His memories remained strong even as his body weakened. The skies over Kirkwall as red as the blood which soaked into the stone of the streets, the screams of the mages as they succumbed to Templar blades. The fury he felt at the man sitting hunched over on the upturned crate in the courtyard, the cause of all the death, the destruction. Magic needed to be harnessed, but this was madness.
He remembered the disbelief when the Champion had let the man live, had ordered him to atone for what he had done. How can a mage atone for the corruption of magic? Especially one who is demon-possessed, an abomination. May as well ask a mabari to atone for leaving hair on the furniture. Just as inevitable, just as unavoidable.
Thus they had all been tainted with the man's murderous actions. They were his companions, and so they were guilty. Fenris had been truly free for a matter of months when he was exiled, a wanted man, all because of the magic he had always opposed, always hated. And so his bitterness grew.
He did not know the Free Marches. He'd been afraid of being caught. The only option he had was the ship the pirate had appropriated, the only way for them out of the hell he had created for them. Of course, Hawke insisted the abomination came too.
The man wanted to die. That much had been obvious. He didn't eat, didn't sleep, did nothing except sit in the hull of the ship raving about the triumph over oppression, how all would know his name. He didn't even know his own name any more. His name became Vengeance.
Months passed. The ship had docked in Ferelden, a land still struggling to piece itself back together after a Blight. Nobody took notice of a small band of travellers, all too busy remaking their own lives. They'd taken shelter in a large abandoned hut in the sacked village of Lothering, Hawke's former home. But they had all known that this life, hiding in plain sight, could not last.
He still lived, skin and bone and exhaustion. The demon did not speak any more; perhaps the self-neglect had finally driven him out. They took turns in caring for the man. Washing him, dressing him. Trying to make him eat. On the days it was Fenris' turn, he often contemplated a sword through the neck. The poor creature was a mess. It would be an act of mercy.
Then one day the man had thanked him as he handed over a bowl of stew. Gazed up at him with those empty hazel eyes and spoken, his voice scratchy and raw with disuse.
He had remembered his own shock at the words, his disgust when the abomination had tried to grab his wrist, a pleading look in his eyes. "I'm sorry." Only the second sentence the man had spoken in weeks, and a waste of breath. He wasn't interested in false apologies. His life had taken this turn because of the man before him, running when he should be free for the first time. "Sorry" was bitter in his mouth, just like the ashes of the burning city they had left behind.
"What use is sorry to me?"
He had pulled his arm away sharply, resentment and revulsion playing across the hard lines of his face.
The man was pathetic. It had been hard to hate him as he was, emaciated and broken. But the horror of his actions would never subside, the repercussions trailing them from town to town, hanging over them like a virulent aura of darkness.
He remembered the anger he had carried with him like a shroud.
Eight people in the same hut had been normal in those days, the days after the Blight. People took shelter where they could. But eventually suspicions would rouse about the strangers squatting in the centre of the village.
It was Isabela who left first, sneaking away in the dead of night as was her wont. They had woken one morning and she was simply gone, the only sign that she had ever been there a ship in a bottle left beside Hawke's pallet. Inevitable. The life of a landlubber was never going to be hers.
Aveline and Donnic were the next to go. No secret departures for them, honourable couple as they were. Rumours had been abound that the infantry in Redcliffe were recruiting, their numbers decimated at the end of the Blight. It would be hard for the former Guard Captain to start over as a foot soldier, he knew, but she was resilient and it would be a better life than the boredom of Lothering. Hawke had hugged Aveline hard and shed a tear. Even Fenris was sorry to see the warrior woman go. She had been a valued ally, supportive and principled. He doubted he would have remained safe in Kirkwall for all those years without her assistance.
The surprise had been Varric. Hawke's best friend, or so she had thought. Fenris never had found out where the dwarf had gone or why he had left. Hawke was always too upset whenever his name was mentioned.
And then there were four. Three mages… and him. He had barely believed the situation he had found himself in. Why he had not left, he could not recall. He assumed it was something to do with the allegiance he had felt towards Hawke for helping him extinguish the life in his former master. The true reason may be lost in time, but he couldn't regret staying, not now.
It hadn't always been that way. He knew he had been a difficult person to live with, sour and short-tempered from the moment he opened his eyes in the morning to the dead of night, turning restlessly on his lice-ridden straw mattress. Grumbling at the lack of food, the filth of the village, the cold of the Ferelden winter. Everything was broken and nothing would ever be right again. He remembered that feeling vividly. He had been wrong.
"Fenris. Can you hear me?"
The man crouched beside the elf, dabbing a moistened cloth at his cracked and dry lips before turning back to the doorway.
"I'm not sure this is such a good idea," he said to the two women standing there, anxiety written plain on their faces. "You can see how he is."
Fenris smiled and drifted.