Varania seemed far away as she chanted the foreign words of a spell over and over again. He recognized it as Tevinter, but it must have been a very old dialect or included jargon that he was unfamiliar with. The drone of her voice was the only sound in the room save for his own harried breathing. Varania was leaning against Hawke as she chanted. He was laying on the rug in front of the two of them. Hawke ran her fingers through his hair, he recognized that she was trying to do her part to keep him still. Varania had instructed him to relax, but he was fidgeting with his armor and couldn't seem to keep his eyes closed. He tried to lose himself in Hawke's gentle touch, but the spell was burrowing with a fierce ache into the base of his skull.
He opened his eyes and turned his head to where the rain continued to pound Senecus's garden and water streamed in through the broken window. Isabela sat cross-legged on a cherry wood armchair and Varric was trying to busy himself, buffing his crossbow vigorously, pretending not to watch. Varania's chant had grown increasingly intense and he felt his sister's hands on his temples, turning his head so he would face the ceiling.
He closed his eyes again, trying to think louder than the scalding heat in his head. He knew he had been a slave which meant he'd probably had a hard life. He wasn't sure he wanted to remember all of it. Maybe he would be better off beginning his life again from this day. That would mean no more magic. No more vile spells to twist his mind and burn his flesh. He had had enough of that for a lifetime.
Hawke squeezed his hand then, as if able to sense his thoughts. He needed to do this.
He had taken great care to remind himself of this, so he conceded to trust her now.
Just then, a piercing blade seemed to rip at the back of his head straight through to his forehead. He tried to sit up, but found he could not move, could not scream. A burning red light enveloped his vision and he wasn't sure if his eyes were opened or closed. It didn't seem to matter, the scalding heat was so intense it dulled everything else. It consumed him whole, working its way down to his limbs.
He saw him then. Danarius smiled at him as he slunk to the corner where a servant girl cowered next to her dropped tray of food. She had been worthless, Danarius said. She had tried to blame the other servants for her ineptitude before, but now she had no one else to blame. Danarius delighted as he always did, in watching Fenris carry out the punishment. Her eyes were wet with tears as he twisted the girl's heart in his hand.
Now he could smell the sewage and sweat of Lowtown. Slavers. He struck down one of them viciously as he caught sight of a group of men, hired swords he'd bought to help take care of his pursuers. But they didn't all have swords and they weren't all men. She stepped up the stairs brazenly to meet him despite the show he had put on with his lyrium markings. Her eyes shone with a keen curiosity as he introduced himself. What a strange woman. The others in her group looked to her as she made the decision to help him. She made a joke and looked him up and down once more before they headed off to Danarius's estate. Her gaze was far too intense for his liking. He hoped she didn't notice the rush of heat to his face. He turned away just in time to hide the traitorous smirk that threatened to unfold on his lips.
The sheets were silky, cool when he rolled over to the other side of the bed. She followed him, not letting any space come between their bodies. Hawke was on top of him then, covering him with an exploration of kisses. Her warm breath settled into the crook of his neck, sending a shiver through him, as she rocked her body against his own heat. He didn't know how much more he could take. This woman was going to be the death of him. She sighed into his ear and he found her then.
Finally she was there. Just in front of him, sitting at the table alone. He remembered. They had played together while mother worked. He remembered her green eyes and fiery red hair. Varania. He started to smile, but Hawke caught his arm. Warning him. Then he saw them marching from the back of the Hanged Man. It was Danarius and several guards. He looked back at his sister then, she sputtered some ridiculous excuse of an apology. He was a fool to trust her. It was his own fault. He exchanged poisonous words with his former master, unsheathed his sword, and charged headlong into the fray.
Then he was falling. No, he was flying. His arms and legs were all pins and needles as the fire receded back to the point at the back of his head. He heard someone screaming. Hawke.
"Stop! Stop! It's killing him!"
There was no way in the Maker's creation she was going to allow this spell to kill him. Not after everything they had been through. His pulse was racing and his breath had grown more shallow and frequent. Now it was coming in tiny gasps, ragged and wheezy. It was too much all at once and Hawke desperately tried to block some of the pain for him. She wished she had paid closer attention to Anders's lessons in healing. Maker damn her for her love of force magic. Nevertheless, she kneeled over him, trying her best to shield him from the residual pain of the spell.
Now that Varania had stopped, all they could do was wait. They didn't have much time, though. She had already seen one servant wheel around in horror at the sight of dead bodies, blood, and broken glass. Hawke knew it was only a matter of time before the whole of the household staff was alerted and the city guard was called to investigate. She planned to be gone by then, one way or another.
She was just about to call out to Isabela and Varric to help her drag Fenris in the direction of the ship when she felt a squeeze around her hand. Fenris scrunched his eyes hard in pain once before opening them. He looked at her and managed a weak smile, attempting to raise his head.
"Where is our abomination of a healer when we need him?" Fenris rasped, massaging the side of his head.
Hawke nearly threw herself at him then, holding his cheeks in her hands and kissing him greedily. This time he responded more than warmly. In fact, she was the one to draw back first, feeling everyone's eyes on them.
"Well, I take it that worked then?" Varric said with a smirk.
Fenris only glanced briefly in his direction before allowing her to help him to his feet.
"Let's get out of here," Hawke pressed. "The west entrance was easily accessible and I saw no one on the way in. Can you walk?"
Fenris nodded, slowly rising to his feet. He stubbornly began walking on his own, before she noticed his balance was not his own just yet. She supported some of his weight as they slowly made their way across the great hall. Fenris seemed to find his strength and he leaned on her less and less as they neared the door.
Hawke let out a reflexive sigh as they stepped over the threshold of the villa toward the open garden. They crossed the sprawling lawn and made their way toward the dock. The rain had abated to a light mist. It shone in the moonlight off each blade of grass. Hawke marveled at its beauty instead of how the water sloshed into her ripped boots with each step. The leaves of the towering oaks lining the property rustled loudly in the coastal breeze, masking their noisy footfalls. Fenris was still holding one hand to the back of his head, and walking more slowly than was typical for him, as the two of them fell behind the others.
When they were far enough away from the estate and her heart started to beat normally again, Hawke put a hand on Fenris's arm, "Are you alright?"
Fenris stopped her, holding her shoulders tightly. "I have never felt better."
Without a word, Hawke showed him that she felt the same way. The mist fell around them as they embraced. She could have said a thousand things to him, then, but she could not settle on just one. So she remained silent until her lips revealed to him what her words could not. They held each other close as they slogged the rest of the muddy way back to the Siren's Call.
"No!" Varric sighed. "Not yet, you only lay down once everyone else has finished wagering."
"Yes, you're right... of course." Varania shook her head and picked up her hand again. "I fear I will never get all of these rules straight."
"You couldn't be worse than Anders when he first started out," Isabela said.
Varric laughed and looked at Isabela. "Remember when he thought he had us both beat? He even bet the boots off his feet!"
"I almost felt bad for the poor guy. Imagine walking through Darktown barefoot," Isabela said, making a face.
The three of them laughed heartily as Fenris rose to see where Hawke had gone. He had played with them for the first four days at sea, but was becoming increasingly frustrated by the rules. It was as though he was starting to become confused by them. During their last hand yesterday, he had forgotten which was the high card, causing him an embarrassing loss to his sister. She was but a novice at the game and had managed to beat him several times yesterday. He had opted to just watch the game this afternoon to avoid the humiliation.
They were expected to make port in Kirkwall that evening. Hawke had been very anxious to get back. She talked of Anders and some things he had said before she left. She was worried about what he had planned. She talked of Orsino and Merideth and she talked of the Circle. She was concerned with what was to come for the city and was eager to be back. He knew she was probably standing on the bow, watching the water.
Or maybe he would find her still reading a spellbook as she had been this morning. He thought back to their first reading lesson. What had they been reading? He had just thought about it the other night as he laid with Hawke in his arms. He had remembered the name of the book. He had even recalled what robe she had worn during the lesson. Now he remembered neither. He tightened his face in concentration, willing the name of the book back into his memory.
When he reached the top step onto the deck, he was startled by a hand on his shoulder.
"What is it?" Hawke asked, staring into his eyes.
"Nothing. I just grew tired of Wicked Grace."
She shook her head. "What's with the scowl? Did you lose to your sister again?"
He just snickered and walked with her to the bow. He did not want to trouble her just yet about his memory. She had done enough for him, and he was able to remember most things with ease. It was just every once in a while...
"Fenris, I have something of yours," Hawke said, stopping near a coil of rope at the bow.
High cliffs were visible far in the distance off the starboard side of the ship. The sea had been calm for the last two days. The ship hardly swayed as they made their return voyage. Fenris had enjoyed this time with Hawke, although he longed to have another mission. He longed to fight by her side again. For now, it had been enough to bask in the sunlight on deck, talking and touching and exploring each other.
Hawke's eyes bored into his. "Once I gave this to you and you grew distant, not wanting to hurt me. Not thinking you were worthy," her sad pout transformed into a playful squint. "If you draw away from me again, I swear to the Maker, Fenris, I will ship you off to the first crazed Magister I can find."
She pulled out a red sash from the inner pocket of her robes. He did remember it. Looking at it again brought a rush of feelings and he swallowed to keep them from surfacing all at once. She took his right arm and tied it around his gauntleted wrist, tenderly. She was the only person who had ever taken as much care with him. He vowed then, a silent vow to himself, to the Maker, to the vast field of waves that spread out before them, to never hurt her again.
"Marian, you know I would do anything for you," he drew close to her, assuring that there would be no mistaking the meaning behind his words. "I am yours."
She gave him a sly half-smile. "I love you, too, Fenris."
*And that is the end of Part I. When I wrote it, I had the intention of creating a sequel. However, I'm realizing that I may not ever get around to it. With the new game coming out in October, I may just find new inspiration with those characters! I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you all so much for the reviews, it really means a lot!*