"I don't believe you, Hawke!" Anger snapped in Fenris' pale green eyes, lighting them with fury. "I specifically asked you to be careful, and look now." He held up his jerkin, which, in addition to the usual enticing slit down the middle of the back, now displayed an additional pair of rents, evidence of hasty, careless removal in the heat of passion.
Aeven Hawke swallowed. There was no way Fenris would be wearing that jerkin again: the tears were far too large, and placed badly besides; the straps for his breastplate and those odd leather pauldrons would cross them, and chafing of the usually-protected skin would be inevitable. And while Aeven was no seamstress, he'd listened to his mother lecture often enough on his muddy and torn clothing back in Lothering that he knew when a rip in fabric was nigh-on unmendable.
The reminder of his mother almost failed to hurt. "I could see if Orana can repair it?" he offered weakly, knowing it would be a futile gesture. "I apologise, Fenris. I was impatient, I can fetch you a new one from your house-"
He fell silent under the sudden weight of an incensed glare. "Do you think that I am made of jerkins?" Fenris hissed. "I'm- Hawke, why are you laughing?!"
Aeven couldn't help it. Between his recall of his Lothering days and the phrase- the image brought to mind couldn't be helped. He could see it: a soft, fabric version of Fenris made from the ripped remains of old shirts, stuffed with the soft shed winter undercoat of a mabari - Bethany had owned a few dolls made in such a manner. Usually from his or Carver's clothing, made unusable on their outdoors romps. Hair of sun-bleached cornsilk, eyes little chips of green jasper, carefully bored with holes and sewn in place, the mouth a tight line made from Mother's carefully-hoarded pink thread, picked from old clothing that had once been red and was now faded past unpresentibility as such, and so had been reworked into something that would look right in the lighter colour-
Aeven snapped out of his imagining with sudden panic; Fenris had fallen silent, watching him, hands on his hips and a dangerous expression narrowing his features. "I truly am sorry," Aeven apologised again, weakly.
"You were miles away. Where did you go, I wonder?" The anger faded from Fenris' face quickly, replaced by something like curiousity. They rarely discussed Aeven's past; perhaps Fenris was afraid of bringing up old wounds, with Aeven's father, mother, and brother dead, and his sister vanished into the Circle as if she had never been; perhaps he simply thought it unfair, since he could hardly remember anything from his own past to offer in trade; or perhaps Fenris simply wasn't interested in Hawke's past. Aeven would make no wagers on anything, where Fenris was concerned. That would be too close to taking the elf for granted, something he had sworn to himself he would never do, and yet still came perilously close to on occasion.
"I was thinking," Aeven said finally, slowly, "about Lothering." When Fenris simply waited for him to continue, he gathered his thoughts about him and went on. "We weren't the poorest family in the village, but we had to be careful, with Father and Bethany apostates and a chapter of Templars based in the Chantry there, that we not stand out in any way. We couldn't wear clothing that was too new or too old. Mother used to recycle my old or too-ripped shirts into dolls for Bethany, if the fabric could not be used for patches." His eyes had fallen into his lap as he spoke, and he raised them now, met Fenris' gaze which held, he thought, sympathy and interest.
"So you were imagining a doll made of my shirt?" Fenris, all anger gone, sat beside Aeven on the bed and placed a light hand over his on the rumpled sheet.
Aeven couldn't stop the smile that came at this evidence of Fenris' affection. A small touch like this one was as good as a declaration, Fenris' usual reserve turning these tiniest of gestures into a shout. "Close. I was imagining a doll of you," he admitted. "And I confess, I wouldn't mind having such a doll to hold, on the nights you slide out through the window once you believe I've fallen asleep-"
Fingers stroked the the back of his hand lightly. "You're a sop," Fenris observed with faint amusement, the slightest hint of gravel in his warm tone. "You truly are. Fine, let Orana mend it; I think sometimes she feels at a loss here. Between your most un-noble habit of picking up after yourself and Bodahn's handling of most household chores, she has little work to do outside of the kitchen to earn her pay. I even caught her dusting that horrid statue of yours the other day, and you know how little she cares for it." And how little I care for it, he did not add, but Aeven heard it anyways, and considered again whether he should simply get rid of the statue, or if that would somehow offend his touchy lover, since he had never asked for it to be removed. Fenris went on, oblivious to Aeven's slight distraction. "But what shall I do if she cannot fix it? I don't have a spare, Aeven."
"I'll replace it," Aeven said firmly, turned his hand over and laced his fingers with Fenris'. "Whether or not she can repair it, I'll get a new one made for you. It's never going to be quite the same, even mended, and as I'm the idiot who tore it, that's only fair. And until then, you can borrow one of my shirts. It will be a bit on the large side, I'm afraid, but-"
"You want me to borrow one of your shirts," Fenris said slowly. "Are you certain? If your neighbours did not already realize that you have taken an elf to bed, they most certainly will if I emerge from your house wearing your clothing. Not to mention the teasing it will garner from our companions."
Aeven snorted, dismissing the concerns with an airy wave of his free hand. "My neighbours already do not approve of me. Let them gossip about who I choose to give my heart to; it concerns me not." He felt the sudden, convulsive squeeze of Fenris' fingers and smiled to himself. "As for our friends- well, you have a point there. But if you can handle it, I can take whatever Isabela and Varric will dish out. You already wear my crest and my token, though, so I doubt it would come as any sort of shock to anyone. Even the neighbours."
Fenris' lips curved in the faintest of smiles. "Fine, then. I will borrow your shirt. If I did not know better, I might suspect this was a ploy to get me into your clothes."
Aeven grinned, leaned in and brushed a kiss across his lover's lips. "You've caught me out," he said glibly. "For my next masterminded plot, I shall work out how to get you into my pants."
"Were we not expected at the Hanged Man soon," Fenris said in a dangerous tone, velvet-coated menace filling his words with promise, "I would be in them already."
Aeven had to squeeze his eyes shut, reach for control, to keep himself from pulling them both down onto the sheets still mussed from their earlier dalliance. "Well, then we had best be moving," he said once he felt he could safely speak again, and withdrew his hand from Fenris', stood, putting himself further from temptation. "Because let me tell you, if we miss Wicked Grace, we'll be in for a lot worse than when you show up in my shirt."
"Isabela would never let us hear the end of it," Fenris agreed and stood, the traceries of his tattoos glinting in the firelight. "Very well, let us see what you have that will not look utterly ridiculous on me."
On this particular night, Wicked Grace with his friends - usually the highlight of the week - was a torment to Aeven. Fenris wore a rich red tunic fished from the depths of Aeven's armoire, forgoing the armor he would ordinarily wear, because, he'd complained when he'd tried to strap it on, the excess cloth on the too-large shirt bunched up under the leather straps and posed a risk of raw rub-wounds and blisters, which would prevent him from wearing his armour until they healed. Without the breastplate to cover it, the embroidered silver Amell emblem on his breast flashed in the lamplight when he breathed, catching Aeven's eye. The belt that cinched in the overly-large shirt and kept the elf from looking entirely like a child in his father's clothing emphasized his slim, lean build, the narrowness of his waist and hips. The neck of the shirt hung low, past Fenris' sharply-defined collarbones, showing the delicate lines of the tattoos that branched across them, drawing the eye down and down until they disappeared under red cloth.
More even that that, it was Aeven's shirt covering Fenris. There was, Aeven learned for the first time, a world of difference between a token of loyalty worn on Fenris' belt, and the raw intimacy of a borrowed shirt, worn in public. Watching eyes light curiously on Fenris, then flick to Aeven with a look of comprehension, was pushing him to a level of intoxication that the swill Isabela persisted in attempting to push at him could hope to achieve.
Aeven could scarcely take his eyes from his lover, and as he ended the night a ridiculous number of sovereigns in debt to Varric, an even larger number owed to Isabela, he slowly realized that he had no idea whether or not he had won a single hand; he couldn't remember even looking at his cards, not once.
"I should give you a cut," he heard Isabela say to Fenris with mischief. "I couldn't have fleeced him more thoroughly if I'd had shears. But I do like your new fashion statement, sweet thing - it's a good look on you."
"I'll take you up on that," Fenris replied, humour tinging his low voice. "I find I may need to increase the size of my wardrobe. That will take coin." He rolled his shoulders, and Aeven's eyes were drawn helplessly to the flex of muscle under skin, skin usually hidden under cloth and leather and revealed only to Aeven, now bared to the world. He'd seen more appreciative looks towards Fenris tonight than ever - it was maddening, seeing how Fenris was more claimed than usual, and yet at the same time so on display, so much more available in appearance.
The dichotomy aroused Aeven beyond bearing. Small wonder he'd lost so much money tonight. He was lucky to have been playing with friends, or he might not even have an estate to return to.
"I'm hearing a story there," Varric interrupted the conversation with a congenial leer. "You gotta stop being so stingy on the details, elf! The adoring public demands to know, and if I don't hear anything, I might have to start making things up."
"You'll do that whether I indulge your prurient interest or not," Fenris countered, undisturbed, and began to gather his small winnings. While not as skilled as Varric and Isabela, he rarely came out truly behind, and tonight had been no exception. He pushed his owed coins towards the two undisputed winners of the night and slid what remained into one of the pouches at his belt. With a lift of his eyebrows and a nod to the crossbow slung behind Varric's shoulder, Fenris smirked, an expression no doubt made possible by the wine he'd drunk through the evening. "Perhaps some night we can bet truths rather than coins, if you're that curious."
Varric grinned back. "Hey, as long as we're playing cards for it, I've got no problem with that."
"Careful, Varric," Isabela laughed. "I think our Fenris might surprise you, with something he cares about on the line." She leaned across the table, and Aeven could never ignore the spill of her breasts so easily as tonight. "I think you boys had better head home, Hawke looks like he's going to explode, and while I can't say I'd mind seeing that-" and she smiled slowly, the expression suggestively filthy, "-no, what am I saying, stay a while longer!"
Fenris laughed, short and sharp, and stood, tugging Aeven up with him by the straps that held his daggers to his back. Aeven was glad that, for his part, he'd long since become inured to Isabela's dirty suggestions.
"I've more control than that," he protested mildly. "If not concentration, but can you blame me?"
"Not one bit," Isabela chuckled, and drained her cup. "Have a good night, boys. Think of me, will you? I can tell you I'll be thinking of you."
"Sorry," Aeven said, the word dripping insincerity. "I'll have other things on my mind."