Warnings: violence, dark characters, Deep Roads death
A short first chapter that begins me re-interpretation of rivalmance with aggressive Hawke. I feel like different personalities should have slight alterations to the romances, not just whether it's friend or rival. So here's the beginning of the rivalmance. Because this Hawke wouldn't have it any other way.
The first time she sees him her lips twist in a grim smile as he rips a man's heart from his chest. As her companions gawk and gasp and sputter behind her, she smirks to recognize a kindred spirit.
"My name is Fenris," he says, murmuring an apology for the attacking slavers in formal words that flow easily from him, his tone twisting with bitterness and rage.
Another woman might wax poetic about the loveliness of his chiseled features and green eyes and exotic tattoos. Still another might fixate on his eloquence, the uncanny articulation and the vast intelligence and wealth of knowledge his every word conveyed. She can't look at him or speak with him and not appreciate these qualities, even admire them. But she isn't compelled by the beauty or intelligence or wisdom.
Her eyes meet his, her smirk growing imperceptible yet remaining. "Hawke," she says, not wasting time with a lengthy introduction. She cannot take her eyes off him, yet it is none of those obvious features of superficial attraction that truly attracts her.
Before she agrees to go with him, she makes him plead with her. Not because she doesn't intend to help him, but because some gnawing part of her loves that note of desperation creeping into his deep voice and needs to know why he makes her blood run hot when so many others have failed. She must accompany him to discover how he's sucked her in so instantly, against all sense and rationale.
Hawke thrills at the viciousness that defines him. That combination of deadly skill and deadlier hatred, the way he twists his large blade as he tears through the ethereal opponents inhabiting his former master's home. For all her speed and skill, for all the havoc she wreaks on their enemies, she cannot stand against him. He fells the shades in swift clean arcs, rather than the distracting flashes and flourishes of her attacks.
The master is gone and the elf walks outside hiding clouded eyes behind white bangs. Now, watching him walk out of the brimstone-scented foyer, she orders her other companions to round up any treasure that might remain and meet her out front.
This beautiful, intelligent, bitter, vicious elf sneers at Bethany and accuses her of being a viper. He acts as if she's less than human because of her powers.
As much as her little sister might irritate her at moments, Hawke clenches fists and teeth when he says these things. Before she can lunge for him, Varric elbows her. She blinks, startled, not sure whether she meant to kiss Fenris or bite his lips, to run her fingers through his hair or tear at it with her hands.
Crossing her arms to hold both her temper and libido in check, Hawke says, "I'm planning an expedition."
She doesn't realize for years that she sealed her fate with those four words.
The rogues he knows are cowards, sneaking and snaking through smoky screens to sink their blades into your back because they're afraid to see your face. She doesn't do that. She dodges a blow and smirks at the group of men she means to kill, and in a few twists of sharp metal they fall dead. He's fascinated watching her fight, how her feet and knees and elbows become weapons as well, how her whole body vibrates a frequency of perfect viciousness as she dances through her enemies.
When she first comes to his home with her chin lifted at a confident, even arrogant angle, he tries to startle her by flinging a bottle of the most expensive wine against the wall. Hawke doesn't even flinch, and Fenris feels gratification at her stoicism and fury that she can take his suffering so lightly. Instead, her eyes meet his and an electric shock runs down his spine and into his limbs.
In spite of the fact that he accompanies her a few days each week on her wild money-earning quests, she visits him once a week at night. After a few months he expects her visits and paces, restless until she arrives on some random night to sit with him. Each time she comes through his door he scowls and tells her to knock, and each time he pulls out a bottle of wine they sit by the fire passing it between them, and each time they argue with heated words and eyes that wander in a tipsy fervor over one another's faces and bodies.
Fenris doesn't understand why she comes to argue with him, or why he doesn't throw her out. When she asks him to come with her to the Deep Roads, he agrees without hesitation. He has no better place to be than with her.
"Bethany is coming, too," she says the night before they leave. She is over to check that he's supplied and to drink wine and argue with him. Instead of armor, she wears a sleeveless white shirt and snug leather leggings and he stares at her chest instead of the challenge in her eyes.
"Very well," he says, meeting her gaze. Better her sister than the blood mage or the abomination.
Her brows draw together and her lips tighten for a moment. "You're not going to argue about this?" she asks him, her shoulders rolling to that deceptive pose of relaxation that often precedes disembowelments.
He shrugs and explains his reasoning, leaving out the fact that he doesn't mind Hawke's sweet, naïve little sister. Somehow Bethany reminds him of someone precious that he knew before his brands, someone he would endure any amount of darkness and suffering if it meant protecting their purity. He knows even as he thinks it that Hawke understands without words because she's embraced her own darkness to keep her sister safe and innocent.
When Bartrand betrays them, Hawke purses her lips and leads them through the winding tunnels without hesitating. She seems perfectly calm, until they encounter a room of treasure guarded by ghosts and golems and then he sees her viciousness magnified.
Her knives strike harder and move faster than he's ever seen. The blades lacerate the golem and massacre the shades.
A few days from the surface, Bethany collapses. He and Varric hover away from the sisters playing Diamondback while they talk in hushed voices, but his sharp ears hear every word.
"Do you remember when you first gave Carver a bloody nose?" Bethany asks.
Fenris can't resist glancing at them, to see the faint smile on Hawke's lips that doesn't touch her eyes. "Do you remember when you first set his arse on fire?" she answers.
The mage girl's laughs turn to choking and she whispers in a harsh, bubbling voice, "please." He can't look away, his cards drooping toward the stone floor as Hawke touches her forehead to her sister's and wraps one arm around the shivering shoulders.
The knife flashes between them and he watches as Bethany falls limp into Hawke's waiting embrace. Black blood drips from her mouth, staining the knife and Hawke's hands and her armor.
They can't bury her down here. Fenris carries the body to the edge of a river of lava and they stare as Bethany's form floats down through the void and disappears in flames and sparks. Hawke strips off her bloodstained armor a second later and flings it after her sister.