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“I need a drink, Varric,” she said, plopping down into the chair opposite him. She rested her elbows on her knees and buried her face in her hands. “Or ten. Fuck it- you have a whole bottle of something you can spare?”

The dwarf hopped out of his chair and sauntered over to the liquor cabinet. She heard the laughter in his voice as he asked, “Bad day?”

She chuckled. “You could say that.”

He opened the cabinet with a pensive, “Hmmm,” then said. “I bet this’ll do the trick, but let’s start with one, huh?” 

She relaxed back into the chair and reached out her hand. He handed her a glass- a whiskey- and sat the bottle down on the floor beside her. She downed half of her glass in a single gulp.

“Andraste’s ass, Varric, this is smooth as hell!’

“Ha, well,” he said, as he walked back to his chair, “It sounds like you need the good stuff.”

Hawke looked off into the fireplace. Her brow furrowed, her generally laughing eyes grew cloudy and distant. The only sound was the crackling of the fire and the dull chatter of the The Hanged Man crowd.

Varric took a slow long sip off his own drink before asking, “So do you want to talk about it?”

“It’s more of the same,” she said, releasing a shaky breath. “Fenris and Anders are bickering, Isabela pissed somebody off, Kirkwall is being its general clusterfuck self, and everybody is asking me for one more goddamn thing.”

 

“I’m sorry, Chuckles. Well, you’re always welcome here, and you know I won’t ask for anything.”

She nodded, looking over at him. He stared back at her, his eyes full of compassion and warmth. The corner of her mouth hitched, then she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

“I think of that night often, you know. When you stayed with me.”

Varric took another drink, his throat feeling suddenly dry. He placed his glass on the side table. The truth was, he thought of that night often, too. Of how it felt for her to trust him so completely. His strong, independent Hawke. He thought of holding her as she wept, overcome with grief, the anguish on her face as she fell asleep.

They had never talked about it, though. They didn’t need to. She would have done the same for him. After everything that happened with Bartrand, Hawke had gotten him out of town. She took jobs just to help keep him busy. And, despite her curiosity, she never pressed him about Bianca.

She was his best friend, and he was hers.

A few moments passed of heavy silence. She looked directly at him and he noticed that something in her face had changed. Her cobalt blue eyes were unwavering and unsettling, but he held her gaze. He had never seen that look before.

She took the last swig of her drink and stood, crossing over to the door. She bolted the lock. 

“If I’m finally going to do this, I’m sure as fuck not going to be interrupted.”

He stood up and turned to her.

“Hawke?”

She knelt down to him, reaching one hand out like she was going to touch his face, but hesitating. Instead, she placed both hands on his shoulders. Her touch was firm. She slid her hands down to grip his arms. He saw the muscles in her throat tighten, and her voice was strained, but soft when she said, “They all left; everyone else but you… You stayed, Varric. You stayed, and you held me. I cried into your arms until I fell asleep.”

She locked her gaze with his, and felt her breath catch in her throat. His eyes beamed at her as he said, “Of course, Hawke, your mother had….” 

He reached over, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear, “I couldn’t bear the thought of.. and I didn’t want you to be alone.” 

She searched his face for a few moments.

“Varric, I feel like I’ve been...like we’ve both been fools.”

He grinned. “Well, that is most likely true, but what do you-”

She reached up, placing her hand on his face, and pressed her lips to his. The contact was easy, delicate. The tension in his body eased beneath her fingers. He moaned into her mouth, and she felt something jolted through her body. She wanted, needed more of him. 

She kissed him again. Deep and volatile, like a woman drowning, and he was the surface. 

He was the air.

Then he pulled away, and she felt her heart sink.

“Now, I’m not complaining, but Marian,” he looked up into her face, into her eyes, brimming and wild with emotion. Her lips were raw and swollen. Fuck

He set his jaw and asked, with much more levity than he felt, “Shit, I know I do, but are you sure that you want this?”

Her face grew serious as she said, “I'm never sure of anything, you know that."

"Yeah. I suppose I do," he said, his voice solemn and distant.

She squeezed his shoulder. "But, Varric, believe me when I say that I am completely sure about you.”

She leaned in close to his ear, her breath hot and damp against his skin. 

She whispered, “Say my name again,” with a tantalizing flick of her tongue.

His mouth hitched in a smirk. He kissed a short trail down the side of her neck, savoring each touch of her satiny skin. She made the most delectable sounds.

“Do you like that, Marian?”

“Mmmmmm,” she groaned. She loved the feel of his rough stubble against her. Her hands roamed over his form, ravenous to feel every part of him. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer. Their bodies collided, and he cradled her head with one hand.

He moved his mouth over hers, and they devoured one another. 

All the novels he had read and, in truth, all the ones he had written, had not prepared him for this. She was an intense and welcome assault on his senses. The heat pulsing from her skin, her aroma engulfing him. Alcohol and leather, and something sweet. She tasted like whiskey, of course, but also of relief, like coming home.

As a surface dwarf, he had prided himself for years on his misfit status. He didn’t belong in Orzammar, and that was more than fine with him. He wasn’t completely sure he belonged in Kirkwall, but really, who did belong in Kirkwall? It was a whole fucking city of misfits like him. He didn't need to belong. And that was okay.

But here? With her? This was exactly where he belonged.

She pulled and tugged at the hem of his tunic, greedy for more of his skin against her. They separated for a second, allowing for her to pull the tunic over his head. Her breathing was heavy. His face broke into a wide, sinful grin as she removed her own tunic. As she moved to unlace her breast band, his eyes explored her face. Her eyes. Her lips. When the fabric fell to the ground, he chanced a cautious glance at her chest.

“Oh fuck, Marian…”

He took a sharp breath and bit his bottom lip. She leaned into him and sucked that lip into her mouth, raking her teeth along the sensitive inner flesh. Her heart thudded inside her ribs as she listened to the sounds he made. Bringing him this kind of pleasure made her feel powerful. Proud.

She took his hands and guided them to her breasts. His palms circled around on her nipples before he began kneading. His skin was rough and calloused, but his fingers were nimble as he flicked and massaged. The sensation drove her closer and closer to the edge. She felt the heat building deep in her abdomen growing sharper, quicker.

“Yes, Varric! Just like that. Don’t stop. Please, Varric, don’t stop!”

Her breaths came in quick, short gasps before she erupted. She squealed, her body shaking and writhing against him. Her arms wrapped around his shoulders, and she collapsed against him. Her breathing grew slow and deep.

He looked down into her face, sweat beading around her temples. Her skin flushed bright crimson.

“Marian, did you just...?”

She nodded, and he could feel her smile against his shoulder.

“Mmm hmm. It was bad enough when I didn’t, but now that I know what your hands can do, Varric, I want them. All. Over. Me.”

She punctuated her last words with soft kisses on his shoulders and chest, nibbling at his jaw. A growl erupted from deep inside his chest. He gripped her waist and eased her to her feet. He loved the softness of her, that when his hands grasped her middle they were buried in warm, tender flesh. He placed a gentle kiss on the sensitive skin of her stomach, just at the waistline of her pants and then scooped her into his arms.

His smoldering eyes locked with hers, and she kissed him over and over again, pressing her lips all over him. He carried her through the doorway of his bedroom and eased her down onto the bed. Taking a step back, he shook his hair loose around his shoulders. She giggled, running a hand along the firm lines of his torso and up to his chest.

“I love this,” she said. “I’ve wanted to run my fingers through your chest hair since, oh, maybe five seconds after we met?”

He was silent for a moment. “That’s been quite a few years, Hawke. Why didn’t you?”

Her face tightened, and she scooted over, motioning for him to crawl into the bed with her. He lay down beside her, resting his weight on one elbow, his other arm stretched across her abdomen. He didn't want to stop touching her.

“I didn’t know the story with Bianca, Varric. And- and I’m not asking you to tell me now. I don’t need to know it. Your past is just that- yours. And also, past. But I… I didn’t know if you still had those feelings. I didn’t know if you would even, if you could ever…and you’re my best friend.”

His lips were gentle and sweet as they brushed her own. The sensation of his hot breath and stubble on her cheek sent shivers through her body. He rested his forehead against hers for a second before leaning over again.

“Marian, the situation with Bianca is, well… It’s complicated. I won’t say she means nothing to me anymore. We meant a lot to each other for a long time, but... Well, she made a choice.”

She placed a hand on his face, and he tilted his eyes to hers.

“That choice wrecked me, but then I met you and… Have you seen you, Hawke? You're stunning. You’re clever and funny. And the toughest person I’ve ever met.”

“Don’t forget, humble. I’m also incredibly humble.” she said, a hint of a smile across her face.

“Well, obviously.”

He smiled, but his eyes were serious.

“That rejection was still raw. You were , you are my best friend, too. And as handsome as I am, I’m a dwarf. What if that was something that mattered to you? So, I had just never really let myself entertain those kinds of thoughts of you. Until...until that night.”

She was silent and still for a moment before asking, “What happened then? Just what exactly changed?” He noticed a slight shake in her voice. Was that fear? 

His eyes softened as they searched her face, bracing for a reaction. He took a deep breath. There probably wasn’t any danger in putting it out there now, was there?

“Marian, you told me you loved me.”

Her eyes grew wide, her heart racing. That was certainly not what she had expected.

“I told you that I… that I loved you?”

He nodded, looking up into her face.

“You were exhausted from crying. You rested your head on my chest and, right before you fell asleep, you said, ‘I love you, Varric.’’”

She placed a hand on his shoulder. “It’s been years, Varric. Why...? Why haven’t you mentioned it before now? There is so much of that day I don’t remember.”

He locked eyes with her. “After you went to sleep, I pored over every memory I had of us together. It was so new to me, and I… I wanted to examine myself. To see if I felt the same way. Once I realized I did, I guess I was afraid.”

“Of what?”

“That it was only something you said in your grief. I didn’t want to be on the unrequited side of things again. The first time almost killed me.”

“You stupid dwarf,” she said, her finger ghosting over his chest. When she leaned over to kiss him, he felt hot tears on her face, and her voice trembled as she breathed, “I do love you.”

He propped himself up with one arm and took her face in his other hand, wiping her tears away with his thumb.

“And I love you, Marian.”

She pressed herself against him, consuming his mouth with hers. He teased her lips with his tongue, and she welcomed him in. She moaned, pulling herself closer. Her breasts flattened against his chest. As skin met skin, sensations rippled through him, radiating throughout his entire body.

She felt him hardening, firmness and heat pulsing against her center.

“Show me, Varric. Make love to me.”

Carefully, but with haste, he began to remove the rest of his clothes. She was not careful, instead flinging her boots, socks, belt, and smallclothes recklessly in any and all directions. Her mouth frenzied in an attempt to remain connected to his.

When they were finally freed of their clothes, Varric pulled back. His chest rose and fell in deep, shaky breaths. A broad grin covered his features as he observed her kneeling beside him on the bed, her cheeks flushed and eyes hot with desire.

“What now?” she asked, an impish grin on her face as she glanced between his legs. What she saw didn’t surprise her- it would seem that his build wasn’t the only thing that was impressive.

“Ha! Not quite yet. Now,” he whispered, his voice low and breathy, "now this."

And he began kissing her. With each kiss, he uttered whispers against her skin. Whispers of plans, of longing. Whispers of love. Words of worship for her body and soul.

Kissing her forehead: “I want to be with you. Always.”

Kissing her temple: “You are everything good and beautiful in this world,”

Kissing her lips, tongue dipping inside her mouth: “I’ve wondered for so long how you would taste.”

She let her hands wander over him. She savored the power of his strong muscles, the tickle of the soft hair on his chest.

His lips moved lower, down to her breasts. He grazed his stubble over the tender skin of her nipple. Then he soothed and sucked and kissed. He took her other breast in his hand, twisting and tugging. She dug her fingers into the taught muscles of his shoulders and torso. She moaned and squirmed, intoxicating sounds escaping from deep within her chest.

“You’re so soft,” he said, drawing slowly back off her nipple. He breathed against the moisture left behind by his lips.

She felt electrified, every sense heightened.

 

“Varric…”

He began a slow descent, trailing kisses down her stomach. His hands traced the gentle curve of her waist, the generous curves of her hips. He rested his head on her belly.

“I’ve dreamed of lying here,” he said, nuzzling his face against her downy skin. He rested his head there for a moment, reveling in how soft she felt beneath him. He had seen her wield a sword almost the same size as her; she'd sliced monsters nearly in two without so much as breaking a sweat. There was so much power in this body, he knew, but the velvety feel of her skin was intoxicating. He imagined he would never tire of touching her, of feeling her against him. His whole body throbbed for wanting her, but he wanted to savor this for as long as possible.

His lips wandered beneath her navel to the sensitive skin just below her abdomen.

“You are so strong but just so,” he growled, “so soft.”

In a quick movement, he spread her legs apart. He held her there, exhaling a hot breath on her center. He took a long, greedy glance upward, surveying all the curves and angles of her body.

Seeing him between her legs had Hawke dripping. His hair was messy, his cheeks flushed.

“I may be soft, Varric, but I’m not fragile. Don’t be gentle with me,” she said.

Mischief and reverence played behind his eyes. She bit her lower lip, chest rising and falling rapidly as she tried to catch her breath. She was so turned on that she imagined she would come apart as soon as he touched her.

He kissed the inside of her legs up to the soft hair at the apex of her thighs, getting so close to her center. Teasing her. Her hips twitched as she impatiently tried to grind closer to him. 

“You want me,” he said, running his tongue up her slit, “to be rough?”

She whimpered, “Oh, Maker, Varric! Please!”

Then he covered her with his mouth, exploring every soft bit of flesh with his lips and tongue. She moaned and writhed around, but his strong arms held her firmly in place. He relentlessly worked her over. Suck. Tug. Taste. She started gasping.

“Yes! Yes! Yesyesyesyesyesyes!”

As she angled up into his mouth, he increased his speed. He focused his attention on her clit, flicking and nipping the sensitive peak. He could feel the vibration of her quivering beneath him, against his face and in his hands. Her back arched, and she howled in pleasure, her juices flowing onto his mouth and tongue.

As her muscles eased, she relaxed down onto the bed.

He licked his lips. “You taste so delicious, Marian.”

Leaning up on her elbows, she grabbed a fistful of his hair and guided his face back up to hers. She kissed all over, tasting herself on his lips and jawline.

“I do, don’t I?” she said, grinning smugly as she pushed him to the side and down onto the bed. She threw a leg over his hips and sat straddling him, leaning low to place a sweet, wet kiss on his lips.

“You like tasting yourself on me, sweetheart?”

She felt him smile, and she laughed.

She sat up and splayed her fingers across his broad chest to steady herself. Maker, what an amazing chest! She rocked her hips gently, sliding her slick center against him. Instinctively, he thrust against her. He was hot and hard. The feel of him here, like this, had her shivering.

“Mmmm Marian.”

She reached between them to position his cock at her entrance. The hot, smooth skin throbbed in her grip. She slid down onto him, moaning as she took in every inch, her body clenching around his cock. Oh fuck, he felt incredible.

He reached down and cupped her ass, digging his finger hard into the ample flesh. His grip was tight. She felt an increasing warmth pooling in her abdomen. She hoped that when she woke up tomorrow, she would have bruises on her ass from his fingers. She wanted evidence, physical proof of how he had held her so tightly.

She rolled her hips against his in an agonizing, slow rhythm. He kneaded her ass, pressing her down hard each time their hips met, eliciting a delighted yelp from her lips. He loved watching her fuck him. He loved seeing the effect of the impact on her body. All the soft parts of her rising and falling, tits bouncing as their bodies collided. Inside she was wet and tight and warm. He felt her trembles of pleasure building around him. He bucked up into her, matching her pace.

Their heavy breathing, his coarse hands on her body, and the feel of his thick cock plunging deep inside her had Hawke in a frenzy. He slapped her ass cheek, and she screamed, “Yes, Varric. More!” She lost her rhythm, grinding voraciously and hastily against him. She felt a blinding tightening in her middle. He spanked her again, harder, then tightened his grip on her stinging skin.

“Ohhhhh fuuuuuckk,” she moaned, fingernails digging into his chest. 

He began to get lost in his own pace, desire coiling and building at the base of his cock. He felt her walls pulsing and tightening around him. She was close.

His breathing was ragged and shallow as he asked, “Marian, I’m going to...Do you want...?”

She leaned near his face and whispered, “I want you to fill me up, Varric. Come inside me.”

Her body slammed down into his with each powerful thrust. She gasped, resting against his chest as electricity and heat shot through her. She clung to his shoulders, shaking, her face in the crook of his neck. He picked up the pace. The tightening around him grew more intense. She purred his name as the crest of her climax came over her. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her to him as his own sweet release tore through him.

For a  few moments, they just held each other, reveling in the connectedness of their bodies. It was Hawke who moved first, sitting up and easing over on her side. She gazed at the dwarf. His eyes were closed and his brow furrowed.

“Penny for your thoughts, storyteller.”

He turned over and looked at her, surprised at what he saw in her features.

“You’re not leaving?”

She cozied up to him, her head resting on his chest and asked, “I love you. Why would I leave? Especially after that. I mean, Maker, Varric… I thought you were talented with a crossbow.”

He wrapped an arm around her as she nuzzled into him.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “Are you?”

“Never,” he said, kissing her forehead. “You’re stuck with me, sweetheart.”

“Good,” she smiled.

As they held each other, Varric thought to himself that this must be what it feels like to be wanted. She had her pick of anyone. She wanted him. She chose him. She wanted to stay.

With him.

He held her close, and, bodies spent and sated, they eased into a safe and comfortable sleep.