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Anders was about to sit down at his desk when someone frantically banged on the clinic door. Anders sighed and went to unlatch the door. As he opened it he saw a young elf standing there looking frantic. “Healer! Come quick. I found a friend of yours…of the Champion’s. I think he’s ill.”

Anders shook his head and grabbed his staff before running after the child.

What Anders found was one very passed out Fenris, clutching an empty bottle of wine. Beside the elf was a pool of vomit, stained red from the wine and clearly there had been little else in the elf’s stomach.

“Do you know him Healer?” the child asked.

Anders nodded. “Yes, I’m afraid I do. I’ll take him back to the clinic. Thank you.”

The child smiled happily at the healer before darting away.

“What am I supposed to do with you, elf?” Anders muttered as he placed his staff against the wall and picked up the elf, throwing him as gently as he could over his shoulder.

Then picking up the staff again, he slowly made his way back to the clinic.

Justice hummed happily in the back of Anders mind, pleased with the mage for helping the elf despite their constant, often bitter, arguments.

Anders noted how light Fenris felt as he carried him. Far lighter than a warrior capable of swinging a sword as large as he did should be. Anders frowned at this and wondered how much strength the lyrium markings really gave him.

Once back in the clinic, Anders locked and barred his door again before carrying Fenris back into his small room and laying the elf down on his own bed, which was only slightly more comfortable than the cots he had scattered throughout his clinic.

Once Fenris was lying there, Anders began the task of removing his armor, beginning with those razor-sharp gauntlets. Once he was done, Fenris only wore his leggings and undershirt. Then Anders covered the elf in a blanket.

Looking down at Fenris after the elf was all tucked in, Anders noted how soft and vulnerable he looked, when he wasn’t always scowling at him. Anders recalled that he had once fancied the elf, when they had first met and before Anders realized how deep Fenris’ hatred of mages truly ran.

Anders shook himself out of that reverie and went to make a hangover cure for when the elf would eventually wake up. Once that was complete, Anders finally sat himself down at his desk and began to work on his plans in earnest.

***

Anders was so focused on the plans before him that he didn’t react at first when Fenris began crying out. “Anders!”

Anders jumped up as soon as he realized what Fenris was crying out. It was unusual for the elf to call him by his name. As Anders entered his small back room he saw that Fenris had thrown the blanket off of himself and was now thrashing about.

“Anders! Please…you don’t…need you to understand…” Fenris mumbled. Anders realized the elf was talking in his sleep and began to retreat when Fenris shouted something that made the mage stop in his tracks. “I love you!”

Anders’ heart began pounding at the unconscious declaration. Fenris loved him? Then why was the elf always so hostile towards him?

Anders crept forward, staring at the elf as he tossed and turned on his bed. Anders reached out, cupping Fenris’ face and the elf immediately stilled as he leaned into the touch. He mumbled once more. “Anders…love you…stay…please…”

Then Fenris was still again, as his breathing evened out and his body completely stilled. Anders stared at him for a long while, emotions conflicting inside of him as his old attraction for the cantankerous elf resurfaced.

Justice starting going off about distractions from their plans, but Anders shrugged the spirit off as he sat next to Fenris and watched him sleep a while longer. Anders wondered how long Fenris had felt like this and why he had never come forward with his declaration before. Perhaps it was easier for the elf to bury his feelings behind his animosity toward mages?

Anders sighed and ran his hands over his face. Who knew with Fenris? Anders got up and tucked Fenris back in before going back out to the clinic. Despite Justice’s protests, Anders blew out his lantern and laid himself upon a cot. He felt bone weary and decided the rest of his planning could wait another day as he drifted off to sleep and dreamt of being warmly embraced by an elf he had long thought hated him.

***

The next morning Anders awoke to the sounds of a more than usual grumpy elf. The mage smiled to himself as he got up and grabbed the hangover potion he’d concocted the night before and brought it into the back room.

Fenris sat on the edge of the bed looking very out of sorts. “Mage! What in the Maker’s name am I doing here?”

Anders shook his head. “And he’s back,” he thought to himself.

“Some urchin found you passed out at the other end of Darktown,” Anders replied handing the elf the potion. “Here drink this, it will relieve the symptoms of too much drink.”

Fenris eyed the potion suspiciously before removing the corking and drinking down the contents, making a face once he’d finished it. “That is the most vile potion you have ever concocted.”

“Blame my mother,” Anders shrugged. “That’s from an old family recipe. I used to help her make it for my father as he often indulged in too much drink as well.”

“So how did I come to be in your clinic if I was on the other side of Darktown?” Fenris questioned.

“I carried you here,” Anders shrugged. “You are deceptively lighter than you look. I’m amazed how you’re able to swing that great sword of yours, weighing as little as you do.”

Fenris harrumphed at that. “Where is my sword?”

Anders shrugged. “It wasn’t anywhere near you when I found you. You were just clutching an empty bottle of wine, most of which you vomited back up, I might add.”

“No wonder my mouth tasted so vile when I awoke,” Fenris groused. Anders stood and poured a cup of water that he handed to the hungover elf. “Here, this should help.”

Fenris drank the water and sighed. “I suppose I should thank you. No telling what some Darktown hoodlums would have done to me if they’d found me in such a state. I wonder why I came down here?”

“I have no idea,” Anders shrugged, lying. “I have to open the clinic. Stay here as long as you need to until you feel better.”

“I…” Fenris began and then shook himself. “Thank you, mage.”

***

Anders busied himself with the first group of patients that morning. Mending a scrapped knee, checking on the progress of a pregnancy, and providing potions for a child with the croup. Anders didn’t notice the elf watching silently from the shadows of his back room.

By the time Anders was able to take a break, Fenris was gone. Anders realized that the elf must have slipped out without saying anything. The mage sighed to himself and went to have a quick bite to eat before the next patients would inevitably arrive.

Over the next few days Anders buried himself in his work and completely forgot the incident with Fenris almost entirely. One night he was working late at his desk when he passed out from exhaustion, as he often did. He slept fitfully and dreamt of the night Fenris was sleeping off his drunkenness and he recalled again the words the elf mumbled in his sleep. “Anders. I love you.”

Anders startled himself awake at the recollection, looking around him and seeing that he had once again fallen asleep at his desk. He slowly hauled himself up and stumbled groggily to his small bed, ignoring the protests from Justice that he should resume his work.

As he lay down he realized that this was the first time he’d slept in his bed since Fenris had been in it and the elf’s faint scent still lingered there. Anders breathed in the scent and hummed happily as he drifted back to sleep, his thoughts filled with that cantankerous elf once again.

***

With the memories of that night rekindled, Anders mind wouldn’t let go, replaying the words over and over in his head. Justice was unhappy with how preoccupied Anders had become and pushed Anders to finally talk to the elf if only in the hopes it would help get the mage past all these distracting thoughts.

So, Anders closed the clinic early the next day, cleaned himself up and headed towards Hightown. Along the way, he even spent a few coins to buy some apple tarts and a bottle of wine as a peace offering. When he knocked on the door of the crumbling mansion that Fenris had claimed as his own, he was feeling decidedly nervous and nearly turned around to run back to Darktown when Fenris yanked open the door.

“What do you want, mage?” Fenris groused.

“Oh, well,” Anders mumbled nervously. “I thought I’d check to see how you were doing? Healers do sometimes make house calls.”

“You make house calls to check on a patient’s hangover several days after the fact?” Fenris asked.

“Well, ok fine,” Anders sighed. “We need to talk. Or rather I need to talk to you. Can I come in? Please? I brought you some apple tarts and wine we could share?”

Fenris eyed the offered items before turning around and walked back inside the mansion without closing the door. Anders assumed that was an invitation to follow and so he did, closing the door behind him.

Anders followed the elf upstairs into his room where a fire was roaring in the fireplace. Fenris turned and grabbed the bottle of wine from the mage, quickly pulling out the cork with the tip of one gauntlet and taking a long pull of the wine before offering it back to the mage.

Anders nodded in thanks and despite more protests from his spirit, Anders took a long pull of wine as well to steel his nerves. After they both sat on one of the benches by the fireplace, Anders put the bottle down between them and unwrapped the pastries he purchased, offering one to Fenris.

The elf hummed happily as he ate the apple tart, looking decidedly less grumpy as he enjoyed one of his favorite treats. After he washed it down with more wine he glared at Anders. “Speak,” he ordered brusquely.

Anders swallowed nervously. “The other night, when you were asleep in my clinic. Well you sort of…confessed something in your sleep. Something that perhaps you didn’t want me to hear but, well I did and now I can’t get it out of my head.”

“What could I possibly have to confess to you?” Fenris sneered, trying to remain aloof but a sudden apprehension appeared in his eyes.

Anders blushed. “Well, you sort of said that you loved me.”

Fenris’ eyes went wide and at first it looked like the elf was going to deny it, when his entire demeanor changed. He looked up at Anders almost kindly, his eyes flicking to the empty pastry wrappings and back to the mage. “Are you…trying to say you would be…receptive to such a thing?”

Anders blushed even more then. “Yes, you foolish elf. I’ve had affection for you for years but I never held out much hope of the feelings being returned. You always made your hatred of mages so abundantly clear.”

For a moment Fenris looked like he was about to argue the point, the way he often did, but instead he took a deep breath and another drink of wine.

Then Fenris did something surprising. He put away the bottle and slid closer to Anders, slipping off his gauntlets and with unsteady hands took Anders’ hands in his.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Fenris said. “My feelings for mages hasn’t changed. It’s only my feelings for you that have…softened. Despite being a mage, and an abomination, I see how much you care. You care for your patients and all the people of Darktown. You care for all of Hawke’s companions when we go out. You make sure that we all return home safe and whole. Despite the fact that you are an apostate, free of the Circle, you have never once done something to increase your power. And you are a very powerful mage. I have seen the spells you wield. You could easily take over Kirkwall if you had a mind to. But I see that is not in your nature.”

Anders looked shocked at Fenris as he praised him, his thoughts whirling over the plans he had been making lately. Everything with the Chantry and the Circle was coming to a head and he knew that something drastic had to happen, and soon, or all the mages in the Gallows were in jeopardy. If Fenris only knew what he was planning, would he still feel this way about him?

Before Anders’ thoughts could swirl more out of control Fenris leaned in and captured his mouth in a kiss. Anders’ thoughts flew out of the window as he lost himself in the wet heat of the elf’s mouth, which tasted of a mix of the apple tart and wine. Anders groaned and slid his hands around Fenris, pulling the elf closer.

When Fenris pulled back to look at Anders he looked into the mage’s eyes. “I l do love you, Anders.”

Anders was so swept away by all the feelings bursting from him, he cupped the side of Fenris’ face, and smiled. “I don’t know yet exactly how I feel, but I do care about you. So much.”

Anders leaned down and kissed Fenris again, with all the passion he currently felt. It felt so good to hold and kiss someone again. It had been so long since he’d felt someone’s touch, he needed and craved more.

Without thinking Anders stood and reached down, picking Fenris up in his arms. At first the elf struggled and protested but Anders kissed him again and Fenris melted into his embrace.

Anders carried Fenris over to his bed and lay him down, and began to undress. Fenris just stared for a moment as Anders revealed himself to Fenris. “Is this okay?” Anders asked, hoping that the elf wouldn’t back out now. Justice was protesting loudly as it was and if Fenris backed away, this may be Anders only chance to be with the elf before all his plans were finalized.

“Justice, just let me have this. Just one night. Please,” Anders argued with the spirit warring inside his head as he lay down next to Fenris, reaching out and pulling the elf back into his arms. Justice settled back then, with a final though. “Just one night.”

***

The next morning Anders awoke feeling the most rested he had in a very long time. He was entirely entangled with Fenris and it felt so good to wake up with someone in his arms. Even he and Karl never had the luxury of this and Anders had dreamt of waking up in a lover’s embrace at least once in his life.

Thank you,” Anders thought to Justice, as tears of joy and dread slid down his face.

Anders took one more moment to look at the peaceful face of Fenris as he slept. He didn’t fully understand how he’d earned the love of this grumpy, mage hating elf, and it broke his heart that he would destroy that love soon. But it couldn’t be helped.

Sighing to himself he carefully extricated himself from Fenris, hoping not to wake the elf. Then he quickly dressed and thought of leaving a note, until he remembered the elf couldn’t read. Anders sighed again and grabbed his staff and hurried from the mansion. Back to his clinic, his patients and his plans.

After that night, Anders purposefully avoided Fenris as much as possible. He turned down jobs with Hawke, refused to come play cards with everyone at the Hanged Man, and basically avoided everyone. Hawke was being kept busy chasing down blood mages, brigands and slavers while trying to keep the peace between Meredith and what remained of the Viscount’s staff and the city guard.

Fenris nearly caught Anders as he snuck his way out of the Chantry one night and as Anders hid behind a pillar and watched Fenris make his way across Hightown, he felt his heart clench over what could have been. “I’m so sorry, Fenris,” Anders said quietly to himself.

***

Several weeks later, everything finally came to a head when Meredith called for the Rite of Annulment for the Kirkwall Circle. Anders was at the end of his rope. He’d tried talking, begging and pleading and it all fell on deaf ears. He was sorry it had come to this but he felt no regrets when he jammed his staff into the pavement and incited the magical bomb he had planted inside the heart of the Chantry.

After the deed was done, Anders just slumped onto a crate, awaiting his inevitable death. He was somewhat surprised that Meredith herself didn’t relieve him of his head right then and there, but instead let Hawke make the final call as to his fate.

Hawke was shocked and angry, of course. Asking why he hadn’t come to him. Talked to him. Confided in him. “I thought we were friends,” Hawke said as he brought out a knife from his belt. “I wish it didn’t have to come to this.”

Just then, just as Anders could feel Hawke moving behind him, ready to have his miserable existence ended, a voice rang out that shocked them both.

“Hawke! No! Stop!” Fenris cried out.

Hawke hesitated, looking at the elf in confusion. From all his companions, he never expected Fenris to object to Anders being brought to justice for this crime.

“He killed innocents,” Hawke growled. “He has to pay the price for that.”

“Yes,” Fenris agreed. “But not like this. Please.”

Hawke hesitated and then put the knife away. “Fine, but I leave him in your custody. Take him out of Kirkwall and let him never show his face in the Free Marches again. If I ever see him again, I will not be so merciful.”

With that the Champion of Kirkwall gathered the rest of his companions to mop up the mess Anders made. Once they were alone Anders dared to look up at Fenris as tears streamed down his face, still disbelieving that he was still alive.

“Come, mage,” Fenris said. “Follow me.”

Dumbfounded, Anders nodded and stood, following the elf, wondering exactly what was in store for him.