Vienna Teng - The Last Snowfall
I believe my work here is done.
There were a few stories Varric didn’t tell.
Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t enjoy the saddest endings, not without offering a glimmer of hope. Like one of Isabela’s sunken treasures, diamonds glittering below murky waters—or a vein of precious metal threaded through rock, glinting from torchlight, a song that’d always be calling Varric home.
And the stories you didn’t tell were the ones you couldn’t forget. That was what Varric owed not to himself but to the characters—the people, rather—as though he’d lost to the sodding fools in an unlucky game of cards.
Wicked Grace. Every name had more than one meaning.
‘You know, Varric,’ Hawke said, one night when the seasons turned and the snow had begun to fall, ‘I still think about him, sometimes. Saemus Dumar. Funny hair and all the right ideas at the wrong times, really.’
‘Well,’ Varric replied, ‘you are the type to torture yourself with these things. I think it even makes you feel better to believe it’s all your fault.’
‘Another target hit dead center,’ Hawke said.
The skills of a master rogue, a devious cardplayer, a dwarf who took up as a wordsmith rather than a silversmith or a blacksmith or some other kind of builder, cutting shapes from rock as hard as kossith horns, as broad and unshakable as their shoulders.
What Hawke didn’t know wouldn’t kill him. The list of volunteers for the job was too long for that to happen first.
When Hawke was gone, when Varric was almost alone, he stared at the vellum before him over the rims of his spectacles—which, when he caught the firelight off the glass from the corner of his eye, could almost look like treasure, too. It was only a trick of the light.
But to be fair, they all were.
‘If this were the last snowfall,’ Saemus said, while it seemed—as the gusts and flurries made the world look clean and white and dangerous and new, and not even the Gallows tower could be seen on the sky, only their hot breath disappearing in the cold air right under their noses—that they were the only two people in Thedas, ‘I think… I think I’d be happy to spend it this way. Right here, Ashaad. With you. …Even if my feet are very cold.’
Not even the Tal-Vashoth had learned the way of cracking a smile at a joke, or softening to something sweet. But Ashaad shifted his weight so that it was his broad back meeting the fullest force of the wind, and Saemus understood that sweet things didn’t need something soft. They didn’t crave it. They didn’t dream of it at night.
Even the roughest of hands could grow a garden.
‘Thank you,’ Saemus added.
Because he knew what so many in Kirkwall didn’t: that even those quiet, unspoken gifts deserved to see someone was grateful. That speaking a thing was hard, but staying silent would turn you to stone. That the flush on his cheeks meant he was alive—with embarrassment, perhaps, but making a fool of yourself was absolutely a part of love. The risks involved, the accidents, the beauty. The trembling of his fingers and the pounding of his heart.
He closed the distance, nose against Ashaad’s cheek, lips against his jaw. It was thank you, too, but more than that. And he felt the muscles shift. They shared a kiss, a snowstorm, a heart. A smile.