AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm still sticking with this story.

Chapter 5

Zevran could not put his finger on it. Fenris had fallen into a deep brooding state whenever they were alone together. Even though the elven warrior was more than willing to take a tumble with him in bed each time they got beneath the sheets the dark elf did not seem as eager as he usually was. As a matter of face it seemed Fenris only commenced with the physical part of their relationship for the assassin's sake rather than his own. Leaving Zevran with a strange sense he had been left out of the loop.

He had attempted to question his lover about going to Nevarra. When pressed Fenris only shook his head stating he did not wish to discuss it. Only that it was important they went and if Zevran did not wish to go, he would be fine with his decision for them to part ways. After arguing with both Palen and Taliesin on his change of plans they reluctantly agreed to come along with him. Sending both of them ahead of him to scout the road as a caravan he oversaw a caravan to be made to take them there.

This entire time Fenris remained a stoic figure in the background. Watching the entire proceedings with a guarded expression as if ready to be ambushed at any moment. There was little Zevran could do to appease his lover's dark mood. At one point the warrior stated he had to get something before he had left the inn. Returning three hours later with a small package in his hand.

As night set in on the tenth day of them being in the town Zevran found himself sitting at a table by himself. He nodded to one of the wenches to bring him food and an ale of beer as he waited patiently. His thoughts churning of the implications of where Fenris wished to travel. One of the biggest difficulties were to avoid the slavers. Nevarra happened to be near a river they would have to cross. Slavers traveling along the coast would come in from the Amaranthine Ocean with their illegal cargo. Depositing their ill begotten wares in the city Hercinia before taking the cream of the crop either to Antiva or the Tevinter Imperium.

"Your food and drink, sir. Might you be needin' anything else this evenin'?" The young woman asked as she set his food on the table. Zevran glanced up at her drawn away from his morbid thoughts. She had to be no more than fourteen years old yet already she had a bursting bosom which seemed to spill out of her to small plain dress. He offered her one his trademark grins for once not interested in flirting.

"Thank you, my dear. I'm quite satisfied at the moment. Should I require anything else I shall endeavor to inform you immediately of my needs." Zevran said easily. She blushed prettily at his accent before murmuring something in gratitude before slipping away. With a quiet sigh he turned towards the task of eating.

He had barely begun his meal before he spotted Fenris coming down the steps. For once the elven warrior had foregone his usual armor. Dressed in a long sleeved black shirt he had purchased earlier that day and leggings he made a handsome figure. His silvery white hair standing out even more in contrast to his dark clothes as he came over to the table. Without being invited Fenris sat down at the table across from Zevran. Reaching over the dark skinned elf helped himself to a drink of his lover's alcohol.

"I'm glad to see you too." Zevran said to his silent partner. Fenris gave him a long look his dark green eyes flashing. Either with amusement or annoyance he could not tell.

"My apologies, I've had a lot on my mind lately." Fenris responded. Zevran shrugged his shoulders to indicate he could care less. Offering his plate of food to his lover since the other had already taken his drink.

"As do we all, Lord Fenris. I've contacted Isabela and she's bound to be leaving in the next few days. I informed her we will not, in fact, be joining her. Our own transportation will be ready to go hopefully in the next two days if the merchants can decide who to bring along with them." Zevran explained as he picked at his food.

Fenris nodded his head taking a bread roll for himself. He broke it in half and began to eat it unbuttered. His gaze wandering to the far window to stare at the sky outside. Zevran frowned, wondering why the other elf seemed so distant. While matters of the mind were hardly his expertise even he could tell his partner was contemplating something. Before he could mention this fact Fenris suddenly locked his gaze on Zevran staring at him seriously.

"Did you ever hear of a scarecrow with a will of its own?" Fenris asked out of the blue. Zevran froze his mouth open part of the way to eat a slice of meat. Slowly, the assassin set his fork down as he gazed intently at the warrior. His face draining of blood as he licked his lips feeling how chapped they were.

"Where did you hear of such a ridiculous idea?" Zevran whispered his mouth having gone dry. His own saliva felt thick and sticky on his own tongue. Fenris did not back down rather he continued to study the other elf intently.

"I had a dream-"

"Ignore it. Objects don't come to life. You know this better than anyone." Zevran said beginning to go back to eating his food. Fenris sat there staring at his lover unsure of how to proceed.

"Zev, listen, I-"

"My apologies, Fenris. I'm suddenly not hungry. Don't worry about payment they charged it to the room." Zevran snapped abruptly. Getting up he left his chair and walked back up the stairs to their shared bedroom. Leaving Fenris to sit there alone at the table to contemplate what had just taken place.

Fenris closed his eyes and mentally cursed himself at his lover's reaction. He had thought he might be able to broach the subject with the assassin. Gazing down at the food and drink he found himself not hungry. Fenris forced himself to eat the food anyway, finish the ale, and then head back upstairs. He wanted to put this matter at rest for both of them.

When he opened the door to the bedroom he was greeted with Zevran's turned back. The assassin was sitting at his desk as usual, but his head was in his hands. His head bowed as if praying for forgiveness from the Maker. When he heard the door open the assassin turned to see who it was. There were tear streaks going down Zevran's face.

"What do you want, Fenris?" Zevran spat his voice hoarse. Fenris stood in the doorway gazing at the face of his lover. While usually the assassin had a constant mischievous smile tugging at the corners of his full lips this time they were pressed into a thin, hard line. Zevran's usually bright hazel eyes were dull as if the light had been sucked out of him. When the warrior moved to come in the assassin's eyes narrowed gritting his teeth as his knuckles turned white as he gripped the chair.

"Get out." Zevran hissed.

"Zevran, please, I didn't mean to-"

"Get out. OUT! NOW!"

Fenris found himself closing the door just as the water pitcher was thrown at him. He heard the crash of the porcelain hitting the door. The clatter as pitcher smashed against the door before falling to the ground in pieces. His heart had begun to pound as he hurried back down the stairs. Going outside into the morning air to catch his breath. He blinked in the bright sunlight as he circled around the Inn to the back. Unable to comprehend what had just happened as his feet scuffed up clouds of dirt around his feet.

What had just happened? One minute Zevran had been perfectly happy and content. The next the other elf had apparently started crying as soon as he had gone upstairs. Fenris felt his chest tighten at the expression on Zevran's face. As if the entire world had shattered around him without any warning. Did the Antivan truly miss Howl that much? Had he known the assassin would react like that Fenris would have never said anything at all. Now he felt like an ass for making his lover cry.

Fenris stayed outside for at least an hour. He wandered through the shops and looked at the wares the merchants had on display. He purchased a shark tooth necklace strung on a thin string which the man claimed came from a beast which had been seventy feet long. While he doubted the man's claim Fenris was still struck by the simple beauty of the tooth.

When he walked back to the inn a crowd had gathered at the bar. Men and elves alike drinking heavily to help them get through the rest of the day. Fenris walked past them and back up to the bedroom. Hoping Zevran had calmed down from earlier. When he opened the door however he found the room empty. Only then did he notice the note on the door.

I have to go with Taliesin to work out a few details for the trip. I'll be back later.

-Z

Fenris sighed as he read the small note. Taking it down he tucked it away into his pocket and left the small trinket on Zevran's desk. He headed back outside to browse the shops for a new whetstone in order to sharpen his sword.

The next two days passed by without a word from the other elf. Whenever Fenris returned to their room he found it empty. One time he had fallen asleep after staying up half the night waiting for the assassin to come back. He woke up briefly just in time to see Zevran climbing into bed with him. Fenris had been groggy from being woken up, but the smaller elf had only put a finger to his lips. Whispering in his sensual voice for his lover to back to sleep. There had been bags under Zevran's eyes as if he had stayed up all night.

Fenris had dropped back off to sleep without question. Waking up late in the morning to find once again his lover had left. He felt comforted however when he saw the necklace had disappeared off the desk. At the very least Zevran had received his present.

On the third day it was Palen who came to get him. The former whore had come to tell Fenris they were ready to leave within the next couple of hours. Fenris thanked the elf before packing up his small bag of belongings. Being sure to slide the small book he had purchased into the bottom of his pack away from prying eyes. He put on his armor, strapped Mercy to his back, and within an hour was outside following Palen across town.

At the edge of town Fenris saw a line of wagons being pulled by oxen waiting for him. To his relief he spotted Zevran with his face free of any tear streaks. The bags under the Antivan's eyes had all but disappeared. Standing in his own armor armed with his daggers and short swords Zevran was talking to Isabela. The pirate woman had her arms crossed as she nodded her head. Talking to her old friend as Fenris walked up.

"Are you sure you want to go inland? It would be faster by sea, love. You can send these men ahead of you, can't you?" Isabela asked. Zevran nodded his head his gaze roving over his caravan. A few guards had been hired to protect them during their trek to Nevarra. There was a city of the same name which made its living purely by trade.

"No offense to you, Isabela, but I would prefer to reach my destination with my own two feet. Besides, we would still have to go by foot even if you did sail around to the mouth of the river. The distance is about the same, is it not? Either way we would be walking." Zevran explained. Isabela sighed reluctant to part with her friend after seeing him after so many years.

"Well, Zev, if you insist. You're always welcome on my ship. Should you ever change your mind…"

"Be sure to come to your cabin in the middle of the night? Why, Isabela, I had no idea you felt that way." Zevran said with an easy grin. Isabela laughed glad to see her friend in high spirits. She caught another familiar figure from the corner of her eye just in time to see Fenris walking up to them.

"Fenris! I was wondering when you would show up. You're holding up the entire trip. Come here so I can get a good look at you to help me through those long nights when I'm all alone." Isabela insisted. Fenris gave her a puzzled look but came over to her.

To his surprise the woman threw her arms around him in a hug. Zevran raised an inquisitive eyebrow watching, but said nothing. Fenris reached up and hesitantly returned the embrace. Then gave Isabela a hard squeeze as he enjoyed the unfamiliar gesture.

"I'll miss you. Take good care of your assassin, understand?" Isabela whispered into Fenris's ear to low for Zevran to hear. Fenris sighed as he released her gazing into the woman's face. She had done so much for them all in the name of friendship.

"I'll miss you as well. Especially those days spent at the Hanged Man playing Wicked Grace."

"It sucks being beaten regularly, doesn't it?"

"Depends upon whose doing the beating." Fenris said. Isabela laughed her high lilting voice music to the elf's ears. She glanced in between the two elves as Zevran came closer with his usual flirtatious grin.

"Having fun without me? It's a crime against pleasure to enjoy each other's company without me involved." Zevran protested playfully. Isabela sighed, shaking her head as she turned to give the assassin a surprising chaste kiss on the cheek.

"I would stay longer, but I have a ship to attend too. Not to mention I have to deal with a few of my crewmen. Take care now, the both of you. You ever find yourself in port look me up." Isabela told them both.

After another few minutes of farewells, hugs, kisses, and promises to stay in touch with each other they eventually parted ways. Isabela going back to her ship as Fenris and Zevran set out with the rest of the caravan. Armed for whatever may come as they began their journey to Nevarra.