I do not own Dragon Age or its characters.

I do not make any money off the stories I've written for it.

Unless you count the fact that I can't sleep or work when a story takes hold, so writing it allows me to get back to being productive. But I don't think that Bioware can sue me for that.

Stupid In Love

Chapter 1

The Wounded Coast provided a breathtaking view that morning, the sun sneaking over the horizon, painting the sky in a swirled wash of fuschia, orange, and violet. The wrecked ships' masts peaking through the crashing waves appeared as skeletons, warning the uncautious of the dangers that lurked everywhere here in the Free Marches, just below the surface of all things.

Yet the sight looked beautifully poignant to Hawke as she gazed. It had not been so long ago that she got her first glimpse of these Free Marches on her trip from Ferelden, escaping the Blight. It was amazing the beauty that could be found, everywhere you looked, if you simply bothered to look for it. It dumbfounded her sometimes how many people steadfastly refused to see it, even when it was staring them right in their face.

Shaking her head at her own futile thinking, she turned around to find Aveline smirking at her.

"A- Aveline. I… didn't realize you were so close behind me."

"No. I don't imagine you did," she chuckled at her friend's reaction. "You have been in another place for most of this patrol." She paused before continuing, "Thank you for joining me, by the way. I know it's not your responsibility, but it's nice to be able to count on you as backup. That last round of the flu really struck the guard hard. All those who didn't catch it have been working double and even triple shifts. They needed a break, and we simply don't have enough people to cover when things like this happen. …But don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to join the guard again. I know you need more freedom than a regular job can provide."

Hawke smiled. "Well, you never know when the next interesting opportunity will arise. I wouldn't want to miss it due to an obligation. You know how I hate letting people down." Aveline merely smiled and nodded.

They continued walking for a few moments in silence before Aveline spoke.

"So… Fenris certainly is an interesting person, isn't he?"

Hawke's eyes darted quickly toward the Captain of the Guard in surprise, but at the look of nonchalance on her friend's face, she simply looked straight ahead again as she replied, "He's had an interesting life. I certainly don't envy him." They walked a few more paces and began speaking again. "To grow up in a place where people can be viewed as possessions – it… it makes me sick. Physically sick."

Her motions became more animated as she continued. "I mean, how can anyone live like that. People are people! They're not THINGS! You can't OWN them. It makes me so angry. If I could, I'd kill every slaver there was. But first, I'd like to show them exactly what it feels like to have your humanity stolen from you, show them first hand-"

Aveline interrupted, "You don't mean that, Hawke."

She paused for a moment and scowled. "No. I don't." She sighed. "But I wouldn't mind killing them, I'll tell you that."

Aveline grimaced as she nodded. "Yes. I can't say I don't feel the same." After a pause she glanced slyly at her friend and said, "That certainly was an impassioned speech. But then, Fenris does seem to bring that out in you."

The Captain of the Guard had a hard time not snickering as she witnessed her friend sputter in denial. "Wha- Whatever do you mean, Aveline?"

Finally she gave in and chuckled. "Come now, Hawke. It's obvious that you're smitten."

Hawke stood up proudly and said, "I have a great deal of respect for Fenris. He's overcome incredible odds."

"And that's why you've completely stopped flirting with anyone else since almost the day you met him. This is ME, Hawke. I've known you longer than anyone else in this city. You used to be an incorrigible flirt. Heck, you even flirted with ME a few times. Then, nothing. At first I just thought you'd come down with a cold or something. But the way you look at him when you don't think anyone else is watching – it's clear that you've been hit pretty hard." She held up a hand to forestall the response she saw coming, "No, don't worry. No one else has noticed. Just me. And just because I know you so well."

The hero swelled up for a moment, looking like she was about to argue the point, but then she slowly deflated as Aveline watched. "Well, I'm glad that at least no one else has to see me make an idiot out of myself."

"I'd hardly say you were making an idiot of yourself."

Hawke snorted in self-deprecation. "Really? Then it's intelligent to fall this hard for someone who obviously will never have anything other than a grudging respect for me? Not that I blame him. I come from a family of mages. Mages hold all the power in Tevinter, and they abuse it. If there are any mages who use their power responsibly there, they're most likely crushed by those who have no compunction or mercy. In that society, with mages who don't see anyone as worthy of anything except themselves, it's no surprise that he could never see past that in me. Even knowing that, I…

"Aaargh! I feel like I'm insane! Honestly. It has to be insanity. There is no other explanation that makes sense. From the moment he walked down those steps in the Alienage…"

She paused and took a deep slow breath before continuing more quietly. "Aveline, the first time you ever saw Wesley, how… did you feel?"

"The first time I saw Wesley?" Aveline's voice was soft. "I actually didn't even notice him. He was just another Templar. Why? How did you feel when you first saw Fenris?"

They were continuing to walk as they talked, and at this inquiry, Hawke continued in silence for several moments. Finally she stopped and closed her eyes. "I felt like if I took my eyes off him for one second, he'd disappear and I'd miss the most amazing moment of my life – I'd miss it and never get it back. Like there was no where else on this entire earth that I was meant to be, but right there, yet if I blinked, it would be gone and I'd spend the rest of my life regretting the loss."

Eyes still closed, she shook her head, as if she were almost wishing she could negate the veracity of her words, or knowing that she never could, that they would remain true regardless; she continued, "I can remember every detail with perfect clarity – the sound of the wind rustling the leaves in the tree behind me, the blood dripping from the lieutenant that had just fallen. The way the light from the torch to his left reflected in his hair, like burnished gold, and when he turned his head, it turned to perfect silver. The glow on his markings and the sound as his hand phased right through that slaver captain's chest. His gasping fearful breaths. The way my own heart wouldn't seem to slow down. Every single detail." She looked out across the sea again. "They're burned into my memory as surely as those markings were burned into Fenris' flesh."

Aveline rested one hand on her friend's shoulder, but could think of nothing to say.

"It wouldn't be so difficult if it weren't for how now, when he's not around, everything feels unfinished, incomplete. Like there's a hole in my stomach." Eyes closed, she placed a hand against her own stomach as if trying to keep things in, "I think I could lose an arm or a leg and not have it bother me as much. When he's near me, I feel the most satisfied and content I can ever remember feeling. But I also feel like I'm running from an entire horde of darkspawn. I don't know how I can feel both those things at once. I can't stop thinking about him."

Shaking her head, Aveline whispered, "I take it back. You're hiding how you feel remarkably well. I mean, I knew you felt something for him, but you're really head over heels, aren't you?"

Breathing out a self-deprecating laugh, Hawke said, "Seems that way. I tried to convince myself that I just enjoyed debating with him – steel sharpening steel. But the day I walked in on Isabela flirting with him in his study, I couldn't deny it anymore." She gave a wry look as she explained, "It took all my self control to not grab her by the hair and throw her down the stairs."

Aveline couldn't hold back a laugh. "I'd have paid to see THAT!"

"Yes, well…" she paused and looked sheepish. "Don't tell anyone, okay? I don't want anyone else to know how pathetic I am, falling in love with the one man who I know will never love me back."

"Hawke, you don't know that."

Placing a hand gently on the older woman's arm, Hawke said, "It's okay, Aveline. At least I'm useful to him – back up in case Denarius ever shows up. I actually hope he does: I won't mind killing Denarius as dead as it is possible to be. Deader if I can manage it. Until then… It's not like there's anywhere else I want to be. It is enough."

"Hawke. You know I'm always here for you if you need anything."

Smiling, the champion gripped Aveline's forearm companionably. "Well, I think I'm done feeling sorry for myself. Let's finish this patrol, eh?"