ll try.”

“My life changed so suddenly, and I wasn’t ready for it. I made a lot of bad decisions because of that.” She paused for a moment, realizing just how bad that sounded. “Not that you were one of them! Not really, anyway. I just...I was so afraid, Ferren. So afraid, and so angry.”

“When I was around you, I didn’t know what to feel. Of course I was happy - you cared so much for me when almost no one else would. Who was I to say no to that? But I was also afraid of what could happen if we continued. I tried to tell you and of course, you being you, you had to find a way to make it all work, and that made me so angry. Not just because of how stupid it all had sounded to me, but because you could. You had that luxury to figure it out, and I believed that I didn’t. You had - have - so many things that I can’t have. Many people do, and it made me angry. It made me terrible.”

“But I realize that now.” Her hand went up to her chest, not reaching for the ghost of a pendant but genuinely resting there instead. “It’s not easy, but I know why I was so frustrated. A lot has happened in the past few months, and while I know it’s going to be hard, I also know it’s going to be okay so long as I let it.”

“I’m sorry.” She let out a nervous laugh. “I didn’t mean to talk so much, but, well...a lot’s been on my mind lately. I ah...thanks for at least letting me get that all off my chest. I think I should go.” She began to make a move for the door, heart picking up pace as her cheeks began to redden.

It wasn’t everything, but it was more than she’d intended to say. She’d just wanted to apologize, that was it. Well, she’d gotten that out and he could take it or not. That was his concern now, not hers. For now, she didn’t want to overstay her welcome.
 

Ferren Bairston

Guard-Captain of Highever
Staff member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
113
#5
Ferren had to stop himself from trying to figure out why she was here. A million different reasons passed through his mind--most of them the same, just different versions of it--and probably none of them were right. Or if they were, he didn’t want to know about it.

“I wanted to apologize.” Ferren opened his mouth to speak, because he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear an apology. He wasn’t sure he really deserved one. Mara stopped him from speaking, though. “I’m not asking for you forgiveness. Maker knows after all the things I said and did to you, I don’t deserve it.”

Well. They’d hurt. No doubt about that. Reinforced a lot of things Ferren already believed. But he’d always been the fool who gave everybody a second chance--even his father.

“That day, I meant to hurt you,” she continued. “I meant every word I said, but I meant it all in a way to upset you, and I...It’s difficult to explain why. But I’ll try.”

Did he even want to know why? He supposed he was stuck with it now. He’d told her she could talk.

And she did talk. A lot. Words that were hard to hear as much as they were confusing. What did she mean, he had things she couldn’t? He’d offered all of it to her, and--no. Nope. He wasn’t going to start thinking that way. Mara was saying more to him in this unguarded way than she probably ever had, and he just needed to listen.

“I’m sorry.” A nervous laugh followed, so different from the sharp, caustic one he’d heard from her last. “I didn’t mean to talk so much, but, well...a lot’s been on my mind lately. I ah...thanks for at least letting me get that all off my chest. I think I should go.”

Ferren was still processing everything she’d said when she turned to leave. There was… a lot, but he thought he understood. She’d been angry and scared because of everything that’d happened and everything she’d lost. And he hadn’t really listened to that, had he? He’d just tried to fix it, the same way he tried to fix everything else.

She’d reached for the door by the time he finally said anything. The words followed a sigh, “Mara, wait.”

Ferren gestured to one of the chairs that was arranged in the space. Moving behind his desk, he felt around for the drawer, pulled it all the way open, and closed his fingers around a cool glass bottle. If Fergus could keep liquor in his office, well, so could he.

Better sense cautioned him against it, but he pulled out a couple glasses--the ones he mostly used when Fergus came to his office instead of the other way around--and poured just a finger of brandy in each.

“It’s brandy,” he said, almost apologetically. “Don’t have t’drink it, but I figured it might help.”

It would help him, at least. Just enough to ease the way for the words to come, not enough that he feared what he might do if his inhibitions were totally gone. They didn’t need to go down that road again.

Downing the small bit of liquid in his glass, Ferren came around to sit in one of the chairs, turning it to face her. “I knew all o’ that,” he admitted. “I mean, probably not in that much detail, but I knew things’d changed for you. I was measuring time in that year since I last saw you, and for you… I guess everythin’ kinda stopped and restarted after…” he waved off the obvious.

“Not like I don’t owe you an apology, too. And not just for what I said. I…” Ferren drew in a breath, rubbing his hand over his jaw. His stubble had grown out a little. It wasn’t a proper beard, but it probably would be before the end of the year. “I spent a long time, after Kali. Long time not knowing what I wanted or what I deserved or anything like that. By the time I finally figured it out… guess I was just eager t’have it. Looking for it in places it couldn’t be. Or, well. I don’t know.”

She’d said she had felt that way; thought that way. Maybe that’d changed. And not in a “maybe there’s still a chance” way, just in a way that said Mara’s future maybe wasn’t as limited as she thought.

“I just know I was trying to get us t’be something we weren’t. Wasn’t fair to you. I never meant t’ taunt you, y’know? I see a barrier, first thing I do is look for a way around it. But sometimes it’s not that easy.”

He didn’t know if he was even making any sense. Another finger of brandy sounded good, but he’d left the bottle out of his reach for a reason.

“I’m sorry, either way. I did care. A lot. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t seeing what I wanted t’see, and trying to get you to match it.”
 

Mara Kerr

Active member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
32
#6
“Mara, wait.”

Her hand hovered over the doorknob. Her heart skipped a beat and she closed her eyes as she wished for that beat back. It wasn’t fair that she still felt...feelings, but she had made so many promises to herself already, promises that she’d broken again and again. She wouldn’t break this one.

She turned back around to see Ferren gesturing her to one of the chairs. Silently she took a seat as he pulled out a bottle and poured a pair of glasses. Just a sliver, but she could tell what it was just by the scent.

“It’s brandy.” Of course. “Don’t have t’drink it, but I figured it might help.”

“I...I appreciate the offer, Ferren, but,” she gentled nudged the glass away from her, “I don’t think that’s the best idea.” It wasn’t like she’d sworn off drinking completely - very few things could temper the Taint and all the other nonsense filling her head all day. Around Ferren, though, she knew she could do better. She needed to be sober, needed to make sure this conversation didn’t turn into every other one she’d had with him. She was better than that now.

“I knew all o’ that.” Ferren sat in one of the chairs and turned to face her. “I mean, probably not in that much detail, but I knew things’d changed for you. I was measuring time in that year since I last saw you, and for you… I guess everythin’ kinda stopped and restarted after…”

The Conscription. Mara’s eyes drifted down to her glass of brandy. He couldn’t say it. Wasn’t like many people wanted to discuss it in the first place, but for Ferren to hesitate at it...well, it said volumes already.

“Not like I don’t owe you an apology, too. And not just for what I said,” Ferren continued. Mara listened in a halfhearted daze as he went on about his side of the story. She wanted to feel for him, to really understand where he was coming from and why he’d pushed so hard, but as she stared into those earnest eyes of his, she found herself more confused than before. No wonder she’d spent so much time thinking of him as a fool. He was nonsense to her, and she wouldn’t be surprised if she was the same to him. The difference laid in how they interpreted the other’s foolishness.

“I’m sorry, either way. I did care. A lot. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t seeing what I wanted t’see, and trying to get you to match it.”

“I…” The words hung in the back of her mouth, no voice to bring them out into the world. Her gaze dropped once more to the brandy. She knew it would loosen the tension, allow her to speak her mind, but there was no telling what words would come out. Honesty was a brutal thing when it was unbridled. She didn’t want that brutality. Not anymore.

“I don’t know what to say to you, Ferren,” she began. “To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure what would happen after I said my peace. I mostly expected to just leave and move on, but you’re always full of surprises, aren’t you?”

“I guess the question I’m left with is: what now?” Her brows furrowed as she leaned over in her chair. “We’ve both explained ourselves, both made our apologies. We can’t go back to the way things were before,” she added a little too sharply. “I’m here until Fergus sends me back to the Wardens, so no matter what, we’re going to be seeing more of each other.”

It wasn’t something she particularly loathed, but it wasn’t something she was all too thrilled about, either. Coming to terms with everything, learning how to be herself and just moving on - it was all a struggle that was compounded by Ferren’s presence. She could either fight it, or she could find a way to work him into all of it.

“It’ll be hard - we can’t go back, but we can’t just...stop.” She shrugged her shoulders and bought herself a moment to find the right words. “We can’t erase the past. We can try again, though. Try...differently, if that makes any sense.” It probably didn’t, so she pushed on.

“Remember when we helped that little girl find her parents? We worked well as a team. Now we have a new task - a much, much bigger one - but I think we can work well as a team again, and maybe we can figure out how to just...be around each other.”

She let out a breath. None of this felt right. The words coming out of her mouth were too formal, too neat, like she was some kind of merchant proposing a trade. That wasn’t who she was, and it wasn’t what she wanted. She forced herself to look back up at Ferren head on, to try to see who she could be around him. It wasn’t who she was - that Mara was long gone.

“Why don’t we try this.” Mara stood up from her chair and gave her little bow of greeting for when she met people the first time. “Let’s start over. Kind of. I’m Warden Mara. Just...just Mara.” Maker, she could already feel her spirits starting to lift at that. Her name - her name and hers alone - just saying it was enough to remind her of how far she’d come in the past year.

Figuring he might need a little encouragement, Mara prompted, “Now you go, like I haven't seen you in a very long time...or something like that. Then we...we go from there, I guess.”
 

Ferren Bairston

Guard-Captain of Highever
Staff member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
113
#7
Mara admitted to being a little surprised by him, and Ferren just shrugged, giving her a small, cautious smile. He hated being so guarded, but it seemed like something he’d have to do. Maybe he was wrong. He really hoped he was wrong.

“I guess the question I’m left with is: what now? We’ve both explained ourselves, both made our apologies. We can’t go back to the way things were before,” the words came out quick, cutting like the edge of broken glass. Not really something you felt at first, if it was fast, but something you realized when the blood started pooling. “I’m here until Fergus sends me back to the Wardens, so no matter what, we’re going to be seeing more of each other.”

“Aye, we are,”
he agreed. He still wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but, “and we’ll have t’ figure it out one way or another. What’s happening here… it’s too important for anythin’ else to get in the way.”

“It’ll be hard - we can’t go back, but we can’t just...stop.” Well, no. Maybe if they were ignoring each other, but they couldn’t. And Ferren hadn’t had a whole lot of luck doing that in the past, anyway. “We can’t erase the past. We can try again, though. Try...differently, if that makes any sense.”

“I… think so.”

She started talking about how they’d worked well together before, which was true. And since Ferren wasn’t good at being stealthy, he needed people like her around right now, too. He’d just sort of assumed he’d put her with a unit of some sort, but maybe they could work together outside of that.

If that was what she was getting at, anyway. He still wasn’t sure.

“Why don’t we try this.” She stood and gave that sort of fancy bow. A little smirk tugged at Ferren’s lips. “Let’s start over. Kind of. I’m Warden Mara. Just...just Mara.” It seemed like there was a weight lifted there. Her eyes were a little brighter, and it was nice to be happy about that without getting that moon-eyed feeling he’d gotten before. “Now you go, like I haven't seen you in a very long time...or something like that. Then we...we go from there, I guess.”

“Ferren,” he offered a hand, because it felt weird to bow right now. “Good t’meet you, Mara. Or… meet you again?” He laughed a little. “I don’t know.”

Hard not to remember everything that came before, but he was willing to try. He needed to try. Not just for Highever, but for himself.

“Kind of a big deal here,” he joked, gesturing around his office when there conveniently wasn’t anybody to call him on that, “but I can probably make room in my schedule t’ have a friend.”

He tried the word out, waited to see how it felt. The answer he got wasn’t all that helpful, because it felt… well, it didn’t feel perfect. Not right now. It felt messy, with all sorts of jagged edges. But maybe that was okay for now.

“Far as working together goes, I’d like that. South Wall… well, it’s a mess, and it’d be nice t’work with somebody who gets why that matters to me. Mercenaries do their jobs, y’know? But there’s a lot more here.”

This wasn’t Mara’s home, though, so maybe she wouldn’t understand--even through knowing him. It felt awkward to try and talk with her, but it’d always been a little awkward. They were different people.

“Actually, not t’ launch straight into work talk, but I was hoping the woods past the perimeter could be searched. Got bandits or… somebody more organized than bandits camping there, I think. Probably just a distraction, so I haven’t wanted t’send a lot o’ guards out there. Got some o’ their things, though. If Duff’s here with you, maybe he could take a sniff.”
 

Mara Kerr

Active member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
32
#8
“Ferren.” Mara took his offered hand. A firm shake. No flutters. Mostly. She blinked back a grimace and tried to only think of the future, not the past. “Good t’meet you, Mara. Or… meet you again?” His laugh made her smile. In a good way. Friendly. Warm. It was awkward, sure, but it was a start.

“Kind of a big deal here, but I can probably make room in my schedule t’ have a friend.”

“Well, you do seem quite the busy man,” Mara replied as her eyes followed his gesture through the room. “As a friend,” the word still tasted strange on her lips, but not in a bitter way, “I guess I should feel honored.”

“Far as working together goes, I’d like that. South Wall… well, it’s a mess, and it’d be nice t’work with somebody who gets why that matters to me. Mercenaries do their jobs, y’know? But there’s a lot more here.”


“Yes, well, this is your home after all. Who better to defend it than the Captain of the Teyrn’s guard and his friend?” She gave him an encouraging smile.

“Actually, not t’ launch straight into work talk, but I was hoping the woods past the perimeter could be searched. Got bandits or… somebody more organized than bandits camping there, I think. Probably just a distraction, so I haven’t wanted t’send a lot o’ guards out there. Got some o’ their things, though. If Duff’s here with you, maybe he could take a sniff.”

Mara’s smile faded as soon as she realized where Ferren was going with his request. Her chest tightened as she took in a breath and held it lest it release everything she’d tried so hard to work through since that pivotal day. She could still see him - snow dusting his dark fur, eyes closed and back just barely rising and falling as she left him behind. A kinder person would have told Mara to believe he would find her again, but she didn’t need that kindness. She knew. It was one of the few times she ever truly knew what that peculiar wolf wanted, and it wasn’t her. Not anymore. And that was okay. It would all be okay. Lonely, but okay.

“About that…” Mara reached up and tucked a strand of hair that had fallen from her ponytail behind her ear. “Duff is...well, Duff isn’t exactly with me anymore.” There really was no easy way of saying, and the words still felt wrong on her tongue. That wasn’t exactly the right way of phrasing it, but as she looked at Ferren she already knew he wouldn’t understand even if she tried to explain it. A bond that deep, that strong, that unspoken - it was different with a creature like Duff, and she was certain Ferren, even with his big heart and penchant for attachment, would never fully grasp the depth of it all.

“He was….I don’t know. He’s gone.” Despite the unbearable urge to break down, a laugh escaped Mara’s lips. Small, one that made her squeeze her eyes shut and shake her head. “You know, it’s like I lost a second set of eyes or something. After spending so much time locked up in the city, you’d think I’d get used to it, but I still keep looking back to see what he thinks.”

Mara shook her head again, more out of frustration than grief this time. It wasn’t worth trying to explain, yet she’d gone and put words to it anyway. The problem was those words barely scratched the surface. It wasn’t losing a second set of senses. Duff wasn’t just a friend or a partner in crime. Duff was a promise, a contract, one that he’d finally decided he’d fulfilled. Mara would never understand the conditions, but she could see it in his eyes that final day. He was done. He was proud. He was so damn tired, but whatever it was he’d set out to do, he’d finished it.

“We should check the encampment out anyway.” Back to business. Business she could do. Business didn’t make her think about everything she told herself she’d let go. “We might find something useful if we’re cautious and,” she looked Ferren up and down, “if we’re quiet. Watch for twigs - I hear they can get quite snappy out there.”
 

Ferren Bairston

Guard-Captain of Highever
Staff member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
113
#9
Ferren could tell as soon as the words left his mouth that something was wrong, and it didn't take a big leap to guess the thing that was wrong had to do with Duff. His heart caught in his throat, which was stupid. He'd barely known the wolf for any time at all. But he had a soft spot for canines of all sorts, and he'd taken an immediate liking to Duff.

That wasn't anything next to what Mara was going through, though. He knew he'd never understand it, but Ferren had enough sense to guess that wolf was more than a companion.

“About that…” His fingers itched to tuck that strand of hair behind her ear, but he curled them into his palm and reminded himself they'd just started over. “Duff is...well, Duff isn’t exactly with me anymore.”

"Is he...?" Ferren couldn't even say it. His damn throat tightened, just a little.

“He was….I don’t know. He’s gone.” She laughed, the sound at odds with the expression on her face. “You know, it’s like I lost a second set of eyes or something. After spending so much time locked up in the city, you’d think I’d get used to it, but I still keep looking back to see what he thinks.”

"I'm sorry," he said softly, feeling like he was rooted in place. A friend would go over and offer some kind of support, but Ferren didn't trust himself to do that in a way that wasn't going to bite him in the ass. "I know I didn't know him long, but aye, it's..." He swallowed. "Well. It's a big loss."

He didn't know what else to say, but Mara didn't seem eager to stick to that topic. She shook her head, which Ferren took as his cue to stop stammering out apologies and stop feeling sad about an animal he'd barely known.

“We should check the encampment out anyway.” He nodded at that, settling back into the role of Guard Captain. “We might find something useful if we’re cautious and if we’re quiet. Watch for twigs - I hear they can get quite snappy out there.”

A soft snort answered that joke. "Don't know what you're going on about. I'm very quiet."

So quiet Lin had pretty much forbade him from trying to do anything stealthy that even had the smallest chance to end in disaster. This definitely fit the description, but it wasn't like he'd be sneaking in anyplace or trying to lie his way into the group. He could wear softer shoes, ditch his armor, bring only the bare minimum as far as weapons were concerned.

It'd be fine. Probably.

He glanced out the window, three fingers rubbing over his stubbled jaw. Still morning, unless the sun was lying to him. They couldn't just walk right up there in the light of day, and he had other things he needed to take care of anyway.

"Y'free tonight?" What would've been a play at getting her to join him for drinks or dinner not that long ago was said without that unsure edge this time. "We could head out there and take a look. I want to avoid a scuffle at all costs, so we'd need t'stay a good distance away." Ferren gave her a half-hearted smile. "I'm no match for Duff, but I could be another set of eyes, at least for this."

There was a lot of time between now and then, though, and when he'd heard Mara was coming to Highever, he'd done everything in his power to ignore the details. "They put y' up somewhere, right? They must've done. If y'need any help settling in, let me know. I've got a pretty good system going for rating the taverns and all the other places that serve food here."
 

Mara Kerr

Active member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
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#10
"I'm sorry," came Ferren’s gentle response. There was a moment Mara expected movement from him, but he stood still, keeping a respectful distance away from her. She knew he was more of the emotional type, even an embrace would not have been unwelcome in this situation. Even so, she could understand his hesitation. Now wasn’t the time, not with the fresh start they were trying. It was better to not risk a relapse, anyway.

"Y'free tonight?" Ferren asked. Mara already knew what it was about, but there was still a small moment where she thought he might ask something else. "We could head out there and take a look. I want to avoid a scuffle at all costs, so we'd need t'stay a good distance away. I'm no match for Duff, but I could be another set of eyes, at least for this."

“I wouldn’t ask anyone else.” For more reasons than just the obvious. Even if she’d been offered the quietest and swiftest mercenary available, there were still few people she trusted, and even fewer she could call a friend. Having someone that already had both was an asset she wouldn’t turn down, heavy footsteps or not.

"They put y' up somewhere, right? They must've done. If y'need any help settling in, let me know.” He was just being friendly, Mara reminded herself. Thoughtful, if a bit forward. “I've got a pretty good system going for rating the taverns and all the other places that serve food here."

“An inn. Comfortable and cozy.” She held back the name. No need for him to know. Even if he had no intention of stopping by, she felt better keeping that information to herself for now. She’d be far less inclined to lead him back there later. “If we’re not out too late, perhaps we can enjoy a late dinner at one of these taverns around here. There’s got to be at least a few good ones open most of the night, right?”
 
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