The mage swore the elf would forever remain an enigma to him. Constantly swinging one way to the next, leaving Anders dizzy in his wake. One moment he was approving, the next he was hostile. Like a storm and he did not know when the next calm would come.

He had become increasingly friendly as of late, though only if you noticed. Less snippy, or brooding, still as bristly as ever but…it was like the edge was taken off. His shoulders were more relaxed, the elf was all over more at ease.

What was more worrying was that he was spending increasingly more time around the mage, watching him quietly. Sometimes just sitting in his clinic, offering help when needed and just…observing Anders work. He would have told him off, but the company was nice, plus it kept Fenris out of trouble. Not like the man had much else to do.

It just made him wonder why, why here and why him? He could spend time with any of the others who would likely be better company, but why him?

Deciding to push the thoughts from his mind, he called the elf over to help with supplies and bandaging. Fenris responded all too eagerly and they worked in peace until the clinic closed at which the elf pressed into his space.

The silence that followed was unnerving and his eyes followed the elf's as Fenris inspected him. "The feathers are falling from your pauldrons…"

A relaxed breath was released at that as he smiled, "yeah…they're old. I should see a tailor about sewing some of them back on, maybe collect more, or get new robes altogether. Even if I am a bit attached to these ones."

Fenris' only answer was a simple nod, murmuring about how he needed some rest before leaving.

The next day found the elf back in his spot, the only difference was in his white hair a single feather was braided into the mess. One of the very feathers that had been falling from his pauldrons. He could only spare Fenris a curious look before tending to patients who needed his attention more. Not like it was anything to complain about, just…curious.

"I brought your supplies!" the familiar voice had him spinning to look over at the dalish elf as she hurried in, bag in hand along with other things.

"Ahh good, thank you, did you sent word to Hawke about the other things I will need? Doubt they'll need me next time they go out into the wilds, so if they can be picked up that would be wonderful." He looked over everything she brought, ignoring her tugging at his arm in his distraction.

"Yes…I told 'em…Ah, Anders…what's that in Fenris' hair?" her voice lowered as she made the inquiry, backing up to be a little closer to him.

Standing straight he looked over to where the other was, talking quietly with some children who had bustled in to visit. One was inspecting the warriors lyrium tattoos while another looked over his blade. This softer side was something he was not used to, but not unwelcome either.

"A feather that had fallen from my pauldrons, why?" blinking he looked to her, before back to the other elf who was looking at them both now.

"Nothing, nothing."

"You wouldn't ask if it was nothing."

"True, but I think it's up to him to explain it's meaning, elvish traditions and all." Her hands swung behind her back, clasping there as she gave him a wide smile, nodding in Fenris' direction. "I'd best be off, have to remind Hawke of your list, and all that." Before he could ask her to come back and explain she was gone, leaving him with even more questions.

That evening, before Fenris could make his escape for the night he took the elf's hand, wishing he could make the others past go away as he felt him tense under his touch.

"Before you go…I need to ask you something." He can feel Fenris' hand shake under his touch, the blood coursing through him a little too fast, how he looked like he was wound too tight.

"Carry on then." He stared off, refusing to look Anders in the eye and it takes everything in him to not take the others chin in hand and turn him so they are looking at one another.

"The feather, why do you wear it?"

"Because I can." An obvious lie, he was avoiding something.

"Merrill said it had significance, now tell me, what is it?"

He sees Fenris grit his teeth, the way the other is looking at the ground, probably hoping it will swallow him whole. He thinks the elf will tear away from him, make a run for it until those eyes finally look into his own. "It's how we show affection."

"By putting things in your -"

One hand was held up to stop him mid sentence, "no. We ah…wear things that are almost symbolic of the person we…like. You've seen Merrill wear something of Isabella's right?" He nods in answer, "well this is…" Fenris reaches up to touch the feather in his hair, "like that…"

Anders mouth is open in surprise, and he feels the elf tense once more, pulling at his hand like he wants to run. He just runs a thumb over the back of the hand he is holding, pulling the other in close. 'Take it easy' he keeps telling himself, 'don't scare him'.

It's like handling an abused animal, a cat that's been hurt too many times and will lash out at any moment. The comparison is cruel, but true too.

Reaching out, he cups the others face, smiling a little before leaning in to press his lips to the others, feeling Fenris finally relax as the free arm wrapped around him.

Fenris was an enigma, a puzzle with too many pieces and not enough clues, but Anders was all too willing to try and solve it.