AN: So yeah, end game spoilers for dragon age 2... yada yada.. This nugget got in my head and I had to write it out. This may prove to be a prologue to a longer fic in the future.
Hestia's knuckles whitened as she squeezed the bottle of wine in her hands. It had been a gift from Fenris, one she had been saving for a special occasion. As she peered outside the upper landing window of her estate and down to the street below, she supposed this counted as one such special moment.
Everywhere there were signs of the recent battle. Scorch marks scarred the exterior of buildings. Lush greenery that sprinkled the exterior courtyards of Hightown was no more. And then there were the bodies. All around the city, the corpses of innocents, of mages, of templars could be found. There was some irony in that, the way the bodies were heaped one atop the other. In life, there had been such separation, such hatred and disparity. In death, they were one in the same; more embers for a funeral pyre.
Kirkwall was a city mired within a history of blood. Slavery. The social conflict of refuge versus natives during the Blight. The Qunari. From each conflict, the city of chains recovered and rebuilt. But this? Only time would tell.
She shook her head. To forget, to find a way to shirk away the burden of memory, would drink bring such release? The sweet taste of the wine filled her mouth, a salve for a wound she knew would never heal no matter how much she wished it so. That would not stop her from trying, however. If getting drunk brought her even a few moments of respite from her thoughts, she'd count it a small victory.
Hestia's gaze avoided looking in the direction of the chantry or what was left of it. So many mornings she had looked outside this window, the spires of the Chantry taken for granted, merely part of the background, always present, expected. She could not shake the shock. But in way, she did not want to. The guilt that suffocated her, the tendrils of knowledge that constricted her throat making it impossible to breathe were deserved.
She should have known.
She should have seen.
The signs had been there. She could recognize it now. But at the time, she'd been blind. He'd told her boom, just like that Justice and he would be free. She'd thought nothing more than just talk at the time, a play on words. She had the play part right, at least.
Anders had been her friend, or so she assumed. She swallowed down what he faked. She helped him with his cause. She defended him even against her better judgment, even against Fenris. Friends did not use one another as Anders used her. Friends did not betray one another as he did her. Friends did not…
Ending his life had been an easy decision and she wondered who was the worse monster, him or her. They both were murderers, spilling blood upon stone on this day. The victims of Anders' malfeasance were a blur, a collage of unknown names and unfamiliar faces. Hestia could not say the same. Each time she closed her eyes, she saw Anders slumped against a fallen piece of masonry. Each time she closed her eyes, she saw her dagger slide into his back and the man she called friend die. A seemingly impossible darkness knotted her gut, twisting her sense of right and wrong, of justice and injustice. There had been no choice and that was why it had been such an easy choice to make.
She felt his presence long before he spoke. Fenris. "Hawke."
She turned to face him, her backside pressed against the ledge of the window behind her. Brilliant green eyes captured hers in stare. With a simple look, Fenris had a way of disarming her, bringing a level of vulnerability to the surface she tried to shield behind a crackled façade of uncaring. He understood her just as she understood him.
They'd come together as the most unlikely of pairings, a relationship forged within disagreement and anger. Her decisions would not have been his, at least most of the time. And he never failed to tell her so either in words or with a crinkled look of displeasure.
He had never cared for Anders. The two butted heads more times than Hestia could count. In the end, Fenris' warnings about the mage had proven well-founded. He would never gloat, never force her to acknowledge the wrongness of her actions, however. The obvious did not need to be thrust in her face.
She tapped the bottle of wine against her thigh. "The wine you gave me." Dark humor touched the curve of her mouth, a hint of self-deprecation coloring her tone, "I am…brooding."
"I see that." Steps were taken toward her. The heat of his body pressed down as he leaned in just enough to free the bottle from her grasp. Posture straightened, the wine brought to his mouth. His hand swiped against his chin and lips, a dry line of a grin left in their wake. "I thought I was the one that brooded?"
Hestia snorted in wry protest, her head shaking lightly. "But Fenris, you do not brood."
He seemed to consider her for a moment before the slightest of smirks cornered one side of his mouth. "Mmm, yes." The space between them narrowed, a hand rising to cup the side of her face. His thumb brushed against the line of her cheek. "Do you wish me to say something? I know he was your friend."
When her mother died, she had begged him to say something, say anything. Comfort, peace of mind, she wanted to feel better, to understand, to rid herself of the guilt that everything that happened was her fault. Words had fallen short then. She knew they would again. Fenris could not provide her forgiveness where there was none to give.
Dark eyes swam within green. "Was." Friendship based on a lie was not friendship at all, though. Anders claimed to lied to protect her, to keep from involving her. Strange how she became involved nonetheless and that it was she that remained to clean up the mess her friend created. Yes, Anders was her friend.
A slow breath was exhaled. "What I want, Fenris." Nimble fingers coiled about his hips, pressing into cloth, into flesh. "I want you to shut up." A challenge fueled her words, one she knew he would remember, that he would understand. She didn't need him to tell her it was ok. She didn't need him to lie to her. She simply needed him.
The bottle fell to the ground, wine spilling upon the carpet at their feet as both of Fenris' hands took Hestia's face within their grasp, pulling her toward his in a fevered kiss. Something started between them so many years in the past, something that never truly had been able to mature beneath the weight of all the conflict.
Promises made upon a field of battle were to be fulfilled.
She had lived.
He had survived.
And for now, that was more than enough.