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 14

A week passed.

Aveline and Varric had come to try to talk him into moving out, getting on with his life. "We just thought we'd see if we could change your mind about moving out of this dump," Varric stated glibly. "After all, there's nothing to tie you to this place any more – you're free. No need to brood in the dark. It's time to move on."

"I've kept the seneschal's attention away from this place, but I fear my influence in this matter is running out. And the best you'll be able to hope for then is being run out as a squatter."

"I appreciate what you've done Aveline, but there's really no where else for me to go."

And then, Hawke arrived. Thank the Maker. Varric and Aveline exchanged another look.

"You talk to him, Hawke. I've had my fill for today." They walked out, Varric continuing to mumble about how he was free now, he should live like it.

Inside the room, Fenris spoke to his new guest. "They don't understand," he commented. "Yes, I am free. Denarius is dead. Yet, it doesn't feel like it should." He looked at her intensely, wishing that she understood – nothing felt like it should. How could it without her?

"Seems like you should be dancing for joy," she commented lightly.

He grimaced. "I would have thought so. I thought if I didn't need to run and fight to stay alive, I would finally be able to live as a free man does. But how is that? My sister is gone. And I have nothing. Not even an enemy." In his head he heard her words again, "I'm here, Fenris."

Did he really not know how she felt? The book she'd read made it clear that he did not. He didn't even know how much she loved him. "Maybe that just means there's nothing holding you back."

How did he tell her? How could he make up for it all? "Mmm. An interesting thought. It's just difficult to overlook the stain that magic has left on my life. If I seem bitter, it's not without cause." He thought, 'Bitter? It's not a strong enough word. But with you, I could grow beyond that.' "Perhaps it *is* time to move forward. I just don't know where that leads. Do you?"

This was a good opening. She'd take it. "Wherever it leads, I hope it means we'll stay together." Okay. Not as strong as she'd intended, but it was a start.

He turned toward her. Together. Yes. "That is my hope as well."

Denarius was dead. There was nothing tying him down now. He decided it was time to finally be brave. "We have… never discussed what happened between us three years ago."

"You didn't want to talk about it," she evaded.

He looked down, shame at his actions painting his face, clearly. "I felt like a fool. I thought it better if you hated me. I deserve no less. But it isn't better. That night…" He walked toward her. He would risk it all. He had nothing, and therefore, there was nothing for him to lose. "I remember your touch as if it were yesterday. I should have asked your forgiveness long ago. I hope you can forgive me now."

He was standing so close to her – closer than he had allowed himself in years.

"I…" she swallowed, "need to understand why you left, Fenris."

Eyes crinkled in regret, he replied, "I've thought about the answer a thousand times." He wondered if he could even begin to explain. "The pain, the memories it brought up." He looked away thinking, 'were a convenient excuse for me to run away from how much I need you. It was all,' and continued the thought aloud, "it was too much. I was a coward."

Still not looking at her, he continued, "If I could go back, I would stay. And tell you how I felt."

"What… would you have said?" she inquired breathily.

Finally, he turned back to look at her, his eyes boring into her own and he spoke, "Nothing could be worse than the thought of living without you."

"I understand. I've always understood," she spoke, and continued the thought in her head, 'Living without you is the one thing I could not bear.'

He leaned in closer. "If there is a future to be had, I will walk into it gladly at your side." He leaned in and kissed her.

It put his memories to shame. She was everything he needed. Everything.

He was kissing her. He wanted to stay by her side. He wanted to be with her. And oh, she loved him so much. She needed to say it.

And so, she pulled back enough to look at him square in the eyes, while not pulling out of his embrace. "Fenris, I have to ask you one thing. Would you…" she worried her bottom lip a bit as she looked away, and then she looked back and continued. "Would you still be willing to stay by my side if you knew…" she took a deep breath and finished quickly, "that I'm in love with you?"

He pulled back further as he jerked in shock. It was one thing to read words that she had supposedly written. But to hear her actually say it! He thought his heart might burst. "You… love me?"

She looked away and then pulled out of his arms. Okay. So that didn't go the way she'd hoped. She wrapped her arms around herself and walked over to the window.

"It's okay," she quickly backpedalled. "I knew from the first, when we first met, that I was simply being fooli-"

And then he was holding her and kissing her more thoroughly than she'd ever been kissed before. He broke and whispered. "Maker, but you are beautiful. Do you have any idea what you do to me?"

She threw her arms around him and kissed him again. And then she pulled back and whispered, "I love you, Fenris."

His eyes closed for a moment and then, with an urgency in his voice that she couldn't deny, he said, "Hawke, I need you to promise me something."

Breathlessly, she looked up into his silver-green eyes. "Anything, Fenris."

He breathed out and closed his eyes to get himself back under control before he continued. "Promise me that you'll always be free. I…" He swallowed. "I can't stand the thought of you as anything other than proud and free. I would do anything to ensure you stay that way always."

Smiling, she replied, "I'll do my best."

"Good. Then I'm certain it will always be so."