Chapter 12: "No More Tears, Fenris"
I am SO sorry it took me a while to write this chapter! I had just recently moved to a different country temporarily, and all of the events have kept me from writing this new chapter! However, good news is that this chapter is more than twice the length of my usual. A gift for you guys waiting so patiently!
I had a lot of fun writing this chapter, and this is the longest one I've written yet for this particular story, so it's packed with action! Hopefully this particular addition will answer some of your questions, as this is a huge step forward in our story.
I heavily appreciate all of your beautiful and thoughtful reviews, and to those of you who are still with this story, so a HUGE thank you to all of you guys! You rock!
Just a reminder so I don't get any angry PMs: this chapter is one of those 'special' ones that earns this story its M rating. You have been warned!
And now, without further ado, here is Chapter 12! Enjoy!
Fenris watched as a lonesome three-legged beetle climbed up the length of the rotted log upon which he sat. The pitiful creature, despite its disabled form, struggled to crawl through the leaves and branches that blocked its way to sanctuary from the various predators that prowled in the night.
It was a colorful one, with its half-torn wings bladed in gold and tipped in brilliant sapphire. Fenris tentatively lifted his fingers and pressed them in front of the helpless animal. The beetle froze at the sudden obstacle, and then climbed over his lanky fingers hesitantly as Fenris set it atop the log. With a weary look, he watched as the beetle made its way into a small nook inside the log, safe away from the demons of the world.
His campmates rested solemnly beside him, clearly more fortunate than he was tonight in trapping the elusive butterfly of sleep. Nowadays, it was nearly impossible for him to even find it, let alone catch it. His thoughts of Hawke kept him awake day and night, and even the attempts of comfort from Marethari and Isabela did nothing to soothe his unease. She was gone, and there was no guarantee of ever seeing her again.
Hawke, that annoying, playful, sarcastic little brat that always beat him at Wicked Grace, who always hid a card of cunning underneath her sleeve despite her demure appearance. Hawke, who, no matter what corruption she faced, still managed to retain a sense of childlike altruism to whomever she met. She was irritating often, childish even, but never without integrity.
And now, Fenris wasn't sure if he would ever again see her chiding him for his spiteful comments about mages or if he would get to scowl at her as she would stick out her tongue at him after beating his last card. He could still taste the overwhelming amounts of alcohol she made him drink after every lost round. She and Varric would explode into laughter, watching how the usually stoic and collected Fenris stumbled over his own lanky legs, cursing under his breath in Arcanum. He didn't think it was very funny. He remembered his own satisfied smirk when Varric, ever the king of story-telling and card games, beat nearly every hand Hawke dished out to the table. She would roll her eyes in exasperation before downing her pint. The biggest irony was, that Fenris was able to beat Varric, and Varric was able to beat Hawke, but Hawke was able to beat Fenris, every time.
By the time they finished, Fenris had downed nine pints and Hawke had downed six, while Varric chuckled, 'amateurs' under his breath before taking another sip. Then they would both hold onto each other unsteadily after both having multiple rounds of ale, making their way up to their separate rooms in the Hanged Man for the night, with Hawke's pleasant scent filling his nostrils. Fenris almost chuckled at the memory.
Somehow, he felt certain she would return to them. To him…
'Yet, even if she does return, shall she ever be the same?' that nagging voice of doubt whispered from the recesses of his mind. Fenris sighed deeply.
He had heard the horror stories. He had never heard of a time-traveller going insane, but he had heard the tales of mages going mad after out-of-body experiences and being trapped in the Fade for long periods of time. Could this be the same path that Hawke was taking? After all, she was lost in time, and time was a the very essence of a vast, endless black hole of events. What if she landed in the days of the Arlathan elves? They would have killed her on the spot simply for being human. Or taken her as a test subject for their ever-growing collection of torture instruments. Fenris exhaled uneasily. Best not to think of such things… better that he think of her instead.
He missed her, missed her visits to his decrepit mansion on her off-days, where she would join him and they would chat, often for hours on end. He wanted to hear her voice again, as it always has been nothing but a flurry of emotions for him to hear her; calming him, angering him, amusing him, sometimes even tempting him…
A flash of memories of her speaking to him fluttered across his mind as Fenris laid back against the log, closing his eyes and losing himself to the sound of her voice.
'Fenris, you're not the monster you think you are…" Hawke once told him.
"Fenris, I promise you, you are not alone. I will help you find and kill your former master," she promised with that tinge of resolution hanging in her voice.
"You cheated! I just saw you swap one of my cards for yours! You cheating scumbag!" she exclaimed during one of their games, laughing loudly.
"I like you, Fenris," he remembered her purring to him one night after they've both had a few glasses of wine, just a few weeks after they first met, " you intrigue me, and I want to make sure you are comfortable in my company. I know of your troubles with mages, and I hope you don't mind that I am one." Fenris remembered him trying his very best to look like he did mind, to contradict the heart pounding in his chest. He had been so sure she could hear it.
Fenris' eyes shot open as the distant mewling sound reached his ears. Through half-lidded eyes, his eyes scouted for the source of the disturbance. It was a high-pitched and pathetic sound, and it sounded almost like…
Fenris sighed deeply, and almost forced himself off the log to walk over and crouch down besides Merrill's bedroll. Coiled up between her blankets, Merrill sobbed.
"What's wrong?" Fenris asked hesitantly, with a blank stare. Merrill froze momentarily, then pulled down her blanket, revealing her tear-stained face and frightened, watery eyes.
"I'm sorry…" Merrill sniffled miserably," it was all me, it was all my fault."
"What was your fault?"
"I was the one who got Hawke trapped in that mirror. Please, I didn't know it was going to turn out this way! I only wanted so much for the eluvian to work!"
His eyes shot aflame, losing all control of his muscles as he lurched forward in a blind fury and grabbed Merrill violently by the shoulders. Gritting his teeth, he shook her back and forward in a rage, making her yelp.
"What. Did. You. Say?!" Fenris growled in a raspy voice, his teeth bared as though ready to bite her arm off. Tears streamed down her face as Merrill squeezed her eyes shut.
"I'm so sorry! Please, Fenris, listen!"
"Oh, I am listening. You will speak, and you will tell me everything that you did, every last detail!" Fenris roared at her, sinking his large fingers into her lithe shoulders. She squealed from the painful marks he left. He teeth chattered as she spoke sobbingly.
"After I… after I retrieved the arulin'holm with Hawke from Keeper Marethari, I knew that sometimes, the arulin'holm itself is not always enough. So… so I went to visit some elven apostate mages in Darktown… blood mages… and they told me that an incision on the top of the eluvian would drive away some of the taint without weakening the mirror's connection to the Fade, as the Arlathan elves used it as a mark of purification from demons. So… I did it… I carved it… and now I think that Hawke's trapped because of me!" Merrill babbled, wiping her tears clumsily with her hands.
"You consorted with blood mages? OTHER blood mages?! Other filthy, corrupted, mindless excuses for mages as you?" Fenris' fists began to shake. This pathetic excuse for a mage. It was her all along; her and her mistakes!
"Because of you, Hawke may never return! You fool! Do you have any idea what you have done?!"Fenris shouted at her.
By now the other party members were stirring in their sleep. Isabela poked out her head from inside her tent, an annoyed expression on her face. Varric yawned and got out of his bedroll to sit by the campfire, deciding to roast himself some leftover rabbit. He seemed to be the only one undisturbed by the sudden commotion.
"Well what do you know, you got over Hawke fast…tsk tsk tsk" Isabela commented, watching how Fenris hovered over Merrill's laying body. Fenris felt his anger surge as he sneered at Isabela's wide, sneaky grin.
"This is not-" he began, but Isabela interrupted.
"Varric, I think you owe me something," Isabela smirked, leaning out of her tent towards a sitting Varric expectantly.
"Alright, alright, Rivaini, you win this time…" Varric grumbled, disappointed, flicking a sovereign towards Isabela. She caught it and chuckled lightly, disappearing inside her tent. Fenris growled harshly. How dare they make light of this?! After he dealt with this one, he would make sure to put an end to their games as well…
"W-wait…" Merrill said with a note of confusion in her voice, breaking Fenris' attention away from their other two companions. Fenris glared at her, feeling the night breeze tickle his hair against his forehead. His ears felt cold as the wind scattered his hair in every which way.
Merrill's eyes suddenly widened as she stared at him, frightened. She paled and her jaw dropped open. But she was no longer looking at him with the same kind of fear. No, this was a fear of a different coat. In fact, she was no longer looking him in the eyes. Sense began to trickle back into his mind, mixed with confusion, as the grip on her shoulders lessened.
"Fenris… what-what's wrong with your ear?" Merrill whimpered as her hand rose to cover her face in shock.
Fenris frowned. Just another plot by the sniveling blood mage to distract him, he supposed. Yet he felt an unpleasant churning in his stomach as he then raised his hand tentatively to touch his ear, not anticipating that once he did, he would never be the same.
Before she could realize what was happening, a huge explosion was heard, and she caught sight of a black blur racing across her eyes, knocking her backwards. She gasped, and then, waited for death to come. But the weight was gone as soon as it had come. Hawke opened her eyes, and the first thing she was was red. Blood droplets raced down her face as the dark figure in front of her slid down to the floor, an enormous sword poking out of their left shoulder. Their face was contorted in extreme pain before they fell forwards in a pool of their own blood.
"Hawke! Get up! We're under attack!" Leto's voice woke her from her thoughts. Hawke scooted backwards, away from the creature, and scrambled to her feet. She ran towards the door of their little cell, finding it to be unlocked.
"Wait, it may be a trap." Leto held out his arm in front of Hawke. He paused for a moment, listening to any signs of life. Then, he let out a sign of exasperation.
"Can you cast a protective spell?" he asked warily. Hawke paused in shock before nodding slowly. Was he actually asking her to use magic? Fenris?
He turned away.
So she did. The golden, faint outlines of a shield surrounded them as they slowly opened the cellar door, running up the steps to the main floor. The scene before them when they arrived was unbelievable.
Danarius and Horus stood a few feet away from the front door, with Hadriana lying out-cold in Horus' arms. Leto and Hawke rushed over to the others, taking notice of the damage done to their home.
There was a huge, black crater that had completely blown out the front door. Whoever planned this naively believed that Danarius would be the one to open the door, and die in the explosion. What was more worrisome, however, was the noxious green odor filling the air. Hawke looked down at the floor, and gasped when a sea of green goo came into sight. It was a filthy, dark, and rancid, and slowly advancing towards them. Hawke stepped back fearfully. It was spreading and spreading but it wasn't losing any of its volume. How was that possible?
"Don't stand too close to it! It's poison!" Horus cried out. The green liquid seemed to spread further and further, rotting away the marble floor and turning it to gunk. Danarius marched up to Leto and grabbed him by the collar of his rags, making him grunt in surprise.
"Fenris, where have you been, stupid boy?!" Danarius yelled at Leto and swung at his face. A loud slap was heard as Leto doubled over from the stinging of his cheek. He opened one eye to look at Danarius, refusing weakness to write its poem on his face.
"I was protecting Lady Hawke from the intruder. I was unaware that we would be having a third-party arrival."
"Nine Hells, none of us were! I am the master here, not she! I am your first priority, foolish pet, I am the one you run to protect first and foremost! Is that clear?!" Danarius bellowed. Leto stood extremely still, staring Danarius in the eyes.
"Now then, I want you to retrieve your armor and put it on – and quickly! – and join us in our quarters. We must leave now before the barrier I've created around the mansion's borders collapses and before this disgusting green shit devours the entire mansion. Do you understand?!" Danarius barked, making Hawke flinch. It seemed like the more she sees of him, the more monstrous he becomes.
"I understand," Leto nodded before rushing off. Hawke watched as he disappeared up the stairs, taking a turn to go find his armor. She watched how the elf had turned so quickly from loving to loyal in just a matter of seconds. Just moments before, she had been curled up in his arms, being loved by his lips. It's just as well, too. Duty comes first in a slave's life.
What happened next was a blur. Danarius spun on his heel and began to rush towards his quarters, up the grand staircase. Horus and Hawke followed suite quickly, with Hadriana hanging limply from Horus' arms. They bounded up the staircase, with Hawke's mind bubbling with questions. What on earth was going on? Where were they going?
Then it hit her. Of course! The mirror! Hawke's veins pulsed with excitement at the thought of the mirror. She was going to see it again, after all this time! She was unsure why, but somehow it made her feel a sense of security, as if somehow, home was close again. Maybe… just maybe…
They turned a corner and entered Danarius' quarters. Horus rushed up in front of Hawke and Danarius, reaching the eluvian first to take a good look. That was when she caught sight of it.
There it was.
The blasted mirror.
It was as beautiful as ever, standing gracefully against the wall. Hawke saw herself in its glossy, unblemished reflection, and could feel the dark energy emerging from its surface. She had seen it numerous times in passing during the course of her stay here, but could never enter the room to take a closer look at it, as Danarius was always close by.
"I need you to prepare the teleport, Horus. You are better at these things than I," Danarius admitted begrudgingly.
"What should I do with her?" Horus asked, with Hadriana still passed out in his arms.
"Give her here," Danarius said to Horus before being given Hadriana. The scorch marks on her face were black and grey, and her white robes were completely ruined. Still, for a burn victim, she looked remarkable.
"Will she live?" Horus inquired quietly.
"She will. She has learned well, and protected herself admirably in the split-second timeframe that she was given. I have healed her all that I can, and for now, it will do," Danarius said, brushing the gritty hair away from Hadriana's face. Horus nodded and breathed in deeply, reaching out to touch the surface of the mirror. Swirls of blue surrounded his intruding fingers. His eyes squeezed shut, with a frown fixated on his sharp features. A few moments later, Leto arrived, and as Hawke turned to face him, she could scarcely believe her eyes.
It was the same armor that he wore with her – that same, silver breastplate and black arm cuffs and steel, claw-like gauntlets. For a moment, Hawke's heart shone with nostalgia at the familiar sight of his slave regalia. He looked just like the Fenris she knew, only younger and raven-haired. She didn't notice until after a few moments that her heart was beating faster than usual, and only Horus' voice and the gust of a wind coming from the eluvian broke her gaze away from him.
"It's finished, hurry! Everyone, in, now!" Horus exclaimed. Leto nodded and walked into the mirror with an astonishing confidence, as if he's done this dozens of times. Soon after, Danarius entered as well, clutching Hadriana to his chest. Hawke stared after him as he was swallowed up by the mirror. Perhaps… maybe if she stepped inside, she would arrive home and away from this nightmare of a city?
'Please… maybe I can go home,' Hawke wondered. There was a tiny glimmer of hope buried within the confines of her pessimism that maybe, just maybe, the Maker would have mercy on her and bring her back to Kirkwall. The eluvian shone a brilliant white as Danarius stepped inside, completely disappearing inside the blinding sunlight that emerged from the surface, and Horus turned to her and smiled reassuringly, taking her hand in his as she entered the eluvian.
It felt as though Hawke was walking straight through the heart of the Fade for a few minutes. That familiar feeling of being half-alive that came with being in the Fade, and the murky, unintelligible voices of spirits that roamed its lands arose to Hawke's senses. It felt like she was walking through quicksand as it took all of the strength in her body to simply lift one foot over the other. She couldn't see a thing – her vision was blurred to the point where only outlines of figures stood in front of her. Then, as if she was exiting a pitch-black tunnel, an overwhelming bright light devoured her senses. She shielded her eyes away.
And then, it was gone.
Bottles of paint and large, blank canvases replaced those anonymous figures that she had seen only moments before. The brown wooden walls of an unknown shop came into view. Hawke blinked a few times to adjust her eyes to the light, then felt a pang in her heart when her eyes fell upon Danarius and Horus. Her shoulders slumped as she leaned against the front desk defeatedly. Horus sealed the eluvian quickly in a flash of blue light.
She was not home. It had been too much to hope for.
"The mirror should be safe. I have given it some of my life force to seal its indestructibility," Horus assured Danarius, who nodded, satisfied.
Leto stood in front of them, standing as still as a tree, with his head held high, scouting out the front door of the shop for any signs of danger, where a sign with the writing "Magister Arts – Temporarily Closed" hung. Clearly one of Horus' establishments. Hawke sighed audibly. Leto was gone. The slave and bodyguard known only as Fenris has taken his place. He looked so much more like him now, but felt so much less. Somehow, with Leto, she never managed to get the full package.
They exited the fine arts shoppe, with Hawke barely registering what was going on. It was only after some walking did she tune into the conversation between Horus and Danarius and begin to notice her surroundings.
"The fools think it is I who have organized these murders? Preposterous! Venhedis! Idiots!" Danarius scoffed angrily. She winced at his raised voice. The people around them turned to look at him in surprise. No magister with a grain of self-worth would ever walk in the muck of the peasant town of Tevinter, much less a man of such high standing as magister Danarius.
"The Archon doesn't believe them, ser, not without evidence to their claim. Your years of loyalty to the Imperium contradicts every word they say against you. However, the number of corrupted officials speaking against you is astounding. The Black Divine was especially vocal to voice your supposed 'treason'. Nonetheless, he stands against violence until there has been a negotiation for trial," explained Horus as they turned the corner.
"And of course, the perfect way to negotiate is to obliterate my home and nearly murder my apprentice, correct?" Danarius spat back. Hadriana was still out-cold in his arms, her head tucked neatly against his chest. She almost looked angelic when her mouth was closed, Hawke mused.
"The Black Divine couldn't have organized this. He hasn't got the stomach to get his hands dirty like this. It must have been one of the rival magisters who are eager to see you fall, ser."
"Then I will have his head! The fool has already shown he wishes me dead, and of course has failed. Now I shall return the favor. Which of the magisters do you believe it was?" he asked Horus.
"It was a poison bomb, magister. I knew it from the color of the smoke. Poison bombs are a product bred only in Antiva, by only the finest and most thoroughly-trained herbalists. It must be an Antivan. Now, who do we know that despises you and is an Antivan magister?" Horus smirked at Danarius expectantly, watching the signature monstrous glint return to the magister's eyes.
"Magister Mauricio. Perfect," Danarius sneered maliciously, "he can have the pleasure of watching me rape his fat vasska wife while choking on that very same poison bomb of his."
Hawke shuddered and looked at Leto for his reaction, but he just kept on walking in front of them, glaring at everyone in their path. The townsfolk stepped aside uneasily as they watched the great Danarius and his fearsome, loyal Fenris grace their presence. A few bowed their heads in respect, but Danarius didn't even notice them.
"They're on the hunt for us, and it will be difficult to disguise ourselves with our conspicuous attire," Danarius remarked, "However clumsily this was done, it did what it was meant to do: drive us out and disorganize us. We need somewhere to stay to figure out our next move."
"You cannot all stay together, ser. That is too suspicious. Please, I invite you to stay in my home. They know that I am your former student, but they are unaware that we remained good friends all these years. Please, let me help," Horus offered. Danarius grumbled under his breath.
"I appreciate the offer, lad, but I cannot simply dive into something and just leave my slave and two apprentices to the wolves." For a moment, Hawke swore she heard a note of concern in Danarius' voice. Must have been the left-over lyrium clouding her mind.
"It's another slave rebellion, ser. I am sure of it. But it's different this time around. These slaves are more organized, better trained, and sharply strategized. We will need to take a different course of action. There is absolutely no way we can avoid conflict if we are seen altogether in one area tonight," Horus insisted, "Come. Join me in my manor tonight and we can discuss this further."
"Very well. Fenris!" Danarius called. Fenris nodded obediently.
"We've discussed what to do in a situation like this. You know where to go," Danarius told him, smirking. Leto paused for a moment, face expressionless.
"Yes… ser. I understand."
"Good boy. I trust that you shall take care of my lovely two girls for tonight. Here, take this," he said, handing Leto a couple silvers, "use it to buy some shelter and food. Make sure my beautiful ladies are well-fed. I presume Hadriana shall awaken by morning. On the morrow, I shall come to you. We will discuss our next move," Danarius instructed.
"It will be as you say, my lord."
"And you, Kitten, behave," Danarius pointed to Hawke, who sneered at him.
'Like Hell I will, old man.'
At least she still had her spirit.
"Stay close, Hawke. Hold my arm," said Leto quietly, holding Hadriana closer to him so that she wouldn't accidentally latch onto any passer-bys in this ocean of pedestrians. Hawke obliged, surveying the scene before her quietly, as calmly as she could. Otherwise, she thought she might go crazy.
In front of them was what seemed to be a large ditch of dirt, with thousands of slaves all knitted together. Just a sea of their skin colors and the grey of their clothes meshed together in a unappetizing sort of dish that is vomit-inducing even to look at. Hawke heard dozens coughing, saw at least four crying out in pain from a fatal injury, one with gangrene on their arm, two mothers giving birth right out in the open, and a bloody brawl between two slaves over a loaf of bread. All she saw in the span of a few seconds.
It didn't take long for Hawke to figure out what kinds of slaves these were.
The unwanted ones. The lowest of low scum. The ones who were so unwanted, not even the poorest of men would take them, and most of them were children, the elderly, the sick, the dying, or pregnant. They would do a half-day's work just for a bowl of soup, or perhaps pocket change, or even a chance to sleep in a haystack for the night. That was the way of the Tevinter Imperium: life was not a right, life was a force to earn and bargain with, and ironically, the reward was always more misery.
A couple of them were fortunate enough to own mules, still lacking coin for horses, while others had to carry what few belongings they had on their backs, whilst praying that thieves and pickpockets would bypass them. Although, for any sensible thief, this was no place to go hunting for valuables.
Once deeply entrenched in this tornado of slaves, Leto placed Hadriana gently upon the ground, with her head resting against a dead log, and began to gather firewood.
He worked incredibly fast, gathering large sticks for the outside of the fire, then small twigs for the inside. Hawke watched incredulously as, in the span of mere moments, he had created a crackling fire that fed warmth into Hawke's chilled bones. He got up suddenly, planting his eyes on her.
"Hawke, I will need you to wait here. I must go and buy something for us to sleep in. Wait here with Hadriana, I will be but a half-hour," Leto instructed. Hawke only nodded her head dumbly, too tired to do anything. She was so desensitized to everything that it seemed only mere minutes until he returned. The flames flickered, giving her a sanctuary of warmth against the growing chill of Tevinter. A couple of other slaves crouched close to their fire, hoping to gain some warmth for themselves, as they were too young to know how to make their own or too old or too sick. Leto came into her sight once more, carrying two large bundles of fabric.
"Tonight, we sleep with the slaves," Leto whispered under his breath before beginning the task of putting up the tents.
The sky was already beginning to turn orange by the time Leto had finished putting up them up. Danarius had not come as he'd promised, and for that, Hawke was grateful. She knew that they would be hunting for him.
Leto had already carried Hadriana gently inside her tent and placed her to sleep in her bedroll, and was just coming out when a sudden noise made Hawke nearly jump to her feet.
"Mmph! Mmmmrrghh!" a voice of struggle echoed throughout the camp, throughout the voices of bustling slaves. All heads turned to one direction. In a small clearning, a woman was struggling against two men in blue robes. They pinned her down as one of them grabbed her hair and pulled her head back violently, making her howl in pain.
"Shut her mouth, it's pissing me off!" one of the offenders yelled as the other wrapped a dirty cloth around the woman's mouth as a gag. By now, the voices began to die down as children hid behind their mothers' legs. Hawke's jaw dropped open. She couldn't be witnessing this.
They tore off her skirt as one of the men positioned themselves in front of her crudely. Then, the real screams began. She begged them, her tears spilling out of her green eyes in pain, as terror was the only language she knew how to speak anymore.
Hawke couldn't stand to look at this anymore. She turned to Leto with a pained expression on her face, silently begging him what to do.
But Leto didn't even react.
"Hawke, there is nothing we can do for her. They are magisters. They take their pick of the goods, and they will kill you if you intervene. This is the world we live in," Leto told her in a dead voice, eyes gazing soullessly into hers. He then returned to gathering firewood, a conflicted expression etched on his face. Hawke could only stare at the horrendous scene before her, eyes threatening to fall out of her sockets. One of the magisters had pushed her onto a couple of barrels, while the other one held her arms. The woman kicked and screamed, but the slaves around her only averted their eyes uncomfortably, and some of the children even cried, asking their parents what was going on, why was no one helping the poor lady?
"Please… plea-mrrmmphh!" the woman yelled as she momentarily broke free of her gag. The sound of a whip slashing through skin was heard, and the entire refuge camp went silent. The woman herself went silent, and Hawke wondered momentarily if she was alive anymore. No one spoke a word, or moved, knowing that if they retaliated, then they all would be doomed against the wrath of the Archon.
"Hear this, slaves? Hear that beautiful sound of dying scum? You are the dirt beneath our feet. You are NOTHING. Here, you want to see how pretty she looks now, after we've fucked her bloody? Hold her up, Kartos!" one of the monsters yelled out. A wave of gasps and screams resounded within the camps the very moment that Hawke turned away from it all.
She couldn't take it anymore. Hawke stood up and walked past Leto, whose back had been turned stubbornly to the entire ordeal, over to her tent, throwing herself inside so that she could grab her bedroll and throw it around her ears to those things that she never asked to hear. The woman screaming replayed itself over and over again, like the screeching of a violin. She begged her body to let her sleep, but in order to sleep, one needs to stop shaking so much. She continued her efforts, without success.
She didn't emerge from her tent until about an hour later, and even then, her heart had hardly returned to its normal tune. Her eyes were wild and puffy and lost, like a sheep amidst a pack of wolves. By then, some of the outside noise and chatter had died down a bit, as slaves need to sleep too. As though blind, she stumbled through a couple branches to sit by the fire that Leto had built, eager to capture some warmth in the thin, revealing white robe that was all she had to wear, given generously to her by Danarius. She sat down a foot away from the blazing heat of the fire, where she spotted Leto sitting across from her, who was taking off a readily-roasted rabbit from atop the fire. He
"It is alright. Come. Join me," Leto invited, beckoning to Hawke. She gingerly scooted closer to him and accepted the rabbit leg he gave to her in a small pewter plate. Staring at it hungrily, she dived right in enthusiastically.
"Be careful, it is still scorching," he warned, taking a hesitant bite of his own portion. She took no heed and devoured it instantly, having not eaten all day, and having no idea how Leto could stand to eat so slowly, eating as rarely as he does. The young elf chuckled at her enthusiasm.
When they were finished their meals, they sat in silence for a while, enjoying each others' presence. For a few moments, all was forgotten.
"Would you like to hear a story?" he asked tenderly. Hawke lifted her head to look at him before nodding her head.
'Yes. Yes, a story would be good. Anything to get my mind off of…'her mind trailed off, her lip quivering as a familiar feminine scream pierced her thoughts. She needed to hear his voice lulling her to sleep, to distract her from this place.
"Let us see… what story have I not already told you? Ah, I think I know. Have I ever told you why I want to compete in the annual slave tournaments this year for lyrium markings?"
Hawke's tired eyes perked up suddenly. Immediately, she felt much more awake. She leaned in, listening attentively. Her was her chance to learn about Fenris' past, and she'd be damned if she misses it! Leto chuckled at her sudden change of temperament.
"There is a reason for why I do what I do. I have mentioned it before to you but I don't believe I have ever elaborated on it. So I suppose I shall tell you starting from the very beginning."
With that, Leto cleared his throat. Hawke sat beside him, watching as the orange reflections of the fire licked his face, and how the flames flickered in his eyes, making him look thrice as menacing as he already was.
"My mother… she used to be a whore. She had training in alchemy, and worked as our former master's herbalist, but that only earned us a tiny shack on the outskirts of our master's territory, much less food and water. So in order to make ends meet, my mother would work nights at a brothel. After all, all Tevinter needs is more whores, not alchemists," Leto spat. Hawke winced.
"We were entirely oblivious to what my mother did at night. I would play with my sister while mother went about her usual herbalism work during the day. She did her share of the normal work, as the other slaves belonging to our former master, but we had no idea of the work she did at night, work that made us wealthier than the average slave family."
"But my mother was special. She is a beautiful woman, and men prefer to see beautiful woman in their beds than in their workshops. She would sneak away every evening and return every morning to sleep and spend time with us for a few hours. Then return to her usual work for our former master. Those days were the peak of our lives, for my sister and I. We had no idea that she was working during the night, and had no idea of what a prostitute was. We had better lives than the other slave children, and were even able to afford toys on some occasions. We had food and some clothing, and would share sweets with the other slave children sometimes. All we did was play in our master's courtyard."
Leto paused for a moment, a flurry of emotions painted on his face. Hawke noticed the way he frowned was different than the way Fenris frowned; his frown was more of a concerned, studious inward arching of the eyebrows, whereas Fenris boasted a humorless scowl.
"A few months later, our master began to notice her nightly absences. He would come to our little shack every night, shouting profanities and disgusting things to my mother. At first, it was only words, and then it transgressed into beatings. She wouldn't stand for them at first, and fought back. We hid behind tables and chairs, hoping he wouldn't see us. He threatened to take away her job, to take away her home, to rape her, if she wouldn't willingly bed him. She said that she refused to sleep with a man who killed his own slaves by the dozens for sport, and he would try to force himself on her. I would hold my hands over my sisters' ears, but I can still remember her screams of pain, clear as day."
"She took me onto her lap one day after a beating, while I was crying. I was a very young boy, and I did not understand what was happening to my mother. I did not know what to do, but cry. So she took me into her arms and gave me a stern look. She told me, "No more tears, Leto.""
"I didn't listen the first time, so she slapped me in anger. I looked back at her, shocked, my cheek burning red, and watched tears fall down her face. She had cried many times, but always attempted to hide it from us so as not to damage our spirits. It was the first time that my mother cried so freely in front of me… and then, she begged me to be strong, to be the man my father was, and to protect them. The way she looked at me… it was as though she was pleading the Maker himself to give me strength. She… she cried, screaming at me to be a man. So… I was. That day was the last time I have ever cried."
"The way she said it is still carved into my memory, and I still remember the quiver in her voice as she said it. "No more tears Leto". So I replaced my tears with my determination to protect my family, on all costs, from anyone who threatened them. That is why, the next time our former master entered our little shack and began to force himself on my mother, I rose out of hiding."
Hawke's mouth hung open, her eyes fixated on Leto the entire time. She couldn't believe her ears.
"I simply could not stand for it any longer. Varania, my little sister, was screaming as I stood up from behind the large block of wood we used as a table, and walked up to the filthy man, barely standing at half his height."
"He laughed at my mother, asking her if this was one of her bastard sons. I screamed at him to leave her alone, and taunted him to come after me. He stopped laughing, and became enraged."
Leto swallowed, appearing to have trouble speaking.
"He… pulled a knife out of his side pocket, and advanced towards me. I was seven, hardly trained in the arts of battle, and so he had no trouble… sinking the knife into my side. There was blood, so much blood…"
Hawke shivered. The image of a young, helpless Fenris and all of the color draining from his face flashed before her eyes, followed by a never-ending pool of red.
"Then, as he was watching me die, with that sick satisfied smile, something inside of me… it broke. Everything stood still for a moment. Varania stopped screaming, and mother stopped breathing."
"I reached out and grabbed his ears with both hands, with the blood still pouring out of my side, and in a momentary feat of strength, I twisted his head backwards. The sounds coming from the lurch in his neck…" he said, shuddering. A long pause ensued as the young woman beside him realized that she had been holding her breath.
"…Then, it was he who stopped breathing. I turned around to face the two of them, my sister and my mother, and with blood streaming out of my waist, I rose my bloodied fist in the air, and declared to them that from this day forth, I will never again watch them suffer. That when I grow old enough, I would do whatever it takes to free them, even if it meant sacrificing myself. That I have had enough of them terrorizing our family, and that I would cut through every bastard and kill the Black Divine himself, if it meant keeping them safe," Leto finished, voice trembling slightly at the last word. Hawke was speechless. A killer at seven years of age? Worse yet – armed with the responsibility of protecting his family, at such a young age?
"That is why I must do this. That is why I must compete in these competitions. For their freedom. For family. No matter what is happening now, I shall compete in the annual slave competitions. One hundred slaves, and only one will walk away with the boon. It must be me. No more tears," Leto said with a titanium resolution in his voice. Hawke was speechless. So this was the reason for everything. For the initial reluctance to become her friend, for his refusal to run away with her from Danarius. His family was the driving force behind everything he did…
"Who was the man you killed?" a quiet little voice piped up beside Hawke. She turned her head to see a couple of wide-eyed, curious little enslaved children watching Leto intently. He acknowledged them silently.
"Magister Kantaris, Magister Danarius' father."
A bead of sweat ran down Hawke's temple. It was as if a dark cloud that had been looming over her had evaporated, leaving nothing but clear blue sky.
"Woahhhh..." a wave of voices sounded within the small group of children.
"Magister Danarius? Oh yeah, you're Fenris, you're the one who killed Magister Danarius' rivals in the tournaments a few months ago!" a pre-adolescent, fair-featured human lad spoke up.
Hawke turned to Leto, a surprised look etched on her face.
"It's Leto, dummy! Fenris is what his master calls him, but that's not his real name! Plus, he's so much cooler than that. He was helping slaves survive on the streets before you were even born!" a mousy-haired elven boy piped up in response to the fair-haired youth.
"Why do you look so skinny? You used to be fatter when I saw you last year!" one of the youngest children asked innocently. It was the first time Hawke had ever seen a genuine, appreciate laugh from Leto, and not a mere chuckle.
"You're so stupid! It's because he works for his new master, duhh!"
"Yeah, Lancurias, don't you know they put slave bodyguards on hunger strikes? They're tests of strength!" the mousy-haired boy added, beating his puffed-up chest.
"Woah! Mr. Leto, you never told us you were that strong!"
"Yeah, and he's super nice too! One time, he…"
"He's very handsome, too…" a blushing red-haired little slave said shyly. All of a sudden, an orchestra of voices piped up as the children began gathering around Leto excitedly.
"Mister Leto, is that you?"
"Mr. Leto, you never visit us anymore!"
"My duties keep me occupied, I'm afraid," Leto said with a disappointed frown, "I do remember each and every one of you, however."
Hawke looked at the scene unfolding before her in shock.
'He knows all of them…?'
They bombarded him with questions and comments excitedly in a choir of voices, as Leto sat patiently and smiled mildly. He took turns with each of the children, even giving some hugs.
"Hey Leto! Remember the toy you fixed for me? I still have it, right here…!"
"Mr. Leto… why did you… "
"I haven't seen you in forever Leto! Mama says hello, and thank you for getting rid of those rats that one time!"
'I see… even though he's a slave himself, he still goes out of his way to help others…'she mused, feeling warmth spread inside her limbs. She always knew Fenris had a soft spot for slaves… but this…
So that was his name.
Hawke recalled Fenris telling her at one point that Fenris was probably not his real name, yet he had no idea what his real name was.. She made a mental note to tell him once she returned to Kirkwall.. Hawke rolled the name around her tongue silently. Leto… it was a nice name. She had never heard Danarius or Hadriana calling him that. It was always Fenris.
"Mister Leto, is this lady your wife?" a high-pitched voice squeaked, breaking Hawke's thought process. Her head turned abruptly to see a rosy-cheeked young human girl of about six peering up at her with wonder. Hawke's nostrils flared at the sudden shock of electricity that ran through her veins at the sight of her. The little blonde child exuded power from her body; a mage. Leto didn't seem to notice anything.
Leto chuckled lowly, patting the young girl on the head.
"Yes, Marina, this lady is my wife," Leto replied with a smirk as Hawke felt a tinge of red grace her cheeks. She shot Leto a surprised look. He didn't seem to notice.
"She's pretty! Hey miss, do you like flowers?"
Hawke nodded, smiling at the girl. She grinned as she handed Hawke her little bouquet of white daisies from a nearby patch. Hawke accepted the flowers graciously, beaming delightedly at the smell. She liked this one in particular. Marina. The little girl had blond hair and bright amber eyes, glowing even in the evening mist. She had a certain brightness in her eyes, the kind only found in the purest of living creatures, the kind that had yet to be tainted by the world's filth. It was at that point that Hawke wondered what was better, to experience that sort of innocence, before having it taken away from you, or to be aware of the evils of the world from the very start, but be ready from them?
"They are amusing to watch, are they not?" Leto's voice broke Hawke away from her thoughts and she looked back at him curiously. A small smile rested upon Leto's face – a small, sad smile that told of long goodbyes, loneliness, and loss.
A small pause ensued between them as they simply watched the children play. A couple of the older slaves looked on in disapproval, and a couple even shouted "Shut up!" at the playing children, but they were too loud to notice. They were humans and elves alike, mages and non-mages, playing together, oblivious to the amount of dirt on the rags they were wearing, and uncaring about their fate as slaves. They watched while the sun and moon began their daily game of hide-and-seek, as the final remnants of the blazing orb were sheltered by the vast, grimy horizon of Tevinter. It wasn't until dusk began to fall that the children became tired, and began to go join their families and guardians, or make their way to a safe location to rest for the night. Hawke saw one of them rush into the arms of their father, who planted a little kiss on the youth's cheek, while some of the children looked on with a yearning gaze. The weight in her heart doubled.
"I must give them something to hope for, Hawke," Leto said. Hawke nodded in agreement. She could understand why he would say something like that.
"At least for a little while longer, they should be allowed to believe that there is some hope for them, some hope of being able to live a happy life, with a husband or a wife or children, or perhaps their own home. Even if I must pretend that I myself have that happiness," Leto explained solemnly, watching the children leave with a silent fondness. He waved to them as they turned around to yell their goodbyes to him, and turned to look at her softly.
"I must give them that which I have had myself at some point."
Hawke suddenly felt very ashamed. She herself had an adequate, fulfilling childhood, living comfortably in Lothering with her doting parents and two siblings. It was in hiding, to be sure, and Hawke was never allowed to play with the other children for fear of accidentally revealing her magical abilities, but she never lacked for love or affection or even simple food and water.
Here she was, grumbling about her fate, yet she was fed. She was given clothing. She had a bed in which to sleep. She was mistreated, to be sure, but to this extent? Never.
Hawke's eyes turned to Leto again, feeling her legs turn to jelly.
Moreso, she had him. She had Leto right beside her, breathing and living and speaking. How many of these children were orphans? Wards? Completely alone? At least half of them. At least half of them were thrown to the wolves to survive on their own, pick-pocketing and stealing and slaving away at jobs meant for slaves twice their age and thrice their strength. She didn't miss the way some of the children looked on longingly as one of the little boys ran up to his mother to point at Leto excitedly as they both waved at him. They were the so-called scum of Tevinter, yet they were more honest and more sincere and more wonderful than any group of people she has ever seen. Even despite their everyday misery, they still found pleasures to enjoy in life.
Suddenly, Hawke got up. Without looking back, she marched back to her tent, stepping over a couple of sleeping slaves as she went. Her feet felt so much heavier with this weight hanging from her heart. Still, she maintained her composure until she scurried inside the flap of her tent, and only then did she allow herself to exhale. She did not want to look weak in front of all of them. At least, if she could be alone, then only she would be able to criticize herself.
A single tear pooled in Hawke's eyes. She felt so bad for all of them, everyone here. She felt so horrible for being so ignorant all this time, so wrapped up in her own problems. The screams of the woman from just a few hours before flashed in her mind violently as the tears began to run down her cheeks. She shook her head, trying to wish away the tears and all the evidence of her weakness. No, she can't cry anymore. Stop it, Hawke. Stop it.
That was when a strong, large hand cupped her jaw gently, but firmly. Hawke looked up to face Leto staring at her intensely. She hadn't heard him coming in behind her. His green orbs glared back into hers mercilessly.
"No more tears, Hawke," he said softly, but the command in his voice was unmistakable. His thumb deftly wiped away all traces of the sadness gathering in her eye. Before Hawke could even think to respond, Leto leaned in and captured her lips in his.
Hawke gasped as his velvet brushed her silk. The shock lasted but a moment, as Hawke closed her eyes and caressed his lips with hers lovingly. The butterflies in her stomach whizzed around excitedly, and her heart began to pound in her ears. Leto exhaled slowly, burying his fingers in her short raven hair as a fire-hot warmth began to pool in his lower abdomen. Hawke leaned further, her tongue nipping his lips playfully, until she lay down on top of him, capturing his hand in hers.
"Hawke…" he breathed against her lips, his free hand crushing her body to his tightly. His Hawke. His lady.
She inhaled sharply as she felt him gripping her white robes, silently cursing this barrier between their aching bodies. She broke away from his lips and shifted her weight slightly, so that her hips met his, joined together like the fingers to a hand; two parts of one whole. Leto's eyes hooded and glazed over in a way that Hawke has never seen from him before – he or Fenris. A beacon of fire ignited in the depths of those usually empty forest-green eyes of his, a fire that can only be found in one kind of man – one that has gone without a taste of happiness for too long. He propped himself up on his elbows, watching in awe as this woman opened the gates to pleasure like he's never experienced.
Straddling him, she ground her hips slowly against his lower stomach, lips parted erotically and eyes fixated on him, as if blind to the rest of the world. Maker, she loved the way he was looking at her, like she was some kind of goddess he was seeing descend from heaven – with the way he worshipped her with his gaze. She felt her chest fill with pride and a new-found sense of feminine control rushed through her veins. Leto moaned as quietly as he could, reveling in the way her inner thighs brushed dangerously close to his hardened manhood. His pants felt tight and constricted, and his desire begged to be released. He had no knowledge of what a man must do when a beautiful woman was pushing him over the edge like this, but somehow, his basic instinct whispered to him the answer. That was when he grabbed her hips and began to grind hips in response to hers, and good Gods, she felt all of him. Every last inch of his need for her was there - inviting her, tempting her. A slice of cake, and all she needed to do was reach out and take it.
'What are we doing?'she asked, to whom, she did not know. To Leto? To herself? To the Maker? Damn it all, she does not know. She doesn't care to know. She doesn't care about anything right now, only the feel of his member brushing against her white-hot center. And never once did he take his eyes off of hers. The boiling flames in his orbs doubled with every touch that his cock made against her shuddering body, and threatened to never stop devouring his senses until he had her.
She didn't realize until now just how much she belonged to him. How much she yearned to prove to him how she was his, completely and totally. Here was her chance, and she will take it, Andraste be damned.
'No more tears, Hawke.'
No. He's right. No more tears. No more self-pity. She was a woman, and she will damn well act like one, starting with this.
He suddenly reached forward and wrapped himself against Hawke, his large hands caressing her hips with virginal touches. As Hawke continued to grind herself against him with more and more urgency, Leto responded with twice the enthusiasm, kissing her neck. Every bit of contact his warm lips made with her soft skin left a trail of liquid-hot fire, a fire that she wished would never be extinguished. Hawke began to pant slowly, her chest heaving with delight. Leto brushed the sides of her breasts shyly, and she couldn't help but smile. He captured her lips in his once more, loving the way that she would bite his lower lip ever-so-slightly, just enough to evoke that lion's roar of desire inside of him all over again.
'He's never done this before…'Hawke mused with a fondness. It filled her up with a certain pride to be his first, but her subconscious wishes begged to also be his last, his only.
"Venn arkissum, Hawke…" he whispered to her in Arcanum. She had no clue what that meant, nor did she care. It only excited her more to hear the way his voice was clouded in desire. As he pulled away, she trapped his eyes in hers once more. A shock of electricity flashed through her every time he growled at her with that primal look on his face, with that animalistic need to be with her, as a man is with a woman.
"You are mine," Leto whispered in her ear. He didn't ask her or offer her. He told her she was his, and that was that. No questions asked. Just the way she liked it.
She lifted herself, pausing momentarily in her grinding, and gave him a small, mischievous smirk. Leto stared at her as she trailed her hands down his stomach and underneath his ragged undershirt. She felt every hard muscle that he earned from his toils in battle, every ripple in his skin. Her fingers travelled over every stitch on his torso as she admired his war scars. All this, for the ones he loved. She smiled at him softly. He deserved someone who would do something for him for a change…
She trailed her hand down his stomach and past his navel, sending volts of electricity up Leto's legs. He stopped breathing and watched in shock a she lowered her hand further.
But her desire was louder than his words. She could only hear the sound of how much she wanted him, needed him with her, inside of her, to be filled by him in every possible sense. Hawke's fingers slipped under the waistband of his bottoms. As Leto held his breath, she reached down and grasped his now very erect manhood. He inhaled sharply and leaned his head back, raising his hips towards her, and Hawke smirked, knowing that she had him.
"Hawke, get off!" he seethed suddenly, sitting upright. Alarmed, she slid off of him, scooting to the back of her tent in surprise. The scowl on Leto's face was soon replaced by a look of regret. His features softened as he advanced slowly towards her.
"H-Hawke.. I.. I cannot…" he began awkwardly. Hawke brought her knees to her chest, lips parted. Leto sighed.
"Hawke –please… I am sorry… we mustn't…" he whispered, brushing her hair away from her face in loving remorse. Hawke avoided his gaze, instead finding her bedroll to be very interesting at the moment. After all, that's clearly where she will be spending the rest of tonight. Alone.
A long pause ensued between them as Leto stared at Hawke with a cacophony of emotions. He bit his lip before cursing suddenly and rising to his feet.
"I have wanted to come into your tent to tell you something. Something that I have realized after tonight," he began. She perked up, watching him expectantly.
"Hawke, a slave I may be – an elven slave, at that – but I am still a man. A man in my position, with much to be desired, standing beside a woman like you, is a feat of endurance all on its own."
'Jeez… thanks I guess…' Hawke thought dryly. Is that what he wanted to tell her? Maker… what a mess.
"To touch a magister's apprentice in the way I have touched you, and wish to touch you, is a crime among crimes. Should Danarius know, he will find a most suitable way to punish me. A punishment that would hurt me the most. A punishment that would make everything I have worked for up to today, entirely worthless," he explained, and the hint was more than enough. Hawke stared at him with realization dawning in her eyes. Maker, how could she have been so stupid…
'Fen-… Leto… please… please forgive me,' Hawke wanted to beg. How could she have not realized it? Danarius was a heartless monster. Of course he would do something like…
"We cannot… continue this," Leto said, struggle in his voice. Hawke nodded, hanging her head. She understood. Of course she understood. There are things far more important than their desires, and to succumb to a loss of self-control could ruin both of their lives. She didn't think she could ever forgive herself if Leto's livelihood was ruined because of her.
She had expected this to happen at some point. It made sense, after all. What she didn't expect was what he said afterwards. He leaned forward on one knee, gently taking her tiny hand in his larger ones. Her snow melted against the tanned olive of his, fitting perfectly into his palm.
"I swore fealty to protect my master, to kill on command, and to companionship until the day he decides that he has no longer need of me. To this day, everything I have done was to secure the well-being of my family. And yet…"
'Yet?' Hawke wondered.
"Yet… for you, I wish to do the same," Leto said, giving her a small smile.
"I shall protect you, Hawke. To you, as a friend, I swear this same oath. I shall protect you until my dying day. No man shall hurt you without tasting my steel, and I vow to keep you safe until you, too, decide you no longer have need of me."
"I swear to you; simply point to a man, and for you, I shall slay him. I will cut through armies and demons and follow you into the BlackCity itself, if it means that I am by your side." With that, Leto planted a chaste kiss on her forehead. The warmth of his lips travelled throughout her bare bones, filling her with bare traces of magic, and she swore that a faint blue glow began to gather around their forms.
An authentic vow, sealed by lyrium.
Hawke smiled softly at him as he pulled away.
"Thank you," she mouthed to him. She meant it. She truly did. Leto bowed to her, the corners of his lips tugging upwards.
"It is time for me to return to my post. A long night awaits, and your safety and Hadriana's are my top priority tonight. It is best for you to get some sleep. We know not of the dangers that may face us on the morrow," Leto told her as he got up. Her hand slipped out of his, and the warmth that had bound them together was gone. With a sigh, he gave her one last, lingering look. One that spoke of bitter, hopeless longing, and nothing less.
"Good bye, Hawke," and with that, he was gone, leaving her alone with only her screaming mind to keep her company. She felt like a prisoner once more.
Somehow, her earlier question found an answer in and of itself. Leto was wrong to pretend for the sake of those little children. To see the world through rose-colored glasses isn't better than being tainted from the very start – it only makes the pain so much worse when you know that all of the happiness you've ever had was a lie.
The whimpering kept her awake at night. The whimpering, and the smell. The wretched smell that kept climbing into her nostrils just as she was on the verge of a wink of sleep – that acrid, bitter scent of soggy earth and piss and a strange, unidentified filth. Probably coming from the slaves. Or the mules. One wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them anymore.
Aside from a few poorly-kempt campfires, there was only the mercy of the Maker to protect these slaves against the biting cold night wind of Minrathous. Andraste's blood, even the worst of Kirkwall was far above the best of Tevinter.
Not even her bedroll and the furs that she used as blankets could keep her teeth from chattering during the night.
It was then that she began to think of the very thing she had been avoiding all along. The thing that she had pushed to the back of her mind since she arrived in Tevinter almost a month ago. The black widow that crawls into her head every so often, disguised as a question, filling her mind with a poison of anxiety.
'What happens if I never escape this place?"
She had lost her chance to escape via the eluvian. She couldn't go back now, and even if she could, she wouldn't leave without Fenris.
"What do I do about Fenris?"
No… she reminded herself. His name was Leto. It will take some getting used to, she thought.
Leto, who was even more confusing than Fenris ever was. The two are so alike, yet so vastly different. Briefly, she wondered what it was that makes a person. Fenris and Leto – the same body, but are they of the same mind?
Is Leto Fenris as much as Fenris is Leto?
'No,' Hawke decided. Fenris is Leto, but Leto is not Fenris. Leto is tired and world-weary. He was cautious and shy. Yet he lacks the ruthlessness and calculating skin that Fenris bore on the outside. Although it was only a skin he hid behind, his anger has devoured his life. Leto's experiences have made him afraid, not angry, and it is only a matter of time before his sadness hardens into rage. Still, solid ice was nothing more than frozen water; a mere change of its former foundation, and Fenris was no different. Callous and cold as he may be, he was still Leto – simply in a frozen form.
Fenris is Leto, but Leto isn't Fenris.
Hawke bit her lip nervously.
…If Leto isn't Fenris, then how can she love him as she loves Fenris?
If she does, then as it turns out, it is a totally different person that she was loving just a while back.
The sun began to stream inside a crack in the flap of her tent when she heard her name being called.
"Kitten…" a distant voice sounded from outside the tent. Hawke poked her head outside groggily as her sleep-filled eyes fell upon Danarius. Leto's words replayed in her head momentarily and Hawke bit her lip to keep from snarling at the man.
"Good morning, my love," he greeted her, and she noticed that the silky sarcasm that was absent from his voice the day before had returned.
"I need you to go find Fenris. I have a job for the two of you," Danarius instructed her. She stared at him expectantly. A job?
'They'll be looking for me, but they haven't the slightest idea who you are and what you look like. So, I need you to go back to our home through a secret entrance and find something for me. Something that I sorely need. My little Fenris can find the entrance you need to make your way back to the house, and you can use your magic to seek out what I need."
A chance for escape! Hawke's eyes shone with glee. If a mouse ever had a chance to escape from the claws of a cat, this would be it.
"Now then, where is Fenris?" he asked, eyes scouting the refuge camp. Hawke looked around. He was nowhere to be found. The log was empty. The fire had died. There was no trace of him nearby.
"Kitten, go find him. I'm in no mood to play games this morning. Find him and bring him here. This is urgent," ordered Danarius gruffly.
And off she went, joy spilling inside of her uncontrollably. This was it! This was her chance to go home with Leto! She thanked the Maker over in over in her prayers silently. What are the chances?! She just kept getting luckier and luckier!
'Don't fuck this up. Please, Maker, don't let me fuck this up.'
She pushed through the crowds of slaves, eyes searching meticulously for those familiar forest green eyes. Good Maker, why was he never there when you absolutely needed him? Hawke cursed as she nearly tripped over a rock in the middle of the dirt.
"Hello Mrs. Leto!" a familiar voice called to her. Hawke looked down and saw Marina, the blonde mage-child from the night before. The sight of her made Hawke smile and wave.
"Are you looking for Mr. Leto?" the little blonde girl asked, grinning. Hawke had to contain herself from madly shaking her head up and down. Yes! This is a time when she needed him the most – a chance for them to be free of this place!
"He's over there, by the fish vendor!" she pointed to Hawke's left. She knelt down and planted a kiss atop the child's head gratefully and hurried off.
"Leto… Come on Leto… where can you be?" Hawke wondered, beginning to feel nervous. Her eyes dashed back and forth as she saw the man with a makeshift wooden display panel selling freshly-caught fish. Blue eyes, amber eyes, dark eyes, but no forest green.
He wasn't here.
She almost roared in frustration, trying to make her way through the crowd. Until she saw him.
Hawke stopped dead in her tracks when that familiar tuft of black hair came into view, with his back to her.
She found Fenris, deeply entrenched within the bodiless crowd of starving slaves, with a look on his face that she had never seen before, a look that would haunt her for many nights to come. The slaves in front of her were bustling back and forth, in a frightened frenzy, as his parched mouth hung open, and his eyes were half-lidded. At first Hawke thought that perhaps he was showing symptoms of dehydration. It wasn't rare to see him this way after all. That was before she turned to look at what he was seeing. Her blood ran icy once more, and she stumbled backwards, knocking over a slave carrying a basket of clothing.
On the dirty ground lay a bloody heap that was once a breathing, living being. A being that knew how to laugh and smile and cry and comfort. A being that now lay in a pool of blood coming from a knife wound in her stomach, with her skirt ripped mostly off, and a fearful expression permanently tattooed on her pretty face. Her lifeless, widened green eyes were fixated dead-straight on Hawke, with a couple of bloody, rusty nails pushed through the whites of her left eye by some sick bastard for sport. Hawke stopped breathing, and begged herself to look away, to break away from the gaze of the same woman who she saw getting raped just half a day before, the same woman whose cries Leto ignored. Through the drum of her heartbeat pounding in her ears, she heard Fenris whisper a single word that would end the calm before the storm.
Thank you for reading. Please R&R if you have any comments or suggestions!
Also, I am hunting for a beta reader. If you enjoy this story thus far, are familiar with Dragon Age lore, have a good understanding of grammar and spelling, and have some spare time, I'd love to hear from you! Thank you, and stay tuned for the next chapter!