Fenris pushed open the curtain and ducked his head as he entered the aravel. He took a handful of steps inside then grabbed for the table, bracing his hands flat against its surface as he leaned heavily over it, closing his eyes against a wave of dizziness.
Hawke pushed himself up from Anders' bedside and was instantly at Fenris' side as Merrill appeared behind him, both slipping arms around his waist to catch him as he swayed.
"I'm alright," he gasped, clutching at the knife wound as Hawke took more of the elf's weight.
"No you're not, Elf," replied Varric as he appeared beside them, uncorking a healing potion which he shoved at Fenris. "Get that inside you and we'll be a whole lot less worried."
Fenris downed the potion steadily, not even pulling a face at the cloying sweetness or the unpleasant after-taste. He looked down at the knife wound and breathed a faint sigh of relief as the rivulets of blood diminished to a slow seeping. Merrill pulled out a chair and Hawke forced him down into it so that Varric could stemmed the bleeding further by a deft application of a dressing and bandage.
He bowed his head and sat, unresisting barring the occasional flinch, twitch or jerk, as Hawke, Varric and Merrill set to work cleaning and dressing his many cuts, slashes and abrasions from the fight. He was unused to being touched so much - by so many at once; but his brands lay quiescent, and his friends' touches were gentle as they tended his wounds. He lifted his eyes only to stare at the blond apostate who lay unconscious on the low cot, stripped down to his pants as Fenris was now, bandages swathing Anders' upper torso and shoulder.
Varric pushed another potion into his hand; he accepted it and downed it mechanically, still staring at Anders.
"The Keeper says itwas a close thing, but she reached him in time. He should make a full recovery," Merrill told him quietly. "It will take a while before he throws off the effects of the poison though. He needs to sleep it off."
"Kuriel said he used magebane and deathroot," replied Fenris, his voice flat.
"Marethari said she could sense something inside him fighting back against the poison," replied Hawke. "Maybe it's something to do with being a Grey Warden?"
Fenris shrugged and tried to stand up. Hawke tried to forestall him with a hand upon his shoulder, but Fenris jerked away from his touch and pushed past him to make his way to Anders' side.
He stood there for some time, staring down at Anders, swaying slightly.
"Fenris..." said Hawke quietly. The elf lifted a hand briefly to forestall him, then let it fall.
"Leave us," he said softly then glanced at Hawke. "Please," he added.
Hawke nodded and glanced at Merrill and Varric, who both nodded and turned to leave, Hawke bringing up the rear. "We'll be just outside if you need us," he told the elf quietly. Then they were gone, and Fenris was alone with the unconscious mage.
He sank down onto the edge of the bed. Gently he reached out and ran his fingers through the loose golden hair that fanned out across the pillows like a halo of silk around the sleeping apostate's head, before lightly running his fingertips down Anders' cheek. Though pale, his skin was warm, his lips a pale pink instead of the deathly grey they had seemed such a short time before. His breathing was slow but steady; merely lost in sleep rather than dying as he had feared.
There was something fascinating about the mage as he slept, his mind absent. Did he walk in the Fade, Fenris wondered? Wasn't that how mages dreamed - their minds wandering the spirit realm?
He lifted a limp hand in his, turning it palm uppermost as he explored it with his eyes before slowly running his hands along the bare arm, fascinated by various curious scars. A sword nick here; a curious circular bite there. A slight puckering of the skin where spider venom had blistered the skin. It were as though he were seeing the mage anew for the first time - and perhaps, in a way, he was. Not with the eyes of a distrustful stranger, wary of mages, but with the eyes of - what? A friend? A lover? Something more? He didn't know. He only knew that he longed for Anders to open his eyes, to speak; to begin to discover together what this was that had awakened between them.
But Anders slept on, oblivious to the elf's scrutiny; oblivious, too, to the outcome of the duel.
All at once, Fenris became aware of how weary he was; the exertion and adrenaline of the fight - not to mention the loss of blood - all catching up to him at once. His head drooped and he ran a hand slowly over his face. He stretched out beside Anders on the cot and gently drew the sleeping man into his arms. He bestowed a gentle kiss upon the sleeping man's forehead, and then surrendered to his exhaustion.
Anders slept for a full day after the duel. Fenris had awakened after a few hours; Daruviel had brought food to them and news - Kuriel yet clung to life, though it hung in the balance. Hawke, Merrill and Varric had exchanged worried looks at this news, but Fenris merely took his portion of food and retreated back inside the aravel to sit watch of the sleeping Anders.
Daruviel seemed to have overcome his dislike of shemlen; since the duel, his demeanor had thawed towards the companions. It seemed Fenris had won the respect of many of the hunters by his perceived act of mercy in not finishing Kuriel off at the conclusion of the duel when assured by the Keeper that Anders would live. There was still an undercurrent of tension in the clan, but it seemed many had had their preconceived notions of werewolves shaken by Fenris' actions. He had proven himself far more than an uncontrollable beast, and the Sabrae clan were divided in their thoughts. Hahren Paivel - the clan's teacher and storyteller, Merrill explained to them - had come to reassure them that the hahren, or elders, of the Sabrae considered the matter between Fenris and Kuriel to be concluded; by firing unprovoked upon Anders, Kuriel had dishonoured himself, but if Fenris' intentions towards the Sabrae were peaceable then he and the Champion were still welcome amongst them.
There had been some tension between Paivel and Merrill before he took his leave of them however that led Hawke to feel matters were perhaps not quite as straightforward as the hahren'swords would have had them believe.
"He still won't accept that I am acting in the best interests of the clan," Merrill said quietly afterwards. "I know what I'm doing and I know it's for the best. But he just doesn't understand. I can't just give it up and come back; my work is not yet finished."
"What work? What is it you're doing, Merrill?" asked Hawke. But the elf merely shook her head and wouldn't be drawn further.
Anders startled them all just after noon the following day when he suddenly sat up screaming. Varric had been watching over him; after a quiet argument Hawke had managed to persuade Fenris to come out of the aravel for some fresh air. Varric had just reached over to tuck the blanket more firmly around Anders when his eyes suddenly snapped open and he screamed. Varric jerked back, startled, and Hawke and Fenris came racing in from outside. Fenris pushed the dwarf to one side as he dropped to his knees beside the bed and reached for Anders' shoulders as the mage stared around himself, eyes wide in horror as he scrabbled against the bedclothes and tried to push himself away from them, until his back was against the wall and he could go no further.
"Easy... easy..." murmured Fenris as Anders gasped for breath and stared at Hawke, then at Varric before finally seeing Fenris properly. He blinked as his eyes finally focused properly on the elf.
"You're alive!" he breathed "I thought... I feared, but..." He slumped in relief, his head falling forward into his hands. "Oh Maker, the dreams I had..."
"Were but dreams," said Fenris firmly as he shifted forward to sit upon the edge of the cot and draw Anders to him. Anders winced and put a hand to his shoulder.
"The wound still troubles you?" asked Fenris quietly. Anders nodded, pressing the heel of his hand against the sore spot. "It will pass," he replied quietly.
"Your magic...?" suggested Fenris. Anders held out a hand and concentrated; a wavering blue glow blossomed out from the palm of his hand then dissipated. He let his hand fall and shook his head. "It will return soon though." He pushed aside the blankets and swung his legs down to the floor.
"Kuriel is still alive," said Fenris quietly. Anders paused in the act of reaching for his shirt; he balled the shirt in his hands as he stared at the floor, then he glanced up at Fenris. Silently he lifted an eyebrow in question. Fenris shrugged. "You survived his attempt upon your life. I could afford to be lenient in the eyes of his clan."
"Does he feel the same?"
Fenris shrugged again. "I cannot say. I did not say I spared him unscathed. Only time and perhaps the Keeper Marethari can say if he will make a full recovery."
"Then perhaps it were best if we were to be well on our way before then," remarked Anders as he donned his shirt.
"Indeed," concurred Fenris.
"Best not to outstay our welcome," agreed Varric as he got to his feet and reached for his pack, tossing Merrill and Hawke's packs over to the Champion. Merrill ducked through the door curtain with a bundle of furs in her arms and glanced round.
"Oh, are we going then?" she observed as she put the furs on the foot of Anders' cot and pulled out a leather-wrapped bundle. "Keeper Marethari thought we might be leaving today; these are extra provisions for our journey back, plus furs for warmth. We'll be better equipped going back than we were coming."
Fenris plucked a white cloak made of fox pelts from the pile, fingering its silky softness thoughtfully.
"That matches your hair," observed Anders with a small smile. Fenris snorted derisively - but kept the fur cloak.
It had been three weeks since they returned from Sundermount. They had all gone their separate ways; Varric back to the Hanged Man, Hawke to his reclaimed mansion, Anders to his Darktown clinic, Merrill to her little hovel in the alienage. And Fenris had found himself back in the dilapidated mansion that had become his home these past few years.
The emptiness had never bothered him before; the silence had been companionship enough. No-one to answer to; none to impose themselves into his hard-won peace.
And yet, his bed seemed too empty, the silence no longer peaceful but instead oppressive. The bedsheet twisted, bunched and wrinkled beneath him as he tossed and turned alone in the large bed. Sleepless, he stared into the darkness, his thoughts haunted by a pair of amber brown eyes.
Finally giving up upon sleep, he disentangled himself from the sheets and sat up, reaching for his tunic then paused, staring down at the fabric. He stared at it, mind blank for a moment, then abruptly stood as he pulled the tunic on and reached for his armour.
A short while later he was striding through the dark streets, mind restless but his feet finding the way with surety. He disregarded the path to Hawke's mansion; he'd passed many an evening in companionship with the warrior, but not tonight. His feet bore him on through Lowtown, but he passed the Hanged man without a second glance.
He had rarely had cause to enter Darktown on his own; always it had been with Hawke or Varric. But he knew the way; the dark twisted alleyways were not unfamiliar to him. There was no plan in his mind for what he would do when he got there; no ready words upon his tongue. He only knew that he had to see the apostate again.
He paused outside the door of the clinic. The lantern outside was dark, but he could see a faint light from within. He raised a hand to knock, but paused; staring at the rickety wooden door, he frowned a little, then pressed the taloned tips of the gauntleted fingers of his left hand and gently pushed, the other hand snaking to the hilt of his blade in readiness.
The door swung open easily with a faint creak, but the figure sprawled over the small writing desk didn't stir, the dishevelled golden hair hiding the face of the still figure.
He crossed the dirt floor in a few short, swift steps, at the apostate's side in an instant as he rested a hand upon a feathered shoulder and peered down at Anders, apprehension furrowing his brow into a frown. "Anders!" His fingers tightened upon the shoulder.
"Hmm... hmmph?" Anders' head moved a little as he stirred, eyes blinking dazedly behind the blond hair. Fenris reached down and gently lifted the hair out of the unfocused brown eyes with a single claw. "Wha... Fenris?"
"Are you hurt?"
"No... I was..." Anders slowly sat up and stared down at his desk at the scattered pages and frowned at them. "I don't remember writing this," he said in a tone of faint bemusement.
"Do you make a habit of falling asleep over your notes?" asked the elf as he regarded the mage curiously.
"I try not to," said Anders, grimacing as he stretched, spine and shoulders cracking audibly. "There's just... not enough hours. Not enough time."
"Time for what?" asked Fenris as Anders pushed himself away from the desk and stood, swaying a little. Anders shook his head.
"Nothing. Everything." He glanced up at the elf, frowning a little. "What are you doing here? Is there something wrong? Is Hawke-"
"Hawke is fine, to the best of my knowledge," replied Fenris, holding up a hand placatingly.
"Oh. Good," said Anders, still confused. "Then, why...?"
Fenris glanced away, then looked up into Anders' eyes. Honey eyes. He fell silent, lost for words, simply drinking in the sight of them.
"Fenris, what-" began Anders, but finally Fenris moved, lifting a hand to slide his fingers into the soft golden locks as his palm cupped Anders' cheek. "Hush," he murmured.
Then he drew the mage's face down to his and kissed him.
~ Fin. ~