Author's notes: Ahem. Yes, another Fenris fanfic. This idea came to me out of the blue, and I decided to try out how it would work. May or may not become Fenders later, idk yet. (So much for "I can't see Fenris with a man". Haha. Well.) Will definitely have potentially triggering content! Don't read if you aren't sure you can handle it.
Updating will be slower than it has been for Witch and Apostate (although I shamefully neglected that latter fic lately. Blame ubisoft for creating such sexy assassins.), as only this first chapter has been finished yet, and I have my other fic, my RL, an impending job change and a horse that wants training (a lot!), so bear with me plz.
Ah, and Servus Sum means "I am a slave" in Latin- at least if my Latin hasn't deserted me completely. Man did I ever hate that language at school...
Let me know what you think?
Disclaimer: Dragon Age 2 and all of its characters are the intellectual property of Bioware. I'm simply borrowing.
Hawke was a master in the art of swearing. Her curses could blister the air and make a bronze statue of Andraste blush, as well as Isabela, which really did say something. Her arsenal of cusswords was as large as that of anyone Anders had ever known, and then some, and she was inventive with new ones in a way even Varric couldn't match.
She was employing them all now; liberally so. The air buzzed, but neither the white-haired elf, nor the corpse of the grey-haired man on the floor, or any of their comrades, really seemed to hear; not even Hawke herself, not really. She was swearing from reflex, her fists balled, and then she let out a frustrated scream and pounced, hands fisting in the bemused elf's collar, pulling him to his knees with all her strength, and snapping at him.
"For fuck's sake... for fucking Andraste's fucking lubed sword pommel's sake, Fenris, look at me!"
He did not. That's what made it final, drove it home, as it were; that for all their scheming and planning, all the danger they had put themselves through, all the danger they were in now, as soon as Danarius, Magister of the Imperium of Tevinter, would be found to have been murdered in his country home, for all the trouble of acquiring a ship and crew in a hurry and crossing the sea at record speed, for all their weeks of hiding in a foreign country infested with blood magic; Fenris was gone.
Fenris, surly and broody, escaped slave, hater of mages- although he did make exceptions for present company and was even suspected to having a soft spot for Bethany Hawke- Fenris, prone to bouts of odd humor that went unrecognized for humor most of the time, who liked apples and fine wines, who was exceedingly good at bluffing but still horrible at Wicked Grace, Fenris- enemy, rival, dangerous- was no more.
Anders should have rejoiced, but could not quite find the requisite emotion for some reason.
On the floor, on her knees, Merrill let out another sob behind the hands that hid her face. Tears and blood coursed down her arm, joining to a pink trickle beneath the self-inflicted wound and dripping from her elbow. It had been her task to restrain Danarius' bodyguard with blood magic, though she hesitated to the last possible instant. For once, Anders had no objection to her use of the cursed magic.
Isabela stood beside the petite elf, pale from livid, silent rage. Her knuckles were white from how tightly she gripped her daggers' hilts; Anders fancied he could hear the wood creak. Varric was cleaning Bianca, and taking his time about it. There was a curious shine to his eyes whenever he turned his head just slightly. Aveline was not with them, and a good thing; though she regarded Fenris as the elven equivalent of an accident waiting to happen, and a pain in the arse for his stubborn refusal to leave his stolen manor, she had always respected him.
Had respected him, because that thing on the floor, green eyes flitting this way and that in a desperate attempt not to comply with Hawke's demand, posture as hunched and submissive as a person could possibly be while being held by the collar and forced face-to-face with a very angry archer, was not Fenris any more.
Weeks of planning, traveling, hiding, and fighting, only to find that Danarius had been faster than them. He had wiped his former slave's memory once again.
Anders should have been satisfied, but that sentiment had also left its post and deserted him. He had nothing but dumb disbelief to face Hawke with when she finally straightened, spun, and went right at him.
"Happy now?" Her hands- strong hands, lent even more strength by wiry archer's arms and shoulders that were broad for a woman- fisted in his collar now instead, and he was brought down to the same level as a pair of flashing, glacier-blue eyes. "Are you happy with your accomplishment? Satisfied? Glowing with contentment at a task well done? I hope so, because, Maker help me, Anders, I'm one step away from ripping your heart out myself, and I promise you that'll make lyrium fisting look like a pat on the head. You should be bloody grateful we don't have time for this now- Isabela, help me get him out of here. We have a ship to catch." Without even waiting for his answer, she let Anders go and turned to the rest of their little troupe, giving out orders that were promptly obeyed, like the natural leader she was. The mage was left speechless; but he doubted, even were he to get a chance to speak, that anything would come out that would make sense. Fenris had sunk back into his crouch and was not to be compelled to lift his gaze from the floor, and the cooling corpse of his former master. Hawke had her hand on his shoulder and was talking to him in a low voice, Isabela waiting with her arm half slung around his shoulder.
They were touching him, crowding the prickly, my-personal-space-is-sacred-on-pain-of-death bastard, and he did not do so much as bat a lash- in fact, Anders mused in that part of his brain that was still more or less lucid, it should not have been possible for one tall, lanky son-of-a-bitch like Fenris to fold himself up so small in order to appear submissive. And not one growl, not one twitch of discomfort, nothing. Empty as a Tranquil mage.
There was the satisfaction he had been waiting for. Serve him right, eh? This was exactly what he had wished on mages' heads all around, let him see how much he liked a dose of his own medicine.
But the feeling was short lived. It was not possible to feel triumphant over such a pathetic, grovelling thing. If it had been Fenris on the floor, lying in a puddle of his own blood, spitting defiance and venom in his face with his last breath, yes, but this- this was just painful to watch. Oh yes, he thought with a wry twist of his lips, he was just about glowing with contentment over the glorious part he had in this, and its results. His part consisted in doing nothing at the right time. Just that.
When Hawke had appeared at his doorstep asking him that he come along when Fenris met his sister, he hadn't been sure what to think. For her to even ask this, she had to have been sure it would be a trap. She would have to be blind not to see that the two men detested each other, and, mindful as she was of Fenris' tender feelings (Fenris', but never his own), she wouldn't even have considered asking Anders otherwise.
Well, it had been a trap. Fool that the elf was, he actually seemed surprised when his sister refused to meet his eyes and Danarius descended the steps into the Hanged Man's bar room with a small army of mercenaries at his back. Seeing him, Anders had for the first time almost felt sympathetic with Fenris' hatred; the man was disgusting, waggling his hips in a way that would make Isabela envious, leering at his wayward slave, and what he implied that Fenris was to Hawke almost made Anders gag. And Anders was no prude.
They'd been hopelessly outmatched in the fight that inevitably followed. Of course, Hawke, in her stubbornness, refused to give Fenris up. A mere five minutes and one near-destruction of the Hanged Man later, Hawke was on the floor after a shade pulled a Fenris on her- that is to say, stuck its claws into her chest- Varric had ended up in one corner of the room and was peacefully trickling blood on the floor from a head wound, Isabela was bound up in a blood magic spell and unable to move, and Anders himself was crouching over Hawke, desperately pouring his healing magic into her. He watched as Fenris, fighting tooth and nail, was overwhelmed, but never ceased his healing of their leader. He did not rise as two mercenaries gathered up the elf's unconscious form and the magister, after delicately dusting off his pristine robe, swept past him with a small nod of condescending recognition. From one mage to another. One of his men pressed an ornate ring into his hand before following his employer. He still had that ring.
He'd reasoned with Hawke later: What would have been the use of him attacking Danarius and his lackeys, alone? What could he have hoped to accomplish, apart from killing them all when by his inaction, he had saved their lives? And Hawke had asked, scathingly, if that were Justice speaking, or Vengeance?
They had gotten the elf to his feet now, though he still looked dazed. Anders' trained healer's gaze easily detected the tension in his body, the shallow breathing and wide- blown pupils. Stiff with fear, like a rabbit before the snake. Any more, and he would go catatonic on them. Maybe a good thing; maybe they'd be forced to leave him behind after all, though, knowing Hawke, she would carry the blasted elf to the ship piggyback if she had to. That would only cost them more of their precious time.
With a sigh, he grasped his staff and walked closer.
"He's about to go into shock. Let me." He reached out a hand, the soft blue glow of healing magic pooling around it. It was more of a makeshift crutch to keep Fenris going; true shock could not be healed away with magic, so they'd have to deal with that later. But the cord-snapping tension in him receded somewhat, and he breathed easier, his eyes even closed for the briefest of moments, and when they opened again, their green pools were trained on Anders' face with a look that made him startle.
It lasted all of a second, before those green eyes were hastily averted and Fenris' body sagged back into its pose of servility. No one but them had noticed the brief exchange; Hawke was calling for them to move, Isabela dragged Fenris away by his arm, Merrill wiped her eyes and followed, as did Varric, shouldering Bianca. Anders came last, deeply unsettled.
"Maker's breath, and here I was thinking Fenris couldn't get any more difficult." The huff was shortly followed by Hawke slumping against the railing next to him, rubbing at her eyes. It was the kind of quip that Anders knew as springing from her "I'm trying very hard not to cry, thank you very much"-humor.
"Finally, yes. In a corner on the floor. He looked terrified when I tried to put him in the bunk. And it took me pulling the "I'm your mistress now" number on him to make him drink that sleeping draught. Stubborn son of a bitch's arsehole..."
Very definitely trying not to cry, and failing at it, too. He tried a bit of his own humor on her. That usually put her thoughts off things and on other things, like thwacking him upside the head.
"That's not anatomically possible, you do know that, Hawke?"
It worked, in a way. Her lips quirked briefly and she gave a tired snort. "That's lyrical freedom. I can swear in an anatomically incorrect way if I damn well want to."
"Right, right, just pointing it out... you might not be aware of how these things work, after all, considering..."
"Anders... stop it, please. Any time but now." She sounded as weary as she looked, all of a sudden. The mask slipped, and beneath it was a woman who had killed to free her friend from the lion's den, only to realize that said friend did not know her any more. His hand was halfway on its route to her shoulder when he stopped himself. This would not be a welcome gesture.
"Go get some sleep, Hawke.", he suggested gently, and she nodded, pushed herself away from the railing, and staggered off.
Anders realized a moment too late that he'd forgotten to ask her if there was anyone with the elf right now. Probably. She wouldn't leave him alone in a state like this- a sting of the old familiar jealousy- or she had, and had forgotten to ask him to watch over Fenris, too. Which wasn't unlikely, come to think of it. They were all strung out, including himself, but he was still the resident healer and it was his job to make sure the prick-no-prick-anymore was all right.
Damn his conscience. He gave a sigh and trotted off in the direction of the cabin Isabela had had the elf stuffed in. It was tiny and contained a bunk, a minuscule writing table and a chair nailed to the floor, and not a single superfluous item that could become a missile in a storm.
The only superfluous item in it was currently curled up on a blanket on the floor. Anders was again struck by just how little space Fenris was able to occupy if he chose to- back in Kirkwall, he had always taken up far more of it than he should have any right to, walking around like a tomcat with a perpetually fluffed tail. A snarky tomcat.
And he was, indeed, the cabin's only occupant. Anders sighed again and sat down on the bunk. He was tired and worn out, but this was nothing new to him. His patients at home oftentimes couldn't wait until he'd had his beauty sleep, either, and he could get a good night's sleep- correction, the equivalent of a good night's sleep, because the morning sun was just filtering in through the tiny round window- later. It had been a long night, what with breaking into the estate Danarius inhabited in summer, as opposed to his winter lodgings in the city (Anders still had trouble wrapping his mind around that concept. Who on earth needed two complete mansions?), killing the magister, and abducting his pet slave, and transporting said pet slave to their ship moored safely near a smugglers' hideout. No one had chosen to ask Isabela how she knew about that one, funny enough.
All of this trouble, for what?
Well, he's certainly going to be a lot nicer to have around now.
A tractable, quiet Fenris? Any day, really. He'd been a friggin' pain up the arse, and Anders could never be sure just how far his sympathies toward Meredith extended. And he had sway over Hawke, whereas Anders... oh, she appreciated his healer's abilities, sure, but there seemed to be nothing else she appreciated about him. And after he had let Fenris get taken, she barely managed to be civil, most of the time. For the elf, of course, she did everything. Fenris here, Fenris there- if he didn't know her preferences didn't lie down that alley...
And how sure was he of that, anyway? Her current... attachment to one buxom pirate queen was pretty obvious, but that had only flowered after the Qunari business, and who was to tell what had happened before that? Maybe she was interested, but he wasn't?
… and here he was, driving himself mad again, thinking in circles. A feeling of disgust lanced through him that he recognized as originating from that part of him that had once been Justice. There was no place for mooning after a woman so indifferent to the mages' cause in the spirit's mind. And it was right.
So, with nothing else to occupy Anders' mind, his musings picked out the elf in question as their next best target. He slept peacefully now, if heavily, a side-effect of the sleeping potion. Someone had peeled him out of his armor- the same spiky black metal-and-leather thing as always- and pried his weapon off of him. Now in simple trousers and shirt, he didn't at all look like a bodyguard, or an elf who could reach inside your chest and crush your heart. He looked rather like somebody's exotic sex slave, in fact, white hair and silver markings contrasting strongly with the dusky skin. Usually that fact wasn't as noticeable- the clawed gauntlets and ridiculously large sword tended to take the mind off of those things.
That thought led directly to wondering how he would earn his living now. Ah... better not to go there. And Hawke wouldn't allow it, anyhow. And it wasn't his business. Although, knowing Hawke, she would find a way to make it his business.
He reached into his pocket and drew out the ring. It was so heavily engraved and encrusted with precious stones, it was probably worth a fortune- if he could find a pedlar willing to buy it from him. Things like these tended to draw more attention than was healthy. It would be the wiser course to break out the stones, melt the gold, and sell everything seperately. Not that he wanted the money for himself, but if it could go into furthering the mages' cause, then it would be the right thing to do.
Another wash of feeling that he recognized as Justice's. The spirit was uneasy with this, in two minds, as it were.
But it could help me buy necessary supplies.
Thoughtfully, he slipped the ring on his finger. It was too tight, made for a lifelong scholar who had never wielded his staff in actual battle. Anders was about as far from that as you could get.
He tried his pinky finger next, where it fit. Funny, to think that the man Fenris had been in so much terror over had such delicate, slim fingers. It seemed wrong, somehow. But then again, Merrill had delicate fingers, and she wasn't so far from Danarius, at least where her use of magic was concerned. She would balk from keeping slaves; or so he hoped.
A sudden yawn overwhelmed him then. Maker's breath, but it had been a long day. And now he was stuck watching one amnesiac elf, as well, when all he wanted was to go to sleep.
Maybe if he just laid back for a while... got a quick catnap... he could wake in an instant if anything out of the ordinary happened. It was a useful talent for a healer with his own clinic. Many of his patients had been saved by this ability to go from sleep to awake and fully functioning within a few seconds. So, if Fenris woke and tried to do anything stupid, he would know.
Content with that reasoning, he stretched out on the bunk, pillowing his head on his arm. Just a quick nap, he thought.
And woke to near total darkness.
For a second, he almost panicked, then his memory kicked in and he brought his hands up to rub at his face with a groan. Part of his mind noted that he was badly in need of a shave, while the other berated him for sleeping the day through. So much for his "nap".
He lifted his head to look around, but couldn't see anything much. The cabin looked just as it had before, as far as he could tell, with the exception of Fenris's sleeping form being gone from where he had seen it last.
His feet hit the boards, and he stood hurriedly, looking around to ascertain the elf really wasn't here. His mental processes stuttered a bit when he found that he was, though. That white mop of hair shone suspiciously through the murk, only it was at the foot end of his bunk now. What in the Fade was he doing there?
-Kneeling, that's what. As Anders approached, he could pick out more details, and saw that Fenris had taken up position in his new submissive crouch, sitting on his heels in the small nook behind the bed. He was looking at his knees, but his posture radiated awareness- of himself, Anders guessed. He looked every inch the slave ready to jump at his master's command.
He really should have seen what would be coming, then, but he didn't. Not yet.
"You know, that looks really uncomfortable. How long have you been sitting there? Has anyone been here? Did you go get something to eat in the meantime? I hope so, the 'skin and bones' look is way outdated, and you sure are a few meals short of a normal weight."
He didn't think the elf would actually answer, so his surprise wasn't small when he did, and in a clear, precise voice, too.
"I have been keeping watch since I awoke, two hours ago. No one has been here. I have not eaten. Your safety takes precedence over my needs." That sounded as if it was something he ought to know. Anders raised his eyebrows.
"Since when is that?" If he sounded just the slightest bit sarcastic, he really couldn't help it.
"Since you took me from my old master's hands." Well, that was one way of putting it. He didn't seem in the least moved by Danarius' death now. Wait, what...?
"Your 'old' master...?" Waitasecond, waitasecond...
"You have won me from him in battle."
Was that noise his jaw hitting the boards? Won him? Like spoils of war? Damn, why didn't he take a nice curvy little slave woman along as well, while he was at it?
A stab of annoyance from inside his head. Justice resented that thought, as well he might. Anders tried to re-focus his thoughts on the present. "Run that past me again... I won you? I won you? But there were five of us, why me and not any of them?"
"You are a magister."
"I'm what?!" Of all the things... but he regretted his outburst immediately, seeing Fenris flinch and cower even deeper before his wrath. Taking a deep breath, he aimed for a calm voice. No use in scaring him more. But he only managed a brittle, "Sorry. I am a mage, true, but I'm not the only one. What about Merrill?- The elf, I mean. She's a mage as well. And Hawke is a noblewoman. Why not any of them?"
When an answer was not immediately forthcoming, he thought he might have scared the elf out of his wits already- what a thought to consider- but Fenris seemed to consider it his duty to speak, no matter that he might be drawing down his newly appointed "master"'s anger on his head.
"A magister ranks higher than a mere noble, and a human ranks higher than even a mage elf. Thus, I am by rights your slave."
And Anders saw his eyes flick briefly to the ring on his little finger, all but forgotten there, and borrowed liberally from the Hawke book of swearwords.
"Well, now that's an interesting development." The sarcasm in Hawke's voice could have cut glass. Anders did his best not to wince, very, very much aware of the elf who had dutifully taken up position behind and to the side of him, like a good little bodyguard. Fenris was still dressed in loose linen clothing, but if he felt vulnerable, he didn't show it. He didn't show anything much. At least that shock had worn off.
But that fact didn't help him any. After his little speech, Fenris had closed up again like a clam and wouldn't speak to anyone. He had only taken food on order, and that while standing up. And he was always behind him. It made a spot between Anders' shoulders prickle uncomfortably. He did not like being tailed all the time.
"I didn't ask for this! He just goes and says I'm his master now, like I don't have any say in that at all. Hawke, please, help me out here. You've got this mansion, you can take him in for a while, until he gets normal again—"
"And when do you think that'll be? He has never remembered anything of his past before, do you think this amnesia will be less permanent than the one before? He isn't going to 'get normal' again, the best we can hope for is to help him find his way around, without memories, again. And since he has selected you as his master, you're going to be the one to do that, and the Maker help you if you don't." Hawke's finger was digging into his chest. She was close enough to smell, and furious enough to burn him down where he stood, and yet he tried.
"But I have my clinic... and you... plus, there's Orana..."
"Orana has nothing to do with this." Her voice was a whiplash across the face.
"She's in the same position, she could help-"
"Are you deaf?!" The shove sent him stumbling backwards. He was looking forward to cracking his skull on hard wooden boards when a solid body stopped his fall, hands catching at his arms to steady him, and before he knew it, he was upright again and Fenris had moved away to a respectful distance. Hawke was staring at the elf, incoherent for a moment, before recovering.
"I won't involve Orana in this. She's seen enough. You created this mess, you clean it up. If you need help, I'll help you, but Fenris is your responsibility now. Don't disappoint me."