“Please, take it.” The woman pressed the ring further into the palm of his hand. The edges dug in to his skin.
“I couldn’t possibly,” he protested again, but the woman shook her head and looked deep into his eyes.
“You saved the life of my son. Please.” She folded his fingers over the ring, and Anders eventually, reluctantly, nodded. The woman smiled, satisfied. “Thank you,” she said.
He placed the ring on the small desk that crouched against the wall of the clinic’s back room, and glanced at it from time to time as he brushed past. It was a wedding ring, made of a cheap alloy, old and corroded. Anders wondered what story the ring might tell. A love won and then lost? A promise made and then broken? He would never know.
One evening, after a long day spent healing broken bones and ghastly burns, he picked up the ring and weighed it in his palm. It was much too small to fit on his hand – it couldn't go past the second knuckle on even his littlest finger – but it made him think about the ceremony of commitment that went along with it. It was a ritual denied to him and others of his kind. Mages had nothing to offer in a contract of land and titles, and were discouraged from reproduction in any case. And in truth, it was not something he had ever thought about in conjunction with himself. Yet, if he could, he would marry Sara and Fenris. He had nothing to offer them except himself, as he was. But in spirit, he had already given them that. He imagined wearing a ring like this and marking himself as a married man. Not a crazy, lonely apostate in the undercity of Kirkwall but someone who had claims upon him. Someone whom people cared about. Who would publicly support him. The ring could belong to Sara. It was small enough to fit on her hand. He could easily imagine her giving it to him as a ring of troth. Fenris would have one just the same, hidden beneath his armour.
He hesitated, then, after a moment, undid the chain around his neck and slipped the wedding ring onto it. He tucked the new necklace beneath his robes, against his skin. It wouldn’t hurt to imagine, just for a little while.
It was only a matter of time until Sara found out. Anders had been taking the necklace off as he climbed the stairs back into Hawke’s estate, and putting it into his robe pocket. He was too embarrassed to admit to his impossible fantasy. Too embarrassed to admit to wanting something so mundane, so normal, and so utterly beyond any of them. But one evening, Sara wrapped her arms around him from behind and slipped her hands into his pockets… only to find the necklace concealed there.
She pulled it out, and lifted it up to her eye level. The ring slowly rotated on its chain, its dull, corroded metal only dimly reflecting the light of the fire. Anders could feel his cheeks redden.
“One of my patients gave it to me,” Anders said, aiming to sound casual. He swore he could feel Sara’s eyebrow raise, even though he could not see her.
“Must have been a special patient to carry it around with you,” she said. “Isn’t it a wedding ring?”
Anders felt nauseous. “Yes,” he said. He closed his eyes. He didn’t want to have to explain and admit to his pathetic fantasy. But it was either that, or have Sara jump to entirely the wrong conclusion.
“Anders?” He heard the plea for explanation in her voice. He turned around and looked at her, still holding the necklace – now between forefinger and thumb, as though something contaminated.
“It’s not what you think,” he said. “A patient gave it to me after I saved her son. And I kept it because it reminded me of you and Fenris. It… helped me to imagine being married. I imagined it was yours. I… wanted to pretend.”
“Pretend to be married?” Sara was looking at him with wide eyes, but her expression had softened. “I didn’t know you wanted to get married,” she said.
“We can’t,” Anders said. “It was stupid.”
“But you want to?” Sara asked.
“What does it matter? It’s not possible.”
“To me and Fenris?” she asked. Why was she continuing with these questions? It was not possible, for any of them. Champion though she was, the Chantry would never give permission for Sara to marry an elf. And the Chantry of course did not condone group marriages.
“Yes,” he said impatiently. “To you both.”
Sara smiled and hummed happily. She returned the ring to his pocket.
“Married?” Fenris repeated, as though he couldn’t believe his ears.
Sara had, as usual, lost little time in putting her plan into action. Anders had been reading in the library when Fenris had walked in, and Sara sprung it on him. Fenris was still in his armour, decorated liberally with flecks of blood, and was clearly not in the best of moods.
“It may have escaped your attention that I am an elf,” Fenris said sarcastically. “We cannot marry humans, nevermind human nobility.”
“Mages can’t marry either,” Sara agreed.
“Then I fail to see how your proposal is possible.”
Anders glanced up at the elf. He was agitated, his posture stiff, hands balled into fists by his side.
“I don’t want an official marriage,” said Sara. “An unofficial one. We can keep it between us and the Maker.”
“Then how is it any different to what we already have?” Fenris was radiating hostility, and Anders wished that Sara would leave it for now, and return to it when he was in a better mood. But Sara blindly barged onwards.
“It is a commitment to each other,” she said. “In front of our friends. Who else really matters?”
Fenris was shaking his head. “You have to keep yourself available. Part of your power is the possibility of an alliance with the other great families.”
“Fenris,” Sara rebuked him gently as she closed the distance between them and stroked the side of his face. Anders was struck again by their similarity in height. “That ship has already sailed,” she said with a smile, and leaned forward to kiss him. Anders watched as the tension left the elf’s body, and he took Sara in his arms. Sara never seemed to mind when Fenris embraced her while he was still covered in blood, no matter what she was wearing. Anders would have sent him for a bath and a change of clothes.
“To both of you?” Fenris asked, still holding Sara in his arms, and looked over towards Anders. Anders tried to look as though he were ensconced in his book.
“Yes,” said Sara.
“And Anders wants this?” It struck Anders that he hadn’t heard himself referred to as ‘the mage’ for quite some time. Sara turned and looked at him, and Anders put down his book.
“I do,” he said.
Fenris was silent for a moment.
“Then I will do it,” he said.
“You realise that this will have no legal standing, Hawke?” Sebastian asked for what must have been the third time.
“Yes,” said Sara, a note of impatience in her voice.
Anders wasn’t sure how Sara had strong-armed Sebastian into officiating the joining, but here they all were: Anders, Sara, and Fenris holding hands on a windy cliff on the Wounded Coast, with all of their friends gathered around them.
“Very well,” Sebastian said, and began the blessing.
Anders let the familiar words wash over him, the whole thing feeling slightly unreal until Sebastian got to the vows.
“If you wish to be joined in the sight of the Maker, repeat after me…”
All three holding hands, they repeated the words that Anders never thought he would speak.
“My heart is yours, my bread is yours, my life is yours. For all who walk in the sight of the Maker are one.”
“In the name of the Maker, who brought us this world, and in whose name we say the Chant of Light, I declare you…” Sebastian hesitated for a mere moment, “husbands and wife.”
Sara smiled, Fenris glowered in that way he had when he was trying to conceal what he felt, and Anders realised after a moment that he was smiling. As their friends cheered, Sara leaned up on her tiptoes to kiss him, and slipped over his neck a new chain with a heavy weight upon it. Anders picked it up as Sara turned to Fenris, and saw that it was a heavy gold ring, inscribed with the Amell crest, and large enough to fit his ring finger. He looked up to see Fenris bow his head to receive a similar necklace. The way in which Fenris’s hand stole up to the ring in order to enfold it tightly in his grasp showed that it meant something to him, despite his initial protestations. Sara slipped onto her own finger – not the traditional wedding ring finger, but that of her opposite hand – a ring in the same style.
Suddenly, Isabela was beside them, one arm slipped over his shoulders, and the other around Hawke.
“Take these boys somewhere warm and shag them for all they’re worth,” she said, giving Hawke a kiss on the cheek. And if he didn’t know better, Anders would have sworn he saw tears in Isabela’s eyes.
Sara did just that. As soon as they were back through the doors of the estate, she took both of their hands and led them up the stairs and into the bedroom. In the firelight, she slowly undressed each of them. Anders and Fenris’s matching rings glinted on their bare chests as they then took their turn to undress Sara. They moved to the bed, where they breathlessly repeated the vows they had made earlier that day as they found ways to enjoy each other simultaneously. At the height of their passion, Anders asked to kiss Fenris. It was a barrier they had not yet crossed, despite what they had done together. Fenris hesitated, before nodding. His eyes widened when Anders kissed him, but he kissed back – tentatively at first, and then with more passion, before breaking off and kissing Sara again. They swapped kisses back and forth between each other until they each shuddered in climax.
Afterwards, lying on the bed in a tangle of limbs, Anders touched the ring on his chest and looked over at Sara and Fenris. They were his. Both of them. His husband and wife. His family. The thought sent shivers down his spine. He hadn’t belonged anywhere for such a long time. But they were his, and he was theirs. He snuggled closer to Hawke, and as he fell asleep sent a silent thought of gratitude to the woman who had insisted on giving him her wedding ring.