Audra started to recognize the landscape as they got closer, and she picked up her pace to a run as she saw the spirits from before standing guard.
You have returned, one said.
“I have.” She looked at the others. “These spirits have protected Alistair. They mean us no harm, and we will do them no harm.” Looking from spirit to spirit, she nodded, grateful. “Thank you for protecting him.”
We gave him hope.
“Sometimes that’s all it takes.” She rounded the corner and dropped to her knees next to Alistair. He looked even more pale than when she’d seen him last. Her heart felt like it was being squeezed in her chest. Her beautiful, vibrant, lively husband looked barely living. “Alistair.” Running her hands over his face, she could feel his skin under her fingers. She laid her fingers over his wrist. He felt cold, but she could feel the dim throb of his pulse. “Love, talk to me. Come on. I’ve brought you help.” She rubbed at his cold skin.
He didn’t respond and she leaned down, kissing his forehead. “I even brought you cheese so you’d know it’s me.”
His eyelids fluttered and he opened his eyes, looking up at her. “I’d know it was you anyway.” His voice was so faint.
“Does that mean you don’t want the cheese?”
Alistair tried to laugh and instead it came out as a cough. “No.”
Anders dropped to the other side of Alistair, his hands running over the injuries. Alistair groaned in pain. “Sorry, Alistair. Just trying to see what I’m up against.” He took one of Alistair’s hands in his, and placed the other on his forehead. “Hang in there, we’ve got you.”
Alistair’s eyes closed and Audra nodded to Anders. “Quickly. Please. I can’t…”
“I know.” The familiar blue glow came over his skin. “He will live, Audra, I promise.”
Audra stepped back to let him work, one hand over her mouth to cover her expression. Hawke wrapped an arm around her and she leaned into him, trying to breathe. He pulled her against him and stoked her hair. “We made it.”
She nodded against him, looking down at Anders and Alistair. The blue glow intensified, the power flowing from Anders into Alistair. She knew he could pull more power from the Fade, more than any other mage.
“Amazing,” Solas whispered in awe, and Audra closed her eyes as Anders became so bright that she worried she’d go blind. Hawke tucked his chin against her head, his arms holding her steady. She took comfort in her cousin’s reassurance and fought back the threat of tears. If anyone could do it, it was Anders, but what if Alistair was too far gone for him to heal?
The light still shone through her eyelids and she turned into Hawke, certain that they were all covering their eyes by now. Hawke held the back of her head with his hand, holding her against him. Somehow his armor was less pokey in the Fade.
“How long will it take?” Cullen asked.
“As long as it takes?” Dorian replied, a edge of acid in his tone.
Audra opened her eyes and pulled away to see Anders fall back, the glow fading from his skin. She looked from him to Alistair, then dropped back to her knees next to him, her hands moving over his wounds. There was nothing. She looked at Anders, her hand resting against Alistair’s chest armor. “How could… you healed this completely?”
Anders nodded, swaying. Hawke came to his side and sat next to him, taking his hand and raising it to his lips. Anders chuckled, smiling. “The connection to the Fade gives me more resources. I may not have been able to heal this if we weren’t here. But Justice and I-“
“Are getting laid when we get the fuck out of here,” Hawke quipped.
Cullen coughed and rubbed at the back of his neck. “Still standing here. As are the rest of us.” He glanced at Kieran.
“Oh.” Hawke sighed. “Sorry, Kieran.”
Kieran shrugged. “It’s okay.” He looked down at Alistair, getting down next to Audra. “Will he be fine?”
Audra put her hands on Alistair’s face. The cuts that had been there were gone, the skin whole. Warmth started to seep back into his skin, and while he still looked pale, his breathing evened out.
Audra smoothed Alistair’s hair. “I think so, but he’s not waking up.”
He peered at Alistair’s face and put a hand on his. “Everyone looked really hard for him not to wake up.”
“We couldn’t have done it without you.” Audra looked up at the rest of the group. “I don’t know what to do if we can’t wake him.”
“Cullen and I can manage to move him if we leave the armor behind,” Hawke volunteered.
“By the sound of it, he won’t need it much longer anyway,” Dorian noted. Cullen shot him a look. “I mean because of curing the Taint, Cullen.” He gestured. “Grey Warden armor.”
“If it works,” Solas noted. “We should get ready to carry him if we must.”
Audra leaned over Alistair and kissed him on the lips. Some warmth had returned to them, and she longed to feel him move. His breath brushed against her face and she counted her blessings. He’s alive. “Come on, love. Wake up.” She started unbuckling his ruined armor, starting with removing his chest plate and setting it aside. Her hands moved over his chest to his neck, pulling back any of his tunic that would be potentially restrictive. As she did, she brushed her fingers over his skin. It would have been so easy to have lost him, when they’re so close to having the life they’ve always wanted together. She tried to control the shaking in her hands, but found it hard to stay steady.
A hand rested on her shoulder and she looked over to see Solas standing beside her. “They’ll wait as long as is needed,” he said, gesturing to the spirits that still surrounded them.
“Thank you.” She looked around at the spirits, and at those who had risked themselves to come with her. “All of you.” She drew a deep breath. “The hard part is over. Now we just need to get out of here.”
Kieran looked up and back the way they came. “I can see Mother’s light from here. It shouldn’t be hard to get back.”
Audra nodded, resolute. “Good. We’ll give him a few minutes and if we can’t wake him, we’ll carry him.”
Please, love, she pleaded silently, running her fingers through his hair despite it being caked with blood and sweat. Please come back to me.