Varric had been able to see Hayden’s attraction to their healer from day one. He might not have been all that great with love in his writing or his life (all he needed was Bianca and he was just fine with that), but he knew that Hayden was head over heels for the mage even before Hayden knew it themselves.
And then came the broody elf.
Hayden’s face when the elf came stalking down the stairs, slaver falling at his feet, blood dripping down his gauntlet was nothing short of starstruck. Anders had been there too, and there was definitely attraction there.
But from the moment the elf had called Hayden and Anders vipers, there was already bad blood between them. Well, not Hayden. Hayden had only seemed hurt, crestfallen even. Poor kid. They liked people and wanted so much for people to like them and when that didn’t happen it looked like the world was ending in those pretty blue eyes…
Varric supposed that was what made the elf relent in the end. He apologized and even seemed surprised when Hayden called him handsome in spite of the insult. Hayden was so happy when the elf told him that he’d decided to stick around a while, and Varric had been certain that Hayden’s initial infatuation with the healer would end there.
It didn’t. And Varric didn’t understand it.
Oh, he knew that being attracted to more than one person was a thing, he just didn’t get it.
He could only hope that Hayden didn’t get hurt, batting those pretty puppy dog eyes at the two people in their party who hated each others’ guts so much that it was hell being in a group with the two of them (which was often, because Hayden took them everywhere).
Yet one didn’t need eyes to see that hurt was an inevitability.
It took an entire Deep Roads expedition (which, disaster that it was, could’ve been a lot worse without Blondie along for the ride) and the better part of three years, but the thing that Varric feared occurred not long after a little of Fenris’ past was revealed to their group by his former master’s now dead apprentice. Hayden had tried to ask if the elf was alright, but his only response was to ask, “What has magic touched that it doesn’t spoil?” before he ran off into the night.
To… the Hawke estate, apparently.
Where they most definitely had sex.
Hayden wouldn’t give him any details, but even if they had been willing, Varric doubted he could’ve understood them. The poor kid was insensible, dark hair unbound, tears and snot; everywhere. They’d tried drinking, but that had only seemed to make things worse. So they stopped, folded their arms on Varric’s table, buried their face into the fabric of their robes, and sobbed up a storm. At some point, Varric caught sight of the elf watching the scene from the crack in the door, his usually unexpressive face wracked with grief.
He’d turned and run once he noticed that Varric had seen him.
So. The elf was hurting too. And he continued to hurt from what Varric could gather when he saw a red favor cloth as well as a fresh potions pouch with a suspiciously familiar crest attach themselves to the elf’s person.
It must’ve hurt even worse when Hayden seemed to move on and bring the mage into their bed and their home, but Varric knew better. Hayden still held a candle for the elf, but they’d needed someone to physical to lean on for support and Anders had finally given in to Hayden’s pleas.
“They still want you, you know,” Varric had said to Fenris one evening at cards when the others were well into their later rounds of ale and it was just him and the elf sitting on the far side of the table, watching their friends. Fenris, for once, wasn’t drinking, and was just slowly nursing a bowl of stew and, of course, brooding. Varric couldn’t stand it when the elf brooded for too long, so he’d had to open his mouth to say something, even if it just might get him killed.
“No they don’t,” was Fenris’ bitter reply. “Hayden moved on. With him.”
Anders. Of course.
“Look, it’s possible for a person to love more than one person. I don’t get it either because my one and only is a crossbow, but trust me, it’s a thing. Now, they were head over heels for Blondie before they ever met you, but you didn’t see their face when they first saw you. Slight gasp, starry eyes, the works. They’ve still got those eyes for you!”
He gestured to Hayden in a “look here!” motion, and Fenris sat up to do so.
Hayden, now quite drunk and laughing happily, caught Fenris’ gaze for a moment before they flashed the elf a coy smile and batted their eyelashes at him before realizing what they’d just done and buried their face in Anders’ shoulder in the hopes no one else had seen.
Fenris’ breath caught in his throat and Varric grunted.
“See? Stars. They’re so bright they’re blinding.”
Now it was Fenris’ turn to grunt dismissively. “It doesn’t. Matter. They’re with Anders now.”
“Blondie was pretty smitten with you too before you called him a viper.”
“What? No. Impossible.”
Varric shrugged. “Yeah whatever, but I’m pretty sure that he was into you. Still don’t believe me? Maybe try talking to the man. It couldn’t hurt.”
Fenris had merely grumbled and got up to leave while the others were preoccupied with their drinking. Well, all except Anders, who had noticed Hayden’s quick flirt and was watching the elf slink off with a slightly pained expression. Yeah, Blondie still definitely had a thing for their broody friend.
Varric had just sighed and hoped that, whatever the elf did, he did it soon because damn if watching him brood didn’t make his trigger finger twitch, and if there was one thing Varric truly hated, it was hurting his friends.
Though, this was mostly because they did enough of that between themselves.
Fenris would make several attempts to speak to either Hayden or Anders about their feelings towards him… though few of those attempts ever made it outside of the crumbling mansion he called home.
Those that did make it out the door didn’t ever make it to Hawke’s because at some point Fenris would realize that he had no idea what he was doing or what he was going to say and he’d panic and retreat to the safety and comfort of his warm, dark room.
Yet one day, he’d somehow found himself standing in Hawke’s foyer, and he was panicking again because he’d found that his carefully constructed words had abandoned him.
Then Anders was there, looking too beautiful in his concern than the man had any right to be, and somehow they had ended up arguing. Fenris couldn’t remember about what, just that they’d argued, and then Hayden arrived home to discover them fighting and was already very upset about… something. Anders and Fenris turned to see the white lilies on the foyer tabletop, and they heard Gamlen’s voice chasing after them from the study.
Had Hayden seen Leandra? She was late for her visit to Gamlen’s.
No, Hayden hadn’t seen her.
Anders and Fenris exchanged a glance, and for the moment they agreed to put aside their arguments for Hayden’s sake.
This would turn out to be the first of many such moments, because the evening would turn out to end in disaster: Leandra’s body torn apart and stitched into a horrific amalgamation of people, a blood mage responsible for her death and the deaths of several other young women in the city, and Hayden; devastated.
Fenris, despite knowing he was terrible at comforting people, went to do so anyway, and somehow he ended up finishing the night with Hayden curled up between himself and Anders.
Anders, whose lips had felt softer against his own than anticipated.
How a single kiss could make his heart flutter.
Fenris wasn’t sure that he knew what love was, but if it could do anything to heal the wounds that he’d inflicted upon his relationship with the two mages, he was willing to give it a try.
Of course, just his presence alone was enough for Hayden.
Anders was still asleep, and this was strange because usually Justice would have roused him before the sun even rose, never mind allowed him to sleep in until what appeared to be almost noon.
Hayden blinked blearily as they tried to reach up to wipe the sleep from their eyes, only to find that their hands were curled up and between their chest and Anders’, while their arms were pinned by another arm they weren’t used to seeing when waking up: a thin,wiry, muscled thing with embedded lyrium dancing along the contours of dark brown skin…
The arm tensed, its owner likely realizing that Hayden was awake, and so it retreated back to curl against the elf to whom it belonged. Slowly, so as not to wake Anders, Hayden turned so they were facing Fenris, and they were about to bid him good morning before suddenly Anders’ thin arms wrapped around Hayden and brought them up against the taller mage’s chest.
Fenris hummed, and remarked upon seeing this happen, “And I thought you were supposed to be the clingy one.”
Hayden chuckled awkwardly. “Um, yeah. Usually. But Anders is also usually up long before now… what time is it?” They craned their head in an attempt to see the small dwarven timepiece Varric had given them as a housewarming gift.
“Ugh,” they groaned, letting their head fall back on the pillows. “Almost noon. We’ve slept the morning away…”
Their eyes trailed to Fenris, who was almost a good foot away from where Anders’ sleeping form held Hayden captive, and slightly tense for some reason that they couldn’t fathom. However, he was still there. He hadn’t left, even though he looked like he very much wished to.
“Do you wish to leave?” they asked in a whisper, and Fenris frowned in apparent confusion.
“I… I do not know. I still feel as though I am… trespassing. Like I do not belong.”
Hayden wanted to reach up and fold Fenris’ bangs behind his right ear so they could see his eyes better, but Anders’ arms still held fast.
“You aren’t,” Hayden insisted, and a thrill of fear lanced through them. “I… um,” –they sniffed wetly– “you don’t have to stay, but I would very much like you to.” Their breath came in soft pants, and suddenly they were crying softly into their pillows. Something shifted, and there was heat against their front which cause them to look up. They gasped, Fenris’ body was next to theirs, the elf’s face suddenly very close to their own.
“If that is what you wish,” Fenris whispered, and Hayden shook their head.
“Fenris, I’m not ordering you–” “I know,” the elf interrupted them gently, pressing a finger to their lips. “It is my choice to stay. I might be afraid, I might feel a little out of place, but… if having me here is what you need, then… I want to help. And… to make up for the time I have wasted.”
Then Fenris was kissing them, and it was so soft, so sweet, so beautiful–
“Mmm… what a lovely thing to wake up to,” murmured Anders from behind.
Fenris tensed again, and Hayden caught him with another kiss before he could pull away, teeth gently worrying at the elf’s bottom lip and nuzzling their noses together, hoping to distract him.
It appeared to work rather well actually, because when Hayden moved away Fenris was blinking at him owlishly, apparently a little stunned from the kiss.
“Sorry,” they whispered, smiling sheepishly. “I… well. You wanted to see me being clingy, right? That’s… that’s it.”
Anders scoffed, and Hayden rolled over to see the other mage shooting Fenris a smug, sleepy smile as he shook his head. “No, that’s just how this one says hello. They’re like a limpet on cold nights…”
“Hey,” Hayden growled playfully, “you never complained about those nights.”
Anders chuckled and rubbed the sleep from his eyes before turning to look back at Hayden. “Hey… what time is it?”
“Almost noon,” they answered, and Anders almost fell out of this bed in his surprise. “What?! Noon? Justice, why in the void didn’t you wake me…?” Hayden merely sat up to watch as Anders flitted about the room, gathering his things, Fenris joining them in observing the spectacle.
“Is… he normally like this in the mornings?”
“It’s noon. Normally he’s gone before the sun rises, and even I don’t usually sleep in this late.”
“I know.” Hayden clutched at the sheets, tears burning in their eyes again as they tried not to cry. “I… I… Maker. I don’t even have a body to burn anymore. What the hell do I do…?”
They drew their knees up to their chest and wrapped their arms around themselves. This time they didn’t bother holding back tears as they sobbed into the silk of their trousers, and they didn’t notice when the sounds of Anders’ panicked movements had ceased until a hand was rubbing at their back and the bed dipped again under Anders’ weight. Fenris was still close by, still not quite sure what to do, but he’d placed a hand on Hayden’s right shoulder and was idly massaging the muscles there with his thumb.
“Hayden,” Anders whispered, causing Hayden’s attention to shift at the sound of their name.
“Do you want me to stay?”
“What about Justice? The clinic?”
Anders shrugged. “The clinic will survive a few days without me. But you’ve just lost a loved one… I would be a fool to leave you alone.”
“They’re not alone,” Fenris grumbled, and Hayden could sense a little of the tension from last night resurfacing between them. However, Anders merely closed his eyes, breathed deeply for a beat or two, and then nodded in agreement. “Yes, you’re right,” he told the elf in a low voice. “I merely meant that the more support Hayden has right now, the easier things will be.”
Fenris studied Anders for a few moments before nodding slowly in return.
“I know. But… thank you.” The for understanding bit went unsaid.
Anders sighed softly in relief and reached for one of Fenris’ hands, pausing just before skin met skin. “May I touch?” Anders asked, and Fenris’ expression was suddenly one of shock, or surprise. “I… yes?”
Long, knobby fingers curled under lyrium lined calloused ones as Anders gently leaned over Hayden to press a kiss to a part of the back of Fenris’ where the lyrium did not touch.
“You’re quite welcome,” Anders whispered, smiling softly up at the elf, who was… blushing? Yes, Hayden was certain Fenris’ ears were glowing with a soft rosy flush and they were twitching like mad in the way they had once done in the early days of their friendship, drinking stolen wine in a stolen mansion.
Anders released the elf’s hand and looked over at Hayden as he said quietly, “I’m going to go downstairs and see if Orana doesn’t mind fixing us something to eat. Do you want anything?” He glanced at Fenris. “Or you?”
“Just… no fish…” was all the elf seemed to manage, still staring at his hand.
Hayden smiled at the sight before looking back up to meet Anders’ honey-colored gaze. “I… there was… this soup. Mama used to make it when I was sick… I think Orana might know the recipe…”
Anders’ eyebrows rose in surprise. “I actually think I know that recipe. Chicken and rice, yes? With peas, carrots, and… ginger? No. Sage.”
“Yes, that’s it.” Hayden scooted closer to Fenris and stared down at their hands resting in their lap. “I… I’d like some of that please.” Beside him, Fenris tensed a little, but eventually he relaxed again and even pressed back, very tentatively, letting Hayden know without saying a word that he wasn’t going anywhere.
“Alright,” Anders said when Hayden confirmed that was what they wanted, “I’ll be back up in a bit, alright? Then after lunch we can decide what you want to do next, perhaps?” Hayden nodded. “Sounds good. And… thank you, Anders. I’m… really glad you’re staying.”
“Me too,” Anders agreed, and he was out the door momentarily, leaving Hayden alone with Fenris, who was still letting Hayden lean against him, though without any back support the position had to be uncomfortable.
“Do you… want to scoot back?” Hayden asked Fenris in a small voice. “Against the headboard?”
“Sure.” And it was that easy. They moved back and settled against the pillows and the headboard and suddenly things were much easier. Fenris, instead of leaning against Hayden, slouched back a little and lay partially on top of them, being mindful of where their right arm was so he wasn’t laying on it.
Despite normally not minding silence, Hayden couldn’t seem to stand it today. The air seemed too still, too quiet. Never before had they felt such a need to fill that silence, but now…
“So, um,” they began, briefly clearing their throat, “what was that between you and Anders just now? That looked like… flirting.”
“We were not flirting,” Fenris grumbled, and a quiet bubble of laughter spilled from their lips. “Yes you were,” they teased gently. “You were blushing. I haven’t seen you blush like that since… since…”
“Since I left?”
“Yes.” And then the laughter was gone and Hayden found themselves in tears again. “Damnit… I wish my face would just pick a thing and stick with it… I hate crying.” Fenris chuckled softly, and a low, stuttering purr started up afterwards, the sound vibrating off of the elf in waves.
Suddenly Hayden was calm again, though tears still fell every now and then.
“Um… thank you. You.. you don’t have to do that, though. I know… I know you don’t like it.”
“I didn’t like it because it wasn’t a thing that I was allowed to do without being told that I could. I am… merely trying to reclaim that part of myself. And… if it helps you in the process, then… well.” Fenris shrugged.
“But… about Anders… I don’t really know what’s happening there. I know he makes me feel… things. They’re sort of like the things that I feel when I think about being with you… but different.” Hayden tilted his head, despite Fenris not being able to see. “A… good kind of different, I hope?”
“I think so. I told him last night that I would give… us a try. I don’t know what do in this sort of relationship though, or how to behave…”
“I imagine it’s just like any other sort of relationship,” Hayden replied. “It’s not all sunshine and roses. Even between two people, a good relationship takes work. Communication. Compromise. We’ll have to talk things out a lot.” They chuckled quietly and added, almost teasingly, “And maybe sometimes there won’t be a lot of talking at all…”
Fenris groaned. “Anders is rubbing off on you. I am not certain how I should react to this.”
“However you like,” Hayden assured him. “And know that should you ever feel uncomfortable about something; tell us. As for the rubbing… Anders is downstairs. Believe me, I would know if he were doing any sort of rubbing.”
Hayden laughed, bending down to kiss the crown of Fenris’ hair.
That was the moment Hayden knew they were meant to be together, even though it had taken a lot to get there and they still had a long way to go. But they had Fenris in their arms and Anders not far away; even with Mother gone Hayden knew that they would never be alone again: not if either their feather-loving mage or literal heart-stealing elf had anything to say about it.