A Dragon Age 2 fic
As I move my feet towards your body There's a drumming noise inside my head
I can hear this beat it fills my head up
And gets louder and louder
It fills my head up and gets louder and louder
That starts when you're around
I swear that you could hear it
It makes such an all mighty sound
There's a drumming noise inside my head
-Florence+The Machine, Drumming Song
A/N: Continued big thank yous to all of you who take the time to read, review and favorite! You really keep me going (well, you and Fenris…) Also a big thank you, as always, to my dear beta, solan_t, who patiently suffers through the horrible things I do to her mother tongue...
Again, there's plenty of paraphrasing of in-game dialog here, to illustrate the fact that my Hawke has… issues with being all soft and understanding and diplomatic while… well. You'll see.
The Arcanum quotes in this chapter are actually in Latin. Yes, I know that Arcanum isn't exactly Latin, but since I SO wanted to put these Catullus snippets in since first time I've played the game, I hope you'll forgive me. They are perfect for what I ( and, well, Fenris) wanted to say. Anyone wants to look them up, the first is from 'Lesbia, mi dicit semper male', and the rest is from 'Vivamus, mea Lesbia'.
It took him a week.
We got back to Kirkwall in one piece: Varric, Merrill, and Orana, the elf girl, with the horses and everything…Me, still a little worse for wear, trudged down to Darktown to see if Anders could find any lingering traces of whatever exotic Tevinter venom that slaver's dagger injected in me. I went, because both Varric and Merrill threatened me with bodily harm if I didn't, and because my mother gave me The Look. The look that clearly said everything she never would have said with words. The look, which essentially boiled down to 'I don't want to lose you the way I lost my two other children. Please?'
So I went. The lamp was lit and there was a bowl of milk out. I remembered just in time not to step in it. He still tried to attract cats. I shook my head.
Really. In Darktown?
"Nope, nothing." Anders brought his hands around once more, soothing turquoise light illuminating from them. "Apart from the wound not being fully healed physically yet, you're perfectly fine. And I just fixed that, by the way. "He looked thoughtful. "You didn't, by any chance, bring back the dagger so I could study it?"
"Wasn't exactly top of my mind." I smiled. "Next time, perhaps?"
"Hmm." The mage frowned. "And Merrill's antidote worked. " He scratched his head. "Maybe I should pay her a visit. I wasn't aware healing was an area she was interested in."
"Healing isn't." I watched him carefully; his hands were steady and there wasn't any twitching between his eyebrows. He had a good day.
At least someone had.
"Nature is." I continued. "Poisons are, most of the time, natural substances—so are their antidotes." I shrugged. "She told me on the way back it was most likely some sort of cobra venom… apparently they have all kinds of nasty snakes in Tevinter with fangs long enough to deliver."
"Lovely." I watched him as he put some towels and a couple of steel-tipped scissors into a satchel. "Now, Hawke, I'd love to chitchat with you about exotic poisons and the thrilling life you lead as you chase after slavers in the mountains, but I have an appointment to keep." He lifted the satchel. "You barely caught me in time before I headed out. I need to attend to a birth." His eyes hardened around the edges. "And no, you may not know where or who the mother is."
"I see." There was yet another Circle mage then, who escaped…this time so that she didn't lose her child, no doubt. Anders always ended up aiding them, one way or another. Some of my coin and sometimes my sword joined him on occasion. Slavery was slavery, no matter if the person oppressed could take your head off with a fire spell or not—and Kirkwall's mages seemed to have it worse than anywhere else. "If you think that's best."
"I do." Now there definitely was a slight tremble in his voice. I stood up and started to edge towards the door. I was almost there when he spoke again. "I'm not quite…sure about your convictions lately."
"Excuse me?" I knew I should just have left it at that, but…Well. This is me we're talking about. "What in the Fade do you mean, Anders?"
"You're… high profile." His voice cracked again. "Living in Hightown. Entertaining all those noble guests. Parties and such. Even the viscount and his son—not exactly supporters of apostates."
"I'd been doing that for quite a while now, and I haven't heard you complaining about my lifestyle when I fixed up those supplies for some of your friends." I turned to face him, my irritation rising. I knew I shouldn't have been this confrontational, but dammit, did he really have to bring this up right now? "This isn't exactly about my mansion or my mother's little dinner parties, is it?"
The nervous tic in the corner of his right eye was in full evidence now and his right hand slowly but surely started to tremble, fingers twitching as if against his will.
I didn't like that. Not a damned bit.
"It's not right." He muttered. "You're spending way too much time with him."
"Anders." I took a deep breath; my hand was on the doorknob already. "I spend a bunch of time with a lot of people; most of them needing something from me. You included." I spoke slowly and clearly and as calmly as possible. "I don't criticize the company you keep, so I'd appreciate you doing the same courtesy to me. Rest assured it has nothing to do with you, or the plight of those you protect." I pointed at the satchel, lying forgotten on his table. "Now don't you have some healing to do?"
That was close, I thought as I watched him shake himself, smooth his hair back from his forehead, grab his staff and that ratty satchel and mumble some half-hearted reassurances and goodbyes as we both walked out in different directions.
I need to spend some time with him, soon. Take him out for a dinner and some theater. Sit in Mother's rose garden, sip kawwa and talk about life in Ferelden. Out shopping to Lowtown so he can maybe pet the cats loitering at the market. Something, anything, before that spirit comes out again, takes over and lands all of us straight in the Gallows prison.
Knight-Commander Meredith would have a field day.
So I added that to my little list of things to do, trudged back to our mansion and dutifully told my mother that I was absolutely squeaky clean apart from, you know, recovering from being stabbed in the thigh. She shook her head, murmured something about me being 'incorrigible' then disappeared into the kitchen to mother over Orana who was refusing to go anywhere else in the house and insisted that she should, indeed, just get a cot set up in a corner there to sleep, because otherwise it 'wouldn't be proper'.
"You'll have your hands full with that one." Varric said; he was getting ready to get Merrill back to her home and start on the shady process of liquidating all the gear he managed to salvage from our little cave-crawling. I really didn't want to know the details most of the time. "You really want to keep her here?"
"I don't want to 'keep her', Varric. " I was annoyed by his word choices and it showed in my voice. "I'm offering her employment with room and board. There's a world of difference, and you know it."
"Easy there." Varric lifted a hand defensively. "You don't need to bite my head off." He lowered his voice. "Hey, I'm worried about him, too. Want me to go by his place and check on him?"
"I…" I wanted to say 'yes' so badly, but instead, I just shook my head. "No need, Varric. Thank you, but…" I shrugged, running out of words. What I really wanted to say was something that I really didn't want to get into with Merrill and Bodahn hovering just within earshot.
Lucky for me, Varric was one hell of a friend.
"No worries, Hawke." He reached up and awkwardly patted my arm. "I'll be in the Hanged Man as usual if you need me. I'll send a message if I get some work to do."
But he never did… and it looked like I was going to spend a lot of time just cooped up in the house, thinking. The weather turned rainy and bleak; thunderstorms rolled in almost daily, as if I wasn't feeling down enough already. I never thought I'd be one of those who are prone to associate weather and moods—but there I was, sitting in my room, staring out the window at the cobblestones being plastered by rain, with a book in my lap, as if somehow that would summon him out of the shadows.
He never came.
I actually couldn't stand it after three days and walked over to his mansion one night, when the rain was a bit lighter. I stood there, under the darkened windows, eyeing the door which, this time, was firmly shut, as if I could make sense of it. Fat raindrops plastered my hair to my head gradually, as I watched, as I listened for a sign, anything…and all I could hear was the rain on the stones, the trees sighing in the wind… and once, just once, the sound of shattering glass upstairs: a bottle bashed against the wall.
My heart gave a short, sharp lurch and my legs almost moved to take me through the threshold… but just then, I heard his voice cry out in slurred Arcanum, words that sounded like a curse:
quia sunt totidem mea: deprecor illam assidue, uerum dispeream nisi amo
…and I fled, my breathing heavy and the rain blurring my sight so I stumbled and almost fell twice on the uneven pavement.
I was lucky that the unsavory elements of Hightown decided not to bother with me that night: I would have been easy prey. Or I would have killed them all single-handed, I don't know. Varric probably would have written it that way. But I got lucky, like I said, and got home unharmed… and woke up the next morning to a world bathed in sunshine and my mother's announcement that it was time for a spring cleaning. With Orana there and itching to do something useful, and me not going anywhere by my own admission anytime soon, she said, it was high time that we did something with the cobwebs and the handprints on the chandelier and Isabela's obscene carving in the stairway and the horrible statues in the library we inherited…
And I nodded and said it was an excellent idea, and obediently put on my nastiest clothes and tied my hair up in a red kerchief Isabela made me buy a while back because 'red looks cute with your hair'… Turned out I really needed it, because Mother really was serious about that 'top-to-bottom' cleaning of the mansion. Looking back, I realize now that this was her gentle and tactful way of helping me forgetting that… thing I still didn't really talk to her about, up to and including what happened in those slaver caves. I caught her looking at me sometimes in those days as we climbed ladders and chased dust bunnies and harassed Sandal for more hot water and rags, and the concern in her clear blue eyes made me want to just hug her and say 'I'll be all right, Mother…we sure went through worse things in life'. But I never did.
Sometimes I wonder that if Mother and I really had had A Talk about Fenris, things would have turned out differently afterwards. With me and him. With Mother and…. But I was so absorbed by my little world at that point, so convinced that I could handle things my way and alone, big independent warrior lady that I was…Well. Dwelling on what 'might have been' was never my strong point until then. And after… I was always the one who outstubborned Father when I wanted to get my way when we were children, so I resorted to the 'up with the chin and stiffen the upper lip and soldier on as if nothing happened' attitude. It worked after Father's stupid accident, worked after Ostagar and escaping Lothering, worked during that year of indenture with Meeran's band of mercenaries, worked after the Deep Roads…
Apparently, though, it didn't work now. It was late in that evening and Mother excused herself early and went to her room: there was another thunderstorm coming in, and ever since Father's accident, she wasn't able to do anything else when thunder and lightning started but hide in her room and cry. There were far less of those here in Kirwall than in Ferelden, but it was still hard on her in the springtime. So I tried to finish for the day with Orana, Bodahn and an increasingly more agitated Sandal—apparently he didn't do well with this kind of weather either. So after he dropped his bucket the third time and hunched over in a corner with his hands on his ears, I told Bodahn that we're finished, and let him take his son back to their room. Orana looked about ready to drop as well; she worked extra hard to prove she was worth my time and my trust, and frankly, I didn't think she has been quite convinced she wouldn't be thrown out to the street at any minute. So I told her that I could finish the last task for the day, the couple of chairs and tables outside in the garden, all by myself if the rain held off a bit longer.
"Hopefully it will be nice again by the morning." I said and stopped her from doing that curtsy thing again that drove me crazy every time she tried. "Mother really wanted to start on the roses." I made a face. "Best to dig out the gauntlets for that one—The Monster has thorns that are an inch long. " We called the largest rose bush Monster, after Merrill did something to it. It was gorgeous, had pale pink flowers that scented the air all spring and summer, but if you wanted to get closer or, Maker forbid, pick some for the table, I swear that thing tried to choke you with its tendrils and thorns. "I'll see if I can dig up something for you as well."
"Thank you, Mistress." There she went, doing it again! I shook my head, exasperated.
"Orana, if you don't stop that, I scream, by Andraste." I made shooing motions with my hand, bad mood descending on my head as surely as the clouds and the oppressing warmth filled with crackling tension in the air that always signaled the beginning of a storm. Thunder rumbled over the hills behind the city. "Go now, get some rest."
She mumbled something about getting up in time to make breakfast, and left—the way she hurried out of the garden reminded me of the way she scurried away from that horrible blood-soaked room back a week ago… and that did nothing to improve my mood either.
I rearranged two chairs and a table to accommodate The Monster's redoubled efforts to take over the entire courtyard, wiped off the tabletop while humming a silly little tune and noticed two cracks on the tiles that covered it, made a mental note to talk to Bodahn about fixing that and maybe putting together some kind of latticework to constrain or at least direct Monster's growth (and to never let Merrill do magic in my garden EVER again), cursed loudly as I stubbed my toe on a cobblestone that was uneven, then turned to get myself inside because the wind really started to pick up…
"Sweet Andraste on a crutch!" I swore again, this time flailing with my hand to grab for the table to keep me from falling over. "I told you not to do that!"
"I'm…sorry." Fenris was tense. Way tense. His shoulders hunched, he stood up hurriedly from the corner bench. How long he had been sitting there, watching me anyway? The thought stirred in me along with the vague notion that I really need to work on my spotting skills… "I… came to apologize." His fingers fluttered around his mouth in a nervous manner I've never seen before. "It seems I…" he took a deep breath. "Someone called my attention to the fact that my continued absence without an explanation might be… ill-advised."
"Really." I think I managed to sound suitable noncommittal there, but my hands were shaking so bad I had to hide them by crossing my arms in front of me. "That's… mildly put." I looked him over, noticed the dark circles around his eyes, the dullness of his normally so bright green gaze, the way his cheeks sunk in.
Varric really should stay out of my personal affairs. And warn me ahead of time.
"I gather this 'someone' also told you I was just a tiny wee bit concerned about where the Fade you went after storming out so spectacularly on us?" I asked, my concern over his appearance turning into anger.
"Venhedis!" The fire that somehow always smoldered under the surface was back in his eyes as he swore at me with a snarl. "You're the last one to cast stones at me… You know exactly where I live, after all."
Great. We are fighting again. Way to go, me.
"What, go over there so I can listen to you redecorating with your bottles of Aggregio?" I shot back at him. The storm threatened really close now; the air almost crackled between us, and the low rumble of thunder sounded closer. "So when you're done feeling sorry for yourself yet again for being an elf and an ex-slave who managed to escape and live entirely free on his own in a foreign city for three years, would you tell me how is this an apology?" I really shouldn't have said that, but so help me, I was at that point done with playing nice. I advanced on him yet again, feeling my cheeks heat up with anger. "Dammit, Fenris, storming out of there was…I really want to say stupid, but maybe I'll settle for 'unnecessary' instead, and not just to show that my vocabulary has improved. Did you think I would…" I swallowed and chose another word again instead of the one that was almost on my tongue, "... care for you less just because you tore out that bitch's heart the way she deserved? I'm not Sebastian, I understood why you did it, and the only reason I'm yelling at you right now because you apparently still aren't capable of understanding that there are people who try to help you cope with this…" I gestured wildly, "…this anger that eats you up because you're not even willing to talk about it. By Andraste's wet frocks, I waited long enough, gave you enough space and time, stopped pushing you about just anything, up to and including the inevitable 'why the Fade did you send me away that night'..."
From inside the house, I heard Tiny's questioning barking and I knew that my mabari reacted to my emotions like he always did.
And there was absolutely no need for him to wake up the house and think that Fenris was threatening me.
"One second." I lifted a finger, strolled to the door, opened it and yelled inside. "All is fine, Tiny, go to sleep!" I slammed the door closed, turned back...
"I've been thinking about you." He was right there, so close his hair almost brushed my face as he leaned forward. I could feel his breath on my cheek. "All this time. In fact, I've been able to think of little else." His green eyes were full of pain, anger and loss. "This thing you do to me... I don't...I didn't think I would ever be able to feel like this. With all the hate they've put inside me, with all of my past, you still...I never thought I might need anyone. Or want anyone. Until now." His eyes were searching mine, pleading, asking, demanding. "Command me to go and I shall."
There was a stillness, a long, terrible silence, full of so much tension it seemed to shimmer in the air in front of me; the stillness that always comes before the storm bores down full on the city. I've learned during my years in Kirwall that this is how it always goes down. The crackling air, the gusting wind, the clouds towering, the distant thunder... and there's a moment as if the entire world was hanging in the balance, waiting with baited breath before it all comes crashing down.
This was that moment. And when I understood that, I knew that there was nothing for me to be afraid of any more.
Whatever this night might bring.
I was tired of the tension, the stillness... the stolen glances, the shortness of my breath and almost-painfully loud heartbeat whenever he was around, the 'nothing is happening, will-we-won't-we' dance that was going on for the better part of this year now. And, just like when I finally reached the end of my rope because something or someone pushed too hard and I got sick of it, I felt my lips twist into that lopsided grin that got me so much grief so often.
"Did you hear me saying anything?" My voice sounded hoarse even to my own ears, almost drowned out by the earsplitting thunder that signaled the arrival of the storm, almost lost in the sound of my heartbeat as my feet moved, as my arms moved, as my entire body moved, obeying at last. "Why is it that nothing is as simple as when you are on the battlefield?' was pretty much my last conscious thought.
I surprised him. He didn't have time to even realize what was happening, I think... Not that at that moment I even cared about it. Instinct moved me, instinct I tried to suppress for so long, but which finally pounded my mind into obedience and drowned out my objections to grab his shoulders, spin him around and slam his entire body against the door with a dull thud as I pressed up against him with my full body weight and finally let myself get lost in the feel of his mouth against mine.
There was nothing gentle or sweet about it. We both wanted it so long that when it finally happened, it just crushed over both of us and overwhelmed all of our senses with the need to get closer, even closer... He was utterly still for a second, air rushing out of his lungs with a surprised exhale, every muscle tense as he coped with the sensations of another body so close, after so long, letting me literally ravage his mouth until I felt blood on my tongue. I saw a brief sparkle of blue dance along the lines of his lyrium marks as I tore myself from his lips and looked at him, head spinning, expression defiant… and saw reason fleeing his eyes finally, as he let loose a growl and spun me around so now it was me against the door, its hinges pressing almost as painfully into my skin as his fingers that grabbed at my hips.
The storm was finally upon us, drenching Kirkwall in its heavy downpour. In the sudden darkness, punctuated by flashes of bright lighting and deafening thunder and the sound of rain on the cobblestones, I was lost in sensations and could have cared less. All that mattered was him, right there; my hands moving in a desperate frenzy over every inch of skin I was able to discover, slipping under his shirt, not caring if fabric was torn; his mouth against mine and more, teeth scraping on my jaw, my neck, ragged breath against my jugular...
"...da mi basia mille, deinde centum..." Half murmured Arcanum against my collarbone; one strong hand sliding up my thigh as I lift my leg to hook around his waist, to pull him even closer to feel him, hard and ready against me...
"dein mille altera, dein secunda centum..." His other hand is on my breast, sending a jolt of pure desire across my very core and I arch my back as the sensations become too much, too sharp... His mouth captures mine again, this time even more demanding if that's even possible, and I taste my own blood on his tongue in return as we tear at clothes and belts forgetting everything except what we want, what we need and it needs to be right here, right now...
"soles occidere et redire possunt..." and how can he say he despises magic when this, this what he does with his hands, and his voice and his lips and his tongue and his teeth and every inch of his corded body finally moving against me, inside me is nothing short of just that...
"nobis cum semel occidit breuis lux... nox est... perpetua una dormienda..." My legs are around his waist, and there are clothes all around us, shed and shred in a frenzy: a piece of his shirt, a shred of my breastband, the red of my headscarf wound against his hand as he yanks it off my head to stifle my desperate cries with it, hand clamping at my mouth, his other hand steadying me against him as he moves, oh sweet Andraste he moves faster and faster... and then my hips buck and it's blue lights all over his markings and his teeth sink into my skin as he marks me his just above my left breast, a ragged cry escaping him, wild and free at last, and I drag my nails down his back and bite through the red cloth and into his thumb over my mouth when I am, also, finally undone, undone, undone...
The rain was cold and the wind was up even more: reality reasserted itself in rhythm with every one of his slowing breaths against my shoulder. My legs were shaking and I put a hand out to find leverage against the door as he lowered me to the ground, but apart from that, he didn't move. His eyes shut, there was a slight tremble to his entire body that was absolutely terrifying to see all of a sudden... and the chills running through me had nothing to do with the rain still lashing our half-naked bodies, but the expression on Fenris' face.
There was a sharp intake of breath against my shoulder and he lifted his head, his arms supporting him on the door framing my face.
Everything slowed down...everything except the rain, the thunder still rumbling in the distance, and that haunted, terrible awareness in Fenris' eyes. I looked at him, and felt the chill of the evening creep behind my breastbone, knowing, knowing, knowing...
The words fell into my mind as bells tolling in the Chantry towers, like the sound of raindrops on the pavement, like the memories that flooded his gaze, that drew new circles under his eyes.
There is, indeed, such a thing as terrible magic unleashed by love...
I should have listened more to my father. I should have listened to my mother. I should have actually listened to all those damned songs I was humming and singing all these years...I should have known all along, that if anything could bring back any of his memories... this, this might be it.
I was too selfish.
I wanted too much.
Maker forgive me... I wanted.
I slowly slid down to the ground, legs curling under me, groping like someone blind to pull my clothes around me. I watched him as if in a dream, rearrange his own attire, heard his voice, halting and full of rawness, talk to me about it being too much, too soon... Of him being sorry. Of him just wanting to be happy. Just once.
Of his memories coming back.
Maker forgive me... I wanted.
I hurt him. And now he was gone.
The good thing about crying in the rain is, no one can tell why your face's wet.
Maker, forgive me.