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“And here I thought I was the only one thinking that.” As soon as he said it, Anders immediately regretted it. He and Fenris had been squabbling bitterly that morning and he just felt like he had to get another jibe in.

At first, when he said it he thought Hawke had been joking. Surely Garrett couldn’t mean to send his friend and former lover back to the elf’s former master. Not after all they had done to keep Fenris free from slavers’ hands. Yet, it soon became clear that Hawke did indeed mean it, and Anders couldn’t believe that Fenris just…gave up. Seeing all hope drain from elf’s eyes as his body drooped, taking on the submissive posture of a slave, broke Anders’ heart.

The mage stood there in shock as Danarius led his party, along with Fenris, out of the tavern, while Varric and Isabela stomped up to Varric’s rooms in disgust. Hawke followed after Danarius, presumably to make his way back to his mansion in Hightown.

For a few moments Anders just stood there, in the main room of the Hanged man, utterly dumbfounded. Sure, he and Fenris squabbled. A lot. Yet, Anders had a grudging respect for the elf, for having escaped slavery and making a life for himself away from his oppressors. Something that it took Anders more than eight attempts before he finally succeeded.

Besides that, Anders had always felt a strong attraction to Fenris as well. Not that he would ever admit that out loud, for fear that Varric would turn the mere idea of it into another one of his ridiculous novels. Anders had never dared hope his affections for the elf would ever be returned, so instead he traded barbs with the prickly former slave…not so former anymore.

Anders took a deep breath and decided then and there that he would go rescue Fenris, on his own if he had to. He made his way up to Varric’s room. “Are you two just going to sit around moping, or will you come help me rescue Fenris?”

Varric and Isabela looked up at Anders in shock. “Wait, you want to go rescue Broody? I thought you hated him? You practically encouraged Hawke to give Fenris back.”

Anders sighed. “I know, and I regret saying that. I really do. I thought Hawke was joking at first. You know how he is.”

Varric nodded as he stood and flung Bianca over his shoulder. “Yeah, I do. Or I thought I did. You coming Rivaini?”

“Wild horses couldn’t stop me,” Isabela replied. “I still can’t believe Hawke would do this. What has gotten into him?”

Varric shrugged as they made their way down the stairs and out of the tavern. “He changed after his mother died. I think that broke something inside of him. No matter the reason, this is wrong. Let’s go fix this.”

The three ran from the Hanged Man towards the docks. They hoped to intercept the party before they made it to their ship. Along the way, Anders found the red cloth and the Amell crest that Fenris always adorned his armor with, laying strewn on the ground, haphazardly discarded.

Everyone knew that Fenris and Hawke had been intimate for a night some years ago, and since then he’d worn these as signs of his affection. However, the relationship seemed to falter and they had grown distant, to the point where Hawke only included Fenris on missions whenever Aveline wasn’t available.

Just as Anders was picking up the scarf and crest, Knight Commander Cullen appeared, leading a small group of Templars towards the docks as well.

“Hey Curly!” Varric called out, still hurrying towards the docks. “We could use your help! We’re hot on the trail of a Tevinter Magister who is absconding with our friend Fenris.”

“A Magister? From Tevinter? In Kirkwall?!” Cullen gasped before hurrying after the dwarf and his companions, the other Templars clanking loudly after him.

As they approached the docks, Varric spotted Danarius and his party. He pointed the Magister out to Cullen. Anders initially kept his magic in check, not wanting to rouse the suspicion of the Templars. Instead he attacked head on, using his staff like a polearm. It was something he’d learned during his time with the Grey Wardens, when they often had to fight Darkspawn in close quarters in the Deep Roads. Often a good whack with his staff was more effective than a fireball.

As Varric, Isabella and the Templars engaged Danarius, Varania and their guards, Anders called out to the elf, who stood there unsure of what to do. “Fenris! Over here!”

Fenris looked startled as Anders called out to him. Anders gave an exasperated sigh and ran headlong into the melee and grabbed the stunned elf and threw him over his shoulder and ran away from the fray. He put Fenris down behind some crates and threw up a barrier to protect themselves.

Then Anders saw Cullen looking over at him. “Blast it Anders! Come and help. Your friend is safe enough by himself.” Anders nodded and ran forward. Before he could rejoin the battle Cullen pulled him close. “For Maker’s sake use your magic. I remember you from Kinloch Hold, but you have nothing to fear from me.”

Anders looked at Cullen for a moment with startled eyes and then nodded curtly. “Thanks.”

Anders let a fireball fly then, right at Danarius, who had just been silenced by two Templars. It struck the Magister right in the chest, making him stagger backwards. Anders let a bolt of lightning fly next, knocking Danarius completely off his feet. Just as the Magister fell onto the ground, a bright, glowing elf raced past Anders and phased his hand through Danarius’ chest.

“You are no longer my master!” Fenris roared as he ripped Danarius’ heart straight from his chest.

As soon as the Magister was down, the fight left the guards and Varania, who were quickly detained. All had some magic ability and therefore the Templars immediately locked them all in magic suppression manacles and planned to lead them back to the Gallows. These were mages that even Anders was glad to know would be under lock and key.

Fenris stood in shock over his former master’s corpse, not believing what had happened. He looked up at Hawke’s companions. “Varric, thank you.”

“Don’t thank me Broody,” Varric said, nodding towards Anders. “Thank Blondie. Rescuing you was his idea.”

Fenris looked at Anders in disbelief, while the mage blushed and quickly looked away from the elf. “Well, I didn’t want to lose the one person I love arguing with,” Anders joked.

“Alright you two,” Varric said exasperated. “I’ve seen you both dance around each other long enough. Broody, go take your mage home and offer him a hot bath and a nice meal for his help today. Also, here’s a thought, try talking to each other for a change? Don’t worry about Hawke. I’ll straighten his ass out, if that’s the last thing I do.”

“Thanks Varric,” Anders said gratefully. Then as he watched the Templars leave, escorting their new prisoners, Anders ran over to Cullen, and spoke into his ear. “Thank you.”

Cullen quirked a smile and nodded.

***

The walk back to Hightown with Fenris was quiet, the elf and the mage each lost in their own thoughts. Anders wasn’t even sure why he was accompanying Fenris home. He had plenty of work waiting for him back at the clinic.

Yet, the possibility of being alone with Fenris sent a thrill up his spine and made his heart clench. He realized, after nearly losing Fenris today, that he cared for the blasted mage-hating elf far more than he should. It was foolish for him to hope that somehow the elf could ever return his affections.

They made it to Fenris’ mansion, and Anders gingerly stepped over the remains of the corpse that Fenris refused to dispose of in his foyer. Anders hadn’t been inside the crumbling mansion since he’d come with Hawke to help clear the place of slavers over six years ago.

“Come,” Fenris said gruffly, leading Anders upstairs, into the room he was using as his bedroom. From there he led Anders into a large bathing chamber which held a sunken bath, large enough for several people. There was running water, and dwarven runes used for heating it. As Fenris filled the bath with water, Anders leaned against the wall and contemplated the elf.

Fenris seemed unaffected by the wild swings of fortune he’d experienced today, but somehow he knew Fenris must be hurting over Hawke’s betrayal. Anders brought out from his pack the scarf and crest he’d found earlier, fingering them gingerly.

“I found these as we ran towards the docks,” Anders offered, holding the items out towards Fenris.

Fenris’ shoulders and ears drooped at the sight of the items, before his eyes flared with anger and he stalked towards Anders, tearing them from the mage’s hands. The elf then stalked out of the bath and threw both items into the fire that was always roaring away in his fireplace.

Anders stepped into the bedroom and saw Fenris leaning against the fireplace, sobbing quietly. Anders had never seen the elf let himself show emotion, although after the events of the day he certainly couldn’t blame him.

“Come on Fenris, join me? No point wasting all that hot water just on me,” Anders suggested softly. Fenris startled at the sound of the mage’s voice, before righting himself and nodding silently.

They bathed in silence, neither uncomfortable with their nudity. They’d seen each other naked on countless trips to the Wounded Coast, when they would bathe in the sea after another mission with Hawke.

Fenris got out of the bath first, wrapping a towel about himself and padding back into the bedroom. Anders chose to remain a bit longer in the hot water, letting the heat seep into the very core of his being. He hadn’t indulged in a hot bath like this in years and it felt amazing. Justice was becoming restless in the back of his mind but the mage quickly tamped down on the spirit.

A few moments later, Fenris, dressed in a simple rough spun shirt and breeches, came back and placed some clothing next to the bath and left again without a word.

Anders hitched his breath when he realized that they were sleeping clothes. Fenris was inviting him to stay the night. Justice was beginning to protest this distraction, but Anders pushed him back again, determined to have at least one evening for himself. Anders then deactivated the dwarven runes, letting the bath water grow cool before he finally got out and dried himself off and put on the clothes Fenris had left for him.

As he emerged from the bath, Anders found Fenris sitting by the fire, cradling a half-empty bottle of wine. Anders sat on the other bench facing the fireplace and contemplated the elf for a moment. “Thanks for the clothes,” he offered, breaking the silence.

“Thank you for the rescue,” Fenris replied in return, giving a deep sigh and taking another swig of wine.

“Varric said we should talk,” Anders suggested. “I’d have to agree. I think there is so much unsaid between us...” Anders held up his hand as the elf was about to say something in protest. “Ah-ah, let me finish.”

“We snipe at each other all the time, but we’re not talking, not really,” Anders clarified. “We each keep spouting our own rhetoric without ever really listening to each other either. I’m really tired of doing that, especially after today.”

Fenris nodded. “I know. You’ve clearly shown me, shown all of us, the plight of mages here in the South. After what I had experienced at Danarius’ hands, I liked the idea of mages being locked away. However, seeing how tirelessly you work to help the poor in Darktown, I cannot deny that mages can also do a lot of good in this world as well.”

“You’ve seen? But you never come down to the clinic,” Anders argued.

Fenris looked up at Anders. “I come far more often than you would believe, mage. I just keep myself hidden.”

“But why?” Anders asked quietly, his heart now thudding in his chest at the thought of Fenris watching him silently for Maker knows how long.

“I wanted to keep you safe,” Fenris shrugged, as he stood and moved to sit next to Anders. “Your clinic is too well known, and I was afraid it was only a matter of time before the Templars broke down your door and dragged you off. I wouldn’t have allowed that.”

Anders looked into Fenris’ eyes, his own brimming with emotion at the elf’s revelation. “Wouldn’t allow?” Anders breathed, dumbfounded.

Fenris’ mouth quirked at Anders’ reaction, and offered the bottle of wine to the mage. Despite Justice’s loud protests, Anders took the bottle and took a couple of long pulls, gasping slightly as he pulled the bottle away, enjoying the warmth of the wine as it slid down his throat.

Anders looked back at Fenris again. “I don’t know what to say. I’ve…never hoped…”

“Never hoped for what?” Fenris asked quietly.

Anders took a deep breath. “For a chance…for us. You hate mages so vehemently, I never thought you could ever have an interest…”

“Are you saying that you…?” Fenris breathed, leaning closer to the mage, his green eyes drilling intensely straight into Anders’ soul.

“I’m saying that I like you Fenris, and that I find you extremely attractive. I have since the first moment I ever laid eyes on you,” Anders confessed, ducking his head as he felt the heat rise in his cheeks.

Fenris reached up and cupped Anders’ face, gently encouraging the mage to lift his eyes. “I like you as well, Anders,” Fenris admitted. “You are unlike any mage I have ever known. You vehemently refuse to embrace blood magic. You help instead of hurt. You sacrifice yourself for so many.”

The emotions that had been cresting in Anders’ eyes finally spilled over as tears streaked down the mage’s face. “I didn’t think you noticed. I never thought you’d care.”

Fenris took a deep breath, still cupping Anders’ face, and tilted his forehead to lean against the mage’s. “I care far more than you know.”

A small whimper escaped from the back of Anders’ throat then, just as Fenris leaned in further, and ghosted his lips over the mage’s. Like a man starved, Anders eagerly leaned in, parting his lips, giving Fenris silent permission to deepen the kiss.

As Fenris pulled the mage closer and tentatively explored Anders’ mouth, the mage melted into the elf’s embrace. He had been alone for so long now. Since Karl’s death, he hadn’t sought the comfort of another person and now his heart soared. Justice remained blessedly silent in the back of his mind as Anders savored every second of contact, every caress, every touch.

Fenris’ hands moved from cupping Anders’ face to being intertwined in the mage’s long, blond hair, still damp from the bath. Anders dared to wrap his arms around the elf’s waist, gently stroking his back through the thin cloth of the shirt he wore.

After an eternity, they finally parted, breath ragged, as they each pulled back to regard the other’s face.

Anders swallowed and tilted his forehead back against Fenris’. “I care about you, so much. Far more than I realized, until now.”

“Does that mean there is a chance, for us?” Fenris asked hoarsely, his voice thick with emotion.

“It means we have a second chance,” Anders replied, smiling. “A second chance to do things right.”