Hawke's eyelids flicker. The light hurts her eyes and she quickly closes them again, lids dark like shutters. She can feel a pain deep in her chest, her breath tight and knotted. The blankets weigh heavy on her like a trap.
She lies still, trying not to breathe, to aggravate the injury she can feel in her bones. It is then that she becomes aware of the sounds, feels the unmistakeable presence of a warm body sitting on the mattress behind her.
The voice is low, rich, husky. He is singing – singing words she cannot understand, but she knows their meaning from the tone. The words are soft, lilting, almost childish. A lullaby.
Hawke listens, not daring to move, lest he realise she is awake. He sings beautifully, she realises, although this does not surprise her. Her body relaxes as she focuses on the emotion in his voice, the unusual softness, the purity of his baritone. She wonders what the words are that he is singing.
The pain is almost forgotten as she feels his fingers slide through her hair, trailing a warm path across her scalp as she bites back a moan. His touch is like his voice: tender, comforting, strangely heated. She cannot remember if he has ever touched her before. Perhaps an accidental brush of fingers; but he always holds himself apart, detached and almost aloof. And now he is here, in her bedroom, sitting on her bed. Stroking her hair. Crooning strange words in a soothing tone.
Maker, Hawke thinks, this was almost worth getting hurt for.
"Mm," she sighs involuntarily as his fingers press against a particularly sensitive spot behind her ears. Almost instantly his hand withdraws, the singing stops. She hears the mattress creak and feels his weight lift from the bed.
Rolling over and wincing in pain, she cracks open one eyelid and sees him standing in front of the fireplace, staring into the flames.
"Fenris." Her voice is cracked and scratchy with the dryness in her throat.
He turns to her, his green eyes unreadable.
"What happened?" she asks, frowning as she suddenly realises she can't remember a thing past bartering with the Dalish merchant at Sundermount, who knows how long ago.
"In the caves at Sundermount," he says, sitting down on the edge of her bed as if he hadn't just got up from that very spot. "There was a Varterral. You tried to be clever and stab it in the head, but it threw you across the room. I thought…"
Fenris trails off, looking out of the window.
"If it hadn't been for Anders," he says, so quietly she can barely hear him. It must have been bad, she thinks, for him to say such a thing. She knows Fenris hates the mage, and everything about magic. She makes a mental note to thank the healer later.
"That song," she says abruptly, causing him to look at her sharply. "The one you were singing. Was that… from Tevinter?"
Fenris sighs, looks at his hands.
"Yes. It's an old Tevinter ballad that I used to hear the serving-women sing. I always liked it, it felt familiar somehow."
"Will you sing it for me again?" Hawke asks, already losing the thread of the song in her mind.
Fenris shakes his head, blushes. "I… don't know, Hawke. It was easier when I thought you couldn't hear me."
"Please, Fenris. It was making me feel better." That wasn't exactly a lie, but Hawke knew it was pure persuasion. Fenris was looking unmoved, though, she thought. He sat gazing at her, one eyebrow raised, a wry smile on his face.
"Can you sing, Hawke?"
"Best singer in the Free Marches," she says, nodding.
To prove her point, she launches into a broken version of a popular drinking song, often heard in the Hanged Man late at night. Her voice is quite possibly the most horrendous thing Fenris has ever heard, overly-loud and badly off-key.
He holds up one hand. "Stop! Stop. I will sing to you again, Hawke, if only it stops you making that awful noise."
Hawke grins. Her plan had worked better than she had hoped. She shuffles across the bed and sits next to Fenris, who takes her hand in his and looks into her eyes.
Shyly, he begins his song, soft and melodious. She almost closes her eyes as the notes wash over her, but the intensity of his gaze fixed on hers is irresistible. She dissipates into nothing as she listens to his words, looks into his eyes, so earnest and focused. It is almost as if she has transcended, is no longer in the room, no longer has a physical body. Everything she is lies in his eyes, in the beauty of his voice.
Eventually he trails through the end of the song, fading into silence. His hand still encircles hers, and she feels his fingertips drawing circles on her palm. They sit in silence, looking at each other for some moments.
"Fenris. That was… so beautiful. What does it mean?" she asked, still almost breathless with the emotions the song had woken within her.
He looks away from her, at the wall. She feels his grip on her hand tighten.
"The words… ah," he says, haltingly, before shaking his head and speaking with a firmer tone.
"While the stars are in the sky, while the seas do not run dry, while the nightingale still flies, I will stand by you.
While the summer days are long, while the fighting force is strong, while the wolves howl their old song, I will strengthen you.
If you're feeling sad and blue, if your dreams do not come true, if you're lost and lonely too, I will comfort you.
I'll be there through sun and shade, through the days and in the Fade, I will never be afraid, I will care for you.
I want so much to win your heart, please let us love and never part, this life may only be the start, I will worship you."
His voice begins to trail off as he nears the end of the lyrics, the blush spreading from his cheeks to the tips of his ears. She sees his throat working and he grips her hand tighter than ever, although he remains staring at the wall.
She tries to speak, but finds there is a lump in her throat which stops the words from coming. Instead, she rests her other hand on his thigh, her head against his shoulder.
He finally turns to her, looks down into her tear-filled eyes.
"I can teach you the song. If you'd like," he says, hesitantly.
She nods, smiling up at him. He presses his lips to hers, softly.