Break of Dawn
A Dragon Age 2 fanfic
A/N: This takes place almost immediately after the events in Beyond the Ice and Fire. While this piece doesn't really have a particular piece of music attached to it, it doesn't hurt to have Fenris' Theme playing from the DA2 official soundtrack.
The obligatory disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters (Bioware does, and Fenris is no one's slave, anyway), although I'm afraid I'm responsible for Hawke's manners.
And finally—thanks for the reading and the support, everyone!
It was barely dawn, but I just couldn't sleep. I don't sleep all too well lately, anyway, but…that's not the point. Point was, I was finally exactly at the place I was supposed to be, after all those stupid years, and still I couldn't sleep.
I suppose there was some irony in that, but consider this: when you sleep alone for as long as I have, not counting the occasional tumble in the hay back in Lothering when I was young, foolish and really wanting to escape parental authority, and from which I've always sneaked back to the house before breakfast (otherwise either Mother or Father would've probably raised demons to send after the offending male in question, and it would've been absolutely a waste…he was really sweet, genuinely cared for me, and didn't get me pregnant)... Anyway, I digress, as usual. What I was going to say was that when you slept alone as long as I have (most of my adult life, that is; when you are just barely scraping by, as we did back in Lothering, there's no separate bed for kids), finding just the right spot with another body next to you can be a bit difficult. Especially so when said other body has… touching issues. Even in his sleep. Let me just tell you, I never thought I'd be this patient with anyone; but what can I say? Sometimes even I surprise myself.
I padded through the bedroom to grab some clothes, fervently hoping that at least my shirt was…wearable. We got a bit carried away getting out of them last night. The long-ago builders of the mansion decided that this particular bedroom deserved fancy parquet floor with inlays made with different exotic woods from Fade knows where in Thedas—once upon a time it must have been gorgeous but by now it really could have used about three new coats of sealing resins after a good sanding, from the way it looked.
Yes, I know a bit about woodworking. Hey, contrary to what some of the rumors around Kirkwall say (and oh my, there are rumors up to and including that I'm the other bastard child of King Maric, may he rest in peace…), I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, no matter where Mother came from. I helped Father with some building projects around our village, including the new flooring of the Chantry refectory. Now that irony (with its inherent dangers) wasn't wasted on any of us in the family, but the sisters paid too well and Carver by then ate about as much as the rest of us together, although I was right there behind him. I think Mother breathed a sigh of relief when we finally left for the army and she only had Bethany to boss around—that girl ate like a bird. I hear from her letters that changed since she joined the Wardens, though. I hope she put on some weight. Maker, I miss her.
My shirt was completely and utterly ruined; I think I saw—and stepped on- at least four buttons all over the floor, and the front … I just dropped it back on the pile. Well, we had a lot to make up for. I found that I was much more careful with his clothing, although the belt was fully trashed.
I always hated buckles with a passion.
"In a hurry, Hawke?" The memory of his low chuckle along my collarbone sent all kinds of tingles across my body even now.
"Shut up, you." The only appropriate response I was able to give, given how busy I was. "We have years to make up for and this belt shall not stand in my way…"
"So: it will open because you want it to?" This didn't make it easy on me, really. The things he did with his teeth while I tried to work…
"Yup, that's me. Determined." I managed to grind out.
"Hawke? Shut up."
A-anyway… I took a deep breath and continued my investigation. His shirt's neckline had a long rip in it, but the vest was just fine. It hit me about mid-thigh and I smiled as I closed the last toggle at my throat. My mama taught me right, after all. A lady always wears clothes.
Ever Serah Hawke, after a night of unbridled passion. Pity there are no medals for that… the Chantry sisters used to give out those for good behavior in day school. I grinned as I imagined the face of Sister Rosamund seeing me now. Andraste's britches, I had bruises in places I never thought you can get bruised, and believe me, I'm a world expert on those. I just normally get them doing much less enjoyable things. Mmm.
Curiosity drove me to continue tiptoeing around, I suppose. In the past years, although I came here often, it was usually with others…for obvious reasons we carefully avoided being alone for long periods of time. Well, Fenris did, and I followed suit, on account of not wanting to hurt him. Funny, that: for all that I was cutting a bloody swath through Kirkwall history and not being shy about my opinions, I danced around that particular issue with as much aversion and tact as a born Hightown diplomat. Another medal I'll never live to see, I reckon.
Whenever I came here, we usually stayed in that large room just above the stairs with its scuffed oak table, overstuffed armchairs and remnants of last glory reflected in tattered rugs and tapestries. We always ignored the bloodstains (even Aveline) and I knew Orana insisted on coming over once a week to take out at least the empty bottles that piled up in the corners.
That caused some interesting arguments, too, I recalled, as my steps took me towards the open door. Oh, sweet Maker, but we had a row over that one!
"Are you out of your mind?" he snarled at me, hands balled into fists. Orana was in a corner, trembling, and I could already see the blue marks of a bruise starting on her wrist where he gripped her to probably drag her all the way from his place to mine. "You sending her to me? A slave?"
"Fuck you." I said with as much force as I could: it really, really made me mad that he hurt Orana. He took a little step back, slightly shocked; not that I've never used profanity, but never with him. At least his tattoos stopped glowing. "Orana asked if she could help you with cleaning that pigsty of a house, when she overheard me and Aveline talk about it the other day after visiting you." I stepped closer, balancing on the balls of my feet and watching his eyes: he wasn't quite out of the danger zone yet. "You know, after all your talk about how you despise slavery, it's really encouraging to see how you abuse someone who's finally free and working to earn a living. A shining example there, Fenris. Hence: fuck you. If you have a problem with me, be a man and talk to my face; we can get some swords and beat the shit out of each other in the courtyard like before." I turned to Orana. "Honey, if you want, there's some salve in the small chest next to my bed in my room. Help yourself, please… and just come back later after your lunchtime; we'll talk about the cleaning arrangements, including the compensation part." I emphasized the last words and I was proud that I managed to use the correct phrasing there. "That means either me or Fenris here will pay you, of course, for the extra work."
I was really pissed then. It was a bad week anyway, what with Varric's off-the-rockers brother, Bertram dredging up all kinds of unwanted memories by doing the courtesy of showing up after all these years and Varric pestering me to pay a visit. Not that I needed a lot of pestering: the man leaving us locked in a Deep Roads crypt while skipping away, coddling that red-glowing butt-ugly idol… let's just say I was seriously entertaining the idea of unleashing some righteous wrath right there.
"So, tell me." I turned back at Fenris as soon as Orana cleared the room. "What got into your britches so bad that you had to take it out on her?" I took a deep breath and felt that, yet again, my mouth was getting away from me with the speed of an attacking dragon. "That's very unbecoming, you know. When you frown in anger, your forehead gets all wrinkly and it might lead to premature…"
"Hawke." From the very first time we've met, I felt the same way when he said my name: that little squeeze in my chest, that reverberation all the way down to my toes. Well, my last name, anyway. No one called me by my first since Mother…. Best not to dwell on that, now. "This is hardly about my forehead wrinkles now, is it?" He inclined his head a bit, slight confusion in his green eyes. "I do apologize; I misunderstood the intentions of the…gesture."
"Maker, Fenris." I said, not quite believing, and, truth to tell, slightly pleased by how fast he came around to apologize. "You're really daft. If I wanted to get you laid, I'd either send you to the Rose, prepaid, or just ask Isabela. She can't stop talking about your tattoos, anyway."
And that resulted in even more shouting. I really, really know when to stick it in my mouth… At the end we actually went out back to promptly and thoroughly beat the shit out of each other, and after that, we finished the evening at the Hanged Man with Varris and Donnic, trying to teach me Diamondback (even though I told them not a chance, if during my year as a mercenary those guys couldn't make me grasp it, now it won't fly either)—so all was well. But even so, with all of that, the closest the two of us got to touching each other was at the end of those practice swords in the courtyard—by then I figured that his aversion of touching anyone was so deep that he didn't even do close-quarter combat. Varric always joked that's why he had that two-handed sword, to keep everyone way out there.
Well, we certainly made up for that last night… I rubbed on my neck gingerly, then stopped dead on my tracks in front of the large, half-faded mirror that hung on the wall and wondered if I had anything high-necked enough to cover that. Nah, I'll just rub some healing potion over it, I decided and considered to place a larger order with my regular supplier in the Gallows. What with all the work I did as a Champion, some more conventional injuries wouldn't even raise an eyebrow, but this was a bite, dammit.
There was a bunch of junk on the table against the wall directly under that mirror. I got so used to seeing all kinds of moth-eaten, dust-covered, broken stuff in various places in this mansion, that at first I didn't even notice, but something just caught my eye. Loose coins, half of a glove, a silver goblet with dried-in wine, a cracked leather vambrace and some leather straps and glue in a pot as an obvious half-hearted attempt to fix it, an empty potion bottle or two, almost obligatory in our trade, a bunch of boxes, assorted size, charcoal sticks…
Huh? What was that? My eyes kept returning to those, my fingers fiddling with them: one or two broken in half, bearing obvious signs of being used for…
I mentioned that Father was in the building trade in Lothering: there wasn't really a market for apostate mages even in Ferelden, and he had an affinity to wood and stone and creating things with his hands. It was only natural. He used sticks like those to draw up sketches, plans, whatnots—we had them around the house all the time. I remember learning my letters from him, drawing on one of his ever-present foolscaps with my clumsy fingers, repeating the rote while doing so: "A is for Andraste, Blessed be her name…"
There were no foolscaps here, but the largest of the boxes was large, rectangular, and there was something sticking out from under the lid: thick and expensive-looking paper, something that cost a silver for a half-dozen sheets. Bodahn kept buying those for my correspondence and then griping about the expense—mighty inconsistent, if you ask me, but then again, he never did.
Mother always told me I was too curious for my own good. At that point I think she was referring to that….dalliance with someone much older than I, but she basically was right. Before my conscious mind could have screamed at me for invading someone's privacy this way (even though, by the Maker, we invaded each other's privacy in all kinds of lovely ways last night and hence, technically, I had some justification here), my hands were already moving, and the box clicked open with barely a crack. It was obviously well-used, and often.
I knew he couldn't read or write… that's one of the ways the magisters of Tevinter control their slaves. I hoped to rectify that, and still felt a vague sense of shame that I didn't do it earlier even though I gifted him a book years ago and even read to him from it on occasion. But we were both so… stubborn and thick-necked is the term for it, I suppose, that he never asked again and I never offered. Not after he left me the way he did. But I never knew that he had the gift of this…
The box was full of sketches done in charcoal, on those beautiful, thickly luxurious sheets of paper. There were full figures and portraits alike; some barely more than a few lines, others are detailed down to almost life-like… but all of them of the same person.
My hands started shaking as they sorted through them, feeling like I was in a dream. They obviously were done over a period of time—on the first ones, the paper got yellow already and the charcoal faded a bit. But it was me, recognizably me, on each and every one. Leaning on my sword the way I always do after a fight, hair sticking all up from sweat and blood, a smear of blood across the bridge of my nose as I tried to wipe the stuff off; grinning like an idiot like I always do before I say something I shouldn't have; elbow on the table, chin in hand, brows furrowed in concentration, probably trying to understand Diamondback after a night at the Hanged Man; mouth open in a full laugh, no doubt, after one of Varric's jokes, head thrown back; a full-figure sketch as I was trying to shoot an arrow (the one and only attempt Sebastian ever made to teach me), tongue sticking out, eyes all scrunched up; a portrait where my hair almost completely covered my face and the way the shadows fell only some reflection in my eyes and the line of chin and neck showed; standing there in that shiny new Champion armor the way I looked at the official ceremony just after the dust settled on the Qunari problem (the polite way of referring to how I hacked the Arishok's head off after he chased me all over the throne room at the palace)… Maker, there were several dozen of them, judging by the age of the paper and the faces I wore on them, done during years and years… and they all told me one thing…
I closed the lid very, very carefully and quietly, after making sure all the sketches were back in place. The light of dawn was coming through the windows, despite the dusty silk curtains, although in this corner of Hightown there was barely any traffic, so there was no other noise except some birds singing in the overgrown inner garden. I waited until my hands stopped shaking and the tears subsided enough that I could finish wiping my face off with a corner of my ruined shirt… then I discarded the vest to the pile of the rest of the clothes, climbed back onto the huge four-poster and wiggled under the tangled sheets as careful as I could.
Sleep was finally closing in on me—good sleep, for the first time in a very long while. But it didn't really claim me fully until I made sure I was wrapped thoroughly and securely around Fenris' sleeping form under those sheets, entwining my fingers with his.
Now I could rest.
I was finally home.