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Phantom Knight of Kirkwall

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Isabela blows a loose strand of hair out of her face. She has far more important things to do than waiting in a dark and smelly alley in Lowtown.

She could be out stealing things with Hawke. She could be drinking and writing stories with Varric. She could be spending time with Merrill. She could be harassing Aveline. She could be harassing Sebastian. She could be reminiscing about old times with Anders. She could be with Fenris. She could be picking up strangers. She could be picking up strangers for Fenris. Though, he seemed to be doing a better job after a year of studying under her.

Ha, under her. She smiles at her own joke, amused for a moment instead of being dreadfully bored.

The pirate sits on an empty barrel, she knows because she checked. She kicks her boots and twiddles with her necklaces. She scans around for any movement in the shadows. The alleyway is narrow and short. There are three entrances. One to the left and one to the right. Five steps each going up. The last way out is a sewer grate not far from her. It was rusted and ready to fall apart from the slightest weight.

She contemplates leaving. The only thing keeping her firmly in one spot is the note stash in her boot.

I know of the relic you seek.

She doesn’t buy it of course. She knows the person is full of shit, but that isn’t why she's staying. She stays because of the handwriting. It’s crude and childish and it doesn’t match the sophisticated way the sentence is structured. Fenris is intelligent, no one could doubt that, but he’s just now learning how to read and write. He writes like a child, both in style and structure. This person knows how to write.

She is over analyzing the note, she knows this to be true. She thinks she spends too much time with Varric, but something feels off and she’s curious.

So, the pirate stays.

She waits a few minutes, maybe ten, maybe twenty, when she hears metal on stone. It is one person and they are wearing heavy armor. She guesses they are a man, but they could be butch like Lady Manhands.

And they are coming from the right.

Silently, she slides behind the barrel and watches for the newcomer.

The steps grow louder and are joined by the sound clanking of metal until the man appears in the entrance way.

It’s a Templar, she first thinks, but no, that isn’t right. The chest plate might have the flaming sword, but he isn’t in those funny skirts.

And he is a man, she is sure. She can’t see his face, it’s obscured by a helmet. He’s tall, very tall. She hasn’t met many women who could match this man’s height. He’s also skinny. The armor did nothing to hide his wiry frame.

She watches him look around for a moment before standing up.

He’s startled and he jumps back but doesn’t draw his weapons.

“I suppose you’re the one who sent me the note?” she asks in a form of a greeting. She slowly walks completely into his view. She pretends she doesn’t care about the situation by picking at her nails. Its to disarm him mentally.

He nods, “I am.” His voice is deep and powerful and familiar. She tries to place a face to the voice, but she can’t. “I must apologize for my deceit. I know nothing of your relic, Captain Isabela.”

She schools her features, but her interest is piqued. No one called her Captain. She enjoys respect and honesty. “I figured, sweetie.” She looks him up and down. She wonders how easy it would be to convince the man to take off his helmet and then if he was handsome enough, the rest of his armor. She likes lanky men and the lankiest man in Kirkwall has been holding out on her for years now. “You know, if you do not wish to deceive me further, how about you take that nasty helmet.”

The man gasps in horror. “I did not realize a wearing helmet is a form of lying,” he removes the piece of armor. Golden blonde hair tumbles out and he lifts his head reveal Anders. Possessed Anders. “It is I, Justice.”

Isabela covers her mouth to stop the laugh threatening to burst out of her. “Andraste’s ass, what are you doing?”

“I wish to proposition you,” he says bluntly.

The laughter dies in her throat. No way is he asking what she thought he was asking. He couldn’t be. “Sweetie,” she starts out slow, “what do you mean, ‘proposition?’”

“I acquire your assistance,” he paces. “During one of our Underground exploits, Anders discovered slavers were using our routes. We eradicated the fiends and I thought justice had been done. However, I felt there was something wrong. While Anders slept, I went to investigate further. I believe I stumbled upon a slaver ring, but I need information. That is why I sought you out.” he faces her. Blue orbs bore into her and she shudders. He’s not judging her, but she’s on trial anyway. He can see all the wrongs she has done to her and the wrongs she has done to others. Her guilt laid bare for him.

“Why me? Why not Varric? Why not go to Aveline?” she asks.

“You know slavery, Isabela,” he says simply and she shudders again. She feels uncomfortable, she bares through, however. She isn’t as selfish as she plays up to be. She looks at her old friend’s face. Justice is in control, but he can’t hide the bags or the receding hairline. He’s thirty and he looks so much older than he should. She remembers Anders at twenty-four, youthful and outgoing. There was a spring in his step that there isn’t anymore. She doesn’t know what happened to him when he was taken by the Templars all those years ago, but it couldn’t have aged him like being possessed could.

“Right,” she says, “okay, I help you. But I want something out of this in return.”

He sighs, but it sounds more like Anders than Justice. “I expected as much.”

“It isn’t for me, it’s for the handsome man you call host,” he perks at this, like an eager puppy ready to please their master. She doesn’t share this allegory with the spirit. “You aren’t doing this with him knowing, are you?” he nods. “Figures. So, that means you’re taking his body out for a walk when he should be sleeping. Sweetie, mortals need sleep,” he opens his mouth, but she raises her hand to stop him, “our bodies need rest too. You let him have three uninterrupted nights of rest and one night to relax and have a few at the Hanged Man with the others. You do that, and we have a deal.” She held out her hand.

His jaw tightens, his eyes narrow. He takes three long strides and clasps her hand. “I do not make deals, but I agree to your terms.”

She grins and slinks an arm around his neck, “you ever had rum?”

“No…why?”

“Because every non-deal deal with a pirate is finalized with rum,” she pulls him down and stands on her toes to plant a kiss on his cheek, “put your helmet back on, sweetie. Drinks are on me.”

Chapter Text

Justice is burning from the inside out. He swallowed a Rage Demon and it threatens to consume his entire being.

The rum, a foul-smelling brand of water that pirates drink, makes his head fuzzy and his body hot. He wonders if he will cool down without any clothes. Anders likes being naked. He’s naked when he writes. He’s naked when he bathes. He’s naked when he touches himself. He’s naked when Fenris visits at night.

Anders is an in better mood when he’s naked. Justice concludes he will feel better if he’s naked. He strips off his layers one by one and when he is done, he slumps down into a cool wooden chair. But it isn’t enough. His face is on fire. He presses his cheek against the table. The surface is smooth and cold to the touch. He shivers, but he sighs in relief.

Anders is right. Being naked does make things better.

Justice isn’t alone. Accept recently, Anders is naked when it’s just the two of them. The spirit isn’t naked with Fenris, sadly. There are two people in the room with him. He lifts his head to look at the hairy, little mortal next to him. He’s a dwarf, the spirit reminds himself. And he’s smart too. He will know why it’s so terribly hot. “Why do I feel warm?” he asks.

“I don’t know, Sparky,” Varric doesn’t look at the naked spirit in his room, instead he focuses on the guilt-ridden pirate. “Do you know why?” She sits across from them, nursing her tankard, and doesn’t answer. He crosses his arms out of irritation. Isabela had pulled him from bed an hour ago to track down a very drunk Justice. When they found him, he had dismantled an entire house with his bare hands. He should be asleep, but instead, he’s now left to babysit a spirit and pirate.

“I might have made a mistake,” she says.

“A mistake,” he repeats. “A mistake is when you let Hawke talk you into tracking down torn trousers at five O’clock in the morning. This isn’t a mistake.”

“I do not like Hawke,” Justice sits up fast, but the room spins and he grips his head. Why did his head hurt? He mutters an ow and puts his cheek back onto the table again.

Varric pats Justice on his back. He goes for a patch of skin that isn’t mutilated by whippings, unsure if the scars cause Anders any pain. “Me too, buddy. Hawke's an asshole,” he tells the spirit who just smiles at the solidarity. He returns his focus back at the pirate. “I want to know why you thought getting a spirit drunk was a good idea”

Justice watches the dwarf’s chest move as he speaks. He wonders what it would like to touch it. He reaches out and pets the pelt. The dwarf jumps slightly and swats his hand away. “Stop that.” The spirit pouts.

“We made a de….an arrangement,” she corrects herself. If Varric could give her credit, at least she knows better to piss the drunk being off. “I thought he should experience life a bit more like a mortal and we shared a bottle of rum.”

Justice glances upward at the dwarf, “I do not like pirate water either.”

The dwarf scowls. “Pirate water?” he stares at the spirit in disbelief. His head snaps at the pirate’s direction. “You told him rum was water? What the fuck, Rivaini?” He is finding it hard to keep calm. He likes Isabela. She's one of his good friends. And Justice? He doesn't know shit about magic and even less about Fade being a dwarf and Justice scares him, but the spirit is also an embodiment of moral righteousness. Friend or not, he isn't too keen on the pirate taking advantage of such a being.

“He asked what rum was and out in the sea, we call it pirate water.” She rubs the back of her neck. “Look, I didn’t think he would break a building.”

Varric rubs his temples. “Okay, so let me get this straight. You got an ancient and powerful, but also a naïve, Fade creature drunk and you didn’t think nothing bad would happen? This isn’t some fifteen-year-old brat who only took a sip of their dad’s weak ale and tried something new. This a strong-ass spirit possessing fully developed and well-trained mage. We should be grateful he didn’t do any more damage or kill anyone!” His voice rises with each word and pounds the table at the last. He doesn’t know he’s shouting until he hears whimpering next to him. Justice clutches at his ears. “Shit. Sorry, Sparky, I’ll keep my voice down.” He rubs circles into the spirit's back.

Justice sits up again, slower this time. “The house was unjust. It would not stop spinning when I ordered it to. No one defies Justice,” he mutters.

Isabela points at the spirit, “it was being unjust.” She looks away when the dwarf levels a glare at her.

Varric decides to ignore her for now. He shifts his body around in his seat and faces Justice. “Hey, buddy, you mind giving Anders control.”

Justice violently shakes his head. The thought of his host in pain angers him. “No! I cannot let Anders suffer the pirate water!” he booms. He bathes the room in intense light. But the sudden brightness hurts his eyes and he dulls. He grips his head and whines, “my head hurts.”

The dwarf holds his hands up to pacify the spirit, but he switches tactics when he sees the spirit in pain. He places a gentle hand on the other’s knee. “Blondie’s a healer and used to be a big partier before you two merged. He will know how to handle the pirate water.”

This is true. Justice looks through the fallen hair in his face and at the pirate. “You will not tell Anders about our plans?”

“No, of course not, sweetie,” Isabela says, “we’ll talk more about it later.” Varric tosses her a questioning look; she shrugs it off. “I’m going to take your armor to my room and get some food for sparkle-fingers. And some of Coff’s hangover juice.”

Justice smiles at her and nods. Anders likes juice. He will like some when he wakes up. He watches her scurry about and pick up his armor and weapons. She is forced to take three trips. But once she picks up her shield and closes the door behind her, Justice’s falls backward into Anders’s mind.

 

Anders walks out of The Hanged Man in the early hours of the morning. His belly is full of a decent meal. He is well rested from a night on a decent bed. Even his clothes were cleaned by Norah while he slept.

He is also very confused. He doesn’t know why Justice was curious about rum all of a sudden. Or, according to Isabela, pirate water as the spirit called it. Why didn’t the spirit look through his memories and see how rum affected Anders. He enjoyed hard cider and dark wines, rum is gross. He could still taste the drink on his tongue. The ban on alcohol has extended to indefinitely.

He puts aside Justice’s late time antics, because, he doesn’t have time to dwell on them. He has a clinic to get to. People to heal. Mages to free. He moves through the bustling crowd of shoppers, runners, guardsmen, and people just trying to get to their jobs so he can get to his.

He makes his way to one of the safer lifts in Lowtown. It’s tuck away in a corner between two old buildings. It’s closer to Gamlen Hawke’s home than The Hanged Man, but it gets less traffic.

But not today, because the Maker hates him.

He groans. “Of course, there’s a blighted line.” He falls behind an elven woman. As he gets closer, she bows her head and coughs into her palms. Her ears twitch and she looks at him out the corner of her eye until her coughing took over.

His healer instincts kick in and he rushes to her side, while others move away. He firmly pats her back. While he does so he examines her. From one glance, he could tell she was healthier than most city elves. She has a healthy tan. Her brown hair is clean. She isn’t half-starved. She’s well off too if he is to guess based off her armor and daggers. This just made her coughing fit more concerning.

She calms down and brushes her hands on her leather skirt. She combs through her hair and pushes it out of her blue eyes. She turns toward him and lifts an eyebrow. “I guess we’re going to the same place?”

He grins, “I suppose so,” he drops the smile and grows serious. “How long has that cough been going on?” Take a step forward to get back in line.

She scoffs, “two days ago. My boss sent me to you because it hasn’t stopped no matter what we tried.”

“You mind telling me what you do?”

“I’m Athenril’s second,” is all she needs to say for him to understand. “We ran into some trouble down in the docs with other smugglers. I was hit with something.”

“Over a property dispute, I assume,” he half-heartily jokes. He can’t examine her with magic out in the open, but it sounded like she was poisoned by something rare, but not life threating.

“You can say that,” she tenses and her ears droop. “The dispute was they thought we were the property, we disagreed.”

“Slavers.” He hisses and Justice springs to the forefront of his mind. He pushes the spirit back, but the elf catches the blue glow behind amber.

She takes the slights of steps back but doesn’t make a scene. “That answers Athenril’s question. She wanted me to scope your clinic out to see your feelings on the matter.” They move forward slightly, but people walk around and stand in front of them.

“Why?”

She lowers her voice and whispers, “we all use the same routes, healer. She heard about your Underground activities. She wanted to know if there was a connection.”

Anders swallows down his shock as best he could. He didn’t think his Underground would be well known to anyone outside his friends. “And how does Athenril knows about that?”

“Meeran told her,” she says simply.

He nods slowly, “Oh, that makes sense,” he stops mid-nod, “wait, no it does it. How does a mercenary know?”

She gives him a mischievous smirk and her eyes twinkle, “you should ask him.”

Anders looks down at his feet. He thought he’d been discrete. Not only do people like Athenril and Meeran know, but they’re having conversations with each other. That is if this woman is telling the truth. He glances at her and asks, “why are you being so open about this."

She shrugs. "Who says I am?"

Anders stares dumbfounded at her. He can't tell if she's lying, but he knows she isn't pretending to have a nasty cough. "So, what’s your name?”

She takes a moment to answer. She is covering her mouth and coughing once more. Not as violent as before, but it takes her just as long to calm down. “Brina.”

“Let’s get to the clinic I can take a look at that cough of yours, Brina,” he smiles.

They silently move back in line. They are part of the next five who can get on once the lift reaches the top. Anders patiently waits for his turn. He needs to get an audience with Athenril and Meeran. Maybe talk to Varric if the Carta know. He twists his face in disgust. Actually, he doesn’t want to know if Carta knows. Happy, a dwarf who is certainly misnamed still wants to cut his balls off for his gambling debts. Maybe it would be best to pretend the Carta doesn’t exist.

Stuck in his own musings, Anders misses the people getting off the lift. He doesn’t see the elf with dark skin and white hair. He doesn’t notice how the elf hunches due to a sword twice his size.

Until he hears a familiar song of the Fade, of home, does he turn his head to the left?

Amber eyes are wide with shock lock with green.

Anders halts completely. “Fenris?”

“Where have you been?” Fenris asks. “I came over last night,” he adds quickly.

“You did?” he asks in disbelief. He missed Fenris last night all because Justice wanted to try rum? He closed his eyes and groaned. Of course, he did. They haven't seen each other in a week and he missed his chance.

The elf takes a step closer. There are only inches between them. “I was concerned. I went looking for you.” He whispers. Anders perks up. The elf was worried and went looking for him? He knows their arrangement has no room for feelings, but he can't help but nearly swoon. Contrasting all of his good feelings, Fenris expression darkens. "A Templar destroyed someone’s home late last night. A drunken rampage, or so people claim. I thought...I do not know what I thought.”

“Maker’s Breath,” Anders gasps. Templars are growing worse every day. Justice crawls forward at the mention of their enemies, but slithers back, leaving a trail of guilt and shame. The mage ignores the spirit. “So... you were out there looking for me?” He can’t help but flash a crooked smile. It was Fenris who demanded they shouldn't bring any feelings into this, but apparently, in such a short amount of time, the elf has grown to care enough to look for him in the middle of the night. It makes Anders giddy like a teenager.

Fenris’s ears turn a bright red. He covers his chuckle with a cough. He opens his mouth to speak, but his words were cut off by Brina. “Healer!”

Anders looks over his shoulder and sees he’s holding everyone else up. “I have to go. I will see tonight?” he asks hopefully. Again, not part of their arrangement. They don't try and meet back-to-back.

But to the mage's pleasant surprise, elf nods. “Tonight.”

His face his hurting by how wide he grins. He gets onto the lift. He notices Fenris still stands there watching him descend into Darktown. He gives the elf a tiny wave before they can’t see each other anymore.

He hears a snort next to him and he looks down to see his patient give him a sly smile.

“What?”

She just shakes her head.

Chapter Text

“Why did I admit I was worried?” Fenris mutters to himself the second the mage disappears. He feels like a love-struck fool. He shakes his head and turns away from the lift. Though, despite his embarrassment, he is relieved to see the mage is alright. The slightest of smiles blossom upon his face as he makes his way to the Foundry District.

He zones out the bustle of Lowtown and he keeps to himself. It doesn’t stop the insults from humans who have too much time on their hands. He’s heard knife-ear and rabbit so many times they barely invoke annoyance out of him. His mind stays on the mage.

It’s been a month since they started this thing between them. A month and two weeks since the incident. Fenris fashioned his and the mage’s relationship after his and Isabela’s, but he should have known better. Last night, when he scoured the streets for any sign of the mage, proved he couldn’t keep feelings out of their deal.

His smile drops. Everything about the mage is complex. Confusing. Standard fare for most mages, but Anders is a puzzle with thousands of pieces and Fenris doesn’t know where to start. He shouldn’t have given into his baser needs a month ago. Yes, the mage is attractive. However, it doesn’t mean he needs to shove his tongue down the man’s throat to express his attraction.

He needs to call this deal off before they go any further. He will do it tonight. He will do it kindly and it will be awkward, but they eventually can become friends. Sort of.

With his plans for tonight set, he refocuses his attention on his surroundings. The Foundry District is too dangerous for him to be lost in his thoughts.

He treads lightly through the warehouses. His eyes dart about. It is quieter here than any part of Lowtown, but only during the day. Though that did not mean he could be attacked.

He stops for a moment to recall the path the runner told him to go. That is when keen elven hearing picks up a voice from down the alley to his left.

“By the Dread Wolf, why are the streets so dirty?”

Fenris closes his eyes and clutches his fists. He takes a moment to push down his irritation and rounds to the corner. “Merrill?”

The Dalish woman jumps and whips out her staff and points at him. He takes several steps back and holds up his arms. Her large eyes blink once, twice, three times before she realizes who he is. “Creators, what are you doing here?” she eases out of her fighting stance.

“I could be asking you the same thing.” He crosses his arms and glares down at her. Her pristine white armor, a gift from Hawke no doubt, contrasts against the dark and dirty alleyway. A pretty elf like her shouldn’t be running around in fine clothing in the worse parts of the city by herself.

“Oh,” she says and walks closer to him. He meets her halfway, “yesterday morning the cutest little boy came to Hawke’s home to give me a message to come here. You should have seen him, Fenris,” she clasps her hands together and rests her cheek on them, “his ears were bigger than his head. They twitched like a cat’s. And he was so polite too! If Mythal is willing, I hope to have a little boy like him.” She cocks her head to the side, “though if Hawke and I have a child, their ears will be unexpressive like a human.” She frowns at the thought and drops her hands.

Fenris scoffs but pauses. “He was an elf?”

She nods, “yes, why?”

“Did he have blonde hair and green eyes? Freckles? About this tall?” he lowers his hand to indicate the boy’s height.

“Yes! So, you know how adorable he was?”

He rolls his eyes. “He was eleven at least and a runner for a gang. Adorable isn’t a word I would use.”

“But he was so small,” she counters, “he can’t be that old.”

“He’s a City Elf. Surely you noticed they are smaller than the elves you grew up with.”

She thinks for a moment in concentration, and then a flash of anger spreads across her face. Its, so sudden and fierce, that Fenris almost backs away as he did a minute ago. “Why are gangs using children to run messages?”

“Many reasons,” he bites out. He had no time to educate the woman on how the city works when she lived her for three years. If she couldn’t figure it out now, then let her live her ignorance. “The question that should be asked is why are you shocked about this being gang-related. Gang members, murderers, and thieves hide here.”

“The message just said come here, nothing else. Why are you here?” she asks, not bothering to hide her irritation.

“I got the same message, but unlike you, I know what I’m getting into,” he narrows his eyes. “Does anyone know you’re here?”

“Leandra does. We were knitting and told her. She didn’t think it was safe, but I know how to take care of myself, Fenris.” She says. He doesn’t believe her and stalks pass her. He remembers where the boy told him to go. After a moment, she follows. “Why do you think a gang wants with us?”

“The boy works for Athenril,” he answers, “I’ve done a job for her once, however, we didn’t meet here of all places,” he doesn’t tell her he has healing potions and flasks on his person just in case. Nor does he admit that if things go wrong, he at least has one ally. “As for you,” he looks down at her, “I have no clue why she wants you.”

“Maybe because I’m close to Hawke?” She suggests. He doesn’t respond and continues walking.

They turn down a narrow corner and they come to what seems to be a dead end. The door at the skinny hallway had no handle, but there is a panel for eyes to poke through.

He goes over and knocks three times. They are spaced out evenly, just like the boy said. Seconds pass and the panel slides open. Sharp brown eyes appear. One quick scan and the panel closes shut with a tight snap. The door opens wide enough for them to enter. Fenris hesitates. The inside is dark and bleak and he hates himself for trembling. Merrill picked up his discomfort and slid her hand into his. She pulled him into the dark room.

Fenris takes a deep breath when the door closes. The elf who let them in points to the direction where they need to go, but doesn’t move from his spot. There is a light at the end of the hall, but it serves to highlight the pitch blackness instead of dampening it.

Merrill holds her free hand close to her person and lights a small fire in her palm. Fenris allows her to guide through the darkness until they reach the entrance way. As they get closer, they hear people speaking. She waves her hand and the fire drops and she lets go of him. When they turn the corner, they both are surprised by the sight before them.

The room is massive. Boxes and crates of any size are shown this used to be a warehouse. In the center of the room, there is a natural spotlight. Now, it seems, to be an Alienage for criminals. Dozens of elves have been gathered here. They sit on boxes, they stand near crates that tower, they lean over the handrails, their feet dangle from the walkways overhead. And how man hide in the shadows?

Fenris runs a hand over his pouch on his hip and frowns. If this went south, Merrill and he would have a hard time escaping. He glances down at the Dalish woman next to him. He has no love for her magic, but he is suddenly grateful he has a powerful mage at his side instead of against him.

She looks up at him, “let’s get a place down there.” She smiles brightly at him, “the ground is just dirt and might have tree roots. And you can show your sword.” He agrees, understanding what she is getting at.

She trots ahead of him and he glowers at the cutthroats and thieves who eye her as an easy target. She leads him to a spot near the middle of the room. It’s a strategic place. The spotlight and the way the crates were placed, meant this is where any person of importance would stand at.

Merrill climbs on top of a tall and wide box and sits crossed-leg. Fenris just leans against it and folds his arms across his chest. He scans the area. He recognizes some of the elves here. Tomwise, who stands across from them, is in a hushed conversation with two men and a woman. One of the men, or boy in Fenris’s opinion, is a mage. His staff is simpler than Anders or Merrill’s but he can spot a mage’s staff when he sees one. His outfit also gives it away. His black hair falls past his bare shoulders and bleeds into his dark robes. So, he’s also a circle mage too. But, there is something off about the boy. His ears aren’t visible from his hair. Fenris frowns at that could mean.

Tomwise catches his eyes and nods. The others turn around and Fenris realizes he knows the other man in the group. He’s a merchant whose daughter was kidnapped three years ago by a sick human who was found of elven children. Fenris had crushed the bastard’s heart upon Hawke’s request. The merchant smiles and nods. He returns both gestures with his own.

Merrill taps his shoulder. He looks up and she leans down to whisper in his ear. “Why do you think they here?” He follows the direction of her finger. In the corner to their right, is two Rose workers. Three hired thugs surround Serendipity and Jethann. Fenris can’t blame them. Both are well known for their services and no doubt they are harassed by humans and elves alike when they enter

He looks back up at the Dalish witch, “I have no clue. I thought this is related to Athenril’s smuggling ring, but I see Hightown servants and merchants.”

“And Tomwise and sex workers,” she adds. “This all very strange.”

He never got a chance to voice his agreement. At that moment, Athenril comes out of the shadows and the warehouse falls to complete silence.

She makes her way to the center of the spot. She clears her throat and begins. “I want to welcome you all here today on such small notice.” Her smooth voice rains out and echoes about them. “I am sure you all know who I am and what I do, but in case if you are not familiar my name is Athenril. I am the only competitor to the Courte. That is all you need to know, so let’s skip straight to business, shall we?”

She pauses for a brief moment before she continues. “Five months ago, my crew and I were out on a job. We spotted the newest illegal movement in this city. Some of you might have heard of it? The Mage Underground?” Mummers broke among the elves and Merrill gasps a worried no. Fenris can’t hear them over the sound of his blood pumping. For a split second, he considers crushing Athenril’s heart but calms himself down. She continues. “The group had crossed paths with slavers. The leader dispatched them quickly and efficiently, but he didn’t have time to go through their pockets and neither did I. The Templars heard the commotion and swarmed the area before I could investigate.”

Merrill whispers only loud enough for him to here, “go Anders!”

“A week later, I came back to see what I could find. The slaver bodies were still there, but most of anything of note had been stolen. Except for papers. There was an evidence a slaver ring has been set up down at the docks. Two nights ago, I confirmed it,” she lets her story sink in. Mummers return, but louder. Fenris considers what the smuggler says. There were always slavers in Kirkwall. It’s a large port. But an actual slaver ring?

Athenril goes on once the conversations die down. “I know what you are thinking. Slavers have always been a problem we faced here. How is this different?” She takes a deep breath. “A Tevinter mage is here within the city. Over the past year, he has organized the smaller groups and has turned them into a small army. More and more of neighbors have disappeared or turn to the Qunari for protection.”

“Is he a Magister?” A feminine voice asks, coming from one of the high walkways. People begin to speak louder than they had before.

“No, but that doesn’t change the fact he’s dangerous,” Athenril says. Fenris nods in agreement and so do many of the other elves.

“Should we be having this conversation without Brina?” Another person cuts in. Fenris turns to his right and sees an archer. His leather armor matches Athenril’s, but he wears a hood. He’s one of hers.

“I sent her to investigate the Darktown Healer, Sticks,” she answers. Fenris and Merrill share a look. This isn’t good.

“You sent her to a shem mage? By herself?” A man comes out of the shadows. He’s a warrior, based off the massive ax on his back and he too is part of Athenril’s group. “He could have ties to the slavers!”

The warehouse erupts in loud shouts of either support and disagreements. Merrill jumps down from her crate and Fenris stops her from making a scene. She shoots him a look. He can just hear her words. “We have to defend our friend!”

But she doesn’t have to defend Anders. Someone else does.

“I know that shem personally. Many of us do,” Serendipity shouted and gestured around, “he wouldn’t sell an elf into slavery.”

“He’s a filthy shem freak.” The Fool, as Fenris has dubbed him, bit back. “Just because he washes your dick for free doesn’t make him a saint!”

The usually serene woman is now a ball of fury as she storms past her guards and to the smuggler and jabs a finger in his face. “That man saves more lives than you could count!”

Jethann rushes to her side and grabs her arm, but she stays firm in her spot. Athenril appears between her the two angry elves, forcing them separate. “Enough of this! I will not have us eating each other! Not now when we need to stick together.”

“If you wanted information on the Healer, you could have asked me,” Tomwise says, “I live five minutes away from his clinic. Or you could have asked Garrett Hawke. He’s friends with the healer. You didn’t need someone to investigate him.”

“I need an objective opinion and Hawke drives me to drink,” she snarks. Merrill scoffs and mutters ‘rude’ under her breath, while Fenris snorts.

“What’s there to be objective about?” The elven mage next to Tomwise spoke up. “He wouldn’t free people like me from the Gallows just turn us over to some asshole in Tevinter.”

“People like you?” The Fool points at the mage but glares at his boss. “A mage? Do you want the Templars coming down here and harassing us?”

“You’re scared of the Templars?” The boy yells. He steps into the light and pulls his hair back. Gasps and whispers spread like fire and fill the air like smoke. The tips of his ears are cut off. Fenris closes his eyes, the sight makes him queasy. Merrill lets out a distress noise. Tomwise swears. Serendipity and Jethann take a step back. Even the Fool turns pale. “Can’t do blood magic without any knives is what the bastard told me when he did this.” He drops his hair. “You are going to need us freaks if we’re up against any mages.”

“Aren’t mages free in Tevinter?” someone from the shadows asks.

“Do you think a Magister cares if an elf can do magic?” The question leaves Fenris’s throat before he could stop himself. The room grows quiet and he can feel eyes bore into his flesh. He looks down at his feet briefly and coughs. Then he moves forward to stand next to the boy. Merrill is at his heels. He continues. “Magisters would collar their own. Do not think for a moment an elven mage would be free there. Athenril is correct; we cannot cannibalize ourselves now.” He looks back at the woman in charge. She gives him an approving look. He clears his throat again and asks, “do you have any information on this mage?”

“All I have is a name: Tiberius Barlas.”

Fenris took a sharp breath. He knows this man. His face. His cruelty. “I know him,” he whispers so quietly only Merrill hears him. If Tiberius is here…that means…

“Fenris?” she asks. She says his name in worry and fears it snaps him out of his memories.

He speaks louder. “I know this man. He is the son of a wealthy Magister. He is sick and cruel. I've seen him do things that I cannot form into words. He was betrothed to a woman who’s crueler.” He stares directly at Athenril. “Her name is Hadriana and she is my former master’s apprentice. If he is here, then she isn’t far behind.”

 

Hours later, Athenril sits at her desk hunched over documents when the door to her office opens.

She doesn’t bother to look up as Brina swaggers in and flops down in the chair opposite of hers. She only does when Brina props her feet on the desk.

“You were right,” she says coolly, “he’s an abomination.”

Chapter Text

“Listen, sweet thing, it happens to guys all the time,” Isabela says. She reaches out to rub his shoulder, but he slaps her hand away. She sighs, “it isn’t anything to be ashamed of.”

“You are not helping,” Fenris bites out.

They sit on Fenris’s bed. Both fully clothed. The pirate has her legs crossed, her hands clasp together. She stares at the wall, but her eyes flicker at the elf next to her.

He’s hunch over, his head resting in his hands. He thinks about jumping out a window to flee from the overwhelming shame he feels. It presses down on his back, heavier than any sword he ever carried.

“You’re just stress—

“You’re not helping.” He snaps and immediately regrets his harsh tone. He doesn’t apologize, however. His pride has been wounded enough tonight.

She takes a deep breath and lets it out silently. “Okay. Alright. You need time for yourself. I get that. I’ll just go.” She leaves him without another word.

An hour and a bottle of wine and a half later, Fenris gets ready to see Anders.

 

Anders paces back and forth his tiny bedroom. Laid out on his bed are different outfits. Justice huffs in the back of his mind. Why doesn’t his hot just greet the elf naked? To the spirit, it’s simple and straightforward. Fenris likes it when Anders isn’t wearing any clothes. Anders enjoys being naked. Why waste time picking an outfit when the elf will relieve them of their clothes? He shows an image of he thinks Anders should do and the mage stops pacing.

“You want me to open the door naked?” he asks out loud. He feels the spirit’s approval and takes it as a yes. He bows his head and pinches his nose. “Maker’s breath, what did Isabela put in that rum? I can’t just greet him butt ass naked. What if Knight-Captain Cullen is the one to knock on my door? You want him to see me naked?” he remembers his time at Kinloch Hold and smirks. “Well, I should say again. He’s seen me naked a few times already.”

Justice experiences the memories too. He’s a young Cullen blushing madly as a young Anders bats his eyes and blows kisses at the recruit. He doesn’t find the memories amusing. Instead, he’s disgusted and grows angry. A spike of pain assaults the mage’s temple. He grips his head. “Ow! Shit, Justice, calm down.” The spirit does so, but he knows Justice is grumpy.

Anders shakes his head. “Listen, Sweetheart, let me explain why I like to dress up when Fenris visits.” The pet-name has its desired effect. Happiness and warmth blossom from his chest. The spirit’s joy is contagious just as his anger and the mage finds him smiling.

“So, you know I was rather vain when we first met. I wore some the fanciest robes I could find. I liked the attention I got from everyone around me. How I made Oghren and Nate confused. Or Velanna jealous. Or charmed Sigrun. And the commander,” his smile broadens, “he had a crush on me back in the Circle. It carried over to the Wardens. And his lover, that pretty orlesian bard, I charmed her too. And their friend Zevran. That was a nice night.”

Anders’s expression twists into confusion. “Though it seems they’ve done something like that before. I think Surana said something about a pirate?”

Justice stops paying attention to his host’s words for a second and focuses on the memory. The spirit finds the memory intriguing. Enticing. The mage coughs as blood rushes downward. “Anyway, before a certain spirit gets horny,” he chastises the spirit in question, “the point is, I really liked having everyone’s attention on me.”

His nostalgia comes to an abrupt end and he grows serious. “When we merged, I can’t be that person all the time anymore. There are more important things than my ego. And you helped me see that. You made me a better person.” If Justice had his own body, he would be blushing now. But he has Anders and it’s his cheeks that are warm and pink. He runs a hand over a blue robe Hawke had given him for his birthday last year. “But Vanity is still my strongest sin and I enjoy the attention Fenris gives me. It makes me feel good.”

Justice doesn’t only ponder Anders’s words. He muses over his host’s emotions and thoughts. He knows how sincere each word is. There is one thing he disagrees with. Vanity isn’t Anders’s strongest sin. Desire is. And the spirit knows exactly what his host needs.

He nudges Anders slightly. “Do you want to take over?” the mage asks. He gives a mental nod. Anders just shrugs. “Go ahead. I trust you.”

Justice springs forward while Anders slips away. The spirit tilts his head to the side and looks at the different clothes before him. He disregards the blue robes without a second thought. His hate for Hawke titters on the edge of irrational, but the spirit finds he doesn’t care. He examines a red dress with black roses printed on it. He dismisses that one too. Anders wore it last week. It will lose its charm if he wears it so soon.

He stops at a purple robe. They found it the other day out when they were out with Hawke and Sebastian Vael. The color is rich and deep. It’s also simple in design, so unlike the Tevinter style Fenris is used to.

Justice removes the tunic Anders is currently wearing and the robe on. It hangs off Anders’s wiry frame and it ends at just below his knees. Justice grabs a thick black belt off their floor and straps it tight around their waist. When he was done, he drops his hold and lets Anders takes control over his own body.

Anders looks down and grins. He claps his hands together. “How did I make a decision without you? You are one beautiful spirit!” Justice warms up again.

 

Fenris regrets drinking before coming down here. Actually, he shouldn’t have come at all after what didn’t happen with Isabela.

He internally screams at his own choice of words and wants to slam his head against the nearest wall.

But he knocks on the clinic door instead. Seeing his hand makes him realize he forgot his gauntlets.

There are some shuffling and a “Maker’s breath, I heard it just as well as you did, you blighted idiot,” followed by a louder, “one moment, please.”

The mage’s antics lightens his mood and he actually musters up a smile when the door opens.

However, Anders’s smile falls, “what happened?”

Fenris deflates at the mage’s concern. He can’t hide is sour mood from the other man, “I…I.” he closes his mouth and he looks away.

Anders grabs his hand and pulls him inside. He closes the door behind them and locks it. He glances downward at the elf, “let’s go to the back room.”

Fenris takes his hand from the mage’s and snaps. “I am not in the mood.”

He raises his hands up in defense. “I know. I can see you are not, but we should still talk. I just figured you would rather talk back there, it’s more intimate.”

He turns away. The mage could have used any other word. "I apologize," he whispers. He's snapping at all the wrong people today. "I'm drunk,” he confesses.

Anders lowers his hands and nods. “I know. I can smell the wine,” his nose scrunches up. “You need food and tea, which I have in the back.” He walks across his room and Fenris trails behind him. He can’t help think the mage always knew what to wear accentuate his physical assets. Or maybe the spirit dressed his host? Does the spirit even know how attractive his host was?

He decides he doesn’t care because your ass looks utterly delicious in purple.

Anders comes to a complete stop and Fenris nearly runs into him. The mage glances over his shoulder. His face is a bright shade of pink. “Uh…thank you?”

Fenris blinks. “Did I say that aloud?” he asks. Anders’s cheeks turn a bright pink as he nods, but there’s the hint of a smirk. He turns back around and continues walking. A slight bounce to his step that wasn’t there before highlights his rear even better. Fenris is just great fun to have something nice to admire after a terrible day. 

When they get to Anders’s bedroom, the mage pushes the clothes off his bed and onto the floor to make room for Fenris. He sits on the corner near the pillows and watches the mage scutter around. He goes to his icebox and pulls out dried sausage, Antivan cheese, and stale bread. He cuts off several slices of each. He stacks the meat and cheese onto the bread as if it’s a plate and hands it to the elf.

He is about to put the food away when he stops. Fenris watches Anders’s face twist into annoyance as if someone is chastising him. “Even the spirit knows you need food,” he says and he takes mild satisfaction to see Anders make food for himself too. He nibbles on his sausage little by little.

The mage pumps water into two cups. He puts tea bags in them and uses his magic to heat the water until it begins to steam. He places the tea on a nightstand next to Fenris.

Anders sits down. He takes a large bite into his food and he’s already halfway done with his meal. They eat and drink in silence. The food and tea clear Fenris’s head. When they finish and Anders long discards his belt, he takes in a sharp breath and lets it out. He grabs Fenris’s hand and rubs gentle circles into his knuckles. “Okay, what’s the problem? You weren’t like this morning.”

“That’s because I found out you were not dead in a sewer, mage,” he answers.

“Which I’m very happy about not being dead,” Anders quips. “But there are several hours between this morning and tonight. Something clearly happened before you showed up.”

Fenris’s jaw tightens. “It breaks our terms to our arrangement.” Their arrangement. He was going to break it off tonight, but being here with Anders, he reconsiders.

“Which term?”

“The one where we don’t talk about my other exploits.”

“Oh…” is all Anders says. He lips thin in concentration. Slowly, his eyes widen and he gasps. “Did someone take advantage of you while your drunk?” he whispers. “Were you at the Hanged Man? Oh, Maker, you were, weren’t you? We will have to burn it down.”

Fenris is taken aback. “What?” he asks.

The mage doesn’t hear him. He runs his fingers through his hair as his mind races with imagined horrors.

“Who could have done such a thing? Who was it? Was it a man? A woman? A Qunari?” He stands up and his voice lowers into a deep baritone and the room erupts in bright light. “Do not worry, Fenris! I will find the individual and they will pay for their crimes!” The spirit booms.

Fenris slaps his forehead, unfazed by Justice’s appearance. “I wasn’t molested by some drunkard in a bar! You two are both fools.”

Anders takes control of his body. “Well, then.” He sits back down and takes a moment to collect himself. “What did happen?”

“Before you start assuming the worse?” Anders gives an apologetic shrug. Fenris turns away from the mage. “I was with Isabela and I couldn’t…it wouldn’t stay up.”

Anders hisses. “That’s…shit, Fenris. I’m sorry. I’ve been there. All men have.”

“That is far more pleasant to hear coming from another man than a woman,” he mutters.

“Andraste’s knickers, she didn’t…” Fenris glances at him and he visibly cringes. “Oh, dear. She should know better. She’s been with plenty of men and none of us want to hear that.” He looks Fenris up and down. “You need a hug.” He declares and he pulls the elf into one.

Fenris huffs but accepts comfort. Anders nuzzles his face into the elf’s hair and kisses his forehead when he let’s go. He shifts from sitting to lay down. He opens his arms for the elf to continue their hug. Fenris hesitates but lays down on the mage’s chest. He closes his eyes and he listens to the mage’s heartbeat. Anders caresses his hair. When they are both settled, the mage continues. “There is something else bothering you.”

“Why do you assume so much, mage?” Fenris counters.

“Because, elf,” he drawls out, “you are what? In your late twenties, early thirties?”

Fenris thinks about his age. “I believe I’m thirty-two, give or take two years.”

“Right, thirty-two. Men our age don’t suffer from that unless we’re stressed,” he answers. His tone is soothing as if he’s speaking to one of his patients. “And you were just fine getting it up last week, you have two eyewitnesses right here, so something must have happened today.”

Fenris props himself up with one of his arms to look at the mage. He licks his lips. “I found out that someone from my past is in Kirkwall.”

Anders sucks in a breath. “It isn’t that nug-slut-shit-eater Danarius?” he asks, completely straight-faced.

He shakes his head. “What? No. I…wha-where did you learn such phrases?”

“Uh, the Wardens?”

“Was it part of your initiation?” he deadpans.

“No, but I bunked with a dwarf for four months.” Anders’s flashes one of his crooked grins.

Fenris smiles slightly. He leans down and plants a soft kiss on the mage’s lips. He lays back down on the mage’s chest. He traces patterns in the purple robes.

After heartbeats of silence, Fenris continues. “No, it isn’t my former master, but there is a connection.” He swallows down the memories that threaten to overcome him. “There is a mage from the Altus class here in Kirkwall. He is behind the recent rise of slavers. His name is a Tiberius. His father is good friends with Danarius, if such a thing exists between Magisters. Tiberius is, or was at one time, betrothed to one of Danarius’s apprentices. Her name is Hadriana. She is weak, but ambitious and her ambition makes her dangerous. She was a constant terror to the other slaves and myself. Tiberius would join in constantly. They were never far apart. If he is here, I fear she is as well.”

Anders stays silent throughout Fenris’s confession. He kisses the top of the elf’s head. “We won’t let them take you. You are a free man and it’s going to stay that way.”

Fenris doesn’t respond. He hugs Anders tight late into the night before he drifts to sleep

Chapter Text

One: Mugger
A family of three emerge from the side entrance of a theater house. The man, a wealthy noble who owns half Kirkwall and The Viscount’s ear. His wife, a lovely and kind socialite from Orlais. And their son, a curious little boy whose wide-eyed innocence endures him to most adults.

But there is another in the alley. A sinister presence who lurks in the shadows. A thug, with a dagger in one hand and flask in the other, steps in front of them.

The woman clings to her son, while the boy’s father moves to protect them. But before a tragedy could be stuck, a man in heavy armor and black cloak drops behind the thief.

He lands with a thud and slowly rises. He towers over them all. His face is obscured by a helmet and the hood. His presence radiates a cold judgment. The kind of aura that compels an individual to confess their sins and cower in fear. He tilts his head at the father.

“Run,” he demands. His voice is a deep, guttural growl, more animal than man. It demands respect and obedience.

The family doesn’t hesitate.

 

Fenris hears about a human family being saved by a mysterious man in a suit-of-armor. There are other tales, such as this one. A man dawned in heavy armor, dropping from the sky, to save people. Not just humans. But elves, dwarves, and even Qunari. Two nights these rumors spread. Aveline isn't happy that another person is stepping on the guard's toes. At least Hawke will work with the guard. Despite fighting crime, she doesn't trust him. The man leaves behind gruesome scenes for her men to clean up. He's violent and psychotic, according to Guard-Captain.

Anders doesn't trust him either. Apparently, the man is a Templar, or so the spreading rumors claim. The mage thinks this is just to save face with the public. Every day more and more people are beginning to see Templars for what they truly are and this is nothing more to spread goodwill. Give it a few months and this man won't even be around.

Isabela, for one reason another, argues with the two. She gets into a yelling match with Aveline. "Who cares how he does it! He's saving lives!"

She tries reasoning with the mage. "Okay, let's say he's Templar, so what? He's doing good. You aren't being very just right now."

Fenris doesn't know what to think and decides to wait until he crosses path with the man.

 

Two: Invisible Sisters
Gillian Winger stands on top of nobleman’s mansion. Her gang is scattered across Hightown. They wait for her single.

Below her and her sisters, are four men. The leader is a Fereldan refugee who reclaimed his mother’s fortune. He’s sharp eyes and skills with the daggers are matched by his brute force and speed. Some call him an assassin. A living shadow. A born killer. She knows Garrett Hawke as only her target.

The other three are particular. A merchant prince, a trashy romance novelist, and prolific liar. His crossbow is accurate much like how his tongue is sharp. It is well known there is no love between Hawke and Varric Tethras, but he will put a bolt into anyone’s head if they go after the other man.

There is the Chantry Brother, former prince of Starkhaven. His skills in archery are deadly and precise. She would like to avoid his death. She doesn’t think the Grand Cleric would let her surrogate son’s murderers walk freely.

Then there is the last one, an elf from Tevinter. She knows who Fenris is. She’s heard his description. How much he is worth alive. But she also heard stories of what he could do. She has yet to decide if he will live or die tonight.

They are all tense. They are waiting for someone to bleed out of the shadows or descend upon them. They know they are being watched. Winger doesn’t have surprise on her side, but she has the numbers.

She raises her hand slowly. Two fingers point upward to single her sisters behind her.

That is when a presence hovers behind her. She glances over her shoulder and sees the Flaming Sword.

 

Fenris halts. He swears he heard a woman scream from up on top of one the manors. He turns around and spots a hulking figure in metal and black. Demon is the first word that comes to mind, but he pushes the assumption way.

“Broody?”

The elf turns back around to see the others have stopped too. Hawke is grim and his daggers are out. He grips the handles so tightly his knuckles are white. The dwarf has pulled his crossbow off his back and his finger hovers over the trigger. Sebastian doesn’t have his weapon drawn, but his fists are clenched into a ball.

“We need to move off the streets,” he says. The others don’t argue and they start walking again. Quicker this time.

He looks over his shoulder, and the figure is gone.

 

Three. Would-be murderer

It’s in the early hours of dawn. The sun is peeking through the cracks between buildings, but it is still dark. Merrill is sitting in one of her favorite gardens. Her elven eyes and Dalish are able to pierce through the bleak morning. She slumps over a new drawing journal, studying a rose bush. Her hands are gray from the charcoal. Hawke bought her several types of paper, unsure what kind an artist uses. So, she binds them together to create a harmonious book of different textures and colors. She loves this over if Hawke just got her a standard journal the shemlen shopkeepers sell at a high price.

Not that she wouldn’t appreciate if he did get her one! Oh, no, she loves and uses every gift Garrett gives her, just as he does for the gifts she gives him. A smile tugs on her lips as she recalls the first time she spent the night with Garrett and found out he kept every drawing and sketch she ever gave him on their now bedroom walls.

She giggles and returns her rose, but she stops. Her ears twitch. Someone is walking up behind her. It could be a guard to tell her this private property or it could be a bandit.

Her ears twitch again at the sound of a dagger sliding from its sheath.

She pretends to still be drawing but with her left hand, she pulls out the knife she uses to sharpen her charcoal stick.

Her attacker must have seen the glint of metal because he lunges at her. But she’s faster.

She spins around and slices at his face. Her blade catches across his nose. He stumbles backward from the shock. She quickly grabs her journal and satchel and gets up. She is about to bolt when the man grabs the satchel’s strap. She drops her possessions, along with her knife, and slams her fist into his stomach. He swears and hunches over. She brings her knee up and crushes his already damaged nose. He takes several steps back, giving her a birth of room to run.

Merrill picks up her stuff once more and bolts. She slides her journal and short knife into her satchel as she runs. She draws her dagger, ready to slice her palm if need be.

She darts down several alleyways, believing it’s a shortcut to Hawke’s home. But wrong turn and she happens upon a dead end.

And she isn’t alone.

A Templar is crouched close to the ground at the very end of the alleyway. He is lifting a sewer cover, ready to climb down.

He lifts his head. It’s a subtle gesture and the only way for her to know he is staring at her. His helmet and hood hide any of his features. They silent and neither one of them move. She fights down her growing panic. Does he sense her magic? Can he tell she practices with blood by looking alone? She doesn’t want to know.

She turns back around and is face to face with her attacker.

He is bloody and bruised. His teeth are bared in a snarl. His chest falls up and down rapidly.

And like a starved wolf, he snarls and lunges at her. He slams her into the ground and her head smacks into the stone below. The sneering pain overcomes her senses. She blinks. He has a dagger. She blinks again. Her chest is free of his weight.

She closes her eyes and tries to get her breathing under control. There’s ringing in her ears, but it doesn’t deafen the sound of metal pounding into flesh. Bones snapping and cracking beneath clenched fists. The low, electric hum of the Beyond.

Her eyes snap open. She turns her head. She winces at the pain, but she gasps at the sight.

Through the seams of the armor, dark smoke billows out. This is no Templar. It is not even a human.

It is a spirit.

With one hand around firmly around her attacker’s throat, the being slams a fist into his head. Blood splatters on the floor and the wall. She winces again. She hopes the spirit doesn’t lose their self and attack her.

Slowly, she sits up. She touches the back of her head and feels for any wetness. She doesn’t see any blood on her fingers and she can’t find an open wound. She digs through her satchel for an elfroot potion. It’s a small vile, but it will relieve her of pain. She downs the red liquid.

Merrill stands on shaky legs and she walks with a limp. She approaches the spirit with caution. Any being from Beyond is dangerous, especially the angry ones. She understands this, even if someone she knows doesn’t think so. She isn’t the possessed one in their group. Who is he to judge her?

She pushes the unkind thought out her mind. The spirit is still hitting the shemlen despite being clearly dead. The smoke is getting darker by every second and the heat rolls off their armored figure. She doesn’t want the spirit to become twisted and morphed because they are protecting her. This is a benevolent creature. She can feel the purity radiant from their person under the fire. She must calm them down. Not for her sake, but for theirs.

“Spirit?” she asks in a quiet tone.

They stop mid punch. They turn to see her, or at least she thinks she does. She still can't see their eyes. They drop their hand and stand quickly. They don’t attack, however. “Are you injured?”

It is a male spirit, she realizes. His voice is deep and it comes from the gut…and it's familiar. She can’t place it. She might have heard it in her dreams.

“No, not I'm not.” She glances down at her attacker and her stomach twists in knots. She looks back at the spirit.

“Do you need any further assistance?” he asks. The smoke is gone and the hum nearly disappears. Relief rushes over her and she smiles at the spirit.

“No, I don’t believe so,” she answers but thinks for a moment. “I’m a bit lost…” her words trail off.

The spirit hesitates for a moment. “I can lead you to the main roads,” he offers.

She brightens. “Oh, thank you so much! My name is Merrill, what is your name?” she holds out her hand.

He accepts and shakes her hand. “My pirate friend told me to call myself the Phantom Knight.”

“How wonderful! My pirate friend calls me Kitten!” she chirps. She turns their handshake into them holding hands. “Let’s get out of this dreadful place.”

“Yes, I agree,” The spirit grumbles, “this place is dreadful.”

 

Fenris can’t sleep. Loath to admit it, but he’s quickly growing dependent on sleeping soundly next to the mage. It’s been three nights since Anders visited him and the lack of sleep is getting to him. He goes to his bedroom window and watches the sunrise with a bottle of wine.

He takes a sip when Merrill emerges from an alleyway. With a Templar.

He spits out his wine all over his window and drops the bottle. He grabs the first shirt he sees and pulls it on. He grabs his sword before rushing down the flight of stairs and out his door.

He lights his brands, his sword high. He lets out a snarl and rushes at the Templar. The Templar takes several steps back. He pulls out his shield but not his weapon.

Merrill slides in-between him and her capturer. She holds her hands up. “Lethallin! No!”

He comes to a dead stop, sword still held high. He looks at her and then at the…that isn’t human. He feels the tug of the Fade and he drops his sword and jabs a finger at the spirit. “What did you do?” he demands.

She crosses her arms and squints at him. “I didn’t do anything. I found him.”

“Then put him back. Between your demon mirror and Justice, we have enough Fade creatures in our group. We do not need another.”

“Do not be rude, Fenris,” she chastises him. “He’s my new friend and he saved my life.”

He turns back at the spirit. The creature tilts his head at Fenris. He is reminded of another spirit he knows. Justice will do this too when he’s intrigued or curious about something. He expects the spirit to tell him how he sounds like their home, but it isn’t what he gets.

“That is not your shirt,” he states.

Fenris looks down and it isn’t his shirt. The cotton fabric is died blue-green, a color he would never wear. It also hangs off his one shoulder and goes past his thighs.

“He’s right. That’s Anders’s,” Merrill observes. She scrunches her nose in confusion. “Why are you wearing Anders’s clothes?”

“Don’t be stupid.” He snaps. “This isn’t the mage’s. Go put the spirit back where you found him and stop assuming things.”

“I know it is!” She insists. “Isabela bought it for him while we went shopping two weeks ago! He wore it last week when he came over the Amell manor. Four days ago, he wore it while when went to the Wounded Coast. You were there!”

He scoffs but doesn't respond. He goes back to his house. He glances over his shoulder before he enters. “I will see you tonight, but I better not see your new friend, witch.”

“Ignore him, Phantom. He’s grumpy because Anders looks better in teal than him,” is the last thing he hears.

Chapter Text

Fenris enters The Hanged Man and goes straight to Corff. He orders the ‘meat’ special and what the tavern thinks is wine. He waits at the bar. It doesn’t take long for him to feel like someone is watching him. He looks around and catches a man staring.

He isn’t a stranger. He doesn’t remember the man’s name, but he knows his body. His blonde hair is closer to brown than gold-red. His angled face isn’t as sharp as it could be. He is tall, he is human after all, but not tall enough. He’s not lanky and wiry. There are no scars covering his body.

And his eyes are brown, not amber.

Fenris snaps his attention to anywhere other than the man. He needs to stop picking up regulars at The Hanged Man. How does Isabela ignore the women and men she sleeps with? She says casual sex should be impersonal.

Maybe his problem is he keeps sleeping with people who look like Anders. He should stop that too.

Corff pulls him out of his thoughts by placing his order in front of him. He says his thanks and navigates through the patrons and waitresses to get the stairs. As he gets closer to Varric’s room, he hears shouting.

His brows furrow and pushes open the door.

“You talk yourself up as the person who knows what’s going on in this fucking city, but you’re just full of shit!”

“I’m not going to be insulted by the lunatic who can’t go five minutes killing a person.”

“I’ve done I decent job not slitting your throat, dwarf.”

“Watch it, Hawke.”

Hawke and Varric are at the head of the table glaring at each other. Merrill sits in a middle seat with her head down buried in her arms. Fenris ignores the other men as they go back and forth with petty insults and vague threats. Everyone knew they are just words. He places his food and drink in front of the seat next Merrill. He gently pulls her head up with one hand; her expression is emotionless.

“How long has this been going on?”

“An hour,” she whines, “and Aveline and Sebastian left me.”

“They were here already?”

She meekly nods. “Yes. Then they left when Garrett and Varric started arguing. I hope the Dread Wolf takes them.” He lets go of her and it falls with a thud.

“What are you both arguing about now?” he asks

They stop and turn to him. Judging by their faces, two of the most skilled rogues in Kirkwall didn’t notice he even arrived.

“Oh, hey, Fenris,” Hawke waves at him. “When did you get here?”

“Broody,” Varric nods and then turns back to Hawke. “Where was I? Oh, yeah, I was calling you a little bitch.” Merrill lets out a muffled scream.

Before the other man says anything else, Fenris cuts him off. “You two are driving the witch further into insanity. Stop arguing and sit down.”

They give each other one further glare and plop down in their seats. Fenris follows and starts eating. “What were you arguing about?” he repeats his question.

Varric sighs. “My brother came to town and I didn’t find out this morning after he left.”

“What was he doing here?”

“Selling something, I guess. I don’t have the details.”

“I bet,” Hawke starts, “he was selling off that shitty statue of his. We should find who he visited, get them to tell us where we can find him, and kill them after we're done.”

Merrill sits up. “Why would we kill them?”

“They might be an evil dick who needs to die,” he answers with shrug.

“Or, Killer, they could be completely innocent,” Varric states.

“When has anyone we met has been innocent?” he retorts.

The dwarf lifts a finger to object but drops his hand. “Point taken. Alright, so when we find the person who my bastard brother visited, we might have to kill them.”

“Are they finally done?” Aveline asks.

She and Sebastian stroll into the room. The priest is caring two plates of food, while she’s carrying two tankards. Aveline takes the seat at the foot of the table and next to Fenris. The Chantry Brother sits next to the guardswoman’s and puts one of the plates in front of the empty chair next to him.

"You left me!" Merrill waves a finger between the two of them. 

Aveline raises her hands in defense, "we needed you here in case they got violent."

"Ay, we do not want blood staining the floor," Sebastian says. 

“You eating for two now?” Hawke reaches over to steal a piece of meat, but the priest slaps his hand.

“That’s for Anders,” he scolds the man. “I visited him this morning and I found out he hasn’t eaten in the past two days.” Fenris narrows his eyes. Why is Sebastian seeing Anders in the morning? And now he’s getting food for Anders? Why isn’t he seeing to the mage’s needs? Is there something between the two—

He mentally berates himself for his jealousy. Sebastian is a Chantry Brother. He’s taken vows. Anders, and for that matter, Justice wouldn’t involve themselves with someone who is pro-Chantry. 

Not that he cares if Anders would be seeing someone else. Fenris sleeps with Isabela and strangers. If the mage wishes to spend time with some else it wouldn’t matter.

“Of course, he hasn’t,” Varric shakes his head, “why were you at Blondie’s? You two aren’t exactly close.”

“I went to the Gallows yesterday and overheard Templars speaking about Darktown and I fear they might try to raid his clinic.”

Hawke nods in approval. “Good job, Seb. The Chantry needs more people to say ‘fuck you’ to their bullshit.”

The Brother opens his mouth to respond but thinks better of it. He shakes his head and dives into his own plate.

“Where are Anders and Isabela?” Aveline asks, taking a sip of her ale.

“I’m right here, big girl.”

Isabela saunters into the room cradling a package with both arms. She sits next to Varric, leaving the spot between her and Sebastian for Anders.

“What do you have?” Merrill perks up.

“Nothing illegal I hope,” Aveline cuts in.

The pirate sticks her tongue out. “If you’re asking if I stole it, then the answer is whatever will keep me out of jail.” She places it on the table for everyone to see. It’s a narrow, but long box wrapped in brown paper. She unties the rope string and slices the paper off with her knife. She removes the lid and pulls out a skinny bottle filled with blue liquid.

It hums like lyrium, but it doesn't look like it. Fenris glares at the liquor. Aqua Magus, or as the slaves call it, Magister Wine.

“Oh, how pretty! What is it?” The witch leans forward to get a better look. Her doe eyes widen even further, no doubt she can sense the lyrium.

“This is Aqua Magus. I got it for a friend,” Isabela answers with a large grin. “He’s a bit of stick-in-the-mud, so I want to get him to lively up.”

“Rivaini,” Varric says slowly, “I know what’s in that drink and if it’s for who I think it’s for, we’re going to have a fight.”

“Oh, hush you,” Isabela brushes the dwarf’s warning. “This isn’t for Justice, it’s for my new friend, The Phantom Knight.”

Everyone stills. “You know The Phantom Knight?” Aveline asks.

She leans in, “I’m the one who gave him the name.”

Merrill claps her hands together. “You’re his pirate friend!”

“Oh, you met him?”

“Yes. This morning. We talked and he mentioned he has a pirate friend, which is you. Fenris was there. You remember meeting him, right?”

“If you are referring to the spirit some fool mage unleashed onto this world, then yes, I remember meeting him,” Fenris sneers at her. How could he forget what just happened this morning?

“A spirit?” Sebastian asks. “Are ye sure?”

“As sure as Hawke is a fool.” He ignores the witch’s glare.

“We should introduce him to Justice,” Hawke says. He looks around the table, his eyes lit with excitement. A sign that whatever he’s thinking is a bad idea. “I heard this guy is a Templar. They can fight and shit. It will be cool.”

“We’re not pinning Justice against a Templar spirit,” Aveline snaps.

“Why not? Justice can totally kick that guy’s ass. I believe in him.”

“My money is on Sparky too,” Varric nudges Hawke in the shoulder. “We can open an underground rink, sell tickets and merchandise, they can duke it out, and then some of the money goes to Anders’s Mage Underground.” The other rogue nods his head.

Isabela waves her hand in front of them. “Um, hello, we are not doing that.”

“You’re damn right we’re not!” Aveline hits the table. “This is the most amoral, illegal plan you two ever came up with. I’m warning you both right now, if you go through it, I’ll have you arrested.”

The two rogues shrug and lean into each other spaces so she can’t overhear their plans. 

“I believe this Phantom Knight is what Kirkwall needs,” Sebastian states. His tone is optimistic and light. “The Templars have a bad reputation and a Templar spirit helping the innocents can approve how the public sees them.”

“Maybe they have a bad rep because they steal kids away from their parents and abuse their chargers. A spirit, which they would attack on sight, won’t help them approve public perception.” Isabela says hotly. Sebastian is taken aback, along with everyone else. She scans the and is met with shock expresses and raised eyebrows. She mulls over her words and covers her face with her hands. “Andraste’s ass, I spending too much time with him recently.”

“Speaking of Anders,” Merrill glances at Fenris. Her eyes are filled with mirth and she tries not to laugh. 

He frowns. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Oh,” she draws circles on the table, “I am still curious about what you were wearing this morning.”

Fenris takes a sharp breath. He always knew her innocent act was just that, an act.

“And what pray tell, does Broody’s wardrobe has to do with Blondie?” Varric asks coolly.

“This morning he was wearing Anders’s shirt," she chirps.

Isabela’s face lights up and Varric frantically whips out a notepad and pencil.

“Are you and Anders…together?” Aveline asks.

“No.” Fenris is quick to say, but his denial makes it worse.

Isabela laughs. “You are! You two are totally doing it!” She hits the table repeatedly. “Are doing Justice too?”

“Maker’s balls, I didn’t think this was possible,” Hawke scratches his head. “Fuck, when did this start?”

“We are not together,” he hisses, but he’s ignored.

“I’m pretty sure it started over a month ago,” Sebastian offers.

“Why you think that Choir Boy?”

“Because that’s when they began being friendlier,” he answers.

“Well shit,” Varric mutters, “I didn’t think…” his words trail off. “Anyhow, this calls for a celebration.”

As his so-called friends discuss his and Anders relationship, Fenris sits there fuming. He grips the sides of his chair. He hunches over, his back and shoulders tensing.

Only Aveline notices his growing anger, but she takes it as general distress. She places a hand on his shoulder. “Fenris, there’s nothing wrong with your relationship.”

He throws her hand off. “Fasta vass! I am not fucking the abomination!” He snaps. The room grows silent. He continues. “I can barely stand the mage, why would I allow him or his demon to touch me?”

“The dog has a point,” They snap their attention to the door. Anders stands in the doorway, eyes blazing with anger and tears. He’s visibly shaking under his purple robes. His hands are balled into fists. Fenris shrinks into his chair and his stomach drops. He wishes the floor will open up and swallow him whole. “Why would anyone fuck an abomination?” his voice cracks on the last word, “Justice and I know when we’re not wanted.”

He spins on his heal and leaves. 

Without a second thought, Fenris springs from his chair and follows after him.

Hawke jabs a thumb at their direction. “Those two are fucking.”

“If they were, I doubt they are now,” Aveline takes a swig from her tankard.

“Oh, I feel awful,” Merrill bows her head, “I shouldn’t have brought it up.”

Isabela reaches over and pats her on her shoulder. “Cheer up, Kitten, it isn’t your fault.” Merrill gives her a weak smile, but the guilt is still there. She pulls back. “Maker’s breath, what do we do now?” She glances around for answers.

Varric cracks his neck and leans forward. “Here’s what I propose,” everyone leans in to listen. “We pretend we don’t know. We don’t mention the subject. We don’t joke about it. We do nothing. In front of them. But,” he lifts a finger in the air, “those two dorks clearly need help so we’ll help them out. Arrange dates. Get them to share tents. Surprise presents. Small things.”

"We should put one in danger and force the other to save them. It will be romantic," Hawke gestures over his shoulder. "There's always dragons in The Bone Pit. The next time a dragon nests there, we could use Anders as bait."

He's met with a choruses of nos. He slumps into his chair, feeling dejected.

“And when they are together?” Sebastian asks, still glaring at Hawke. 

“We wait for them to come out on their own and we act surprised,” Varric suggests. 

Hawke grabs Fenris’s unfinished dinner and begins to eat. “Sounds like a plan to me. All in favor pretending we know shit all about their weird relationship, say ay.”

Everyone raise their hands in agreement.

Chapter Text

“So, this is where he lives,” came a male voice. “No wonder people say this place is haunted.”

“Our friends helped spread the rumor to make sure no one harassed him.” It is Merrill who responds. She is closer than the man.

Fenris sits up. He rubs the sleep from his eyes. He’s on his bedroom floor, empty bottles of wine on his lap and around him.

There are light taps coming from his door. “Fenris, it’s me, Merrill.” The witch calls, her voice too cheerful.

He groans, “one minute.” He slowly stands. The bottles fall with a clank, but thankfully, they don’t shatter.

“Fenris?” she repeats his name, only concerned this time.

“One. Minute.” He bites out. He stumbles to the door but looks down to make sure he’s still wearing clothes. He is, but he takes off his shirt. Or rather he takes off Anders’s shirt and tosses it over his shoulder. It leaves him in his leggings but he rather let the witch see him half nude than in it again. He throws open the door. “What do you want, witch?” he growls out.

She smiles at him. “Hello! How have you been?” he narrows his eyes at her and she quickly continues. “I’m here with Athenril and some members of her gang. We’re going to kill slavers; do you want to come with us?” Her happy demeanor contracts against her violent words.

Fenris cocks his head to the side and considers his options. On the one hand, he wanted to be left alone. The only person who visited him in the past week had been Aveline. She comes over daily to make sure he isn’t drinking himself into oblivion and is eating. He tolerates her presence because she scares him too much to tell her to fuck off.

On the other hand, if it means he has to spend time with Merrill, killing slavers is a worthy cause.

“Give me a moment. I need to collect my things.” She beams and leaves him alone.

He changes into his armor and grabs his pack full of flasks and potions. He walks over to where he stores his gauntlets. The other night, after drinking half his weight in liquor, he found an old scarf in one of the extra rooms. It was the same color as Anders’s shirt. For one reason or another, he decided to tie it around one of his gauntlets.

He doesn’t hesitate and puts them on, scarf included and leaves his room.

Merrill is waiting for him on the stairs landing along with Athenril and elves he remembers from the meeting. There is the mage. He’s not in robes, but instead of leathers similar to everyone else’s. The archer. He recalls the man’s nickname is Sticks. His hood is down to reveal soft eyes and a narrow face. He reminds Fenris of Sebastian, from his body language and peaceful features. Next to him is The Fool. Fenris ignores him. And then there is a woman who stands between Athenril and the archer. She wasn’t at the meeting, but she seems familiar.

Athenril comes forward when he reaches the bottom. She sniffs and scrunches her nose. “Do you bath in wine?”

“Perhaps,” he answers coolly. He glances at the witch, “why did you let strangers in my home without my consent?”

“Um, because?” she shrugs. She doesn’t answer but instead points to the mage next to her. “This Galyn.”

“Yo,” Galyn grins at Fenris and holds out his hand for a handshake. Fenris gingerly accepts it. “This place is pretty spooky. I like the skeletons you got in the foyer.”

“Parting gifts from my former Master,” he deadpans.

“Cool,” his grin widens and Fenris realizes how young elf is. He knew the boy was far younger than himself, but he might be younger than he realized. No older than sixteen, but he doesn’t like he’s working with someone who’s half his age.

The familiar woman also shakes his hand, “I’m Brina,” and Fenris remembers Athenril mentioned she was investigating Anders. He will keep an eye on her. She gestures to the archer. “Sticks,” he nods his head but doesn’t do anything else. “And Timun,” she gestures to the warrior.

He scowls, “are we done with the introductions?” Despite knowing his name, Fenris decides to continue calling him The Fool in his head.

“We are,” Athenril replies. She looks Fenris up and down. “You said you knew the head slaver?”

“Tiberius,” he snarls the name as he would Hadriana’s or Danarius’s. “Did you find information on him?”

She nods. “According to my sources, he’s expecting cargo tonight. I don’t know what it is, but I think we should intercept.”

 

The group makes their way to the docks with Athenril leading, followed by Timun, then Brina and Sticks. She and Galyn choose to take the rear. Meaning, Fenris walks behind them, because he doesn’t trust a Southern mage to be self-aware enough to have his back.

They travel in silence…sort of.

The problem with Southern mages is they talk constantly. Anders and Merrill are the worse by far he has met. But after getting to know Bethany Hawke, she had been just as bad. She was known to talk time away. Galyn is no different. Endless prattle about Dalish magic this, herbs that, the exchange of staffs, what’s their favorite spells.

Fenris wishes he stayed home.

Then there is The Fool. Who glances over his shoulder to glare at the mages. Particularly Merrill. He sneers and condescends her. He only stops when Fenris levels a deadly one of his own. The only person who gets to mock the witch is him. He moves to stand next to the woman to insert this sentiment.

He spends most of the trip listening to the mages inane chatter and glowering at The Fool’s back. He watches Brina and Sticks too. They are a couple, he realizes. They stand close together and their hands' brush, sometimes even locking fingers.

They continue until they reach the stairs outside the Qunari outpost. Athenril raises her hand up for them to stop. She crouches down and pulls out a map. They gather around her.

“My contacts tell me the drop off will be happening here.” She points to the east end of the docks. “We’re breaking to small groups,” she whispers. “Sticks, you’re with me. We’re going to take to the rooftops.” They nod to each other. “Brina, Timun. You two are taking the sewers.”

“Lovely,” the other woman drawls, “that’s what any girl needs: shit on her feet.” The Fool grimaces and Fenris can’t help but feel a bit sympathetic for their plight.

“Which is why I am put myself on rooftop duty,” Athenril smirks, but grows serious again. “Fenris, Merrill, and Galyn. You three are going straight in.”

Fenris thinks about her tactics and narrows his eyes at her. “Are you using me as bait?”

She doesn’t even hide her grin. “Damn right I am. If Tiberius isn’t there, then his men are. They will know you on sight if he’s as close to your former master as you claim.” She nods her head at the mages. “You two are his back up. You understand?”

“Don’t let the Tevinter mages kidnap Fenris. Got it,” Galyn saluted with two fingers.

“You won’t have to worry, lethallin,” Merrill claps her hand on Fenris’s shoulder, “we won’t let them take you.”

“I feel safer already,” he deadpans. She smiles brightly, missing his sarcasm.

“One more thing. I don’t want you three to attack right away. I whistle, then Brina will. If things go smoothly, your appearance will distract the slavers long enough for us to slit their throats.”

“Sounds like a plan boss,” Brina rubs her hands together. She leans in and plants a chaste kiss on Sticks’s cheek. “Come on, hot shot.” She takes off to the shadows.

Timun groans. “Don’t call me that.” He says before following after her, his ax swinging behind him.

Athenril nods her head at Fenris and the mages before she and Sticks disappear as well.

Fenris takes a deep breath before setting out. “Let’s move quickly and quietly,” he emphasizes the last word. He takes off at a fast pace, they follow closely at his heels

They don’t run into any gangs, thankfully. Athenril’s doing perhaps?

But then Fenris catches sight of something dashing through alleys out the corner of his eye. It's a blur, but a vague outline of a person. Whoever they are, they can run at speed no mortal could reach without magic.

“Maker’s fucking balls,” Galyn comes to stop. They halt a little ahead of him. “You two see that? Fuck, what am I saying, did you feel that?” His voice cracks, breaking into a higher tenor. Fenris flinches. His voice hasn’t even fully changed yet. He had no business being here.

Merrill walks up to the boy and takes his hand. “Yes, we did feel the spirit, but you can’t worry about it right now."

“That was a spirit?” His eyes are wide with terror and wonder. “Maker, I only met them in my dreams and they never felt like, whatever that was.”

He never felt a spirit’s presence? “What about your Harrowing?” Fenris asks.

Galyn hesitates. “I never got a chance to take it,” he answers.

“How old are you?” he demands.

“This isn’t the time for this,” Merrill scolds.

“And will be the time? When he comes across mages who have decades worth of training?” he snaps. He turns back to Galyn. “Well?”

“I’m seventeen,” he answers honestly, “but I was scheduled to take it before I got out last year. I’ve been fighting ever since.” His tone is defensive and very much like a teenager’s.

Fenris is about to retort when Merrill cuts him off. “We have to go.”

He gives the boy a hard look. “This isn’t over,” he says sternly.

Merrill nods in agreement, “especially if you lied to Athenril about your age,” she grabs Fenris’s hand. “We wasted enough time, lethallin,” and drags him forward. The boy’s ears droop but he doesn't follow after the two adults.

When they get to the eastern side of docks, they can hear a fight already in progress. Men screaming. Blades on metal. Wood burning. Fenris and Merrill exchange looks for a brief moment, but it only for a moment. They knew who is down there. The Phantom Knight is fighting either slavers or some other criminal. And Galyn isn’t going to join this fight.

The Dalish woman spins, reeling on the younger age. “You’re staying here. No arguments!” she adds when he opens his mouth to object.

“What about Athenril?”

“There is no time for that,” Fenris growls. “Stay out of trouble,” he says before taking off. Merrill gives him one last warning look before following Fenris. She draws her staff out, summoning wards to protect her companion. Fenris grits his teeth when the burn of her magic wash over him, but he bares through the pain. He rounds the buildings and heads to the stairs. He stops at the top and examines the scene below. The Phantom Knight is in the thick of it, cutting down men and woman alike. Mages and archers bombard the spirit with fire, arrows, and flasks, but the creature brushes the attacks as if they are nothing.

However, one clever assassin sneaks behind the spirit. She pulls a dagger laced with poison and aims for his back.

The elf lets out a taunting roar and leaps into the fray. He slices through her and kicks her body aside. The spirit glances over his shoulder and cold, judgment radiates off of him.

The feeling doesn’t last long. The spirit stands back-to-back to Fenris. They fight together and shockingly well. It’s almost natural to fight next to the spirit as if he's done this before.

Déjà vu clouds Fenris’s senses. He fought at another spirit’s side before. They were not fighting slavers and mages, but Templars. Templars with infused with red lyrium. And they were not in a city but in a forest. Surrounded by temple ruins.

He was not dressed in heavy armor, armed with a sword and shield. No, the spirit wielded magic and a staff. And he wore a heavy coat, covered in buckles and feathers, drenched in blood.

“Beg your Maker to give you Compassion, for I will not.”

Fenris lets out a sharp gasp. He screws his eyes shut and grips his head. “Not now, not here.”

When he opens his eyes just in time to be kicked in the chest. He falls to the ground. The warrior raises his large sword over his head, ready to cut the elf into two.

But that doesn’t happen.

Athenril drops down on top of the human and slices his throat. She lands on her feet next to Fenris. She pulls him by the arm. “I thought I told you to wait.”

Fenris shakes his head. He gestures to the Templar spirit. “He had other plans.”

She snorts and leaves him behind to fight with the slaver. She cuts him down too. Fenris scans the scene to see who needs his help. The others, not just Merrill, have joined in. Sticks and Brina dance together, dodging and killing enemies left and right. The Fool, Timun, is swinging his ax around. He has no style, but he doesn’t acquire any aide.

Fenris sees the witch, covered in rock armor, working with the spirit to kill the mages.

And Galyn is shooting lightning balls at—

Fenris violently swears and charges at the rogue the boy is fighting. He lights his brands and slides his fist through the man’s chest, crushing it.

He spins around ready to beat some sense into the teenager, only Galyn is looking up at him with a bright grin. “Holy shit! That was amazing! Do it again!”

He doesn’t. “I thought I told you to stay out of trouble.” He growls. An archer puffs in between them, arrow raises at Fenris’s eyes. He is just about to slice through the archer when the man drops his bow and arrow to the ground. His head snaps back and his body shakes and wither. Crushing Prison. Then he is thrown into the air and then to the floor. The archer doesn’t get back up.

Galyn smirks, “see, I know what I’m doing.”

He rolls his eyes at the younger boy but doesn’t respond. He stays close to the boy, however, not wanting to leave his side only to find his corpse later.

They continue to slay what seems to be an endless supply of slavers, but soon the number dwindles.

The spirit kills the last remaining assassin. When it is all done, the others convene together in the middle They step over dead bodies to do so. Except for Merrill, she skips quite happily to the spirit.

“Hello, Phantom! Do you remember me?” she asks as she stands a foot away from him.

“I do. It is good to see you again tiny, Dalish woman,” the spirit’s words throw Merrill into a fit of giggles. Phantom tilts his head to his side. “Why are you laughing?”

“A very good question, spirit,” an oily voice says. They snap their attention to see a woman dressed in a magister’s robes emerge from behind two large crates near the water’s edge. Her pale blonde hair gleams in the moonlight. She flashes a wild smile Fenris’s way and he knows her. Cecilia, one of Danarius’s underlings. The last time he saw her, she was only bratty fifteen-year-old, now she is a dangerous blood mage.

Cecilia eyes Justice with a predatory smile. “I do not know how a creature as yourself lives outside the Fade, but you will do my bidding,” she cackles.

She stabs her palm and the blood of her fallen comrades’ swirl around her. She raises off the ground, drinking in the power. Fenris’s heart hammers against his chest. He knows this spell. Danarius used to bind powerful demons.

“Shoot her down!” Athenril screams, but Sticks’s arrows do nothing.

She lands back on her feet and sends a bloody whirlwind at the spirit. The force knocks Merrill back, and she stumbles into Brina’s arms.

Cecilia grins, baring her teeth. “Kill them all, except for the slave,” she points to him, “Master Danarius will take me as an apprentice for bringing his prized property.”

Phantom looks to the group and to the mage. “No.” He defies the mage's orders.

“What do you mean no?” She isn’t expecting the answer, neither does Fenris. How powerful is this spirit if he can ignore a spell like that? He imagines Justice could throw it off but…

Oh.

Fenris is a fool.

“I mean I will not kill these innocents and help you enslave Fenris,” Justice explains himself as he would a child. He even waves her off. “Begone, mortal, I have no patience for your stupidity.” He turns his back toward her, believing the conversation is over.

But it isn’t over. Not for Cecilia anyway. “Do not turn your back on me, spirit! I am your master and I command you to obey me!” she shrieks and stomps her foot. Fenris sneers at her in disgust. A memory comes to mind of him resting his head in Danarius’s lap, his master stroking his hair. Hadriana and Tiberius sit across from them. He remembers them laughing and mocking Cecilia. Hadriana even calling her a petulant child.

It makes him sick, but he has to agree with Hadriana.

Justice twists around. He takes a step forward. “You dare command me?” he hisses. he takes another step. Purple smoke bellows out the crack of his armor and the air grows hot. Unbearably hot. Cecilia realizes her mistake, but it’s too late. The spirit charges at full force, roaring.

But they need Cecilia alive.

“Stop!” Fenris yells and takes after Justice.

He is just about to slice through her cowering form, but his blade hovers. “Why?” his voice booms.

Fenris slides to stop. “Because,” he lowers his voice for only they could hear, “how can we achieve justice if we know nothing of the slavers’ plans? We need information and she can give it to us.”

The spirit lowers his sword and the heat dies down, but its wake is left with cold fury. Fenris shudders and remembers he didn’t only insult Anders, but also the spirit. “You speak of Justice, but you were unjust to call me a demon.”

Cecilia looks between the two and believes they are distracted. She goes for escape, but Justice steps on the hem of her robe.

Fenris swallows. “Words cannot express my guilt over that night,” he starts. “You don’t know how much I regret hurting Anders. And you,” he adds, “I hurt you too. I know you are not a demon.”

“I do not care what you think of me, elf.” he snaps. “My only concern is Anders, and you hurt him.”

Fenris doesn’t get a chance to respond.

“Good work calming him down,” Athenril and the others walk toward them. She, Merrill, and Galyn are the only ones who aren't frightened by the spirit. Brina and Sticks act as if they aren’t afraid, but it’s written in their eyes. Timun doesn’t even bother pretending he doesn’t like the spirit.

The smuggler gives Justice a once over. “You got a name, handsome?”

“Handsome?” the spirit repeats under his breath, in awe by the compliment. “Yes, I have a name. I am the Phantom Knight, however,” he looks down and he fidgets with his fingers, almost bashful, “you may continue to call me handsome, pretty elven lady.”

The comment breaks the tension, and the couple joins the others. The Fool stays back, however. Fenris must admit he understands his caution. He certainly acting better than Fenris had when he first met Justice.

Brina smirks down at Merrill and elbows her. “And all you got was tiny Dalish woman,” she says in a teasing tone. The witch doesn’t care and tries to hide her amusement.

Athenril chuckles, “well, well, a flatterer.”

“Should we be talking to this thing?” Timun gestures at Justice. “It’s…I got no idea what it is. But it ain’t normal.”

“I am a Spirit of…Righteousness. I eradicate evil from the mortal plane,” he looks down at Cecilia who has long given up trying to escape and is now just trying to hold back her tears. “Like you.” He crouches down in front. “I know your demons. Your sins. Pride. Envy. Hunger. You are corrupted to the core and your days have come to an end.”

Cecilia leans away from the spirit. She’s on the verge of crying. “I’ll tell you everything I know, just let me go,” she whimpers.

“Let you go?” Fenris sneers. She snaps her attention at him. Her usually cold eyes are puffy and red. She’s trembling. He doesn’t know why, but he feels some sympathy for her. Maybe it was because she’s is so pathetic, Hadriana looked good in Danarius’s eyes. Maybe because she never partook bleeding slaves for her own amusement. Maybe because she was younger than Galyn when he had known her.

But Fenris had been free for nearly six years now and who knows what depravity she did to get where she is now. His sneer turns into a snarl. He grabs her by the collar and hoists her into the air. She lets out a hysterical shriek. “Let you go? You threatened to take me back to Danarius. You try to enslave the spirit’s mind to do your bidding. You threaten my companions, one of whom I consider I close friend, and you want us to let you go?” She finally breaks and he drops her.

“Oh, Fenris,” he looks over his shoulder at the witch. Her hands are over her heart and her ears are bright pink. “I didn’t know you thought of me as a friend.”

He looks at her in disgust. “Don’t you dare think about hugging me, witch.” He returns his focus on Cecilia. “Now,” he growls, “tell us what we need to know.”

She relents. “Fine! Fine, I’ll tell you everything I know, but it isn’t a lot,” she sniffles and looks down at her hands, her hair covering her face, “Tiberius is working with a nobleman with clout but I don’t know who. All I know, whoever he’s working with has enough power to keep the guard and Templars off our backs.”

Justice stands. “Guard-Captain Aveline will not be happy to know corrupting spreads further than she had originally thought. As for the Templars,” he looks at the Tevinter mage, “you need not to worry about them. They are oppressors like you and see you as comrades.”

Merrill tilts her head to the side, blinking up at him. “Justice?”

The spirit ignores her. “Do you know anything else of value?”

Cecilia shakes her head.

“Then it is time for you to meet your Maker,” he raises his sword.

She whimpers and crawls back from the spirit.

“What about the shipment?” Athenril holds her s. “There was going to be drop off tonight.”

Cecilia hesitates, but answers without being forced to. “Your information is off. We were dropping off a shipment for pick up.”

Fenris swears. “How many?” He grabs her by the hair and forces her to look at him. “How many elves did you sell?”

“…fifteen,” she whispers.

Merrill spits at her and yells out in Dalish, "Fen'Harel ma halam!" Galyn gasps in horror and stumbles backward. Smoke starts seeping from Justice's armor once more. But its Brina who reacts violently.

“You bitch!” she screams and kicks the mage in the chest. She draws out her dagger, but Sticks and Timun pull her back.

Athenril moves to stand next Fenris. She gives him a hard look. “What do you want to do with her?”

He doesn’t waver. He lights his brands and crushes her heart.

There is a moment of silence, but Galyn breaks it quickly. “Holy shit, we gotta get them back.” He looks at the adults. “We are gonna try to figure out how to save them, right?” His large eyes pleading with them to tell him they will.

Athenril takes in a deep breath. She walks up to him and pats his shoulder. “Don’t worry, kid, we’ll figure something out.” He smiles, genuinely believing her.

y believing her.

Chapter Text

“Now, everyone line-up, single file, no pushing,” Anders waves the hungry Darktowners in an orderly fashion. It is Soup Day at the clinic. With the help of Sebastian and Varric, five barrels stuffed with old vegetables, water, and sometimes meat. Anders catches movement in the back. “And don’t cut in line! I see you, Don.” He turns to the Chantry Brother next to him and whispers in his ear. “Maker, it’s like herding children.”

“The children were better,” he whispers back.

Anders nods. He takes a step back away from the five barrels. Sebastian, Lirene, Wil, and two other volunteers dish out hot food to the homeless population. Children and their caregivers, and the elderly sit on empty cots digging into their meals. Varric’s men, all Carta members, standoff to the side. They watch for any troublemakers. He smiles. He feels a sense of pride, but also a sharp reminder there is so much left to do.

“Here, Blondie,” Varric comes up behind him, breaking him from Justice’s thoughts. He holds up a bowl to him. “I saved you one.”

“That’s for the Darktowners,” Anders says.”

“You live in Darktown,” he says, exasperated.

“Varric…” he starts, but he’s cut off.

“Blondie, if you don’t eat this damn soup, I’ll have my boys tie you down and I’ll force feed you. Understand?” he threatens. It’s out of love; Anders has been eating last for the past two weeks and it shows through his gaunt face and the way his red robes hang off of him.

Anders accepts the bowl, “I understand you’re into some kinky stuff,” he says with a wink.

The dwarf snorts and waves his hand, “I got only one love in my life, and that’s Bianca.” He reaches behind his back and pats his crossbow for emphases. “Now, go enjoy your lunch, we’ll take it from here.” He waves the mage off, but something catches his eyes mid-wave. Anders follows his gaze to the ex-Templar-turned-mercenary, Raleigh Samson. His head is down and twitches side-to-side to watch the poor people in line and the Carta thugs who line the walls. He runs a shaky hand through his unkempt hair, and another is in his pants pocket, clutching a coin purse no doubt. He is armed with a decent sword and shield; blessedly they aren’t branded by any Templar insignia. It makes it easier to forget what the man used to be.

Anders waves his hand for the man to follow into his back room, hoping Raleigh has news from his current boss.

Varric squints and tries to figure out why Samson would come down here. He thinks of a million of scenarios. Most are outlandish and not good, but he settles on the practical one. The ex-Templar is just seeing the local healer for treatment and his alignment could need more privacy

He doesn’t trust Samson, however, and his squint turns into a glare as he watches the human walk past him. Samson is bad news. His readiness to help mages made Blondie forget about his egregious mistake when he accidentally sold that half-elven boy, Feynriel, to slavers years ago. Now, he works for Meeran. Not even Hawke wanted work for the mercenary leader.

He glances to Sebastian, who appears to be reading his mind. The Chantry Brother asks a woman who longed since finished her bowl and is now just lounging on a cot if she could take over. She agrees and they follow after Anders and Samson.

Anders downs his soup as he walks. He pushes the door open with his hip and leaves the bowl on a rickety shelf after taking one last bite. He’s about to close the door when Varric and Sebastian swagger in after Raleigh. Anders’s room is too small for the four of them. It doesn’t help his room is a mess, with books, papers, pens and inkwells, and clothes scattered about.

 He snaps the door shut. He gives his friends questioning looks before addressing the ex-Templar.

“What did he say? When can I meet him?” Anders crosses his arms and waits for answers. He ignores the way his friends’ sharp eyes and stiffening postures and focuses on the other man.

Raleigh fidgets under the judging stares of Ander’s companions and just being so close to the mage himself. He wishes the other two didn’t follow them. He coughs and rubs the back of his head, trying very hard not to stare at the blonde’s cocked hips. “Meeran wants to meet with you as soon as possible.”

The Void ripped open the moment the words left his lips.

“Meeran?” Varric shouts and puts his hands on his hips. “Meeran? What trouble have you gotten yourself in this time?” His tone and stance are that of a stern father.

Sebastian jumps into, his eyes lit with concern. “Oh, sweet Maker, Anders, that man is dangerous.” He reaches out and grips Anders’s shoulder. “Is he threatening you? Are you in danger? Be honest, please.”

The mage gives the two rogues an incredulous glare. “Okay, Ma,” he pushes the Chantry Brother’s hand away and then looks down at the dwarf, “Da. I know he’s a very mean man, but,” he snaps his fingers and produces fire. “I think I can handle myself.” He tilts his head to the side to look at Raleigh. “Is now good?”

“The sooner the better,” he answers, “Meeran didn’t tell me what he wanted, but he said it was urgent.”

Anders picks up a random coat off the floor and sniffs it. He shrugs it on after his inspection. He snatches his staff from the corner and straps onto his back. “Right, let’s go now.” He goes to the door, but Varric side steps in front of him.

“We’re going with you too,” Varric says coolly, “we can finally do something without Hawke.”

“And we’re worried. It could be a trap,” Sebastian adds.

“You know I can turn you both into frogs and just move you out of my way, right?” Anders asks, eyebrow raised.

The dwarf scoffs, “You can’t do that,” he looks at his fellow rogue, “right?”

Sebastian chuckles, “he is just trying to scare us,” he snaps his head to the ex-Templar. “Is he?”

Raleigh shrugs. “I’ve seen apprentices accidentally give themselves breasts when a potion goes wrong, I’m sure Anders can turn you into frogs if he wants too.”

Anders snorts and waves his hand dismissively, “I assure, those were not accidents. Anyway,” he addresses the two rogues one final time. “you guys stay here and watch my clinic and make sure nothing bad happens. Come, on Raleigh, I want to get this meeting with Meeran done and over with.” He pushes Varric to get him to budge and the dwarf reluctantly moves out of the way. He saunters out and Samson follows, not so much bothering to hide what he’s staring at.

Varric pops his head around the corner and yells after them, “You better bring him back by sundown.” He leans back in and whispers, “you want to play ‘baby-sit the mage’, Choir Boy?”

 

Anders and Raleigh make their way through Darktown, to Lowtown and then finally, Hightown. The mage talked the other man’s ear off. While true, he loves to talk, but it isn’t why he can’t stop himself opening his mouth. Raleigh Samson is an ex-Templar, a fact Justice won’t let him forget. No matter how kind and sweet the man is, he can easily be another Rolan.

The meeting Meeran is also making him nervous, but not for the reasons his overly-worried companions. He doesn’t find the man threatening in the slightest, but he knows about the Underground and he talks about it with other criminals. Anders needs to know how Meeran found out and why he seems so interested. Then he can move on to Athenril. Oddly, at the thought of the smuggler, Justice grows warm and fuzzy. Anders shakes the feeling off. He goes back talking.

And flirting with Raleigh, much to Justice’s horror. But he ignores those feelings too. The ex-Templar blushes, stammers, and fidgets from the attention, and Anders thinks its adorable. He flirts even harder to get more reaction. He bats his eyes. He glides a hand over a forearm. Fingers brush against fingers. He plays with loose strands of hair. He drops complements.

He is giddy by the reactions he gets out of the other man. It reminds him of the fun times he had in the circle.

There is nothing fun about oppression.

Anders shakes his head at the thought that is so obviously not his and continues making Raleigh squirm under his leather armor until they close to Meeran’s hideout.

Raleigh holds his hand up and comes to a stop. It takes a moment for him to compose himself before addressing Anders. “Before we go any further, you need to keep this location to yourself.”

Anders looks around. They are in one of the poor ends of Hightown. Well enough they can afford to be out of Lowtown, but not rich enough to own a manor like Hawke.

But he doesn’t know where they are specifically nor did he pay attention to their journey, too caught up reliving his youth. “Honestly, if we were being followed, I wouldn't know."

Raleigh smiles and pats his back, “good. His home is this way.” He grabs the mage’s arm and pulls him along.

Anders’s eyebrows shoot upward, but doesn’t voice his shock they were meeting in Meeran’s home, not a hideout.

The ex-Templar leads him to a white house with a modest garden populated with Andrstate’s Graces. Both the door and window shutters are midnight blue. A tree taller than the house itself sits in front the left side. A wooden bench swings low to the ground. It’s fenced with white pickets. Not exactly the picture of a hardened killer, but maybe that’s the point.

Raleigh pushes the small gate and strolls to the fronts door, leaving Anders behind. He knocks five times. The taps are evenly spaced out. The door opens right away, but no one is there. Raleigh looks over his shoulder and gestures for the mage to follow.

If the outside contradictions Meeran’s reputation, the interior was more in line with what Anders expected. The first room is a dark red. From the chairs to the couch to the carpet. The wood that made up the bookshelves, the liquor cabinet, and tables are red-tinted. The banister leading upstairs is painted the same color as the curtain that covers the entrance way at the end of the room. And then there was the roaring fire in the fireplace. Anders scans the room and stops at the collection of toys in the back corner. Meeran has a child?

He looks even harder and spots a cloth doll in a yellow dress on top of the bookshelf. Meeran has a daughter.

“Welcome to my home,” Anders snaps his head to the newcomer. Meeran enters the room through the curtains. He wears house clothes, similar to the ones Hawke wears. He swaggers to the liquor cabinet. He grabs three glasses and a bottle of wine. He turns around and gestures to the couch. “Take a seat, Healer.”

Anders and Raleigh leave their weapons at the door. He sits close to the fireplace and Meeran hands him a glass and pours it half way to the top. Justice objects, images of the ‘pirate-wine’ incident from weeks ago play through his mind, but Anders ignores him and takes a sip. It’s bitter and he can’t help compare to the sweeter collection Fenris owns.

His mood sours and has to stop himself from downing the wine.

After filling Raleigh’s glass, Meeran sits down across from Anders. “Thank you for bringing the Healer, Samson. I knew I could trust you.” The other man just nods but doesn’t say anything. The mercenary turns to Anders. “Let’s skip the pleasantries, and go straight to business, shall we?”

“I agree. There is no need to flirt with formalities.”

“Good,” he takes a sip of his wine. “I’ve known about your work for some time and I want to hire you.”

Anders blinks at the bluntness despite agreeing to it. He tilts his head to the side and tries to think what Meeran would want from him. If anything, Anders should be leading the conversation. He doesn’t care if he’s in Meeran’s home, he was the one who set the meeting up. “I apologize, what do you mean by ‘work’? My work as a Healer? My work as a Warden? My work as a potion maker?”

“Your work as in someone who breaks mages out of the Gallows,” Meeran answers.

Anders doesn’t know how to respond to that, and says, “oh,” as a response.

Meeran swirls the wine around in his glass but doesn’t drink. “I don’t like dancing around a subject, but this one will require a dance for what I need to be done to make sense.” He downs the wine in one go and get’s up. He places the glass on the mantle over the fireplace and goes to the bookshelf behind his chair. He grabs the doll gingerly. He stares down at the toy.

“Fourteen years ago, I hired an up and coming thief. She is good at what she does and she’s cutthroat too. She was my kind of woman.” A smirk appears, but quickly falls off his face. “After a successful mission, I took her back home and we celebrated. Four months later, she’s pregnant with my kid.” He begins to pace. “She moves in and we build a relationship for our future kid’s sake. And it worked. Life was good. She had a girl, Leona and decided to quiet the game entirely. I built myself as the merc in town.”

He stops pacing and leans over the chair. “But it wasn’t meant to last. One day, my lover took our daughter to the marketplace. It was summer and very hot. Leona was complaining about the heat and wished it was snowing.” Anders signs and bows his head. He knows what Meeran is going to say before he says it. “Leona made snow flurry happen in the middle of the market, freezing a fruit stand.”

“And now she’s on the Gallows,” Anders concludes for him.

He moves to in front of the chair and slumps down. “She’s been in there for almost four years.” Meeran answers. Quite suddenly, Anders isn’t looking at a man who runs a gang full of hired muscle, he’s looking at a tired father. A surge of empathy and righteous anger assault him. He clamps down on Justice before he takes over.

“I’ll do it.”

Meeran blinks and sits up, “I haven’t even told you how much the job will pay.”

“I’ll do it for free,” he says, but the man doesn’t hear a word.

 

After two hours of discussing the details and when would be the best time to break into the Gallows, Anders and Raleigh leave richer.

“I’m happy you volunteered to help,” Anders says. He rests a hand on Raleigh’s forearm and gives a light squeeze.

“I’m sympathetic to the cause,” he says, not because it's true and it is true, but he knows what Anders likes to hear.

And the smile he ears in return is brilliant and bright. “I don’t have many friends who are. I appreciate someone from your background is willing to see mages free.” He slips his hand into his coat pocket and feels for his coin purse. “Look, I have to go. Varric keeps tabs on my coin just so I don’t gamble it away. Or give all away to the first who might be poor. Or lose it.” He adds. “I’ll see you around Raleigh.”

“Of course,” he and waves. They part ways, Anders going down an alleyway, and the ex-Templar turning the corner.

But he stops and peers around to watch Anders walk away. His attention drifts downward and he swallows. He licks his tongue and his fingers tap the stone wall he hides behind.

But he squashes his desires and turns around. He makes his way to the Red district and weaves through the Manors, the gardens, and parks. He wouldn’t have a chance with the Healer, not even in his wildest dreams. And he does dream. Anders is funny, if not a bit too snarky. He’s attractiveness swings between masculine and feminine. He’s kind and passionate. And not someone Raleigh deserves.

But he is a man and he has needs. He goes to the Rose, knowing he will search out a replacement.

Caught up in his thoughts, he doesn’t notice the imposing figure clutching a bag close to their chest until he rams into their shoulder. They both stumble. The bag hits the ground with a thud.

Raleigh swears and spins around to help, but falters. What came tumbling out of the sack is a red statue. And it sings like lyrium, but the song is all wrong. It isn’t smooth and melodic, but hungry and angry. He steps forward, leaning down to pick it up. His fingers glaze over the red tendrils that come out of the base of the statue.

His heart hammers and his breath hitches in his throat. His mind races, never focusing on one thing or another. He needs it. It calls to him. It consumes his every being. He needs—

A pale hand snatches the statue from him and stuffs it back in the bag. He stands tall, ready to cut down the fool who took it from him and meets Knight-Commander Meredith. Her piercing eyes force him to pause. He takes a step back from her.

“Samson,” she says coolly.

“Stannard,” he responds.

She sneers and for a second, he thinks this is how he will die. “This never happened,” she starts, “you never saw me. You never saw this statue. Do you understand me?”

“Yes,” he says all too quickly. He looks back at the statue, then up at her and he wonders if he could take her in a fight.

The answer is a quick no.

“Good,” she says curtly, “now, excuse me, I have an appointment I must go to.” Where mothers smile fondly at their babes, Meredith has her statue.

Curiosity gets the better of him and he blurts out, “what do you mean?”

The older woman rolls her eyes, but answers anyway. “There is a mage,” she hisses the word out, “from Tevinter who has connections to a Magister who crafts remarkable pieces of artwork, and lyrium is his medium.” A glint of insanity flashes over her and he involuntary shudders. “The Magister’s former slave wonders this very city. You might have seen him?”

He nods slowly. One of Garrett Hawke’s campaigns is a Tevinter elf with lyrium carved into his skin. He remembers the elf threating to break him in two for trying to sniff his skin. Admittedly, that was one his worse days. “I know who you speak of.”

“Then you have seen the Magister’s work.” There it is again. That unhinged look in her eyes. He gulps. He prays she isn’t planning on carving lyrium into First-Enchanter Orsino. She continues and kills most of his fears. “I want to commission a sword from this Magister.”

Raleigh wants to ask why she would deal with a mage, a blood mage at that, but he likes breathing too much to question her. He simply smiles at his old commander, feeling a bit envious she has the statue and he doesn’t but smiles all the same. “It was good seeing you, Knight-Commander. I hope your sword comes out well.”

She nods and says no more before continuing on her way.

He waits until she leaves before he turns around and goes, but something red catches his eye.

On the ground is a broken piece of the statue. It calls to him and this time, Raleigh obeys.

Chapter Text

If anyone were to ask Fenris what’s his least favorite part of freedom, it’s shopping. Between the loud crowds that hurt his ears, the assholes who bump into him and expect him to apologize, and the shopkeepers raising their prices for elves like him, ruined the novelty of buying his own food years ago.

But as he picks up a juicy red apple from a fruit stand in the Hightown Market, there is some delight in shopping. Having his favorite food whenever he wanted was the main one. He puts several in his basket and drops the exact amount the human noble paid before on the table. He ignores the dirty look the fruit seller gives him.

He looks through his basket for the tastiest and juiciest apple. He isn’t watching wear he steps and if the person walking straight for him is paying attention themselves.

There is a sudden thud against his right shoulder and sharp pain erupted through his foot. His eyes and mouth open and he stumbles forward. He puts a protective hand over his apples and can’t catch his fall. He lands hard on his knees, but it’s his toes that curl and clench.

He swears through his teeth. He takes a sharp breath. He checks his apples first. Only one fell and that is one too many. He glances up and humans walk pass him. Some glance his way, but none help him up. They avoid him. All of them do. It was like he never left Tevinter. He swears again. The burning in his cheeks is worse than in his toes. Staggers to his feet and turn around. If he can spot the bastard who ran into him, stopped on his foot, ruined one of his apples, and finally left him in the middle of the street.

The man isn’t hard to spot. He is on his knees, back facing Fenris. He is shaking his head and covering his face. There is papers and journals scatter around him. He mutters under his breath.

“Maker, I’m a blighted oaf.”

Oh, and the man is Anders.

The bruised ego, the crushed apple, and inflamed knees and toes aren’t important anymore.

Fenris rushes to the mage’s side. He puts a gentle hand on the other’s back, “Anders?”

The blonde flinches at the contact and snaps his head toward the left. He blinks a couple times and swallows. “Fenris?” He is about to say more, but he gasps and remembers his papers and journals. He rushes to pick them out.

The elf helps him, putting papers hold together with shoddy binding in his basket. He crouches and winces at the pain in his right foot, but he bares through. People continue go around them, not stopping. He reaches for the last piece of paper when the tug magic sing through his lyrium. The throbbing in his toes and knees are gone.

He glances over his shoulder at the mage, who looks away quickly when their eyes meet.

Fenris stands and walks in front of the mage. He offers a hand and is surprised the other accepts it. When Anders is at his full height, he doesn’t pull away like Fenris expects him too. “Thank you. For helping me,” his eyes drift downward to the ground and back to the elf’s, “and sorry for stomping on your foot.” He pulls away, but Fenris grabs him by sleeve of his black jacket.

“I should be the one apologizing.” The words tumble out his lips. He takes a step closer into the blonde’s space, “can we talk?”

Anders is caught off guard. “What?”

Fenris takes a step back, letting go of Anders entirely. “I wish for us to talk, please. I have a great deal to tell you. If you want to listen,” he adds.

Anders bites his bottom lip and nods. “Aright. Talking is good, but maybe not here?” They look around the market. The crowd has died down, but it was still pack full.

“Where do you wish to go?” he asks only because Anders looked to be

“Well,” he quirks his upward and raises his shoulders in apology. “I was going to break into your home and put my Manifesto in every nook and cranny to annoy you. So, there might be a good option.”

Fenris scoffs at the other man’s foolishness, but chuckles all the same. “Allow me to finish shopping and I’ll lead the way.”

 

The track was pleasingly silent. There is no awkward tension. No bitterness. Anders knows he’s remorseful for his words, now the mage just needs to hear him out and understand what he’s saying.

He knows Anders well enough that he will at least listen.

He enjoys the silence by sneaking quick glances at the other man. Ever since the mage lost his green and tan coat, he’s taking to wearing different outfits. Different outfits because people kept donating him robes, tunics, pants, and sometimes dresses. He tends give most away to Darktowners, but there are some he keeps. Today, he wears a black jacket cropped short at his chest to match his tights and boots. There are white feathers at the jacket collar to match his plain dress.

It pleases Fenris to see the mage kept this outfit.

But the comfortable silence is still silence. And He knows Anders hates the quiet. “Isabela shouldn’t be allowed near spirits anymore.”

Fenris scrunch his nose, “what?” he turns briefly at the mage, but quickly snaps his head forward. He doesn’t wish a repeat from the market. 

“Eh, sorry,” Anders laughs nervously, “I was talking more to myself, but Isabela can’t be allowed spirits.”

“Why do you say that?” he asks.

“The Templar Spirit, or Phantom Knight as everyone calls him,” he grimaces at the word Templar. Anders still doesn’t know about Justice. It must be draining on the spirit for his host to be so negative toward him.  “I guess, Isabela gave him a bottle of Angus Magus.”

“Of course, she did,” he deadpans. He doesn't expect anything else from her. 

“And a month ago, she gave Justice rum. She keeps telling these spirits alcohol is water.”

Fenris closes his eyes. “And what exactly happened to the Phantom?” the elf asks, concern for the spirit growing every second.

Anders glances sideways. “According to Isabela, she, with the help of Hawke, Varric, and Merrill, had to chase him all over Lowtown. I guess he removed his armor and ran around naked for two hours preaching the freedoms of nudity.”

Fenris gawks at the blonde. “Really? Two hours?” he sees a spark of blue behind of amber, and he takes it as a yes. He doesn’t hide his amusement. “I wish I was there to witness him in such state,” the spark grew and he smirks, “he seemed so dignified.”

Anders shakes his head and the glint is gone. “Me too. I wonder how a spirit is able to manifest a physical body without a host,” Anders waves arms around, spilling paper. Fenris stops to let the mage pick his stuff up again. “I would love to ask him questions him.” They continue after he is done. As they walked past Hawke’s manor, he points to it, “I don’t know if you know about this, but Hawke and Varric planned to set a match between this Templar Spirit and Justice, but they changed their minds after what happened. I guess they learned spirits aren’t easily controlled.”

Fenris tries very hard not laugh. “Yes, spirits are very hard to control.”

They fall back to silence and Fenris is happy to know they can still hold conversations. He feared they return their old ways after what he called the mage. When they get to his mansion, it takes him a moment to open the doors with his hands full of food and paper. But once inside, he closes the door with his hips.

“Let’s go to the kitchen,” he gestures and the mage follows. The kitchen is in decent condition compared to the rest of the mansion, as its one of the few rooms he cares about. “Just put your Manifesto down on the island.”

He moves past Anders to the cabinets and ice box. He puts away his food quietly, thinking what words to say and how to say those words. He isn’t good with this part of a relationship. Sex was simple, but this thing with the mage isn’t even about sex. If he pisses off a stranger Isabela sets him up with, it doesn’t matter to him. But with Anders…

“I didn’t mean to call you an abomination,” Fenris has to stop himself from slamming his head against the counter.

“I beg your pardon?”

Fenris turns to face Anders. His open face telling the elf by the sudden change lightheartedness is off putting. He takes a steady breath. He walks around the island so he can stand face-to-face with the mage. Anders twists his body around. He leans against the island, resting on his elbows.

“Let me explain.” His tongue is heavy and dry in his mouth. “A few weeks ago, you left one of your shirts here. Merrill caught me wearing it. That night at the Hanged Man, she brought up to tease me. When the others joined in, I panicked and my mouth opened before I could stop myself.”

Anders cocks his head to the side. His usually expressive features are neutral. Fenris can read books better then he could the read the mage. “You broke the biggest rule I had in our arrangement because you don’t want people to know about us?” his eyes narrow, “you know how much of an ass you sound right now?”

His heart races. This isn’t going how he wanted. He should have never brought it up. They were doing so good, and he ruined what little truce they had.

No, they needed to talk about what happened. He needs to explain himself. He can't bury the problem.

“That’s not what I meant, you’re taking it the wrong way—

Anders pushes himself off the island, hot fury at his fingertips. “How in the Void I’m I supposed to take it?” he shouts.

Terror shoots through Fenris. He takes several steps back and raises his hands in defense. He waits for a blow he knows won’t come, but expects anyway. Anders calms down in instant. He steps away from the elf, hiding his hands behind his back.

They stare at one another for several heartbeats. Slowly, Fenris drops on hand and uses the other to comb his hair trying to sooth his nerves.

“I should leave,” Anders whispers. He moves in a wide arch to avoid getting near the other man, but the elf snatches his hand before he can go any further.

The mage’s hands are hot to the touch. “You’re not leaving like this,” he states. There is no waver in his voice, for that he is grateful. Anders looks away from him, but he that just makes him move closer so the blonde can’t ignore him. He takes a steady breath. He should have done this sooner. “Anders, do you remember when this began between us?”

“When you came to my clinic one night and we made out on my desk?” he forces humor into the conversation.

Fenris shakes his head. “No, before it that night.” His jaw clenches. He speaks five languages, three of them fluently. And yet, words escape him now. “There seemed to be sudden shift between that night in your clinic and how we were weeks prior. I cannot pinpoint when, but I went from wanting to nothing to do with you to wanting to be around you. I thought what I have with Isabela would work with you, but I clearly feel more than I expected. And it all happened too fast with no reason behind the change.”

“Oh, Fenris,” Anders’s voice cracks. He pulls Fenris into a hug. He nuzzles his nose into the soft locks. The elf slinks his arms around the mage’s thin frame and squeezes. They stay locked into each other’s grips.

They pull back, Anders sniffs and wipes his eyes. “I don’t know what to tell you. Every relationship I had has this been intense this quickly. I didn’t think it was weird we went from hating each other to…however we feel now.”

 “My only experience is with Isabela, Anders,” Fenris admits, “she’s the first person I said yes to. Other than her, I had no one else.”

Anders brings his hand to his mouth and tears form at the corner of his eyes, “I didn’t know…”

“It doesn’t matter,” he says dismissively.

“I think it does.” Anders whispers, but he drops it, knowing it will an argument they don't need. "I want clear out any confusion. You like me, I like you. You want to continue the way we’re before and I do too, but you want us to slow down because don't know how to handle how you feel about me?”

Fenris nods, agreeing. “Yes. When I sought Isabela out to help reclaim a part of myself. I thought I could do the same with you, but I found nothing but confusion and a feeling I can’t name.”

“I understand,” a hint of acceptance keeps into in his voice. “nothing is simple when I’m involved.”

Fenris smirks, hoping humor will “I assure you, it’s a mage thing.”

“Yeah,” Anders snorts and grins, “so are we going back to before you called me that word and insulted Justice?”

“No, we’re going to move forward. I am going to break things off with Isabela,” the mage eyebrows shot upward at his declaration, “and I will not continue the one-night stands anymore. Just don’t expect much more from me. If you wish for a serious relationship, I will need time.”

He rubs his arm and goes back to chewing on his lip. “I wouldn’t have asked you stop doing what makes you feel good.”

Fenris steps closer to Anders. He reaches and cups his cheek, brushing a tear away. “You make me feel good,” he stands on his toes and kisses the corner of the mage’s lips. He slips his arms around the mage’s neck and pull him down. Anders smiles into the kiss, and deepens it. 

 

As the mortals reconnect, Justice sighs from expiration. He wishes he could give a name to the emotion they both speak of: love. But alas he cannot, for he is trapped inside Anders and his host's tongue is currently locked in romantic combat with the elf's. He settles in the back of his host’s mind and waits for them to realize the simple fact for themselves. It is all he can do. 

Chapter Text

If Varric could see the grin on his face, Fenris would have a different nickname.

Considering he’s on his way to the Hanged Man, the end of ‘Broody’ might be tonight.

The distraught state he had been for the past weeks evaporated after talking and making up with Anders. He doesn’t care what the future will bring, but right now he is weightless. Even with his broadsword on his back, he walks lightly with a slight bounce to each step.

The shame for calling the mage an abomination was still there, but as he smiles fondly at the green scarf tied around his wrist, the mistake is almost minor. He isn’t ready to announce to the world about his budding relationship with the mage, not yet, but if any of their friends ask he won’t deny it either. Until the subject is broached by someone else, he wants to keep it close. He enjoys the privacy of having something personal and beautiful to himself, and he doesn’t anyone to take it away from him.

In Tevinter, he couldn’t fathom sex, let alone a relationship, that didn’t involve Danarius. Even times when he slept with women to breed more slaves was at his master’s whims. He didn’t know he could, no should, choose his own partners.

He grins wider. He isn’t in Tevinter. He doesn’t have a master. He isn’t forced to breed. No appetences hound his sleep. He’s in Kirkwall. He is a free man and he can be with whoever he wants. And he chose Anders.

Even walking under a cloudy night, and into the Lowtown bar with it’s the stench of cheap ale and piss hitting his senses, can’t tapper on his mood.

He enters the Hanged Man and scans the room. It’s not busy tonight. Two men, regulars, talk about the Qunari problem near the entrance. Hawke’s uncle is gambling away his allowance in the back close to the stairs. He takes note of the mercenary, Meeran is his name, and Raleigh Samson are drinking at one of the long tables. He ignores how the ex-Templar zeroes on him.

Instead, Fenris’s attention is on the bar. Isabela is in her usual spot, in her white dress. She’s wearing a little bit more armor and daggers than she would normally if she was just at the bar. He came just in time; she’s heading out soon. As he gets closer, a man slides right next to her.

 “Isabela! My dusky goddess!” Fenris forces the laughter to stay in the pit of his stomach. Isabela shakes her head. He smirks and leans against the post, enjoying her misery. “You’ve wormed your way into my heart. Like a worm into a red, red apple.”

“That’s lovely,” she catches the elf in her periphery and gives a grateful smile, “oh, look it’s my boyfriend!” she quickly darts to Fenris’s side and interlaces their arms together, dragging him to the door.

“But I haven’t asked you to feast on my white flesh!” the poet calls after her.

She leans and whispers in his ear, “how much do I have to pay you to rip his heart out?”

“If I remove his heart, where will you live?” Fenris pounders for a moment before adding, “my dusky goddess.”

She hums and flashes a flirty grin, “I like it when you call me that.” She stops walking and pulls him close, her arms wrapping around his neck. She plants a kiss on his lips.

His hands drift downward to her curvy hips, and he accepts her, but only for a moment. Anders comes to the forefront of his mind and he is reminded of why he came to visit her tonight. He ends the kiss abruptly. Hazel eyes widen for a split second, before understanding spreads across them. 

She gives him a slight twitch of her shoulders, “ops, I forgot you hate public affection, sweet thing,” she doesn’t sound apologetic at all, but he knew she meant it.

He steps back and holds up a hand. “No, that’s not why I stopped you.” He looks around. The streets are empty, but he is uncomfortable to have the conversation in public. But it needed to be done now. “I need to talk to you.”

“Oh, how serious,” she rests against the outside wall of the bar. “I hope not too serious. I’m meeting with my favorite spirit tonight. Before we go hunting down information on this Tiberius fellow, he wants me to reread his version of the manifesto. He complained that Andy’s Andrstain faith ruining their argument or something,” she explains with a hand wave.  

Fenris’s lips thin out into a frown. He ignores any talk about mage rights, and focuses on the magister in training. “You’re looking for Tiberius Barlas?”

She nods. “Justice want’s the guy dead as soon as possible. I think he’s taking this mission personally. You know, I think he might like you.” she winks playfully, and his ears turn red. What was she implying?

Isabela continues, “once he’s gone, the rest of slavers will be unorganized and easy to pick off. The problem is, however, the noble the slaver is shacking up has covered his friend’s trail and I’m not finding anything. Neither has Varric or Aveline for that matter.” She lowers her voice, her eyes softening, “he told me you got history with this guy.” She grips his gauntlet covered hands. “If you need to speak about it, I’m here for you, you know that, right?”

Fenris looks away, “I do have history with the man, but I don’t wish to discuss it. He brings up bad memories and I’m in a relatively good mood.”

Isabela lightens up and drops his hands, “then we won’t talk about it. What do you want to see me about?”

He rubs the back of his neck. He doubts he will hurt her feelings, but on the slim chance, he chooses his words carefully. “I wish to discuss our arrangement.”

She straightens her posture; her eyes narrow in mild disgust. “Hold up. Are you about to bring emotions into this?”

“What? No,” he says quickly. She is first and foremost his friend, not a lover. “I want to break things off.”

She closes her eyes and puts a hand to her chest. “Oh, thank the Maker,” she pauses, “wait, why?”

“I’ve been seeing someone,” on instinct, he twists the ends of the scarf. “It isn’t serious, but I don’t think it’s fair I’ve been sleeping with others while I’m with them.”

A thin eyebrow rises upward. “Is that all?” Her eyes drop to his wrist. Something glimmers across her face, but he can’t put a name to the emotion before a mischievous smile spreads her face, “when can we meet this someone?”

“I want to keep it private for now.” He answers.

She opens her mouth to argue, but stops short. She folds her arms and pouts instead. “Fine then. I don’t want to meet them anyway.” She relaxes and once more, her softer side comes out. “I’m happy for you. You deserve a bit of happiness,” she cups his cheek, “but they better treat you right, and you will tell me if they don’t.”

“Your concern is appreciated, but I don’t want to scare them,” Fenris grins up at her.

She places a hand to her chest in mock innocence. “Me, scare them?” he gives the pirate a look. “Oh, no, I’m not going to do anything. I’ll tell Lady-Manhands and she’ll do something about it,”  Isabela plants a quick kiss on his lips before dancing away. She waves at him. “I gotta go. I have a date with a sexy Fade-man.” She calls over her shoulder. She slips into the shadows before he can say anything.

He shakes his head out of amusement. But he wonders what he should do now, but Tiberius’s name stuck out. He clenches his hands into fists. The sharp reminder of slavers and his life in Tevinter choses his plans tonight.

 “And I have a date with slavers,” he whispers under his breath. He makes his way to the docks, knowing that’s where he will find them.

 

In hindsight, he should have gone to Athenril for back up. Or Hawke. Or even followed Isabela, and asked her and Justice for assistance. Any option would give him a willing partner who hates slavery just as much as him. Even better, with the spirit at his side, he can just as easily have a healer when the fight is over.

But he didn’t, and now he’s has to fight a large group of slavers by himself. If he doesn’t, over a dozen elves will be sold into slavery.

He crouches low behind boxes watching twenty something humans waiting for a ship. This is the largest group he seen in Kirkwall. It scares him that there are so many in one spot. How many infest Kirkwall at this moment? Hundreds? Why hasn’t he noticed until now? He counts four, five…no, eight different mages in the group. All of whom practice magic. He takes a shallow breath. Can he really take on that many well-trained mages?

He glances to the elves. He knows what a Tevinter mage sees when they look upon an elf. Property. Plaything. Fuel. If they need to, all eight can slash their wrists and cypher the blood from their potential cargo if they feel threatened. But if he’s careful, and if there are no rogues lurking in the darkness, he can bend the bars back with his lyrium, giving the others time escape. But he will be caught and the fight will be brutal.

There’s no question what he will do. He will not condemn others of the same fate he suffered and escaped. Silently, still crouched low to the ground, he makes his way toward the cage. He sticks close to the walls, behind crates and chests. On one box, sits a mage girl with a man. It’s the warrior that gives Fenris pause. He is a Qunari slave. Or, worse he’s a Tal-Vashoth, which would make him more dangerous. Then there are his horns. Or lack thereof. He knows the way of the Qun. He knows their people. Hornlessness is sign of prestige. He’s definitely dangerous. The little light there is tonight, gleams on the weapon’s surface. It’s made out of metal. The girl chats happily about her brother producing his first fire ball. The warrior nods his head, barely listening. The man is focused and ready for any surprises. His eyes never stop scanning the area and catches movement behind him.

Fenris stops and presses crate. He twists his eyes shut, hoping the warrior didn’t see him. He counts to sixty. And again.

When nothing happens, he gives a quick peak. The warrior is turned back around, glaring at the murky waters.

He doesn’t dare to breathe as he quickly mores. He takes a sharp turn on a massive crate, taller than him no doubt. His sword taps against the wood. The soft sound is light, not even his superior hearing barely picks it up. But he pauses as if anyone could hear him. Panic threatens to overcome him. He has too keep moving. He can’t stop.

Fenris wettings his lips and swallows. He’s almost there.

Half-crawling and half-walking, he makes his way to the crate next to the cage. He peers over the corner, his clawed hand curls on the sharp edge. He notices that somewhere old, some were women, some were men. But most were teenagers, around Galyn’s age. Some were even younger. Vile rage sits at the bottom of his gut.

And that’s when he sees a familiar face in the group. Easy-going, warm eyes, now heavy with fear and exhaustion. Gone was the leather armor, and in its place, is simple, civilian clothes. Tall body slumps, with his shoulders shagging low. It’s Sticks, Athenril’s archer. Brina’s lover.

Fenris gingerly stands up, still hunch over. The some of the elves in the cage notice him. He puts finger to his lips. Sticks spots him, emerald meets bright colbot. His eyes wide maneuvers himself to the front of the cage. He grips the bars, his knuckles paling.

“Fenris?” his voice, so light and airy, it doesn’t fit this cage. “Is Athenril here?”

“No,” he answers, and the archer looks to reside himself to a terrible fate. Fenris continues, “I’m going to pull the bars apart, and you will get everyone out of here while I play decoy.” Sticks’s gasps and shakes his head.

“By yourself?” asks a tiny girl next to Sticks. Fenris glances down and he blanches. He instantly remembers her face, but not her name. Round eyes, dark pigtails, black eyes. Years ago, Hawke investigate a murderer. A man who specifically targeted elven children. She almost been one of his victims.

Fenris only nods before returning his attention to Sticks. “Get ready.”

“Fen—

“One.” He cuts off the other man. His fingers twitch. His eyes dart back and forth. His heart hammers in his chest. “Two.” The elves, who can see him and heard his plan, tense. He hesitates before he mutters, “three.”

He alights the dock in blue light. Using his enhanced strength, he bends the bars back. He hears shouts. Orders to not let the cargo escape. He sees shadows move. An assassin slides right next to him. They aim a poison-covered dagger, but Fenris meets them half way and removes his heart.

He doesn’t wait to see the others escape. He leaps over the cage, using the bars as a spring board. Midair, he draws his sword and slices through the first slaver. Like a cat, he lands on his feet. Slavers surround him. He swings his sword in an arch, cutting down three, and flinging the rest away. He goes for the first mage he sees. Their hands dance frantically, ice on their fingertips.

He rushes toward them. He slides on the ground. Grease. He doesn’t lose his balance, in fact the slick liquid helps he get to the mage faster. The mage stops they’re spell and He slices into their belly. He doesn’t kill them, but when someone foolishly sets fire to the grease, he pushes them in. Their screams, along with others who got caught, mix with the cackle of flames.

Fenris spots a slaver, brandishing a sword and shield, charging at him. Sliding out the of way, he sinks his hand into another mage’s heart. He crushes it as the warrior comes at him again. He tosses the dead body effortlessly, knocking the human back. He cuts them both in two.

Before he can turn and assess any more threats, pain erupts on the side of his head. A sharp ringing in his left ear drowns out all other sound. He staggers to the right, dropping his sword. He blinks away the white spots. Another sharp hit to his back, and he falls forward. He roles onto his back. The Qunari stands tall over him ready to slam the mallet on his head.

“Enough!” a voice rains out. The Qunari does as he is told, and drops the mallet.

Fenris closed his for a moment and opened them up to a snarling human.

“Get the fuck up knife-ear!”

The slur is punctuated with a violent kick. Fenris lets out a grunt, but nothing more. He glares at the human who kicked his side. The human is in typical mage robes. His disobedience earns him another kick, this one to his stomach. The slaver grabs Fenris by his hair, pulling him up. He slams his fist into Fenris’s nose. There’s a sick, wet crunch.

The slaver tilts the elf’s head back, forcing Fenris too look him in the eyes.  “Do you how much you fucking cost me? How many of my fucking men you killed? I lost a whole fucking shipment because of your ass!” he roars. He slaps the elf across the face.

Fenris slowly turns and spits a bloody wad of saliva in the man’s eye.

The man swears violently. He draws a dagger his belt and presses it against Fenris’s throat. He gulps, feeling the cold metal grazing his Adam’s apple. “It’s not even worth keeping you alive to fuck your pretty, little brains out,” he sneers.

Fenris doesn’t flinch at the threat. This human has no idea who Fenris is. He takes sick pleasure knowing his murderer would face Danarius’s wrath. He lets out a dark chuckle and smirks at his would-be killer.

“You think it’s a fucking joke?” he yells.

The slaver drops Fenris, only to slam his boot onto Fenris’s chest. Again. Again. And again. Andagain.Andagain.Andagain.Andagain.Andagain!

He can’t breathe. He can’t think. His chest is in pieces. His ribs are shattered. His lungs burn.

And the salver won’t stop until—

Through his blurred vision, Fenris sees a sword sticking through the slaver’s chest. He blinks. And the sword was gone, and the slaver falls into heap next to him.

Relief washes over him. He chokes out a sob, spitting blood.

Swimming in his vision is a visage of a knight. Shiny armor gleaming in the early hours of morning light. Hues of rich purples and deep reads bounce off the surface. A bright, blue halo emanates from the knight. 

His savor is a literal knight-in-shiny-armor.

He chuckles, but the laughter quickly breaks into dry sobs and coughing.

Justice bends down and picks him up effortlessly. He cradles the broken elf to his chest. “You are safe now, Fenris. I have you.”

Fenris barely hears him and allows the darkness take him

Chapter Text

Fenris wakes to the sound of soft snoring. He blinks a few times to know his bearings. Up above him is not his cracked white ceiling, but a wooden one with crossing boards going this, and that way.

He is in Anders’s clinic. Specifically, his bedroom. He recognizes the lumpy mattress and ridiculously soft blankets. But how did he get here? Squinting his eyes, he recalls last night. The slavers. The elves. Sticks. The Qunari. The blood mage. A nasty boot to the chest. The Phantom.

Justice saved him last night, and it seems, Anders did an excellent job putting him back together. The expected left-over pain is nowhere to be found. He turns his head to the side; stiff, but no pain. The mage rests his head on the edge of the bed. His hair is out of his normal ponytail; golden locks fall in tendrils, covering his face. He smiles fondly at the two and brushes back a few strands.

“Thank you,” he whispers to the spirit, knowing he is hovering just below the surface. “I owe you my life.”

Blue cracks spread across Anders’s sleeping form. Justice sits upright, his bright eyes wide. “You do not owe me anything. Saving you was Just,” his voice doesn’t hold the usual stead-fast conviction. He sounds tired and rough. 

Fenris slowly sits and winces, and he falls backward. The spirit helps him up. He takes a breath. “Thank you. Despite Anders’s healing, I’m still sore.”

“Soreness should be expected after what happened,” he states. Fenris watches the spirit. It used to scare him how Justice will alter Anders’s face. In a way, it still does, but he finds more fascinating. The spirit always wears a serious frown, not because he’s upset, but because he’s concentrating and thinking. He’s focus on a problem and putting the pieces together. Even his eyes, though hard to tell when one is not looking, seem to grow distant while concentrating.

Tentatively, he asks, “spirit?”

Justice shakes his head and returns to reality, “I apologize. My Commander once said I get lost in my head.” 

“And what were you thinking?”

The spirit hums and rubs his chin. His lips thin in irritation. “I wish Anders had a full beard,” he catches the confused look the elf is giving him. He explains himself. “That is not what I was thinking, but being in Anders’s mortal body reminds me of the one I used to have. It was easier to forget when I was in a corpse. Before I became Justice, I had a beard; a full one not like this perpetual stubble. My hair was also different than Anders’s,” he adds, “and it is quite possible I would not like what beard he could grow.”

Fenris opens his mouth and then closes it. He never knew spirits were once mortals. Until recently, he didn’t accept there were any good spirits, just demons. He finds the newest revelation troubling. It shows how little he knows about magic and the Fade, despite living in a land where mages rule. He digs his hand into the thick blankets, frustrated by his lack of education. 

“I was unaware spirits were anything other than spirits,” Fenris admits.

"The Chantry," he growls the word with such bitter hatred, the elf wonders if the spirit has his own reasons to hate organization beyond the plight of mages. "Knows little of the Fade. They claim my brothers and sisters are the First Children of their Maker. They are not the only mortals who get my world wrong, but I have a special disdain for the Chantry."

"What I know of The Chant of Light is what Danarius taught me to be a good slave. Demons, spirits, the Fade were not part of those verses," Fenris says, twisting the blankets. 

The disgust is etched on Justice's face. "That wretch. No better than a demon." he spits out. He takes a solid breath, "I understand why you do not know about my kind. It is Unjust you were denied even choice to learn." 

He is uncomfortable the way the conversation is going. "Who were you before you were Justice?” he asks. 

But it was the wrong thing to ask. The one question causes a surge of anger through the spirit. He grows brighter and hotter, making the lyrium in Fenris’s skin burn. “I do not wish to speak of this further,” he says with an air of finality. He takes several minutes to calm down. When he does, his voice returns to an even tone it had earlier. “You go out to hunt slavers alone, do you not?”

The shift in mood and subject takes Fenris aback. He files the information he learned for later. He will ask Merrill. No doubt the witch could shed some light on spirits and the Fade. Talking to her is a better than being woefully ignorant on the topic. He will just ignore her ignorance on demons and blood magic. “Recently, I go out with Athenril and Merrill, but most of the time, yes, I am alone,” he answers. He rubs the back of his neck, and adds, “but I wasn’t planning on fighting any slavers last night. Or, at least that many.”

“We should become partners,” Justice suggests. “We fought side-by-side on several occasions. We work well together. It would also prevent what occurred last night from happening again.” He lays the groundwork for his argument before he can be shot down. 

Fenris admits it’s a reasonable proposition. “I’ll consider your offer spirit.”

Justice opens his mouth to speak, but is cut off by a loud bang from outside the clinic. The spirit gets to his feet, fire ball in one hand. Fenris tries to stand, but the spirit places a firm hand on his chest. He moves in front of the elf.

“Anders!” It’s Hawke. “Anders! Get your skinny ass up! Fenris has been kidnapped by slavers! We’re going to Tevinter!"

His booming voice carries into the mage’s bedroom. Justice shares a look with Fenris before leaving him behind. With some struggle, the elf gets out of the small bed and is about to follow, but stops. He’s utterly naked except bandages around his torso and chest. He grabs a random piece of clothing and pulls over his head. He looks down in disgust; mage robes. Meant for a tall human, the blue garment drags on the floor, and his sleeves run pass his hands. He pushes them up his elbows, making it easier for him to pick the hem up so he can walk. 

“Fenris is here, not in Tevinter, Hawke,” Justice calmly explains, but the elf doesn’t miss the irritation in his voice. It reminds him that Varric and he are not alone in their dislike for the rogue. He emerges from the back room spots the two in a standoff in the middle of the clinic. Both have the arms crossed and inches apart from each other. He’s also reminded of Hawke’s and Anders’s failed relationship. Anders pointing to Merrill as the reason why it never worked out, and Hawke pointing to Justice.

Fenris bites the inside of cheek from smirking. He earned the approval of Justice, and he can’t help but be smug about it.  

“Yeah, then where is he—oh, Fenris, there you are,” Hawke relaxes when he sees the elf. He runs a hand through his messy, black hair, making it worse. “Your prickly ass scared the shit out of me-us,” he laughs to cover up his fumble. He rarely admits to other men when they have him worried. His concern makes Fenris slightly ashamed of he was just thinking.

He affords a smile, “I’m fine Hawke.”

“You look like shit,” he bluntly states. He looks him up and down, “I’m guessing Anders didn’t have much options other than one of his dresses?”

And his shame evaporates, “have a Qunari hit you in the head with a metal mallet, and see how you look?” Though, he doesn’t doubt Hawke’s statement. Now that he is up, he feels like shit too.

“Sounds painful,” he twists his body around and shouts, “hey, Fenris hasn’t been kidnapped! Justice found him!” he turns back around and scratches his beard in thought, “or was it Anders? You know what it doesn’t matter. At least we don’t have to go to Tevinter,” he adds under his breath.

Neither could respond. Isabela and Merrill, the later having tear stains on her cheeks and red, puffy eyes, run into the clinic before any one else could and latch themselves onto Fenris. With her long strides, Aveline is upon him too.

He stiffens under their affection, and he doesn’t know what to do with the three women. Sebastian and Varric appear next to Hawke, both relieved and grinning.

Isabela steps back first. Her panicked expression melts into her normal easy-going smile. “Nice dress,” she says, making him snort. He doesn’t bother correcting her.

Aveline, however, pulls away to punch him in the shoulder. Hard. While she wears her gauntlets. He winces at the sudden pain. Merrill steps away from the angry woman.

“Don’t you ever do that again!” she shouts. Her eyes are wet, and she sniffs. She masks her worry with a scowl. “What were you thinking taking all those slavers by yourself?”

“I was thinking if I didn’t do something, over dozen men, women, and children would be sold into slavery,” he answers coolly. He rubs his shoulder, “beyond, that I wasn’t.”

The guardswoman takes a deep breath, “I’m sorry about your shoulder,” she says, “but you got to stop fighting slavers by yourself.”

“Maybe hitting Broody isn’t the best way to express your concern,” Varric says. He swaggers up to the elf, eyeing him. “So, did you and Blondie draw straws on which days you are supposed to give me a heart attack?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about, dwarf,” but if he has to guess, it might have to do with Anders’s bad habit of gambling with and losing to gangs and cutthroats.

Justice strides toward them, heading for the bedroom, but he pauses to speak, “The Underground is none of your concern, Varric Tethras,” he glances over his shoulder, “or yours Chantry pawn,” he spits out, his voice dripping with venom. For his part, Sebastian doesn’t look offended. The spirit continues, “I am going to wake Anders up and inform him you are all here,” he looks down at the blood-stained shirt and torn pants, “and find new clothes to wear. Excuse me.” He leaves without another word.

“What was that all about?” Hawke asks, looking between the two rogues.

Sebastian shrugs as if he doesn’t know, while Varric waves him off, “I’ll explain to you when we go to the Bone Pit,” he taps his chin, “I’m predicting you aren’t going to be too happy with our healer.”

Fenris decides he will probe Anders for the information later, but for now, he is curious about something else. “How did all of you find out what happened last night?”

“I found out this morning,” Merrill speaks up for the first time. He turns to face her; the red blotches on her skin have slowly gone away. “I’ve been visiting Athenril and Galyn. You see, I’ve been training him—he asks about you, by the way; you need to come with me sometime—and when I went to her hideout, everyone was talking about it. Brina and Rylie, uh you know him as Sticks, told me what happened,” she explains. There is so much information she gives him, he can’t keep it all straight. Or his confusion was left over affects of having his head bashed in by a mallet.

“And,” Isabela cuts in, “that’s where we all come in. She came running to the Hanged Man to tell Varric and me. We went to docks where we found Hawke, Choir Boy, and Lady-I-Punch-Because-I-Care,” she flashes a mocking smirk at Aveline, who just glares, “investigating the mess you left behind.”

“And then we came down here to get Anders,” Hawke completes the tale. He claps his hands together and grins, “and we found you! All in all, this has been a successful mission. Good job team."

“Except we aren’t getting paid,” Varric snarks.

“Who’s going to pay us? Anders?” Hawke asks. “He can’t even pay his gambling debts.” Varric nods his head. 

On cue, Anders pushes his bedroom door. It smacks the wall with a thud. Gone are his tatty old clothes; in their place is the outfit he wore the day before. And he's not smiling and joking, like he would seeing his friends. No, he's wearing his healer expression deep frown lines and serious eyes set ablaze. He zeros on his patient first. “Fenris, you just suffered a serious concussion and several broken ribs. And don’t argue with me about how you feel okay. You are going to lay down right now,” he orders. The elf does open his mouth to say he is fine, but the stern glare forces him to comply. He shuffles to the closest cot, nearly tripping over the blue robes. He sits. The mage points his finger down with a hand on his bony hip. The elf lies down and stares at the ceiling, feeling like a small kid. 

Anders watches him to make sure he was comfy in a cot before turning on the guardswoman. “Aveline," he says her name in uncharacteristically icy tone, "don’t you ever hit my patients again." She looks down in shame. He addresses Hawke next. "You're fixing the door you kicked down." It isn't a question, but a statement. The rogue rubs the arm and mumbles an apology. He turns around and does as he is told.

Anders turns his ire on Varric and Sebastian. Whatever is going on between him and the two of them, is personal. “And you two!” Anders snarls, “need to stay out of my fucking business!”

“Please, ye must see—I, uh…” the archer grows silent and looks anywhere but Anders. The mage tosses a vicious glare at the dwarf who just holds his hands up in defeat.

The mage finally stops his tirade when he sees Merrill. He gently grips her shoulder, “are you alright? You look like you need to tea. I’ll make you some tea.” Before he leaves to make a pot, he spots Isabela leaning on his desk. He gasps, a smile spreads across his face. He points to her feet. “Those are cute boots!” his voice is filled with glee and aw.

She twitches one shoulder upwards and smirks, “I know.”

Chapter Text

Fenris spends the day in the clinic, occupying a cot close to Anders’s desk. He is allowed to sit up, but the mage is insistent he stays in bed. Sebastian and Merrill stay at his bedside for several hours, while the others go with Hawke to the Bone Pit. But occasionally, the two will offer to help Anders out. Before the clinic was packed full, the Chantry Brother had gone to his mansion and brought him clothes. Of course, he grabs Anders’s green tunic. The witch blessedly keeps her mouth shut.

Their conversation drifts to one topic to another. Sebastian tells them stories about Starkhaven, and his wilder youth. Fenris describes Minrathous and the architecture and artwork; he shocks himself by the smile on his face while he does. Merrill talks about her old friends, Tamlen and Lyna, and the trouble they used to get into.  

They reminisce and joke about different missions. Fenris and Merrill recount their time in the Deep Roads to Sebastian, who never heard the details outside of Bartind’s betrayal. The Dalish elf giggles and blushes as she speaks about when Hawke, Anders, and she went to Orlais. But her good humor dies and is replaced with embarrassment when the archer asks how Anders handled them getting together right in front of him.

“Oh, he was cross,” she rings her hands together and looks down at her lap. “He spent the rest of the trip insulting everyone and everything. We got into many fights. I tried very hard to ignore him, but he was rather mean. It finally came a head when Garrett blew up on Anders before he and Tallis went into the party. I didn't understand why Anders was so angry until Garrett told me he tried and failed to pursue him for a year before we left for the Deep Roads." She sighs, and her ears droop downward. "He admitted he made mistake being so aggressive with Anders so soon after his lover's death," she adds. 

Fenris scoffs. He rolls his eyes hard enough his body follows. “He didn’t stop to think maybe trying to date someone after their lover died was bad idea?”

“He realized when we’re in the Deep Roads,” Merrill answers. “Anders confused him; he's the first man Garrett found attractive, and didn’t know to respond properly. It might not seem like it, but Garrett regrets how he acted.” She messes with Fenris’s blanket, twisting a chunk and letting the twist go and doing it again.

"And that makes it better?" he questions.

“I know you don't like Hawke, but he's truly sorry about it," she almost pleads. "He knows he messed up. He blames himself for how bad Justice got months ago. You know, with Ella," she whispers the name as if its cursed. "His insults and cruel dismissal of Anders’s worries helped pushed Justice over the edge. I corrected him that spirits are influenced by us mortals. If you dismiss their purpose or assume they are evil, they become agitated and violent.”

Sebastian leans in close, his clear eyes open wide with shock. “Calling a spirit is a demon can turn them into one?”

Merrill shakes her head. “No, you have to think and believe they are a corrupt spirit with malicious intent for them to become one. You have to know it as a fact, even if isn’t true. Just saying it and not meaning it, does very little. But,” she gestures to the end of the clinic. Their eyes follow her hand, and spot Anders healing a man. “Anders was raised by the Chantry, and the word demon means a lot to him. And it’s quite silly, because there is no such thing as demons. There are spirits, and they are like you or me. They are neither good or evil.”

Guilt gnaws at Fenris's stomach. Did his ignorance contribute to Justice’s near demon status? The spirit who saved his life last night? The spirit who soothed his brands whenever he was happy? The spirit that who hunted slavers and hated slavery? The spirit who had been a human in a previous life? By just knowing he was demon, and insisting Anders made deals for power, he almost helped ruined that spirit. And what did that mean for other Fade beings? How many demons he slang because he thought they were demons? Were they even demons? Was she right that there is no demons?

The Brother sits back in his chair, “Hawke stopped attacking Justice on regular basis, and that’s why the spirit is calmer now than he had been?”

She hums, “or Anders has come into some lyrium that makes Justice very happy and relaxed.”

If their eyes flicker at him, Fenris doesn’t notices. Or he pretends he doesn’t, and changes the subject. “Speaking of Anders being cross,” he glances at Sebastian, “what was that this morning?”

Frantically, Sebastian’s eyes dart around searching for the healer. Anders is still far from them, yet he leans in and whispers. “Varric and I fear our friend gotten into a trouble. He’s working for that mercenary, Meeran. And according to Varric’s men, Raleigh Samson has been hanging around his clinic at all hours of the night recently.”

Fenris claws at the blanket so he can school his features and keep his tone light. “Why would an ex-Templar hang around the clinic?”

“He had an innocent crush,” he answers. “Or it looked innocent. I think the man is taking substances to help his lyrium addiction, and its not helping. He's grown violent over the past couple of weeks, and he's constantly muttering to himself. Now, the crush might not be so…innocent.” 

“Oh, Creators!” Merrill gasps and covers her mouth. “Did you tell Anders? And what about Meeran?”

“Of course, we did. We warned him about both men, but you know how stubborn Anders is.”

“No, I don’t know,” they all jump to see the healer in question right behind Sebastian. His arms are cross, his foot his tapping, and pure venom drips from his voice. “Tell me, how stubborn am I, Choir Boy?”

Sebastian jumps to his feet. “Will ye look at that, the sun is going down! I need to be heading off. Fenris, Maker watch over ye. Merrill, Creators watch over ye, ” she beams up at him for remembering. He smiles, is about to respond to Anders, but he eyes the other man fearfully, and walks swiftly out of the clinic without saying another word.

“Coward,” the mage mutters under his breath. He trains his temper on Merrill. “He’s right, it is getting late.”

She takes her time, not threatened by Anders. “Will you consider coming with me when I train Galyn?” Her impossibly wide eyes grown wider with hope. “He really looks up to you and it would mean so much to him.”

He waves her off, “yes, witch, I’ll watch you train the mageling.”

“Thank you!” She bends over and hugs him. Still sore, he winces. “This will mean so much to him,” she steps back. “I will see you then. You take care, Anders,” she skips out of the clinic.

The mage watches her leave before he bends over and fluffs Fenris’s pillows. “You should get some rest. You’re still recovering,” he whispers.

Fenris huffs a puff of air to blow a strand of hair out of his face. “I feel fine, mage.”

Without any warning, Anders pecks Fenris’s lips. He flashes a crooked smile, “healer’s orders, love.” He leaves before the elf can respond.

Embarrassed, Fenris lays down and covers his face with the soft blanket, despite the heat rushing to his head. His chest is about burst. Love? No one ever called him that before. A noise escapes his throat, and he clamps a hand over his mouth. He didn’t just giggle like a teenage girl. Nope. He did not. He is grown man. He had a deep, warrior’s voice. He isn’t capable of giggling.  

But he doesn’t fight back the smile spreading across his face.

 

He must have fallen asleep When he opens his eyes to low candle light and the scratching of pen. He sits, and rubs his eyes to adjust the darkness.  

“Ah, you’re awake.” Fenris turns toward Anders. He’s sitting at his desk, his body twisted to face the elf. His hair pulled into a messy bun, and a soft smile graces his lips.

He returns the smile with one of his own. He rests his head on his fist; his hair falls into his eyes. “Hey.” He whispers, his voice laced with sleep.

Anders gets up, his chair scraping across the floor. He sits on the edge of the cot, and slips his hand behind the elf’s hair.  They are so close, Fenris sees the tired circles under golden eyes, laugh lines, and light freckles that speckle the blonde’s face.

“Hey yourself,” he says before bringing Fenris into a kiss. He eagerly meets the mage half way. The tender touch makes Fenris’s toes curl and his heart speed up. He wraps his arms around Ander’s middle, and he deepens the kiss. Anders, when he isn’t fire and passion, is honey. Sweet, rich, and smooth silk. He can’t get enough.

But the lack of oxygen isn’t good for his damaged lungs, and he is force to break away first. He breathes harder than he should.

Anders slides his warm hands under his tunic, and sends waves of healing too sooth his discomfort. They roam around, feeling every part of his chest. “Shit, shit, shit! I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. Fuck.” He’s eyes are wide with concern, and the guilt rolls off of him.

Fenris let’s out a happy sigh and brushes loose strands of hair out the mage’s face. “It’s fine, there is nothing to apologize for,” he says. He leans in to kiss the mage again, but Anders stills him. He scowls, “dammit, mage, let me kiss you.”

“Let me heal you first, elf,” he bites back. The session lasts for a few more minutes, and is done in silence. “There. I’m done.” He pecks Fenris’s lips, but doesn’t go any further. They sit in silence, but Fenris sees it in his eyes that mage wants to speak.

“What’s going through your head of yours?” he asks.

“How about you scared me last night?” he confesses without missing a beat. He curls into himself and hunches over. “Justice woke me up in a panic, urging me to check the clinic. You were on this very cot. Broken and bleeding. And dying. I didn’t even know what happened until the others showed up,” he whispers, “Maker, we just made up yesterday, and I almost lost you.”

The moonlight shining through the window, and the candle illuminate his sharp profile. The bright blues and soft oranges play on his pale skin and amber eyes. He blinks, and water falls down his cheeks.

Fenris reaches for Anders, cupping his cheek. He gently guides the mage to look at him. He brushes away a tear with his thumb. “I’m right here,” he whispers, “I’m fine. I’m alive. You aren’t going to lose me.”

A hushed whimper escapes the mage’s throat, and he pulls Fenris into a hug. He buries his face into the crook of Fenris’s neck. He silently shakes, but makes no other noise. Fenris rubs his back. He doesn’t say anymore.

After Anders calms down, he pulls away. He wipes his eyes, “I’m sorry, I’m ruining your shirt,” he lets out a tired laugh. “Maker, I’m a mess.”

Fenris pinches the front of it, “this is yours.”

“Oh, well,” he examines the elf and his lips quirk upward in a flirty grin. “You keep it, you look better in it anyway.” He grabs the sleeve, “this is the same color as the scarf around your gauntlets.”

“That was intentional,” is all he admits to. “Where are my things?”

“Your gauntlets are fine…you might need new armor,” Anders says, “that Templar spirit seemed to know some medical knowledge. He tore off your chest plate and tunic and did a decent job bandaging you up. I guess he isn’t too bad for a rogue Templar spirit...thing.”

“Without him, I wouldn’t be here,” Fenris rubs the mage’s upper arm. “

“And for that I’m grateful,even if he's a dead Templar,” he plants another chaste kiss on Fenris’s lips. He hugs him, nuzzling his face into the elf’s neck. 

Fenris strokes the mage’s hair when a thought comes to him. “When will I’ll be able to go home?”

He leans away, trying and failing not to pout. “I guess in the morning. Why are you so eager to leave?”

He hums, “I was wonder when I can take a hot bath. To help my sooth my aching muscles,” he keeps a natural expression not to betray his desires, “I suppose I can wait until then.”

Anders catches what Fenris is suggesting quickly. “As your healer, I can’t let you go home at a late hour. Not without an escort, of course.”

“Or course,” he repeats. They share one more kiss before the mage scrambles out of the cot to get his stuff. It takes him five minutes to check he has everything; staff, extra bandages, potions, a short sword for Fenris in case they get attacked. Though, the elf knows he can do far more damage with his gauntlets then a tiny sword. He even brings extra clothes; the purple robes that highlight his ass.

When they leave, Anders double checks the door is locked. They go five steps when Anders realizes he forgot to blow out the candle. He plants a kiss on his cheek and rushes back inside to triple check everything. Fenris taps his foot impatiently. All he wants is to take a warm bath with the mage.

While Anders is gone, the hairs on the back Fenris’s neck standup. Someone is watching him. He scans the shadows, eyes narrowed into slits. He fixates on one person Who could it be?

He recalls Sebastian’s words from earlier. Samson is stalking Anders. He balls his hands into fists. He dares the man to try something toward his mage.

Hyper-focused on intimidating the unseen ex-Templar, or any thug who wants to hurt Anders, Fenris doesn’t notice man joining him.

“Are you ready?” the mage’s voice breaks him from his thought, and it makes him jump several inches off the ground. His reaction causes the other man to double over in silent laughter. He kicks the mage in the shin to get him to stop. “Ow!” He bends over to rub the spot, “rude.”

“You’re rude,” he grabs Anders collar, drags him down for a rough kiss. “Are you done?” he asks, metal claws digging into Anders’s collar, “I would like to take a bath tonight.”

A sly smile spreads across his face, “what you mean is you want to see me all wet and naked,” he states while wiggling his eyebrows.

Fenris matches the smirk, “perhaps.” He lets go of the coat’s collar. Carefully, he slides his hand in Anders’s, locking them together. He leads the mage away from his clinic and stalker.

They make their way through Darktown to the secret passage to his wine cellar. While he tries to focus on possible enemies who might attack them, Anders isn’t worried.

“I’m so excited,” he says in hush tones. “I haven’t bathed in a real bath since Orlais.”

“What do you normally use?” Fenris asks, but he keeps his senses trained to the dark crevices’ and threatening noises.

“I use the Ferelden method: a barrel and a water pump,” Anders answers.

“I suppose I bathed like a Fereldan while I was on the run,” he says, “if I could stay in a town that is. Typically, I bathed in rivers or ponds. The benefits of being Danarius’s favorite were plentiful, but only the personal bathing chamber had been the one I missed. The other slaves had to bathe in giant room with buckets.”

“Oh, Maker, I hated communal bathing,” he whines. “The Templars wouldn’t even let us warm the water up. They smote us if anyone tried.”

Fenris tilts his head up him, “what are you talking about?” he asks.

“Communal bathing is what you describing, right? For the other slaves, I mean,” he clarifies. “The circle does it too. We all got a cold bucket of water, soap, and clothes to wash ourselves. The Templars will stand guard and watch us. Whips and mage bane at the ready in case magical tomfoolery happens,” he adds, “or if some stupid Ander boy gets lippy. That’s what it’s like for the slaves in Tevinter, right?”

“I…” Fenris pauses, choosing his words carefully. “I expected the mages in the circles would have access to the bathing chambers left by the ancient magisters.”

“Fenris,” Anders starts. His conversational tone is gone, and replaced by a bitter sadness Fenris knew too well. “We did use the bathing chambers, but not the ones magisters used.”

The elf examines his feet. “I apologize.”

“You don’t need to,” he says, his voice is soft. “It doesn’t matter. What does matter,” his tone shifts to upbeat and flirty, “is we can celebrate our renewed relationship properly.”

“Didn’t we celebrate yesterday?” he bumps his hip into Anders’s, happy they were off a heavy topic.

“You are playful tonight,” Anders lightly pushes him back, “I like Playful Fenris. He’s cute.”

His cheeks grow red, and his ears droop, “I’m warrior. There is nothing cute about me, mage.”

Anders snickers, “Andraste’s knickers, you sound like Justice,” Fenris gives him a quizzical look. “I made the simple observation once how he was being cute, and he disapproved. But he also felt awkward, and he was close enough to surface to make me blushed.”

“Warriors aren’t cute,” he grumbles under his breath. 

“They are when they pout and their ears turn bright red and droop,” he’s giggling now. Fenris retaliates by pushing him again, harder this time. But it did nothing to stop Anders’s titters turning into a full body laugh.

 

“Ah,” Anders practically moans out in unbridled ecstasy as he settles in the hot bath water. He stretches his legs out, enjoying the massive space.

After the mage calmed down long enough for them to continue, and they killed the thugs and theives he attracted by his laughter, they got to Fenris’s mansion. He slipped his hand the door—'you should have been a thief, Fenris’— and unlocked it. He grabbed a bottle of wine on their way up the stairs and to the bathroom. They kissed, and their hands roamed each other’s bodies while the water was drawn. When the bath was cool enough for them to enter, Anders ripped his clothes off, and dove in.

Fenris carefully folds his clothes and placed them on the bench next to the door, unlike the mess Anders made. He examines the bandages around his middle. “Should I get these wet?” He turns around to see the blond duck his head under the water.

From where he stood, Fenris could see his back. His stomach flips. He recognized the whipping marks when he sees them, and Anders’s back is road map of abuse. He knew what the scars were when he first saw the man without a shirt, but it never registered. What did Anders say earlier? Or if some stupid Ander boy gets lippy.

The mage’s head pops up. He shakes his main, now brown thanks to the water, and pulls it out his face. He twists to see Fenris. He props his head onto his arms over the edge and smiles. “What did you say?” he asks.

“I wanted to know if the bandages are waterproof,” he answers.

“I do a light enchantment on my bandages, but I’ll need to change them before we go to bed.” His grin widens, “now get in here, love, so I can suck your cock.”

Fenris takes a sharp breath, and his heart stops. But his blood still works, and it rushes downward. He never been so willing to take a bath.

Chapter Text

 

Justice stands over the bodies of eight slavers; four warriors, two assassins, an archer, and a mage. The last of their foes, a man who periodically flaunted in-and-out of Danarius’s inner circle, is sobbing at the feet of one his victims.

Justice studies Fenris. The elf is uncomfortable by the display. He doesn’t relish the mage’s terror or pleas. He’s almost disturbed. The spirit reads it in his expression, his body language. His tone.

“Are you done?” he asks.

The plump, wannabe magister looks up at the elf. His round face red from screaming orders and fighting, and now crying. What little hair he has, sticks in every direction. He crawls forward on his knees, hands clasped in prayer. “Please, I beg of you. Let me live. I was kind. I was sweet. I was gentle. I wasn’t like the others. You remember, right? I don’t want to die,” he sobs. He collapses in front of Fenris, kissing his feet.

Horror overshadows the elf’s mild discomfort. He leaps away from the man as if the touch alone would burn him. He folds into himself, making himself smaller. Justice finds the elf sudden change in attitude disturbing. He replays the mage’s words. Did the human hurt Fenris in some way?

A stray memory floats to the front of his mind.

 

“My only experience is with Isabela, Anders,” Fenris admits, “she’s the first person I said yes to. Other than her, I had no one else.”

 

The realization what this monster hits him. Blinded by an all-consuming rage, Justice does not think. He acts on instinct.

In two heartbeats, he has the man by his throat and up in the air. “I will not be so gentle,” he growls.

The spirit shoves through the man’s chest cavity before any protest could be uttered.
He grabs his spine. With ease, he removes the collection of bones, dousing himself with blood and guts in the process. He drops the tattered corpse and spine in a pile.

Justice faces Fenris to see if he needs any comfort, but he is met with a gawking elf. Green eyes flicker to the carnage on the floor and to him. “Are you alright?” he asks, ignoring the shocked expression on the other’s face.

Fenris shakes his head to collect himself. “You’re drenched in blood, spirit.” He states, his tone flat. His way of deflection.

The spirit takes a step forward, the spine crushed under boot and rests a hand on the elf’s shoulder, “what the man said—”

Fenris yanks away, his brands flashing. “Don’t touch me!” he screams and pushes Justice away from him. He takes several steps back, chest heaving. Old memories seep off of him. The cruelty of every word, every unwanted touch. The elf’s past weaves through the night sky, carried by the Fade.

Justice closed his eyes and let the memories enter his mind.

 

Suffering is the first thing he remembers. Pain is etched into his skin. He knows nothing else, not even a name. He hurts and aches. A voice calls for him to open his eyes. He does. He blinks away the water forming in the corner of his eyes. And a face hovers into view. A man with sunken in eyes, leathery skin, dulling-black hair. He grins, revealing perfectly white teeth.

“Fenris, my little wolf.”

And the second thing he knew was Master.

 

Fenris blinks and the connection is gone. He killed his brands and he schooled his features into a bitter expression.

He takes a moment before he speaks. “I apologize,” he says, pacing away from the dead bodies, “my time with Isabela and the one-nightstands she encouraged seem to have failed. She said I would be over my past if I did what she suggested, but," he waves an arms around, "she was wrong. Or I would not have responded that way by seeing him." He sneered at the blooded mess at Justice's feet. 

Justice hesitates, unsure what to say. Fenris’s shoulders are slumped, his hands balled into fists. He is in desperate need for comfort. “Fenris,” Justice says the name firmly and the elf looks up, but does not turn around, “what works for Isabela will not work for you." 

He looks over his shoulder, eyeing the spirit behind his hair. “And how does Anders cope?”

“Not well,” Justice answers without missing a beat. “He and I are working on his coping mechanisms. It has been...tiring.” But he will not stop until his friend is healthy in mind and spirit, but he does not mention this to Fenris. He assumes the elf elf knows of his devotion to Anders and his host's needs. 

Fenris crosses his arms, “then who should I model my recovery if what works Isabela doesn’t work for me and Anders is,” he thought of his words, “Anders is, well, Anders?” He finished awkwardly.

“You should not compare yourself to others. You are different than Isabela and Anders, therefore finding peace with your past will be a different journey too,” Justice considers how to offer his services without insulting Fenris’s Pride. “I can help you like I help Anders. You deserve to heal as anyone else.”

“I appreciate the offer,” Fenris relaxes and faces him. A small smile graces his lips. “I must admit, you are more compassionate than expected.”

Justice cocks his head to the side, confused. The elf mistake him for a different kind of spirit. “I have no concept of Compassion. What I offer is Justice," he corrects. 

“No, you—” he shakes his head and sighs. “Nevermind, spirit. Can we drop the subject and move on," he opens his arms wide, psychically pleading while his voice stays neutral. "We spent half the night killing slavers, and we are no closer to finding Tiberius and ripping his heart out.”

Justice nods. He will not force Fenris to talk if he does not want to. “If you wish," he hums, "Captain Isabela informed me if I kill someone, I get to keep their stuff. Do you wish to share in on the bounty, Fenris?" he asks, hoping the change of subject would do the elf some good. 

"No, spirit, I do not wish to have extra coin," there was something off about his tone that Justice could not detect. 

"As you wish," he says. He bends down and starts rummaging through a body of an assassin. Fenris swears in his native tongue before he joins in. They find small trinkets and weapons Anders can sell later. They work their way through each body, but Fenris avoids is the mage. Fenris moves around the man as if he will spring to life and attack him, and Justice does not fault him for his fears. It is up to him to go through the bloody carnage.

The spirit shuffles through the messy remains. He checks the side pockets first. The coin purse, which he takes knowing Anders can fund the Mage Underground and feed himself. He is about to give up when he slips his hand in a un-destroyed breast pocket. He pulls out a piece of paper. It’s expensive material, and despite the blood, the design is still intricate and ornate.

He could not make most of the words all except theatre. He knew of a theatre in Kirkwall. “Fenris, I believe I stumbled upon a clue.”

The elf trotted to the spirit’s side and looked over his shoulder. “It's drenched in blood. I can barely read as is.” Justice did not need to turn and face the elf to feel the glare levied at him.

Instead of explaining here, he stood and walked off. Fenris needed to take longer strides. “Spirit?” he is annoyed, Justice can hear it in his voice.

“These are tickets to a theater in Hightown,” he answered as he stalked through the docks. “Anders had not been inside before. It is too expensive for a man who lives in the sewers and we have other obligations,” he thought of a conversation Anders had with Hawke the other day. “There is also the problem of Meredith Stannard”

Fenris’s eyes flickered to him, “what are you talking about?.

“The Knight-Commander in recent weeks has been frequently attending plays. Hawke had complained to Anders About her presence,” he slowed down, confused, “but she does not stay long.” He stopped completely, curiosity taking over him, “why would someone leave during a play?”

Fenris halted. His whole body moved with his eyes as he rolled them with expiration. “Spirit, why do you ask such pointless questions?”

Justice frowned. “Would it be pointless to ask why are you incredibly rude?”

Fenris bows his head and took a moment before he answered. “Alright,” he said through gritted teeth. “I do not understand Meredith nor do I care to understand her. If I Had to guess, she is a busy woman and a runner interrupted her time at the theater.”

"You mean she is too busy oppressing mages to enjoy a simple play?" Justice asks, pointing at the Gallows.

Fenris takes a steady breath. “Yes, spirit. That's what I mean," he coughs, "since we stopped, what is your plan?”

“We will go to the owners and demand they allow us to investigate their business for slaver activities.” He states as if it was obvious.

Fenris scratches his head, his lips thinned into a straight line. “Your detective skills knows no bounds.”

Heat rushes to Justice’s cheeks. He rarely received compliments from anyone other than Anders. “Thank you for the compliment, Fenris. I take back my insult from earlier. You are not rude.” A loud thud punctuates his statement. He gasps. “Why did you hit your head? Are you alright?” He bends over to look for injuries, but the elf waves him off.

“Come, spirit,” Fenris said, sounding exhausted, “the night is still young and there is still slavers to kill.”

Chapter Text

“Spirit, I have a question for you,” Fenris says. They hit the edges of Hightown, where the poor and rich blend together. Justice left a bloody trail, much to Fenris’s annoyance. While he can’t complain another magister was dead, especially that one, he wishes the spirit had more subtly in killing.

“What do you wish to know?” Justice had removed the helmet, claiming it was growing stuffy. Fenris wished he kept it on. He was unnerved to look at Anders’s face and not see Anders.

“I was contemplating buying Anders a gift; you know him better than anyone,” he answers. “What do you suggest?”

“Why do you wish buy him a gift?” the spirit asks instead of giving him a suggestion.

Fenris lets out a huff and halts. Justice stops too and his brows furrow. “I just want to give him something nice. Why is that hard to understand?”

“Ah, I see,” Justice says, “you wish to show your love through an object.”

He stares at the spirit possessing his...boyfriend? Partner? for a moment before that word sink in. He grows hot, and his ears burn. “I do not love the mage,” he states, his tone flat. “I care for Anders, yes, but I do not love him.” 

“You are in denial,” Justice tells him. He puts a firm hand on Fenris’s shoulder. “I understand mortals deny their love for petty, senseless reasons. While I do not find the behavior healthy, I will not condemn you.”

His grip turns painful and voice lowers into a dangerous growl. “But if your denial breaks Anders’s heart, I will break you.” Fenris bites down a gulp and nods. He doesn’t argue if he loves the mage or not. He knows how he feels about Anders, but correcting the spirit would be foolish.

Justice smiles. It is a small but it’s there. He drops his hand and his voice returns to normal. “You want to know what gift to give Anders? Give me time to ponder this. Anders desires much. I will give you a list of suggestions.”

“Thank you,” Fenris says, “I would appreciate your assistance.”`

The grin on the spirit’s face broadens. Justice’s happiness, much like his rage, prickles at the lyrium in his skin. But his happiness doesn’t cause a burning sensation, but instead lessened the pain. And it makes Fenris smile in return. 

Justice tilts his head, and his brows knit together. “You have a lovely smile.” He states it as a fact he just discovered. His shoulders twitch in an uncaring shrug and continues down the alley without further comment.

Fenris coughs and rubs the back of his neck. He stands in silence before following after the spirit. He catches up to Justice and he needs to say something back. But he doesn’t know what to say. Justice was like his host. Unabashingly honest. And that means he truly believes Fenris has a lovely smile. The more he thinks about the complement makes his cheeks heat up.

After a long stretch between their conversation and the silence, Fenris finally finds the right thing to say. He will confess the spirit’s happiness easies the pain in his brands. No doubt this will please the spirit. Something about how it’s ‘only Just’ or something else that’s ridiculously cute.

A scream perces the night, killing the confession in his throat. They stop in the middle of four corners. Stretches of the alleyways on their right, on their left, and in front of them. The terrified sound bounces around the stone walls, and Fenris’s hearing cannot detect the direction.

Justice, however, is zeroed to their right. He puts on the helmet again before taking off, his boots pounding against the hard ground. Fenris follows, trusting the spirit wouldn’t lead them astray. They around the corner on their left and they slow to halt.

They find a small gang of well-armed elves crowd around at the end of the dirty alley. Swords, axes, and daggers drawn. A dim fire illuminates the center. Faces turn as they approach. As they move, two figures can be seen on the ground. A mage limply holds a weak fireball in their hand as they crouch over their cowering friend. Fenris immediately recognizes of the elves. Timun, one of Athenril’s warriors. The Fool. He isn’t in her colors, but opted to wear all black. He sneers, but Fenris catches fear flicker in his eyes.

Fenris steps ahead of Justice. “What is going on?” he asks.

The Fool opens his mouth to speak, but is cut off.

“Fenris—!

A loud thud interrupts. A short woman slams her foot down on the mage’s head, but she’s too late. Fenris knows that voice just as well as Timun’s face.

“Galyn?” Fenris asks. Stunned at first, but anger consumes him. His brands lit on their own as he rips his sword off his back. He slams the heavy blade down, cracking the ground underneath. Behind him, Justice draws his sword and shield. “Get away from him.” He snarled.

Timun didn’t flinch or back away from Galyn and his friend, but the others scramble. One skinny man with cheap knives and cheaper leather falls over. He crawls backward, scooting on his wearend.

The young elf doesn’t waste time. He staggers to his feet and drags his friend to their feet. For once Timun isn’t a fool and allows the kids run pass him.

Fenris calms his brands as they get closer. Galyn is badly bruised and his lip is split open. His hair is a mess and his simple robes were torn. His friend, to Fenris’s surprise, is a human girl. She is in worse shape than the boy. More bruises, one eye swollen shut. She clutches her middle, her dress is staining with blood.

They limp their way toward Fenris. The girl seems hesitant to stand so close to the spirit, but the young elf forces her too. Fenris digs in one of her pouches and hands Galyn a bottle of elfroot potion while he continues to stare down the Timun’s gang.

But his eyes wander to the girl. Her baby face and short black hair are familiar. He knows her. And she knows him. Her one good eye widens and ignores the bottle of elfroot potion Galyn offers to her.

“You were there,” she whispers. “You killed Ser Alric.”

Justice’s breath hitches. Fenris looks over his shoulder at the spirit. His towering form backs away from the girl. A new emotion prickles at his brands: Fear. The spirit is afraid of the girl, just as much as she’s afraid of him.

What is the name she said? Alric?

And where he knows her from clicks.

 


“We can’t waste any time!”

They were following the mage down a system of tunnels. Hawke and Varric agreed, but him? He was the last choice Anders wanted, but the only one with free time.
Fenris eyed the mage with trepidation. The man had grown unhinged since they met. His hair was a wild and dirty mess. His brown and green coat was falling part. His cheeks were hollow and his eyes were sunken. He whispered to himself on occasion. Or he whispered to the demon under his breath.

“Slow down, Blondie,” Varric tried to appease the mage, but his words earn him a glare.

“We need to find proof of Alric’s plans!” Anders barked. “We might miss our chance if we don’t hurry.”

Hawke rolled his eyes. “This Tranquil Solution is all in your head. You’re being paranoid again.”

“I’m not crazy!” The mage stopped and shrieked. He raised his arms raised and waved them around. “I know its real, Hawke! I just need proof!’

Fenris tensed and balled his hands into fists, ready to step in if he needed to. Anders stepped back, breathing hard. His eyes were glossy and wide; he shook violently. “I am not crazy. I’m not.” He muttered under his breath, more for his benefit than to convince them.

“Of course not, Blondie,” Varric said. His voice is soft, but even to Fenris, the dwarf sounded condescending.

“I’m not,” Anders’s voice cracked. He rocked on his heels, hugging himself. “I’m not crazy.”

Hawke sighed, “let’s just find your proof.” He took the lead and turned down the tunnel. Fenris quickly catched up to Hawke; as much as he hated the rogue, he didn’t want to be near an abomination so close to the breaking point. Varric followed, glancing over his shoulder at Anders. He clutched Bianca. He didn’t want to be near Anders either.

His ears perked up. “I hear voices,” he whispered.

“You too?” He asked, sneering.

“No, you fool,” Fenris snapped. “Up ahead.”

Hawke mouthed a silent oh and drew his daggers. The party moved quickly, Anders’s minor episode seemly forgotten.

They were greeted by a group of Templars tormenting a young girl. Dark skin, black hair and eyes. Purple robes. Ser Alric Otto was at the forefront. Anders described him accurately and Fenris knew who he was just by the shine on his head.

The girl was back away, pleading. “Please, I didn’t do anything wrong!” She had to be no older than fifteen. “I wasn’t trying to run away.” She sobbed.

“A lie,” Alric’s voice dripped with honey poison that made Fenris’s skin crawl. “Do you know what we do to mages that lie?”

Anders stumbled forward and gripped his head. His skin cracked and blue lines crawl over his skin. He muttered to his demon, but Fenris was focused on the Templar and the young mage.

“No, no. I just wanted to see my mum!” The girl argued, but she sounded pitiful and accepting of her fate.

 


“You were there,” she repeats quietly.

“Ella,” Fenris states the simple name. And Justice stepped away from the girl. His fear and guilt seeps out and latches onto Fenris’s brands.

“What are you doing here, Fenris?” Timun shouts the question as if Fenris doesn’t have elven ears like the rest of them.

He rolls his eyes when he turns to face the fool. “You say my name like you know me,” he says quietly, but loud enough for them to hear. He walks toward the gang, dragging his sword behind him. Several members step back. Some hit the back of the wall. Timun and three of his braver members stand still.

“I know you well enough you shouldn’t care about two measly robes,” Timun says, his tone cool and relaxed.

Fenris’s nostrils flare with irritation. “Then you don’t know me at all.” he fires back. “Even at the height of my disdain for mages, I wouldn’t let a group of savages kill two kids for having magic by beating them to death.”

“Savages?” A woman, the same one who kicked Galyn a moment ago, repeats the word. “You spend too much time with Shem.”

Fenris eyes her and snorts. At this distance, he can make out the botched Dalish tattoos marking her face. She probably had no clue the the swirling design was a mockery of Falon'Din. “And tell me, what do you call a group of men and women trying to murder teenagers?”

“Teenagers who can summon fire at will,” Timun says.

“You had them surrounded and were beating them to death.” He repeats. “If this was a group of humans and two non-mage elves, how would you feel?” 

“It’s different,” a mousy looking man argued. “This little bastard has Templars looking for him in the Alienage.” He points an accusing finger at Galyn. Fenris looks over his shoulder to see the boy shrinking away. “We don’t need Templars going through our homes and roughing us up because the likes of him.” 

Fenris gapes at the man. “You’re going to kill two innocent kids, one of whom doesn’t even live in the Alienage, because you got your ass handed to you by the Templars?” 

“Listen,” Timun says, “I get it. You’re all for mages. I mean, you run with freaks and demons in your spare time—

“He is not a demon!” Fenris snapped before Justice could respond. He jabs a finger at Timun’s direction. “Call him that again, and I’ll show you what your spine looks like.”

Timun finally shows emotion. He’s repulsed by Fenris. “You know, people seen you around Darktown at night. Some say you’re visiting the clinic down there.”

Was he threatening Anders? Fenris’s hand tightens on his sword handle. “You leave him out of this.”

“Leave who out of this?” Timun asks, sneering at Fenris. “You little Shem whore?”

“How dare you!” Fenris snarls. He summons a burst of stamina and relights his brands.

Timun let’s out a roar, drawing his battle axe and slamming it into the ground. The earth below cracks and shatters in explosion of dry dirt. His comrades move far from the fight, trapping themselves between the stone wall and two warriors.

“No!”

Ella stumbles forward out Galyn’s grip and grabs Fenris’s arm. The lyrium replenishes her magic and his brands burn at the sensation. But he doesn’t kill them nor does he snap at her. She doesn’t flinch away either. “Please, don’t fight. Don’t fight them. It’s not worth it.”

“Ella,” Galyn tugs her hand and tries to drag her away, but she rips free. Her one good eye is impossibly wide and pleading with Fenris not to attack.

Justice stands still with his weapons drawn. Fenris doesn’t know what is going through the spirits’s mind. He wishes the spirit would speak up, but the girl’s presence must have a greater impact than Fenris originally thought.

His markings dim to a low hum and he glances at Timun. The other warrior watches the exchange with calculated eyes. “Yeah, Fenris,” his tone is mocking, “your Shem whore isn’t worth it. Maybe I should pay him a visit.”

Fenris tears away from the girl and forgoes his sword. He is upon him before anyone could stop him. He rips the axe the out of Timun’s hands and holds the arrogant elf by his throat, raising him up into the air. No one of his little band comes to his aide.

His ears twitch at the sound of heavy footsteps, and his lyrium buzzes. “Fenris, do not let your Pride dictate your choices,” Justice’s voice soothes his anger. “You are better than him.”

“He’s threatened him,” he puts emphasis on the word. Justice puts Anders’s safety above anyone else’s. How could he stop him from killing Timun when he threatened Anders?

“I know,” Justice says. He holds back his own anger, “but the girl is right. This will not solve anything. Their friends and family will seek Justice for their deaths. And there has been many elven lives lost already. We do not need to add to the numbers.”

Fenris sighs and tosses Timun into the arms of an archer. He eyes the cowering gang. “If any of you come near Galyn, Ella, or any mage that’s under my protection,” he adds. “I will feed your hearts.” He promises.

Timun’s eyes filled with hate and disgust. “You’re helping snakes,” he hisses out.

Fenris closes his eyes and let’s out a steady breath. He turns on his heel without saying another word. Justice follows quietly behind. And yet, despite having a fully-plated spirit between them, Timun’s glare bores into him.

 

Chapter Text

Fenris leads the group through the twisted alleys out Hightown and into Lowtown. He stays silent, too afraid he would unleash his anger out on Galyn and Ella. Justice could take his frustrations, but he isn’t going to shout at someone as innocent-minded as the spirit. Not when the person he is truly mad at is himself.

Timun was him four years ago. Hateful and resentful toward an entire group of people. The difference was Fenris never acted on his hate. Or so he thinks. Yes, he said cruel things to both Merrill and Anders. He even made Bethany cry once. But he never attacked them. Nor

Or maybe he’s rationalizing his hate? Fenris would like to think he would never gang up on two children, but he has to wonder if he would have turned a blind eye on a group of elves beating on two mages. Timun brings up questions he never thought he had to ask about himself. And he hates The Fool more for it.

Caught up in his own self-doubt, he didn’t hear Justice approaching him.

“Your thoughts bleed from you,” he states, the helmet causing his voice to echo. “You do not give yourself credit.”

Fenris jumps and stops in his tracks, halting the party. He levels a vicious glare at the spirit. “Stop reading my thoughts.” He snaps.

Justice tilts his head to the side, contemplative. “But I want to assure you are a good man, is that not Just?”

“It’s invasive!” Fenris nearly shouts. “You can’t slip into my mind and start a conversation.”

Justice crosses his arms and hums. “I do not understand, Anders doesn’t mind I know what he is thinking.”

The elf’s mouth hung open, gaping at the spirit. He doesn’t even know how to respond. “You’re possessing him.”

Justice nods. “Yes, I am well aware I am possessing him, why does that matter?”

Fenris covers his face with his hand. He tried to respond, a cough interrupts him. He snaps his attention back at the teens. The younger elf, now healed from his wounds, has his hand to his mouth and giving Fenris an expected look.

“What?” He snarls.

Ella jumps behind Galyn, cowering away. But the younger elf takes his harsh demeanor in stride. He claps his hands and flashes a false smile, “ignoring the Darktown Healer…is, well,” he eyes the armored clad spirit with hesitation before snapping his attention solely on Fenris again. “Where are you taking us?”

Fenris scowls and crosses his arms. “I am taking you home.” he snaps. “Where you should be.” He narrows his eyes at the girl, “why are you still in Kirkwall? I thought you were leaving.”

Ella hunches over and rubs her bare arm. “My mum grew sick, and I had to stay to take care of her.”

Galyn wrapped a protective arm around the girl. “It’s why we were out tonight. I was escorting her back to her house from her job.”

“Job?” He asked.

Ella avoids his eyes. “I don’t know any healing. The only healer we had was a Senior Enchanter, Thekla I think. He was made Tranquil before I was old enough to take his classes.” Fenris shot a side ways glance at Justice, but with his helmet on he couldn’t tell what the spirit was thinking.

Galyn’s ears fall, almost disappearing in his long hair. “I remember him,” he’s lips twitch upward in a sad smile. “He used to tell us stories from his old circle. He knew a guy who swam the entire lake.” He raise his free arm to show how massive this lake was.

Fenris show Justice another look, wondering if the spirit knew who they were talking about. Maybe Anders had been there when it happen and Justice has access to the memory.

But Justice didn’t indicate he did. “Why were you two out late? Templars roam the streets.”

“You’re one to talk. You’re in a body of a mage, yet you dress like that” Galyn says without thinking. He clamps his hand over his mouth, terrified he upset a spirit.

Justice turns his head. “I am no Templar. I dress in their armor to contain my fade light anD to hide Anders’s identity,”he sighs, “I believe I am doing a poor job.”

“But you make a valid point,” Fenris puts his hands on his hips. “It isn’t just about Templars. The night is hunting grounds for slavers and gangs, as you two learned.”

“I work at the Rose,” Ella admits. “I can’t afford the potions and ingredients my mum needs, so I work there to help pay for what she needs. I’m also saving up so we can go to Ferelden, I heard part of the country are sanctuaries for mages.”

“Why don’t you go to—” Fenris cuts himself off before he asks. She already knew about Anders’s possession. Why would she take her mother to the Darktown Healer? She probably did at one point, only to see his face. They’re lucky she didn’t spread her knowledge around. He takes a steady breath and places a careful hand on her shoulder “There are easier ways to earn than sell your body.

“I know,” she whispers, “but I don’t have any other skills. The Templars make sure of that,” she adds. She isn't bitter, nor does she sound bitter.

Fenris’s insides twist into knots. She is far too young to talk about selling herself. But it would be pointless to argue with her. “Where do you live? We will take you two home.”

Her eyes travel from his face to Justice and take the smallest of steps back. “I...can find my way home, sir,” she quickly adds the honorific.

“No,” Fenris states, his voice firm. She flinches. He gestures to his right, his gauntlet scraping against the stone wall. The noise makes Galyn flinch, but he pretends it doesn't bother him to make his point heard. “We’re escorting you home for your own safety. You and Galen were almost killed tonight by a bunch of skinny, half-starved elves. What are you going to do if you had run into Templars?”

“Get ready for a life of Tranquility?” Galyn snarks. Fenris levels a glare at the boy. He rubs the back of his neck, sheepishly. “Sorry, I spent too much time with Merrill and her goofy boyfriend lately. He says stuff like that all the time.”

Fneris snorts, “Hawke is not a man you should emulate,” he mutters before turning his attention back to Ella, “we’re walking you home. Both of you. I know why and understand you don’t want us too, but this is how it will happen.”

The girl looked pained, her grip on her arm tightens. “I don’t feel comfortable with him.” She doesn’t need to clarify who she’s talking about.

“There are more criminals who need to be brought to Justice before the night ends, Fenris,” the spirit cuts in before Fenris could object. “I will continue our mission alone, and can escort the children safely.”

Justice’s words slap him across. “I thought you and I are a team? You can’t split off because the girl is uncomfortable. What if you get caught by Templars or a group of blood mages?”

Ella twitches and shuffles her feet, but Justice remains still. Galyn looks between them, trying to figure out their story.

“I will tell you what will happen.” Fenris continues. “You will stumble upon one powerful mage, and they will turn you into their puppet. They will turn you into a monster that will destroy the city. And if Templars find you, they will smite you out of existence and make Anders Tranquil. And that is something we both don’t want.” His voice wavers, the mere thought of it makes him sick. “We taking the kids home together.”

The alley echoed the water dripping and the rats skittering on the stone walkways, but not their voices. Silence drifts between the four of them as Fenris waits for Justice and Ella bend to him.

It is Galyn who speaks up before anyone else. “Uh...you two aren’t going to kill us…?”

“If I was going to kill either one of you, you would already be dead,” Fenris drawls, giving the boy an expression of annoyance.

“Right. So we’re just going to pretend the Knight of Kirkwall isn’t the Darktown Healer’s spirit buddy living inside his body then?” He looked around the four of them. “I guess we are…”

Justice steps forward without any warning, and the two teens jump back. He removes his helmet and kneels in front of Ella. “I do not deserve forgiveness or your kindness after what I nearly had done to you,” his voice is grave, mournful. “But I ask you do not spread the knowledge around. My love for Anders is beyond mortal words. If there was a way to be punished for my sins, without him being harmed, I would gladly accept your retribution.”

Fenris watches the display unfold, follows every word...and he is jealous. Justice can freely admit his love for Anders in front of strangers, yet he can barely admit their dating in front of their friends. Not that he loves the mage, but he still likes Anders well enough that he’s ashamed he isn’t ready to be so open. But at least Anders has someone as devoted as Justice, even if it isn’t him. Anders deserves it.

Ella puts a hand to her chest, tears form at the corner of her eyes. “You aren’t like I thought you were,” she says quietly. “You’re different from the last time we met.”

Justice tilts his head up, his glowing blue orbs burn her eyes. “I am not a demon anymore.”

Fenris cuts in, “you were never a demon,” the spirit looks over his shoulder at him. “You weren’t,” he repeats, “what happened between you and the girl was a near tragedy, but it’s in the past. We need to move forward.”

Ella bites down on her lip. “I want to move forward,” and a tiny smile appears across her lips, “and I want to forgive. I’m tired living in fear.”

Justice is quiet for a moment, staring up at the girl. “Thank you,” his voice barely above a whisper. He stands slowly, not to break the peace and turns.

And Fenris sees the wet streaks down his face before he puts his helmet back on. “The night is still young. We will escort you two back to your homes, but we must continue our mission.”


The rest of the journey through Lowtown isn’t as quiet as Fenris would have wanted it to be. Fenris is force to listen to Galyn’s pitiful attempts at flirting and Ella actually encouraging the hopeless boy by giggling. He tries to focus on outside threats instead any inner turmoil he may have. He pushed Timun and the slavers out of his mind. He can worry about them later. And he would need to worry about Timun. He is a threat to Anders and Merrill, not just Galyn. He will tread lightly on the subject with the others. Now there is distance between him and the fool, he isn’t sure if Timun needs to die out right. But if Hawke knows someone is a danger to any of his adoptive family, they are dead regardless of the size of the threat.

Justice slows down his pace and joins him at his side. “What will we do with the information we found tonight?”

“Hmm?” He hums, but recalls the magister and slavers, and the ticket they found. “I will talk to Hawke, it might be easier for him to be invited in to gather information, than us breaking down the door and taking it.”

“Why can you not do it?” Justice asks, innocent and naive.

“There is a difference between Hawke and I, spirit,” he explains.

“I am well aware of the differences,” he comments, “You are an acceptable mate for Anders, Hawke was not.” There is a hint of approval in his deep voice.

Fenris closes his eyes and his lips press in a thin line. Deciding not to bother explain what he meant, he will let the fade denizen keep his nativity. He doesn’t want to here a speech about how elves should be able to enter the theatre freely.

“This is my house,” Ella cuts in. She points to a small hovel in the wall. Fenris recognises the area being close to Gamlen Hawke’s own hovel. The difference between the older Hawke’s home and her’s is there is a purple cloth hanging in front of the door. They stop outside her house, and she fidgets. “I have to thank you,” she starts. “You saved me again.” She brushes her hair behind ear.

“Do me a favor,” Fenris says, smirking. “Let’s not make it habit,” he dropped the smirk. “Get out of Kirkwall.”

Ella keeps her head down, nodding. “I will take my mother to the Healer tomorrow,” her dark eyes flicker to Justice, but neither comment.

“Here, I’ll walk you to your door,” Galyn puts an arm around her shoulder and they begin to talk in in hush whispers. Ella giggles and steals a kiss from the boy, causing his ears to perk up. She slips inside, casting one more look at the spirit.

Fenris shuffles his feet, avoiding the sudden public display between the two teenagers.

Galyen returns with a goofy, wide grin. “Okay, I’m ready to go when you two are.”


After escorting Galyn, who talked more than Merrill and Varric combined, to his home, Fenris wanted nothing more than collapse in his bed. And that is what he does. He strips himself of his armor, leaving them in a heap on the floor. He stumbles into in the bed face first. He lies there for how long, he doesn’t know, before the spirit joins him.

Blue light seeps through the darkness the pillow provides and penetrates his eyelids. Groaning, he rolls over. Isabela once suggested he put a mirror over his bed so it would be more fun when she visited. He has to admit, he shared a room with some nameless man and it had a mirror. He should bring it up to Anders. He won’t actually install one in the bedroom, but maybe they can rent a room at the Rose for the night.

Justice comes into view, breaking his concertation. “I scrubbed the bathroom down for you.”
Blinking away the white spots in his vision, Fenris sits up. “Thank you—

He cuts himself off and gapes. He never seen Anders naked before while Justice is in control. There were lines everywhere, including his member.

“Why are you staring at Anders’s penis?” Justice asks, blunt as always. Fenris’s eyes snap to the spirit’s. His expression grave and serious. “He is not awake for you to perform fellatio on him. I will not allow you take advantage of him while he sleeps.”

“I-I wasn’t thinking that!” Fenris stammers, his cheeks and ears heating up. “I wasn’t thinking that at all.”

“I do not believe you,” the spirit states, “but now I know of your attentions, I will be more vigilant against your mouth. Good night, mortal.”

He crawls under the covers, tucking Anders as best he can. He lies stiff as a board, but he doesn't retreat into the blonde’s mind.His face is emotionalness, and grim and the exact opposite that of

Fenris watches him for moment, baffled and confused on what just happened. He takes a shaky breath and asks, “can I hug with him while he sleeps or will that violate his person too?”

“I find cuddles acceptable,” Justice says and Fenris has to fight back the laughter. Hearing that voice say cuddles is almost too much for him. The spirit lifts an arm, inviting Fenris over.

He accepts it, and rests his head on Justice’s bare chest. There are no more words between them that night.

Chapter Text

Anders yawns again, earning a glare from Hawke and curious glances from Fenris and Isabela.

“What’s wrong, sweet thing?” Isabela slows down, linking her arm with his.

They are on their way to the theater, The Griffon’s Den, after a morning of doing other side missions on the docks.

“Oh, I didn’t get much sleep last couple nights,” Anders admits. “Well, actually, I have, but my body feels sore and stiff.” He misses Fenris’s expression turning to worry.

Isabela hums. She catches his eyes, but she’s not looking at him but through him. “Maybe you need a day where you rest and don’t do anything intense?” she suggests. Her tone is casual, with a hint of something harder.

“Possibly,” he says, “but not tonight. I got important business with the Mage Underground.”

Isabela huffs an air of annoyance. “Fine then, but this conversation isn’t over,” she argues, taking him aback. When did Isabela care if he slept or not? Not even his-whatever Fenris is to him, cared about his poor sleeping habits.

But Isabela isn’t one to Switching to something new, she rubs her hand down his arm, feeling his toned muscles. “Have you been working out?”

“Other than swinging my staff around like an idiot?” Anders asks, chuckling. “Not really, but I’m starting to fill out more like I did back in the Wardens. Commander Surana had us mages running around in heavy armor and using swords and shields for training.” He misses the shared glances between the others or how Justice shrunk away, “I feel great, if now bit tired and sore.”

“Well, you can feel tired on your own time,” Hawke cuts in, sending a nasty look over his shoulder. “Your yawning is getting on my nerves.”

“How dare Anders gets on your precious nerves,” Fenris says, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “You should hand him over to the nearest authorities for his crimes.”

As they turn the corner and entering Hightown, they find a Templar is accosting a woman in the middle of the walkway. “Do you know anything about the Mage Underground?”

They come to a sudden halt. Justice buzzes just below the surface at the sudden threat. Fenris takes a step back and inches closer to Anders as Isabela’s grip tightens.

“Let’s go around,” she suggests.

Hawke scratches his beard. His glare morphs into a sadistic smirk. “What was that about the ‘nearest authorities’, Fen?”

“Stop whatever you’re doing.” Fenris hisses through clenched teeth.

“Hawke, please,” Anders whispers, begging his friend to stop messing around, “I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry.” His apology is met with instant disgust from Justice. He bit the disapproval down.

The rogue waved him off. He swaggered over to the Templar. “I know all about the Mage Underground.” Anders’s heart jumps to his throat. What was Hawke doing?

Without a word, Fenris grabbed Anders’s free arm and yanked him down an alleyway off to the right of them. Isabela follows close behind. It takes them longer than it should have, going down twists and turns, but they make it to Hightown. Through the painfully silent walk, Anders’s mind raced on what he could have done to upset Hawke that he would scare him like that. He thought their friendship has been improving over the past few months. Did he insult Merrill recently? He called her a blood mage in a disgusted tone a week ago, but that isn’t an insult. She is a blood mage. Is the yawning? Did he really bother Hawke that much?

They leave the shadowy back allies of Hightown and enter the public park. City guards on patrol, kids playing among the carefully planted trees, and old ladies in fine silks and furs feed birds. The noise highlights the quiet between the three of them. But it is nothing compared to the fuming rage inside Anders’s head.

Justice is infuriated Hawke pulled such a prank on his Anders. The mage shudders at the spirit’s intense passiveness and anger. It’s okay, it was just silly fun on Hawke’s part, he says, hoping to soothe his friend, but Hawke knows how to set Justice off.

“There’s the theater house,” Isabela’s voice pulls Anders from his thoughts and Justice.

Up ahead is the white stone building. It isn’t the tallest building Kirkwall, that title went to the Gallows, but it certainly dwarfed the shops that sandwich the Griffon’s Den. There were three small pillars leads them to the front doors, covered in detailed patterns. The massive sign above the doors is made out ashwood. Carved into it is the name of the theater in delicate, ornate lettering and a handsome griffon, outlined in glittering gold. Enough gold that could feed all of Darktown. It made him sick to see such wealth wasted in small ways when—

Anders shook his head, trying to free himself of Justice’s invading thoughts. He agreed with the spirit but to an extent. The theater owner earned the money to pay an artist to make this sign for their private business. They didn’t steal the gold from the poor, they worked hard...and he really needs to shut his brain off.

“The Wardens used to ride griffons?” Fenris’s question silents the argument Anders and Justice are on the verge of happening.

Anders purses his lips, grateful for the distraction. Does Fenris know he and his spirit were at odds? Possibly, with the lyrium. “Yes, they did. I obviously didn’t ride one myself, them being dead and all. But my commander was trying to shape-shift himself into one. He had plans to study a griffon’s skeleton and several ancient texts when he was Weisshaupt.”

Isabela snorts. “Big bad Warden, stopped the blight, killed an archdemon. He’s just a child.”

“According to the Chantry law, mages are legal adults the second they go through their Harrowing,” Anders explains, “Surana had his a few days before he became a Warden. So I guess he’s barely an adult by the time he became Arl.”

“Really?” She asks. “And how old were you when you had your Harrowing?”

“I was...fifteen? Fourteen?” He guesses, “I can’t recall. It had to be after my third escape though. The First Enchanter didn’t want to lose another healer to Tranquility, so it was rushed and unplanned.”

“Lovely,” Fenris mutters. “Let me guess, you barely passed yours?” His words and tone are harsh, but there’s a small park of humor in his green eyes.

Anders laughs. “Barely is a good word for it. I almost got duped by five desire demons.”

Isabela gasps, “aren’t those the fun demons?”

Anders and Fenris come to a halt, eyes wide. “A what? No, Isabela, no…” he shakes his head while the elf scoffs.

“They seem fun to me,” she says, crossing her arms and pouting.

They continue toward the door when Hawke moved in their way, emerging from the shadows. “Took you three long enough,” he says cooly.

“Hawke,” Fenris snarls and takes a step forward.

The rogue holds up a hand, “Before you growl and bark at me, I didn’t incriminate your lover—

“He’s not my lover, you imbecile!” Fenris sputters out, quick to deny the accusation. Anders looks away, wrapping his arms around himself, self-loathing rolling ever him. Fenris never had a problem admitting his time with Isabela or the one night stands. He had been blunt, and playful with the details. He barely touched Anders, unless it's putting his cock in Anders’s mouth.

A deep frown forms on Anders’s lips. Oh. That’s what Fenris wants from him. Hollowness crept through him, and the feeling overshadowed Justice’s disapproval.

“Fine, your crush or whatever, don’t care,” Hawke dismisses Fenris’s annoyance with a snort. “I pointed the Templar’s ass to our favorite liar.” The elf fumes, but he doesn’t say another word.

“Varric?” Isabela guesses, eyebrow raised. “You told a Templar that a dwarf is behind

“Of course, I did.” A smug smile spread across his grin. “Thought I said someone else?”

“I thought you were pulling a nasty prank on Anders,” she admits. “Earned yourself what Varric calls Rival points.”

Hawke gestures wildly. “Nonsense!” He throws his arm around Anders, pulling him close.HAnders despite being taller, shrinks in the rogue’s grip. “he’s my best buddy, right?” He flashes a massive grin. “I’d never sell him out to the Templars.”

Anders matches the broad smile with a weak one of his own, “sorry for assuming the worst.”

Hawke ruffles his hair, and shoves him casually, “as you should be.” He claps his hands together. “Right, let’s get down to business. Isabela, take Fenris and sneak into the back. Anders, you’re with me. We got a slaver to catch.”

Chapter Text

“This door looks promising!” Isabela said, her voice full of forced cheer and optimism. She and Fenris have been searching the top floor, sneaking in-and-out of rooms. They found costumes, scripts, discarded food, cleaning supplies. But no incriminating evidence about mages or slavers. Not even a hint of something wrong or illegal. There are only a small handful of rooms left. The door they stand in front of now is fancier than most.

“I think we finally found an office...or another room that stores costumes.” She tips the pirate hat she found in the last room they were in, smirking. “I do need a feather.”

Fenris dug his toes into the plush, red carpet. While he is growing frustrated with the lack of progress, another day wasted while Barlas and his men roam the streets, he can’t complain about how wonderful the material felt below his feet.

Certainly better than the splintered-covered wood that made up the docks.

“Just pick the door,” he said. “I’m starting to think the spirit got too excited about his ‘clue’.”

Isabela bends over to fiddle with the lock, “you want to whine about Justice’s excitement? Please, you don’t have the right to complain. The other day he read to me his version of that manifesto. Now that was an excited Justice. He was so happy to have an audience, I didn’t have the heart to tell him no. It would have been like kicking a puppy.”

“He has his own version?” Fenris questions. “I thought Anders’s was good enough.” While one of their rules was for Anders not to bring up the manifesto while in private, that didn’t stop him from reading it. He had stolen a copy for practice. He didn’t quite get the flowery language the mage used, but it was well written, even if he disagreed with most of the papers.

“Justice complained that Anders was trying to hard to understand their enemies,” Isabela went on. “That his host was using Chantry dogma ‘to appeal to a higher authority’ was a weak argument against mage abuse and ‘he wasn’t pushing the agenda hard enough’.” She said with a snort. “Honestly, he’s was deviated from mages. He spent an entire section on spirits and how the Chantry should listen to Rivaini seers.”

Fenris’s eyebrow lifted, “Rivaini seers?”

She huffs, a thread of hair falling in her eyes. “Oh yeah, he ranted about them for a bit. He holds them with high regard, actually. He said he one accoutered a Rivaini fisherman who married a seer.”

Faraway memory in an old temple crawls to the surface of his mind. Justice was born from the grief of fisherman, or so the spirit claimed. He wonders if he should ask the spirit more about his mortal life.

“What did you think of his version?” He asks, but adds, “other than the fact it is tangential.”

Isabela looks over her shoulder, her expression somber and grim. “Fanatical, but naive.” She turns back to her lock. “He doesn’t belong here,” she adds more to herself.

Fenris’s lips thin out. “I disagree,” he states. “He’s well adjusted to mortals, and if being naive meant he doesn’t belong, that would mean the same for Merrill.”

The pirate clicks her tongue, frustrated both at the elf and the lock, “you and I both know Merrill and Justice aren’t the same. He’s a literal concept of justice, manifested into a knight-in-shining-armor. He belongs in the Fade, with his own kind, not stuck in Kirkwall where he can do damage.”

“Or he can bring some good to this wretched city.” He thinks about the previous night, and the nights before, fight slavers. Freeing elves. Words of comfort and understanding. “If anything, Kirkwall doesn’t deserve Justice.”

The lock pops and the door swings open. She stands, picking her nails. She doesn’t bother looking Fenris in the eyes, “I agree,” she said, he voice uncharastically soft. She enters in the room without another word.

Fenris follows her in. The room had been an office. A rich mahogany desk and matching chairs sit in the middle of the room. The chairs are cushioned with plush pillows, red like the carpets and curtains. The desk is covered by books, parchments, and of all things, a miniature cactus.
The walls were lined with bookcases and stacks of papers, almost threatening to spill onto the floor. Except for one spot.

Behind the desk is a portrait of a Warden standing next to a griffon. The Warden was a broad-shouldered man, a man from Tevinter. His wavy locks framed his face. The artist captured the health of his golden-brown face. He was not mage, but a warrior. Tall and proud and carried a broadsword.

Isabela lets out a whistle. “Oh my, where’s Anders when you need him. This is the kind of guy he’d pant over.”

Fenris’s eyes flicker from her to the painting to the pirate. “And what exactly is Anders’s tastes?”

A flirty smile spreads across her red lips. “A strong, brutish sort of man who can toss him over his shoulder and break him.” She sauntered over to the desk, picking through what looked to be mail.

His eyebrows shot up. He was strong, sometimes brutish. He could toss Anders over his shoulder, he could break the mage easily...that is if Justice would let him.

And he had Anders panting over him last night.

Smiling to himself, Fenris helps Isabela by scanning through the books.

 

Anders taps his foot impatiently. Hawke had roped the owner of the theater, Cato Hirtia, and taking far too long trying to wheedle information out of the man. But Anders should be grateful the violent rogue hasn’t punched the man repeatedly by now.

Cato is a slender man, but short. His tan skin is just a shade lighter than Fenris’s. His thick and flowing midnight-black hair is stained by a stripe of white down the side and his beard is more salt than pepper.

He is an aristocrat. It wasn’t hard to tell. From his posture to the words that fly out of his mouth, and his airy, smug tone, screams pompous noble.

But, and he doubts Hawke had picked this up at all, this Cato is of Tevinter decent.

The spirit side of him. The righteous, always knowing what is right and wrong side of him, would and will not judge a man for something he had no control over. Cato’s family may come from Tevinter, but that doesn’t make him connected to this Barlas or any slavers. It was Unjust to color an individual based off a stereotype.

But the human side of him; the petty, distrustful, been-burned-too-many-times side of him knows this wasn’t a coincidence. The Phantom-Knight and Fenris had found a ticket for this theater on a man who pretended to be a magister. They know Tiberius Barlas has connections to a noble within the city, one powerful enough to shield him from the Guard.

Cato knows something, Anders feels it in his bones. And they aren’t going to find out in the grand waiting hall while talking in circles.

Amber catches lyrium blue eyes.

He gestures to the side passages, to tell Hawke he’s leaving. The rogue nods his head and the mage silently slips through the cracks unseen.

Anders summons a wisp to chase the darkness away and trots down an unseen corridor meant for actors and servants. But today, with no play planned for the next few nights, the skinny hallway is empty. There is a door at the far end. He has never been to a theater, but if he has to guess, it leads to the stage. The hardwood floor creak under his boots. On either side of him, is the same wood. The lavish and ornate patterns that covered the outside of the theater house and the foyer were not carved into the walls.

When he reaches the door, it’s locked.

“Damn,” he mutters under his breath. He rarely brings his own tools when he’s with Hawke, knowing at least member of their group is trained to pick locks far better than he. He could freeze the handle and smash it to bits, but that isn’t conspicuous.

Justice doesn’t understand Anders thought process. When slavers are involved, there is no time for this sneaking around. They must be stopped at all cost!

He slips into Anders’s hand with ease, ignoring his friend’s annoyance and confusion. He reaches for the handle, firmly gripping the metal ball.

Anders gasps, realizing what the spirit is doing. “Justice, no!” he hisses in a low whisper.

But his words are too late. The spirit crushes the handle with ease and rips the door down, the noise echoing around them. He recedes back into Anders, giving the mage full control.

“You stupid, blighted idiot! What are you thinking?” he snaps. "We're going to get caught!" The spirit mentally shrug, and felt no guilt. 

He glances around the dark lit room. It is the back stage. Five steps to the platform and a massive red-velvet curtain to separate the performers from the audience. The noise hadn’t attracted any unwanted guests, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t coming. “Maker, dammit,” he mutters.

He gets rid of the wisp and darts up the small flight of stairs before his eyes can adjust. He trips on the second step. He catches himself, barely and stumbles upward. His foot catches on the curtain, he slips and tumbles through the curtain.

He lands hard against the wooden stage, pain erupting over his face and nose.

“My, my,” a cool voice dripping with smooth honey drift to his ears. “Usually it's women who fall at my feet, but you will do.”

Chapter Text

Anders rolls onto his back, cursing Justice to the void and back. And, of course, the spirit slithers into the back of his mind, unable to be reached. He lies still, staring at the rafters and endless black void of the theater’s ceiling.

Footsteps approach him. Light and airy, the wooden stage doesn’t creak beneath them. A shadow looms into his vision. It creeps closer and closer, until a man stands over him, eyebrows raised. His curly hair bleeds into the darkness up above, but his yellow eyes illuminate in the dim lighting.

“Do you need help?” He asks, and Anders picks up the familiar accent. Fenris’s accent to be exact. The was noblemen’s quality to it, but one that requires learning. He hadn’t always been in the upper class. He was pretending to fit the role.

Anders silently cursed Justice again because the spirit led him straight to the Tevinter mage they were looking for, if he has to guess.

“Nope!” And he jumps to his feet much quicker than the presumably Tiberius Barlas expected. He stumbles backward, eyebrows raised even higher. “I was just contemplating my life choices.”

The man eyes Anders, disgust flickers across his face. He must not be fan of the ‘sewer hermit’ look Fenris so affectionately called Anders’s style. He flashed the same expression. He isn’t a fan of the ‘possibly a slaver’ dark-blue robes Tiberius wore. “Do you always contemplate your life choices on theater stages?”

Anders’s smile is big, uncaring to the condensation in the other’s voice, “where else am I supposed to contemplate? I could ask why are you here. Are you too rethinking life?”

His lizard-like eyes dart to the side, annoyance glossing over his features. “This is my family’s theater,” he spreads his arms wide, highlighting the ornate flowers carvers into the wooden pillars, the hand painted mural on the walls and ceiling, the velvet seats, and golden lamps. “I am admiring my ancestors’ hard work before I take my leave.”

Anders admired the artistry behind each painting. His eyes were drawn to the ceiling specially. A scene plays out, one he knows very well. Andraste singing in the garden, and the Maker looking down upon her for her tender voice. Without looking away, he asks “why would you leave this behind?”

“My child is ill,” he says, pulling Anders’s attention away from the mural. “And while I enjoy my cousin’s company, and I do have business here, my daughter needs me. Hadriana, my wife, is very concerned for her well being.”

Anders’s heart broke. A sick child? “Is there anything I can do to help?” The words tumble out of his mouth without thought. Justice threatens to slap his forehead, but stays his hand.

He tucks his hands behind his back and if his eyebrows raise any higher, his hairline would grow back. “You know medicine?”

Kicking himself, he nodded. “I know something of the sort,” he says.

He walks around Anders, contemplative. “Where I am from, magic is not as feared as it is here.”

“I know,” he mutters, dread creeping down his spine. He refuses to watch Tiberius circling him.

He pauses. “What gave it away?”

“Your accent, your cousin is of Tevinter ancestry,” he admits.

“Ah…” he hums. “I suppose it helps you’re Fenris’s lover.”

Anders spins and takes several steps back, but Tiberius stays in his spot. Fear and shock and anger meet bored fascination. He opens his mouth to speak, but Justice is too close to the edge of his tongue. If words leave him, he isn’t sure who’s voice would say them.

“Why are you surprised. The fool elf lives in Danarius’s mansion, of course, I have spies watching him,” disgust crept onto his face again, “I cannot believe he soils my Master’s bed by fornicating with another man, with a mage. You deserve better. If I did not have pressing matters back home, I’d— He shakes his head, clenching his fists. “It doesn’t matter," he said, filled with resolve. "I need to return home. And you being here saved me the trouble."

Anders finds his voice after biting down on Justice. “How so?” He can only ask a simple question.

“I know what Fenris can do and I know what you are,” he says softly, “going after you while you stay in his mansion is idiotic.”

Anders closes his eyes. What you are. He knows of Justice. Naturally he does. He’s fought slavers. He’s been watching Fenris for months. He’s been watching them all for months.

Tiberius continues, “and going after you in that shack of clinic would be an equally terrible idea. Your guards Chantry trained.”

“My guards?” His attention is pulled away from his panic. He doesn't have guards.

“You’re playing stupid, really? That brutish man, a Templar, prowls outside your door and you have two archers in the shadows watching him,” he explains. “I know their habits, don’t hide them.”

The idea of a Templar prowling around scared him more than a magister watching every moment of his life, but he swallows his fear. “Right, my guards,” taking a steady breath, he asks, “and now that you have me, what next?”

Tiberius pulls his hands in front of him, a dagger in his hand. “I bind you.”

Chapter Text

“Isabela, can you read Tevene?”

“Oh, yes, Hawke, fluently.”

After ciphering through the theater’s owner’s, Gallio, mail, Fenris, and Isabela realized most were in Tevinter. Fenris recognized the language used in Danarius’s own letters. They met back with Hawke and hid away in a costume room. Frilly garments and silky gowns indicated this is where they store all the female characters’ outfits.

Hawke crosses arms, annoyed by Isabela’s flippant sarcasm. “A simple no would be nice.”

Isabela, elbow deep in accessories, doesn't bother looking from the chest she found. “I don’t know why you think I can read it when I. can barely speak the stupid language, no offense, Fenris.”

Fenris tucks away an ornate hair clip, a swirling, golden peacock, for Anders and shrugs. “None took.”

“Hey I just figured Fenris can speak seven languages but can’t read a single damn word, no offense,” he added.

“Offense is taken,” he smirks and crosses his arms, leaning against the wall.

“And I thought maybe one of us can read seven languages, but not speak a single word in said languages,” he finished. “We just need to find Anders then?”

Isabela sighs and closes the chest, getting to her feet. “So what kind of trouble do you think our favorite rebel is getting into?”

“Do we want to know?” Fenris asks, securing his sword to his back.

Hawke opens the door for the other two, Fenris leading them out, “I’m sure he’s only loss,” he says.

Fenris chuckles, amused. “I think his spirit has better direction than he does.”

“What’s it like working with Justice?” Hawke asks, his voice barely above a whisper. He slips pass Isabela, and stand behind the elf. “I’ve been meaning to ask. You were never keen on spirits before your nightly outings with the big lug. And I’m curious.”  

His eyes flicker to Hawke before it returns to the shadowy before him. With his cat-like vision, he could see better than his human companions, but not much better. Treading lightly, he crept up the three steps.

“I am still not keen on spirits,” he hisses back. “But I do not mind the spirit’s company. We fight well together.”

“Sounds like you’re keen on one spirit then,” Isabela’s melodious, as if she sang the words. “What will our feather mage think?”

“I am not keen on any spirits. Justice included,” he repeats, annoyed by the pirate’s teasing

“Oh come on, you were defending him from me not too long ago,” she points out, “you at least like him.”

Hawke cuts her off, holding up his hand. “There’s light up ahead.”

He and Isabela’s attention pulls away from their banter to in front of them. Around the corner on their left, a hazy light seeps into the hall, bathing the polished wooden panels and plush carpet in blue.

“Is that...please, tell me it isn’t him,” Isabela whispers, but she knows. She doesn’t need lyrium carved into her flesh to recognize the all too familiar fade light. Fenris squeezes his eyes shut out of frustration and disbelief.

Hawke swore, “Justice better have a good reason why he’s out right now in the middle of the day.”

Isabela places a hand on his shoulder, shushing him. With a twitch of head, she gestures forward. Hawke takes the helm, drawing his daggers. She follows suit.

They crept down the narrow hall, silent and sticking to the dim shadows.

Hushed voices reach their ears.

“So you’re leaving now?” A man asks, and Fenris can’t place the name. He glances at Hawke. Gallio, he mouths. The theater’s owner has a raspy voice as if his throat itched. “With that thing?”

“I am not leaving right now.” Fenris’s breath catches in his throat. He knows that porcelain smooth voice.  

Hawke’s cerulean, blue eyes. He furrows his brows, tilts his head. He mouths, “do you know this man?”

He nods. This is Tiberius, the one he’s been looking for.

He inches around the corner, peering up the stage. Tiberius in rich blue robes, accented in light gray and red. Danarius’s colors. The mage is what he remembers. Perfectly trimmed curly hair, perfect posture. What was missing is smug, punish expression etched on his face. He is worried, visibly so, even from where Fenris stood. His attention is only on Tiberius. And how much he would love to slip his hand through his cavity, his fingers curling around his beating heart….

“Shit,” Hawke breathes and Isabela gasps.

Fenris’s fantasy breaks and his focuses wane. There are two other men on the stage with Tiberius. Gallio’s back is too

And Anders.

No, not Anders. Justice. Justice stands behind Tiberius, obedient. The already stoic spirit was rendered a silent statue. Bounded by Tiberius’s will. A blood thrall.

Without much thought, Fenris enters the stage, gaping at his lover. He ignores the man whom he’s been hunting for. He ignores Isabela and Hawke’s harsh whispers. “Anders?” he asks, terrible fear creep up his spine. “Justice?”

The spirit’s shining blue eyes stares pass him and don’t respond.

Gallio turns and takes a step back, bumping into Justice. He jumps and runs behind Tiberius. His voice shakes as he speaks. “Cousin, I believe these lovely people are here for you.”

“I can see that,” the condescending sweet voice turns bitter and cold. His eyes never leaving Fenris. But he doesn’t notice the intense glare from the Altus.

Justice is a thrall. The powerful, incorruptible Justice is under Tiberius’s control.

“Yes, well,” Gallio straightens his jacket and coughs. “I will leave them be,” he says, before dashing off the stage.

Hawke calls after the retreating man. “I’m dealing with you after I get done with this asshole!” he spins his daggers and steps in-between Fenris and Tiberius. “So you’re the fucker who’s been given Kirkwall’s elves grief.”

The Altus tilts his head back and shrugs. “I was simply relocating them. Master Danarius has been looking for a new gardener.”

At Danarius’s name, Fenris’s attention is pulled away from Justice. He and Tiberius lock eyes and the mage takes a slightest of steps back. He swallows and fidgets. He’s afraid. He knows what Fenris was capable of.  

“I’m going to crush you.” he snarls. He draws his sword, slamming the blade on the stage. The wood splinters.

Tiberius stumbles backward. He is going to flee, follow his cousin. Hawke tries to grab him, but the mage counters him with a mind blast. Hawke is stunned, but Fenris resists the attack and leaps upon the man.

But a strong hand grabs his wrist. Justice stands in the way, shielding Tiberius. Controlled anger replaces the empty frown he wore earlier. Fenris tries to wiggle free, but Justice’s grip tightens, and he drops his sword. It falls, the clank of metal on wood echoes.

Tiberius straightens himself out, head held high. “Spirit, kill Fenris, but do not damage the lyrium.” he orders and Justice’s hold grows tighter. “Danarius will love his new pet, don’t you think, slave?”  He asks, smug.

Fenris’s right hand twitches, both from pain and longing for wrapping his fingers around Tiberius’s spine.

“You know what I think?”

Isabela steps from the shadows and presses a sharp blade against Tiberius’s throat from behind. From where Fenris is, all he can see is her hand and dagger. The mage’s eyes widen and his breath hitches. He squeezes his eyes shot. His left arm locks. Fenris follows the movement down to his hand. Blood drips from his hand.

Fenris glances at Justice and the spirit is focused on his master. He drops Fenris, shoving him to the ground. He spins and charges at Isabela. Panicked, she lets go of Tiberius and dodges the rampaging Spirit, barely missing him. He slides to halt and twists around. He summons a blast of ice, hurling toward her. It crashes against her chest. A silent scream escapes her throat. She crashes into a support beam and crumples to the ground.  Hawke is at her side in an instant, opening a bottle of elfroot potion and pressing it to her lips. Fenris scrambles to his feet and takes a step toward her.

But Tiberius takes advantage. Justice rushes Fenris, he only looks when it's too late. The crashes into him. The force sends them backward and down the stairs. Hawke screams his name, but it’s muffled by the pain exploding over his body.

His head cracks on the edges of the stairs, white light flashes in his eyes. He blinks away the dull noise and bright spots. The fight up above is dull, muffled.

Justice is upon him, crushing his chest with what little weight Anders’s body has. He wraps both hands around Fenris’s throat. Anders’s blunt nails dig into lyrium carved into his skin. Fenris pushes the spirits’ chest. Hits his face. Claws his eyes. Panic overcomes him. He thrashes under the spirit, but Justice is far stronger

This is not the kindly spirit he knows. The spirit burning with passion and righteous fury. Tiberius had turned his friend and lover into a lifeless puppet.

Justice was going to kill him. And Anders. He never said he loved Anders.

“Justice…” Fenris chokes. His voice cracks

Out of desperation, he lights his brands.

And the pressure is gone.

Justice is off of him, he rolls onto his side. He heaves and gasps for air. He coughs up blood, staining the floor. He holds his sides, his lungs were on fire.

He curls into a ball, his face buried in his knees. He squeezes his eyes shut, but he can still see the fade light disappears. Several seconds pass. Anders and he knows its Anders, crawls close to him. He rubs small circles on his back, summoning panacea to sooth the pain.

“It’s okay, Fenris,” Anders sounds as if he just awaken from a deep sleep. “I got you. I got you, just breathe.."

Fenris breathing calms, the healing soothes the bruises and aches He trembles still though. He peeks through his bangs.

Anders doesn’t know. He doesn’t even suspect.

He closes his eyes again. In split moment, he decides Anders doesn’t need to know he was another’s puppet.

Chapter Text

“What do we do now?”

They are gathered in Hawke's library. The letters Fenris and Isabela found are scattered on the desk. Hawke holds his hand in his hands, hunched over the desk. Merrill is with them. She stands behind him, rubbing his shoulders.

Anders paces the room and Fenris watches him from his spot against the wall. They silently agreed Anders doesn’t need to know Tiberius had bounded Justice to his will. For all the blond knew, Tiberius’s binding only put him to sleep. Fenris is still unsure if Justice awake during the entire spell.

Isabela sits on the railing, picking her nails. She waits for an answer to her question. “Well?”

Anders pauses and shoots a nasty glare. “About what? The Knight-Commander of the Gallows is making deals with slavers and a Magister? What exactly can we do?”

“Maybe we can tell Elthina?” Merrill suggests. “Surely the Reverend Mother would like to know.”

Anders snorts and returns to making tracks in the carpet.

Hawke shakes his head and stands. “Elthina won’t do shit. These letters don’t even prove she’s working with them. She just commissioned a sword from Danarius. Many aren't going to see anything wrong with that.”

Fenris’s jaw tightens at his former master’s name, “ I’m going home.” he walks out of the room, a pair of golden eyes follows him out.

Hawke leans against his desk, arms crossed. “I don’t know what we can do. We tell the others. Aveline and Varric will be able to track any correspondence between her and Danarius. Sebastian,” he shrugs, his hands hits his legs, “dammit I don't know what he will do, but he will want to know too.”

Anders shakes his head, “whatever,” he muttered, “I’ll see you guys around.” He talks out of the room, catching the goodbyes of his friends.

Once outside, he searches for Fenris and decides to head to the mansion, hoping to spend time with the elf.

Maybe to learn what happened earlier in the theater. Justice is silent. He can’t feel the spirit’s presence. He gnaws on his bottom lip, a slow creep of dread settles in his stomach. What if Tiberius did more than putting them to sleep? Justice shouldn’t be controlled by blood magic, not like a demon can be. They crossed many blood mages who have tried and failed. Yet Tiberius had binded them as if it was nothing. 

Lost in his thoughts, he slams into something hard. He falls down with a thud.

“Fuck! I am so—Anders?”

He looks up, glaring, “watch where you’re going...Raleigh?”

The former Templar was mortified. “Anders!” He grabs his hands and pulls him to his feet. The moment they touched, Justice finally stirs. Prickles of worry run down Anders’s spine, but he ignores the spirit’s caution.“I am sorry! I didn’t watch where I was going. Are you okay?” he asks.

Anders nods, brushing the dirt off pants. “Its okay, it’s okay really,” he assures. “I wasn’t paying attention either.” He looks up, smiling. But the smile falters. Bags hang heavy under Raleigh’s bloodshot eyes. His skin is pale and patchy. They haven’t seen one another for some time. “Are you alright?”

Raleigh glances away, ashamed. “I’m fine.” A lie, a voice suspiciously similar to Justice’s whispers in the back of his mind. He is taking lyrium again. I can smell it. Anders ignores the voice and pushes Justice back.

“Are you sure?” he questions. “You haven’t come in for your treatment in while,” he points out. “A couple of my friends and a few of the regulars mentioned they seen you around, but you haven’t come in.”

“I...honestly, Anders, I’m fine,” he repeats, making eye contact. “I’ve been busy. Meeran, he’s been keeping busy. He’s getting ready for our…” he looks around, “for our mission.”

Anders mouths ‘oh’ and sighs. “Right,” he says, “he and I need to talk and figure out the best time to do that.” He runs his hand through his hair. He forgot about Meeran’s daughter. He taps Raleigh’s shoulder, “look, I need to go find someone, but stop by the clinic sometime, okay?” He adds with a soft grin, “I care about you, okay, I want you to take care of yourself.”

Raleigh’s cheeks grow warm. “I-I ah...uh...Of course!” His eyes light up. “I will come by later! I promise! I have to meet with Meeran, I’d love to visit!”

The ex-templar's excitement is infectious, and Anders’s grin grew. “Great!” He said, patting Raleigh’s arm. “I will see you then.”

He sidesteps around Raleigh and picks up his pace. If he’s lucky he can reach Fenris just outside the mansion. Less of a chance of the elf to slam the door on him. To avoid the growing crowds and the influx of Templars investigating the theater, he slips behind mansions and down twisted alleyways. When he reaches Fenris’s rundown mansion, there is no sign of the elf having just entered. He knocks once. He waits. He knocks again. And waits. And he knocks— '

Crunch.

Anders spins around and is greeted by a teenager munching on an apple. An elf with dusky skin, long black hair, and….oh Maker, what happened to his ears? He grimaced. The poor boy had his ear tips cut off.

“Are you looking for Fenris?” he asks, cocking his head to the side.

“What? Uh...yes!” He stutters out an answer.”Uh, and you are?”

“Galyn,” he smiles, rocking back on his feet. “We’ve met actually!”

Anders frowns and rubs his chin. He recognizes all his patients, even those who’ve floated into the clinic once. But this boy had never visited him for healing.

“Oh, well it’s been a year or so, and it was dark,” he confesses. “I was in the Gallows.”

His eyes widen and he smiles brightly. “Maker’s breath! I’m sorry I don’t recall you, but I’m glad you’re out.” He glances at the rundown mansion looming over them. “How do you know Fenris?”

“I work for Athenril,” he explained, he rubs his neck. “And sometimes Fenris and Merrill, mostly Merrill, to fight slavers and stuff.”

“We were on one mission and since then he’s been an annoyance,” Fenris rounds the corner to his mansion, seemingly bleeding from the shadows. Anders offers a small smile, and he gets nothing in return. Not even a no of recognition.

“Oh come to one, Fen,” the boy whined. “I’m not annoying. I thought we were friends.”

Fenris leans against the wall, arms crossed. “One, do not call me Fen. Ever. Second, I am not friends with teenagers. Or anyone for that matter.”

Galyn pouts and shoves the apple into his mouth, taking a large bite. “Aww, you’re mean,” he points at him, looking at Anders. “Isn’t he mean?”

“He’s something,” Anders said, a bit unsure. He feels out of place between the two.

Fenris rolls his eyes and pushes himself off the wall. ‘What do you want?”

“Straight to the point, as always,” Galyn sighs, shoulders drooping. But with his ears were perked upright—or as much as they could be—and the smile on his face, he isn’t put off by Fenris’s attitude. “Well, Athenril wants to know if you can help her out on a top-secret mission! I can’t go into details...mostly because she didn’t tell me anything. But she wants to meet up tomorrow.”

Fenris clicks his tongue and ruffles the younger elf’s hair, smirking. “Sure, why not.”

Galyn whines and slaps his hand away. “Why do you have to mess with my hair! You ass,” he pulls back out of Fenris’s reach. Anders can’t hide his amusement and silently laughs.

“Your hair’s a mess anyway. It doesn't matter,” Fenris said, “now get out of here and watch out for the Templars. They’re swarming Hightown.”

Galyn makes a face, “shit, really? Alright, I’ll be good,” he waves and slips down an alleyway.

Fenris watches him go before facing Anders, eyebrow raised. “What?”

“Nothing, nothing,” he said shaking his head. “Just noticing how much of big brother you are.”

Fenris scoffs and stalks passed him. “Galyn is a foolish teenager who’s constantly getting into trouble. I’ve had to bail him out a couple times, that’s all,” he said, swinging the door open. “I assume you want to talk?”

Anders resists the urge to roll his eyes but fails to do so. Maybe Fenris isn’t as bad off as he imagined. “More like we need to talk,” he corrects and trots up the stairs, passing Fenris.

Fenris closes the door behind them. “About Tiberius.”

He slows and grabs Fenris’s hand, elated that Fenris didn’t pull away from him. “And if you’re okay. And what happened while I was asleep. Justice’s been quiet.”

Fenris looks away from him, “you were not just asleep. You two were...a statue. Justice didn’t move, he didn’t blink. He didn’t respond to when Tiberius used blood magic or summoned that demon.”

A tiny gasp escapes him, “a demon? You three didn’t mention a demon.”

“It was distressing. I never knew how powerful Tiberius is,” he said, still refusing to look up. “For him to bind Justice and control a demon to attack us...we’re lucky to get out.”

Anders bit the side of his cheek. In his gut, he knew there was something wrong with Fenris’s story. But he cannot place what is wrong.

He is lying.

Anders clicks his tongue at the faint whisper. “Right,” he mutters. “I’m sorry I couldn’t overcome Tiberius’s spell and help defeat the demon.”

Fenris shrugs and flashes a mockery of his trademark smirk. “At least Hawke didn’t get a chance to talk to it.”

“Well whatever happened,” he says slowly, and presses close to Fenris, combing his hair. “I’m glad you’re safe.”

A true smile spreads across his lips and he wraps his arms around Anders’s middle, “and I got you.”

“And you got me,” he leans down for a chaste kiss. It lasts for seconds, but sweet short seconds are enough for Anders to both satisfy him and want more when Fenris pulls back.

“I think we might not need to worry about Tiberius,” he said. “He’s leaving from what it sounded like.”

Anders steps back, snapping. “I almost forgot! He did say was leaving, and he wanted me to come with him,” Fenris’s brows furrowed and he quickly added. “He has a daughter. With that woman you mentioned—

“Hadriana,” he provides, crossing his arms. “And you’re referring to Claudia. She would be eleven now.”

“And Tiberius said she was sick,” Anders continues. “It’s why tried to bind me and Justice.”

Fenris shrugs. “And?”

“Well, that means he’s going to be gone for good, right?” Anders said. “If he cares about his daughter, wouldn’t he leave right away after what happened?”

“Or he intends to stick around a bit longer so he can take you,” he growls, tensing. “I won’t let that happen. I will feed him his own heart.”

Anders steps back and paces in a circle. “Now...I have an idea,”

Fenris crosses his arms, “whatever it is, it’s bad and idiotic.”

“You didn’t even hear it yet!” Anders whined. “Look, if I go with Tiberius—

“Have you lost your mind!?” He shouts, shocked Anders would suggest such a foolish thing.

He holds his hands up, “now wait. Hear me out. I help them save their daughter, I can convince them to turn on Danarius…”

Fenris stares him, his expression showing he is physically pained to listen to Anders. “You’re an idiot.” He states.

“It’s a good idea!” Anders argues. “I mean, I’m saving their daughter. Of course, they would help us. They would be grateful.”

Fenris shakes his head, waving his hands to stop Anders from talking. “Hadriana cares nothing for her daughter. Claudia is an accident, a child born out of wedlock. The only social crime worse for a Tevinter woman is getting rid of a potential mage,” he said. “If Danarius ordered her to, she would slit her baby's throat. The fact she’s alive this long is most likely because of Danarius. It is possible Tiberius loves his daughter he would side with an ex-slave and moronic bleeding-heart over Danarius, but Hadriana would skin us alive.”

Anders frowned. “It was a suggestion, no need to be mean about it.”

“If I am not mean,” Fenris counters, “then you wouldn’t get the picture. And just because Tiberius claims his daughter is sick, doesn't mean she is sick. He could have had men watching you and knew what to say to get what he wants.”

“Fine!” Anders threw his hands up in defeat, “I’m the village’s idiot. I get it. You win.”

Fenris grabs his hands. “I don’t mean to call you dumb. I know you are an intelligent man, skilled and clever too. But you are also compassionate to a fault. I don’t want your generosity and a big heart to get you hurt.”

His shoulders slump, “I know, I know, I was just thinking of ways to help you and get rid of Danarius,” he adds, “and maybe she is sick and I don’t want to see children hurt.”

“I know,” Fenris gently squeezes his hands, “I know you don’t.”

Sighing, Anders changes the subject, “what are you doing tonight? Maybe we can spend some together. We haven’t in the past couple of days.”

Fenris cracks his neck and looks away again, pulling back. “I’m going to be with the Phantom. There’s a slaver camp Lowtown that just popped up, we’re going to bust it.”

“Oh,” Anders mutters, but perks up. “Maybe I can join you two!”

“Uh, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Templar spirit and all,” he is quick to say. “And the two of us rarely need help.”

He bits back sigh, “okay, what about tomorrow?”

But Fenris is already shaking his head. “Sorry, but we’re going out again tomorrow night. But you and I can spend a few hours together before I need to leave.”

Anders wants to argue, but he can’t argue against Fenris fighting slavers. It would be like if Fenris argued with him fighting Templars ( which he has). And he knows he isn’t being rejected, but it hurts all the same. He forces a smile, “sounds great, I can do that,” and agrees. Because if he does argue, then Fenris can end it now and pretend their relationship didn't happen. (not that he doesn't now.)

And the grin on Fenris's is wide and far more honest than his. “Perfect.”

Chapter Text


The day’s events weigh heavy on Fenri’s mind. They press down on him as much the cold air presses against his skin. Taking the life of would-be magisters and their blood thralls bring little joy. He stands over a woman. A human with curly blond hair, stained with her blood. Her eyes wide open, lifeless as the Tranquil that stalk the Gallows courtyard. Or Justice, after Tiberius slipped into his mind. He shudders and bends over her. He rearranges her body in a more respectful position and closes her eyes.

“You show her a great deal of kindness.”

Admiration and curiosity mix in Justice’s voice.

He stands, glancing over his shoulder. What little moonlight creeps through Darktown, cascades a halo around the spirit. “This woman was nothing more a slave to the slaver, this is the least I could do.”

“I agree. Bound by blood magic is a terrible experience,” he says. He removes his helmet. And gone were the hollow eyes from this morning. They are a raging storm, sparkling with life. “Why did you lie to Anders?”

Fenris slumps. Barely a moment into their nightly routine and Justice brings up the conversation he was dreading. If he was honest with himself, and there are days where he isn’t, he should have seen it coming. Justice can sense lies and confronts problems head on. He’s grown to admire the spirit’s blunt honesty, but it’s going to be a detriment to him.

“I did,” he doesn’t hide the truth now that it’s out in the open. Angering Justice is a fool’s pastime, and he’ll leave people like Hawke or Templars to partake in it. “Anders would be devastated he attacked me. I rather not upset him.”

“And withholding the truth won’t?” Justice crosses his arms. His scowl creases his brows and his frown deepens. It is slight, but the expression is different from Anders’s. He controls his anger, his disappointment. The subtly in which his mouth turns downward, the way his eyes narrow is a far cry from the explosive and barely contained anger Anders shows.

“It’s difficult to explain,” he tries, but he’s cut off.

“You hide your relationship from your friends, you hide your feelings from Anders, and now your hiding Tiberius used him—us—to hurt you,” his voice rises with every accusation. “You’re taking Anders for granted and I’m growing increasingly frustrated by your deceiving.”

Justice’s words slap him, leaving him stunned. But only for a moment. The spirit is feeling the truth, but the accusations stem from hypocrisy. “You aren’t very forthcoming about your nightly activities.” He bites out, angry that he’s being called out for the same thing Justice is doing. “How is dressing up as a Templar and fighting slavers without him knowing any better?”

“He cannot understand why I do this,” Justice counters. He pauses and the light in his eyes burn. “Do not turn this on me, mortal. We’re speaking of your slights.”

Fenris takes a deliberate step forward. He found an opening. “And why do you fight slavers? Why doesn’t Anders know you dress up as a Templar to fight them?”

“Enough!” Justice demands. He turns his back on Fenris, hitting one of the many wooden beams keeping Hightown from collapsing in on itself. It shudders and splinters.

The familiar heat rises in the air, assaulting the brands embedded Fenris’s flesh. He’s pushing Justice too far, he knows, but he doesn’t care and pushes still.

“No!” He argues. “You don’t get a right to lecture me about keeping secrets from Anders when you’re doing the same!”

The spirit’s shoulders slump and the spark of electricity and fire dies. His lyrium reaches Justice, meeting a troubling sadness.

“Anders would not understand,” he says quietly.

The admission takes the steam out of Fenris. Silently, he moves to Justice’s side. “Anders hates slavers too. He fights Templars. Of course, he would understand why the spirit of Justice would fight slavers.”

The pregnant pause is filled with creaky wood, dripping water, and distance scuffles. When Justice finally speaks, he doesn’t talk like an ancient spirit who’s lived lifetimes to Fenris’s one. But a man who been through too much and lost everything. A man who’s been to war and watched comrades fall on the battlefield.

“I do not hate slavers because I am Justice,” he says, nearly too quiet for the words to reach Fenris’s ears. “I do it out of regret and revenge.”

A conversation they had weeks ago drifts to the forefront of his mind. “You said you weren’t always Justice. You weren’t always a spirit. What do you mean? Does it have to do with slavers?”

Justice’s chest rises and falls, exhaling a steady breath. “I...was a mortal, a human. I came from Rivian.” each word comes out stilted. “I was a simple fisherman. My father ran a shop, I supplied the food. It was a good life, I knew my role.”

“Rivian?” he mutters. Hadn’t Isabela said Justice raved about Riviani seers? And is possible he sought her out in the beginning because he saw a commonality between them? “What happened?

Justice’s brows twist in pain as if physically thinking about his old life hurt him. “I was married. An elf, a mage. She was a seer, but the Qunari—

he grips his head and the cracks crossing his body glow and widen. Gritting his teeth, he bites back a scream. He collapses to the ground, burying his face in his knees.

Alarmed, Fenris regrets turning the conversation on Justice. He didn’t know he would cause the spirit anguish and pain. He squats down, touching Justice’s shoulder. “Relax, breathe. You don’t have to tell me any more. I’m sorry for dragging this out,” he whispered.

But Justice bats Fenris way, pushing him back. “You are not.” he accuses. “This is what you wanted, to avoid my questions. Fine.”

He staggers to his feet. “You want to know why I fight slavers?” he bites his lip, a gesture Justice never does out of nervousness, but maybe the man he used to be would. “Tevinter marched on Rivian before the Chantry did. They burned my village to the ground and killed my people. They took my wife as a slave. I survived. I had one goal. I would save her, avenge my people.”
Justice turns his back on Fenris, his voice loses the always present echo of the Fade. But there is no trace of Anders’s soft tenure. This is is what Justice used to sound like before he became the spirit Fenris knows. “But I was a humble fisherman. I could not fight a mage, let alone march across Tevinter. I went to the only institution that could trade me in the blade and stop magic.”

“You became a Templar,” Fenris dares to speak. He stands too, but stays away from the spirit, backing against the wooden pillar. How far did he push Justice tonight?

“I became a Templar and I was good at it,” he snarls. “I was good at it, but I failed. I couldn’t rescue Nadia, try as I might. I died, and she died soon after. And years later, I was reborn as a Champion of the Just. I scored the Fade, righting evil and smiting demons. It was my reason for being, my purpose. And for two ages I slaughtered the wicked and passed down judgment who have committed evil. But my purpose was robbed from me and now I am stuck in this wretched city, in a world that knows nothing of Justice surrounded by ingrates and heathens who use and lie to the people they claim to love.”

Justice’s energy reaches across the Fade, latching onto Fenris’s lyrium, burning him. He staggers, barely keeping his balance. The spirit’s back is still to him, but he doesn’t need to see the creased brow or uncontained rage to know Justice is mad.

He swallows. “I...I didn’t mean.”

“We have work to do.” Justice cuts him off and leaves without saying any more. Fenris follows after a moment, trailing behind

 


The next morning, Fenris wakes to a sleepy, but happy Anders. His tender smile and messy golden locks are nearly enough for him to ignore the crippling shame from yesterday. Putting Anders in a position where a mage could use Justice against him. Lying to Anders about being a blood mage puppet. Forcing Justice into a painful confession because he couldn’t handle his problems thrown in his face.

He can almost forget, but the discomfort and dread sit in the back of his mind surely as Justice sits in Anders’s, festering in his anger.

“Are you okay?” Anders cuts through his bad thoughts.

“No,” he should be honest about this at least, “I...made Justice upset last night, while you were asleep. I think we can work through it, but I don’t know how to go about apologizing.”

Anders’s brows knit together. “Huh? How did you that? Actually, I don’t want to know. I have my own issues, I don’t want to deal with his too. Look, give it a few days. He needs to cool down. I can tell he’s pissed off, but he’ll forgive you. He forgives my fucks up, and I piss him off way more than you do.” he flashes an assuring grin.

Fenris returns the smile, but it doesn’t last. “I hope so...he’s proven to be a valuable ally.”

“Like that Templar spirit?” Anders questions, irritation edging into his voice.

Justice’s confession from last night comes to the forefront of his mind and he nods. “I enjoy his company. He makes me a better man.”

The mage sighs and rolls onto his back. “I know he’s your slave-fighting friend, but I still don’t like it. A spirit of a Templar just roaming the streets. Sounds dangerous. For mages, specifically. What if it remembers it doesn’t like my kind.”

Fenris cups Anders’s cheek to look at him. “I don’t think you need to worry about the Phantom Knight of Kirkwall going after innocent mages.”

The tiny wrinkles around Anders’s eyes crease as he smiles brightly. “I trust you, love.” and pulled him in for a tender kiss.

And it hurt Fenris how much he adores hearing those words.

 

 

Hours pass and they are forced to pull apart and go their separate ways. Anders has more business with the Mage Underground later that evening, and he’s meeting with Athrenil.

And that’s where he’s heading to now. The smuggler needs a better base of operations. Going through the maze of foundries in Lowtown, avoiding thugs with little sense and afternoon drunks with even less sense isn’t his idea of fun. He isn’t in the mood to waste his time on foolish humans. He has his own fool of a human, who he rather had stayed in bed and hold for the rest of the day.

Instead, he’s stepping on slime. He grunts and scrapes the gunk off his foot. “Unbelievable,” he grumbles and knocks on the door to her hideout.

A scrawny kid, barely fifteen, lets him in. He stalks past the kid and the other thieves around.

He stops short to her office. “Yo, Fenris!”

He turns to see a familiar face, one he hadn’t seen in a while. Brina leans against a support beam, flashing a welcoming smile. Her hair is wrapped in a colorful headscarf. She pushes herself off the beam and struts toward him, “It’s been awhile,” she punches his shoulder lightly. “Ditched the crew for a possessed guy of yours.”

Fenris’s jaw tightens.”Galyn told you?”

“First, your guy isn’t good at keeping secrets. Seen him rip a guy’s arm off,” she says, unfazed by his anger. “Second, you let that idiot learn about the little voice in the healer’s head?”

Fenris closes his eyes and wants to slam his head against the wall, but he doesn’t. “Where is the kid?” he definitely not going to beat sense into Galyn. “Isn’t he usually running around here?”

She shrugs, “haven’t seen him since last night.” She bounces from one foot to another, “so I have to thank you for what you did a few weeks ago. For Sticks, the other elves.”

“You don’t need to thank me for anything,” he assured.

“I do though!” she exclaimed. “Sticks is the family I got and you risked your life for him and everyone else. No one does that in the city. The only person I think who’s suicidal enough to do that is your crazy healer. And even he wouldn’t stick his head out for slavers.”

Fenris takes his eyes off of her and wanders around the warehouse. “If Magisters were going to use Darkspawn for slaves, he would do it for them too.”

“I’m sure you think that,” she mutters under her breath, and louder, she adds, “anyway, you give a lot of elves in this city hope. Most of us don’t have it, and the ones who do are looking to the Qunari.”

“I….” he ducks his head, hiding his growing blush. A hope to elves because he saved a handful? He coughs and rubs his neck. “Athenril needed me for something.”

“Yeah, a mission,” he hears the smirk on her face, but he’s grateful she doesn’t say any more.

She takes the lead, and by the time they reach Anthril’s office, he composes himself.

The sound of a metal pen scratches against a wooden desk spills out of the room. The noise is familiar, he spent many nights with Varric in silence as the dwarf penned “Hard in Hightown” and “Swords and Shields”. Athenril barely glances up, her bangs fall into her face.

“Close the door,” she orders. Fenris takes a seat and Brina busies herself by digging into the cabinet against the far right wall. She pulls out three glasses and a golden liquor he thinks is brandy. Or it’s Hanged Man-piss. Either way, he won’t turn down a glass.

Athenril only stops writing when she’s given the drink. “Fenris, it’s good to see you. How’s Hightown?”

He raises a brow, “this isn’t a social visit, why act like it is.”

She smiles a vicious grin. “And here I thought only Garrett Hawke had manners in your group.”

“You’ve clearly haven’t met all of us then,” he says cooly, leaning back in his chair. “I know you, no point of not cutting to the point.” He nods his head when Brina gives him a glass. His eyes follow her when she takes a step away from him.

She downs her drink, barely flinching. She slams her glass down, but it’s not out of anger. Nt toward him at least. “I need you on a job. And before you tell me your working with that spirit, I don’t care. I’m paying you more Hawke's giving you on your daily missions with him.”

“There’s a lot I can say about Hawke, but he isn’t stingy on paying my dues. You either bullshitting me or you're serious.”

“I’m serious,” she says. She slides out of her chair, turning her back on him and Brina. he grows nervous. Something's off. He doesn’t take a sip from his glass. “You know the Red Irons? Their leader, Meeran?”

He narrows his brows, “I do.”

“Meeran is stepping into my territory, he’s getting into the smuggling business and he’s taking something from me that is precious,” she says. Her hands clutch.

“What exactly is this job?” he questions. He puts the glass down and leans forward now, resting his arms on the desk. His attention flickers to the paper. He picks up a hand full of words, they mean nothing to him. “I need to know before I can agree to anything.”

“It’s…” she hesitates. “He’s smuggling a person out of prison. He’s smuggling a mage out of the Gallows, specifically.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Fenris isn’t hearing this right. When did mercenaries care about mages unless they can bolster their numbers? “He’s going to risk Meredith Stannard’s ire for what, exactly?”

She turns around, her eyes closed. She gestures at nothing, struggling to find the words. Her arms slump in defeat. “She’s not just any mage. She’s our kid,” she confesses.

“Your kid?” she nods. “Your kid with Meeran?” she nods again. Fenris pushes back his hair out of his face. “What?”

She sighs and presses her fists into her desk. “I was young and dumb and Meeran was once a good looking man, charming too. If you can believe it. And shit, we weren’t a happy family, but I did love him and he loved me and our daughter. He treated us right. But shit happens and shit always happens to us. One day, we’re in Hightown. Typical Tuesday. Then she froze half of the market.”

She hit the table, knocking the bottle of ink off. “It’s his fault! The damned bastard didn’t tell me his mother, all seven of his brothers, and cousins were mages. He didn’t think to stop and tell me our kid would be too. I found out after the fucking Templars took her from me!”

She hits her desk again, pushing the papers and glasses off the table. The brown liquid spills onto the floor, diluting the black pool of ink. The usually calm smuggler shakes with anger. Her whole body trembles as she clutches her hand.

“What do you need me to do?”

“Stop him? You don’t get it,” she says, arms raised. “He’s not the same Meeran I worked for, raised our daughter with. He’s a worthless bastard, and he’s only going to use her for his mercenary band. He doesn’t get she’s been in the Circle for five years and is only fourteen. So what I’m going to do, is grab her from him when he breaks her out tonight.”

Fenris tapped the desk, his gauntlets, clanking on the heavy wood. “Are you planning on killing him?”

“And anyone else who gets in my way.” she doesn’t hesitate to admit.

He’s about to question her. How could she kill the father of her own child, in front of them no less, but he stops. A new thought enters his mind. “Anders is working with Meeran.”

“I know he hired the healer for his services, yes,” she confirms.

“He’s not going to like you kidnapping one of his charges,” he points out. His fingers twitch, aching to grab his sword.

“I don’t care,” she counters. “If he’s smart, he’ll stay out of my way.”

Fenris doesn’t respond verbally but slides out of his chair. Slow and deliberate.

“Look, Fenris, I’m not asking you to kill your boyfriend, but if he gets involved--

“If it’s between you and Anders, don’t think I won’t feed you your heart!” he cuts her off.

And no sooner the threat flies from his lips, a slim blade presses against his throat and another dagger are against the middle of his back.

“So much for your undying gratitude,” he sneers. His eyes don’t leave Athenril.

“That was personal,” Brina’s voice is a void. It’s crisp and clean. “This is business.”

The smuggler leans on her desk. “There are well over thirty trained elves in this building. I don’t doubt you can kill us all. You can. But I don't’ think you want to.”

“Maybe I would be less inclined if there weren’t daggers on my throat and pointed at my back,” he bites out.

She flashes a tight smile. “How about this, tonight, you keep your lover at bay and we handle the rest? If you don’t, I’m sure Templars will love to know who’s behind the Phantom’s helmet.”

Fenris shakes his head. “Unbelievable.” he pulls away Brina’s grip and she lets him. He heads for the door, pausing at the threshold. “I will do this for you, but don’t think I will forget this betrayal.”

“I don’t expect you too,” Athenril says and he leaves.