We see so much of Malcolm in Hawke, but I think there must be a lot of him in Carver too—in his fascination with mercenaries, his desire to protect and have purpose, his inability to express emotional trauma in words. I have a feeling that Malcolm wasn’t always the lion of a father that Leandra and Hawke’s example might suggest, and that it’s only through careful examination of the twins’ behavior that the real human behind the legend begins to peek out.
Previous: What Goes Bump In The Dark
Carver stares down the dark alley way, heart skipping in his chest, the familiar frustration setting in. Carver knows there’s nothing innately dangerous about darkness: Everything else held equal, it is merely the absence of light. That’s all. He knows this, of course he does; and yet still he here he stands, rooted to the spot, sweaty fingers twisting against the strap of his trash satchel, chasing a breath that refuses to escape the back of his throat.
If Merrill notices his struggle, she makes no sign. “We may not have weapons,” she says mildly as she tugs off one glove, “but at least we can have light.”
Grunting, she sets her hand alight in spirit fire, small sparks arcing up and down the bones of her hand. Carver’s reminded suddenly, oddly, of his father; how in his final days Malcolm would turn his fingers to ice, ostensibly to suck on his frozen joints for relief but mostly to prove a point.
It worked when you kids were teething, he had gasped, his breath labored, and if there were more explanation, Malcolm was too fatigued to offer it.
So I really struggled with today’s “Shadows” chapter, and while I think I got all the various plot wrinkles ironed out (with a massive thank you to missl0nelyhearts), I just don’t have the emotional fortitude left in me tonight to finish it up. The regular story will continue tomorrow.
For now, have this little drabble that I unfortunately had to cut from the final draft.
“Carver’s a dumb name,” he says, glowering at Father’s boots. “Why didn’t you name me normal?”
The “like Garrett” part goes without saying.
“Could be worse,” Father says warmly. He does not laugh, because unlike Garrett, Father never laughs at Carver, unless Carver also gets the joke. “We could have named you Butcher. Or Shepherd.”
Carver scuffs at the dirt with his boot. He can hardly argue with that.
“Still,” he mumbles.
“Son,” Father says, the word rumbling deep within his chest. Carver likes it when Father calls him son. He never calls Garrett son, just Garrett. “It’s a good name. A Fereldan name. You like being Fereldan, don’t you?”
Carver shrugs noncommittally, even though he thinks he likes being Fereldan too, though what that means, apart from having a house now and a dog and lots of snow in Wintermarch, he hasn’t yet determined.
“Carver’s a strong name for a strong man,” Father adds.
“I’m not a man yet,” Carver reminds him.
“Age doesn’t make a man, son.” Father’s using the Lesson Voice now, which he usually only uses around Carver when they’re playing swords. “Choices do. It’s the lines in the sand he chooses to draw that make all the difference.”
Carver nods, though he doesn’t really understand what beaches have to do with it.
Abruptly Father kneels so that he’s eye level with Carver. Gently, he pushes a lock of hair out of Carver’s eyes. If it were Mother, he’d flinch away. But Carver doesn’t mind so much when Father does it.
“You watch out for your sister and brother, don’t you?” says Father, answering a question that Carver hadn’t asked. Sometimes, Carver knows, Father needs to talk to other people as if he were talking to himself. Carver doesn’t mind that so much either. “And you do as I ask and help Mother with the chores and you never complain.” Father’s voice cracks. “My little soldier.”
Carver grins and salutes.
Father does not smile back. He takes the hand by Carver’s forehead in both of his and holds it there for a while, watching Carver’s small, calloused palm carefully, as if he were afraid it might vanish. Then he gives it a little squeeze.
“You’re already more than man enough for your name,” he says softly. “I’ve no doubt about that.”
It was a simple enough question missl0nelyhearts asked:
When does Malcolm meet Leandra?
But simple questions never have simple answers.
Instead, they usually end up with me staring at my laptop boggle-eyed on a Saturday night, when I should be out having a real life but instead I’m shredding my hair and tearing up a little at the holy romance novel batman and frantically typing up notes on a timeline for a family who never existed.
I regret nothing.
HOLY SHIT WHAT IS ALL THIS AWESOME ABOUT MALCOLM AND LEANDRA I CAN’T EVEN.
Sit tight, kids. This one is long.