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What's In A Name? [Complete]

Varric Tethras

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#1
((14 Harvestmere, 35 Dragon, Mid-afternoon; @Aveline Vallen ))

Guardsman Donnen Brennokovic stood outside the closed door to his captain’s office, wondering what he had done to earn the summons he had received. The list of possibilities was, unfortunately, not a short one. Guard-Captain Hendallen was a stickler for rules, protocol and by-the-book law enforcement, while Donnen tended to lean heavily toward the get-shit-done philosophy. Since it worked for him more often than not, the Iron Lady usually let it slide, but when it didn’t work, he heard about it. He lifted a hand and knocked three times on the heavy oaken door.

“Enter,” barked a no-nonsense voice from the other side, so he did.

Captain Hendallen sat behind her desk, managing to keep a parade-erect posture even so. Her hair, the fiery red of a Waking Sea sunset and tied neatly at the nape of her neck, gleamed faintly in the light from the oil lamps. Eyes as green as emeralds remained on the report that lay on the desk for a moment longer before lifting to regard him, the cool disapproval frosting her gaze something he’d seen often enough. But he could also see the light dusting of freckles over her nose; no one with freckles could be completely without a sense of fun, and Donnen wondered – not for the first time – just what the Captain was like when she let her hair down. Just what kind of passions lay constrained beneath that tightly controlled demeanor. And in his heart of hearts, the once-retired guardsman knew that the reason he’d come back wasn’t his passion for justice, or boredom, or even because a drunk had burned his tavern to the ground, but the chance that he might be able to find out for himself.


Varric leaned back in his chair to re-read the passage he’d just written and nodded in satisfaction. Pure literary gold. This one would have it all: action and intrigue, romance and steamy parts. It couldn’t miss, and he took a celebratory swig from his mug of ale.

Movement from the direction of the front door caught his eye. Maybe the hair wasn’t quite as red as a Waking Sea sunset, and maybe the eyes were closer to moss green than emerald, but he still sprinkled a bit of sand over the still-damp ink on the parchment and casually shifted the page beneath a few others as his visitor headed directly for him with a no-nonsense air that Donnen Brennokovic would have recognized at once.

“Aveline,” he greeted her cordially. “Just happen to be in the neighborhood and decide to drop by? I'm flattered.”
 
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Aveline Vallen

Guard Captain of Kirkwall
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45
#2
She had found more recruitment posters changed with directions to the Blooming Rose. Whether this was just the old ones still circulating, or a fresh printing, she didn’t care. She was going to have more words with Varric about it.

It wasn’t like she didn’t like the dwarf. They both spent an inordinate amount of time looking after their circle of friends -- and each other much to boths’ aggravation. But sometimes he pushed her buttons beyond her tolerance. Today was one of those days.

When she entered his room in the Hanged Man, he was all smiles. “Aveline. Just happen to be in the neighborhood and decide to drop by? I'm flattered.

Her face was impassive as she placed the poster on the table before him, arms crossing. She gave a short shake of the head, “My guardsman have been finding more of them here in Lowtown than they did the last time they were put up. So tell me, Varric, have you started printing them again? Or has someone taken your work and made a cheap knock off.

Straight to business. Depending on his answer, she might actually stay a while to catch up on other things.
 

Varric Tethras

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#3
In lieu of the social niceties, a broadside was slapped down on the table before him.

“My guardsman have been finding more of them here in Lowtown than they did the last time they were put up,” Aveline informed him with a disapproving shake of her head. “So tell me, Varric, have you started printing them again? Or has someone taken your work and made a cheap knock off.”

Varric leaned forward to examine the offending document, even though he already knew the answer. “Sorry, Aveline, but I really am innocent this time. Look at this.” He jabbed a finger at the text on the page. “They misspelled ‘venereal’. Sloppy. I can't believe you thought this was my work.” He shook his own head in disgust, then settled back in his chair. “Plus, I never play the same prank twice; too predictable.” No, he was working on a way to have prospective employees of the Blooming Rose show up at the barracks for interviews. Unfortunately, Madam Lusine didn’t put up recruitment posters, but that was only a minor inconvenience.

“Whoever did it is probably doing you a favor, though,” he reasoned. “If somebody doesn’t know Kirkwall well enough to know the difference, are they really going to be worth much as a guard?”
 

Aveline Vallen

Guard Captain of Kirkwall
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45
#4
She watched as Varric examined the poster, one eyebrow raised in expectation. The look that passed on his face, gave her the answer before he could begin to speak, and the corner of her mouth quirked up.

Sorry, Aveline, but I really am innocent this time. Look at this.” He pointed out a specific place on the poster, but she kept her eyes trained on him. “They misspelled ‘venereal’. Sloppy. I can't believe you thought this was my work.

Plus, I never play the same prank twice; too predictable.” His head shook as he said it, annoyance at the knock off evident for the moment. She had a feeling it wasn’t his work, but it was his original prank that had caused the knock off to begin with. Copycats were going to be a problem it seemed.

Whoever did it is probably doing you a favor, though,” he said, acting if the prank was somehow a good thing. “If somebody doesn’t know Kirkwall well enough to know the difference, are they really going to be worth much as a guard?

I may have to train them a bit longer than other guards, but I won’t discount someone if they aren’t fully literate.” She said, pulling out the chair near Varric and taking the seat with a sigh. “Besides, Kirkwall is a large place. It took me long enough to find all the nooks and crannies. Though I’m sure there are a few places I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting yet.

She looked at the poster on the table, frowning once more. “If it’s not yours, then I’ll have to find out who decided to plagiarize your work. Any ideas, Varric?

She looked up at him, a plain expression on her face. There was a bit of an expectation that he would cooperate, but she would not hold it against him if he did not.
 

Varric Tethras

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#5
Aveline seemed to believe his disavowal, which was good, because he was actually telling the truth for a change. Pulling out a chair, she settled into it.

“I may have to train them a bit longer than other guards, but I won’t discount someone if they aren’t fully literate,” she told him, heaving a sigh. “Besides, Kirkwall is a large place. It took me long enough to find all the nooks and crannies. Though I’m sure there are a few places I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting yet.”

“And even more that won't be a pleasure to visit,” he assured her. He'd lived in Kirkwall all his life, and he still came across spots he didn't know about, most of which were not nice places. “And definitely shouldn't be visited alone.” He gave her a pointed look to accompany the pointed warning; she had a habit of being fearless that kept him almost as busy as Daisy's hapless wanderings.

She scowled down at the poster, back on the scent. “If it’s not yours, then I’ll have to find out who decided to plagiarize your work. Any ideas, Varric?”

The look she gave him was expectant, but not commanding. “A few, but let me do a little checking before you scare the shit out of an innocent person.” She was good at that. “Kirkwall's finest probably have better things to do than chase down practical jokers.” A bit of flattery there, but there was no denying that she'd whipped the city guard into something that was actually becoming worthy of the sobriquet.
 

Aveline Vallen

Guard Captain of Kirkwall
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45
#6
And even more that won't be a pleasure to visit,” She could agree with that. She’d seen her fill of the sewers, but knew she’d likely be back there soon enough. When he gave her a look, she grinned slightly. She wasn’t the only mother hen in Kirkwall. “And definitely shouldn't be visited alone.

I’m rarely alone when I go exploring those places these days, Varric. Hopefully, you are also taking your own advice in that regard.” She lifted a brow, also giving him a look. Varric had his watchers and she had hers. While she gave him some privacy, she always made sure to have her guards keeping an eye out for his safety.

She returned to looking at the parchment on the table, and asked him his thoughts, “A few, but let me do a little checking before you scare the shit out of an innocent person. Kirkwall's finest probably have better things to do than chase down practical jokers.

She chuckled at that, “I’ll stand down my investigators until you have something for me.

She sighed and leaned back, before glancing at the state of the table. Papers were a little out of place, a bit of ink smudged on his hand. Now that the poster was out of the way, she teased him a little, “Writing another story, Varric? Anything good this time? Or are you actually conducting business today?
 

Varric Tethras

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#7
His warning got him a knowing look and a little grin. “I’m rarely alone when I go exploring those places these days, Varric,” she informed him. “Hopefully, you are also taking your own advice in that regard.”

“Yes, ma’am,”
he replied dutifully. Andvar and Ilsa’s baby boy wasn’t the adventurous type. He liked telling stories, not living them. Writer’s first rule: never get involved in the story. Or maybe that was the second rule, the first being: never tell the truth if a lie sounds better. He adhered to the first rule scrupulously, but ever since he’d made the acquaintance of a certain Ferelden refugee named Hawke and her merry band of misfits, he’d been breaking the second on a fairly regular basis. Like wandering into Darktown solo … which a certain Guard-Captain had also done recently. He weighed letting her know that he knew, decided against it for the moment as the conversation turned to possible guilty parties in the case of the fake recruiting posters and his possible willingness to rat them out.

Not that he was overly squeamish in that regard, firstly because the one who’d done it had tried to make him look like the guilty party, and secondly because replacing recruitment jargon with directions to the best whorehouse in town wasn’t likely to get anyone more than an ass-chewing.

Mind you, he didn’t want Aveline to get the idea that he’d roll over on command, just in case someone he actually liked ever did something more serious, so he offered to do the legwork and she accepted. Happy endings all around.

She settled back into a more relaxed pose in the chair, but her eyes were as watchful as always. “Writing another story, Varric? Anything good this time? Or are you actually conducting business today?”

“I’m always conducting business, Aveline,” he told her easily, far too canny to spare a guilty glance at the telltale page in the middle of the stack. “As for the writing, I’ve got an idea or two I’m pulling together for a sequel. Nothing solid yet; been trying to come up with a good title. ‘Harder In Hightown’ doesn’t sound quite right, does it?”
 

Aveline Vallen

Guard Captain of Kirkwall
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45
#8
Yes, ma’am,” he stated quickly, and she believed him. Varric liked his comforts, and he only got his hands dirty when his friends needed him too. Still, she had her own watchers trying to ensure his safety in case he did something out of the ordinary.

She asked him about the papers, and he gave an answer nearly what she expected. The grin still graced her lips, “I’m always conducting business, Aveline. As for the writing, I’ve got an idea or two I’m pulling together for a sequel. Nothing solid yet; been trying to come up with a good title. ‘Harder In Hightown’ doesn’t sound quite right, does it?

She shook her head at that, “I was hoping that particular story had ended. You certainly enjoyed using the guard in it.

She wasn’t going to press that issue though, she had already made her thoughts known. She had read it, and had found it interesting enough, but she also worried over some of the portrayals on the thinly veiled stand ins for real people. She took a moment, but she realized something when he had spoken to her a moment ago.

Tell me something, Varric. Why do you always call me Aveline. You have a nickname for everyone else, I’m surprised you haven’t come up with one for me?” There was a genuine curiosity when she cast her gaze at him. He had mentioned her scaring him when they first started running around together years ago, maybe that had something to do with it. But she hoped they could call each other friends at this point.

Sure, he could be aggravating at times, but they both had the same goals. Keeping their chosen family safe, and making sure Kirkwall didn’t burn itself to the ground. Even if they didn’t go about achieving them in the same way.

So it always struck her as odd when he had a name for everyone, but not for her. It almost made her jealous, but she’d never admit that to Varric.
 

Varric Tethras

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#9
As expected, Aveline wasn’t exactly jumping for joy at the prospect of a sequel to Varric’s most popular book. “I was hoping that particular story had ended,” she told him, shaking her head in disapproval. “You certainly enjoyed using the guard in it.”

“Brennokovic?” Varric asked, enjoying the way the name rolled off of his tongue. He loved that damn name. “That’s going to be the kicker for the sequel: what could possibly draw our hero out of his happy retirement? It’s gonna be big.”

He was teasing her a bit. He knew that the debate in the barracks about exactly who was the true inspiration for Hard In Hightown’s hero had on occasion become so spirited as to interfere with assigned duties, which was a big no-no for their Captain. The thing was … none of them was, at least not completely. Some of his characters were inspired by real-life acquaintances, but Donnen Brennokovic was straight-up fabrication. A fictional character who was fiction, albeit the closest thing to an alter ego that Varric had ever created.

Not that he'd ever admit it to anyone.

Aveline regarded him thoughtfully for a moment before she spoke again. “Tell me something, Varric. Why do you always call me Aveline. You have a nickname for everyone else, I’m surprised you haven’t come up with one for me?”

“Not everyone else,” he evaded, a bit surprised by the sudden query. “There’s Hawke. And Bianca. There was also the concern that you might break me like a twig if you didn’t like what I came up with.” He made sure that his tone and expression were appropriately droll on the last comment, so she’d know that he was joking. Aveline took things too seriously at times, but Varric hadn’t been afraid of her since … last week, tops.
 

Aveline Vallen

Guard Captain of Kirkwall
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45
#10
Brennokovic?” Her nose curled just slightly when he said it. There was still a lot of debate on who Varric had patterned many of the characters off of. Her own curiosity would not be voiced. “That’s going to be the kicker for the sequel: what could possibly draw our hero out of his happy retirement? It’s gonna be big.

Maker,” she said exasperated, pressing a few fingers to her forehead. “Just try not to hit close to home with the next one. I already have some guards hoping they make it into your next story.

She had tried to dissuade it, but she wouldn’t put a damper on harmless enthusiasm. As long as they didn’t try any theatrics on the job, they could dream all they liked. She turned to conversation then to why he hadn’t given her a nickname like he had everyone else.

Not everyone else,” he quickly answered, and her mouth quirked to the side. “There’s Hawke. And Bianca. There was also the concern that you might break me like a twig if you didn’t like what I came up with.

Bianca is a crossbow, and “Hawke” is a family name. I would think by now you’d know me well enough that I only use brute force when necessary.” Her brows knitted just slightly. She hoped he really didn’t find her that intimidating these days, and his expression said otherwise. But still. She was a bit gruff in the beginning, she could admit that. “Don’t change the subject.

Maybe he didn’t think of her highly enough to give her one. It bothered her to think that, considering what they had been through together.
 

Varric Tethras

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#11
Varric’s enthusiasm for the continuing adventures of Donnen Brennokovic was not shared by his current audience.

“Maker,” Aveline groaned in resignation. “Just try not to hit close to home with the next one. I already have some guards hoping they make it into your next story.”

“I figured I’d just simplify things and hold a contest,” he told her slyly. “Most Brennokovic-worthy act in the next three months immortalized in literature? Just think of the crime rates plummeting with all of them out there trying to outdo each other.”

The question about nicknames caught him by surprise, and she didn’t buy his off-the-cuff answer.

“Bianca is a crossbow, and “Hawke” is a family name,” she reminded him. “I would think by now you’d know me well enough that I only use brute force when necessary.” The faintly hurt expression on her face was not one that he often saw. “Don’t change the subject.”

This really was bothering her. Crap. “I just … didn’t think you’d want one,” he said with an awkward shrug. He wasn’t afraid of Aveline; he just knew that she was a lot more sensitive than she let on, and he hadn’t wanted to hurt her. “I know you don’t like Rivaini calling you ‘Man Hands’.” She handled that easily enough, bouncing back ‘Whore’ and ‘Harlot’ without missing a beat, but he could still tell that it bugged her sometimes.
“Not that I had anything like that in mind,” he added quickly, “but I could come up with something. ‘Red’?” he suggested, knowing that wasn’t it, trying to buy a bit of time. “I don’t have one, either,” he added. “At least, none that can be used in polite company.” The other kind, he had plenty of.
 

Aveline Vallen

Guard Captain of Kirkwall
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45
#12
I figured I’d just simplify things and hold a contest,” he was joking with her right? Maker, please let him be joking. “Most Brennokovic-worthy act in the next three months immortalized in literature? Just think of the crime rates plummeting with all of them out there trying to outdo each other.

She grimaced briefly, and shook her head, “I’m going to take that as a joke, and not worry about the logistics nightmare that would be.

Not that she didn’t go off the rails herself now and again, but her guardsmen were under her care. Going off book to try and impress Varric might have its appeal or might get them killed. She didn’t want to be more of a hardass than she already was.

Her mind left that though to resume its concern over her lack of a nickname. She felt it set her apart from the rest of their circle of friends, and while it shouldn’t bother her, it very much did.

I just … didn’t think you’d want one,” he shrugged and her mouth turned to the side. “I know you don’t like Rivaini calling you ‘Man Hands’.

You know she did that to get a rise out of me,” it wasn’t the first time such things had happened. She’d been many unpleasant things during her time as a soldier until the men had respected her.

Not that I had anything like that in mind, but I could come up with something. ‘Red’?” came his offer, and she shook her head, a slight grin catching on her lips.

Too common,” she interjected, leaning back in her chair and folding her arms.

I don’t have one, either,” he said in his defense, and she actually laughed a little at that. “At least, none that can be used in polite company.

We could give you one. You are the resident Tale-Spinner.” She looked down at the table for a moment, then back up at him, her thoughts a bit of a jumble. “I only ask because it made me feel like you didn’t see me as your friend. I hope we’re friends, Varric, despite our differences.

They had been through a lot together the past few years, playing as Hawke’s tagalongs. The Deep Roads alone had tested them.
 

Varric Tethras

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#13
As expected, Aveline was less than enthused with his proposed competition: “I’m going to take that as a joke,” she told him flatly, “and not worry about the logistics nightmare that would be.”

“You have to admit, it’d be entertaining,” he told her. “We could make a fortune selling tickets to watch. Say, seventy-thirty split on profits?” The grin that accompanied the words assured her that he was definitely teasing now; sometimes she missed the little tells.

The conversation shifted to her lack of a nickname, and he reminded her that she hadn’t much cared for the one that Isabela had come up with.

“You know she did that to get a rise out of me,” she replied dismissively. Varric doubted it was the first time she’d dealt with such things. A woman able to best a good many men in combat would have been given any number of names, few of them complimentary. He hadn’t wanted to do that to her.

His first suggestion, while safe, was also not it, though it did make her smile a bit.

“Too common,” she asserted with a shake of her head, crossing her arms and regarding him challengingly.

“And as you are anything but, that obviously will not do,” he agreed, then decided to point out that he didn’t have a nickname, either.

“We could give you one,” she suggested. “You are the resident Tale-Spinner.”

“True, but there’s a little too much double meaning potential in that one,” he told her. “I don’t want people asking me to shake my ass in public.”

Her gaze dropped, and when the green eyes lifted to look at him, he could see the uncertainty. “I only ask because it made me feel like you didn’t see me as your friend. I hope we’re friends, Varric, despite our differences.”

That just wouldn’t do. “We are friends,” he told her firmly, reaching across the table to give her hand a squeeze. Then, “Freckles?” Beause Thedas might well end if he was serious for more than a single sentence at a time.
 

Aveline Vallen

Guard Captain of Kirkwall
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45
#14
You have to admit, it’d be entertaining,” Thankfully, she knew he was joking when he said it, and she just laughed a little while shaking her head. “We could make a fortune selling tickets to watch. Say, seventy-thirty split on profits?

He had suggested a nickname that was too common in her opinion, and he quickly quipped back, “And as you are anything but, that obviously will not do.

And I will take that as a compliment,” her smile was steady now, especially since they had sussed out he wasn’t the one throwing the posters around Kirkwall. Still, the fact that he had given everyone nicknames from her still made her feel somewhat out of sorts. She tossed one for him in his direction.

True, but there’s a little too much double meaning potential in that one. I don’t want people asking me to shake my ass in public.” And that made her laugh a little too loud. She shook her head.

I don’t know. The way some of the ladies look at you when you are out and about in Kirkwall, they might pay to see that show,” she teased. Varric was a handsome dwarf, but certainly not her type. Seeing other women make eyes at him was still a source of entertainment.

Her concerns bubbled up once more, and she wanted to make sure they were friends. She had always considered him such, and the thought that maybe he didn’t think the same of her made her feel self conscious.

We are friends,” he said, punctuating it by giving her hand a squeeze. It made her smile bloom once more. She had a lot of responsibility, and she cared about him and every other person in their small circle. Enough that she bent the rules for them a little too often. But she took care of people, that was just who she was.

I’m glad.” Was all she offered to that, giving his hand a squeeze in return.

Freckles?” He said then, not missing a beat and returning to his less than serious tone.

Maker, please. That sounds like a name for someone’s pet.” She leaned back, laughing softly. “How about you think on it, and for now I’ll be content with you calling me Aveline… or Captain.
 

Varric Tethras

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#15
His assurance that she was worthy of better than a common nickname got a smile from her, but her suggestion of 'Tale Spinner' for him, while amusing, was one that he definitely didn't want catching on in certain circles.

“I don’t know,” she joked with him. “The way some of the ladies look at you when you are out and about in Kirkwall, they might pay to see that show.”

“That's exactly what I'm worried about,” he replied with a grimace. “I'm a one woman man -” He patted the gleaming stock of the crossbow to make his loyalties clear, “and Bianca's the jealous type. I don't want her deciding to express her displeasure by locking up at an inopportune moment.”

The strong and sure front that Aveline presented to Kirkwall and the world protected a more vulnerable soul, and while Varric appreciated that she trusted him enough to show him that, he didn't like being the cause of her worry. Fortunately, his assurance that they were indeed friends seemed to assuage her doubts, and his next suggestion of a nickname got the intended laugh.

“Maker, please. That sounds like a name for someone’s pet,” she told him, leaning back in her chair. “How about you think on it, and for now I’ll be content with you calling me Aveline… or Captain.”

“Do I need to salute, too?” he retorted good-naturedly. “Besides, you really think I didn't have the perfect name in mind all along, Mama Bear?” That one had been as obvious as Aveline's protectiveness toward her friends and subordinates was, and he'd called her that in his thoughts for some time, but he hadn't known how she'd take it. She was stuck with it now, he reflected smugly.
 

Aveline Vallen

Guard Captain of Kirkwall
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45
#16
That's exactly what I'm worried about,” his face twisted as he said it, before he placed a hand on his beloved crossbow. “I'm a one woman man, and Bianca's the jealous type. I don't want her deciding to express her displeasure by locking up at an inopportune moment.

She gave a soft laugh at that. His devotion to his weapon had been odd at first, but as she had gotten to know him, it had become obvious it was a distraction to keep people from prying. Just like his extravagant stories were. Whatever he was hiding in that regard, was none of her business unless he decided to make it her business.

We couldn’t have that. A missed bolt could very well mean life or death for our dear friend Hawke when you two are out conducting business.” She didn’t have time to be the person on the front line for Hawke anymore, but she did he best to be there for her in any capacity she could. Hawke was family. Varric was too.

Do I need to salute, too?” He said when she suggested just Captain for now. “Besides, you really think I didn't have the perfect name in mind all along, Mama Bear?

She scrunched her nose and laughed, the expression genuinely amused. “I guess that does fit quite well doesn’t it. Though, does that make you, Papa Bear then?

She shook her head, knowing that the name was fitting. One of her biggest causes was looking out for people, and Varric was the same way. She laughed again, before settling some. That’s when she noticed the barmaid pass by the door and she caught her attention, “Can I get an ale, please?

She could use something to drink, but not anything too strong. She turned back to Varric, now that the nickname was settled, she had something else to bring to him, “I was wondering if you could help me with something other than the poster, if you’ve the time. Or even if you know any of the names on this list.

She pulled a folded bit of paper out and slid it across to him, “One’s a money lender, the other’s I’m not sure about.
 

Varric Tethras

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#17
His professed fear of Bianca's jealousy won him another laugh. “We couldn’t have that,” Aveline agreed. “A missed bolt could very well mean life or death for our dear friend Hawke when you two are out conducting business.”

Business that Aveline seldom participated in these days. “Do you ever miss it?” he asked her. “The thrill of skating along the edge of the law, I mean?” There was no censure in his voice. She might scold him, but Aveline had looked the other way more than once for him and Hawke both since joining the guard. In turn, he tried to keep his under-the-table dealings – well – under the table, and never brought her name into any of it.

His choice of a name pleased her … which pleased him. “I guess that does fit quite well doesn’t it," she mused. “Though, does that make you, Papa Bear then?”

He chuckled. “Is that a proposal?” he teased her. “Think of your reputation, Captain. I got stuck with 'Mother Hen' a long time ago, anyway, though it generally gets saved for special occasions.” Like when he was wrong about a risk … which wasn't often.

The issue of a name settled, she relaxed enough to order an ale. “I was wondering if you could help me with something other than the poster, if you’ve the time. Or even if you know any of the names on this list.” Producing a folded piece of paper, she presented it to him. “One’s a money lender, the other’s I’m not sure about.”

Varric took the paper, unfolded it and scanned the names written there. “Behrendt's a bottom feeder,” he corrected her scornfully. “The other names – Dresner, Moretta, Halbrecht ...” He frowned. “Those are the names of old Kirkwall nobility. Nobody in those houses left to use the names anymore … so I'm guessing some enterprising souls have adopted them to use in completely honest business dealings with the worst loan shark in Kirkwall.” He regarded her expectantly. “Sound about like what you've come up with?”
 

Aveline Vallen

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45
#18
Do you ever miss it?” She knew what he meant before he even added to the question. “The thrill of skating along the edge of the law, I mean?

She took a moment to consider her response, looking at the table instead of him. He picked at a gloved finger, before finally looking back up at him. “I do. But mostly, it’s because I miss all of you. I love my job. It just fits me. But there are times I miss your stories while being knee deep in muck, or Josc flirting with the wrong person and the thrill of the fight that followed.

She gave a soft laugh to that, the smile on her face causing a crinkle around her eyes, “But I do good being where I am, and even if I can’t help you all like I once did, I feel I can still help you in other ways.

And it was mutually beneficial. Her friends helped her bring in the worst of the worst with information or doing the legwork when she didn’t have the manpower to do it herself.

Varric’s nickname was a good fit, though maybe a better fit had she actually been a mother. She teased him in turn, and it resulted in her a good laugh from her, “Is that a proposal? Think of your reputation, Captain. I got stuck with 'Mother Hen' a long time ago, anyway, though it generally gets saved for special occasions.

Alas, Varric, I would never come between you and Bianca. However, if you and she ever diverge, you know where I am.” She gave him a small wink, still laughing softly under her breath.

The moved on to another important topic then. She needed confirmation of information she had been given, and if anyone had the information she needed it would be Varric. Edwin could have lied to her, even if there was no gain in it.

Behrendt's a bottom feeder. The other names – Dresner, Moretta, Halbrecht ...” He paused, frowning. “Those are the names of old Kirkwall nobility. Nobody in those houses left to use the names anymore … so I'm guessing some enterprising souls have adopted them to use in completely honest business dealings with the worst loan shark in Kirkwall. Sound about like what you've come up with?

She gave a nod, “I had a prisoner that had been sold out by Behrendt to the man he was trying to cheat. I was asked to give leniency on behalf of his mark, who I might add, has never had a problem with charging people to the fullest extent of the law. He told me about Behrendt, and gave me these names, with a similar conclusion.

She idly wondered where Edwin was now. She hoped he was not trying to cheat another solicitor in the same way at least, he didn’t need to end up back in her care. “I wanted to confirm it so I could pursue the leads. I have a feeling Behrendt’s connected to some bad people in Darktown.
 
Posts
65
#19
It took a few days for Edwin's conscience to get the best of him.

It was ridiculous, really. Varric had helped him in the past, yes, and he still arranged meetings and other resources Edwin might not have otherwise had access to. But the dwarf wasn't his keeper. Edwin owed him nothing beyond the few things he'd promised.

Except... he'd broken one of those promises. By working with him, making use of what Varric had to offer, he'd made an unspoken promise not to abuse the dwarf's trust. He'd done so with this stunt. That was a fact even Edwin had to face.

His impatience had gotten him thrown in jail. He'd been so close to a tangible lead--a surefire way to damage the Orlands' accounts and start picking them apart from the inside--that he'd gotten ahead of himself. He'd been careless, and while he'd gotten lucky this time, it could have been much worse.

No doubt Varric already knew what had happened. The dwarf had far too many contacts across Kirkwall for it to escape his notice. But he hadn't approached Edwin, and that made him feel even more guilty than he already did.

So eventually he made his way to The Hanged Man with the intention of letting Varric know the score and potentially apologizing, depending on whether or not he could make himself form those exact words. He headed for the stairs immediately, not wanting to let himself get distracted, when Norah stopped him.

"He's got someone up there already," she said, buffing a mug with a clean rag.

Edwin looked up the stairs and then back at the tavern proper. He could wait here. He should wait here. But it would be too easy to talk himself out of doing what needed to be done.

"I'll wait upstairs," he said, wanting to give himself at least more of a distance to walk if he planned on backing out.

He expected the door to be closed if it was a particularly sensitive meeting. Even though it wasn't, Edwin didn't try to peek. It wasn't his business, and he had every intention of waiting in the hall. Then he heard a familiar voice.

“I wanted to confirm it so I could pursue the leads. I have a feeling Behrendt’s connected to some bad people in Darktown.”

If the Maker had a sense of humor, he was surely doing backflips right now. Edwin, meanwhile, stood open-mouthed in the hall, not quite believing this strange turn of events. The Guard Captain mentioned she was friends with some less than reputable souls, but he would never have guessed at a connection with Varric.

It was surreal, but then he supposed he had seen stranger things at The Hanged Man. At this point, all he could do was make the most of it, and that certainly meant not lurking in the hall.

Knocking on the doorframe, Edwin announced his presence with a casual air that did not match his surprise. "Sorry to interrupt, but this sounds like a subject I may know something about." He flashed Aveline a smile, dipping his head briefly. "Captain. I was very distraught that you weren't available to see me off, but I understand how busy things can get."

Yes, wonderful. He'd come here intending to apologize for getting himself locked up. Now he was flaunting that fact. Bravado was clearly working wonders for him.
 

Varric Tethras

Bullshitter Emeritus
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
100
#20
“I do,” Aveline admitted after a long pause, during which she looked anywhere but at him. “But mostly, it’s because I miss all of you. I love my job. It just fits me. But there are times I miss your stories while being knee deep in muck, or Josc flirting with the wrong person and the thrill of the fight that followed.” He chuckled and she laughed. He had to admit, she seemed more content enforcing the law than skirting around its edges. “But I do good being where I am,” she went on, still smiling, “and even if I can’t help you all like I once did, I feel I can still help you in other ways.”

“Well, if you ever want to go wading in knee deep muck for old times’ sake, you know where to find me,” he replied, accepting her answer. He knew that Josc missed her presence for more than her shield and sword, but since Hawke and the law had only a passing acquaintance at best, it was likely best for everyone involved.

Their respective nicknames were good for a bit more fun. “Alas, Varric, I would never come between you and Bianca. However, if you and she ever diverge, you know where I am,” she told him with a laugh and a wink.

“Madam, you will be the first to know,” he assured her, managing a passable bow without leaving his chair.

Things got a bit more serious then, as the conversation turned to one of Kirkwall’s nastier pieces of work. Behrendt was a loan shark from the old school, which meant that taking his pound of flesh in flesh didn’t trouble him over much. He was also damn good at covering his tracks … and getting rid of witnesses.

“I had a prisoner that had been sold out by Behrendt to the man he was trying to cheat,” Aveline told him. Coins. He’d heard about the arrest. “I was asked to give leniency on behalf of his mark, who I might add, has never had a problem with charging people to the fullest extent of the law. He told me about Behrendt, and gave me these names, with a similar conclusion.”

That would be Carlton, the solicitor who still worked for Coins’ family … which most likely meant that he had figured out who Coins was … and hadn’t enlightened the Orlands. Interesting. And Aveline didn’t know, either; he’d bet Bianca on that.

“I wanted to confirm it so I could pursue the leads,” she went on, oblivious to his inner speculations. “I have a feeling Behrendt’s connected to some bad people in Darktown.”

“Consider it confirmed,” Varric said grimly. “You wouldn’t happen to know where your informant is?” Hopefully not chained to a boat anchor at the bottom of the harbor.

Dwarven magic did its thing, and a knock on the door was followed by Coins sauntering in with a nonchalance that had gotten considerably more convincing over the last five years. "Sorry to interrupt, but this sounds like a subject I may know something about,” he announced, giving Aveline a saucy little grin and nod. "Captain. I was very distraught that you weren't available to see me off, but I understand how busy things can get."

“Good to know I don’t need to worry about introductions,” Varric remarked, “but I’d go easy on the smartassery, kid. She’s got a mean right hook.” Plus, Coins wasn’t in the select group that was allowed to bust Mama Bear’s chops with relative impunity. That had to be earned. He gave Aveline an apologetic shrug. “I tried to teach him manners, but it didn’t stick.” He'd been a much better student in the areas of counterfeiting and forgery ... but that probably didn't need to be said.
 
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