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The Fire that Burned the Forest Around Us

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Anders was already running low on mana due to the fact he had to heal most of the others' injuries already. He knew that Derek would have refused healing if Anders didn't tend to the other members, but of course Derek was the one bleeding the most. The other mage had taken four arrows already. One in his right shoulder, forcing him to use his left hand for his staff, two in his right leg, and one more in his left ribs, which Anders was worried that could have possibly punctured his lungs, or at least had the potential to. Derek was using his staff for support as his golden amber eyes roamed over his team members. Varric was in the far corner of their cave with Bianca in hand, watching the entrance. He knew the dwarf would be the first to know if anyone made another move to flush them out. Merrill was beside Varric, curled up on the floor with one hand pressed into her left side where he knew she'd gotten stabbed by a Raider Rogue, which had infuriated him but was also drove him mad. He felt the faint tingle of his magic flaring slightly at the mere thought and both the elf and Anders quickly looked at him, but it was Merrill that had that knowing look in her eyes, the one who recognized what was causing him to become so unstable when Hawke was usually in total control of his magic. He knew he couldn't hide it from her, but Anders... he trusted Hawke too much, believed him to be above such practices even though Derek was only human, for lack of a better phrase.

"I don't know about you guys, but I really don't want to spend the night out on the Wounded Coast and wait for Aveline and Fenris to swoop in and save us. After all, swooping is bad." Derek stated, shifting with a pained whine that got Anders to come over just to hover near him with that odd smothering affection that reminded him all too much of his mother.

"Well, I'm not sure if you realized this, Hawke, but normally a guy doesn't go out to fight Raiders and angry Qunari with a rogue and two mages with him." Anders huffed, partially blaming Hawke for their current problem considering Derek didn't like dragging Fenris, Aveline, or his ass hat of a brother with them. Anders got a glare for that comment which effectively silenced the healer before he looked at their Elven friend when she cleared her throat.

"Well, there are ways that even a mage can take on a group like this alone, or with one other person, Hawke." She stated carefully, seeing the brief flare of blue light in Anders' eyes at the hidden message behind that statement. Blood magic was powerful enough that even some of the best Templars couldn't control a mage using it. Let alone two Blood Mages working together. Derek sighed, knowing what she was going for. She didn't want to be the only Blood Mage and probably thought that if Derek came out of his proverbial closet she'd get less abuse from some of their more verbal party members, which wasn't going to happen, but she had a point about one thing; if he worked with her they could all get back to Kirkwall before dark, and hopefully in mostly one piece depending on how many Raiders had stuck around.

"Merrill, darling, as sweet of a friend that you are, you are asking quite a bit from me. Do you have any idea what kind of blow back I'd get from our friends if I do this?" He finally asked and the lighter tone to his words was not at all matching the serious tone in his voice. He saw Anders give him a confused look from the corner of his eyes but he focused mostly on the other Blood Mage, who shrugged before speaking.

"It's not like I'm the one who taught you. I could have, but since I didn't you found your own teacher. It's not anyone's fault that you wanted to learn new things. That's something to be celebrated." She explained and Hawke groaned. Of course she thought it was something totally innocent. Finally he looked at Anders, giving him sad puppy eyes.

"Look, Merrill and I are going to handle those Raiders, but when you see what I'm going to do I want you to wait until we don't have people that want to kill us right outside the cave to yell at me." He said in a tired, jaded tone before forcing himself to his feet, prompting Merrill to hop up like she wasn't still injured. She seemed eager to use Blood Magic with another mage who knew the craft, and he had to admit, their methods would no doubt be different. She combined her Blood Magic with Dalish tricks that had long since been guarded by the Dalish clans for hundreds of years. He used the teachings of a Desire demon, combining both blood and desire to affect mortals more efficiently, even able to bend them to his will and create a temporary ally. If the target's will was too strong to be broken, the magic instead caused their blood to turn against them, causing agony and eventually death. Anders and Varric followed with morbid curiosity as the two mages strode out, Hawke even picking up a stick and tossing it at a Raider Scout to get his attention before drawing the odd red blade he's kept ever since running from Lothering, the one given to him by his Father.

"You know, you all could have avoided this if you just left us alone, but no! Everyone has to make my day that much more irritating!" Hawke called before giving a laugh that was a bit too high strung, and he even heard Varric muttering to Anders in concern before he drew a long cut down his arm. He heard Anders yelling at him for being insane but he couldn't pay attention to that, instead flexing his will at the stunned scout while he could feel the overwhelming rush of Merrill doing her own thing off to the left. Derek felt rather than heard his exhilarated laugh at the sheer power high, knowing that it was probably a terrible sign to have occurred this early on in his new hobby, but he didn't care. Maker, he didn't care at all, but instead he loved it. The Scout screamed in pure agony and writhed before Hawke forced him to draw his bow and fire an arrow, killing the man's allies one by one until he was cut down, then moving onto the next. Having Merrill doing part of the work helped but by the time the last Raider fell Hawke had lost far too much blood, causing the mage to fall to his knees when the power high started to fade, no longer having enough adrenaline to keep himself going.

~~**~~

His head was fuzzy, his vision blurred before he could hear the faint sound of yelling. Three male, one female, and he felt like he should recognize the voices. However, he only heard one clearly, listening to the purred praise in a deep male tone that he knew was the same Desire Demon he'd made a deal with. Though him the demon experienced the mortal world, would see, feel, hear, and touch everything Hawke did. It was a mutual deal that benefited both, or so he told himself. Part of him knew better, however, but he no longer let that part of him cause him any doubt. Finally a sharp pain in his arm caused him to snap roughly back into reality, letting him see Anders kneeling beside him and roughly pressing his fingers into the cut Hawke had created to fuel his spells.

"Varric has gone to find Fenris with Merrill which gives us plenty of time to talk about how in the Maker's name you've suddenly decided that /Blood Magic/ was a grand idea!" The healer growled and flickers of blue light were going through his eyes to show it wasn't just Anders who was disapproving. Derek flinched as the man's grip increased before he gently pried his arm free, giving Anders a sad look before sighing.

"Merrill didn't teach me, if that's the conclusion you went to first. It's not that she hadn't offered, she certainly had when I voiced my curiosity about that particular branch of magic. I had turned her down, but it wasn't until we had gone and rescued Feynriel from those slavers that I finally decided to... learn." He explained weakly before picking up his knife where he'd accidentally dropped it in his loopy state after the fight. "Obviously, there was only one other place I would learn without taking Merrill up on her offer. The price wasn't as bad as I had thought, however." He added and wasn't surprised when Anders outright slapped him across the face. "I deserved that." He sighed, cracking his neck before looking up at the now furious mage.

"You went to a demon?! A demon, Hawke, what the hell were you thinking! I'd be less pissed if you had just learned from Merrill, at least then I wouldn't have to worry about you outright mutating one day and running off to try slaughtering all of Kirkwall!" Anders yelled before Hawke gave a rare, feral sounding growl that stopped his anger in its tracks. "Don't you start getting all high and fucking mighty with me, Anders! When I found out about you and Justice did I lash out at you? Did I get angry or disgusted by your bond? No. I gave you the chance to explain and merely accepted you both for who you are! All I ask now is that you do the same for me!" Hawke snapped in this rare display of anger and Anders' eyes narrowed at the comparison. He forced himself to take a deep breath and think, however, knowing that it was un-just if he judged Hawke without weighing the facts. Derek had only used his own blood to fuel his magic during that brief fight, he'd witnessed it all so he knew that to be true. Everyone he injured and cut down were all enemies, murderers, and proven criminals. While Derek had admitted to consorting with a demon Anders knew that Derek was a good man who helped anyone who asked him for aid, who had given Feynriel the opportunity to escape a fate in the circle and take refuge with the Dalish instead. Finally Anders responded. "Fine, we'll both reserve judgement, but I can't promise what will happen if you go too far down this path, Hawke. Blood magic is addicting, because all power is addicting, not to mention that demons are nothing like spirits." Anders huffed and Derek merely glared at him before standing up and moving to sit down on a nearby rock. "In my personal experience, demons are more understanding than either mortals or spirits but maybe someday you and Justice may prove me wrong." Derek murmured and Anders gave him a look of disbelief before finally taking a seat well away from the other mage. By the time Fenris, Aveline, Varric, and Merril found the pair Hawke had torn off bits of his robes to bind the deep cut on his arm and Anders was brooding on his rock while both had a thick air of silence between them.

Chapter Text

The day Hawke, Varric, and Fenris returned to Kirkwall from their harrowing journey into the Deep Roads it was clear to everyone who knew Derek that the loss of his brother had hit the man hard. Varric couldn't really figure out how to console the man, so he could only offer a few words of sympathy and promises of revenge, but even he could see that revenge didn't really make Derek all too enthusiastic, considering that the mage was never the type to go for that route in any situation. Fenris didn't plan on talking to him that day, but once evening came he heard footsteps echoing in the Mansion he now called home within Hightown but before he could even draw his sword a familiar voice echoed through the empty halls to announce who had arrived.

"Fenris, don't panic, it's just me. I just-" Derek started to say as he entered the elf's usual haunt within the master bedroom and as stern emerald eyes looked over to Derek he realized why the mage had cut off mid sentence. Derek was a complete disaster, in more ways than one. His hair had been pulled out of its usual neat and elegant braid and now hung loose and messy in his face. The dark strands that rivaled the night sky made his pale skin stand out even more than usual while his dark amber eyes were glazed over and distant, not to mention that there was a red mark in the distinct shape of a handprint on the human's left cheek, indicating that he'd been struck quite hard, but Fenris highly doubted that it was from an enemy, but rather from family. Hawke must have finally broken the news of Carver's fate to his mother, and the woman likely decided to blame Derek for it since Derek had relented to Carver's demands to join the expedition into the Deep Roads. Fenris sighed quietly before standing up and herding Hawke to one of the few chairs at the wooden table within the room and forcing him to sit down.

"Don't bother talking if you don't wish to, Mage, you know I'm not one for conversation anyways." Fenris stated bluntly and he was startled by the shaky but clearly relieved laugh that escaped the human in response to his statement.

"I know that, Fenris, and that's one of the things I love about you. You don't push me for explanations, you simply wait and watch until I'm ready to talk about things - if I talk about them at all - because that's what I do for you." Derek breathed in a quiet and broken voice. It almost made the elf want to run a hand through his hair, give some sort of gesture to let the man know he appreciated the sentiment but he refused to allow him to do such a thing. After all, Hawke was a mage, and the only reason he stayed with the man was so that Hawke would help him when Denarius eventually came to retrieve his 'property'. Perhaps if he kept telling himself that he'd even believe it. Fenris finally went to sit across from Hawke at the table and they fell into their usual silence. Neither knew how much time had passed before Hawke broke that silence with hesitation. "I don't think I can face mother for a while. She... she probably hates me right now. Told me that it wasn't enough that I let Bethany die when we were fleeing the Blight but that I had to get Carver killed too. She was so angry-" Derek broke off mid sentence again but this time it was because an odd noise Fenris had never heard from him before passed the mage's lips. It was like a bizarre cross between a sob and a whimper and it finally got the elf to give in, at least a little, to his desire to offer Hawke at least some form of refuge from the storm that was his life.

"I suppose you can stay here with me if you must, Hawke, though the only rule is that there is no magic to be conducted under this roof whilst you are here. Understood?" Fenris sighed while his eyes moved to focus on the burning fire in the nearby hearth so that he couldn't see whatever emotion that filled Hawke's previously void eyes. Derek looked up and finally cracked a smile for the first time since he had been forced to kill Carver so that the younger Hawke wouldn't die a slow and agonizing death from the taint.

"Thank you, Fenris." Derek said, and he kept it short and simple. He didn't risk mentioning that he had debated seeking refuge with Anders if Fenris didn't offer help willingly, but instead he let silence fall between himself and the warrior once again. With Fenris things were simple, and comfortable, almost even normal but then again, Fenris didn't know everything about Derek either because neither trusted the other enough to share all their secrets. Maybe if Fenris knew those secrets things wouldn't be so simple, but he hoped that day would come later rather than sooner.

~~**~~

At first Anders had been angry that he was quite literally the last person to learn about Hawke's return to Kirkwall, not to mention that he'd ended up learning only because one of his patients in the Clinic had been talking about some dark haired human being seen often with a strange elf that had glowing tattoos in both Hightown and Lowtown recently. However, a deep voice soon reminded him exactly why Hawke hadn't come to tell Anders that he'd returned himself: Anders no longer had the mage's trust or respect after what he'd done to the man. That still didn't explain why Derek was now suddenly clinging to Fenris of all people, though! Fenris, the mage hating elf who would sooner rip the heart from a mage than talk to one and yet here he finds out that they'd been pretty much inseparable for the past three days! After three days of hearing rumors from the occasional refugee who entered his clinic Anders finally came out of Darktown to see if these things were actually true of over exaggerated lies, but he found out that they were indeed true. He found Fenris and Hawke in Hightown talking to a vaguely familiar man in irritatingly bright white armor with an air about him that pretty much screamed 'I'm totally uncomfortable right now and have no idea how to function in normal society!' that would normally make him a prime target for criminals of all stripes were it not for the bow hanging loosely on his quiver.

~~**~~

Hake was a ragged mess but he looked far better than he had when he first came to Fenris, and for that the elf was reluctantly glad. The first two nights after Derek's arrival in his mansion were spent getting drunk - at least Hawke was getting drunk because the man was a lightweight compared to Fenris' high alcohol tolerance - while the elf slowly gained more details on how things in the deep road had effected Hawke along with details about the man's relationship with his family had been over the years. Apparently as the eldest of all of Leandra's children he ended up being forced to become the supporting pillar after Malcolm's untimely death at a young age. Leandra subconsciously ended up taking out her grief on Derek which resulted in Carver doing the same, and the youngest, Bethany, clung to Derek for protection from it all. And Derek took it without complaint. Years later Carver is drafted into the army when the darkspawn first arrive within the Wilds on Ferelden's border and Derek is left alone to protect his family from being discovered by the local templars in Lothering before - months later - Carver arrives injured and exhausted on their doorstep to warn them all that the army had failed to defeat the darkspawn and the horde was marching their way, fast. They barely flee their home in time to avoid being razed in the fires the darkspawn set and Bethany dies at the hands of an ogre, resulting in Leandra once again blaming Derek for not stopping the young girl from rushing the monster alone. All this combined with Carver's now recent death in the Deep Roads had caused Derek to snap beneath the strain and seek refuge with the one person that most of his current allies would never expect him to turn to. For all the things Fenris had said to him, however, and all the things Fenris had also done in the brief time Derek had known him there was one thing that was true in their relationship. Everyone accused Hawke of being a monster, and would say he'd one day turn into an abomination, would mutate at the hands of a demon and kill everyone until he was cut down but Derek knew that if Fenris so much as suspected that Derek was reaching that point the elf would kill him before Derek killed someone else. As a blood mage he was already at a higher risk of being possessed, even if Fenris wasn't aware of this, and that meant he needed someone who wouldn't even think about hesitation before cutting him down. Fenris was his Judge, his Jury, and perhaps one day, his Executioner.

Chapter Text

Anders has started to devote more and more time into following Derek, and ultimately Fenris as a result, after he learned that Derek had been strengthening his trust and relationship with the angry elf. Fenris was even changing as well! Fenris was giving Derek fewer scathing remarks and would even crack the occasional joke, even among other party members. At the moment the pair were walking in Hightown early in the Afternoon, something they usually did from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon before attending the late afternoon service at the Chantry with Sebastian, that irritating prick in white armor. Apparently that day not too long after Hawke and the others returned to Kirkwall he'd been talking with Sebastian to arrange a funeral service for Derek's younger brother even if they had no body to burn and the archer had offered his sympathy, condolences, and was more than willing to help. Anders had also been present when Hawke went with Sebastian to investigate the archer's former family friends. The amount of demons and blood magic within that building had been absolutely insane, but Anders knew it would affect Darek far more than it did him. Their group had consisted of himself, Derek, Sebastian, and Varric. Both himself and Varric kept close watch on Hawke and neither missed how the man would 'accidentally' nick himself on the bladed end of his staff when he got too low on mana, obviously trying not to spook the rather religious new arrival to their team. In the end Sebastian joined their rag tag group and Hawke talked with the guy almost as much as he did with Fenris, but damn did Derek flirt with that irritating sod.

Anders paced back and forth in the dark shadows of the staircase near the chantry that led to Lowtown as he waited for the last afternoon service to end and for Fenris, Derek, and probably Sebastian to come out and part ways. It was the same every damn day. Sebastian would see them off before vanishing inside the Chantry, and then Fenris and Hawke would exchange a joke or the occasional flirtatious comment - Normally from Derek - before Hawke left to check on one of his other companions and Fenris returned to his mansion up the stairs to his right. Suddenly the loud ringing of bells pulled Anders from his thoughts and he pressed himself against the stone wall so that he could watch as the trio went through their normal ritual. Hawke told Sebastian that his accent was absolutely sinful, Sebastian sputtered in embarrassment before swiftly taking his leave, and Fenris chided Hawke for purposely agitating the other human before laughing and walking away with a dismissive wave in Derek's general direction. Anders saw how Derek linged to watch the elf for a few more lingering moments before finally leaving in the direction of the Merchant's quarter, thankfully, and Anders swiftly made his move. He took the risk of firing off a weak spirit bolt at Fenris just before the elf passed him and the reaction was just as he expected. Fenris growled with hostility and violent intentions before phasing through the air to cover more distance in less time, using those lyrium tattoos and the power it granted him despite how much he would always bitch. Anders soon had a lithe hand around his throat and another against his chest with the threat of taking his heart but Fenris recognized him before it got that far.

"Do you have a death wish, Abomination, or is this just your version of angering me today?" Fenris snapped with a low growl that certainly lived up to the name 'little wolf' and it made Anders grin bitterly before responding.

"Maybe I do, maybe I don't, but I do know that you're angering me, you and Derek both." Anders finally answered and it earned him a slow, thoughtful blink before the elf released him.

"Last I checked you and the other Mage were not on speaking terms still. Something about a fight and argument on the wounded cost over three years ago? He's not the type to hold a grudge so you must have seriously hit a nerve. He hasn't said anything more on the matter, however, and I don't plan to push the topic." Fenris said dismissively with a slight frown.

"Seriously? On one hand you worry over the fact that I'm causing him stress and on the other you still call him nothing more than 'Mage'? I mean, it's certainly better than calling me 'Abomination' but not by much." Anders scoffed, and a voice muttered sullenly about the fact that if only Fenris knew about Derek's blood magic maybe he'd call the man an abomination as well. Anders personally wanted to tell him to find out but Justice would never let him do something like that. Either Fenris would have to learn on his own or Derek would have to confess to the warrior, but he would not do it for him.

"What I call him is none of your business, Abomination, nor is it the business of your pet demon. Now if you're done interrogating me I have better things to do than play twenty questions with you." Fenris hissed as he moved to walk away.

"Fine, be that way, but I know you two spend damn near every day together lately. Ever since he returned from the Deep Roads you've been connected to the hip. Maybe you should find out why, or at least learn more about the man who is looking to you for help, whatever that help may or may not be." Anders stated firmly as Fenris ascended the stairs beside him, forcing the blonde to look up just to keep him in his line of sight. "Or better yet! The next time he takes you on a mission and you all get into a nasty fight like Derek always manages to do, keep a close eye on what he does, how he fights these days. You might even learn something fascinating and new." That last bit managed to slip out of him before Justice could stop him, and there was a flare of blue that made cracks in his skin before Anders swiftly fled to avoid being spotted. Fenris was left wondering just what the hell Anders meant by that before shoving those thoughts aside. The Abomination was just trying to get under his skin like always, nothing more and nothing less, and now he apparently decided to use Derek as a new means to do so.

~~**~~

For the first time in over three years Derek willingly came to Anders' clinic in Darktown with his new noble status and yet he looked the same as he had when they first met. The man's hair was pulled into a neat and elegant braid, he had a set of black and rather odd mage armor that could actually pass as normal, light armor to an untrained eye, and a gold staff with an odd statuette at the top strapped to his back. He was trying to pass as a rogue or mercenary and were it not for the staff he might have managed to do so. Hell, even with the staff he might manage it, he could wield the thing as a melee weapon in close combat if he had to. Anders had a rush of patients at the moment because of an accent at the local mine and since Hawke had minor skills in making potions, despite his habit of going to Lady Elegant for such things now, he took up a station at Anders' alchemy table and would occasionally call the other mages' name and toss him a poultice for the patient Anders was treating at that moment. Working together in that manner Anders could treat his patients far faster and use far less mana in doing so, and within only three hours everyone was treated and leaving to go home while thanking Anders for his help and assuming Hawke was no more than an apprentice, something Derek had never really cared about. Only once everyone was gone did Hawke finally talk to the blonde for the first time since his arrival.

"So... Fenris mentioned something interesting as we left the Chantry today." Hawke said slowly and he paused to gauge Anders' reaction to that comment. Anders tensed, then took a deep breath and wandered over to a basin of water to clean his hands of any blood or dirt he'd gotten on himself during his work but Hawke only followed close behind. "Something about you cornering him in Hightown on his way home and pestering him about his personal life. He asked if I could convince you to cut it out even though he knows we're not exactly on the best of terms. That means you said something that seriously bothered him, by the way, because I know you won't guess that on your own." Derek finished as he leaned against the wall beside Anders and waited for the healer to meet his eyes.

"I merely interacted with him in the same way I always do. I flinged some magic at him, got pinned to a wall by my throat, and then had a bit of a mild argument afterwards before he slinked off." Anders said sternly and his tone implied that he'd give no more of an explanation on the matter either.

"You used magic on him?" Derek huffed in genuine anger and that surprised Anders more than any other emotion Derek could've used on him. Hawke had quite a bit of patience and it took a great deal for the man to get genuinely angry, but when he was angry it was actually kind of scary. Suddenly his shock was being drowned out by the pure spirit energy of the fade and a rush of someone else's consciousness overwhelming his own. Out of habit he didn't fight that alien mind, he merely let Justice control his body without a fight and the spirit quickly moved to pin Derek against the wall with one hand on the man's shoulder and the other on his hip. There was the sound of someone making a quick gasp of air, and Anders could see what Justice was seeing. Hawke had made that noise and it hadn't been a gasp born of fear either. Derek's eyes were slightly dilated, and a flush was starting to rise on his cheeks and he didn't so much as shy away from Justices' touch, didn't flinch, no, there was none of the reactions expected of him. He just took it willingly and it made the spirit pause and think. Derek had made a pact with a demon to learn blood magic, so that meant that he had at least associated with a being from the fade, which also meant that the energy seeping from the cracks in Anders' skin likely would not bother him, but the touching? That should bother him but it didn't.

"What entity touched you in a way that you do not shy from me, mortal?" Justice finally asked him and he didn't miss the way that Derek's breath escaped in a shaky sigh from the simple sound of that resonating tone, too deep for Anders' throat and with an echo of even more voices behind it. He quickly recovered and offered a lopsided smirk that quickly dominated his expression and hid that previous, vulnerable look in his eyes that had been there before.

"Wouldn't you like to know, Justice? Sorry, but it's quite rude to kiss and tell." He cooed in a show of humor that was becoming more common with him by the day. Perhaps he was picking it up from Varric? It didn't matter, but the lack of a real answer irritated Justice none the less.

"You have associated with demons, of this I know, but most do not require touching to form a pack. Desire demons may do this, through Anders I know that you do not lust after the female form." Justice grumbled moodily and Hawke laughed brightly as a reaction, only irritating the spirit more.

"Come on, Justice, if you already know that Desire demons are touchy feely by nature then even you can put those pieces together. You might not understand humans, sweetheart, but you are quite far from stupid." Hawke pointed out and it took way too long for Justice to finally get it.

"You... willingly did-" Justice started to ask in clear horror before Hawke realized where he was going and swiftly pressed one hand to the other's mouth with a mild frown.

"No, I did not fuck a demon, even though she certainly tried to get me to do so in an effort to get a better deal, Justice! After all, like you said, I'm not into women that way." He quickly explained before he managed to squirm out of Justices' suddenly lax grip on him and headed for the door. "There's only one Fade entity I'd ever do that with, and that's all I'm saying for today. For now I think you've had enough revelations for a while, but perhaps you can find me in the fade some night, yeah? I might even tell you more dirty little secrets there~!" He offered with a playful smile before he left the clinic entirely, leaving a confused spirit behind him. Visit him in the Fade? That was certainly an... appealing idea and Hawke had invited him to do so, right? He may as well take him up on the offer then, once Anders fell asleep that evening.

Chapter Text

It was not easy to find Derek within the Fade, though Justice had a hard time imagining why. Normally it was so easy for him to locate specific people, especially if he'd met them outside the Fade. Sometimes he even visited the Warden Commander when he had the time and chance, asking her for advice or simply talking about their shared adventures together. The spirit did eventually find his quarry though, but he was suddenly questioning if he had made a good choice in coming at all. This section of the Fade was filled with fire and the sounds of darkspawn was clear in the distance, coming from all directions. It almost looked like a warped and tainted version of... Lothering? Why in the Maker's name would Hawke come here? Well, only one way to find out. Justice warily walked forward along a worn path that seemed to go straight towards a small home, and the building seemed to be the only thing the fires could not touch.

~~**~~**~~

"You know, you keep switching between a male and female form whenever I come to talk to you. One day male, the next female. Is that normal for Desire Demons or are you just special that way?" Hawke asked with a playful smile as he sat in a Fade recreation of the living room set within his home back in Lothering. The furnature was oddly shaped, there were ugly statues here and there, and the walls would melt sometimes only to reform. In the end, it was enough like home that Hawke would come back every time, just as the demon who made it had hoped. Said demon sighed in exasperation from where it was perched in a chair across from him. Usually Desire Demons were female, using their curvy forms and sultry voices to lure mortals into dangerous pacts with them, but this one was in a male form. His clothing was similar to the female form, the horns, hair, and eyes all the same. It was merely the gender and deeper voice that differed, and yet that small difference was all it needed to get Derek to talk to him the first time they'd met one another.

"I like to see how you react every time it happens, Derek. Perhaps it also amuses me. Does it really matter, though?" The demon questioned with dismissive wave. Before Derek could answer both the mage and demon looked up and towards the front door of the house. Derek stood and opened it only to find Justice on the other side, looking like he had expected Derek to open the door in the first place. Glowing blue eyes flickered to the demon behind Derek before returning to the mage.

"I think I understand more about our previous encounter. Not to mention your comments of how Desire demons are... touchy feely, wasn't it?" Justice sighed and he sounded tired. Derek chuckled softly before taking Justice's hand and pulling the spirit inside the building. The Fade itself seemed to shudder when Justice's spirit energy touched the demon's but if Derek felt it he didn't so much as blink.

"Come on, Justice, don't be a stranger! To be honest I wasn't even sure if you were gonna pop up, let alone this soon." Derek chirped cheerfully. Justice realized that Anders' realization of Hawke becoming more Varric-like was rather astute.

"Derek, honey, don't you know it's unwise to let strays into your home like this? For all you know this thing is feral." The Desire demon purred and Justice growled at the terms used to describe him only to fall into a shocked silence when Derek pushed Justice to sit down on the sofa and the Mage didn't hesitate before laying across the Spirit's lap like a lazy cat.

"Please, Justice is hardly a stray. I've known him for over three years now, right, Justice?" Derek cooed and his golden amber eyes seemed to flow with a blood red colour, but Justice seriously hoped for once that he was just seeing things. Please let that be an illusion of the Fade, please do not let it be the blood magic tainting Hawke already.

"Hawke and I are... well acquainted, yes." Justice admitted reluctantly and the Desire Demon frowned before looking to Hawke.

"Derek, when were you planning to tell me of this? You know I get... jealous easily." The demon huffed grumpily and scowled when Hawke's Cheshire cat grin only grew wider. Derek sat up only to straddle Justice's lap, leaning close so that they were practically kissing. Hawke felt Justice's spirit energy like a constant thrumming sensation on his skin, like a second heartbeat, even. It was intoxicating, and could possibly be addicting given enough exposure.

"Oh, I know you get jealous. Perhaps I'm hoping you aren't the only entity from the Fade who gets jealous, though." Derek hummed and he almost sounded drunk. Justice's eyes widened before Hawke suddenly kissed him, though none of the three missed the harsh, rough voice that echoed through the area they were in due to Hawke's mind being so closely linked to the building and area they resided in.

"Dammit, Mage, if you don't wake up soon whatever magic bull shit you're doing ends with your death!" Fenris growled in clear frustration, but there was also concern lacing his tone as well. Derek pulled away from the kiss with Justice only to be roughly woken when Fenris slapped him across the face. His eyes fluttered open and saw that Fenris' tattoos were glowing brightly, but he could see his reflection in the man's armour. His eyes were shrouded in Fade energy. One was a deep violet shade, and the other the familiar white/blue of Justice. The fire faded and he blinked up at Fenris' familiar forest green eyes. "Do you know how close I just was to having to kill you, Derek?" Fenris demanded.

Chapter Text

Fenris had eventually managed to herd Derek over to sit at the table in front of the fire place in his own room with him after the Mage had stopped practically radiating Fade energy and his eyes no longer showed the influence of demons. Or at least he saw only demon influence while Derek might actually argue the existence of more benevolent spirits within the Fade, though that was an argument he'd always give up on when Fenris was involved. Fenris' emerald green eyes were practically burning holes into Hawke's head before Derek finally broke the heavy silence between them.
"You used my name. You called me Derek, not Mage, or even just Hawke, but Derek." He murmured and he didn't miss the slight flush on Fenris' cheeks when he pointed out that small detail. Fenris had hoped Derek had been too tired to pick up on that, because it was the first time Fenris had actually used Hawke's first name in any type of socialization with him since they'd met in spite of having known it for about three years and some handful of months.
"Your eyes had been glowing with the influence of demons, perhaps I merely thought using your proper name would subconsciously convince you to fight against their influence and return to sanity." Fenris grunted moodily and he sighed when he heard Hawke give his warm, though soft, laugh. It was a genuine laugh, one that was heard less and less as time went on. The loss of his brother had gotten Hawke to close down, to start hiding away behind a mask of witty quotes and false humor. Where Anders assumed Hawke's humor was genuine and spawned of Varric's influence Fenris only saw a mask for Derek to hide behind, a wall to keep others out while he let the pain and guilt eat away at him.
"If that helps you sleep at night then who am I to argue?" Derek joked before Fenris gave him that look. The look that said he not only wasn't amused by his joke but also knew it wasn't even a genuine one and wanted him to be honest. It made Derek wrinkle his nose cutely in discomfort before the man tried again. "Alright, so I'd been near some Fade entities before you woke me up, it was probably why my eyes looked that way. However, you /did/ wake me up, and for that I'm grateful." He admitted, and it was honest. If Fenris hadn't interrupted him then he probably would've done something stupid with Justice, something that would cause a bigger rift between himself and the Spirit, not to mention Anders as well. Hell, he'd probably already driven a wedge between them with that kiss, he'd seen the shock on Justice's face before waking. Suddenly there was a hand waving in front of his eyes and he saw Fenris' concerned look, prompting Derek to give a small, barely there smile. "Thank you."
"Yes, well... if you hadn't woken I might have gone to drastic measures and I'm sure you can imagine the backlash I'd get from your allies if they found out I had killed you just because you didn't wake up right away." Fenris grunted and Hawke simply laughed again, getting the elf to pout.
~~**~~**~~**~~
Anders had been treating a single mother's youngest child, the family being one of the locals in Darktown, when Fenris slinked through his front door. Anders glanced up in surprise before his expression suddenly turned guarded and grumpy, getting his patient's mother to pick up on the tension. Fenris at least had the manners to wait until Anders finished healing the child and had herded them out of the clinic before Fenris put the lamp out and closed the door, signaling to others that the clinic was closed for the moment.
"What do you want, Fenris? I need to keep my door open today, there's rumors that the carta might strike at the locals down here and the last thing I need is someone bleeding to death outside my front door because you have your feathers in a ruffle over something that you believe is my fault." Anders huffed before there was suddenly a gauntleted hand slamming him against the door by his shoulder.
"The color your pet demon shows when it takes over your consciousness, it is blue with a touch of white. Hawke's right eye was that exact color when I woke him this morning." Fenris stated bluntly and Anders got a look of surprise from that before he scowled moodily, prompting Fenris to continue. "Do not assume I am ignorant, Abomination. I may not be a Mage but I know what it means. It means your pet demon was near Hawke in the Fade and he already admitted to me that he'd been in the proximity of not one demon, but two. His left eye was the dark purple and black of a desire demon, I'd recognize it anywhere. Tell me what you saw, Abomination."
"You want me to tell you what happened between Justice and Hawke? Why not ask him yourself? He already tells you everything you ask him." Anders scoffed before he was suddenly released and Fenris began to pace impatiently.
"I wanted to ask, but he started to deflect my questions with humor, to distract me and change the subject. Ever since the death of his brother, since Hawke had to kill him to save him from a slow death at the hands of the Blight, I've watched him become more and more distant, hiding behind self made walls of false humor and fake smiles." Fenris grumbled and Anders looked surprised. "You didn't know? The jokes he makes, the seemingly bright smiles he gives, it is all false and merely a defense."
"I... I didn't know. I suppose part of me hoped he was actually recovering under Varric's influence." Anders muttered in embarrassment before sighing and meeting Fenris' eyes. "You're right, he was with a desire demon. It took Justice a while to even find Hawke in the Fade, far too long in my opinion. It means something, or someone, had been hiding him and we agree that it was the desire demon's influence. He goes to a Fade image of his old home in Lothering, one that oozes the demon's energy. He acts differently there, as if he's in some sort of daze. He's more open, sure, but also flirts like there's no damn tomorrow. It's disorienting." Anders huffed before Justice's voice overlapped his own. "It is not of his own doing. The demon is worming its way into Derek's mind, lulling him into a willing state, teaching him forbidden magic and convincing him it is not bad, but helpful. Safe." Suddenly Fenris was slamming him into the wall again and his tattoos were glowing brightly, making Anders force Justice back before the spirit could react to the odd song he always heard around Lyrium.
"You're lying! Hawke wouldn't-" Fenris cut himself off and he grit his teeth before trying again. "Derek can't have a demon influencing his actions. I promised him that I would kill him if he became an Abomination. If you're not lying then I will have to keep my promise sooner rather than later." Fenris growled and there was... desperation in his eyes. He didn't want to have to keep that promise, but Anders knew the elf would do it if Derek became the monster he feared he would.
"You just called him Derek." Anders breathed in shock before the door to his clinic was forced open and Derek stepped in with Varric following, but the fact the dwarf was putting his lock picking kit back inside his jacket indicated how they got in. Derek glanced between the two and Fenris got his tattoos under control before Derek gently took one of his wrists and got Fenris to step back with little to no effort.
"Calm down, Fenris, I don't know what happened but I can't have you two killing one another over some silly argument." Derek soothed and there was genuine concern in his eyes, and that, more than anything, got Fenris to release the tension in his shoulders. If Derek could be concerned, if he could show Fenris those small bits of himself still, then he didn't need to kill the Mage, blood magic or no.
"My apologies, Mage, I didn't mean to upset you." Fenris muttered so quietly that Hawke almost missed it and it prompted Derek to give him that small, soft smile that was all Hawke and nothing fake. The smile made Anders jealous, at least until that smile turned to him for the briefest of moments before Derek got an embarrassed look and turned away from them both.
"Varric and I were going to go patrol the Wounded Coast today, but if you two want to go canoodle in the corner I can always take Aveline and Merrill instead." Hawke teased and Fenris growled in warning. If Anders' pet demon wasn't lying about blood magic the last thing he needed was for Hawke to spend time with another blood mage. It helped convince Fenris to step around him and into Derek's line of sight.
"Not on your life, Hawke, I'll play nice with the Abomination if it prevents you from turning to that blood mage for help." Fenris grumbled and it made Varric laugh in amusement before Anders stepped up and ran a hand across the back of Hawke's hand. Derek glanced over at him and shuddered ever so slightly when he saw the white/blue light in the man's eyes.
"I'll play nice with Fenris if it means I can spend time with you, Derek." Anders hummed but his voice held that distant tone that usually meant he was listening to Justice. Derek gave his small smile again when he realized that the kiss in the Fade hadn't driven a wedge between them at all. If nothing else it seemed to make both Anders and Justice curious about him for some reason. As long as they didn't run from him Derek was happy.
"Good, well if you three are done flirting then let's get moving, otherwise I'm heading home and Rivani can help you people." Varric groaned before leading the way to the elevator back to Lowtown. Fenris and Anders gave Hawke a look at the mention of all three of them flirting and Derek simply shrugged before running after Varric, prompting the other two to follow suit.
~~**~~**~~**~~
Fenris and Anders had gotten into a glaring contest after the group arrived on the Wounded Coast and Hawke had eventually given up on getting them to chill out and instead struck up a conversation with Varric. They cleared the few bandit groups along the pathways before they ran into something interesting. The Kirkwall guard had apparently sent a group out here before them and Hawke quickly moved to where the small patrol was hiding behind a rock, prompting the others to follow suit. It only took a short conversation to figure out that they'd found someone Aveline would love to get her hands on and Hawke regretted not bringing her for a brief moment before he pushed the thought aside. He rallied the remaining guards and convinced them to join their small group to charge the dangerous bandits and their even more dangerous leader. With a rallying cry from the guards Hawke led the group into the sudden forward attack.
Derek's group quickly split apart to help cover the guardsmen and Varric also worked to disarm traps he found before anyone got caught in them. Hawke, however, was soon caught in what could only be called a magic duel with the bandit's blood mage. Apparently the mage had honed in on Hawke because to anyone that used blood magic Hawke would seem like a metaphorical beacon that outshone anyone around him. Fenris was sort of near him, but not nearly close enough to help right away should Hawke need it. The same could be said of Anders as well, however. Ice and fire was at Hawke's command and he tried to avoid blood magic for Fenris and Anders' sake. However, as he fought the bandit's blood mage he didn't see the rogue creeping up behind him slowly but surely. The only sign his companions had of the attack was Derek's sharp scream of agony piercing the air. He had a dagger through his back with the blade itself sticking out of his chest, having torn clean through the odd armor-like robes he wore. Hawke fell to his knees before the Rogue tore his blade free and the enemy mage stepped up with a manic grin. Anders and Fenris called Derek's name and it got the man to look up with blood seeping from the corner of his mouth before dark violet fire flared across his eyes. The enemy mage brought his staff down to crack Hawke's skull open only for Hawke's hand to reach up and grab it mid-swing. Hawke forced himself to his feet and his own blood began to swirl around him in a scarlet mist. Fenris and Anders froze in both shock and horror before an explosion sounded from where Hawke stood, blasting back all enemies in the clearing but leaving allies untouched. When the bloody mist cleared away Hawke was kneeling in the center of where the explosion happened, his eyes back to normal now and blood still seeping steadily from his injury. Fenris and Anders moved forward at the same time, both seeing as Hawke finally passed out from the pain and blood loss while the guards slowly began to approach. In the end Fenris was the one who carried Hawke back into Kirkwall while Anders hovered beside him trying to heal Hawke's injuries but found that the blade that pierced him was poisoned with magebane, blocking his spells from working. Fenris brought Hawke into the guard's barracks and eventually Aveline's office, startling the red head before she went from irritated to concerned at the sight of Hawke's state. A cot was brought into her office and she locked it down, watching as Anders struggled against the poison in Hawke's system before finally just having her bring cloth so he could stop the bleeding manually. They had to wait out the poison and in the meantime it was up to Hawke himself to live long enough for them to have that chance.