“No! I will not allow her to go with you on this dangerous adventure of yours!”

Gawyn ground his teeth together and concentrated on a jagged crack running thin up the side of a nearby wall just past where his mother stood. “It’s her choice.” He managed to keep the volume of his voice restrained.

Leandra balled fists into the front of her skirts. “No,” she repeated firmly. “Bethany is my baby girl. Your father might have let you run all about Ferelden when you were younger, but I will not lose her after what happened to Carver.”

A familiar tendon in his neck tightened at her words, her biting tone. “Father did not ‘let me’ do anything–I chose to leave.”

Anger flashed through her eyes, though she went on talking as if he hadn’t said anything, something he was sure she knew would only irritate him more. “I never approved, of course, but your father was probably more stubborn than you were. I tried to raise Carver and Bethany with more sense, and they never argued as much as you did or ran away from home when they got too angry. They always showed their mother respect.”

Gawyn’s nose flared and he scraped his bottom incisors roughly along his upper lip. She’s doing it to rile you, he told himself. Everything she says in an argument has always been to make your anger flare. Don’t give in this time. “This fucking ‘adventure’ is going to help us get out of that thrice-damned excuse of a hovel. Bethany is a woman grown and you’ve got to start respecting her wishes instead of trying to shield her all the time. She–”

Shield her?” His mother exploded, red spreading across the bridge of her nose and into her sharp cheekbones. “Don’t you dare talk to me about shielding your sister when you couldn’t do the same for Carver! It’s bad enough you dragged her along on Maker-knows-what sort of illegal ‘jobs’ with that mercenary group your uncle sold you into when we got here–”

“Mother!” Gawyn thundered, a rush flooding into his neck and face. “We were not slaves and we had to repay our way into Kirkwall! Stop acting as if us doing work is an anathema. Perhaps if we hadn’t stopped at your insistence and your absurd indulgent need to come back and pretend to pick up the pieces of a life you ran away from, we’d have been in a better place than huddled at the ass-end of Lowtown!” Before he could stop himself–and he wasn’t sure he wanted to–the words flew like venom from his mouth. “I’m going into the Deep Roads to fucking do something about it and Bethany is coming with me. You have no say in the matter.”

Indignation took away whatever barb she had been preparing to spit out at him for a moment and her eyes widened as if he had struck her. His scowl deepened as furious steps brought her within inches of him, her chin jutting at a level with his chest as she glared acid up at him.

“If something happens to my Bethany down there, I will never forgive you.” Her words were colder than the worst Ferelden winter in his memory. He imagined his anger scorching them from the air.

“I have never expected forgiveness from you.”