Garrett Hawke and Fenris lived in ambiguity for the three years after the first night they spent in each other’s arms. After Fenris walked away. Though he didn’t walk away, not fully — he wore Hawke’s favor on his wrist, the Amell crest on his hip, a silent communication that, while he could not act on it, his heart was taken. Hawke wore no such physical proclamation of his loyalty, but he declared it nonetheless every time he looked at Fenris — no one who witnessed his gaze could deny the truth.
Ambiguity. Not together, but silently devoted to each other, with an unspoken agreement that, whatever they were, they wouldn’t talk about it. Not yet. Fenris knew Hawke probably wanted to talk about it, and that he was holding himself back because he knew Fenris wasn’t ready. He wanted to be ready. He didn’t want to be unfair to Hawke. But there was too much hanging over him, too much of his past rushing to catch up with him, too many opportunities for him to lose the little he had already.
If he let himself have Hawke, he would never be able to bear losing him.
And Fenris knew he would be consumed with the obsession of finding his sister, of tracking Danarius, of making everything right. He couldn’t promise Hawke that he would have more to give while that obsession lingered (beyond fighting by Hawke’s side in the way he already did).
Fenris had been terrified that he and Hawke wouldn’t continue talking after their night together, but it hadn’t taken long for Hawke to turn up in his mansion with another half-teasing-half-scolding comment about keeping his door unlocked and a book in his hand. Fenris could already feel his heart in his throat just talking to Hawke again. When Hawke offered to teach him to read, Fenris had been afraid that he would cough up his heart directly into his hands to lay before Hawke’s feet.
Things had gone back to normal — or as normal as they could — after that. Hawke brought Fenris along on almost every mission or favor he’d been sent to fulfill. Including the worst mission.
Fenris would never forget the look on Hawke’s face as Leandra died in his arms. His chest ached for Hawke in a way that it had never ached for anyone. So even though he knew it was probably a terrible idea, he couldn’t stop himself from going to Hawke that night.
Despite it being late into the night when Fenris arrived at the Hawke estate, Bodhan had let him in quickly and gestured upstairs without a word, clearly lost in his own grief and shock. When Fenris entered Hawke’s bedroom, it was to see him sitting on the edge of his bed, staring straight ahead. He looked so tired and, in a way Fenris couldn’t fully understand, so small in that moment. The ache returned to his chest.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Fenris as he stepped further into the room. “But I am here.”
Hawke turned his head partially when Fenris spoke, but he didn’t look at him fully.
“Just say something,” said Hawke, his voice uncharacteristically flat, empty of all the usual humor. “Anything.”
“They say...death is only a journey,” said Fenris awkwardly. “Does that help?”
A hint, a flicker, a fading ghost, but it was there, just for a moment — a twitch of his lips. It was gone in an instant. Fenris didn’t allow himself to think too deeply about how he’d come to know Hawke intimately enough to understand such a minute and fleeting change in his expression.
“It just raises questions,” said Hawke. “Journey to where?”
Fenris found himself stepping forward and sitting on the bed next to Hawke as if it were nothing. He hadn’t thought about the movement at all, he just found himself there. A gravitational pull. It felt natural in a way he didn’t understand.
“I don’t know. It’s just something people say,” Fenris said, and sighed. “To be honest, I don’t think there’s much point in filling these moments with empty talk.”
Hawke nodded, his elbows on his knees. He turned his head away but Fenris caught the sound of his uneven breath, even as Hawke tried to hide it.
“Garrett,” Fenris said softly, reaching out a hand to place on his arm.
Hawke broke open, his sob escaping him, a horrible choking noise that moved Fenris into action once more without thinking. He pulled Hawke to him, moved to stroke his hair — then remembered his armor.
“Fasta vass ,” Fenris hissed as he began to undo his gauntlets.
“I’m sorry,” Hawke whispered. “I...I’m sorry.”
Fenris shushed him as he laid his gauntlets on the floor and moved to take off the rest of his armor, leaving himself in his sleeveless under-tunic and trousers. He returned to Hawke, who was gasping into his hands as he covered his face. For a completely incomprehensible reason, Hawke was continuing to apologize between sobs.
“Come here,” Fenris said, surprised to hear the roughness in his voice. He sat on the bed and pulled Hawke into him properly. Hawke allowed himself to be pulled, resting his head on Fenris’s shoulder. Fenris wrapped his arms around Hawke, one hand gently smoothing the hair that was always wild and standing on end thanks to the mage’s proclivity for lightning spells.
A mage. How had it come to be that Fenris was sitting there, holding a mage? Caressing his hair? How had Fenris’s world been turned completely upside down by one man?
The gravity returned. They moved naturally, without thought. Fenris tucked his legs up onto the bed, maneuvered himself across it, propped up on the pillows, pulling Hawke with him gently. Hawke’s sobbing had slowed somewhat, but his breathing was still uneven. Fenris wrapped his arms around Hawke once more, and Hawke buried his face into Fenris’s neck. They stayed like that, all night, until they both drifted off to sleep.
They didn’t discuss it the following morning. Fenris awoke first and carefully untangled himself from Hawke. Hawke awoke while Fenris was just finishing the last buckles on his armor. For a moment, Fenris was caught in the shock of history repeating itself. He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to hurt Hawke further — he didn’t know how to communicate with Hawke that he still couldn’t be everything that Hawke deserved.
But Hawke didn’t look hurt as his eyes fell on Fenris. It was difficult to put into words the emotion he saw there, but it was sufficient to tell Fenris that Hawke, in his part, understood.
“Thank you,” Hawke said quietly.
“See you at the Hanged Man later?” said Fenris, for lack of anything else to say. And also because he thought seeing Varric would help Hawke.
“Wouldn’t miss it,” said Hawke, the ghost of his smile returning.
The second time they fell asleep together was a few months later. Hawke and Fenris were sitting at the chipped table in the mansion leaning over the same book, Fenris sounding out the words slowly. He kept tripping up on the word “though” — a completely fair word to struggle with, Hawke reassured him. Fenris swore under his breath.
“No, really,” said Hawke lightly. “It’s a stupid word. Our language makes no sense. There are no rules. It’s anarchy.”
“It’s not that,” said Fenris. “I’m freezing .”
Hawke suppressed a smile. He couldn’t rightly explain why he found it so deeply endearing that Fenris hated being cold. Kirkwall was on the whole a warm place to live (weather-wise, at any rate), but being on the coast had its disadvantages, and the cold fronts could be biting to someone from a land like Tevinter. Hawke, being from Ferelden, found Kirkwall’s “cold fronts” hilarious.
“Is it time for the conversation again about how you need to buy boots?” said Hawke.
Fenris let out a sarcastic laugh as he got up from the table and walked over to his bed.
“Where are you going?” said Hawke. “C’mon, don’t give up yet!”
What he didn’t say was Please, I don’t want to leave you yet or Spending time with you alone is the best part of my life .
“I’m not giving up,” said Fenris. Hawke looked over in time to see Fenris collecting his full bedspread and wrapping it around his shoulders. Hawke’s heart melted fully, it was a puddle, he was going to die at any minute. Fenris managed to gather his few pillows into his arms and made his way toward the fire. He dumped the pillows onto the hearth rug, then sat down on one of them, pulling the blanket more tightly around his shoulders.
If Hawke hadn’t already been smitten, the nonchalant eyebrow Fenris raised when he saw Hawke staring would have sent him flying over the edge. Hawke laughed as he picked up the book and went to join Fenris by the fire.
Hawke woke up with his chest pressed against Fenris’s back, Fenris’s hand resting lightly on the arm that was thrown over his waist, and it took him a few moments to realize that he wasn’t dreaming. He couldn’t remember falling asleep, although he assumed it must have been sometime after they’d shifted position to lie on their stomachs to continue reading. But how had they ended up like this? Had they moved in their sleep, molded together, not out of thought but out of instinct, their bodies sensing the way they would fit perfectly?
Hawke knew he should get up. He knew, even if it wasn’t something he initiated consciously, that it wasn’t fair to put Fenris in this position when he’d made it clear he needed things to happen on his terms.
Hawke gently slipped his arm from its place around Fenris, and Fenris — in an act that could only be an attempt to take Hawke’s life — whimpered .
“Maker help me,” Hawke whispered to himself. He stood, then stooped to pick up Fenris.
“Garrett,” said Fenris sleepily, in his continued attempted assassination.
“Shh,” Hawke said. A moment later he was laying Fenris on his bed. He collected the pillows and tucked one under Fenris’s head, then retrieved the blanket and covered Fenris with it.
Fenris murmured something Hawke didn’t understand and was possibly in Tevene.
“Goodnight, Fenris,” Hawke said quietly, reaching out and stroking a piece of white hair from his forehead before he could stop himself.
As Hawke closed the door to the mansion behind him, he wondered if it would ever get any easier.
Neither of them meant to make it a habit, sleeping together without sleeping together, but it kept happening periodically throughout the years, nonetheless. Most often near the end of reading lessons. Enough that Fenris grew to be disappointed when it didn’t. They never spoke of it directly. And they never acknowledged the times they could feel the hardness of the other pressing into their back, their leg, their stomach, stirring the other if they weren’t already stirred. If they both slept through until morning and awoke together, sometimes Hawke would chuckle and make a joke about a dream he had or the way his back hurt (if they fell asleep on the floor). More often than not, one of them would awake first and sneak out before they had to navigate the awkwardness.
One time, Hawke had been horribly hurt and lay unconscious and sweating in his bed while Anders worked his magic. Fenris had climbed onto the bed, ignoring Anders’ sharp glare. When Anders had finished, he told Fenris that Hawke was stable and he could go.
“You can go,” Fenris had snapped. After Anders had left, Fenris curled next to Hawke, not touching him, watching his breathing for a long time before drifting off to sleep.
One time, a mission had taken longer than expected on The Wounded Coast and they realised they wouldn’t be able to make it back before nightfall and would need to camp. It happened as it seemed to each time — neither Hawke or Fenris planning on ending up in each other's arms, and somehow ending up there anyway. Thanks to the thickness of his armor, Fenris wouldn’t have realized it had happened at all if Varric’s voice hadn’t stirred him when he woke Hawke for his watch.
“...can’t be comfortable to cuddle with,” Varric was saying sardonically.
“Worth it,” said Hawke’s voice quietly.
Fenris didn’t fall back asleep after that.
One time, it was just because Fenris wanted to. He’d been getting closer and closer to finding his sister. Avaline was helping him — he wanted to tell Hawke, but he couldn’t. There was too much wrapped in the meaning of him finding his sister, of reaching some kind of understanding of his past, of what that might mean for his future. For their future. He didn’t want to think about it. But there were times when he could think of little else, and in those times, he felt himself pulled to Hawke with an impossible force. So after two months away, during which he’d traveled to follow a lead Avaline had given him, Fenris returned in the dark early hours of the morning and, instead of going to his mansion, went to Hawke. He let himself in with the key Hawke had wordlessly left on his table one day, climbed the stairs, undid his armor, and slid into Hawke’s bed.
He didn’t fold himself into Hawke. For one, he was filthy from the road. It was probably rude, climbing into someone’s bed in his state. But he didn’t care. He doubted Hawke would care. The thought filled his heart as much as it left it empty, knowing it was something he couldn’t yet have. He reached out cautiously and placed his hand over Hawke’s, where it lay by his head. Hawke grunted, his fingers finding purchase, drawing Fenris’s hand closer, pressing it against his cheek. Fenris smiled (how was it that Hawke could always make him smile?) and sleep took him.
Near the end of the third year, they were in The Hanged Man playing Wicked Grace with Varric and getting extremely drunk. It was late. Avaline and Donnic were the first to leave, giggling and leaning on each other as they stumbled out, a picture of newlywed bliss. Anders left shortly afterward to make sure that Merrill got home safely — he wasn’t worried about what would happen to her, but rather the havoc a lightweight blood mage might reek on her own. Hawke had at least expected Isabella to outlast him, but she had wandered off some time before to talk up an attractive mercenary at the bar.
Not that he was upset that it was only him, Fenris, and Varric. Varric was gesturing with his hands wildly as he told a story that Hawke hadn’t been following, but that had Fenris in tears. Hawke’s head was thick with alcohol, but he couldn’t help but smile at the men in front of him, realizing with a deep shock of affection that they were his two favorite people in the world. And he was so proud of Fenris, sitting in a room with two people he could call friends, best friends, laughing openly and loudly and sincerely. Hawke had been the first to understand Fenris’s sense of humor, but Varric had caught on quickly. Between the two of them, they coaxed laughter out of Fenris whenever they could, and it hadn’t been long before he was returning their jests in kind.
And it wasn’t just with Hawke and Varric — Fenris had bloomed in a way Hawke had never expected in the last three years, especially given that he was still in the shadow of his past. But despite it all, Fenris wasn’t isolating, he wasn’t pulling away. Instead he was going shopping with Isabella. He was helping Avaline train her guards. He had a weekly diamondback game with Donnic . It was incredible to see, and Hawke’s smile grew all the more reflecting on it.
At some point, they stopped betting money and started betting the number of swigs of liquor the others would have to take upon losing. Hawke had no concept of time when the room started spinning.
“H’okay,” he slurred. “S’time for bed.”
Hawke tried to stand up but the room gave a jerk and he tumbled back down, careening into Fenris beside him, who just laughed as he reached out to steady him,
“Mmm—no,” said Varric. “M’not gonna let you walk back to High Town like…” He gestured vaguely in their direction. “You’ll get stabbed.”
“S’fine,” said Fenris, his head lolling onto Hawke’s shoulder.
Hawke became very preoccupied with this and it took him a moment to realize that Varric was pulling at his arm to get him to stand up.
“Both of you, c’mon,” Varric said, then stumbled toward the stairs leading up to his room.
“C’mon,” Hawke said, nudging Fenris. Fenris groaned and nuzzled his head into Hawke’s neck.
“I’m keeping track,” said Hawk as he pulled Fenris’s arm across his shoulders and stood.
“Hmm?” said Fenris, allowing himself to be steered toward Varric’s rooms.
“Of the number of ways you know how to kill a man,” said Hawke. “Some you don’t even realize.”
Fenris snorted and let his head loll against Hawke’s shoulder once more.
“There,” said Varric when they had reached his rooms, gesturing toward his couch. “Here,” he said, tossing a blanket. “Wait...someone will need the floor...lemme get more.”
As Varric stumbled from the room yelling at the innkeep for blankets and pillows, Fenris stepped away from Hawke and attempted to start undoing his armor, but he seemed to find something about it very funny, because he kept getting distracting and laughing.
“Hedgehog,” Fenris snorted, waving one of his gauntleted hands.
“C’mere,” said Hawke, reaching for Fenris’s wrist and beginning to undo the buckles of his armor. Even in his drunken haze, Hawke was able to navigate the buckles the same way he had done that first night, as if it were yesterday. He dreamed about it often enough, it might as well have been. He took extra care on the gauntlet that bore Hawke’s favor. He rubbed the fabric between his fingers, and when he looked up, it was to meet Fenris’s gaze.
Once Fenris was free of his armor, the exhaustion well and truly hit Hawke. He stumbled and sat on the couch, tipped over and ended up lying down without meaning to.
“Sorry,” said Hawke. “I can take the floor.”
He’d begun to roll off the couch toward the floor when Fenris pushed him back onto the cushions, flopping on top of him and nuzzling his face into Hawke’s neck once more.
They were both asleep before Varric returned.
When they reunited, it was beyond words and thought.
Fenris didn’t know how he had fooled himself for so long that it was enough, falling asleep together over the years, touching, yes, but not truly allowing himself to be touched , always with some kind of barrier — mental, emotional, physical. He’d survived off sips of water and it kept him from dying, but now he was drinking full and deep and he was overwhelmed with the sensation of it — of Hawke over him, against him, inside him. He didn’t know how he’d kept the desperation he was feeling at bay, the desperation that now had him clinging to Hawke, moaning into his mouth, pleading for more. Fenris had never allowed himself to believe in a reunion with Hawke, not in his waking mind, but even if he had tried, he never could have imagined it would be this good, this much, this freeing , even more than the first time.
Afterward, they lay in each other’s arms, breathing heavily, whispering confessions long overdue.
Sleep would come.