When Anders became aware of his surroundings again, he was aching from head to toe. The silence was alarming and he was scared to open his eyes.
Moments ago, throaty roars, angry hissing and Varric’s shouts had filled the narrow cave; the sound of blades cutting through flesh and muscle. The foul smell was still present and Anders wondered if it came from his surroundings or himself. He knew he was covered in dragon intestines.
He always ended up covered in dragon intestines.
Anders had to learn how to say no to Marian Hawke when it came to hunting dragons. Immediately.
With a groan, he lifted one hand and pushed at the weight on his chest that was currently making it difficult to breathe. “Maker, you’re rather heavy for such a tiny creature,” he rasped. The weight on top of him shifted with a grunt and Anders dared open his eyes. His vision was blurred from the – surprise! – slimy gore covering at least half of his face, but it didn’t take out the anger of the glare that a pair of emerald green eyes offered him. Anders’ own eyes checked over the elf’s body quickly for severe injuries. Before that bundle of hate and muscles had an impact with him and sent them both flying across the cave, the dragon had been using Fenris as a chew toy. Hopefully not literally.
“All limbs still attached?” Anders asked and Fenris’ pupils narrowed. “Hello, earth to Fenris?”
Hawke’s hysterical laughter filled the cave. He could hear Varric join her after a few seconds and Isabel complain about being dirty from head to toe, and that Hawke owed her a few hours in her bath tub. Anders couldn’t see them and since Fenris refused to answer, or move, he glanced around. They were surrounded by boulders – and more dragon intestines covering them – in the semi-dark. Probably one of the corners of the cave. It was a miracle he hadn’t broken every single bone in his body, Anders mused.
“Could you get off me already?” he asked Fenris and roughly pushed at the elf. “You’re much too close for my liking.”
Fenris did indeed move this time, though it wasn’t off him. Instead, the elf moved until he was seated on his hips and Anders groaned when his rather sore back protested. “Maker, did you forget Common? Get off.”
A calloused hand took his chin in a steely grip. Anders was sure he heard his jaw crack and froze, unable to do anything but stare at the elf, whose face was suddenly right above his. Fenris looked angry; he always looked angry. This was it, Anders thought. The perfect opportunity for Fenris to kill him while no one could see them. The elf could simply claim that it was the dragon that had ended Anders’ life and no one would get suspicious.
“Please don’t,” Anders hissed and Fenris looked at him curiously. “Please don’t kill me,” the mage clarified. “You don’t really want to explain to Hawke how –“
Anders had often imagined how Fenris would kill him, given the opportunity. It was not something he should entertain himself with, whenever sleep wouldn’t come at night, he knew that. He’d figured Fenris would reach into his chest and crush his heart; or maybe snap his spine. If considered too uninteresting, maybe he’d slit Anders throat instead and watch him wheeze and bleed to death slowly. Anders had even considered being challenged to a duel, although he supposed it would have been unfair; a mage could attack from the distance and Fenris, powerful and strong as he was, wouldn’t stand a chance against him in a real fight.
Death by Fenris came in the form of something solid and sharp that crashed against his mouth, bruising the sensitive skin of his already chapped lips. It took a ridiculously long moment for the mage to realize that Fenris wasn’t trying to crush his face until it was no longer recognizable. He felt the heat of the elf’s lips, the wetness when Fenris’ tongue ran harshly across his closed mouth and Anders fought the reflex of parting his lips to allow the elf in.
And then Fenris pulled away and Anders gasped loudly when the elf released him from his hold. They were both panting harshly and Fenris looked every bit like the wild animal his former master had named him after.
“What the...” Anders breathed out. Fenris didn’t allow him another moment to understand what just happened; the same hand that had held him in an iron grip slapped him across the face. The mage was too stunned to get angry and when he dared blink, the elf was gone. Hawke was shouting and laughing, jubilant as she always was when she managed to slay yet another beast at least five times her size. A trait of hers that Anders adored and hated in equal amounts.
“What the fuck just happened?” he muttered to himself as he slowly tried to sit up. There was a purring sound he was – sadly – very familiar with and Anders sighed inwardly before looking up. Isabela was grinning at him.
“Well, Sparklefingers...something you two want to tell us?” she drawled.
“I could answer that if I had any clue what the Void just happened,” Anders answered around a pained groan. His back had taken the worst of the blow – or impact. At least he could still feel his legs, so chances that nothing got broken were good.
“It looked like a rather hot kiss from my angle,” Isabela purred, “but he could have also been trying to eat your face off. You tell me.”
Isabela laughed throatily and climbed across the boulder to join Anders and help him sit up. “You alright, though?” she asked, her face serious now. “That was quite the fall. I only saw the two of you fly across the cave before Hawke had the chance to get a good hit in.”
“My back is killing me,” Anders admitted. Sitting up made the pain even worse. He would have loved to immediately soothe away some of it, using magic, but – “Anyone severely injured?” he asked the pirate through gritted teeth.
“Take care of yourself first, Sweetcheeks,” Isabela admonished. “Everyone’s up and running. We’re fine.”
The second impact of the day was Hawke, effortlessly climbing the boulders and joining Anders and Isabela in the narrow space inbetween. Next were her arms around him; Anders was sure she meant to squeeze gently, but that woman was strong and he was hurting practically everywhere.
“Maker, Hawke,” he grunted and winced.
Hawke looked at him critically and Anders felt his cheeks warm. Hawke was a whirlwind; she was also very beautiful and the first person in many years that had actually sparked his interest. But to do something about it was more difficult than one would think.
“Looks like I’ll have to take care of you tonight,” Hawke said with a grin. She shamelessly flirted every chance she got. Anders often saw his younger self in her and mourned the fact that he’d lost this side of himself. “Hot bath and soft bed on offer! And maybe a massage?”
“I’ll be fine,” Anders objected and the next second, he couldn’t believe he was turning Hawke down. He had often hoped for such an opportunity, an ambiguous invitation and he...had just said no. Maybe he’d hit his head?
“You sure?” Hawke asked and she sounded as surprised as Anders felt.
“I just...” Anders scrambled to get to his feet. Isabela handed him his staff and he leaned on it. Hawke’s blue eyes rested their gaze on him and Anders felt like an old man. “I just need to get outta here before I start retching,” he announced with a forced smile and limped to where Varric and Fenris were waiting. Varric lifted an eyebrow at him; Fenris avoided looking into his direction at all. The nasty flesh wound in Fenris’ right leg immediately caught Anders’ attention.
“Heard you had an impact with a dragon chew toy,” Varric said with a chuckle. Fenris visibly bristled. He was trying not to put too much weight on his injured leg, which gave him an even more hunched posture than usual.
“I also got bathed in dragon intestines...again,” Anders said pointedly. Behind them, Hawke cleared her throat.
“Sorry about that,” she chirped.
“Never going dragon hunting with you again.”
“You said that the last time, too,” Varric reminded.
“Well, this time, I mean it.”
“We should leave, before we get into trouble with scavengers,” Fenris muttered. His gaze was still cast at the ground. Anders wished the elf would look up already; he was sure Fenris would be able to read the ‘why’ in his eyes.
“You won’t get far with that leg,” Anders said. “Let me take a look at that.”
“Do not concern yourself with my leg, mage.”
“It really does look bad, Broody,” Varric offered. Fenris merely huffed and stalked off – or rather, limped off. Anders glanced at Hawke, his eyes asking for help, but she merely shrugged and followed the elf.
Soon, it was Isabela, Hawke and Varric leading their group. Anders was last, limping after the limping elf, who was trying his hardest to keep walking fast enough so they wouldn’t end up walking side by side. At least, that appeared to be the case. Anders got lost in thoughts as he stared at the elf’s back and tried to remember if there was anything he’d missed during their ‘situation’ earlier. Had Fenris truly kissed him? Why would he do such a thing? Had he mistaken Anders for someone else? Maybe he’d been confused after their fall. That seemed logical.
“Hey, Fenris,” Anders tried and watched the elf’s shoulders tense. “Can we –“
“No,” Fenris cut him off sharply. And loudly – Hawke glanced back over her shoulder.
“You guys need a break?” she asked.
“No,” Anders and Fenris replied simultaneously. “Fenris, I need –“ Anders tried again but Fenris spun around and glared at him.
“You need to shut up, I agree,” he hissed.
Confusion was slowly turning into anger. What was that elf thinking? Fenris was the one who had kissed him, not the other way round. His lips were bruised and his cheek still stung from the slap that had followed.
“Can you two try and not fight for a day?” Hawke sighed. “Please?”
“I would, if Fenris wasn’t so intent on being a complete ass,” Anders replied. It had the desired effect; Fenris’ hands balled into fists and his steps faltered for a moment.
“Kiss and make up, sweeties,” Isabela chirped and again, Fenris’ steps faltered. Anders knew Fenris was going to fall before the elf actually did, and instead of rushing forward to catch him, Anders stopped walking and waited for the inevitable. Fenris’ breath hitched when he bit back a moan. The pain in his leg had to be close to unbearable by now. The dragon’s fangs had no doubt torn flesh and muscle. Anders had to admit he was surprised Fenris could use that leg at all. He had been bleeding all over the place ever since they’d gotten on their way. If the pain wouldn’t make him pass out soon, blood loss would.
“Shit, Broody,” Varric said compassionately and helped Fenris back to his feet. The elf wordlessly slung an arm around the dwarf’s shoulders and allowed Varric to support him.
“Don’t blame me if you bleed to death,” Anders said. “I offered.”
“I’ve managed without you before, I’ll continue to do so,” Fenris growled back.
“Aaaaaand...he’s fainting,” Varric announced, just before Fenris indeed sunk to his knees. Hawke turned around looked at Anders pointedly.
“What?” the mage asked defensively. “This isn’t my fault!”
Anders wrapped the final layer of cloth around Fenris’ leg, then double-checked if he did a good job. Looking at one tiny elf in a huge bed, the mage did not miss the irony of the fact that Hawke had invited him to stay tonight and now it was Fenris, resting in one of Hawke’s guest rooms.
Fenris hated being a liability. Anders was looking forward to tell him that Hawke had carried him back to the city. He secretly liked Fenris getting flustered and watch his pointy ears turn red with embarrassment.
“How is he?”
Anders glanced across his shoulder and immediately wished he hadn’t. Hawke’s robe couldn’t be more revealing or tempting if it tried and it wasn’t fair. At all. Anders had imagined this moment a dozen times – not that he’d ever tell Marian Hawke about it – and a wounded elf had never played a role in his guilty little fantasies.
“I did what I could without using magic,” Anders replied and returned his attention to Fenris quickly.
“Why not use magic?”
“You and I both know that if I do, he’ll kill me when he wakes up. Won’t matter whether or not I saved his life.”
Hawke chuckled. “He isn’t that bad, Anders.”
“Tell that to him.”
“You know, sometimes I get the impression that you two just love to argue. You do it all the time and at the end of the day, he invites you for card games at his mansion. Which I know for a fact you always attend and that Fenris has yet to make you pay your debts.”
“I’m not the only one he invites,” Anders pointed out. It was true, though. Sometimes, it felt like they argued just for fun. Life would probably be boring if they didn’t.
Hawke sniffled. “He never invites me.”
“Boys only, Hawke. Sorry.”
She smacked him on the back of his head and Anders chuckled. A moment later, she climbed on the bed, got settled right behind him and he found himself in her embrace. “Anything I can do?” she asked quietly. Anders doubted Fenris would wake up anytime soon, or feel disturbed if they spoke normal.
“He should drink a lot when he wakes up. He also should stay in bed until I manage to have another look at his leg. And maybe, you can smack some sense into him so he’ll let me use magic.” She was so warm, Anders mused. Hawke smelled nice, too.
“And you? How’s your back?”
“I...kind of forgot it’s hurting,” he admitted and Hawke chuckled softly. “I’ll be fine after a good night’s sleep. So, do me a favor and don’t show up at my clinic at the crack of dawn again?”
“You want to return to your clinic?”
Perfect opportunity here, Anders told himself and leaned a little more into the embrace.
Of course, Fenris chose that very moment to groan softly and roll to his side. Anders kept an eye on the bandage, while Fenris kept groaning and murmuring. For some reason, the mage found himself staring at the elf’s lips as Fenris continued to murmur. Hawke chuckled softly into his ear and Anders felt a shiver run down his spine.
“He just said your name,” Hawke whispered.
“He said your name. Didn’t you hear?”
“No. You’re kind of distracting.”
“Oh?” Hawke planted a very wet kiss on his cheek. Anders felt bad for not having shaved in a few days; the stubble he was sporting had to feel uncomfortable to her. The kiss itself...
It wasn’t as exciting as Anders had always imagined it to be. A beautiful, amazing woman he’d secretly been aching for in what felt like forever, had just kissed his cheek. Sure, it wasn’t the kind of intimate kiss he’d pictured them share, but Hawke had kissed him. There were no butterflies in his stomach, no quickened pulse. No craving for more. It was simply warm, wet and...
Maker, but he was exhausted. And even though he had washed, Anders still smelled like dragon intestines. Merrill had once claimed that Hawke’s expensive soaps could erase even the worst smells. She had been wrong – or had forgotten there was something like dragon blood and gore.
“I’ll see if Orana made something for a late dinner,” Hawke told Anders. “You must be starving by now.”
He didn’t answer, nor react when she released him and hurried out of the room. Anders felt his eyelids grow heavy and pinched himself in the left wrist. No time to sleep just yet, and not because he was going to spend a very interesting night with a beautiful woman. Fenris would develop a fever soon and Anders had no doubt that the dragon’s foul saliva and teeth would make the wound fester.
“Oftentimes, I understand what you see in Hawke,” Fenris rasped, making the mage jump in surprise. “And just as often, I don’t.”
“You could have told us you’re awake,” Anders said. “How bad is the pain?”
“It was painful, listening to her trying to seduce you. I feel a little better now.”
Was Fenris trying to make conversation? No aggressive growling, no actual insults, no telling him to go to the Void? Anders felt a little disappointed – and worried. Maybe he was already feverish?
“Whether you believe me or not, I feel the same way about her,” Anders answered.
“How bad is it?” Fenris propped himself up on one arm and glanced at his bandaged leg. The cloths were soaked through by blood, ichor and salve, after only a few moments. Anders foresaw a long, sleepless night.
“Well, the leg is still attached, but...”
Fenris glanced at him. His face was flushed, sweaty and his green eyes glassy. The fever was setting in, as expected. Realizing his chance, Anders cleared his throat and tried his best to look and sound nonchalant.
“I am not certain if I can ensure your survival if I don’t use magic. The salves and bandages will do their job, but I doubt they’ll fight the infection in time. So, if you’ll allow me to wiggle my magical fingers...”
Fenris growled in annoyance. That was the elf Anders knew. Sadly, the elf he knew was the same who immediately made him angry and bristle at the obvious rejection. “You don’t get to kiss, then growl at me, Fenris!” he spat.
He’d seen Fenris flustered before. Anders had often enough been the cause and he did so enjoy it. What he hadn’t known was, that elf ears could adapt such a rather impressive shade of red. Fenris chose to break their eye contact and stare at the bedside table instead.
“Do what you must do,” Fenris told him. “But if you try anything, mage...”
“You will not kick me in the face, rip my insides out or break my neck?” Anders asked to clarify.
“I said do what you must do. Obviously, this means you do not have to fear any repression from my side.” Fenris grimaced. “As long as you do not betray what little trust I am putting in you.”
Anders scowled. “I’ve healed you before. Maybe not as intense, but I have, practically during and after each fight. Why would you think I’d do something nasty to you?”
The glare Fenris offered him was bordering on murderous and Anders really tried to keep his mouth shut, but he couldn’t.
“I could just let you die. How would you like that?” he challenged. Fenris gave him a humorless smile.
“I could have killed you in that cave.”
“Yeaaaaah, but instead, you thought kissing me was the better option. Anything you want to tell me, Fenris?”
The elf snarled. Anders wasn’t stupid enough to think that, even though Fenris was wounded and feverish, he wasn’t a threat.
“What’s it gonna be, Fenris? Live or die?” Anders asked and the elf’s nostrils flared.
“Whoa, whoa, boys...” Hawke poked her head into the room and gave them both a stern look. “Maker’s balls, why do you two always have to fight?”
“I don’t kiss and tell,” Anders replied sourly. Fenris’ hands balled into fist and Anders knew the elf was short of losing his cool. For some reason, just mentioning that kiss seemed to make his blood boil; Anders wasn’t sure he’d ever seen Fenris that angry at him before. It seemed he had discovered a new line to cross.
Marian Hawke sighed and Anders felt like a scolded child. The anger in Fenris’ eyes dissipated slightly and the elf looked away.
“Can we concentrate on what’s important here?” Hawke asked. “Fenris is badly wounded and in need of your healing skills, Anders. Alright? I don’t want that blighted elf to die of blood poisoning just because the two of you can’t get along. You two may not be the best of friends, but you’re companions. Try to honor that and start respecting each other?”
“This has nothing to do with respect,” Anders muttered. “I do respect him. I just have doubts I can say the same about him.”
He heard Fenris inhale sharply. The pain was getting worse, but the elf was no less stubborn. On top of that, they had Marian Hawke lecture them. Of all people.
“I was being unreasonable,” Fenris spoke up. He sounded strangely subdued, Anders thought. “And I apologize. I would be...grateful if you’d heal that wound and not let me die of blood poisoning, mage - Anders.”
“There you go,” Hawke chirped.
“I would never let you die, stupid elf,” Anders said. “But I would have knocked you out so I can heal you without interruption.”
Fenris huffed and it could have just be his imagination, but Anders was sure he saw the ghost of a smile on the elf’s lips.
Fenris recognized the sound of the boots and immediately lamented the fact that he just couldn’t seem to spend a day, or even just a few hours, on his own without having someone pay him a visit. Hawke had woken him up at the crack of dawn, chipper as always, just to see how he was doing. Without wanting to, Fenris wondered how Anders would be able to live with a chipper Hawke in the early morning hours, while the mage himself was usually grumpy and needed an hour to properly wake up and improve his mood.
He’d barely emptied his second bottle of wine when Varric had shown up to inform him about the progresses made on gaining Fenris ownership of the mansion - a favor the elf hadn’t asked for in the first place - and snagging a glass or two of his favorite wine before taking off to do what dwarfes did. Whatever that was. Fenris had been pleasantly drunk by then and couldn’t care less.
“I see the party started without me.” Isabela’s exotic timbre was usually pleasant to his ears, but when he was as drunk as he was right now, it sounded too deep, too dominant; it made Fenris’ ears twitch and put a grimace on his face.
“Been a while since I’ve seen you like this,” Isabela continued and slumped on one of the old chairs.
“What do you want?” Fenris asked, not sparing a glance at the pirate.
“Oh, don’t worry. I’m keeping my clothes on this time.”
Fenris chuckled. “I appreciate it. We do not share awkward moments often, but that afternoon was certainly awkward.”
Isabela huffed. “If I didn’t know I am attractive, I’d have felt insulted at your obvious disinterest.” She leaned across the table and reached for his wine bottle. Fenris didn’t stop her. The room was spinning and he felt too warm – a sure sign that it was time to take it easy, if he wanted to keep his wits together enough that no one had the opportunity to surprise him. Fenris didn’t doubt that one day, Danarius would return. He would be prepared, sober or not.
“So,” the pirate said. Fenris tried to ignore her presence. Besides, if Isabela started off a conversation with ‘so’, it usually meant he did not want to be a part of it.
“Don’t you have debts to pay off or things to steal?” Fenris asked. “Why does everyone think it is necessary to pay me a daily visit?”
“You have the better alcohol,” Isabela pointed out and took a swig from the bottle. “As for Hawke, she thinks that’s how she shows best that she cares.”
“And you are here for the alcohol?”
She grinned and shrugged. “I figured I’ll check on you. Heard having your leg healed turned out a little...unfortunate.”
Fenris looked grim. Unfortunate wasn’t quite how he’d phrase it. He still felt the impact of his foot with the mage’s face. He hadn’t meant to hurt him. It had been a simple reflex...magic directly used on him reacted to his markings, which made Fenris feel...strange. Strange was a good description. Or maybe it wasn’t, but his mind wouldn’t provide something more fitting right now. Fenris used to have more self-control when he’d still been a slave; he would have never kicked or hit Danarius, no matter how it felt having his former master use magic on him.
Anders hadn’t been so lucky. Fenris had been right-out terrified, seeing the mage’s bloody face and the pain and anger in the mage’s eyes. By then, the leg had been mostly healed, so Fenris had fled the safety of Hawke’s mansion and run from the injured mage.
“It was not intended,” he muttered. “I owe Anders an apology.”
Isabela smirked and took another swig from the bottle. Fenris wished she’d stop, so there was enough left for him. “Or another kiss.”
The elf had always believed that shock was not truly a way to sober someone up. He now knew better. The fog that had been clouding his brain vanished within the blink of an eye. “Pardon?”
“I saw what happened at the cave. Don’t even try to deny it, Sweetie.”
Fenris groaned and leaned forward, resting his forehead against the table. “That had not been intended either.”
“Really? Didn’t look like it to me.”
Another groan. “What do you want?”
“Hey, hey.” Isabela put the bottle back on the table and leaned forward. One of her hands ruffled his white hair, which he requitted with an annoyed grunt before batting at her hand. “I’m on your side.”
“You’re on no one’s side,” Fenris shot back. “And that is not a bad thing.”
Isabela chuckled and finally left his hair alone. “It is and it isn’t. Sometimes, taking sides is the right thing to do. I just try to avoid it, because taking sides always means trouble. I like to stay out of it.”
“Then you have not been doing a very good job at that.”
“I haven’t, have I?” She sighed. “I was looking for a helping hand, actually. I am supposed to meet this guy who has offered –“
“No,” Fenris interrupted. “If I have learned one thing, it’s to never get involved in the shit you do.”
Isabela groaned and stole another swig from his wine. Fenris wanted to reach over and grab it, but his hands and arms refused to cooperate. “Why does everyone say that?” the pirate complained.
“Who else did you ask?”
“Everyone else.” Isabela grimaced at the bottle. “Anders didn’t even let me ask. The moment I entered his clinic, he said ‘Unless you are here to let me have a look at yet another rash, the answer is no.’”
The amused snort escaped Fenris before he could prevent it. He could clearly hear Anders’ voice on his mind, shutting Isabela down before she could even propose her request. The relationship between Anders and Isabela had always seemed – special to Fenris. He supposed it was because these two had had sex in the past. He’d heard sex changed relationships, and not always in a positive way.
At least, when it came to Anders and Isabela, it was rather amusing.
“So, I guess I’m on my own again,” Isabela lamented and handed the bottle to the elf.
“Do not act like we’d never help you,” Fenris said. “We just do not want to get involved in matters that will bring a lot of unnecessary trouble in the future.”
“Nag, nag.” The pirate grinned and ruffled Fenris’ hair. He slapped her hand away and scowled. “So, which do you prefer? Me messing up your hair or me getting naked for you?” Isabela purred.
“The sight of your behind as you leave the mansion,” Fenris shot back and was rewarded with Isabela’s throaty, deep laughter. The creaking of the chair let Fenris know she had gotten the hint and indeed, when he glanced up, she was on her way out. Not without swaying her hips more than usual, naturally. Fenris smirked and wondered if one day, he should simply take her up on her repeated offer. After all, even if he had to constantly remind himself, he was a free man. Free men had the right to enjoy themselves, right?
He shook the wine bottle and noticed it was almost empty. He grimaced at it and let it fall to the floor. To Fenris’ disappointment, it didn’t shatter. It simply rolled under the table and out of his sight.
With a sigh, he leaned forward and crossed his arms on the table, then rested his head on them. He’d reached a comfortable level in which he felt warm and knew a few hours of deep, restful sleep were about to come. It was the main reason why Fenris drank so often; nightmares and worrying thoughts stole his sleep most nights. Being drunk helped with that. Of course, he knew it wasn’t a solution and that one day, he would have to face all the demons in his life.
But not today. Today, he allowed his eyes to slip closed. He licked his dry lips and believed he could still taste it – the blood, the dirt and something else, something sweet that was uniquely Anders. Fenris didn’t remember every detail of the kiss he’d given the mage, but the taste was burned into his memory.
A harsh knock on the tabletop had Fenris jump to his feet. He barely managed to grip his chair for support when he swayed. The world around him was spinning when he dared open his eyes.
He found himself staring curiously at Anders, who offered a sceptical look in return. How had the mage managed to get here so fast? Fenris squinted at the candle on the table and noticed that it had burned down. That meant he must have been out for a few hours. Indeed, it was noticeably darker inside the mansion, indicating that the sun had gone down.
“Where’s everyone else?” Anders asked.
What was the mage talking about? Fenris shook his head to collect himself, then looked around the room.
“Fenris?” Anders tried again and slowly, Fenris’ mind remembered how to work properly.
“I assume Varric did not inform you,” the elf muttered and slumped into the chair again, eyes closing. He could feel the first tell-tale signs of a headache. Maybe he should have stopped after two bottles.
“I haven’t spoken to Varric today, no. Inform me about what?”
“That I cancelled card games tonight. I do not feel in the mood for company.”
The mage snorted. “Yeah, I can see that.” Fenris heard empty bottles clank and frowned. Why did Anders feel the need to tidy up?
“How’s the leg?”
Fenris hummed and rubbed his eyes. “How...is your face?”
“Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m a healer.”
The elf opened his eyes and looked warily at the other man. Indeed, there was no trace on the mage’s face that told of the impact it had with the elf’s foot. Yet, the look in those honey-brown eyes spoke volumes. “I didn’t mean to,” he apologized. “It is...a thing when magic is used on me...”
“Is...that an apology?” Anders sounded surprised.
“Wonders never cease.”
Fenris growled. “It is only right to apologize if I have done something wrong. It was a reflex. I had not meant to injure you. After all, you were tending to my wound. A wound that would have killed me otherwise. I...am in your debt.”
Anders’ brows furrowed and Fenris wondered if he’d accidentally spoken in Tevene. He had been told it was something he did, when out and out drunk – he would swear he was speaking Common, but out came Tevene. A source of amusement for Varric.
“No, you’re not,” the mage eventually replied, like the mere idea that Fenris could ever be in his debt was ridiculous. “You’re an ass, Fenris, but I wouldn’t let you die.”
“But you wouldn’t hesitate to kill me if you had to.”
Fenris watched Anders peek into one of the cups on the table. He wasn’t sure what was in it – probably wine that was stale by now – but Anders drank it anyway. Fenris wondered if he would manage to get another bottle of wine from the basement without breaking his neck in the process.
“I would,” Anders said. “I’m not a monster and neither a murderer. Of course, I have delivered the one or other lethal hit in a fight. But usually, it was because the opponent would have killed me otherwise. Even though I hate Templars more than anything, I wouldn’t just go on a killing spree.” He lowered the cup. “I was certain you were going to kill me in that cave.”
Fenris frowned and recalled the moment. He didn’t think he had given the impression that he intended to kill the mage, at least not until... “If that is the case, then...you didn’t do anything in your defense.”
“Not really.” Anders grabbed another cup and peeked into it. Fenris realized he hadn’t put away the cups after last week’s game night. The mere thought of how stale the wine had to be by now... “It’s not like I’d have much of a chance anyway, right?”
“If you insist on drinking tonight, I shall get another bottle from the basement,” Fenris offered.
“You can barely stand, stupid. I do not plan to actually drink. Stale wine isn’t as bad as I thought it is.” Fenris grimaced at the mage and Anders chuckled. “I’ve had worse.”
“Obviously. We all had a taste of Corff’s ale,” Fenris retorted and again, the mage was chuckling. Fenris thought Anders looked nice when he was smiling. It was seldom enough that the mage smiled. Even during definitely funny situations, Anders wore that stoic mask on his face, like the world surrounding him was far away and unable to reach him. Except for Varric and his entertaining tales, Hawke was the only one who had ever managed to get a real smile out of Anders.
“I suppose you had Hawke nurse you after I injured your face and spent the night.” Did that sound bitter? Why was he sounding bitter? Fenris fought the urge to smack himself.
“Maker, no. I healed it as much as I could with what mana I had left and returned to my clinic, as planned.” Another cup lifted. This one appeared to be empty, as Anders put it right back down. “Dealing with a chipper Marian Hawke right after sunrise is not something I want to do. And she is awfully chipper.”
“Would it not be something that being in a relationship with her entails?” Fenris asked. “Which is obviously what you are attempting to achieve.”
Anders’ eyebrows rose. “Wasn’t aware my love life is of any interest to you, elf.”
Fenris huffed. “Do not be ridiculous, mage. There is nothing that could possibly disinterest me more.”
“Really?” The fourth and last cup. Empty. Anders looked a little disappointed and Fenris already felt his body get ready to stand up and retrieve another bottle. “Why did you kiss me?”
Fenris really, really needed more wine immediately. Anders seemed to sense it, because he got up wordlessly and went downstairs. Fenris’ sharp ears could hear the mage shuffle around in the basement; heard him stumble across empty bottles and shards that Fenris had left behind after another fit of rage, not too long after coming to Kirkwall and taking the mansion. He could hear Anders curse and Fenris couldn’t help but smile at the surprisingly colorful vocabulary the mage possessed.
It took awfully long for the mage to join him again, but at least he had brought up two bottles. One, Anders handed over, the other he kept for himself. Fenris’ eyebrows rose questioningly. Anders shrugged and sat at the table once again.
“I thought your demon doesn’t like it when you drink,” Fenris murmured.
“Not a demon. And he doesn’t like a lot of things I do.” Anders uncorked the bottle and took a long sip. “Hasn’t stopped me yet. Well...it hasn’t always stopped me.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Fenris said and did just that.
It was strangely comfortable, just the mage and him, sitting together in silence. Anders occasionally picked up a stack of cards and flipped through it, or held a palm over the dying flame of the candle in the center of the table. Watching Anders gave Fenris something to do and kept his head clear, despite the wine. If Anders was aware of Fenris watching him, he didn’t let on. The elf figured it had been another long day at the clinic and that maybe, the mage had longed for company not ridden with diseases. Fenris realized that he’d had longed for company as well, even though he had called off tonight’s get-together when Varric had stopped by earlier.
“I thought you were dead,” Fenris suddenly broke the silence and watched Anders flinch in surprise. The mage had been so focused on the dying flame...
“Pardon?” Anders murmured.
“The impact. I thought it had killed you. For a moment, I couldn’t hear you breathe, nor your heartbeat. And then you were moving and telling me to get off.”
Anders’ brows furrowed. “I am not sure what you are trying to tell me?”
Fenris sighed. “You asked for the reason.”
Confusion was written across the mage’s features as Anders tried to make sense of the elf’s words. Fenris was torn between feeling relieved it was out, and wishing he hadn’t said anything. He recognized the moment it dawned on Anders what Fenris had tried to communicate; and it confused him even more. “You mean to say you kissed me because you were, what...relieved?”
“Hum.” Anders took another sip from his bottle, this one longer than the previous. Fenris began to worry just how much alcohol the mage could actually deal with, unused to it. “I’ll add being kissed out of relief to my list, I suppose.”
Fenris snorted. “Why are you usually being kissed?”
“Seriously?” Anders sounded indignant. “Because a person likes me, maybe? Wait, what kind of kiss are we talking about?”
“There are different ones?”
Anders looked sceptical and Fenris felt stupid. Which, if one looked at his ‘experiences’ with anything intimate, wasn’t too far from the truth. Whatever teasing remark the mage had been about to let out, Fenris watched it being swallowed. Anders had caught on. Fenris really needed more wine.
“You really have no idea, do you.”
“No.” Fenris uncorked his own bottle, lifted it to his lips and drank. Drank until he began to run out of oxygen and grew dizzy.
“Sad,” Anders murmured and Fenris growled.
“I do not need your pity.”
“It’s not pity, Fenris. It’s just sad. Learning the different kinds of kisses should definitely go to your ‘Things to do as a free man’ list.”
The elf snorted, the corners of his mouth quirking upward. “Don’t tell me you have a list.”
“Sure do. A list of things I’d do as soon as I get out of the blighted Circle for good.” Anders nodded. “It gives you something to look forward to.”
Another snort as Fenris once again raised the bottle to his lips. “That sounds ridiculous.”
“I don’t care.” Anders reached for one deck of cards once again and lifted it up. “Fancy a round? I’m getting bored.”
“That desperate to lose more coin you’ll never be able to pay?” Fenris teased with a smirk.
Anders shrugged and grabbed one of the empty cups. He filled it with wine, then handed Fenris the bottle. “I suppose I can always try and find another way to pay you?”
Fenris offered the mage a scandalized look. Anders laughed and handed the elf the cards.
Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to all of you!
Hopefully the upcoming year 2017 will give me my regular life back so I have more time to write.
A sharp tug on his ponytail – and he’d made the effort to make it look neat today – woke Anders. He winced at the slight pain as his eyes blinked open. The sight of solid wood and a cup of wine greeted him and with a frown, Anders lifted his head off the table and blinked into the surrounding room.
A slender hand reached out and plucked a card off his forehead.
“Did you have sweet dreams?” Fenris’ deep voice asked mockingly.
“I fell asleep?” Anders muttered and glanced around. Varric and Donnic had already left; Sebastian’s seat had remained empty tonight. Not something Anders was too sad about. In fact, he couldn’t quite believe he’d come to the Hanged Man at all tonight and managed to fall asleep despite the incredible noise.
“What was your first guess, mage?”
Anders was not, however, surprised that exhaustion had gotten the better of him. He had considered not showing up for games night this week after the day he’d had. Hawke had gotten him into trouble again. At least no dragon intestines had been involved this time. The clinic was close to bursting by the time he’d returned home – also thanks to Hawke, who had managed to “accidentally” make a keg explode at the Bone Pit, while checking on the people working there. Anders hadn’t asked what she’d meant by ‘accidentally’. Marian Hawke did a lot of things ‘accidentally’ and he didn’t believe her one bit whenever she claimed so.
“Since you fell asleep, you lost that round. Varric won. You owe him coin that I realize you don’t have.”
Anders scowled at the elf. Fenris seemed rather amused – and oddly calm. Relaxed. Anders wasn’t sure he’d ever seen the elf like this before and he knew not to blame it on the wine. Wine made Fenris drunk, unpredictable on occasion, and most definitely always broody. Never relaxed.
“Why didn’t you guys wake me?” the mage complained half-heartedly. His neck was tense from the uncomfortable sleeping position, but he felt rested. “What time is it, anyway?”
Fenris shrugged. “I do not know. I did not count the minutes since midnight.”
It was past midnight already? Anders groaned and gestured for the bottle of wine that Fenris was keeping next to himself. His throat was dry.
“Varric intended to wake you. I asked him not to. You looked exhausted when you arrived.”
“And you discovered your mage-caring side or something?” Anders snorted and once again gestured for the bottle. Fenris’ eyebrows rose and he put the bottle away.
“I believe water would be more suitable at this time of the night.”
“Corff doesn’t serve water. I doubt he actually knows what that is.”
The laughter rumbling inside the elf’s chest surprised Anders. As did the amused smirk on his lips. Suited Fenris. No wonder Hawke kept telling the warrior he needed to smile more often.
Well, Hawke told pretty much everyone, except Varric, that they needed to smile more often.
“Please tell me Hawke’s somewhere close so we can keep an eye on her?” he pleaded with the elf. Fenris rolled his eyes and nodded toward the center of the Hanged Man. Hawke was dancing around Isabela, mug in hand and the flush on her face told Anders she was definitely drunk. A drunk Hawke was worse than a Hawke doing things ‘accidentally’ and Anders groaned inwardly. “Has she embarrassed herself yet?” he asked around a sigh.
“Define embarrassed,” Fenris muttered.
“The usual Hawke-is-drunk-kinda-embarrassed.”
“Ah.” The elf nodded, but more to himself than in actual confirmation. “No. At least not that I noticed. Alas, I do not plan to stay long enough to watch it happen.”
Anders snorted and sat up straight. Not only was his neck tense, his back was complainig, too. Just thinking about his just as uncomfortable bed at the clinic made him pout. It was going to be a long night – and an even longer day ahead, seeing as he knew he wouldn’t waste mana to relieve himself of his back pains. “I don’t think I ever left before Hawke did something stupid,” he mused.
“No, you are usually the one to drag her home and make excuses for her behavior,” Fenris said matter-of-factly. To Anders, it felt as if he was being scolded.
“Nothing wrong with that,” the mage answered defensively.
“Not for a man who is hopelessly in love, but unable to make a first step, no,” the elf agreed. “Yet, Hawke is old enough. She needs to face the consequences of her actions and not rely on you being her prince in a shining armor.”
Anders blinked at the elf. “Wow. Where did that come from?”
“Just expressing my thoughts.”
He really needed to get used to Fenris trying to make casual conversation, rather than growl and snap at him, Anders thought. It did not go unnoticed that the way they now interacted with each other had changed during the past weeks. And it wasn’t that Fenris was so honest it hurt, it was the fact that he would actually touch a rather – personal subject?
“You are entitled to. I was just surprised.”
Fenris glanced at him and studied his face, a thoughtful expression on the elf’s own. Interesting, that Fenris would actually worry about crossing a line when it came to Anders.
“And you are right,” Anders admitted with a sigh. The ghost of a smile flitted across the elf’s face before he handed over the bottle of wine that he’d kept out of the mage’s reach. He didn’t think about it, Anders simply took a long sip and immediately made a face. He would never find out how Corff managed to keep the Hanged Man in business with the disgusting shit he sold to the people.
He knew things were about to go dire when Hawke started singing loudly – and completely offkey. It was funny for the moment, but she would soon make up songs about everyone inside the Hanged Man, and her songs usually stopped being funny and became insulting. When Anders dared glance at her, he found Hawke practically wrapped around one very drunk pirate. Isabela was, of course, encouraging Hawke and Anders knew he saw her grope Hawke where she could. Blighted woman.
“I think it’s time to follow your advice and...simply head home,” Anders announced.
“It was not truly an advice,” Fenris objected. “But it is a wise decision, mage.” He stood. “I shall accompany you.”
Anders narrowed his eyes at the elf. “Why?”
Fenris frowned. “It is late and the streets are dangerous at night?”
“I’m a grown mage. I’ve handled the mean, dangerous streets all alone until tonight, you know?”
Fenris was blushing. Anders watched the color rise from the elf’s neck to the tips of his pointed ears. Fenris cleared his throat and pretended to cough, eyes cast at the ground – or his bare feet, Anders wasn’t sure.
“That’s a very nice shade of pink you are sporting.” Anders couldn’t help it, even though he knew that, whatever brittle sort of friendship they’d built would not survive his teasing. Fenris simply looked too adorable right now.
Sure enough, the elf ceased his fake coughing and snarled at him. Anders sobered up and tried to get the smirk off his face, so Fenris wouldn’t get even more angry. “I am sorry. It just looks...”
“Looks what?” Fenris growled. His ears turned from pink to red. Anders pinched himself in the left wrist to keep from giggling.
“Cute. When your ears are red, I mean.”
The dumbfounded expression on Fenris’ face did it for Anders. He burst out laughing and swiftly got up. “Let’s go. Some fresh air will do us both good,” he managed to get out and led the way, not sure if Fenris would actually follow.
Fenris stumbled into him the moment they stepped outside. Out of habit, Anders paused his steps to wait and see if Hawke would call after them. She could completely forget about her company, but once you dared get up and leave...
“I suggest the passage near the docks,” Fenris muttered and gave him a gentle shove. “It is usually less crowded at night.”
“Tried them all out, didn’t you?” Anders asked as he continued to walk, subconsciously agreeing with Fenris’ choice and heading for the passage in question.
“When I came to Kirkwall, I had to make sure I am familiar with the city, in case I need to escape or set up a trap,” the elf confirmed. “The passages served me well when I had to get away from Danarius’ men.” Anders was sure he’d never forget the night they had met Fenris. The slender, yet strong elf, lighting up brighter than the moon as he killed the last Tevinter man and introduced himself. Anders had had exactly three minutes to be absolutely fascinated and to admire the lines and swirls of lyrium on Fenris’ tanned skin.
An hour later, he had to fight the urge to smash the elf’s head into the nearest wall, when Fenris gave a first impression on how he thought about mages. Right after they had helped him search Danarius’ mansion, so he could face – and possibly kill – his former master.
“Do you still believe he’ll come for you?” Anders asked.
“I am certain of it, mage.”
Kirkwall was surprisingly quiet tonight – and much darker than Anders remembered it. The closer they got to the docks, the darker the city became. He wondered if it was due to the occupation of the docks area by the Qunari, that the people avoided the place and therefore no laterns were lit. The Qunari problem was another thing Anders knew would get Hawke into trouble sooner or later.
“Did you make a list yet?” Desperate to break the silence between them, Anders tried to think of something to talk about. A habit he knew drove Fenris mad on occasion, as the elf did enjoy the silence as much as he enjoyed engaging in deep conversations, if the moment was right.
“A list of things I want to do as a free man?” Fenris asked, amused. “I do not feel free yet, mage.”
“You’re not in Tevinter, you don’t have to be at someone’s beck and call every hour of the day...you have a huge mansion to call your own, you get to eat the food you like and you can do as you please. I am aware Danarius is still an issue, but...you are free.”
“Like you are, except the Circle and the Templars are still an issue?”
“Yes. I do feel free.”
Fenris hummed and followed Anders down the narrow staircase toward the passage to Darktown. Indeed no one could be seen, except for one poor drunken bastard who had decided to take a nap, sitting up against the wall and snoring loudly.
“I have not made a list yet,” Fenris eventually replied as they pushed open the door and entered the narrow corridor. Anders shuddered at the darkness surrounding them and conjured a tiny ball of light.
“Oh, want a few suggestions?” Anders marched on, the elf at his heels. “You definitely need to take a swim in Lake Calendad during summer. The water is crystal clear and heavenly cool. You should avoid getting too close to Kinloch Hold, though.”
“I can’t swim,” Fenris grunted out.
“Oh. Well, I suppose you should add learning to swim to your list, then.”
The elf huffed. Anders smiled to himself. “You mentioned not being able to read and write.” Another huff. “Definitely should go to your list. It seems difficult at first, but I am sure you can do it. There are so many great books you should read.”
“It is something I would like to learn,” Fenris admitted.
“Good. See, we already got something for your list. Your turn!”
“You are way too excited over this, Anders,” Fenris noted. “It is merely a list of silly ideas.”
“Not if you work on that list. Each point on your list is a step toward complete freedom. Try to see it like that.”
“Now that is pathetic!” Fenris spat.
Anders took a deep breath to do what he usually did – snap right back. It turned out to be a grave mistake, as the moment he turned around to tell Fenris what he thought about his constant mood swings, there was a loud crash and within a split second, he was inhaling dust and squinted when he got some into his eyes as well.
The mage sneezed and coughed, hands waving the dust away. “What the...” he croaked and waved the dust away. “Fenris, the Void did you do now?”
The dust settled, but there was no elf. Instead, he was greeted by a hole in the ground. Anders frowned and stomped carefully. He had never noticed that the ground was wooden, not stone. The dirt and dust had made it feel solid during the past few years. Kirkwall certainly always had another one up its sleeve.
Anders crouched and peeked into the hole, where utter darkness greeted him. “Fenris?” he called again. No answer. “Hey, stupid elf...are you alright? Andraste’s tits, what idiot digs a fucking hole into the ground that people can fall into?!”
When Anders, again, received no answer, he grew worried. He murmured a quick spell and a gently glowing ball grew in his left palm and took off toward the darkness below him. The light made the dust glitter and sparkle while Anders tried to find Fenris. He saw crates and bags that must have been hidden there recently, judging by their look. The mage suspected the stuff belonged to smugglers, or possibly one very worried dwarven merchant; it would also explain why the ground had given in. This hiding place must have been dug out recently as well and not stabilized. Blighted amateurs. It had been a while since Anders had shot lightning at someone, but right now, he was dying to.
“Shit,” Anders cursed and slowly, carefully, climbed down. Thankfully, the ground didn’t give in further under his weight. It was ridiculous how easy it was for him, much taller than the elf who had taken the fall, to just let himself slide down and immediately find steady ground beneath his feet. “Shit!” Anders cursed again and immediately made sure he wasn’t actually stomping around on the elf.
He relaxed when he finally spotted the elf’s white hair and slowly climbed over crates and bags. His hands immediately reached for the planks covering most of the Fenris’ lifeless form. Once he had freed the elf’s body, Anders wiped a hand across Fenris’ face to clean it from dirt and dust and leaned in close. “Fenris?” he asked gently. “Hey, stupid elf…can you hear me? Are you injured?”
Not even a grunt. Anders would have loved to hear another insult cross the elf’s lips about right now, but Fenris was silent and it was unsettling. “Please tell me you didn’t break your neck,” Anders muttered under his breath while his hands carefully reached for the elf’s neck to examine it. It felt intact. Anders sent a tiny, very very tiny, spark of healing magic down the elf’s spine and waited. When his magic did not inform him about any spine injuries, Anders allowed himself a relieved sigh and leaned even closer.
When his ear touched the elf’s chest, Anders grew still, even held his breath and just listened. It took a moment, since the elf was wearing armor, but then he heard the soft, slow heartbeat. Fenris wasn’t dead. Thank the Maker, his stupid elf wasn’t dead, just unconscious. Anders released his breath with a gasp, a smile growing on his lips.
Fenris took a deep, rattling breath and then he was coughing. Anders knew it was a good sign, the elf was coming to, but he kept his head on the elf’s chest. To listen to the elf’s breathing, Anders told himself, not because it…felt surprisingly nice. He didn’t think he’d ever been this close to the elf before. Anders hadn’t even known that was possible without risking his life. Or, at the very least, get bitten.
“Mage,” Fenris groaned and pushed roughly at him.
“Shit, Fenris, you scared me,” Anders whispered, even though it was an admission he hadn’t meant to make.
“I’m not a blighted pillow!”
Anders lifted his head off the elf’s chest and their eyes met. Fenris’ were teary from the dust, and probably from the pain as well, if the elf’s gritted teeth were anything to go by.
“Does anything hurt?” Anders asked. “Arms, legs…your head? I already checked your spine, it’s intact, so…”
Fenris coughed. It sounded pitiful. Collapsed lung? Maybe Anders had missed something. “What do you mean you already checked my spine?” the elf wheezed.
Anders rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to have another discussion with you about using magic on you without your consent, Fenris. You were unable to give your consent. I was worried. I thought you were dead, idiot, so I checked if you broke your neck or spine during the fall!”
“Are you sure you did it right? Because my back is about killing me right now, damned mage!”
“Figures, it took the worst of the fall you ungrateful son of a – ack!” Anders jumped to his feet and stepped away from the elf. There was no reason to feel so angry. Fenris had taken an unexpected fall and apart from his body, his pride was certainly injured, too. It was only normal that he was his complaining, grumpy self.
It was not only anger Anders felt. He took a few deep breaths and let the worry, the fear he’d experienced until a moment ago, slip away.
“Shut up,” Anders muttered. “Not in the mood right now.”
“Your hands are trembling.”
Anders paused and glanced at his hands. They were indeed trembling and he balled them into fists to make it stop. He glanced over to Fenris. The elf had managed to sit up in the meanwhile and was staring at him. His left eye was bloodshot and it looked scary.
“I think I am…fine, for the most part,” Fenris said slowly, eyes observant as they kept their gaze on the mage.
“I think you injured your head…” Anders absently gestured toward his own left eye and Fenris frowned.
“I must have, for I am imagining you are truly worried about me, mage.”
Fenris’ eyebrows lifted.
“Stupid asshole who dug this blighted hole into the ground. Stupid asshole elf stupidly falling into it. Stupid asshole elf falling unconscious and giving me the scare of the century. Fucking stupid –“
“ – elf thinking it’s fucking funny that I was worried. Stupid asshole elf thinking it’s funny that I thought, for a moment, you were dead!” Anders continued, glaring at the elf. “Stupid asshole –“
“I got it,” Fenris cut him off sharply. “It is not that I actually planned to fall and hit my head!”
“Yeah well, don’t do it again!” Anders exclaimed. “It was supposed to be a nice ‘walk the mage home’ tonight, not ‘oh let’s let the ground swallow me up and give that naïve idiot mage a heart attack’!”
Anger left the elf’s features and slowly morphed into amusement. “That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard you say, mage. This week, mind you.”
Anders felt his cheeks grow warm and he realized that yes, he was truly acting ridiculous and saying ridiculous things. Fenris was not at fault for the accident. He didn’t do it on purpose. He was fine. His stupid elf was fine, save for a minor head injury that Anders would take care of before Fenris got on his way home, and he would not accept a no from the elf.
The urge was sudden, the idea sounded brilliant to him. It was not like Anders had much time to think it through before his body was moving toward the elf. Fenris looked at him curiously when Anders dropped to his knees, leaned forward and –
Better. Much better than the clumsly, clueless press of lips against lips he’d received from Fenris at the Bone Pit. It was more of a caress and as soon as Fenris got over his surprise, he caught on quickly. Warm, moist and perfect. So perfect that Anders felt his body tingle from head to toe when Fenris added more pressure and followed his lead. There was a curious swipe of Fenris’ tongue against his mouth and Anders couldn’t help but grimace, because the elf tasted like dirt.
Anders pulled back with a gasp and Fenris slumped forward, blinking stupidly at his hands.
“What was that for?” Fenris eventually asked, a little breathless. The mage chuckled and shook his head. Void if he had a clue.
“Relief, I suppose? I’m just better at giving ‘Glad my stupid elf is alive’ kisses than you are.”
Fenris’ brows furrowed. “I wonder who of us truly hit his head.”
“You just called me yours.”
Anders cleared his throat and jumped to his feet. “Err, no. I didn’t. You hit your head and you are hearing things, Fenris. Time to get you to my clinic so I can take a proper look at you. I will probably need to heal the one or other thing! You can walk, right?”
Green eyes narrowed to slits.
“And we need to clean up. We’re dirty. I’d almost say more dirty than we were when we returned from the Bone Pit, and that is hard to top. So…can you get up and walk? Do I need to carry you?”
“Try and you will pay for it,” Fenris growled and slowly got to his feet. His legs were wobbly but the elf was nothing if not thick-headed, and Anders could see him stubbornly stand and not give into the urge to just sit back down. “Just…slow…” the elf pleaded. “My head is killing me.”
Anders smiled and slung an arm around the elf’s middle to support him. Fenris leaned heavily against him with a grunt and the mage dared to give the elf’s hip a gentle pat. “Good thing you find yourself in the company of one very friendly, caring healer, right?”
“Less talking, faster walking,” Fenris rumbled and Anders chuckled.
“I’ll take care of you,” the mage promised as they made to climb back up. Slowly, of course. “But if you kick me in the face again, elf, I swear –“
“As soon as my head is not killing me any longer – and it would help if you stopped talking until that is the case – I have plans for your face that I promise do not involve kicking.”
“Plans for my face?”
“Mage,” Fenris groaned. “Please?”
Anders fought a grin as he lifted Fenris a little so the elf could pull himself up and back into the passage, then followed him. “Alright,” he whispered as soon as they were free and watched Fenris squint at him. “We’ll...talk later.”
Fenris rolled his eyes and staggered onward. “Even your whispering is too loud.”
“I think you just love to complain,” Anders muttered and watched a smirk pull at the elf’s lips.
“Only when it’s about you.”