A/N: I decided to start off this series of one shots with something mild and insightful. No sense in throwing all the steamy bits up at once, right? Yeesh, first fanfiction in about 8 years? It's nerve-wracking. SOMEONE BOOST MY CONFIDENCE!
On Hawke: I've tried to keep Hawke as ambiguous as possible as I know people like to picture their own Hawkes in these things. The only specifics that I've really given are: female, rogue, sarcastic/charming personality. Free fill to fill in the blanks however else you'd like, default or not. The point is to enjoy isn't it?
Summary: Hawke contemplates how silent Fenris is, and how she learned to understand his silence and even join in it. Takes place over all Acts and Post End Game, all rolled into a nice bite size chunk.
Warnings: Um…lack of dialog for the most part? Fluff. Starting pretty vanilla here.
It had been a long time since the two of them had been able to just sit and rest in peace and quiet. Since leaving Kirkwall there had been little time to do anything but keep moving. Keep planning and running and going.
Turning a look to him, she regarded him silently as he sat there with his eyes closed and his features neutral. Fenris has one knee pulled up, with his elbow resting on his knee as he was supporting his chin with his hand and had been silent for hours now since they'd made camp. Despite how they both knew there was much to discuss.
Things would be different from now on. From fugitive slave to free man, from refugee to viscount, and now they were both fugitives once more. What was the saying? How the mighty have fallen…no, not fallen. Their running away was not a plummet, but a rise and things would continually change and there would be no stability.
As she watched him, Hawke smiled…that wasn't entirely true. There was at least one constant, one stability that she could rely on to take place.
Hawke was not a quiet woman, despite how her chosen profession called for it. Then again maybe that was the perfect reason that she wasn't. No, Hawke was loud and outspoken. She looked to make a joke out of everything she could and speak up even if no one wanted her to add in her two coppers. Someone had to be that person after all. It was a wonder then, probably more so to others than herself, how she got along so well with Fenris.
Fenris was decidedly not loud. If there was any fact about the elf that was true, it would be that. He was quiet and reserved, more apt to offer up a noncommittal grunt or snort if people did want a sound from him on something. If he was angry, he was more keen to grit his teeth and give a growl or snarl. Only when something really tapped his nerves and hit him deep did he lash out with words. Even then, they were more laced with venom of ill intent than screaming.
When they were together it was like that. Others expected her to be loud, they expected him to be quiet but when others were gone and it was just them alone, something interesting happened. While not a complete role reversal, there was a marked change in their habits.
Hawke was more reserved, quiet. She listened more than she spoke and when she did find her voice appropriate for use it was in comfort and confidence than just all out joking and sarcasm that she had the ability to wring out of any situation or word. If she thought about it, she would perhaps think that she was so quiet so that she could hear him speak.
Fenris conversely grew more talkative. Maybe it was the wine they were keen on always drinking together that made his tongue loose, or that he found a comfort in her and a certain bit of trust that made him want to speak what was on his mind. He wanted to ask questions so that someone could give him answers.
At the same time in their moments of singular company with one another, they weren't always like that either. Sometimes they both talked endlessly. Those were the times where it was flattery and word play. Questions and answers, humor and life history. Everything was easy. Tones and volume were free to express exactly what was going on inside one's head. Fenris had even learned to see right through Hawke's humor when she tried to use it to cover up something that bothered her. Their conversations were long and lasted well into the night with him walking Hawke home to make sure she got there safe in the darkest hours of the night.
The silences they shared were much more challenging. They mostly started with Fenris' own silence as he was either unwilling to talk or unable to for some reason. Perhaps angry, or thinking, or brooding. Whatever the reason, Hawke found herself silent in these moments as well. At first it started because he would not rise to any of her bait but did not ask her to leave, nor did she feel the urge to. They would sit and drink wine in silence, sitting across from one another by the fireplace.
Then Hawke started to realize that when the elf was silent was when he was speaking the loudest. His voice was found in his eyes, in his movements. With this secret in hand, Hawke set about to learn everything he said when he was silent and to communicate back in kind when he didn't want her words or felt she couldn't speak them. Their budding friendship needed this understanding, she realized and it was a challenge she was happy to accept.
The by far easiest of his body language to decipher was when he walked. Most probably saw it as him bearing the weight of the greatsword he favored, but Hawke had learned better. On the streets of Kirkwall, he let himself hunch a little, curl his shoulders in, kept his knees slightly bent. His head stayed down and his fingers slightly curled in to his palms. These were not because of his sword at all.
These were also not the motions of former slave habits, as others would think of him if they weren't thinking about the weight across his back and shoulders. He was protecting himself. Be it from fear or something else, he was tense under what looked like weight bearing or a cowed slave's posture.
He tried to make himself smaller to keep from touching others, to avoid the general day to day crowds. His head down was not him watching his feet or trying not to meet the eyes of others, but a tactical move. No one noticed his eyes roving about and taking stock of everything with his head bowed and his white hair falling in front of his face. He was always observant.
Fenris was ready to strike at any moment, coiled despite looking deceptively loose. He fooled everyone perhaps…save Hawke once she learned. Sometimes she thought that even he didn't believe her and gave her a dismissive scoff, but she knew the truth.
The odd job running outside the city told her that she was right. Running around the Wounded Coast, piddling around the Vinmark Mountains and trudging up Sundermount, these were places that he let his real self be known. Maybe he wasn't aware of it, or was keenly aware and relished the freedom he found in it.
When he walked in these places, it was clear he suffered no weight of a sword and no beaten habits. His back was straight and his shoulders back, his knees straightened to give him longer strikes and his head held high. Even his fingers fell limp at his side casually. Or at the very least, as casual as Fenris ever got.
Hawke often watched in approving silence as he showed his true colors somewhat. He was strong, determined to keep his earned freedom. He believed that his revenge would go as he planned and that when it was over he would truly be free. Fenris walked prouder than even the most snobby of nobles in Hightown.
Over the years, she continued to school herself in his body language. For instance, he fidgeted when he was talking about something that was truly uncomfortable to him. These things of simple subjects, flattery, flirting, when he was unsure and was looking for answers that he thought she could provide.
When he was drunk, or at least she would say he was tipsy at the very least he didn't fidget at all. Like the night he told her of his escape from Danarius. The catalyst that brought him into her life. He didn't sit silently and tilt his head or give a brief noise or fidget then. Just let it all pour out of him. It was only after he finished and she pushed her luck on their deepening relationship that he started fidgeting again. It was endearing.
Even Fenris was insecure, but never showed it. Out loud he was all raised hackles and snarling confidence and cocky assurance. Hawke knew better, again through silence. When she had offered to teach him to read, she could see the shame in the slight incline of his head and then the embarrassment that followed as he agreed to let her teach.
As they would sit together in her library, side by side in front of the fireplace to have the best light and she would have him practicing paragraphs out loud he would swallow and glance sideways, one eyebrow rising to ask if he was doing well. On the days that he stumbled and struggled over the words, growing frustrated but knowing she'd only push him onward his fingers would fidget at the corners of the pages. He was eager to get past the page he was on, or close the book altogether. Her favorite was when she was reading to him, giving him a break but continuing through his favored book, and he would relax back and close his eyes, his face going completely serene. A posture that said for once he was just enjoying himself and not thinking of anything else but enjoying the little things.
As words progressed from reading to her teaching him to write, another new set of silent actions. Often he would his catch his bottom lip between his teeth, worrying the bit of flesh as he painstakingly tried to recreate the pen strokes she had shown him. Sometimes when she came to practice with him, he all too eagerly reached for the ink and quill despite his outward grumbling and showcased his want to show her improvement.
The comfortable silences between them didn't last forever…one night spent together had broken something in him. Broken something that needed breaking, but he was scared of the pieces shattered on the floor would cut his feet and so he tiptoed around it all. That was when the painful and even more telling silence started.
When they were on the road, running some errand again for fun or otherwise and she would get hurt, he would stand closer than usual. Turn a look down at her but say nothing. 'I should have protected you better'. When he was hurt, she would cast him a glance, tilting her head the slightest and he would stare back before giving the barest nod. 'Don't worry yourself Hawke'.
When they sat across from on another in the Hanged man, listening to Varric spin some tale and the mages around him put him on guard, he propped his elbows on the table, one hand supporting his chin to look bored while the other was wrapped around the neck of a bottle of wine to keep himself from hitting anyone. Hawke would stretch her legs out and let her one booted foot slide between his own bare feet in a comforting nudge. 'Don't let them get to you Fenris'.
He would drop his hands to the table and clasp his hands lightly together, crossing his ankles under her own and in effect trapped her foot for the time being between his ankles. 'What would I do without you Hawke?'.
She'd tilt her head and smile. 'Throw a table at Anders' head, probably.'
There were times when he thought she wasn't looking, or noticing, when he thought he could stare at her at his leisure and no one would be none the wiser. His eyes glittered at these times, the slightest exhaustion showing in his face that reflected regret. One hand would find the wrist of the other then, fingers slipping under the red band of cloth that was tied around his wrist and grip tight. 'If only…'
The deeper she understood his silence, the more words she heard. The more she heard him screaming out despite how his voice never made a sound. There was no use in using words to answer his silent screaming and Hawke would return things in kind to him. A brush against his arm, sitting next to him despite open space to sit where she pleased, a mere pause in step to wait for him to either catch up or keep closer. 'I'm still here Fenris'.
Even when her mother died, he was the only one who understood what she needed. Everyone else wanted to talk her head off…wanted her to tell them how sad she was. They wanted to regale her with stories of their own tragedy and lost family members, trying to tell her that they understood her pain. Fenris was the only one who didn't. Even though she thought she wanted to hear him talk too, he knew in the end what was best.
They had sat together in silence then too, close enough to touch but just enough space to not be so. Both of them leaned forward with their elbows on their thighs and hands clasped between their knees, the crackling fire the only noise.
He turned a look to her, furrowing his dark brows slightly and shifting his weight some to bow his head more to get a look at her own bowed face. 'If you need to cry, don't hold back because I'm here'.
Hawke shook her head lightly. 'I can't.'
His back straightened then, as did hers and they shared another silent look. He questioned her with his eyes and she nodded, shifting lightly toward him as he rested his hand on her back comfortingly. 'I am here. I will always be here, no matter how far apart we may be. You will not lose me.'
Tragedy seemed to bring out the best in their silences. Such was clear when she went to check on him after he fled from their encounter with Danarius. He was not leaping for joy over the magister's demise. Nor dancing, singing, drinking, laughing…she had found him sitting, hunched forward in his chair with a frown marring his features and his eyes closed.
It was clear to her that the revenge he had craved for years had left him feeling hollow, and was bringing him more pain. She sat down and simply waited for him to continue to ignore her of acknowledge her. When his eyes opened to gaze at her imploringly, 'What do I do now?', she offered a smile. 'Live'.
His hands came together, fingers hooking again under the now familiar red band of cloth at his wrist and he swallowed, the soft look entering his eyes signaling the drop of his guards. 'We need to talk…about you and I'. And the silence broke for a brief moment.
The awkward uncomfortable silences ebbed after that, and they were finding new silences to enjoy and speak to one another through. These were the silences Hawke enjoyed the most and happily indulged in. Private things only they could understand and only others could fathom guesses at.
The small crooked smile he gave her at any spare moment, 'I love you'.
A raise of eyebrows as she drew close, trying to talk him into something new or more intimate. Skeptical. Worried. Then his expression would smooth out as her words continued and he would raise a hand to touch her cheek, 'I trust you'.
He would narrow his eyes every time someone he thought was more than just a bodily harm threat would get too close, say something too sweet. The muscle is his jaw would tighten and he would move closer to her as his gaze would settle squarely on who he found to be competition. Claiming her without word to others, 'She's mine. Put your affections and endearments elsewhere.'
It was during such a span of time that she learned that even the lyrium under his skin spoke in the silence. He had always despised the marking across his body and even despite the logical points of how they helped him rather than harmed him more often than not. Hawke figured it was more of the memory of pain and the newfound lack of control over them that bothered him most.
Anger was an emotion that Fenris could handle. Rage, resentment, disgust, all these negative emotions could reach any height they wanted to in him and he was fine. When it came to other things…the lyrium betrayed him. When Hawke would manage to disarm him in all ways and he would let his mind let go of everything to just feel what it wanted for her, as much as it wanted. The lyrium, usually fueled by rage and the energy built up being channeled into a death, would react to his spiraling lack of control on what he felt. Not the usual electric blue glow of powerful unleashed energy, but just a soft glow. It had unsettled him at first, but he learned to make peace with it as she had.
Others were very concerned about these things. More than one of her companions had brought up her relationship with the elf who was seemingly so broody and silent. How could she have a relationship with someone who never talked to her, or ignored her unless they were in battle? That only spoke when he was flying off the handle or there was a subject he could add in a wholehearted opinion on, like mages. Hawke would shrug and give them little in way of answer and they would sigh and shake their head, telling her they hoped she knew what she was doing.
She knew exactly what she was doing and that not everything needed to be said. After all, she used them enough herself and knew they usually were meant to cover up something being felt, or to release something that couldn't be contained anymore. They should be more worried if Fenris couldn't shut his mouth at all.
Hawke perfected the art of his body language as more time passed and he seemed to school himself in her own. Maybe he had always done so and she just never noticed, or she did notice and just naturally responded.
Their silences entered another phase…this one less pleasant. She was throwing up a wall and he was trying to desperately climb it, or phase through it, and was finding either method difficult. Being Viscount made her silent in a way that neither of them liked and Fenris responded in kind, not know what words would help.
For a long few months, it felt like they were drifting apart. But despite her dismissing silence he never strayed far. Waiting outside her office all day, walking her home at night, reminding her to take a break from trying to put a broken city back together and eat. The thicker this wall of silence between them got, the more distance formed. They didn't even touch each other and that was proof enough to her that she'd made a mistake in taking this position and was making them both suffer for a cause that didn't deserve it.
He had seemed to come to some like minded conclusion, or perhaps he read it in her own change in silence. Like a change in the wind, barely noticed but there. All she knew was that he had rested a hand on her shoulder…that one gesture saying so much. Making promises, offering solutions, and no matter what he was going to be there.
And here they were now, once more the only company one another had and the fire making the most noise. Hawke had a feeling that he knew that she had been watching him for a long while now and he made proof of that as he ever so slightly turned his face to hers, a single dark brow rising. 'A copper for your thoughts?'
A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth and she shook her head before she shifted closer to him and rested her head against his shoulder. That smile broadened when he shifted himself, dropping his arm to rest around her and leaning his cheek against her temple. She turned her head the slightest bit, her nose bushing his jaw line. 'Long as you're here, everything is fine.'
His arm tightened around her. Reassuring, comforting. He had probably been thinking as deeply as she had the whole time. 'Always at your side. Forever.'
As usual the silence said more than words could, so nothing need be said.