Summary: Hawke would rather see it burn than have it used to help the Templars. FemHawke/Varric
A/N: Thanks for reading. Review please.
"Same to you, Seeker," Varric shook his head, fingers steepled. "Same to you." Cassandra walked out without a backwards glance, shoulders a little more heavy, the large book scratching against the armor of her thigh.
Once the voice outside the mansion died down and the distinct sound of steel boots marching away was lost in the wind and fog of deserted Kirkwall, Hawke began her slow descend from upstairs. She kept her calloused fingers on the railing, feeling the worn wood she hadn't touched in little over a year. Despite being fully clad in her champion armor, she made no sound as her feet hit the soft carpet below, and she appeared at his side, sliding her thin, human fingers over his gloved hand. Ben-Hassrath was in her other hand, the hilt sending ice crystals spiraling over the carpet.
"I thought for sure she'd search the mansion," Hawke remarked idly.
Varric chuckled. "I was afraid she would, too."
"You did well."
The dwarf shot her a smirk. "Hawke, please, I don't need your reassurances. I know I did well."
Hawke mirrored his expression and blew some hair out of her face. It was so long now that she had to keep it pinned up. No matter how many times she asked, he just couldn't make himself cut it with a crude combat knife. The curls were lovely anyhow. "Oh, well…" she squeezed his fingers. "Excuse me."
"Forgiven, dear lady," he turned his hand so it was palm up, feeling her icy touch even through the thin layer of leather over his skin.
She suddenly glanced at him. "She didn't hurt you, did she? I thought…at the start—"
"You were upstairs even then?" he blinked at her. "Damn. It must have been you shutting the window that I heard."
"I'm not as stealthy as you," she sniffed playfully. "I'm a mage. It's not my specialty."
"To answer your question, no, she didn't hurt me," he chuckled. "Gave me a warm welcome, but that was it."
In the silence that followed, Hawke glanced away and to the fireplace. It had always been lit when he came to visit. There was something sad about seeing it so cold and lifeless, much like the mansion itself. Cobwebs collected in the corners, and dust sat on everything even vaguely stationary. Even when it was just Hawke living there, the place had a pulsating glow much like a beating heart with fire burning on every level just to light the rooms up and the curtains pushed back for all the world to see where the free apostate lived. Where the free mage lived.
"I'm glad," she said suddenly, kneeling next to his chair. "At least now the true story is out there. At least someone other than us knows how it all began." There was something both sad and relieved in her emerald eyes, and he reached out to trace a hand across her cheek.
"It's a long story," he told her gently. "Not one that many are likely to repeat."
"It's a connection," she tried to smile. "It's a tie to the outside world that I haven't had in a very long time. Maybe she can do something now, or maybe it's just my foolish hope that she will. At least now she won't be tailing us anymore."
"Truth," he murmured, twisting a lock of her hair. In the quick dash to get upstairs in case he needed backup, some of it had come out of the sloppy bun she normally maintained. Her head was warmer than her hands, at least, and that was a nice change. In the cold winter of the Free Marches, they hadn't had a speck of warmth that wasn't fire-related for a long time. Even their bodies had stopped producing enough heat, it seemed.
"There will be other Seekers," she sighed a little sullenly, setting her staff on the ground. "The Templars are getting bolder with their plans. We'll have to send word to Isabela."
"Always so business-oriented," he tugged on her hair. "Enjoy the moment. It's been a long night."
"At least you weren't pacing upstairs like a trapped tiger, hearing about all your former exploits. Really, did you have to tell her that I slept with Fenris?" she looked at him with half-hearted exasperation.
"All part of the story, Beautiful," he smiled roguishly. "She wanted the truth."
"Surely that part could have been omitted."
"You and Fenris never really got along," he answered easily. "Your sleeping with him explains why he stayed by you in the end, anyway. Otherwise, it doesn't make much sense considering your vicious rivalry."
"He loves me, Varric," she reminded him gently, resting her hand on his chest. "That's why he stayed by me. You know that."
"Yeah, I do," he said. Amusement twinkled in his eyes. "Maybe it just makes me jealous, so I didn't want to discuss it."
"Liar," she accused.
A shuffling at the door drew their attention, a scratch and a whine following. Hawke stood up and kissed Varric's cheek, warm lips against his stubble. When she opened it with a fancy flourish of her wrist, her mabari darted in to lick at the dwarf's face. With a slightly firmer push, she revealed the broody elf standing with his slim arms crossed and Aveline casually standing with her hand on the hilt of her sheathed sword. Her red hair was practically a beacon in all the foggy blackness surrounding Kirkwall.
Fenris perked up when he saw Hawke at the door. "You are uninjured," he remarked unnecessarily. Relief was paramount in his body language.
"Sorry for the frantic dashing," she shrugged. "You know how…badly my last interrogation went." Almost absently, she touched her belly where the burn wounds shined silver with healing magic. Healed but not gone. Forgiven but not forgotten.
"The most important thing is that Varric is fine," Aveline nodded. "We saw Cassandra and her very large Templar entourage. You shouldn't use any magic until we're clear of Kirkwall."
"Which way did they head?"
"South," Fenris offered softly. "Our mages in the sewers better not attract any attention tonight, or it might be a repeat of what happened in Starkhaven."
Varric appeared at Hawke's side, casually placing his hand on her lower back. "Isabela?"
"Just off the Wounded Coast, hiding in all this damned fog," said Aveline. "Two of Sebastian's ships are waiting with her for backup, but the more we have, the more likely it is the Templars will see them."
"With any luck, we'll be near Starkhaven before morning," Hawke muttered, taking her staff as the dog appeared with it in his mouth. She ran her fingers through his short fur, pressing back his stubby ears. "What happened to Merrill?"
"Carver's with her," Fenris said. "She twisted her ankle while we were following."
Fenris, Aveline, Hawke, Merrill, Carver, and Varric had been on a simple mission to sneak into the depths of Darktown where one compound of the Mage Underground still existed and deliver supplies. It was Hawke's thought that with so many, they wouldn't be overwhelmed by Templars if Kirkwall was still as guarded as it had been when they left the last time. On the way back, Varric wandered off the beaten path and was abducted quite literally under their noses. With Templar cruelty and torture techniques an ever-growing rumor on the wind, Hawke had been the first to run full-hilt after them once he was discovered missing.
The others had decided much more tactful ways of following. Merill, the klutz, had obviously fallen because subtlety was not an ability of hers. The reason Carver stayed behind was easy enough to deduce. The elven mage was the only one that could tie his tongue in a knot and make him all flustered just by being dubious.
"We should move, Hawke," Aveline pressed with some annoyance. "Before the choice is taken from us."
"Right," Hawke sighed, reaching back to pat Varric's hand and stepping forward. She looked toward Aveline. "Take Fenris and find Carver and Merrill. Meet us at the Wounded Coast."
"Is it wise to split up?" Fenris questioned.
"Maybe not," Hawke shrugged. "I want Varric to set a few traps for the Seeker, in case she gets it into her pretty little head to come back any time soon." She cast a sour glare at the place as it loomed menacingly and emptily.
"Whatever you want, Beautiful," Varric said.
"Very well, Hawke," Aveline unsheathed her blade and hoisted it over her shoulder. "We'll catch up with you at the Wounded Coast." Gesturing to Fenris, she turned her back on them and headed down the stairway. The elf frowned rather fiercely at the ground before taking off, silent and deadly as he slipped into the shadows at the guard's back. For a warrior, he was incredibly stealthy.
Smacking the end of her staff on the ground, Hawke turned around to stare at the mansion. Webs clung to the corners of the entrance, the broken lock on the front door hanging pathetically. It had never been very sturdy to begin with. Given the skill of the person living in the house and the guard mabari, who would dare to break in?
Stubby fingers laced with hers, the creak of leather familiar. They used to play Diamondback in this house. It was where Anders treated her wounds, where her mother lived just before she died, and where she spent some of the happiest days of her life. To see it so unused and forgotten was disheartening. War consumed everything without regret, no matter how important others thought it to be. The fight was teaching her more about sacrifice than even Carver, a Grey Warden, could.
"I miss it," she murmured to Varric. "Do you?"
He snorted. "Do I miss having some of the greatest adventures I've ever had, living in the lap of luxury with eager listeners at my door every evening only to go to bed and wake up with a beautiful woman ready to challenge me on both an intellectual and physical level? Is that a real question?"
She laughed, despite herself.
"What do you miss?" he asked eagerly.
"Hmmm," she pondered, kneeling and tracing her finger over his arm. "I miss drinking and Fenris's laughter. I miss Aveline's smile and Sebastian's conviction, the smell of tea and Mother's perfume. Bodahn and Sandal."
"Not fine dining or glittering rubies?" he raised an eyebrow. "You have simple tastes, Beautiful."
Smoothing back his hair, she smiled. Her teeth gleamed, but it didn't touch her eyes. "I miss luxury, not necessity. Baths and combs and soaps…" she hummed, eyes becoming dark with desire, voice becoming sultry. "I miss slow lovemaking and soft sheets."
"I can do slow," he touched the hollow of her throat where a vial of dragon's blood rested against her chest. "Not very practical, but I can do it. Soft sheets you'll have to talk to Isabela about."
"I miss your stories," she told him sincerely.
"We can work out something with that, too," he replied, tugging her closer. She sunk down to her knees so that they were face to face, her cool breath on his mouth. Even in the dark, her eyes were glimmering brightly. He hooked the fingers of his left hand into her collar, tugging her head closer so he could seal their lips.
Given what little time they had and the fact that Varric was dead tired, the kiss was languid and more an affirmation that the both of them were there and real than a passionate embrace in the dark, abandoned streets of a dead city. That was the kind of thing that only happened in storybooks now. Their trysts were always fast, never savored. Frantic confessions took the place of sappy love declarations with candlelight and rose petals. The romances he described in his books were the way he wanted to treat her.
He remembered for a moment what happened the night she confessed her feelings for him and he returned them. Drunk on brandy because of Fenris's offer to continue where they left off three years previous, she'd snuck up into his room after politely declining and spilled her guts to him over a card game. Later, they'd ended up tangled in his bed. He had been too much a gentleman to take advantage of her when she was drunk, but he had told her she could spend the night if she minded herself. Once she was asleep on his chest, her long, human arms wrapped around him, he'd whispered a little sadly, "Love has the worst timing."
Truer words were never spoken.
The entire ordeal happened just a few days before Anders blew up the Chantry. The weeks and months after were hard. It was the beginning of the war, and everyone was distraught by what had occurred. Being uprooted from one's home was never an easy thing to do. Fenris was vying harder and harder for her attention just as Sebastian was begging her to become his princess on the Starkhaven throne. That was another thing: they were trying to take back Starkhaven with only a pathetic army of half-starved, coddled mages and their little group. They'd managed it, but it wasn't easily won. That didn't leave much time for Hawke and Varric to make up for the years lost. Yet, they tried.
With Starkhaven under Hawke's complete control, Sebastian twisted around her pinkie finger, and the Underground finally getting supplies, the war was taking a turn for the better. It left more time for the two of them if nothing else, but it still made things complicated. Varric's contacts begged for help while the Guild hunted him down at every turn. Everyone was suffering in the wake of this war. Hawke was constantly clawed at by the Starkhaven nobles, her friends, and all the mages of the world. She was their Champion first and his lover second.
She pulled back, tugging on his lower lip with her teeth as she slowly opened her eyes. "Hmm…I miss doing that whenever I want," she teased. "We should have taken our time in the Hanged Man that night. Made up for six long years of lost time."
"Beautiful, are you reading my mind?" he kissed her again, a quick peck. "I was just thinking about that."
"You agree, then?"
"You were drunk," he reminded her gently. "I'm nothing if not courteous. Besides, you didn't really want it to begin like that, did you? What kind of story would that make?"
"Oh, I don't know," she breathed. "Isabela makes drunken groping seem fun."
Tapping his fingers against her lips, he backed up a bit. "Didn't you want to set some traps?"
"No, I said I wanted you to set some traps."
"'Said'?" he picked out the word.
"Anything to get rid of Fenris's disapproving glares," she flourished her hand theatrically. "The man could melt steel with just his eyes. No, I have a better plan." She stood and reached for her staff, smacking it on the ground so embers erupted from the bottom. It was just a reflex of the equipment, no mana expended on her part. She pointed the weapon at the offending house. "There are about five crates of foreign wine in this house's cellar, very old, very flammable alcohol."
What she was saying clicked into place almost immediately, and he glanced sharply at her. "You sure about this, Beautiful? It can't be undone, you know that."
"Varric, I'd rather see it burn," she announced, not looking at him. "When my mother chose a mage as her partner, she condemned our line to more magic and was disowned. We are no longer Amells. Carver and I are of the Hawke family now. What's a bit of land to us?"
"A fire show like that will alert the Templars," he reasoned, but it was out of his hands already. He'd heard that determination in her voice a hundred times before, and nothing he said would stop her. Besides, Hawke knew her own emotional and physical limitations. She hardly ever regretted a decision once it was made. She wasn't one to dwell on the past. That was all the mansion was, really. Her mother's past.
"Exactly," she smiled down at him, an excited glint to her eyes. "Let's leave Kirkwall with a bang, shall we? That ought to piss Cassandra off something terrible, to just miss the Champion."
Varric grinned. "I like how you think."
So at her behest, they broke into the wine cellars downstairs and brought them all up to the top floor. Hawke took more than one swig out of a few bottles as she tossed them downstairs one by one, shattering them over carpets, portraits, workspaces, and stairwells. She ran in and doused her bed with the Agreggio. Fitting considering who had slept there with her so long ago.
There was one room she didn't cover, and that was her mother's. She did, however, smash a deep green bottle against the door a little too hatefully. The flowers in the vase next to the portrait were completely dead, just twisted and gnarled plants that crumbled at her touch. She knocked them over and poured dust out of the vase without meaning to.
Varric was much more careful about pouring the flammable substance. He started at the top of the house and made his way down, creating a trail and making sure he didn't actually step in any of the wine. It would do no good to have his shoes catch on fire. He poured it over pages of Anders' manifesto and books that Fenris could read now with more alacrity than most elves he'd ever known. Once he got to Hawke's desk in the sitting room, he saw a note with her mother's lovely handwriting on it. It read, "I'm proud of you. Love, Mother." He pocketed it before soaking the desk.
Once the entire estate was dripping with red and white wine, Hawke called to him, and they stood in the doorway together. It smelled like a perfume vendor had just taken refuge in the house, a sickly combination of sweet fruits and acidic alcohol. She let out a breath, taking in the sight. To think that she had worked so hard for this place, to get it back for her mother, only for everything to be stolen from her was too sad to bear. Yet, she bore it with a morose smile on her face.
"One part down to earth," he muttered, and she glanced at him.
Holding up her hand which was ready to summon flames at any moment, she said, "Two parts crazy?"
"Are you sure, Hawke?" he asked uneasily, using her name for once. "This is your mother's childhood home. When the war's over…"
"I won't be coming back to Kirkwall," she said sharply. "That's for damn sure."
"Now, don't pretend that you don't feel for this place. This is where your mother and Anders died. Kirkwall is your home, whether you admit it or not."
She shook her head. "Starkhaven is my home," she said. "You are my home. Sebastian's palace has plenty of useless things about. All this can be recreated. As for Mother and Anders? They're coming with me, in my blood and my memories."
Azure fire erupted in her palm, flames licking along her bruised fingers and cracked nails. With just a casual flick of her hand, they gathered up and flew towards the carpet. Immediately, the place was an inferno, and she closed the door behind her. It went up in such a blaze that the windows cracked from the intense pressure, showering glass down on the two of them. Hawke ducked and covered her head almost before it happened, as if she expected it.
"You threw a combustion grenade in there, didn't you?"
"Yep," she replied.
Dusting glass off his sleeve, Varric covered his eyes in the wake of the blaze. The heat was making him sweat already, and it was certainly a beacon for all to see. Not to mention that her magic signature would attract every Templar in the area if they didn't leave. Cassandra would definitely know what had happened. For all the Seeker's faults, she was clever.
Clever enough to capture Varric, after all.
With the same hand that had lit fire to her precious home she took a year trying to get back, she captured his and squeezed tightly. Whatever they were before didn't matter. This was what mattered. In all his dwarven life, Varric had never met a human like her. The past was past. The future of mages and their future was what she had focused on since the beginning.
"Let's get back to the boat," she whispered. "Before we get caught again."
"Before I get caught again?"
She laughed softly and kissed his cheek, turning to pull him in the direction of the Wounded Coast. "I want to talk more about soft sheets with Isabela, and you said you could do slow."
He squeezed her hand affectionately. "Whatever you want, Beautiful."
I took down the other Varric/FemHawke story because it was an insult to mankind. I like this one better because I have an obsession with burning valuable things. I also promise you some Fenris/MaleHawke soon. Thanks for reading. Review please.