Full Description: One mistake leads to a disaster, and Hawke can't fix this anymore. This is a story about finding love, even when it's forgotten. FenrisxF!Hawke

Disclaimer: The original characters and setting belong to Bioware and no copyright infringement is intended when writing this story.

Warning: Foul language. That will be throughout the story, so keep that in mind. Some adult situations, but that'll come later. This deviates from the plot vastly about nine chapters in, so if you're looking for cookie-cutter Dragon Age 2 fanfiction, you might be disappointed.

Hawke: Female.

Pairing: With Fenris, of course.

Timeline: Starts in Act II.

Chapter One: More Mattresses

The pleasure of reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.

Stanislaw Lec

"Don't kill me!"

You'd think I would have gotten used to hearing people begging for their lives.

I sighed, sheathing my swords. "I'm not going to kill you, Merrill." I shot an irritated glare at Varric.

He shrugged. "I didn't precisely say you were going to kill her."

"Because 'Hawke stabs everyone who lurks in alleyways' is interpretive."

Varric laughed. "You're right. "Stab" is too narrow a term."

Shaking my head, I offered a hand to Anders, who had been knocked onto his ass during the battle. Or fight. I didn't think I could consider the short skirmish between a few thieves in an alleyway a "battle".

"You good?"

"I'm good."

Merrill shifted from foot to foot, and I turned on her. "Want to give me an explanation?" My eyebrows rose. She grimaced.

"Well, you see, Isabela told me-"

"Isabela," I groaned. The woman could not grasp subtle if her life depended on it. She was beginning to make all of us females look bad.

"You shouldn't listen to a word she says," I advised, remembering the giant spider nest I was tricked into at her behest. The venom still made my thighs itch - especially when I thought of it. "And if she's truly insistent, she'll come to me."

I scratched my leg discretely.

Merrill groaned. "I told her you wouldn't like it, and then Varric said-"

"I was in the moment!" Varric protested. "I can't be held responsible for what may or may not have come from my mouth."

I rubbed my temples. "I'm not going to kill you, Merrill." I pointed at the dwarf. "Him, though…" I shook my head and threw up my hands, exasperated. "I need to pay a visit to Isabela," I griped.

"You can't blame her for her nature," Anders placated. His hand cupped my shoulder as he led me from the alley. "I'm positive she didn't intend for Merrill to fall into this trap…"

"Just like she didn't intend to steal my underclothes," I listed. "Just like she didn't intend to spike my drink. She did not intend for my family portrait to catch on fire. She didn't intend-"

"I get it," he interrupted my heated ranting by chuckling. "Bad Isabela." He slid his arms around my waist and braced himself against me, but I suspected the action meant more to him.

I sighed, allowing him to lean on me and thinking of how easy it was to be with him. He was friendly, concerned, and despite what everyone said about his…possession…he was nice. Unless he was speaking to a templar sympathizer or - Maker forbid - an actual templar.

"You're frightening when you're angry," he said, giving me a pleasant smile. "I doubt Isabela wanted this ire directed at her."

I sighed again. I was vaguely aware of Merrill and Varric bickering behind us as I headed to the Darktown apothecary to drop off Anders. "And they say road to hell is paved with good intentions," I said dryly. "Are you sure you don't want to grab a drink?"

He shook his head, straightening his stance and shaking off the momentary pain as we tread closer to his temporary home. "I'm sure. I heard something about a cat hanging around the neighborhood, and I intended to lay out milk earlier…"

I laughed at the visual of a cat dangling by its neck. "A cat…hanging around Darktown? Are you sure it isn't hanging by a noose?" In this town, you could never tell.

Anders just smiled and looked at me queerly as I opened the door to the small makeshift hospital, leaving him. I waved goodbye and started on my way to Lowtown, watching Merrill and Varric trailing in front of me.

Anders was not such a bad person, I rationalized. Sure, he could work on his sense of humor, but I needed to stop using so much sarcasm anyway.

The din of The Hanged Man wafted down the street in the slow breeze, carrying shouts and laughter to my ears. Merrill headed off towards her home in the alienage as Varric entered the bar in front of me, leaving the door open for my entrance. He headed straight for the Wicked Grace table, a tale already tipping from his grinning lips as he eyed the players.

"Did I ever tell you of the time Hawke battled a battalion of Qun on the coast of…"

I shook my head, laughing at the poor sods hanging on his every word.

"Something funny?" Fenris said. I jumped in alarm, spinning around with a glare. He was perched onto a barstool, regarding the entire scene coolly.

"Just Varric being a little ass," I supplied, heading over to him. "What are you doing here?"

"I can't come to a bar and have a drink?"

"You could," I said warily. "If you didn't hate everyone."

His lip quirked. "What makes you think I hate everyone?"

"Maybe it's the fact that you brood when anyone tries to speak with you," I teased, enjoying the way he frowned at the word. "Or it might be the sinister-looking armor you wear to intimidate anyone who gets close enough to see the spikes." I tapped my finger to my chin, narrowing my eyes in thought. "But it might be the scowl." Nodding, I confirmed my own musing, "Definitely the scowl."

"I don't brood," Fenris said, leaning back onto the bar. "You should stop talking to the dwarf as much."

"At least Varric doesn't brood," I pointed out, hopping onto the stool next to his.

"Then perhaps you should go sit at his table."

My eyes darted to him. His white hair obscured most of his face from view, but I could see the smirk.

"Do you want me to leave?" My eyebrows shot up and I crossed my arms.

"Sit, Hawke," he directed, setting his empty glass onto the counter. "What is on our agenda for tomorrow?"

"I don't know. I'm contemplating taking a rather long, hot bath. With bubbles."

"Bubbles? A detailed plan."

"You don't know the half of it."

Oh, yes. I could see beyond the hard, tough exterior. That's right, Fenris. I know you're dying to release a giggle.

"And what, pray tell, will you do afterwards?" He turned to face me, his green eyes immediately meeting mine and glancing away as he fought the grin.

Don't fight it. You need a good smile. "It depends on what you're going to be up to," I said, my own mouth twitching. "Do you really dance in your mansion?"

"Planning to spy on me?" he asked. "Or are you inviting yourself over?"

"I can't pass up the chance to see you in action."

"Hawke, you see me murder people every day. Does it not qualify as 'action' to you?"

"All right, how's this? I think you should have a dance partner." I shook my hair about my head, a bad habit I had gotten since I had it trimmed. It was short and usually fell back into place; it was quite liberating, being able to shake it around randomly whenever I wanted. Fenris was amused as his head tilted toward mine, eyes tracing my hair - which was sticking up.

I surreptitiously angled my body so I could smooth my hair without being obvious about it.

"You think you could keep up?" Ah, there's the grin. Hopefully not at my expense. Stupid hair.

"Are you trying to insinuate I couldn't?" I asked in mock-outrage. "I'll have you know-"

A throat cleared. We both unlocked our eyes and faced a mildly disturbed Aveline.

"Aveline," I greeted with a wave.

"Captain," was Fenris's curt acknowledgement. I made a note to help him work on his people skills, and then disregarded the notation. I loved the way he treated everyone like scum under his dirty feet. It meant that I could do whatever I wished in his presence and still be the better person.

That and the change of tone he took from speaking to me to speaking with her gave me an ego boost.

"You actually got him to smile?" Aveline inquired. "His face didn't crack, did it?"

Fenris grumbled under his breath.

"It can happen every once in a while," I said sagely. "When there isn't a nosy redhead poking fun at his disability."

"Disability?" Fenris muttered in disbelief.

"Nosy redhead?" It fell from Aveline's mouth at the exact same moment.

"He can't help the way his face is permanently set in a frown," I informed. "I'm doing extensive research on the matter."

Fenris scoffed and ordered another drink.

"What brings the nosy redhead to the tavern?" I eyed her casual dress and wondered at the lack of armor. She looked good in a simple green dress - though hadn't I heard somewhere that redheads shouldn't wear green? - kind of… feminine.


"I can't get a nice drink like the next louse?" she joked, ordering a pint for herself.

"There's got to be a reason for the guard captain to abandon her post." I shook my hair around again, an involuntary action, and then cringed at myself for doing it again. "And this is The Hanged Man. There is no such thing as a 'nice drink'."

My suspicions proved correct when the mischievous look appeared on her face. "I heard some of my soldiers talking about coming out here for a game and some drinks." Shrugging, she turned her back to the bar and looked about the room, settling them on a group of raucous young guards causing trouble. "I supposed it wouldn't hurt to loosen the armor for one night."

I tipped my head to her. "You cleaned up good, Red. Go kick some ass," I teased. My foot kicked out against the back of her thighs as she departed, and she laughed at my antics.

"Hawke," she drawled on her way. "One day, you'll have to grow up."

I watched her take a seat at the gambling table just as another shout rang up from Varric's side of the room.

"This place stays so busy," I mused, pursing my lips. "How does anyone stand being here for more than an hour? I think I've already gotten a headache."

"Perhaps we should depart," Fenris suggested slyly. "I believe we both have an…engagement."

I laughed, standing. "I believe you're right."

I put my drinks on Varric's tab, paying him back for all the times he'd bummed off my better nature. We both headed out into the night, Fenris keeping a half step behind me the entire walk to Hightown.

"Have you practiced any?" I asked, walking briskly around a corner and keeping my eyes peeled for any of the rotten gangs who plagued the streets at night.

"No," Fenris confessed, grimacing. "I fear I have little patience."

Oh, Fenris. No need to tell me. I know you have little patience.

"You? Short-tempered?" My mouth gaped in shock. "Who would ever think-?"

"I get it," he snapped. "No need to tease."

My mouth shut and I bit my lip, hiding the snicker as he proved me right. When we walked in silence for a few more blocks, he sighed in aggravation.

"It's just…the language has been bastardized," he explained wearily. "How am I supposed to differentiate between spellings and pronunciations?"

"It's even worse when you know you've done something wrong," I sympathized. "Then you just get pissed off until you figure it out."

"Precisely," he said, shifting his position so he was ahead of me as we approached his mansion. "If you'll excuse me…"

He hopped onto the ledge of the windowsill and pushed it open, slipping inside his foyer. I waited patiently for him to appear at the door, graciously welcoming me into his home.

We had been sharing nights like these together for months - ever since we both noticed the instinctive attraction (and the feeling of hopelessness that came with said attraction), we found a reason to be together.

Tonight, the reason is reading.

I remembered giving a book to Fenris once, and realized how much of a shame it was that he couldn't read. When I was younger, I had sought solace in the books of my father's library. He had text on every subject from cooking Orlesian apple cake to mastering the precarious art form of telepathy, and I devoured them all.

Well, not the apple cake, but the book written about apple cake. (And no, I didn't literally eat it. Hah. Literally eat - because it's literature…about food. Hah.) It helped me not feel as jealous when father spent time training Bethany, cultivating her magical talents. It helped me resist the torture of watching mother baby Carver, treating him like a prince.

But yeah. Reading is a good way to pass time without wasting it.

Anyways, it made me feel like shit to give him something he couldn't use, so I thought - hey, why not? Everyone should know how to read at least one language, and Fenris was already fluent in quite a few languages. The language of words on paper should be simple for his mind to master.

It was, indeed, a great mind. He was short-tempered, constantly angry at the world, and always in pain, but he was brilliant. The longer we stayed huddled in his house, a book between us, the more he impressed me. He had so much knowledge at his disposal, always observing quietly and passing his own judgments - unless he observed something which involved an incorrect use of magic, which would spark a monstrous argument for whoever dared to commit the offense.

Still, learning to read didn't happen in a day, just as the Blight hadn't been beaten in a day. These things took time.

I was enjoying every second.

I didn't know what excuse I was going to come up with to spend more time near him after he learned how to read. He already knew the basics - right now, the only problem was getting him to practice. I would make him read to me until the wee hours of the morning, resting my body and staring into space as his deep voice surrounded me in luxury.

It was quite a feat. His mansion was horrendous. I doubted anyone else felt luxurious while lying on one of the dank, cold and barren floors; but then again, who else would he talk to for hours?

So here we were. A book between us on the cold, unforgiving floor, our knees nearly touching, and his brow furrowed in concentration as he stared at the page.

"At Shar…tan's…word…" he pronounced the words slowly; glancing up at me every few seconds to be sure he has said them correctly.

I smiled each time, nodding, wanting more than ever to give him a friendly pat on the back or even a hug for just…being him. I doubted it was easy, living with the guilt and the shame and the pain of his past, but he did it while maintaining a cocky attitude and a sharp tongue.

"The sky… gr…grew black with arrows," he continued, and I watched his mouth form the words. The markings on his chin and neck glowed faintly in the light of the burning fire in front of us, and I traced the pattern with my eyes, trailing the white up his neck and behind his ear.

I had a terrible urge to lick the trail.

"At Our Lady's…" He stopped, his eyes flickering up to my intense stare. "Is something wrong, Hawke?"

I blinked, waking from my trance. "You're doing fine," I assured. "Keep going."

His white hair tumbled across his forehead as he nodded, an unhappy look on his face. "Are you positive you aren't doing anything important tomorrow?"

I shrugged. Usually people badgered me, but only when I was in public. Sometimes one of my friends would ask me for something specific, but I hadn't heard anything lately that would catch my attention. "Not that I know of." I smiled at him. "I wasn't kidding about the bath, you know. After the work in the Bone Pit, I've been quite sore-"

"Then perhaps some rest would do you well?" he interjected before I finished my sentence. My brow furrowed.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean," he said slowly. "You've been here every night for the past week or so. Don't you think you should be getting more sleep?"

I glanced out the nearest window and was surprised to see a hint of light blue peaking through the pane. Was it morning already?

I flushed slightly. "I had no idea of the time," I said by way of apology. "I bet you're tired." I cringed, not even trying to hide my sheepish smile, rising to my feet and wavering a little.

It hadn't felt like a long time to be sitting. "You're getting rather good," I told him, grabbing the book and masking a stretch. "I'll have to buy you some more books for when you don't need me here."

Fenris mumbled something beneath his breath sarcastically and led me to the door.

"You really are getting better," I encouraged. "It's impressive."

He rolled his eyes and opened the door. "Good night, Hawke." He tipped his head at me as I passed by him.

"Good morning, Fenris," I shot back and was instantly rewarded with a short chuckle. I was starting to feel the late hour - or the early hour, I should say - in the form of my sagging shoulders, aching limbs, and burning eyes.

It was so worth it.

The crack of dawn bore down upon me as I made my way to my Hightown Estate. It wasn't far from Fenris's mansion, which was lucky; I didn't want to encounter anyone with bad intentions while I was in this exhausted state. I imagined I wouldn't fare too well in a fight.

I didn't even make it to my bed before I slumped over, my head tussling my hair again as I discarded most of my heavy armor. The floor was hard and uncomfortable, so I tried to inch closer to the mattress, my arm reaching pitifully for the coveted softness.

It proved too hard a feat to accomplish. When did floor mats go out of style? The bed was just too high up, so I pulled the coverlet down on top of me, curling into a ball on the hard, hard floor and succumbing to unconsciousness.

Note to self: Next Estate renovation will include softer floors or down mattresses on every surface.

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