She's not sure why she always finds herself wandering down here. Well, maybe she does know, and just isn't quite ready to admit it.
Devie hadn't been having a particularly good day. It had started off with her favorite skirt getting ripped, and when Blythe offered to take her shopping in Hightown, nothing had fit her. She was small for a human, and a bit large for an elf, so everything just seemed a bit awkward. Especially around her hips, where she wasn't quite as lean. The afternoon went no better- she and Isabela found themselves getting into a bar fight with a group of drunk men who didn't understand the word 'no.'
When she got home, she had really tried her best to sleep, but the nightmares got the best of her. She had learned that on nights like this, the best thing to do was distract herself- the nightmares came and went as they pleased, and Devie was tired if wasting her nights tossing and turning and crying over things that haunted her. She had put her clothes back on and left, telling Alaric she was just going out for a bit. He understood what that meant well enough to just wave to her as she left.
She found herself in Darktown, as she always did when she couldn't think. Devie told herself that she always ended up here just because she had lived here, when she first came to Kirkwall, and it was more familiar than the streets of Hightown. Blythe and Isabela tell her it's because she's a bit more taken with Darktown's very own apostate healer than she lets on. Lately she had been thinking they were right.
Either way, Devie was stopped in front of the wooden doors to Anders' clinic, staring up at the lit lantern. The sight is familiar, and the way that it was so comforting made Devie antsy. She shifted on her feet, her fingers twisting in the fabric of her skirt. "Oh Maker, girl," she chastised herself under her breath, "You're absolutely ridiculous."
She stepped forward, placing a hand on the wooden door for a moment, taking a beat to breathe, before she pushed it open.
Devie knew he wouldn't be asleep- he somehow never was when she showed up. Sometimes she wondered if he ever slept. Either way, the clinic was quiet.
Devie spied him across the room, hunched over books and papers as he usually was, working by candlelight. She tutted to herself, shaking her head lightly. She stepped inside, not bothering to close the door all the way, put giving it a gentle nudge so that it closed at least partly.
She crossed her arms over her chest as she stepped forward. "You're going to run out of candles if you keep staying up all night, reading like that," she spoke, cutting through the buzzing silence that filled the place. “Don’t you ever sleep?”
Devie saw the mage stiffen before he turned his head and saw her; his shoulders visibly relaxed and he shook his head.
"I don't know how you manage to sneak up on me like that everytime," Anders mutters, but he does stand up straighter, leaning away from the table.
Devie shrugs as she gets a little closer. "I've had a lot of practice sneaking around." She smiles when she says it, hoping her eyes don't give away the painful truth in her sentence. "It's not easy living alone in Kirkwall as a mage- you ought to know that," she pointed out.
"Well, it's a good thing you don't live alone anymore." He paused, turning his head back to face her. "I'm glad you decided to stay with Blythe and Alaric. If nothing else, the Hawke name ought to keep you safe." There was something behind his eyes that Devie couldn't quite place- his tone wavered on the edge of worried, but she wasn't quite sure. She couldn't imagine why he would spend time worrying about her, of all people. He continued, "Although, it does make me worry when you wander the streets at this time of night."
Devie waved one hand in the air, almost dismissively, coming to a stop a few feet away as she grinned at him. "I can handle myself well." She said nothing about the suggestion that he worried about her. She patted the twin sheathed daggers on her hips to drive her point home- she found that taking her staff with her drew too much attention from passing strangers. Besides, she didn't really need one to do magic.
"Oh, I know. I've been in battle with you," Anders commended, eyeing the daggers.
Devie laughed through her nose, and they smiled at each other. She found herself thinking that she quite liked his smile. He turned completely to face her, his arms crossing over his chest.
"So, what brings you in tonight then?" He questions her, tilting his head a bit. "Hopefully nothing awful."
She rolled her eyes at him a bit, but couldn't think of an answer for a moment. She averted her eyes, the nightmares tugging at the back of her mind- memories she would never be rid of. Her scars burned, all over, so she shook her head and shrugged. "I… was having a hard time sleeping. I thought maybe the night air would do me some good- I guess I was walking around for longer than I thought." Devie self consciously pulled her hair over her shoulder, combing her fingers through it as she looked anywhere but at him. She hesitated, looking at the table where the candle was burning over a collection of papers before saying, "If you're busy, I can go," she turned her body a few degrees away, back in the direction of the door, nodding her head in the direction she had come from.
"Oh- No, no it's alright. You're not interrupting anything. Besides, you make good company, Devie..." He trailed off, sounding like he had something else to say. It brought Devie's eyes back up to him- she was a little surprised to see that he was watching her.
Devie laughed, soft and lilting like a bird. "Why are you looking at me like that? Lose your train of thought?” she grinned, teasing him and doing her best to ignore the way her heart seemed to catch in her throat under his gaze, tossing her black locks back over her shoulder and walking forward slowly, her steps parallel to the edge of the table. She placed one hand on the wood, tracing her fingers lightly over the surface, looking over the papers he was studying. His handwriting is truly awful, she mused. As she moved closer to where he had been working, Anders backed up to give her some room.
"It's not my fault- you're quite distracting, you know, being one of the most beautiful women I've ever met."
Devie nearly choked on her own breath. It surprised her, caused her to halt in her tracks. She hesitated before speaking. "I’m-- what?" It was all she could spit out. This wasn't the first time he had complimented her- but this was... different. They were alone, and there was something about the way he said it that seemed so... sincere. She wasn't sure how to handle it. She didn't look at him, just turned her head slightly and looked at the ground, his form standing in her periphery. "You... can't really think that." She tried to laugh it off, but that only made her sound nervous.
He didn't even hesitate before responding. "Think what? That you're beautiful?"
The word, the implication, made her skin prickle with goosebumps. She could feel her cheeks getting hot, and she told herself she was being ridiculous- she wasn't shy. She didn't get flustered like this. She was loud and sarcastic, and she bantered and argued and laughed. Besides, she thought to herself, this wasn't even the first time he had complimented her. Her eyes drifted down and she faced the floor, attempting to hide the way her face was turning pink. She turned, her back facing the table, as she gripped the edges of it.
Devie swallowed. “Yes… that.”
Silence hung between them for a moment; it was an agonizing moment, in which her thoughts started to race. Kicking idly at the dirt, she thought that maybe she was right- he really didn't think that. She had called his bluff and now...
"I think it was your eyes that I noticed first."
She froze, her foot going still. She gripped the edge of the wooden table she was leaning against, digging her nails into the grain. Her eyes flickered back up to him. "...what?"
"It took me awhile to realize it, but... I've never seen eyes quite that grey. They're striking, like polished metal. And they betray you, sometimes- you have kind eyes."
She looked up, breath shaky. He was awfully bold, and it was beginning to make her head swim.
"And you tend to close them when you laugh. I thought your eyes were beautiful at first, but then I thought your laugh was better, as rare as it was when we first met." He took a step closer, hesitant, vulnerable. "And your smile- your dimples, and your freckles," he continued, a faint smile of his own barely a ghost on his face.
"I hate my freckles," she interrupted, voice quiet. She was never this quiet. She watched as he took another step closer. She didn't move- half willing him to come closer, and half hoping he didn't, for fear that she might do something rash.
"I don't know how you could. But, they're only one part of a long list."
"How much else could there possibly be?"
He hadn't stopped inching closer, and now he was within her reach. She kept her hands on the table, though she was itching to grab him, pull him in, drive him as crazy and he drove her. "You truly have no idea how gorgeous you are?" He questioned, and her breath caught in her throat when he punctuated his question by raising his hand and placing it against the side of her face. His fingers rested in her hair, his thumb against her cheek. "Even on the battlefield, I've never seen someone move the way you do. If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were an angel."
She almost scoffed. If she hadn't been so preoccupied by her own pounding heart, she may have. "I'm nothing like an angel," she whispered, her head tilted up to look him in the eyes. He was so close, inches away now. She wondered if her skin felt hot under his hand- if her face was as red as she imagined it to be, then it must have been.
He ignored her protest, stroking her cheek gently with his thumb. "I've never been able to decide if you're more beautiful on or off the battlefield. It seems that every time I see you, you do something to tip the scale again, and again, and again. When you laugh, when you let your hair down, when you dance- even when you cheat at card games just so you don't lose a bet."
That got her to crack a smile, and she was met with his smile in return. His other hand found its way up to her face as well, and soon he was gently cupping her face. His hands were warm- rough, calloused, but gentle. She didn't think she could handle anymore of this. It was too sweet, to gentle- she didn't deserve it. Not from him. She tried her best to look at his eyes, not his lips, but she was finding it hard to focus. Her resolve was melting, much in the same way she was. She was glad for the support that the table provided her.
"When you're focused, buried in a book. It's even infuriating how beautiful I think you are when you argue with me. And even now,” he continued, his voice dipping low, his words truly just between the two of them. “Blushing the way you do. I don’t think I’ll be able to get your face out of my head-”
Cutting him off mid sentence, her hands flew up to cup his face, and she brought their lips together abruptly. Desperately. His hands froze for a moment, before he collected himself and his hands dropped from her face and found her waist instead, pulling her closer, holding her tight. She never thought she would like the feeling of someone's fingers digging into her hips like that.
Devie had kissed people before- she knew he had also. She had thought that the novelty of kissing was lost on her- it wasn't magical, or special, or spectacular. But this one was different. His skin was warm under her hands, his lips were hot against hers. She knew she had been waiting for this for much too long, and it was everything she thought it would be. One of his hands rested on the small of her back, and the other found its way into her hair.
She wondered if he had been thinking about this- this moment, this kiss, all the things he had said to her- for as long as she had. With all of his circumstances, she doubted it, but this kiss and the way he held her made her doubt. Maybe she just wanted to doubt, and to believe that maybe they could have something, or that they already did.
She would have happily kissed him for an eternity, taking breaths through her nose and gasping gently against his lips as his fingers carded through her hair. But her head was spinning, and she felt dizzy, so she was the first to pull back. As soon as she did, she wanted to pull him back in. And from how tight his grip on her was, she guessed he felt the same.
"...tell me again how you like my eyes," she whispered, eyes closed until she finished her sentence, breathless and clinging.
She felt his breath on her face, saw his lips stretch into a smile. "However many times you want."