Evening finds them in the hayloft of a peasant's barn, the owners mercifully away. Normally, such a blessing would be something to bask in, but Anders' cool cordiality since the incident at the cave-mouth has left Hawke unbearably tense.

"Are you ever going to talk to me?" She confronts him at last, having pulled off the last of her armor. The soft chemise and long trousers makes her feel all the more vulnerable before him. "Something, anything. Please."

Anders stares at his hands. "...You'll need to start eating better. Red meat, dried fruits, dark greens." He chuckles bitterly. "I know, we'll just politely ask the next templar if he's got any of that to spare."

"I - what?"

"To keep your blood healthy. I'm assuming that there's going to be repeat performances? Vael's not the type to give up easily. But you cut yourself one too many times, without proper care, and you'll fall ill."

Hawke hugs her arms, bewildered by this admission. "You're... not upset?" He shoots a sidelong glance that makes her wince. "Ah. Quite upset then."

"Maker knows I've no right to condemn someone on extremes at this point..."

"No, you don't."

Anders stands suddenly to face her, seizing her hands in his, as if this could help her understand. "Marian, this is blood magic! You've seen first hand, from dozens of mages in Kirkwall, what comes of such desperation. Mages who thought they, too, could control it." He whispers, "This is the magic that created that perversion of your mother."

"No. He did that." Hawke says coldly. If anything, the memory of Quentin will forever keep her vigilant. "Would you blame a sword for murder or the man who wields it?"

"Then what do you want me to say?" He sighs wearily, dropping her hands.

"I - You would have died, Anders!" Maker, sometimes she wants to knock his gorgeous head against the wall. "I wasn't about to lose you. I can't!"

"But at what cost, love? Don't tell me that I'm worth the risk of losing you to a demon."

"Is that what this is all about?" She asks, not sure if she wants to laugh or cry, as her panic melts away. "I didn't consort with a demon. Champion's honor."

"So, what, you just couldn't resist all that tempting power, and decided to start slashing your wrists because all the other mages were doing it?"

"No. I didn't understand it at all, actually." She admits, sinking her fingers into his coat feathers. Most of them are coagulated in blood, but some are still as fluffy as ever. "Justice had to remind me what power I always had at my command and it took you nearly dying for me to even dare attempt it."

"Justice?" He echoes, doubtful, but from his careful tone she can tell his anger is fading. "Justice... is no demon."

"No, he's not. But he's still a spirit, and I think I accepted an offer with him all the same." Hawke watches Anders' face, at the mixed relief and growing uncertainty. Her fingers gently smooth his chest; trace the curve of his neck. "He didn't share this with you?"

"No. He didn't." He shakes his head, bemused. "He only said that he had re-evaluated his opinion of you. He didn't elaborate why."

"Oh." Hawke ponders this, and blushes. "That might be because I kissed him."

There's a mild choking sound. "You - what?"

She makes a little moue, shrugging one shoulder, and smiles in a way that she hopes is charming. "Well, he is you, isn't he? 'Justice and I are one.' That's what you always keep telling me, right?"

"Well, yes, but -" Anders trails off, slightly irritated - at Justice or himself or both she cannot tell, and Hawke giggles helplessly.

"Don't tell me you're jealous..." She teases.

"I am not." He denies hotly, though unable to stifle his answering grin.

"You are. You're jealous of your little passenger - " But Hawke's wit dies in her throat as Anders reminds her exactly why it's a bad idea to tease a mage.

Possessive and possessing barely bridled passion, his kisses are deliverance. He, too, could forgiven her anything, it seems. When his claim on her comes to a standstill, his breath is hot in her ear, voice slow, as if growing accustomed to the idea. "So, you essentially consorted with... me."

"Yes. Hardly anything out of the ordinary." She manages breathlessly, and Anders laughs - such a rare and delightful thing.

"And what else did Justice promise you?" He asks, starting to place a deliberate trail of torturous kisses from beneath her ear along her jaw.

Hawke's eyes begin to lid with pleasure, leaning into him. "Children." He pauses momentarily in his path, waiting for clarification in quiet inquiry.

"No matter what happens or what I do, I'll lose you eventually to your Calling. I have no illusions about that." She gives him a half-smile, and threads her fingers through his hair. "But to change the world with you, so that one day our children can live free - I'd pay that price. Whatever the cost. Justice... understands that, I think."

"Well, you can be an incredibly persuasive woman, Mistress Hawke." He replies, hands sliding beneath the hem of her chemise to tease at her bindings.

Hawke groans, lanced with keen desire. It churns her insides, heat pounding in her blood, and she is impatient, suddenly so impatient. "Do you know how cathartic it is that Justice doesn't think me an enemy anymore?" She breathes hurriedly against his lips. "That you're mine, Anders. Justice and all."

"Marian - "

"I'm not finished." She warns hungrily, hands drifting to his belt. "So I don't care how much of Vael's army I have to kill to keep you safe, or if we have to blow up every Chantry from here to the blasted Divine to see our cause realized - "

"Marian." He persists.

"What?" She sighs, exasperated.

Anders stops her fumbling hands, grinning. "This belt's undone the other way," he says, promptly eliminating the obstacle for her, and shrugging off his heavy coat.

Oh." She breathes out, and peevishly, crinkles her nose. "That's ridiculous. Your clothing is ridiculous. It makes no bloody sense. Have I mentioned that your clothing is ridiculous?"

"I can recall a occasion or two." He smirks, and the hands that slip between her thighs are still the hands of a healer, no matter how much bloodshed they have caused, with heady kisses that cauterize the wounds on her heart.

A crackle of magic so near her core shocks the senses, every nerve electrified in desire. "Devious man," she pants, playfully pushing his chest. Unexpectedly, Anders hisses, and she understands her mistake in an instant.

"Shit, shit. Anders, I'm sorry. I'm an idiot." Her fingers reach to tenderly soothe scarcely healed bruises and scars. "Still painful?"

"I did get stabbed. And shot, in fact. Very traumatizing." He says, blithely. "Honestly, I'm not sure if I'll ever recover."

She exhales weakly, and impulsively, presses a kiss to the jagged scar the arrow left on his shoulder. Anders gives her a delicious shudder in response. "Any better?"

"Keep going, and I'll let you know." He says, sinking his fingers into her raven hair.

Hawke grins against his chest, and continues upward, rewarded with increasingly vocal groans for her troubles, at each loving kiss and each mischievous bite. The smell of him envelops her, a deep current of comfort in a ocean of uncertain. When she's finished, she removes the tie from his hair, toying with the blond strands.


"Much better." He tugs insistently at her chemise, lifting up and over her head, and completely insatiable, makes short work of her bindings as well. The cool air on her bare chest makes her shiver, at least until his marvelous hands rise to cup her breasts and stroke warmth into her flesh. "What am I to do with you?"

"Steer me towards that pile of hay... and I've a few ideas..."

"No. About the blood magic," He says, though it seems her suggestion had merit. Anders eases her backwards, guiding her down to rest in the cushy hay, and settling his weight above her. He lavishes kisses in the delicate hollow of her throat, relishing in every spike of her pulse, every barely contained whimper. "My own little maleficar. Am I to keep you in line, then?"

"Yes, oh, please do." She breathes, his hands gliding in teasing patterns, over chest, down stomach, towards the tense curve of her hip. Miraculous, miraculous hands that can bring her back to life with the simplest touch.

"I'm sure Justice would agree." He murmurs, coaxing her to lift her hips as he strips away the last of her clothes. "He'd hate to learn if you ever used your new magic inappropriately."

"So don't tell him." She begs, arching toward him, desperate for closeness, anything to have those hands on her again. "Just punish me if I misstep."

"Do you mean that, love?"

Hawke meets his gaze, trembling in want. There's the slightest hint of blue that rings the irises in his amber eyes, and that knowledge only exhilarates her further. "Yes."

And it may be falling or it may be flying, but either way she's too far gone to care as Anders slides two of those Maker-blessed fingers into her slick heat.

The transformation is remarkable. The indomitable woman who faced the Arishok in single-combat, and stood against men and monsters, whose icy resolve and smart mouth helped her survive darkspawn, templars and Kirkwall intrigue time and again... all of that melts - dissolved like sea-foam from the distinctive and exceptional magic that he alone can cast on her.

With a roguish smirk, teeth and tongue, that clever, charming tongue, descend to join those hands that devourer her, and it is a very good thing, indeed, that barn's owners are away. The litany of her gasps and cries slice the silent air, one shaky hand finding his, briefly, at her hip, kneading a harmony on her skin to match the rhythm he works inside her. And it is not long, not long at all, until she is writhing with the force of her release, utterly undone, his name an exalt on her lips.

Sinking from her high, her head falls back into the hay, skin flushed, and Anders reverently kisses his way back up the inside of her thigh, full of love and admiration for her - for this wonderful madwoman who would forsake the world, but would not forsake him.

Hawke's trembling hand is pressed lightly to her mouth, drinking in deep breaths, and unpredictably, shifts into hiccuping laughter. She wets her lips, and smiles at him, soft and fragile, and answers his questioning grin. "They do curl," she says, shaking with mirth. "My toes, that is. At the height."

Anders chuckles in turn, and starts dealing with the last of his clothes. "Your legs also clamp hard against the sides of my head."

"Oh..." She winces slightly. That must hurt. "Sorry."

"Don't be." He says fervently, with a suggestive smirk. "It's downright enthralling."

Hawke's reply evaporates as Anders rests above her again, his hands pressing along her hairline and temples, around the shells of her ears. She offers him kisses that are, at once, less urgent and more forceful than before. The whole world may be against them, but she no longer fucking cares.

And it occurs to her, idly, between kisses that breathe life back into them both, that they have become each other's link to the world - to sanity even, and certainly the only thing keeping the other in check. That their love, this unfathomable, magical force, might be the only thing keeping them alive. But all this deep philosophical musing gets swept aside as Anders grips her hips, biting down at that sensitive spot on her neck, and sinks inside her at last.

She snakes an arm around his back, eyes catching his, so dark with desire, and nods in unspoken permission. There will be time for tenderness later; she needs his possession. Anders is more than happy to oblige, pressing her other hand down beside her head, and cupping her ass as he begins to set a merciless pace.

Hawke throws her head back, whimpering, reveling in the sensation, the amalgamation of pleasure and pain, and Anders growls something hotly near her ear. Consumed with wanton need, she rocks her hips, trying to match speed to his savage thrusts. "Harder," She begs, raking his back with her nails, needling the flesh with half-moon crescents. "Hard - ungh - Fuck, yes, that's good..."

Anders bends his head to sample her breast, that wonderfully wicked mouth flicking and nipping at the bud, her moans too much a drug for him to not do everything he could to illicit them. She fists her freed hand through his hair, still matted with dried blood from before, dragging his head back up for a brutal kiss.

And she knows, as she arcs against him while he speeds his movements towards the finale, desperation honing his thrusts, their weathered breathing ragged in her ears - she knows that, in him she has become irrevocably lost. But for this... his call, his love, and the knowledge that he needs her as much as she needs him...

Perhaps, in him, she'll be ultimately saved as well.

She clings to him as she feels all control, all sense start to shatter, in a rush of heat, and she cannot help herself, she must be near to screaming now. The feeling of her tightening around him, ecstasy awash on her face, fractures him as well, Anders driving into her for the last time, a hoarse cry muffled in her shoulder, dazed by the power of their coalescence.

For a little while, there is only the waning thrum of the blood in their veins, breathlessly tangled together in the tender afterglow, and it feels like the violence and pain of the past weeks could never have existed. They could easily be back in their bed in Hightown, their clothes and his manifesto haphazardly strewn across the floor. But the hay starts to itch her neck and tickle her sides, and the real world slowly filters back.

Anders raises his head from her neck, with a smile that is open and uncomplicated - it is like peering through the Veil to view a life left behind, before he became consumed with Justice. He offers a languid kiss, and gently eases out to lie beside her. Hawke settles herself in his embrace, perfectly contented. They've both seen the worst of each other, and neither of them would turn to run. That's enough, she decides. More than most people have, certainly. Enough to restart a life, no matter how unorthodox it may be.

A wise man once told her what was the strongest force in the universe. Perhaps that's all she ever needed, too.

"The abomination and the maleficar," She murmurs with light humor. "We'll be quite the double-act. Have all the templars lined up just to come see."

"Well, love, can you honestly blame them when we're both so very pretty?" Anders kisses her shoulder, wondering, not for the first time, at how he came to find such a partner, for his cause and his life - Andraste was never so lucky. "Speaking of absolutely bewitching maleficars - when can I expect the naked dancing?"

Hawke raises an eyebrow. "For?"

"For you to fit in," He says, with great solemnity. "I'm positive it's a requirement. They'll make fun of you otherwise."

She chuckles, and looks at him mischievously. "Well, I have to leave something for you if we ever make it to Tevinter..."

"...Well, all except Anders, of course."

"You believe that they're still alive - both of them?"

"Oh, of that I'm positive. Heard of any grief-stricken rampages lately? No, they're both out there. Both crazy, in their own way, and completely crazy for each other. And I'll tell you this - you'd best hope you never find them. 'Cause there's only one force on this earth that'll tear them apart and some days, I don't think even the darkspawn taint will manage that."

"So that would be your ending for them, dwarf?" Cassandra said archly, though not without admiration for the couple who had rocked the foundations of the world. "And they lived, happily ever after?"

Varric smiled in the shadows of the Hawke Estate. "Something like that, I'm sure."