The sun shone high above and Amelle was astride Falcon when the Hawke farm came into sight. The two-story clapboard farmhouse stood like a beacon, surrounded by stone outbuildings and flanked by two vast fields. Beyond them, for as far as Amelle could see, tall grass, a vibrant a green as she'd ever known, swayed and rippled in the wind, moving almost like water. The sound of a lowing cow carried on the breeze.

Home. Every trip had started feeling longer and longer, and though they were returning early, she felt as if she'd never been away for longer than she had now. Just the sight of the house made her heart lift giddily beneath her breast. Amelle adjusted her grip on the reins, resolutely resisting the urge to press her knees into Falcon's sides and close the rest of the distance at a gallop.

Varric snapped the reins and shot her a knowing look—so knowing she wondered if she was truly that transparent, and then decided she didn't care. "Oh, go on, Hawke," he said. "No one's gonna think less of you for going on ahead."

"I will," Isabela sniffed.

"Okay, nobody but Rivaini's gonna think less of you for it. If you think you can live with that—"

Amelle didn't hear whatever else Varric had to say; her ears were too full of thundering hoofbeats and the wind as it rushed past. She'd grown up in Lothering, and she knew the roads and woodland as well as—better than—the back of her hand. In fact, she knew it as well as she knew her magic, as well as she knew the mana that came to life in her veins. Falcon knew the way, too. He pushed into a gallop without any effort, knowing this was home, knowing full well a warm stall and fresh hay were waiting for him.

Mother came around from the herb garden at the back of the house, carrying a bouquet of leafy, green somethings in her apron, her face lighting up at the sight of the familiar horse and rider barreling toward the house; sage, chamomile, lavender and spearmint all twined together on the breeze, smelling entirely and perfectly like home. Dismounting and barely remembering to keep hold of Falcon's reins, Amelle swept forward and crushed her mother in a one-armed hug.

"Amelle!" Leandra Hawke laughed, taking care not to drop the herbs she'd picked while at the same time returning her daughter's embrace. "I wasn't expecting you back for another week." She pulled back, worry marring her forehead. "Nothing's wrong, is there?"

"Quite the opposite," replied Amelle. "We came back early because our cupboards are entirely bare—we sold every last drop."

Maternal pride warmed her mother's face. "And there's been no… other trouble?"

"No trouble of the templar variety, no," she answered—and it was a relief that was one question she could answer honestly. "We've been managing to stay ahead of them, or behind them, or anywhere but directly in their way." There was no point in mentioning her own developing skills; those conversations always tended to worry Mother more than anything else. Behind her, the wagon was just turning off the road and making its way up to the house. "That said, we did bring back a stray."

"A… stray," Mother echoed, her eyes following Amelle's to the slowly approaching wagon. "Maker," she said on a dry chuckle, "I'm almost afraid to ask."

"Nothing bad. On the road to Lothering, we encountered a man pinned down by—" No, she admonished herself. Don't mention slavers. Maker knows you don't need to give her another thing to worry about while you're gone. "—Bandits," she finished. "He'd been pinned down by bandits and quite seriously injured. Would it be all right if we made up a bed? I doubt he'll be any trouble; he's hardly been awake more than thirty seconds at a time since we found him."

"Bandits?"

"Oh, he'll be all right, I'm certain. It was a fair fight once we came along." She offered a smile she hoped was bolstering and sincere. "We sent the ruffians on their way, no need to worry."

It was common practice to tell Mother as little as humanly possible about the types of scrapes they occasionally found themselves in. Or… anything at all about their travels beyond the type of food one enjoyed in Denerim or how Amaranthine seemed to get the new muslins and calicos in before Gwaren.

"Hmm. I don't see why I can't make up the bed in your brother's room." She looked up then, looking hard at Amelle in that way only mothers in general—and Leandra Hawke in particular—could manage. It was a shrewd sort of look with eyes that seemed to bore right through Amelle, leaving her with the vaguest feeling she was about to be in trouble for something later. The look didn't last more than a few seconds, but was still more than enough time to unsettle Amelle, unsettling her further when the expression vanished and her mother smiled.

"I'll go on in and make up the bed while you, Isabela, and Varric unpack the wagon," she said before disappearing into the house in a swirl of blue plaid.

With one last look at her mother's back, Amelle tied Falcon to the hitching post and turned to help Isabela and Varric start unloading. As Isabela hopped down, Amelle leaned in, whispering the word bandits in the other woman's ear.

"And let me guess," she murmured back. "We didn't kill every last one."

Amelle nodded. "Just make sure Varric knows. You know how Mama loves chatting him up."

"As much as he loves being the one doing the chatting. Will do, kitten."

Unloading her charge was slightly tricky business, but being of a height, she and Isabela managed it fairly well for the most part, with Amelle carrying his upper body while Isabela supported the legs and delivered commentary. Varric chose the wiser course and remained downstairs with Leandra to regale her with the… significantly edited version of their exploits this particular trip.

"Are we sure he's not just going to die on us, kitten?" Isabela asked once they were alone upstairs, the patient settled on Carver's narrow bed. Amelle was removing his boots and looked up through the dark fringe of her bangs to send her friend a sharply reproving look.

"Yes, I'm sure he's not just going to die on us."

"It's been two days," she remarked, one dark brow arching. "I'm not certain I've ever seen anyone sleep like that."

"I've already told you, I can't replace lost blood; I can only make sure his body saves what it makes. I won't say it wasn't close, but he's come this far, and he's made it through the roughest part."

"Thanks to your," Isabela coughed delicately, "tender loving care. Of course."

"Yes, yes, I'm sure your imagination has been running positively rampant since we took him on," muttered Amelle, trying very hard not to think of Isabela's preferred brand of yarn-spinning. "Do me a favor, though, and leave the storytelling to Varric?"

"I don't think I can do that," she replied, sitting with a flounce in a chair. "He's quite delicious-looking. And I'm sure he'll be so very," Isabela's voice dropped into a husky, sultry register, "very thankful. Once he wakes up."

Amelle's reply did not expound further than, "Mmm."

Isabela, however, had clearly been expecting more of a volley, and practically pouted. "Oh, you're no fun."

One boot came off, then the other, and Amelle draped a light quilt over the sleeping man. "I could turn you into a frog," she mused. "That could be fun."

Isabela crossed one long, booted leg over the other and huffed. "You can't do that."

Straightening, Amelle planted both hands on her hips and shot the other woman an amused glare. "Just because I've never tried doesn't mean I can't." She glanced again at her patient. "Now, shoo. I've got work to do."

"I just bet you—"

"Isabela. Frog."

"Maker's balls, you're touchy. I'm going," Isabela said, and with a flounce, closed the door behind her as she left.

"She's only half serious, I'm fairly sure," Amelle muttered to the unconscious man. "You don't have to worry about her. Much." She dragged a chair to the bedside and settled down, cracking her knuckles as the wood gave a gentle creak beneath her weight. "Now. Shall we see how well you're healing up?" A pause. "Yes, I thought sure you'd agree."

Folding back the quilt she'd just used to cover him, Amelle probed gently at each healing point. The swelling at both the knee and hip had returned, much as she'd thought, but unless she missed her guess, the broken leg was stronger than it had been. But joints were a tricky business; magic could only do part of the work, and even with the amount of healing she'd already applied, it was going to take some time to work the joints back to full strength and flexibility. Still, he was alive, which was more than she could have said for him had things worked out another way.

She pushed up one leg of his trousers, revealing the shin and calf that had been so shattered. Breathing in deeply and pulling at her mana, healing magic flared hot and cold at her hands as Amelle rested her palms against his shin, just above the damaged area. But before the glowing threads of healing magic could stretch out and surround the spot, a sharp inhale snapped her attention away from her work and to her right, where she saw the unconscious "Broody" was quite conscious, and looking not at all broody. No, the set of his jaw and the fire snapping hatefully in those green eyes radiated anything but a brooding disposition.

"It's all right—" she began, but had no time to say anything more, for the pale tattoos she'd admired and puzzled over at turns flared suddenly, brilliantly bright, and though Amelle yanked her hands away and stood, the chair's legs scraping loudly across the floor just before it toppled, her patient was levering himself to his feet even faster than she could move away. His glare never abating, he wrapped one glowing hand around her neck and pushed, slamming her back hard against the wall.

Maker, don't let Mama have heard that, she thought wildly as she struggled and wheezed for breath, grabbing and clawing at the arm that held her fast.

"Where have you brought me, mage?" he growled out. The answer, she feared, was only meant to be a rhetorical one, because after asking it, he thrust one glowing fist into her chest.

The pain was unbelievable. If she'd had any breath whatsoever, she'd have screamed and screamed and screamed until either it stopped or he killed her. She struggled again to suck in any air she could, but the effort only made her chest—her lungs, the very bones in her body, her heart; oh, Maker, her heart—throb in lancing, stabbing agony, as if she might split apart or contract until there was nothing left of her.

"P-please…" she managed, though she could only feel the words forming at her lips. She couldn't hear a thing beyond the pounding of blood in her ears as his hand tightened harder around her throat and the edges of her vision began turning grey.

Maker, please, she thought feverishly. Don't let Mama see this. Don't let her walk in. Don't—

"Where," he snarled, and Maker he was squeezing—he was squeezing her heart as he leaned closer, closer until the light hurt her eyes and she clenched them shut, "have you brought me?"

And then all at once he let out a painful cry and the hand around her throat and the one clutching her heart were both gone, and then she could breathe. She sucked in a painful breath, and with hard, hacking coughs, Amelle slid down to the floor. She held her hand clutched against the spot where his hand had been a moment before, and was so shocked to find no wound, no blood up on her when she looked down at herself. When she looked up again, it was to find a dagger pressed to his throat and Isabela behind him, looking furious and fierce and not in the least bit contrite about the kick she'd delivered to the back of his injured knee.

"I have an idea, sweet thing," she purred through gritted teeth, "let the person you're asking the questions of get enough bloody breath to answer. It's only the polite thing to do after someone's saved your neck."

He snarled something in a language Amelle had never heard before, but Isabela just clucked her tongue, pressing the flat of the blade more firmly against his neck. "Language, language."

"Amelle?" Her mother's voice floated up the stairs. "Darling, what was that noise? Are you all right?"

"Everything's just peachy, Leandra," Isabela called brightly over her shoulder, never relinquishing her grip, never letting the dagger's blade slip even a fraction of an inch. "Kitten's puppy just tried taking a few steps before he was ready and had a little stumble is all." Then, lowering her voice, she looked down at Amelle. "You all right, kitten?"

Amelle's hands shook. Hell, she seemed to be shaking from head to foot, inside and out.

His hand was in my chest, she thought numbly, the thought chasing around and around her head as she prodded her fingers at the sore spot around her sternum. His hand was in my chest. His hand was in my chest. For the moment, she was miles away from all right. His hand was in my chest.

Yeah, well, she thought dourly, Daddy told me never to get involved. Could've been good advice, after all.

Realizing Isabela expected an answer to her question, Amelle pulled her mind back to herself and nodded once, sure the woman could see the lie of it. "I'm all—" grimacing at the rasp of her own voice, she swallowed hard—it hurt and she coughed, which only hurt worse—and tried again. "I'm all right. Or will be. I just need a moment." After a second or two, she added, "He should be off his feet."

"He's damned lucky I don't throw him down the stairs. And out the door for good measure."

"I'd rather you not undo all of my work, Isabela." Moving slowly and carefully, and conscious of every twinge and ache, she pushed to her feet. "It's mana I won't get back."

"Well, puppy?" Isabela asked, glaring at the man she held. "What do you say? Are you going to behave politely while kitten here gets her bearings, or are things going to have to get unpleasant?"

"My name is Fenris," he ground out.

"At any other point that would have been positively fascinating, but it's not an answer to my question."

"He needs to sit," Amelle protested. "You've probably reinjured his knee."

Fenris—well, at least he had a name now—shot her an inscrutable look as Isabela retorted, "I hope you don't expect me to feel bad about that."

"It wasn't an easy thing to heal."

For her part, Isabela looked as if she had something particularly foul-tasting sitting upon her tongue, and the only cure was to spout off any number of obscenities of varying potency. "Fine," she said, turning Fenris free, but steadfastly refusing to sheathe her dagger as she watched him with narrowed eyes. With a glare, Fenris limped to the edge of the bed and carefully eased himself down on it. Though he was sitting now, nothing about him looked remotely at ease; in fact, he looked coiled, as if ready to spring into action at the first opportune moment. Bracing one hand against the wall, Amelle bowed her head and took several deep breaths, summoning healing mana that cooled and eased away the grating pain in and around her throat; whatever damage Fenris had done when he'd reached into Amelle and grabbed her heart, however, was not so easily alleviated, and even after the initial pain was gone, a dull phantom ache lingered.

From the corner of her eye, she noted the way his body went rigid and his jaw clenched when she summoned her magic. Her gut reaction was not to give too terribly much of a damn, given that he'd shoved his hand in her chest. Then she remembered—it had been Tevinter hunters after him. Tevinter hunters likely hired and paid by Tevinter magisters. All things considered, that knowledge still didn't leave her feeling terribly charitable. Particularly since one of those hunters had driven a dagger into her back.

"So," she began, righting the toppled chair and sitting down in it. Her voice was still slightly husky, but there wasn't much to be done about that right now. "It seems to me there's a conversation we need to have."

"Starting with the part where we saved your damned life!" Isabela snapped as she moved to lean against the far wall, arms crossed over her chest.

"Isabela," Amelle sighed.

"Well, we did."

Throughout this exchange, Amelle realized Fenris was looking at her. More than that, he was watching, scrutinizing her, as if he'd seen her face somewhere before. Then she saw the exact moment when he realized he had seen her face before, and where.

"You… you are the merchant from Ostagar," he said slowly. "And she…" he said, with a glance in Isabela's direction, "was in the crowd." His tone, as well as the look he swung her way, was vaguely accusatory.

"Please don't tell me you're going to harp on my sales ethics now," Amelle replied pertly, arching an eyebrow at him. "Because given the reputations of some more unscrupulous purveyors and peddlers of goods, I think I can hardly be blamed for stacking the deck a little in my own favor."

"The ointment worked as you said it would," he said quietly, brows lowering into something… a little too thoughtful to be a proper scowl.

"Note my lack of surprise." She leaned back in her chair and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "All right. Fenris. Care to tell me what in the Void that," she gestured at her chest, "was all about?"

Several seconds of silence ticked by. Finally, and though it looked as if the words were being pulled from him, he said, "I was… disoriented. The last thing I knew, I had been cornered by the hunters pursuing me. In my attempt to dismount, my horse was injured and fell upon me, pinning me. When… assistance appeared to have arrived, I thought it a figment of my imagination. When I awoke to realize it was a mage healing me…"

"You thought the worst?"

He nodded once, briskly. "I escaped a land where mages rule all. I thought myself to be rid of magic, to have at least escaped it, but it has followed me, hunted me at every turn."

Amelle leaned back in the chair, spreading her hands wide. "And now you find yourself in the company of another mage."

A flicker of frustration and annoyance passed over his features, but he seemed to push them aside. Good news for her, she thought. "I should have realized sooner what you really were," he said, after a moment.

"Because the ointment worked?"

Fenris shot Amelle a knowing look. "It worked too well."

Well, that was something, at least. She smiled, and she knew there was an unrepentant tilt to it. "I'll take that as a compliment."

"I see." And as she leaned back, Fenris leaned forward, resting his elbows upon his thighs as he clasped his hands. "In that case, since we are to be plain, might I ask you something?"

"People who shove fists in other people's chests," Isabela drawled, "don't usually get to ask questions."

Amelle shot Isabela a glare, then turned back to Fenris. "I have a feeling I'm going to regret saying yes, but I'll say it anyway."

He fixed her with shrewd green eyes. "What sort of mage are you?"

The question made her blink. "I'm sorry?"

"Every person wants something. What do you want?"

Amelle exchanged a glance with Isabela, who shrugged. "I know what my answer is, kitten, but you're not exactly the fame and fortune type."

"Gee, thanks ever so." She turned back to Fenris with a shrug. "I don't know," she finally admitted. "I want to survive. I want to keep my mother safe and the farm solvent. I want to avoid the Stannard's templars." There was more she wanted, but they were the foolish wants of a girl who'd spoken rashly once and regretted it every day. They were not the sorts of wants one divulged to a stranger, particularly one who'd tried to kill her minutes before. "Insofar as I've got wants, anyway. Safety and security for myself and the people important to me."

"A noble goal," he replied, sending her a level look, "but I have seen many crimes done in the name of noble goals."

"Hmm. And the conversation suddenly turns less complimentary."

He grimaced and looked away. "I imagine I appear ungrateful. If so, I apologize, for nothing could be further from the truth. I… when I awoke, I was disoriented."

Slowly, she put the pieces together and nodded. "And you… thought you'd been captured."

"I did." A muscle jumped in his jaw as he swallowed.

Sensing the danger was past, Isabela pushed away from the wall with a snort. "This one's your call, Hawke," she said, sauntering to the open door. "Varric's busy keeping your mother entertained, but I should let him know he doesn't have to turn your guest into a pincushion just yet."

"Thank you, Isabela."

"Just watch yourself, kitten," was all she said before disappearing down the short hall. Isabela's booted footfalls were barely audible as she made her way downstairs. When Amelle looked back to Fenris, she saw he was glaring down at his hands, still tightly clasped.

"You aren't a prisoner here, you know," she told him, her voice low. "You were… near death by the time we could safely reach you." Amelle paused, adding, "Your injuries were…serious, and you're not fully healed yet. You slept nearly the whole trip to Lothering."

"I see," he replied quietly, brows twitching together in what looked like momentary confusion as he continued looking down at his hands.

Shooting Fenris a wry look, Amelle added, "And I'd imagine you feel like the Void." She nodded at his knee. "Particularly now, since I doubt that was anything like a gentle kick. Besides that, you lost more blood than anyone ought and your other leg was in more different pieces than I cared to count. I'll tell you right now, you want to stay and recover? You're more than welcome to. You want to saddle up your mare and head on out? You're welcome to do that too. We didn't exactly leave anyone behind, so the chances of you being tracked here anytime soon are comfortably nestled between slim and none."

It took a moment, several of them in fact, but eventually subsiding, Fenris nodded. "Very well. I… will stay. For a time."

"You sure? Because I want to make sure you realize that if you do stay, then what the healer says, goes." When Fenris began to bristle, Amelle held up one finger and added quickly, "I'm not going to see you do any more damage to yourself. I can help you heal without magic if that's what you really want, but it'll take a damn sight longer. Beyond that, if I say you stay off the leg, you stay off the leg. If I say it's time for a poultice, it's time for a poultice. Are you seeing a trend?"

"I am," he replied, but not without a glower. Amelle only smiled at him. Cheerfully.

"Good."

"But I will make myself useful," he argued. "I owe you a debt."

"I wouldn't say that. We didn't do anything any other decent person wouldn't have done."

"You have a high opinion of other people," he remarked, shooting her a dry look. "I've met few in my travels who have sought anything more than personal gain."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

He shrugged a shoulder. "In any case, while I am… here, if you require my assistance, I am at your disposal."

"Because of this… debt you say you owe me."

"Indeed."

It was hard not to chuckle a little at that, and yet Amelle wasn't wholly surprised, either. "Not a fan of charity?" she asked Fenris, lifting her brows at him. Answering her own question with a shrug, she said, "Fair enough. You want to be useful, Maker knows there's enough around a farm to keep plenty of people busy. But you're still not doing a damned thing short of having a cup of tea with Mama until I say you're fit for it." Fenris nodded, but the gesture—to say nothing of the flash of irritation in his eyes—managed to leave Amelle with the distinct feeling that this was going to be a point they'd be arguing over for most of the next few days.

"Very well," he said. It sounded a whole lot like, Like hell.

"All right. Now that we've got the unpleasantness over with, what do you say about letting me finish what I came in here to do in the first place? Without the attempts on my life this time?" His grimace told her clearly enough that if Fenris did not precisely regret that little stunt, neither was he entirely proud of such an… overreaction.

"I believe you indicated my remaining here depended on the condition I say yes," he finally answered.

"I don't have to use magic," she riposted, showing him her hands.

"You may," he relented. "It will be, as you said, quicker."

"At least you can be made to see sense," she murmured, dragging her chair a little closer to the bedside. As Fenris settled back upon the narrow bed, a sudden wince creased his forehead when he bent and straightened the knee Isabela had kicked, answering any questions Amelle might've had about the state of that particular joint. Clasping her hands, a series of soft cracks and pops issued forth from her knuckles, and with a breath, she coaxed the sudden rush of mana into the blue-white light of her healing magic.

"Shall we?" she asked. At Fenris' nod, Amelle placed her hands on his swollen, damaged knee.

#

Fenris wouldn't have thought himself a man easily surprised. It took a day like today—or an hour like the last hour—to demonstrate just how wrong he was on that score.

No, he'd not been surprised to awaken in the company of a mage. His last thoughts before succumbing to pain and darkness had been anger that he'd been bested by hunters. After running and evading them for so long, he'd been beyond furious with himself for getting caught. Upon waking, the first glimmers of surprise came when he realized he'd not been restrained, when he caught her entirely unawares, when he saw fear and shock and something that was kin to betrayal in her eyes as his hand wrapped around her throat—fear, shock, and betrayal, but not a whisper of disdain or fury.

Fury came later, of course, though not his own, when his knee exploded into bright shards of agony and the cold, sharp blade of a dagger pressed against his throat. But with that cold blade came clarity and the realization that the woman in front of him was none other than the merchant he'd dealt with in Ostagar. Hawke. That had been her name, the one from whom he'd bought the ointment for Agrippa—the ointment that had worked uncommonly well.

Like magic, one might say.

He'd been a fool for not noticing it right away, but he'd also been desperate to heal Agrippa's wound, and hadn't wanted to see how unusually well the ointment worked, only that it had worked, and his mare was well enough to travel again the next morning.

The lyrium in his skin prickled in response to the magic she wielded, but little else; Fenris looked at Hawke, watching intently as she concentrated on applying her healing spells his injuries. He scarcely recognized her now—there was no paint upon her face, and the dusty traveling clothes she wore were a far cry from the crimson gown he'd last seen her in. Beyond that, there was something… intangibly different about her—the sense of showmanship was gone; she was just a woman in a quiet room, healing an injured leg.

"It shouldn't take too long to get you right as rain," she murmured, frowning hard as she worked. "A few days more, if you take it easy and don't overtax yourself. You'll want to be mindful of your arm and shoulders, too. You caught a few bullets—one broke your collarbone, so just be careful." The magic flared off from her fingertips and she shook them out. "That should do for a bit. Next the hip, if you please." She gestured, indicating he lay back, and then she summoned her magic again, sending the threads of light to yet another injury site. "Your mare is fine, by the way. Her injuries were mostly superficial. She's likely in the stables now, dining on oats and alfalfa."

"And we are… in Lothering, you said."

"That's right, at the one and only Hawke farm. I don't know where you were headed, but we figured you stood a better chance of survival if we brought you with us, rather than taking you back to Ostagar." She worked a moment longer before adding, "It's pure luck we came across you anyway. We sold the last of our stock in one day. Normally we wouldn't have headed back for another day, maybe two."

"I shall count myself fortunate."

"Fortunate, hmm?" she said, a crooked grin tilting her lips, though she kept her attention focused on her magic. "You didn't seem all that thrilled with me a little while ago."

He grimaced. "I have no reason to like or trust mages. But I concede you are not Danarius."

She glanced up at him through the fringe of her hair. "Danarius?"

"The magister to whom I was… in service." He swallowed hard, adding bitterly, "My master."

She said nothing for a moment. Then, finally, "I see."

Fenris fell silent, watching her magic, impossibly bright for such thin strands of light, sink past the dark cloth of his trousers, then feeling it soak into his skin, down through bone and sinew, burning like the hottest ice as it slowly mended what was damaged. "Whether you are at all like him remains to be seen."

"Mmm. That sounds like quite a vote of confidence," she replied wryly as the ache in his hip started to fade. He hadn't realized he'd been in pain until that pain receded. "If it's all the same to you, I'll do my best to avoid living up to that particular comparison."

He did not mention that Danarius was far more accomplished in inflicting injuries than healing them.

From his hip, Hawke turned her attention to the leg that had been broken. "Will they keep looking for you?" she asked. "The hunters. Will they track you?"

"They will come as long as my master keeps sending them. And he is too proud to stop now."

"He… wants you that badly?"

Fenris snorted. "He doesn't want me at all."

Her brows contorted in confusion. "That doesn't make any—"

"My markings," he broke in brusquely.

"I see."

"Do you?"

"I saw well enough what they allow you to do," she replied steadily. "And I can imagine that kind of power appealing to a certain kind of person."

"Some might say the same thing of the power a spirit healer wields," he countered.

Hawke let out an indelicate snort of laughter. "Yes, witness the power I hold. I craft ointments and tonics sold to keep the roof patched, the animals fed, and the fields tended, and attempt to heal elves who then try to kill me. I'm quite intimidating, I'm sure." She shot him a sidelong glance. "And how can you be so certain I'm a spirit healer?"

"You aren't denying it." At her shrug, he added, "And a common healer would have a far more difficult time mending these injuries."

"Guilty as charged, I suppose. At any rate, we're done for now." The glow hovering around her hands flared off into nothing. "I recommend you get some rest," she said, rubbing her hands and flexing her fingers as she stood. "Supper won't be for a couple of hours yet, but I know it's been a good while since you've had a proper meal, so I'll see if there's anything I can scare up in the meantime. Your saddlebags are down with the rest of our gear, so I'll get those up to you—I didn't figure on you waking up this soon."

"I… understand."

She nodded once. "I imagine you probably wouldn't mind washing up—that's usually the fourth or fifth order of business after coming back from a haul, so it'll be a while yet before any baths get started, I'm afraid." She nodded at a small table by one of the windows. On it rested a basin and pitcher, and a small towel hung over the edge of the table. "That's fresh water, so hopefully it'll—"

"That will more than suffice."

"All right then. Try and stay off your feet, and I'll be back with your belongings after I've checked on the horses."

It wasn't until she was gone, her footsteps fading down the stairs and out the door, followed by the sharp, strange reverberation of her voice as she called out to someone named "Merrill," that he realized he had not thanked Hawke for her hospitality. It was not lost on Fenris that there was no reason for her to do any of what she was doing for him.

It was then he realized he also hadn't apologized for attempting to kill her.

No. No reason at all.