Author's Note: Well, this story is done. I might write more in this universe at some point, since I like this Hawke and his friends.

Chapter 8

Anders saw that the front door to the mansion stood slightly open. Something that wouldn't normally be cause for alarm now had every one of his senses on full alert. What if Danarius had sent guards here to wait for the Elf? He would have been walking into an ambush with no backup and barely a mind to notice it. "Fenris!" he called out, striding into the entryway. There was no answer, and the feeling of dread grew larger. "Fenris!" Now he was in the main room, looking around to see if there were any fresh bloodstains or bodies in Tevinter uniforms. And then he heard the sound of glass breaking in Fenris' room, and he was up the stairs seemingly a moment later, staff in one hand and a fireball in the other. But what he saw made the fire fizzle out. Fenris was curled up in the center of the room, smashed bottles and broken furniture scattered around him. The Elf was holding the remains of one bottle, and Anders wasn't sure if it was wine or blood dripping from between his fingers. "Fenris?"

"Leave me."

"I don't think so," Anders shot back, carefully stepping into the room. He dropped down beside the warrior, gently prying his fingers open until the broken glass fell to the floor. "Did you do all this?" Soft blue light jumped from his fingertips to the lacerations on Fenris' hand, closing them quickly.

"Pain seemed preferable to feeling nothing." The healer cringed, knowing he'd often felt the same way at times.

"Come on, let's get you off the floor." The Elf stood with some prodding from the blonde, but when they got over to his bed, he sat down on the edge and stared at the floor. "Fenris… Please talk to me. Let me help you."

"Why do you want to help me?"

"Because that's what friends do, damnit!" Anders felt like tearing his hair out. What would it take to get Fenris to see? "Friends are there for each other, no matter what. And if this is about telling the Templars about me-"

"You should hate me for that!" the Elf shouted, standing up now, anger clear on his face. "You should despise my very existence for helping them hurt you!" Anders blinked for a moment, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Just like you despised Danarius for what he did to you?"


"So… You think I should become you?" The Elf started to retort, but then closed

his mouth and sat back down, head in his hands.

"No. I do not wish for you to be like me. You are… Much stronger than I ever gave you credit for, mage. That was made rather clear today."

"What, you mean when I fought Danarius?" Fenris looked up and nodded.

"I never really paid attention to how you fight, but today I could not help but notice. Every gesture, every stance, and every word you utter has a purpose. Like a warrior trained in a particular style, you do not waste energy on pointless moves. Where did you learn all that?" Anders shrugged and leaned against the wall.

"I learned the basics at the Circle, but then when I joined the Wardens, I was taught the ways of the Arcane Warrior. The Commander thought it might do me some good, and he was right. Before I learned, I was a coward who always hid in the back."

"You? A coward? I cannot picture that."

"You also didn't know me back then. As much as I don't like being a Warden, it was good for me. And it's how I met Justice…" The mage trailed off, closing his eyes and sighing. Fenris stood, frowning as he looked at the blonde. There was tension in his frame again, and all the Elf wanted to do was relieve it. Before he knew what he was doing, the warrior was by Anders' side, one hand resting on his chest. Amber eyes opened and stared at him, blinking at the sudden closeness. "Fenris?"

"I wish to confess something. Do you remember when I found you at Lirene's, and you were…" He trailed off, but Anders nodded.

"Broken? I remember."

"Do you know why I used my real name?"

"You mean Leto? No, I didn't even know you remembered it."

"I have bits and pieces of my past, but that is mostly unimportant. Leto… He was a scared, broken shell of a man. He let things get to him, and knew he would never escape his fate. Leto is the name of a slave. But Fenris… Fenris is a warrior who refused to full submit to his "master". He pressed on, even when it seemed pointless, until he found freedom. But that day, you didn't need a warrior, you needed someone who knew what you had gone through. I have tried to keep Leto and Fenris separate, because I believed that no one could be both strong and weak. But you… You were and always will be Anders. You are not afraid to show weakness, but there is strength in you that cannot be overlooked. I… I have never known one such as you, but I am glad to call you friend."

"Oh." Anders seemed surprised by the confession, but also slightly upset. "Just friends? I… Can live with that." He looked away for a moment, but Fenris put a firm hand on his chin and turned his face back.

"If there is something on your mind, mage, then say it." There was a pause, and then Fenris found himself pinned against the wall, Anders' mouth pressed to his own. The Elf was startled at first, but made no move to throw the healer off. In a way, it seemed almost appropriate. Finally, Anders broke the kiss, backing up and panting a bit.

He stared at Fenris, eyes wide, feeling his heart thump wildly in his chest. Oh Maker, he was so dead…

"Fenris, I'm sor-" And the next instant, the mage found their positions reversed, and the warrior kept his arms pinned at his sides. There was a triumphant smirk on Fenris' face when he pulled back, and Anders stared at him, dumbstruck.

"Have I rendered you speechless?" the Elf wondered with a chuckle. "That is impressive." Anders frowned and pushed away from the wall.

"Are you toying with me?" he asked, hurt creeping into his voice. His eyes roamed Fenris' face, trying to see of there was some clue he'd missed.

"No mage, I know better than to play with emotions."

"Then… How long have you felt this way?" Fenris shrugged and sat down on his bed again, taking off his gauntlets.

"I… Do not know. I suspect that sharing a similar past allowed me to drop my guard around you sooner than I am used to. And today… Today I could not help but see you in a different light. And Isabella picked up on that immediately."

"She does seem to have a sixth sense for sexual things, doesn't she?" Anders joked, rolling his eyes and smiling slightly. He sat down on the bed as well, but left room between them. He didn't want to crowd the Elf now. "So… Where does that leave us?"

"I cannot speak for you, but as for myself… I am tired of being alone." Fenris looked up and met Anders' gaze, and the healer's smile only widened. "If you are willing to give this a chance… We can see where it goes."

"Ready, willing, and able!" the mage replied enthusiastically. A moment later, Fenris' mouth was once more pressed to his, and Anders found himself pulled onto the bed. It didn't take long for the Elf's armor and jerkin to be on the floor, and his coat and robe followed soon after. With the warrior sitting on top of him, Anders had a glorious view of the lyrium marks and the patterns they made on his sculpted chest and stomach. Unable to resist, he gently started tracing them with one hand, until he felt Fenris tense. "I'm sorry," he apologized, immediately pulling his hand back. "I just…" Then he took a deep breath and placed both hands on Fenris' hips. "Maker, you're beautiful."

"You honestly think so? My markings do not… Abhor you?"

"Should they?" Anders wondered, propping himself up with one arm. "They don't take anything away from you, Fenris. But they don't define you, either. I can't imagine how painful it was to receive them, but I have never known you without them. To me, they're just one part of you, and I like the whole package." The smile that graced Fenris' face made Anders' heart… And something else, swell. For the Elf to know that he wasn't just interested in him for the lyrium seemed to make him happy. Anders' hand once more began caressing the markings, and this time was allowed to continue. At the same time, the Elf let his own hands wander, gently slipping down the mage's chest, his eyes pausing for a moment at a scar directly over his heart. Other than that, Anders' body was virtually untouched… Until he came to the scars on his torso. Fenris dragged one hand over the marks, and the blonde shivered under the touch, breath hitching in his throat.

"Do you believe that this defines you? That this word is what you truly are?"

"I've been an apostate for years. Now I just get a daily reminder." But the warrior shook his head, deliberately tracing each letter.

"You are a mage, a healer, a Warden, a friend, and… A lover. Apostate just means you fled the Circle, does it not?"

"Yes," Anders replied with some hesitation.

"But if there were no Circles, this word would be meaningless, yes?" Anders nodded, not trusting his voice at the moment. "The Templars will never have you," Fenris vowed, falling forward until he was nose to nose with the mage. "Though I may not see the need for all mages to be free, I swear that you will never return to any Circle as long as I draw breath."

"Thank you…" Anders kissed him, arms pulling the Elf against his chest as tears fell from his eyes. It was all he had ever wanted to hear.

The sun peeked over the mansions and estates of Hightown, and Fenris stirred in his sleep. He was warm, and the body pressed against his side- Body? He sat up, eyes wide open as the events of the previous night came back to him. He looked down to see Anders still asleep, the mage with a small smile on his face. Grinning, the Elf reached over and gently tapped the mage on the nose. Anders scrunched his face up and stretched. Fenris marveled at how cat-like the move was, and then he was looking into sleepy, amber eyes. "Morning already?" the healer asked softly.

"I'm afraid so."

"I don't feel like moving though."

"Well, we should probably at least go see Hawke. Before he sends out the cavalry to find you." Anders sat up, rubbing his eyes.

"You mean breaks down your door wondering where I am?" The Elf shrugged.

"Something like that." As if on cue, there came a shout from downstairs:

"Fenris!" Both men looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

"Maker, he's worse than a mother hen," the mage quipped.

"He's just being a good big brother. Up here, Hawke!" Fenris called out.

"Except that I'm older." The stairs creaked as Hawke seemed to run up them, and then he was standing in the door, looking concerned.

"Have you seen Anders, he didn't- Anders?" The blonde smirked and waved at the other man. "You didn't come home last night."

"I was busy." And then the human warrior seemed to put the pieces together, and he turned red and put a hand over his eyes.

"Maker's ass, would you two put some clothes on?"

"I could, but this is my home," Fenris shot back.

"And I'm feeling lazy," Anders explained, snuggling back into the covers. Hawke shook his head and started laughing, turning away from the room.

"Nice to see everything worked out. I'll tell Isabella that she won the bet."

"What bet?" the mage asked, sitting up once more.

"You can ask her later. See you both at the Hanged Man." Then he was gone, leaving Fenris and Anders alone once more.

"They're going to be talking about us all day," Fenris brought up. He pulled Anders into an embrace, and the mage rested his head on the warrior's shoulder.

"Let them talk then. They might get on my nerves on occasion, but they mean well. Besides… I think I came out ahead this time."

"We both did," Fenris agreed. "But come, we should get dressed and-" He was pinned to the bed a moment later, staring up at the large grin on Anders' face.

"In a bit. I'm in the mood for a repeat of last night. Minus the depressive bits." Fenris smirked and rolled, flipping their positions.

"As you wish."

Isabella and Varric were currently reading over some "friend fiction" they'd written earlier, and Hawke and Merrill were cuddling in the corner. Aveline was going over some reports, and looked up to see Fenris and Anders coming up the stairs to Varric's suite. "Well, about time you two showed up. We were beginning to think you forgot about us!" the Captain teased. The others all looked up, grins on their faces. Anders blushed, but Fenris merely shrugged.

"So… You two have a nice night?" Isabella wondered, raising an eyebrow.

"We did," the Elf told her, taking a seat at the table.

"I'm so happy for you two!" Merrill blurted out, smiling brightly. The two men looked at each other, then at Hawke, who shrugged.

"I only told her. Everyone else had it figured out already."

"What, did you think we were all blind?" the pirate demanded.

"Even I knew something was up," Aveline revealed. Varric had opened his notebook and was writing something in it. Anders leaned forward, but the Dwarf pulled back and grinned at the mage, his quill paused.

"You're giving me that look again. What are you writing this time?" the blonde asked, folding his arms and leaning back in his chair.

"I need some details: Did you go down on one knee? Did he jump you? Did you swear eternal vows of love, or is this just a physical thing?" The healer turned crimson and nearly fell out of his chair.

"I don't see how that's any of your business!" he finally shot back. Varric shrugged and looked over at Fenris, who raised an eyebrow.

"I want to make sure I get all the details right when I tell this story. Did he sweep you off your feet? I'm assuming he did the sweeping. He's taller than you. Awkward otherwise." The Elf shook his head.

"I'm not telling you anything but this: There was no actual sweeping involved." The storyteller sighed and fixed both of them with a playful glare.

"Fine, but if you don't tell me, I'll just have to make it up."

"I can live with that," Fenris told him.

"Me too," Anders agreed. Hawke rolled his eyes and looked at Isabella.

"So, Diamondback or Wicked Grace?"

"Strip Diamondback?" she asked, an impish grin on her face.

"Oh, yes please!" Merrill said, clapping her hands. Everyone turned to stare at her, and she blushed and shrunk back. "What? I can't like seeing my friends nearly naked?" There was silence, before Isabella tipped her head back and started laughing. The other joined in after the initial surprise wore off.

"That's my Kitten!" the pirate said, pride in her voice. "Now come on, let's play!" Fenris reached for his cards with one hand, feeling Anders take his other and give it a small squeeze. He looked over at the mage and smiled.

"Glad to have you back, Fenris," Hawke said as he picked up his own cards.

"Glad to be back, my friend."