There was a story they told in Lothering to stop the children from wandering out into the Wilds. Something about a little girl, followed by a wolf as she passed through the woods...

"It's alright if you can't come. I can get Aveline to help..."

There is a rift between them, and the crackling tension between them makes the rift both too great, and not great enough.

The firelight licks a red swathe across the floor, highlighting the great space that separates them.

Fenris shakes his head.

"I enjoy following you," he says.

There is so much she can say to that... She thinks, for a moment, that it is an invitation of sorts. To try again. But this is trodden territory already, and another rejection, no matter the reasons behind it, might just break her.

Hawke looks away.

"Thank you. See you tomorrow."

Fenris was nothing like the wolf of stories, dangerous and charming. Dangerous in a far less subtle way, perhaps, and there was nothing deliberate about his charm.

The details escaped her now, but she could remember clearly that the wolf saw the little girl's bright red cloak through the trees and decided to lure her off the path.

The scarf is bright red, and even more eye-catching against the somber gray of his gauntlet. It is like a beacon, always drawing her eyes to him. Even when she does not look, it is always there, bright like the blood of a split heart.

"Hawke, look out!"

Wet heat travels down the side of her head. Her fingers come away red, but the color is wan. One drop, two, a river, it can't drown out the brilliance of the scarf, mocking her like the ribbon on a present she can't have.

The wolf ate the girl, or maybe lured her to his bed. Both versions seemed like the proper one in her head, but she was fairly certain that Mother would not have approved of her dear daughter hearing that second one.

So the wolf devoured the little girl, and took her pretty red cloak as a trophy.

The steady din of the Hanged Man thrums in her head—or maybe it's only the blood rushing—and Hawke cannot look away, as much as she wills herself to do so. She cannot look away from Isabela's wandering hands and the way she leans into Fenris, whispering no doubt scandalous suggestions in his ears while contriving to give him a generous look at her breasts.

He shakes his head slowly, and removes her hands. Isabela shrugs and wanders away to catch some other hapless victim in her web.

Across the room, their eyes meet. He knows that Hawke saw, and he tilts his head just so, touching the scarf on his wrist like he is making a promise.

The room blurs, only a single red drop of color visible through her tears.

She tells herself firmly that she is angry, not sad. She is angry because promises provide no warmth at night.

Or maybe the other version truer, even if it was not the right one. Maybe the wolf lured the girl to his bed. Maybe he undressed her slowly of her cloak and she jumped under the covers with him; innocent and unsuspecting.

In the story, this was probably a bad thing, but the girl couldn't have thought so at the time, as she succumbed to his heat and allowed him to trail kisses down her thigh. She couldn't have thought so as her breath hitched and her back arched and her nails scratched down his back, spurring him on.

She couldn't have thought so until his hand reached through her chest and ripped out her heart, to feast on it.

"To be honest, I don't think there's much point to filling these moments with empty talk."

So they don't talk. They are good at that—not talking.

Yet this is not one of those dreadful, heavy instances of not-talking that had tormented her for so long, and she finds that, for the first time, she feels like she can breathe through the silence.

As a child, she'd owned a kaleidoscope, just for a few weeks, before she lost it in one of the many flights from templars. She recalls turning it slowly and watching the pieces of glass form beautiful patterns: blue and green and yellow, and a deep, stark red that she remembers the most, providing all the patterns with a sharp focus.

She thinks now that her heart is like a kaleidoscope, the different broken pieces rearranging themselves as the world turns. She has lost Mother, but she has discovered that she had never really lost Fenris.

She smiles through the tears as she leans her head on his shoulder.

She still feels like a little girl lost through in the woods, but she chose to leave the safe path herself and the wolf stalking through the woods is there to protect her.

Or maybe the entire thing was wrong, and she was the one who chose the wolf.