"What has magic touched that it doesn't spoil?" He spat the words out, and almost immediately regretted them. The way Hawke looked at him made him feel ashamed. Hawke did not look angry, that was not it. He seemed more bemused, and did not even say anything in response. He just looked at Fenris in that strange way, one eyebrow raised. Had Damian Hawke nothing to say in the mages' defense? He was a mage himself no less! Surely Fenris' harsh words must have touched a nerve. Usually Hawke was quick to argue against Fenris' opinion. Yet this time Hawke did not say a word. He just looked in that damnable way, as if he thought it was too much trouble to have to go through this argument again.
Suddenly, the anger he had felt the entire time since he had found out that Hadriana was after him, disappeared. Fenris turned around. He could not bear to look at Hawke any longer. His lack of a reaction confused him even more than he already was.
"I... need to go," he murmured, storming through the cave's exit before Hawke could stop him.
It was a long walk from the slavers' cavern back to Kirkwall. Fenris walked as briskly as he could, while muttering curses in Arcanum. The blood on his gauntlets was beginning to dry, turning the dark red into a dirty, rusty brown. His right hand was completely covered with a caked layer. Hadriana's blood. Fenris opened and closed his hand, remembering how it had felt to reach into that bitch's chest, to reach for her heart. He had felt how it was beating wildly, still recovering from the fierce battle, right before he closed his fingers around it and squeezed. He had thought it would feel more satisfying.
Venhedis! Why did it feel more like he had torn out his own heart instead? He felt so empty inside... After three years without any sign of Danarius, without any sign of another army of slavers coming after him, he had begun to hope that his former master had finally given up. But now he had sent Hadriana to take him back. Even after all those years he was still not free. He still could not go anywhere without needing to look over his shoulder, without having to be alert for an ambush, a trap. He was still on the run. An escaped slave, not a free man. A man with a sister... That was, if Hadriana had not lied to him in an attempt to save her precious life.
Whether she had been honest or not, it had not helped her. He had given Hadriana his word, and he had not even blinked when he turned around and killed her anyway. She deserved it. One less to hunt you, he told himself. But when he had given his word, he had he meant it. He had wanted to let her run back to Danarius, so that the bastard could see that even his apprentice could not touch him anymore, not with Hawke on his side. But then he had lost control. Seeing the woman he hated so much lying defenseless in front of him, he could not let her go. He had remembered how often he had been defenseless against her bullying, abusing and tormenting. And even when she lay there at his feet and was at his mercy, she had the nerve to lure him straight into another trap. If he really had a sister, Danarius knew about her and that meant it was suicide to look for her. Hadriana had attempted to buy her freedom with his death sentence. So his rage had flashed, his markings had flashed, and he had crushed her heart before he knew it. His hatred turned out to be stronger than his word and honor.
But what was honor to a slave anyway? It would only be foolish to cling to something like honor in his position. Honor was a luxury for the nobles and knights, not slaves. Still, it bothered him. Perhaps it was because he had broken his word in front of Hawke, the most honorable man he knew. Fenris threw his head back and let out a barking laugh. A mage was the most honorable man he had ever known! How ironic. And that man now knew that Fenris had no honor at all. Only anger and hatred. Thick, and black, and bitter.
Without Hawke's help Hadriana would no doubt have been able to capture him and drag him back to the magister, or to kill him and strip the lyrium from his flesh. But Hawke had saved him. Again. And in return, Fenris had told him all mages could rot. Could he have lost his only ally in his anger? That thought frightened him. Without Hawke, he had no chance to face Danarius. But that was not the only reason Fenris felt his stomach tighten... The idea of Hawke hating him and thinking of him as a man without honor... it hurt. He needed to apologize to Hawke, to make sure he would at least not lose his aid.
When Fenris finally arrived in Hightown, his legs felt heavy from the long walk. He wanted to go see Hawke, but he would probably not be home yet. So he went to Danarius' mansion instead. Once there, he was not able to sit still for long. He paced through the dark mansion and wished there was another bottle of Aggregio in the cellar. Now there were only a couple of cheaper wines left. Well, it was better than nothing, he decided. He needed something to distract himself with until he could talk to Hawke. More importantly, he needed something to distract his thoughts. His sister, Hadriana, Danarius, Hawke. He did not want to think about any of them.
The sun had set when Fenris decided to finally make his way to Hawke's estate. He had drunk one bottle of wine and opened a second, but after a few sips he had smashed that one against the wall in a sudden flaring of frustration.
It was not far to Hawke's house. Sooner than he had anticipated, he was standing in front of the door to the estate. A little hesitatively, Fenris knocked. The door remained shut. He was about to knock again, louder this time, when it finally opened. But it was not Hawke who peeked around the corner. Instead, it was the dwarven servant, Bodahn.
Fenris blinked. He had not really counted on seeing anyone but Hawke now and had more or less hoped to be able to quickly apologize and then take his leave.
"Has Hawke not returned yet?" he asked hopefully.
Bodahn shook his head. "No, serah. Not yet."
After a moment of doubt, Fenris asked: "Can I wait for him inside?" It was better to talk to Hawke as soon as he could, to find out if he was truly mad at him.
Bodahn seemed to consider for a moment, but then he nodded and opened the door entirely so that Fenris could enter. Being a dwarf, he seemed to be a bit distrustful of elves - at least of elves that looked as unusual as Fenris. Even so, Fenris had been here a few times before and Bodahn had probably come to the conclusion it could not be blamed on him if he decided to steal anything. After having refused anything to eat or drink, Fenris was left alone in the foyer. He did not dare enter the house further on his own, feeling out of place and uncomfortable. Soon he started pacing again, while he tried to come up with a good way to apologize. As time went by and Hawke still did not arrive, he finally sat down on one of the wooden benches placed against the left wall and stared at his feet.
After what must have been at least an hour, when he was starting to believe he would have to leave and come back later after all, he heard the front door open. An aura of powerful magic filled the house. He felt the lyrium in his skin tickle. Danarius, was his first thought. He has come with Hadriana to Kirkwall after all. He found you. But when he looked up, it was Hawke who was standing in the doorway. With a hissing sound, Fenris let out his breath in relief. Since the first time they had met, Hawke had become much more skilled and powerful, which had resulted in a stronger magical aura around him. The lyrium, being magic in its pure form, seemed to react to the presence of other magic, enabling Fenris to sense mages when they were close. He should have realized it was Hawke, but it was not until now that he became fully aware of exactly how strong Hawke had become. His aura must be nearly as intensive as that of a Tevinter magister... A remarkable difference with three years ago, Fenris thought. Then, he had not known Hawke was a mage until he saw him cast spells inside Danarius' mansion.
For a few seconds, they just stared at each other, both on another side of the hall. Finally, Hawke closed the door behind him and Fenris remembered why he had come here. Nervously he cleared his throat.
"I've been thinking about what happened with Hadriana. You and I don't always see eye to eye, but that doesn't mean you deserved my anger. I owe you an apology." So, that was that. He had told Hawke he was sorry. At least it was a better apology than the last one. Then he had ended up blaming Hawke for his own weakness. Now it was out of his hands. He could only hope Hawke would accept it. Would he forgive him? He couldn't read the expression on his face, just like in the cave. At least he still did not look angry. That had to be a good thing.
"I had no idea where you went. I was concerned."
Wait, that was it? Not one word of reprimand? Just genuine concern for his well-being? What was wrong with that man? Because that did not seem the right question to ask after just having apologized, he felt the need to justify his actions of that afternoon. Maybe Hawke would understand after all... The hatred that he had felt so strongly when he had looked at Hadriana welled up in his throat again, as he told Hawke about the torment that woman had been.
While he spoke, he turned away from Hawke. He did not dare to look at him, still counting on seeing disappointment or anger on his face. Or pity. Fenris did not want pity. He was not some fragile little elf. Not anymore at least. He had shown today to Hadriana that he was no longer powerless. But he could not keep explaining himself to the wall. He forced himself to face Hawke again. "The thought of her slipping out of my grasp now... I couldn't let her go. I wanted to, but I couldn't."
"Your need for revenge is consuming you."
And there it was after all. The mighty Hawke knew best. He knew what that fool of a Fenris should do. He should let it all go, all the useless anger. That man knew nothing about being a slave! Of course he did not understand. Someone who had been free all his life, a mage, would never understand.
Driven into defense, he responded angrily. "And what would you have me do? Hadriana came after me. I've never had the option to simply walk away. Am I supposed to forgive, no matter how many times they hunt me down? Am I supposed to forget all the things they have done to me?"
"If you're wondering why you can't move on, this is it." Pity. He could see it in Hawke's eyes. He felt sorry for poor little Fenris. This realization fueled his anger even further. "Yes, this is it," he said mockingly. "How can I not grasp something so simple?" A sense of somber helplessness came over him, smothering his anger. "It's a sickness this hate. This dark growth inside me, that I can't ever get rid of. And they put it there." His willingness to fight left him. It was not Hawke's fault. He may not understand him, but he had supported him today nevertheless and saved his life. He had come here to make sure he would not lose his support. He certainly did not help his cause if he continued to argue with Hawke. Letting out a sad sigh, he turned around, with the intention to walk away and leave. "This... isn't why I came here," he said softly.