Fenris paced back and forth across the stone foyer of the Hawke estate, his bare feet padding softly and echoing off the walls of the massive house ever so slightly. His brow furrowed as worry consumed him. Aria Hawke, his best friend and lover, was supposed to be home before dusk. She had promised him that she would not go traipsing around Darktown after nightfall without him at her side. Now, his typically punctual rogue beauty was over two hours late for their reading lesson. With the sheer number of enemies she had managed to make during her years in Kirkwall, she could have very easily been overwhelmed in the streets if she wasn’t careful…and she was very rarely careful.
He was just about to grab his trusty great sword from the wrack in the corner and go galivanting out in the streets looking for her, when he heard her front door slam open.
“We need to get her upstairs!” Aveline ordered in a voice hardened with concern.
“We are also going to need a wash basin.” Merrill squeaked, “Anders is going to want to know what he is working with.”
Fenris’s ears pricked up at the mention of the healer. Aveline and Merrill bustled into the foyer, an unconscious and deathly pale Hawke draped over their shoulders. Around her waist Merrill’s green ascot was tied tightly in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding; it was entirely soaked with blood. Every step forward left a trail of thick, sticky, and sickly red fluid behind the trio. Fenris felt his heartrate pick up, and his body go cold.
“Bodahn!” He hollered through the manor, his words ricocheting violently off of the walls, “We need a wash basin, several rags and some strong whiskey brought to Aria’s room as quick as you can.” Without thinking he strode across the room, scooped the nearly lifeless girl up in his arms and bound up the stairs to her bedroom. Aveline and Merrill were not far behind.
“I hardly think now is the time for a drink” Merrill chided.
“Alcohol disinfects.” Fenris snapped, “Bodahn, where is that basin!” He hollered once more laying his love on the bed.
Just then the front door slammed open once more, shaking the frame of the estate. Anders sprinted up the stairs, staff in hand, with the dawarven manservant at his heels. They entered the room, and Fenris snatched up the supplies, swept his arm over her nightstand to clear it of all the various junk that had collected there.
“Everyone out!” he bellowed.
Fenris laid the wash basin, rags, and whiskey out on the nightstand as Aveline, Bodahn, and Merrill evacuated. The lyrium laced elf began unbuckling the clasps on his beloved’s armor, hands shaking, and tattoos blazing. The mage glared at him.
“Out!” He ordered once more.
The elf met his gaze with an icy glare “I’m staying, and I am helping.” He growled, “Believe me, as a former slave I am used to tending to the wounds of those beaten nearly to death, let alone my own.”
“Fine.” Anders clipped, “Just don’t get in the way.”
Fenris continued to strip Hawke out of her armor, shucking it into the corner of the room and spattering the walls with blood and gore. It was not the first time he had removed her clothes; however, this was the first time under these circumstances. When he got to her undershirt it was thick with blood and sweat. Congealed globs and futile attempts at her body to clot the wound peeled away from the open gash with a squelch. He wrapped the shirt in a rag and dropped it to the floor with a thud.
When her shirt was removed and she lay before the elf and the healer in nothing but her smalls, they could truly see the extent of the damage. A deep gash about a foot long had made an unwelcome home for itself just below her rib cage. Anders’ breath caught, and Fenris’s stomach turned to ice. By the looks of the wound, she had been run through with a great sword.
Her elven lover snatched up a damp rag and began wiping at the blood around the edges of the wound at the same time Anders began rifling through his pouch for a sterile needle and some thread. If he was going to fix this, if she was going to survive, the wound had to be sealed on the outside before anything could be done to magically reconstruct her insides. Fenris moved to dabbing at the wound with a whiskey soaked rag, silently thanking the maker she was unconscious for this part. They would have had to tie her down to keep her from squirming under the sting if she was awake. Anders checked her pulse; It was there…but just hardly.
“We don’t have much time.” He stated detached. Fenris nodded curtly in response, and turned to wash Hawke’s blood off his hands. The Whole room reeked of rust and salt, it made him sick. The healer began stitching her up, completely focusing on the task at hand, trying not to think of who his patient was. His movements were quick and precise. In moments, Aria had a line of angry red flesh and black stitching holding her insides in. snipping the end of the thread, Anders turned to the elf.
“I appreciate the help, but I really must ask you to leave. I need to concentrate.”
“If you think I am leaving an abomination to use magic unsupervised while the only thing that matters to me in the world lay helpless and unconscious at his mercy, you are sorely mistaken.”
“I manage to save the lives of refugees every day unsupervised without becoming possessed by a demon. Now. Leave.”
“Perhaps you manage to not be possessed by a demon because your body is already occupied by one.” Fenris spat.
“Aveline!” Anders called, his enraged gaze locked on Fenris’s icy scowl. The guard captain poked her head into the room, leaving the door mostly closed.
“Yes Anders, is everything alright?”
“Can the captain of the guard please put this slave in his place and escort him out of here. He’s refusing to leave, and I cannot concentrate. Unless of course he wishes the champion dead.”
Aveline approached Fenris cautiously as the lyrium in his veins burned ever brighter, scorching through his skin. “Anders, that was uncalled for.” She scolded.
“So he can call me an abomination, but I can’t call him what he is…a sl-“
“I am not a slave!” Fenris raged, “And I will not have you alone with her!”
“Gentlemen! The longer you argue the closer Hawke is pulled toward death.” She rested her hand on Fenris’s upper arm. He flinched under the searing pain of her touch on his markings. He hung his head and allowed himself to be dragged from the room. Unfortunately, biting his tongue and quietly submitting to another’s command was another skill he had picked up in Tevinter.
When the door clicked shut behind them, the air filled with the familiar tingle of magic, and a gentle green glow slipped through the crack under the door. Fenris turned to wall just beside the door and slammed the side of his fist and his forehead against it, breathing raggedly and biting back tears. Aveline moved to place a hand comfortingly on his shoulder, but he swatted it away.
“A moment, please…” came his strangled response. He took a deep breath before turning to face the captain, and slowly sinking to the floor with his back pressed against the wall. “what happened?”
“It’s a long st-“
“We have all been through a lot…perhaps we should talk about this after we know what kind of state she is in.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose and shut his eyes. It was clear Aveline wasn’t going to give him an answer and he suddenly did not have the energy to argue. “Whoever caused this will pay…”
“The person who caused this is already dead.”
His eyes shot open, his gaze as hollow as a darktown child’s stomach, “Yet there is something you are not telling me.”
“Good night Fenris.” She turned and retreated down the stairs and through the front door.
It was several hours before Anders emerged from Aria’s room looking terribly exhausted. Fenris immediately snapped awake from his half slumber and jumped to his feet as the mage leaned on the doorframe for support.
“How is she?”
“not good I’m afraid…” he rubbed at the gigantic circles under his eyes, “While she still has a pulse, it is a weak one. Her breathing is labored, she has a lot of internal damage, and to say she has lost a lot of blood would be an understatement. She’s at deaths door, but she is alive and stable…for now. Her condition could go south at any moment. I need the evening to replenish my mana, but first thing tomorrow morning I’ll return to doing what I can.”
“What can I do?” Fenris sighed defeatedly.
“Admittedly, not much. She needs constant monitoring however, watching for the slightest changes in pulse, breathing, or temperature. If anything changes in the night I will do what I can with what mana I may restore between now and then. Someone will have to send for a circle healer though; I will not last long. Blood loss is tricky because there is not much magic can do. Herbs can numb pain, magic can close wounds and heal them faster, but nothing can regenerate blood supply but the body itself.”
“I will stay up with her. Maker knows I will not be sleeping tonight anyway.”
Anders nodded curtly and turned toward the empty guest room next to Aria’s.
The healer’s spine stiffened at the use of his real name by the elf.
“I did not do it for you. I did it for Hawke…and Merrill. Maker knows that airheaded Dale would be lost without her.”
Fenris grunted in response before taking his place at his beloved’s side. A while later, Merrill slipped into the room with a bowl of stew, a hunk of bread, a mug of tea, and a book for him. He had forgotten she was still in the manor, and that he had not eaten supper or had anything to drink in hours. She smiled at him meekly and handed him the tray. The corners of his mouth pulled into a sad smile.
That night and every night after for the next two weeks, Fenris sat up with Hawke. He would check her pulse and temperature every hour religiously and report any and all changes to Anders immediately. He changed her robe and bedding every day, and even helped Oriana to bathe her with a damp rag and a medicinal soap that smelled of pine and cranberry. Beyond changing the dressing of her wounds, he forbade Anders to care for her in this way. He could lock her up and pour healing magic over her all day, but nursing her back to health without magic was his responsibility…his honor. He even instead on being the one to change her bedpan.
In Tevinter, slaves were not willing to risk being beaten for putting off chores to take care of the sick. Fenris however had taken the lash of the whip for others. He told himself that it was because a sick slave meant more work for the rest of them. He believed himself cold and unfeeling, just as his master had always told him. He was the only slave not punished as harshly for taking care of the others, partially because his master found it amusing to see his fierce little wolf emasculated by playing nursemaid. Fenris also guessed that Denarius recognized the benefit of having a bodyguard that knew how to tend to wounds. For the first time Fenris appreciated something he had learned under the command of his former master.
Two weeks and his beloved was still unconscious. Her wound was healing and her body was physically recovering; however, her inability to eat concerned him. She was wasting away before him. There was only so long she could go without food. He was contemplating this outside her door one afternoon when Merrill approached him with a breakfast tray.
“By the dread wolf, Fenris!” She exclaimed, “when was the last time you took care of yourself!? Just because she is ill does not mean that you have to deny yourself a bath to care for her.”
Fenris’s brow furrowed and he stared at her with wide, confused eyes. He ran his fingers through his shaggy ice white locks and cringed. They were matted and greasy. Even Denarius never let him get this bad; even when his time in the dungeon was at its longest, his master kept him clean…he liked him better that way. He shivered at the thought. It was then that he realized that he had not bathed in a week and a half. He also hadn’t had a good night’s rest in about as long. He sighed and took the breakfast tray from his friend. “I’ll have Orana draw a bath.” Merrill offered gently. He nodded once and shoved a spoonful of porridge into his mouth.
A few hours later, he emerged from the guest bathroom shirtless toweling off his hair. Beads of lavender scented water rolled down his shoulders. Merrill tried not to look at him too long, embarrassed of what he might think, and ashamed to see him like this when clearly, he belonged to Hawke. Much to his displeasure, she stood before him with his armor in a haphazard bundle in her arms. He raised an eyebrow at her.
“You’ve been cooped up in this house for two weeks.” She explained, “You need to get out for a while.”
He huffed in response, snatching the bundle away from her. “While I agree it would do me some good to get dressed, I am not leaving her.”
“I thought you might say that, so I had Orana write a shopping list and gave her the afternoon off.”
He rolled his eyes, “Good! Then you can do the shopping.” I’m not an errand boy anymore, he grumbled in his head.
“I thought you might say that too…so I had Bodahn send for Varric to accompany you.”
He sighed heavily at her persistence. He had to admit, she chose the perfect person if she truly wanted him out of the house. The dwarf was one of the most stubborn people he had ever met, second only to Hawke. He would submit to the dwarf’s half-baked plans, if only to avoid the constant prodding into his past. The fewer details he had to add to his book, the better. Fenris retreated into the washroom to dress. When he emerged, Varric’s voice echoed through the halls of the massive estate. Fenris stalked down the stairs to great him.
“Hiya, Broody!” the dwarf smiled, “You look like hell.”
“My physical appearance matters little to me in light of recent events.” He growled.
“I can tell, your hair is almost as spiky as your armor.”
The elf rolled his eyes as Bodahn entered the foyer with a small red pouch, “Good afternoon Messeres.” He greeted cheerfully, “Messere Merrill bid me to give you Orana’s shopping funds and list. She said that I should firmly remind you that it is healthy to get out of the house for a while.” He looked pointedly at Fenris.
“Don’t worry Bodahn, I’ll make sure Broody here gets some fresh air without running off to sulk in the shadows.” He took the pouch of coins from manservant, “Speaking of Daisy, where did she run off to?”
“She probably went with Sandal to walk Argenti. For some reason she has taken quite the liking to the beast. I do not know why; he is a war dog not a halla.”
The two dwarves chuckled before Varric threw his crossbow over his shoulder and headed for the door. “Come on Broody, you need sunshine too or Daisy will not be the only one wilting.”
The elf sighed but obeyed.
Fenris would never admit it, but being outside did help. Of course, the thought of his beloved unconscious in her bed at home loomed over him like a sword over his head, but it was less claustrophobic in the market. It was also nice to have someone to talk to that was not Anders or Merrill. He and Varric wandered through the square purchasing food and other supplies, keeping the conversation light and away from any mention of Hawke’s health. Fenris ignored the stares of the nobles in Hightown. They would stare as he passed before turning to gossip to one another in hushed tones, probably commenting on how the Champion’s Elven lover and former Tevinter slave was out running the errands of a servant.
“How scandalous” he thought to himself with a smirk.
They were headed back to the Hawke estate when a trinket stall caught Fenris’s eye. He approached the stall with interest and peered into the glass cases full of fine china teacups and jewelry. The woman running the stall glared at him, expecting him to try stealing something from right under her nose. He was used to it, and decided to ignore her as it was better than causing more trouble for Hawke by starting an argument with a mere shopkeeper. He gazed into the case full of jewelry and the smallest of things caught his eye: a ring. The band was thin and delicate with vines of gold wound around it in intricate filigreed swirls. The tiny diamonds set into the band at irregular intervals gave the illusion of newly blossoming buds. The vines wound around the band gathered at the setting of the multifaceted crystal that was the spotlight of the piece. As he stared at the ring, he knew what he wanted…Hawke.
These past two weeks had been the hardest two weeks of his life, living simultaneously with and without her. Even in his darkest days under Danarius when he was starved, beaten bloody and on the brink of death was he as miserable as he was not knowing what would become of his champion. If she awoke…no, when she awoke, he was going to make her his before the universe had the chance to separate them for good. He had already made the mistake of letting her go three years prior and he would not make that mistake again. Although they had only been reunited for only a few months, things had moved quickly between them almost as if there was not a chunk of time missing between them; they acted as if they had been together for six years rather than six months. He should have asked for her hard years ago on that first night they spent together instead of running with his tail between his legs as he always did.
He called Varric over from across the square where he had been chatting with a fellow dwarven merchant. He smiled and quickly trotted to the elf’s side.
“I’d like to see that one.”
The shopkeeper looked at him hesitantly for a moment, eyes scanning the square to count the number of guards on patrol in the square that day. Fenris resisted his urge to roll his eyes. He was no thief any longer, not that she could stop him if he really wanted to make off with the ring without paying. He made his own coin now as honestly as any mercenary, and had no need for petty theft to survive any longer. When the woman running the stall decided that there were enough guards in close vicinity to take on the elf before her should he try anything, she sighed and reluctantly unlocked the display case. She plucked the ring from among its bretheren, and placed it gently in the palm of Fenris’s awaiting hand just as Varric arrived at his side. He showed the dwarf the treasure and received a low whistle in response.
“Damn Broody! Is that for the lady?”
“If she wakes up, I want her to know that I am never again leaving her side. I made that mistake once, and I will not be making it again.”
Varric responded with a genuine smile, “You deserve to be happy Fenris, and so does Hawke. I’ve never seen anyone look at her the way you do and vice versa.”
With the mention of the Champion’s name, the shopkeeper’s entire demeanor changed. She must have realized that Fenris was not just another alienage elf window shopping in Hightown looking for something of value to steal and pawn off in Darktown, but rather the mysterious warrior courting the city Champion. Her back straightened and an excited smile took its place on her lips.
“It’s lovely, isn’t it Messere?” she asked with a curtsey in a sickly sweet and fake voice.
Fenris raised an eyebrow at her sudden change in attitude, “Indeed. How much?”
“Twenty sovereigns, Messere.” She bowed once more.
“Consider it sold.” Fenris replied dumping the contents of his own coin purse onto the stall counter.
“Where the hell did you come up with that kind of coin?” Varric chuckled in amazement.
“I’ve been beating Donnic ritualistically at Diamondback for months now. Poor fool keeps coming back claiming he will win one day. What he doesn’t know however is that Isabela is the one that taught me to play.”
“The poor sod.” The dwarf mused, “Aveline sure knows how to pick them, doesn’t she?”
Fenris chuckled to himself as the shopkeeper placed the ring into a plush navy colored box for him. He smiled down at his investment and placed it into his belt pouch before making his way back to Hightown with Varric and the groceries.
“It’s lovely, isn’t it Messere?” Varric mocked in a high-pitched voice, “I’m a racist bitch who hates elves unless they have important connections Messere.” He curtsied and entered the Hawke estate foyer. He handed the groceries off to Bodahn just as Anders emerged from the kitchen with a mug of tea on a fancy-looking saucer. The mage opened his mouth to make a snarky comment when a sharp, raspy giggle echoed through the estate from the balcony above. All three men whipped around to stare up at the source of the noise. There, leaning heavily against the balcony railing breathing laboriously was a pale and sickly thin Aria Hawke. Her copper hair was piled in a rat’s nest atop her head, her cheeks were hollow and sunken, and an amused smile played at the corner of her cracked, dry lips. Her eyes however were rather bright considering she had spent the last two weeks unconscious in bed.
“Aria!” Fenris exclaimed dropping his packages and great sword to the floor with a clatter. He bounded up the steps as Anders shoved his mug of tea into Varric’s hand and followed suit.
“Well hello to you too.” The rogue rasped as the two men appeared at her side, “What did I do to deserve such attention from two fine gentlemen?”
Fenris shucked off his gauntlets haphazardly and grabbed her by the waist to support her. She weakly leaned into him, allowing him to bare her weight for her. Anders draped her other arm over his shoulder to balance Fenris and the two guided her back to bed.
You should not be up and moving on your own.” The mage chided, “You are going to undo all of my hard work.”
“Well excuse me for being unfamiliar with the rules.” She quipped, “It is not as though I have been completely incapacitated for an unknown length of time or anything.”
The sat her back on her bed and she groaned slightly. Anders helped her to swing her legs up so she could lay down once more as Fenris poured her a glass of water.
“Drink.” He commanded, handing her the glass. It began to slip between her frail fingers and the elf caught it, heling her bring it to her lips. When she had drained it, she handed him the glass and wiped her mouth on the back of her hand.
“Thanks.” She smiled in a less raspy voice, “I needed that.”
“I’ll say.” Fenris snorted, “It’s been weeks since we have been able to get a substantial amount of fluids into you.”
Anders retreated to the corner of the room where he had been stashing his medical supplies. Hawke reached up to run her thumb lightly over the circles under Fenris’s eyes. “You look like hell.”
The elf rolled his eyes and gently took her hand in his, “Well if it isn’t the pot calling the kettle black.” He breathed into her skin with a gentle kiss. He placed her hand on his chest, and she could feel the heat radiating from the recently sun-warmed armor. She smiled contentedly.
Anders bustled over with a notebook and an arm full of potions. Fenris stepped back to allow him to tend to his healing. The mage took copious amounts of notes and looked over every inch of Hawke’s body (much to Fenris’s dismay). Her lover remained out of his way, but his eyes never left the frail woman before him. When Anders untied her robe to change her bandages and check her wound, he bit back his jealousy and hid behind his ragged fringe. Aria’s eyes met his with a soft look that said, ‘He’s a healer, it’s his job.’ He responded with a scowl he hoped conveyed the message ‘As soon as this is over, no one will be removing your robes again unless it is me.’ When Anders was done tending to her wounds he took a step back to take in his work as a whole. Aria’s stomach growled.
“Ah yes, food.” Ander’s sighed, “I knew I was forgetting something.”
“Finally.” Hawke chuckled, “I’m starving.”
The mage’s brow furrowed, “Nothing but dry toast and water for now I’m afraid. If you keep that down, perhaps some eggs and tea. Small bites and sips only, no inhaling your food. Your stomach has likely shrunk and you are severely dehydrated. Eating too much too quickly will just cause you to puke it back up, further dehydrating you. I will not have that. So help me Maker, I will watch you eat if I have to.”
Hawke looked disappointed as her stomach growled once more.
“Healer’s orders.” Anders warned.
“I will ensure she does not overexert herself.” Fenris ensured. Anders nodded curtly before leaving the room to fetch Orana and Hawke’s supper.
Hawke patted the bed beside her, encouraging Fenris to take his place at her side. She tried to make more room but groaned in pain. He gently scooped her up and moved her himself. After removing his chest plate and placing on the chair he had slept in the last two weeks, he crawled into bed next to her. He buried his nose in her hair and inhaled deeply. She smelled of pine and cranberry.
“I missed you.” He mumbled into her matted locks.
“I dreamt of you.” She sighed in response, “I dreamt you cared for me. You read to me, you helped clean my bedding, you helped to bathe me…your voice and touch was ever present there in my dreams.”
“That was not a dream.”
She blushed deeply “…Oh, Fenris…” She reached up to touch his face, but he caught her hand gently in his. He kissed each individual knuckle lightly.
“I have something for you.” He breathed into her palm, “A gift.”
She raised her eyebrows and craned her neck to look at his face. His eyes were soft tufts of grass after a fresh spring rain; she was captivated.
“In the market today, I realized how hellacious and empty my life had been without you these past few weeks. It hurt just the same as it did when I made that stupid mistake three years ago.” His eyes saddened with the memory, “I decided today, that should you wake up, I would never leave your side so long as you would have me.”
He slid out of the bed and took her hand in his, dropping to one knee at her bedside. With his free hand he pulled the plush box, opening it to reveal the ring within.
“Aria Patricia Amell-Hawke,” His eyes met hers with a sincere promise, “Before I met you I was a slave, never allowed to dream, never allowed to love. All I thought of was my master’s will. Now I am a free man, yet all I dream of is you. All I love, is you. The only will I care for is yours. Before, I was bound to Danarius against my will, but now I wish to be bound to you, forever, as your humble equal. I will be your provider, your protector, your confident, and your rock. I willfully submit my heart and soul to you, for you are the embodiment of freedom.” He closed his eyes and placed a hand over his heart, “If you will have me, I am yours.”
He stole a glance at her. She was sobbing silently.
“Fenris…” she blubbered and nodded her head as her words failed her. He smiled the first genuine smile he could remember and slipped the ring on her fifer as she pulled him in for a gentle but passionate kiss. When the finally broke their embrace, he climbed back into her bed and snuggled her against his chest.
“I am yours.”
Trigger Warning: Rape/ sexual assault mentioned.
In order to fully explain the events of Anders' character quest where he hunts down the Templars responsible for the "tranquil solution" I explained how the escaped mage was threatened with rape/sexual assault as well as becoming tranquil.
Hawke awoke to a sharp pain in her side, and a low groan escaped her lips before she even realized it. Fenris’s chest stiffened beneath her cheek, and his soft even breathing skipped a beat. His rough, calloused hands threaded into her hair as he stirred beneath her.
“Are you alright?” he grumbled into her ear.
“I’m fine.” She mumbled sleepily, and her breath caught in pain as she tried to readjust herself.
He let out an exasperated huff into her neck, and gently scooted her off of him as he slipped out of bed.
“Where are you going?” she yawned.
“The mage left some vials of a pain relief potion in the cabinet.”
“Fenris, I don’t need any more potions. It’s the middle of the night…come back to bed.”
“Your wound woke you, I am not a fool.”
Hawke sighed, “But those potions taste like mabari shit…”
Fenris chuckled, “but they help.”
“they knock me on my ass is what they do. I was out almost as soon as it passed my lips last time…I don’t like how they make me feel.”
Fenris fumbled in the dark for a candle before giving up and igniting his lyrium markings instead. The room filled with a soft blue glow. He reached into the cabinet in the corner of the room and pulled out a small vial before returning to the bedside table to light a candle and administer the potion to Hawke.
“…You don’t have to care for me you know. I could do it myself.”
“Not a chance.”
“You could wake Anders. He is a Healer, this is his job.”
Fenris growled in the dancing shadows the candle cast upon the wall, “Not. A. Chance…Stop stalling and drink your potion.”
“I think Anders has done a great job staying level headed and working through this, all things considered. I thought he would have broken down under the pressure of a self-inflicted guilt trip by now.”
Fenris’ brow furrowed and his eyes narrowed, “How do you mean?”
Hawke sighed, “I would have thought that he would have blamed himself for that Templar running me through.”
“What!” Fenris snarled, “What do you mean a Templar ran you through!?”
“Y-you don’t know?”
“That abomination used you as a human shield!” His markings began to glow once more, and his voice grew louder. It was a statement, not a question.
“N-no it wasn’t like that!... I figured Aveline told you what happened.”
“No!” Fenris snapped, “She refused to tell me…now I see why!”
Hawke gripped his arm weakly, “Fenris, would you calm down!? You don’t know the whole story…”
“Then tell me, Hawke. What is the whole story?” he snapped.
“I’ll tell you if you promise to hear the whole thing through.”
Hawke sighed, and winced at the pain it shot through her ribs. The potion was wearing off, and she was becoming more and more aware of her wound.
“I went to Darktown to check in on Anders. The streets have been crawling with Templars as of late and I wanted to make sure he was safe. When I arrived, he started going off on how the Divine and the Chantry were hell bent on finding a “tranquil solution” to make all mages obedient. There was this Templar, Ser Alrich, who was abusing his power and taking advantage of vulnerable apostates, the tranquil, and even mages who passed their harrowing. He was a sick bastard who liked to make mages beg not to be tranquil. Anders asked me to seek out this Templar with him and bring his transgressions to the head cleric. I willfully agreed.” She emphasized the fact that it was her choice before Fenris could accuse Anders of playing mind games, “when we found him in the tunnels under the gallows, Alrich had cornered an escaped mage. She was begging him not to tranquilize her, and he threatened to rape her once her will was taken. It was disgusting to watch, even if she wasn’t an apostate. When Alrich made the threat, Anders lost control and Justice took over. Anders, Aveline, Merrill and I fought Alrich and the other templars, rescuing the poor, terrified girl. When we were searching the bodies for evidence of the ‘tranquil solution’ Anders spoke of, we were sure Alrich was dead. When I leaned down to search him, he plunged his sword through my gut with the last of his energy before I knew what was happening. The last thing I remember is the sound of Merrill’s panicked shriek, and the glow of Justice as he took over once more…then I woke up here.”
An enraged growl ripped through Fenris’ chest, “I’ll kill him!”
Hawke flinched at the sound of his anger…this was the most upset she had ever seen her lover.
“It wasn’t Anders’ fault, Fenris. Ser Alrich was to blame, and he is dead from what I understand. I am healing and doing better. I’m okay.”
Fenris glared at her, fists balled at his sides, “Okay!? You have a wound in your abdomen that woke you due to the pain! You cannot move without wincing! You are thin, and frail! You cannot even hold a glass of water to your lips on your own! That…abomination risked your life for his own political agenda. You nearly died because he dragged you after some damn apostate!”
“He didn’t drag me anywhere, Fenris!” Hawke mumbled back, too weak to shout “I told you, I went along willfully. I am glad that I did…that poor girl would have been taken advantage of otherwise. Apostate or no, no person deserves that kind of horror stained on their life.”
Fenris knew better than anyone what kind of mark a crime such as that could leave on a person, “While I agree that no person should ever experience that, and I am glad you kept the templar from taking advantage of her, I do not believe you should have interfered beyond that. They should have been left to do their duty and return her to the gallows.” He seethed between clenched teeth, “This ‘tranquil solution’ the possessed mage has deluded himself into believing should have been left alone. A tranquil mage is a safe mage.”
“Fenris, I couldn’t have just let them return her to the gallows…if he had aleady threatened her in such a manner, what was stopping him from keeping his word when no one was watching?”
He scanned her face with skepticism and caught the subtle hitch at the end of her sentence. There was something else she was not saying, and he knew exactly what it was.
“It goes beyond your fear for the girl’s safety, and you know it.”
“What are you getting at…”
“You know exactly what I am getting at.”
“I-I…Fenris, what are you…”
“You are omitting details, Hawke. Do not try to pull the wool over my eyes. I learned to see through lies by omission a long time ago. What. Aren’t. You. Saying?”
Hawke squirmed beneath his furious gaze, wound throbbing.
“Hawke…” He warned, “I will find out one way or another.”
She sighed heavily, “B-before Alrich ran me through…Justice turned on the apostate and accused her of being an accessory for the Templars. It was when I was distracted by trying to talk Justice down that Alrich attacked me. I was distracted…and vulnerable…and when I think how things could have gone…when I think of Justice turning on the very mage he desired to free…If I had let the templars go about their business after taking Alrich down, Justice could have turned on me.”
Fenris’ face softened for a moment, and he leaned down to caress her cheek with his thumb, his markings dimming. He opened his mouth to say something, but he couldn’t find the words. His eyes began to harden once more, and his mouth snapped shut. Lyrium blazed brightly once more. He quickly turned his back to her and balled his hands into white-knuckled fists at his sides.
“I’ll kill him.” He spat before storming out the door.
“Fenris! Fenris wait!” Hawke called after him. She swung her legs over the side of the bed, bare feet hitting the icy stone of her bedroom floor. Her wound burned and throbbed, while the rest of her shivered. She stumbled after him. She made it as far as the door before she had to lean against the frame for support. Only a few feet away, Fenris was kicking down the door to Anders’ guest room. He growled with rage when he found the mage’s bed empty and cold. Hawke panted with the effort of baring her own weight behind him. His sharp ears caught the muffled sound and he spun on his heel, reaching her in a stride and a half…speed increased by the lyrium humming through him. He easily scooped her up into his arms.
“Venhedis, Woman!” He cursed, “Festis bei umo canavarum! You will be the death of me…” He carried her back to her bed, and tucked her in. He restrained her struggling, flailing limbs with ease until it appeared that she had expended all of the energy she had. “Drink your potion and stay put.” He ordered, sliding a thin un-corked vial into her fist. He stormed out of the room once more, this time down the stairs.
“Mage!” He called, his growl ricocheting through the foyer.
Hawke pulled her self from her bed once more, and stumbled after him.
The kitchen door swung open into the foyer, and a worry worn Anders emerged with a cup of tea in hand for the second time that day. His hair was free of its usual leather tie, sticking up in some places and clinging to his neck and cheeks in others. His robes were a mess of wrinkles, and dark circles seemed permanently bruised under his eyes.
“What’s wrong?” He asked in a panic, “Is Hawke okay?”
Fenris glared at him from across the foyer, “No, she isn’t! In case you haven’t noticed, she came home with a gaping wound in her abdomen two weeks ago on death’s doorstep. Now, she is kept from a restful recovery by the constant throbbing reminder of that wound that stirs her from her slumber.”
Anders looked at him confused for a moment, before placing his tea cup on a near by bench and pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration.
He sighed heavily, “I don’t understand why you are suddenly so pissy. I thought you tended wounds in Tevinter. They take time to heal, and they bloody hurt during that process. I gave you potions to ease her pain, and they just so happen to knock her out as well. If she refuses to drink them, there are other ways to administer them to her…though she would probably be even more pissed if we attempted that.”
“I am not unexperienced in administering medicine by force.” Fenris growled, “But I wouldn’t even have to contemplate those alternatives if it were not for the likes of you.”
Anders was becoming irritated, “If this is your way of thanking me for saving your fiancé’s life, then either the etiquette they teach in Tevinter is quite the opposite of that they teach throughout the rest of Thedas, or Denarius never taught you any.”
“Another word apostate and I will...”
“You cannot go about threatening me when you are the one that came to me in the middle of the night to vent your suppressed past anger toward your master.”
“I did not come down here at this time of night to vent the grudge I hold against my former master.” Fenris spat with emphasis on the word Anders had skillfully excluded, “I came down here to demand answers as to why Hawke was conscripted into the task of hunting down Templars who nearly ended her due to your possession.”
“Conscripted!” Anders scoffed
“It is what Grey Wardens do, yes? Demand others join them in their perilous tasks to fight for what they believe will bring the most safety to the rest of Thedas, give those they select the choice to either join them or die?”
“Either Hawke left out the part where she willfully agreed to help me hunt the Templars down, or you are so narrowminded and blinded by your hate of magic that you missed the overarching narrative.”
“An abomination, and a hypocrite.” Fenris smirked, “The point still stands that she nearly died because of you, and had she done what was right by allowing the templars to go about their business beyond stopping the assault of the apostate, you would have easily turned on her and killed her yourself.”
Anders’ face dropped, “Do not think that that does not haunt me…”
Aria stumbled down the last step, breathing heavily, and leaned against a nearby wall for support.
“Fenris…” She called out weakly, “Fenris please be rational.”
“I am being rational.” He growled, eyes never leaving Anders, “All mages are the same…they use those around them to fulfil their own agendas, no matter the cost. Do not feign suffering abomination, you will find no sympathy here.”
“I am not a magister, elf! And I did not use Hawke. Do not let your past experiences dictate your view of the situation when you were not even there.”
“He’s right, I made the choice to go without any feeling of obligation. He is my friend and I wanted to help. I am an adult who can make decisions for myself.” Aria wheezed.
“Perhaps,” Anders continued his argument from before, “if you were not such an ass to me all the time, she would have asked you to come and you could have protected her. You were a bodyguard before, correct? You did just promise her you would always protect her? Yet, here she is because she felt as though she could not trust you enough to ask for help.”
“Do not turn this on me mage.”
“If I am at fault for asking her help as a friend, then you are at fault for being her overly anti-magic, lover. It is just as much my fault she got hurt as it is yours.”
The Tattoos on Fenris’s skin burned even brighter, “Keep challenging me mage, and I will rip your heart out where you stand.”
“You will not!” Hawke gasped as she fell to the floor with a thud.
Fenris’s anger dulled for a moment as panic set in. He spun on his heel to face her, and the blood drained from his face. Her face was even more pale than before as she slumped against the wall, breathing labored, pajamas soaking through with blood.
“The stitches.” Anders panicked.
Both warrior and mage rushed to her side. Fenris leaned her back on the floor gently rushing to pull up the hem of her pajama shirt.
“I’m fine…” she mumbled hardly audible.
“You are not, you over exerted yourself and reopened your wound.”
“What in the ancestor’s name is all this ruckus!?” Varric cried as he stepped out of the downstairs guest room into the foyer where the argument had taken place.
“Wake Orana!” Fenris called, “Tell her to fetch a circle healer immediately!”
“Why waste your time with a circle healer when I’m standing right here!?” Anders spat as he knelt down at the champion’s side.
“Forgive me for not trusting the apostate abomination who nearly got her killed to save her life.”
“I did once before.” Anders growled, beginning to cast a healing spell.
“Ladies…you are both beautiful…” came the patients hardly conscious response. Even at a time like this she was a smartass. Fenris rolled his eyes, leave it to his rouge to be witty even as she bled out on the foyer floor for the second time that month.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not risking Hawke’s life because you guys can’t get your act together, I’m waking Orana.”
“Fenris,” Anders pleaded, “I care for her, I really do. Perhaps not in the same way as you, but I do care. We can continue this argument later and you can threaten me all you want, but Right now, I just want her alive and in bed, resting.”
Fenris glowered and looked down at his hands soaked once more in her blood. “If you harm her, I will kill you without hesitation.”
“Fair enough.” He began casting another healing spell, green light swirling around his hands as they hovered a few inches from Hawke’s ribs. The stream of blood seeping through her bandages stopped, and Anders breathed a little easier.
“It was a lot more superficial than we thought. It doesn’t even need stitches. It was just wide, and I’m sure the pain is what made her collapse.”
“You can say that again.” Hawke groaned.
Orana bolted into the foyer looking terrified. “Master Fenris!”
Fenris pinched the bridge of his nose with his clean hand, “For the last time, I am not your master. Call me Messere or Ser if you must, but never master. You are a servant, not a slave. You are free.”
“Everything is alright Orana, no need to panic. Once we get Hawke upstairs with fresh bandages, I will take care of the blood on the floor.” Anders smiled gently.
“Damn right you will.” Fenris growled, “I’ll change her dressing, you are not to come near her again.”
“Will you be needing a basin of warm water, Master?”
Fenris closed his eyes and breathed deeply, trying his best not to snap at the girl. He knew better than anyone the hell she lived through before Kirkwall, and how much a simple burst of anger could cause that trauma to come rushing back.
“I’m sorry…” she all but whispered, terrified “Messer Fenris, will you be needing a basin of warm water?”
“Yes Orana, thank you. And Orana…I am not angry. I will not hurt you.”
“Yes ser.” She curtsied and left the room.
“Why can’t you be that pleasant and gentle with everyone?” Anders jabbed.
“That side of me is reserved for Aria and the survivors of abuse at the hands of a magister, not those who allow wondering spirits to bond with their soul.” He scooped up his beloved and carried her to her room.
Over the course of the next few weeks, Fenris tried relentlessly to remove Anders from the equation. After the night of Hawke’s collapse, he had thrown the mage out of the house and demanded he never return. Orana sent for a circle healer, and the Amell fortune was dipped into to cover an evening of intensive healing and constant observation. Fenris was thankful that Aria was too exhausted after the collapse to put up much of a fuss about the fact that he had sent the abomination back to his hole in Darktown; However, when she awoke to someone who wasn’t Anders caring for her the next morning, she promptly fought back the only possible way she could…with a hunger strike. She kept it up for a solid three days before Fenris finally sent the circle healer home and sent Merrill to find Anders once more.
If Fenris had had the energy, and hadn’t had the past that he did, perhaps he would have fought her little display of stubborn anarchy more tactfully. Force feeding was an effective way of breaking a rebellious slave bold enough to recognize they weren’t nearly as expendable and easily replaced as their masters let on…but that was a violent process that oft involved restraints and a struggle that could be traumatizing. In order to harden Fenris and isolate him from the other slaves, Denarius often forced Fenris to administer this punishment to his master’s other fleshy property. He had experience…but the consequences were too much of a risk. If she was in more stable condition, he maybe would have matched her stubbornness and waited a good week or so for her to cave. However, with her already being dehydrated/malnourished and towing the line between life and death as it was, Fenris decided it was safer to give in to her demands than be responsible for the damage she caused herself. Naturally, the abomination held her slightly deteriorated state above him and refused to let it go once he returned. It was positively infuriating. It was the first time Fenris had felt this powerless since before the death of his former master.
With Anders back in the house, everyone was walking on eggshells. One comment phrased just the wrong way and the two men would be at each other’s throats once more. It was not a conducive recovery environment according to Merrill who often dragged the two out to the back garden if they were going to have a go at one another. Anders went through a streak of winning arguments for a while which made him smug. He knew what Hawke would do if Fenris threw him out again or followed through with all of his threats to kill him/call the chantry to come get him. He knew Hawke refused any other healer and would likely resort to another hunger strike (if not some other form of rebellion) if faced with a situation where Anders was not her caretaker alongside Fenris. This gave him the upper hand and according to Fenris, he became a jackass for it. Anders was able to push Fenris to his limits outside matters of Hawke’s health simply because he knew there was nothing her lover could do about it. A typical mage exploiting the power he was given.
By the Maker’s mercy Anders was no longer needed around the clock by about a month after her initial injury. Instead, he popped by twice a day to check up on her and ensure she was eating and drinking her potions. If there was an emergency, they sent Orana through the tunnels below the cellar to find him, and he was at her side in an instant. Thankfully though, he was no longer “living” with them (although Merrill stuck around as the peace keeper).
At about the five-week mark, Hawke was up and moving again…if not at the pace of a snail. She relied heavily on an old staff borrowed from Anders to use as a walking stick to get around. She also still needed some help getting to the bathroom, dressing and bathing. It was a challenge for her to be so reliant on Fenris and Orana for daily life, but at least she could navigate the upper floor pretty sufficiently. Twice a week Varric would usher Fenris and Merrill out of the house for a few hours in the late afternoon to allow Hawke a bit of space, and the two of them a break from playing nursemaid. Orana and Bohdan always stayed behind to look after Hawke in case she tried anything stupid. For a while Fenris refused to allow her downstairs while he was gone in case she got the bright idea to sneak out to the market unsupervised (which she had mumbled about in a fever induced sleep earlier on in her recovery). Naturally he never told her why he wouldn’t take her down before leaving, but he would leave her behind on the upper floor confident that Orana could not get her down all those steps with just Bohdan’s help.
As Hawke strengthened, eventually he did start carrying her to the study while he was out, for a change of scenery. If it was nice out, he’d help her hobble to the back veranda so she could get some fresh air in the garden. Summer in Kirkwall neared the end however, and the cold began to set into the Champion’s bones aggravating her wound. Lounging in the garden came to an abrupt halt. Aria was the most restless she had been since she was on the run with her apostate father, but even with magic there was only so fast the wound could heal.
By the time there were leaves on the ground, there was no more Anders could do magically to speed the process of healing besides providing decreasingly less powerful and less frequent potions for pain (for fear she may become addicted or reliant). This wound was the worst wound she had ever sustained. She knew deep down that if it was not for Fenris’s and Anders’ immediate and persistent care, she would have been reunited with her family in the fade by now, yet her gratitude only took her so far. She was beyond the point of cabin fever, and was sick of seeing the same faces every single day as they fussed over her. Even Fenris’s usually welcome company had started to grate on her nerves. He had gone from ruggedly handsome warrior to fiercely protective caretaker who at times felt more like a jail warden or a suffocating Nanny depending on the situation. She had to give the elf credit: nothing slipped past him.
Either a lifetime of slavery or three years on the run had developed some habits that made it impossible to try breaking any of Ander’s strict rules of recovery. He was too light of a sleeper to not notice the subtle shift in her body when her pain medication had worn off in the middle of the night. Rather than try to ignore it and sleep through it like she had so many injuries before, Fenris would snap awake and be on his feet in an instant to administer her another rancid vial of liquid relief. The scariest part was that he wasn’t even groggy. He was wide awake and on his feet doing exactly what he had to do, no complaints and no questions besides the threatening quirk of a brow when Hawke protested the potion. Having a light sleeper in her bed also made it impossible to try and sneak down to the lower levels of the estate in the middle of the night.
Even more infuriating, his ears were as sharp as a wolf’s (if not sharper). In battle and while in open areas where enemies could be lurking in the shadows, Hawke was eternally grateful for his incredible ears. However, besides catching the snap of a twig beneath an untrained bandit’s boot, he also caught the slight hitch of her breath when she tried to push herself too far. He also would catch the creak of the window when she would try to slip out onto the ledge for some fresh air.
Probably the most infuriating was his iron will. Hawke already knew that once her beloved set his mind to something there was no stopping him; reading lessons had taught her that. But she was not prepared for his sudden insistence on abstinence while she was recovering. She may have suffered a stab wound but she was still a woman…a woman with…needs. She had to give him credit for at least trying to find other ways to satisfy her, but none of them were quite the same as having him. That was one infuriating matter he refused to budge on though. Under normal circumstances, his appetite was insatiable. Yet while she remained injured, every proposition and opportunity was met with a firm and simple “No.” Aria suspected that he feared harming her in the process, and that fear is what translated to his sudden change of demeanor when pushed on the subject. Yet the damned gentleman of an Elf remained resolved to hold his stance, and the answer always remained, “no.” The consequence of this decision, was a very wanton Champion of Kirkwall often spending her unconscious hours of the evening dreaming of all the ways she wished Fenris would impale her with his great sword…while silently thanking the maker she was not, in fact, a mage capable of being possessed by a desire demon.
When the autumn had come, and the festival of the dead was around the corner, Hawke had decided she had had enough of complacency with her new life in recovery. That morning, Fenris had helped her down the stairs into the study, setting her up with a towering stack of new books to read. He then offered Orana the day off to do as she pleased since she had been working nearly non-stop for the past few months with Hawkes injury. The tiny elf gleefully accepted the vacation and packed her things to spend a few days visiting with Merrill (who had finally returned home only two weeks before) at her home in the alienage. Fenris kissed his beloved farewell and made his way out the door to pick up some mercenary work once more as yet another change of pace, leaving Bohdan and Sandal to look after the lady of the house. An explosion in the cellar only a few minutes after Fenris and Orana had left sent Bohdan running after his son…and left Hawke with the perfect opportunity for rebellion.
With a great deal of effort Hawke managed to drag herself along to the front door and make her glorious escape. The wound in her side still throbbed with effort, but the first gust of winter wind felt amazing on her cheeks. The air was filled with the sweet smell of firewood, and the atmosphere tinged with the crisp feeling of an approaching snowstorm. She pulled her cloak around her tightly and leaned heavily on her crutch as she made her way towards the Hightown market square.
It felt like a century since she had been among the company of so many people; while she once knew what felt like every face in Kirkwall, that was no longer the case. Either there were hundreds of new residents, or her people had succumbed to the inevitable turn of time and had grown and changed in her absence. It seemed the city no longer recognized her either. Pale, frail, and thin as she was she was far from looking like the fierce and glib warrior she was known as. Thankfully, neither her personality nor her knowledge of combat had changed all that much despite her physical appearance.
As she hobbled her way through the square, avoiding the ever-watchful vulture-like eyes of Aveline’s guards she noticed the colorful packages bundled in the arms of passersby. Wintersend…time had flown by since her injury. It was still early autumn when she was ran through and now it was nearly wintersend. She had missed an entire season, an entire quarter of a year that she could have been protecting the streets from thugs and bandits…an entire year that she had burdened her loved ones with the task of caring for her…especially Fenris.
It did not escape her how the elf seemed to have dark circles etched into the flesh beneath his eyes the same as the lyrium etched into the rest of his skin. While he was now remembering to eat and bathe regularly, his every moment was still devoted to caring for her. She had been overwhelmed with guilt for months feeling as though she had returned him to his servitude of old by caring only for her and neglecting himself. It was all she could do to thank the Maker every night that Varric and Aveline had finally nagged him into taking on some mercenary work at least once a week. He needed some time out of the house, as well as an outlet for his pent-up aggression towards Anders.
While she wandered the market daydreaming, bitter wind began to whip through her hair and chill her to her bones. Her thick winter cloak felt paper thin as snowflakes began to fall wet and heavy. The cobblestone streets became as slick as a mabari’s nose. Her crutches skidded against the pavement a few times, and her ribs throbbed. She sighed heavily and made the decision to head back towards her manor. The storm was picking up and the square was emptying out.
She paused for a moment and leaned heavily on her crutches, catching her breath in the bitter cold. The wind was consistently taking her breath away as it swirled around her. The heavy snow landed on her shoulders and weighed her down. The conditions were becoming dangerous even for someone entirely capable of handling themselves in the elements. Inching through an oncoming snowstorm on crutches was far less than ideal, especially since she was alone.
Not slipping and falling on her way back home was the only thing on her mind as she made the tedious trek back home through the storm; something she regretted about halfway home. She leaned heavily on the railing dividing a set of hightown steps, when out of nowhere, two figures in dark cloaks dropped down from the eaves of the mansions on either side of the steps. In the howling wind, their cloaks swirled around them, and knocked their hoods from their heads. Rather than finding the unwelcome faces of more Carta thugs, she came face to face with two masks made of bird skulls…Discreetly, she reached for the dagger in her belt and hid it under her cloak level with their navels. She knew there was not much of a chance for her if they happened to be wearing armor under their cloaks (which was more likely than not), but she was not going out without a fight.
“Greetings, Lady Hawke.” One of the figures snarled in a thick, unfamiliar accent.
Hawke glared at the figures and shouted over the whipping wind, “Who are you?”
The other figure, the shorter of the two chuckled darkly. The sound was like the tolling of a funeral bell. It was then that Hawke realized the figure was a woman.
“It is always the same questions…” The female attacker sighed sarcastically, “Who are you, what do you want…”
“Why are you doing this…” The male counterpart finished.
Hawke rolled her eyes, “What a pitty I am so predictable…” She grumbled
There was a heavy moment of silence thick with an unspoken smirk hidden beneath the attackers’ masks. Then, there was the flash of a dagger whipped from the belt of figures. Hawke’s dagger slipped from her weakened hand and she squeezed her eyes shut. I should have just stayed home… she thought as she fell hard against the cobblestone street below her before her world went black.
Hawke awoke to the heavy splat of ice cold snowflakes hitting her cheeks. Her eyes shot open she whipped into a sitting position. Her side screamed in pain, and her head whirled and throbbed. At her feet laid her two would-be attackers, each with a well-placed dagger through their eye sockets. Her neck was confusingly hot and confusingly damp. She reached for the problematic spot on her head, fully expecting a handful of blood, and froze when a gentle olive hand caught her wrist mid movement. Her stomach dropped and she winced, fully expecting Fenris to scoop her up in his arms with a huff and a silent glare. Instead, she felt the pressure of a thick cloth on the aching spot on her head.
“You really shouldn’t have sat up so quickly,” scolded a smoldering and distinctly sexy voice in the same unfamiliar accent as her attackers.
Aria turned to stare at her strange companion, wide-eyed and confused. He was an elf the same as Fenris, but shorter and a great deal less lanky. His hair was a soft honey color that flowed to the middle of his back and whipped around him in the wind. His eyes were the color of hot, golden whiskey with long sultry lashes. On his cheek, two Dalish-style tattoos accentuated his square and prominent cheek bones in a soft line that lead the eyes directly to his very full and velvety lips. Aria stared at him dumbfounded for a moment and the elf smirked.
“Not used to seriously handsome shirtless elves helping you up off the street in the middle of a blizzard are you.” He quipped.
She blinked and blushed profusely. She hadn’t even noticed he was shirtless…and for her own sanity, she was glad she hadn’t; She wasn’t sure her mind was capable of processing this amount of sheer beauty all at once. Her eyes raked over his broad shoulders and bare pectorals and found a very toned, but not overly buff figure before her. It was then that she realized the fabric pressed against the back of her head stemming the flow of blood was, in fact, his shirt. She continued to stare and his eyebrows knitted in concern.
“Or perhaps you hit your head harder than I thought…”
Aria coughed awkwardly and smiled as much as she could with her face muscles freezing in the snow, “Um no…I’m not used to these kinds of encounters. Thank you.”
The elf smiled and pulled her to her feet. He snatched the crutches up under one arm and ordered her to hold his shirt against her head as he supported her waist with his free arm.
“So, where are we headed Lady Hawke? I highly recommend the circle of magi considering the wound on your head, but with your state and the weather being what it is I don’t think we will make it that far. Perhaps I can help you get home and If you will allow me, I can deal with the wound on your head myself.”
Aria froze against his side, “How in the Black City do you know my name? We’ve never met.”
The elf chuckled, “I found your name on the orders those buffoons were carrying. For assassin’s, they really were terrible. Carrying your orders on your person is such an amateur mistake.”
Aria sighed and began to lead the way back up the Hightown steps toward home, glad to have her new companion to support her in these weather conditions.
“So they were assassins, huh. I can’t say I am not surprised with the number of enemies I’ve happened to make already in this city. Do the orders say who hired them per chance?”
The elf sighed, “Some pissy noble family. The Von Liechtenstein’s I believe.”
Aria sighed, “Fantastic.”
“So, you’ve had dealings with them in the past then?”
“No actually, quite the opposite. I have no idea who they are.”
The elf chuckled lightly, “Ah, city states and their politics. Always such fun, mmm?”
The pair rounded the corner and began the second flight of city steps.
“What do you mean, politics?” Aria inquired.
“Word is on the street, Lady Hawke, that you are going to be Viscount one day. These Von Liechtensteins must be out for the position themselves.”
“How do you know so much about me? I don’t even know your name.” Aria snapped.
The elf became suddenly serious, “My name is Zevran Arainai, and I am in Kirkwall in business: Namely taking down the guild master for the Antivan Crows, a man named Nancio. As a result, I have my ears to the ground and I know everything about everyone in order to keep Nancio from killing me before I kill him.”
“Who are the Antivan Crows?”
Zevran stopped short and looked down at Hawke in surprise, “Seriously? What is it with you northern countrymen? The Antivan Crows are the most prominent crime guild in Antiva. They are a group of assassins who take contracts around the globe and are heavily integrated into Antiva’s political system. In short, they are very expensive and very effective. For them to come after you, Lady Hawke, you must have some exceedingly wealthy enemies.”
Hawke rolled her eyes and continued forward, “So, what then? You pissed off some rich people who sent assassins after you too and now you are out for revenge on the guild?”
Zevran chuckled, “On the contrary. I was one of them, and I left. They are not happy about that and want me dead.”
“You were one of them!?” Aria half shrieked, “And you are walking me home?”
Zevran became serious again, “While I am dangerous, I am not dangerous to you. In fact, I was the one who took out your attackers. Also, rescuing you was a favor to my love back home. She has connections with your dear friend Merrill, and would be devastated to find that one of Merrill’s greatest advocates and protectors died at the hands of my former guild.”
“So, you rescuing me is simply ‘business’ as well…”
Zevran shrugged, “More or less.”
They finally reached Hawke’s front door.
Hawke retrieved her crutches from Zevran and smiled at him gratefully.
“I have a friend who is a healer who can be sent for by my manservant, So you don’t have to waste your time dealing with my head. However, I’d like to invite you in and offer you a cup of tea…and maybe a shirt…”
Zevran threw his head back and laughed boisterously, “Both would be much appreciated.”
Hawke smiled and shoved the entirety of her weight into the door to open it. In the vestibule, panicked voices ricochet off the walls disjointedly.
“…He is going to absolutely murder me Aveline. He already hates me. All he needs is one reason to run me through, that’s it. I was supposed to check on her two hours ago, but I figured She can’t go very far in her state…”
“That was Mistake number one, Anders. You know her personality.”
“Oh, I really hope she’s okay and hasn’t run into any rude people.” Merrill sniffed, “There are a lot of people who would just love to gossip about how thin she’s gotten.”
“I think people gossiping about Hawke’s weight is the least of our problems, Kitten.” Isabella chimed in, “Also, I don’t know why none of you would take her out with you. If you idiots recognize Hawke’s personality as much as you claim you do, you all should have known that three months cooped up in the house would have lead to something like this. Honestly, and you lot are worried about the Elf needing space. This place has probably become a prison for Hawke.”
“Oh, shut up whore! If you think you know everything, why didn’t you try taking Hawke out.” Aveline snapped.
“I did.” Isabella clipped, “When I suggested it to Anders he almost bit my head off, and when I suggested it to Fenris while emphasizing that Anders said it was a bad idea and hoping that this alone would be enough for him to agree with me, he said that for once in his life he was going to agree with Anders. And then he said, ‘If you ever tell the apostate I said so, I’ll rip your vocal cords out.’ Naturally I had to tell you all this because I love a good challenge…”
Aveline Growled audibly and the kitchen door creaked, “I got word from one of my Contacts.” Varric sighed wearily, “One of them saw a couple of Antivan Assassins spring from the shadows and attack a woman with crutches. When they returned to the scene the Assassins were dead and there was a lot of blood, but no Hawke. In this weather, they could have taken her anywhere.”
“Oh no.” Merrill squeaked.
It was Aria’s turn to sigh heavily as she entered the living room with her damp cloak still draped around her shoulders and her handful of Zevran’s shirt clutched to her head. “I’m alright.” She grumbled, “A little weather worn but perfectly alright.”
The whole room whipped around to stare at her with varying degrees of concern and anger. Anders was the first to allow his concern to develop into full on rage as he jumped to his feet with his lips pressed into a hard, thin line.
“Andraste’s Knickers, You’re fine. Why are you clutching a cloth to the back of your head?” He stepped closer and removed the blood-soaked shirt from her hand to look at her wound. His eyes met hers and they were hard and fierce, “This does not look fine.” He summoned some healing magic from the Fade and it swirled around her body closing the head wound and relaying valuable information about her injuries back to the mage. After a few moments the wound was sealed, and Anders continued to glare down at her, “You are lucky that was shallow firstly, and secondly you have a concussion which means no sleeping for you tonight until we can be sure you won’t slip back into a coma. You are also lucky you didn’t cause anymore trauma to your older injury.”
Aria rolled her eyes, “I’m sorry the fact that I was attacked by assassins inconvenienced you, Anders.”
“It wouldn’t have happened if you stayed put in the house as I told you. You would not have been confronted with assassins.”
Aria opened her mouth to protest but Zevran chimed in for her, “Actually, that would not have stopped them. They would have kept surveillance on her home and waited for the opportune moment to make her death look like a tragic accident. Or, they might have framed one of you. If anything, she is lucky they attacked her in the streets.”
All eyes were now on the Antivan rogue leaning shirtless in the living room doorway.
“I’m sorry, who are you?” Aveline clipped.
“Zevran!?” Isabella piped up, “What on Earth are you doing here?”
“Ah, My dear Isabella.” Zevran smiled, “It has been too long, no?”
“I’ll say.” The pirate sauntered over and raked her eyes over the elf’s half naked body. He smirked, clearly enjoying the attention.
“I was in town on business when I came across some of my former comrades attacking a defenseless beautiful woman in the streets. Naturally, I sprang into action.”
Isabela smiled, “Is that so. What kind of business brings you to Kirkwall, and sense when do you save damsels in distress instead of confronting them?”
Zevran chuckled lightly, “I’m here for a guildmaster. A contract of my own creation, if you will. The orders revealing his location just so happened to be on the bodies of the assassins who cornered our dear, Lady Hawke.”
Hawke’s eyebrow quirked, “Something tells me you didn’t know those orders were there until after you rescued me…you are a nicer guy than you are letting on.”
Anders rolled his eyes and huffed as he crossed his arms across his chest.
Zevran tossed his hair over his shoulder, “On the contrary it was…two birds with one stone, as the Ferelden saying goes…or I suppose two crows with two daggers in this case”
“Is anyone going to explain why this man, who supposedly saved Hawke from assassins, walked her home shirtless in a snow storm?” Aveline demanded.
“With a body like this, does he need a reason to be shirtless?” Isabella sniggered, “The man is practically a gift to all of Thedas the fewer clothes he’s wearing.”
“Shut up, whore.”
Hawke sighed heavily, “He used his shirt to help slow the bleeding on my head. You know what Anders always says about head wounds…”
“They gush like a river.” Anders glared, “I’m not letting this concussion go…”
Hawke rolled her eyes, “Anyway, I promised Zevran a shirt in return. That’s why he’s here.”
“Really, he doesn’t need one.” Isabella smirked as she put her arm around the foreign elf’s shoulders, “How about a drink my old friend.”
Zevran’s eyes twinkled and he chuckled lightly, “I’d like that Isabela, but nothing more I’m afraid. See, my Warden would get jealous and there would be some unsavory consequences. She might send more recruits from Weisshaupt after me. I’ve seen my wife take the head off an Archdemon, I am not going to make her angry.”
Ander’s face paled, “Your wife is the warden commander and Hero of Ferelden.”
“The one and only.” Zevran winked, “Do not worry though my apostate friend, The Calling comes for you all I am afraid.”
“Is that a threat?” Anders scoffed.
“If he was threatening you, blondie, you’d be dead. The stories say he’s a former Antivan Crow. He knows what he’s doing.” Varric chided.
And with that, Isabela began whisking the half-naked elf back out into the snow storm.
“You know Zevran,” she added on her way out, “I never thought you’d be the type for monogomy.”
Zevran chuckled lightly, “Neither did I, my dear Isabela…neither did I…”
No sooner did the door whip shut in the wind, than did it gust open again with the arrival of the Elf of the house. Fenris was home early from his mercenary task, no doubt cut short by the storm. Aveline, Merrill and Varric all slunk to the cellar to take the passage into Darktown before things got ugly.
“Varric!” Fenris bellowed through the house, “Please tell me you have news. The trail of blood on the streets has already been disturbed by the storm and…” He stopped short when he saw Aria and Anders sitting on the couch in the living room. His eyes flashed between relief and rage in half an instant.
Aria smiled awkwardly, “Hello, darling?” she offered meekly.
Fenris stomped to the center of the living room, lyrium brands ablaze, and glared down at his wife and the healer seated before him. “Explain.” He spat.
“I had nothing to do with it.” Anders raised his hands in defense and jumping to his feet.
“This time…” The elf growled.
Anders glared at him for a moment, before storming off to the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea.
“Explain.” Fenris ordered.
Aria sighed heavily, “Explain why I left the house? How I got caught up in the snow storm? Or how I got confronted by assassins? Because I am sure Varric’s informants told the basics by now…”
Fenris continued to glare at her, hands balled into white knuckled fists at his side as his arms shook with rage.
Aria sighed once more, “I’ll take your silence as a request for all of the above. Firstly, I left home because I was sick of being here. I was sick of being cooped up in this house dependent on everyone around me and burdening everyone I care about with my inability to do basic daily tasks on my own. So, I left for a bit of fresh air to clear my head. The plan was to only stay out a while at the market, but then the storm started faster than I could safely travel alone. I was cornered by foreign assassins hired by some noble family here in Kirkwall who probably want me out of the way as a future contender for Viscount, which is a job I never want anyway, and I couldn’t defend myself. Next thing I know, I am waking up flat on my back in the middle of the street with my attackers slaughtered at my feet and laying in a pool of my own blood. A kind gentleman explained that he took care of my attackers and walked me home…That’s it. That’s all that happened. I’m alive, and I’m alright.”
“Really? That’s all?” Fenris Quirked his eyebrows menacingly, “Nothing else you want to share?”
Aria gaped at him, “Yes, that’s it.” She insisted.
“What did I tell you about lies of omission?” He snapped as he nodded to Zevran’s blood soaked shirt still laying in the corner of the room by the fireplace where it had been chucked nearly an hour ago.
Aria sighed, “ah yes…I hit my head pretty badly…Although, in my defense that was not a lie by omission. I genuinely forgot I hit my head…In fact, my short term memory in general is a bit off at the moment. See, Anders says I have a concussion…which means…he will be staying the night…again…”
Fenris set his jaw and squeezed his eyes shut, inhaling deeply. He pinched the bridge of his nose and growled, “You understand what this means, don’t you?”
“I’m not leaving your sight until I’m fully healed, am I?”
His eyes flashed open, “Not. A. Chance.”