Mini A.N.: I am new to writing for this fandom, so I hope I don't mess this up too badly. Yes, I know this premise has been done already, but everyone has a different interpretation, and this is mine. For a more eloquent author's note, please go here: nineshadows . livejournal . com / 13410 . html for a Long and Ranty chapter note. (Cut, paste, and remove extra spaces, thank you!)

Disclaimer: Dragon Age II, Fenris, Marian, and the gang are all Bioware's shinies. Anything beyond the kiss and fade to black at the wall comes from my demented imagination. All in good fun, not for profit, etc.

Reviews are my daddy, and I am an orphan. Many thanks in advance. I've been away from for a while, so this formatting business has me tearing at my hair. My apologies for the repeated updates.

Prologue: Quia Macula Est

His posture is deceptively casual; his torso leans to the right, left hand braced over his knee, right elbow resting on his thigh, feet spread wide before him as he pretends to scrutinize the articulation of his gauntlet. His shoulders are too rigid, and she can see from her vantage point at the doorway the telltale ticking of a muscle in his jaw. Surprised at his seeming lack of awareness, she clicks her nails against the doorjamb, purposely alerting him to her presence. His head shoots up and he straightens up on the bench when he sees her move into the dimly lit vestibule. He is on his feet in one fluid movement, no less graceful for the obvious skittishness in his demeanor.

"I've been thinking about-" his solemn voice stalls for a fraction of a second, "what happened… with Hadriana."

Something about the way he can't seem to look her in the eye has her thinking he meant to say something different. But then he turns to face her fully, and whatever it might have been doesn't matter because there are too many things he could have said, and she knows better than to pull at the wrong thread. With Fenris, that is often too easy to do.

"You and I don't always see eye to eye," his voice is thick with a weariness that goes beyond the physical hardships of recent days. "But that doesn't mean you deserve my anger."

He pauses. His shoulders flex briefly, and he shifts, takes a step in her direction, then quickly takes one back. He's again looking at a point over her shoulder. A second goes by, and he angles his face up, squares his shoulders and tilts up his chin.

"I… owe you an apology," Fenris declares in a grave voice, briefly meeting her eyes. His posture is stern, and it reminds her that it may be the first time since his escape that he acknowledges accountability for another's feelings.

She shakes her head and takes a step toward him, "I had no idea where you went," his immediate retreat makes Marian halt and reach out with words instead, "I was concerned."

"I needed to be alone," he replies, avoiding her gaze again, obviously uncomfortable with her overture.

His lips press into a thin, rigid line and she wonders if it is the apology, or the memory of their latest misadventure that has left a bad taste in his mouth. Marian hopes that it's the latter, because the idea that he finds their friendship a chore stings… too much. Fenris uses his bitterness like a shield and blade, and her patience is wearing just a bit thin. She is starting to tire of his deflections, of rehashing how pivotal a role that hag Hadriana played in his life. She is tired of hearing about every waking torment the magister inflicted on him, how she hounded his sleep.

She hates the passion that hatred ignites in his voice because it makes every sentence he says sound like a play on words to her, it makes the intensity in his eyes look like a completely different thing from murder when he whispers, "The thought of her slipping out of my grasp now… I couldn't let her go. I wanted to, but I couldn't."

An unpleasant sensation stirs at the bottom of her gut, and she's frank enough about her feelings to admit jealousy may be coloring her perception a bit. He has wrapped himself up in so much secrecy and distance that it gives fuel to her imagination, and sometimes, Isabela and Varric's taunts don't seem so far fetched. He had admitted to her that he'd had no intimacy with anyone since his escape and could not remember anything before the ritual that branded the lyrium into his skin... But in between? She swallows to clear the thick knot that has formed in her throat. It bothers her that more than hatred and scars may well shackle Fenris to his past. It bothers her more that he doesn't seem to want to let go, so she bites back.

"You clearly weren't thinking about finding your family when you did it," her tone is clipped, a sharp barb for his obvious rebuff to her initial overture of concern.

Inevitably, they argue. She has managed to offend him once more with her lack of understanding for his all consuming fury, and he has managed to deflect every signal she has been launching, as vivid and colorful and brilliant as any of Bethany's fireballs.

The set of his shoulders has lost its defensive edge and instead he squares off against her. He is not much taller than she, but he uses every millimeter of his advantage to look down on her. The temperature seems to drop in the space between them.

"Why can't I grasp something so simple?" He drawls and for the first time during their exchange he closes the distance between them.

She is pinned by the glacial gleam in his eyes and she knows… he has been listening all along. He looks down at his hands, glares at the invisible stain defacing them.

"It's a sickness, this hate!" He spreads his arms out to the sides, exasperated, "This dark growth inside me that I can't get rid of. And they put it there!"

Hawke hears the subtext; 'There is no room for anything else.' And it breaks her heart because it means she will never have all of him, even after he has hunted down and killed every one of his tormentors.

He sighs; his anger draining away during their brief silence, defeated by the weight of everything he can't let go, and everything for which he dare not hope. He lowers his head and his shoulders droop as he turns from her and takes a step toward the exit.

"Ah, this… isn't why I came here."

She knows where this is heading, because it is just a repeat of their previous departure.

"So you're just going to leave?"

Her voice rings too sharp in her ears, and it occurs to her that a bit of his bitterness has leached on to her. It is as much a surprise to her as it is a shock to him when her hand shoots out from her side and wraps firmly around his biceps.

He reacts by instinct; the lyrium markings on his skin flash bright blue in the muted, orange glow of the vestibule's torchlight. His right hand clamps down on her wrist, forcing her to loosen her hold. Hawke is neither helpless nor fragile, but a minuscule thread of fear ripples at the pit of her stomach for an instant at the sight of his feral grimace. In a blur of movement he seizes her by the shoulders and pushes her back. She is so transfixed by the wild look in his eyes, that she barely registers the sharp pain under his grip on her shoulders and at the back of her head as she crashes against the wall. They are too close for her to execute an effective defense and in this state he is much stronger than she is. His face is turned away from her; the air from her quick, shallow breaths stirs the hair at his nape, making his ears twitch. She is close enough to smell the faint traces of sweat mingled with soot from the hearth's fire on his skin. He turns to face her, and that fearful thread dissipates in the wake of a familiar, more welcome sensation at the base of her spine. The markings dim as he comes to his senses. Recognition flashes in his widened eyes, then shame and something else flit across his face, leaving him slightly flushed before his vice-like grip on her shoulders slackens.

Marian recognizes an echo of barely restrained want in his dilated pupils when he starts to pull away. It is her turn to react by instinct. She cuts off his retreat, seizing him by the collar of his tunic. She pulls herself in close, clumsily pressing her lips against his. He resists her for a second, halfheartedly trying to shrug out of her hold before her hands find better purchase on his pauldrons. She feels the sharpness of his teeth trap her lower lip and tug at it as he surrenders anger for lust. It's enough to set fire to the blood in her veins, but his body is still rigid enough that she fears he will flee if she gives him the chance. She works her knee in between his thighs, then takes advantage of his momentary surprise to spin them around, crushing him against the wall and traps him there. She kisses him again, and some deep recess of her fogged-up mind sings a trill of victory at the low growl he emits before his hesitant hands come to circle her waist.

Her fingers find their way into his hair and she tugs gently, vaguely aware of her tongue brushing briefly against the edge of one of the markings on his neck. He shudders and pulls his face away, but she presses against him more insistently, her hips grinding against his. She stands on the tips of her toes, her right hand braced against the wall, by the side of his head to keep him there. It works. She feels the prickles of anticipation when his hands at her waist wander lower, more confident and possessive, to tug at the fabric of her doublet.

In the distance, the Chantry's massive bells announce the end of the vespers service. Vaguely, Marian recognizes this means her mother is due to be home shortly. What would the elegant and reserved Leandra say to find her daughter wrapped around the saturnine former slave in the middle of the vestibule? With a wry smirk, she manages to pull herself away from their embrace- dazed and mildly frustrated- long enough to coax Fenris through the door and into the atrium. Bodhan and Sandal are thankfully retired to their quarters, leaving only a very perplexed mabari to witness their giddy flight past the entry hall and up the stairs to the privacy of her bedchambers.

The path to the nearest flat surface is littered by discarded pieces of armor, gear, and clothing. Somewhere between the door and dodging the occasional obstacle, he has lost the hypersensitivity and aversion at being touched, and she has gained all the confidence and boldness she needs to stoke a different kind of fire within him.

Restraint and caution built up between them over the years go up in the flames of their ardor. Each of them is greedy to sate curiosity and hunger with touch and is indelicate and aggressive, but she likes being fought for control and Fenris is nothing if not persistent. Impatience finds them perched on the edge of her writing table, blissfully oblivious to anything but their bruising kisses, the feeling of blunt nails raking over sensitive skin and the relentless urge to seal any space between them with hot, fevered flesh. It is awkward, hasty, messy, and it is over too soon. He staggers in his release, uttering a throaty cry that she stifles with her mouth upon his. He braces himself with one hand on the table top, the shift in his stance makes her keenly aware that she remains unfulfilled. Their kiss mellows as the initial euphoria begins to ebb. Her body surrenders its frustration in exchange for the enjoyment of this new, languorous pace.

Marian tightens her legs around his waist, shifting closer and is surprised when he grunts in discomfort. His hand at the back of her thigh slides toward the hollow behind her knee and she feels his fingers snag around something there. When he tugs at her leg, she pulls away. She blinks, perplexed to find her half-unfastened boot still on, apparently the cause of his discomfort.

They laugh.

Eventually, they make it to her bed. With the pent-up frenzy spent, their lovemaking turns tender, deliberate. He is surprisingly adept at learning her body's responses, despite the reservations he'd confessed years earlier. It occurs to her that perhaps some lover in his old life had taught his body well what his mind has forgotten. The idea sends a brief stab of jealousy coursing through her, and she makes a conscious effort to drown the unreasonable sentiment in the sensations his mouth is trailing along her abdomen.

Whatever was before is not now... The last thought- a prayer to the Maker: let there be no one who can claim him if he should remember- dissolves from her mind with the sound of her own voice, an undulating "Oh!" that escapes her bruised lips when he finds another responsive spot above her hip.