The Waffles of Andraste
A DA2 Fanfic
A/N: This is for featheredraven , whose amazing art inspired this piece and can be found here: .com/deviation/202161986
Obligatory Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters; Bioware does, although I'm afraid I'm responsible for Hawke's manners (table and otherwise).
He can hear them from the stairs as he takes them, two at a time up to her sickroom. It's almost exactly a week after the duel that saved Kirkwall, and he still can't quite believe she is alive. Blasted mage was good for something, after all; it took him this long to patch Hawke up, but anything should be better than that pale, blood-soaked thing that he scooped up from the floor of the Great Hall, or that near-lifeless still form with Anders constantly over her, glow of healing magic suffusing her every pore.
This conversation, though… Fenris tilts his head to a side and casts a questioning look at Bodahn. The dwarf just does one of his more elaborate shrugs, bows a bit and leaves him at the door that is slightly open.
"Wow. Just…wow. You really made this?"
"Choir Boy, you chose the wrong profession. Twice. Unless these are some kind of special waffles, made with, I don't know, Andraste's Ashes or something."
"Varric, stop blaspheming. Sebastian, is there any way you can come to the barracks and make this for breakfast at least once a week? It would improve morale."
"Okay, this is amazing. Call it Andraste's Waffles or not, I don't care. I take back everything I've ever said about you. Can I have your babies?"
"What? You cut me some slack, okay? I came back for you, missy."
"Fat lot of good it did to me too. I got scars on my scars. Do you want to see them? Anders couldn't quite make all of them go away. See, here, I got one on my…"
"Too. Much. Information, Hawke. Look, Choir Boy is blushing."
"Daww. Can I pinch your cheeks? That's so cute!"
"Easy, now, Merrill. By all Her wet frocks, Sebastian, can I get another one? Pretty please?"
"Slow down, champion. You're still technically my patient. Overeating might cause those scars to…"
"Maker, Anders, ease up on the technicalities. All I want is another waffle, not a six-course feast. Or are you saying I'm fat?"
"Now that's unfair. If I answer that, I'm in trouble no matter what I say. I claim my rights as your healer to remain on strictly… medical grounds. Can I do that?"
"You bet your ass." Hawke's voice is almost savagely satisfied, and Fenris stifles a smile as he finally clears the threshold. There she is, sitting almost upright in the bed, blankets primly tucked around her, grinning lopsidedly as she looks at the plate in her lap. "Mmm, I swear this'll be the last." She looks up, and her eyes grow twice as wide as normal seeing him, looking quite stunning in her still-pale face.
"Oh. Hello, you." She waves a hand around absentmindedly, forgetting she's holding a fork, so Anders has to duck. "Come in, you so have to try this! Sebastian made these…. a-mazing waffles." She drawls the last words, drawing out the syllables the way only she can.
"I'm glad you recovered." He says cautiously; there are too many people in this room, and he's not comfortable in crowds. Or with her.
"Yeah, me too." She says and laughs. "I'm told you carried me all the way from the palace to here." She nods, suddenly serious, her voice almost a whisper. "Thanks."
"Had nothing else to do." He shrugs, risking the first thing that comes to his lips, and is rewarded by yet another laugh from her.
"You made a funny! Spending way too much time with Varric and me… Sebastian, is there any way we can put this in the next bulletin at the Chantry?"
"I already asked. " Varric says pleasantly; his great crossbow is off his shoulder, behind his chair, as he lounges like he's always been here. "Elf has many hidden sides."
Isabela snickers in the corner, but Fenris doesn't have a chance to snarl at her properly just yet, as he hears a throat clearing, and there's that blasted prince, with his clear sky-blue eyes and smile as pure as the snow on the highest mountains over Minrathous, somehow materializing at his elbow, looking way too comfortable and domestic and at ease, holding a plate in his hands and offering it to him.
"Here, Fenris." He says, and Fenris can hear the echoes of shyness still in his voice. "You probably didn't have breakfast yet."
He accepts, still stunned a bit: whatever he expected when Bodahn roused him from his sleep by banging on his door, letting him know that Hawke regained consciousness, this wasn't it.
What in the Fade the fancy prince's doing here cooking breakfast for her? In his bloody shirtsleeves, no less?
"Thanks." He says curtly, and takes the plate, trying to figure out how to eat while holding the plate and the fork, not to mention the cloth napkin Sebastian neatly tucked under…
The thing on the plate looks like a hotcake, but taller, and shaped as if it was molded. It smells great, he has to admit, and his stomach growls to remind him he hasn't eaten much lately.
"Waffles?" Fenris asks cautiously.
"Oh, it's soo good." Merrill pipes up from her chair, her face almost covered in powdered sugar and smile. "Try it, it's like fluffy clouds and spicy things and sweetness."
"No wonder you like it, then." He says, mostly out of habit then really meaning it; his relief over seeing Hawke actually talking and smiling is… considerable, and overrides his normal contempt for the elf mage. "What's it made of?"
"Eggs, butter, milk, flour and spices, mostly." says Sebastian. "I doubt you want the full recipe."
"Your guess is correct." he says, and then finally manages to fork his first bite, lifts it to his mouth, and it hits his palate, and…
"Ooh." He hears Isabela chuckle, but just vaguely; he's too busy trying to sort out this entirely not unpleasant assault on his senses. "I don't think I can make an appropriate description of your face without making Sebastian blush again."
"So don't." Hawke says darkly. "Let him eat in peace, people; you should have seen your own selves wrestling down those waffles before. I swear some patrons from the Rose could have learned a thing or two."
"Harsh." Varric whistles, then his eyes narrow with concern. "You getting cranky, Hawke…does that mean it's time for your beauty sleep now?"
"As the healer in this room, I'd say that's about right." Anders claps his hands. "Visiting hours are over… come on, people, no arguments. You can all come back tomorrow." He waggles his eyebrows. "Maybe we'll even try standing then."
"Stop treating me like I'm an invalid." mutters Hawke under her breath, but the mage has none of it, apparently.
"You happen to be one, so shut up and let me boss you just this once." He makes shooing motions with his hands. "You hear me at all? I said this soiree is over."
"Mmm, fancy Orlesian words." Isabela grins back from the door. "Maybe you and I need to really talk, mage."
"Next time you come to my clinic for some remedies, you mean?" Anders crosses his arms in front of his chest. "Sure, I can ask you for the details, but do you really want to go there?"
"Shit, you're no fun." The ex-pirate murmurs and quits the room, slight redness on her cheeks. The rest of them follow-more or less; Fenris is feeling terribly awkward with the half-eaten waffle still on his plate, but just when he contemplates his exit, Sebastian catches his arm.
"Maybe you can finish that and help me clean up here, yes?" He smiles again, but his grip is firm on his arm and the look he throws at Anders is more princely than it would be fitting for a lay brother in the Chantry. "Here, sit on that empty chair there. Anders, do you still need to do anything before Hawke goes to sleep?"
"No, I'm actually done for the day." The mage admits a bit reluctantly; in his eyes, there's something akin to surprise. Fenris senses something in the air that isn't quite as congenial or harmonious than the banter he just heard would suggest, but wisely refrains from saying anything.
This…waffle is really quite good, anyway, and he decides that it's best if he dedicates his attention to what is left on his plate. He wouldn't look towards the bed for anything; he hears Anders' last instructions to Hawke and her increasingly acerbic replies, Sebastian fiddles with some cutlery and plates, then there's his soft voice assuring Anders that yes, he'll make sure Hawke gets her afternoon potion on schedule, and aren't there other patients waiting for him in Darktown at his clinic, and then the door clicks… and he's all of a sudden alone in the room with her.
"They are mothering me." Hawke's voice is petulant as she watches him from under her bangs. "Everyone does; they bring bloody flowers and foodstuff and Bodahn keeps hauling in letters from people and Sebastian says there'll be a ceremony for me once I'm better with some fancy armor and speeches." She takes a deep breath. "Why did you do it?"
"Do what?" He knows he probably looks ridiculous with the plate and fork and powdered sugar, so he extracts the napkin from under the plate and wipes at his face awkwardly.
"Suggesting the Arishok fight me. Alone." She pauses. "We didn't exactly have a chance to discuss this just yet. How did you know I would go for it?"
"Do you really have to ask that?" It's out of him, way more ferociously than he intended it, before he could even think about it, and Hawke flinches as if he'd hit her.
"Don't take it out on me, Fenris." She warns in a low voice, and her cheeks slightly color as she scoots up to full sitting. "I wasn't the one who decided it should be like this."
And there they are again. All this time, all the careful maneuvering and the attempts to balance this… this thing between them, all the days when he dared to believe they can just exist alongside as friends and comrades-in-arms…
Damn it all to the Fade, why?
And what is that damned prince doing here, strutting around like he owns the place anyway?
He's out of the chair in one motion, shoulders hunched and plate clattering on the floor as if he's ready to…
Throat clearing, Sebastian stands at the door again; neither of them heard him come in, as they glare at each other with fierce eyes and chin high.
"I thought it was about time for your rest, Hawke." He says, slightly reproachful, head cocked sideways. "How about we'll just clear away the mess and Fenris can give me a hand in the kitchen before he leaves?"
She subsides almost immediately, pulling her blankets up to her chin.
"Sure." She mutters, looking lost for a second, and there's something terribly tight around Fenris' chest for a second. "Sorry, Sebastian. Good waffles."
"Thank you." Sebastian inclines his head. "Glad you liked them… it was my mother's recipe. Haven't made them since…" He pauses. "Well. At any rate, I can share it with Orana if you wish."
"No offense to her skills, but it wouldn't be the same." Hawke's smile is brief, but honest. "Maybe you could come by again later this week and...?"
"Make a mess in your kitchen again?" The exiled prince laughs and straightens a chair. "That would assure that Orana would never talk to me again. Poor girl, she's already frightened of me enough."
"Really?" Hawke accepts the cup of water Sebastian extends to her, and drinks long and thirsty before she continues. Fenris can see, as she reaches out to grab the cup, the long white scar on her arm where the Arishok's wicked blade first got her, and he almost hisses, remembering. "But you're so… harmless."
"Am I?" Sebastian looks at her long. "Just this last month, fighting by your side, I've been directly or indirectly responsible for the death of twenty-eight people in this city. Not counting the Qunari." His voice grows bitter for a second. "For one reason or another, you've gathered us to your side, Hawke. All of those who were in this room earlier. None of us are harmless, and none of us are 'nice'. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves." He sighs. "There's an entire chapel in the Chantry where I burn candles for those we have to slay to keep order in this city. Where do you think I spend my share of the loot you so generously disburse?" Before she could say anything, he leans forward and smoothes a wrinkle out of the blankets at her feet. "If what I just said bothers you, how about you visit me in the Chantry once you feel better and we light some of those candles together?"
"Good old-fashioned Chantry guilt." Hawke whispers after a few seconds tick by like heavy footsteps. "Maker, I almost forgot how it made me feel when I was a kid. Yes, Brother." she stresses the word. "I'll be there." She closes her eyes. "Get out now, both of you." She says roughly, and squeezes her eyelids tightly shut. "Lady needs her beauty sleep."
And then Fenris isn't sure how, but he has plates in his hand suddenly, and somehow he's outside her door, heading down the stairs to the kitchen where Orana is busy scrubbing the table but looks up with wide eyes and flees as soon as they enter.
"See?" Sebastian says and puts his own stack of assorted silverware and platters down a bit heavier than their weight would warrant it. "That girl owes her life to you, Hawke, Merrill and me, and yet she runs in terror and is practically a ghost whenever any of us is here." He shakes his head. "When you set out to do good in the world, no one tells you that sometimes it hurts more than it helps."
"I bet they didn't teach that to you in the Chantry." Fenris says cautiously, eyeing the prince. "Where does that piece of wisdom come from?"
"I wasn't always a lay brother, you know." Sebastian moves in the kitchen as if he knows it very well, Fenris can't help but notice, and he feels his hands ball into fists. He watches him with wary eyes as he grabs a large washtub from the corner and fills it with hot water that steams quietly on the corner of the large stove at the center, adds some soap shavings from a little box, checks the temperature, pours some cold water in, and lowers the plates in one by one.
"I'm aware." He says at the end. "I didn't, however, know that being a prince also involves being… domestic."
"Oh, this?" Sebastian laughs as he arranges a large dishtowel in front of his clothes, neatly tucking the corners into his belt. "This I've learned after entering the Chantry, Fenris. When you are taken in, you start with the most menial tasks to emphasize humility. I scrubbed more blackened soup pots and swept more floors than I ever thought possible before they even allowed me to actually cook something." He finds a dishrag and starts rolling his shirtsleeves up. "Now how about giving me a hand with the silver?"
"Feeling like giving me a lesson in humility?" Fenris asks, his lips curling up in a snarl.
"Not at all." Sebastian looks at him, as if he's slowly sizing him up for something. The look is slightly uncomfortable; those piercing blue eyes are sharp as the arrows he lets fly with disturbing accuracy. "Although our pirate friend would probably say something to the tunes of I just wanted to get you alone."
"Well, did you?" It surprises him slightly that the pious prince allows himself such jokes recently, and that surprise carries him though the awkwardness as he sorts the forks and knives into little piles next to the washtub.
"As a lay brother in the Chantry, I vowed celibacy, Fenris." Sebastian says quietly as he submerges his hands in the sudsy water. "I'm assuming you know what that means."
"But you're not blind." He shots back, almost defiantly, as if he finally found the reason for his unease.
"Whatever that means, Fenris." Sebastian raises an eyebrow, but his voice remains calm. "If it makes you more comfortable in my presence, I can assure you that back in my younger days my dalliances were restricted only to the fairer sex."
He pauses, catching the expression on the other's face with his keen eyes, and he puffs the air out of his lungs with a surprised 'oomph'.
"Ah." he says, quietly, and he nods to himself. "I see."
"You see what?" Fenris is starting to seriously consider just leaving. This conversation is getting out of hand, and fast, and he's still not quite sure how exactly they got here. "There's nothing to see."
"Fine, my friend." The prince nods, with that little smile playing in the corner of his mouth that sometimes tempts Fenris to just reach out and wipe it off. With a fist. "I'll change the subject, then." He continues the rhythmic, soothing movement of wiping grease off the plates in hot water. "I saw you at the Chantry last week… but I haven't seen you back since."
"What?" The elf stops, and whirls around to face him fully. He knows he looks ridiculous with that clean dishtowel in his hand he used just now to dry the first plates that came out of the water, but at this moment he doesn't care.
How does he dare to pry? How does he dare to think he has the right to peer into his soul like that? With that smug smile and that smiling mouth and that all-knowing attitude, as if he was…
"I was only delivering something." He shots back. "You needn't concern yourself." He curses inwardly… he knew he shouldn't have done it, but how couldn't he? He had to. He had to because…
"But you were praying." Sebastian says, leaning against the table casually, his hands crossed in front of him. "Or was that part of the delivery?"
Damn you, Fenris thinks…because the other hasn't really changed the subject. Not at all… not the least… and before he realizes, just like that, all of a sudden he's on the defense.
"I was… trying to blend in." he says desperately, just to stall for time… and he's startled by the affection that's openly there in Sebastian's laugh that rings across the kitchen with mirth.
"Oh, yes!" the exiled prince says when he finally catches his breath. "Blending in. That's good." He suddenly winks at him, and that gesture is so full of… something Fenris is plainly not used to, that he feels his throat go dry. "You wouldn't want to ruin your reputation, after all."
"Screw yourself, Prince." Fenris snarls with the sudden ferocity of a cornered wolf, but somehow he knows it's too late for that—there's no real conviction in his voice. "Don't you have a city to reconquer or something?"
"The Maker heard your prayers, Fenris." The other man says, turning back to his work, suddenly serious again. "She'll be fully healed soon."
"She will." Fenris whispers, feeling the anger leaving him. What remains in its wake is something he's never really showed openly to anyone; but somehow, in this kitchen, in this house, facing this man, it doesn't seem wrong.
Open and honest, all pretentions and masks gone at last, he raises his eyes full of pain, and asks, in a halting voice that's almost bleeding.
"But will I?"