"I think I need a bath. Do you think I need a bath?" Isabella asked no one in particular.
"I would love a bath," Cameron Hawke slurred in response, tucking her cards against her chest as she leaned on the dark pirate. Carver groaned loudly, tossing his cards to the table.
"Not this 'bath' crap again." Cameron stuck her tongue out at her little brother.
"Well, not all of us enjoy going to the Blooming Rose for their 'Special' services," at his sudden crimson cheeks, she grinned. "What, you think I didn't know? Really Carver, you should know better." She sat back up flipping an errant white curl from her face. She never figured out why her hair went from the family black to a silver white, but she also didn't care enough to do anything about it.
"Hey, Elf, that mansion you're squatting in has a private bathing room, doesn't it?" Varric casually asked the fifth member of the card game while tossing another sovereign onto the pile. Fenris arched a black brow and nodded.
"It does." Cameron sat up straighter at his revelation, her sapphire eyes twinkling with more than drink. "What does that matter?" he asked.
"Well, from the looks of your purse, you might want to see if anyone is willing to take 'use of bathing room' instead of money," Varric replied.
"Who would –"
"Me!" Cameron cut him off enthusiastically, the alcohol in her system making her giddier and louder than usual. Fenris snorted.
"Fine, I wager the use of my bathing rooms and call." Cameron, Varric and Fenris all laid their cards down, though Varric already knew the outcome as he had stacked the deck. Isabella laughed as Cameron wildly clapped her joy over winning.
"You have no idea how happy this makes me," she gushed to Fenris, ignoring the pot in the center of the table.
"Evidently not." He muttered, throwing an accusatory glare in Varric's direction. Varric feigned insult, and then grinned at the broody elf. Cameron stood suddenly, grabbing Carver's shoulder to steady herself.
"I'm going to get my things, and then, I'm going to make use of my winnings," she intoned haughtingly.
"Now!" Fenris's green eyes widened. Cameron's enthusiastic nod nearly sent her to the floor. Carver just shook his head at his sister.
"I believe you left your soaps in my room from the last time," Varric mentioned coolly, shuffling the cards back into the deck. Cameron grinned, and gracelessly darted up the stairs to Varric's quarters. As soon as she was out of ear shot, Fenris turned to the dwarf.
"You set this up."
"You wound me, Elf. What would I possibly get out of this? I lost three sovereigns and the revenue from Hawke's thrice weekly visits."
"Thrice?" Fenris asked in disbelief.
"That means three times," Isabella chirped in. Fenris glared at the dark woman.
"I know what it means," he growled at her. She just grinned back at him, shooting back the remaining whiskey in her glass. Cameron returned to their table a small satchel draped across her shoulder.
"Ready!" she beamed. Fenris was at a loss, but he was a man of his word. He stood, resigned to hosting this bewildering mage in his home. Isabella slammed her glass down, getting everyone's attention.
"Don't forget your pot," she winked up at Cameron tossing a pouch full of coins to the mage.
"Wait, how? No, never mind. I don't want to know," Carver remarked, shaking his head. Cameron waved to her friends and sauntered from the Hanged Man with Fenris throwing a final glare to Varric before following.
Cameron was happily humming a tune as she all but skipped towards High Town. Fenris tried not to think as he fell into step behind her. She confused him utterly, and he wasn't sure how he felt about her. She was nothing like the mages he was used to and he often felt his guard slipping when he was around her. Her genuine concern for him was something alien to him, yet he was drawn to it and the way the lyrium beneath his skin hummed when she was near.
Fenris had been absently following her lead, so it took him by surprise when she entered the Blooming Rose. He watched as she made her way to the bar. After a few minutes, she returned with two bottles of wine. She smiled at Fenris, pushing one of the bottles into his hands before exiting. Confused, he simply followed.
"I know you prefer reds. I'm partial to the sweet white wines," she was speaking casually, uncorking the bottle still in her hands.
"Um, yes. Thank you." he glanced down at the bottle in his hand. It had the classic Orlsian fleur-de-lis etched into the glass. It was not a cheap bottle of wine. "Do you wish me to pay you for this?" she laughed, shaking her head.
"No, Silly. That is a 'thank you for putting up with me' gift."
"It is hardly necessary. You did win." Though there was warmth in his tone.
"Yes, but that doesn't mean I should be rude. And I – I'm very appreciative of this. I didn't realize how much I took baths for granted back in Lothering," she laughed sadly. "I took a lot of things for granted. I don't want to anymore." Fenris sensed there was more to her statement, but said nothing. They walked the rest of the way in silence, Cameron somehow managing to drink and walk without falling over.
Inside his rightfully stolen estate, it was cold and dark except for a feint glow from upstairs. He left a fire banked in the parlor where he spent most of his time. Now Fenris took the lead and escorted her up to the master bedroom and through to the private baths. He stiffened as he felt her spell through his markings, and the candles in the room were suddenly lit. She stepped past him into the marble room in awe. A single copper tub, big enough for at least two people sat in the center of the room. In the far corner was a water pump for quickness and ease and a basket of stones rested near the fire place to warm. By the tub was a table that stored soaps and another that was bare.
"The pump does work, so you will not need to bring water up." Fenris told her, and turned to leave. Her hesitant hand on his arm stopped him, and he looked back at her, ignoring the tingling sensation her touched caused. She smiled up at him, a shy tentative smile.
"Thank you, Fenris. This is wonderful." She kissed him lightly on the cheek before quickly moving into the room to begin her bath. The suddenness of the act surprised Fenris into stillness and he simply watched her walk away. His cheek warm from her lips, and his mind bewildered he retreated into the parlor.
Alone in the parlor, Fenris stirred the fire bringing it back to life. He didn't want to think about the woman in the other room, but his thoughts refused to heed his desires. Her silvery hair framed her face in loose curls and often strands would fall in front of her eyes. Her eyes were a deep, penetrating blue, and seemed to always twinkle with mirth. Fenris liked her eyes the best. They were never dead like the slaves' in Minrathous, and there was never a glint of maliciousness like in the magisters'.
His thoughts began to wander from her face to her body. She was slender for a human with soft curves. The robes she favored hugged her hips and breasts with corset like boning and he often enjoyed watching the sway of her hips as she led the way during their adventures. His mind then shifted to her scent. It was gentle and subtle like honeyed cream.
A smile turned up at the corner of his mouth. He looked at the bottle of wine she had given him. Cameron Hawke was sweet, and Fenris enjoyed that. He opened the bottle and took a generous sip of the wine. It was not the dry, bitter red he was expecting, but a softer, spiced red. The tingle of cloves and cinnamon hid the bitter tang of the alcohol and he was half finished the bottle before he realized.
A flash in the window, followed by the sharp crack of thunder pulled him from his reverie. He walked to the window, looking out into the blackness of the storm. The rain was hammering the window in a deluge and he hoped that Cameron had made it back to Low Town before the storm hit. Then it occurred to him, that he didn't hear her leave. Curious and tipsy he made his way back to the bathing room.
She was still there, unconcerned with the storm raging outside, sleeping in the tub. Fenris was halfway to her when it occurred to him where she was and what she had been doing. A touch of red colored his cheeks and he called out to her.
"Hawke," she groaned in response, shifting in the tub, "Hawke," he tried again, louder. This time she opened her eyes, groggily. She sat up straighter and only the rim of the tub kept her decent. Fenris turned away, giving her privacy and the crack of thunder kept his mind from thinking about what that tub was hiding. The thunder also seemed to wake her up.
"Maker!" she exclaimed, "I haven't fallen asleep in a tub in years," she laughed nervously. Fenris heard the slush of the water as she stood, and the sudden image in his mind made his body stiffen. He heard the rustling of cloth and he assumed she was dressing. "This is going to be a fun walk home," she finally muttered. Cautiously, Fenris turned to look at her. She was dressed, but not in the robes she had been wearing. A simple linen shift covered her and clung to her damp skin while she packed her things back into the satchel.
"You are not leaving," his deep, matter of fact voice stopped her and she turned to him.
"What are you going on about?"
"It is not safe. You shall stay here and leave in the morning," he wasn't sure why he was suggesting it, but a part of him didn't want her to leave just yet. She smiled at him, finishing her packing.
"That's sweet, Fenris, but it's only rain. I'll be fine."
"It is not only rain," and a clap of thunder punctuated his statement. "You will not leave tonight." She sighed, too tired to argue.
"Fine. Where do I sleep?" the question came as a surprise to Fenris, he hadn't thought that far ahead.
"That room," he finally decided, pointing back to the bedroom they had passed through earlier. She nodded, walking past him. Again his markings hummed as she extinguished the lights in the bathing room. Cameron stopped at the bed, taking note of the disheveled sheets.
"Is this where you sleep?" she asked him hesitantly. He nodded in answer.
"But I shall stay in the parlor." She turned to him and in the low light he could barely see the glare on her face.
"Seriously Fenris? This is your room in your home. I'll sleep in the parlor. I'm not going to deprive you of your own bed."
"You are not taking it from me, I offered it to you."
"Fenris-" she began, but he cut her off.
"Please stop arguing with me. Just go to sleep." He left the room before she could say anything else, closing the door on any further argument. He half expected her to follow him out, but assumed that exhaustion and drink took the fight out of her. Through the door he heard her sigh, then the creak of the old wood shifting with her weight. He returned to the parlor, content that he finally won a battle against the spirited mage.
It was just after dawn when the creak of the stairs woke him. Silently he made his way from the parlor. He caught sight of Cameron trying to sneak from the mansion and he smiled at her lack of grace. He watched her leave and decided to retire for the rest of the morning in the comfort of his bed. When he lay down, the scent of honeyed cream enveloped him and it was the most restful sleep he had had in a very long time.