Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Age or any of its characters.

After he leaves, I stare blindly at the cracked plaster on the ceiling. Did I push too hard too fast? Fenris is so strong that I sometimes forget how fragile he really is, underneath that lyrium-streaked skin. My father used to say that people like him are like onions, made up of many layers. As soon as you peel away one layer, there are still many more to discover. But even that is too simple an analogy for Fenris. He is more like a ceramic vase that has been cracked to many pieces and then glued back together; a damaged, empty vessel looking to be filled. But I don't think he has figured out yet what to fill himself with.

His singular hatred of mages should have made any friendship between us impossible. If I hadn't been so persistent, he probably would have abandoned me long ago. I can't say I haven't been tempted occasionally to freeze him with my magic, just to quiet that stinging tongue of his. Tact is not something Fenris is familiar with, and his brash bluntness has irritated my other friends more than once. He carries his rage like a shield to hide behind, a barrier to keep anyone from getting too close. He insists that he is no longer a slave, yet he doesn't see that hatred is his master, that it controls him just as completely as Danarius ever did.

My other companions avoid him outside of my presence, except for Isabela. She visits him occasionally at his dilapidated mansion, that run-down place he calls his home. I remember the one time I offered to help him clean and decorate the place. I was following him up the stairs to his bedroom, the only room he truly occupies.

"Fenris, this place looks no different than when we first entered it. Let's fix it up; we can make it look so much better." He actually froze mid-step and whirled around, those emerald eyes flickering with that fury that lives constantly under his skin.

"Make it look better for who, Hawke? My esteemed, upper-class neighbors? The viscount? I must have forgotten about all the people in Kirkwall who are so anxious to visit an elf squatting in a Hightown mansion. Or perhaps you want my home to look particularly lovely for Danarius and his men when they finally arrive?" His deep voice almost cracked with the heavy venom dripping from each word.

"Of course not, Fenris. I only wanted to..."

"...to help the poor, escaped elven slave. I am not one of your fellow Ferelden refugees, Hawke. I will not beg for handouts, nor do I need to. My home is exactly how I wish it to be: a reminder that in truth, I have no real home."

I let it go, that time. I have learned the hard way, that you have to pick your battles with Fenris. If I push too hard, I will certainly drive him away, as I did this night. Perhaps what we shared in my bed was a mistake, but I refuse to accept that. He came to me after all, and I know that I did not imagine that haunted look in his eyes when he said he couldn't stop thinking about me. That look was what gave me the courage to grasp his arm, to brave the taboo of touching him. Even as he slammed me against the wall, I knew he would not hurt me. And I dared to let down my own walls; I allowed him to see the hunger in my eyes, the raw need that matched his own. I stood before him unveiled and vulnerable, and he could have rejected me, mocked me for my weakness. But he kissed me instead, pouring all of his desire, his trust, into that intimate contact.

I remember the first time he gave me that precious gift, his trust. I gave him a book on Shartan, thinking perhaps insanely, that a former slave would be interested in reading about another slave who became famous in deed and in faith. His face clouded with confusion as he stared blankly at the book in his hands. I thought briefly that he was angered at my assumption. I had stupidly never realized that he was illiterate, and my naivete shone starkly against my goodwill. But I could see the regret defined in those emerald eyes as he chastised me for my error. I extended an offer to teach him, afraid it would seem condescending, but he accepted it with little hesitation. I see this as the turning point, the moment our friendship truly began.

It took a demon from his past to push the friendship into something more. I will never forget the hatred on Fenris's face when he confronted his former master's apprentice. I hope to never see it again, so black and malignant as it was. It is the poison in Fenris's soul, this hatred, the festering sludge I long to scrape out of his mind that he might live truly free. It cages him as thoroughly as Danarius ever did, but he does not yet see this. I hoped it would lessen after Hadriana's death, but he merely turned it on the rest of us. He fled, and as I stared at Hadriana's corpse, I could feel only pity for him.

But he came back to me last night and kissed me with a passion that rivaled his hatred. We drowned ourselves in wet, smoldering heat, our tongues stroking each other. Very faintly, I heard a growl as he pressed his muscular body against mine. That growl, that voice! When he spoke, the very core of my being vibrated with desire.

"I do not know which consumes my mind more: Danarius or you, Hawke." His hand slipped beneath my tunic and brushed against my ribs. His eyes were inches from mine, and I was utterly lost in that sea of green. "Lately, I have thought of you a great deal." His hand dipped below the waistband of my trousers, and I could do nothing but stand there, pinned by that piercing gaze. "You are a mage, yet I trust you, want you." His questing fingers reached their goal, closed around my girth. My body shuddered and I gasped for air, drowning beneath the intensity of his words.

I wanted to insure that he understood that his trust was reciprocated. When he withdrew his hand, I began to undress slowly, watching his reaction. Far from skittish, his eyes followed my every move and roamed freely over my body, lingering at the sight of my erection. I took the lead at that point, taking his hand and pulling him toward my bed. Fenris refused to submit however, and pushed me gently down on the mattress. It was my turn to watch him undress, and until that moment, I had no idea how starved I had been for the sight of him. It was the first time I had seen all of Fenris in his tattooed glory, and he was truly magnificent. Those lines of lyrium that he despised so much were as sweet to my eyes as candy is to a child. I wanted to inhale him, devour him, and mark him as mine.

He crawled over me like a panther stalking its prey, and when I stretched my palms over his chest, he flinched only a little. I hesitated, not wanting to push, and his eyes glanced away in sudden shyness at his sensitivity to being touched. Wanting to reassure him, I grabbed his silvery-white hair and pulled him into a deep kiss, melting away his fear. As he relaxed against me, I thrust upward, rubbing our erections together. He released a deep-throated groan and tilted his head back in pleasure. I used that moment to attempt something I had only wondered about before. He had mentioned to me once that Danarius could control him by causing his tattoos to flare with pain. What if I could infuse them with a different magic?

Spreading my fingers across the twining threads of lyrium on his chest, I released just a small pulse of soothing healing magic and closely watched his reaction. Fenris went completely still, his eyes widening in shock, but he didn't flinch or pull away from me. The beautiful blue lines glowed briefly in response to my magic. He lowered his gaze to mine, and I read confusion on his face.

"What... was that? What did you do?"

I raised my hands to his shoulders and rubbed them soothingly. "I just wanted to see what would happen. Did it hurt? I won't do it again if it did." I watched him anxiously, half-afraid that he would flee from me.

He blinked. "No, it didn't hurt. It felt... I'm not sure. Would you do it again, please?" This time I lowered my hands to the tattoos on his hips and again directed a small amount of my magic into the lyrium in his skin. There was no doubt about his reaction; I felt his erection twitch against mine, and he gasped. Reassured, I slowly traced the lines down his hips and along his thighs as far as I could reach. Each pulse of magic caused him to shiver, and his eyes closed in pleasure.

"Do you want me to stop?"

"Please... no." He opened his eyes to look at me, and they were so dark, pupils blown wide. Encouraged, I guided him to lay on his side and scooted down until his erection faced my curious mouth. My tongue licked and teased relentlessly while my hands stroked soft magic into the lines on his thighs. Fenris groaned, arching his back and shuddering beneath the dual pleasure. He was murmuring quiet words that I vaguely recognized as Tevinter. How I loved the sound of that deep voice practically curling around the foreign words in much the same way as his fingers had curled around my length only minutes earlier.

Abruptly, he pulled away, leaving my tongue yearning for more of his taste. He flipped himself around on the bed until my erection was facing his mouth, just as his faced mine. Teasingly, he lapped at the clear fluid leaking from me, and I groaned at the sheer sensation of him tasting me. Eager to reciprocate, I pulled his length once more into my mouth and gave him one long, slow suck. I could feel as well as hear his strangled moan, and he gave up the teasing and drew me into the wet, glorious heat of his mouth. It was almost too much, this shared intimacy, and I knew I could not hold out for long. I reached one hand along the back of his thigh and released a stronger pulse of magic than before. Fenris shuddered, bucking his hips against my face, his fingers curling into my buttocks. I could feel how close he was, and I was determined that he would have his pleasure first.

Taking his length as deep inside my mouth as I could, I sent one more powerful surge of magic into his skin, even as I sucked strongly at his erection. It was enough. Utterly shattered, he threw back his head as his body convulsed against mine.

"Garrett." It was the first time he had used my true name, and it sounded beautiful and exotic exploding from his lips. His seed pulsed across my tongue, and I took it eagerly, the bitter, salty taste of this elf I desired so much. Lost in the moment, I had almost forgotten my own need, but he hadn't. As soon as he had recovered, he pushed me roughly to my back and took me fully into his mouth once again. I tried to thrust into him, but he would have none of it and held my hips firmly. Briefly releasing my erection, he looked up into my pleading eyes, those green eyes burning.

"Come for me, Garrett." His voice seemed to reach deep down into my core, and it wrenched a response from my trembling body. As he took me one last time into his mouth, I fell apart, crying out his name. It seemed to take forever to come back together; and when I did, he was lying next to me, holding me in his arms. I rested my head on his chest, his heartbeat the only thing I needed to hear as I drifted off into blissful sleep.

But when does bliss ever last? When I awoke, the bed next to me was cold and empty. Confused, I sat up and saw him standing by the fire watching me with an odd look. I tried to joke, asking him if it had truly been so awful an experience. He wasn't in a humorous mood however, and my heart sank as his words made it clear that he was about to run from me, from us. I tried, oh how I tried to reach out to him, but he was gone, a blur of smoke and lyrium.

I had failed. I had wanted Fenris to feel whole, to mend the fractures in him. But instead I had confused him even more, and now he was gone, possibly more ruined than he had been before. As I lie here in this cold bed, staring at the cracks in the ceiling, I realize that Fenris isn't the only person who needs healing. For one night, I had found what I needed and then lost it. Who would help me mend my soul now? I stare into the dying flames of my hearth, but they give me no answer, no peace.