"That sanctimonious, shiny, syrupy," Varric caught his breath and continued "self-righteous, ginger," he paused again to watch Anders flop down like a weary bird, and tuck his chin into his collar to stifle a laugh.
"You disagree?" Varric shot at him in amusement.
Anders snickered and started to shuffle a pack of cards idly. “Not even a little bit. I’m no friend of Sebastian, I’m just surprised he irritates you this much.”
Varric clanked a pair of tumblers together and splashed whiskey into them, sat down and pressed his fingertips together, and watched Anders’ hands move like water with the cards. “He’s mealy-mouthed— he could do more good for more people as the ruler of Starkhaven than here, but he has to have some kind of moral struggle to justify the shiny armor. That much certainty just gets my hackles up— it’s too simple.”
Anders sipped thoughtfully and sighed with contentment, tucked his bedraggled hair behind his ears and went back to dancing the cards.
"There’s no logic to it," Varric continued, "The world was a damned shambles before the golden city fell— the Tevinter Imperium is hardly a vision of earthly virtue, after all. So even if you take them at their word, it’s six of one, half dozen of the other." He made a dismissive gesture and reached for the decanter, filled their glasses.
"Faith isn’t about logic, is it?" Anders mused, and sank down further, loose and relaxed. "I envy Sebastian the simplicity of his faith, though, for all of that. No muck, no mess, no cold grey doubt." He sniffed and rubbed his nose on his sleeve, grinned ruefully as Varric tossed him a handkerchief.
"I have faith in change— faith that things will not be the same tomorrow, in the possibility of a moving world. That’s why I’d never make it in Orzammar, they’re dying of stillness." Varric said, and watched as Anders laid the cards out, face down, like a fortune teller.
"That’s because you, my friend, in your golden heart of hearts, never lose hope. That and your excellent whiskey are your finest qualities." Anders caught his eye and smiled, and then turned his attention back to the cards.
"I lost whatever faith I had so long ago I can’t even recall what it felt like. But sometimes," he sighed and began to turn the cards over gracefully, "sometimes, someone who has been hurt, really hurt, in any, or all of the ways a person can be hurt, I’ll watch them fall to sleep, true sleep, and their whole body, even their face will let go of all that agony."
He cocked his head up at Varric and his eyes were clear and bright against the tired lines of his face.
"That’s all I have left of faith— a healer’s prayer. There’s mercy, mercy in this world. When all other virtues have been lost or traded or torn away, we still have a little of that, after all.”