He should have known the letter was a fake. After serving Danarius for so many years, hadn't he witnessed how devious the Magister could be? The man was well-known for his cruelty, his preference for toying with his victims before finally striking in one vicious blow. Of course, he would have discovered that his beloved apprentice, Hadriana, was dead at Fenris's hand. He would know that his former prized slave was searching desperately for his sister. Even from such a long distance, Danarius would not be able to resist dangling hope before Fenris's eyes, only to snatch it away with a goading laugh and a painful slap.

When the letter had arrived, Fenris had gone straight to Hawke. There was no one else, no one he could trust with something this important. Hawke had been there in that dank, moldy cave when Fenris had killed Hadriana. It had been one of the few times that Fenris had seen the normally even-tempered Hawke in a rage that matched the tempest he had cast to destroy Hadriana's henchmen. Even Fenrishad faltered just a little at the sight of Garrett Hawke lashing the slavers with fire and lightning, teeth bared in a snarl, eyes narrowed into angry slits. Yet, in the midst of his fury, he had stepped aside before Hadriana, allowing Fenris to exact his own retribution on the apprentice who had caused him so much torment.

It was highly unlikely that Fenris could forget that day, more so for what occurred that night at the Hawke estate than what had happened in the holding caves. That was the night Hawke had shown a former slave that a caress did not have to hold a promise of pain, that a kiss could be gentle instead of brutal and demanding, that a mage could induce pleasure through his lyrium tattoos instead of agony. It was the first time that Fenris had ever allowed himself to grant a mage even a sliver of his trust, but by the end of that evening, Hawke had gained so much more than that. Indeed, it was the onslaught of emotion that had engulfed Fenris that night that had driven him from Hawke's healing embrace. He was not accustomed to such gentleness, had notearned it, was notworthy. Fenris was not an eloquent man; he had not the words to explain the confused turmoil raging inside him to a hurt and saddened Hawke. So he had done what he seemed to do best; he had fled.

He expected a backlash, at the very least a calculated indifference, for it was no less than what he deserved. But again, Hawke had surprised him. There was no mention of that memorable night, no accusations, no pleas to discuss what had happened. He had wanted some space to think about his feelings, and Hawke had granted him this. As time passed, Fenris had expected him to move on, to choose another more worthy of his attentions. As far as he could discern, that hadn't occurred. Instead, Hawke continued to pursue Fenris in the most subtle and non-threatening way imaginable: a lingering touch on the shoulder, a soft smile when no one else was looking at them, a bottle of wine left mysteriously by Fenris's bed at night, soothing words that calmed Fenris even in the most volatile of situations. It left him confused, these reminders of Hawke's affection, and a little on edge because how could someone like him, damaged and filled with hate, possibly have anything to offer in return?

Yet, when the letter arrived, supposedly signed by his sister and promising a meeting at a secluded beach on the Wounded Coast, he had turned to Hawke. No one else could possibly understand his need, his fervent desire to find his past and a connection to whatever place he had previously held in this world. Hawke had not even hesitated; after Fenris's first stutters, his eyes pleading where his words could not, Hawke had snatched the letter from Fenris's trembling hand and perused it swiftly. He had disappeared only long enough to grab his staff and then led Fenris straight to the Hanged Man, where they were joined by Varric and Isabela. Together, the party had made their way as quickly as possible to the designated beach, only to find Danarius's clever deception waiting for them.

Fenris did not recognize the tall man with long, blond hair tied back in a leather thong, but he knew from the man's staff that he was a mage. As the man stepped forward to greet him, surrounded by mercenaries, Fenris drew his greatsword.

"Ah… Fenris. So nice to meet you at last and so good of you to respond so promptly to my letter."

Fenris hissed from between clenched teeth. "And who are you?"

"Allow me to introduce myself." The mage smiled slowly, poison reflected in the depths of his blue eyes. "I am Lazondis, your master's new apprentice."

"He wasted no time in replacing Hadriana, then." From behind him came the soft sounds of weapons being drawn from their sheaths. There was a certain comfort in knowing he had Varric, Isabela, and Hawke at his back.

The mage chuckled lazily. "She was obviously too incompetent for someone of Danarius's status. No matter, I am here to complete what she could not."

Rage built from deep inside, and his tattoos began to glow with a menace. "Then you will share her fate."

It all happened faster than his mind could track. Even as he rushed forward, swinging his sword in an arc above his head, he saw the mage raise his hand, almost indifferently, so that his palm faced Fenris. Too late, far too late, Fenris saw the trickle of blood trailing in a crimson rivulet down the creased palm and onto the wrist. Instinct seized his muscles and his heels dug into the sand, his toes desperately seeking purchase, but the mage was already lifting his staff. A short cry clawed its way up Fenris's throat as a familiar red haze clouded his vision, and time seemed to slow as he fell forward.

Every line of lyrium, every sinuous tattoo embedded in his skin, flared to life in a blaze of blue. Flames of agony ripped through his body, forcing his back to bow and his fingers to clench into rigid claws of pain. The world around him shrank to nothing; his only awareness was that of the fire consuming every inch of his skin, peeling it back to blacken the bones beneath. The lines at his throat constricted his larynx like a leash, muffling the strangled cries of suffering into grunts. Through it all, the crimson haze weaved into his mind, refusing to allow him the refuge of fainting.

There was no passage of time, only wave after wave of excruciating pain obliterating every thought. He never heard the yells of fury or saw the storm of electricity that drove the mercenaries to their knees, crying for mercy. But there would be no mercy from Hawke that day, no respite from his rage at seeing Fenris thrashing in the sand, enslaved by the blood magic controlling his tattoos. The slavers received no compassion from Varric's searing arrows or Isabela's poisoned blades. Within minutes, the battle was finished, the mercenaries lying in pools of blood and the unfortunate apprentice mage lying half-buried in the sand, skin blackened and robes still smoldering from Hawke's magic.

The sickening tendrils of red faded from his mind, but the pain streaming through his tattoos did not. He was dimly aware of a soft tenor calling his name, a warm hand laid against his cheek, but his teeth remained clenched in a rictus of agony and he could not respond. A soft breeze brushed his chest, and he realized that his armor top had been removed. Then there was pressure, gentle and soothing, and a coolness began to flow from the center of his chest outward. It lapped like a cat's tongue along each lyrium path in his skin, cold and refreshing, snuffing out the fire in his veins. Slowly, ever so slowly, the pain eased as Hawke's healing magic chased away the flames and relaxed his tightened muscles.

When he finally opened his eyes, three very anxious faces were hovering above him. Hawke's was the one he sought, those hazel eyes full of intense relief. Hesitantly, Fenris slid a dry tongue across his parched lips and tasted the tang of his own blood where he had bitten himself in his pain. His throat burned but he forced out a choked grunt.

"Hawke?"

"Fenris, are you okay?"

"By the Stone, I never want to see anyone in that kind of pain ever again," Varric muttered as he slid Bianca back in her sheath.

Even Isabela looked shaken as she wiped her blades clean. "Well, the screaming would be fine if it were from pleasure instead…."

Hawke helped Fenris to sit up. The lyrium tattoos still burned and ached like welts from a whip, but at least he was no longer frozen in torment. He ran shaky fingers through his hair and attempted to stand, stumbling against Hawke as he did so.

"Fenris, maybe we should wait a bit before moving on. You don't look so good." Hawke brushed at the sand on Fenris's armor while the elf fumbled with the clasps on his open top. He finally gave up with a grunt of frustration; his muscles simply refused to obey him. Hawke moved forward and gently fastened the clasps, while Fenris looked away in embarrassment. His gaze fell on the carnage spread across the beach, and he closed his eyes as disappointment clenched around his heart. He had been a fool, endangering Hawke and his friends. Then he had fallen helpless before the battle even began, and they had been forced to defend him. The shame settled over his shoulders like a weighted cloak.

"I'm fine, Hawke. Let's move on." Hawke looked as if he would protest but shut his mouth quickly at the pleading gaze Fenris directed at him.

The trip back to Kirkwall was thankfully uneventful. Pain continued to erupt through Fenris's tattoos in small bursts, causing his steps to falter as he struggled to contain it. Hawke stayed at his side, offering an arm for the elf to lean on when he was forced to stop and breathe through a particularly insidious bout of agony. Varric and Isabela were miraculously subdued, probably afraid that Hawke would toss a fireball at the first person to make a joke at Fenris's expense. By the time they reached Kirkwall, the sun was setting, and Varric and Isabela took off for the Hanged Man, obviously relieved to get away from the ailing elf and the grim-faced Hawke.

By the time they reached Hightown, Fenris was nearly sagging from pain and exhaustion. He barely even noticed where Hawke was heading until they were at Hawke's doorstep, a startled Bodahn opening the heavy oak door for them.

"Why, Messere Hawke, Messere Fenris? Is everything quite all…."

"Later, Bodahn," replied Hawke shortly. "Fenris is hurt, and I'm taking him upstairs to my room. Please see that we aren't disturbed."

"Of course, Messere."

Hawke's room? Fenris feebly tried to pull back, unease causing him to briefly forget his pain. He had not been inside Hawke's mansion, let alone his room, since the night they had spent together. It wasn't right to be here… what right did he have after being the one to turn away?

"Hawke, this isn't necessary…."

"Shush, Fenris. You're still suffering, and I'm going to help."

"But…."

"Fenris, be quiet and walk. I can't carry you or I would." Hawke gripped his elbow firmly and almost pulled him up the stairs. "I know how stubborn you like to be, but I'm not having it tonight."

Fenris could do little more than sputter as Hawke guided him inside the bedroom, shutting the door behind them. Really, Fenris couldn't remember Hawke ever being this… commanding. If he weren't so tired with his skin feeling like a hundred daggers were stabbing him, it would be almost arousing. He shied away from the thought as Hawke pushed him toward the lavish four-poster bed. Not now.

Hawke swiftly began to undo the clasps of Fenris's top, eyes narrowed in concentration as his fingers tugged at the buckles.

"Hawke, what are you doing?" Fenris was starting to feel as if this was one of those strange dreams he sometimes had after drinking too much wine before bed.

"I didn't have enough time at the beach to fully heal you. Whatever disgusting blood magic that thrice-damned mage used on you was too strong. You're still hurting and I'm going to fix it."

"Hawke, I have been through this before with Danarius. He often used my markings in such a way to punish me." He tried unsuccessfully to bat away Hawke's hands. "The pain will fade in time."

"There's no reason for you to suffer. I can get rid of the pain now." Hawke blew out his breath in frustration and took Fenris's face between his hands gently. "Fenris, please. Let me do this for you. I still have your trust, don't I?"

How to respond to such a question with those warm, hazel eyes practically begging? Of course, Hawke had no idea that Fenris chastised himself each night, alone in his dingy house, for leaving that fateful night two years ago.

"You never lost it, Hawke." The words burst from his lips before he could bite them back. Ah, but it was worth it to see the pleased surprise on Hawke's face. The mage reached out, almost hesitantly, and laid the back of his fingers against Fenris's cheek.

"Then let me help you." Fenris stood obediently still as Hawke removed his top, careful to avoid scraping the armor against the sensitive markings. He guided Fenris to lie down across the soft blankets on his stomach, and crawled up to straddle the elf's legs. The position was more than slightly intimate and brought to mind a different evening, when clothes had been decidedly absent. Fenris gritted his teeth and focused on the pain still seething under his skin, anything to erase those thoughts from his head.

He nearly jumped when calloused fingers moved gently between his shoulder blades, applying a slight pressure.

"Fenris, you're as tight as a bowstring. I know you're in pain but try to relax your muscles. Here, I'll massage them a little to help."

Hawke's fingers traced a path along both sides of Fenris's spine, kneading in slow circles. It was a struggle to hold still; Fenris had never been massaged before and the constant strokes made his hands twitch. He focused on his breathing and buried his fingers in the blankets to steady himself.

"Maker, you have so many scars on your back…." Hawke's fingertips skimmed over the deformed lines that crisscrossed the otherwise smooth skin.

"I believe they came from being whipped when I was younger. I don't remember." Fenris felt himself beginning to relax beneath the soothing touch. "Once I received the lyrium markings, there was no need for a whip. The tattoos produced a much more… potent punishment."

Hawke vented a hiss of anger. "This Danarius isn't going to live long once I meet him. He won't hurt you again, Fenris, I promise."

There was a curious ache in his chest that had nothing to do with his earlier torture. What had he done to deserve such loyalty from a man like Hawke? He was a nobody, a former slave with nothing to his name. Fenris closed his eyes and pushed away the thoughts rife with doubt and self-mockery. He didn't want to think about his emotions just now. His skin was still prickling and burning, but his muscles were melting under Hawke's fingers.

Just as he began to sink into a rather pleasant, dulled state of mind, it happened. Hawke's hands had moved to his shoulders, and suddenly, a rush of coolness flowed from those expert fingertips into the lines of lyrium twining across his shoulders and down his arms. The refreshing energy was followed by a tingling that moved slowly down each marking, chasing away the pain before it. A clean scent filled the air, like the smell of grass after a heavy rain. Fenris was so surprised by the unfamiliar sensation that he jerked, unconsciously flinching away from Hawke.

"Shh, it's okay. I'm healing you now." Fenris gasped as the tingling intensified, eyes widening as the energy began to pulse through each marking, causing them to glow a muted blue. It was amazing. His eyelids fluttered shut in pleasure as the tingling spread across his neck and down to his fingers. Hawke shifted his palms forward and stretched his fingers over the top of Fenris's chest. His magic flowed down the lines that weaved around Fenris's pectorals, humming a song that only lyrium could hear. It was as if his skin had always been dead and was now coming alive.

Unfortunately, his cock was also becoming aroused. The magic was stimulating much more than his markings, each pulse of energy going straight to the growing heat between his legs. Fenris shifted his hips, dismayed at the thought of Hawke discovering that his attempt to heal was also giving Fenris a very full erection.

"Fenris, hold still. I'm trying to focus here."

Hawke was trying to focus? What about Fenris struggling to not focus on the pleasure slowly making its way down his body? He no longer even had the pain to distract him; it was disappearing swiftly under the onslaught of Hawke's magic. Breathe. Not too fast. Just slow and regular.

Hawke's hands moved down, brushing feather-light against Fenris's sides before returning to center at his lower back. A fresh trickle of soothing coolness radiated across Fenris's back and pushed delicately toward his stomach. Beads of sweat were forming on the elf's brow, and his fingers clenched in the lush blankets beneath him. So good. His cock felt like it was trying to drill a hole through the mattress. Maker, he had to stop this before he came right under Hawke's healing hands. He squirmed, trying to make room for his swollen length.

"Fenris! Stop. I'm nearly done."

So am I, if I don't get away from here. Then Hawke shifted, moving up to straddle Fenris's thighs just below the tight curves of flesh that formed his buttocks. The mage squeezed his knees together, effectively pinning Fenris to the mattress and unknowingly pressing Fenris's aching erection further into the blankets, which were made of velvet. Which did not help in the least.

Unable to move without heaving Hawke off his back, Fenris resigned himself to his fate. There was no way he was going to admit to the mage that Hawke had him nearly mad with desire. Clearly, Hawke was unaware of the effect he was having on Fenris, and if he was very still and very quiet, he might be able to get through it without Hawke knowing. If he had any luck at all, of which he had plenty when he played cards, Hawke would be done very soon. He just had to hang on until then.

Apparently, luck during card games didn't extend to escaping mages bent on healing their victims straight to an orgasm. Hawke was now directing his magic down the lyrium that ran along the backs of Fenris's thighs and calves. Fenris felt as if every inch of his skin was vibrating, and he could feel the pulse of his blood flooding his cock. It was too much; feebly his hips bucked against the blankets, seeking friction even as his mind pleaded with his body, stop this.

"Damn, am I hurting you? I'm nearly finished, I promise."

Fenris let out a tortured groan, hoping it would sound more like 'okay, no problem' than 'please, I need more'.

"Fenris, just relax. It won't hurt as much if you stop jerking like that."

Everything around him was fading; he was lost in a haze of sheer ecstasy, pleasure rolling over his skin like a soft breeze. He wasn't going to make it; and he didn't have the courage to ask Hawke to stop. How could he possibly live with the shame? Fenris slumped into the mattress, relinquishing the last of his control and letting Hawke have his way.

Heat coiled at the base of his spine, building and tightening like a snake about to strike. He closed his eyes and went limp, his toes twitching as the tingling encompassed his bare feet. A rushing sound roared in his ears.

"That's better. Almost done."

And then Hawke shifted his hands, his wonderful, talented hands, to the front of Fenris's hips and sent one last surge of power along Fenris's groin.

A veritable tsunami of ecstasy flooded every cell in Fenris's body. Wave after wave of shocking pleasure crashed over him as sparks flared white-hot behind his eyes. Currents of heat swirled and eddied through his muscles as his body spasmed in the throes of a mind-numbing orgasm. The pulsing of Hawke's magic thrummed through his cock, pumping stream after stream of milky fluid into his pants. By the time the sensations began to lessen, he lay utterly shattered, drowned in lethargy.

It took Hawke's persistent voice, filled with concerned urgency, to bring him back to the surface.

"Fenris! Maker, are you okay? By Andraste, I'm so sorry if that hurt…."

A wild laugh threatened to burst from his chest. Hawke had just given him the most intense orgasm in memory and he was worried that Fenris was hurt?

"Hawke, I'm fine." His voice was hoarse and shaky, but Hawke would most likely attribute that to the attack earlier.

His muscles had dissolved into liquid, seeping deep into the mattress. There was no trace of pain left, but it was going to be impossible for him to leave this room without Hawke realizing what had happened. The front of his pants was undeniably wet with his juices. He thought with horror of Hawke's face when he saw it, and the anxiety dragged him fully out of his pleasure-induced haze. This was going to be humiliating.

The pressure on his thighs lifted, and he turned his head to see Hawke crawling off the bed.

"Maker, I'm hungry. All that healing works up a good appetite. Now that you're feeling better, do you want something to eat?"

A clean pair of pants would be better. "No, thank you."

"I'll go make myself a sandwich then. Be right back!"

Hawke left, leaving the door cracked open behind him. Immediately, Fenris rolled off the bed, glancing down at himself nervously. Yes, a damp spot had sprouted right between his legs. He stifled a groan of frustration and rubbed at it frantically. No good. He needed to get out of there before Hawke saw him like that. Spotting his shirt hanging over a nearby chair, he hastily pulled it on, not even bothering to fasten it.

He opened the door carefully and peered out. There was no one in sight, but he could hear sounds from the kitchen, accompanied by Hawke's voice humming a soft tune. Moving stealthily, he padded down the steps, wincing as the bottom one creaked. He froze, his head swiveling in a panic, but no one appeared and Hawke never paused in his song. He slunk along the wall and past the desk into the foyer. Amazingly, Bodahn didn't suddenly rush forward and offer him a drink, and no wide-eyed Sandal smiled at him vacantly. I'm going to make it.

Unfortunately, it really wasn't his lucky day. As he reached out for the doorknob, it twisted suddenly and burst open. A startled Orana stared at him, her arms full of bags spilling over with food. Fenris backpedaled, almost falling in his haste to retreat from the surprised woman. He regained his balance and quickly drew himself up in a haughty pose, clinging to what was left of his pride.

"Excuse me."

As he attempted to sidestep around her, her eyes drifted down and he saw them widen in shock. He let out a strangled grunt and swept past her in a flurry of bristling armor. Fortunately, it was night, and the dark shadows hid the deplorable state of his clothes. He hurried down the streets of Hightown toward the run-down mansion he called home, wondering how he was ever going to face Hawke again. The man had saved his life, spent a considerable amount of time healing him, and then Fenris had left without even a thank you. He will think me an ungrateful wretch, he thought miserably.

It wasn't until he had reached his estate and firmly closed the door behind him that he realized he had left his sword in Hawke's bedroom.

###

Hawke climbed the stairs slowly, balancing the tray of sandwiches in one hand. In the other, he grasped a bottle of red wine, one of Fenris's favorites. Whistling softly, he entered his bedroom and halted just inside the threshold. The elf was gone, his bed empty. Hawke sighed and placed the tray and wine on his desk. Fenris's disappearance wasn't totally unexpected. He stepped over to the bed and scanned the blankets where Fenris had been lying. The corners of his mouth crooked up when he spotted the damp stain across the wrinkled velvet.

It was really more of a surprise that Fenris hadn't caught on to Hawke's intentions. Well, to be honest, pleasuring Fenris hadn't been his initial goal. But once he realized the effect his magic was having on Fenris, he simply hadn't been able to resist. It had been two years since the night that haunted his every dream, and he wanted nothing more than to have Fenris in his arms again. Never would he push, however; it had to be Fenris's initiative. The former slave had been given so few choices in his hard life that Hawke was loathe to force him into anything he didn't truly want.

Tonight had given him an opportunity to give Fenris a moment of pleasure, without the elf being able to refuse. He had reveled in Fenris's reactions, enjoying every twitch and stifled moan while pretending to be innocently healing. Hawke was a terrible actor, but poor Fenris had been so intent on hiding his arousal, he hadn't even noticed. The trip to the kitchen was part of the plan, a chance for Fenris to leave, if he so desired. Hawke had fervently hoped that he wouldn't, that perhaps Fenris would finally be able to talk about the suppressed emotion walled up inside him. Clearly, he wasn't ready yet, and Hawke would have to shelter the ache in his heart for a while longer.

He lay down on the bed next to the stain and ran his hand over it lightly. Bringing his palm to his nose, he breathed in Fenris's scent, the heady smell of his pleasure. The muscles in his groin tightened with desire as the scent opened a flood of memories: the graze of teeth against his lower lip, the flash of snow-white hair above emerald eyes, the drag of fingernails across his stomach, the rasp of a tongue against his shaft, the glow of blue, dancing along Fenris's tanned skin.

Hawke rolled to his back with a groan and fumbled with his robes, sliding his hand inside. As his palm closed over his length, he thought back to earlier when he had clasped his knees around Fenris's thighs. His very tight, muscular thighs. He began to stroke slowly, remembering the inviting curve of Fenris's buttocks, the hot smoothness of his skin, the long ridges of his ribs beneath Hawke's calloused hands. His thumb skimmed the head of his cock, spreading the gathering moisture as his ears recalled the sounds Fenris had made: the hoarseness of that velvety voice as Fenris said his name, the sharp gasps as he struggled to hide his arousal, the choked groan at the end when Hawke had felt the elf's muscles spasm in ecstasy.

Ah, Fenris, when will you understand that I don't care about your past? It never mattered who you were, only who you are. When will you realize that I long to give you the happiness you never had… the safety Danarius took from you… the right to love. I would give you my heart if you would have it. I would give you my soul.

With a gasp, his back arched, Fenris's face fixed firmly in his mind. His hand worked frantically, and he could almost feel those lyrium-lined fingers stroking his cheek. As the Fenris in his vision brushed his lips against Hawke's, the mage dropped his head back, twisting into the blankets to muffle his cry as warm fluid gushed over his fingers. He sank back to the mattress, breathless and sated, yet still as hollow as he had been when he had started.

After wiping his hand clean on a corner of the blanket, he rolled to his side, curling into himself beside the wetness left by Fenris. The ache in his cock was satisfied, but the ache in his heart was not. He closed his eyes, drifting at last into the Fade, where a smiling, green-eyed elf awaited him with an outstretched hand.

A/N: Major thanks to zevgirl for her awesome beta-ness. And thank you, readers, for checking this out!