Ollo!

Well, for now, this little fic has come to a close. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by and either reviewed or favorited the story. If another idea hits me, I will continue or write an entirely new fic. Thanks for the support guys!

A week later, Hawke reclaimed the Amell estate, and days after that, she and her mother had completely moved into the large mansion. Anders and the others had received private invitations to join Hawke for a celebratory dinner. They were such an odd group. All had different backgrounds, histories, opinions, and really if it were not for Hawke, they would probably be at each other's throats within minutes.

Anders knocked on the large wooden door, and was pleasantly surprised to see Sandal answer the door. "Enchantment?" The young dwarf stepped aside and allowed Anders to freely walk inside. Sandal clapped and laughed after closing the door and rejoined the party.

Woof! Woof!

"What in Adraste's name…" Anders started. Before he could finish the question, he was knocked off of his feet by a solid body and the next thing he knew, he was covered in slime. "Someone help me!" he cried.

"Oh no!" Hawke said in a laugh barely grazed with concern. "No, bad boy!" she ran to Anders' aid and pulled the Mabari Hound off of him. "Sit! Good boy. Anders, I am so sorry." She reached down and helped the mage to his feet.

"You have a Mabari living with you?" he asked in bewilderment.

"Yes, well, you didn't see him last time because he was out with Gamlen. Sparrow seems to like you enough though," Hawke said with a large smile. "He really is a good boy. Just excited because there are new faces, I'm sure. Here, let's get you cleaned up."

Hawke led him upstairs and left him with a clean cloth and bowl of water. "Please, join us when you're ready. I'm happy you're here," she said before closing the door shut.

When Anders was finally clean of all the Mabari spit and slime, he made his way slowly to the main dining hall. Everyone was here, and that baffled him. How was Hawke able to bring such a diverse group of people together and get them to talk cordially to one another? She wasn't a mage, but she had a very rare and strong power over people.

"Thank you all for coming," Hawke said, raising a glass, gaining everyone's attention. "It's not every day that we are able to freely enjoy each other's company. I know," she said with a small laugh when Fenris and Merrill groaned at each other and Aveline and Isabella exchanged glares, "that some in this room are more tolerable than others, but truly, I am grateful for each and every one of you. I was reminded not too long ago that life can be taken from you without notice and you are left unable to say what's in your heart to those you care for. I just wanted all of you to understand me as I am now. So thank you." She raised her glass further then took a single sip.

"Hear, hear!" Varric cheered, raising his glass. "I think I can work that speech into a nice little story."

"An honor, Hawke," Aveline toasted.

"I suppose I can drink to that," Fenris said before gulping down the wine from his glass.

The other followed suit and proceeded to enjoy the feast laid out before them. Anders never considered Hawke to be a fine cook, but she and her mother had prepared an excellent meal. There was chicken, beef, bread, soups, fruit, desserts and wine. Merrill was busy chatting away with Hawke's mother, asking her several questions about what it was like being married to an apostate. Aveline and Fenris were comparing battle tactics while Isabella was pouting in her chair, feigning sadness that Fenris was ignoring her. Varric was listening to Bodahn tell him of the times he had spent with the Hero of Fereldan. The atmosphere was more pleasant than anticipated.

Anders felt Hawke's hand gently touch his. "Anders, there's more in the kitchen. When you return home, would you mind bringing some food to the children?" she asked. "I asked Bodahn to make extra bread."

"Does your heart know no bounds?" he asked, touched by her generosity. "I believe they would like that very much."

She smiled sweetly and returned to her chair. "Believe me when I say that I do have limitations, but I choose not to obey them to the best of my ability." She continued to take small bites out of her portion of bread, but she made every attempt to be a competent host. There were times when she had to cool down the conversations between Aveline and Isabella, but the evening went on without incident. Merrill was now completely entranced by Sparrow, so she spent most of her time petting him and telling him Dalish stories.

When the dinner concluded, Sandal and Bodahn began to pick up the empty plates and mugs. "I thought you were against the holds of servitude, Hawke," Fenris said, shaking his head.

It was easy to see that the others had taken offense to his statement, but Hawke stood and picked up her own plate. "They are not slaves, Fenris. I never ask them to do anything I am not willing to do myself. And they may leave at any time they please," she explained. There wasn't any malice in her tone, but it was clear she did aim to educate the elf in the ways of her household.

"I see," was all Fenris said in that intolerable brooding manner of his.

"It's true," Bodahn said, stacking the plates on top of each other. "Mistress Hawke has always taken care of us and she even saved my boy's life. I owe her much more than a few nights of washing dishes and cleaning tables. I'm not going to leave until I feel ready to. And besides, I quite like it here."

"I like Mistress Hawke! And Mistress Leandra!" Sandal laughed.

"And I have come to adore you, little one," Leandra smiled.

"My apologies then," Fenris said. He poured himself another drink. Anders wondered why he and Isabella didn't get along more than they did, or perhaps they did, and he just never saw it.

Aveline stood to her feet and nodded to Hawke. "Thank you for the meal, Hawke. But as you know, my duties do not allow me to enjoy evenings of relaxation."

"Of course. Be safe out there, Aveline," Hawke said.

One by one, Hawke's guests began to leave, and soon it was just her and Anders. Hawke was busy in the kitchen preparing a pack filled with food and sweets for the orphans of Darktown. Anders watched her work as she made sure that everything was safe and secure in the sack.

She saw him then, standing in the doorway, and her face just lit up like the world had suddenly turned right and she held onto no more worries. "I have something for you," she said, pulling something from her pocket. She tossed it to him and his hands closed around a small metal amulet. "This is… a Tevinter Chantry Amulet…" he said after inspecting it. The markings were foreign, but there was no denying that the design was Tevinter made. "Are you trying to have me executed?"

Hawke blinked, obviously taken back by the question. He really should learn to bite his tongue more often; he didn't mean to insult her present.

"I thought you might be able to sympathize with its meaning," Hawke said softly. Great, he felt like an ass.

"I mean, I like it," he said hurriedly. "It's just… it's not something I can wear outside my clothing. But I do appreciate the thought. You're the only one who has given me a gift with any real meaning to me."

"Well, I'm glad," she said seeming to have recovered from his ill mannered reply. "Thought you could use a nice present on the anniversary of your birth."

This time Anders was taken back. "How did…"

Hawke smiled, crossing her arms in that charming way of hers. "I've grown fond of the children in Darktown, just as they have of you. You talk them, and they talk to me. And don't think I haven't heard some gems from those cute little ruffians. It's quite adorable that they call you Mr. Ruffles behind your back."

"I think my choice of clothing is quite nice," Anders said, mimicking a pout, but the more he thought of the idea that he resembled a bird put a smile on his face. It didn't take long before he and Hawke were in a fit of laughter. "Mr. Ruffles…" he breathed. "I had no idea." When the laughter died down, there was an awkward silence between them.

"I don't understand you," he said, destroying what was left of the playful mood.

"Which part?" Hawke asked. She wasn't one to play coy when it came to serious conversation. It seemed she knew exactly what he was thinking. "Why do I bother helping those who don't even know who I am? Or the part where I try to help people become aware of the injustices that are inflicted upon mages and slaves? Oppression is oppression, Anders, and it everywhere in Kirkwall. I never knew how Bethany felt, but I tried. I told myself that if I were to ever have magic born children, they would be free."

Anders felt his stomach turn when Hawke turned away and wiped at her eyes. It was obvious that she missed her sister. "I'm sorry…"

Hawke shook her head. "She's alive and well. Orsino allows her to write to us, so I have hope. I don't think…" she trailed off, trying to find the right words. "If that happened to you, I'm not sure what I would do. It would break my heart."

"Do you mean that?" he asked in surprise.

"You aren't meant to be caged, Anders," she said, looking straight into his eyes. All he could see was truth and honesty. "Neither is Bethany. If I lost you too…"

He didn't care if he was walking into a disaster; all he wanted was to hold her. In two strides, he was next to her, wrapping his arms around her petite and slender body. His determination was only strengthened when she hugged him back. "I can't promise anything," he whispered. "The world we live in now is cruel and unforgiving to my kind, but I swear to you," he pulled away, so that he could look into her eyes. He brushed away the hair from her eyes, caressing her cheeks and moving his mouth closer to hers. "This moment we have now, you have me completely."

She kissed him back and that was all the reassurance he needed. There was no way that the darkspawn, the templars, or Justice was going to keep him away from her. Tonight was theirs. Tonight, he would show her how much she meant to him. Tonight, he was free to be a man who yearned for a woman that he adored and loved. To feel such freedom was the greatest gift she could have ever given him.