They left Varric at the Hanged Man and made the long walk up to Hightown in uncomfortable silence. It shouldn't have been uncomfortable silence, because Hawke had a plan, dammit, and things to say, but then he was suddenly sort-of-alone with Fenris, who was tense and hunched in on himself and unfairly beautiful and who had been naked in Hawke's bed just a week ago—no, bad idea, stop thinking about Fenris naked, it's extremely distracting.
“This is you,” Fenris said, stopping in front of, sure enough, Hawke's estate.
“Oh,” Hawke said. “Yes. We … are at my house.”
Fenris shifted awkwardly. “Yes,” he agreed. “I'll … see you around, I suppose.”
“Wait,” Hawke said, reaching for Fenris's arm but stopping the gesture just in time. “I need to tell you something.” He moved from the square to the semi-private space just in front of the door, beckoning Fenris after him. Fenris had that wary my-main-accomplishment-in-life-is-literally-being-great-at-running-away look about him, but he followed and waited for Hawke to speak.
Hawke took a deep breath. “Fenris,” he said, and somehow just saying his name abruptly unknotted most of Hawke's nervousness. “Fenris,” he said again, steadier. “Look, if you don't want to talk about what happened, if you don't want it to happen again, that's fine, okay? That's completely your choice. But there are two things you need to know. One,”—he held up a finger, immediately felt silly, and turned it into an awkward hair-tucking gesture—“one, you are my friend. That's non-negotiable for me. I mean, if you don't want to … be around me, I'll understand, but I will always want to take you places and see you at Wicked Grace nights and come over in the evening to drink hideously expensive wine and argue about politics.” While I stare adoringly at you all night, he carefully does not add. “Anyway, that's. That's what I want if you want it.”
Fenris nodded slowly. He seemed to be searching for words. Eventually he said with an offhand shrug, “There is still half the wine cellar to get through,” and Hawke couldn't help but beam at him, winning a small smile in response.
“Second,” Hawke went on, boldly stepping a little closer. Fenris held his gaze. “Second is that I'm still here if you change your mind. As far as I'm concerned, you're it for me. You're so … I've never felt like I do when I'm with you, I love the person I am with you, and I can't imagine ever choosing to give you up, so if you ever change your mind, I'm still here, I'm still waiting, I promise I'll be so good to you, Fenris, I—” Hawke cut himself off and swallowed hard. “I still want you,” he finished. “I want as much of you as you feel like you can give.”
Fenris looked away and bit his lip. Hawke absently noted that the feeling he was experiencing was abject terror.
“Hawke,” Fenris said softly. “This is a foolish promise. You will grow weary of a half-romance. You will wish for more and grow resentful when I cannot give it.”
“I'm pretty sure I won't,” Hawke said.
“Then you will simply tire of me in time,” Fenris snapped. “There are many in this city to catch your eye, and few passions last with nothing to nurture them. We are not in one of Varric's stories.”
“Of course we're in one of Varric's stories,” Hawke said, quite honestly, but Fenris just sighed and his mouth tightened. “I'll tell you what,” Hawke said. “If I change my mind and move on from you, I'll just tell you. So as long as I don't say anything to you, you can just assume I'm over here pining and writing you elaborate love poetry in Orlesian.”
That got a laugh. “I'm lying, I don't actually know Orlesian,” Hawke admitted.
Fenris finally met Hawke's eyes again. He looked resigned—maybe even a little happy. “I see you are as reckless with your heart as with your life,” he said drily.
“That's me,” Hawke agreed. “Absolutely no sense of self-preservation.”
“Quite,” Fenris said. He studied Hawke's face and seemed convinced by whatever he saw. “I thank you, Hawke,” he said seriously. “You offer me far better than I deserve.”
“It's not about deserving,” Hawke said.
“Still,” said Fenris. “Thank you.” He paused for a long moment. Then he leaned in very deliberately, rested a hand on Hawke's shoulder, and placed a slow, tentative kiss just at the corner of Hawke's mouth. “Thank you,” he whispered, and he slipped away.
In the wild, breathless state of euphoria Hawke was in for, oh, at least the next two hours, he kept coming back to the same thought. He tried to imagine what their future was going to look like and how long it would be until Fenris kissed him again—a long time, years maybe, but it would happen. He was sure of it. He knew it down in his bones. In the meantime, he just had to wait.
And he could wait, he knew, with a deep, bright sense of peace. It was his job to be strong now for Fenris. It was his job to be the fixed point in Fenris's universe, steadfast and patient and stable, until Fenris worked out whatever he needed to and was finally, finally ready.
He could wait as long as it took.