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At the end of the day

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“Fuck. That is the tenth demon summoning this week.” Lowering his crossbow, Varric took in the chaos around them.

Several dead bodies covered the floor, most of them mages, surrounded by small, still smoking piles of ashes. Rage demons. Or what was left of them. Now only the foul smell of them lingered in the air and Varric turned away from the shockingly familiar sight, searching for his friends.

He saw Merrill and Anders not too fair away, both of them covered in blood, but luckily most of it was not theirs. For a moment the dwarf thought about going over to them, since he saw the blue sparks of Anders’ healing magic, which could only mean that one of them got hurt after all, when Hawke caught his eye.

The man was sitting on a small crate, cleaning his daggers with mechanical movements. It was odd that he had sat down instead of searching the bodies for any clues about what was going on in Lowtown at the moment, lingering on the battlefield for longer than absolutely necessary.

Strapping Bianca onto his back once more, Varric walked over to his friend, a frown on his face. Now that he was a bit closer he saw the lines of fatigue on Hawke’s face and the dark circles below his eyes. He looked like a man who hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in several days and it reminded Varric far too much of the young Hawke he met all these years ago.
A desperate refugee who would do everything to protect his family, pushing himself to his limits and beyond so that his family always got a meal at the end of the day.

“We should get moving. The guards can’t be too far away anymore”, Hawke said after Varric had stopped in front of him, yet he made no move to actually get up.
“You look like shit, boy”, Varric replied without batting an eye and crossed his arms in front of his wide chest, “When was the last time you took a break, huh? And I’m not talking about taking a small nap before running across the whole town again.”
Hawke glanced up at him, an indifferent look on his face. “Always the charmer.”
“That was no answer to my question.” This time there was honest concern in Varric’s tone.

Putting his daggers down, Hawke rubbed both hands over his face. A streak of dirt across his cheek remained after he lowered his hands again.
Of course Varric had noticed that he was not in peak condition right now. He might not talk much about his feelings or personal matters, but he would always notice when something was wrong. Maybe the dwarf had a sixth sense for it, or maybe he was used to looking behind the masks that everyone carried around with them day after day, but in the end the result was the same. Lying was pointless right now.

“I’m tired, Varric. We keep on fighting, but every time we seem to get close to the end of all this bullshit something else turns up. You’ve said it yourself - ten demon summoning in one week! It has never been that bad before, and - fuck this!”
Hawke stopped, at a loss for words. All the frustration that had built up inside of him over the past weeks was simmering inside of him, dangerously close to the surface, and he did not know how long he could keep fighting it. But he had to. He could not give up, he just had to keep on going-

“Hawke.”

A heavy hand squeezed his shoulder, making him look up again.

“It’s not your fault, and you know that we can’t save everyone. I’m not saying that this is alright, but we can’t change it. You’re already doing more than anyone else in this damned city, but at this rate you will get yourself killed way too soon for my liking and I’m not going to sit by and let that happen. Take a break, Hawke, just for one night. Please.”

Unable to break eye contact with Varric, Hawke just sat there for a moment. Then, after a moment of silence, he finally nodded.
A small, maybe even relieved, smile appeared on Varric’s face and he gave Hawke’s shoulder another squeeze before letting go of him.

“That’s my boy! Come one, I’m sure Blondie and Daisy are already wondering what is taking us so long. Don’t want them to worry their pretty heads.”
Turning into the direction of their two friends, Varric waited for Hawke to get up before he walked over to the others.

Hawke followed his example, if somewhat slower.
Maybe Varric was right.
What harm could it do if he would allow himself one night without constantly worrying about everything that was wrong in this dump of a city? Well, knowing Kirkwall a lot could happen in one night, but tonight he would take the risk.
Maker be damned.