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An Herbalist’s Task [Fic & Podfic]

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Title: An Herbalists Task
Length:  49:47
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Fenris should have known better than to agree to accompany Hawke on his damn fool's errand fetching plants on the Wounded Coast. Worse yet was that he’d brought that abomination along. Anders. And his dog, who was infinitely better company.

"What are we looking for, exactly?" Anders asked while they stomped all over the coast in search of some mystical flower that probably didn't even exist in the first place.

"It's called Andraste's Kiss," Hawke said.

He referred to a scrap of parchment Solivitus, the Formari herbalist in the Gallows' courtyard, had given him. There was a sketch of a flower as well as several indecipherable scrawls. Hawke was squinting at the parchment and turning it this way and that, which did not bode well for the likelihood of them finding this Andraste's Kiss.

"Here," Anders said with a sigh.

He snatched the drawing out of Hawke's hands and frowned over the writing. He seemed to understand no better than Hawke had, so it was possible that Solivitus' handwriting was just that bad. Fenris wouldn’t know either way.

"What did you say this flower was needed for again?" Anders asked.

"Some kind of experimental potion Sol's brewing. Said it was for a noble who's been having difficulty getting it up for his mistress, and this is supposedly going to help."

"Please tell me you're getting more than a few sovereigns and another rash from charging through the bushes again," Anders begged.

"He promised me a supply if the potion works," Hawke beamed.

Anders' cheeks flushed red and he quickly turned away while clearing his throat. "Well, I suppose we'd better find this flower soon then. We're losing light."

Fenris rolled his eyes and didn't bother masking the sound of disgust he made at the mage's poor attempt at covering up his sudden interest. They searched the Wounded Coast and the surrounding pathways and caves, but to no avail. Even the dog's keen nose couldn't sniff out the elusive flower. By the time the sun was threatening to dip beneath the horizon, most of them were ready to call an end to the search.

"Hawke, there is no trace of this flower anywhere. Do you think that maybe it doesn't exist? We've been all over this coast dozens of times over the past few years and not once have we seen anything that remotely resembles Andraste's Kiss." Anders set down his staff and sat on a small boulder. He grimaced as he pulled off a boot and upended it to pour out a fair amount of the beach he'd collected.

"Maybe if we come back in the morning?" Hawke wheedled, but even the dog snorted at him and flopped down on its belly, clearly not intending to move for a very long time.

"Are there not more urgent matters than some fat noble's flaccid cock that require our attention?" Fenris said as he crossed his arms over his chest and watched Anders struggle with his second boot. Such as the unrest in the Qunari compound, or the fact Danarius was still at large and not even Varric's contacts have been able to track down a single rumor regarding his former Master’s whereabouts or plans.

"Unless it's your cock, Hawke..."

"Did you hear that?" Hawke interrupted; it was clearly a ploy to change the subject since not even the dog's ears perked up to warn them of someone’s approach. "I should go--"

"Shit!" Anders swore as he yanked so hard at his left boot - which appeared to be stuck on his foot - that he lost his balance and fell backward off the rock he'd been sitting on.

Fortunately, a bush was there to break his fall.

...A very prickly, thorny bush. With lots of spines.

Anders yelped and thrashed as his terrible bird coat was ensnarled by the brambles. If there was truly Justice in the world, the bush would do them all a favor and render the hideous garment into shreds. There were already feathers exploding everywhere, one of which landed on the dog's nose and fluttered away when the dog sneezed.

"A little help!" Anders yelled, fighting the bush and failing.

Hawke, who'd been watching the struggle without helping - same as Fenris - jumped into action and started yanking on one of Anders' arms in an attempt to drag him out of the bush.

"Wait! You'll rip my--"

Riiiiiiiip.

"--Coat. Damnit, Hawke! That was irreplaceable!"

"Sorry. I can buy you another?"

"You had better. Ow," Anders complained, twisting around to inspect his backside, which appeared to be thorn-free.

Fenris found that to be entirely unfair, as Anders was a constant thorn in his own backside.

"Oh! What is that?"

Anders appeared to have spotted something within the bush he'd just crushed. He braced a hand against the boulder and leaned over to root around the branches. He made a noise of triumph and when he stood he held a single red flower that transitioned to a soft pink towards its center.

"You found it!" Hawke exclaimed, rushing over to cup his hands around the bloom like it was a flame that could be blown out at any second. "Is it damaged? I think I remember Sol saying something about the sap being poisonous..."

Anders blanched and immediately dropped the flower. It landed on the ground between them. Hawke and Anders looked at the flower and then at Anders' fingers, which were coated in some kind of sticky substance from the flower's stem.

The dog sniffed at the flower, yelped out a terrified "gwark!" and then bolted.

"Well shit," Hawke said.

"Hawke!"

Anders wiped his hands on the ruined fabric of his coat, panic visible on his face. Hawke was quick to step away from Anders and the flower and held both hands up defensively.

"Actually, I think Sol said 'potent' not 'poisonous'. So maybe it'll be fine?"

"It's not fine, Hawke! Look! My hands are already turning red!"

Anders' hands were indeed starting to swell, especially around the tiny cuts he'd sustained from falling and fighting the bush. Anders made a pained noise and scrubbed his hands furiously against his robes and then against the boulder when his clothing didn't provide enough friction.

"Give me your waterskin!" Anders demanded.

"Are you thirsty?" Hawke asked.

"No, you ass! I need to wash this off. It's already gotten into the cuts." Cuts that he was very likely reopening scraping his palms like he was against a rock.

Hawke scrambled for his waterskin and upended the contents over Anders' outstretched hands, but to absolutely no effect.

"Are you not a healer, mage?" Fenris drawled, bored already with the proceedings. "Can't you heal your hands and take away the poison's effects?"

Rather than answer, Anders wreathed his hands in an unnerving glow from his magics. Fenris could see the cuts disappear, but when the glow faded Anders made an anguished sound and started scratching at his palms anew.

"It's no use! I need the antitoxin. The list Solivitus gave us mentioned nothing about a cure."

"Then we need to go see him and make him give us one!" Hawke snarled, fists clenching helplessly.

Anders started to agree, but gave a sudden cry and collapsed to his knees instead. He was beginning to sweat, but shook his head and waved Hawke off when he darted forward to catch him.

"Don't come near me! It might be contagious. Just--Just go find Solivitus and tell him what happened. Tell him we found the flower. Tell him..."

Whatever Anders wanted Hawke to tell the herbalist was lost as Anders' body convulsed and he hunched over with a keen. Fenris didn't have a clear line of sight with Hawke’s broad shoulders blocking the view, but from what he could tell Anders was red-faced and panting while he clung to the rock with one arm and clutched at his midsection with the other.

"Anders!"

"Go!" Anders snarled, eyes flashing electric blue and voice overlaid with an otherworldly echo that meant his demon was close to the surface. The blue faded and Anders alone repeated, broken and shaky, "G-Go, Hawke. Hurry."

"Fuck!" Hawke swore. He looked around until he spotted Fenris, as if he'd forgotten he was even there. "You! Fenris! Stay with him."

Fenris blinked, not even knowing where to start on everything wrong with those few growled words.

Hawke didn't allow him the decency to decline before he tossed one last frantic glance at Anders and ran in the same direction his coward of a dog had disappeared.

Fenris watched him go until Hawke's silhouette vanished over a ridge before he reluctantly slid his eyes back over to Anders. Anders was hunched over and panting, eyes shut and forehead pressed to the boulder. He still had his arm clutched around his middle, and Fenris wondered if the poison was eating through his organs like acid.

He took a few steps back, just in case.

"Mage," Fenris called out after several intensely tedious minutes of watching Anders hyperventilate. The swelling seemed to have faded from his hands; but rather than disappear entirely, the fever had manifested into two high points of color in Anders' otherwise pale face.

Anders either didn't hear him or chose to ignore him and soon his moaning turned into a low, continuous keen that was steadily increasing in volume.

"Mage!" Fenris had to shout to be heard over him. He uncrossed his arms and took a threatening step forward, but Anders didn't seem to notice. "Cease your caterwauling before I tear out your vocal chords!"

Fenris would never admit that seeing a mage...seeing Anders suffering unnerved him. Anders had sustained multiple injuries traveling the Deep Roads and living in that literal shithole of a clinic. He’d also been injured fighting bandits or the Coterie or whomever else Hawke had pissed off that week, but Fenris had never seen him this badly off.

"Mage... Anders. Can your demon not help you?"

Normally Justice would be chomping at the bit to take over Anders' body when the mage was weak or injured, but aside from occasional blue sparks that licked across his skin, Justice seemed unwilling - or unable - to make an appearance. Anders' keening reached a fevered pitch before suddenly breaking off on a strangled sob. His hand slid off the boulder that had been the only thing holding him up and he collapsed onto the sand.

Fenris could tell he was still alive from the tremors that shuddered through his back after Anders curled into a fetal ball, but for how much longer he didn't know. Fenris cursed under his breath. If Anders died here, alone on a beach with the one person who hated him the most, then everyone else would no doubt accuse Fenris of killing him. If not actively, then by watching and doing nothing while the poison took hold. Fenris didn't know what, if anything, he could do since Anders was the group's only healer.

He went to Anders' side and knelt cautiously. He reached for Anders' shoulder and tugged on him, relieved when Anders flopped over onto his back with a moan. Moaning meant he wasn't dead yet. His eyes were squeezed shut and he was shaking and sweating, lips blanched white as he pressed them together. Anders' shoulder beneath his palm radiated heat like a fire, even through Fenris' gauntlet.

"Mage..." Fenris said, gripping Anders' jaw and giving his head a light shake. "Don't die. Hawke will blame me and be entirely impossible to live with."

Anders didn't even slap him away, which said a worrying amount regarding his condition.

"Anders."

"Please," Anders whimpered. He cracked open one glazed amber eye, which rolled until it fixed on Fenris' face. "P-Please... I need..."

Anders broke off with a gasp and arched his spine like he was being electrocuted. His eyes rolled back into his head and he clawed at the clasps to his coat until Fenris figured out what he was trying to do and ripped the already ruined coat open. Anders dropped back down with a gasp, chest heaving, but he still couldn't seem to catch his breath.

"Mage... Anders, what is it? What can I do?" Fenris demanded. He tore off his gauntlets and gripped Anders by the front of his robes. He could feel Anders' heart beating wildly beneath his fists like the organ would shatter his ribcage and fly away.

Anders gave an agonized sob and clamped a hand around Fenris' wrist hard enough to grind his bones together. Too late, Fenris realized whatever sap that had gotten onto Anders' hand was likely on him now. Fenris pushed that particular concern to the back of his mind as he curled over Anders and pressed a hand to his inflamed cheek. Anders moaned, sounding almost obscene and Fenris flushed, resisting the urge to jerk away.

"Help... F-Fenris..." Anders begged, hand trembling around Fenris' wrist.

"What do you need, mage?" Fenris said, impatient and not a little anxious. He gave Anders another shake, but Anders only groaned again. "Anders!"

"Please," Anders whispered, and dragged Fenris' hand from his chest, down his belly, to splay right over his crotch.

Specifically, right over his very hot, very hard cock, Fenris realized.

"Fenhedis!" he swore, tearing his hands away from Anders and falling backward onto his ass. He wiped his hands against his thighs, feeling tainted and violated.

"I will kill you, mage!" Fenris snarled, but Anders didn't seem to hear him.

He’d curled on his side facing Fenris, clawing at the dirt and making these wretched sounds as if he were dying, or his heart was breaking. Fenris wished he could say he was indifferent to either possibility.

"Snap out of it!" Fenris said, not coming any closer, but also not moving farther away. "Hawke... Hawke will be back soon, mage. Just hang on a little longer."

Fenris didn't know why he was trying to be comforting. It wasn't as if he cared about what happened to Anders, and besides, Hawke would be back soon. He could take care of Anders'...problem... himself.

But even in his worst moments, even when he'd been gripped by Vengeance and falling to pieces in the Deep Roads, Fenris had never seen Anders so wretched or so undone. He didn't know why Anders' demon was refusing to help him, but whatever Justice's reasons for staying hidden Fenris didn't think Anders would last until Hawke returned.

For better or worse, Fenris was all Anders had at that moment.

Fenris snarled to himself and scrambled to his feet, standing in indecision for the space of a breath before he marched over to Anders and hauled him up to his feet. Anders was dead weight as he slumped against his shoulder, but he whimpered at the press of Fenris' body against his own. Fenris ignored the jab of Anders' prick against his thigh and started dragging him toward the edge of the coast where waves lapped against the shore.

Anders was no help. He wrapped his arms around Fenris' neck and allowed himself to be dragged. He buried his face into the hollow of Fenris' throat, and Fenris had to ignore the hot touch of his lips and his panting breath against his skin as he renewed his efforts to drag Anders until his bare feet splashed through the shallows.

"Come on, mage," Fenris growled, panting at the effort of hauling a full grown man - and a human one, no less - across the beach.

Anders only clung to him tighter and started pressing burning, open-mouthed kisses up Fenris' neck to his jaw. Anders regained his footing, and – apparently - his strength. He held onto Fenris so tightly Fenris half-feared Anders would drag him off instead.

Anders' kisses were coming dangerously close to his mouth, so Fenris did the only thing he could think of and yanked Anders forward while he leaned back, pitching them both into the water.

Saltwater rushed into Fenris' mouth and nose as he gasped reflexively against the icy shock. He fought against Anders' limbs, which seemed to be everywhere, and the pull of the current that threatened to drag them both out to sea. Fenris shoved Anders away from him. He immediately regretted his decision to help and decided letting Anders drown was infinitely preferable to the disappointed faces Hawke and the others would inevitably give him.

Fenris was a decent swimmer after his time in Seheron, but the weight of the metal on his back kept dragging him down beneath the waves, which crashed continuously over his head. If he didn't get back to shore both he and Anders would drown, and that was entirely unacceptable. Fenris had unfinished business, and there was no way Anders or his stupid dick was getting in the way of that. With a pang of regret, Fenris quickly unbuckled his chestplate and broadsword and let them sink as he bobbed to the surface. The tide had pulled them far enough out that Fenris couldn't feel sand beneath his feet anymore, but not so far that he couldn't swim the short distance back to land.

He ducked Anders' flailing hand as Anders splashed and choked on water, and dove beneath the next wave, kicking out toward shore. He swam perhaps a minute or two before he was gripped by a horrible sensation in his chest that felt like guilt, of all things. Fenris swore and came back up to the surface. He treaded water and cursed Hawke and that damned herbalist and Anders for getting them in this situation in the first place.

Anders was a distant splash in an inky black expanse of water further than the eye could see. Fenris watched him struggle for a few seconds longer before Anders' head disappeared beneath the water and didn't resurface.

Fenris hated his life and everyone in it.

He silently cursed up a storm as he swum hard against the current to the last place he'd spotted Anders. Night had fallen by this time and even with Fenris' sharp eyes visibility was next to nothing beneath the waves. He felt a tightening in his throat that was more than the lack of oxygen as seconds passed and he didn't find any sign of Anders. Anders would only have a minute, maybe two before he drowned, and knowing that it was entirely Fenris' fault if he died made him lash out in panic.

The lyrium tattoos flared to life on his body, illuminating the water around him. He searched around frantically and nearly cried out in relief when he spotted Anders. His eyes were closed and his body was slack as he sunk slowly downward, but his skin was lit up with brilliant cracks of blue - either in response to Fenris' lyrium markings or Justice finally reacting to Anders being in danger.

Fenris took hold of Anders' arm and hauled him up with all of his strength, making for the shimmer of the moon above. He surfaced with a gasp. He wrapped an arm around Anders' chest and started swimming for shore without even checking if he were breathing first. Fenris only made certain Anders' head was above water and didn't think about anything else except getting them both to shore.

Fenris had never done something so idiotic in his life, but it figured that Anders would be the one to push him this far.

Fenris hit his shin against a rock or section of reef but ignored the pain as he dug his toes into the sand and dragged them both the last few yards onto solid land. He pulled Anders' body far enough out of the shallows that he wouldn't be at risk of having a wave catch him and drag him back out to sea.

"Mage," Fenris said, gripping Anders' by the front of the robes and shaking him when he realized Anders wasn't breathing yet. "Mage!"

Fenris slapped him across the face, hoping to knock him back into consciousness. Anders' head only lolled to the side, mouth slack and lips tinged blue even after Justice's light had receded.

"Mage!" Fenris said again, yelled, and then, "Justice! Anders!"

No response.

Fenris dug a hand into his wet hair and bared his teeth, looking around and hoping, by some miracle, a solution would form itself. But there was nothing. Fenris swore, feeling as if he were the one that couldn't breathe as he stared down at Anders' unmoving chest.

"Anders..." Fenris said again, brokenly.

His fist thumped down on Anders' chest once, and then a second time as rage gripped him. Anders would not die like this. He couldn't die like this because Fenris reserved the right to kill Anders himself if the damned mage didn't wake up...

Fenris hit Anders' chest a third and final time before he gave up trying to beat Anders back to life and sunk his entire fist into Anders' chest instead. Fenris probably had a better understanding of anatomy than most healers from personal, hands-on experience, but his hands were shaking so badly that he feared he was closer to scrambling Anders’ insides than saving him. He carefully bypassed Anders’ heart and felt a surge of triumph when he located his lungs. He wrapped his fingers around the thick, slippery muscle and gently began to squeeze.

Anders' entire body seized and a fount of water gushed from his mouth as he jerked out of Fenris' hold and coughed violently. He was lucky Fenris had let go at the first sign of life and hadn't ripped his lungs out of his chest. Fenris rolled Anders onto his side and gave his back several solid thumps while Anders coughed up the rest of the brackish sea water he’d inhaled.

"Idiot mage," Fenris grumbled. He pretended he wasn’t relieved when Anders finally slumped onto his back, limp but breathing.

Or rather...not entirely limp.

Despite Fenris' best efforts and the entire galling fiasco of drowning Anders and then bringing him back to life, the front of Anders' robes still tented over the persistent bulge of his cock. Fenris restrained the urge to either laugh or hit him again, and instead sat down on the ground and looked out at the sea that had nearly swallowed them both.

They ignored each other for the length of time it took for the moon to reach its peak, but still Anders'...situation...remained unflagging. Despite the chill as the wind cooled the water against their skin, Anders began to burn with fever again. Fenris didn't even need to touch him to feel the heat rolling off his body.

"Seriously, mage?" Fenris complained when Anders shifted his hips tellingly. "Do I need to dunk you again?"

Anders had the audacity to huff out a choked laugh, but he tilted his head back and forth in a negative, plastering sand to his wet hair. "Couldn't…jump you again even if…wanted to."

At least Anders maintained some sort of cognitive function despite the glaring evidence blood flow in his body was not currently traveling to his brain. Belatedly, Fenris checked the wrist that Anders had grabbed earlier and was gratified to note his skin seemed cool and unbroken. Whatever the effects of Andraste's Kiss, it apparently needed to be ingested or enter the bloodstream to work.

Hawke still hadn't returned, but to be fair the Wounded Coast was at least a half day's leisurely walk from the inner city. Neither Fenris nor Anders would be walking anywhere anytime soon.

He left Anders and inspected the area they'd washed up ashore on, noting that it wasn't too far off from where Anders had found the Andraste’s Kiss in the first place. He retrieved his gauntlets as well as Anders' staff and coat. He intended to wrap himself up in the hideous, musty-smelling thing to ward off the cold since Anders was his own heat source.

He dropped their belongings at the base of a rocky cliff that overlooked the coast and would provide at least a minimal shelter of sorts. He threw Anders’ coat over himself and hunched down with his back against the wall in an attempt to keep out of the wind. His undertunic and leggings were saturated with water and the exposed skin of his face, arms and feet were freezing. The thought of his sword and armor sitting at the bottom of the sea made him grit his teeth and resist the urge to drag Anders back out into the water and leave him to drown next time.

The sword he could replace from looting any of the dozens of bodies their group often left in their wake, but quality armor that fit and worked with his lyrium brands to allow him to faze through solid objects would take longer to find - if such a blacksmith even existed in Kirkwall.

"Don't die," Fenris called out a reminder to the shivering lump of a person still lying on the beach.

Anders groaned and responded with something that would have been ostensibly offensive had his mutterings not faded into gibberish and moaning. Fenris was tiring of the moaning quickly. He was dangerously close to considering sacrificing his tunic in order to make Anders a gag, but knowing his luck he would only choke on the cloth and die. Again.

"I won't look if you want to take care of...that," Fenris forced himself to say, though his stomach twisted at the thought of Anders touching himself anywhere Fenris could see or hear, or even hear rumors about.

"Wh…What?"

Fenris was not going to repeat himself.

Anders moaned again and stretched his arms above his head as if he had to physically restrain himself from temptation, even though his erection was obvious enough to flag down a ship passing in the night. Fenris wondered if Anders' refusal to do the obvious thing and take himself in hand was somehow his spirit's doing. Justice already didn't permit Anders to drink or do anything that wasn't freeing all mages from the evil clutches of templars or healing the poor sods that dragged themselves down to his clinic in Darktown.

Damnit, where was Hawke?

"Fenris...please..." Anders cried, taking Fenris right back to the moment before Fenris decided to drown him. He knew he would come to regret saving Anders many more times to come in the future, starting with the immediate future. Fenris stood, stalking over to Anders with his coat billowing from his shoulders like a cape.

"Mage," Fenris said shortly, nudging Anders' hip with his foot. "You're being an idiot. I promise I won't tell anyone. In fact, I will burn this very night from my brain the instant we're back in Kirkwall."

"No," Anders moaned, shaking his head as he stretched his arms out even farther away from himself.

Fenris crouched in the sand next to him and narrowed his eyes at Anders, whose own eyes were squeezed shut.

"No? Why?" Fenris made an effort to make his tone conversational rather than annoyed. He doubted he succeeded, but was gratified when Anders responded.

"I can't...myself," Anders huffed, straining for something Fenris couldn't see. "I need... I need..."

"What do you need, Anders?" Fenris cajoled when Anders bit his lip and refused to answer. Perhaps Fenris could hit him over the head and knock him out without killing him until Hawke came back to deal with the mess he'd started.

"Fine, mage. I'm going back to my...rock, and you can lie here until Hawke returns. If he returns."

Fenris was absolutely blaming everything on Hawke and his stupid need to take on every single job he was offered, no matter how inane. He stood to go but stopped when Anders' hand darted out to catch his wrist again. Fenris didn't pull away or speak.

Anders was obviously fighting with himself, or Justice, as his grip alternately tightened and relaxed until Anders reached a breaking point. His eyes flew open with such an intense look that Fenris nearly did pull back. They were alit with power or passion, he couldn't tell, but they were Anders' usual amber rather than Justice's telling blue, which meant that whatever decision had been made Anders had won out over his demon.

"I need you," Anders said at last, the most coherent thing he'd managed in hours, it seemed.

Fenris immediately regretted ever asking in the first place and tried to pull away, but Anders had him anchored. Anders' hold eased before they had a fight on their hands, but his eyes had Fenris pinned as good as any preternatural strength he might possess.

"If I could do it myself, I would. But I need... I can't..." Anders gasped around his last words, sobbing them out as he let go to clutch at the sodden fabric of his robes. Fenris was surprised they weren't steaming, or that Anders' hand hadn't left burn marks on his skin.

"Fenris, please..."

"Shhh," Fenris shushed him.

He reached for Anders' hands and pulled them away from his robes, pushing his arms over his head and out of the way like Anders originally had them. He had a knife tucked away in his leggings, which he pulled out and used to slice right up the center of Anders' robes from hem to throat. The garment split and fell away without a single cut on his skin from the blade, but compared to the mess revealed of Anders' emaciated and bruised body, a few nicks wouldn't have made that much difference.

There were scars, too. Some that Fenris could vaguely recall Anders having gotten in one of their endless battles alongside Hawke, but more that looked old and badly-healed. These he couldn't have gotten in the time he'd known Hawke. Perhaps not even when he was with the Wardens prior to coming to Kirkwall.

The tapered end of multiple scars that could only be made by a whip hugged the edges of Anders' shoulders, ribs, and flanks. Fenris suspected his back was in much worse condition. There were puckers from barbed arrows on his shoulder and hip, a still-pink gouge on his side from a darkspawn's poisoned weapon, and what appeared to be a bite mark on his inner thigh. Fenris ignored Anders' glaringly obvious and painful-looking erection and studied the bite. The mark wasn't fresh or even bruised. It was puckered with scarring that was less of a lover's playful nip and more like someone had tried to take a literal bite out of Anders.

Fenris felt suddenly ill.

He swept the coat off his shoulders to cover up Anders' nakedness. Anders made a confused noise of dismay and tried to catch Fenris' eye, but Fenris turned his head away and refused to look at him. Fenris did reach out to pat Anders' hip through the coat when Anders shuffled toward him hesitantly. He found himself unable to pull away a second time, so he left his hand where it had settled against Anders’ hip like an anchor.

Fenris cleared his throat and started talking about anything that came into his head just to fill the weighted silence and keep their minds off the present.

He spoke of Tevinter, of a sister he didn't remember, of how bright the stars looked from Seheron, and the group called the Fog Warriors who took him under their wing…and how he'd killed them all without even blinking on Danarius’ orders. He talked about his armor that would slowly start to rust at the bottom of the Waking Sea; it had been his first commissioned piece bought with the money he'd earned from jobs as a mercenary, fitted to his exact sizing and free of any brands claiming the wearer to be someone's property.

He talked of his own scars, the ones above and beneath the lyrium tattoos, and finally of his fears that he would never get his revenge on his former master. He feared he would spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder and waiting for the moment Danarius caught him defenseless to take him back to Tevinter, or worse yet – set him loose upon his companions again before dragging him back in chains.

A moment like now, perhaps, with only his knife and his wits to fend off any that might stumble upon a runaway slave and a runaway mage.

The stars had always looked pale and faded from Kirkwall, but tonight, with the moon at its fullest and the sky clear, Fenris thought that, maybe, they looked a little brighter. He kept this last thought to himself, embarrassed for saying as much as he had already, but Anders hadn't moved or said a word. With any luck, he'd fallen asleep and missed Fenris spilling his guts out all over the sand like a blade to the stomach.

Fenris glanced down to check on him and found Anders plenty awake, but he was quiet as he studied the planes of Fenris' face. The inspection made him uncomfortable, but he bore Anders' stare and returned one of his own until Anders huffed quietly and looked away.

"Are you still..." Fenris asked. He was unable to finish the question, but then again he didn't need to.

Anders made a show of lifting up the coat and peeking underneath.

"Yep. Still hard," Anders said, so dryly that Fenris gave an aborted laugh. Anders dropped the coat and gave Fenris a slightly strained but matching grin.

Fenris cleared his throat and felt his cheeks heat for some unknown reason before he broke eye contact. His hand, which was still on Anders' hip, shifted slightly to the left and brushed over the lump they'd both been trying and failing to ignore. Anders sucked in a gratifyingly shocked breath, but when no complaints or refusal came, Fenris applied a little more pressure and moved his palm in a tight circle against him.

Anders knees and mouth fell open with a long, low sigh that ended on a hitched sob when Fenris wrapped his hand around Anders' length through the coat. He worked both up and down slowly while he looked out at the cliff wall rather than Anders' face. Anders' cock felt like a steel rod in his hand. Even though Fenris kept the same, dispassionate pace, Anders' breathing steadily accelerated until he was gasping out ragged moans. He even added a combination of Fenris' name and a variety of curses - which was achingly normal for them.

Fenris stroking off the abomination; however, was not.

When Anders' cries peaked the same instant he should have, his cock only became harder in Fenris' hand, refusing to spill even when Fenris sped up the pace.

"Wait!” Anders begged. “Stop, stop, stop.”

He pawed at Fenris and stopped the motions of his hand upon his cock, panting and shivering and arching against Fenris' palm despite his earlier plea. Anders eventually quit trying to rub himself off on Fenris after several minutes of this and dropped back down with a frustrated groan.

"I can't. I need..."

Fenris waited for Anders to tell him what he needed, leaving his hand lax in Anders' sweaty grip.

"…Fuck me," Anders said, releasing Fenris in order to dig his palms into his eyes.

For a minute Fenris thought Anders was cursing his situation rather than making a request. His viewpoint abruptly shifted when Anders pulled his hands away, looked Fenris dead in the eye, and repeated, "Fuck me, Fenris."

Fenris stared at Anders.

"Do you need me to say it again?" Anders hissed through gritted teeth, not allowing Fenris to look away this time. "I need you to fuck me. I want your dick inside my ass, and I want you to come inside me. I consent. I want it. Whatever you need to hear: yes, yes, and yes, Fenris, but do it now."

Fenris wasn't aroused before, but it was impossible not to have some kind of reaction when Anders groped for his knee and asked, "Can I suck you? I want to taste you so badly. I need your dick in my mouth, Fenris, please."

And all Fenris could do was go to his knees and scrabble at the laces to his leggings and breathe, "Yes," into Anders' mouth when he kissed him.

They had enough sense to use Anders' robes and coat to lie upon rather than fucking on the sand, but neither of them cared by the time Fenris got his hands in Anders' hair and Anders' mouth on his cock. Anders swallowed him down whole. He butted his head so hard into Fenris' abdomen that he knocked him off balance, but kept sucking even when Fenris sprawled out on his back with Anders settling between his legs.

Anders’ hands were like irons clamped around Fenris' hips, holding him steady while he fucked his own throat on Fenris’ dick while making wet, hungry noises like he couldn't get enough. Fenris tried to ignore the fact Anders was doing this to him. He tried to convince himself that the soft fall of hair beneath his fingers and the desperate moans and the sharp-edged limbs shouldering his thighs apart could belong to anyone. Then Anders pulled back, licked his lips, and looked down at Fenris with so much gratitude, even after Fenris had nearly killed him, that Fenris couldn't pretend he was anyone else.

Anders ducked down and took his cock in his mouth with renewed fervor, grinding against the coat beneath his hips even though they both knew he couldn't come that way. Fenris, though, Fenris was dangerously close to coming. If Anders still wanted to be fucked, he needed to stop or it would all be over.

"Anders," Fenris gasped - a warning and a plea for mercy both. He nearly laughed at the disgruntled sound Anders made, but the laugh became stilted when Anders pulled off his cock with one last wet slurp and leveled him a look that sent fire through Fenris’ body without the help of a plant or magic.

Anders was magic.

"I want... On my back. I want to see you," Anders breathed.

Fenris had to grab his swollen cock at the root and squeeze at Anders' words. Anders wasn't trying to fool himself into thinking Fenris was anyone other than who he was.

A broody elf, according to Varric.

Lanky with pretty eyes, according to Isabela.

Grumpy, according to Merrill.

Someone who was wanted, according to Anders, even if they still didn't exactly like each other.

And...and someone who Anders was laying back and spreading himself for; someone he trusted his skinny, scarred, and too-powerful body with.

Anders' hands were slick when they reached for Fenris' cock. Fenris automatically flinched back, thinking for an instant that Anders was smearing sap on him, until Anders murmured, "Grease spell," and Fenris relaxed. Anders was so slick and open that Fenris didn't even know he was inside him until he felt his hips press flush against Anders' ass. Anders clutched at him and gave a tremulous wail of relief, clamping down so tightly with his arms and legs that Fenris couldn't even pull out enough to fuck back into him.

He rocked against him instead, mesmerized by the open hollow of Anders' mouth as it spilled blasphemes and prayers in the same breath until Fenris filled the gap with his tongue. Anders was so hot that Fenris forgot about ever having been cold in his entire life. Or, at least, the parts of his life that he could remember. He wouldn't be able to erase this night, this moment, from his mind. Fenris wasn't exactly sure he wanted to.

They stopped being Anders and Fenris - mage and elf, abomination and former slave - and became two bodies joined as one undulating mass. They were delirious and feverish, under the influence of a flower and the light of the moon.

They thrust and clawed and cursed until they both came with a cry as a wave crashed upon the shore.

---

"Good news!" Hawke called out as he rounded a hill and came into view. "Sol did say Andraste's Kiss was potent, not poisonous, so the effects will wear off on its--oh."

Fenris and Anders didn't have any time to cover themselves up when they heard Hawke's voice. They'd ripped the clothing off each other and very likely threw it all to the four corners of the world. Or into the Waking Sea, which was essentially the same thing.

All three stared at each other when Hawke stopped just short of stepping on them. Fenris huffed out a breath through his nose and dropped his head back onto Anders' waifish chest, too tired and sated to move or care.

"Hello, Hawke," Anders said, voice raw after all the yelling and cocksucking he'd been doing not too long ago. "Nice to see you, Hawke. Yes, I figured out the flower's effects wear off on its own. So good of you to go through all that trouble to find out, but as you can see, you needn't have bothered. I'm fine."

He didn't say 'thanks to Fenris', but the sentiment was probably implied. Fenris was more than happy to call them even after he'd drowned Anders and Anders had Fenris jerk him off in return.

"Are you?" Hawke asked, eyeing Fenris as if he were a deadly scorpion he'd found curled up on Anders' chest rather than a mildly irritated elf.

"The mage said he was fine, Hawke," Fenris said, narrowing his eyes, but the effect was lost beneath a yawn that cracked his jaw. Anders' hand swept down his back almost reflexively, Fenris thought, and came to rest against his hip.

"If you didn't bring us a cure, Hawke, then please say you at least brought spare clothing with you," Anders said.

"I...uh..." Hawke faltered and scratched the back of his head with one hand as he held up a basket Fenris hadn't noticed earlier with the other. "I brought sandwiches? Sol said you'd probably be hungry after... Are you?"

"Starving," Anders sighed, deep and soul-weary, but he sat up and reached for the basket.

He dislodged Fenris, who gave a disgruntled grumble and sat up as well. Fenris watched as Anders grimaced as sand and rocks ground into the tender flesh of his backside through the meager protection of his former robes, but Anders seemed not to be truly bothered, so Fenris wasn't going to say anything either.

Hawke joined them on the ground for an impromptu midnight picnic, unfazed by their nudity or the smell of sex and seawater that clung to their skin. He cast a small flame for heat and light, and Fenris only flinched a little. At least it would still be dark by the time they managed to slip past Aveline’s guardsmen, so the chances of them being seen while running through Kirkwall naked was slim.

If nothing else, Fenris could always faze through the walls and leave Hawke and Anders to fend for themselves if there was a chance of being caught.

Fenris suspected Varric would find out about the whole situation anyway, and their latest exploits would end up in one of his damn books, along with rest of their most embarrassing moments. At least Hawke still had them beat with the time he'd accidentally propositioned the Arishok and implied that he’d trade sexual services in order to secure a peace treaty between the Qunari and Viscount Dumar.

Or, at least, Hawke claimed it had been unintentional.

They demolished the last sandwich and gathered up Anders' boots, staff, Fenris' gauntlets, and the sad remains of Anders' coat. Hawke loaned Anders the shirt he was wearing beneath his armor. His chest and belly was thick with a layer of fat, muscle, and hair that probably kept him reasonably warm against the bite of chill in the air, whereas Anders had none. Anders was no prettier after their toxin-fueled fucking than he had been before he'd stumbled upon the flower. But when Anders carefully approached him and tossed his coat over Fenris’ bare shoulders, Fenris simply couldn't dredge up the loathing he usually felt just by looking at him.

Perhaps tomorrow, when he was certain the last of the effects from Andraste’s Kiss had faded and he could recall with clarity that Anders was everything he hated in one, aggravating package. The clutch of his fingers when he’d left bruises on his skin or the sound of his cries when Fenris had fucked him again and again or the sweetness of his mouth around the base of his cock didn't negate the fact Anders was a demon-possessed abomination and damned annoying when he went on about his manifesto or the Chantry's reign of oppression.

Hawke extinguished their little campfire and Fenris blinked until his eyes adjusted to the pale illumination of the moon to guide their path back to Kirkwall.

"Oh! I almost forgot!" Flame reappeared at Hawke's fingertips and Fenris and Anders watched bemusedly as Hawke searched around the campsite, looking on the ground for something.

"If you're looking for semen samples, then I'm afraid you'll have to wait a day or two," Anders said dryly. "Or just scrape a sample from between my-"

"Aha! Found it!" Hawke exclaimed, holding up the Andraste's Kiss carefully between his gauntlets before placing the slightly wilted flower into his basket. "Can't leave without that."

"Seriously, Hawke?" Anders complained. It was a sentiment that Fenris echoed but refused to say aloud lest he be caught agreeing with the mage.

"What? Now that I know first hand this little gem works, I'm going to be charging Sol a lot more before I hand it over just like that. In fact, I'm certain Madam Lusine at The Blooming Rose would make a very convincing counteroffer... Hey!"

Hawke dropped the basket as it and its contents went up in flame, burned into unidentifiable ash in seconds. The blue glow faded from Anders' eyes, but the scowl on his face did not as he glared at Hawke, who didn't even have the decency to look ashamed. Fenris covered a poorly-disguised laugh behind a cough and turned to start walking back toward the city.

"I can't believe you, Hawke! After all that! I'm going to hunt down every last one of those flowers and burn them before their evil influence can affect anyone else."

"But my potion! I would have been able to go for hours!" Hawke said mournfully.

There was a growl and Fenris glanced over his shoulder in time to catch Anders grab Hawke by the back of his neck and drag him downward for a heated kiss that made electricity dance across both their skin until they had to break apart to pant for breath.

"Trust me. You're not going to need a potion," Anders promised, forehead resting against Hawke's.

Fenris snorted and turned his head to watch where he was going so he didn't fall into any errant bushes. He settled Anders' coat more firmly around his shoulders and ducked his face into the feathered pauldron, pretending that he didn't see a single, red petal caught between the feathers.