"He Left Me"
Hawke lies back on her bed, feeling shocked and a bone wrenching ache deep in the pit of her stomach.
What did I do wrong?
Did I hurt him?
Where has he gone?
Will I ever see him again?
Does he hate me?
The tears start flowing and it is all she can do to keep breathing. A hand reaches out to where he was in the bed; it's not even cold yet. But there is little comfort to be had in the heat that is left. How can it have changed so quickly? His touch was like fire in her veins, but where it had been ecstasy at the time, the memory now burned with pain...
He had said something about memories. It was hard to remember, she just wanted to blank it out, it hurt to remember, but if she wanted to understand what had just happened she would have to...but not just yet. The pain is too fierce and the tears continue to flow fast and free. I've lost him and it took so long to find.
She remembered when they first met, how he had tricked them all into dealing with a problem he felt he could not deal with alone. She knew she should have been angry with him there and then, and told him not to expect her to help him any further. But when he appeared round the corner, she could feel her eyes widening, just to take more of him in. When she had met Anders, there was attraction there, she found him interesting, but Fenris...he was fascinating. Those markings, those eyes...she could have stared into them forever, his voice...just keep him talking as long as possible; she could never tire of that voice. That shock of floppy white hair, she immediately wanted to touch it, move it to the side so she could see his eyes more clearly, run her fingers through it and feel its softness. Whip thin and looking like he hadn't had a decent meal in months, she found herself instantly wanting to nurture him; care for him, but there was nothing maternal in these feelings. When he had asked for help in that fruitless search for his old master, she had agreed right away, she hadn't even asked what the others had thought. Watching him fight had been like watching a dancer, so fluid in his movement and the strength and power he displayed had even impressed Carver. It didn't matter that he disliked her for being able to use magic and took no time at all in telling her so. He had said he would have to watch her closely; he would be like a templar, ready to kill her if he felt her magic was misused. She should have been annoyed that he would question her motives, but instead the thought had thrilled her. When he had said he owed her a debt and would make himself available to repay it she gave an internal scream of relief that he would not be leaving. She remembered her heart racing and pounding the whole time he was there and that feeling of sadness and loss when he walked away. She knew he was dangerous, his anger barely contained, she knew he would be someone who could turn on her in an instant, but as an ally he would be wonderful. Careful after that about what jobs she took him on, careful about what she said in front of him, she had been desperate to seek his approval. He was hard work, but it had been so important to her that he trusted her. She didn't really understand what drew her to him, but she was caught like a moth to the flame. And so now she had been burned. Did it change what she felt for him? She didn't think so.
She feels a scream building inside, but can't give vent to it, it would awaken mother and she can't face anyone else just yet. She pulls the pillow over her face and moans long into the soft void.
Then it hits her...were his memories this painful? Or more? Oh dear Maker what did I lead him to? He said he remembered and then lost them all again. What had been done to this man that a simple act of love making had opened up wounds so devastating that he would give up on having some happiness in his life rather than deal with the pain they inflicted? He had warned her when he spoke of Hadriana, of not being able to let go of his hate and that was why he had killed her after promising her he wouldn't. He had even apologised for taking his anger out on her. She hadn't listened hard enough; she hadn't heard him telling her how much hate still claimed him. She had chosen to steal some happiness for herself instead of waiting until he could let go enough of that hate to let some real love in.
I was too impatient... and here I thought I had waited too long. You are the fool Hawke, if you've lost him, you have no one to blame but yourself.
The man that was so strong on the outside was more fragile and terrified on the inside than she could ever have believed. He had been abused for years by another who had total power over him. She had no idea what it was like to be enslaved, to have no choice over your life, all your thoughts completely given over to the needs of someone else, every action you take designed for someone else's wants and ensuring their favour of you because the consequences of not pleasing them were...she couldn't even begin to imagine what that was like. Punished for what you said or did, or punished for what you didn't say or do. Trying to anticipate another person's every whim to try and keep yourself safe.
I have taken my own freedom for granted and not realised how precious it was to him. She felt sick - have I piled on another abuse and given him more reason to hate? Did I take more from him than he was able to give, did I simply show my power over him and treat him as a slave again? Am I no better than Denarius? No wonder he hates mages. Oh she felt bad – bad, bad, bad.
This was when a new feeling crept in and shame was its name. She had been the one to ruin something beautiful. Not since having to tell her mother about Carver becoming a Grey Warden had she felt this and before that...Bethany. What kind of woman was she to treat those around her so badly? Wasn't she supposed to love them and care for them? I have been so arrogant; I always think I'm right. I should have stopped Bethany running to that ogre. I should never have taken Carver into the Deep Roads, mother was right; it was so unfair to her. I have let pride overtake me. So sure of myself.
The tears still flow, but gently now. If I never see Fenris again, it is only what I deserve. He asked me to forgive him, how wrong; it is me who should be begging for his forgiveness.
The sound of the door handle turning attracts her awareness, it turns and mother peers round the door. She says nothing, just goes to her daughter and sits on the bed and then holds her as she sobs. "Mother I'm so sorry" she eventually whispers.
"No need my dear."
The Hanged man is busy and bright with drunken laughter when she enters the next week. Varric hales her and offers to buy her a beer. As he stands up to the bar he reveals Fenris sitting at his back. His head down, he won't look at her, staring only into the glass in front of him. She inhales deeply, he is still here, why is he still here? Her stomach is in knots, a mixture of relief and trepidation accompanies it. Should she talk to him? What could she say? She sits down in the vacant chair beside where Varric was seated and jumps when Isabella comes over and sits beside her, she hadn't even noticed her when she came in.
"What's the matter with you? You look like you've had all your blood sucked out of you. Did you have to tackle some bandits on the way here? Did some of them get away? We could go back and get them, my knives haven't seen any action today and they like to get out regularly!"
"No," Hawke mutters, biting her bottom lip and stealing another glance at Fenris,"no bandits, I'm just not feeling too good, must have been something I ate, Gamlen cooked this evening."
"Well that would do it, but why on Thedas would you eat anything that dirt ball cooks is beyond me. Looks like you're not the only one." Isabella directs her head in Fenris' direction, "He's been like that for days, more broody that usual, has hardly said a word and has taken to wearing some silly red piece of cloth round his wrist. He won't say why, I thought it might be to wipe sweat, but I don't remember ever seeing a drop of the stuff on his face."
Hawke manages to mask the sharp intake of breath when she sees the familiar scarf tied round his wrist. She remembers the day her mother gave it to her, advising her to wear it when she went out in the cold and laughing back at her mother inquiring how something so flimsy was going to keep out any cold draughts. He must have taken it when he left, but why would he do such a thing? And why would he wear it around his wrist? She shakes her head; there are too many unanswered questions here, if she wants answers she knows that only Fenris can give her them and he isn't talking.
Varric returns with the beers and sits down, "I guess you two are discussing Old Broody in the corner there. Have you any idea what's up with him Hawke?"
Hawke bites her lip and looks at Varric and shakes her head lowering her eyes as she does so. Varric looks long and hard at her, coming to some conclusion in his head, but thinking better of saying anything just yet.
Isabella laughs and looking back at Fenris whispers conspirationally to them, "He looks more sad than angry this time, maybe the wine is running out in that dust bag of a house he lives in and he's pissed that he has to come here for a drink." She turns round in the direction of Fenris and shouts, "Hey! You sad bastard, why don't you come over and join us or are you too good for our company anymore?"
Isabella knows just how to pitch her insult to get a reaction from him. He looks up and scowls at them, but starts to come over towards them muttering under his breath, "I'll give you sad bastard pirate bitch." He slumps down in a chair, head lowered and growls, "OK you got me here, now what do you want?"
Isabella leans in towards him, her ample chest moving towards his slumped head and puts her hand forward to begin stroking the scarf with her forefinger, "Oh don't be so grumpy, we're just worried about you. You've changed, even more broody than ever."
"I don't brood." he growls at her
"Oh don't give me that." Isabella purrs back at him, "You are a champion brooder. Carver took pointers from you; you're so...great at brooding!" Isabella turns to look at the other two and raises her eyes giving them the silent instruction to help her out in this.
Varric quickly blurts out, "Absolutely! So much better than Carver at brooding."
Isabella stares at Varric as if to say "Really? That's the best you can do?" Varric lifts his shoulders and puts out his hands in resignation.
Hawke can't help releasing a small snicker at the interplay between the two of them and feels only a small twinge of guilt that she is the reason that Fenris is being put through this.
"Besides," Isabella carries on continuing to stroke the scarf, "We noticed you've started wearing this and we're curious. Is it some kind of makeshift bandage? If you're wounded I'm sure Anders could help."
Fenris almost chokes at the mention of the mage's name, "It is not a bandage." He spits out.
Isabella continues regardless,"You sure? You haven't been trying to cut your wrists and end it all?...Oh of course not, you're much too good with a blade to mess that up. Did you get a new tattoo and it hasn't worked out too well?...If you like I know a great tattooist who could make it better no matter how much your guy screwed it up."
They can hear Fenris' rising anger in his voice as he growls back, "I have not got a new tattoo."
"Well then, a new fashion accessory? I'm not sure I've seen anyone else do this, but I'm sure it will catch on; I might even do it myself! Although I'm not sure you'll get far as a trend setter. Fenris, as a new career I don't think it works for you." Isabella cocks her head to the side, trying to see under the white hair and find out how much further she has to push this game before Fenris will explode. She knows it won't be long.
Varric lets out a loud guffaw, amused at Isabella's continued probing. Hawke sits quiet, feeling that small twinge of guilt get larger, but hoping that Isabella's approach might lead to Fenris revealing what the scarf is doing around his wrist.
Fenris stands up suddenly sending the chair he was sitting on falling back to give a resounding crash on the floor. He stares directly at Hawke; she can barely tolerate seeing the haunted look in his eyes, but finds she can't look away,
"There have been...recent events that have made me realise how I need to stay focussed on being prepared for when Denarius comes for me. I find this helps me to remember what I have lost because of him so that when he does I will be ready."
Hawke glances at her scarf, but as she does she notices the Amell shield pinned to his belt and can't help pointing at it and blurting out, "So what's that for?" Fenris continues to stare directly at her, no glances towards Varric and Isabella who are both staring intently at him.
"While I am in Kirkwall I will now work only for you. I will no longer work for others, them I owe no debts." He turns and strides through the Hanged Man to exit through the door and leave.
The three are left to stare in his wake. It is a few moments before they all take a deep breath after which Isabella pipes up, "Well, he certainly does have a flair for the dramatic, even if his fashion sense is non-existent. I'll get the next round in."
As she leaves to go to the bar Varric turns towards Hawke, "What happened between you two? Don't deny it Hawke, I'm not blind." Hawke turns to look at Varric and he can see tears threatening to appear in her eyes.
"I can't talk about it now Varric. Maybe later."
"If he has hurt you in some way, let me allow him and Bianca to get closer. She'll talk some sense into him." He reaches back to stroke the polished wood of his crossbow.
"It's not like that Varric. Something I have to deal with myself, but thanks for the offer."
"Well, if you won't let me help, then let me get you ferociously drunk so that for tonight at least you can forget all about it. Isabella! Where are those drinks?"
Hawke is grateful for the distraction. Thoughts swirl through her head. He's staying because he owes me a debt? He wears that scarf to remind him of what he has lost, it's my scarf, it's me, and it's me he thinks he has lost! I thought it was me who had lost him. This is too much to think about right now. Where are those drinks?