Arcadian Inquisition 82: Loose Ends
@canyouhearthelight you are a truly phenomenal beta reader for helping me with this one - sorry about what it does with your OTP. Also, @lavcircuts and @dierotenixe, thank you for your regular reblogs. Oh, and @ladyhavocinc thank you for your regular reads. Ditto @barest-of-bones and @feral-possums-in-the-bog. @suestohelit is also an appreciated and regular reader - who for some reason I cannot tag despite having spelled that correctly and checked the spelling repeatedly. I appreciate you anyway and hope you see that.
Everyone, remember that my ask box is always open. Please send in any asks you have, and let's check in on Beck and Van and their plans to adopt Mark and Tara, shall we? Also remember how I said Willow was in Crests....
It had been hard months of fighting, and scores more confirmed kills, close calls, and one more lost friend. I had a new scar on my abdomen from where a javelin had barely scraped through my breastplate. But it was over - I was finally marshalling out now that the regiment was heading home. And so was I - a new home.
I stepped forward and saluted smartly as the Colonel ordered me to. The men were on parade and watching me carefully - the news had been going around for days that I had put in a transfer request to Second Wilderrun so I could be stationed in Crests.
So the rank insignia was being taken from my shoulder. “Captain Beckett Pamela. You are, per protocol of integration, hereby demoted to non-commissioned officer rank for your transfer to second wilderrun regiment. You are hereby dropped in rank to sergeant, with a bonus given to you to compensate you for the loss of income. However, in light of exemplary service in this regiment in both the Second Randaynian Crusade, and in the recent battles you’ve fought against both Nihilons and action against the Alamo Rangers, you are hereby granted a number of commendations.”
I maintained the strict parade ground posture as a few medals were drawn from a pouch. The first I recognized - Blooded Hound. Awarded to any soldier wounded in action. The second I had seen on the inside of Ash’s Inquisition jacket, next to his own Blooded hound - I hadn’t realized it was also a Guard medal, but…
“Do you recognize this?”
I shook my head. “No sir.”
“This is the Iron Oak. This is an award for valor that no one wants to win. It’s awarded to soldiers who rally their unit in the face of horrendous casualties and compromised chains of command. You earned it on the Atzlan border, against the Alamo Rangers.”
I shuddered. “I don’t want it.”
“No one does. But you earned it, after that for sure - and there were times in the Randaynian crusade that were borderline qualifying as well.”
I thought of Jaime and had to force myself not to throw it away from me, but I let it be pinned to my chest as well. A Bronze Saber, a Blue Star - awarded for valor in combat and sound judgement and a cool head in law enforcement respectively. I could wear those with pride - and not shudder when I looked at them. I saluted again as I was told to fall in and allowed to begin the long march back home.
A few of the troopers started shouting. “Speech, speech!”
“It’s been an honor.” I was getting choked up. “I was glad I got to spend this time with you. In many ways, you’ve all been like brothers to me. But you know I’ve got a girl in Crests. One who’s really special, one I mean to marry - “ A few laughs went up along with a few groans. “And I need to go home now. You all deserve to as well. I hope we get to meet again. Better days, off battlefields. Or on them, kicking ass again. Hopefully we see each other again as old veterans drinking together and telling war stories we only half remember the details of. You’re some of the best people I’ve ever met, and I hope all of you go a long way. Good luck, and Gaia go with you.” I threw them a sincere salute, tears in my eyes as they saluted back, and fell out, them marching one way, me marching another. Before I left, I heard my name called. “Pamela!”
I turned around one more time. The Colonel was calling me. He came up to me, slowly, and shook my hand. “Before you go, while everyone’s getting the last of their things ready to move out, I want to ask you something. Remember the first time we met, Pamela?”
I winced. “You were a captain back then, yeah. I was a refugee.”
“And you had just picked up weapons off a fallen Guardsmen in the middle of a battle in a refugee camp, and were fighting. I asked you what the Scorch you were doing, and you snapped back that you were protecting your sister and the other refugees with you. Then you pointed out that you were seventeen, an adult by Arcadian law, and supposedly a freedman, and asked if we were serious about all of that, because you wanted to fight.”
I laughed. “That...sounds like me. Did you ever think that kid would make captain?”
The colonel laughed. “No. I thought that kid was an idiot who could grow into a pretty fine soldier, which was why I told you that if you survived you should enlist. And why I didn’t bother trying to stop you since I knew I’d have done the same thing. Especially since you were right - you had as much right to be there as any of us. And now...you did survive. You have grown into a pretty fine soldier. And if you live long enough…” he clapped me on the shoulder. “Someday I’ll be taking your orders. And I’ll be proud to do it. Good luck, Pamela, and good hunting. Dismissed.” He and I saluted again, and turned away.
Him taking my orders. I’d have to be...oh. He was saying he thought I could be Steward-General someday. I’d never thought about it, but Reclaimers were a pretty big group in the Guard and the Stewards did tend to reflect the majority in their branch. But it was a remarkable statement of confidence from the man who’d been my mentor in the military.
Our encampment wasn’t actually far from Crests. Scorch. I was young. I was rested. I was wearing the rig meant to be travelled in on long marches. Twelve miles to Crests, according to the sign.
I started stretching. I had to run further than that in kit in training. And I wanted to see Van. It was time to see if I’d lost anything. I took one last, long swig from my canteen, looked back at the regiment I’d fought with for so long.
And started running towards my new life, legs eating up the ground in front of me.
The good news was that Beckett and I were allowed to adopt Mark and Tara if all went well. Legally. The bad news was we’d have to be inspected by the Inquisition for a full background check - and the fact that I was marrying a man who was the (former) son of a family that used to own me was definitely going to come up. It was going to raise all sorts of questions about codependency even if we could answer the initial questions well - and given how codependent Mark and Tara obviously were that was going to raise even more questions about how fit we were to parent them.
Which meant that we might be in very real trouble.
Still, I promised Mark and Tara I’d keep them informed of the situation. So I sat down with them and started letting them know.
“So, here’s the legal situation. Beck and I can adopt you but we’d need permission from the Inquisition. And from the standpoint of the Inquisition there’s a lot about us even being married that would be pretty scorching questionable even if they can’t technically do anything about that, let alone us adopting kids. The factors that mitigate our past from an Inquisitorial standpoint all point to codependency, and given your own issues that’s...not great for our chances either.”
Mark looked like I’d just hit him in the mouth, and Tara was tearing up, then she swore. “Wait, no. You have a card up your sleeve. Dad’s sister is in the Inquisition, right? Can’t she do the inspection?”
I blinked. I wanted to explain my own issues with River. That regardless of the fact that River wasn’t altogether at fault merely being around her was at least somewhat triggering for me and I didn’t want to ask her help for anything until I’d had much more time to work things out. I would, if I really had to, for the sake of Mark and Tara, but…It wasn’t even relevant. She wasn’t high enough ranked to do it. It had to be done by an Adept.
I was quiet, and Tara said, “Mark, Mom has issues with River, and maybe…”
“She isn’t high enough ranked anyway, and I’d push through it if I had to for you two.”
“What about her mentor? You said you liked him, right?”
I thought about it. Could I communicate with Ash? Maybe?
There was a good chance, I didn’t necessarily have the ability to make sure he’d be the one to do it. But maybe…
“I can look into it. That’d probably help. And I have good news. Your father’s last letter says his transfer finishes going through today, and he should be in Crests late tonight. We’ll be together tonight.” I was excited - it had been too long. And after winter ended him and I would finally be married.
Ash was a possibility, but I wanted to look around at my options. I could, if nothing else, start on the paperwork and look at who was in the Inquisitorial Sanctums, see what I could find out about them while I waited for Beck to get here. But this wasn’t hopeless - we did have connections. And I’d fight for this family. We could do it. We’d been through so much already and we could do this too.
I was thinking, though. I also had other options. Ben was fully supportive of the adoption and also had contacts in the Inquisition who might be willing to help, and I could also ask him.
I was panting by the time I finally got home. It was a long haul - a hard one. I hadn’t run that far for a long time, and it had probably been a mistake to do it. But it was much earlier than I thought it would be.
I found Van’s home first, knowing I wouldn’t be expected to report to the Guard barracks til tomorrow, and knocked. Van opened the door, gaping at my ragged breathing.
“Did...did you run here from the encampment? In armor?”
“Heh...yeah. Not my best idea. I was excited to see you.”
She hugged me and kissed me, then broke the embrace once we were done squeezing for a moment. “I have good news. Beck, we can adopt them. Legally. We just have to get Inquisitorial approval.”
I blinked. “Van that sounds like a huge problem given my bioparents, literally everything about our shared childhood, our codependency, our kids’ codependency, and everything else. And the picture River and Ash both paint of the Inquisition’s culture towards Reclaimers is not...friendly…”
“Right so initially I thought we could have Ash do it but remembered all the cloak-and-dagger problems they’re already having with their circle and wondered if I wanted to get them involved in any of this or risk it getting intercepted by their enemies looking for a bit of payback on us on the offchance, but I went to the Sanctum here and you’ll never guess who was there.”
“A woman named Mentor Willow Rowanoake of the Circle of Inquisition.”
“Same last name as Ash, that a coincidence?”
“The woman who raised him. She says she’ll do the inspection, actually. Since we know his apprentice.”
I smiled. “Van. You are a miracle worker. We’ve got this.”
do you write the “Sirius runs away from home” trope to get over writers block or are you normal?
The summer sun bore down on the earth, warming everything in sight with its rays, including the small house sitting on a patch of spacious land. The birds were chirping as they fluttered in the air and the creek nearby babbled pleasantly in the distance. A young man with several scars across his face was laying in the tall grass in the front of the house, listening to the sounds that surrounded him, allowing the peaceful atmosphere to envelope him. He felt as if he was one with nature in moments like these, which was disgustingly ironic considering he turned into a wild animal once a month that was more familiar and adept with the forest than he was. Still, the birds did not fear him as he was now and the rippling water was more calming than irritating to his senses. He could enjoy these pleasantries as a human rather than startle them as the wolf.
“Remus!” His mother’s voice hollered from the house. The boy listened as the door creaked slightly when opened, followed by light footsteps treading across the old, wooden porch. He smiled to himself, peeking one eye open to watch his mother as she scanned the yard.
“Hmmm...” She tapped her fingers against her chin for a moment. “I wonder where my little boy has run off to.”
“I’m not little anymore, mum.” Remus popped his head up, his curly hair looking quite messy. Hope just smiled and motioned for him to come inside. Once he reached her, he pulled her into a tight hug, resting his head atop her own and laughing.
“See? I’m not little anymore.”
Hope just tutted at him fondly and followed him through the door back into the house. At the small kitchen table sat a light brown farm owl with wide eyes, instantly recognized as James Potter’s pet, with a letter attached to its foot. It hooted happily at Remus and he allowed the bird to peck lovingly at his fingers as he untied the note.
“‘Lo, Kip.” He muttered before moving aside to read the letter so Hope could feed the owl bits of bread. Remus’ eyes scanned over the parchment, his body tensing with each word and the good feeling he had sustained all day was now slipping away, replaced with a sense of foreboding.
How have you been, mate? Good, I hope. Pretty sure I have been driving mum and da up the wall with my constant complaints of boredom. Not even Quidditch has been able to occupy my mind.
I know that the moon was last week, but I still wanted to check in and see how you’re holding up. Do you need me to send anything? Mum has some excellent soothing salves if you want some and I can always send more Honeydukes! Call me a mother hen all you want, I don’t care. I want to make sure you’re alright.
Speaking of maternal instincts, have you happened to hear from Sirius? I haven’t gotten one letter from him this summer which wouldn’t be so worrying since we have the mirrors except he won’t answer my calls on those either. Please let me know as soon as possible if you’ve heard from him. I’m writing to Pete about it as well. And send letters to Sirius if you could. Hopefully he’ll answer at least one of us.
Tell your folks I said hi,
The feeling of guilt was suddenly welling up inside Remus’ gut. He had not been in correspondence with Sirius ever since school ended either, but Remus had assumed that was due to the event that had taken place just before the year ended. The event being Gryffindor winning the house cup, prompting a celebratory uproar at the Gryffindor table where Sirius, seemingly on a high of adrenaline, promptly placed his lips firmly against Remus’ own.
He felt lightheaded just thinking about it. The tingling sensation he felt when the dark haired boy gently cupped his cheek and the fireworks that had exploded in his mind at the initial touch of lips against lips had left him reeling for the last few days of school and well into the summer. But Sirius hadn’t said a word about what happened. Hadn’t expressed any thoughts about it, not even through a letter. Remus had thought that maybe he was embarrassed, that he regretted it the same time Remus relished in it.
Now, he wasn’t so sure.
Sirius ignoring Remus because of humiliation was one thing, but ignoring the marauders as a whole? It didn’t sit right. A sudden sensation of dread was filling Remus’ insides at the possibilities of what truly was keeping Sirius from contacting his friends.
The Noble House of Black that Sirius was raised in was not the most loving household there was, putting their outdated views and beliefs above their children’s happiness, meticulously maintaining their pureblooded-ness with arranged marriages to distant cousins and disowning any family members who step out of line. It was horrible really, and Remus wasn’t even aware of all that happened behind closed doors. James had an idea, but James had grown up pureblood as well and though Fleamont and Euphemia were vastly different than Orion and Walburga in every way, the young Potter boy was able to be more privy to conversations surrounding the Blacks affairs through the grapevine that was pureblood society. The quiet conversations James had with Sirius at the beginning and end of each school year let Remus know that things were definitely more complicated with Sirius’ parents than he understood.
But they all knew about the nightmares.
The first time Sirius woke up screaming in the marauders shared dorm room was in their third year just after the summer holiday. Peter was the only one who really knew what to do, having grown up with a younger sister who was apparently susceptible to night terrors, and had wrapped his arms tightly around Sirius’ thrashing body in an effort to restrain him while instructing James to get a cool cloth. None of them ever really spoke about it, but James and Remus quickly learned how to soothe their friend as well.
“Something the matter, dear?”
His mother’s voice pulled Remus’ eyes and thoughts away from the letter in his hand, which was now crumpled at the edges from his tight grip. He looked at her and shook his head. Hope rushed forward in a second, pulling her son into her arms and making him feel like a small boy again, despite the fact that they were joking just moments ago about how much he had grown. Tears had sprung in his eyes unprompted as Hope cooed soothingly in his ear and he thought of how Sirius had probably never received this kind of affection in his life.
“I don’t think Sirius is okay, mum.” Remus mumbled in her neck. She gripped him more tightly, at a loss for what to do. She knew, of course, the way her son felt about the young heir of Black, how scared he was to admit such feelings to her and even more so to himself. Hope had taken it all in stride, taking Remus in her arms the same way she was now, and telling him how proud she was of him and how much she loved him. She couldn’t imagine feelings anything else.
“What do you need from me?” She asked.
“I need to get to James’.”
this turned out to be super long and so i am splitting into five separate parts, this being the first! i am also working hard on all your requests but i just had to get this out to get my juices flowing. thank you for your patience 💗 read it on ao3 as well!