Fenris stood at the edge of their make-shift camp in the Deep Roads, watching Marian Hawke attempt to bandage her hands. The rogue's success thus far had been... limited. Two things kept him from offering his aid: Firstly, he had learned that Marian Hawke would ask for help when she needed it, and not one moment earlier. He'd mistaken it for stubborn pride when they had first started traveling together, a child-like petulance. The truth, he had learned, was that Marian simply knew her limits very well and was absolutely unwilling to burden anyone else with something she could do on her own. Secondly, his own guilt at having caused her wounds. He knew the woman bore him no ill will as a result, but the guilt remained, along with the memories.
He could hear Hawke yelling for him to get out of the way as the stone demon prepared for another counter-attack. The demon had caught him mid-swing, however, and his momentum had other plans. He tried to turn into the pulses of dark magic, hoping he could maintain his footing long enough to get to shelter. After a few seconds of the onslaught, he knew it had been a foolish hope. The next wave knocked him prone; the one that followed made him well aware of exactly how much pain he could endure. He began to think bitterly that this was not the end he had planned when his thoughts were interrupted by a cooling sensation on his right arm. He instinctively fought against the touch, but the grip only tightened and began to drag him... behind one of the pillars nearby.
Marian had rescued him. Damn fool woman had run out into the storm and pulled him to safety while the lyrium still burned in his skin.
A string of curses, blood slicked hands, Anders' accusing glare as he inspected Hawke's wounds. Loathing again for these cursed marks on his body.
Hawke had insisted that she be allowed to dress the wounds. "If I'm still in shit-shape after a rest, Anders, then you can heal me. Until then, bugger off. You need to recover and we'll need your skills sooner rather than later I'm sure." There had been a pause then, and a hardness in her face as Anders had opened his mouth to respond. Fenris was certain that the next words from the mage would be a barb directed at the ex-slave. Marian had simply said "Don't." To Fenris' surprise, that was the end of it.
Except that she was still sitting on that rock, thirty paces away, struggling to wrap her hands. He was about to offer his aid when Hawke's head popped up and she favored him with one of her easy smiles.
"Ho there, elf! Care to help a clumsy fool with these bandages?"
He closed the distance between them easily and, after untangling the strips of linen, began to wrap the rogue's salve-covered hands.
"You're pretty good at this bandaging business." Fenris could hear the grin in her voice. How she could always be so light-hearted was beyond him.
"I am. It is a necessity when you travel alone. But you, my lady, are not clumsy." He braved a glance to catch her expression. She was smiling at him again, with that look in her eye. And there it was again, that strange tightness in his chest. He dropped his gaze, and finished wrapping her hands in silence. Once he had tied the last knot, Marian responded.
"I can't help but notice you didn't contradict me on the 'fool' part."
Fenris sighed and leaned against the rock, turning his gaze out to the dwarven ruins surrounding them. "It was foolish. Not that I'm ungrateful, but you should have left me as I was."
"And what good would that have been?" she countered, a slight edge to her voice. He could feel her eyes on him, daring him to turn and look her in the eye. "Leave you there? To die? To force you to endure another healing by Anders?" She paused, and her voice softened. "The damage would have been far worse… to both of us, had I left you."
The elf blinked in surprise at her words. "I'm not exactly a person of great worth, Hawke. The world won't miss one ex-slave." Out of the corner of his eye he saw her shimmy off her former perch, avoiding the use of her freshly bandaged hands. She stood next to him then, carefully maintaining the distance she knew he was comfortable with. What he could see of her expression was almost... pensive. She was still looking at him and he fought the urge to move under the weight of her gaze.
"Well... maybe it's not about the world."
Fenris turned to face her then, his brow furrowed with confusion. There was something warm and unrecognizable in her blue eyes, but before he could ask, she was back to being jocular.
"Besides," she said, with a lopsided grin "you've got too many people left to murder."