Walk With You
A Dragon Age 2 fanfic
A/N: This takes place almost immediately after the events in Break of Dawn, and completes that arc.
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 as usual—thanks for the reading and the support, everyone!
All the days of my life I will walk with you
All the days of my life I will talk with you
All the days of my life I will share with you
All the days of my life I will bear with you
-Sting, Dead Man's Rope
"Say, you have any food in this place?" A sharp elbow digs into his ribcage before he could twist away, and as he opens his eyes, squinting slightly against the morning light, he finds himself in the scrutiny of her intense azure gaze.
"Hmm?" That's about all he can say at the moment, given the state of rather pleasant exhaustion he's in; but she doesn't give up. She never does.
"Hey." There's that sharp elbow again. "None of that. Do you keep any food here, or it's just cobwebs and old bloodstains?"
"You forget the despicable furniture and the broken bottles." He cautiously opens one eye and peeks at her from under his hair. "So you're a morning person. I should have known."
"While you're clearly not." She sits up, sheets falling around her hips as she pulls her knees up to her chin, and he can't help but feel yet another stirring of desire as she flashes that crooked grin of hers at him.
"Not by choice, no." The thoughts that rise have nothing to do with her now, and his voice is halting. "You get up when your master commands and you… go to bed when he orders you, too." He shrugs. "Since I've escaped, sleeping in is … an unexpected luxury I tend to cherish."
"Yet another thing I didn't know about you." She murmurs fondly. "Guess I'll be the one making breakfast every morning, then, huh?"
Every morning… He weighs that sentence with all of its implications, turning it around in his mind like a fragile piece of delicately etched glass that would shatter by a mere touch.
"Or… we could toss a coin?" he offers at last, after a bit of a pause, and his heartbeat quickens seeing the understanding in her eyes.
"I thought we decided coins were stupid." She extends an arm; warm fingers smooth his hair out of his face in a gesture he already learned to cherish. "And you still didn't answer my question."
Almost instantly, his body responds, flaring up with the intense fire of want by her touch, and his mouth twitches into a wolfish grin.
"Well, I could make some suggestions… but you'd probably hit me." She's probably stronger, but he's faster; and she doesn't even try to resist. She just keeps grinning at him as he pins her underneath, and lifts her chin defiantly as if in challenge.
"Oh, so I am food now?" She winks, then slaps his hand down. "Nope, no getting to the dessert first, ser…have you learned nothing these years in this fine city?"
"Not enough." He whispers as he lowers his mouth to trace a path down her throat. "Not enough."
This is different, so much different from their first time, back at her mansion three years ago, from the frantic need with which they tore at each other to finally resolve the tension that was always there between them… That was three years ago, though, and that was a long time to learn things. They had good times and bad together since then, talked, gambled, got drunk, laughed and shouted, fought side by side and literally back to back innumerable times…All the while learning about each other, growing closer despite everything, but, at the same time, staying apart, studiously avoiding discussion of the reasons that pushed them that way, that made him flee her room even before morning, that made her look at him for years with that stubborn set of her jaw that he always knew meant she never had quite given up on him, and which finally made him relent.
This is different even from last night; it's slow, and sweet and all the more intense somehow, the way she whispers his name, as she shifts her hips just so to accept him, the way her hand touches his lyrium-etched skin almost reverently, as if she's afraid she'd trigger some reaction that would break the spell… the way he re-learns the curves of her body, one kiss at a time, the way he holds himself above her, watching the shadows thrown by the morning light shift on her face and the way her sweat tastes when he finally buries himself in her with a final great shudder, resting his forehead on her breast.
A good while later, she stirs, her fingers lazily tracing circles on his ribcage. Her voice is tentative; almost, he thinks, as if she doesn't want to believe what's happening.
"I'm…you know, I'm not sure I want to get out of this bed. At all. Ever." She pauses. "Does that sound horrible? It probably does, like one of those lines from Isabela's silly 'friend fiction' things." Another pause. "I am babbling again, right?"
"I don't mind." He threads his fingers through her dark hair and pulls her even closer, reveling, at last, in the feel of skin against skin. "It helps. You help. To…forget."
"The memories?" she asks, intense eyes fixing on him again. "I'm sorry, Fenris. I can't… even pretend that I know what you're… that I even remotely understand what had happened and is happening to you. I've tried for years, and finally realized that I probably never will. But… if there's anything I can do to help, I'm… well, I'm here." Her kiss is feather-light this time. "And hoping to stay for a while."
"That's…good." He closes his eyes for a second and exhales: his chest feels lighter and all of a sudden those memories don't seem so dark any more. Not with the path that's opening up before him. "Here… I need to show you something."
He twists and is off the bed in one movement. He can feel her eyes on him as he walks to the side table under the great mirror that still hangs on the wall, but doesn't allow himself to be distracted. Not now, when he finally decided. He grabs the box with the silver hinges, the one he always keeps there, and brings it back to the bed.
"I love the view from here, by the way." she says lightly, and then her eyes grow wide as he turns the box upside down and all the drawings scatter on the bed.
"I made these." He says simply and watches her sorting through the sheets, moving slowly as if in a dream. "Never thought I'd ever show them to you. " He swallows thickly. "Every time it was too much, every time I thought I can't take it any more…I looked up, and you were there. Always." He makes a hapless little gesture towards the drawings. "After a while, I could even see you behind my closed eyes. Your face. Your hair. Your smile. The way you stick out your tongue when you concentrate. The lines of your body as you sit by the fire, listening to Varric's stupid jokes." He swallows. "I really was a fool to let you go like that. I didn't realize that even if I did that, you'd still remain…here." He touches his own chest, right above his heart. "I never had much good in my life; but during the years I've spent here, during the times I was with you, I felt almost whole. I hope it's not too late."
She looks up, this strong, strange woman who only once has ever shown weakness that he remembers… and he reels back a bit seeing the tears that tremble on her eyelashes.
"Idiot." She whispers fiercely. "You…Just. Idiot." She blushes suddenly, much, much deeper than Fenris ever thought it possible. "I… um, I have a confession to make." She takes a deep breath and rushes along with that determined expression on her face that usually is followed by bloodshed and the ruin of many. "I couldn't sleep worth crap, so I…well, I was always cursed with curiosity and I'm famous for sticking my nose in things I really shouldn't, and apparently I've done it again, so…I've seen these. While you were sleeping, I mean. Really liked them, too. Really, really. You really should draw more than just little old me, though. I reckon people here in Hightown would line up to have their likenesses done."
"Oh." Suddenly, he feels his legs are trembling; the world tilts sideways and refocuses again on tousled dark hair and smooth shoulders. "That's… good, I suppose."
She snorts and shakes her head, scooting over so she can lean against him as he sits down heavily on the bed.
"Yep." She says quietly. "Might even be making a decent living of it. If you want."
"What, from drawing?" A little laugh escapes his lips, disbelieving. "I was allowed to do it because it amused Danarius that his slave dabbled into something more than killing, and it fascinated him professionally that although I lost my memories, I retained the talent. It verified some theories he had, and allowed him to parade me around even more as a curiosity. But… turning it into a… living?"
"Ought to be better than what we do now, Fenris." she says soberly. "I might be called the Champion of Kirkwall, but I'm not much more than a dignified killer, and they all know it, too… I wasn't named that for doing needlepoint or my fabulous diplomacy skills. I solved the Qunari problem by cutting the Arishok's head off in single combat and refusing to take side in this insane thing between Orsino and Meredith… as of yet. But I can't do this shuffling much longer." She sighs. "Merrill said it right: a storm is coming, and we all need to hold on to each other to withstand it. So all of my fancy mansion and titles and such mean nothing at the end, you see." She takes his hand between hers and looks at him with that intensity that always takes his breath away. "But what you have, now: that's real. That was given to you by the Maker, and even all the evil of Danarius couldn't take it away." She winks. "Besides the fact that you're mighty handsome without any clothes on and I could look at you like this all day, of course."
"But you… you have something, too." He blurts out, because all of that really deserves an answer. "You have your voice. Your singing… do you take that for nothing?"
"A fat lot of good that did to me, ever. People like to listen to me because I'm the hero of the moment, is all." She grimaces, with sudden ferocity. "Or you reckon I could make enough coin from that somehow?"
"Hold on." He says quickly, his temper also rising. "Just wait a minute. You're saying it would be all right for me to give up the sword and just sit and draw portraits of fat ladies and their poodles all day, but you can't be bothered to sit and… entertain?"
"Maker, Fenris, you say that like it was a dirty word." She says, exasperated, but calmer. "I don't know… maybe I didn't think this through." She exhales loudly, and smiles at him again, and Fenris, like many times this morning, feels like it's too bright in the room and his chest isn't large enough to contain what's in his heart. "I tell you what: if we find ourselves on the road after the skies fall in here, how 'bout we form a troupe? Aveline and Donnic could do the stage setups, Varric would tell tall tales and ballads, I'd sing in accompaniment, Merrill could tell fortunes, Anders would conjure kittens out of people's sleeves, Isabela could do card tricks and try not to steal everyone blind, Sebastian would give sage advice about clean living, and you'd sketch little but perfect portraits of our audience?"
He definitely feels like the room is spinning. All these years he thought he was free just because he wasn't wearing a slave collar or shackles, but the way his chest expands with laughter now lets him know he wasn't even close until this moment when his Hawke, his fierce, glorious, one and only woman offers him a glimpse of something that might just be an escape from the future that looms so ominously and seemingly inescapably in their every thought.
"But what if I'd like to dance instead?" he asks, eyebrow lifted questioningly. "All these years I'd practiced all these elven dance routines and you'd let it all go to waste?"
"Gah." She shakes her head imperiously; her mouth is a tantalizing half-inch from his. "If I let you to do that, I want the firebreather's job. And the sword-swallower's too."
"I always knew you wanted too much." He offers, breathing it alongside the curve of her jaw, and he feels her shudder.
"Only you, idiot." He hears her say, barely, before she draws him up in a fierce kiss to silence them both. "Only ever you."