It is just before dawn. She is asleep, snoring faintly. He admires her most like this; no armor, no worry, no stress. Features slackened, drooling from the corner of her mouth.
His head is pillowed on her belly. He notices her ribs, how they protrude from under her skin.
It’s symbolic, he thinks. She is so much sharper now, her body is following suit.
She used to laugh, she used to smile. She would taunt and tease and joke.
She is all hard lines and angles, now.
He cannot blame her, but he loathes himself for taking away those soft pieces of her. As if he has taken her apart and reassembled her incorrectly.
He shifts his face against her skin. She smells like smoke and gore- and most of all, even after everything; she smells like home.
Her hair is longer, just shy of bushing her shoulders. Her skin is reddened from the sun, she’s always burned at the drop of a hat- Isabela used to tease her for it.
She has new scars, now. A thin slice through her lip, a jagged gash along her back, a scorch mark on her shoulder. She’s spat out two molars during battle, her nose has been broken and reset at least three times, she’s lost the tip of her left little finger.
Her eyes aren’t the same brilliant blue, but a steely grey.
She was always a bruiser, but the last two years aged her in a way that broke his heart.
Oh, Marian. He thinks. How did I let myself lose you?
It took him three years to kiss her.
She loved him. He knew, deep down, but he didn’t want to believe it.
He told himself that she’d be better off burning on the bow of Isabela’s ship, or chasing halla with Merrill, or living in chaste bliss with Sebastian.
She deserved so much more than what he had to give, but he was selfish.
He kissed her in his clinic, after his last patient left and he couldn’t hold it off any longer.
She leaned back and smirked, one eyebrow cocked.
“What took you so long?”
She kissed him.
She begins to stir as the sun becomes visible through the fabric of the tent. He presses a gentle kiss to her belly, she makes a face when his stubble scratches against her.
He can almost make out a smile on her lips when her eyes open. There’s an almost-affectionate energy in the way that she tucks a wayward strand of hair behind his ear.
It’s moments like these when he knows that he hasn’t lost her, hasn’t pushed her away completely.
She’s so tired, he can feel the exhaustion rolling off her in waves.
He all but begged her to kill him, that night.
She backhanded him in response, hard enough to bruise. Nostrils flaring, eyes burning, breath heaving and hot. She fell to her knees in front of him, knocking their foreheads together.
“Never,” She grit out, “never ask that of me.”
She held him, forced him to stand.
The sky still red, debris still falling.
She never saw the estate again, after that night. She lost the last thing she had, and he was the one who took it from her.
I love you, he muses, I love you more every time the sun rises and you are still beside me.
She’s had so many opportunities to leave him. Times when he’s been injured, times when he’s held her back, times when she’s had to carry him.
He notices a fresh cut on her forehead, right along her hairline. It’s a tiny, blood-crusted thing, most likely from a branch.
He reaches up to heal it, fingers beginning to glow with faint greenish energy.
She grabs his wrist, painfully gentle.
“Don’t waste your mana on that, love.”
Love, love, love. She hasn’t called him that since Kirkwall.
He relents, opting to stroke her cheek instead.
She does smile, now. Just a small upward quirk of her lips, but a smile nonetheless. Her cheeks dimple, and he swears that he catches the blue in her eyes.
She’s reminiscing as much as him. She wants to return to the past as much as he does.
You are my home. He wants to say, but he doesn’t. I want you to hold me so tightly that I can live inside of you.
They’ve both changed, they change with every breath.
In moments like these, though, he can catch a glimpse of the way things used to be.
She lays her head back down, he does the same.
He can almost feel the soft satin sheets that outfitted her- their- bed at the estate.
He thinks that her skin may be smoother than even the finest Nevarran silk.
You’re still here, we both are.
He hums, a deep rumble in his chest.
She runs her fingers through his hair, occasionally catching on a tangle and working it out.