Fandom: Dragon Age 2
Rating: Teen (violence, makeouts -- not at the same time)
Characters: Fenris, Female Mage Hawke, Anders. Fenris/Hawke with Anders/Hawke implications
Spoilers: For "A Bitter Pill" and "Questioning Beliefs". Includes dialogue from both quests.
Notes: Inspired by this prompt on the kinkmeme. The first time I played DA2, my Hawke flirted with pretty much everybody. If she had ended up with Fenris instead of Anders, I like to think this is pretty close to how things would have gone down (except not quite, because that Marian was a rogue).
Fenris cares for Hawke, but he will never dare to let her know, especially as she seems to be more interested in Anders. Until a series of stressful events, and a few bottles of wine, conspire to bring some truths to the forefront.
Crossposted to AO3
"Thanks for your help, Fenris," Hawke said as he held the door of The Hanged Man open for her. Aveline and Varric had already gone inside, but she stopped in the doorway, turning around to smile warmly at him. "I owe you one. These trips to the coast go so much more smoothly when you come along."
Fenris allowed himself just the slightest of smiles in return. "It is no trouble," he replied. "Though I do wonder why you allow the Viscount and Arishok to use you as their cats-paw, while asking so little in return."
She shrugged. "If I can help lead Kirkwall down a path to peace and safety, shouldn't I do it?" With a wink, she nudged him in the ribs. "Besides, you never seem to believe me when I tell you that not all mages care about power; maybe it'll work better if I show you instead."
Her eyes twinkled, and his breath caught; even a touch so fleeting as the brush of her elbow against his side was enough to set his heart beating, and as they stood there, crowded together in the foyer, he dreamed, just for a moment, of what it might be like to reach for her, rest a hand on her smooth cheek. But then she was looking away, moving away, walking into the room and calling to Norah for a round, and he turned to hide the flush that rose to his cheeks.
By the time he looked back up, she had already taken a place at her usual table, a pint in hand, surrounded by the crew that Fenris could only think of as her court -- Varric, Isabela, Merrill, Aveline, and... his mood soured even further as Anders walked up from the bar and took the empty chair next to Hawke. Of course he was there. And of course she greeted him with a smile just as warm as the one Fenris fancied he'd seen turned in his direction only moments before.
Only once she was settled did Hawke seem to remember his presence, and she and waved him over. "Hey. I owe you a drink, remember?"
Fenris considered accepting, but the flutter in his stomach had been drowned by a surge of bile, and so he shook his head. "Another time," he said, and he turned on his heel and left, oblivious to the bright blue eyes that remained fixed on his back as he walked out the door.
As always, Fenris went back to the mansion and tried to put Hawke out of his mind; as always, he failed. Instead, he stood at the window, took a long draught from the bottle of wine in his hand, and rested his forehead against the cool glass, letting the alcohol numb the ever-present pain of the markings, and the niggling but growing weight in his heart. Why could he not let his desire for this woman go?
A slave learns that danger comes in many forms. Dreams are dangerous. Wanting is dangerous. Allowing feelings, a bond to anyone other than your master is dangerous. Mages are dangerous; in truth, anyone with more power than you is dangerous. To Fenris, Hawke represented all those things and more. As long as the threat of Danarius hung over his head, as long as emotions and connections could still be used against him, it was best to avoid even a whisper of feeling toward another. If Danarius discovered Hawke, learned of Fenris's affection for her -- he could imagine the consequences all too well. Torture would be the least of his worries. No, better for him to leave Hawke be, to give her the chance for happiness with another, even if that other was...
The bile rose up in the back of his throat again, sour like spoiled wine, and he tossed the bottle against the wall with a growl; it shattered, but he hardly cared. Why, why of all the people in Kirkwall had Hawke chosen to take up with the abomination? He was attractive enough, Fenris supposed, and, Hawke's protestations about a lack of interest in power notwithstanding, she did support the causes Anders fought for: the relaxation of Chantry law, more restrictions on the Templars, an opportunity for more mages to live free of the Circles. Fenris did not agree with Hawke's positions, had in fact argued with her over them many times, but he could at least respect her logic at arriving in them. But Anders... Fenris shook his head in disgust. The man was impossible to have a reasonable conversation with, unwilling to recognize any danger in magic at all or to see the hypocrisy of his own situation.
And yet Hawke seemed fond of him. Brought him along on most of their excursions, helped him free mages from the Gallows -- a misguided venture if Fenris had ever seen one -- asked for his support and advice, joked and flirted with him. And the affection appeared to be mutual: more than once, and more often in recent weeks, Fenris had caught Anders watching Hawke with a fierce longing in his eye. If Hawke did not yet return the emotion... Well, more than likely, it was only a matter of time. For all his faults, Anders was a better prospect for Hawke's long-term happiness and safety than Fenris. And if he... cared for her, should not her happiness be his primary concern?
With a sigh, Fenris banished the circular train of thought, then knelt on the floor and began picking up the larger glass shards, stepping carefully to protect his bare feet. Someday, he would find a safer way of releasing these fits of temper.
"Fenris is a free man!" Hawke's words to the slave hunters rang in Fenris's ears, distracting him throughout the battle and pressing him forward now, fueling the fire of the wild hope that he clung to, the possibility he never quite let himself believe. A free man... but no, he was not free, not yet. Not until Danarius and Hadriana were dead.
Hadriana. Even thinking her name brought a rush of angry heat to his cheeks. She was close, so close, and he could feel every cell in his body vibrating with the anticipation of coming face to face with his tormentor, cornering her, turning the tables and putting her at his mercy. When the earth was stained red with her blood, maybe he would find a measure of peace at last.
The thought both invigorated and frightened him; the frightened part wanted to talk to Hawke, give her a chance her talk him down from the violent thoughts that surged in his blood, but when he turned around, all he saw was Anders at her side, saying something that made her and Varric both laugh. Deflating, he withdrew back into himself and let blind vengeance take over. He ignored her laugher and threw himself into the march, stopping again only once they reached the top of the hillside where the entrance to the caves awaited.
"We must be careful," he said. "Traps may await us inside."
Blood covered his hand, the bright red of revenge, blue fire blazing beneath. Hadriana lay dead at his feet; he should have felt satisfaction, but his emotions were in more of a tumult than ever before. For a moment, he looked at her body as the lyrium surge ebbed, and then he turned away, walking past Hawke, Varric, the abomination. "We are done here."
"Do you want to talk about it?" Her voice, soft, calming; earlier, he had longed for her to ask that question, or one like it, but right now it was the last thing he wanted to hear, especially when he remembered the carefree laughter she had indulged in instead. He whirled on his heel, face contorting into a mask of anger.
"No, I don't want to talk about it!" He stepped close to Hawke. "This could be a trap. Danarius could have sent Hadriana here to tell me about this so-called sister. Even if he didn't, trying to find her would still be suicide. Danarius has to know about her, and he has to know that Hadriana knows." How many spies were watching this Varania? To even ask questions would probably trigger all sorts of danger, for himself and Hawke both. He shook his head and turned away. "It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I finally got to crush that bitch's heart. May she rot, and all other mages with her."
He looked at Anders, let all the hate and disgust he tried to hide for Hawke's sake show in his face. Anders looked back with a scowl, but it was Hawke who spoke, her words sharper now. "Let's not forget who you're talking to."
Once again, he froze. Then he turned around, every conflicted emotion he had about her congealing into a pure moment of rage, and when he spoke, it was his most dangerous growl. "I haven't forgotten." He spread his arms, indicating the pile of shades, the risen corpses, the body of the sacrificed slave in the next room. "You saw what was done here. There will always be some reason, some excuse why mages need to do this."
"And here I thought you were unreasonable," Anders said drily.
Hawke caught his eye and shook her head, then turned back to Fenris. "We can still look for your sister."
"And who's going to look for her? You?" Fenris had to bite back a bitter laugh. Mages, all around him were mages; why had he ever placed his trust in them? Better if he had died at the hands of the slave hunters. "Even if we found her, who knows what the magisters have done to her. What has magic ever touched that it doesn't spoil?"
He heard the softest intake of breath between Hawke's teeth and knew that he had finally gone too far. He saw her struggle to contain the hurt that crept into her eyes, noticed the step that she took closer to Anders, who was glaring at him with something akin to murderous rage. Even Varric looked shocked. All the emotion drained from him, and he stepped away, raising a hand to his brow. "I... need to go." And without another word, he left, stumbling blindly out of the cave and into the hills, ready to lose himself for a long, long time.
But it didn't matter where Fenris went: into the hills, down to the coast, back into that bloody cave once Hawke and the others had left. Wherever he went, he was still there. His anger, his hate, the turmoil caused by learning of his sister, his guilt for lashing out at Hawke. She couldn't help being a mage, being a woman, being beautiful and kind; she hadn't forced him to develop these wretched feelings; he couldn't blame her for wanting Anders instead. Why wouldn't she prefer a man who didn't hate and fear every other mage in the world?
For three days he wandered outside the city, hunting for food, camping at night, breathing the clean air to clear his head. When he finally returned to Kirkwall, he started for the mansion but was drawn to Hawke's estate instead, pulled through the streets by some invisible string tied to the knob of her front door. He stepped back into the shadows and watched, scanning her windows for a silhouette. More lights were on than usual, suggesting guests. Did Leandra have callers? Was Aveline paying a visit, or Isabela? Or was it Anders? It was a scene all too easy for Fenris to imagine: the two of them pulling together in solidarity after his final outburst in the cave, Anders finally convincing Hawke that his opinions about mages were no longer to be tolerated. For an hour he watched and waited, but he saw no sign of visitors, and so he walked through the door -- unlocked, of course; would Hawke ever start taking her personal security seriously? -- and into the courtyard. Taking a deep breath, he rang the bell, gave his name to Bodhan, and waited.
Hawke came downstairs more quickly than he expected, dressed in the dark red robe she favored, fortunately alone; as soon as she appeared, he crossed the courtyard to her. She said nothing, just looked at him, expression calm, waiting. He was going to have to make the first move; with a deep breath, he did so.
"I've... been thinking about what happened with Hadriana." He glanced down, at the paving stones, then up. "You and I don't always see eye to eye, but that doesn't mean you deserve my anger. I owe you an apology."
She tipped her head to the side and looked at him, eyes softening. "I had no idea where you went," she said. "I was concerned."
"I needed to be alone." He knew, then, that he owed Hawke more than an apology -- he needed to explain. He turned, took a few steps away, looked at the sky as though the answers might be there, somewhere. "When I was a slave, Hadriana was a torment. She would ridicule me, deny my meals, hound my sleep. Because of her status, I was powerless to respond, and she knew it. The thought of her slipping out of my grasp..." He lowered his eyes, lifted them again, saw the sympathy on Hawke's face, and it almost undid him. "I couldn't let her go. I wanted to. But I couldn't."
She nodded, soberly. "I understand, but it's still not right. This need for revenge is consuming you."
His eyes narrowed. "And what would you have me do? Hadriana came after me! I've never had the option to simply walk away. Am I supposed to forgive, no matter how many times they hunt me down? Am I supposed to forget all the things they've done to me?" His voice was rising, sharp with anger, the lyrium pounding in his veins, barely under control. How could these people, these mages, preach forgiveness when they held on to their own past slights as with the hands of death? Would she tell Anders to forgive the Templars their indiscretions, let bygones be bygones? Somehow he doubted it.
"If you're wondering why you can't move on, this is it." She softened her tone. "It's eating you alive, Fenris. You'll never be free until you let your past go."
"Yes, that's all." Fenris scowled. "Why can I not grasp something so simple?" He brought his hands to either side of his head, as if he could squeeze the darkness away, then flung his arms out to the side. "It's a sickness, this hate. It's a dark growth inside of me that I can never get rid of, and they put it there!"
He groaned, stepped away, and forced his rage to subside. This was wrong, all wrong; why did everything always come out wrong whenever he tried to talk to Hawke? He shook his head and sighed. "This isn't why I came here."
She crossed her arms. "Stop being so bloody stubborn! Can't you see I'm trying to help you?" He turned, and she was still looking at him, still showing concern, but a crease of frustration had appeared between her eyes.
His own frustration mounted, spilled over, and he turned and walked toward the door. "Easier said than done." And once again he left, before he could say or do anything more that he might regret.
For the next several days, Fenris managed to avoid Hawke, hiding in the study whenever she came to call, going The Hanged Man only when he thought it unlikely that she would be there. The one time he saw her, she was sitting at a table with Isabela and Anders, sharing a pitcher, laughing over some tale or another; he thought about approaching, but then Anders caught his eye with a scowl so forbidding that he decided not to bother. Hawke looked so content with the pirate on one side and the apostate on the other; there was no room for Fenris at that table, and he disappeared before she could look up, see him, and force him to pretend otherwise.
That night, two weeks after the death of Hadriana, Fenris remembered the significance of the date and went down to the cellar. There it was, the Agreggio, the fine vintage that Danarius had favored, the one he'd set aside for just this occasion. He'd had one bottle of a lesser varietal already, but perhaps tonight he'd earned another drink. He carried the Agreggio upstairs, lit a few candles, and pulled out the cork before making a silent toast to his freedom, and to the memory of the Fog Warriors who'd shown him another way, who'd lit the torches that marked his path out of hell.
Soft footsteps, and he looked up: there was Hawke, alone, dressed in the same robes she'd been wearing at the Hanged Man; they were a new set of dark green that showed off her eyes perfectly. Too drunk to care about appearances, or to wonder why Anders was not to be found a few steps behind, he lifted the wine in her direction. "The last bottle of the Agreggio," he said. "I've been saving it for a special occasion."
She reached out, grasped the bottle, and to his surprise took a swig, not bothering to wipe the bottle mouth clean, or wait for a glass. "And what's that?" She drank again, then handed the bottle back to him.
"The anniversary of my escape." He held the bottle up in another toast. "Astia valla femundis!" He took another sip, then leaned forward, smiling as she took a seat across from him. "Care to hear the story?"
She smiled back and nodded, eyes lighting up with anticipation. "I'd love to. I enjoy listening to you talk."
A surprising sentiment, but Fenris found the smile broadening on his face as he pulled himself into the back of the chair. "There are few pleasures greater than speaking with a beautiful woman." Her eyes sparkled in response, and perhaps it was the wine, perhaps it was seeing her along, perhaps it was the days he had gone without her; whatever the reason, something had pulled the cork free, and so the whole story tumbled out: Seheron, the Fog Warriors, his time with them, how he had killed them at Danarius's command and then snapped, running away as fast and far as he could, his flight south. Hawke listened, rapt, asking the occasional question, drawing him out, and for once he let her, giving her the answers she always seemed to crave.
When it was done, she sat back in her chair, eyes soft with compassion. "I have to admit, I've always wondered why you stayed with Danarius as long as you did."
"You have not been a slave," Fenris said. "A slave does not dream of freedom, or wonder at possibilities. You think only of your master's desires, and what the next hour will bring. It did not occur to me that I could be anything else until I had a taste of it."
Hawke's brow furrowed. "Slaves do rebel, though. It happened here, in Kirkwall."
He shook his head. "The ritual that gave me my markings also stripped me of my memory. Whatever I was before, may as well have never been. Perhaps if I knew, I might have felt differently."
She nodded, then leaned back in her seat. "Thank you for telling me. I know it can't have been easy, reliving it like that."
For a moment, he sat, silent. Then he took another drink, long and deep. "I've never spoken about what happened, to anyone. I've never wanted to." Now he knew it was the wine talking, but he didn't want to stop. "You and I don't always agree, but..."
Her eyes widened, lighting up, and she leaned forward again, hands crossed casually across her knees. "But?" It was a light word, loaded with invitation. Promise. And in his current state of mind, he did not want to think to stop and wonder why. And so he threw the last of his caution to the wind, betting it all on a single word.
"I... have never allowed anyone too close." He lifted his arms, looked at them, closed his eyes. "When the markings were created, the pain was... extraordinary. And the memory lingers." He leaned forward, looked at her intently, willed her to understand. "But you are unlike any woman I have ever met. With you, it might be different."
She looked back at him, raised an eyebrow, smiled. "We could find out."
He stopped, remembering The Hanged Man. Anders's arm, tossed across the back of Hawke's chair, a casual signal of possession. The naked look of contempt he had shot at Fenris, as if daring him to try it. Her laughter, her grin, her obvious ease in Anders's company. No. He had let the wine, the sense of camaraderie go to his head. This... was not a good idea. "On another evening, perhaps." Before he could change his mind, he lifted the bottle. "One last toast, then. To the fallen!" He drank, all but the last few drops, then handed the wine to Hawke, who finished it. His eyes landed on her throat, the smoothness of the skin there; he wanted to wrap his hand around it, feel the blood thrumming in her veins, taste the sweet wine on her lips. Instead, he only watched as she set the bottle down and stood up to go. She was not for the likes of him. Slaves do not dream of bedding heroes, of stealing them away from their partners. He had to let this fantasy go.
"Good night, Fenris."
"Good night, Hawke." His eyes stayed glued to her as she turned through the door and went down the stairs, and he sat unmoving in the chair for what felt like a long, long time. Eventually, his eyes drifted closed, and his final thought before sleep was of her.
As was his first thought upon waking. He thought about her as he got dressed, went to market, met with contacts about a mercenary job, ate his supper, tried to relax down before sleep. He saw her face in every door, every window, every woman passing by, except they were not her, could never even hold a candle to her.
It was of no use, and so he threw back on his armor and stalked though the streets, into her courtyard, not caring whether or not Anders might be there; he had to see her again. And almost immediately, she was there, in that same red robe, her dark hair slightly mussed. She drew the robe closer around her shoulders and stood in the doorway. "Fenris?"
He crossed to her, stood as close as he dared. "I have been thinking about you," he said. "In fact, I have thought of little else." This time, he could not blame the bottle; it was Hawke alone who intoxicated him: her eyes, her scent, her nearness. "Command me to go, and I shall."
He held his breath, waiting for the order, the protest, the admission of love for another. It did not come, and after a moment, she cocked her head to the side. "Did I say anything?"
Fenris would never be able to say which of them moved first; all he knew was that he was kissing her, her mouth soft at first, then harder as she threw an arm around his neck and he pressed his hands into her back. She drew away to look at him, then whirled him around and into the wall as she kissed him again. He brought his hands up, rested them on her waist, gripping the soft folds of her robe to pull her closer. Her mouth opened beneath his, and he filled her, thrusting his tongue into her warmth, her hips rising to meet his in an echo of his motions. She was here, in his arms, and it was far better than he had even dreamed, but it was also wrong, a voice at the back of his mind nagging, nagging with every taste, every touch: "She belongs to someone else. She is not yours to have. She belongs to someone else, and you are out of your place..."
He gathered up all his strength and pulled away, leaning his head further into the stone wall. "What are you doing?"
She lifted an eyebrow at him, a saucy smile playing on her lips. "I thought that was fairly obvious." Lifting a hand to his face, she trailed the backs of her fingers along his cheekbone, over his temple, up to the tip of his ear, and an exquisite shiver of pleasure traveled down his spine. His eyes fluttered closed, but then he forced them open again and shook himself free, placing his hands on her shoulders to push her firmly away.
"What I meant was-- how are you so free with your affections? You cannot tell me that Anders would approve of you dallying with another, especially given that the other is me."
"Anders?" A look of bewilderment came into her eyes. "What does he have to do with anything?"
"The way you flirt with him, and when he looks at you..." Fenris faltered for a moment, then shook his head. "It seems as though there is something there, something more than friendship."
"You think--" Hawke shook her head. "Anders and I-- no, Fenris. No. We're friends, yes, dear friends. I care about him, and I support his cause. But it goes no further. The flirting, well, surely you've noticed by now that I flirt with practically everyone. I don't mean anything by it, especially not with my friends. Well, I did end up in bed with Isabela that one time." Fenris's brows shot up in surprise, and she grinned at him. "We agreed afterwards that we're better off as friends without those particular benefits. But not Anders. Never. I've told him how I feel, and he's accepted it. The flirting is just flirting."
Fenris knit his brows together, a frown tugging at his mouth. "Just flirting? You 'mean nothing by it'? This is supposed to make me feel better?"
"Oh." She took his hand, her fingers closing around his, warm and willing. "Oh, no. This is different. So very different. You can never know how much I mean it, how badly I've wanted this, even from the day we met." She stepped closer, touching his face again, brushing the hair back from his forehead. "It's you, Fenris. It's always been you."
Why did he believe her? And yet he did: he heard truth in her words, saw honesty in her smile, and he was convinced, a surge of hope filling his heart. Hope? Yes, hope. Perhaps the strangest emotion yet, but still he cherished it. And her, for allowing him to feel it. He grasped her chin between his fingers and stroked her lips with his thumb. "Then I have been a fool, to resist you for so long." And he brought his mouth back to hers, kissing her lips, her temples, her neck, letting himself be free to want at last.
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