She held up her hands, as if to ward her friend away from her. “No,” she said firmly.
Aveline came to a stop in the center of the room, her stern face somehow softer with sorrow. “Look, Hawke,” she said, “I don’t like it either, but that’s what they decided.”
“I won’t take it,” Hawke insisted stubbornly, and to prove her point, she linked her hands firmly behind her back. She ignored the fact that her fingers were trembling, and clutched them tightly together.
“It won’t do any good to refuse it,” Aveline pointed out sensibly. When Hawke said nothing, the Captain sighed. Her shoulders sagged just a little, and she shook her head. “Hawke, he obviously wanted it to go to you – could you at least do him the courtesy of looking at it?”
She said nothing, but looked away, staring with unseeing eyes into the merrily snapping fire burning in the hearth. Aveline pressed her advantage.
“Look, I know you don’t want to think he’s actually dead, but it’s been three months, and if you don’t take it, it’ll go to the Chantry and they’ll be the ones to oversee his estate.” And when Hawke turned back to glare at her, Aveline held out the thick scroll. “And Maker knows if he does come back, he’ll be pissed to find Sisters pawing through his account books.”
“When,” Hawke insisted, her voice high and thin even to her own ears. “When he comes back.” She stomped forward to snatch the scroll from Aveline’s hand. “I’ll look at it,” she agreed, waving it at Aveline like a challenge, “and I’ll keep the Chantry from selling off his businesses to fund the Templars, and I’ll make sure he knows that it’s all your fault when he comes back and complains about me sticking my fingers into his affairs.”
Aveline rolled her eyes at that. “Trust you to threaten me when I’m only trying to do my duty,” she said drily, and then hesitated. “Hawke,” she began after a moment, “I know you were making some noise about putting together another… search party,” she decided diplomatically, refraining from referring to it as a recovery party as Hawke’s knuckles whitened around the scroll. “I just wanted to say…”
She trailed off, and Hawke prodded, “Yes?” a bit testily after a moment.
Aveline looked down at gauntleted hands. “Yes, well, let me know if you want an extra sword arm along,” she said, a faint flush on her cheeks. “I’m sure I can make the time to join you if you want me there.”
Hawke stared at her friend – her oldest friend, she realized dimly in the back of her mind, the only friend she had left from Ferelden, the woman who had seen Carver die and who had helped guard her mother and Bethany the whole perilous journey to Kirkwall. “Thank you,” she managed after a moment. “I’ll let you know if – if I find another place to look.”
Aveline gave her a sympathetic pat on the arm made weighty by her strength, armor, and friendship. “Let me know if you do,” she said, and her voice was suspiciously hopeful. “Donnic misses that fool and their card games, after all – it’s the least I could do.”
Hawke struggled to smile back, to keep her voice light. “And it’s all about keeping your husband happy, isn’t it?” she teased, and found herself surprised by the intensity in Aveline’s eyes as the guardswoman glanced at her.
“No,” she said softly, “it’s about keeping you happy, too.” Then the older woman looked away, clearly embarrassed. “Anyways, Hawke, you’ve done enough for me,” she added brusquely, back to her normal self. “So let me know what you decide, and do me a favor and don’t just burn the will.”
At the reminder, Hawke scowled down at the scroll in her hand. “I won’t,” she promised, and at that, Aveline seemed satisfied.
“Good,” the guardswoman said, and turned to go. As she reached the door, she paused, and looked back over her shoulder. “We all miss him, Hawke,” she said reluctantly. “But it’s been three months, and you should at least see to the practicalities he put into place in case this happened.”
Hawke looked down at the scroll in her hand. “Yeah,” she agreed dully, and forced herself to smile at her friend. “I’ll read it.”
The scroll sat innocuously on her desk. As scrolls went, it was a fairly basic item: one, maybe two sheets of long creamy vellum rolled neatly together and tied with twine. The only reason this scroll could claim any kind of importance to Hawke were two vital details: the unbroken red wax sealing the scroll, and the scrawl of her name above it.
She would have to open it carefully.
Hawke sat at her desk and worked precisely, hands steady more through sheer willpower than any kind of skill. She’d gone to the markets specifically searching for the tool she now wielded, and holding her breath, she slid the thin dagger along the vellum. She exhaled carefully as she reached the wax, and then, a hair’s width at a time, worked the dagger cautiously underneath the hardened wax. His family’s seal was imprinted into the wax, and damned if she wasn’t going to try and remove it intact.
Just as she reached the center of the seal, just as she believed she might pull it off whole and unspoiled, there was a happy shout from downstairs and a flurry of barks.
Her hand jerked; the dagger spasmed against the wax; the seal cracked into nine crumbling pieces.
Hawke considered her options, and instead of burying her face in her hands and giving in to tears, snarled a curse she hadn’t known six years earlier and stabbed the dagger into the glossy oak of her desk. After a full two minutes of fuming, she took a deep breath, pulled the dagger out of the desk – it left a scar she was fairly sure no polishing would ever truly remove, which was just fitting, damn it all – and used it to slice open the twine holding the scroll closed.
The scroll loosened abruptly as the twine snapped, fluffing out from being rolled so tightly for who knew how long. Her own name stared up at her, Marian Hawke, written in a heavy hand that she would have recognized anywhere.
“Right,” she said grimly, and reached for the scroll.
It took her three solid breaths – when had breathing grown so difficult and time-consuming? She could have sworn she used to be able to breathe without forcing herself to do so – before she had gathered up her courage and unrolled the scroll in a decisive jerk of her hands.
Herein is contained the Last Will and Testament of the dwarf Varric Tethras -
Hawke dropped the scroll as though it burned her; it fell to the table, two pieces of curling vellum, and she very nearly fell to her knees with it.
Varric had disappeared three months ago: three months, one week, and two days. He’d been officially declared dead just over two weeks ago.
Not that she had counted, she told herself, feeling hysteria bubble just under the surface of her thoughts. Not that she was still counting…
It wasn’t that his disappearance had been unexpected, really. He’d told her, late at night, so late it was morning and the Hanged Man was nearly empty, that he might want to follow up on something he’d heard out of the Deep Roads.
“You know how it is, Hawke,” he’d said with a grin. “Stories of stories, everything more exaggerated than the last time it was told, until no one knows what’s true and what’s not anymore.”
“Not that you ever embellish any of your tales,” she’d agreed drily.
He’d laughed at that, eyeing her appreciatively over empty tankards, and leaned back contentedly in his chair. “Where’s the fun if I don’t?” he asked. “Anyways, I’m thinking of looking into it this time. Some of it is… intriguing.”
His voice had lingered on that last word, drawling it out thoughtfully, as though he couldn’t help but pause over it. Hawke had barely managed to remain sitting straight, and considered it a near miraculous feat of self-control that she’d contained her shiver of straight-out guilty pleasure at the sound of his voice lovingly caressing that last word.
“And are you going to share what’s so intriguing?” she’d asked, trying to hide her enjoyment.
Varric had only smirked at her, his eyes lit with amusement. “Now where’s the fun in that?” he’d replied, and patted her hand where it rested on the table. “Don’t fret, Hawke – I’ll come round your place one of these days once I straighten out the whole story. Make you laugh, have a drink or two, put some sunshine back into things. Don’t I always?”
Three days later, she’d gone to the Hanged Man to ask him to tag along on yet another expedition out to the Coast. He wasn’t in; two days later, he still hadn’t returned.
Hawke had, with admirable restraint, waited a full week before setting off in search for him. Sure, he knew what he was doing and was a grown dwarf and all, but he had a habit of getting into trouble, and she vastly preferred if he did so when she was around to watch his back. But her search had ended as fruitlessly as it began: with little information and increased worry.
She’d managed two more search parties since then, both a little more desperate than the last. On one she’d managed to track him into the Deep Roads, but the path had been anything but clear – multiple footprints, multiple backtrackings, twists and turns into the depths of the earth that she couldn’t hope to follow.
She’d found one of his gloves in the first expedition. Merrill and her sharp eyes had done one better and found a belt buckle she recognized, covered in dried blood and bent half out of shape. She’d taken Merrill with her again on the second trip, and nearly regretted it: the elf had been great help with tracking Varric into the Deep Roads, but she’d also found one of his blood-spattered earrings clutched tight in the fist of a dead dwarf in a forgotten thaig twelve miles below the surface.
That other dwarf had been dead, Hawke reminded herself, and struggled to get her breathing under control. She touched shaking fingers to the inside of her left cuff, where she’d pinned the recovered earring like a hidden cufflink. The metal was cool to the touch, smooth and curved and solid, and she’d taken to rubbing it for luck whenever she was worried about him.
Which was often.
That other dwarf had been dead, she thought again, fiercely. So what if Varric had lost an earring – what was an earring, in the long run? A flimsy little decoration, a glint of metal that shone in the dim lighting of the Hanged Man. Just a piece of jewelry.
Her fingers clutched at it like a lifeline, and after a long moment, Hawke was calm again.
The trail had ended in that echoing thaig, where dozens of corpses were strewn about the cut stone. Some were ancient, dead for centuries and little more than heaps of bone and scraps of cloth; others were freshly killed in comparison, weeks or months old.
Merrill and Fenris had helped her go through the bodies, searching for any sign of Varric. Hawke had been terrified that they’d find his body among the dead dwarves and humans, that one of the corpses would be rolled over and his rotting face would be staring up at her, his torc lying loose around collarbones and his strong arms reduced to skeletal decay.
When Isabella had shouted from across the thaig, Hawke had very nearly collapsed under that terror. But the pirate captain had lifted something from the wreckage of battle, something familiar and wooden and Maker, broken.
They’d been unable to track Varric past that thaig, even though they’d stayed below ground for days, until their supplies ran dangerously low and they were forced to return to Kirkwall. Hawke had carried Bianca out of the Deep Roads carefully, damn near reverently, and she’d seen the mournful looks her companions gave the broken crossbow as she’d carried it back into the Hanged Man.
Varric wouldn’t leave Bianca behind, those looks had said. Varric wouldn’t allow Bianca to break. It never would have happened if he’d been alive to prevent it.
Bianca’s shattered body was, in all the ways that mattered, the proof no one had wanted to find.
Kirkwall declared Varric officially dead four days later.
Hawke had pretended not to know about the wake Isabella had thrown for him, stoically avoiding the Hanged Man for the night even though she knew - knew - Isabella was mourning, that her friends were mourning, that she should have gone to the bar if only to support them, to let them all come together as a family, as twisted and strange and unconnected as they could be at times. She knew she could have brought Bianca with her, that the others would have liked to wrap the crossbow in black cloth and hang it in a place of honor.
They’d have set drinks out in front of it, Hawke thought now, offerings to the dwarf who carried it so faithfully, and they’d probably have tried to bury the crossbow in Kirkwall’s sprawling, dismal graveyard in place of the body they’d never find.
Hawke wasn’t ready for that yet, and so she’d avoided the bar and gotten herself stinking drunk in her own home. She’d wrapped Bianca in cloth and carefully stowed her broken pieces away as best she could, in the chest she kept in her bedroom, and told herself that Varric would want it - her , he always called Bianca her, never it - back if he returned.
Damn it, when he returned.
All of this official business was shaking her calm. It was just a formality, she told herself sternly, just paperwork to deal with to tide things over until Varric returned. Better her than the Chantry; better the one he’d wanted to see to things than strangers.
She didn’t know why Varric had named her as the executor of his estate – oh, he trusted her well enough, sure, but there had to be someone better suited to dealing with all of his varied businesses. Still, Aveline was right: he’d entrusted this to her, and wanted her to be the one to handle things, so she would.
She could never refuse him anything, even now. She reached again for the vellum, and steeled herself to read it.
Chapter 3An hour later, Hawke set down the unrolled vellum, fascinated despite herself. His will contained the usual bequests: she was to see to his estate, pass out the mementos and trinkets he’d designated for those he was fond of, and keep track of the various accounts he had opened through the city. Merrill would be the beneficiary of a great deal of twine, which Hawke found amusing though she had no idea why the elf seemed to deserve it, in Varric’s mind; Anders was left half a dozen crates of potions that she knew Varric had smuggled in from Orlesian ships two years ago.
But that was the simple part of the will. A little more than half of the vellum had been covered in a carefully scrawled list of contacts and information, but oh, what interesting information it held.
She had always known Varric wielded a great deal of power from the Hanged Man: he had sources and spies throughout the city, networks throughout every quarter of Kirkwall and webs reaching out even further. But now she knew who his spies were, which contacts could be trusted for what, which business ventures involved blackmail and which involved respect.
No, the Chantry sisters would not be getting their hands on this will, Hawke thought rather more gleefully than she should have, rolling the vellum back up. As much as she hated to admit it, Aveline had been right: she’d needed to read this, regardless of if Varric were dead or simply missing. Informants needed to be paid, contacts needed to be reassured: Varric had built himself an empire, and she would not let it fall while he was gone. She’d step in and keep it running – well, as smoothly as she could, she supposed; she didn’t have half of his charm. But she was persistent, and she was the Champion, and she was Hawke.
And this was something Varric had made, something Varric entrusted her to see to. For that alone, she’d cherish it, nurture it, see that it didn’t collapse.
For a dwarf who’d given her so much, this was really the first tangible thing from him. It wasn’t even really an item, Hawke realized, fingers once more sliding over the earring pinned at her wrist. Not something she could pick up and hold, at least. But it was real – something he’d given her that she could tend to, and she was honored and delighted that he’d trusted her with his legacy.
A small part of her whispered that if he’d entrusted his very livelihood to her, he likely cared for her more than his other friends, and wasn’t that something? Didn’t it mean anything that of all his friends, he’d chosen her to see to things?
She snorted and shoved the tantalizing thought from her mind. He’d probably left it to her because she was the Champion, she told herself. Sure, he trusted her, but when did Varric do anything out of mere sentimentality? He might talk a good game about stories and legends and heroic deeds done only for the valor, but in reality she knew him to be ruthlessly practical. She’d been given his businesses because he thought she could tend to them, could use them, could keep them up and running. She was his heir due to practicality, not emotion.
But Maker, it was nice to pretend for just that instant, to let the thought wash through her and wonder if he’d left his life to her because she was his closest friend. Because he wanted what he loved to go to the one he loved, because he knew she would cherish his legacy like she cherished him.
And why would he have done that? her inner thoughts taunted her savagely. How would he have known you loved him, hm? All those poetic declarations you made, all the gifts you gave him, all the times you kissed him? Wait, of course not, you never did any of that. She shook her head at her own thoughts: in times like these, it was Carver’s voice she heard in her head, derisive and sarcastic. You’re too late, Hawke. You sat around like a lovesick teenager with a crush, too afraid to say anything, and now you’re never going to have the chance.
It wasn’t as though things would have changed anyways, she told herself, standing up from her desk chair. Sure, she might have enjoyed his company, might have desperately wanted to touch his face, might have cared more than she ought to have - might have been in love, that same voice taunted her again – but what difference would speaking up have made?
Varric wasn’t into humans. He’d said as much one night when they’d been visiting Merrill in the alienage. They had been teasing Merrill, gently, trying to get her spirits up again – maybe she ought to have brought Isabella along instead?
Isabella, at least, wouldn’t have casually and unknowingly broken her heart with a little riff of a joke.
So she’d kept quiet, the stupid human who had wanted a dwarf to notice her. She’d been quiet, and careful, and if she enjoyed her meals with him in the Hanged Man more often than she ate with the rest of her companions, no one else commented on it or even seemed to notice. It had been her guilty pleasure, to sit with him at his table and talk, to make jokes about the other patrons or plot in low voices their next outing. And if she sometimes had to hide the shiver caused by the sound of his voice, if sometimes his leg would shift and bump hers under the table, if she’d maybe grow more friendly the rare nights she indulged in too much ale – well, what human would be interested in a dwarf, so no one saw the signs for what they were, and Hawke’s heart remained hidden.
She tapped the rolled vellum decisively against her desk. He hadn’t known, and for that she was now grateful. He’d be embarrassed, she was sure – or worse, amused. She’d finally find herself in one of his little printed books, the human head over heels for a dwarf, and he’d have the start of a new comic series.
All the same, he’d left her his empire of words and trade, and trusted her to see to it. She could at least do that for him, if nothing else.
Then Hawke frowned, and stared down at her desk. There was a second piece of vellum there, one she hadn’t noticed but obviously part of Varric’s will. She picked it up – it had been curled tightly underneath the will, and as she struggled to straighten it out without ripping it, she wondered what else was left for Varric to settle. The will she’d finished reading was complete, detailed and thoughtful and definitely not lacking in detail. What was this…?
She finally got the vellum to stay open. It was much thinner than the other piece, as though it had been used repeatedly and scraped thin many times to be rewritten before it was deemed suitable. She pressed the thin vellum to her desk carefully, trying not to tear it, and her name caught her attention at the very top of it.
Hawke, Varric had written in his heavy, flowing script. Or maybe I should start this off with Marian. Does anyone actually call you Marian? I always wondered about that.
She laughed despite herself, and eased back down into her chair to read.
Or maybe I should start this off with Marian. Does anyone actually call you Marian? I always wondered about that. I was tempted to try it, to start calling you by your first name just to see what would happen. I have nicknames for everyone else; why couldn’t yours be your ignored proper name?
You probably notice I haven’t tried it. What can I say? I guess I figure I couldn’t really use your actual name as a nickname. Where’s the fun in that?
Besides, I gave you a nickname years ago. I’m just too much a coward to actually say it. (Yes, me, a coward; don’t go repeating that or I’ll deny I ever said it.)
Didn’t you ever wonder about that, Hawke? Why, after knowing you longest of anyone, you are the only one I always call by name? I sometimes wonder if you’re going to ask me about that, you know. If one of these days you’ll look at me with pleading eyes and ask why you don’t deserve some fun pet name like everyone else.
Well, if you’re reading this, then I suppose I’m dead and gone and was still too much of a coward to ever explain myself. (I like to think that if I had explained myself, this would be a different letter.) And if I’m dead, I don’t need to worry about being too afraid to say it to your face, or of what your reaction might be. So since I’m dead (or will be, when you read this), I can explain myself.
I gave you a pet name a long time ago, Hawke – years ago, probably within months of meeting you. I’ve almost said it out loud more times than I can count.
Do you know how hard it is to call you Hawke? To sit with you at night at my table in the Hanged Man and talk about everything except how badly I want to touch you?
Sometimes I slip up, you know. I’ll reach out to touch your face and catch myself halfway through, turn it into a pat on your shoulder. I’ll try to take your hand and stop myself, make myself hit the table instead.
I wonder what your skin feels like, sweetheart. If the calluses on your hands from your swords would line up with the rough places Bianca has worn on my fingers. Sometimes I follow you into whatever danger of the week we’re facing and stare at the back of your neck, just barely visible when you shift your shoulders and your armor moves a certain way, where your hair is wispy and brushes against your skin, and can barely resist the urge to kiss you there.
I never published a story about you, you know. Note that I didn’t say I never wrote about you, sweetheart, there’s a definite difference. I thought about pairing some version of you off with Blondie, or Fenris – hell, even Choir Boy. Never quite could manage it, though; it hurt too much to write it any other way than how I wanted. But how pathetic would I seem if I published a story about you and wrote myself into it as the hero? Aveline’s sharper than she looks – hell, most of them are – and before you know it half of Kirkwall would know I want to bend you over a table and see to it you can’t walk straight for a week.
A dwarf has to have some pride, after all. I can’t very well go around being fearsome and bold if I’m the laughingstock of Kirkwall.
But I suppose I’m dead if you’re reading this, so I can say what I want. So here it is, sweetheart, out in the open at last: I love you. I love you and I want you and spending time with you is the best part of knowing you.
You’re everything I ever wanted in a partner, you know. Brave and funny and loyal and beautiful. I watch you fight, sometimes, where there’s a lull near me and I can see you – and you shine, sweetheart, deadly and dangerous and so damn breathtaking I lose the words to describe it.
You make me speechless, sweetheart, and I’m good with words.
This isn’t meant to make you feel uncomfortable, to have you sitting there wondering what on earth I expected you to do with any of this. It’s more of a confession for me – wouldn’t Choir Boy be proud? But if you’re staring at this letter, horrified, go ahead and toss it in the fire. I’m dead, after all, no hair off my chest.
If you just don’t know what to do with it, go on and save it somewhere. When you’re pissed off at the world, when you’re feeling down, when you stumble into something and feel like you just messed it all up afterwards, come back here and read this and remember that once upon a time, someone loved you and thought you were wonderful.
Then go out and have a drink on me, and feel better. I’ve set aside an account specifically for it, but then if you’re reading this you got the will, too; it’s the one marked “In Case of Stupidity”. Normally I use it to keep the guards away from Anders’s clinic and to convince the garden security that Daisy is fairly dimwitted, but a drink or two to cheer you up is definitely allowed.
I don’t have any damned idea how to end this letter, sweetheart. I’m dead, I guess, so I can’t say that I’ll see you soon or that we’ll catch up next time or whatever I normally put at the end of letters. So I’ll just tell you this: I love you, sweetheart, and loving you has been the best part of my life. So thanks for that, and don’t be too pissed off at me.
Oh, and by the way, I know you wondered about this in the will – I didn’t mention Bianca. I’m not entirely sure if she’ll survive whatever kills me – she’s tough and loyal like that – but if she does, I want you to have her. You’re a halfway decent archer, so feel free to use her whenever you please. Just talk nice to her, all right? She’s a real lady. She ought to treat you right, since I’ve told her all about you.
Her throat burned, and it took her long minutes to realize that she was crying. Hawke dashed at the tears on her cheeks with clumsy fingers, eyes still trained down at the second, vitally important scroll.
It hurt to breathe. Hawke did so anyway, dragging in a breath that seemed to strain her lungs.
He loved her. Had loved her. Which tense to use? Hawke’s mind giddily flipped through them. Loved, had loved, loved – was he alive still? Dead? Had loved? The indecision spiraled as panic threatened to take over and Hawke ruthlessly forced her mind back to calm rationality even as she finally acknowledged that Varric was dead. Only probably! part of her defiantly insisted, desperate and wounded.
The tears came faster then; she’d put off this acknowledgement for months, and it wasn’t easy to admit to herself that no, he wasn’t coming back, wasn’t missing, wasn’t simply lost.
Varric was dead, and Hawke mourned with tears and heartache.
He was dead, and he had loved her, damn it all, and she’d loved him and she’d never told him, never let anyone guess that she might, never done a damn thing to let him know that she cared, never touched him with any feeling beyond casual friendship.
Had she ever actually even told him that she valued him? She told all her friends, she reassured herself, wiping away her tears. She let them all know how much she appreciated their help, how their support made being the Champion of Kirkwall bearable, how without them she’d never amount to anything much.
But had she told Varric, who of all people deserved to hear it the most?
She bit her lip and smoothed out the vellum in front of her. Surely she had, she conceded, allowing her panic to subside. Surely she’d mentioned to him how much she appreciated having him at her back, or at least how much it meant that he’d keep her company so often in the dark hours of the night, tromping across Lowtown and being jumped by brigands on their way to investigate some new quest or another.
He had known, at least, that she’d considered him a good friend. Hawke had let that much through, hadn’t she? She hadn’t buried even appreciation for his friendship under the covers that kept her affection locked away. He had to have known.
She couldn’t quite stand thinking about if he hadn’t.
…You shine, sweetheart… she heard his voice say into her ear, and swallowed hard.
He’d loved her, and he was dead, and he’d left her this precious gift to let her know just how much he treasured her.
Her deep breath was shaky, as though she’d just climbed a mountain, but when she reached for the vellum her hands were steady. She brushed light fingers across his signature, the bold, confident swirl of ink on the page, and then she rolled up the paper carefully.
He’d loved her, and he was dead: the least she could do was honor his wishes. A tribute, Hawke thought, wrapping the twine around her letter, already knowing she’d store it away safely to reread on bad days as he’d wished. A tribute, something she’d do in his memory.
In loving memory, she thought with a quiet ache in her heart, and took both her letter and the will with her into her bedroom. The letter she hid away carefully, above her bed in the little safebox she kept in a chink in the wall where no one would find it; the will she moved to place in the chest she kept pushed against the foot of her bed.
While she was there, she lifted free something else from the chest, laid it on her bed respectfully, and unwrapped it.
“Hello, old girl,” she said softly. “Varric’s not here, but I’ll do my best to treat you well.”
Bianca’s broken pieces gleamed against the plain white cloth they lay against, and Hawke knew what her next step would be.
Hawke took the broken crossbow to Sebastian.
“Well?” she asked, as he pursed his lips and studied all the pieces they’d recovered from the Deep Roads. “Fixable?”
He took his time in replying. “I think so,” he answered at last, hefting a piece of what had once been her stock. “A good smith should be able to see to the brass, and any wood carver can remake what’s missing. You’ll want to keep all the original pieces you can, of course.”
Hawke blinked, told herself she shouldn’t be surprised that he understood her purpose, and nodded. “If I can,” she agreed.
“It shouldn’t be too hard,” the archer said, and carefully laid the pieces out in order on the white carrying cloth. “Varric kept a repair kit – do you know if that’s still around?”
Hawke reached into her bag and pulled it out. “I started cleaning out his rooms in the Hanged Man,” she said drily. “This was one of the only things I recognized in there. Do you know how much stuff he had?”
“Well, he was a member of the Merchant’s Guild,” Sebastian murmured, not taking his eyes off of the crossbow as he accepted the repair kit. “They do like shiny things.”
He opened the repair kit, and then looked up at her. “If you’ll allow me, I think I can make a good start of it,” he said quietly. “May I?”
Hawke looked down at his competent hands, respectfully hovering over Bianca’s broken bits, and nodded. “Of course,” she said, and then added with a smile, “You’ll treat her right.”
“Of course,” Sebastian agreed, and his smile was kind and sudden. “You’re keeping up with Varric’s tradition, then?” And at her clearly confused look, he prompted, “Her?”
“Her? Oh,” and Hawke realized what he meant as he picked up the main frame of Bianca’s body and began turning it in his hands. “Well, he said to treat her right, and I figured that’s about what he meant.”
“Probably,” Sebastian agreed easily, choosing a tool from the repair kit and squinting down at the wood. “I think he’d be pleased, at least.” He looked up from Bianca, eyes serious and sad. “I’ve added his name to the Chantry prayer call,” he said somberly. “I hope you don’t mind.”
“Why would I mind?” Hawke asked, bewildered. “He wouldn’t.”
“Ah, well, you never know with some dwarves,” he responded, and his eyes lightened. “It just seemed the least I could do for him.”
Warmth blossomed slowly in the pit of Hawke’s stomach, and she moved to a chair near the table, so she could watch Sebastian work. “Thanks,” she said. “He’d like knowing you thought of it.”
“Mm,” the Chantry brother said, and bent to work. Some minutes later, strong fingers busily employed at his task, he said, “She’s well made and well cared for despite being in pieces – I think she’ll recover from this none the worse for the wear.”
“She?” Hawked teased him gently, and came to stand beside him to peer down at his progress.
“It’s respectful,” Sebastian said, pulling dignity over himself like a shroud. But he spoiled it when bright blue eyes twinkled down at her, full of laughter. “Besides, it fits. She’s been well loved, Hawke, and it’ll take more than losing Varric for her to turn into kindling. See this, here?” And he pointed to a notch in the wood. “She was made from different pieces of cedar – red cedar – and fit together carefully. Most of this damage just shook her up a bit, knocked her apart. Putting her back together is just a matter of time and care.”
“How much of it do you think you can manage?” Hawke asked, watching in fascination as Sebastian attached two pieces of cedar together. The stock was nearly whole again.
“A bit more,” he said, and gestured. “You’ll want a respectable wood carver to take a look at it when I’m done, of course, and you’ll want a smith who works with brass to realign the arms, but it’s more than doable.”
Relief flooded through her, and she let her shoulders relax. “Good,” she said, and touched the sleek wood stock. “Here that, my lady? You’ll be in working order again soon.”
Sebastian tilted his head as he regarded her. “Are you going to use her?” he asked.
Hawke forced herself to shrug casually. “I’d considered it.”
“Hm,” the archer said, and studied her. “I’d say it might work pretty well, with your size.”
“Size?” Hawke asked, and looked down at Bianca. “She’s pretty oversize for a dwarf, I’d say, so I should be all right with the pull.”
“Not the pull,” Sebastian corrected, “the heft of her. She’s well made enough that I think you can manage to load and fire her as well as any bow – you’re a good archer – so that’s not a worry.”
You’re a halfway decent archer, Hawke heard in Varric’s voice, and looked up at Sebastian. “I’m hearing a ‘but’ in here somewhere.”
He laughed. “But,” he said wryly, “you’re not a dwarf, Hawke, and while you’re fairly strong for a human female, this bow was designed for a dwarven male.” At her still blank stare, he elaborated, “She’s heavy.”
“Oh,” Hawke realized, and looked down at the crossbow. “Well, I guess I’ll just have to get stronger then, won’t I?”
Six months after Varric disappeared, the rumors started.
Thanks to Varric’s own empire of spy networks, Hawke was among the first to hear them.
They started off vague. “Heard there might be an expedition coming back from the Deep Roads sometime this year,” Crivet told her idly as they waited for his son to forge papers declaring Hawke’s shipments as originating in Antiva. “Any news that direction on what might be coming up with it?”
“Nope,” she said cheerfully enough, keeping a close eye on his son. “Nothing yet.”
Four days later, though, Alandia whispered in her ear, “By the way, Hawke, I heard rumor that some dwarven treasures might be making their way to the surface soon. Keep me in mind, hm?”
“Possibly,” Hawke had murmured back, and the madam had sauntered her way out of the room without another word.
It had been enough to have her putting her own feelers out, using Varric’s network to the best of her abilities and waiting in the Hanged Man as reports trickled in.
There was a dwarven expedition returning from the Deep Roads, and they’d gone to the Revcan Thaig and brought back enough gold to bury a dragon.
No, it wasn’t the Revcan Thaig, it was the lost Halls of Thunder, and they were bringing back secrets of magical wonder.
Of course it wasn’t, it was a human-led expedition, first of all, and secondly they’d gone hunting dragonlings and were bringing back carts full of hides and claws to turn into armor and weapons.
No, hadn’t she heard the truth? The Wardens and the Legion of the Dead had discovered a darkspawn camp just two miles from Orzammar, and whatever they’d found there had been set loose and was coming for them even now.
It gave Hawke a headache.
But she’d learned how to glean bits of truth from the dozens of rumors that were reported to her in the three months she’d run Varric’s empire: some kind of expedition was working its way to Kirkwall from the Deep Roads, and she fully intended to speak with the leaders when they arrived. They might know something, have seen something she missed, and for that alone she’d speak to them.
She hated the Deep Roads, though. The Deep Roads had claimed Varric, and she suddenly found she hated them: hated them even more than when the dark tunnels had nearly killed Bethany, even more than when she realized that Bethany had been doomed to fight and die with the Wardens beneath their gloomy carved ceilings. The Deep Roads had taken Varric, and for that alone she would hate them.But even if the expedition came from the Deep Roads, even if they didn’t know anything, she reflected, hiking through the drizzle back to her estate, they’d likely have new stories, new coin, new goods, and new fools in their employ, and trading would be brisk for some time after their arrival.
“There she is!”
It was a whisper, nearly too soft to be heard, coming from the roof of the house ahead of her.
Hawke didn’t slow her steps, though her eyes narrowed. Without a pause, she pulled Bianca from her back, slid a bolt into position. Someone ahead of her swore, and on that she lifted Bianca smoothly to her shoulder.
That voice was loud enough to become a target: Bianca looked upwards, and Hawke feathered her finger across her trigger as she sighted. Bianca kicked back against her – it very nearly didn’t hurt – and the bolt shot forward to plant itself into an assassin’s belly even as six more bodies leaped from the roof.
“Six, huh?” Hawke called, unable to keep the contempt from her voice as she loaded a second bolt with practiced fingers. “You couldn’t have made it a challenge?”
“You’ll die, bitch!”
She decided it was only fair to continue shooting the ones shouting, and this time her aim was even more accurate: he made a wet gurgle and dropped like a tree, Bianca’s bolt sprouting from his throat like a spiky flower.
Despite her practice, though, she still wasn’t as fast as Varric had been with the crossbow. She had to kill the last four with her sword, which she found far more annoying than she would have three month earlier.
Sebastian had been right: Bianca was heavy. Almost too heavy; Hawke was strong for a human woman, used to swinging heavy swords and lifting bodies and carrying Maker knew too much found armor, but Bianca still tired her out. It gave her new appreciation for Varric – she’d seen him heft Bianca with one hand, last a half-hour battle without letter her so much as waver in his arms.
Her record was four shots before she had to switch to something lighter, and Hawke was both ridiculously proud and faintly embarrassed of that fact.
Sebastian encouraged her practice – she’d always been a competent archer (halfway decent, her mind whispers), and he’s taught her to compensate her stance for Bianca’s weight, to pull the crossbow high and tight on her shoulder to reduce the bruising force of the kick-back after every shot, to reload with swift and steady fingers.
She was better than she had been, certainly, but she definitely had underestimated Varric’s strength to use Bianca so easily. She grimaced, and cleaned her sword on the tunic of one of the assassins. They would be Covert Eyes, of course, still pissed off about that last copper shipment…
She was so wrapped up in her thoughts as she finished her walk home that she didn’t even notice the couple wandering the streets, or pay attention to their quiet conversation.
“…interesting, don’t you think?” the man said to the woman as she passed by. “I mean, it’s been months, and what if she doesn’t want to give it back?” He glanced up as she neared, and spoke loudly. “Good evening, Champion.”
“Evening,” she said, preoccupied with determining how to pay back the Covert Eyes for their grievously insulting attempt at assassination, and as she passed, the wind carried his words past her into the night.
“You see what I mean?”
There was no fanfare, no trumpets, no official declarations or announcements.
It had been a scorching summer day and was still a warm summer night; the door to the Hanged Man had been left open to let more air into the overheated tavern. Despite everyone’s best efforts, the ale had been on the warm side all evening, and even Anders had unbent enough to make a quiet visit to the storeroom to “see to restoring hope to the masses”; that lasted for about three hours before he’d refreshed whatever spell he’d cast that had miraculously kept the kegs cool enough to make the ale palatable.
Hawke sat at what she still thought of as Varric’s table – not in his seat, of course, in her usual spot to the side of it. Anders had swung by to mention that there was an increase of damp lung coming out of Lowtown’s slums, and did she know anything about finding a supply of polar iceflower to help cure it? So she’d said she’d see what she could do and the mage had hung around, clearly reluctant to leave, which was why, three hours later, the table was covered in empty tankards and cards, and a motley assortment of her friends had been invited over for an evening of cards.
Hawke had been enjoying the game – Fenris bluffed well, Anders played recklessly, Isabella flirted her way into and out of bets, and Aveline rolled her eyes and watched Donnic methodically win. They were focused on the cards, the points tallied up beside Aveline (Isabella cheated, and so wasn’t allowed to keep score; Aveline was the most honest of any of them, and had been appointed scorekeeper because of it). They huddled together, bent over the game and oblivious to anything past their table, and so no one expected a disturbance – and no one, even the guards among them who should have been diligent, the rogues who might have expected an ambush, the warriors who should have kept an eye on their surroundings, even the mage who should have feared the tromp of Templar boots – no one realized that the rest of the bar had gone quiet in a shocked silence.
“Well now,” a strong voice chuckled from just beyond their table, breaking their concentration and the silence. “It’s nice to see you’ve kept up the tradition.”
The whole tavern hung in stunned silence as the words hung in the air. All attention was focused on the dwarf who stood proudly in front of their table, legs planted solidly apart and arms crossed over a powerful chest. Gold glinted from his ears, from his neck, from thick fingers and the belt at his waist, but his eyes gleamed brighter yet as he looked at the table of amazed companions he’d left behind.
The shout burst from several throats, Hawke’s among them, and in a mad scrambling rush, the game was abandoned. Bodies piled from the table to crash into the dwarf’s solid form, and to give him credit, he didn’t flinch back from the assault of affection. Instead he stood his ground as his friends piled onto him in an extraordinarily chaotic group hug.
“You were declared dead!” Isabella told him, and planted an enthusiastic kiss to the top of his head. “You stupid dwarf, you still owe me money from our last game!”
“Do you have any idea how much paperwork there was to deal with when you were gone?” Aveline demanded, with a hearty slap to the dwarf’s back and a wide smile. “You did that just to make me miserable, didn’t you?”
“Impressive,” Anders managed, pumping the dwarf’s hand, eyes shimmering suspiciously with what might have been joy. “Just wanted a vacation, did you? Glad you’re back!”
And Fenris rested a hand on Varric’s shoulder and said quietly, “We missed you. It just wasn’t the same, chasing after Hawke, without having you around.”
Hawke simply stared, and said nothing.
What could she say? The words tripped up her throat and died on her tongue; she couldn’t find anything that wouldn’t be ridiculous, and so she settled for silence unwillingly. But as her friends shifted, as she could find an opening in the throng of well-wishers, she pressed herself forward to grip his arm.
Muscles tensed and shifted under her arm, his skin warm and definitely living. Relief shuddered through her so fast and so hard that she fell to her knees, which worked out well because her friends made room for her, assumed she’d done so deliberately to greet the dwarf.
“Hawke,” Varric greeted her, proud nose looking down at her for once, and knowing what to look for, she saw sweetheart unspoken in his eyes.
She still lacked words, but she flung her arms around solid shoulders and buried her face against his chest. A cheer went up as his own arms moved around her back to rest there, to give just the slightest tentative squeeze, and then Hawke reminded herself that she hadn’t declared herself, that he didn’t know how she felt, that the others didn’t know how he felt, and that she was supposed to be greeting a friend everyone thought long lost.
So she breathed deep the scent of Varric with her head pressed against his coat, and then lifted her head and fought for the right words.
“When you said you might be gone a while,” Hawke told him, hands on his shoulders as she climbed back to her feet, “I wasn’t expecting six months.”
Laughter followed her words, laughter and teasing and accusations and a great wave of friendship that saw Varric propelled to his old seat at the table, a place of honor where it seemed like half the bar was hanging on his every word.
“Well, I heard some intriguing stories,” Varric said smugly, “and I just couldn’t resist following up on some of them.”
“For six months?” Isabella demanded. “Maker, Varric, you could have at least warned us you’d be gone.”
“Hey, hey!” And he held up callused hands at the accusation. “I figured a week, not six months.”
“Hawke went looking for you,” Anders chimed in. “Three times.”
“It took me two weeks to get her to read your will once you were declared dead,” Aveline added.
“Didn’t think I’d die so easy?” Varric asked her, smiling. “Aw, Hawke, I’m touched.”
He said it with laughter in his voice, rich and affectionate and just the right tone for teasing a friend. But his eyes were molten as he glanced at her, and again Hawke had sweetheart ringing through her mind.
So she swallowed it down and grinned back at him. “I had to keep the story going,” she teased him. “Dwarven hero goes missing, evades desperate search parties, et cetera, et cetera, to bring back heaps of gold and rubies and lost enchantments from beyond the grave, or whatever stories you picked up along the way.”
If his eyes gleamed before, now they lit with something she couldn’t identify, something bright and perfect. “Nah,” he said. “Some stories, yeah, but not much gold and rubies and enchantments from beyond the grave. Just,” and his smile grew wide, proud and self-satisfied, “a bit of sunshine for you.”
And from behind her, Hawke heard a voice she’d never expected to hear again in her lifetime, tentative and soft and so familiar it ached.
She turned slowly, unable to leave her chair. From somewhere behind her there was a whoop of joy and recognition, but Hawke again seemed stunned into silence.
Bethany stood before her, hesitantly twisting her hands together, staff at her back and Warden’s grey robes girded at her waist. She met her sister’s eyes, and gave a little smile.
Hawke was up like a shot fired from Bianca, crashing into her little sister – her lost little sister, who’d joined the Wardens and been condemned to a life of death and darkspawn in the Deep Roads – and wrapping her arms tight around her, tears starting up in her eyes. Bethany, too, was crying, silent sobs that shook her whole fragile form as she clutched her older sister and wept with happiness.
Over Bethany’s head, Hawke saw Varric’s pleased smile, the relaxed look in his eyes as he watched the reunion, and she wondered just how she would ever be able to repay him for this.
“Well, there was an ambush, of course,” Bethany said. “Six of them, I think; I kind of stopped keeping track.”
Anders just shook his head, amazed. “And the Wardens let you go,” he repeated, as though he still couldn’t believe it. “Just let you leave.”
“I’m going back,” Bethany told him with spine she hadn’t had six years ago. “I’m not abandoning them. They understand that.”
The whole story had come out over quite a lot of ale and a good deal of time. Varric had heard rumors of the Grey Wardens in a closer part of the Deep Roads, and had decided to see if Bethany was with them. There had been ambushes, lyrium-controlled sycophants of some dark cult, and far too many darkspawn for Hawke’s liking in his tale, and Hawke still wasn’t entirely following the whole story correctly, but if she’d heard right, Varric had been with the Wardens when the Wardens themselves had been driven back into the Deep Roads, and only after they’d beat back the incursion had Bethany been granted leave to visit her sister.
Bethany had changed in the years since Hawke had seen her last: she carried herself with a new poise, a new confidence. Her hair was longer, pulled back into a tight plait behind her head, and the fear that Hawke had grown used to seeing in her eyes was gone. It was replaced with something that glittered, hard and dangerous and at the same time protective, so that instead of fearing for her sister, Hawke felt pride that she could call this Grey Warden her own flesh and blood.
Varric, on the other hand, hadn’t changed at all. He’d brought her Bethany, Hawke thought, and was almost swamped with love for him: he’d risked his life to bring Bethany away from the Wardens for just a brief moment, and if she hadn’t loved him before, that alone would have caused her to love him anew. He sat leaning back in his chair, hands steepled in front of him in his usual pose, and the sight was far more distracting than it had any right to be. She kept stealing glances towards him, watching the torchlight flicker across his broad shoulders and strictly reminding herself that throwing herself at him in front of all the others would raise so many questions that it would not accomplish anything.
But Aveline, she of the sharp eyes, noticed, and elbowed her. “It seems Hawke here has something for you, dwarf,” she said, and was that a note of teasing in her voice? “I can’t imagine what it might be.”
“Really,” Varric said lightly, and there was that spark in his eyes as he turned to her – the spark that had been there as long as she could remember, but only now she could recognize it as interest, honed and specific. “What do you have for me, Hawke?”
Hawke forced her brain to work, forced herself to be clever and latched onto the idea as it presented itself. “Oh, just the love of your life,” she teased, and had the pleasure of seeing something kindle in his eyes. She reached under the table, brought Bianca up from her ready spot. “I suppose you’ll be glad to know I’ve treated her like a real lady.”
The sigh that came from Varric’s chest was pure happiness. “Oh, that’s my girl,” he all but whispered, taking the crossbow from her, and she had no idea if he spoke to Bianca or her. But his eyes were focused on the crossbow, shining and affectionate, and Hawke couldn’t help but smile.
Anders snickered into his ale. “Some things never change,” he said, and swung to his feet a bit unsteadily. “On that note, I’m off.”
The others, too, made noises about the lateness of the hour, and quickly, the only ones remaining at the table were Hawke, her sister, and Varric, who was so busy running his hands across Bianca’s shining stock that he barely noticed.
“Since Varric will be absorbed with his lady love for at least the next hour,” Bethany said drily to her older sister with a smile, “I’ll let you settle the bar tab and find myself a room for the night.” She hesitated, and then started quietly, “Tomorrow, could we…”
“Catch up?” Hawke finished for her, tearing her eyes from Varric’s fingers tracing the brass fittings near the firing ring. She looked at her sister and smiled. “I’d love to. We’ll make a day of it, hear all the stories, make up a few.”
Bethany laughed, carefree and happier than Hawke could ever remember seeing her. “A good plan,” she agreed, and rose.
Leaving Hawke with Varric. Alone.
“You found her,” he said, a bit hoarsely. “Fixed her up, too, if this scarring is anything to go by.”
She forced herself to keep her voice light. “Put her to good use a bit, too. I couldn’t help myself.”
His grin was feral and familiar and sent heat scorching through her. “I knew I could trust her with you, Hawke.”
Then he was looking up from Bianca, up at her with direct eyes. “I trusted you with some other businesses of mine, too – did you put those to good use?”
She swallowed, and went for the clueless route because she was a coward. “Oh, I learned to manage an empire, if that’s what you’re asking. Kept up some of your old rooms here, kept your contacts going.”
His chuckle rolled down her spine. “I knew you’d see to things all right. Mind if we have a…” and she didn’t imagine the way his voice lingered over the words, “conference about some of that business before you head out for the night?”
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Hawke hadn’t ever gotten around to cleaning up his rooms. She’d kept them rented out, of course, and saw to it that someone came in every few weeks to dust and clean and air them out. She used them herself, occasionally, when meetings ran late or when she had one too many at the bar or when she just couldn’t handle going back to the grand estate that she still sometimes felt like a stranger within.
The sheets on his bed didn’t smell like him, of course, and they’d been cleaned dozens of times since he’d left, but Hawke had always slept well in Varric’s bed. It left her blushing like a teenager as she glanced at it, but Varric thankfully didn’t notice as he ran a hand over his desk.
“Everything right where I left it,” he mused, and glanced over his shoulder at her. “Didn’t do much exploring, did you, Hawke?”
Sweetheart. She shook her head. “Not really,” she managed carelessly. “I couldn’t find your secret stash of romance novels at first try, so I decided to stop looking.”
He chuckled at that, came around his desk to stand near where she sat by the fire. “Then you weren’t looking in the right places.” He stopped inches in front of her, and looked at her. “So. Hawke.”
Hawke gathered all the courage she had, looked straight into his warm brown eyes, and said, “You know, I read something that mentioned you had a different name for me.”
Varric didn’t flinch back, but neither did his face soften at all. “Oh?” he said instead. “I thought you might have, as you treated Bianca so well.” He crossed his arms in front of him – defensive, she realized abruptly, he was being defensive. “You’ll have to forgive me for being maudlin about things. Writers can be… dramatic, thinking on what they might leave behind.”
He was offering her an out, a way to ignore everything and go back to what they had before.
She didn’t take it. “I don’t know,” she said, her voice barely louder than a whisper. “You call everyone else by their nicknames, I think it’s only fair I get mine, too.”
There was a long moment of silence. Then, with a creak of leather, he uncrossed his arms. One heavy hand reached out to touch her face, a feather-light tough despite the strength Hawke knew he had in his grip. Broad fingers brushed carefully against her cheek, and her eyes fluttered shut.
“Sweetheart,” Varric named her, voice rough with emotion, and it was too much for Hawke to take. She tumbled off of her chair to her knees to wrap her arms around the dwarf, and like their embrace in the Hanged Man’s main room, his arms came around her as well, and squeezed.
This time neither broke away, and she felt Varric’s hand slip from her cheek to the back of her head, cradling her head against his, forehead to forehead with gentle pressure. “Sweetheart,” he whispered again, a world of meaning in that single word, and then he tilted her head and kissed her.
She drowned in the kiss, in the feel of his lips against hers and the way his hands tightened on her body as he pulled her closer, as though he couldn’t help himself. So Hawke strained against him, her own hands pulling away from his back to slide up his chest, to glide along the flat expanse of muscle to the edges of his coat, to grip there and pull him closer against her as his fingers tightened in her hair and against her hip.
The kiss broke on a shaky breath, and they stared at each other for a long, heart-pounding moment. Varric was the first to speak, running his hand up and down over her hip.
“So,” he said thoughtfully, though she could hear the rumble of pleasure in his voice. “You don’t mind a nickname, hm?”
“Definitely not,” she breathed, and because she could, she leaned forward and kissed him again, fiercely, delighting in the way his hands suddenly tensed on her, the way he pulled her closer so that her body pressed against his from thigh to chest.
“Good,” was all he said in response when she let him speak again, and he nuzzled at her neck until her head fell back with a gasp. He nipped at her ear lightly, and then murmured, lips touching the shell of her ear, “Sweetheart.”
Hawke decided that she would never grow tired of hearing him call her that, his voice gravely and low. She hadn’t realized she’d spoken aloud until he chuckled, pulling her tight against him.
“Gravely, huh?” he teased her gently. “Sure you didn’t find those romance novels?”
Saucily, not knowing where the courage came from, she shot back, “I was looking for a particular unpublished series, Varric – care to tell me where I could find them?”
His hands on her stilled, and the dwarf froze. Terrified she’d stepped over bounds, Hawke swung her gaze to look at Varric’s face, and found him dazed, staring back at her with something akin to astonishment. “You-” he started, and to her amazement, his voice shook. Then a grin spread across his face, and he stepped back from her; the grin kept her from worrying. He lifted one of her slender, scarred hands in his, and brought it to his lips.
The kiss he pressed to her hand was reverent, loving and warm. “Sweetheart,” he said again, and smiled at her. “Why would I let you read those stories when I could act them out with you instead?”
And he kissed her again, and again, and again, lips hard and warm and alive against hers, and Varric was alive and loved her and all was right with the world.
She was late to meet Bethany the next morning, stumbling down the steps into the Hanged Man’s main room with a smile on her face. Her sister gazed at her thoughtfully, and then grinned. “Late night catching up on all the business stuff?” she asked sympathetically. “I hope he didn’t distract you telling too many stories about why it took six months to get back to things.”
“Something like that,” Hawke muttered, flushing, but couldn’t help her smile. “You know Varric – he does love his stories.”
Thus ends my first kinkmeme fill. I had a lot of fun writing it, and more fun figuring it out - I like the idea of Varric hearing rumors that the Wardens are near and deciding to see if he could steal Bethany away for a bit to make her sister smile. I like the idea of Hawke missing him and sleeping in his bed.
I unfortunately have no skill at writing sex, so sadly there is none. As the original fill states, though, if someone else wants to give it a shot and take it from here, they are more than welcome!