It was an unfamiliar and distressing experience, to know the vague shape of what he wanted, but not the concrete substance of it. It seemed, lately, that half-remembered dreams held more answers for him than wakeful thought, and that, too was a new development.

Hawke. He wanted Hawke. Beyond that, however, the details were frustratingly hard to grasp.

It had taken him long enough to figure that first part out, to finally make sense of the strange warmth that suffused him when she was around, or of that deep, coiling pleasure he experienced while talking to her. It was not something he could consciously remember ever experiencing, yet now that he thought about it, his attraction to her was unmistakeable.

And unexpected.

He never thought much about women, perhaps because his memories were still colored by his experiences with the women he knew in Tevinter, who were either cowed, submissive slaves, or shrewd back-stabbing magisters, their faces painted and their nails sharp, always eying him in that calculating way of theirs... Neither type held any appeal to him, and so he thought that women in general did not appeal to him.

Yet Hawke was undeniably female. On her occasional visits to his mansion, he could not help following the curve of her hip, or the graceful lines of her neck, or the way firelight played on her lovely curls. When he offered wine, he felt entranced by the way she licked her lips after drinking, and when she laughed, the sound reverberated in his chest and sent tingles down his spine. All these things that she stirred in him left him wanting for more.

Unsettled as he was by the new experience, he decided to ignore it. But a dam seemed to have broken, and though when he was awake he forcefully banished any thought of her, when he was asleep, she was always there. She was a welcome presence at first, dry herbal smells and delicate fingers and friendly laughter, but the more he tried to deny her awake, the stronger she became in dreams. And in these dreams, Hawke was not the same gentle woman she was in real life, but an indistinct mix of warm flesh against him, and her herbal scent was heady with arousal.

It took much too little time for Fenris' frustration with his mind's indecent preoccupations to turn to frustration with his imagination's limits. And that felt like a betrayal, in itself. Hawke was... someone he could respect, though he sometimes disagreed with her. To entertain such notions about her seemed wrong. Frivolous.

Yet as perturbing as these thoughts were, they were also appealing on a base level, and late in the night, when another one of those dreams snapped him awake, hard and aching, he took himself in hand and...

He wasn't sure what he was doing, if he was to be completely honest with himself. He wasn't sure what he wanted from her. His sexual experience, where it did not have glaring gaps, was largely unpleasant. His mind usually shied away from such thoughts, locked them up in a dark, dark corner of his mind, along with all the other distasteful things Danarius had him do.

He sat awake for long stretches of time, while his mind tried to articulate his sexual desire for Hawke, but it often fell apart long before he could find his release, leaving him frustrated and angry. His fantasies never felt quite right, and he couldn't help but feel that this was yet another one of his deficiencies.

His frustration sometimes bled into his waking hours, and he took it out on Hawke, with snappish comments and random bouts of unwarranted hostility, and her hurt reaction (barely there: a recoil and a confused expression, but still) tormented him. Sometimes he apologized, driven to it by the same impulse that made him revel in her company, that made him offer her wine and tidbits of his past to draw out the conversation and keep her close just a few moments longer.

He became aware, after a while, that he did this so he could memorize her: how her hair fell, how she smiled, how she moved her hands when she gesticulated—each a tiny piece that he gathered, thinking that any since one could be the key to his attraction. If he found it—that one essential element of this strange alchemy—he could turn lead into gold, and his confused nightly frustration into the satisfaction he sought.

Some nights were worse than others, and on the very worst, he felt the closest he could get to what he wanted. He stroked himself slowly, thinking of Hawke, thinking of how he'd strip her of her clothes, or maybe order her to strip; he thought about every tantalizing inch of skin she uncovered, and with each heavy breath, these thoughts would start to run away from him, and she'd be kneeling, and begging, and fighting him, and as his strokes turned frenzied, the images of Hawke that his mind conjured of its own accord would turn disturbing and distasteful. Yet these images, imperfect constructs though they were, would only spur him on and accompany him to the very edge, and immediately following release, they would sour in his mind, and fill him with disgust and self-loathing. That he would think, even for a moment, to do the things that had been done to him to another was a revolting notion as it was. That he would think so of Hawke, especially when he knew this was not what he wanted to do to her, made him despair.

It was all too unfamiliar to him, and he felt like he was starting in the wrong place.

What had started all this, after all, was Hawke, and she... He could not imagine her in this context, because for him, the context had always been unpleasant. Sex with Hawke—he knew on some deep level—would not be unpleasant. It would be just like her; gentle and warm and exactly what he wanted. And that would be a new experience for him.

But having Hawke in that way was also a distant possibility, at best. For him, there would be only sleepless nights spent negotiating the fine line between his urges and his desires, trying to grasp at pleasure that was always just a little out of his reach.