If Anders hadn’t been so sharding worried about Fenris and the tasks and his life, the expression on Justice’s face when Fenris gave him the page would have been hilarious.
Once again celebrations were held at the Hanged Man with the tale being retold again and again by Varric and Isabella, much to the delight of the patrons. Aveline had gone home to Donnic and Merrill was sitting by Isabella nursing a cup of mead, giggling.
Everyone was enjoying themselves and partying around the pub except for a small table near the back where Fenris was huddled, talking to Sebastian and Hawke. He had related the discussion with Cullen and Carver, interrupted frequently by Hawke’s snarking about his brother, and now the three men were pondering the entire situation.
“The third task is going to be nigh on impossible Fenris.” Sebastian’s voice was low and concerned as he leaned in, looking at the elf with concern, “He’s not going to risk losing his hold on Anders because of this...”
“Then why did he even agree to the deal.” Fenris growled back.
“Justice expected you to fail at the first hurdle.” Hawke tapped the table with his finger, “Giving him a legitimate claim on Anders. Plus I think he was bored? Maybe he wanted an opportunity for revenge?”
“If he wants revenge,” Sebastian sighed, “Then he is truly no longer a spirit. He’s close to demonic.”
Fenris stood, using his hands to push himself upwards and looked down at the two faces turned up to him. “He won’t get away with this. Now, I must go home and rest. I will see you tomorrow Sebastian, Hawke.”
“Be careful Fenris.” Sebastian said softly as the elf moved around the table, Anders disembodied spirit following him, “Maker watch over you.”
Fenris glanced back at him, then at Hawke who gave him a wink which couldn’t hide his worry, and nodded before leaving the Hanged Man and exiting out into Kirkwall.
He had barely moved three paces before Justice materialised before him, drawing a gasp from Anders and causing Fenris to unsheathe his blade swiftly.
“What do you want Spirit?”
”I HAVE FOR YOU, YOUR THIRD AND FINAL TASK.”
Fenris frowned, and Anders scowled at Justice furiously, “Give him a break Justice.” He hissed, “He’s exhausted by the night already...”
“No witnesses this time?” Fenris’ voice was calm but cool as he lowered his blade, “What is your task?”
“A JEWEL. YOU MUST RECOVER FOR ME A JEWEL.”
“And where is this jewel?”
”IT CAN BE ANY JEWEL YOU CHOOSE ELF. BUT IT MUST COME FROM THE BLACK CITY.”
Anders felt his stomach drop. The black city, at the heart of the Fade. The place where, the Chantry preached, the Maker had once dwelled. The place corrupted by Tevinter Magisters, the birthplace of Darkspawn. The place where, legends said, the dead souls passed through on their way to eternity with the Maker, or the rest of existence just drifting.
“No!” He cried, hurling himself ineffectually against Justice, “No! He’ll die! I cannot let you do this!”
Fenris stood there, pale and still, and Anders tried desperately to make himself heard, “Fenris no! Don’t even think about it. Please love...”
But the elf’s spine straightened and his chin came up as he fixed Justice’s gaze with his own.
“I accept.” He said quietly, and Anders wailed his despair as Justice began to laugh.
“What do you know of the Black City?”
Merrill glanced up when nobody answered and blinked with surprise when she realised that the others had wandered off to other parts of the Emporium and that Fenris was standing there looking directly at her. Behind Fenris, Anders sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.
This wasn’t going to go well; conversations between Fenris and Merrill never did.
“Are you talking to me?” the Dalish elf enquired with surprise, blinking owlishly at Fenris, “And why do you want to know about the Black City?”
“Can’t you ever just answer a question without having to know every reason behind it?” Fenris barked in return, folding his arms.
“Well I’m sorry Fenris but you usually don’t talk to me.” Merrill chirped, arching her eyebrow, “Apart from when you wanted to know about Anders in the Fade. Ooh does this have to do with Anders?”
“Yes he’s planning on travelling to the Black City, former home of the maker and origin of Darkspawn, in the centre of the Fade and bring a spirit of Justice back a jewel.” Anders snarked, eternally annoyed at his disembodied and unheard state, “I think you should talk him out of it.”
“She would not be able to, even if she knew.” Xenon’s voice murmured and Anders whipped around in shock, “Yes I can hear you, and see you. It is one of my many talents.”
“What do you mean she would not be able to?” Anders turned away from the pair of elves who had devolved into squabbling about the reasons for Fenris’ enquiry. “Someone has to talk him out of it!”
“She would never be able to convince him he should not go.” Xenon intoned, “Because he would not care what she said. He has made up his mind to go and go he shall. Perhaps he thinks the reward is worth the risk.”
“He hates me.” Anders sighed, shaking his head, “He feels obligated.”
“Would an obligated man risk all he has to save you?” Xenon scoffed, “Use your noodle boy.”
“Then I don’t know why he’s doing it, risking his life.”
“Yes you do.” Xenon sighed gustily, “Think on it boy, wouldn’t you do the same for him?”
Anders paused, thinking about it seriously. He thought back to the fear he felt when Justice had taken over his body to strike Fenris down, the energy he had sent into Hawke when he was grappling with the elf.
Xenon watched him, and nodded, “Aren’t you already? Someone who didn’t love him wouldn’t care what happened to him so long as he tried to free him. You would rather float in non existence or die rather than have anything happen to him.”
“How do you...?”
“You do not think I have ears outside this Emporium?” Xenon snorted, “The tales Varric tells are probably grossly exaggerated, but there are always nuggets of truth in them. That is why they are so interesting, and so popular. And this tale is the talk of Kirkwall.”
“Just tell me!” Fenris’ raised voice behind him, snapped Anders focus back to the elves behind him, “How do people travel to the Black City.”
“Mage’s can travel there when they dream,” Merrill sounded unruffled but curious, “But you normal folk don’t really have control over yourselves when you dream do you?”
“No.” Fenris gritted out, patience sorely tempted.
“I suppose the easiest way to get there then would be to die!” Merrill chirped, unaware of the tenseness in Fenris’ shoulders and the sudden intake of breath from Anders, “All those who die pass through the Black City.”
Anders looked at Fenris, so sure that this now would be the end of it, that Fenris would give up. But instead of seeing regret and refusal on his face, Fenris looked thoughtful.
“No!” Anders stormed, shouting it as loud as he could, “NO! FENRIS!”
“There is no need to shout.” Xenon grumbled at him, “He cannot hear you, and I can. Shouting is wholly unnecessary.”
“Talk to him!” Anders begged, turning back to the proprietor, “Please, tell him not to do it, tell him I appreciate it but that his life is too precious to risk on a whim. Please.”
“I am no messenger.” Xenon sniffed huffily, “And he shall do as he deems fit. You can be sure of that.”
For hours Anders begged with him. But Xenon remained unmoved. And when Anders turned around, Fenris and the others had gone.
Searching for Fenris as a spirit was almost as frustrating as searching for Fenris in corporeal form. The only improvement to this was that he could cover more ground as a spirit, flitting from here to there, searching for his foolish, stupid, beautiful elf.
His faint connection to his body twinged slightly, like a faint bell jangling. Someone had touched him.
Anders paused for a brief moment and then let the tug of that connection to draw him back to Hawke’s estate and the small room. His gamble paid off as he materialised through the wall to see Fenris bending over his inert body.
The elf slowly removed one of his gauntlets, drawing off the spiky claws that he was rarely, if ever, seen without. Then slowly he moved forward to tentatively brush some strands of Anders hair off his face. The lyrium tipped fingers brushed against his skin, and an echo of that soft touch resonated within Anders spirit form, causing his breath to catch.
“Fenris.” He whispered, watching him, “...Fenris...”
“Fenris?” a voice called from the other room, and the soft atmosphere shattered as Fenris tensed, straightening up and jamming his gauntlets back on as Hawke marched into the room, “There you are! Bodahn said he saw you come in!”
“What do you want Hawke?” Fenris growled, turning to face his friend with a scowl.
“This is my house?” Hawke reminded him, rolling his eyes, “Why does no one remember that? Orana chases me out of the kitchen, Bodahn shoos me away from the front rooms...”
“Oh right!” The man grinned, before glancing over at Anders inert body, “How is he?”
“And you?” Hawke’s face morphed into a look of concern, “I heard you asking Merrill about the Black City today.”
“I was curious.”
“Sure you were.” Hawke drawled, “Asking her how to get there? That’s curious knowledge now?”
“What’s your point Hawke?” Fenris folded his arms defensively, as Anders drew close, hopeful that Hawke would come good.
“My point is that Justice hasn’t called any of us. There hasn’t been even a whisper from him, and yet Anders time is nearly up. And then suddenly there is you asking a Mage about the Black City. That’s very...strange.”
“Your. Point. Hawke!”
“Justice gave you his third task didn’t he?” Hawke folded his arms smugly, “To travel to the Black City.”
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Hawke clapped his hands together, “Firstly, you are utterly mental if you think I’m going to let you do this without help.”
“You shouldn’t be letting him do it at all!” Anders protested, throwing his hands up, “Dammit Hawke!”
“So...I brought in some reinforcements! He was visiting his mother and I think he’ll be very useful.”
And with a dramatic flourish Hawke threw the door open once more to reveal Feynriel, the Mage they had helped some time before, who looked at him with an eyebrow raised.
“Has he gotten crazier while I’ve been away? Or is that just me?” The young man asked, looking beyond Hawke to Fenris.
“He’s always been crazy.” Fenris sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, a bad habit that he had picked up from Anders, “But he used to be better at hiding it. Hawke, why is that Mage here?”
“He’s what they call a Dreamer, remember?” Hawke led Feynriel in and shut the door, “He has a stronger connection to the Fade and the dream worlds than any Mage in Kirkwall. Maybe the entirety of Thedas!”
“...I wouldn’t go that far...” Feynriel protested weakly but Hawke ignored him.
“Now I know you don’t like Tevinter Fenris.” Hawke clapped a hand down on the elf’s shoulder, “I know you don’t but they are good at training magic.”
“You aren’t a blood mage are you?” Fenris spat at the mage who shook his head quickly, “Good.”
“There would be a lot more mess if he was one Fenris, trust me.” Hawke drawled, winking at Feynriel who looked alternatively baffled and worried as he glanced at the expression on Fenris’ face, “Stop scowling, you’re scaring the Mage.”
Fenris transferred his glare from the half elf boy to the man standing beside him.
“The point is...” Hawke went on, drawing a reluctant Fenris over to the Mage, “He can open up a pathway to the Fade for you both, and guide you to the Black City without you having to kill yourself.”
There was silence for a moment as the rogue gave the elf a meaningful look and Fenris shuffled uncomfortably. It was Feynriel who broke the tense silence, shifting slightly.
“I understand the time constraints are pressing? We should begin immediately; time is not regular in the Fade. It could take minutes, hours...Days...”
Fenris nodded once shortly and at Feynriel’s instruction the three of them left the room, heading up to Hawke’s bedchamber. There Fenris lay stiffly on the bed, Feynriel sitting cross legged beside him, holding his hand. Intrigued, Anders drifted close, watching the ritual curiously, seeing the faintest glow of silver around Fenris and Feynriel’s joined hands, the soothing sounds of Feynriel’s voice as he murmured the incantation.
He saw the instant that Feynriel disappeared into the Fade, the unnatural stillness and the slow breathing, the mystical glow enveloping him and Fenris. Fenris too had fallen asleep, breaths deep and even.
Fenris was in the Fade, where Anders could not follow.
Now he and Hawke could only wait.
Hours had passed and Hawke had dozed off at the desk by the door, dark head resting on the wood and gentle snores drifting through the otherwise silent room.
Feynriel and Fenris had not moved a muscle in the time they had been in the Fade, and the glow around them had not even flickered for a moment. Anders was impressed; he could only imagine the kind of power it took for the Mage to maintain that kind of trancelike state for this long. But Feynriel had mentioned days...had the young half elf actually spent days in the Fade before?
Anders found himself prowling restlessly around the bedchamber, drifting through the bed, through the canopy, through Hawke’s desk, even through Hawke himself. Although he only did that once, he really didn’t need to see Hawke’s internal organs more than that one time thank you very much.
But in the end, as with all things it seemed, when things went wrong they went spectacularly wrong.
Sometime after the midnight bell had rung the house began to shake, quaking on its foundations. Hawke awoke with a snort, bleary eyed and reaching for his twin blades resting on the desk. His dark head moved around, at first dazedly and then with more intent as he woke up more. His blue eyes narrowed as he scanned the shaking room but there was nothing to be seen, apart from the Mage and the elf still laying there still on the bed.
Anders meanwhile had taken up a defensive stance, insubstantial as he was, over Fenris’ still body. Part of his mind was screeching questions, wanting a logical explanation for the house rattling like it was going to fall apart around them, but the rest of him knew already. There was only one explanation.
Somehow the spirit knew that Fenris had travelled to the Fade, he knew that he was there and succeeding and he was trying to end it all, before Fenris could return to his body. It hurt, deep down, it hurt deeply that the spirit he had once fought alongside, and had agreed to help in honour of that friendship, had turned on him so badly, had become something so dark.
“You are not my friend Justice.” Anders murmured, clenching his fists together, finally accepting the loss of the spirit that had fought with him in Amaranthine, “You are not him.”
”YOU WOUND ME ANDERS.” and there Justice was, floating before him, a great spirit sword in his hand, like the one he had wielded while in Kristoff’s body, ”TO TURN ON ME SO IS NOT JUST.”
“It is the truth!” Anders shouted, “You are not Justice. Not MY Justice.”
”NO,” The Spirit admitted, ”NO I AM NOT YOUR JUSTICE. NOT THE JUSTICE YOU KNEW. I AM MORE THAN JUSTICE COULD HAVE EVER BEEN. I AM VENGEANCE, UNBOUND BY RIGHT OR WRONG, AND ONLY LED BY WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.”
”CONTRIBUTED.” Vengeance tilted its head, looking down at Anders, ”OH BUT THE FEELING OF THE WORLD. TO LIVE AS A MORTAL DOES. THE ALLURE OF THE FLESH, TO SMELL, TASTE, SEE THROUGH MORTAL EYES. BUT A SPIRIT IS A SINGLE EMBODIMENT OF A VIRTUE, HOW CAN THEY COMPETE WITH A HUMAN’S COMPLEX EMOTION. THEY BECOME CORRUPTED, THEY BECOME...MORE.”
“It does not matter what you are.” Anders spat, pointing a finger at the being before him, “What matters is right now.”
”YOU ARE RIGHT.” Vengeance nodded, ”STAND ASIDE ANDERS, FOR THE LOVE THAT JUSTICE ONCE BORE YOU, STAND ASIDE AND LET ME DEAL WITH THE ELF. IF YOU DO NOT, THEN I WILL HAVE TO REMOVE YOU AS WELL AS HE. I DO NOT WISH THAT.”
“You cannot have him.” Anders shook his head firmly, “You could not have him before and you cannot have him now.”
”A SHAME.” Vengeance sighed, and then lifted his sword, ”FAREWELL ANDERS.”
The feeling he had had when Hawke and Fenris fought returned with a surge of ferocity that took his breath away, and magic crackled at his fingertips.
He heard Hawke gasp nearby, realising that the man could see him, see him and see Justice, but the next second it didn’t matter because he was fighting. Lighting crackled from his fingers, lancing out at the former spirit, which dodged, lunging at him with a roar, slashing with the sword.
The fight was evenly matched, both of them powerful, but Anders was the one at a disadvantage. The instant Vengeance felt it had an opening it would send an attack towards the unprotected body of Fenris laying on the bed. Anders would lunge to shield him, leaving himself unprotected in turn, and then would fall back under the flurry of attacks that followed.
He could hear Hawke shouting, cheering him on. He knew the man had tried to help, but his daggers had soared through the incorporeal shape. It was so unfair that the spirits attacks could hurt Anders and hurt Fenris, but Hawke’s could not hurt it.
A blast of power and Anders felt himself battered away, through a wall and out into Hightown. Aveline was out there he noticed dazedly, guardsmen around the estate, stopping anyone from entering. He wondered what it all looked like from below and then he was zooming back into the room, throwing up a desperate shield around Fenris, just as Vengeance sent another blast, straight at the unprotected elf.
The world went white.
“Enough.” A warm, deep voice boomed in his head. It was a voice like the clanging of iron smiths, the baying of hounds, the call of wild birds, the rush of the rivers and seas. It was a voice that contained everything and nothing. It was a voice that defied description, even as Anders lay there, across Fenris’ body, struggling to define just what it was.
Slowly he sat up, shading his eyes as he looked around. Hawke was frozen mid stride towards the bed, Feynriel and Fenris were unmoved, the curtain swung in mid drift. Time had stopped.
Time hung still.
But Anders only saw that for a moment before his gaze was drawn up to the ceiling which was no longer there, and which seemed to be open to the sky. A sky that was purest white. It was from there the voice came.
“We have been watching.” The voice continued, rumbling through the world like rolling thunder, “And this tale has brought great sadness to my wife.”
“No...way...” he breathed.
“You will stay silent mortal.” The Maker informed him, “I know you well, and I know well what kind of glib statements are going to leave that mouth of yours.”
“Silence!” The Maker boomed and Anders closed his mouth, “Good. Now, Andraste has always had a bit of a soft spot for romance.” He sighed, “When she was alive she used to throw things at me when I interrupted her reading. She was crying...” he added defensively when Anders grinned, “I thought she might have been hurt.”
“Understandable.” Anders assured him, struggling to assume an expression of solemnity, “Carry on.”
“And she has been watching you and Fenris.” he says the elfs name carefully, “And she threatened me that if I did not fix the situation that she would make my existence very unpleasant indeed.”
“Can she do that?” Anders asked incredulously, “You are the Maker after all.”
“She is my wife.”
The Maker turned to Vengeance, frozen where he was, and frowned.
“Vengeance. You have displeased me and my immortal bride Andraste. You have been underhanded in your dealings with these mortals. And yet they have prevailed over you. I banish you back to the deepest ends of the Fade, never again to find a human host, never again to enter the realms of mortality and never again to reach for the minds of Mages.”
Another great flash of bright white light and a great clap of sound and when Anders could see and hear once more, Vengeance was gone.
“Did you have to do that?” he groaned.
The Maker frowned.
“You did not wish me to punish the spirit?”
“No I meant the light...the sound...it was a bit overwhelming. Rather like having ones head inside a ringing bell...or rather like I imagine what having ones head in a ringing bell would be like.”
The Maker sighed.
“I do not understand why Andraste is so fond of you”
“You don’t?” Anders sighed, “The Maker doesn’t love me after all.”
“That’s not...I didn’t...You are teasing me. I am your Divine Lord Mage, I’ll have you remember that.”
But the Maker sounded amused.
An hour later, Anders opened his eyes in his own body, blinking up at the ceiling of Hawke’s estate and grinned.
Varric wouldn’t believe this.
Fenris was avoiding him.
Anders hadn’t even seen him since the Battle of the Bedchamber, as Hawke had taken to calling it, and although the others tried to make excuses for the elf, their faces told the true story. Fenris didn’t want to be near him.
Even his dreams kept him out.
Now that Anders had returned to his corporeal form he could once again travel to the Fade in dreams, and time and time again, every night for a month, he had tried to enter the elf’s dreams. But time and time again the wards that he had built for Fenris kept him out.
He was not welcome.
Hurt and confused Anders threw himself into the campaign for Mage rights, something he had discussed with the Maker before he had been sent back to his body. The Maker had confirmed what Anders had always known, He didn’t hate Mages. Magic was a gift like any other and could be misused like any talent. But that did not make it evil.
Still it was with some relief, a month or two after Vengeance’s defeat and Anders restoration, that Anders found himself dragged out of his clinic by a stubborn Hawke, where he had been putting the finishing touches on his manifesto, up into Varric’s room in the Hanged Man.
Everyone was there, gathered around the long dwarven style table, chattering happily, drinks in hand or on the smooth surface. Even Carver and Bethany were there, with an awkward Cullen hanging with them, trying not to draw too much attention to himself. At least he hadn’t worn his Templar armour, Anders thought with amusement as Isabella sidled up to the Knight-Captain and murmured something in his ear that made his cheeks flame with colour.
Making a mental note to talk to the man later on in the evening about Mage rights and the fact that Anders had The Maker’s backing, Anders looked around the rest of the room. Carver was watching Merrill who was gesticulating something at an amused looking Varric, Hawke was chattering happily with Aveline who had unbent for the evening, enough to just wear some light armour rather than her usual get up. Sebastian was charming a smiling Bethany, who was oblivious to the wistful looks being sent her way by Cullen.
Everyone was here.
Everyone, including Fenris.
Fenris who was sitting towards the back of the room talking with Donnic, hand cradling a glass of wine.
As though he could sense Anders gaze, Fenris’ head slowly turned and those green eyes met his guardedly. For a long moment they watched one another and then the elf turned away once more to continue his conversation.
“Breathe...” A voice beside his ear murmured with amusement.
Surprised, Anders let out the breath he hadn’t even been aware he’d been holding, and turned to look at the person beside him. Aveline and Hawke gave him almost identical looks back, eyebrows cocked.
“I know how to breathe.” He informed them, folding his arms, “It’s a pretty standard action.”
“Everyone has moments of forgetfulness.” Hawke drawled back, smirking, “Especially when looking at someone they fancy as much as you fancy Fenris...”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Anders retorted, scowling slightly, “Bloody elf.”
“You looooove him.” Hawke singsonged and Anders contemplated setting his hair on fire, “You want to hold him and kiss him and bend him over a table and...”
“That’s enough Hawke.” Aveline interrupted, shuddering slightly, “I don’t need to hear what filthy things that mind of yours can come up with.”
“On the contrary big girl.” Isabella chimed, sliding in between Hawke and Anders, and peering over at Fenris, “It might give you some ideas on how to spice up your bedroom life with your man over there.”
“I don’t need to spice anything up whore.” Aveline bit back and Anders grinned slightly, “What are you smirking at Anders?”
“Oh nothing Aveline, just that you know that a little spice in the bedroom never went amiss. Of course if you don’t like hot things an icecube can work wonders too.”
“What?” Anders winced as the woman smacked his arm, and Hawke and Isabella dissolved into laughter, “Ouch, Maker’s Breath, woman.”
“I like the new you.” Hawke saluted Anders with his glass, “C’mon Aveline, let the man keep his arm in one piece yeah? He’s had to repress all those dirty tips and jokes for years.”
“Not just the tips or the jokes I fear,” Isabella observed, arching an eyebrow at the Mage, “I wouldn’t think Justice would have been too big of a fan of you having a regular boink.”
“I’m getting another drink.” Aveline shook her head and wandered off, “Far too sober to be talking about that kind of thing.”
“I pity Donnic.” Isabella sighed, “She is such a prude.”
“She might just not like talking about it.” Hawke arched an eyebrow, “Aveline is after all, more of a hands-on style of woman.”
Anders tried to slide away unnoticed but two hands shot out, yanking him back into place. Damn rogues.
“You are not going anywhere pet.” Isabella cooed, “You need to tell us what is going on with you and that deliciously broody elf over there.”
“Nothing’s going on.” Anders sighed, folding his arms, “I mean it,” he added as Isabella looked sceptical, “He’s avoiding me like I’m a carrier of plague.”
“I’m not surprised.” Hawke grunted softly, “It’s not your fault Anders...it’s just...Fenris being Fenris.”
“It’s stupid is what it is.” Isabella rolled her eyes, “You clearly would like nothing better than to throw him down into your bed and make sweet, sweet love to him. And he clearly wants to use your body like a jungle gym. What is the problem here?”
“Fenris is proud.” Hawke replied, folding his arms, “And shy. He loves Anders, but can’t bring himself to open up in case Anders hurts him. He can’t bear to admit that he was glad that Anders was the Mage in the Fade that he had been falling in love with.”
“Stupid.” Isabella, “You’re both clearly waiting for the other to make the first move...”
“I’ve been trying to see him!” Anders hissed back, “His dreams are closed to me.”
“And his mansion? In Hightown?” Hawke retorted, “Is that closed too? Don’t you think it’s time that you stop relying on dreams and actually do something here in reality?”
Anders blinked at him.
“Strangely thoughtful of you Hawke.” Isabella said approvingly, “Now Anders, pet, you put down that drink,” and before he could move, she had yanked it out of his hands, “And you go over there and kiss him.”
“Fenris might not be a fan of such a public display...” Hawke warned, “Maybe you should ask him to talk.”
“And he says no and bolts.” Isabella argued back, “Just kiss him Anders.”
“What have you got to lose?” Isabella said softly, and when Anders glanced at Hawke the man nodded slowly, “Go on Anders.”
“Okay...okay...” Anders took a deep breath and started to move across to Fenris, unaware that behind him, conversations were tapering off and everyone was turning to watch.
All he could see was Fenris and Donnic.
“Fenris.” He said softly, barely aware of it when Donnic slipped away and the elf turned to him with surprise, and some panic.
“Mage.” The elf’s eyes flicked away from his, “What do you want?”
“I want...” he wanted so much, so much... “I want to thank you.”
“Thank me?” Fenris blinked at him, “I did nothing.”
“You did everything.” Anders moved forward slightly, with Fenris backing back a pace, “Fenris...”
“Your thanks are not needed, but I am grateful for them.” Fenris burst out, slipping past Anders, heading for the door.
“Fenris stop.” And Anders hand shot out, grabbing Fenris’ arm, “You don’t have to...”
Lyrium flared and Fenris whirled, shoving Anders back against the wall of the room. Silence reigned as the blue markings faded from view, and Fenris realising what he had done began to withdraw.
Anders was having none of it,
He lunged in, hands cupping Fenris’ jaw and hair and his mouth sought out the elf’s soft lips in a hungry kiss. He could feel Fenris leaning into him, his own gauntleted fingers curling into Anders robes, as he began to kiss back, lips parting breathlessly under Anders’.
They clung together, kissing feverishly, like two men who were dying of thirst and had found water, and Anders clutched Fenris close, like he had ached to for so long.
Someone nudged a chair leg behind them and a soft scraping sound filled the room.
It was enough to break the spell, Fenris stiffening in Anders hold and shoving him violently away, hard enough that his head cracked against the wall.
Dazed, he stared at Fenris who was glaring at him, and everyone else around him.
“This should never have happened in the first place.” He gritted out, eyes now on Anders, “And it shall not happen again. I am sorry.”
He turned away jerkily, and before Anders could call out, stop him, do anything; Fenris had stalked away.
They all heard the door of the Hanged Man close behind him and Anders let out a furious half sob half yell and slammed his fist into the wall.
Comforting hands grabbed him and steered him to the table, sympathetic voices spoke to him and dark hands he knew to be Isabella’s pushed some disgusting alcohol into his hands.
He drank it, because what else was he going to do? Fenris didn’t want him. And all of this...had been for nothing.
So wrapped up was he, in his hurt, angry thoughts that he didn’t notice Hawke and Sebastian follow Fenris out of the door.
It was perhaps one of the most awkward and yet hilarious dinners of Anders life.
The large dining table of the Hawke mansion, which was rarely used unless it was for Summersday or midwinter, or someone’s birthday, was laden with food, and everyone was sitting around it, all looking very well dressed for once.
The reasons for this were the guests of honour.
The Maker, wearing the form of a tall slender man with dark hair and a neat pointy beard, and Andraste, who was almost inhumanly beautiful, sat by Anders side, both of them being very careful to try every bit of Orana’s cooking.
Hawke sat at the end, a hand deliberately covering his grin as he tried to keep himself in check. Leandra sat beside him, looking quite stunned that the Divine being of Thedas was sitting at her dinner table. Beside her was Bethany, who had been allowed out of the Gallows if she was accompanied by a bickering Cullen and Carver. They sat beside her, with Carver muttering things at his superior that made him go white and then blushing red by turns.
Beside Carver was Merrill, who was wearing a simple green dress she had made for the occasion, then was Isabella, Varric and Sebastian. Sebastian’s face was the one that made it incredibly difficult for Anders to keep a straight face. He had turned up on the Hawke doorstep in his Starkhaven armour that evening, and had not known why Anders and Hawke had fallen about laughing at him.
“Your crotch Sebastian!” Hawke had howled, “Look towards your balls man!”
The Prince had looked down, and for a few moments had remained looking confused and a little angry. Then his face had paled rapidly as he took in the countenance on his belt buckle and with a wail he had turned tail and fled the house, leaving Anders and Hawke to cling to one another and sob with laughter until they cried.
Now Sebastian sat there, looking so anxious and hopeful that it was almost pathetic, but sweet at the same time. His auburn hair was perfectly combed, his clothes neat. He was determined to make a good impression.
Beside Sebastian was Fenris, who sat quietly as the polite conversation flowed around him. He wore a dark tunic and soft breeches, clothing other than his prickly armour, and Anders had found himself hard pressed not to stare at him.
Andraste was beside Fenris, and engaged both the reticent elf and Sebastian in conversation. Snatches of it drifted to Anders, including Andraste asking Sebastian about Starkhaven.
“Why have you not returned to your city?”
“I...had hoped to serve the Maker better as a brother in the Chantry.”
“I have already scolded him about that book of rules he gave them, the Canticles.” Andraste had sniffed, “Mortals can be so literal. I was. And then when I left that world I realised how much I had confined myself. I hope you do not do that Sebastian...”
“Tell me Andraste,” Isabella had asked then, leaning in, “What are your thoughts on friend fiction?”
Andraste’s face lit up and The Maker and Anders shared a look and then both of them picked up their wine glasses and drank.
“So you don’t hate Mages?” Cullen asked the Maker later, as everyone helped a protesting Orana with the plates. Anders slowed his pace, listening in, “You didn’t want them...locked in a tower?”
“If I hated Mages my boy.” The Maker’s voice was a more human version of the bell ringing voice Anders had heard when he stopped the world during the struggle with Justice, “I would not gift my children with it would I?”
“I know. But it is not what was intended. Magic must be studied, nurtured. Fear drives you mortals to desperate acts, as you have seen. With good teaching, and freedom to live life, I think you will find a change in the state of Mage possession.”
Cullen looked thoughtful as The Maker looked up, meeting Anders gaze, “You Templars too. I never intended for my children to deny themselves happiness.”
The Knight Captain swallowed, glancing across the room at Bethany, “Ah...well...I...”
The Maker patted his shoulder, “I completely understand.”
Anders smiled slightly and reached around Isabella for a plate to dry and laughed as she flicked him with a towel.
It worried him later however to see that Andraste and Isabella had trapped Fenris between them on the couch and were whispering furiously at him, often winking at one another, in a way he would never have expected from the pure Bride of the Maker.
He didn’t realise that he had his own flankers until a few moments later when The Maker’s hand clapped his shoulder, and Sebastian murmured in his ear;
“He’s just scared you know.”
Anders gritted his teeth and tensed, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes you do.” The Maker informed him, “Don’t play dumb. I know the exact extent of your mental faculties.”
He glared at the god, “That’s not fair.”
“All’s fair in love and war.” Sebastian interjected, “And we’re talking about Fenris. He’s just scared.”
“I wouldn’t hurt him!” Anders growled, “I saved his life.”
“He was a slave. He doesn’t understand love like you and I do.” Sebastian murmured, “His only sexual experiences are that monster Danarius. And that apprentice Witch of his”
“Maleficarum.” The Maker grumbled, “In the truest sense of the word.”
“He cares about you. Loves you. But he doesn’t understand the emotion. He worries about it being a weakness, in appearing less than he wants to be.”
“I just want to...”
“We know.” Sebastian soothed, “Just...don’t give up on him? He’ll come to you. I am sure of that.”
“Are you?” Anders asked The Maker, “I’d feel much more confident if you were sure.”
“The pivotal choices of men are beyond even my capacity to see...”
“You’ve got no idea do you?”
“You have no respect for me. None.”
And then he remembered standing outside with the rest of them as The Maker and Andraste ascended to the celestial sphere with a shower of bright light.
Merrill sighed happily, hugging herself, “It’s beautiful.”
“It is...” Carver agreed, eyes flickering between the lights show and her.
And Anders felt Hawke’s hand gently grip his shoulder.
He didn’t say anything, but then he didn’t need to. Anders understood, and lifted his hand to squeeze it in return.
Weeks passed and things almost seemed to go back to normal.
Except not really.
Varric had begun writing an epic, which Anders strongly suspected of being about him and Fenris. He was receiving help from Isabella, which was worrying, Hawke, which was terrifying, and Sebastian, which was annoying.
Athenril was claiming her debt, and sending her boys in for healings when they got injured...or infected. So far the intimidating elf had only been into the clinic once herself. And that once had been when a Coterie assassin had tried to slice her up. He had tried to thank her once...
He wasn’t going to try it again.
Bethany, Cullen and Carver had been regularly leaving the Gallows and meeting up with Anders and other mage leaders, trying to figure out a peaceful but effective way of dissolving the Circle and yet still protecting human lives from blood magic.
Those meetings tended to involve a lot of shouting. And once a food fight.
It turned out that Cullen was extremely accurate when throwing pie.
All agreed however not to inform Meredith of anything...until they had sorted out the pertinent parts of the new system.
Progress was being made though, and Anders felt hopeful that together they would be able to implement something.
Surprisingly Sebastian had been a help as well. The man had left the Chantry’s service, officially stating his claim to the City State of Starkhaven. With Hawke and the Viscount assisting, preparations for reclaiming the other city had begun.
Sebastian had taken the Maker’s and Andraste’s words to heart. He no longer had views on Magic that were so rigid, instead he researched the talents Mage’s could have, and often would appear in Anders clinic to discuss something with him, while the Mage was healing.
He wanted to implement the changes Cullen, Bethany, Carver and he were discussing into the Starkhaven Circle, which had been closed down.
“A fresh start!” he proclaimed to Anders, blue eyes shining, “I feel like I have a purpose again.”
Anders had been waiting for weeks for Fenris to finally wake up to the fact that what they had had was something more than just a passing infatuation. Or a passing joke.
It had been weeks...
And then finally one evening, when Anders was closing up the clinic, he came.
Anders was up his rickety ladder, leaning over to extinguish his lamp to signal to the resident’s of Darktown that the clinic was closed for the day. He had just managed to snuff it out when a low rumbling voice came out of the shadows.
“If you fall Mage, you will break your neck. And there is no other healer around here who will fix you.”
Anders wobbled on the ladder, looking around in surprise at Fenris who had darted forward a pace when he did, and was now glaring at the floor.
“Makers balls Fenris...don’t sneak up on me like that.”
“I do not sneak.” Fenris informed him, rolling his eyes, “And don’t you feel...disrespectful saying that now?”
“You sneak. And say what?”
“Makers balls...” Fenris said, wrinkling his nose, “You have met him...must you curse about his...privates? And I do not sneak. I am a warrior, not one of those rogues.”
“I think you missed your calling...” Anders slowly climbed down the ladder, “You would have been a smashing rogue.”
The elf just lifted an amused eyebrow.
Makers...breath, Anders breath caught as he looked at the elf, just looked at him as he had been unable to do for so long. Fenris looked tired but healthy, eyes clear and bright, hair soft and gleaming in the half-light.
He was so beautiful.
Anders gut clenched and he cleared his throat, walking quickly over to the door into the clinic, opening it and awkwardly gesturing to invite his broody elf in.
Fenris shut the door behind him and hesitated, fiddling with his gauntlets.
“Mage...Anders...I have something to confess.”
“Shouldn’t you be talking to Sebastian about that?” Anders quipped, a note of jealousy creeping into his voice. He had often resented Sebastian for his easy relationship with Fenris, and the relaxed way the elf seemed to relate to the man. He had heard Sebastian invite Fenris to Starkhaven with him, offering him a home and a position.
He had wanted to set the poncy Prince’s bow on fire.
Fenris frowned at him, clearly displeased with his glibness and closed his mouth.
Anders sighed and sat down on a cot, looking apologetic, “I’m sorry Fenris...sometimes I speak without thinking. I misplaced by thought to mouth filter...please continue?”
The elf eyed him suspiciously for a long moment before he nodded slowly, “I have a confession...In the Fade...before...” he didn’t need to say what it was before, “When you took the appearance other than Hawke’s...?”
“It was you.” The elf blurted, frowning fiercely, “You were wearing your shape...”
Anders stared at him, mind reeling.
“You...gave me...my form? The body of a Mage you hated?”
Fenris snorted, “Pfaugh, I didn’t hate you. I hated your kind, your deal with that demon. I hated what you stood for...not you.”
“Why me?” Anders said, feeling rather flummoxed, “Fenris, why me?”
The elf looked away, looked to the side and Anders knew.
“I...” Fenris struggled with the words. “I...you...”
Slowly the Mage moved forward, ignoring the skittish way Fenris’ head came up, and gently lifted his hands to brush against his jaw. The green eyes fluttered closed and Anders leaned him.
The kiss was soft, just a tender nudging of their lips against one another, brushing so lightly together, before Anders gently pulled back.
“Ask me three questions...” he breathed against Fenris’ lips, feeling them curl up into a smile, “And I will answer them honestly.”
“Anders...” Fenris rolls his eyes and pulls back slightly, “Very well. Are you...healthy? After what happened with Justice?”
“Fenris...you know I am.” It was Anders turn to roll his eyes, and he did, reaching out and stroking a fingertip along the elf’s neck, “No ill effects.”
“Good. I was making sure.” Fenris scowled at him before considering, “This...between us...will...I want it to go slow. I...need time but...I want...?”
Anders leaned in, pressing a small kiss to the elf’s nose, causing him to scrunch it up with a huff.
“Important things take time...”
Fenris sighed with relief and then looked up at Anders.
“Would you kiss me again?”
Remembering that first night in the Fade Anders chuckled softly and leaned in.
“Yes,” he whispered, before his lips claimed Fenris’ once more. But this time it wasn’t a question asked, or answered.
This time...it was a promise.
And we're done with Shattered!
Thank you all so much for reading this fic and hopefully loving it as much as I've loved writing it.
THIS IS NOT THE END. I plan to write more fics in this verse, this series. Following Fenris and Anders and the building of their new relationsip, following Carver as he attempts to woo Merrill, following Cullen and Bethany...And of course following the Maker inspired revolution of Mages that has begun here.
Sebastian has to reclaim Starkhaven...The Qunari have to try to take Kirkwall!
There is so much still to see!
I'll be on the lookout for another prompt that will fit the verse. But please if you have any ideas feel free to comment and tell me!
THANKS ALL OF YOU!
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3