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The Morning Star

Chapter Text

Anders’ stomach was filled with butterflies when he walked inside the local bar. The Hanged Man was never empty, but now it was filled with people. Which didn’t help Anders’ stress at all.

“Are you here for the auditions?” soft squeaky voice asked near him. The voice came from a short elven girl with black hair and green eyes who sat on a stool with a laptop and a notebook. ‘Merrill - assistant’, Anders read from her nametag.

“Yeah, I’m uh, Anders, I sent you the application form last Tuesday” he said, his anxiety shining through. Merrill searched something on her laptop until she nodded, wrote a number on a torn piece of paper and gave it to Anders.

“Here, take this please!” she smiled brightly and nodded towards the stairs. “There are a lot of people waiting for their turn upstairs but please join them as soon as possible. Ms. Montilyet will call you by number when they are ready.”

‘Alright, now I can’t back up anymore…’ Anders thought as he walked up the stairs. Anxiety kept building inside him when he finally reached the top and looked around. A corridor with almost twenty people ahead of him. Great.

He sat on a stool very far from the door that seemed to be The Door. The door to a life changing job or door to yet another poor year. He hadn’t applied in any other plays. Why, he asked himself again and again, but couldn’t find an acceptable answer. Only that he wanted this role, and only this.

Varric was a talented author, everyone loved his books. Anders had even bought the latest best-seller novel Tethras wrote , mostly because it was the last part of his newest trilogy. In the last pages of the book there had been a casting call for an upcoming movie that was scripted by Mr. Tethras himself. ‘Mage actors are also welcome’, had read in a small font under the main info. That was enough for Anders.

The Door suddenly opened and a short girl walked out, tears in her eyes. Everyone in the hall turned their heads towards her and the door that slowly swung closed. It was deadly silent aside from the restrained sniffing that echoed from the walls. After a moment the door opened again, showing a black-haired woman with a yellow dress standing there.

“Number 125 please”, she said with an accent Anders didn’t catch. Perhaps Orlesian?

A man in a suit stood up and walked up to her, and the door closed again. ‘Clever choice of clothing’, Anders thought and looked at his own rags. His olive green trench coat had seen better days, so had his jeans. Only the boots were new, and Anders was proud of them. They judge people by their shoes or how did the saying go…

Talking about shoes, a loud clattering caught his attention. A shorter man with a black leather jacket walked up and seemed also to desire a seat far away from the door. His black hood hid his face and hair, and he had a white scarf around his neck. Even though he was pretty covered, something was really familiar in him.

Of course, Anders thought, this was an audition for a movie role that was probably wanted by many local actors, even the popular ones. It would be no surprise if someone as famous as Emma Thompson came upstairs with a number on their hand. Perhaps he was just an actor Anders has seen a lot but couldn’t put a name on. He definitely seemed like he wanted to keep his face hidden from unknown gazes.

Anders snorted and almost jumped when the sound echoed in the corridor. Some people turned their head towards him, some just ignored it. The man with a hidden face didn’t move.

‘I wish this would be over soon..’

 

There were no other auditionees after the mystery man. After almost an hour it was just them sitting in the hall, a bit closer to the door. Neither of them had spoken, and the silence was getting on Anders’ nerves. He hated silence, and after sitting about an hour without anyone to talk to, he was fidgeting. He just wanted to speak with someone, if the other man didn’t do anything, he had to break the silence himself.

“Out of everything I think the waiting is the worst”, Anders stated, smiling nervously. The man raised his head and only smiled back before lowering his face again. It wasn’t enough for Anders.
“I think we are the last ones today… I bet they are happy too since it must have been a long day for everyone!”

“I believe acting in a film is mostly that too”, the man suddenly said with a low velvety voice and looked at Anders again, “waiting.” His tone wasn’t amused at all, but Anders could have sworn he saw the man’s lips curve.

Butterflies were back at Anders’ stomach. His voice was so creamy and deep. I don’t even know his name and I already have a crush on him. “Oh maker you are right, but it’s different kind of waiting”, Anders chuckled and tried to see the man’s eyes. They were green, Anders was sure of that, and a shock of white hair covered the other side of his forehead. Dear Andraste, give me the courage to at least ask his name.

Before Anders could open his mouth the lady in yellow opened the door again and nodded to Anders. She looked tired, which was no surprise since the auditions had been running the whole day and this wasn’t going to be the last audition of the week.

Anders walked through the door with his coat in hand, regretting it a bit since his sweater wasn’t any more presentable. At least the coat didn’t have a mayo stain from the sandwich he had eaten about 30 minutes ago. He should have put it back on -

“I’m Josephine, casting director”, the lady said and smiled, “please follow me.”

The lady led him to another room that had a wide table near the wall, three people sitting behind it watching as they walked in. An elf, a human and a dwarf that Anders assumed was Varric Tethras himself. Anders stopped near the table and watched Josephine walk behind it, already writing something on her notebook.

This was already somehow more uncomfortable than any audition he had ever been.

“So, you are a mage”, a woman sitting in the middle announced, clearly reading his application. Her eyes were sharp when she raised her gaze. Everyone seemed to look at his choice of clothing, and Anders felt his cheeks burning.

“I am, miss”, he said and the woman nodded. She looked at the dwarf sitting beside her, letting him do the talking.

“I am Varric Tethras, I assume you’ve probably read many of my novels”, the dwarf said smiling, playing with the pencil in his hand. After Anders nodded, he laughed. “Good good, and you probably know that I also wrote the script. This is Cassandra Pentaghast, our dear producer, and this is Zevran Arainai, our director. You are auditioning for the role of Adrian, right?”

“How did you guess?” Anders said smirking, trying to swallow his anxiety. “How could a mage apply for a role of a mage?”

Zevran’s laugh roared around the room while Varric raised his hands, his smile widening. Josephine also smiled softly while furiously writing everything down, but Cassandra just looked at him. Her expression was cold and measuring, but impossible to read.

“I like you already”, Varric continued. “What makes you the best option for this role, then? You have been acting on Broadway if I remember correctly.”

“I have, I’ve been in The Fifth Blight and The Plague, also in The Song of Revolution and then in some smaller plays-“

“Really? You were in The Song of Revolution?” Zevran cut off curiously and Anders nodded again.

“Yes, I was the Mage of the Sewers there”, he answered while gesturing his torso, “I had the.. the ugly robes with seaweed and everything.”

“I can easily picture that”, Varric laughed and Zevran burst into laughing. Anders couldn’t deny that his clothes were any better than that, but perhaps he earned some extra points from it.

“I know I know, I’m not really a fashion guru”, he admitted and smiled, scratching his temple. “But yeah, it was a great musical. We could actually use some easy spells there, the audience mostly approved it. I took Karl Thekla’s course ‘use of magic in art’ since I went to Kinloch Hold’s University-“

“Before you go any further I want you to know that we won’t be using any real magic in the set”, Cassandra said and cocked her head. It was still impossible to read her thoughts. Was she annoyed? Impressed?

“Why?” Anders asked before he could stop himself. Great, go ahead and start arguing with them…

Varric and Zevran looked at each other, changing unspoken words while Cassandra kept silent. Finally the elf opened his mouth.

“Well, I myself have nothing against magic, I think it’s quite fabulous and would do wonders in our set, but we had to-… let’s say, have a lot of heated conversations about it”, he said, choosing his words carefully and quickly looking at Cassandra whose face hadn’t changed at all. “Also the Thedas’ Film Foundation was a bit against it, so... it is what it is now.”

After shrugging his shoulders, Varric formed a smirk on his lips. He leaned closer to Anders on the table and tapped his pen on his notebook. “So, what else can you tell us about yourself?”

 

 

The key turned stiffly in his door’s lock, but finally Anders got himself inside his apartment. A soft meow answered him from the otherwise empty kitchen and he couldn’t help but smile. Ser Pounce-a-lot was always happy to see him, especially now when he had cat food somewhere inside his shopping bags.

Even after leaving the auditions his anxiety hadn’t eased. Even though Varric and Zevran had smiled a good amount of time during his auditioning, Cassandra’s cold gaze remained in his thoughts. When he had come out of the door, even the handsome man sitting in the corridor had looked a bit puzzled. Perhaps he had taken more time than others. He wasn’t quite sure if it was a bad or a good thing. He had gotten so embarrassed he had just left, regretting it instantly because he would have loved to ask the man’s name. Or number.

After emptying his shopping bags Anders fed Pounce and started brewing some tea. It was already pretty late and he was tired. The whole day included so many incidents he was exhausted. He only wanted to sit on a couch and watch late reruns of Dinner Date with Pounce sleeping on his lap. Luckily he hadn’t promised to visit the clinic tomorrow, which meant he could sleep without any alarms. The clinic was a good place with good work to be done, but it was still hard work without any salary. Luckily Anders had finally learned to take day-offs with no remorse.

There were no new messages on his phone, even though he had left his friend Ariana a ton of them while waiting for the auditions. Ariana Amell was his close friend from theatre and even though they didn’t see much anymore they messaged each other almost every day. Ariana had introduced Anders to many of his friends and even to some important people from the movie business. How did she get so popular, Anders didn’t quite know but he was really proud of her no matter what.

Would Ariana know something about the man? White hair and green eyes were about everything Anders remembered from the man’s looks. And that voice, how could Anders describe it well enough? Could he hear his voice again? He could listen to it all day and all night long. All the dirty things the man could say…

Anders groaned and lay down on his sofa.

 

He must had fallen asleep somewhere in the middle of the third episode. When he opened his eyes he realized he was still laying on his couch with his TV on, at the moment running some sort of quiz show. Only now the early morning light was creeping in under his curtains. The woman asking viewers to call had only a bikini on even though it was only March. ‘Ugh, those TV shows…’

The first notes of The Bee Gee’s Staying Alive started playing from Anders’ phone which ended up somewhere on the floor. He quickly jumped up, accidentally dropping a bag of chips he had gotten from the kitchen before passing out on the couch. After reaching his phone from under the couch, he checked the number. It wasn’t a private number, but he didn’t recognize it. And who the hell would call him at 9 in the morning?

‘Probably a lot of people actually, since it was Thursday’, Anders thought and braced himself before answering.

“Hello?”

“Good morning, this is Josephine Montilyet”, a bright voice sounded from the phone. Who? “I hope I didn’t wake you up or anything?”

“Not at all, I was just… eating chips?” Anders said when his eyes hit the mess on the floor. He mentally facepalmed himself and finally recognized who he was talking with.

“Ah, good to hear! I’m calling to ask you to come at the Academy of Kirkwall at 1 pm tomorrow, we are gathering all actors and assistants at the Library there. We need to discuss about the future and our schedules.”

Anders didn’t understand a word she was saying. Surely he hadn’t any rehearsals for any plays anymore?

“Hold on, wha- where? I’m sorry but what is this about?”

“Oh dear I apologize, I left out the important part!” Josephine yelled on the phone and chuckled a bit. “I’m sorry, but yes! You were chosen to play the part of Adrian. Welcome into the film industry, Anders.”

Chapter Text

Even though Anders had known taking a bus was going to be a risk, he had still taken it. And by looking at his watch he was already three minutes late. What a charming way to start! A pack of pre-schoolers streamed slowly in the bus just a few stops before his, and Anders couldn’t stay still. He drummed his foot against the dirty floor nervously, sighing when the bus stopped for red lights.

 Finally Anders ran out of the bus towards the large building where he was supposed to be seven minutes ago. The Academy of Kirkwall was a huge study centre with over 400 students. It had many different courses, mostly about art, media and designing. Anders had once taken a course about journalism, but his strong opinions about mage rights were told to be “alarming” by the professor. He even got a warning about not being neutral, and that was enough for him to quit the course.

 Anders sprinted through the front yard, his backpack bouncing uncomfortably against his spine. Nine minutes. He kicked the Library door open and rushed through the hall, trying to remember which way the meeting was supposed to be.

 "I'm so sorry I'm late!" Anders yelled as soon as he pushed himself in the meeting room. Over forty people sat in front of a small stage where Josephine was standing. His heart started pounding against his ribs when everyone turned their eyes upon him. “Am I fired?” he whispered so silently no one could really hear him.

"Aah, Anders!" Zevran's voice rang somewhere in the room, making him jump. Anders noticed the elf sitting next to Varric and another man with short ginger hair. "We were worried you had changed your mind.”

“You look like you ran a marathon on your way here”, Varric greeted him with a smile.

“I’m sorry, I took a bus and and-“, Anders had to catch his breath. He tried to gesture something with his hands, not being able to form clear words. He was still out of breath when Josephine cleared her throat on the stage.

“We are pleased that you arrived, please take a seat Anders and we’ll start.”

“Sit here, sweetheart”, smoky female voice purred near him. Curvy dark-skinned woman with a white top, short blue skirt and thigh-high brown boots sat on a stool with her arms and legs crossed. She had thick dark curly hair and the biggest golden earrings Anders had ever seen. Her grin was friendly and Anders decided to sit on a chair next to her.

"Thank you for saving a seat", Anders said and took off his coat. The woman chuckled and leaned closer to him.

"You're welcome. They said you're going to be in a role of Adrian so I thought we should get along." She offered Anders her hand with a smile. "I'm Isabela, Bela for friends and lovers, and I will be playing Dona, your new best friend."

Isabela’s carefree voice let Anders relax a bit and he grabbed her hand. She had pretty long nails painted in the same shade of navy blue her skirt was. "Nice to meet you Bela, I’m Anders as you have probably already heard." Isabela smirked at him and turned her gaze towards the stage where Josephine had started talking again.

"Did I miss a lot?" Anders asked while opening his backpack, grabbing his notebook and pen.

"Not much to be honest", she answered softly and bit her lip. "You weren't the only one late so we kind of waited a bit."

"I was not? Who are we missing then?"

 

"Oh dear Maker I'm sorry I'm late!!" came a loud shout from the door and everyone's head whipped up again. Short chubby woman closed the door behind her and brushed her reddish hair away from her face. Anders recognized her immediately.

"Ariana?" he whispered, happiness filling his insides. She hadn’t messaged him for days and suddenly she was there?

"I hope you got my emails Josephine? I promise I'll get a new phone later today! Oh good god please continue, don’t mind me!”

Everyone seemed to smile at her, probably because she was a lot more known and well liked, and pretty charming - in her own way. She probably didn’t notice Anders, but she waved at everyone and scurried to the other corner, sitting next to the man with ginger hair. Surprisingly Anders identified him too.

"Is Alistair also in the set?" Anders murmured himself while watching Ariana giving a shy hug for the man, not even noticing Isabela leaning closer to him.

"He is, I believe he was the one who suggested Amell", she huffed playfully and rolled her eyes. "It's disgusting how deep in love they are... You know them?"

"I went to the same University with Ariana, and later she introduced me to Alistair. How do you know her?" Anders asked and let his gaze scan the people until his eyes saw something white.

He couldn't forget the black leather jacket and the green eyes that were suddenly staring back at him. It was the same man from the auditions, the man with a deepest voice he’d ever heard. Now without his scarf Anders could see the white swirling tattoos on the elf's neck, disappearing under his grey shirt. How far would they go?

“Did you hear a word I said?”

Anders teared his eyes off the man to look at Isabela, who seemed more amused than annoyed. He forced a smile on his lips to apologize, but Isabela just shook her head.

"I see you have also noticed Fenris", Isabela purred, filling Anders stomach with butterflies while the blush creeped on his cheeks.

"I’m sorry?”

"The man you were staring at", she grinned and let her eyes follow his gaze. "He's Fenris. Have you seen the films he’s been in?”

Anders slowly shook his head while biting his lower lip. “Not that I recall, but he does look really familiar.”

“He’s been in almost every movie Sir Danarius has produced and directed, and you must have heard about him? He makes a lot of ‘art films’, some of them really graphic and distressing. Pretty hard core stuff too, and really popular in Tevinter.”

“In Tevinter? How is he here then?” Anders wondered while trying to remember any films made by Sir Danarius. Anders had once stumbled across his newest one, ‘Those Wicked Temptations’ since it raised a lot of worry among people outside the Imperium. Even if it was advertised as an art film not suitable for everyone, Anders couldn’t think any sane person who could have enjoyed the film or even see art in it. The first 15 minutes were almost too much for him.

It told the stories of five slaves living with their masters, their damaged minds slowly drifting into insanity. Anders remembered reading an interview where Sir Danarius promised that the actors were treated with great respect in the set, but truth to be told, no one really seemed to believe it. Three actors quit acting right after the film was released, and one was sent to mental hospital. But how about the fifth one? The article said that the fifth one had promised to continue acting, promised to play other as effective roles in films sacred for art. Or that was what the news said.

A picture flashed behind Anders eyes. He had seen it on some online newspaper, probably the same one he had read about the Wicked Temptations; there was an older man with a cruel-looking face and angry expression getting in a black car with a young elf with plasters and bandages all over his neck and hands. The elf was tired, his white hair messy and unclean.

Fenris.

“I believe there's been a lot of talk about him quitting acting since he ran away from Tevinter half a year ago”, Isabela’s sudden voice pierced his thoughts and Anders looked up. “Not a big surprise, that boy looks like he had a rough time there. Yet here he is.”

"Could our dear actors try to listen to me?" Josephine's stiff voice asked, and she didn't look amused at all. Isabela raised her hands and let out a soft laugh.

“Sorry sweetie, we are listening I promise.”

They could talk about Fenris later. Anders tilted his head slowly towards Fenris only to notice the elf was still looking at them. Anders just wished Fenris hadn’t heard them.

 

 

“The thing is that we do not have too much time and our schedule is pretty busy”, Zevran declared as soon as he got on the small stage after Josephine’s talk. He read something from his iPad and brushed strands of his hair behind his ear. “We have only 19 days before our first shooting, so I really hope everyone will stay healthy and good-looking.”

People smiled and changed a few good-hearted chats before letting Zevran continue. “So, I want every actor to gather to the other corner to meet and talk about our schedules with dear Merrill, while I and Cassandra will be talking with the rest of the team here. We will go through some rules too.” After a quick smile Zevran clapped his hand against his thigh and nodded to others. “Go.”

Chairs screeched against the floor as people started to gather at the right places. Anders smiled to himself as he stood up and pulled his backpack up from the ground. “Feels like I’m in preschool again.”

“Oh boy, you just wait for the shootings”, Isabela noted and chose a softer chair in the circle that was forming in the said corner. Suddenly someone grabbed Anders’ arm with a strong grip.

“Please don’t hate me Anders and believe me, my phone fell into my bowl of soup and obviously broke, so I couldn’t message you or read your messages but good god you are here!!” Ariana spoke so fast Anders only catch a few words, until the woman jumped to hug him. Anders could only laugh and hug back.

“It’s okay, I figured you were busy or something when you didn’t even open your WhatsApp… But you got a role too?!”

“I did, just yesterday I got like thirteen emails if I could play a part here! I don’t know anything about this or the role I’m gonna get but think! Two mages in a movie!”

Anders’ smile got wider and wider and his head kept nodding. The pride lighted up inside his chest as Ariana jumped in front of him, cheering. It was rare to see mage actors in films made in Ferelden, and still they had both got a part. What a win it was!

As they got in the circle of chairs they both picked seats near Isabela and let their chat die down, so the short elven girl could start talking.

“So hello hello everyone!” she said in a soft, chirped voice and flashed everyone the sweetest smile. She was probably more excited than everyone in a room together. “I’m Merrill, the assistant director and just, general assistant I think! I have a bunch of papers to share with you today!”

She pulled a huge folder from her bag and opened it. “First of all, I have specific scripts for actors on main roles, so Anders, Isabela and Fenris, here are yours!”

Anders’ heart jumped as soon as he heard Fenris’ name. He raised his head and noticed Fenris sitting across him. He looked so grumpy and uncomfortable, but as soon as Merrill offered him the stack of papers his expression softened a bit.

“Focus, Anders!” Ariana chuckled and Anders turned his head to see Merrill offering him his own copy. He caught it and started eyeing through it.

“We have specific scripts for everyone just to avoid you slipping spoilers, but also to keep your interest on! I think it’s super exciting to know only bits from the plot, don’t you think?!” Merrill clapped her hands and smiled sweetly when she had given everyone their scripts. She then skimmed through her folder and pulled out more papers.

“Here are the schedules, everyone has their own. We have to travel a bit to shoot some scenes outside Kirkwall, I think it’s lovely! We’ll pay everything except food, but I’m sure you will manage! Oh and read the schedule through now and please ask questions. If you have them, of course!”

It was surprisingly quiet when people sat in a ring and read their schedules. Anders knew rehearsals in theatre took a lot of time, but the amount of time reserved for shooting some scenes was… ridiculous. Well, he couldn’t exactly complain since he had auditioned and got into the main role, but still… How about the clinic?

No waay!!! Are we going to Sundermount?!” a fruity, excited voice broke the silence. A man with black hair and beard and with really beefy arms turned the papers in his hands and smiled so widely Anders thought his face would tear in two.

“Oh yes! I believe you and Carver will be there quite a lot!” Merrill chuckled and Anders noticed another man with same-looking hair but no beard sitting next to the other man. If that wasn’t enough, a woman with the same black hair and bright blue eyes sat near the two of them. All Hawke siblings? All in the same film?!

“YES!” the man with a beard rejoiced, and Anders let out a laugh when he stood up with excitement painted all over his face. “Are we going to see dragons?!”

“Garrett sit down, there are no dragons”, the younger one – Carver - said and tried to pull his brother down. “You are embarrassing me…”

“How are you so sure?” their sister questioned – Marian was her name if Anders was right. She turned the pages in her script and bit her lip. “Fuck, why can’t I be in Sundermount? Garrett let’s change roles.”

“Uh oh, no?” Garrett snorted and ruffled Carver’s hair, “I need to stick with Carver, someone has to watch over our little brother…”

“So you are the Hawkes, huh?” asked a well-build qunari Anders couldn’t believe he hadn’t noticed before since he was basically the size of a closet. “I’ve read a lot about you but never seen you.”

“Holy shit you have a nice pair of horns!”

 

Before Anders realized, everyone around him was talking. Ariana was laughing with Merrill and another woman with short ginger hair, Isabela was leaning closer to a tall man in a shirt with Andraste’s face printed on it, and the Hawke siblings were having a loud conversation with the qunari.

But Anders wasn’t the only one just sitting alone. Fenris was turning the pages in his hands quietly, every now and then looking around. Anders felt his stomach burning when he slowly stood up and walked to an empty chair near Fenris. The elf’s ear twitched when Anders sat down, but he didn’t turn his head.

‘Talk to him! Imagine if you became close friends before the shootings start. You could eat together in the set, joke about the script, maybe go for a coffee sometimes, develop into something bigger… But first you have to talk to him, right?’

Breaking the ice was usually easy for Anders, but the elf made it somehow harder than anything Anders had ever done. He opened his mouth a few times before actually getting any words out, “So uh, there’s going to be a lot of work for you, huh?”

Fenris only nodded, still keeping his eyes focused on the script. “Perhaps as much as there’s for you.”

Anxiety buzzed again in Anders’ head while his heart started to beat faster and faster. His breathing might have also quickened and become louder since the elf slowly lowered his papers and turned his head towards Anders. Was he amused? Annoyed? Angry? Interested? Anders couldn’t tell.

“Oh? You are in a big role then?” Anders asked hastily, hearing his voice crack at the last word. Come on, what are you? A teenager? You can talk to other people!

Fenris shrugged his shoulders and lowered his eyes again. “I was put in a role of Prince Leto, and he seems to be quite important character. Originally I auditioned for the role of Adrian.”

“You didn’t get it then?” Anders questioned and froze. The elf’s head snapped up, his expression looking indignant. His face became blank almost immediately but Anders could still see hurt and annoyance in his eyes.

“…obviously not”, was the only answer Anders got. Fenris’ lips were just a thin line when he shifted slightly on his chair, turning his back towards the human. The conversation was over before it had even fully started.

“Sorry I-.. I don’t know why I said that, I didn’t mean it-“

“No, of course you didn’t mean it”, Fenris hissed, his voice suddenly full of acid and sarcasm, “you mages don’t seem to think anything you do.”

First day and Anders was already rivals with his co-actor – the elf he already had a stupid crush on. This couldn’t be true. The bubbling anxiety in his chest only worsened, so after sitting silently for a moment Anders stood up and almost ran out from the circle of chairs.

“Honey where are you going?” Ariana’s worried voice sounded behind him, but Anders just raised his hand and walked to the doors. He glanced around the room just before leaving, only to see Zevran and Varric standing side by side, eyeing him with concerned looks. Zevran flashed a smile at him just before he closed the door and ran to the bathrooms.

 

 

 

The uncomfortable pressure inside him didn’t ease even after he splashed ice cold water on his face. What would the others think? Varric and Zevran had seen him running away, probably had seeing Fenris getting offended by something he had said.

Why was it that every important meeting he had always got messed up? And especially why did he panic because he hadn’t done anything wrong had he? The elf seemed to get annoyed by him before they had even talked, so it wasn’t Anders fault was it? But still, he had asked a stupid, almost provocative question. Who else could he blame but himself?

Anxiety kept twisting inside him until a sudden knock stopped his line of thoughts.

“Anders?” Ariana’s soft voice sounded behind the door. “Are you okay? Honey? Oh god are you even there, sorry if there’s someone else-…”

An uneasy smile formed on Anders lips for a second, and he brushed his hair out from his face. “Yeah It’s me, everything’s fine.” He hoped his voice was convincing enough.

“Oh yeah? Well I’m not going to persuade you but please come back! They are giving out information about the training and someone is measuring our bodies for the clothes so, we need you there sweetheart!”

Clothes. Training. Yes, so many new upcoming things Anders had been so excited, but all the excitement was buried under his worrying. It would be almost humiliating to walk back there, but he couldn’t say in the bathroom forever. He nodded, even though Ariana couldn’t see it through the door. “I’ll come soon.”

There was a small pause, until Ariana answered, her voice almost like a whisper. “Did someone say something bad to you?”

Anders sighed and finally braced himself to see his friend. He opened the door and stood out, almost straight into Ariana’s arms.

“Can we talk about it later? I’d rather discuss about all this when we’re not here.”

“Sure!” Ariana smiled and hugged him, petting his back as she always did. “But tomorrow, since my phone is still broken and I can’t get a new one until tomorrow morning. Or do you wanna get coffee after this?”

After breathing in and out steadily a few times, Anders nodded and tried to give her a relaxed smile.

“Sounds good”, he answered and took Ariana’s hand while starting to walk towards the meeting room. “But what happened to your phone?”

“I told everyone, didn’t I? It fell in my soup! I would have invited you over to eat it but, well I think you understood the problem.”

Zevran’s voice and other’s loud laughing welcomed them in as they entered the meeting room again, and the two groups had blend into a mess of people standing here and there. A dark-skinned woman with a buzz cut hair buzzed around Garrett with a long tape measure in her hands. She bit her purple-painted lips as she focused on her task of measuring the height of the man. Next to her stood a man with the most gorgeous moustache. He had nice, clean black jeans and a white shirt with golden snakes curling around it. He seemed to have a palette on his other hand and he checked everyone’s... skin?

“That’s Dorian, I talked to him a bit before I left”, Ariana whispered, “He’s the make-up artist here and also a mage!” A loud clapping of hands made them spin around and look at the stage where Zevran was standing again.

“So, we’ll start the training at Monday at 8 in the morning, so please, dear actors, be there on time! I’m going to make you all wet-”, Zevran announced and smirked at Isabela’s direction, “with sweat, of course. Now go to Vivienne and Dorian please and then… then do what you want to do, I must get to work now.”

With waves from everyone, Zevran left with Cassandra and Varric. Others still laughed and talked together, except one person was missing.

“I can’t see Fenris”, Anders murmured. His eyes scanned through the room but there was no white hair to be seen.

“He left just before bosses”, Isabela’s voice came too near from his ear and Anders jumped. She gave him a soft laugh but calmed down soon. “Did something happen between you?”

Her voice was slightly concerned at first, but after seeing Anders hesitate she shook her head. “It’s not my thing to go between those things though… well physically yes but otherwise no… Anyways, have you already talked to Hawkes? Because you should, they are funny.”

Ariana was quick to chat with Isabela as Anders gave the door a sad gaze. Fenris had left before he had time to talk to him again, and somehow it made Anders surprisingly sad and worried.

But perhaps he left because he was busy, not because you came back. You can talk to him on Monday.’

It was true – he had no chance to talk to Fenris before Monday and therefore it was useless to dwell on sadness. Even if easier said than done, Anders forced a smile on his face and spotted Garrett chasing Carver around the room, both laughing. Maybe it was a good idea to meet and befriend others now that he had a good chance.

He would get to know Fenris later.

Chapter Text

The first sip of coffee burned Anders’ tongue. Even if he was the morning person, this was all too early.

Merrill had called him around five o’clock in the morning and told him the training would start earlier because of “Aveline suddenly got work to do and it would be nicer to go for a walk when there are fewer people”. Almost immediately after that Isabela had called and told him to meet her at the Coffeehouse.

Now, it was six in the morning and Anders was standing outside Harimann’s gym in Hightown with Isabela and the Hawkes, a paper cup filled with hot coffee in his hands. The morning was ridiculously cold and too early for any of them.

Isabela let out a long yawn and hugged herself. “Andraste’s arse it’s cold…”

“I bet her arse wouldn’t be this cold”, Marian said and spit on the snow, looking at her mittens. “I thought Merrill was already here since she called so early.”

“Maybe she’s getting the keys or something”, Carver wondered with dull voice and yelped when a snowball his the back of his jacket.

“Or perhaps there’s a back door that everyone uses and we are just standing here like idiots!” Garrett smirked and rubbed his now wet and cold hands together. He was the only one who seemed to have fun already.

“You are an idiot.”

“Don’t speak like that, Carver. Hit me back!”

“I’ll do it when you aren’t expecting me, stupid.”

Anders let out a soft chuckle as he watched the brothers throwing snow at each other. He had always wished to have a brother or sister, but his parents never got another child – perhaps it was for their own good, because living in such a poor family was a struggle even for the three of them. After he was put in the Circle, he and Ariana became so close that people thought they were siblings, but it still wasn’t the same as growing up with one since birth. A sting of emotion woke him up to reality – there was no reason to dwell on something like that when he could just watch Hawkes’ fun snowball fight.

Thunderous sound of a motorcycle grew louder and Anders turned his head. It was so early it felt like the city itself was asleep. The sun was only beginning to rise, but the street lamps and white snow gave plenty of light for them. Soon another source of light appeared at the end of a street as the loud motorcycle drove closer.

“Now look at that beauty”, Garrett sighed as the motorcycle slowed down and suddenly drove to a parking lot at the other side of the road. “I’m going to eat my hat if that’s Merrill.”

“Then I really hope it’s her, because that bike is sexy”, Isabela hummed and chuckled. “Also she could let us in because I don’t feel my toes anymore.”

Interest kept Anders’ gaze locked with the vehicle. As the motorcycle had parked and stopped, the driver jumped out of it and walked over the road towards them. It was impossible to guess who the driver was, but they were short and slim, probably an elf. Black tight-fit clothes, helmet and a huge back hanging behind their back. Kind of… hot.

And dangerous. The roads were icy and super slippery, how could someone drive motorcycle in this weather? Through the winter Anders had dealt with multiple people who had fallen with their bikes or just slipped on the street and broken their arms or legs. Should I warn them that it’s too early to drive with that vehicle?

But on the other hand, the driver probably knows all about the dangers. Just stay calm, Anders.

“Good morning”, Isabela purred and put her hands in her coat’s pockets, “are you gonna let us in?”

The mysterious driver unfortunately shook their head, and then took off the helmet. White hair was almost the same shade as snow on the ground and Anders’ heart jumped.

“I’m afraid I do not have the keys to do so”, Fenris said and looked around. Fenris. It didn’t help Anders’ hopeless crush that Fenris’ voice sounded slightly rougher than usually, probably because of the cold and early morning. “How long have you been waiting?”

“Probably ten minutes”, Marian murmured and tried to jump a bit to keep herself warm. “Nobody opens the door.”

“Have you called Merrill?”

“We- ... no we haven’t actually, Garrett give me your phone.”

“What? Why can’t you use your own?”

“Because of reasons, c’mon Gar.”

When Marian was dialing Merrill’s number Anders kept looking at Fenris. After their last encounter Anders had been thinking about him almost every day. He was still quite ashamed and sorry, but still his attraction towards the elf had grown stronger. Fenris was standing almost in front of him with black tight clothes, looking like the cold was nothing to him. His expression was cool and calm like the weather, but his eyes wary as they had always been. Warmth filled Anders’ stomach. If he could just talk to him like friends do…

Suddenly green eyes locked with his. They stared at each other for a long time, until Anders nodded. He tried to form an apologizing smile, but judging by the blank look on Fenris’ face he didn’t succeed at that. No smile came back from him.

“Maker’s Balls, she’s coming!” Marian yelled, making Anders and Fenris both jolt. Their eye contact was broken and Anders suddenly embarrassed. He took a big gulp of coffee and with his luck burned his tongue again. He opened his mouth quickly to let the hot coffee fall on his coat, only to get Fenris and Isabela look at him.

“Oh love, did you burn your tongue?” Isabela asked with a soft, concerned smile while Fenris just stared, letting others go inside first.

Anders shook his hand to get the coffee drops off, but instead managed to get more drops from the cup fly on his jacket. As if Fenris’ stare helped him to calm down. “Yeah, again.”

Isabela bit her lip and took the coffee from Anders’ hand. “You are a mage, right? Can’t you heal it?”

Healing. Magic. Yes. Why hadn’t he thought that before? He was a goddamn healer, burned tongue was nothing to him.

He furrowed his brows and nodded, pressing his hand softly against his lips. Blue dim light shined through his fingers and the magic did its work, and suddenly the tingling was gone.

And so was Fenris.

“There! Bet you could cool down your coffee too”, Isabela smirked and tapped Anders’ shoulder, giving him his coffee back. He just hummed and smiled back. “If I knew ice magic, then I would.”

 

 

Even Garrett calmed down when he changed his clothed in the dressing room. Carver was filling his bottle in the sink, chatting with the qunari everyone seemed to call The Iron Bull. Anders dressed quietly in the corner, smiling at Garrett who put his t-shirt backwards twice.

Fenris however didn’t change with them. He had locked himself in the toilet as soon as he found his work-out clothes. He didn’t even look at anyone when he closed his locker and ran out of the dressing room with a water bottle.

Anders let out a low sigh. What if Fenris was already frustrated with the film because of him? The words he had said still echoed in his ears when he saw the elf. You mages don’t seem to think anything you do.’ Perhaps he was mad at him because he was a mage.

Anders huffed and rolled his eyes. If that was the case then Fenris could bloody well stay angry. There was no way he would hide his magic now that he was chosen for the role. Even if he couldn’t use it in the set, he would still talk about it and heal himself if the situation needed it – he was a healer after all. He twitched on the bench as Iron Bull pressed his large hand on Anders’ shoulder.

“Let’s go to train some fighting, huh?” he said with a cheerful voice and almost pulled Anders off the bench. “I want to see how you are going to beat me!”

“Hopefully not with my bare hands”, Anders answered with a cocky smile and the qunari laughed.

“I would like to see you try.”

 

Merrill was waiting for them at the gymnasium with Zevran and two women. The other was tall and buff human with long ginger hair and stiff face, the other elf with light messy hair and colourful joggers. The elf almost jumped in her place, smiling at every direction.

The excitement returned in Anders and he found it impossible to hide his smile. This was it – his first training session for the role. He had no idea what it would hold inside, but he had been waiting for it anyways. Everyone had been talking about it in the group chat they had made in WhatsApp. Combat training was sure waiting for them, but what else? And most importantly, how would they train mages?

“Morning, good to see you all and apologies for an early start”, Zevran said and pulled his hair in a ponytail. “Let me introduce you to Miss Aveline Vallen, she’ll show you how to train your strength and sword swinging as I like to call it. And then, dear Sera Bhals-“

“Just Sera!” the elf shouted and laughed, rising her head up. “That’s me, and I’ll show you how to do the fun stuff like shoot arrows and jump on walls!”

Anders laughed among others at Sera’s enthusiasm. It was amazing to see how happy and excited she was. Anders just hoped she would go easy on them.

“We’ll start by warming up, and then some of you will go train with Aveline and others with Sera”, Zevran declared while taking of his hoodie, getting ready to train with them. He stretched his arms high up and told everyone to do the same.

Black swirling tattoos decorated Zevran’s other arm and cheek, some lines peeking under the helm of his green tank top. Anders had always liked tattoos, but never really got encouraged enough to take one himself. Could he even if he was going to get more roles in films?

After stretching everyone started running around the gymnasium. After 5 minutes of running Ariana was struggling, but Zevran kept running with her pace, encouraging her to keep going. Sera was in the lead, yelling ironical inspirational quotes and laughing. It was impossible to keep in her pace.

“Keep going everyone! The more you run now the less you have to suffer in the set! Imagine you are running to escape the zombies! Faster Amell they are caaaatching youuu!”

Breathless laughs and chuckles encouraged others to come up with other similar boosts. It was hard to talk and run at the same time, but everyone had fun. But even if everyone had slowed down, one of them was still running in the same pace as they started.

Fenris was in unbelievable good shape: even though slim, he had hard muscles that kept him running for a long time. He was now running past Sera.He must have been running for a long time. Away from things or to get somewhere, or perhaps both.

Of course, Anders was fast too, but he was getting older. Theatre was physically demanding sometimes, but not that much it could be called exercising. Long nights at the clinic didn’t really train his muscles either so he noticed he was getting really tired already.

But Fenris kept funning. Sera had tried to race with him, but she had to give up pretty quickly. Fenris was surprisingly fast and he didn’t seem to tire at all, but as he ran past Anders, he could hear Fenris’ heavy panting.

“Alright everyone, that’s enough!” Sera laughed and slowed her pace until she stopped and started stretching her calves. “Good job everyone! Some day we’ll do the Cooper test, but not yet!”

“Look at that man”, Isabela breathed out as she sat down on the floor and tried to calm her breathing. “Somebody tell Fenris to stop.”

“Hey Mr. Bolt! You can stop running”, Sera yelled at him and giggled.

Fenris kept running for a moment, until he stopped and turned around. It was the first time Anders saw him smile. It was more of a grin, but he didn’t seem to direct it at anybody. Perhaps he mostly smiled for himself and his own achievement.

“I was just having fun”, he said and walked to the circle they had formed.

“Can we others have fun in other way?” Garrett asked and Marian laughed behind him. “Like play Wicked Grace or something?”

“Later”, Aveline’s sharp voice cut them as she threw a sack full of long sticks on the ground. “We’ll work out more at first and then start practicing combat now.”

 

 

 

“I thought we were going to be training too, not just sit and watch others”, Ariana’s tired voice sighed next to him. While others were fighting with wooden swords, they have been put to run around the hall and then just sit down and wait.

Anders rubbed his hands together and watched others. A lot of new people supposed to play minor roles had joined them and were now either training sword fight with Aveline or throwing imaginary knives with Sera. And they? They just sat on the side with Zevran running in and out the gymnasium talking to a phone with Merrill running after him.

“This is ridiculous”, Anders grunted and checked the clock. Almost 10. All his excitement had died as soon as Aveline had to tell that they hadn’t got any trainer for mages and that they had to just do something else. She thought it was bizarre too.

There are trainers, but they are not mages themselves. Suddenly they got too nervous when they heard they would be teaching real mages. Sigh – amateurs… I’ll keep asking if I could find someone from work to give you some advice”, she had told them.

“I can’t believe people that are not even mages teach mage combat. It’s like they would put a dog play the part of a cat.”

“Isn’t Hollywood just that”, Ariana sighed again and closed her eyes for a moment. “Full of those people. I read yesterday that Scarliet Jahanson got the role of Marethari in her biographical film.”

“You can’t be serious? She’s not even a mage!”

“Nor an elf! It’s stupid, I know! I don’t get how she could even accept the role… it’s mockery.”

There was no denying that mages had it bad. It was rare enough to see mages in theatres, but in films? Almost impossible. It was 2018 and mages were still labelled as dangerous and untrustworthy, and only humans were favoured. There had once been an elven mage who got a role of Fen’Harel but the production had to be stopped after just two months. The film had never been finished, but neither was it forgotten by people.

It angered Anders. After centuries of oppression it was still going on and no one seemed to care. No one seemed to believe it. Maybe it was Tevinter that made people afraid of mages, maybe it was something else. Maybe it was just jealousy over magic.

No matter what the reason was it was ludicrous. It was hard for mages to get employed and earn money and therefore to survive. After learning that over 60 percent of homeless people living in Thedas were mages, Anders had decided to work as a volunteer on a free clinic. Since that he started talking more about mage rights and visibility in media. Perhaps he had changed something in ten years, because now he was training for a big role in a big film.

Or he should have been training. Instead, he was just sitting with his friend, watching others fight with great will.

His annoyance must have been very visible since Zevran suddenly sat next to him and patted him on the back. “I called for a few people and one person promised to come to train with us next Monday”, he said and smiled warmly at Ariana. “I must apologize that you have really nothing to do here today than… perhaps practice something together.”

“It’s okay”, Ariana answered first and let out a soft yawn. “It’s been fun to watch others too. There are suddenly so many new people.”

“Ah, yes! We got a lot of background actors for a fighting scenes”, Zevran clapped his hands as he watched two qunaris attacking each other with wooden swords. “These guys do this as a hobby too, watch how they dance. Look at their moves!”

“Do we have to fight like that too? I don’t know if I’m able to move that fast!”

“No worries, my beautiful friend. You will get staves and fight as mages did hundreds of years ago.”

As Zevran rose and moved to chat with Ariana, Anders let himself look at others. The gymnasium was full of shouting and laughing, everyone trying their best to look threatening. Aveline walked between them, giving instructions and compliments. Garrett was having a hard time with his sister – Marian was much faster and kept swinging her wooden weapon like a madman. Garrett often found himself lying on his back as laughing Marian stole his sword and ran away.

Isabela was in the middle of the gym, two short wooden swords in her hands. She looked like she was slowly dancing with Sera instructing her moves. Three men were watching them, trying to follow Isabela’s delicate movements. They were a bit clumsy, but quickly picked up the choreography Sera was teaching. Isabela must have said something funny, because Sera’s reckless laugh filled the room and soon the elf was laying on the floor, covering his mouth.

And then there was Fenris. He was paired up with The Iron Bull, both of them attacking each other in slow motion. They stopped always when either one of them got a sword pressed against chest or stomach, and started all over again. Aveline commented on their practicing in time, and it seemed they were doing surprisingly well. As she walked to them and raised her hand to make them stop, Fenris was out of breath. He looked less nervous than before, but Anders could recognize other’s anxiety under their skin.

Sweat had glued some of his hair on his forehead and his grey shirt had wet stains at the back. Even if he was in a really good shape, he looked tired. Maybe it was all because of stress – Anders had understood that Fenris was very silent and introverted. If Isabela was correct, this was Fenris’ first role after his time in Tevinter. Being thrown into a set of completely new people after so long time…

Fenris sat on the floor and stretched to get his water bottle which was lying near them. He took a gulp from it and just stared at the wall for a moment. Iron Bull sat in front of him and told him something, and Fenris smiled. It was a stiff smile, but still a smile. The Bull kept talking and Fenris relaxed.

Butterflies appeared in Anders’ stomach again. When Fenris was focused and calm, he looked surprisingly charming. His strong arms covered in swirling white tattoos rested against his knees and he looked around the room as his thoughts seem to be flying. He must be the sort of person who reads novels at late nights and drinks wine from a fancy glass. There was something alluring in the unidentified expression on his face and Anders found himself chewing his nails while staring at the elf. How could he become friends with that man if they had already had such an awkward first meeting?

“Wishing you could throw knives too?” asked an innocent voice next to Anders. He raised his head up and noticed Merrill standing near him with her phone and notebook on her hands. She looked startled and raised her other hand. “Sorry, did I say something wrong?! Or did I just-… interrupt your thoughts?”

“It’s nothing, Merrill”, Anders answered, smile curling on his lips. Even if he had known Merrill only for a few days she was still the sweetest girl he had ever met. Even when she had called in the morning she had first apologized for at least six times before telling the news.

“I was just looking how others practice. Everyone seems to be doing good job.”

“Oh, they do! It’s fascinating, isn’t it?!” She sat down next to Anders with her legs bouncing slightly on the floor. Always so excited. “Do you think they are heavy? The swords we’ll use in the set I mean, not these of course.”

“I don’t know? Perhaps? The swords we used in theatre weren’t heavy at all since they were just plastic but I don’t know if it will be different in films.”

“Oh? I thought you had been acting in films before… I must have messed something up then. Sorry!”

“Don’t apologize, it’s okay!” Anders had to chuckle, “I thought you had been working with films a lot.”

“Me? I haven’t actually. I’ve been casting people for short movies but I’ve never really worked as an assistant. It’s all so exciting! Oh and by the way, I’m sorry we couldn’t get anyone to teach you today. The person who was supposed to come, he-… well he didn’t come then. I would have taught you myself, but I don’t think that would be a good idea…”

She giggled softly at that, trying to hide the tension in her voice. Anders shook his head and patted her back, trying to calm the other down.

“We’ll manage well, Merrill. It’s great that you are a mage and working here. Were you in a circle?”

“It is!” she answered and brightened up again. “And no, I was with the Dalish so we were all raised together, you know? I think it was quite nice compared to what I’ve heard about the circle.”

‘I’m sure you are correct about that’, Anders thought. ‘Anything is better than circle.’

 

 

When the training was over and everyone had ran three times around the gymnasium it was time to finish. Everyone walked to dressing rooms, talking and laughing while breathing hard. As the first people ran into the showers and toilets, others had to just sit and wait for their turn.

Anders sat down on the bench, rubbing sweat of his forehead. He was utterly exhausted and sore from every possible muscle. He didn’t even want to think about how bad he smelled.

As he waited, Fenris kept pulling his jacket on and pushing his clothes and water bottle in his bag. He looked like he was leaving already, with sweat still glimmering on his face.

Seconds passed slowly and Anders healer-instincts were running. Should he say something, or just be a decent person and keep his mouth shut? It was rude to comment on others behaviour in a place like this, but he couldn’t stay silent. Like he never could.

“Aren’t you going to shower? You are going to catch a cold if you go out like that.” He just hoped his voice sounded more concerned than judging, as he was for real worried about the elf.

Fenris stopped packing for a moment and turned his dark gaze towards Anders. He snarled and pulled his bags zipper shut. “Mind your own business, mage.”

“I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t say anything, but for real – you are going to get a flu if you don’t dry off your-“

“It’s my body, not yours”, Fenris just said while throwing his bag on his shoulder. Before Anders could apologize again, Fenris had taken his helmet and ran away from the door.

When the door shut behind him, Anders could only stare at it. He had fucked it up – again! ‘Mind your own business, mage.’ He was correct, Anders had no right to comment on another’s showering habits. Maybe he was uncomfortable around others, maybe he was busy. He had his own reasons and what had he done? Asked why he didn’t shower with others and sounded like an idiot. As it was a first time Anders had said stupid comments.

“Did something happen?” Zevran asked in front of him and as Anders turned his head his vision was full of naked elf. Zevran didn’t look ashamed at all, only concerned.

It took a moment or two for Anders to answer. “Nothing serious, I just-.. said something awkward.”

“Don’t worry about him, my friend”, Zevran said and finally started to dry himself in his huge towel. “He needs some time to warm up. We all do, no?”

With a smirk, he turned away and left Anders in his own agony. If Anders was patient and tried hard enough, maybe Fenris could even look at him after a month.

But there was really nothing he could do today. Tomorrow, he would try to behave.

Chapter Text

As days went by everyone got better with their tricks and combats. Aveline had encouraged everyone to try quicken their swordplay, especially those who had mastered the techniques. Isabela had got really good with her daggers, and she danced around the gymnasium with Sera, hitting their now real-looking blades together. It was still slow, but smooth.

The practice were similar after a week: they ran around the gymnasium, made push-ups and other strength training and then trained with pairs. And as normal, Anders and Ariana sat on the side, perhaps training together or with Zevran. And after the trainings, everyone talked and befriended others in the dressing room, exchanged numbers and feelings about the script. Only Fenris ran away as soon as the training was over, sweat still glimmering on his forehead.

But it wasn’t Anders’ place to judge – at least Fenris got to do something.

Finally came the next week and the Monday Anders and Ariana had waited for so long. The day was sunny when they were waiting outside the gym with Hawkes’ and Isabela. They had all became good friends with each other due the training, and it was almost fun to just stand outside in the circle and talk.

“Who do you think it will be?” Garrett asked and ate his last croissant. His beard was full of crumbs. “Some guy from the Circle?”

“I don’t think they will be from the Circle”, Anders laughed with bitterness in his voice, “it hardly lets teachers out... It’s like a monastery of some cult.”

Ariana looked inside her empty thermostat with a confused expression, “Could it be someone from the theatre?”

“Like Jowan? Maybe? Irving?”

“Oh I’d love to see Irving again!”

“How was the Circle overall?” Isabela asked with a soft smirk. “I've heard it’s pretty intimate place…”

“It’s bad”, Anders answered first and pulled a serious face, “there’s no privacy, you can’t leave it even for holidays, you just have to study and study and study.”

“Templars breathe down your neck and yell at you if you are too slow to learn or forget something. Even though there are some nice teachers, it’s a nightmare become reality. We both kind of escaped there, but-“

Ariana glanced at Anders with a worried expression. She knew he had suffered there a lot for his escapes and it wasn’t an easy subject for him. Even if they were all good friends now, this was not a right place to open up about his traumas about the Circle he so much hated.

“But…?” Isabela was curious, but she didn’t push the subject and quickly picked up the untold thoughts. She bit her lip but nodded and turned to hug Marian. “Now, could you call to our dear Merrill to let us in? I’m pretty interested in seeing how these mages will fight!”

 

 

As they walked in the gymnasium there were four persons standing in the middle. Everyone recognized Zevran, Aveline and Sera, but the fourth was unknown for them. A smiling black-haired girl stood next to Zevran with a long stick in her hands.

“She looks a bit familiar, don’t you think?” Ariana whispered silently into Anders’ ear. “A bit like-“

Bethany?!” Marian’s loud scream echoed in the gymnasium walls, followed by a gasp from Carver. Garrett on the other hand laughed with pure excitement.

“Seriously?! And you didn’t tell us?!” he yelled and ran to hug his… sister?

“Is she your sister?” Iron Bull asked with an amusement. Isabela leaned on his arm with a smirk.

“She’s really pretty just like her siblings”, she whispered to the qunari, who laughed again.

“Mother says hello. Told me to keep this as a surprise”, Bethany said and pulled back from Garrett, who backed up to the line everyone were standing at.

Zevran clapped his hands together and glanced at everyone as he always did before starting. “So, as we just saw before our eyes, we have every single Hawke child in our production. A big thank you, dear Bethany, for accepting to advice and teach our dear mages here.” Zevran bowed charmingly for Bethany who hid her blush by covering her face quickly.

Suddenly the gymnasium’s door opened again and silent footsteps made their way towards them. Zevran’s long ears twitched and everyone turned their heads towards the latecomer.

“’m sorry I’m late.” Fenris’ voice was rougher than usual. His eyes had dark rims under them, his ears were slightly slumped and the tip of his nose looked irritated.

“Oh no! Are you a bit ill my dear friend?” Zevran asked, his voice still pretty charming but it had a slight concern in it. “I could ask our lovely Wynne to take a look at you and perhaps heal you-“

“I’m fine”, Fenris asked and kept staring the floor. Everyone stayed silent, even Zevran who had left his mouth slightly open. Anders felt the tension rising again.

Zevran was never annoyed with everyone – he always wanted the best for everyone he was working with. But he also knew Fenris preferred to take care of his own problems alone, so it would be useless to offer him more help if he had turned it down already.

“Alright, but do come speak to me if you feel like you want to get your flu healed faster”, Zevran finished and smiled. After Fenris nodded, Zevran put everyone to work. He then pulled Bethany, Ariana and Anders to the corner where two wooden stick were waiting for them.

“I stole a few rakes from a storage room so I hope you will not break these in pieces”, Zevran smiled and gave one for him, one for Ariana. “Now, I will leave you in Bethany’s gentle care and make a few phone calls. Merrill will come here soon.”

“So you are Hawkes' little sister? I didn’t even know there was a fourth sibling,” Anders asked as soon as Zevran had left. Bethany smiled and softly rolled her eyes.

“Yes, it’s no surprise no one knows about me. One extra sister who’s a mage and wasn’t let into the business, yeah, I’m used to it.”

“No no! I didn’t mean it like that! I meant-…” He didn’t know exactly what else he could have meant. It was a fact no one had ever mentioned Bethany in articles about the Hawke siblings. If it was just because she was a mage- even the thought made Anders’ stomach boil with anger.

“It’s fine, really”, Bethany said and put her other hand on Anders’ shoulder. “I tried to get into series and movies as they did, but I was always denied as you might have guessed. Theatres just weren’t for me and I think I just found other things to do?” She pulled back and stretched her arms before continuing.

“I met Aveline once. She had just become a police officer and I wanted to be just like her. I tried to get into the Kirkwall Police Academy and suddenly got in. Aveline then teached me and got me into some physical training courses and well… It was all great until Meredith became the leader and I was thrown out. Wasn’t so happy about that and I’m trying to get back in. I promised myself I will become the first mage police in Kirkwall and I'm gonna keep it!

“But we can talk about that later! Now get your ‘staffs’ and show me what you got!”

 

 

Training with Bethany was far more enjoyable than Anders had expected. She had the Hawke spirit Anders had learned to like – she was fierce and strong and didn’t hesitate at all. She gave a lot of feedback and praise when they fought together. There were no spells, which was a shame, but Anders was surprised how well they acted that the spells were there. If he tried hard enough he could almost see them flying at Ariana and back at him. 

At first it had been surprisingly hard for them: Anders had almost punched himself in the face with the staff dozen times and Ariana had somehow knocked herself down with it. After a week or so they found each other getting quite good at it, but some mistakes were still made.

“It wasn’t this hard last week!” she yelled when she found herself laying on the floor again. Bethany gave a soft laugh for her and pulled her up.

“It takes time to pick it up again after the weekend, and this is supposed to be a lot more fast-paced than your first training”, she said as she patted her on the back and took steps back. “We didn't roll the staff this much last time, nor did we jump and run around the room so this is supposed to be harder."

“True”, Anders answered and tried to spin his staff in his hands. He was already a bit tired and his other ankle was sore. “I don’t understand why we can’t use magic here. It’s more beautiful and cheaper to use real magic than just effects.”

“Are there many spells to use that don’t actually harm your opponent?” Bethany asked and sat down on the bench to look. “I didn’t really stay at the Circle, I learned some spells from my father and later learned to use a staff for mostly short-distance combat.”

Anders thought for a moment, about Bethany and her question. It still bothered him that her siblings hadn’t ever talked about her. Perhaps there was a reason why they didn't talk about her, perhaps it just didn’t come to mind. It astounded Anders that she hadn’t been in the Circle, but on the other hand he didn’t know the real reasons for it. To be honest if Anders had got an opportunity to avoid going there he would have taken it immediately, was it illegal or not.

Spells that didn’t harm? There were many. Even if some of them were for healing, they still looked bright and strong – and they did take a lot of mana. As healers Anders and Ariana knew many of those spells and they were eager to show them. “Would you like us to show you some?” Ariana’s amused voice woke Anders up in reality and he turned his head towards Bethany.

Bethany looked nervous at first, but with a quick glance around she smiled and nodded. “Yes!”

After Ariana nodded Anders pulled energy from the Fade and focused. One simply health-boost spell would be good as a starter. He shot his other hand forward and a bright blue bolt flew at Ariana and vanished inside her chest. The force of the spell made her take a step back. She growled at him but soon her lips curved in a smile to show it didn’t hurt.

“You don’t even know I actually needed that”, she yelled and laughed, thinking for a moment until she decided her move. She used her ‘staff’ now to create the full illusion of a fighting mage and Anders felt excitement build inside him. Cold wind blew from her direction until a white light shot towards Anders and hit his other ankle. It felt numb for a moment, but the numbness was soon replaced with coldness. After a few seconds the coldness was gone and so was the soreness from earlier.

“I know you sprained it, why didn’t you heal it before?” Ariana asked and laughed, making Anders chuckle too. Before he could answer a hand was placed on his shoulder.

“Well well well, what is happening here?” Zevran’s amused voice came close Anders’ ear. Oh shit.

Anders jerked away with a frightened expression, but Zevran shook his head and grinned. “No need to run away, my beauties. I saw your spells and they were quite fascinating. Did you hurt each other? No?”

“No of course not!” Ariana ran to them and took Zevran’s hand. She looked nervous, but her voice was calm. “We would never! If you want we could show you some more spells!”

Zevran’s expression was thoughtful. He stayed silent for a long time until Varric suddenly appeared at his side.

“Well? I have never seen Sexy this silent!” Varric exclaimed and laughed. “Did Blondie knock Broody over?”

Blondie? Broody? “Who?” Anders asked.

“You, did you do something to Fenris? He looks pissed as always…”

“Varric, Anders and lovely Ariana showed some really good looking tricks, I would like you to see them too”, Zevran said and grinned, pulling Varric sit on the bench next to Bethany. “Please, my dear mages, show us what you can do. And as safely as you can.”

It was like the whole gymnasium was suddenly dead silent. Everyone had stopped to see this performance two mages were going to make. Ariana looked stressed at first, but soon she swallowed her anxiety and picked up her staff.

“Ready? Want me to go first?” She was now smiling as she put more distance between them. This is our chance to show them.

This could be the point of change. This could be everything. Everyone are watching.

There was no reason to back off now. If everything went well, they could get to use their magic more, and Maker knows how much change that could make.

Anders breathed in and out slowly, until he nodded and pulled his staff in front of him. “Go ahead.”

Cold breeze hit his face as the white bolt shot at his left shoulder. It was numb, then cold, and after a few seconds completely healed. “That was good one!” He yelled and saw Ariana preparing herself.

One of Anders’ favourite spells was his electricity trick, and he was ready to use it again. They had played with it as children with Ariana, so he knew it wouldn't be completely new for her. Pale blue lightning shot from his hand at Ariana, who froze for a moment, but laughed quickly. Her ponytail was a mess and hairs were floating in every direction due electricity. The Iron Bull’s amused laugh encouraged others to chuckle as well. Isabela clapped her hands.

"You have more curls than I do, darling!" she laughed at Ariana who touched her long hair that was now messier than ever.

“You ruined my pretty hair!” Ariana giggled and immediately shot green bolt at Anders. He could hear others gasp. “It’s okay, it’s just one spell to make him stronger!”

“Ariana remember to keep your knees bent!” Bethany reminded her and so they kept going.

 

 

 

It was fun. Everyone were watching them with great interest written all over their faces. Zevran was jumping in place while Varric kept nodding and writing something down. They were now explaining their spells and trying even those spells not meant to throw at others. Because both of them were healers, they mostly just took turns healing each other and waiting their mana to return.

But it was all going too well. If Anders had learned something in his life, good things didn’t last forever. He had learned it the hard way. He knew he should have been careful and perhaps stop their little performance as it kept going, but he was lost in it.

“This is the spell I use usually when I heal elderly patients, because it’s so gentle, you can see it does only little healing but it looks really beautiful!”

Blue sparkles escaped from his fingertips and everyone gasped again. The light grew stronger and finally hit Ariana, who just stayed still and let the magic flow into her body. The whole room was calm until the door almost flew off its hinges and banged loudly against the wall.

“What is the meaning of this?!”

The spell died down and Ariana gasped when she lost her balance for a moment. Everyone backed off and looked at the door where really angry Cassandra stood with Merrill and Fenris behind her back. Merrill looked frightened while Fenris’ face was full of annoyance – and perhaps hidden fear.

Zevran ran towards her with his always-so-charming ways. “Well, my dear Cassandra, we-“

“How could you let them use spells against each other? You said you promised to take care that no magic was used! This is unacceptable.”

Zevran kept nodding at Cassandra and tried to hold his hands between them, gently smiling and comforting Cassandra whose face was pale with anger.

“I do understand that you are annoyed, but please-“

“You do not clearly understand! We made a deal and we must respect it. If we won't, this whole project will fall crashing down and we well be forever in debt. You promised and I expect you AND Varric to keep your promises! I cannot accept that when I have made a deal to not use magic these people keep practicing with it – it is not allowed!”

“But Cassandra!” Varric jumped in and walked near them. “These are calm spells, they won’t be doing harm. We could ask Wynne to come check them if you want!”

“Wynne is also not allowed to use her magic just as they are not allowed to use it. I don’t care whatever spells they use when they are denied from using any magic and they know it! Who allowed it?!”

The room was silent for a moment, but Zevran – as he was a responsible director – opened his mouth first. “It was I, because I wanted to see how it looks. Really, Cassandra, you should not be angry-“

“I can’t believe my director does against my will. Should I fire you now?” Cassandra looked a lot calmer now, but her eyes were still sharp as knife and her lips were muttered.

“You could do it, but you don’t really want to do it.”

“If you won’t stop smiling Zevran, I will fire you.”

“Okay okay I will stop smiling”, Zevran said and looked down, and when he raised his head his expression was dead-serious. “It was I who wanted them to use magic, so you should be angry at me and shout at me, I understand it-“

“No”, Anders heard his own voice say. Zevran stopped his sentence and turned his gaze at him among everyone else. Anders could almost feel his cheeks getting hot with blood. “I wanted to use magic at first.”

Good job, Anders. You are in great trouble now.

Cassandra’s expression got almost as angry as it was before. “You?”

He lost his ability to talk for a moment. Cassandra was definitely the scariest and strongest woman Anders had ever met and he never wanted to fight her. It looked like Anders always had to face his worst nightmares.

But it was not right if Zevran got his job on a scale because of him. “You should not yell at Zevran for it, I wanted to use magic myself at first and show it to others, it was me!”

Zevran shook his head and tried to come closer to him. “Anders darling, please, let me handle this...”

“No, it’s not fair if he fires you because of me! I am behind all this. Not you, not Ariana!”

“Anders don’t-“

“Let him speak”, deep voice cut Zevran’s. Fenris took a few steps closer to them with his hands in front of his chest. Anders suddenly felt his magic sizzling inside him, and when he squinted his eyes he could have sworn Fenris’ markings were glowing dimly.

“If he wants to fire himself, let him do it”, Fenris said and stared deep into Anders eyes.

“I’m not speaking against Ms. Pentaghast because I want to get fired, I’m just telling the truth.”

“Yet the truth alone is good reason to get your ass out of here. You showed us you are not capable of following rules, so you should get fired.” Fenris voice was now full of acid. Cassandra was about to comment his statements but Fenris opened his mouth first. “Then we would have one mage less.”

That was it. The last sentence made Anders lost it. “What is it that you have against me being a mage?” Anders forgot every other person in the room except Fenris. The elf was finally getting on his nerves enough for him to snap. The way Fenris said the word ‘mage’ was almost like a bait for him. “This is not about me breaking the rules, this is about me being a mage isn’t it?”

“You just showed everyone you couldn’t hold your magic inside, even though it is against the rules”, Fenris sneered at him. “You constantly try to throw your spells and magic and mageness at everyone and everything. You can’t control it! It’s not safe to have you around!”

“What in Andraste’s arse do you mean?! I haven’t used any spells here before against anyone other than Ariana! Ariana’s my best friend, we have used our magic at each other hundreds of times before and I used about only healing spells, I did nothing wrong! Do you hate mages? Do you?! It’s people like you who make our lives harder!”

“People like me have reasons to do it. You cannot go free and show bad example at others. Do you know what happens in a nation that has mages living freely in it? I know and I can tell it is not good at all!”

This couldn’t be really happening. It was hard to talk with Fenris, but after this Anders thought it was almost impossible.

But he was already anxious, so he let himself speak his mind. “Is it every mages’ fault then? I have never said Tevinter has it right but the rest of Thedas doesn't have it good either! Am I a demon for wanting justice for mages?!”

“You call it justice? You have your justice! What more do you want? You don’t know what will happen when you open every single door for those who have the power of magic!”

The fight went on and on. They kept throwing more and more accusations into their arguing and neither was brave enough to shut up first.

They didn’t even notice Cassandra, Varric and Zevran had all calmed down and were whispering at each other. Cassandra looked now serious but she had clearly got a lot more thoughts to think. Zevran was running out from the gymnasium with a phone in his ear as Varric walked near them.

“Alright boys… I think it’s time to calm down.” He raised his hands to pet him and Fenris on the back and to pull them further away from each other. “Now while Merrill takes you to get some coffee I want you to make it up.”

Coffee? Now? “I don’t want coffee”, Anders muttered as Fenris rolled his eyes and tried to walk away before Varric grabbed his hand.

“Oh you will get just some black coffee for me then”, Varric smirked and turned Fenris around so that he was facing the doorway where Merrill stood with an awkward expression. Even Cassandra nodded from the side before turning to speak with Bethany.

“Seriously?” was the only thing Anders could say. “We were just arguing and now you want us to get some coffee?”

“Well this is a training situation, people need to drink! If you prefer tea tell them Varric sent you and you'll get it”, Varric smiled as he took Anders hand and pulled him towards the door. It looked like they had no other chance.

Coffee it is then.

 

Chapter Text

Merrill walked silently next to Anders while Fenris walked behind them. He was stressed because now he was alone with two mages he didn’t know well; one silent and shy, but one careless and reckless. None of them had spoken anything since Varric had ordered them to go get some coffee after their argument. Neither of them wanted to be the first to apologize.

Anders was an idiot, Fenris thought. If some should apologize it would be Anders. Fenris had done nothing wrong: he had just told the director that someone was breaking the rules and he didn’t like it - he must not have been the only one who was uncomfortable around mages and magic in general.

Fenris pushed his cold hands in his pockets and stared at the mages in front of him. How was it that wherever he went, the mages would always be there as if they were waiting for him? He didn’t even remember the time when he was able to make his decisions without any mages’ influence.

There were so many bad memories. Cold snow under his bare feet, Danarius yelling at him to crawl on it. Ice felt like daggers against his naked skin, cold breeze hitting his back as Danarius threw more magic in the scene. He was so cold and tired. He wanted to lay down and never rise up.

A noise of a car driving past them drove the memories away. ‘No’, Fenris thought and shook his head. It was over.

Six months ago he had finally realized how he was really being treated. Even if Danarius gave him treasures and a lot of money, he didn’t do it for Fenris. In the end he did it all to benefit himself. It hurt to understand how little he was truly valued by his lover; his body was only a plaything for Danarius. The lyrium on his skin would never fade away even if they had thought so. He was ruined. Forever ruined.

He couldn’t stay with Danarius anymore. Fenris had finally ran away. He had enough money to start over, enough money to leave his past behind him and disappear.

But it was hard to live with no proper education. He knew how to read, how to count, how to act in high class meetings but what else? After being pulled in movie industry in such a young age he didn’t have any time to study and now he was too old and too afraid to start. The only way for him to survive was to work either with theatre or films, or drift into something illegal and dangerous.

He was so lucky to be noticed by Varric. If he hadn’t got interested in him he would have been in deep trouble, but the Maker had smiled upon him and let him get a role from the film that had already woke interest in audience. This could be his way to freedom. He could meet new friends, find his path, change people and make the world a bit better for someone else like him. He could make his family proud-…

Fenris’ forehead hit Anders’ back. He hadn’t noticed the mage had suddenly stopped and therefore there had been no time to react. Merrill turned around and looked at him with his large green eyes.

“Oh! Are you okay? Did you slip?”

Fenris bit his lip and stared at the other elf. Of course he was okay, what was she even thinking?!

“I am”, he answered and glared at Anders. He looked concerned. Fenris didn’t know why the worry on the mage’s face annoyed him so much, so he scowled at him. “Hard to react when someone suddenly stops just in front of me.”

“No need to blame mages for being blind, that’s purely your own fault”, Anders suddenly said, all his concern disappearing. Fenris grunted back and walked inside the café behind Merrill.

 

 

 

The café was luckily warm and there were not too many people inside. A calm chattering over a soft jazz music calmed Fenris’ nerves a little as he stared at the chalkboard behind the counter. Merrill appeared next to him and pulled something from her bag.

“I think we can use this card!” she said and showed a red credit card to Fenris with a proud face. “Zevran gave this to me but asked us not to buy anything too expensive. Oh and he asked for a latte but-... that’s probably my job to get it to him.” Merrill smiled at him and tried to get the attention of a qunari-man working behind the counter.

Fenris felt his lyrium markings sizzling silently. He turned his head and noticed Anders leaning on a counter next to him, eyeing the prices. Fenris took a deep breath and tried to focus on the barista who was almost done writing down Merrill’s orders.

Without any warning Fenris suddenly realized he was going to sneeze. He pressed his head down, covered his mouth with his hands and let out the loudest sneeze he’d ever made. And in front of a mage.

“You are still a bit sick”, Anders’ voice slithered in his ears which were still echoing. He was almost afraid to open his eyes - he never embarrassed himself like this.

“Here”, Anders said again and held a packet of pocket tissues in front of Fenris. “I could have healed you earlier. You can’t go out sweaty when it’s still this cold.”

“Stop it, mage”, Fenris sneered but gladly took the package. As he pulled one tissue free he noticed it had cat prints all over it. ‘Ricidulous’, Fenris thought and cleaned his nose and hands while letting his thoughts run.

Did the mage still have a problem with him not showering in front of others? He wasn’t comfortable showing his naked body in front of people he barely knew and had to work with for a year. He had his reasons, and they didn’t belong to Anders. “It is not your business if I get sick. Quit telling me what to do.”

Anders rolled his eyes and let Fenris make his order. One vanilla latte would do. Anders listened his orders and only got a simple coffee for himself. Merrill smiled at them and payed their drinks with the card Zevran had given her.

Before they left the café Fenris stopped and added more sugar inside his latte. The coffee tasted sweet and creamy as he always liked it. He kept sipping it in silence but felt Anders’ eyes on him. Why couldn’t the mage leave him alone?

“Vanilla latte, wasn’t it?” Anders asked casually as he sipped his own drink. Was he going to judge his coffee now?

“Something wrong with it?” Fenris murmured back.

“No no, I just asked”, Anders said quickly and tried to smile. “I just saw that you put more sugar in it and-… isn’t it like- really really sweet now?”

Fenris rolled his eyes and took another sip. He liked sweet coffee. “It is good for me.”

“I like vanilla lattes too”, Anders kept going and cleared his throat. “Chocolate is also good!”

“Did this conservation have a point or do you just want to find something to criticize again?” Fenris’ voice was hard and Anders seemed to be a bit taken back by it. He thought about his next words for some time.

“I was going to apologize but you seem like you don’t wanna talk at all”, he finally said, blowing air through his nose in a frustrated expression. “But still, I’m going to apologize. I’m sorry for yelling at you.”

As if the yelling was the only thing Fenris was angry about. Pfft.

When he didn’t reply, Anders kept fidgeting and soon he opened his mouth again. “Well, are you going to apologize?”

“No, I do not want to talk.”

Anders sighed dramatically and started walking a bit faster. He shook his head and murmured under his breath, loud enough for them to hear. “No wonder you put so much sugar in your coffee because you are so goddamn bitter all the time.”

Fenris scowled at Anders’ back and pressed his other hand in his pocket, only to feel something soft there. As he pulled out the mystery item he realized it was the tissue package Anders had given him, full of unused tissues. Cute kittens were printed all over the papers and the package itself.

As Fenris looked up to see the mage rushing 10 meters before him he noticed that Anders’ scarf had cat prints. So did his training joggers. He couldn’t help it but snort: ridiculous mage.

 

 

 

Another week passed surprisingly fast and finally came the Tuesday everyone had been waiting: the day to try on their finished costumes. As Fenris drove to the library where they were all supposed to meet he was feeling unusually calm. It was good to have something scheduled on his otherwise empty calendar.

Fenris had become closer with the other actors, especially with Hawke’s younger brother, Carver. They trained mostly together and both had become rather good in combats. Aveline often circled around them and shouted compliments at both of them for quick learning and fast reflexes.

The Iron Bull and Isabela had talked to him a lot outside trainings and he enjoyed their company. Isabela was always flirty with him but she respected his privacy more than he had though she would. Zevran and Varric asked every day how he was doing. Even Ariana tried to chat with him despite his visible disinterest in magic. Soon he had realized that the trainings had become a lot much funnier and less nerving. He was almost happy.

But even if he was letting his guard down he kept Anders at distance. Zevran had talked to them multiple times about last week’s incident and perhaps finally Anders had got some sense in his skull. He no longer showed any spells or talked about magic.

But even if there was no real magic, Fenris now knew what Anders was capable of. It frightened him and mostly, it hurt to admit it to himself. He couldn’t soften the scowl he had on his face every time he looked at Anders. There was something about the mage that he wanted to know more of, but also something he didn’t want to know.

“Morning!” Ariana chirped at him when they both approached the library door. She looked excited as she always did – and perhaps a bit anxious, because she just kept talking. “I’m so nervous the clothes won’t fit on me, I think I’ve got more weight! I’m cooking to calm myself and of course I have to eat and oh dear Maker I’ve been eating too much.”

Fenris looked at her and tried to form a smile on his face. “You should not worry. I am sure they have measured your outfit well.”

“Of course they have”, Ariana hurried to say and laughed, walking inside the library after him, “I hope. I’m such a big girl they have to make some extra large clothes just in case! Are you as excited as I am?!”

After a deep breath Fenris shrugged his shoulders and tried to follow the notes on the walls to end up in the right room. “Perhaps not as excited, but I’m eager to see my outfit. And others’ as well.”

As they entered the right room it was full of people and boxes of different sizes. Everyone greeted them and Alistair walked to Ariana to hug her. Isabela waved at Fenris who then nodded to Ariana and walked to the other woman. She was reading her script with a coffee on her other hand.

“Morning, handsome”, she purred and smiled at him. “Nervous?”

“Are you?” he returned the question as he leaned against the wall and Isabela laughed with a nod.

“I hope the clothes actually make me look good and dangerous! I don’t want to be basic and wearmetallic bras and panties, I want a real armour or something!” Fenris let out a chuckle at that and let his gaze go through the people in the room. Almost every actor from the trainings was there including Aveline and Sera. Merrill was on a phone while standing next to Varric. Anders sat alone in a corner and was messaging someone with his phone. The mage looked calm but Fenris could almost see multiple thoughts buzzing in his head. Why is he alone?

Fenris took a deep breath and teared his eyes off Anders to his hands. Even though the mage annoyed him he still found himself thinking about him during the trainings. He had noticed Anders did look at him when he had a change. In fact, Anders had been staring him since the day they had met in the auditions. Fenris felt his other hand pull his sleeve lower. Perhaps it is because of the markings.

“Holy shit look at that”, Isabela said suddenly very near him and Fenris’ head whipped up. Zevran and Cassandra walked in the room carrying a large heavy bag. They dropped it and got everyone’s attention. Cassandra rubbed her hands together and let her gaze go through everyone’s faces before she started talking.

“Good to see everyone here today. We don’t have much time so let’s start: Main actors with Vivienne to the next room, others to Dorian and Cullen. Now.”

She turned around and opened to bag while Zevran clapped his hands and put everyone to work. Fenris nodded to himself and let Isabela take his hand and pull him towards the fitting rooms.

“Orders from the bosses, let’s go strip, sweetie!”

 

 

 

Vivienne was an honest lady who worked faster than Fenris could follow. She handled them their costumes quickly and ordered them to get into them as soon as possible so she could see what to change.

Fenris walked in the fitting rooms with his costume in his hands. Fine dark leather with golden decoration. Hard metallic gauntlets, breastplate and boots. It was hard to say how it would look on it, but by the first look it seemed great.

The clothes fit for him perfectly and they were easy to pull on. The trousers stretched nicely and let him move as much as he wanted. His breastplate and gauntlets were hard material but not too heavy for him to carry. He was happy with it.

Anders was standing near the mirrors with his robes on. They were long and black and had some golden embroidery on them. A large black feathers covered most of his coat and the mage seemed to like them since he was touching them as much as he could. Ridiculous.

“I think you look gorgeous!” Isabela said as soon as she saw Fenris’ battle outfit. He would have many outfit because of his role, but this one was going to be on him most of the time. Dark brown leather with golden decoration, silver breastplate, dark gauntlets. Only thing that made him concerned was that his arms weren’t fully covered and the lyrium markings were visible.

After some wait they were supposed to get their makeup and hair done.

“Oh my dear Maker, sit down dear boy”, Dorian said as he ran around the corner, trying to find something from the boxes. Next to him the man with curly hair – Cullen – was tying Anders’ hair in a ponytail while telling him to not shave his facial hair anymore.

Isabela was sitting near him, brushing her long black hair. She looked beautiful and dangerous – as she had hoped. She had white coloured dress with black leather corset and blue sash. Golden jewellery brought a nice contrast. She looked happy.

Not as happy as Fenris did – or Dorian, who was finally running towards him with a large palette in his hands.

“Now, I don’t want to be rude but getting these kind of tattoos is not so wise when you want a promising career as an actor”, Dorian muttered and tried to find his skin tone from the palette’s colours. Fenris pulled his lips in a thin line and tried not to growl back.

“I did not get them myself”, he whispered back with a voice so deep he almost didn’t hear it by himself. Dorian on the other hand shrugged his shoulders.

“Perhaps not, but not a good idea. Whoever gave these to you deserves a punch because I don’t think this is just basic ink.”

Was the mage playing with him? What was he trying to say?

Before he could answer the mage was smearing foundation on his jaw where the lyrium marking was. He kept adding more until he seemed to get frustrated, and after some time he sighed and turned around. “Could someone bring Merrill and Zevran here?”

It wasn’t long before the elves ran to him with a concerned faces. “What is it, dear Dorian?”

“Look at this!” Dorian sighed and spread more foundation on his chin. “I keep adding and adding the foundation but they are still visible!”

Merrill opened her mouth slightly as she put her hand near Fenris neck. “I though those markings were your vallaslin but-“, she closed her mouth and looked him in the eyes. Whatever look he may had on his face it made Merrill take a few steps back.

“I thought it too”, Zevran added, but then shook his head. “But you are no Dalish, are you? The tattoos you have are something different.”

“Different indeed”, Dorian said while adding more foundation and finally some powder. “It’s lyrium, isn’t it?”

Of course the mages would see it. Fenris gritted his teeth and looked away for a moment. He didn’t want to answer the obvious statement. His character’s outfit showed the arms where the markings could easily be seen.

Dorian sighed and looked at Merrill. “Please write down that I have to order about 120 bottles of Seheron Blendwell foundation number 7, this is going to take a lot to get them covered.”

Fenris raised his head and tried to say something. 120? Were they really that big of a problem?

“Hold on there, Sparkler”, Varric said somewhere behind him. The dwarf had been watching them from affair and now he was examining his tattoos with the others. “I don’t think they need to be covered, they would bring his character more content. They could be his vallaslin.”

“Could they? Shouldn’t they be black?” Dorian questioned and wiped some of the foundation off Fenris’ chin.

“Oh, no! They can be almost any color!” Merrill jumped in and Zevran kept nodding beside her. “But are you comfortable with it, Fenris?”

Comfortable? Fenris felt his skin crawl when people kept staring him so close. He could see even Anders staring at him. Three mages staring at his markings. He needed to get out.

“We don’t want you to feel too distressed”, Dorian added and gave him a wet towel to clear his chin. “I want you to feel and look great, and I’m not going to analyse those markings now but what you said makes me think that you do not enjoy those tattoos, so we will not force you to show them. So you get to choose. And don’t worry about the amount of foundation you’ll need: I’m a really good make-up artist and I’ve seen it all.”

“How do you want it? I think those markings make you rather handsome”, Zevran added and smiled.

Merrill nodded and giggled. “They look so pretty!”

He was overwhelmed by the attention he was getting. Everyone was waiting for his answer. He had never talked about them to anyone but Sebastian. They had met a few times because of Varric’s orders: since they were playing the role of father and son they had to form some sort of relationship. Sebastian had once asked about the markings and how Fenris had got them. He didn’t tell anything but that he didn’t like them but couldn’t get rid of them.

“I think the best way to make peace with them is to just accept them and not hide them”, Sebastian had advised him, “for what I have learned is that if you try to hide something you can never go on without thinking about it.”

The film was going to bring a lot of changes in his life – one more change wouldn’t hurt much more. He opened his mouth slowly and tried to look someone in the eyes. “I-… could keep the markings visible. I don’t want to-.. hide them anymore.”

”Excellent!” Dorian exclaimed and brushed some powder on his cheeks. “You saved me from a hell of a work and now you’ll also look more natural and your handsome self! But do tell me if there’s something you’d like to change.” He walked off to get some more make-up from the boxes.

“As Mr. Pavus said, tell us if you want something changed”, Zevran said and gave him a smile before walking away with Merrill behind him. Varric wrote something down on his notebook before patting him on the shoulder.

“You have went through some serious shit, or so I’ve understood”, he said and smiled to him. “I hope this production will be enjoyable for you. Come talk to me if you ever feel like it. I want to discuss with you about your character some day.” And with that, Varric left Fenris alone with his thoughts.

Fenris took deep breaths but they couldn’t calm his anxiety. They now knew about his markings and soon everyone would know. Or maybe now know but everyone would see them. Of course people who had watched Danarius’ productions have also seen them, but there weren’t many people who could watch such disturbing movies. Fenris shook his head and glared around only to see Anders watching him.

His amber eyes were full of worry. For him? Why? As soon as Fenris stared back the mage’s expression turned to surprised and soon he looked away. He looked like he wanted to ask but was too shy to do it. Maybe he understood it was something serious. Maybe he knew. And wanted to benefit from it. Maybe Anders wanted to use him but now that people knew he couldn’t do it. Maybe he had been chosen for the role so that the others could use him… Maybe-

No’, Fenris stopped his train of thought. He was too overwhelmed to think straight. The others wanted him to do well and cared about him just as they cared about others. Zevran wasn’t Danarius. Dorian wasn’t Danarius. Merrill was everything but Danarius, even though she was also a mage. It was hard for Fenris to understand that people just wanted to be nice to him after everything he had went through.

A light tickling feeling on his forehead made him jump and almost stand up. Dorian took a step back and chuckled.

“Oh forgive me for not warning. I’ll add some setting powder on your face now. You have such a clear skin I don’t have to do much else so you are done soon.” He let Fenris to sit down again before continuing. “Are you alright though?”

Was he? He didn’t know. ”I am alright.”

“Good, because you are ready to go. Go to Cullen now, I’m going to do Anders’ make-up next.”

 

 

 

About an hour later a dwarf named Bodahn had walked in the set later that day, carrying a long box with his son Sandal. They had placed the box near Vivienne’s stuff and now they were talking with Zevran, Varric and Cassandra.

Fenris was sitting between Anders and Isabela, watching two dwarves and an elf laughing together while Cassandra was writing something down with a serious face.

“That’s a big box. What do you think is inside it?” Isabela purred and leaned closer to them, pressing her head against Fenris’ shoulder.

“Something with the cameras or background?” Anders suggested and touched the feathers on his pauldron again. He couldn’t go five minutes without touching or looking at it.

“It must have our weapons”, Fenris muttered and nodded. “It’s long enough to hold staves in.”

“How do you know how long staves are?” Anders questioned and got a dirty look from him. Oh if the mage only knew how much he knew about mages and staves.

It soon turned out Fenris was correct since Zevran waved at them to get to the box. He then handled everyone pretty real-looking weapons. Anders’ staff was crooked and made of wood, and had feathers hanging from it. Isabela got two curvy silver blades with shiny handles. They were both really happy for their weapons.

“And Fenris, this is for you”, Zevran declared and handed him his sword. It was almost the size he was, sharp and shiny with pretty carving on both sides. The handle had a dark metallic colour just like his armour did. And it was heavy.

He turned the sword in his hand and didn’t even realize he was smiling. It looked like the sword was just made for him.

“Vivienne was kind to send me pictured of your outfit so I tried to make it as fitting as I could”, Bodahn said and smiled, clearly proud of himself. “I hope it’s not too heavy, but you look to be in a good shape so it shouldn’t be a problem!”

“It is beautiful”, he answered and took a good hold of a sword, raising it above his head. Bodahn laughed and nodded at him.

“Just be careful when acting the fights, it can hurt if it hits someone’s head!”

“Anders, could you please come here? We could start taking the pictures now.”

Fenris turned around to see Alistair writing something down with a man that had bigger beard than Garrett. Both of them had been putting up green screens and lights in another room and as far as Fenris had understood Alistair was in charge of cameras.

Anders turned the staff in his hands one more time and then he walked to Alistair. He looked surprisingly happy. Ariana had got her staff and she was walking around the room with Zevran walking beside her, both of them talking and laughing. Isabela was comparing his daggers with Garrett and Iron Bull was having a sword fight with Carver in slow motion. Everyone seemed to be ready in costume and... happy. Laughing with others.

“Fenris and Isabela, I want you here too!” Alistair yelled soon after Anders had disappeared in the other room. Isabela quickly started giggling and grabbed Fenris’ hand.

“Come on, spiky boy, let’s go”, she smirked at him and pulled him to the room where the cameras and Cassandra were waiting.

 

 

 

The day was long and all the socialising made Fenris tired. All the promo pictures they had to take with others and alone, all the waiting and problems with cameras and make-up and hair… Merrill brought them sandwiches at noon and tried to talk with him, but she quickly got that Fenris preferred silence over small talk.

After the last picture Fenris thought he could already go home, but Varric and Zevran pulled everyone together.

“Alright, good job everyone! Today has been great and I hope we will have the same energy on Friday when we will shoot our first scene!” After Zevran’s announcement everyone clapped their hands and smiled. It was getting real soon. “So the team and main actors will arrive here on Friday at 9am so we have enough time to get you ready and take you to the right place.

“Now you can take off your costumes and put them in right boxes. Please send me a text message if something is unclear. And Fenris, I’d like to talk to you before you leave. Thank you!”

Fenris’ ears twitched when he heard his name. Had he done something wrong? He felt his heart starting to beat faster as everyone walked away from the centre to take of their costumes while Fenris had to stay still and wait.

Varric walked to him first and behind him came Zevran. “You look nervous, Broody”, Varric opened his mouth first and Fenris felt confused again. Broody?

“It’s nothing serious, don’t worry. We just have to… change the script a little.”

Zevran gave a little laugh at them and put his hand on Varric’s shoulder. “Oh yes, just a little. Are you dating anyone at the moment?”

“What?” Dating? What was that question? “Me?”

“Yes, you. Okay that question sounds a bit off but hmm…” Zevran looked puzzled for a moment before he raised his head again and looked Fenris straight in the eyes. “Have you kissed anyone before?”

Kissed? “Have I-... Well-… Yes-?”

Zevran kept nodding his head and raised his other hand idly. “Women? Men?”

“Both-… Why-… Why do you need to know-“

“I just want to soften this conversation before I ask if you are ready to kiss someone from our set in front of the cameras.”

Fenris was dumbfounded. Nothing in his script had referred to a romantic scene or anything that had kissing involved. It took him a moment to gather himself before answering. “I did not know my character would have a serious love interest.”

“Neither did we before but we had thought about it and finally came to an agreement that we want Leto to have a partner in later scenes. So, we want to ask your agreement at first.” Zevran smiled widely and folded his hands in front of him before he laughed again. “Not that you can do much about it but at least you can prepare yourself.”

“Who will I have to kiss?” The question slipped from his lips before he could stop it. Varric chuckled and shook his head.

“That will be a secret”, he said and again wrote something down on his notebook. “It will be fun, don’t worry, Broody. Now go home and rest, and don’t bother yourself with this. See you on Friday.”

And with that, Varric and Zevran walked away, leaving Fenris alone. He sighed deeply. Whatever Varric had said about not thinking about it, Fenris was already deeply bothered by the hint they had given. What if he had to kiss the mage?

The sound of something hard dropping on the floor made him turn his head, only to see the said blond mage kneel on the floor to pick up his costume’s belt. For some reason he also turned to look Fenris and their gazes locked.

Would he have to kiss him? If Fenris really thought about it, Anders was beautiful – in his own way. There was still something interesting hidden under those black robes he had to wear for the movie, something about those amber eyes that always seemed to be looking at him. Something that frightened Fenris but also kept his heart fluttered.

Whatever it was, Fenris wanted to shake that feeling off and go home. It was going to be a long year.

Chapter Text

“Anders for the make-up!” Dorian yelled from another room and escorted Isabela out to get her hair done with Cullen.

Anders had been at Kirkwall’s Academy for about an hour now and he had only got his costume on. Fenris hadn’t even arrived yet.

“Vishante Kaffas, have you slept at all? The bags under your eyes are almost black.”

“Well I-… I haven’t really been able to sleep lately”, Anders answered and sat on a chair to look himself from the mirror. Dorian was correct – he looked like he hadn’t slept for hundred years.

“Luckily your character seems to be pretty busy so maybe we could leave them just like that”, Dorian snorted but decided to still add some cover up under his eyes.

While Dorian was fully focused on masking him Anders had time to… just sit and look in the mirror. He really looked tired and nervous. Even elfroot potion hadn’t calmed him enough to get some sleep last night and now he had to pay for that. Luckily Dorian was really skilled in his job and the circles disappeared under the foundation Dorian applied on his face.

After some time the door opened. Anders’ heart jumped when he noticed Fenris’ head peaking into the room.

Fenris only took one look at them and backed out, closing the door. But that didn’t stop Dorian.

“Get your sweet arse back here, Fenris!” Dorian yelled and heard Isabela burst out laughing from another side of the wall. It took a long moment before Fenris opened the door again and walked inside with his ears drooped down. Kinda cute.

“Sorry for yelling but we are a bit late from our schedule and Cassandra didn’t look too satisfied.”

“Is Cassandra here?” Anders asked and Dorian just nodded, tapping setting powder on his cheeks.

“She is here, at least for today. She wants to see how we’ll start. Varric’s also here. And Zevran, naturally.”

Even though he and Cassandra had talked about their previous encounter, she still frightened Anders a bit. Anders didn’t want to avoid her, but he still felt like he was walking on thin ice every time he saw Cassandra looking at him. What if some day she’ll throw me out? Or what if Fenris will talk with her and get me in trouble?

“There, you’re done”, Dorian said and nodded to himself. “Please move to Cullen, and Fenris sit down.”

As Anders stood up and turned around to see Fenris, their gazes locked.

What was there in the elf’s expression? Pain? Fear? Anders didn’t know, but there was something hidden under that frown. Anders gave a low hum and walked out of the room, leaving Fenris alone with Dorian.

 

 

Anders sat in the back of the car with Isabela sitting next to him and Fenris in front of him. Zevran was driving, looking around and following another car that drove before them.

“Are you excited?” he asked when he stopped for the red lights and glanced to the back seat. Isabela chuckled at him and looked up from her phone.

“I am for sure, it’s been a while since I’ve done films like this.”

“Ah, you’ve had some experience from different kind of films”, Zevran smirked and earned another laugh from Isabela.

“I’ll leave them for you to find if you are interested”, she grinned back and leaned closer to Fenris who was just looking out of the window. She grabbed his shoulder and tried to shake him a bit. “How about you, handsome? You are so silent!”

Fenris didn’t throw Isabela’s hand away. He just turned his head a bit and tried to curl his lips into a smile or a growl – Anders wasn’t really sure which one.

“Forgive me if I’m not jumping in excitement – I’m a bit nervous”, he said and Zevran nodded.

“That’s quite alright. I’m sure the shootings will go fine. How about Anders? I understood you haven’t really been in longer movies, yes?”

Anders closed his eyes for a moment and nodded. He had only played parts in short films his friends had filmed for Circle projects or for theatre. Now he was on his way for his first shootings of a motion picture. Of course he was nervous.

“Yeah I haven’t, I’m pretty nervous as well uh-… well I don’t really know what to say. I’m afraid that I’ll forget my lines.”

“Oh don’t worry about that, Josephine and Merrill will be there to give you your lines”, Zevran laughed and started driving again as the light turned green. “We are not in the Boardway anymore so you do not have to remember all your lines at once.”

“And you can improvise too, or so Varric said”, Isabela added and nudged Anders on his side with his arm. “So don’t worry about it, oh mighty mage.”

Fenris shifted on his seat and stared out of the windows again. It was the word ‘mage’, wasn’t it? Anders couldn’t help it but his mood dropped immediately.

Befriending the elf had turned out to be a mission Anders wasn’t sure he could complete. If he wasn’t a mage then perhaps he would have made it, but it wasn’t his fault he was born with a connection to the fade. Fenris just didn’t understand that, or he didn’t want to.

The rest of the trip was just Isabela and Zevran talking about the music they played until Zevran drove them on a silent road that led them to a huge forest. The road was narrow but Zevran was a careful driver and stayed on the road easily just as the car ahead of them did.

Few kilometres into the forest there was an area where multiple cars had parked. It appeared they had arrived to the set.

Cold, calm breeze caressed Anders’ face as he stepped out of the car and looked around. The forest would have been completely silent if there hadn’t been so many people running around, putting up lights, tracks and cameras.

“There you are!” Josephine shouted and ran to the. She had heavy-looking jacket on and tons of papers in her hands. “We have some time before we start filming, but please – take these and read your lines if you don’t remember them. I’ll get you when it’s time to start.”

She handed them the papers and ran off again. Merrill waved at them next to Alistair before someone handed her a long piece of camera track. She lost her balance for a second, but found it again and walked somewhere behind the bushes with Cassandra next to her, carrying a heavy-looking object Anders couldn’t put a name on.

“Poor girl”, Isabela sighed next to him. Anders looked at the woman and handed her a few of those papers. “She looks so tiny and shy and they make her carry those shitty poles.”

“Aren’t they called tracks?” Anders tried and Isabela rolled her eyes.

“Whatever they are, have you tried to lift them? Those bastards are heavy as fuck. Merrill’s too sweet to do the dirty work.”

Anders bit his lip as Fenris walked beside him and took another one of the scripts from him. Anders jumped a bit and made Fenris flinch by that, but he couldn’t say anything before Fenris walked away. He leaned on a tree and started reading his script, looking fully focused.

“You really have it bad, Anders”, Isabela suddenly said next to him and Anders jumped again. Why did she always had to read his thoughts out loud?

“I don’t understand what you mean”, he answered and tried to look busy reading his lines.

“Oh come on… Even though you two have arguments and sometimes try to stab each other with words, you still look at him every time you have a change and keep blushing every time he’s close to you.”

“I don’t blush. I hate him.”

“You don’t hate him and we all know that.”

“I do! He’s a bigoted idiot who doesn’t care about anything but himself!”

Isabela shrugged her shoulders and smirked at him. “You have a crush on him, and have had it since day one. And it’s okay, maybe you’ll actually become friends when you just start to actually listening each other. And friendships can lead into something really delicious.”

She laughed at Anders frustrated sigh and hugged him. “I’m just teasing you! No wonder we are going to shoot these scenes first since you are both too proud to listen to each other.”

“I would listen to him if he had anything good to say”, Anders murmured back and let Isabela hug him. Isabela just laughed again.

 

 

After waiting for what felt like forever Zevran finally walked to them with a bright look on his face. He was fidgeting a pen in his hand which told Anders he was also nervous, but his charming smile covered it from others.

“Alright, we are about to start”, Zevran declared and waved them to rise up from a fallen tree and leave their blankets – they had to get something on them since it was cold – somewhere.

His stomach felt bottomless when he walked behind Isabela into the mossy forest. People were still running around, trying to make the forest floor look more natural by adding branches and snow on certain spots. Alistair was fighting with the camera while Cassandra stood next to him, watching.

Actually everyone on the set looked nervous. People raised their voices easily and seemed like they were in a hurry. Why?

“Why is everyone running around like we would get arrested if we don’t start soon enough?” Isabela voiced his thoughts again and Zevran gave a short laugh before stopping next to a tall fir tree.

“Merrill got an alarm that it will rain in the evening to we have to be quick and get every shot we need. You can control the cameras but not the weather.

“But let’s start. We are going to shoot just you all walking at first. Try not to fall, even though there are a lot of branches and plants everywhere. You are going to walk from this tree to that one there where Josephine stands right now, okay? Adrian goes first, then Dona. Leto is the last one, because he’s looking out for dangers and watching that everything is fine, got it?”

They all nodded quickly and Zevran smiled, tapped them all on their shoulders and walked to Alistair. Everyone seemed to gather there except them. Anders couldn’t say if he was more excited or nervous. What if he fell? Would everyone be mad at him?

“Alright, let’s start”, Zevran said to a megaphone, his voice sounding completely different. It echoed in the forest and made everyone shut up. “Josie uses the clapperboard, after you hear a snap, wait until I say action and then you’ll start walking. We’ll do test at first. Now, silence.”

Cassandra kept nodding near Zevran and Anders suddenly understood that this was all super serious just because the producer was visiting. Zevran had been far more stiff than he usually was. It wasn’t like the realization calmed him – he just got more nervous. He mustn’t fail because she was watching.

“Rolling”, Alistair’s voice sounded behind the camera where Cassandra was watching him working.

“Slate 24, take one”, Josephine said and the clapperboard snapped shut. After a second or so Zevran’s voice echoed in the forest again. “Action. Walk.”

And they walked. Zevran was correct when he warned them about the difficult terrain. Shrubs tried to make his walking almost impossible and by the voices coming behind him Isabela was also having difficulties.

But it wasn’t a long walk - soon Zevran yelled cut and the tension was gone. Zevran and Cassandra went to look the shot Alistair had just filmed and Josephine waved them to go back where they started. How any times they needed to do the take – Anders had no idea.

“Alright, it was okay for the first shot”, Zevran said and thought about his next words for some time. “But Anders, try to raise up your face. We want to see your handsome face, yes? Try to not look only in front of you. Hmm, Bela, try to walk a bit to the side so we can see you behind Anders. Fenris, you did well.”

Even if Anders nodded, he felt- bitter? Of course Fenris would do well but he wouldn’t. But on the other hand, this was the first time Anders had been in front of the camera so what had he expected?

“Slate 24, take two.” Snap. “Action.”

Walking again. Anders didn’t know where to look. Up, forward, down, where? “Cut!”

“Anders you looked straight at the camera. Try to avoid looking at it. Stare at me or Josephine when you need something to concentrate on. Isabela, doing better.”

“Slate 24, take three.” Snap. “Action.”

Walking.

“Cut.” “He looked at the camera again.” “But it went better. Again.” “Take four.” Snap. Snap. Snap.

“Take seven.” Snap.

Even though they had almost left a trail on a forest floor it was still hard to walk there. And finally happened what Anders feared would happen – he fell.

His foot got caught on a root and suddenly he was face down on a shrub, everyone gasping around him. Isabela started laughing immediately and all the nervousness Anders still had made him burst out giggling.

“Are you hurt?” Zevran asked in concerned voice, while someone called Wynne to see them. With laughter Anders rose on his feet and almost fell again against Isabela, who tried to calm down. But not everyone seemed to have fun – Cassandra’s smile was stiff and didn’t look happy at all. Merrill looked concerned as well while Josephine just started to write on clapperboard again.

“I’m okay, I’m sorry there was a root and-“

“It’s fine, let’s redo”, Zevran said. “The previous shot was almost perfect. Is Krem ready with the recorder?”

“Ready, boss”, a man with headphones said and raised his long microphone again.

“Slate 24, take eight.” Snap.

Walking again. Look everywhere else than at the camera. He was doing fine. He could imagine how the scene would look where he, an apostate healer from a tiny village, was on a journey, searching a book with a recipe to a medicine that could destroy the rising virus. With his friend and a prince, who-… Stomp.

“Oh god Fenris, are you alright?” “Did that hurt?”

Anders quickly turned his head around to see Fenris lying on the ground, looking a bit confused. He raised his head to see everyone looking concerned – except Isabela who was trying to hold her chuckles. With a sharp inhale he rose up from the ground, ears slumped down and held out his hand as he was trying to calm something down.

“I apologize, I stumbled. I am sorry, let’s continue”, he said and backed up again.

“Did you get hurt?” Zevran asked. “That looked kind of painful, my friend. Are you okay?”

Fenris just raised his hand and nodded, waiting for Isabela and Anders to come to him and get ready to film yet another shot.

He looked ashamed and Anders could swear Fenris was shivering. Was he cold?

“Are you cold?” Anders couldn’t help but ask before the clapperboard snapped again. Fenris gave him a cold glance without any answer, but his ears perked up again. Right, Anders thought, he’s still not interested in talking. Snap.

 

 

It took about fourteen takes before they got the one Zevran and Cassandra were happy about. After that they started shooting more demanding scenes. More walking, more running, different angles. During the long gaps of moving the cameras and tracks Anders, Isabela and Fenris just sat somewhere with blankets wrapped around them. Merrill had brought them tea because she wasn’t strong enough to carry tracks around.

“How are you feeling?” she asked from them after she had handed them their fourth cups of tea. It was surprisingly late and it was getting dark and colder. Isabela sighed but smiled.

“It’s been okay. The air is still pretty chilly to walk around in these clothes, but it’s fine. It’s fun to see Anders stumbling in front of me.”

“Hey, I fell only once!” Anders protested but laughed as well. He took a sip from his tea and moaned. Finally something warm…

“It’s just-… It’s surprisingly hard to not glance at the camera or look natural. Theatre is all about big expressions, sometimes we would over-act some scenes, take contact to audience. It’s different compared to this.”

“Zevran is really proud of you, Anders”, Merrill said with a warm smile. “Even if there’s been stumbling and falling and... all that, you have still done really well!”

“Really? I though wanted to fire me after this pathetic performance”, he mumbled. Isabela burst out her tea from her mouth and shook her head wildly.

“Rubbish”, she protested and leaned closer to him. “They wouldn’t have given you the role only to kick your ass out of here after the first day of filming. You’ve been at least okay and you’ll get better after every day. Soon you’ll be busy with getting role offers from multiple directors!”

Anders’ lips soon curled for a smile and he pressed his head on Isabela’s shoulder. They had become friends really quickly and Anders was happy about that.

“How about you, Fenris?” Merrill asked again. Her voice was so sweet and supportive compared to Fenris’ slightly cranky expression. “How have you been enjoying this day?”

The other elf just shrugged his shoulders and raised his blanket higher to reach his ears. “It’s been fine.”

Merrill lowered her head and tried to look Fenris in the eyes. “Are you sure everything’s alright?” she tried to ask. She seemed to get worried if someone didn’t smile as often as she did.

“Don’t worry about him, darling”, Isabela purred and nudged Fenris with her elbow. “He’s happy but doesn’t know how to smile.”

To that, Fenris seemed eager to answer. “I know how to smile.”

“Then prove it! Give me your best smile.”

“No.”

“So you can’t smile.”

“I do not have any reason to smile so why would I have to?”

“Well, you don’t need a reason. You could be ‘generally uplifting the mood’ or ‘smiling just to make others know there’s nothing wrong’ you know?” Isabela rolled her eyes and chuckled. “Just keep brooding, honey, I was just teasing.”

Fenris muttered something under his breath before Zevran arrived. He was carrying his megaphone on his other hand and a cup of tea on his other.

“We have done rather well today, my shiny stars. Next, I would like to film the dialogue parts, so I hope you have learned your lines.” He nodded to Anders which felt like a compliment – it looked like he trusted to him. That felt great.

“Blackwall and Alistair will both be filming the scenes so we will get different angles and everything. But I think we should start. Leave your blankets and follow me.”

They were led to a tall tree that grew near a dark rocks. A dwarf named Dagna was gathering small sticks on one clear spot while Alistair was trying to turn the camera again. It was like they were having a campfire.

“So, Adrian and Leto will have a discussion about the book and just generally talk while Dona is trying to light the campfire. We’ll give you rocks to do so. After Leto’s and Adrian’s conversation gets hotter, Dona steps in and asks Adrian to light the fire with magic. Then you’ll ‘light up the campfire with a small sparkle of magic’ and so on. The scene ends when you decide to go to sleep. Okay?”

Clear as a day, Anders thought and looked up to the darkening sky. He had no idea what time was or how long they had been in the forest. His stomach was growling and tea didn’t do much about it. If only he could get a sandwich…

“So sit down there, Anders you’ll be writing a memo, about how much you’ve walked and where and all that, yes? And Fenris, you’ll sit down here, act as if you were cutting dried meat. Make slow cuts, so we don’t waste much. And Isabela, you’ll sit here.”

As Merrill brought Isabela the stones to ‘make fire’, Anders sat down on a flat rock and took a leather-covered book, black feather and a small bottle of ink from Josephine.

“I assume you know what to do with these. The more curly your handwriting is the better – you can write all non-sense here so don’t worry about that.” Josephine’s smile was warm and with a nod she walked to the side. Someone handed Fenris a pouch that had hard pieces of dried meet and basic bread inside it.

Anders closed his eyes and tried to remember his lines. He had been performing in long theatre shows - on Boardway for fuck’s sake! - of course he would remember the lines. And if he didn’t, Merrill or someone would tell him what to say. It would be fine.

“Alright, cameras ready? Voice? Start.”

“Slate 27, take one.” Snap.

Start what?

Panic. Had he missed something? There were no other instructions from Zevran than just Sit and start. With a quick glance at him Anders saw Zevran looking at him, waiting. Fenris was slowly cutting a big piece of meat in his hands while Isabela had started hitting stones together. It was dead silence.

For what felt like a minute Anders kept staring at Fenris’ hands. Did they wait for him to say something? Finally his hands started to work as he remembered to dip the feather pen in the ink. He was supposed to write something, yes. But what? Under Zevran’s watching eye Anders decided to write the first sentence that got into his mind.

Fenris looks really sexy. Oh dear Maker what the-

“And cut! Anders, you’re a bit off.”

With a panicked nod Anders tried to black out his writings by drawing messy circles over the letters. Why had he written about Fenris? He didn’t see Fenris as attractive. Maybe a bit but- not that much!

Anders sighed as the clapperboard made a snap again. He should write some non-sense about the plot. The problem was that Varric didn’t want to reveal much about the rest of the script – it was supposed to keep the actors more excited and make more natural reactions when something would happen. …or something like that.

Suddenly a rumbling sound got into his ears and he saw Fenris raise his head up. In fact everyone in the set expect Alistair (whose head was hidden behind the camera) looked up. Was it thunder? In April?

“Cut. Merrill when did you say the rain would start?”

Merrill looked confused for a minute before she pulled her phone with a pink fluffy cover out of her pocket. She opened it and scrolled until her head perked up.

“It says here that it will rain in an hour!”

“So let’s be quick. Let the thunder roar. Krem, record everything now. Everyone will stay silent from this one, yes? Good.”

“Slate 27, take three.” Ohh, this was going to be really stressful.

Snap.

Chapter Text

“So it has the recipe for the cure”, Leto’s voice was deep when he broke the silence.

Adrian raised his head and looked at the elven prince. “It does”, was his answer.

“Does it have something else?”

“I don’t know for sure”, Adrian murmured back and wrote something down. “I only know that it has the recipe and that’s enough for me.”

Leto turned his gaze upon Dona, who was desperately trying to light the fire with rocks. He cut another piece of dried meat for himself and ate it quickly. “We are marching with very little information it seems.”

“And yet you wanted to join us”, Adrian said and looked at Leto again. “Why? You don’t know anything about us.”

“I need to see myself that you will find the book and not just run away with it when my people need it.”

“So does my people”, Adrian barked back. “Why do you trust us? You didn’t even get any guards with you!”

“Just because you don’t see the guards doesn’t mean I don’t have anyone to follow us.” The shocked look on Adrian’s face almost made Leto laugh. He cut himself another piece of meat and ate it. Adrian closed his notebook and sighed. He looked annoyed.

“Adrian, please help me”, Dona said and threw the rocks in the middle of their firewood. “These stupid rocks won’t do shit.”

 

“And cut! Great work everyone!”

Anders let out a long sigh and leaned his back against the rocks behind him. This was their sixth shot of the scene and again it went without any mistakes or hesitations. Zevran and Alistair nodded to each other while discussing about the shot. It was hard to judge if they were happy enough to not shoot another take.

“Oh fuck, look at my hands!” Isabela laughed and showed her palms to Anders. They were dirty and red from holding and hitting cold rocks together for so long. “I have never ever wanted to wash my hands this bad.”

Merrill suddenly appeared next to her with a wet wipes and smiled. “There you go! This take went super well! Even Cassandra looks happy!”

She was right – Cassandra stood next to Zevran and listened to his opinions. Both were smiling.

The thunder roared again over their heads. It sounded like the storm was coming rather quickly now.

“Alright everyone, we did it!” Zevran declared, “we shot the scenes we needed so the day is finished! Wonderful work everyone, do applaud to yourself!”

His speech ended in applause and laughter. Everyone was tired but happy. Anders felt more relaxed than he had felt in weeks. He had finally done something right!

As everyone started to gather cameras and tracks, Merrill helped them up of the ground and gave them their blankets. “Zevran said you can go to wait in his car. I think I’ll go with you since they don’t need my help – or so they said!”

In the car Merrill sat between Isabela and Anders in the back while Fenris again took the seat in the front. Bela couldn’t hide her happiness at all.

“This was a funny day. The way you looked when you fell on the ground was epic”, she laughed and looked at Anders, who just rolled his eyes and smirked back.

“I bet your hands looked as amusing after the last take, right? Never held cold rocks in your hands for that long?”

“Ohhh trust me, I’ve had much more balls in my hands than you so my hands are used to it”, Isabela grinned back.

“You don’t know how much balls I’ve had in my hands”, Anders put back and Isabela laughed.

“Good to know that. How about you, Fenris? Did you have fun?” Isabela tried.

Fenris was the only one who just couldn’t crack a smile. Even after the last take he had just nodded and clapped his hands together twice. He looked so unhappy. And as Anders expected, he didn’t answer.

“Oh come on, Fenris! If you brood any harder our Prince Leto will not look much Prince anymore.”

Before Fenris could reply, Zevran jumped into the car and sighed.

“They will gather the rest of the stuff so we can leave, let’s not waste any more time.” He started the car and carefully rode it to a wider road.

“I am really proud of you all”, he started. “For the first shots you did absolutely well. That’s why I want to hold a small party this Friday at The Hanged Man. To celebrate a great start and to make people more comfortable with each other. And I want all of you to come.”

Isabela and Anders clapped in excitement while Merrill giggled. Fenris just nodded.

“I hope others will come too so we can all meet again and talk and form friendships – it is better to work with friends than strangers, no?”

“Will there be some activities?” Isabela asked and Zevran shrugged his shoulders with a wide smile.

“I shall figure something out”, he answered and put more volume on the radio. “I promise we will have fun then, and I’ll buy your drinks!”

Anders laughed at Isabela’s and Merrill’s happy screams and leaned his head against the cold window. Making new friends sounded good. If the elf sitting in front of him was also coming – this could be their time to bond.

 

 

“What do you think? Do I look fat in this dress?”

Anders sighed deeply and smiled at Ariana, who showed him her fourth possible dress for the evening. They had promised to go together to the Hanged Man since they wanted to gossip about everyone before the event. And as always, Ariana was insecure with her body.

“Stop it, you look gorgeous”, Anders answered and took a bite of another cookie. Ariana had insisted Anders would eat and review some of the cookies she had baked last night. It wasn’t like Anders could give much critique – everything Ariana cooked tasted delicious and Anders ate everything she ever offered to him.

“Yeah? But how about my stomach?” Ariana moaned again and turned sideways in front of her mirror. The black dress she had chosen was long and had long sleeves and wide v-neck. It looked really pretty on her – who cared if she was a bit round?

“Looks curvy and pretty, I’d say you’ll chose that”, Anders tried and looked down at his own scrubs. He had chosen black jeans and clean green sweater. Now that Ariana was trying on dresses he felt a bit… under-dressed?

“Should I have worn something fancier?” Anders muttered and without even noticing took a third cookie.

“What? No! You look good!” Ariana hurried to say and walked to Anders to hug him. “Charming and handsome! Fenris can’t help it but run to you!”

A blush creeped on Anders face as he shushed Ariana away and stood up. “That will never happen. I just want to-… I don’t know? Get to know him. Talk?”

“And I’m sure you’ll get a change to get to know him today. He’ll be there, I promise”. Ariana gave him a warm smile and took her make-up bag from the table. “Do you need something? Like mascara or highlight? You surely don’t need any blush since you’ll turn completely red when Fenris glances at you.”

Anders almost choked on his last bite and shook his head. “Shut it! I’m not that desperate!”

“Alright, alright! I’m just teasing.”

Anders nodded and looked at his friend through the mirror. Fenris was a name that popped up in their conversations more than often. Why? Why did he find the man attractive?

“Ariana, why do I like him even though I hate him?”

Ariana kept adding more red eyeshadow as she listened. “What do you mean?”

Anders sighed. “I mean that, I don’t like his opinions, I don’t like his attitude, and yet-… yet every time I see him I get butterflies. I feel the same as I felt with Karl. But Karl wasn’t like him at all.”

“It’s okay, Anders”, Ariana started and put her make up brush down. “I don’t think you hate-hate him. Maybe you just see something you can’t really even tell yourself. I myself think Fenris is a nice person, even though I know he greatly dislikes my magic.”

“But why is he like that?”

“Why don’t you ask him? As much as I’ve heard you’ve only yelled at each other and never really looked each other in eyes and talked. You should try that, it helps.” She gave him a quick smile before adding mascara. Why does she make it sound so easy?

“Okay I know I know, I said it like that should be the most easiest thing in the world – I know it isn’t, Maker knows I haven’t even talked with Alistair about my feelings and it’s been years, but you know how it is – single people give the best dating advice.” Ariana laughed at that quickly and gave him her mascara. “Put this on, it suits you! And then we can go!”

Anders rolled his eyes and smiled. He took some of that mascara his friend offered to him and looked in the mirror. He tied his hair in a ponytail before he could finally pull on a confident smile.

I look beautiful, I look beautiful. Just be yourself. He didn’t know why the butterflies kept flying in his stomach. Would Fenris really be there? Would they talk? Would Cassandra talk to him?

Last nod to the mirror before he turned and took his jacket. “Let’s go then”, he said to her friend, who smiled at him and walked out of the door first.

 

 

The Hanged Man was full of people but surprisingly, Anders recognized many of them: Iron Bull was arm wrestling with Krem. Alistair was chatting with Zevran, Leliana and a woman with black hair near the bar – all of them had beers in hands. Sera was telling jokes to Josephine who tried her best not to laugh too loud. Dorian was talking with Cullen and another man Anders didn’t recognize – he seemed to be Dorian’s boyfriend, since his hands were on Dorian’s hip or a bit lower. Anders chuckled.

“Alistair is there”, Ariana said next to him and tried to smoothen her hair again. Anders turned to look at her and smirked.

“Oh, you wanna go say hey to your boyfriend?” Anders grinned at her and earned a soft punch on his stomach.

“We are not dating!” Ariana hissed and sighed quickly. “Yet, at least. We’ll go to him and then I’ll escort you to your crush.”

Anders rolled his eyes again but could help to take a quick glance around the bar. He saw no white hair. He then walked behind Ariana to the bar where Zevran was first to greet them.

“There you are! I was almost worried”, Zevran smiled and went to hug Ariana who laughed happily.

“Has everyone arrived already?” Anders asked and offered his hand to Zevran, but was surprised when the man stood past his hand and hugged him. And what a warm hug it was. Anders smiled and hugged back before Zevran took a step back and took something behind the bar.

“Almost. The whole tavern is for us today, thanks to our Varric”, he said and offered Anders a bottle of beer. “And as I promised, I’ll buy your drinks today.”

“Thank you”, he answered and smiled at Leliana and Alistair. Then he smiled to a woman he didn’t know.

“Oh, forgive me for not introducing you. Anders, this is Morrigan, our main editor”, Zevran smiled and pressed a hand on woman’s shoulder. Morrigan’s yellow eyes were deep and private as she nodded to Anders and smiled somewhat stiffly.

“Nice to meet you, Morrigan”, Anders said and clumsily tried to offer her his hand. Morrigan just nodded.

“My pleasure.”

Zevran didn’t give Anders’ discomfort and anxiety any time to grow as he leaned against Anders’ side and took all his attention.

“Isabela had been asking you, she’s with the Hawkes and Varric over there”, he said and pointed at the corner of the room. There she was in the shortest white dress Anders had ever seen. She sat between Merrill and Garrett, and they were all listening to a story Varric was telling. Laugher erupted as Varric raised his hands up to imitate something and Marian was almost falling from her chair.

“Go to her, she might have something to say to you”, Zevran said and gave him a bottle of – something. “And take this to her – the rum she asked for.”

Anders nodded at Ariana, who was whispering something into Alistair’s ear and probably didn’t even notice he was leaving. With a dark bottle in his hand he approached the table in the corner. A warmth filled his insides when someone already noticed him.

“Anders! Finally!” Garrett said and got up from his seat to give it to Anders. Anders had to stop for a moment and look at the table. Everyone had turned around and were smiled at him, telling him to come sit with them. For the first time in a long time Anders felt really cared about.

“Sit here”, Bela said and tapped the seat next to her – the one Garrett had given. Garrett himself went to get another chair to himself from another table as Anders finally sat down.

“Glad to see you, Blondie”, Varric smiled and handed him a sheet of paper. “Write your name here – Zevran said he’ll make a quiz and we want you in our team.”

Anders was screaming inside. They really cared about him. “Really?”

“Really! Come on!” Merrill squeaked and took a sip from her cider. That reminded Anders from another bottle he was holding.

“Hey, Bela this is for you, from Zevran”, Anders said and gave the bottle to a woman next to him. Isabela smelled the bottle at first and sighed in relief.

“Ohh that man… My favorite rum”, she laughed and took a long sip from a bottle – and then pulled a ridiculous face. The table erupted in laughter again.

Anders wrote his name on the paper and looked around. While Carver was shuffling playing cards in his hands, Garrett was drinking his beer. Varric had started to tell another story. Marian was listening to it with a wide smirk. Merrill looked as sweet as her cider smelled and Isabela was watching him.

“What?” Anders asked and Bela laughed, leaning closer to him.

“Nothing”, she smirked and bucked his shoulder with her arm. “Do you like to dance?”

Anders had to chuckle at that. “If I’ve drank enough then definitely yes.”

“Good! Then you’ll dance with me, right?”

He took a sip from his beer and nodded. “I’d love to. I haven’t danced in ages.”

Isabela nodded and turned his gaze away. “Perhaps you could ask Fenris to dance too.”

Anders froze. Fenris. He had almost forgotten he was supposed to be here. He couldn’t help it but turn his head around and try to spot the elf from the bar. And there he was – sitting with Sebastian and Aveline in a quiet corner of the bar, drinking wine from a fine glass. He was looking at Sebastian who was speaking. Had he seen Anders coming?

“I asked him myself but he refused”, Isabela continued and drank her rum. “Maybe you’ll have better luck with that.”

“I doubt that”, Anders muttered and lowered his head a little. In his luck Fenris would rather run outside than dance with him.

Isabela shook her head and took Anders’ hand. “It is common knowledge that people meet each other on the dance floor. Most relationships start in nightclubs!”

“This isn’t a nightclub.”

“Hardly, but name another place in Lowtown where you could also buy cheap beer but also dance.”

Anders huffed at that and took a long gulp of his beer. He’d think about dancing later when he was more drunk.

 

 

“I bet we got over half of them wrong”, Garrett laughed as he read through their quiz answers. Merrill was giggling and got up to take the paper to Zevran, who was going to check everyone’s answers.

The whole night had been fun. People had talked to Anders, offered him good drinks, shared stories and just been genuinely nice. In fact Anders’ face hurt from smiling so much. He had even danced with Isabela for a bit.

“Say, Blondie”, Varric said suddenly and took Anders’ attention. “What was it like in the Boardway?”

“What was it like?” Anders repeated and smiled. “You want a short answer or a long one?”

Varric laughed at that and started idly shuffling playing cards. “Any answer.”

The whole table was now listening at him and Anders took a deep breath. “Well, it was really-.. busy? We had a lot of performances and I was even asked for a few roles. We had practices about every day.”

“How was your salary?”

“Low, really low, but I did it for fun of course!”

“Not a lot of people can say that”, Marian murmured and shrugged her shoulders. “I want a good money out of what I’m doing. Theatre doesn’t give much bread.”

Anders nodded slowly. “No, but it gave me a lot of freedom to express myself. After I got out of the Circle I wanted a career where I could perform and find new sides from myself. In the Circle you must act nicely, smile, study, do everything boring and still they aren’t happy. But when I got my first role in a small theatre in Amaranthine I felt free. The director was amazing and all the actors were great and talented! I had best time there.”

“Didn’t Ariana perform there too?” Isabela asked. “I would bet my pants I saw her in one of the plays.”

“You have pants?” Marian asked dully and got Isabela hushing at her.

“She was. She got there earlier than I did, and she got in Boardway year before me”, Anders said and smiled. It was a jackpot to get to work at the same theatre as she did, plus on Boardway Anders got a lot more roles.

“Did you perform in any musicals?” Merrill asked curiously and drank down her third cider. No matter how tiny Merrill was it seemed like she wasn’t getting drunk at all – she was just as sweet and giggly as she always was.

“I did, I was in The Song of Revolution.”

“The Mage of the Sewers, wasn’t it? Suits for you”, Varric smirked at him, pulling a laugh out of everyone around the table.

“Yeah, I’m happy you remember it”, Anders put back and smiled. Just the same time Zevran stood on the table in the middle of the Hanged Man and put his hands around his lips as he would have a megaphone.

“Alright! I have now counted your scores and I am happy to announce the winners!” he said and everyone clapped. Zevran turned the answer sheets in his hands and smiled. “On a third place we have a group-… Chargers!!” At another table, Iron Bull and Krem with their friends erupted in cheers and clapping. Zevran smirked at them and also clapped his hands. “Congratulations, you’ve won a nice box of chocolate all the way from Antiva.

“On a second place we have… A merry band of misfits!”

“That’s us!!” Garrett yelled as Isabela and Merrill screamed, clapping their hands together. Even though it was only a second place in a silly quiz, Anders felt like he’d won in a lottery. He belonged in a group that worked together, had fun and won something. It felt great!

“You’ll get a bag of cherry candies, again from Antiva, and I’ll promise to fill your glasses for the rest of the night.”

“Does that mean I get two times more booze?!” Isabela yelled and the whole bar roared in laughter. Zevran shrugged his shoulder with a hearty grin.

“We’ll discuss about that later, my dear. But now, the winner of this quiz! May I get drums?” he asked and everyone around Anders started drumming their feet to the ground. “With almost all answers correct, the winning group is… Royalties and Aveline!”

Anders immediately turned his head towards the silent corner where the winning group was sitting. Aveline almost bursted water out of her mouth while Fenris and Sebastian just looked confused. Everyone clapped around them and cheered.

“Congratulations! Smallest group took the jackpot, which is this fine Antivan wine and some candies to go with it!” Zevran jumped down from the table, bowed at everyone and went to get the prizes as the music started playing again.

“Impressive”, Carver said and looked at the winners. “They are smarter than they look.”

“Everyone is smarter than you”, Marian laughed and got daggers from Carver. Anders had to laugh. Even if the Hawkes were sometimes a bit mean to each other, they were becoming really good friends with Anders. Anders was a bit sad when he heard that Bethany had to take care of their mother for the evening so she couldn’t join them, but luckily the rest of them did. Anders had friends. It was great.

 

 

“Let’s play cards at last”, Varric said with almost frustrated voice and shuffled the card deck for what felt like 100th time. Isabela turned around just in time.

“Fenris!! Aveline! Sebastian! Wanna join for a game of Wicked Grace?!”

Anders’ heart jumped lower now that he was a bit drunk, but Fenris’ name still got him anxious pretty easily. Would he join? Would he sit near him?

“We’d love to”, Sebastian’s voice said and soon the winners of a previous quiz walked to their table. Anders couldn’t help but look at Fenris when he was picking his seat. He looked like he was pretty drunk – it seemed like Aveline nor Sebastian drank, so it was Fenris who got their wine bottle all for himself. He was drinking straight from the bottle and his steps were clumsy.

“I don’t know this game”, Fenris blurted out as he sank on a chair across Anders and took the cards in front of him. His eyes were already a bit glassy.

“You’ll learn quickly”, Varric said and started to explain the rules for the elf. Anders should have listened to him as well because in fact he didn’t know this game either – but he couldn’t stop looking at Fenris. Was he okay? Even when drunk he looked like something was bothering him. What could it be? Fenris had said multiple times his things and thoughts didn’t belong to anyone but himself, but Anders couldn’t help it. He was worried for the elf. People here were drunk, yes, but Fenris looked already like he was getting the worst hangover in years. Should he help?

 

 

Anders was drunk. But nowhere nearly as drunk as Fenris.

“Fenris, did you drink the whole bottle?” Merrill asked silently after a long time of playing. The Hawkes had went home already and Isabela was nowhere to be seen, but the rest of them still sat around the table. Anders had dropped out of the game from the beginning since he lost all the time, but he had still hung out with his friends there. He was going to see Ariana, but after a quick glance he saw her sitting next to Alistair in a quiet corner, talking silently, leaning towards him. It was like they were finally confessing their feelings to each other, and he didn’t want to ruin anything.

Fenris just nodded and threw one card from his hand on the table without any reason. Even though Fenris had won a lot of games – he had learned the game pretty quickly – he was finally loosing. Probably because he had had so much alcohol he didn’t even understand it wasn’t his turn.

“Alright, I think Fenris has had enough”, Varric laughed and took the card from the table, putting it to the side instead of giving it to the elf. Fenris roared and tried to drink from his empty bottle before dropping every card on the table.

“That’s just-… not true”, he mumbled and looked around. “Iff I want to drink, I will. No one will say against me!” The next sentence he mumbled was in different language so no one really understood it.

“You’re impossible”, Aveline sighed, yawned and stretched her arms before raising up from the table. “I’ll call him a cab and then I’ll go home. It’s late.”

“No”, Fenris said again and shakily rose from his chair. “I’ll walk.”

“You’re kidding”, Varric chuckled and decided that they had played enough cards as he started to gather them. “Broody, you can’t even stand on your own.”

“-will walk”, Fenris said again and closed his eyes for a moment, probably trying to balance himself.

Idiot elf, Anders thought as he rose from his seat as well and nodded to everyone. “I think I’ll leave as well. It’s really late and I have to visit the clinic tomorrow.”

“Ohh, your clinic”, Merrill chirped and smiled. “Are you a nurse or a doctor?”

“Nurse, the only education I got was from the Circle. I couldn’t got into the doc school but I’ll keep trying to enter there later.”

“I know you and Broody don’t really go well together but could you see that he gets home safely?” Varric suddenly said and locked eyes with Anders. “He’s wasted and will end up in ditch if he goes out himself.”

“I can hear you, dwarf”, Fenris growled and shook his head. “I will survive, stop caring”, he continued and took clumsy steps towards the doors. At least he tried to keep his back straight.

They watched Fenris’ fumbling steps together. Varric voice was full of concern, “Really, Anders, I ask you to check he gets home safely. I’d hate to find a new actor for the role.”

Anders rubbed his neck for a while until he nodded. As much as the elf made him nervous and frustrated, he didn’t want anything to happen to him. But the thought of being alone with Fenris while he was drunk made him really anxious.

“I’ll go. Just pay me back, I usually can’t afford taxi.”

“Will do”, Varric snorted and patted him on the back. Then Anders took his jacked and walked to Ariana. Maybe she could come with them. She turned her head towards him and smiled. Her breath had a strong smell of cider. “You’ll leaving?” she asked with a tipsy voice.

“Yeah, do you want to leave as well? I need to make sure Fenris gets home and I thought you could come with us.”

Ariana’s bright eyes dimmed immediately and she looked apologizing. “Anders I-… I don’t want to leave yet, I just told him-… You understand? I finally talked with him.”

As Anders looked around he saw Alistair waking back from the bathroom with the happiest smile he’d ever seen him wearing. Anders bit his lip - he knew everything about Ariana and her feelings towards Alistair, he couldn’t ruin their moment. The moment she had waited for so long.

He sighed quickly and nodded. “It’s okay, I’ll manage. Just go home safely, okay?”

“If I go home”, Ariana whispered back to him and giggled. “You stay safe as well. Maybe try talking to him now? Call if something’s wrong, ok?”

 

 

Just as Anders got outside of the Hanged Man he noticed Aveline opening the door of the taxi she had called for Fenris. She looked more tired than earlier, perhaps it was because the elf was too drunk to understand how to get into the taxi without hitting his head.

“Will you go with him?” Aveline asked as Anders walked to them. “I’m too exhausted, I can’t babysit anyone anymore.”

“I do not need babysitting!” Fenris yelled and pulled a tense laugh out of the driver. Anders nodded and tapped Aveline’s shoulder.

“Thank you, we’ll survive from here.”

“Mage, get your own taxi”, Fenris murmured. Anders rolled his eyes and jumped next to the elf to the backseat. How many bottles of wine had the elf drank? If Anders had to take a wild guess, he’d say three. And that was a lot.

“Alright, let’s get the elf first since I don’t want any puke on my car”, the driver said with a grin Anders didn’t quite like. And neither did Fenris – his blank face had turned into a growl.

“You need to put your seatbelt on”, Anders said slowly as the taxi started to drive to Maker knows where. Fenris just shook his head.

“I don’t care.”

“You must. I won’t heal you if we crash.”

“Don’t want it.”

The trip was silent aside from a silent hum of a radio. They were driving to Fenris’ house first and it looked like they were going to Hightown. In fact, the area they were now circling was full of beautiful apartments and rich two-storey houses that were almost like mansions. Where in the world did Fenris live?

“Here we are”, the driver said and looked at Fenris who was already climbing out of the car. “Hey, knife-ear! You gotta pay!”

At the last word Fenris muttered something and slammed the door shut. Anders jumped and watched as the elf took hold of a streetlamp. He looked like he was going to throw up in any second, but maybe not just from the alcohol.

“Is he your friend? Make him pay”, the driver said angrily and looked at Anders.

“Sorry”, he just answered and jumped out. “Can you wait for me? If you drive me home I’ll pay for both of us.”

“You are going to pay for both of you. Now hurry – I don’t have a whole night.”

With a defeated sigh Anders closed the door and turned around to look at Fenris. Anders walked beside him and took a hold of his hand. “Come on, let’s go.”

“Don’t touch me”, Fenris growled, but he was too tired to fight. He let Anders guide him to a huge apartment with a door that must have costed more than Anders’ rent. Huge windows had dark red curtains pulled over them and it was dark aside from a tiny lamp over the door. Did the elf live in a fucking palace?

Fenris pulled his keys from his pocket and fumbled with the lock for a minute before the door opened. A large hall with a big crystal lamp hanging from the ceiling. Stairs curling at the back, leading to the second floor. It was dead silent. Only a few pair of shoes on the floor, only two jackets that were both Fenris’. It was like he really lived alone.

“I can’t believe you don’t have a wife or a husband living with you here”, Anders said as he helped Fenris inside. But something in his sentence made Fenris almost snap.

“Get out of here now!” Fenris almost shouted and shook Anders’ hand off him while stumbling inside the hall. Shaky hands caught the stair’s railing, but his feet weren’t strong enough to climb the stairs immediately. Or maybe he was finally going to vomit.

“I won’t, let me at least help you to bed-“

“You are not allowed in my bed!”

“I didn’t mean that, idiot! I just need to get you to somewhere you’ll sleep, then I’ll leave, okay?”

“No!”

“Fenris, I don’t trust you to climb these stair-“

Not caring about his words, Fenris tried to run upstairs with bad results – his other feet slipped and he fell on his knees, hand still gripping the rail. Anders let out an annoyed gasp as he ran to the elf and helped him up.

“Selfish bastard! Let me help! I don’t want you to hit your head.”

“Mage-.. Stupid!” Fenris didn’t fight back as Anders pulled him up and pushed him towards, finally getting up the stairs. There was a dim light coming out from one of the rooms – the room Fenris seemed to be navigating their way. It turned out to be his bedroom and the light was coming out of an artificial candle he had on his bedside. Anders was glad it wasn’t a real candle.

“Let me go”, Fenris murmured and shrugged himself off Anders’ hands again, sitting on a bed. It took a few seconds before he pulled something under his bed – another wine bottle. He opened it as it had been opened before and took a long gulp.

Or would have taken, if Anders hadn’t pulled the bottle away. Even though it was almost empty, Anders just couldn’t let Fenris drink the rest of it.

“No”, he said with a steady voice. “You have drank enough. Leave it.”

“Don’t tell me what to do in my own house!” Fenris yelled back and tried to shoot up again to take the bottle. He was fast and strong, yes, but the alcohol was finally fighting him. Fenris had to grab a chair he had near his bed to hold his balance. “You got me here already, you should have left already. Get out, mage.”

Why was it that the way Fenris said ‘mage’ hurt so much? It hurt Anders. It did. And when he was hurt and a bit drunk, he wanted to hurt back. He didn’t care anymore. He put the bottle on a table behind him and started yelling at Fenris.

“What on earth do you have against mages? Did mages do something bad to you? Oh wait, perhaps you have some special mage who did something bad to you and now every mage is your enemy, right?” He remembered the picture on the magazine. He couldn’t remember the name of the director Fenris had worked with earlier. Actually, he didn’t even care. All he wanted was to hurt Fenris back.

“Did you leave your mage lover in Tevinter and now regret it? Or did they leave you? Perhaps it was your sugar daddy who bought you this house because I don’t think you really have this money, and now the mages-“

The fist game so quick Anders couldn’t react. It hit his yaw and made him loose his balance. It wasn’t a hard hit – but it was quick. He didn’t even hear the bottle breaking but dark pieces of glass and spilled wine on the floor informed him that the bottle had fallen. And Fenris looked like he was going to turn into a wolf and tear him apart. He just stood and kept looking at him, ears held back.

“..How dare you say that”, Fenris said between heavy breaths. “I ran away from Tevinter. I ran for my life. I was in an abusive relationship with an abusive mage who used me, hit me, gave me these markings that ruined my body, my career, my family, my life-. I have no family anymore because of what he did to me. He hurt me with magic and enjoyed it. He wanted me to suffer. I almost died. And no one cared because he was a mage and I was an elf with no magic.

“Do you think I’ll forgive everything when I am afraid? Don’t you ever dare to say anything like that to me. You- don’t know what I went through. Don’t you dare. Don’t you-… dare.”

Fenris suddenly fell on the ground and finally vomited. Anders just stared at him and waited till the elf had fully emptied his stomach.

Tears tried to break free but Anders held them back. He was ashamed. The words he had said to him were cruel, meant to hurt. And he had succeeded in that and for what? To make Fenris feel even worse. What had he done? He himself had suffered. He knew that many people suffer and don’t tell it. He didn’t know what Fenris had went through and still he threw the meanest words against him. How could he do that to him?

Before Fenris would collapse on the floor, Anders raised up and tried to get a hold on him. “Come on, raise up”, he whispered to him and pulled him up. Fenris was almost limb in his hands.

“Don’t hurt me”, Fenris suddenly begged. He had turned from a crude wolf into a hurt one so suddenly. Suddenly Anders noticed Fenris was shaking – he was afraid.

“I won’t, don’t worry”, Anders said and felt the tears finally coming. “I’m just trying to get you on the bed and then I’ll leave.”

“Please”, Fenris whispered again and let Anders put him to bed. He didn’t move after that – he just kept staring at the candle on his night table. “Please…” Anders could see memories flashing behind Fenris eyes. Why was he so submissive suddenly?

Anders turned around and looked at the pool of vomit on the floor. He couldn’t just leave it like that. He pulled papers from his pocket and cleaned the most of it – or as much as he could. After that he gathered the biggest pieces of glass from the floor and put them on the table, and noticed that Fenris had fallen asleep.

Anders saw a blanket on a chair and took it, hoping it was a right thing to do. He slowly walked to the bed and put the blanket on a sleeping elf. He looked restless and calm at the same time.

Anders bit his lip. He couldn’t even process through what he had done. How would he apologize, what would Ariana say? Or Isabela or Varric? Anders was just about to leave when he noticed a post-it note on a table. He walked to it first, knowing that he shouldn’t lurk around but- he was sure he had read his name.

The note was on a small package Anders recognized. It had the pocket tissues with cat prints – he had given it to Fenris.

Give back to Anders, thank him.’

The taxi driver suddenly honked the horn. Anders had almost forgot it was waiting for him. With a quick glance at Fenris he ran down the stairs and out of the door – making sure it was locked.

“Did you two had sex or why did it took thousand years to get back?!” the driver shouted at him as Anders sat back. He was so taken aback he couldn’t close his mouth for a second.

“I-.. I’m-.. sorry, we-“

“Yeah yeah, whatever, just give me your address so I can throw you out”, the driver said and already drove away from the mansion.

The whole night had been a disaster. Well, not whole night, but the rest of it had ruined it all. Anders sighed and felt the tears prickling at the corner of his eyes. How could Fenris ever forgive him now? It was impossible to go back in time and rethink his words. And now, he had lost every chance he had to make friends with the elf. It was his fault.

He pressed his head against the window and let the tears run free. His fault, his fault. He was doomed.

Chapter Text

                                                                                Wolf.

 

Little wolf.

 

Little wolf.

 

 

Little wolf.

 

My little wolf.

Come here.

 

He didn’t want to open his eyes. Would he see him, standing next to him? His head ached painfully – maybe it was Danarius’ doing. His mouth tasted like acid and salt. Pressure on his back, on his waist. He was back in the nightmare. Why, why couldn’t he ran away?

Something was flickering in the darkness of his closed eyes. A candle. It had the same rhythm as his candle had. Was he at home?

Fenris braved himself enough to slowly open his eyes and there it was – his artificial candle that always calmed him down. He finally realized where he was - laying on his bed with his clothes on, his woollen blanket laid over him.

The pain in his head was almost overwhelming and Fenris groaned, trying to sit up. If he could walk to the bathroom, he could get painkillers and relieve himself. But could he handle the stairs? How had he got up last night if he was so drunk to have a hangover this bad?

The mage. Home. Don’t drink it. Please. Please.

The memories got back to him like thunder. Anders had taken him home. They had argued, and Fenris had punched him. Anders had fallen on the floor. Something had broken, something was spilled.

Looking down, Fenris saw green glimmering pieces on the floor between dried wine stains. The biggest pieces had been gathered on top of the table with a small note. ‘I’m sorry.’

They had gone too far.

 

 

 

Anders wasn’t sure if he had slept at all. The morning felt as bad as the night had.

Ariana hadn’t answered to his call, and if Anders was honest, he understood it. And still it hurt him. He needed her support but instead he was alone. Of course Pounce was there, but for the first time ever he didn’t bring Anders enough support.

There was no way he and Fenris could work together anymore. He had gone too far, insulted the man and tried to hurt him by bringing the worst parts of his known past up. Why had he done that? Surely Anders knew better. New tears rolled down from Anders’ eyes as he raised the blanket higher and tried to disappear under it. I’m a bad person and I know it – it’s true. I insulted him, I hurt him, I wanted to hurt him. Why?

Memories ran around his head. It was almost the same when he and Karl parted ways. But Karl had reasons to leave, it wouldn’t have been clever to continue their relationship – it would be too rough. And how Anders had handled it? By damaging their remaining friendship with hurt words. Why had he done it? Maybe it was because it would be easier to handle a full break-up than stay friends and see his love go on with his life while he stayed still.

But Fenris wouldn’t leave him alone after this. No, they had to work together for about a year or more now. They didn’t have anything between them, did they? Except cold glances and harsh words. And a stupid crush Anders couldn’t handle. Is it too late to try to build a friendship after last night?

‘I want nothing to do with you’, Fenris’ voice said somewhere behind him. It was so dark that the only thing Anders saw were the dim light shimmering from Fenris’ tattoos. ‘How could you attack people you know have suffered with the way you did? Do you only think of yourself?’

The light grew brighter as Fenris took steps closer, holding his hand out for Anders. Was he going to punch him again?

“You are not worth of staying alive.” What? That’s .. too much even from Fenris.

Anders’ opened his eyes as soon as he realized his phone was ringing. When had he fallen asleep? It took a moment to locate his vibrating phone from the sheets, but finally he found him and answered without looking who was calling.

“Hello? Ariana?”

A soft chuckle echoed from the phone. “I’m afraid Ariana’s still sound asleep, but if you wish me to wake her up, I surely can-“

“Wait- Zevran?” Anders was sure he recognized the voice and another chuckle and a quick glance at his phone confirmed who he was talking with. “Is Ariana there?”

“She did fall asleep with Alistair, so I was kind enough to get them a room from a Hanged Man and surprisingly I am staying here as well – for now! But are you alright, my precious star? Forgive me but seeing you and Fenris get on a same taxi was – how shall I say it – a brave decision! And yet your voice sounds like something is off.”

Of course Zevran could guess something had gone wrong. What if Fenris had actually told him what he had done? Was Zevran calling to fire him? Would he ever get a career? Was he going to be punished?

“…Anders?”

“Yeah sorry! I-.. I just… I’m fine, just-... hangover.” It was a good lie, he told himself, mostly because it was partly true.

Ah! I should have guessed!” Zevran laughed soundly and something clinked. “Listen, I did call you for a reason. I do not know if you remember, but we did have a bit problems deciding when we want to shoot the first scenes. Now it has come to my attention that Korcari Wilds is in excellent state with snow and the village is almost empty, so we must shoot the scenes as soon as possible.

So, we will fly there on Monday morning. The plane leaves at five o’clock from Kirkwall Main Airport and I want you to be ready. Can you come by yourself or do you need a ride?”

Anders just stared at the opposite wall and tried to calm his breath. So much information in such a short time. What day it even was now?

“Yeah I’ll walk”, was the only thing Anders was able to say.

Are you sure?”

“Yeah.”

Good! Merrill will send you more details about the transition. Now get your head clear and have a great day! See you”, Zevran said with an ease and ended the call.

“See you”, Anders said to his locked phone, looking at the dark screen. Monday. Korcari Wilds. He had been so excited about the location weeks ago but now it felt like something he was forced to do. Would Fenris be there?

No, he wouldn’t, Anders remembered and slowly got up from his bed. His script was on his computer table and he opened it slowly, trying to find the page that had all important dates and list of scenes.

“Scenes 3-9, Korcari Wilds. Anders, Isabela, Leliana, villagers and patients + the crew. The starting scenes, the information, travelling begins. Date: Not clear, but before the snow has fully melted so April?? if not possible then we’ll try December and go to Sundermount.”

At the same time it relieved and nerved Anders when he didn’t see Fenris’ name on the list. He wouldn’t be there. He would survive. Maybe.

 

 

If Anders though the flight was going to make him feel better – well, he was almost correct. The moment when the wheels stopped touching the ground and rose up felt amazing, he could feel his stomach drop. The same kind of feeling when he had finally got out of Kinloch Hold.

But after the plane had reached is full height he felt empty again. Ariana had called him on Sunday but he didn’t want to talk about what happened between him and Fenris. He just kept listening his friend talk about her time with Alistair, how they had finally opened up about their feelings and were now dating. Anders had swallowed his jealousy and listened, until he was too tired to say much anything back. All he wanted was to talk it through with Fenris.

“Scared of heights?” Isabela purred next to him. He had almost forgot her presence and cursed himself for it. He was surrounded by people he could talk to and keep himself at least busy with other thoughts. How could one elf distract him so much?

“Uh, well not really”, Anders tried to form an acceptable smile. “Just thinking about my job.”

“Aww, feeling stressed about it?” Isabela asked, her voice full of curiosity and sympathy, “you look like something is really bothering you. Wanna talk about it? It’s not like we have anything better to do for the next three hours.”

Perhaps that was Isabela’s way of saying ‘You can’t leave this plane and therefore you have no other chance than to talk to me’. But on the other hand, Anders wanted to let it all out and Isabela offered to listen. Through the months they had known each other, Anders had learned Isabela was a wild spirit but she kept secrets. She was friendly and clearly liked him – he trusted her.

“It’s actually about Fenris”, he admitted finally, seeing Isabela’s eyes go wide for a second. “Promise me you won’t tell anyone?”

She chuckled and gave him her hand, her pinky raised. “Hey, I never leak out secrets. Pinky promise!”

There was something in Bela’s voice that put a smile on Anders’ face, even though he still felt miserable. He tied his own little finger around Bela’s and nodded. And then he told her everything about that night when the tension was finally snapped.

 

 

 

“Varric, I am not sure about this change.”

Cassandra had took her time and read the script three times before finally opening her mouth. “I thought the only romance was going to happen between Solona and Gabriel.”

Varric sighed again and nodded. “I know we planned it that way, but don’t you agree this is way more exciting? Solona appears almost at the end and we don’t get into Gabriel’s head much. It would be boring. But this? This is something that would thrill everyone!

“They have a rocky start, everyone things there is no hope they would even become friends, but then slowly feelings happen, and in the end, they are in love! It’s much more interesting to see two characters develop a relationship through tough times than just hand them happy ending on a silver plate.”

Cassandra kept eyeing the papers on her hand. “But this changes a lot of our plans, this comes so soon. How long have you even planned this in your head?”

“Since the casting”, Varric laughed and pulled a pen from his pocket, starting to spin it around his fingers. “There is tension between Anders and Fenris, but they are both great and skilled actors who have kissed men in their pasts. Maybe putting their characters through all that might get their relationship on right tracks too!”

“You are imagining too much ahead, this would be mean towards them”, Cassandra whispered and raised her gaze at him.

Varric sighed. “Oh come on, Cas… Every actor goes through unpleasant shootings and this is nowhere nearly as bad as Fenris went through in Tevinter. I know you like this plot more than the previous one. Imagine how much we could achieve – we have two mage actors, one of them in the main role, and we are getting a same-sex relationship on screen. It’s a brave decision and a lot of audience will love it. This industry needs more diversity and this is the way we can make it!”

While Cassandra was still making her decision, Varric’s phone rang. He dropped the pen and pulled his phone from his pocket, reading the name on the screen.

“It’s Zevran”, he read and smiled at Cassandra while answering, “they have probably landed then. Hello Sexy!”

“But hello yourself, oh mighty playwright!” Zevran laughed on the phone. “Listen, there is something I want you to do.”

“If it’s about getting more Antivan brandy, I must disappoint you but I-“

“Oh, no no! This is something a lot more serious, it’s about Anders and Fenris.”

Cassandra’s head snapped up as she heard him as well. Something seemed to be wrong.

“What is it? Are they alright?”

“That is something I truly don’t know. Anders told Isabela that he and Fenris had a fight after the party on Friday. Fenris probably punched him and something broke, and then he puked and fell asleep while begging forgiveness. What I mean is that something serious happened and they haven’t talked. And we must get them to talk and apologize their behaviours. Therefore, I need you to talk to Fenris.”

“Talk to Fenris?” Varric repeated and sighed. “About what? We don’t know why they had a fight.”

“I am ready to bet my hair that it was about magic in some way. I do not know why but it is clear that Fenris is afraid of Anders and he needs to say it to him.”

“So you me to go on a picnic with Broody and ask him to tell his enemy he’s afraid of him and magic?”

“Something like that. You are an author, no? Surely you can make up a plan to do it subtly. And don’t get me wrong – he’s not the only one to blame. I will talk to Anders here and hopefully they’ll make up their minds, talk and be friends.”

“Sounds like a great challenge”, Varric muttered but nodded. “Alright, I’ll make up something. Good luck with your shootings tonight.”

Thank you! And remember to be careful. We do not want to cause more harm.”

 

 

 

Fenris had no idea why he had agreed to this.

Going to the Hanged Man with Varric, Bull and Ariana sounded like a bad idea after his last encounter with alcohol. If it hadn’t been Varric who asked him, he probably would have stayed at home.

What if Anders was there? Would Anders accuse him of abusing him and get him in trouble? Thinking about Anders made Fenris dizzy, so he ditched his thoughts away and stepped into the bar.

Warmth surrounded him as he closed the door behind him and started to look for his colleagues. The Iron Bull was the easiest to spot – it appeared that there were much less qunari in Kirkwall than he had thought. Ariana was bringing joy to other people as she was singing karaoke at the far end of the bar, but her voice was strong enough to be heard around the bar.

“Good to see you, Broody”, Varric greeted him as Fenris took off his jacket and sat down next to him. He only nodded to the screenwriter and looked around the bar to see if Anders was there.

It was as if Varric had read his thoughts. “Anders and Isabela are at Korcari Wilds”, he murmured and took a gulp of his beer. “They had to film the first scenes now because the weather there is unpredictable on spring.”

A wave of relief washed over Fenris. He needed more time to avoid the mage and come up with a way to make things up. If that was ever going to happen. “I see.”

“Hey, I remember you drank wine last time”, Bull said next to him and nudged his side with his elbow, “want me to fetch you a glass of that?”

“No, thank you”, Fenris only answered, not realizing his ears had drooped a little. “I believe I have drank enough for some time.”

“Had a bad hangover, huh?” Varric smirked while shuffling a deck of cards he had magically pulled out of somewhere. “You were pretty wasted when you left.”

Did he really want to know? “I-… Yes, well… I believe it was quite severe.”

“Anders could have relieved it, you know”, Varric said while he started dealing the cards. “He’s a healer. I went to see his clinic with Zevran once. One whip of his hand and my headache was gone!”

“Oh”, he just answered with a bland voice. He knew there was a lot of things the mage could do with a whip of his hand. A lot of bad, painful things. Things he had had to go through alone. He could still remember the pain, he could feel it in his markings. Could he ever be free from it?

Mages. How could Varric be so comfortable with them? How could he be so naïve? Maybe he hadn’t gone through first-hand experiences with blood magic, but Fenris had. He knew what could happen. Mages can harm. They are dangerous.

Iron Bull’s loud huff stopped his train of thoughts and suddenly he realized he had spoken the last sentences out loud. “Anders? Dangerous? If I blew hard enough to his direction he would fall on his ass!”

Varric’s roaring laughter made Fenris clench his jaw. “You saw what he did in the trainings”, Fenris murmured and tried to straighten his back. “He had so much power on his fingertips. It could be dangerous!”

“Yeah, and if I turn my head in a bus fast enough I could knock someone out”, Bull answered and smiled. “You don’t have to be afraid of Anders.”

“I’m not afraid of him!” Fenris suddenly yelled and slammed his fist on the table.

“Afraid of who?” asked a soft voice as Ariana walked to the table, holding two glasses of water. He hadn’t even noticed that she had finished her song. She slowly sat down across him and pushed another glass towards him, a small smile curling on her lips.

“I brought you a glass of water since you don’t have, well… anything else to drink.”

Fenris stared at the other mage and then the glass, his thoughts running wild. She’s a mage as well, she could have poisoned the water. But what would be her motive to do so? His thoughts didn’t make any sense.

“Afraid of Anders”, Bull smirked, completely unaware how Fenris flinched. Ariana’s soft chuckle didn’t ease his mind.

“Anders has the kindest soul in whole Thedas”, she said and hugged herself, smiling brightly. “I would have been completely lost if I hadn’t met him. He’s a good man.”

“But he doesn’t understand how dangerous magic is”, Fenris heard himself say. All three pairs of eyes turned on him, Ariana still keeping her smile on.

“There’s a lot of things that are more dangerous than magic.”

“I think there aren’t. Magic is too powerful.”

“Anders wouldn’t hurt a fly. He heals everyone without taking a coin. How could you think of him as dangerous?”

Fenris’ mouth was dry. It was suddenly so complicated, he didn’t understand his thoughts even himself.

“But he has so much power on his hands… He’s a mage-”

“So am I”, Ariana said softly, tilting her head softly. “Are you afraid of me?”

Was he? He didn’t even know. He was nervous with her, yes, but was he truly afraid?

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think I would hurt you?”

“No.”

“Would Dorian or Merrill hurt you? Bethany?”

“..No.”

“Then, why would Anders hurt you?”

He had to think about that. Anders was a healer, he worked on a clinic that kept going with only donations. He had been in many plays and people seemed to really like him. But then-

“He has-… done it with words.”

“But has he been the only one with harsh words?” Varric suddenly said. His voice was gentle, like he would have been trying to make a child understand that he had done something wrong for the first time. He didn’t sound angry, so Fenris had enough courage to tear his gaze from the table and look at him.

“Look Broody, I’m not trying to be mean, but I think you both have crossed your lines and you both know it. Anders has been trying to be kind. Yes, he can be selfish as well, but so do you. You’re going to work together for many months and I think it would be the best for you if you could just… try to understand each other.”

“If Anders knew how you feel about magic, he would understand”, Ariana almost whispered to him, slowly taking his hand. “He wants to be your friend, he really does. I know he has been harsh sometimes, I know he’s easy to argue about the things he’s passionate about, but could you try to give him a chance?”

The look on Ariana’s face was full of hope, her smile gone. She looked almost sad, almost begging him to talk to Anders with her eyes. “Please.”

They were all smiling at him, not mocking. They were kind. Fenris could feel the napkins covered in cat prints in his jacket’s pocket. His nose wasn’t runny anymore, but if he had listened to Anders in the first place, he wouldn’t have even got the stupid flu. Anders had only been kind to him. And in return, Fenris had only thrown daggers at him. Guilt started to build inside his stomach as he weighed his options.

“I… suppose I could talk to him.”

He was sure he heard Varric sigh in relief next to him. Ariana smiled again, slowly rubbing her thumb against Fenris’ hand. Against all his odds, it didn’t feel bad or possessive. It was just a friendly gesture of care.

“We all have our demons”, she said and chuckled. “Well not like, real demons but you know the idiom. He has his own, as you have your own. But in the end, maybe you are not as different as you think.”

 

 

 

 

Coming to an empty house felt almost disturbing. It was late and dark even though it was already May. The apartment was cold, he should switch the heater on immediately if he wanted to sleep without shivering. If he would sleep at all – it was different with Pounce not sleeping on his stomach.

Anders carried his luggage to his bedroom, almost throwing it to the corner. The handle hit the flowerpot where his elfroot dropped its dead leaves. Of course – leaving so quickly he had forgotten his herbs. What an idiot.

He hadn’t cried at all during his trip to Korcari Wilds. His head had been so busy with the work. Running around the forest and old huts, Zevran and Alistair giving him advices and compliments, Isabela joking with him every second she got. Now that he was alone in his dark apartment, sitting on his bed with his jacket on, all his anxiety returned in a huge wave. Tears streamed down his face as he had no energy to wipe them away. His bed was cold – it always was and would always be. Why was he always so sad? So pathetic. Lonely.

After taking off his jacket Anders walked to the kitchen, opening his fridge with horror. He had again forgotten to empty it, but it wasn’t like he had much to eat there anyway – probably only the milk for Pounce had crawled out of its carton and was now waiting to eat Anders alive.

And then his doorbell ring. It was almost midnight – who could it be? In the dark of his apartment he didn’t notice Pounce’s little mouse toy and he stepped on it, letting out silent yelp. He quickly bent down and took the pink fluffy mouse to his hands, listening the bell inside it tinkling. Would Lirene be there, bringing Pounce home? Would she be that kind?

Hope blooming in his chest, Anders ran to the door and fumbled with the handle. She could bring Pounce home, she would do that, she would! But as the door was yanked open, there was no Lirene. No Pounce.

But Fenris.

His hope was replaced with anxiety and confusing anger, new tears making their way out as he took a stronger grip of the toy. Fenris was standing there, his ears looped, hair just in front of his so beautiful green eyes that were staring Anders’ feet. It took a long moment for Fenris to brace himself to look up.

“Mage, I came to-…” he stopped his sentence as his eyes locked with Anders’. He looked confused, almost worried. “What has happened?”

“What do you care?” Anders heard himself say as he took a step back to close the door. But Fenris pushed himself between it, holding the frame with his hands.

“Wait, Anders, I need to talk to you.”

“At Sunday midnight? Really, Fenris?!” Anders roared back, taking steps backwards again, letting the elf intrude himself into his apartment. “I don’t want to, not now! I have work tomorrow, I have-.. I have things to do!”

“You are crying.” The elf’s voice was silent and low, and against Anders’ expectations it hold no mock in it.

“Oh yeah? Didn’t notice myself so that’s for pointing out”, Anders chuckled and tried to laugh it off, more tears rolling down. He had to throw the mouse off his hands, letting it hit the floor and roll toward Fenris.. Wasn’t this the greatest ending to the greatest day of his life?

Fenris stood still for a moment, before he started fumbling with his pockets, finally pulling something out. “Here”, he said softly and handed something to Anders. Something soft and comforting.

Even in the darkness of his hall, he recognized the blue kitten prints his favourite tissues had. Oh how he missed Pounce… His throat let out a silent sob as he held the tissue tighter in his hands.

“I… I was supposed to return these-“ Fenris started. Anders couldn’t handle it right now.

“It doesn’t matter, I’ll buy new ones. Just go.”

But Fenris didn’t want to leave. Did he think Anders’ wouldn’t manage alone? Selfish elf…

“I am sorry for… your cat”, Fenris almost whispered, looking at the tiny mouse toy that had been stepped on twice already. Sorry for Pounce?

“Don’t. I’ll get him tomorrow.”

To that, Fenris raised his head, his ears perking as he was confused again. Didn’t he believe him?

“What, you thought something happened to Pounce? You thought I left him alone in my apartment to die when I was away?”

“Wha- No!” Fenris ears drooped down again as he tried to make up something to say.

“Don’t lie to me!” Anders spat out. He was angry – but to whom, he wasn’t sure. The darkness inside his chest was finally spilling out. “You thought I’d leave my cat alone here when I’m away because I’m a mage, right? And for you mage equals a monster, right? You thought I would let my only companion alone to die? Is that what I am to you?”

“I didn’t say that!”

“Not out loud, but I know how you think of me! I know you hate me I know you want me to disappear! I know I have failed you and I’m never worth of your trust just because I’m a mage and I can’t take it. I can’t, I can’t, I’ve had so much hate because of it and I can’t stand it when I’m supposed to work with you and act like I’m your friend. I’m tired of that, I’m tired of you hating me when the only thing I’ve tried to be is kind towards you. What did I do wrong? Why do you hate me why?!”

“Anders-“

“Go ahead! Laugh at me!” he hadn’t even noticed he had fallen on the floor on his knees, the tissue in his hands rutted to a ball. “Laugh at me for being so weak and stupid and awkward and bad! This is what you want, right? To see me on my knees, crying, right? Is this what you want?!”

Anders!”

Fenris’ voice was sharp enough to make Anders’ shut his mouth. He was trembling all over, his strawberry blond hair wet from his tears as he started to sob in the silent apartment. It felt almost comforting in a weird way – to sit on the floor in front of Fenris and cry, waiting the other one to mock him.

“I’m just so tired of being alone.” The words left Anders’ lips without him noticing, so weak trough his crying. “I’ve been trying to-.. to be kind to you and be your friend… But I’m still doing something wrong because you hate me. I don’t want to be your enemy just because I was born with magic. You were born with your ears and I would never hate you because you are an elf, you can’t change it. I can’t change myself. I know you hate my magic and I just- I want to understand!”

His voice was as weak as his body. His sobbing wouldn’t end even if he tried to take deep breaths. He just wanted to sleep and this day to be over, it was all too much.

After some time he felt a strong hand pressing to his shoulder. Fenris had taken the last few steps to Anders and was finally there, crouching down.

“Hush”, he whispered and slowly took hold of Anders’ arms, carefully pulling him up. But the mage was too exhausted to stand up, too fragile even with Fenris’ support.

Before Anders even noticed, the elf had him in his arms, his head pressed to the crook of Fenris’ neck. Strong scent of spicy, oaky musk calmed Anders more than he wanted to admit it. Fenris was so gentle, so careful. Why was he doing this?

But he didn’t care. Anders closed his eyes and leaned closer to Fenris, inhaling his warm scent into his nose. And suddenly he felt like he was safe. How? He didn’t care.

Cool sheets pressed against his other cheek as Fenris carefully lowered Anders to familiar bed. A blanket was laid on him. He heard the elf say something, but was too tired to actually understand it. Perhaps he spoke in different language?

But sleep soon consumed him. He was safe, at home. His chest felt light for the first time in months. Everything would be fine.

Chapter Text

First rays of sunshine hit Anders’ closed eyes, chasing his dull dream away. It was silent aside from a blackbird singing on a tree near Anders’ bedroom window. Anders slowly opened his eyes and smiled, happy to realize he was waking up in his own bed. With a long yawn he stretched and turned to lay on his back.

He heard the elevator moving, perhaps it was his neighbour - the poor old lady who went to the grocery store to buy milk every day. Anders hadn’t seen her for weeks since his trip to Korcari Wilds. How was she doing?

Suddenly Anders heard keys fumbling behind his door, one pressing inside the lock, turning. The key was pulled out to make way to another key. This time it seemed to fit.

Anders jumped up from his bed, panic making his heart race. No one had keys into his apartment except the landlord.

The door opened. Silent steps walked into the hallway, closing the door behind. Holding his breath Anders slowly pulled his mana, his hands ready to cast any spell he needed to. He could feel that silent sizzling in his ears, his fear, his anxiety.

“Who is it?!” Anders yelled as he sprinted into the hallway, locking eyes with the intruder. His fear was immediately replaced with confusion, as his gathered mana pulled back.

Fenris’ face was shocked at first, until he hid his uneasiness with pissed expression..

“Calm down, mage”, he said with a low voice, “it’s just me.” Without offering any more explanation, Fenris took off his shoes and got hold of the plastic bag he had dropped to the floor.

Anders stood still, letting Fenris walk inside, past him to the kitchen. Never in million years would he thought he would wake up to the elf breaking into his house and walking straight to the fridge.

As Fenris started shuffling with the continents of the bag, Anders walked back to his bedroom, looking down himself. He was still in his t-shirt and boxers, and it looked like he had pulled his jeans off in the middle of the night since he would see worn denim peeking from under his blanket. He quickly took a pair of pajama pants out from his closet and pulled them on. He couldn’t let Fenris see him in his … cat print boxers. Again, at least – he had clearly seen him just a minute ago in full glory.

Oh Maker, how did this happen?

Flashbacks from last night slowly returned to Anders. Fenris had been there, wanting to talk. Anders had cried and yelled at him. Fenris had put him to bed. Andraste’s arse, why was Fenris still here?

It took Anders some time to calm down enough to make his way to the kitchen, and yet his stomach hurt with anxiety. Their last encounter had been worse than just bad, and the last evening had been basically just Anders crying and shouting nonsense. He was half expecting Fenris to punch him as soon as he arrived to the room.

Instead he found the elf sitting beside his table, rolling his thumbs with nervous expression. He had the lights on and there was a pot on the stove, already boiling. They locked eyes again and Fenris flinched, dropping his gaze immediately. It seemed that the reality of being together with a mage had finally hit him.

 “So are you going to explain all this?” Anders crooked out, his words coming out more roughly than he had wanted.

The elf was busy with his thoughts for a minute before he finally opened his mouth, still tapping the table with his fingers, desperately trying to calm his nerves.

“I do not know how it came to this”, he finally said, “I was afraid to leave you alone in that state so I just found myself staying.”

“You slept here?” Anders asked, his eyes wide. He had never thought his crush would spend a night with him like this, sleeping-… where had the elf even slept?

“I-... yes, I found your couch rather... comfortable.” The tattooed hands rubbing the elf’s shoulder told Anders otherwise. “I thought you wouldn’t mind. Then I thought that you hadn’t eaten, so I thought I should make up something.”

Fenris turned his head towards the fridge so he wouldn’t yet have to meet the mage’s confused expression. “But your fridge was almost empty aside from a few smelling cartons of milk and moldy tomatoes, and your cabins are almost empty. So I decided to buy some food.”

“For me?” Anders had to step in. This was all too much. “Why?”

“Is it so hard to believe I do not wish you to starve to death?”

“I wasn’t-“, he was going to deny that, but on that minute his stomach let out a loud growl. Fenris’ ears perked at that and he rose up to walk to the stove. He took the wooden spoon from the table and started to stir the continents in the pot. He then reached for salt on the counter and added some in the food before tasting it. What was he making?

“The porridge is almost ready”, he just answered and shut off the stove, turning to get two bowls from the cabinet. As he laid the bowls on the dinner table, he looked up to Anders and saw his still confused expression. His ears drooped immediately as well as his shoulders hunched down.

“Mage, I-…” Fenris tried to find the right words, but it was hard.

“You know my kitchen well”, Anders said slowly, folding his arms in front of him. Fenris just nodded and lowered his head, looking smaller than ever.

“I am sorry, I had to-… be sure of my surroundings. I shouldn’t have done all this, I-“

“No, don’t be sorry!” Anders rushed to say before the elf would run away from the kitchen. He unfolded his arms and held out his hands as trying to calm a bewildered animal. “I’m just surprised that you did all this and didn’t stab me to death when I slept or something…”

Fenris raised his head slowly. “Did you really think I would stab you?”

“Did you think I would stab you if you slept?” Anders didn’t know why he asked it. Fenris seemed to be stunned by that question or by his own thoughts. He looked to his side before he went to fetch something from the fridge. A carton of milk, apple juice and a small jar of strawberry jam. Then he went to get some butter and finally he bought the pot full of porridge to the table.

Hunger made Anders forget all his questions and thoughts as the smell of fresh food got to his nose. He sat down and immediately filled his bowl, quickly taking the jam as if someone would take it away if he wasn’t fast enough. The first spoonful was sinfully good and Anders heard himself moaning. He hadn’t eaten porridge for such a long time – it was a welcoming taste. And it was so good! Did Fenris really make it himself?

Between scooping porridge to his mouth and drinking milk, Anders took quick glances at the elf sitting across him. Fenris was also eating, but he was more interested in looking around the kitchen. Was he nervous? Anders could see dark circles under Fenris’ eyes - Maker, the elf looked like he hadn’t slept at all. And if Anders really thought of it, perhaps it was true. And yet the elf stayed there. Did he regret staying with him?

More questions appeared in his mind as he cleaned his bowl until he just sat in silence with the elf. Yellow rays of the rising sun shone through the curtains, hitting Fenris’ skin, making it look like he was made of gold and warmth and honey. The elf turned his gaze on Anders, his face unreadable. But there was something in his eyes that was different than before, and it made Anders’ heart beat faster.

“I don’t understand you”, Anders whispered, keeping his eyes focused on Fenris’. In the sunlight their color reminded Anders of the grassy fields in Ferelden. He had ran through them so many times he could remember every different shade of green.

Fenris slowly cocked his head, unsure what he had meant. He opened his mouth slowly, but words just couldn’t seem to find their way out.

“You hate me, mock me, yell at me. You know that I am a mage, which makes me a bad person and you don’t hide your thoughts. Then suddenly you are here, carrying me to bed like an upset bride. You buy me food and make me breakfast and still you hate me, yet you stay here. What is this game you play, Fenris? I don’t understand you at all.

“Why?” His last words sounded almost desperate, but he needed to know.

Fenris closed his mouth again, his ears drooping so lightly Anders didn’t even notice.

“I do know that I have been rather… difficult person to work with”, Fenris slowly started, “I understand my actions may have- No, they have been made hastily and surly. I have only trusted my own prejudice and I wish to correct that.”

“And how do you wish to correct it? By making me porridge?”

The words left Anders’ mouth before he could stop them. That was that, he thought, Fenris would
leave
.

But Fenris didn’t leave. He took a deep breath and chose his next words carefully. “By explaining myself if you wish to hear me. I have hurt you and I regret that.”

“Stop it”, Anders sighed and shook his head. He turned to look out of the window while he crossed his hands in front of him. “I did hurt you as well, I couldn’t stop myself and you have no idea how much shame I feel because of it. I don’t deserve your apology and luckily I’m not sure if I want to hear how much you hate mages.”

“I do not hate all mages.”

“Don’t make me laugh, Fenris!” Anders spat out, feeling tears prickling in the corner of his eye. Oh of course he would cry again. “Everyone can see it from miles away. I know you think little of me and whatever reasons you have to hate people who just happen to born with mana in their blood, I don’t wish to hear it!”

Do you feel better now? Anders asked himself after his quick rant. Was it worth it to blame Fenris now after he had shown Anders more kindness than he deserved? He ruined things again…

“I ran away from Tevinter before they would make me lose my mind.”

Anders raised his head slowly, turning his teary eyes on Fenris. The elf was looking at his empty bowl or probably through it, deep inside something only he could see.

“We lived in the slums. Mother made me and my sister eat the bread while she kept starving. We washed clothes to get money and food. And then Danarius saw me and offered me a job that would get me and my family out of the slums. If I agreed to perform a part in his-… experimental film, he would give my mother and sister a house outside the city, get them jobs and I could earn money like a normal person would. I thought that would be our way out. One simple role and we would get better lives.

“He took me with him, we travelled a lot. He was good to me first, careful and gentle until the filming started. Four other elven actors were with me, but they couldn’t-… survive it all. Arthim started hearing voices, he wasn’t himself after his last shootings. Everri stopped talking. Alaina cried every day after it. Beleen was-…”

He took a deep sigh before continuing. “I was the only one who survived it, and therefore Danarius wouldn’t let me go. I was his lucky actor, he loved me and kept me near him. I couldn’t run away, I couldn’t see my mother, my sister… I don’t even know where they are-“

“Fenris”, Anders had to stop him. The elf looked like he was going to hyperventilate in any moment. “Fenris, breathe. You don’t have to tell me all that.”

“But I want to-“, he insisted, but it was hard to speak when his breathing was quickening.

“There’s no hurry, Fenris, I’m not going anywhere and I’m not going to hurt you”, Anders whispered and leaned closer to him, slowly taking Fenris’ hand in his. The elf was now visibly shaking.

“Have you ever … told about this to anyone?”

Fenris looked at him like he had just mocked him. “Why would I have? Who would believe a slave?”

Anders bit his lower lip hard. A slave. Fenris thought himself as a slave. “You’re not a slave.”

“But I was”, Fenris said, his voice so silent. Again he looked away, far away through the walls. “I was his slave for years. He made me stand on the edge and called it beautiful. Blood on my mouth was beautiful. Cries of pain were music to him. He-“

“He was a sick bastard”, Anders finished for him and squeezed Fenris’ hand, pulling him back to reality. The elf blinked his eyes a few times, his stiff shoulders relaxing a little.

“He was so powerful with magic”, Fenris continued after a while. “He made me fear it. I have seen how dangerous and harmful it can be, to others and its user.”

“And you think people who are born with it are supposed to be locked away from society?”

Anders flinched to his own words. He was passionate about mage rights, yes, but was it necessary to bring them out just now? To him, it was.

“I know you are afraid of it, and now I know that you do have reasons to be so. Thank you for telling me. But one man’s actions shouldn’t brand the whole group. Danarius was an ugly pig who deserves to be thrown into a cell for decades, but do you think every else deserves to be locked away as well?”

“You can’t predict what people might do. To have such power and be free with it… It’s dangerous.”

“There are many things that are dangerous as well. Even a baby could kill if they happen to put a stove on and no one notices. Even you could have had poisoned this porridge and I would be dead.”

Fenris seemed to think that for a moment, but finally he shook his head. “The idea of mages roaming free, doing everything they want with their magic frightens me. At least you have the Circle.”

Anders almost wanted to laugh at that. “And the Circle makes it all right? What right does it do? It rips children away from their families and puts them into a prison to ‘learn’.”

“But it’s not slavery.”

“And how are you so sure? If you think I’m vocal about mage rights for no reason you are definitely wrong. The Circle is ran by people that are not mages, they don’t know anything. They lock us up after separating us from our family. They hunt mages down, try to find excuses to punish them, to make them tranquil. Templars don’t care shit about us! People escape and end up in solitary and Templars come and laugh at you and hit you and rape you and –“

“Anders!”

He hadn’t even heard how loud he was until he was shaking. Fenris had stood up but he still hadn’t let go of Anders hand he was holding now. There was worry in his eyes, and something that told that Fenris understood.

Fenris looked like he wanted to say something in return, but again couldn’t seem to find the right words. He finally sat down, silence surrounding them both.

Anders’ voice was weak when he opened his mouth. “I just-.. want to say that there is injustice in the way mages are treated here. And the way people that aren’t mages are treated in Tevinter isn’t right, it isn’t something mages here want. And I don’t want to argue with you about these things because I know we both have suffered.”

The elf seemed to think hard on his words, biting his lip. His eyes were different – they were more open now, as if they saw more than they did before. He still looked tired, but something was lifted off from his shoulders. Then, a smallest smile Anders had ever seen formed on Fenris’ lips.

“Ariana said we are more alike than we think”, Fenris said softly and squeezed Anders’ hand. He hadn’t even realized they were still… holding hands? How had that happened?

With a blush Anders pulled his hand back and smiled as things soon turned to awkward. He knew he was blushing – why?

“Yeah well, she knows a lot, doesn’t she? More porridge? I mean, you made it so of course you could eat more…” Why was he rambling again?

Fenris’ smile grew wider and he let out a short chuckle.

“Then I shall take some more. Have you eaten enough?”

“Oh I’ll probably eat more, it was really good!” Anders laughed, probably a little more louder than he wanted to as he lapped more porridge on his bowl.

And then the doorbell rang.

Fenris was the first one to turn his head, his ears twitching. “Are you expecting someone?” he asked with a worry in his voice and Anders let out a soft laugh.

“Scared that people will find out you spent a night at my apartment?” he teased, knowing his blush grew only stronger. Luckily he didn’t seem to be only one getting color on their cheeks.

“No, I am just not used to surprise guests…” Fenris murmured back and Anders understood. He didn’t know where Danarius was or how Fenris had escaped, but it was clear the man didn’t like the sound of a doorbell – the sound of an unexpected visitor.

Anders thought for some time who could it be, but there was only one. “Pounce!”

He almost knocked over his chair as he sprinted to the door. A quick look through the hole on the door confirmed his thoughts: Lirene was waiting behind it, holding the familiar cat box. He yanked the door quickly open and jumped to hug his friend.

“Ohmygod you don’t know how much I’ve missed you both!” Anders declared as Lirene hugged back, Pounce meowing inside his box as he realized his owner was nearby.

“Oh I know, I know, I’ve been hardly sleeping since Pounce has been loudly announcing he misses you too”, Lirene laughed and gave the box to Anders. “He’s a really kind and sweet cat, I’ll definitely look after him more! Hopefully my neighbours don’t mind… Oh hey, would you like to get coffee with me now? Before work?”

“Work?” Anders repeated. Of course, he had promised to go to the clinic today…

“If you don’t want to come, that’d be okay. You look like you have barely slept!”

“No no, I’ll come! Just…” Anders tried to think this all through as quickly as he could. He didn’t know what time was, but he probably had a few hours before he should be at the clinic. “I think I want to be with Pounce a little while before and I uh… I have a visitor right now.”

Lirene’s jaw dropped for a moment, and then she giggled. “You could have told me! Ohh, is she pretty? Or he, handsome? You just got home and you already have a visitor, huh? Who is it?!”

Anders shook his head quickly and took a step back into his apartment. “I’ll tell you later, ok? He’s in the kitchen now alone and I’d like to-“

“Yes yes, go! Ohh, our Anders has a date! I’ll see you today, right?” Lirene gave him an exited smile and pressed the button on the wall so the elevator doors opened. “It’s good to have you back!”

“Yeah, thank you again, Lirene!” and quickly closed the door. If he was lucky, Fenris hadn’t heard a single thing.

First, escort Fenris out. Then, play with Pounce. Cuddle with Pounce. Take a shower. Kiss Pounce, get to work. That was the plan.

“A date?” Fenris’ deep voice cut into his thoughts. As Anders turned around, Fenris was leaning to the kitchen door, his arms crossed in front of his chest, and Anders was sure there was a small smile on the elf’s lips.

Anders wanted to disappear through the floor.

“Ah, well, Lirene just… she’s always hoped I’d meet new people”, he mumbled and looked around his apartment, finally remembering Pounce as he let out a soft meow from the box. “Oh yes, I’ll let you out! Hold on!”

He hurried to his room and lowered the box on his bed, opening the door as fast as he could. Immediately Pounce pushed himself out of the box, straight to Anders lap. His purring could have probably been heard downstairs.

Oh, how he had missed his cat. His best friend, his most trustworthy companion. “Oh Maker I missed you! Who’s a good kitty? Yes, you are! Daddy missed you so much!” He petted and kissed Pounce as much as he could through his babbling.

Fenris slowly walked into the room, his arms still crossed as he eyes the cat. “So this is.. Pounce.”

“Ser Pounce-a-lot is his real name, but friends can call it Pounce”, Anders explained proudly, gently petting Pounces back as he kept headbutting into his owner’s stomach.

Fenris nodded and lowered his head, opening his mouth a few times but always closing it as if he couldn’t choose his words. “Am I allowed to call him Pounce?”

Anders turned his face towards the elf. Fenris’ face was unreadable, but there was something in his green eyes that spoke of hope. It made Anders heart flatter.

“I suppose you are”, he answered and smiled, “considering our job and our discussions, I’m sure we could be friends.

“That is, if you can.” Anders couldn’t held his tongue at that and he lowered his gaze immediately. “Being friends with a mage, could you do that?”

Fenris considered his words and slowly took steps towards him. Anders almost thought Fenris was going to touch him, but instead he lifted his tattooed hand towards Pounce, letting the cat sniff it.

“I am ready to try”, he finally answered and smiled back. It was as if pieces of a puzzle finally fit together.

 

 

They sat on the bed for a long time after that, petting Pounce and talking about their life. Fenris had asked about the pictured on Anders’ wall and he had explained them.

“This is the promo picture of The Plague, Ariana’s here on the front. I’m there behind Sigrun. There was green paint on the stage at some point and I had to roll on it, and during the premiere it got so slippery I couldn’t stand up! I fell twice!”

“Why did they put paint on the floor?”

“I don’t know, ask our director! He planned it all and while it looked artsy and everything it was a horrible idea!”

“What about that one?”

“Oh, this is from the Song of Revolution, it was about mages and their fight out of the Circle in 9:37 Dragon. This was one of my favorite scenes!”

“You really look like an apostate here. But why does your character have seaweed on him?”

“I was the Mage of the Sewers, the healer. He was an actual person, did you know it? There’s something written about him in our history books. Oh and this is the picture of Pounce when he turned two!”

“Who’s that on the left?”

“That’s Ariana, surprisingly. I’ve known her for so long.”

They went through almost every picture on the wall, until Fenris spotted the picture Anders had hoped he wouldn’t notice. He was so young and happy in that picture, so new to stand on the stage. With him, it had been so easy…

“Who is that?” Fenris asked softly.

“That’s… Karl.”

He didn’t offer any more explanation. Fenris kept looking at the picture, tilting his head. “You seemed close.”

A smile on Anders’ lips turned stiff. “Yeah. We were.” He had to sigh deeply and turn to look away. The day had already been tough, he wasn’t ready to talk about Karl just now.

Fenris seemed to sense the changed atmosphere as he stood up from the bed and stretched. “I think I should start to go. I’ve bothered you long enough.”

“No, you haven’t been bothering me”, Anders answered and stood up as well, Pounce stirring from his sleep on the bed. “It was actually nice having someone around. I’ve been… well, lonely.”

That sounded pathetic.

Fenris just nodded at that and started walking towards the kitchen. Perhaps he wanted to take the porridge with him.

“Where do you keep your dish soap?”

What? “Uh… You aren’t really going to do my dishes, are you?” Anders questioned and slowly followed the elf who actually seemed to be .. lost in his kitchen. He was standing in the middle, looking around with a confused expression. As if he remembered something.

“Listen, I’ll do them myself. You already did so much by making me food. I’ll pay you back the next time we meet, okay?” Anders hoped his voice was calming, and maybe it was since Fenris seemed to relax at that. He turned around and nodded again.

“Alright. I’ll see myself out then.”

Anders followed him anyways to the door, biting his lip. If things hadn’t been awkward before, they sure were now. Was he supposed to open the door for him? Were they supposed to hug? Anders liked hugs but it wasn’t like they had just turned to friends from enemies. Was it even worse if he stood there, watching Fenris pulling his shoes on?

Luckily his nervous thinking kept him busy and soon Fenris had his clothes on.

“Thank you for letting me stay”, Fenris said, stopped and then huffed. “Or rather, thank you for not being angry at me for staying here without your knowledge.”

Anders had to laugh at that. “It’s okay, really. You can always sleep here.”

Did that sound creepy?

They stood there awkwardly for a few more seconds. Finally the elf turned to open the door and stepped outside.

“I’ll see you next Monday”, he said, nodded once more and waited Anders to wave at him. And when the mage had said his farewells, the door was closed and the situation was over.

Huh.

Anders kept standing there in silence, looking at the closed door. It was Pounce who finally emerged him from his thoughts as he meowed beside him, trying to catch his attention.

“I know, darling, I know”, Anders answered and sighed.

“I either have no idea what just happened.”

Chapter Text

And cut!” Zevran yelled and clapped his hands. “Good job everyone, stay on your positions for a while.”

Anders sighed deeply and stretched his hands. They had been walking in the forests again, talking about the plot. They had been working for about 6 hours and probably shot scenes that together lasted about five minutes. It had been an exhausting day.

Merrill led them to their seats while Alistair and Zevran went through the shot they had just taken. It was already getting late, but since it was already late May they didn’t have to worry about the setting getting too dark.

“Phew, what a day!” Isabela exclaimed and slumped onto her seat while opening her water bottle. “I’m not sure I’m able to walk home after this.”

Anders chuckled at that and tried to find his bottle. “I thought Zevran was going to give you a ride?”

“He is, but I’m not sure what kind of ride we are talking about”, Isabela purred and winked at him. “Thought he might be busy, he has taken interest in Ariana.”

“Huh?” Anders stopped his search for a while. “But isn’t Ariana now with Alistair?”

Isabela nodded quickly. “She is, but what does it matter? Surely you have noticed that Alistair sometimes blushes if Zevran comes too close to him. I think it’s cute! Have you seen it too, Fenris?”

Fenris’ ears twitched as he turned his head. He looked as uninterested as always. Or maybe he was just good at hiding the fact he was always listening, Anders wasn’t sure.

“I haven’t been aware of that”, Fenris said calmly and burrowed his brows at Anders, who was almost falling of his chair. “What are you doing?”

“Have you seen my water bottle?” Anders murmured before straightening his back. “I’m sure I left it here…”

“Didn’t you have it when we were near the cave?” Isabela asked and nodded towards the forest. Of course. He had left it there and he definitely had no energy to fetch it.

Fenris however didn’t let Anders answer. “Take mine”, he said and half handed half threw his bottle at Anders’ lap. It was almost full, as if Fenris had only taken a few sips.

“But don’t you have to drink as well?” Anders asked, worry in his voice. Fenris just shook his head.

“I can manage, I’m… used to this.”

There was something hidden under his silent muttering. Anders knew better than to ask, so he nodded slowly and gladly took a big gulp of water. It wasn’t cold anymore, but at this point he was about to drink anything he was offered.

“Ooooooh, that was cute”, Isabela laughed softly and crossed her legs. Her voice was calm and curious when she started speaking again. “You have been weirdly friendly today. You keep showing Fenris pictures of your cat and Fenris gives you his water bottle. Have you actually become friends? Or is there something more happening what I don’t know?”

While Anders was merely frozen, Fenris was quick to reveal a smirk to Isabela. “Maybe.”

“Maybe to which one?” Isabela asked again, leaning closer to Fenris’ chair.

“Either.”

“Come on, tell me!” she chuckled and turned to look at Anders. “What’s going on between you? Oh, never mind, I’ll find out myself, eventually!”

And with that, she jumped on her feet and jogged away, giggling softly. She disappeared behind the assistants, leaving Anders and Fenris together. Only then Anders noticed he was blushing.

“She’ll never leave us alone”, Anders murmured silently and rubbed his nose to hide his burning cheeks. Starting friendship – was it really friendship? – with Fenris had been hard enough. He wasn’t ready to listen Isabela teasing him about their relationship.

“I thought we were friends”, Fenris answered to him. He almost sounded… hurt?

“What? But we are, right?!” Anders hurried to say and locked eyes with Fenris. “I mean, we are friends, right? I think she got the idea that we were like… dating or something.”

Fenris face was unreadable for a moment until he started laughing. “That’s a silly idea.”

“Yeah, but…” Anders started but bit his lip. A silly idea. Of course it was, who would date Anders? “Yeah, nevermind.”

Neither of them said anything to that. The silence wasn’t as overwhelming as the thoughts in Anders’ head. Unwanted. Why was he so shocked? It wasn’t like he had a crush on the elf he had only now became more than strangers. They had fought for Maker’s sake!

“I’ll take a walk”, Anders said and stood up, only to be pushed down again by Zevran, who had somehow materialized in front of Anders.

“Please don’t, I just got a marvelous idea and I so do want to try it out with you two!”

Now he couldn’t object his boss’ will, could he? And before he knew he was sitting at their made-up camp, Fenris sitting across the fire. Zevran was circling them, deciding the angle he wanted Blackwall to capture on the camera. Alistair was laying on the ground, his camera so low Anders wasn’t sure if he was filming them or the forest floor.

“Now, when I clap my hands, you’ll start.”

“And what do you want us to do?” Fenris asked. Zevran hadn’t given them any instructions so far.

And he wasn’t going to give them now either. He just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “Everything? Anything? I want you to improvise this! Anders, you are familiar with improvising, no? Lead the scene. Be yourselves, look at each other, be Andreas and Leto! You have a permission to everything except to tear your costumes or hurt each other. I’ll give you fifteen minutes, clear?”

“But-“

“Good, do begin!” Zevran smiled, clapped his hands and calmly walked away. It was like everyone had disappeared from their sight. Only Alistair and Blackwall were there, cameras covering their faces. And then there was Anders and Fenris.

Anders had never done anything like this. What was he supposed to do? Talk about the weather? Sing? Go to hug his co-actor?

But Leto was probably still a stranger to Andreas. The most natural thing to do would be getting to know each other. But for now, Anders could only look at Fenris. Oh boy, Anders thought, this is going to be awkward as hell.

 

“Awkward” was an understatement. It felt almost surreal to sit so near Fenris, trying to do something, knowing that their every move and voice would be recorded. 15 minutes felt like five hours, and Anders was sure he heard Fenris sighing when Zevran returned.

“Cut”, he announced and smiled, clapping his hands together. “How did you do?”

As if either of them could answer to that. “Fine?” Anders tried carefully while Fenris kept looking around.

Zevran raised his eye brows and raised his hands quizzically. “Did you have conversations? Laughs?”

“It was merely impossible since you didn’t give us any instructions”, Fenris murmured and finally turned to look at Zevran. His eyes were dark as he was clearly annoyed.

“Well then, Fenris, how do you feel about Anders?” Zevran asked and Fenris’ frown got deeper. He slowly turned to look at Anders, but he didn’t say anything. Maybe he didn’t know what to say.

“Anders? How do you feel about Fenris?”

Anders swallowed quickly and tried to think. How did he feel about the elf? He couldn’t just open up about his weird annoying desire and interest towards Fenris, but what else could he say? That Fenris punched rather hard and he thought that was kinda sexy? He was lost.

Zevran nodded a few times and lowered himself to his knees. “Look, this was probably a new challenge for you both. I sense that you two had a rocky start and I wish to fix that before we go any further in our shootings. ”

His voice was calm and surprisingly supporting, because even Fenris’ frown eased. Zevran didn’t need to think his words for too long. “I wish for you to do something together. For example, go to see a movie together or eat exotic food together. Go to dates!”

“A date?” Anders heard himself ask, pretending his voice didn’t crack.

“Well I’m not asking you to start making out”, Zevran laughed and winked, “though I will surely not deny you that. Just try to get on some common ground. You have already improved, but I want you to understand each other more. The cameras capture more than just looks.”

“But you have done enough acting today. Vivienne will be helping you to get out of those costumes and you can go home. Though I hope you’ll get coffee together! See you tomorrow!”

Fenris wasted no time waiting. He jumped up and with his long legs he was fast out of Anders’ sight. Of course he wouldn’t want to waste time with Anders, at least today. With a deep sigh Anders got up and navigated his way to the grass field where the cars and vans where. Isabela was on her casual clothes already, laughing with Merrill. Varric was listening Krem’s recordings while the man tried to pack the microphone on the backseat of his car.

As he got to the van, the door flung open and Fenris jumped out. He had his jeans and shirt on, ready to leave. They met their gazes, but neither said anything. Anders tried to form a smile, but he wasn’t sure it really looked like one. Instead of trying again, he jumped in the van and closed the door.

Vivienne was folding Fenris’ costume on the packages. She nodded to Anders and smiled.

“Ah, I’m just so proud of this costume”, she murmured and helped Anders to remove the buckles holding his robes together. It felt weird to let someone remove your clothes in a private van. Really weird.

Did Fenris feel as uncomfortable as he did? Isabela probably enjoyed all this secretly, but how about Fenris? The elf was almost always uncomfortable when people got too close to him. Did the others know or was it obvious?

“Has the feather pauldron brought you problems yet? Is it good?” Vivienne asked when she finally got the coat off. Anders shook his head and returned to reality, pulling the shirt off himself.

“Not really”, he answered and handed the shirt to the woman. “It sometimes just tickles my neck, but I like it.”

“Good, Varric thought it was ridiculous. Zevran insisted we keep it. And I like it myself.” Vivienne’s smile was bright in the dark van. She turned and took a box from one of the chairs.

“There’s your clothes. And I don’t want to hurry you, but I have to get back to the studio in thirty minutes, so please be quick.”

 

 

Anders was the last one to get into the car that took them back to the studios. He was tired and somewhat anxious. Fenris had sat on the front seat and scrolled through his phone through the trip. Even Isabela couldn’t make him talk.

“I’ll pick you up from here tomorrow at 9, be ready then”, Josephine said as everyone jumped out of her car and immediately after she drove away.

Isabela stretched her arms and yawned. “Oh why do we have to be here so early?”

“It’s supposed to rain tomorrow evening”, Merrill explained and smiled. “The earlier we start, the more we can do!”

Isabela let out a soft chuckle and wrapped her other arm around her. “Of course, I just wish we could take naps during the filming. But I’ll go home now, see you boys tomorrow!”

Merrill also waved them goodbyes and went inside the studios with her two folders, almost dropping them before she closed the door behind.

That left Anders and Fenris standing together on the parking lot.

Do I ask him out now? Will he just go home? Maker, why is this so hard?!

Before Anders could open his mouth, Fenris put his phone in his pocket and made an eye contact with him, his expression blank. “So are we going to do something?”

“Aah eum? Yes? Uh, if you want to? I mean I was going to ask you the same but I didn’t know if you want to spend time with me, I know I can be tiring and you must be already tired and I don’t-”

Fenris low chuckle made Anders stop talking. Fenris was smiling, “You are rambling again.”

“I know!” Anders squeaked, “I’m just so nervous about this…”

“Why?”

“Because-… I don’t know, I still fear that I’ll keep annoying you.” Of course, Anders, spill all your thoughts. “Sorry.”

Fenris crossed his arms and raised his brows. “I literally spent a night at your apartment without you knowing and made you breakfast. I told you I want to make our relationship better. There is no reason for you to be nervous.”

He then sighed and unfolded his arms, his ears suddenly dropping. “Although I understand why you may feel uncomfortable being near me. I haven’t been exactly kind to you.”

Anders shook his head and let out a nervous laugh. “No, it’s not that! I just thought-.. Uhg, nevermind. I’m fine and I want to get to know you better. So, uh, would you like to get some coffee?”

Fenris nodded slowly, a soft smile tugging at his lip. “Coffee would be welcome.”

 

 

They walked to the nearby coffee shop together, yet neither of them couldn’t get conversation flowing. Both of them were nervous, yet neither of them couldn’t quite figure out why. They had worked together for about 3 months now and even found some common ground earlier. But going to a café without a third person felt too intimate.

Fenris tensed immediately when the loud chattering emerged through the door. He cautiously walked inside the café and looked around as if fearing someone would notice him. Anders doubted anyone cared though.

“Do you want to choose our seat?” Anders asked and tried to form a smile. “I’d pay, as you paid for my groceries.”

Fenris was silent for a long time until he nodded. Anders smile widened and he nodded, walking towards the barista. “Vanilla latte with extra sugar, wasn’t it?” he added, but was clearly sure of it without asking. Fenris huffed slowly before he started choosing the table they’d go.

It took Anders a moment to find Fenris in the darkest and farthest corner. Even there Fenris looked a bit nervous, his gaze focused on the candle burning in the middle of the table. As soon as Anders arrived and sat, he relaxed a bit.

“I couldn’t quite figure out how much sugar you put in, so I just fetched you some of these”, Anders said as he pulled a few packages of brown sugar from his pocket. “Or did you use white sugar? I would still recommend brown sugar. It’s a bit healthier, even though after all it’s still just sugar but… oh well, look at me and my babbling.”

Anders laughed at himself and quickly raised the cup on his lips.

“Wait!” Fenris suddenly yelled, making Anders freeze. The elf looked utterly shocked by his decision to speak and his ears drooped a little as a soft blush crept its way on his cheeks. “It’s hot. Just, don’t burn your tongue again.”

Anders stared at him for a moment until he felt laugher bubbling on his chest. Soft giggles echoed from his mouth as he put the cup down. “You actually care about my tongue”, he somehow managed to say through his chuckling.

“What?” Fenris asked and crossed his arms. He looked almost a little hurt. “Is it still so hard to understand that I don’t wish bad things to happen to you?”

“No!” Anders hurried to say and rubbed his cheeks, “I just find it weird that anyone cares about that. Besides, I could just easily heal myself. But I really appreciate that you care, I really do.”

He tried to bring out his most charming smile and somehow make the elf smile back to him, but it was a challenge - Fenris didn’t usually smile.

Yet, his expression softened and he unfolded his arms, took one of the sugar packages and started opening it.

“Why do you find it weird that someone cares?” he asked silently without looking up. Anders cocked his head thoughtfully and automatically started playing with his coffee spoon.

“I guess I just learned from the start”, Anders answered, trying his best to avoid certain words that could trigger a complication between them.

But Fenris wasn't quite satisfied with his answer. He frowned slightly and dumped another package of sugar into his cup. “What do you mean?”

Anders sighed slowly and cleared his throat. “In the Circle templars didn’t really care about mages. Mages cared about others and I can trust them easier. It just feels confusing that someone who openly hates all mages to care about my wellbeing.”

“I don’t hate all mages”, Fenris commented, finally looking up at Anders. And of course, Anders couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

“Aside from Ariana, Merrill and Bethany, you do. Argh, maybe we should change subject. I don’t want to start arguing with you now…”

Fenris bit his lower lip softly and took a deep breath. “You said you want to understand me, and I told you about my past. Now I wish to understand you, and I would like to hear about your past. Only if you are alright with telling me. But I do understand if you don’t want to. I just wish for you to trust me as-”

He took a deep breath and forced himself to continue. “As I wish to learn to trust you. Perhaps we could find common grounds, be better friends and co-workers.”

If Anders was honest, he wanted to cry. He didn’t know why exactly, but Fenris’ words meant a lot to him. Given their rocky start and him being a mage, Fenris’ will to fix their relationship felt surreal and wonderful.

He must have been silent for a long time since Fenris started fidgeting with his spoon and looked around nervously. “I apologize for being so blunt and straightforward, but truth to be told, this thing has been bothering me for some time now. I don't want us to be enemies.”

And then there were tears on Anders’ cheeks. Fenris looked horrified, even more so when Anders let out a laugh. “Sorry, sorry sorry for crying, I- I just… this means a lot to me and and I don’t want to ruin this, though I already did by crying, didn’t I?” Hysterical spurs of laugh left his mouth as he tried to dry his tears with the sleeves of his shirt. “Oh My God I’m such an embarrassment… I haven’t cried in public for six months.”

His nervous babbling stopped when Fenris gave him a package of pocket tissues. And now any kind of tissues - they were the same tissues with kitten prints he always used.

“I was supposed to give this pack to you”, he murmured and shrugged his shoulders. “Perhaps now’s a good time.”

“This is just too emotional, this is like a scene from some super romantic movie when in fact we are exchanging tissues!” Anders laughed and took one of the papers, rubbing his eyes dry. He didn’t see Fenris’ lips forming a quick smile at that.

After Anders had collected himself, he sighed and again pulled on his most charming smile in a playful manner. “SO! Are you ready to heat about my childhood and see me crying again?”

 

It was pleasant. A new sensation to Fenris. He had never so genuinely happy listening to someone’s stories and jokes.

After Anders had told him about his parents and how he was taken away from them to the Circle, he had fallen silent. It hadn’t been like that in Tevinter; mages had just done whatever they wanted and a few have gone through an academic education, yet the nation was run by those who learned from their family. It was so different in the south, so cruel.

Anders had consumed the entire packet of tissues by the time he had got to his last escape and how he finally got free from the Circle. And Fenris understood. A desire to be free and away from controlling people making the decisions for you. He understood it almost too well.

They both decided they had welled too long on sad subjects and somehow ended up talking about celebrities and music. Anders talked a lot and it encouraged Fenris to talk as well. When he was training with Sebastian, they talked a little, mostly sat in comfortable silence. Being with Anders was different. Anders was vocal and had a lot of opinions in different things – and Fenris found himself agreeing in many of them.

Anders was showing Fenris endless pictures of Pounce when the barista came to inform they would close in 10 minutes. It took Fenris off-guard – had they been in the café for that long? Anders seemed to be confused as well, but he just couldn’t hide his smile. Talking about Pounce made him shine stronger than the sun that was annoyingly low and burned Fenris’ eyes when he got outside.

“I swear I didn’t have any idea we were there that long”, Anders chuckled and pulled on his light jacket. Even though it was late June, the nights were chilly. “I could have ordered something, my stomach is growling!”

Fenris smiled at that and pushed his hands in his pockets, looking down. Being with Anders had been nice. He didn’t feel as lonely and empty as he usually did on summer nights. The feeling was something he couldn’t quite explain and understand, he just knew he felt something and it suddenly frightened him a bit.

Anders looked like he was waiting for something, Fenris didn’t know what it was. Was he supposed to invite Anders over? He wasn’t ready for that. He didn’t want Anders inside the house he hated so much. The mansion wasn’t his home. It never felt like home like Anders’ apartment did. Anders’ little flat had signs of life (if he didn’t count in the empty and disgusting fridge in) while Fenris’ mansion was full of cold, bad, horrifying memories. Memories he didn’t want to think. Memories that still kept haunting him even if he kept every other door closed except the one he lived in. Could he ever escape it?

“Are you alright?”

Anders’ soft, concerned voice cut through his running anxiety. He stared in those amber eyes full of worry – worry for him. “I-… I’m sorry but I don’t think I can invite you over-“

“What?! No!” Anders yelled. And regretted. And started babbling as he always did. “I mean, I would love to come over and continue our conversations, but I think I need time for myself as well. And you need it too! And I tend to get annoying. As I do now since I’m babbling. I was doing so well earlier, wasn’t I?”

Fenris’ anxiety blew off as he started chuckling. Fool mage.

“I understand you”, he answered and nodded. “Perhaps some other time.”

“Yeah! We could do something next week or something. I know another café that makes stunning cakes! Oh and there’s this one café that has cats walking around that you can pet!”

The way Anders’ thoughts ran while he talked was almost adorable. Of course the cats would bring that spark back into his eyes.

“We shall talk about it later”, Fenris smiled and realized his cheeks were sore. He had probably smiled more in the last two hours than in last three weeks.

“Yes!” Anders chuckled and looked down, pink colour creeping on his cheeks. “So uh, I’ll see you tomorrow then? At the trainings?”

“Naturally”, Fenris huffed and took a step back, turning towards the street that would take him to Hightown. “Good night.”

“Night! Sleep well!” Anders yelled after him with his enthusiastic voice before he as well turned and started making his way to Darktown.

And so Fenris was alone again. He pulled his package of cigarettes from his pocket and lighted one as he always did when walking home. His only way to calm himself before stepping inside the house of horrors.

How different it felt to be with and without Anders’ company. He never thought he would actually get the conversation flowing with the mage, but there was just something in him that made Fenris want to spend time with him. There has always been something. At first Fenris thought it to be his hate, his fear towards magic, but after two months and everything they had went through he realized it was something different. Something he couldn’t explain yet.

It was if he was genuinely happy. Or had been two minutes ago. And he wanted that happiness back. Even when he had slept in Anders’ old couch a few nights ago he had felt somewhat calm, and he was never really calm and relaxed when he was in his house.

His cigarette grew shorter and shorter as he kept approaching the huge mansion. It was almost as if the air grew colder around him. He dumped the cig on the ground and stepped on it before looking in front of him where the door stood, dark and heavy. Where were his keys? Did he really have to spend another night in that room? Was his candle still working?

Before he could open the door he felt his phone vibrating on his pocket. What now? He hastily pulled it out, quickly glanced around him before lightning the screen.

Anders 11:14pm: Look at this cat look at it!! <3

Anders 11:14pm: [image attached]

Fenris stared at the screen enough for it to go dark again. He unlocked his phone and opened the picture Anders had just sent. It was the advertisement for the cat café he had talked about: it had an orange kitten sitting in a coffee cup, looking at the camera while meowing. It had also text on it:

Catteine Café – reservations only!

Come with your friend or alone to enjoy the company of cats and taste the best coffee in Lowtown!

 

Anders 11:16pm: Please can we go? Ariana’s probably already bored to come with me there!

He couldn’t help but chuckle at that. He stepped inside the hallway and closed the door behind him as the darkness of the house welcomed him in. But it didn’t feel as bad when he knew Anders was there, texting him, asking him out to the café that had cats roaming free.

He didn’t feel as lonely as he did earlier.

With a smile Fenris walked upstairs to his room as he typed his simple answer:

Fenris 11:17pm: Yes

He sat on his bed and took a deep, calming breath as he turned his attention to his artificial candle that was still twinkling in its familiar rhythm. He had friends, he wasn’t alone. He could do this. He would survive.

A smile tugged its way on his lips again. He was sure of it – he would survive.

Chapter Text

The summer was warm and gentle. Even the darkest and rainiest days couldn’t ruin Anders mood. For the first time in years he felt cared about.

He and Fenris had continued their meetings. Once they even went to a restaurant - cheap one, mind you, that Anders could afford – and after that to movies. Anders didn’t complain when Fenris denied every action and art movie and went for a romantic comedy instead. In fact, Anders himself had wanted to see The Scars in our Hearts for a long time. The day had been really fun.

So fun that Anders knew he really had feelings for Fenris.

They had talked a lot. There were still things they weren’t ready to open up about, but they surely knew about each other more than anyone else in the set. Anders tried to avoid conversations that would make them argue with each other, and Fenris did the same. When he commented on something Anders said, his voice was curious and genuine instead of challenging or blaming. Anders wasn’t just a mage for him anymore - he was a friend.

Anders however hoped he would be more than a friend. He knew it was still too early to hope that much, but he knew his feelings were real. Every moment spent with Fenris was somewhat intimate for him. Anders didn’t dare to touch the elf nor hug him because it was clear Fenris was uncomfortable with touches. If they were going to hug, it would be Fenris who started it. If they would ever hug, Anders corrected himself.

The others had also noticed their growing friendship. Once they had walked together to the Hanged Man when Zevran had decided to hold yet another party. They had all sat around the table, he and Fenris next to each other. Isabela and Garrett had teased them the whole night.

“Has the love finally bloomed between you?” “Varric, quick, check if they are holding hands under the table!”

Anders couldn’t help himself from blushing when Merrill had uncaringly announced she thought they were cute together. He just kept staring at his glass with an awkward smile, unaware of Fenris’ cheeks getting darker.

It was always hard to read Fenris’ mind, even after learning much about the elf. On rare events Anders could see his ears perk as a sign of nervousness, but Fenris was extremely good at hiding his emotions and thoughts. Every time they shared a moment that was somewhat intimate for Anders, he had no idea what thoughts the elf had. Anders just hoped Fenris truly thought of him as a friend now – that would be enough.

 

 

Zevran had given them exactly three hours to pack and get to the airport. Varric and Josephine together had finally got the call from Orlais, letting them know the Val Royeaux Castle was ready for their use. They only had a week, so they had to get there as fast as possible.

Kirkwall Airport was busy as it always was on August. Families traveling back home from their holiday trips, youngsters trying to find a way to their new schools and jobs. Mages being escorted to Circles in other parts of Thedas.

Anders bit his lips when he took his ticket from Zevran, trying to keep his focus on four Templars sitting around two young mages. The girls looked like they were about ten years old and yet the Chantry needed four adult men to watch over them.

“Maker, Fenris! Have you slept at all?”

Varric’s amused voice cut through Anders thoughts and made him turn around. Fenris looked horrible. He had dark bags under his eyes and he was paler as if he was afraid.

“I have”, Fenris grumbled his answer, taking his ticket from Zevran, looking at it miserably.

“Well, you do have time to rest your eyes really soon! The trip will be quite long, eh?” Zevran smirked at him but gently laid his hand on Fenris’ shoulder.

He didn’t have time to worry for Fenris too long since their flight was leaving soon. Anders was glad they hadn’t booked a private plane but flied among others. They went through security checks and finally boarded among the first ones.

Anders walked behind Zevran through the narrow aisle, trying to find his seat. Several people kept looking at Isabela, whispering silently about her. People knew her. Luckily Anders was left without glances.

He found his seat and to his luck noticed he had a window seat. With a tired smile he put his backpack on the shelf and sat down, closing his eyes. He felt someone taking their seat next to Anders, but he didn’t open his eyes to take a look who it was.

Though he didn’t need to; the person next to him was breathing hard and Anders recognized the soft grunt the person made. Fenris.

Anders turned his head and smiled at the elf – it warmed his heart that the elf was next to him, even if it probably wasn’t by his choice. But Fenris was pale and took a quick glance at Anders, failing to form a smile. He looked more or less through Anders.

“Are you okay?” Anders heard himself say with the familiar doctor-voice he always had when he was worried.

“Of course”, Fenris answered, maybe a little too harshly. His ears drooped a little and he shook his head, trying again, “I’m fine.”

Anders knew he shouldn’t push the elf, so he just nodded and tried to relax on his seat. After some time the doors closed and the plane’s motors started running. When the plane started to move towards the airstrip, Fenris’ breathing quickened.

‘He’s afraid of flying’, Anders thought suddenly and turned to look at the elf who looked almost sick. As soon as the plane started speeding up, he gripped the sides of his chair as his life would depend on it.

“Hey, Zevran said we have some time when we arrive to Orlais to walk around the city, would you like to get some coffee?” Anders asked with stern voice, yet he smiled and tried his best to get Fenris’ attention. The elf turned his eyes at him and looked like he was both ashamed and afraid. The plane was running faster.

“I have heard there’s quite a lot of really beautiful cafés and Ariana said they have a lot of different teas as well. I’d really like to walk around and thought if you would come with me. I bet they have really sweet vanilla lattes as well!”

The noise inside the plane got louder as it glided through the airstrip, slowly tilting upwards as the wheels got of the ground. And without warning Fenris closed his eyes and took Anders’ hand in his own, holding it tight.

The plane shook a bit as it flew higher and higher. “It’s okay”, Anders said with a low voice, holding the elf’s hand. “We’re almost through it.”

And then the plane stabled and straightened. The seatbelt light turned off and immediately Isabela rose from her seat and walked somewhere behind the curtains, smiling at Anders and Fenris when she walked past them.

Fenris slowly opened his eyes and looked around, worry still shining from his face. He took a quick glance at their joined hands, coughed and pulled his hand back.

“I am sorry”, he said silently and pressed his hands tightly against his thighs.

“Don’t be”, Anders smiled back and turned to look at him. “Many are afraid of flying. It’s quite unnatural to fly so it’s understandable, really. But there’s much higher chances to get into a car crash than a plane accident, so technically speaking you should be more afraid of riding your motorcycle than sitting here.”

Fenris huffed at that and finally a soft smile tugged on his lips. “My motorcycle doesn’t move ten kilometres high in the air.”

Anders laughed. “Maybe not today, but who knows what kind of vehicles we’ll have in the future!”

Fenris smirked at him and visibly relaxed. He slowly tried to even his breath and closed his eyes.

“I am sorry for touching you without your permission”, he mumbled after a while. Anders huffed at that and smiled as happily as he could.

“You are always allowed to touch me. I won’t tell anyone.”

Fenris cracked his eyes open a bit to look at Anders. Then he gave a little nod. “Thank you.”

 

The rest of the flight went slowly, but Anders felt his stomach buzz with butterflies. Fenris had taken his hand again once the plane had flown through air bumps and jumped up and down.

But right now, Fenris was asleep with his head on Anders’ shoulder and Anders’ cheeks hurt from smiling all the time. He felt so loved.

He didn’t dare to wake Fenris until the plane was already lowering its height. Or rather, Fenris had jumped up when the captain announced they were landing and the seatbelts should be used again. He was shaking again, but not as hard as he had in the beginning.

When they stepped out of the plane Fenris looked so relieved. Anders was secretly proud of him - he survived the flight.

 

After they had taken their luggage, got into the bus and finally got the name of the hotel they would be staying, Zevran announced that they had to do some paperwork before they could check in it. That meant they had an hour or more to walk around the city and do what they wanted.

“Just make sure no one goes alone and gets lost”, Zevran remined and took Alistair’s hand before he could wander anywhere. It was interesting, Anders thought. The closer Ariana and Alistair had got it also seemed that Zevran had got rather friendly with them. Alistair followed Zevran wherever he went, which was understandable considering Zevran was his boss and a really attractive man. Anders was sure everyone secretly threw heart-eyes at him.

Fenris was standing quite near them, looking at Zevran as if he wanted to ask something, but he shook his head and jumped when Isabela patted his shoulder.

“Of course, boss”, Isabela grinned at him and tiptoed closer to Merrill who was innocently eyeing colorful jewellery sold at the side of the busy street they were standing now. “We have all been in school trips, we shall walk hand in hand!”

Merrill raised her head quickly and smiler. “Oh! I would quite like that since I tend to get lost so easily! Or was that a joke?”

“Let’s meet up here in one hour”, Zevran announced again and took a look at his phone, “At 8pm I want everyone to be waiting up here. Now, go on and get something to eat!”

Everyone turned around and started forming groups, chattering about the places they wanted to see and what kind of food they desired at the moment. Anders however felt lost. Fenris was asking something from Zevran who answered with an eager smile and a genuine laugh. Perhaps Fenris wanted to go out with him?

Anders sighed and turned around, looking the street that was bubbling with people talking in Orlesian. He didn’t understand almost any of it. He hoped people would speak common or he could still find Isabela and Merrill from somewhere and stick with them.

But soon someone approached him and cleared their throat. “I remember you talked something about us getting coffee”, Fenris said, suddenly standing next to Anders. The mage turned around and for some reason suddenly felt shy.

“Uh, yeah, I though but it’s pretty late…” He slowly raised his hand and ran his fingers through his hair, trying to figure out what made him suddenly so nervous.

“And?” Fenris asked and crossed his arms.

“And… perhaps you would want to be with… someone else? Or alone?”

Fenris huffed and rolled his eyes. “I would be more comfortable going somewhere with you. We have been in cafes together many times. I fail to see how this time feels so different.”

“But we are in Val Royaux! I bet one cup of plain coffee will cost like, three sovereigns?!”

“Then I shall buy it to you. Is this only about money or are you nervous for some other reason?”

It was a good question since Anders himself had no idea why he had suddenly got so anxious. Fenris might have picked his thoughts because he just sighed and gave Anders a soft smile - something that was unbelievable rare on his face.

“Maybe it is a bit too late for coffee. We can also go eat dinner. I’m hungry and would prefer to eat at least something before anything. I’ll pay.”

“No, no no! I mean sure we can go to eat but you don’t have to buy anything to me! I have enough with me, really.”

Fenris nodded and stretched his arms, looking around. “Alright, but the offer stands. You can pick the place but please avoid sushi restaurants.”

That made Anders gasp loudly before he could walk after Fenris. “What?! You don’t like sushi?!”

“It has fish and I don’t like that.”

 

They had settled down for a tiny sandwich place that also served warm drinks. Fenris had bought them two huge sandwiches, an iced tea for Anders and a big mug of hot chocolate for himself.

They had eaten without any hurry, talking about everything. Fenris had excused himself to visit restrooms and Anders just took a moment to relax and let the food settle.

Anders had been all smiles - maybe the trip wouldn’t be as hard with Fenris. His mood would’ve kept lifting up if he hadn’t decided to check the news on his phones.

Kirkwall Times’ frontpage was full of huge letters and pictures of a woman Anders couldn’t hate more.

‘BREAKING: High Commander Meredith demands stricter laws for mages in Kirkwall immediately - every mage to be harrowed again?’

‘Meredith Stanford knighted as High Commander’

‘Head of Kirkwall’s Circle Orsino: “We are powerless under her commands.”’

No, it couldn’t be…

He searched for Underground Watchdog - a site that had only news relating to mages as it was written by mages. It was full of fearful and angry articles about the same subject.

A red button appeared on the top of the page with a blinking text: ‘LIVE on Hightown square: Pro-Mage protest has gathered over 1 500 people outside the Chantry’.

“Anders?”

Anders almost jumped when he heard Fenris voice; he hadn’t even noticed his return.. He turned his head towards the elf who looked suddenly very worried - probably as worried as Anders looked.

“Did something bad happen?” he asked softly, rolling a discarded napkin in his hands.

‘Should I show him? Would he understand?’

If anything he didn’t want Fenris to laugh at it or just agree with Meredith about everything she might have said to the press.

But he couldn’t just sit still. He drowned down the rest of his drink and stood up, forcing a smile on his face.

“No, hey uh do you mind if we take a walk? We still have some time.” Perhaps walking around beautiful buildings in warm summer evening would ease his nervousness. He wanted to go back to the blissful state he was in before he had heard the news about Kirkwall.

Fenris raised his brows but nodded immediately, piling their empty plates and throwing used napkins to the bin nearby. He let Anders go out first and decide their direction.

 

It was easy to know when something bothered the mage, but harder to find out what exactly it was. As they walked in silence, Fenris tried to think what could have happened.

Did he accidentally insult the mage? No, probably not since he looked happy before it all.

Did someone else insult him? Did he got angry messages from someone? Perhaps from a friend or girlfriend or -...

Fenris frowned at the sudden jealousy that rose in his chest. Anders was single, wasn’t he? It wasn’t even his business to know about Anders’ love life. And Anders does have every right to date people.

Why did it felt so hurtful?

They had walked around the city until Anders finally stopped on a vantage point that had clear view to Val Royeaux’ suburbs and the sea. The sun was setting finally and it painted the whole sky with red and gold.

Fenris turned his head towards the mage who leaned on railing. Even though he was smiling, Fenris knew something was wrong.

And he had to break the silence. “There is something that bothers you.”

Anders was silent for a while before he took a deep breath and nodded. He leaned his elbows on the railing before resting his head on his palms. “There are bad things happening right now, to my people.”

Fenris tilted his head a little. “Where? To who?”

Another sigh. “To mages in Kirkwall. New knight commander who really really dislikes mages and wants to make life extremely difficult for them and-” he stopped suddenly and held his breath for a moment before continuing. His voice was softer this time, but it held hidden pain.

“I just-... Mages here live so freely, it’s so different than it is in Kirkwall. And now that the police are more and more against mages it makes Kirkwall feel so unsafe, you know?”

Fenris studied the mage’s face. His happy expression was now a forced smile that tried to hide his anxiety. In fact, Fenris had seen this look on the mage’s face more often than he wanted to admit. It was because of him.

“Are you afraid?” he heard himself ask.

Anders turned his head slightly. “Of Kirkwall? Of being a mage?”

“Of me.”

“Of you?”

“You are afraid I get angry, aren’t you?” He didn’t know why he said it all out loud to the mage, but he had to know. Anders’ eyes looked at him warily.

“…maybe a little bit”, he answered finally, “you haven’t been exactly silent about your opinion on mages.”

“Maybe my opinion has changed.”

“Has it?” Anders straightened his back as his face hardened. While Fenris had hoped his words would calm the mage they only made him tense more. “Did they change overnight? Or are you just trying to make me feel that I’m not that much of a monster as you thought before?”

“I never thought you as a monster.”

“Oh so I am an exception now!”

This was all going wrong way. Fenris lowered his head a little and felt his ears sloop down a little against his will. He didn’t want to fight Anders now that it was clear he was afraid of his and other mages’ future.

Anders sighed loudly and shook his head. “Look, let’s drop it. I don’t want to talk about this and ruin your good mood. I just wish I could be there, marching for my rights and helping my people – mages that are nothing like the ones in Tevinter that abuse their power and get their crimes looked through fingers.”

Fenris just nodded in return and turned around. He saw Isabela and Merrill walking across the road towards the hotel, hand in hand. They both looked happy and if Fenris really squinted his eyes, he could see Isabela’s lipstick on Merrill’s cheek before they disappeared behind the corner.

Were they more than just friends? How couldn’t he notice that before?

Fenris decided to stay silent and just watch the setting sun and the mage before the sight. He only wished he could really understand him and the longing he was feeling. Perhaps it was something similar he was feeling? Longing to be free.

Finally Anders pushed himself up from leaning on the railing and stretched.

“We should go, Fenris, it’s already 8 o’clock.”

 

The walk to the hotel was silent. Everyone had already gathered there and waited for Zevran and Josephine to get their keys.

“Will we all have separate rooms?” Merrill asked silently and almost jumped when Krem laughed next to her.

“I thought you out of everyone should know that?” he asked with a smile. It was weird to see Krem without huge cameras beside him – even without them Krem looked buff and strong as he could lift a bull with his bare hands.

“Oh but I don’t!” Merrill whined, “they had special arrangements and wouldn’t let me know!”

“Mm, that sounds steamy”, Isabela smirked and took a step closer to Krem, “I hope we all get a big room together so that we can-“

“Alright everyone! Isabela, you go with me and Merrill”, Josephine declared and shook the keycards in her hand.

Zevran and Alistair got to share a room as well as Krem and Varric. Most of the other assistants got to choose who they’ll be sharing the room with.

“And uh, Anders, you’ll share with Fenris, right?” Josephine asked softly. Fenris nodded with Anders – it was clear, right? They were friends now, yes?

“Oh Good, good! I hope the-… arrangement will be fine with you.”

…should there be a reason it won’t?

Fenris took the cards from Josephine as Anders listened to Zevran’s instructions. Breakfast at 7, then immediately to the palace. Everything has to be filmed before 10pm. Got it.

 

“Oh Maker we can all fit here!” Merrill exclaimed as she stepped in the elevator that already held 12 people and their luggage.

“I’ve heard that is quite a popular sentence in the brothels over here”, Zevran murmured and everyone erupted in laughter (except the two elven ladies in huge dresses and fancy hats). They were going to 9th floor, and Anders couldn’t wait how pretty the view would be.

The whole hotel looked like one night costed more than Anders’ rent. Crystal lamps, golden details in wallpaper, huge mirrors in hallways, flowers… it was a luxury. It took a moment for everyone to find their rooms even thought they were all in the same hallway. Anders wasn’t sure if having Isabela in next room was going to be a blessing or a curse.

Fenris opened the door for them and Anders closed it after them, earning them their welcomed silence. Only a faint noise of a speeding car could be heard.

They could only see a huge TV from the door. They left their shoes and walked inside the room that was bigger than neither had expected. Minibar was more like a fridge. The windows were gigantic and it took Anders a moment to understand that one of them was a door to the balcony. White silky curtains hung before them and filtered the golden sunrays, making the room look dim but warm.

Everything looked lovely and welcoming, but there was something that made Fenris next to him look very nervous.

“What?” Anders asked quickly and turned to him. “Is something wrong?”

Fenris didn’t nod nor shook his head. He just quickly pointed at their beds. Or should he say, bed. A huge double bed was near the window facing the TV, with huge pillows piled on top of it as if to make it look like a nest. Anders was almost certain he could build them another bed with them.

He studied the bed for a moment before he smiled. “It’s okay. They are just two beds pulled side to side. We can separate them if you want to.”

Fenris nodded quickly and came closer, already pulling the bed near the window closer to it.

It took them some time to arrange their beds and finally settle down. After watching some kind of Orlesian soap opera for a while Anders couldn’t hold his yawns anymore.

“I’m going to sleep”, he murmured and shut off their nightlamp. “You can keep watching that if you want.”

“No”, he murmured and shut off the TV as well. “Tomorrow is going to be a long day, we need to rest.”

“Yeah, we can have sleepover party tomorrow”, Anders just yawned and turned on his side, facing Fenris. “Good night then.”

Fenris was silent for a bit. Anders heard him get under the covers before he answered with a silent voice. “Good night.”

Luckily Anders was too tired to worry about his new, unknown surroundings. He was already dozing off when he woke up to a cough. Then a sneeze. After them Anders was almost asleep but then a loud sudden clank woke him up. A quick glance at a digital clock told him he hasn’t been asleep for longer than 30 minutes.

“What was it?” he asked with a tired voice and tried to see in the dark room.

He could make up Fenris’ dark figure next to the curtains that only gave a little amount of moon’s light to the room. He was sitting, probably hugging his bended knees.

“I dropped the remote. I am sorry if I have woken you.”

Anders propped himself up before switching on the lamp on the night stand. Even if he couldn’t yet see well in the light, he noticed Fenris was pretty pale and nervous looking. His eyes were wary and his ears were drooped.

“Fenris?” Anders asked, his voice rough. “Is everything alright?”

It took almost three minutes for Fenris to answer. “I am.. not used to complete darkness.”

Ah. Anders vaguely remembered the artificial candle on Fenris’ night stand. It had been on when they had stumbled there. At first Anders had thought it looked ridiculous, but after thinking enough it might have been something that brought Fenris comfort.

“Do you need a candle? I can go ask-“

“No”, he answered quickly.  ”Not real ones. I can’t-… I can’t stand them but…”

It was heart breaking to see Fenris so differently suddenly. He was stumbling with words, almost visibly shaking. “I just want little light…”

Anders tilted his head and smiled softly. “I can help with that”, he offered softly. “Would you be okay if I used a bit of magic?”

He hurried to explain himself after the elf tensed. “Not on you, of course. I have this… spell. It’s like a nightlight. They taught that to us in the Circle because it was dark there and some mages are afraid of it. Do you… want to see it?”

There was fear but also curiosity in Fenris eyes. He held still but after considering it he nodded. Anders smiled and drew a few circles in the air, his hands starting to glow white. After he threw his hands up, fifty small floating light orbs flew from his fingers, left floating in the air, colliding to the walls and together. He then pressed his hands closer together and the orbs grew smaller, but kept flickering as if a flame on a twine too short. Like stars.

“Do they help?” Anders asked softly and turned to look Fenris. The elf was still hugging his knees, but his face was lifted up to the lights. His eyes were huge as they glimmered in their glowing. Anders wasn’t quite sure how Fenris took this trick.

But he finally relaxed. The tension in his shoulders left completely and he slumped backwards, his head falling on his pillows.

“Yes”, came a short reply, with a voice that held only relief.

Anders smiled and laid down again, pulling his blanked high. “They’ll last for half an hour or so, but if you need more time just wake me up. Night.”

He was almost asleep when he heard Fenris’ silent whisper.

“Thank you.”