Ok so yeah. Hehehe. I've had 3/4 of a bottle of wine. I'm ever so slightly drunk. This is what I write when drunk. And yes, I know I deviate from the canon. But sod it, I can do what I like. Can't believe they'd not even touch each other for three years. Psh. Implausible.
The Hanged Man was never normally quiet. Only in the small hours of the morning did it's usual lively atmosphere simmer down to a dull roar. Right now, Hawke dearly wished that it was the small hours of the morning. She had been dragged into the tavern by Isabela, who had long since lost interest and was now chatting up some unsuspecting dock worker over at the bar. To her credit, Hawke had decided to stick out the evening and not flee back to her mansion in Hightown as soon as she was given a moment to herself. But she had been nursing that one pint of ale for the entire night and even though she was trying her hardest, Varric could see that she was struggling to keep up with the conversation she was in. He could see the strain in the smile that didn't reach her eyes; hear the weariness in her voice; saw the way her shoulders would sag when she thought no one was looking.
If he thought back to the previous few days, she had seemed out of sorts then but not to the same extent. It had been building in the background for a while now, it just took him until now to see it. She was teetering on the brink of exhaustion and only now was he starting to see the cracks. It was amazing how the woman had been able to hide it until now. All that stress. All that loss. All that heartache. And she kept on with a bright smile on her face and a quick comment on her lips. Perhaps it should have been more obvious, because as the year went down and the business with the Qunari came to a head, the sarcastic and witty Hawke was ever-so-slowly replaced by someone who was downright aggressive to anyone that wasn't in her little group of companions. It had started with the loss of Leandra and grown from there. The whole business with Mother Petrice and the Arishok just seemed to speed up the process.
Even now, months after she was titled as Champion, her demeanour wasn't improving. True, it wasn't getting worse - but if Varric was any judge, the hostile edge was just being dulled by a general weariness. He had been pretending to sketch for a good hour, and to be fair, he had managed to get her basic outline down. And as he looked down at his pencil drawing and the real thing, he realised just how low she looked. Thumbing through the pages of his sketchbook, he stopped at each drawing he'd done of Hawke when she was in the tavern. Most were just her sitting and talking to her companions, but none had the sagging outline she now occupied.
Merrill had wandered off with a smile on her face and left Hawke alone with her mug of ale, just staring into the lacquered cup. Now totally alone, Varric truly saw the damage. Heavy shoulders, deep bruising under her eyes, pale lips. Hawke, their gorgeous, vibrant leader that commanded attention, was now slipping into the background. He didn't know if she was doing it on purpose, and she was almost as good at stealth as Isabela, or if she was doing it subconsciously. Either way, it was working. People were suddenly leaving her alone.
The door opened with a blast of cold Haring air and a sudden flurry of snowflakes as if to remind everyone what time of year it was. It was shut just as quickly and Fenris hung his cloak up on the peg next to the one with a hood lined in white fur - Hawke's own. Varric couldn't help but smile at that small thing as he glanced over to Hawke. She too had noticed the elf enter, but alarmingly, she only had only faintly brightened. Normally, his appearance would have made her smile and wave him over. Instead, she watched him with impassive eyes. He hadn't noticed her either. She really wasn't being seen. It was so unusual, as if she had some kind of invisibility cloak that hid her from anyone apart from Varric.
His attention drifted between the elf and Hawke as she watched him at the bar. Varric noticed the flicker of a flinty emotion flash across her face as Isabela sauntered casually over to Fenris and began pawing at him. Even Varric frowned at that, more puzzled than anything. The Rivaini had told him specifically that she'd only flirt with Fenris if Hawke was in earshot, simply because she wanted to provoke jealousy in their illustrious leader. She was as bad as Merrill was when it came to pairing them together, only her idea of encouragement was somewhat…unorthodox. But the tipsy flirting that the pirate was doing now was so far removed from what she had said she'd do. He even felt uncomfortable for the elf, who was doing his best to put distance between himself and the pirate.
Sudden movement pulled his attention back to Hawke, who had downed her pint in one go and stood suddenly. For a moment, Varric thought she'd go over to the bar and physically put herself between Isabela and Fenris. But instead, she just rolled her shoulders and walked towards the door.
Fenris paused in his attempts to rid himself of Isabela when he saw Hawke stride past him without so much as a glance in his direction. In an instant he saw what it had taken Varric most of the night to see. The tiredness, the cracks. Something wasn't right with Hawke, and even though he should leave her alone, he was already moving to follow her.
As the elf vanished back out into the cold night, Isabela slid into the seat opposite Varric, a sly grin on her face.
Throwing his cloak back over his shoulders, Fenris attempted to locate Hawke's disappearing shape with no result. She was moving fast, and he figured that the only place she would go that fast was home. He decided to follow her at double pace, not quite jogging but certainly moving a lot faster than he predicted she was going. It worked, as he turned the corner he saw her just starting to climb the second set of steps that lead up to Hightown. He took the steps two at a time, quickly reaching the bottom of the flight she was on. "Hawke, wait"
For a moment, he thought she would ignore him, but her pace suddenly faltered and she stopped. She didn't turn around though, and her shoulders had tensed. He watched her fidget slightly before she sighed. "I'm just going home, Fenris. Return to the tavern, it's warmer there."
The quiver in her voice, the rough edge that came with lack of sleep and the dark undertones that suggested she had one hell of a headache, caused him to climb the steps between them. She wasn't going to just dismiss him like that. He wasn't going to allow it. At the very least, he could walk her home. Or, if she wouldn't allow that, he could shadow her. She was not herself and she was unarmed (apart from, perhaps, a hidden dagger or two). He didn't feel comfortable in letting her make the trip from Lowtown to Hightown alone. She tugged off her hood, sending the gathered snowflakes off the waxed surface in a flurry, her breath escaping as a puff of white air. In the pale light, Fenris could see how tired she truly looked. The shadows under her eyes looks so much darker, her eyes didn't sparkle like they used to. And she refused to meet his gaze.
"Please, Fenris. I…" Her voice broke, hoarse and ragged.
"There is something wrong, Hawke. You cannot pretend that there isn't." No anger, no demand. Nothing but concern. He had never seen her like this, not even after the death of her mother - and she had been a complete mess after that. But she had bounced back quickly, life demanded it. But now that the Qunari threat had been removed, that mass murderers had been put out of commission and all other problems solve, there was some semblance of peace. But unlike those few years of peace after the Deep Roads, where Hawke could spend her time both getting her family home back and then getting it to a liveable state for her mother, she now had nothing. A big empty house with just her servants and her dog for company. And with nothing to occupy her mind, her thoughts were consuming her. It hurt him to see it. To see her like this.
"Wrong?" She said, flashing him a winning smile that never reached her eyes. "Why would there be anything wrong?"
He sighed. "You tell me, Hawke. Why would there be anything wrong?"
"No reason at all. I have a home, I have enough coin to live like a queen. I have a city that adores me, I have friends to drink with. It doesn't matter that…" Her breath hitched as she snatched her gaze from his. "It doesn't matter that my mother has joined my father and brother. It doesn't matter that my sister is locked in the Gallows. Or that the man I -" She cut herself off, stopping herself from saying whatever it was she was going to say, chewing on her lip vigorously.
The wind whipped up an icy blast that shot down the stairs like a bolt from Bianca, whipping the snow up into miniature whirlwinds and sending Hawke's hair into her face. Her eyes now hidden, she shivered against the cold and drew her cloak closer to her. The snow was increasing in intensity, drifting against the walls, steps and statues of Kirkwall and making the City of Chains look almost pretty. But Fenris's eyes never left the woman in front of him.
"You know, Fenris, if you would prefer to be with Isabela, I would give you my blessing."
He blinked at her, utterly knocked sideways by what she had just said. Isabela? She thought he wanted that pirate harlot? Even though he had quite obviously been trying to lose her attention that night in the tavern; even though he spent most of his time fending off her advances and tell her politely that she was barking up the wrong tree? Did she really, truly think that he would go for a woman who's only want was to add him to her extensive list of conquests? It hit him like a charging bronto. She did. In this strange state of mind, where doubt and defeat and loneliness ruled, her thoughts had been warped. And he was partly to blame. That one night of passion followed by what? Pretending it never happened. Reading lessons, dinners at her estate with her mother and polite conversation. They had only ever spoken of it once, and only once. She had told him that her feelings hadn't changed, and if he was true to himself then neither had his. It was his own stupid fear that stopped him going back to her.
Fear of what had come back to him that night, fear that Danarius might get word that he was involved with a woman and paint a target on her back. Fear that one day she might take back those three little words that never left his head. All he could say to her was a dumb "I'm sorry?"
She frowned, not liking at having to repeat what caused her discomfort in the first place. "I said that if you-"
"I heard what you said, Hawke. I just don't understand why you said it."
"But…It's obvious that you like her, and she most certainly likes you. And we…Anyway, if she's what you want -"
"I don't want Isabela, Hawke."
She looked down at her hands, watching her gloved fingers as she knotted them together. Fenris followed the movement, watching her for a moment before stilling her fingers with his own. Heaving a heavy sigh, he lifted one hand to run a thumb across the apple of her cheek, the point of his gauntlet gently brushing the skin as she leaned into his palm as if on instinct. Even this little thing seemed to make her lift slightly, seemed to make those shadows under her eyes less dark.
"There's only one person I want, and it's not Isabela."
"Oh?" She breathed out a laugh, that old familiar spark of mischief back in her eyes after what seemed for an eternity of absence. "And who might that be?"
Her answer was his lips on hers so suddenly that she gasped in surprise, an opportunity for him to deepen the kiss, his fingers sliding around to tangle in her hair. And when she responded in kind, he pulled her close. It wasn't long, but it felt like forever and left them both breathless.
Foreheads together, Hawke was vaguely aware of the Chantry bells sounding midnight high over Kirkwall and she smiled through panted breaths. "First Day, Fenris. Happy new year."
"Happy new year, Hawke."