"I really should be getting home; we have an early day tomorrow, remember?" Sirene stretched but made no effort to rise from her seat.
Fenris eyed her. "Hawke … do you really think we should help that blood mage in her quest for self-destruction?"
"We're just going along to keep her out of trouble. She knows my limits, especially since I kept the arulin'holm after that last little jaunt. By the way, I never got a chance to thank you and Varric for going with me to return that to Marethari, so .. thank you."
"I still don't like it. What if she loses control?"
Sirene folded her arms. "That's why she needs us there."
"So, you'd put yourself in danger for a naïve idiot who nevertheless knows she's doing something she shouldn't."
"If you feel it's too dangerous, you can stay home, you know. I could probably convince Anders to come instead." She winked at him.
"It's not about me. It's about you being in danger," he said as he rose from his chair and started to pace about the room. "As for … Anders, I really don't think having two abominations there would be preferable to having one." He rolled his eyes.
Sirene stood and crossed the room, placing her hand on his forearm. "I'll be fine." She paused and smiled. "Besides, you'll be there."
A hint of a grin crossed his face. "Flatterer."
She laughed. "Hey, whatever works. Will you be ready by daybreak?"
"For you, I am always ready."
Sirene was vaguely embarrassed by the blush she felt rising upon her cheeks. "I … we … well …." She coughed and said, her tone overly professional, "I'll have everyone meet here, then."
"And whose company are you requiring me to … endure this time, apart from the witch?"
She rolled her eyes. "You're such a whiner sometimes; lucky for you you're more than agreeable in other ways to make up for it. I was going to have Sebastian come along. Varric is finally being dragged to a Merchant's Guild meeting, Isabela's laying low for some reason or another, Aveline's conducting inspection, and I simply do not want to deal with you, Anders, and Merrill in the same general area for that long."
Fenris looked offended. "I do not whine. I am honest. There's a difference and you know it, Hawke." He paused. "Perhaps the priest will take a break from attempting to convert me."
Sirene chuckled. "I wouldn't count on it." She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "Til tomorrow, then."
As she turned to leave, he caught her arm and pulled her to him, causing her to stall her exit. "Just one?" he asked in a slightly teasing tone before gently kissing her. The slight grin of moments before returned, her excitement at his gesture undisguised. "I'm not letting you walk back alone; Varric told me those blood ragers have been out more often."
Sirene stared at him. "I live practically around the corner. You can almost see my house from here. I'll be fine." She grinned. "And we wouldn't even be having this discussion if you'd just move in with me, you know."
His eyebrows drew together. "We've been through this," he said flatly. "Do not ask more of me than I can give." There was a pause. "Please."
"Just to be sure I understand … you will walk into the face of certain death for me, but can't sleep at my house?"
Sirene shook her head. "Okay. But seriously, I-"
Fenris pulled his battle axe from the front closet and just looked at her.
She blinked. "You … keep a battle axe in the front closet? What do you keep in your room?"
"My sword and an assortment of daggers."
"Ah." She opened her mouth to protest again, then threw up her hands. "Fine. You are so stubborn."
"Only when it comes to you."
"Isn't that the truth?" she half-muttered before sighing and grinning. "Let's go, then."
They found themselves strolling the deserted streets of Hightown, aimlessly chatting.
"You know, Isabella would be so disappointed to find out you weren't required to be oiled every minute of every day," Sirene laughed.
Fenris sighed. "Even when I tell her I wasn't, she just says I'm lying." He paused, looking around.
"What is it?"
He leaned in and pulled her closer. "We're being followed," he murmured. Turning, he folded his arms. "I'm waiting."
Looking rather sheepish, Isabela and Varric emerged from behind a column. "Oh, hi!" Isabela said cheerily. "Out for a stroll, lovebirds?"
Sirene looked from one to the other. "How long have you been following us?" She narrowed her eyes at Varric. "And what are you writing?"
"The elf here refuses to tell me anything besides the fact that sweeping was not involved, so I'm simply researching on my own." Varric didn't have even a minute hint of shame in his voice.
"You know, you can make things up out of whole cloth without wandering around in the dark," Sirene laughed.
"Hawke … ," Varric said in a disapproving voice. "You know every story has to have at least a small grain of truth to it."
"What, like the one about where I got your ring out of a dragon's belly?"
"Hey, you never know!" he laughed.
She shook her head and chuckled. "I see. And you, Isabela?"
Isabela shrugged. "Can't I just be out for a stroll?"
Sirene rolled her eyes. "You could, but it's highly unlikely that you would be doing anything that innocent."
Isabela laughed. "I just think it's adorable to watch you two. It reminds me why I don't bother with that relationship nonsense. Plus, you know how much I like watching our brooding friend here walk around." She winked.
Sirene looked at Fenris. "Oh, stop scowling. At least it wasn't – "
There was the unmistakable sound of Varric cocking and firing Bianca, followed by a cry of pain and the sound of many footsteps rushing toward them.
" – marauders," Hawke sighed, drawing her bow and firing a volley in the general direction of the group. "Well, go swing your axe about." She paused. "Be careful."
Fenris nodded and charged forward.
Isabela grinned. "And here I thought this evening would be boring!" she said gaily before sneaking away toward the group, drawn daggers gleaming.
Varric looked at Sirene as he fired another shot. "Just another night out, eh, Champion?"
Sirene laughed. "You know how it goes."
"No, Isabela, I would not fight better naked," Fenris said as he and Isabela came walking back after the last thug had fallen. "And bringing it up during every fight is not likely to make me consider it any more seriously."
Sirene eyed him. "Oh … I don't know. It'd improve MY view," she said, grinning.
Isabela burst out laughing as Fenris looked completely dismayed. Varric shook his head. "For what it's worth, elf, I'm on your side. No need to see any more of your skinny glowing ass jumping around."
Fenris looked at Varric. "You're simply jealous that I don't teach you my dance routines."
Varric laughed. "Am I so transparent?" He turned to Isabela. "We should probably get back. No need to test our luck any farther with the trouble magnet here."
Isabela nodded. "I can't take much more of the two lovebirds anyway. Let's go get drunk."
As the pair walked off, rather loudly singing a dwarven drinking song, Fenris looked at Sirene. "Perhaps we should get you home? If you have had enough excitement for the evening, of course."
"THAT kind of excitement, maybe," she grinned. "But it is getting late."
They turned and headed down the street. As they neared the chantry steps, Fenris muttered something under his breath. Sirene looked at him. "Problem?"
He merely pointed, then folded his arms, scanning the courtyard.
Sirene saw Anders hurrying toward her. She shot Fenris a glance, then met Anders partway, trying to ignore her own internal misgivings about the mage. "Hi, Anders. You're out awfully late."
"Yes, well … I … was admiring the sculptures in the chantry."
She raised an eyebrow. "I see."
"And it is quite late, isn't it? I'll see you later." He started to turn.
"Anders, are you feeling all right? You look a little … twitchy," she said, substituting "twitchy" instead of "guilty" at the last moment.
"What? Yes, I'm fine. I just need some sleep."
"Strange you're out at the chantry at this hour, then." Fenris' voice carried across the courtyard.
Anders glared at him, then abruptly turned and walked away.
Sirene threw up her hands. "I don't know what's been going on with him lately. Maybe I should stop by the clinic. I know he was worried about the templars coming to get him a little while back."
"Then he shouldn't have avoided the Circle or become an abomination," Fenris snapped.
Sirene put her hands on her hips and glared at him. "Yes, that's right. Ship them all off to the Circle and keep them locked up like beasts, right?"
"Look, I GET that you have problems with mages. I even understand why! But you – of all people! – should understand that slavery isn't the answer! YOU are not subhuman because you have forced magic, and they are not subhuman because they are born with it!"
She held up a hand. "I'm not done. I sat here and waited for you for THREE YEARS, despite the fact that sometimes, like now, your utter stubbornness makes me want to slap you upside your head. But I did it. I did it because I RESPECT you and what you're going through. Now, you can either offer our friends and allies the same courtesy, or you can leave." She folded her arms and stared at him.
Fenris glared at her. He opened his mouth, then closed it, looking off into the distance. "You're right," he said grudgingly. "I have been unfair. But I don't know if it is a prejudice I can overcome."
"I'm not asking you to hold hands and sing songs and pet kittens with Anders. All I ask is that you try to hold off on the blanket, over-the-top statements. Please?"
"I will try. And … I apologize."
"Apology accepted." She looped her arm around his. "Now come on. Maybe we can get to my house without further incident."
Fenris nudged Sirene. "No more incidents?" he murmured, pointing to Aveline leading a rather abashed-looking Merrill down the steps leading from the Viscount's Keep.
"We were almost there!" Sirene lamented. "I can see my house!" She sighed and waved at Aveline, jogging toward her. "What's going on?"
Aveline strode up, dragging Merrill behind her. "I caught her in the gardens, Hawke. Again. I actually had to take action, lest one of the templars beat me to it and then say I'm not doing my job." She released her grip on Merrill's arm. "Stop it! You're going to wind up in serious trouble."
Merrill smiled. "But no one's said anything before now."
Sirene shook her head. "Didn't Varric tell you to stay out of there?"
Merrill rolled her eyes. "He also says not to walk around Lowtown at night, but I've never had a problem there, either."
Fenris almost smiled. "Well, that explains why I spotted some white hairs on his head the last time we were drinking at the Hanged Man."
Sirene smothered a laugh. "Just stay out of there for now, all right? You don't need to give templars any reason to speak to Meredith about you."
Merrill nodded. "If you insist, Hawke. Good night, Fenris. Aveline." She gave them a cheery wave and walked off toward Lowtown.
Aveline sighed. "Hawke … I just don't know about you. Or your friends. I mean, you – "
"What? Oh. He's fine." Aveline smiled. "We're hoping that things will calm down enough for us to go back to Orlais again next year."
Sirene gaped at her. "You? Taking a vacation? Two in two years, even? I'm aghast!" She clutched her chest in mock astonishment.
Aveline shook her head. "Not funny, Hawke. Besides, Donnic's insisting. He says I work too hard."
"Not that any of us have been saying the same exact thing for years or anything."
"It's different," Aveline said with finality. "And now I need to get on patrol. Stay safe, Hawke."
Fenris narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth, then closed it again as Sirene shook her head. Once Aveline had left, Sirene rolled her eyes. "It wasn't a slight against you; that's just how Aveline is."
"I know, but still."
"But still nothing. Stop being so sensitive."
"Stop being so stubborn."
"Because I'm the leader of this group, and I said so."
He pulled her into the shadows by her house, wrapping his arm around her waist and pinning her to him. "That so? You don't seem to be very much 'in charge' now."
"I'm … letting you practice," she replied somewhat breathlessly, before he kissed her.
A cough nearby broke them apart. A rather sheepish-looking Sebastian was standing there, fidgeting and attempting to look everywhere but at the intertwined couple.
"Are we going to run into every single person in Kirkwall this evening?" Fenris muttered, releasing Sirene.
Sebastian raised a hand in greeting. "Fenris."
"Priest," Fenris answered brusquely.
"I do apologize for interrupting, Hawke," said Sebastian. "I was on my way back to the chantry and passed your house. By luck, I happened to notice your bow – "
"Oh yes, what luck." Fenris' mumble was soon followed by a wince as Sirene elbowed him. " – and thought I would ask you a quick question, but as soon as I coughed, I realized you were … ah …." He trailed off, blushing furiously.
Sirene laughed. "You thought I was hanging out in the shadows alone? Shouldn't you know better, with your colorful past?"
"I ... well … that's a fair point," he laughed. "Again, my apologies. And to you, Fenris."
Fenris raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.
Sirene stepped out of the shadows. "So, what did you need?"
"Oh, yes. I was going to ask if you could stop by the chantry when you have a few minutes free," he said.
"Of course," she answered. "Was … that all?"
"Yes. Thank you. And, again, my apologies."
"No harm done," she said, ignoring Fenris' harrumph behind her. "Be ready at daybreak tomorrow."
"I will. Good evening." He walked off in the direction of the chantry.
Sirene turned to Fenris. "Would you like to come in?"
"I … no. Regretfully." He stepped away from where he'd been leaning against the house and took her hand. "But I'll be thinking of you, whether I wish to or not."
"Oh, I'm sure that it's not THAT bad, having me on your mind." She reluctantly extracted her hand from his and moved to her doorway.
"No. There are just other places I'd rather have you." Fenris winked and melted into the darkness, chuckling.