A/N: If my little oneshots are in any way related to each other, then let's say this happens the afternoon before Anders narrates "What Little Remains." As always, I don't own Dragon Age or its characters and I make no profits.
If asked, Varric would have said that he opened the door and crossed the threshold because he was concerned. Concerned suited him. It was a good word: a stern, solid, manly sort of word. Aveline had been concerned when half her guard patrol went missing and she had had to stage a rescue—single-handed and against upwards of fifty brigands—with only her sword, shield, and a bit of clever footwork between her and the threat of imminent, painful doom.
Varric would not have said he was anxious, despite the uncomfortable pulse in his gut that reminded him of Daisy, assuring them all with such candid certainty that she felt the butterfly wings in her throat when she was nervous and certainly not in her stomach, which was, of all places, a most unlikely one for butterflies.
"But what color are these throat butterflies?" Hawke had asked with all the feigned solemnity of an irrepressible tease—which, of course, she was.
"Powder blue and yellow, mostly," Daisy had answered without missing a beat. "Except for the larger ones that stick to the sides of my throat… those ones are shimmery pale green with gold accent marks on their wing tips." She had obviously given the matter some thought. "And what color are your stomach butterflies, Hawke?"
Clearly, Hawke had not expected such a detailed registry of imaginary butterflies. She had looked to Varric as if for some assistance. "Should I be puzzled and mildly amused," she asked him, "or very frightened? Which do you think?"
"Oh, definitely very frightened."
Ah, yes. That.
Perhaps after having been forcibly administered a truth-telling potion—if there even were such a thing—Varric would have admitted that concerned was simply the word he preferred to use when he was, in fact, very frightened. On this particular afternoon—about two weeks after the nervous butterfly conversation—very frightened had arisen when, upon approaching the solid front door to the Hawke estate, he had found it to be not just unlocked, but also minutely ajar. To his credit, he did pause for the briefest of moments to concede that the average, normal woman in Kirkwall could have left her front door ajar—or, hey, wide open, even—in the middle of the day without causing her friends even the slightest worry that she'd been trussed up and slain in her library with her house ransacked and smugly satisfied words of vengeance scrawled across the walls using the last fluid remnants of her lifeblood.
But Hawke was not the average, normal woman. And lodged somewhere in the back of Varric's thoughts was the memory of women gone missing, a foul-smelling warehouse, and a sickly heap of freshly stripped human bones. He shivered and opened the door, its latch clicking ominously as it cleared the jamb.
The scene that greeted him was enough to intensify his fear. No one was home. No Hawke. No Leandra. No dog. No elf girl with a penchant for lute playing. No strange pair of dwarves fondling their crystalline rune stones with a degree of delight unnerving even to a man whose professed better-half was a crossbow. But…
…no writing in blood either. At least there was that.
A cursory glance revealed that the library was just as unoccupied as the foyer. No sound emerged from the kitchen or the servants' quarters. So Varric did the next logical thing. He went upstairs to see if Hawke was in her room—alive, he hoped, though he had to admit, in his ideal world she would be not just conscious, unharmed, and still breathing, but also seated at her desk working furiously with pen and ink to record her thoughts on their latest series of mishaps and skirmishes (because good notes really were a biographer's best friend).
Varric raised a gloved hand to knock at her door, but paused when he heard a familiar, albeit muffled voice speaking from its other side. There was a man in Hawke's bedroom. And it sounded a bit like…
Yes. It was. Varric recognized the broody elf's low laughter followed quickly by Hawke's pleasured little moan. And now, surely, they were pressed right up against the other side of the door, because Varric could hear the labored breathing, the sucking kisses, and Fenris' guttural "yes… yes… lower…"
Shit. This was awkward. Not to mention, entirely unexpected. They'd never seemed overly fond of each other, at least not in public. Who would have guessed? The broody elf and Hawke. Varric's Hawke. Well, no, not his anything, actually. That was clear enough.
And it was definitely time to leave. Ideally before the thrusting and groaning started.
So why weren't his feet moving? Was this some new masochistic streak—or an old one he was only now discovering? Varric really didn't need to hear the elf getting lucky with the woman he himself thought—well, no, never mind that. He lowered his hand—which had still been poised to rap at the door and startle feverish lovers from their bliss—and turned to leave, only to discover he wasn't alone.
She was standing at the top of the stairs and leaning against the banister, her eyes narrowed, the look on her face more smirk than smile.
"Spying, Varric?" She kept her voice low, little more than a whisper. "I wouldn't have thought you the type."
He shrugged, adapting with seemingly effortless grace to the change of circumstance.
She crooked a finger at him and jerked her head in quick indication that she was now leaving and he ought to follow her out. And if that weren't clear enough for him, she added, "Come on. I'll buy you a beer."
"So," he said, after emerging again into afternoon sunlight, "who exactly is the elf taking to your bed?"
Hawke laughed. "If not me, you mean?"
"You? Why, Hawke, I would never suggest such a thing. Why would you be screwing around with elves in your own bedroom?" Varric snorted. "Patently absurd. Almost as crazy as lending your bed out to friends."
"I'm not lending it," she said.
"Renting it then? I hope they're paying well for the whole... Hawke estate experience," he said with a swirl of his hand in the direction of her door.
"No, Varric." Hawke was frustrated. Still speaking as she walked, she set a quick pace across the courtyard. "I just haven't found the right time—or the right way—to tell them." She stopped walking suddenly, her full attention rounding on Varric. "Look," she said, "it's Orana. And I encouraged them to… get to know each other. It seemed like a good idea. Two former slaves and both so tentative. I thought this might, I don't know, relieve some brooding. Give the girl some backbone. Or something. I didn't expect them to start using my room. And now I'm afraid if I speak up I'll scare them away from each other."
Varric raised an eyebrow.
"I do at least change the sheets afterwards," Hawke added and continued down the first flight of stairs.
"Wise choice," Varric said, keeping pace beside her as they descended to the Hightown market. "So where's the rest of your household this fine afternoon?"
"Well," Hawke said, "Aveline's got the dog, the whole staff's got the afternoon off, and I'm not sure about my mother. I haven't seen her since early this morning. Off visiting Gamlen, I think. She does that weekly, if you can imagine."
"Not a fate I'd wish on anyone," he said.
Hawke gave a quick hum of appreciative laughter before veering unexpectedly from their steady path to the Hanged Man. Varric followed as she ducked behind the vendor stalls and approached the low balcony with its spiked railing, a popular lookout point across the harbor. Hawke stopped there and leaned forward, resting her elbows against the crosswise metal bar.
"Look," she said and, pointing across the expanse of sky, drew his attention to the gathered seabirds buffeted by a steady breeze and then, high above them, to the larger raptors riding updrafts in easy spires.
Varric wondered for a moment why she'd really brought him here.
"Birds?" he said.
"Not just birds." She offered up a foolish grin. "Hawks."
"In your honor, no doubt." And he winked at her. Because, hey, why not?
"So," she said, "I'm curious..."
"About what?" Varric said, sensing, perhaps, that she was about to reveal her purpose.
"Were you jealous," she asked, "to think I was with him?"
He considered giving her the smartass answer: Sorry, Hawke. Broody boy elves aren't my thing. He would have gone with it, too, but for the unexpected glint in her eyes when she looked at him.
"And if I were jealous?"
"I'd have you know... that you needn't be." Her voice was quiet, but certain.
"Glad to hear it," he said, turning his gaze back to the Kirkwall bay.
A companionable silence settled between them and, moments later, when Hawke leaned against him, Varric gave in to the pleasure of it. Shifting his weight, he pressed his shoulder closer.