Author's Note: You're still here? Awesome! Just a friendly warning that this chapter has the most sexually explicit content in the story. This was my first attempt at anything resembling smut, so I hope it's at least somewhat enjoyable. Let me know with a review if it was alright, or if I should never attempt the subject again. : ) Now on with the show!

Guilty Pleasure - Chapter 5 Part 2

"I should start from the beginning, that's the best way to make sense of it all," He said, a nervous crack shaking his voice, "When I left you that night, I told you that my memories from before my markings had come back to me, that I had seen flashes of the life I had prior to Danarius. I did not lie, they did come to me, they did appear and vanish just as quickly as I claimed, but I was not entirely truthful as to how much they affected me. Yes, I was startled by them, and yes, I was distraught when they left me, but they were not the reason for my abandonment.

"Do you – do you recall the things that Danarius claimed, about – about what happened between him and I?" Fenris asked.

"I – Yes, I remember," Hawke answered tentatively, concern and the beginnings of realization dawning in her eyes. She sat herself up and turned slightly in his arms, facing the elf and placing her hands tenderly on his forearm, sending a shiver through his body. He swallowed hard, encouraging himself to continue. He had come so far already, he couldn't back down now.

"Fenris?" Hawke called. Another shiver up his spine, from the small of his back to the very tips of his ears. Her gentle voice and gestures were a bigger comfort to him than he could ever accurately describe to her, of that he was sure. "What did he do to you, Fenris?"

"In Tevinter, it is not uncommon for a magister to use one or more of their slaves as an outlet for their more - carnal urges. Why spend coin at the brothel when you have a mansion full of warm bodies who cannot refuse you? When I was still a slave, still Danarius' loyal dog," He started to explain, voice still rough with nerves, though an unmistakable bitterness and venom was now present at the magister's mention, "I was no exception. While my main purpose was to act as his bodyguard, as I have told you and the others in our group who asked, it was unfortunately not my only role. I was forced to act as that sadist's bed partner for years."

Another cold spasm, though this one was of an entirely different, malicious nature.

"No lover should ever have to endure the malevolent, twisted things Danarius would do and say under the guise of intimacy.

"When I finally managed to escaped, the threat of his return was always there, constantly following me like a dark shadow. Every empty street hid a trap, every dark alley an ambush lying in wait. Any person I encountered was a threat, a possible rat willing to turn me in to my former master. Unfortunately, more often than not my hesitations proved well founded. The promise of gold for my betrayal proved too tempting for the few people I lingered near. I never truly rested during that time. I was always on alert, ready to attack at the merest hint of foul intentions.

"And then I met you, Marian," Fenris said affectionately, the cold glare that had been in place as he had divulged the truth about his former master easily melting into one of adoration as the topic shifted to Hawke, "and everything changed. I had never in my life met anyone so willing to help another without expectation of reward, simply because they felt that it was the right thing to do. You were so kindhearted, charismatic and genuine, I couldn't help but find myself finally at ease when I was around you. I was able to drop my guard, allow myself to enjoy your company, even dare to consider you a friend.

"As time went on, I grew fonder and fonder of you. I found myself thinking of you more with the passing of each day. The sound of your voice and laughter, the sight of your smile, the feel of your reassuring touch. Soon enough I no longer enjoyed your presence, I craved it, needed it like a man needs air. I was furious at myself. I could not fathom what had gotten into me, why I was allowing you to affect me in such a way. Until one day, when the truth of the matter finally came to me," said Fenris, his voice growing husky and eyes softening as he cupped Hawke's cheek in a calloused hand. A sharp, excited breath caught in her chest at his touch, causing the corners of his slim mouth to twist into an anxious smile, "I had fallen for you. The notion was unbelievable to me at first. It seemed like an illusion, a waking dream. After all that had happened in my past, both before and after escaping from Danarius, I had thought myself incapable of the trust that was required to feel any kind of kinship towards someone, let alone the infatuation I held for you. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

"I came to you that same day," Fenris explained, still caressing Hawke's face, "Once I accepted what had come over me, I could not resist acting upon it. I told myself that there was little chance you could feel the same longing for me as I did you, but I felt it was better to be honest with you and risk having my heart broken than to do nothing and remain in agonizing uncertainty. When you didn't shy away from my advances, reciprocated them even, I lost myself in the moment. All the tension, nerves, and self-doubt that had plagued me were gone in an instant, replaced instead by overwhelming desire. I needed to be with you, to feel you, to show you just how much you meant to me with action since the few words I had managed to speak had been so insufficient. I remember looking at you when we had moved to your bed, and not being able to believe how fortunate I was to be with you. Your touch, your kiss, the feel of you against me, was extraordinary. It was better than anything I have ever experienced to this day, that I promise you. But that was when the memories came."

Fenris' voice and eyes shook painfully, the change not going unnoticed by Hawke, who gave another reassuring press of her hands against his arm. A wide array of emotions had been rising and falling across her features in never-ending waves for the past several minutes as she had silently listened to him speak. Shock, fury, concern, understanding, astonishment, excitement and what he had assumed with a thrill had been happiness at his admittance of his affection for her had all been present. Now, however, anxiety presented itself in the thinning of her lips and the furrowing of her brow above her troubled eyes as she waited for him to reveal what he was sure she had already determined.

"They were tolerable, at first," said Fenris, speaking in as even a tone as was possible, "small glimpses of people and places that I did not recognize, but must have known from before I had been branded. Soon they grew more intense, changing from still images to moving ones, but they were not enough to cause me great concern. I will admit, I was distressed when they left me, but not enough to make me run from you like I did. In fact, I was almost hopeful in a way. I told myself that perhaps if I was lucky enough to keep you, to have you want to stay with me, that you might be willing to help me bring them back in full.

"That was when the visions started, the ones that were the true cause of my flight from your side," Fenris continued quietly, his determination wavering as he approached the source of his shame, "My mind betrayed me in the worst possible way. I began to have visions, hallucinations almost, of Danarius and what he had done. I could hear his voice in my ear, feel his hands on my body, and no matter how I tried, I could not be rid of them. The fact that I was reliving the nights he had used me while you gave yourself to me so freely, so beautifully, was blasphemous. I felt tainted, filthy, unworthy of you.

"While you slept, I agonized over what to do. I knew could not tell you the truth, I was too ashamed, too terrified you would think I was weak. I thought about simply hiding it from you, pretending nothing wrong had happened, but the threat of re-experiencing his torture if we were ever to be intimate again was unacceptable. You deserved better than that, someone who could fully appreciate all you had to give and return it in kind, not some broken elf who could not make love to you without imagining his rapist's abuse. I fooled myself into thinking that leaving you was the kind thing, the right thing to do. I nearly destroyed myself when I did, but I was convinced you would be better for it, even if you were distraught at the time, even if it made me hate myself.

"For the past three years, I have done nothing but drag you through Hell. I became furious at myself for not having the courage to explain why I left, or the courage to beg your forgiveness. Instead of taking my anger as a sign that I should come forward with the truth, I lashed out at your unwavering kindness, pushed you further and further away from me. I was continuing to hurt you, ruining the best thing that had ever happened to me, but I couldn't stop myself. I was too afraid. I worried that you would not accept my pitiful apology. That you would tell me I was too late, or that if I tried, I would let my temper get the better of me and lose not only the chance to regain your affection, but the friendship you had miraculously continued to give me even after what I had done.

"But there was something else I feared, something that terrified me more than the culmination of all my other doubts," Fenris explained, his heartbeat racing as he recalled how his nightmare had almost come true, "I knew Danarius still intended to make an attempt on my freedom, and that he would stop at nothing until I was under his control or he had ripped the flesh from my bones to regain his investment. I was putting you and everyone else around me in danger, simply by associating with you. If Danarius were to find out that we had been together, or that I still held you close to my heart, it would not have been below him to hurt or kill you to manipulate me.

"I could not risk losing you like that, not to Danarius, not to anyone. So I continued to distance myself from you, hoping that it would be enough to keep you out of harm's way. Yet another one of my brilliant failures, it would seem. All it took was that one moment of weakness. One instance, and you were in his hands, dagger at your throat. All because I had been too eager for your support and reassurance in meeting my sister.

"Now I come to discover," Fenris said, incredulity rampant in his tone, "that you willingly risked yourself for the sake of my safety. The concept of such an action in my benefit is simply mind-boggling to me. All my life I was told I was worthless, that I was expendable, an inessential pawn whom Danarius was all too willing to replace should I ever became useless to him. I never once dared to think anyone could hold any real value for me as a person. And yet, you did. You of all people, Marian, who I had treated so cruelly. You risked your safety and your life for me without a second though. That is why I say what you did was brave, was selfless. You put yourself between myself and a magister twice, who you knew full well would try to kill you for interfering.

"And he was very nearly successful," Fenris choked, his voice darkening with the recollection of fear that had coursed through his veins, "I watched you fall to the floor, saw how much of your blood had been spilt. By all rights you should have been dead at that moment. The fact that you lived long enough for me to get you to Anders for healing was a miracle in itself. You were very right about what happened next. Anders told me what would be necessary to save you, and I made him go through with it."

"But why would you do that?" Hawke asked urgently, interrupting for the first time, "You were offering yourself up for slaughter!"

"Because I love you," He whispered as he turned away, unable to bring himself to watch her reaction. It was done. He had told her everything. She finally knew the truth, and though he may quickly come to regret it, nothing he did or said now could take it back. All he could do was hope she would not laugh, or worse, become angry at the ridiculousness of it all. He braced himself as best he could for her reaction, but nothing could have prepared him for what was to come.

Two small hands flew to the sides of his face, forcing his head to turn back to center with unexpected insistence. Arms twisted themselves around his neck, jerking him forward before they intertwined around his shoulders and neck, one hand snaking its way into the hair at the back of his head. Fenris froze, his eyes flying open just in time to take in the shortest glimpse of Hawke, her eyes shining with a brutal ardor he could not even begin to describe. In the next instant she had thrown herself against him, her mouth suddenly pressing upon his in a bruising chaste kiss that temporarily shoved his troubles to the back of his mind. He felt himself relax at once, wrapping his arms around her as though he had done so a thousand times and pulling her closer to him, eager to prolong their contact.

Before he could surrender himself in full to the exhilarating moment, Fenris felt her pull away from him, causing a small whimper of protest to fall from his lips before he could stop himself. No sooner had the kiss ended before he felt his old worries rear their ugly heads, this time accompanied by new fear that surfaced once he opened his eyes and took in the sight of the woman in front of him. Hawke was staring at him with the same burning intensity he had seen just moments ago, though now clear undertones of annoyance and what he recognized with a painful clenching of his chest was sadness jumped out at him from the lines of her face.

"You damned stubborn elf," she scolded, "Why didn't you tell me all of this sooner? And why in the name of Andraste's tits would you even think about taking yourself away from me like that?"

"You were dying because of me, Marian," Fenris answered, taken aback by the question. He had expected to be chastised, but not for his near success in removing himself from her life. If anything, he would have thought she would be grateful for that. "If I had not taken you with me to the tavern that night -"

"You would have ended up outnumbered and most likely dead, even with Varric and Isabela's help," Hawke snarled, "And besides, I was the one who made you let me come, if I remember correctly."

"You did," he admitted sadly, ashamed of himself, "And if I had a stronger will, I never would have allowed it."

"Oh come off it, Fenris! I went with you to the tavern because I wanted to, and I would have gone whether you 'allowed' it or not, even if I'd had to drag you kicking and screaming," Hawke affirmed, an almost dangerous look challenging him to rebut her, "You make all these claims that I need to accept that my family's deaths and your close call weren't my fault, and maybe you're right, but look at yourself! You're shouldering all the blame for what happened to me because you couldn't get me to stay home!"

"There were many other things I could have done to prevent -"

"No, there weren't!" Hawke shouted, grasping the elf's face and forcing him to look at her much the same way he had earlier, "Remember what you said to me? 'You cannot see into the future,' Fenris! 'There was no way for you to have known what was going to happen!' I went with you because I didn't want you going alone. I attacked Danarius because I wanted to keep you safe. I ran after him when he was taking you away because I couldn't lose you. And do you want to know why?"

"Why, Marian?" Fenris asked morosely, feeling completely beneath such a show of loyalty from her, "Why would you put yourself in harm's way to protect me, after all I've done to wrong you?"

"Because I love you too, you dolt!"

Fenris' world screeched to a grinding halt. No, there was no way, he must have misheard. His hope for it had only grown over the course of their conversation, yes, but actually hearing it was something entirely different. The concept of her still caring for him, still wanting him, still loving him was extremely difficult for him to swallow.

"Say it again," He pleaded frantically, the request coming out much courser than he intended as he placed both his hands on her shoulders and glared into her eyes, "If you mean it, say it again."

"I love you, Fenris," Hawke repeated unblinkingly, her irritation disappearing at the sound of desperation in his voice.

"After all this time?" He pushed, in dire need of conformation, "Even with all I have done and said to you? After everything we just went through? Even now that you know about my past?"

"Of course I do," She answered, her tone gentling to a soothing murmur, a smile responding to his resistance, "I know you never wanted to hurt me. I only wish you had been honest from the start, that you had trusted me enough to let me help you. What Danarius did to you was horrible, but it doesn't define who you are, and it affecting you does not make you weak. If anything, the fact that you were able to face him like you did proves how strong you are, Fenris!"

He could not think or breath. His mind had gone blank as she spoke. She loved him. She truly, honestly loved him. He had no idea how it was possible, and quite frankly did care in the least. All that mattered was that somehow this woman, this brave, compassionate, extraordinary woman, had made room in her heart for him. All the hesitations and fears he had allowed to control him for three years were banished, blown away like leaves in the wind. The joy that filled him was comparable to none other; it lifted his spirits and freed them of the heavy weighted chains he had imposed on himself for so long. Speech would not come to him, though it did not matter, paltry words could never adequately convey what he was feeling at that moment. Instead he chose to act, his male ego roaring with pride and satisfaction now that it was finally allowed to make an appearance.

With a predatory glare as her only warning, he attacked, pulling her back to him once more and devouring her in a kiss. She gasped at the urgency behind his movements, parting her lips for the quick intake of air. Fenris took advantage of this, sliding his tongue along her plump lower lip before invading her mouth, tangling itself with her own. With a heightened sense of pride, he felt her melt into his arms, returning his eagerness in kind as she enveloped his lean torso in her arms.

He brought his hand from behind her head, letting it ghost down the side of her face, along her chin and down her neck, breaking from her to trace the path with his mouth. Her head fell backwards, a throaty purr vibrating under his lips as he kissed and nipped his way down to the hallow of her neck.

His hands wandered over her robes, feeling the unmistakable surge of desire he knew so well building between his hips as he ran his hands along Hawke's gloriously feminine curves. The old memory of what lay in waiting beneath her clothing was enough to have him at full attention in the span of a few short seconds.

"Fenris -" She sighed, leaning forward and whispering into his ear, her lips brushing against it. The warm caress of her breath against the sensitive flesh sent electricity down his spine, causing an appreciative groan and twitch in his already strained small clothes, "Fenris, are you sure you want this? I don't want you to be uncomfortable if -"

"I've never wanted anything more," He growled, pushing himself against one of her thighs through the quilt to demonstrate, smirking against her neck at the sharp gasp he caused, "than I want you now. I've missed you all these years, I want to show you just how much."

In one swift movement, he took a firm hold of her around the waist, pulled the covers loose around them, and brought her flush against him on the bed and under the blankets, his mouth never breaking contact with what little of her skin was yet exposed. He shuddered at the feel of her warmth pressed so close against him, no longer separated by impossible piles of fabric.

"By all means then," She laughed in a breathy voice, gently nipping the tapered point of his ear and smiling at the way it made him stiffen against her, "Carry on!"

Soon his tunic had been discarded on the floor, Hawke's fingers freely tracing the pattern of his markings along his tanned shoulders, arms, and chest, her thumb and forefinger occasionally brushing past and tweaking the flat pad of his nipple. Fenris panted and sighed at the glorious attention. Her touch and sweet kisses had been slowly kindling flames in his flesh, ones that now quickly burst and spread like wildfire, setting every nerve in his body aflame. He could not wait any longer, he needed to feel more of her this instant.

Raising himself above her, he reached for the sash holding her robes closed with shaking hands, fumbling frantically with it. A nervous giggle sounded before Hawke's hands moved down her body to join his, helping him to untangle the knot. Fenris slid a hand under the hem of the dressing, stifling a moan at the feel of her skin as he pushed away the offending garment until it lay wide open and pooled around her.

Their long conversation and the heat of the moment had made the elf almost forget about Hawke's newest scar. A bright, crimson mar puckered and jumped out against the ivory pale of her skin as she lay exposed before him. It's jagged edges stretched diagonally across the length of her body, disappearing under and then continuing past the thin cloth of her breast band and small clothes. Fenris felt his chest constrict violently at the sight of it, realizing the mark would serve as a permanent reminder of just how much she had been willing to sacrifice to keep him safe. Hawke looked up to him, confused as to why he had stopped his frantic pace. She followed the line of his vision onto her body, her already flushed face turning a deeper red from the base of her neck to the top of her ears as she realized what had caught his focus.

"I'm – I'm so sorry, I – I forgot that was there now," She stuttered, mistaking Fenris' serious contemplation for an expression of disgust. She continued to stumble over her words as she rushed to refasten her robes, "It's ugly, I know. I'm sorry you had to see it – me – like this."

"No, Marian, don't hide yourself from me," Fenris insisted, his words a deep rumble in his chest that visibly made her shiver. He took hold of both her hands in one of his, pulling them above her head as he laid back down beside her. The motion caused the fabric to fall away and to her sides, exposing even more of her flat stomach, luscious curves and long legs, much to Fenris' excitement. He leaned in, kissing her as tenderly as he could, while marking short work of removing the cloth covering her breasts. Hawke keened softly into his mouth, pushing against him as he gently pinched and teased a newly exposed, taunt nipple between two fingers.

"You are beautiful," He whispered against her lips before moving his head down to the start of the scar at her shoulder, punctuating each of his next words with long licks and nibbles along the scarlet line's length, "Every. Last. Inch. Never forget that."

His hand slipped from her chest to be replaced by his mouth, suckling and nipping at both her breasts interchangeably as she squirmed in his arms. It seemed, he noticed with a sly grin, that she had quickly forgotten the pause in their play. With the other still holding hers firmly in place, his free hand traced great looping designs down her stomach, around her belly button and onto her legs. Once he had reached her knees his path changed course, running his fingers in long strokes up the inside of her thighs, much to her vocalized appreciation. With one last, languid pass up her leg, he slid his hand under her dampened smalls, pressing it against the wet heat of her center.

"Fenris!" Hawke mewled, eyes shut in bliss as she pressed her hips upwards against the flat of his palm. His mouth broke from her nipple to meet her mouth, muting the cries that followed as he slid one and then two long fingers inside of her, pumping in long, slow thrusts. His thumb soon joined, running itself in tight circles around her bud, feeling the delight he was giving her pulse around his fingers as she moaned, causing his own breath to catch in ragged gasps. With one final, jolting flick of his digit she cried out, arching herself off the bed. A swell of satisfaction at a job well done engulfed him as he felt the walls of her sheath clench and throb incessantly around him, sending tremors up to her fingertips still pinned above her head.

He loosed his hand from her wrists and she immediately found them at home around his neck, pressing her face into his shoulder as her body came down from its high. Their rest was a brief one however, as soon they were reaching out to one another again, devouring each other with hungry kisses and desperate grasps. Hawke's robes were finally removed completely along with her smalls, joining the earlier discarded tunic on the floor. Fenris found that he still strained against the opening of his linen pants, despite them being significantly looser than his usual leather leggings. Hawke bent herself over him, gloriously nude and wearing a mischievous grin. She made quick work of the laces that restrained him, releasing his shaft and leaving him just as naked as she in a matter of moments.

"There," She purred appreciatively, her eyes running up and down the length of his body and lingering at his groin, "That's more like it."

Fenris gave a smirking growl and pushing himself off the bed, falling onto her and pressing her into the mattress. Hawke laughed, her hair falling about her head like a halo as she pulled him close for yet another achingly sweet kiss. He moaned, a heavy shudder spreading through his limbs like the tendrils of pleasure already present as he pressed himself against her milky skin, finally making the full contact he had craved for so long. They broke apart, leaving them both panting and gasping for breath. Fenris found his mouth alternating between her neck and the peaks of her breasts, nipping and licking in growing circles while his hips ground against hers and his hands wandered up and down her sides, his need for her only growing with the passing of each second.

"Please, Fenris," Hawke begged, eyes clouded with lust. Her hands were clutching at his shoulders while she tried to push him down, tempting him to take her, "Please..."

The desire that had been building inside of him finally came to a head. He quickly lowered himself against her, positioning his shaft outside of her opening and entering her in one long, smooth thrust, Hawke keening and crying her enjoyment as she writhed beneath him. He buried himself in her sheath, bringing her as close to him as anatomically possible, and held himself there. He basked in the moment, realizing with a rush of affection towards Hawke that as recently as a few days ago he never would have dreamed he could have the privilege of this experience with her again. He leaned over her, propping himself up on his elbows as his mouth claimed hers, whispering sweet nothings into her ear as he began to move inside of her.

Maker, this was bliss! The tightness, friction and wet heat all mixed together into an intoxicating blend that constantly threatened to turn him into a wild animal. He willed himself to go slow, to be gentle, the last thing he wanted was to hurt his Hawke, but the way she raised her hips to meet his with every plunge made it excruciatingly difficult to keep control. She mewled under him, singing out praises for his performance that fed his ego and dragged her nails across his shoulders leaving welts. It was not long before Fenris felt the pressure of his imminent release building inside of him, warning that he would soon pass the point of no return. Hawke's walls were closing in on him, making the already snug passage even narrower and strengthening the wonderful sensation he felt around himself.

"Marian," he groaned, "I can't – soon-"

"Fenris!" Hawke cried as her hands flew to tangle in his hair, another climax ripping through her body and causing her to clench around him in a punishing rhythm. Fenris felt something snap as his body jerked and twitched within her, his back arching and head bowing towards Hawke's chest as his own peak flooded his senses. He felt the warmth of his seed coating the inside of her walls as he kept thrusting, the last of his orgasm drawing itself out.

At last he collapsed around her, feeling utterly exhausted but more content than he had been in years. He rolled off of her to one side, pulling her close and kissing her with everything he had left in him. She sighed happily, pulling away and tucking herself under his chin against his chest. He pressed his nose into her hair, inhaling deeply and reveling in her scent. They lay intertwined together, lazing in the heady fog of their afterglow and exchanging low declarations of affection and love.

"Fenris?" Hawke asked some time later, lifting her head from his chest and looking at him with a mix of curiosity and concern.

"Hmm?" He answered, his half-lidded eyes falling to hers, still coming down from his high.

"Did you – I mean, were there any -" She faltered, "Did you see anything?"

Fenris' mind was quickly brought out of his haze at her question. He had not had any memories, not one vision. His heart was racing yet again, pounding loudly in his ears. Hawke propped herself up with one arm, looking down at him with apprehension, no doubt worried by the amount of time it was taking him to answer her. He raised a hand to the side of her face, pulling her close for another kiss.

"Not a single one," He said, smiling for the way she beamed at his response. "It seems being without you for three years and nearly losing you to a magister has helped my mind recognize its priorities."

"Flatterer," She smirked, rising from the bed and making her way to the wash basin in the corner.

"Its not flattery if it's the truth," Fenris asserted, untangling himself from the blankets to join her. He stood behind her while she washed, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his head against her shoulder, kissing her neck as he watched their reflections in the mirror. A wide grin crossed her face as she turned, handing him a new cloth to clean himself with.

"Keep that up and I just might be alright with the fact that I've slept on a cot for five nights," She teased, gesturing to the makeshift bed by the door.

"That reminds me," he remarked, the now damp cloth hanging limp in his hand, "How did I end up in your bed of all places, Marian? Not that I have any reason to complain..."

"Well, after I woke up in the clinic and Anders told me about what happened, he said you would need bed rest," Hawke explained, watching him with a lascivious eye as he washed up, "There was no way I was leaving you in your mansion by yourself, and Anders was too worn out himself after giving you so much of his blood. I had them bring you here so I could take care of you."

The rag fell from his hand, hitting the floor with a wet splat.

"What did you say?" Fenris shot, his head snapping up as he looked at Hawke in horror, hoping that his ears had played a trick on him.

"What, you're going to tell me you'd rather have woken up by yourself in your run down -"

"Not that!" Fenris interjected, shaking his head in frustration, "The abomination!"

"Stop calling him that!" Hawke scolded, going so far as to wag a finger in Fenris' direction, "If it weren't for him giving you his blood you would be dead by now!"

"His blood?!" Fenris shouted, his eyes widening and nose flaring at the notion. He looked down to the veins in his arms frantically, trying to imagine the abomination's blood flowing through them, mixing with his own as they spoke. No, that couldn't be right! The mage despised him! Why would Anders risk his own life to save a man he hated?

"Yes, his blood," Hawke repeated with indignation at his overreaction, "You've never given him enough credit. He may be a bit of an extremist, but Anders is as dedicated a healer and as loyal a friend you'll ever find, if you'd just give him a chance! He saved your life and has been checking in on you for days now for Maker's sake, and you've never been anything but horrible to him!"

Silence fell between the two of them, Fenris' ongoing attempt to wrap his mind around what the abominati- Anders had done for him occupying his full concentration. He had been in deep thought for several minutes before he remembered that they were both still standing in the middle of Hawke's bedchamber, and completely nude. He took a deep breath as he pulled Hawke to the bed, wrapping an arm around her as they fell back into the pillows. He ran a rough hand up his forehead and through his hair, trying to think. He may not like that the abomin- Anders' blood was now a part of him, but the fact remained that he had given it to him to save his life, and had been the one that healed Hawke. If not for him, at least one and possibly both of them would be dead.

Hawke had returned to her place at his shoulder, one arm draped across and resting on his chest, a finger absent-mindedly tracing the whirl of a lyrium marking.

"He feels badly about it you know," She divulged, not taking her eyes off the line under her finger tip, "The blood magic. He says he doesn't regret what he did, that he's happy he was able to save the both of us, but that he wishes he'd been able to do it without the ritual. Apparently Justice has been giving him a miserable time about it, and now he's all worried about how the rest of the group will react once they find out."

"They are still unaware?" Fenris asked.

"He's been putting it off, saying that he needed to focus on making sure the two of us were doing alright. They're all getting impatient though, Varric in particular. Says he wants to get all the details while they're fresh so he can have the most accurate description possible," She explained with a snort, "He said he was going to the Hanged Man later tonight to tell them before they dragged it out of him."

Fenris sighed heavily, pulling himself from Hawke as he rose from the bed a second time. He could scarce believe what he had convinced himself to do, but knew that if he was to go through with it he did not have time to ruminate. He made his way to the large armoire that was set along the same wall as the washstand, where he had spied his clothing and armor piled neatly earlier. Once dressed he turned, catching himself in the looking glass of the basin. An abrupt sense that something was slightly off came over him, though exactly what he could not tell. He cast himself in a critical eye up and down the mirror, trying in vain to decide what had made him pause.

"You're leaving?" Hawke asked tentatively, "Will you – will you come back?"

Fenris found her reflection quickly in the mirror, the shake in her tone enough to drive away all concern for whatever petty thing was out of place. She had sat herself up in the bed, a sheet concealing her body from him while she watched him dress apprehensively. With an agonizing pang, Fenris became aware that the scene had turned into a horribly accurate caricature of the way he had left her, and judging by the hidden panic in her features, Hawke had made the connection as well. Chastising himself for not noticing his blunder sooner, Fenris turned and crossed the room to her side in a few short strides. He bent down with purpose, taking her chin in his hand to tilt her face up to his.

"You would have to drive me off with torch and pitchfork before you could be rid of me now," He affirmed. Hawke's eyes lite up, causing a smirk to appear on his mouth before he leaned in to kiss the bridge of her nose, "There is a small matter I must attend to, before the hour grows too late. I will return before the end of the night, you have my word."

"Oh fine then," She smiled, allowing him to lay her back down into the pillows and tuck the coverings around her, "But don't expect me to be awake when you get back."

"That is more than fine," He agreed, ghosting a now gauntleted hand down the side of her face, her eyes closing at his touch, "You've done so much for me these past days, Marian, you deserve some rest. Now sleep. I will not be long."

He brushed his lips against hers, relishing the soft sigh that escaped from her mouth before he forced himself to stand and move to leave the room. He paused in the doorway, hand resting against the frame and looking over his shoulder at Hawke. Her head was lolled gently to one side on a pillow with her arms spread delicately across the mattress, her chest rising and sinking as she began falling into sleep. He could not help but smile at the sight of her. She was perfect and with any luck, she would be his from this day forward, until the end. He could not fathom what he had done to win the love of such an amazing creature, but he knew well enough he would never allow himself to squander such a precious gift again.

"I promise," He whispered to her, though he knew she likely could not hear, "I will always be here for you, Marian."

With that, he left the room as quietly as possible, making his way out of the estate and into the dark streets. He followed the all too familiar path to the Lowtown stairs, still not quite able to believe what he was about to do. One thing was for certain, however; the damn mage had better appreciate it.

Hawke allowed herself to peek out from under her lids at the sound of the closing door, curious to see if he had truly left yet. Finding him gone, she opened her eyes fully, turning over to her side and pressing herself into the pillow with a wide grin, indulging in the lingering scent of Fenris that it still held. She was nearly giddy with happiness, overjoyed at the way the evening had played out and eager for her elf's return from his task.

"You're welcome, Anders," She laughed to herself.

Part of her was sorely tempted to follow Fenris to the tavern to witness the events she had knowingly set in motion first hand, even if she was exhausted. As if to confirm it, a huge yawn chose that moment to sound in her chest, causing her to burrow deeper into her bedding and nestle her head further into the addicting aroma. Sod it, she would get all the details later, from Varric or Isabela if not Fenris. With a final satisfied sigh, she allowed herself to drift off to sleep, savoring her new memories from the night and fantasizing of the many more she knew were to come.

Fenris found himself inside the Hanged Man minutes later. The patrons and staff gave him a wide berth, the memory of how he had unceremoniously separated Danarius from his heart still fresh in their thoughts. He took in what was left of the destruction from the botched trap, honestly surprised at the enormous extent of it. He had not realized just how much damage the altercation had caused, though now that he thought of it he had been quite preoccupied at the time, and had most likely overlooked it. Many of the tables had been removed from the center of the room, their shattered and unrecognizable remnants shoved in a corner by the fireplace to be used as fuel, along with several broken chairs. Those few left standing were severely crippled, propped up with improvised legs where a flying body or miss-aimed spell had broken the original away. There were dozens of holes from arrows and Bianca's bolts peppering the walls and bar, some of them still imbedded, impossible to reach without a ladder.

The barmaid Norah was bent over on her hands and knees, grumbling about already having swept up three barrels full of glass that day as she scoured the dark splatters that littered the rough floor boards. Her scrubbing-brush and pail of water were tinged deep red with more than half the room still to go. She was the only one who looked Fenris in the face as he approached her, shooting him a dirty scowl and muttering under her breath about the champion and her friends always causing messes she had to clean up. Fenris chuckled as he passed her; he had always admired that girl's pluck. He made a mental note to encourage their group to give her better tips from now on.

Soon he was up the stairs and standing just outside Varric's room, several muffled voices coming from behind the door. Fenris paused with his hand on the doorknob, doing his best to swallow his pride before entering. The concept of what he was about to do was completely ridiculous, and in any other situation he would have never even considered going through with it. The fact remained however, that the abo- Anders, damn it – had gone well above and beyond what was expected of him.

With a deep breath he turned the knob, opened the door, and stepped into the muted light.

"Well look who it is!" Varric shouted, raising a hand in greeting while a broad smile crossed his face, "Our very own Broody, back from the dead at last!"

Anders choked on his mouthful of ale, sputtering it down his front and over his cards. The elf was here? He turned in his seat at once, along with the rest of their group, to follow the dwarf's sight to the doorway. Fenris was indeed standing in the entrance of the room, his customary leer firmly in place as he stalked towards their table and took the empty seat directly to the mage's left. Andraste's knickers, as if his night wasn't going to be enough of a trial already.

"You would not have this difficulty had you listened to me," the voice in his head rang out.

"Oh shut it, Justice," Anders snapped to himself silently, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration.

A loud chorus of noise rang out around the table, hailings of welcome mixing with admissions of thankfulness that he was finally up and about along with the offer of a pint from Varric. Fenris readily accepted and the dwarf pulled himself from his seat at the head of the table, making his way over to a small cabinet in the corner.

"You're awake," Anders said after the din had died down, giving a curt nod in the new comer's direction.

"Very observant of you, mage," he answered with snark, returning the greeting.

"Where is Hawke, Fenris? Is she doing alright?" Aveline demanded, Anders sensing the slightest hint of nervousness under the normally unshakable guard captain's tone.

"She is well. Sleeping, finally, otherwise I am sure she would have accompanied me here," Fenris answered plainly.

"Want to join us in a quick hand, elf?" Varric asked, crossing back to the table and sliding the frothy mug to Fenris' open hand.

"Diamondback?" Fenris asked, casually taking a deep pull from his ale.

"None other," the dwarf replied, gathering and then re-dealing the cards around the table as the game started.

"You still haven't told us what happened once they got to you, Anders," Merrill piped in over the top of her cards, "Will you tell us now that Fenris is up?"

"I -"

"He healed Hawke of course," Fenris interrupted with a snort, cutting off Anders before he could speak, "what else would he have done?"

"But I mean, how did he do it?" She persisted, "Isabela said she was pouring blood, and Varric thought she was dead for sure!"

"I never said dead, Daisy," Varric contested, patting the elf's hand, "just that the weather forecast was far from sunny."

"He used his magic, how else would Anders have done it?" Fenris answered, annoyance at Merrill's incessant prodding showing in his voice, "A needle and thread?"

Anders nearly choked on his ale a second time. Not only had Fenris called him by his given name again, but he had a nagging suspicion in his gut (and his gut was never wrong) that the elf was deliberately being evasive with just what type of magic had been used to heal Hawke. He turned his head to look at the man beside him and found him staring intently into his cards, completely focused on the game. Anders watched him for a moment, determined to figure out what his motive was in lying, when Fenris' eyes met his. Scowling, he gave a nearly imperceptible wink and returned his eyes back to his hand all in the span of a split second. If that wasn't a hint to cork it and go along with the elf's lie, he didn't know what was.

Anders' had never been more confused in his life. How in the world had Fenris known he'd been dreading telling their friends about the blood magic, or better yet, why did he care? If anything, he though the elf would have enjoyed watching him squirm as he admitted what he'd done. None of this made any sense. Unless – Hawke. Of course. Maker's breath that woman was amazing.

"But then what happened to you, Fenris?" Isabela pressed, snapping Anders' attention back to the rest of the group, "By the time we'd rounded up Merrill and Man-Hands -"

"Watch it, whore!"

"My apologies, captain Man-Hands, you were ass-over-tea- kettle and slumped in a chair."

"I had been injured as well," Fenris offered, taking another drink.

"No you hadn't!" Isabela challenged in accusation, pounding her fist against the table top, "You didn't have a speck of blood on you until you turned that mage into a hand puppet!"

"What other reason would there be for my being unconscious for the past several days, then?" He asked with a growl.

"Fenris' injuries were mostly internal," Anders answered, sparing a quick look in Fenris' direction before diving into the most believable lie he could improvise, "He'd taken a hit to the gut one too many times in your scrap. Even with his armor he still started to bleed out. The fact that he ran like he did to get Hawke to me in time didn't help. He passed out from shock about five minutes after getting to my clinic."

"Not quite the harrowing tale you made it out to be, eh Blondie?" Varric chuckled into his mug, "I have to admit, I'm disappointed."

"What can I say," Anders shrugged, forcing as innocent a smile as he possibly could, "I was hoping to tweak the details enough to make it more interesting, but you'll always be the master story teller, Varric."

"And don't you forget it!" Varric snickered, throwing his hand of cards down on the table, "Will you look at that, ladies and gentlemen, I believe I've won the round!"

"More like the past eight," Aveline grumbled, tossing her owed coin to the growing pile in front of him.

"Another round, everyone?" Varric asked, straightening his coin into neat stacks, "I've almost got enough for that polishing kit Bianca's had her eye on."

They played and drank for a few more rounds, Anders sneaking glances towards Fenris when he thought he could get away with it. He still did not believe that the elf would blatantly lie for him without there being some stipulation that he was yet unaware of. Whatever sign he was looking for never came, however, and soon Fenris stood from the table to leave, announcing that he was headed back to check on Hawke.

"Don't run the poor girl ragged just yet!" Isabela called after him as his back came even with the door, a Cheshire grin stretching from ear to ear on her face, "Give her one good night's sleep before you jump her again, you lanky bastard!"

Fenris paused long enough to smirk over his shoulder before shutting the door.

"I think I'll call it a night myself," Anders said, pushing back from the table and making his way towards the exit, "I really should open the clinic tomorrow morning, its been closed up for days."

A general farewell echoed around the room, Merrill waving goodnight enthusiastically. Anders moved into the hallway and down the stairs, making his way out to the main tavern. From the second bottom step he spotted Fenris' shock of white hair as he walked out the entrance. Anders hastened to follow him, throwing a rushed apology to a spitting mad Norah as his boot caught and overturned her pail, sending red water cascading across the floor. He pushed through and exited the tavern, leaving to the sounds of a few choice curses and the clatter of what he assumed was the bar maid's scrubbing-brush colliding with the door behind him.

"What a load of bollocks, from the both of them!" Isabela snorted, her smile quickly turning into a pout as soon as the mage had shut the door, "I can't be the only one who thinks they aren't telling us something, can I?"

"Nope," Varric answered plainly, shuffling the deck of cards once more.

"Not by a long shot," agreed Aveline, leaning back in her chair.

"But why would they lie about healing? That just sounds silly!" Merrill asked, looking from person to person for an answer.

"Who knows, Kitten, but whatever the reason, it's a juicy one. What do you say, Varric?" Isabela offered, turning to the dwarf, "Reconnaissance mission at the Hawke estate sometime tomorrow afternoon?"

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," he answered, "I'll just have to stop at the market on the way. I'm running a bit low on parchment."

Fenris had nearly made it to the stairs up to Hightown before he hear the voice calling out to him. He turned on his heel, and was not surprised to see a stunned Anders running up and pulling even with him.

"Why?" He asked, panting slightly from his jog.

"You'll have to be a bit more specific than that," Fenris said as he leaned himself against one of the high stucco walls.

"You know bloody well what I mean," Anders hissed, in no mood for games, "Why did you lie for me? Hawke put you up to this, didn't she?"

"In a way, I suppose," Fenris shrugged, enjoying the annoyance in Anders' voice despite himself, "She told me that you were not keen on our friends knowing the methods used to save her and myself, but that you planned on admitting to it tonight. She did not insist upon my interference, if that is what you mean."

"She – she told you how I brought you back then?" Anders stammered, "That I used some of my blood as well?"

"She did," Fenris replied simply.

"And you still haven't shoved your fist through my chest?" Anders exclaimed.

"That would be a poor way to repay a sacrifice such as the one you made," Fenris mused.

Anders stared blankly at him for a long while, mouth gaping open and eyes wide in disbelief. Fenris found the ridiculous expression from the mage quite amusing, and had to suppress a snicker as Anders shook himself. Apparently he found the notion of the elf appreciating his use of blood magic just as unexpected as he did.

"Do not misunderstand me, Anders," Fenris explained once Anders had gotten over his initial shock, "this experience has not changed my views on magic and those who wield it. If anything, seeing what Danarius did to Marian has served to strengthen my opinion. However, I am no fool. I was the one who insisted upon the ritual, and you should not suffer for something that I would have forced you to do, whether you volunteered or not. You are also the only reason Marian and I are both alive, myself because you willingly gave your own blood to replenish mine. For that, you have my gratitude and respect. The sacrifices you made of both personal convictions and blood are why I lied to our companions on your behalf. Take from that what you will."

With that, Fenris turned back around, closing the distance to the bottom of the stairwell in a few short strides. He had said his piece and there was no need to linger. Besides, he had told Hawke he would not be long, and he did not intend to start breaking promises to her already.

"Fenris, wait!" Anders called, running up behind him once again.

Fenris turned in response, growing slightly irritated.

"I have something of yours," He explained at the sight of the exasperated glare he received, reaching his hand into his robe. From an inside pocket he pulled a small swatch of red fabric, holding it out in his palm to the elf. Fenris looked from it down to his right hand, realizing what it was that had seemed so out of place when he had examined himself in the mirror earlier that night. He snatched it from the mage's hand, tying it back to its customary location around his wrist at once.

"Where did you get this?" Fenris snarled, tempted to gut the man for tampering with his most prized possession.

"It was absolutely disgusting after everything that happened in the clinic," Anders defended, slightly off put at the hostility, "It was covered in blood and bits of gore, plus it was about to tear in two in more than one place. I – well, I washed it and mended it as best I could. I was going to leave it with you whenever you woke up, I figured you wouldn't want to explain its significance to Hawke. At least, not while I was standing in the room."

It was Fenris' turn to look incredulous. He examined the fabric more closely, and found that it had indeed been laundered and mended. Small stitches in red thread could be seen where the cloth had been previously split, while many of the stains he knew had existed had been removed.

"Thank you," Fenris said, unsure what could have prompted such an action from the man he knew loathed him, "That was – a most thoughtful gesture."

"I did this all for her, you know," Anders admitted, avoiding the elf's gaze as a slight flush colored his cheekbones, "The blood magic, bringing you back. I knew she would be crushed if you had died."

"I had figured as much," Fenris responded in truth.

"Do right by her, Fenris," Anders ordered, his eyes suddenly stern and locked on the elf's, "She's had enough grief in her life to last a century already. You treat her the way she deserves, make her happy, and you tell yourself every day how damned lucky you are to have her."

"Of that, you have my word," Fenris affirmed with a small nod.

"Good," Anders said, turning around to begin his walk back to the clinic, "I'm glad that's settled then. Good night, Fenris, and - thank you."

"Good night, Anders," Fenris responded, turning to go only after the man had disappeared into the dark streets.

He climbed the stairs two at a time, eager to shorten the time it would take him to reach Hightown, the Hawke estate, and Marian's side. He wondered with devious intent whether or not Hawke would mind being woken up at this hour. The night was still relatively young, and besides, he justified to himself with a salacious grin, they had three long years of missed time to make up for.

The End!