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You've Changed Me For The Better

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“We’re back!” Hawke’s voice rang out above then din of the tavern, smile clear in it, as they swung the door open. Everyone was quiet for a moment then there were resounding cheers from the patrons, some raising their drinks in acknowledgement while others began to welcome the party with hugs. Hawke curtails the crowd easily, wading through towards a full table in the back when they’ve all returned to their merrymaking. They see Bethany first, frowning down at her cards then Merrill sitting one chair away gaze bouncing back and forth between Bethany and Isabela. Hawke can tell by Isabela’s posture that there must be a smug grin splaying her face, though her back is facing Hawke. With a boisterous laugh, she leans in swiping the purses of coin in the middle of the table towards her. Bethany’s glare leaves the cards in her hand as she tosses them down, glancing over Isabela and landing on Hawke.

“Look who’s back!” All eyes at the table to turn to Hawke.

They chuckle, “You’re only excited because I’m complete garbage at Wicked Grace.” Bethany looks about to respond, but he’s interrupted when Anders comes stomping down the stairs. His scorching gaze lands on Hawke, making the rogue cower slightly. Anders realizes it’s Hawke, and then he’s there, shoving into Hawke’s space with one slim finger pressed accusingly into Hawke’s chest, brown eyes gazing down a sharp nose into Hawke’s.

“Handle that fucking elf.” Anders is settled in the chair next to Merrill quicker than Hawke can blink, silently seething.

“What has he done?” Hawke probes. They move to stand behind Anders. They’re calm as they run their hands along his neck and shoulders, forcing him to release the tension there somewhat with gentle, insistent presses.

“You mean what didn’t he do. Since the moment you left, he has been a fucking nightmare to be around. He broke one of my staves, and he refuses to talk to me or anyone, and when he does he refers to me only as mage, which I thought he had grown out of, with some version of “Go away.”. I’m ecstatic that your back because I missed you very much, but I’ve put up with it for a week, and I’m sick of it.” Anders’ anger softens around the edges suddenly, and he is torn between wanting to say something more and thinking better of it in front of their friends. Instead, he turns to the rest of the group, shoulders slanting in a clear sign that he is finished ranting.

“Meet me at mine, later?” Anders nods slightly, keeping his eyes on where Isabela’s graceful hands are shuffling the deck for another round of cards, yet still leans into the kiss Hawke presses to the top of his head.

Hawke strides to the stairs as fast as their tiny legs can carry them, hopping up two at a time. They come to a stop in front of the only door swung wide open; Anders always throws doors open when he’s frustrated so they can only assume. It’s quiet and dim, the only light streaming in from the hallway lamp, lighting a yellowed rectangle that dissipates into the blackness of the room. As soon as Hawke steps across the threshold of the doorway, they’re taken to the floor. They land hard on their back, groaning out in pain and trying to turn over to relieve the ache, but broad hands on their shoulders tighten to press them flat to the ground. Hawke hisses out a breath, their eyes opening carefully. Fenris is poised, weight settled on Hawke’s shoulders and the balls of his feet as he crouches over their prone figure. The slim lines traversing Fenris’ tanned skin glow so scarcely that Hawke almost misses it, as if there is no real purpose behind the glimmer.

“Fenris, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you, Dove,” Hawke says, tone casually fond as it always is. They breath purposefully, relaxing the defensive tension in their body all at once. “Varric and I only just got back. Anders sent me up here, says you’ve been trouble. Can you tell me what’s wrong, little Dove?”

Fenris shakes his head vigorously, shoving his face into the join of Hawke’s neck and shoulder, the length of his body tucking into Hawke’s side regardless of the fact they are laying on the floor of The Hanged Man. They lay there for a moment. Fenris’ breathing too quick, and Hawke’s chest tightening with worry. Then Hawke’s coaxing is gentle as he beckons Fenris to rise with him. When they are standing, seemingly ready to leave, Hawke takes care to check over the room for any left behind items from Fenris or Anders. Fenris trails after them with a frustrated, pained look upon his face. One of his hands keeps drifting up to rub over his sternum, and it only worries Hawke more over the slender warrior. Fenris follows him out of the room, blinking owlishly as his eyes adjust from the room’s darkness. They make their way down the stairs quickly, and on the last stair Fenris’ legs give out underneath him, but Hawke is there. His arm comes up to cradle Fenris’ waist, playing the stumble off as imperceptible.

Hawke finds Anders’ eyes, waves once and then leaves with Fenris, towards their home.

>>>

Fenris’ breathing concerningly grows stranger and stranger as they travel, it’s hitching and airy, yet conspicuous and heavy by the time they arrive at Hawke’s.
Fenris takes the lead when they reach the door, shoving into the house. He turns hesitantly to face Hawke. His mouth opens like he will say something, but a cough spills forth instead. Fenris’ eyes widen with surprise, and he clamps his mouth shut again. He stalks swiftly up the stairs, making a beeline for Hawke’s room, seeking the comforting luxury of a nice bed. Hawke takes a moment to acquire a glass of water before following.

Fenris is collapsed just before the bed when Hawke appears in the doorway, one hand is covering his mouth while the other rests on the bed for support. His shoulders wrack, and Hawke thinks for a moment that he may be crying, but then he hears the sound of muffled, rough grunts and realizes Fenris is coughing. He simply stands, not frozen but not moving either, as Fenris’ hand falls to splay on the ground and delicate, slim, oval petals pours from his mouth, slick and sticky with thick saliva. He heaves for a moment as everything he had been holding in escapes, his body trembles with the force of his coughs as three more petals are shaken loose to float to the floor in front of his knees. Hawke is cautious as they approach Fenris, kneeling next to him.

Fenris grimaces, fury evident in his quiet voice, “What has that mage done to me?”.

“Oh, little Dove, what has your heart done to you?” Hawke sighs, chest aching with emotion. Fenris slumps into their side, exhaustion making his limbs heavy and useless.