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They sneak her into his room at night when she arrives.

 

Maybe that’s the problem. She’d never had to hide with Varric before. In Kirkwall it had always been them and the rest of their fucked up family charging through the streets. Being a mage hadn’t even stopped her. Everyone was looking, but she might as well have been entirely unnoticed. To them, she was just the Champion.

 

It’s different in Skyhold, and it feels different straight away - from the moment she spots his shadow moving around the towering walls to the moment he clasps her hand. He isn’t wearing gloves; his calluses rub against hers in a way that feels so electric her magic thrums inside her.

 

Even in the darkness, she can’t help but stare. The place isn’t mazelike in shape but it is in its breadth: she can see a whole field beyond the great archway that passes to their right, rooms enough for hundreds of people; a giant staircase so ostentatious it looks like the dwarves made something for a Tevinter magister.

 

There are a few close calls. The place is well patrolled, and Hawke does her best not to flinch at the unmistakable shape of templar armour. The Inquisitor was a good man, Varric had told her, but not one who was willing to take risks with magic. As if magic didn’t come with people attached.

 

The Anders-shaped knot in her chest tightens. Varric pulls her into an alcove and presses them to the back of it, cloaking them in the shadows as the soldiers pass.

 

“Just like old times, eh Chuckles?” he murmurs into her ear. If the sudden grasp of his hands didn’t jar her out of reminiscence, that does. Fortunately it’s dark, so he can’t see that she’s blushing. It’s ridiculous that she’s blushing. Their old times are nothing like that. In reality.

 

“Varric,” she whispers back, ducking her head to close the distance between them ( not like that, she isn’t allowed like that, she never will be ). “You romanticise being hunted by Templars far, far more than I do.”

 

“Ah, these ones are soft. Nothing like you’re used to. Come on, it’s just this way, then we can say hello properly. It’s been years, Hawke!”

 

She can count the days, but now probably isn’t the time to tell him that. Never is probably the best time to tell him that.

 

He has her hands again and they’re disappearing through a door that creaks too much for her comfort. The corridors flash by in a blur - when did he get so fast? Aren’t they supposed to be getting older now? - and suddenly she’s in a warm, square room.

 

A fireplace is lit on her right with a couch before it, a bed sits in the back left corner, and there’s a messy desk by the door. In fact, there are papers everywhere , not just on the desk. He’s been writing again. It makes her smile, just a little, despite everything.

 

Varric closes the door and pulls her into his arms. It feels like coming home, so much so that she just about manages to ignore how close his lips are to her -

 

“Shit, Chuckles, I thought you were gonna bail on me again. Can’t believe you’re actually here. I’d say to pinch me, but I’m pretty sure I’m not dreaming.”

 

He strolls - saunters , it’s Varric - over to the desk and somehow manages to produce a decanter from the chaos. Hawke looks at him, then, whilst his face is turned away. He has new scars. One over his collarbone she doesn’t recognise, the sort you could trace with your tongue. He looks exhausted. It’s the first time she realises how serious he is about this place. This Inquisition.

 

It breaks something inside her she’s barely been holding together. Because normally he only looks that shattered on her behalf.

 

“I can’t stay, Varric.”

 

It’s out of her mouth before she really thinks about it. She just knows it, deep down. When had this all gone so wrong? Years and years he kept her going through - through everything. Through Carver and Bethany and mother and fucking shit balls, through Anders .

 

“What? Hawke, you just got here. Look, I’ll grant you it’s no Kirkwall, but this place has a way of growing on you.” His voice is light, but his brow is dipped.

 

She’s hurting him. A part of her, a very small part, the part that used to be the Champion of Kirkwall and spent her days finding elaborate ways to kill people, takes some delight in that. It seems fair. She’s spent the past few years hurting because of him.

 

He came with her at first, of course. Until he convinced her it was better if they split up. They were too well known as a group, he said. Easier to find someone if you can look for two. Fenris had agreed, but then Fenris glowed fucking blue, and they’d lost Isabela to the waves with a lot of inevitability and not an ounce of surprise.

 

She takes a deep breath, and looks at the floor.

 

“I’m sorry. I can’t do this. I can’t be here.”

 

Everybody I love dies, and I have always loved you. I didn’t realise until you weren’t there. I’m an idiot.

 

He claps a hand to his head. “Shit. Fuck. It’s the templars, isn’t it? Look, I meant it, they’re really not that bad - Curly’s here, he’s in charge of them, he’s putting them straight. These are the good ones, Hawke.”

 

She opens her mouth to say that it isn’t that, but it’s a good excuse. She can use it. “Every time I see that armour I see his face, Varric.”

 

It’s not a lie. It’s not. It’s not the whole truth, either ( every time I see your face I remember that I kill the ones I love just like I killed him ). It’s still a low blow, because Varric’s face crumples and he pulls her into his arms again, sighing like it’s his fault. Like he should be taking this burden from her the way he always has, and he can’t.

 

She won’t do that to him, not again. He has an Inquisitor’s burdens, now.

 

“At least stay here. Sleep - you look like shit. You’re not even funny right now. You stop being funny when you’re broken.” He pauses, pulls back, looks at her earnestly. “I mean -”

 

“Sure. Yeah.” Suddenly his fingers on her arms are burning. This coat isn’t thick enough to act as armour. The thought burns, too. Armour from her best friend? From the only person she’s loved since loving someone destroyed her from the inside out?

 

There is no fucking way either of them is sleeping on that couch. It’s too small even for him. The bed is - shit. She can’t do this.

 

He notices.

 

“Hawke,” he says, watching as she reaches for the decanter in his hand and knocks it back. She can’t even tell what it is. Doesn’t care. “What’s wrong?”

 

You are.

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Sure, and I’m the Right Hand of the Divine.”

 

“It’s nothing, Varric, I said it’s nothing. Just drop it, okay?”

 

“No.”

 

She goes for another swig and he lunges forward - she forgot, really forgot, how quick he is. Hawke pulls back and all he can grab is the base of the decanter, too wide even for his hands, and the next thing she knows she’s growling and there’s the sound of shattering glass.

 

Wine, or brandy, or whiskey, or whatever the fuck it was runs down the bedroom wall. At least I didn’t set it on fire.

 

“Hawke,” he says again, and his voice is hoarse. He sounds - scared. Of her. Scared. “What the fuck?”

 

Most of her wants to scream. She doesn’t. She whispers it instead, as if whispering it will make it less true. “You left me.”

 

In the future, she will be glad she does not look at him then. Because she’ll never need to know what his face looked like. She doesn’t think about it then, in that moment. She looks at her hands, at the sparks crackling between them.

 

She isn’t funny when she’s broken.

 

He doesn’t say anything. That scares her .

 

“Everyone does,” she says, because now the words have started tumbling out she can’t stop them. “Everyone leaves me, and if they don’t I kill them.”

 

Varric silences the hysterical laugh that bubbles from her lips with his hand. His skin is rough against her mouth. With the other hand he reaches for the base of her skull, splays his fingers there. It looks, she realises idly, like he’s about to snap her neck. More laughter catches in his fingers.

 

His breath catches on her ears as he speaks, in a low and rough voice she’s only heard a few times before. It seems fitting. She has become this other Hawke, this broken Hawke, she brings everyone down with her so he must be coming with her too. This - this is broken Varric. She has broken Varric. She has broken the best thing in the world. Maybe this is how she kills him.

 

“One,” he says. “Shut up. I’m going to take my hand away, and you are not going to say a word. Understand? Nod if you understand me, Hawke.”

 

It’s hard to nod when he’s holding her so tightly, but she manages. It’s harder not to look at him; she doesn’t manage that. Her eyes catch his. They’re glistening.

 

“Right. Two, take your boots off.”

 

She stares.

 

“Boots. Off. I won’t have you tracking half the countryside into my bed. If you can’t manage it, sit the fuck down.”

 

Her knees bend to send her into the chair at the desk behind her, though she isn’t sure if she decides to do that or not. It just happens. Her mind is a litany of bed, bed, do not take me to bed, I am a poison and I will kill you if you touch me.

 

Varric’s expression changes. It isn’t so hard, isn’t so scared, as he kneels down and undoes her laces. “Maker, Hawke, your feet stink.” For a moment his voice is normal again. She has the wherewithal to be mildly embarrassed about the state of her soaking wet socks - she didn’t take enough when they left Kirkwall. The three pairs she’s wearing are all she has left now.

 

When her boots are off he tugs her out of her coat, too, and for a moment she wonders how far he’s going to go with this. But that’s the end of it - he wraps an arm around her waist then and leads her to the bed. The covers are already pulled back, likely because there’s no one here to make it for him.

 

It’s only when she gets in that Hawke realises how bone-deep cold she’s been. Not a shiver, not simply icy feet, but true cold like she’s never felt before. It’s rained almost the entire journey here. She hasn’t really stopped. Hasn’t really slept. He needed her.

 

“Since you’re evidently not capable of taking care of yourself right now,” Varric pronounces, pulling the covers over her, “you will do as I say, when I say it, and nothing more. Understand?”

 

She nods.

 

It’s safe here. Warm. Everything smells of him, musky and spicy in ways she’s never been able to put a description to. She burrows under the covers and tries not to make it look like she’s curling against where he’s sat on the edge of the bed.

 

Varric sighs. “First, let’s try this again. Tell me why you can’t stay. And don’t lie to me this time, you know that shit doesn’t work on me.”

 

The last time she lied to him was when they said goodbye. It’ll be fine, Varric. I can take care of myself .

 

“If I stay, I’ll just hurt you. I’ll kill you.”

 

“C’mon, Chuckles, I think you know me a bit better than that. How many things have we met that were - no offence - far bigger and scarier than you? And how many of them have killed me, exactly?”

 

“That’s not the point.”

 

“So what is?”

 

“Everyone I love dies.”

 

She doesn’t look at his face. The one thing they never did, in their strange little family, was say they loved one another. Fuck, she never even said it to Anders . He definitely didn’t say it to her. The way they all were together, you just - you just knew. You didn’t have to say it. And now she has, and she can’t take it back.

 

The question he asks next isn’t what she expects. “So why come at all?”

 

I needed you. I missed you. I thought I might manage to get myself killed helping you and then it wouldn’t be a problem anymore. I’m useless. I need to help people. I’ve not done anything except run for years and I need to fucking do something.

 

“I was bored.”

 

Given the terms of doing precisely as he says, she probably shouldn’t have said that. But Varric doesn’t tell her off, or push her. He just laughs. A thick, warm sound that makes her toes curl and seems, somehow, to vibrate in her own stomach.

 

“Knew you were still in there somewhere, Chuckles.” Movement; lips pressed against her forehead. “When did you last eat?”

 

“Don’t remember.”

 

“Of course you don’t. Shit. Wait here, and don’t go anywhere .”

 

Hawke doesn’t think she could if she tried. Because his laughter is still echoing through her head, and that must mean she isn’t so broken at all.

 

He brings her stew from the kitchens, bread and cheese and cuts of ham, and has her eat it all slowly. He replaces the now very broken decanter with one full of water, complaining at length about the waste of the booze as he does it, and makes her drink the entire thing.

 

By the time she’s eaten and drunk and her toes have finally remembered how to move, Hawke is halfway to unconscious. It stops her head from racing too much as he climbs in beside her. Even several inches away, heat radiates from him. She could comment on it. He’d say something suggestive about dwarven constitution. It would add to the strange thrumming still in her gut.

 

Instead she falls asleep.

 

She dreams of blue light and blood spilling beneath the dagger she only ever used once.

 

By the time she wakes there is light streaming in from a window she didn’t realise was there, and she’s much, much warmer. Too warm, even. It doesn’t take long to work out why.

 

It’s not so much that they’re tangled together as he’s smothering her, arms wrapped tightly around her waist and his face buried in her throat. His hair has come askew, falling to tickle her collarbone. One of his legs is slung over hers, holding her against him, as if she might fly away in a breeze.

 

As if he’s just as scared of her leaving.

 

She’s imagining it. It’s probably just muscle memory. He’s thinking of Bianca. She pretends to be asleep until he stirs and begins to move around the room, humming under his breath as if nothing is wrong and there isn’t a broken woman in his bed.

 

“Hey, Hawke,” he calls, when she fails to conceal a surreptitious glance in his direction. He’s got trousers on, but no shirt. It’s hard not to look. “Think fast.”

 

Her hands shoot out from under the blankets and catch the bread roll before it can hit her in the face. It’s warm, freshly baked, and she can smell the cheese and herbs running through it. He doesn’t tell her to eat it slowly, so she devours it in seconds.

 

“We really need to have a conversation about your eating habits.”

 

Hawke quietly brushes the crumbs out of his bed.

 

“Later,” he says, then comes back and sits on the bed. He traps one of her feet beneath him, but she can’t bring herself to care. “First, we fix you.”

 

“Fix me?”

 

“Broken things need fixing, Hawke. And I know you can be fixed, else you wouldn’t still be funny. So, come on. Out with it.”

 

She does tug her legs away from him then, pulling them up to her chest and wrapping her arms around her knees. Her ribs hurt where her bodice has pressed into them all night. In retrospect, she probably should’ve asked him to take it off, but -

 

Best not to go down that train of thought. She’s already blushing, and she doesn’t blush. She’s a Hawke.

 

The Hawke. Last one. You killed all the others.

 

“Out with what?”

 

“Don’t play dumb with me. Look, I get it, and I’m sorry. I did leave. I thought it was the right thing to do, okay?” He holds his hands up in defeat. “And maybe it wasn’t. Either way, I’m sorry. If I could fix it, I would, but we’re not big fans of time travel round here.”

 

There’s a story there - she can tell, because his eyes twinkle. It’s what makes her realise she’s started looking him in the face again. Once she realises that it hurts, and she has to look away. He has stories that she’s not in.

 

“So,” he continues, reaching out and palming her ankle through the blankets, “we fix what’s here. Whatever it takes. If you want to go, we’ll go.”

 

That hurt in her chest clenches, because he says it with determination and she knows he means it, but Maker if he doesn’t hate saying it. He can’t not help either. He has to be doing something. Has to be searching for a story. Has to be part of it.

 

“What happened with Bianca?”

 

He tenses; the gentle hand on her leg becomes a tight grip. “You know, I thought we were fixing you. And how did you even know about that?”

 

“We are.” Her voice seems so small, so thin next to his. Even emotional, he’s velvet. “You mentioned assassins. In your last letter.”

 

“You -”

 

“She visited you twice, when we were in Kirkwall. Each time there was an assassination attempt. Carta, I’d guess. Hard to tell with how many shitty dwarves there were in the city. No offence.”

 

“Shit, Chuckles,” he says, “didn’t peg you for a spy.”

 

“And I didn’t think you were the type to avoid a story.”

 

“This story’s different.”

 

“So am I. Or so you’ve always insisted. So tell me, or - well, I guess I’ll have to decide you’ve always lied about me being special.”

 

To you .

 

He locks eyes with her, and Hawke knows it’s a low blow, but somehow she doesn’t care. She has to know. It’s why she’s here, isn’t it? The stupid part of her that desperately hopes he’s going to break her first, just so she won’t break him.

 

Varric turns and looks at the fire. Then he takes a deep breath, and tells her. He tells her about the red lyrium and the experiments and the arguments. He tells her about the Inquisitor stepping in and standing up for him. About the letter that came a few days after, telling him in no uncertain terms that she never wanted to see him again.

 

His voice goes gruff as he talks, and his hand grips her ankle a little tighter, but he doesn’t take it away. She doesn’t try to remove it. She deserves it, for making him feel like this.

 

She definitely deserves it for the surge of relief and victory that courses through her at the end.

 

“Varric,” she says afterwards, voice softening because seeing him hurt is just too much, “I’m sorry.”

 

“Honestly? I’m not. I don’t think it’s been the same for a long time.” He pauses and looks back over at her at last. “Do you really see his face every time you see a templar?”

 

She grits her teeth. Turnabout is fair play. Not that Varric’s ever played fair. “No,” she says, licking her lips. “I see his throat.”

 

And the knife she only used once. The knife that’s in the boot over there that he took off last night.

 

“Shit, Hawke.”

 

He goes quiet, but his thumb has shifted to trace small circles around her anklebone. It leaves traces of the magic he could never have on her skin even through the blankets. She watches it in the silence that builds the gulf between them.

 

“Varric?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“You’re the only thing in the world that still makes me funny.”

 

It’s not quite what she wanted to say, or how to say it. But he gets it. She thinks he gets it. He crawls back into the bed and pulls her against his chest, her feet tangled below his, his heartbeat thrumming in her ears.

 

“Why did you come here at all?” he asks, voice low again. “Why not just refuse?”

 

Because you needed me and I can’t say no to you, even when it tears me apart.

 

He inhales sharply.

 

Hawke realises she said that out loud.

 

Her body tenses, head to toe, waiting for an inevitable blow. His fingers tuck under her chin and lift her head up, like he’s going to shut her up again, and fuck if there isn’t anywhere else to put her eyes but straight at his.

 

“Say that again?”

 

She can’t. Her lips part, but sound doesn’t come out. All the tension in her body has turned into shaking. Because it doesn’t matter what she says, he’s going to say what he’s said every time she’s ever flirted with him or joked about the idea of a them .

 

Nah, Hawke, humans aren’t my type. What would I do with all that leg? No, you know there’s only one woman - I mean crossbow - for me. Maybe we should be focusing on the world ending around us rather than thinking like Isabela for once.

 

“I thought,” he says, jarring her out of her thoughts - she still hasn’t looked away, how much can he read in her expression? - “you agreed to do as you were told.”

 

Wait. What?

 

That edge wasn’t in his voice last night. If it was, it was hidden, concealed by the fact that she’d coaxed all of the broken pieces in his soul to the surface. Now his voice is low and rumbling again but it’s harder. It’s an arrowhead rather than a blade.

 

“Pretty hypocritical, don’t you think, to say you can’t say no to me in one breath and then to say no to me in the next.”

 

It’s light now, like he’s joking again, and it must be funny in some way because she laughs. Just a small bubble of it, one that seems to be the sound of her shaking more than anything. The hands she has pressed against his chest try to curl into cloth that isn’t there.

 

“Hawke,” he says, and of course he’s the one of them who can keep talking no matter what, “why did you come here?”

 

She kisses him.

 

Just presses her lips to his, but her eyes close and the hand she didn’t realise he had around her waist tightens. He growls expletives into her mouth and for a horrible, awful moment she knows he’s going to push her away.

 

Instead he slips his thigh between her legs and kisses her like they’re both about to die. His lips don’t press to hers, they claim them, catching one after the other between his. His tongue trails over them and his teeth pull on them and it is everything and nothing that she ever imagined.

 

“Fuck,” he says afterwards, resting his forehead against hers. She’s pulled his hair loose; locks of it tumble around his jaw.

 

“We probably shouldn’t,” she replies without thinking. “I think we might need to talk about this some more first.”

 

The intense look in his face fades, replaced by happiness and a broad, mischievous smirk. “Well if you’d just told me I could make you funny again by doing that …”

 

“Don’t. Please.”

 

His brow dips. “What?”

 

“Don’t joke about this.”

 

“Ah, but Chuckles, think of all the material available to me now. All the quips and comments I’d be missing out on. You wouldn’t deny a writer his silver tongue, would you? I mean after all, you did agree to do as you were told.”

 

There’s just too much emphasis on the word tongue for Hawke to think of anything except the connotations of doing as she’s told.

 

Something of that realisation must show in her face, because his fingers are tangled in the hair that she’s failed to cut in years and his lips are on hers again. Which definitely doesn’t help with not thinking about his tongue.

 

“Look,” he says, breathlessly, pulling away. “I know you, Hawke. You overthink things. I know you overthink things because I overthink things.”

 

“Varric -”

 

His hand moves to her lips, fingers pressing against them. “Don’t make me shut you up again. You know I love the sound of my own voice.” It sounds a lot more like a promise than a threat. “How long has this been a problem for you?”

 

After I killed him, you held me for days as I cried. I didn’t realise then. We ran away on Isabela’s ship and I held your hair back as you threw up and I didn’t realise then. They left and I didn’t realise, and you left and I didn’t realise, until it was weeks later and suddenly I couldn’t think of anything but your name.

 

“When you left.”

 

He laughs at her - gentle, warm laughter that ripples through her chest. When did he move? He’s almost on top of her now, his broad torso stretched over hers. That sparkle is back in his eyes and lighting up his grin.

 

“Honestly, sometimes I think you’re a spirit of cliches.” Then his grin fades and he moves his fingers, tracing the shape of her lips. “Aren’t you going to ask me?”

 

The question doesn’t make sense, so Hawke doesn’t answer it. She frowns and tries not to think about the pressure his thigh is putting between her legs. This is the most ridiculous way to have this conversation, but really, it was probably the only way they were ever going to have it.

 

“Ask me how long it’s been a problem,” he says.

 

It still doesn’t make sense. Varric looks after her. He doesn’t like humans, he just lost Bianca, he’s a mess and there is no reason for him to want her except out of pity. He’s a good enough man that she can accept that his concern is genuine, but there’s no way that he feels anything other than pity for the stupid, broken mage in his bed.

 

But she asks him anyway, because she promised to do as she was told, and because she doesn’t want to say no to him. She can’t.

 

He leans forward and shifts, his leg pushing right up between hers ( he chuckles; he’s done that on purpose ) and his lips going to her ear. “Do you remember the party Daisy had? When she found out it was your birthday?”

 

She does. Mother had tattled. She had tried not to let anyone know; didn’t want a celebration. There wouldn’t be a celebration for Carver and Bethany on their birthday. She didn’t want one for hers. Sebastian lured her to the alienage and she believed him because it was Sebastian, and he couldn’t possibly be in on tricking her, he was far too straightlaced.

 

“Rivaini started the cake fight. Said it wasn’t a party unless people played with their food. You brushed the cream off your cheek and sucked it off your fingers.”

 

Fuck.

 

“Wasn’t my finest hour.” His lips are brushing against her skin now, and the hand around her waist is splaying over her stomach and Maker, she wishes she’d told him to take the damned bodice off. “Wanking off in an alienage privy. I could hear you laughing as I did it. It made me come so fucking hard. Went downhill from there, really.”

 

His hand goes downhill, too, thumb brushing where the bodice ends and her trousers begin.

 

“Do you just - am I just - is it just -”

 

The words come out breathily and not right, and she hates that she’s become such a mess that she can’t finish a bloody sentence. Varric laughs into her neck.

 

“Ask the question, Hawke.”

 

The words are edged again.

 

“I don’t just want to fuck you, Varric.”

 

And that definitely isn’t how she meant to say that, but his hips twitch and she can feel him against her thigh and suddenly she doesn’t regret her choice of words in the slightest.

 

But his answer is soft and doesn’t get murmured in her ear - he pulls back, cups her face in his hands and looks at her. “Is that what you’re scared of now? That it won’t mean anything?”

 

She nods.

 

He shifts the leg between hers and she flinches back. He’s pulling away, this is it, this is him saying that it’s nothing and that she isn’t worth his time. She lets go of the grip of her thighs and he flows.

 

Varric should not be able to flow in any direction. He’s a dwarf. He’s short and stocky and broad. But he glides between her legs when they fall open, grabs her by the hips and pulls her against him so hard that she thinks she might come just from the feeling of him.

 

“Me too.”

 

“What?”

 

“Me too.” He bends down, presses his chest flush to hers. “And since I’m pretty sure those cancel each other out, Hawke, I - did you just whimper ?”

 

Heat is spreading across her cheeks and she knows she’s bright red, but he has such a look of wonder on his face it’s hard to feel truly terrible. Then the corner of his mouth twitches, and Hawke knows she’s in trouble.

 

“Okay,” he says, sounding far too composed for someone who’s now grinding into her with infuriating slowness. “Here’s the plan.”

 

“There’s a plan?”

 

“Yes. First, I’m going to fuck you funny.”

 

Her throat tightens. “I’m pretty sure the phrase is fuck you silly, Varric.”

 

“Not anymore. Then, we’re going to have breakfast, because you are a child incapable of caring for yourself like an adult. Then, we’re going to work out how I can keep you hidden in here for a week.”

 

“Did I arrive at the wrong time?”

 

He smirks. “No, that’s just how long it’s going to take.”

 

The edge is back in his voice again, and her hands have found their way round his neck. She kisses him, trying to find a moment’s reprieve from the feeling of him hard between her legs - it’s the only way she’ll manage to say anything remotely amusing in return.

 

“Come on, Varric, surely you have more faith in yourself than that.”

 

He darts forward and sucks a spot on her neck she hadn’t even realised was that sensitive. “No, no, you misunderstand me.” Moves upwards, crushes her into the mattress, his voice is back in her ear. “I’m going to make you tell me every single dirty thought you’ve had about me in the past few years. And then we are going to do every single one of those things, until I’ve heard every possible sound that I can get out of that pretty mouth of yours. That’s the plan.”

 

Hawke is relatively certain that’s the point at which her brain shuts down entirely, and other far more relevant parts of her body take over control.

 

Lacking anything coherent to say, she grabs the front of her bodice and yanks it together, opening half of the catches down the front in a single movement. Varric’s laughter surrounds them as they tear off the rest of her clothes.

 

“Hawke,” he says, hesitating when their hands are in the top of his trousers. It’s the first time she’s seen him uncertain - at least, the first time since she hurled his decanter into the wall. “You sure about this? Cause I’m not sure it’s something we can go back on.” A beat. “And I’m not sure I can go slowly this time.”

 

She takes a deep breath, and feels something knit back together inside her. “Then we’ll just have to go slowly next time.”

 

“Fuck,” he breathes, and pulls the last of his clothes off.

 

“Yes, I think that would be acceptable now.”

 

She’s still laughing at her own joke when he brushes his fingers against her cunt and removes any chance of her talking sensibly for the next - well, possibly ever.

 

He’s using his right hand, and she’s never been more glad that gloves only do so much to protect your fingers because Maker, the rough skin is pulling on her in the best way. It makes the gentle brushes of his fingertips maddening and his rough strokes overwhelming. She should be doing something in return but she can’t, can only writhe on the bed underneath him and wonder whether he has neighbours who are about to hear everything .

 

Then he’s rising up her body again and pressing himself to her, and a litany of yesses are tumbling from her lips. He kisses them away as he pushes into her, taking her breath with it, and Hawke decides that slowly is definitely not what she wants right now at all. She lifts her ankles and hooks them around him and thank fucking Andraste, Varric gets it.

 

It’s fast and rough and they don’t quite get their pace in sync and and there will be bruises on her hips tomorrow and it is absolutely, completely fucking perfect.

 

“Hey, Hawke.”

 

She opens her eyes and tries to catch her breath. “And there I was,” she says, “thinking I’d finally found a way to shut you up.”

 

“Chuckles, I’m pretty sure we were anything but quiet.”

 

He drops to the side next to her, tangling their limbs together in a mess, too warm to hold her completely and too scared to move away.

 

“So,” Hawke says, tracing patterns on his chest. “A whole week?”

 

“You’re right, we have a lot of years to make up for. Better make it two. On second thought, let’s just run away. Our beds in Kirkwall are a lot comfier.”

 

“You wouldn’t last a week.”

 

“Champion, I will have you know that dwarves have excellent stamina.”

 

“I meant you’ll go stir crazy knowing your friends are here and in danger.”

 

“I know.” He sighs. “I’ll take you to see the Inquisitor tomorrow.”

 

Hawke leans into him and stares pointedly up. “I think you’ll find I was promised a week. I didn’t know the Merchants’ Guild reneged on their contracts so readily.”

 

“You know, I think I preferred you when you were quiet and compliant.”

 

“No,” Hawke grins, walking her fingers up his chest to tangle in his hair. “You definitely prefer it when I’m loud. But if you’re uncertain, we can try again. I’ll be quiet this time. Just to be really sure.”

 

His arms pull her up and against him. He shouldn’t have such strong arms. He uses a crossbow, not a longbow. The distinction doesn’t seem to matter to him; he pins her like he’s been lifting bricks for decades.

 

“One,” he says, eyes sparkling, “you couldn’t be quiet underneath me if you tried. Two…”

 

“Two?”

 

“Dwarven stamina isn’t that good, Hawke.”

 

She laughs into his throat and he pulls the blankets back up. Breakfast can wait.