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“Andraste’s tits, Hawke.”

Varric stood in the doorway of Hawke’s bedroom, looking around at what appeared to be the entire contents of Hawke’s wardrobe. Dresses, trousers, belts, tunics—they were all strewn about the room haphazardly, as though a very focused tornado had ripped through the room, only affecting articles of clothing.

The Champion herself was curled up on her bed in her dressing robe, clutching some kind of blue silk to her chest. Although she was clearly awake, she didn’t bother to look up, or answer, or acknowledge Varric in any way. He was pretty much used to that by now, though. It was probably too much to hope that she’d eaten anything, but at least the explosion of fabric all over the room meant that she’d gotten out of bed at some point.

Must be a good day. Varric shook his head as he slid Bianca off of his shoulder, resting her gingerly against the wall. He sidestepped a pair of smallclothes (black, silky, barely-there—he catalogued it in his mind almost unconsciously, filing the information away for later use) and managed to maneuver his way around the rest of the maze of clothing. He pulled himself up onto the bed with some difficulty, and a minimum of swearing. Did humans have to make everything so sodding tall?

Hawke stared blankly ahead, eyes bloodshot and cheeks red and stained with dried tears. She didn’t seem to register Varric at all. Upon closer inspection, the silk she was clinging to appeared to be a gown of some kind, and the blue was the exact blue of her eyes—and of the sashes Isabela wore all the time, back when she was around.

Varric sighed and settled in next to her, leaning back against the headboard, crossing his ankles, and folding his hands over his lap. This was going to take a while. “Decided you’re too important for clothes now?”

The light-hearted teasing he forced into his tone was wasted on her; a dark look shadowed her eyes, and her lips tightened into a sullen pout.

“I tried to get dressed,” she finally said, still not looking at him. Her voice was strained and hoarse, no doubt from crying all morning. It had been that way for months, though; he was starting to forget what she used to sound like. “My clothes wouldn’t fit.”

To illustrate her point, she flung the gown behind her without loosening her iron grip on the material, exposing far more of her body than Varric particularly cared to see. The maroon silk of her robe was rumpled, hanging off of one shoulder and parting indecently over her thighs.

“So you decided to throw them all over the room in retaliation.” Varric said, averting his gaze to look once more at the piles of clothing. It wasn’t that he found Hawke at all appealing in her devastated, disheveled state; it was just so damn sad. He had seen what she wanted him to see, anyway: the growing swell of her belly, making even the dressing robe stretch awkwardly around her. It wouldn’t be long now; in a few short months, she’d have bigger problems than ill-fitting clothes. “Well, you sure showed them,” he continued dryly. “What a story that’ll make: The Champion of Kirkwall versus the evil shrinking clothing of doom.”

For the first time since he’d entered, Hawke looked up at him, and the corners of her lips twitched like she almost wanted to smile. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless; he’d take it.

Varric nodded toward the garment still clutched in her hand. “You know, I’m not sure the evening gown is the right choice for lounging around the house. I thought it was the Orlesians that overdressed for every occasion.”

Instead of the chuckle he’d hoped for, Hawke’s face crumbled as she clasped the dress back to her chest. She looked even more lost than before. “She used to borrow this one all the time,” she said hollowly, tears leaking sluggishly from the corners of her eyes. “I never knew what she needed my dresses for. I suppose I’ll never find out now.” Her face twisted in despair, and the tears started to come in earnest.

Shit, Rivaini, I could write novels about all the ways you fucked this up. Varric reached over to push the messy, overgrown hair out of Hawke’s face, gently brushed the tears from one cheek. It was a futile effort, as the moisture he banished was quickly replaced. “Hawke,” he said with a heavy sigh, “you can’t keep doing this to yourself.”

Hawke let out a choked sob, pressing the gown under her chin. “I’m not even angry, Varric. I just wish she’d come back.”

Varric resisted the urge to clench his hand into a fist, instead concentrating on stroking his fingers through Hawke’s messy, knotted mop of hair. “Maybe she will, maybe she won’t. I gave up trying to predict that woman’s behavior years ago. But you can’t just stop living.”

“I don’t know how to live without her,” she said despondently, burrowing her head farther into her pillow.

His hand stilled. “Bullshit. You were doing just fine for yourself before she came along.”

She peered up at him, a different kind of grief shining in her eyes. “I had Bethy then, and Mother,” she argued weakly.

“And now you’ve got us,” Varric countered. “Me, Aveline, Daisy, Blondie—even the broody elf would lay down his life for you, and you know it.” When she just shrugged and looked down, he sighed. “If you can’t live for yourself, at least think about the kid. It may seem like a long way off, but she’s gonna be here before you know it. Then you won’t be able to lie around moping all day.”

One of Hawke’s hands drifted down to rest on her belly, and a smile almost touched her lips before disappearing into a hard frown. “Maybe I should just give her to the Chantry, like everyone keeps telling me to.”

Varric scoffed. “Who’s everyone? These stuffed-up nobles?” He gestured broadly to the walls of the room, beyond which countless arrogant, frivolous nobles were going about their shallow little lives. “What do they know about family?”

“It’s not about them.” Hawke let out a shaky breath, looking down once more at the gown in her hands. “I don’t know if I’ll even be able to look at her without bursting into tears, Varric. She’ll be a constant reminder of what I’ve lost.”

Given her emotional state ever since the Rivaini took off, Varric couldn’t really argue with that. He scooted closer to Hawke, guiding her head down to lay on his chest as his other hand worked the blue silk out of her grip and tossed it behind him. After her initial resistance, she relaxed against him, soaking in the comfort he was offering. He slid his arm down around her shoulders and squeezed. “Look, if you don’t think you can handle this, then by all means, give her up. But I know you, and I’ve seen you handle a lot worse than this without breaking a sweat.”

Hawke was silent for a long moment, her steady breaths tickling as they brushed through Varric’s thick chest hair. Finally, she tilted her head to look up at him. “You really think I can do this?”

Varric smiled; he was making progress. He squeezed her shoulders again. “I don’t think it, I know it. You’re going to be a great mother, Hawke. And you’ll have all of us here to help. But you have got to stop dwelling on the past and start thinking about the future—her future.”

Something almost like a smile graced her lips then, a fragile hopeful thing that filled Varric’s chest with warmth. She was nowhere near being back to the Champion everyone knew and loved, but maybe there was hope that she’d get there someday. She laid her head back on his chest, draping her arm over his waist to give him an awkward impromptu hug. “I’ll try,” she murmured.

“Well, it’s something,” Varric said with a shrug. He patted her shoulder. “Now, I’m sure you’ve got something in here that will still fit. You should clean yourself up and get dressed.”

Hawke frowned, turning her gaze to him. “Am I going somewhere?”

“Oh, yeah.” He chuckled. “You and I are going to pay Daisy a visit, so you can apologize for biting her head off the other day.” Guilt flicked across her face, and she lowered her eyes. He’d heard the story from Daisy herself, but she’d been so frantic and worried that he’d only caught every third word or so. He gave Hawke another reassuring squeeze. “Hey, don’t worry about it. She knows you didn’t mean it. But she does deserve an apology. And the fresh air will do you good.” Maybe on the way back, they’d stop in and see Aveline; she’d sworn to Varric just yesterday that if she got one more complaint about property damage or assault she would arrest Hawke, pregnancy be damned.

“I suppose,” Hawke said grudgingly, pushing off of his chest and turning to sit up at the edge of the bed.

Varric slid to the floor on the other side, gathering up the blue gown and tucking it into his coat as surreptitiously as possible. He was almost at the door when he heard his name. He turned, holding his coat close to his chest to conceal his prize.

“Thank you,” she said, a genuine smile spreading shakily across her face.

“You’re welcome.” He reached down, slinging Bianca back over his shoulder as he turned back to the door. “And you should feel honored,” he said over his shoulder. “It’s not just anyone I’d let so close to my prized chest hair.”

He heard her chuckle behind him as he slipped out of the room, and smiled to himself. He’d give her ten minutes, fifteen tops, before he came back in to check on her. Meanwhile, he had his own job to do.

The elf girl, Orana, wasn’t hard to find; she was hovering out on the landing of the stairs, wringing her hands worriedly. When she saw him approach, she quickly straightened up, looking hopefully at him.

“First things first,” he said, pulling the gown from his coat and holding it out to her. “Take this and hide it in the most out of the way place you can think of.”

Orana looked confused by the request, but nodded and took the dress anyway. “All right.”

“More importantly, how good are you with a needle and thread?”

She considered the question. “Well, my mistress—my old mistress, that is—used to have me fix up tears and holes in her robes. And sometimes if I was good she’d give me the old ones she didn’t like anymore. I had to take them in, of course. Elves are much smaller than humans.”

“Good,” Varric said with a reassuring smile. The elf was always way too nervous. “I’m going to get Hawke out of the house for a bit. I need you to let out some of her clothes.” He motioned toward his stomach, and she nodded as recognition flashed in her eyes.

“Of course,” she said. “It will be difficult without something to measure by, but I’m sure I’ll manage. Anything to make my mistress happy again. She’s done so much for me.”

As she scurried off to go hide the blue gown, Varric settled onto the upholstered bench under the window to wait for Hawke. He knew it would only be a matter of time before he was back here, dragging her out of bed again, but for now, it was better, and that was all he could really hope for.

One day at a time.

end.