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“Hey Zevran,” greeted Eryn as she approached the other’s tent, a little away from the rest of the camp, “Dinner’s ready. Alistair made that weird stew-thing again, so I hope you’re not hungry.”

“Thank you, my dear warden,” sitting on a log, he looked up to her and smiled, “I will be there in a second.”

As he spoke, the mage noticed a pile of blood-stained bandages by his side, as well as some fresh ones and a jar of water next to his bonfire. “Are you hurt?” she asked in concern, kneeling in front of him while her eyes scanned his body all over.

“Ah, yes,” he opened his right hand, exposing the palm and revealing a great wound all across it, coloured in both dark red from dry blood and vivid crimson from where the cut was still bleeding. “I got a little distracted during last night’s battle.”

“Zev!” she shouted, carefully taking his hand on hers to have a better look, “What happened?”

He flinched, but tried to contain the thin pain pumping on his wound. “One of the darkspawn knocked me down, and I lost my sword. When I tried to take it back, he pulled it away and I accidentally grabbed it by the blade. But it is alright, don’t worry. I’m just having a hard time trying to keep the bandages in place.”

“Does it hurt?”

“I’ve had worse,” he shrugged.

“Don’t be silly,” she mumbled in return, changing her position to sit on her heels, “We have three mages in here, why didn’t you ask for help? I’m no healer, but I have a few tricks, you know?”

“I don’t mean to bother, you have more urgent matters to attend to,” the Antivan elf watched closely as the grey warden held his hand softly between both of hers, staring at it intensely. As she pressed her palm against his, dim blue light mixed with green shone through their fingers, leaking from his wound in a fresh sensation, as if he was washing his hands in an icy river.

She ran her index and middle fingers softly across his palm and, as she did, the cut healed, leaving no traces behind. It was almost like he had never hurt himself. Eryn kept holding his hand, examining it and looking for other injuries. He had strong hands, rough to the touch and marked by years of scars and calluses, especially closer to his long fingers. She could feel where he would hold his sword to a tight grip and where it would hurt him over and over again in return. Along the lines around his thumb, on his palm, she caressed four small markings, carved deep into his skin by his fingernails, though she wasn’t sure if it was also the result of years of training. She pressed his hand between her fingers, as if to soothe the tension on his palm.

His hand was warm and, contrasting to almost everything in Ferelden, it was like touching a summer night. She thought of the first time she left the Circle, not too many months ago, and felt the same warmth from the sun in a whole different way that no blanket, fireplace or hot beverage in that freezing tower could ever bring her. Eryn spread her fingers across his hand, touching his wrist and caressing her way back to his lines, mentally tracing all the history marked on his skin.

Her tips followed his lines along his fingers and to the back of his hand, discovering his knuckles one by one. His skin was also harsh there, but she could only imagine why it felt different. If the calluses on his palm exposed his discipline, the scars on his knuckles denounced his ferocity. Using both hands, Eryn kept pressing her own fingers around his hand, massaging his muscles in circular motions while lost in her thoughts. Her own hands differed completely from his, not only because they were much smaller but also because her injuries were still all fresh, recovering with time to spare her own mana. Before leaving the Circle of Magi, she did not need to hold her staff so tightly, never had to free herself from any iron traps and most certainly never had to heal so many wounds on her body or other’s. There has never been a moment in her life when she depended so much on her own magic, and now, exhausted, she felt like it wasn’t enough. She couldn’t heal all the scars.

“Is this still part of your magic?” Zevran asked in a soft, low tone.

The sound of his voice brought Eryn back to reality, and she moved her face up to meet his. He was leaning down towards her, smiling with the corner of his lips and staring at her with tender honey-coloured eyes. Only then she realized that she was lost in their touching, massaging his hands for far longer than it took to heal his injury.

“No, uh, I’m sorry,” the mage mumbled and looked away, trying to pull back her hands, but he didn’t let her go. He closed both his hands around hers and caressed her knuckles with his thumbs.

“What is it, then?” he rested his right hand on her cheek, turning her gaze back to him. Eryn felt her face blush. Was he getting closer? Or was that just her desire to do so? Almost as if by inertia, her hands held tighter to his and leaned her face towards his touch.

“I just want to make sure you’re healed,” she knew what she meant and for some reason she thought he knew, too, “but I don’t think I’m… That skilled.”

“You’re doing far more than anyone could ask of you, Eryn,” he caressed her cheek with his thumb. His palm felt softer against her face than it did when she was examining it. “Some scars can never disappear, but with time and good care, we learn to grow around them. What I see you doing every day is far more powerful than any magic you can cast. Trust me, my dear.”

Eryn bit her lips, switching her gaze between his eyes and hands, and smiled. “Thank you, Zev,” she whispered, “Please, be careful. I could not stand to lose you.”

“You’re not going to,” he smiled, “After all, it seems that I am extremely hard to kill. Not even you could do it.”

“Excuse me?” she laughed, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes,” he held both of her hands again and pulled them closer, placing a soft kiss on her fingers, “I’m sure you were so marveled at my charm and wit that you had to recruit me instead.”

“Oh, of course I was,” the mage joined his play, as if she was confessing a secret, “one look at your eyes, your strong hands, inviting smile, and I knew…” she approached him, running her fingers on him up from his hands. She wouldn’t admit it, but she also paid special attention to how his skin felt like on his arms, feeling his veins and muscles carefully before finally palming his chest. Kneeling in front of him, she got close enough of his face to touch his nose with her own. “I knew that I would have to end you myself, in a moonless night such as this one, far from the eyes of anyone else.”

“Wha-” she pushed his body from the log he was sitting on, making the elf fall on his back against the grass. Giggling, she stood up and looked at him, just to make sure he wasn't hurt. “You little minx,” he laughed, covering his eyes with his forearm, pretending to be defeated.

“Let’s go, dinner’s ready.”