The waiting for the abomination's next move was interrupted by another event. What started as a favor for the First Enchanter suddenly turned personal for Hawke.
Fenris watched all the color leaving Hawke's face when he heard from Keran, the templar recruit that owed both his job and his life to Hawke's kindness, that his brother had been kidnapped. Then, the shock made way for cold anger, an anger Fenris recognized from the time Leandra had gone missing.
"You bastards kidnapped my brother!"
Keran flinched at Hawke's yelling. "We weren't going to hurt him," he defended himself meekly, "Just make sure you left us alone. Do you understand? Thrask says Meredith will cause open war with the mages if she stays in charge. We have to take her down."
"Is this whole thing to oust the Knight-Commander?" Hawke appeared to have as much trouble following the young man's logic as Fenris. Even all the templars' propaganda had failed to let the people believe Hawke was on their side. Whenever he was asked about the issue, he had no kind words for the Order. Over the years he had become less and less careful, until he had openly chosen Orsino's side in front of at least half the city's nobility, which also meant he had publicly humiliated Meredith. Why Hawke would need to be blackmailed to take down the Knight-Commander was a mystery.
"She needs to go. Don't you see? We need a real viscount, and templars who protect mages, not massacre them. Just look what Thrask accomplished! Mages and templars working together. Isn't that what we all want?"
And the stupidity of some people would always continue to amaze Fenris. How Keran believed he could successfully use Carver's kidnapping and the two attempts to kill Hawke as an excellent example of mages and templars working together was mind-boggling.
"Is Thrask the one running this conspiracy?" Judged by Hawke's voice, he was now out for Thrask's head.
Keran remained blind and deaf for what Hawke was feeling. "He's the one who brought us together. For six years he's been working - one mage, one templar at a time. Teaching us we don't have to hate each other. He showed us Meredith isn't the only way."
The kinder part in Hawke, the part that had strived to save as many people as possible, mages as well as normal people, made a last attempt to understand why a man he had saved was standing in front of him and told him he was part of a group that had kidnapped his brother. "I thought you'd be the last person to join a conspiracy of apostate mages."
"They aren't apostates!" Fenris tried to withhold a snort. "They want the Circle. They want it to work the way it's supposed to, to protect them. The mages aren't the problem, Meredith is. The Knight-Commander needs to go, that's what Thrask says. Without her, we have a chance for peace."
Finally a bit of Hawke's cold hostility rubbed off on Keran. "What are you going to do to Thrask? To me?" he asked, visibly nervous now that his passionate defending of Thrask's greatness was over.
"You went too far when you targeted my people." This surprised Fenris. Despite Hawke's anger, he had expected Hawke would spare Keran, just as when the templar recruit had been held captive by blood mages. So many people he had given the benefit of the doubt. Just a few days ago he had let a potential blood mage who had escaped the Circle walk away, believing in the act of stupidity and innocence the mage had played. But now there was no sympathy to discover in Hawke's face - in his eyes of ice.
Keran saw it too. "But I had nothing to do with that, I swear!" he said in panic. "You can still save your friend! The Wounded Coast - we use the ruins there as a base. That's where they were going."
Sebastian did take the fool's side. "Keran got in over his head," the priest argued, "Surely that doesn't merit death?"
Hawke did not even answer. While he kept his eyes, his cold, cold eyes, locked on Keran, he took the dagger he always carried with him from his belt. His face did not give away what he was thinking or feeling when he stepped toward Keran. Without warning Hawke plunged the knife into the templar's abdomen, straight through his protective armor. Hawke did not use his magic, he did not even grand a quick death. Keran would suffer a slow, painful one. For a short moment, in a flash, Fenris wondered if the Hawke who was staggering back was the same man as he had known for six years. Not that he necessarily disapproved of Hawke's action. If Hawke had finally learned not to accept people toying with him, using him, Fenris was the last person who would argue about it. Yet there was something about Hawke, the way he looked, how he was staring down at Keran perishing on the filthy ground, that made Fenris feel a bit uneasy.
"I'll kill anyone who tries using one of us against you," Fenris cut through the soft sounds of Keran's suffering and his own feeling of discomfort.
Hawke only gave him a blank stare. No, not even that. He turned away from Keran and his eyes went over Sebastian, Isabela and Fenris without seeing them. Then he started running to the exit.
He was right. Again. No matter how much he would have wished it was not so, for Hawke's sake. The group of escaped mages Hawke had saved six years ago, believing in their oath they were no blood mages, that only their leader and a few exceptions had fallen to the forbidden art. Fenris had not believed it, and now it turned out he had been right. Again.
What has magic touched that it doesn't spoil? Despite Hawke's efforts, magic had sunken its claws deeper and deeper into his life, rewarding his trust, his belief in the goodness of mages, with crippling blows.
Hawke looked bewildered when he recognized the mages. Thrask the templar hid behind a face of reason while he demanded Hawke supported him. Fenris knew Hawke would never agree with anything the man said while his brother was lying lifelessly on the ground behind Thrask. Shock was gone soon enough, and with it Fenris saw Hawke's last willingness to negotiate dissolve. Perhaps Grace saw it as well, because then she gave the order to kill Carver.
Hawke had his staff already in hand. "You all die."
Thrask, who apparently only had the courage to kidnap the Champion's younger brother with the aid of blood magic, panicked now that he was about to face Hawke himself and tried to calm everyone. Grace spared him that fate by showing her true face: she used blood magic to kill the fool, she who had sworn she had had no truck with demons, before she commanded her goons to kill the Champion. Right once more.
The fight was short. Laughably short. Hawke unleashed every spell he knew on the mages and renegade templars as fast as he could. Within seconds Grace fell, and then the Pride demon she had harbored within herself. Screams tore through the air as blood soaked the sand of the Wounded Coast. Never had the name of the troubled beach been this fitting. Fenris did not have to use his blade on many opponents. The vast majority were taken out by the fire and lightning that rained from the sky.
A few minutes later the screaming died away. All survivors needed some time to gather themselves after the wave of destruction that had crashed over them. Everyone except Hawke. Hawke was immediately next to his brother, the ice in his eyes breaking to reveal intense fear.
The dark-skinned Alain was one of the few who had not joined the fight. Now that things seemed to have calmed down, he stepped forward.
"I knew she was still alive, but I didn't know Thrask was working with her..." he said. "When I saw her today, it brought everything back, everything I saw Decimus do."
Another act, Fenris thought skeptically.
"I... I'm sorry. Grace used blood magic to hold him. There's no other way to wake him up." At the words "blood magic" Fenris unsheathed his blade again. Those vipers had done enough. So many times they had proven they were not to be trusted... This one was the next to go, before he would use his foul magic against them.
But just as he wanted to reach the mage, Hawke's arm was suddenly in front of his chest, holding him back. Fenris looked at Hawke, but Hawke did not look back at him. His eyes remained focused on Carver. Carver and Alain, who knelled beside the unconscious young man.
Fenris readied his weapon as Alain took a knife and slit his wrist. If this one also betrayed them...
But for once a mage appeared to keep his word. The blood magic descended upon Carver, and immediately Hawke's brother awakened. He seemed disoriented and confused as he coughed and got to his feet. Fenris felt Hawke relax next to him. The arm in front of his chest dropped. "Get out of my - What? Where am I?"
The relief shone from Hawke's face, bright like the sun. Fenris, realizing he had been holding his breath, exhaled slowly. Carver was alright, and that meant Hawke was too. He would not be confronted with a broken Hawke again, a man shattered by grief. They did not have to go through that again. For once, Hawke had been spared more pain.
"I promise I'll never let anything like this happen again," Hawke said hoarsely to Carver.
Understanding dawned on the Grey Warden. He was saved by his elder brother. Hawke had succeeded where he had failed. His face did not mirror the relief that was visible on that of his brother's.
"Thank you, Brother," he said stiffly. "It seems I am again in your debt... and shadow."
Hawke was about to reply, when Samson, the templar who had fallen from grace long ago, led Cullen and a few of his men to the their small group.
The exchange was brief. Brief, but surprising. And unsettling. When the mage Alain caught the Knight-Captain's eye, Cullen made a disgruntled noise and ordered to put the mage to questioning. Fenris anticipated Hawke would stand up for the young man, tell Cullen that the mage had refused to kill Carver and had released his brother from the hold of blood magic. Instead, the cold expression returned to Hawke's face while he spoke. "The boy's been working with blood mages since he was in swaddling clothes."
Had Alain's skin color not been so dark to begin with, Fenris was sure his face would have turned red. "No! I stood up for you!"
Hawke only gave him an emotionless look before he turned back to Cullen.
"Is there any recommendation you would have me bring to Meredith, Champion?"
"They used illegal blood magic in a plot against the Order," was Hawke's answer. "I say execute them."
Sebastian made a shocked sound but did not dare to protest. Isabela stayed out of it, as she had in the issue with Keran. Carver frowned. Just like Fenris he had not expected words like these from Hawke. Without blinking, Hawke had just told a templar to execute mages who had not actively fought against him. There was no denying Hawke would never have done this six years ago. If there was even the slightest chance somebody was innocent, Hawke chose that person's side. Clearly in this case everyone was guilty in Hawke's eyes. There was no mercy for people who targeted his brother. It was something Fenris would cheer for, if Hawke's lack of emotion did not make him feel so uncomfortable.
Carver was the first to speak when the templars and their prisoners had left. "Well, that was... enlightening. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a job to go back to."
Hawke broke out of his cold shell. "How are feeling? Do you need healing?"
"No." Carver sighed. "No, I'm fine."
"You're acting like you're mad."
"Ugh, I'm not mad, Damian. It's just... I have my own life. I'm a Grey Warden. I don't want to be dragged into your stupid mage problems. I don't want anything to do with it. Just leave me out of it."
"I told you I won't let anything like this happen again. No one will hurt you. Ever."
Wrong choice of words. "I don't need your protection!" Carver snapped. "I can take care of myself. I was doing fine."
"Yeah, lying unconscious at the feet of your kidnappers. You could have taken them out whenever you wanted; you were just waiting for the right moment."
Carver's face twisted in wounded dignity. It took him visibly a lot of effort to retain his self-control. "Perhaps I'm better at fighting darkspawn than sneaky blood mages," he said coolly. "We Wardens are more busy saving the world than do... whatever it is you're doing."
Hawke shook his head. "Right. Funny," he sneered. "Can't we get over this stupid grudge between us for once? We haven't seen each other in years."
"I'm afraid I have to leave. Like I said, I'm not mad at you. Not anymore." Carver laughed awkwardly. "I realize I used to be quite a tit. I've tried to change, but when I see you, you still annoy the crap out of me. So I think it's better for both of us if I leave now. Besides, I've got to get back to my duties."
"Save the world?"
Carver chuckled. "Trying to." He brushed the sand off his uniform and took a few steps away from Hawke. "Goodbye then." Fenris thought this was all he had had to say before he left, but after several steps Carver stopped and looked over his shoulder, although his eyes did not meet Hawke's. "Oh, and Brother... take care. You're still the only family I have left."
Hawke swallowed, then nodded that he had heard.
Fenris returned with Hawke to Hawke's estate. He was not sure if Hawke wanted his company, since he had ignored Fenris from the moment he had heard his brother had been taken. Fenris was not mad about that. He was only not sure what he was supposed to do now that it was over. Did Hawke expect comfort? Silence? A hand on his shoulder?
Hawke grew more somber on the way back. His shoulders went up, his head down. He kept his eyes directed on his feet and did not say a word to any of his three companions. When they arrived in Lowtown, Isabela quickly said goodbye and made her way to the Hanged Man. Sebastian walked with them until they reached Hightown. Then he shot Hawke a last disapproving look before he went to the Chantry. Fenris felt the need to pray as well, but first he wanted to make sure Hawke was alright. So he followed him into the mansion. Hawke sat down in the library. To Fenris relief, Hawke looked up to him, and really looked at him, not through him.
"I murdered someone," Hawke whispered. "Someone who was not hostile, who did not attack me, who was unarmed, who told me everything I wanted to know out of free will... And I killed him. I... when he said that... that they had Carver... I... I couldn't take it. The thought to lose anyone else... all I could think of was that I had to save him, that I could not fail again. So I killed Keran. Because he was somehow involved. And everyone involved had to pay. I wanted to kill them all, before they could kill my brother. " His eyes were hard when he said this, the light blue back to its frozen appearance. Then Hawke's eyes dropped. "I don't even feel bad about it," he continued softly. "Not really. It's more that it... frightens me. I did not even hesitate, there was no doubt in my mind... I just did it. And when Cullen asked me what to do with the last rebels, I just told him to kill them. Because they wanted to kill my brother."
Fenris stared down at the top of Hawke's head. He did not know what to say. He did not believe Hawke should feel guilty about what he had done. After all it had been the wisest thing to do, and Fenris was the last to grieve for a few mages - who had turned to blood magic to get what they thought they deserved - and their sympathizers. In his eyes they were no better than the abomination.
Hawke looked back up at him, waiting for Fenris to say something, anything. Fenris cleared his throat while he tried to think of what to say. "You did the right thing."
Hawke chuckled and shook his head. "No," he said. "I did not. I mean... perhaps it was the best thing to do, but not for me. I... don't think that makes any sense, but... be honest: do you think I would have handled this the same way years ago? Before..."
Before his mother was murdered by an insane necromancer. Fenris forced himself to meet Hawke's gaze. "No, I don't think you would have done it then." When Hawke put his face in his hands, Fenris quickly added: "Couldn't it mean you have learned of the past? People change." I thought nothing could ever change you, that you could withstand everything, but I guess I was wrong. Not even Hawke can get through some things without it leaving scars. "If you don't want people to crush you under their heel, you have to face them and cut them down before they can do the same to you."
Hawke grabbed Fenris left hand and pulled him down, until he was sitting on his knees in front of Hawke. At first he thought Hawke was angry, that he had somehow messed this comforting part up again, but then Hawke drew him in an awkward embrace.
"I can't express how glad I am that you're here for me," Hawke breathed in Fenris' neck.
The waiting had come to an end. The abomination had made his final move. Filled with disgust Fenris was forced to watch the destruction of the Chantry from afar. Nothing was sacred for those mages. Nothing would be spared in their quest for freedom. What has magic touched that it doesn't spoil?
Hawke was clearly shocked as well. But when the Knight-Commander announced the Right of Annulment, that old look appeared in his eyes, a look that Fenris knew well enough. Hawke was about to do something stupid. The most insane and stupid thing he had ever done. Even after the abomination's betrayal, Keran's betrayal, the betrayal of the mages they had helped escape, after a blood mage had murdered his mother, Hawke would not allow this many people to be purged for the fact that they had been born with magic. Not when there were potential innocents among them. Fenris saw the look in Hawke's eyes, and knew Hawke would side with the mages. Hawke would fight Meredith and all her templars. And Fenris would fight with him. He almost threw his head back and laughed. He would join a mage in a battle to defend mages. Probably mostly blood mages. He would never have believed it if someone had told him years ago. But for Hawke he would do this. Nothing in this world was going to keep him from that mage, that man. The person he owed everything to: his freedom, his life, his happiness.
It had taken him so long to admit and accept it, but now he finally had. Hawke was everything to him, and he would not let him go.
Before Hawke openly made his decision, he looked at Fenris from the corner of his eyes. Questioning, asking if Fenris would support him. This was the first time Hawke turned to him before he jumped into his next foolish act. Hawke wanted to make sure Fenris would still be there if he did this. Fenris now had a part in what Hawke decided. But he would not stop Hawke, would not prevent him from doing what he thought was right. Fenris felt more relieved that part of the old Hawke was still there, the part that believed everybody should be free. When Carver was kidnapped, it had seemed that part of Hawke was gone, replaced by a ruthless man who desperately fought for the last things he had, the last people close to him. Perhaps that part would have died if Carver had died, but Carver had survived, and so had the last bit of Hawke's faith in the people around him. And Fenris loved him for it. Countless times he had cursed the mage for it, had argued with him about his decisions. But now he only wanted that Hawke would stay the same. Hawke was his rock, the one person he could always count on. Hawke had earned his loyalty, and even though in his heart Fenris did not agree with what Hawke was about to do, he would not stop him.
He gave a quick nod to Hawke, a gesture so fast and small that nobody around them noticed it. But Hawke did, and he returned the nod before he turned to the Knight-Commander, with his head held high, his back straight and proud. Fenris unsheathed his sword for what was to come.
Note of the author: the end? Yes! Well, the end of Magic's Touch, but certainly not of Hawke and Fenris' story. I have decided to continue the of what I have in mind in a sequel, "Lyrium's Hold (what a pain to come up with a new title; I was so pleased with Magic's Touch, haha), because the purpose of this story was to show how Fenris overcomes all his struggles and doubts and finally reunites with Hawke. I wanted to fill in the many blanks the game leaves us with while sticking to canon. I'm pleased with the way it turned out.
I have counted, and if I have counted right I have story/favorite/author alerts from 87 different users. I know that's not a record or anything on this site but for me it is definitely huge, and I want to thank everyone who had added this story to their alerts. I certainly did not dare to hope that this many people from all over the world (really fun to see a different flag each time I'm added by a new user) would enjoy my story this much. So, THANK YOU! And I hope you will all decide to read the sequel as well, and enjoy it as much as Magic's Touch.
An even greater thank you goes to the people who have taken the time to post a review. Long or short, it is very much appreciated to hear in a bit more detail what people think of the story or a specific chapter. Every review I've received has made my day. So, another, extra big THANK YOU! to those who have reviewed.
And then, last but not least, a special thank you to Hatsepsut, who has faithfully reviewed pretty much every chapter I have written with much enthusiasm (and who was so kind to quickly alert me of a very embarrassing mistake I had made). Thank you so much! You increased my number of reviews significantly, haha. ;)
You can find Lyrium's Hold here: s/8459035/1/Lyriums-Hold
Magic's Touch is finished, but reviews will always be welcome. So if you haven't reviewed before, or if you have, or if you read this story years later: feel free to leave a comment.