"I'm here for you," Anders said. "Whatever you need."
And then he didn't move, didn't reach out for her, waiting for her to make the next move. A small part of her deep inside appreciated it because she'd been with people before who thought they knew everything and how best to comfort her. Not Anders though. No, Anders just thought he knew best when it came to whether they should even be together. (He hadn't. They'd sorted that out weeks ago.) And now he waited.
Hawke looked down at her hands where they lay in her lap, clinging at each other. She took a deep breath, trying to steady herself before moving one to the space between them, hoping he would understand what she wanted--what she needed because she didn't know how to ask. She could give orders in battle or tell a lover how she needed them to touch her right there but this? She didn't even know how to form the words.
She didn't need them.
He took her hand in his and leaned over to press his lips against her hairline, lingering there as she leaned into the touch. Five years ago, she never would've dreamed that one day she'd be relieved for such a small reminder that she had someone left. (Bethany was still alive, she had to remind herself. Alive but a Grey Warden now and taken from her forever.) Anders felt like a lifeline. "Will you stay? Please?"
"Always," he said and left it at that, with none of his usual warnings that this was a bad idea and how he didn't want to hurt her. Another thing to be grateful for.
"Thank you." She shifted, letting his free arm wrap around her shoulders as he pulled her towards him. She wasn't sure how much time had passed before he carefully disentangled himself from her and slid down to the floor, kneeling before her. His fingers deftly worked at the buckles and laces of her boots, tugging off first one and then the other. His hands lingered on her calves as if he knew she needed that contact but wasn't sure what to do next.
From somewhere beneath them, she felt the door open and close, followed by the faint sounds of a man's voice. "Of course it's Varric," she said, pressing her lips together into a flat line. "Who else would..."
Anders rose to his feet, knees creaking a bit. "I'll handle it."
A wave of guilt swept over her. The dwarf was here because he cared. He cared about everyone on her team but right now, she didn't think she could handle the sympathy that would be in his eyes. Hawke said, "Tell him thank you for me."
He nodded. "Of course."
Alone again, she curled up on her bed, watching the flickering of the fireplace. She couldn't make out the exact words but she could hear the murmur of conversation for a few minutes before Varric departed and Anders reappeared in her doorway, shutting it gently behind him, concern written blatantly across his face.
"I'll be fine," she said, the words ringing a little hollow even to her own ears. "I just need tonight and then I'll be fine."
She could see him biting back an objection but instead he just sighed and said, “I know you will be,” before shrugging off his outer layers and bending to tug off his own boots, shadows from the fire hiding his eyes for a moment before he straightened up again, waiting. Immediately, she extended a hand towards him, shifting over on the bed so he could curl up behind her. His arm wrapped around her and she entwined her fingers with his again. "You don't have to be a hero all of the time, Hawke."
He noticeably tensed up before letting out his breath in a puff of air. “I know,” he murmured into her hair, almost too soft to hear. “I’m just not sure that you do.”
No other words passed between them. She didn’t know what else to say. Instead, they just lay there together, taking comfort in the other’s presence even though Hawke knew it was more for her than him. She was just about to the threshold of sleep’s door when she heard Anders say, “They’d help you too if you’d let them.”
She didn’t remember the words when she woke in the morning.
Anders was at a loss for what to do. What was it with these warrior women who walked as if they had the weight of the world on their shoulders? And why did he always have to care about them? Not in the same way, of course. The Warden-Commander had been happily wed for months by the time he’d met her. He didn’t love her, not in the way he loved Hawke. But the two of them… They’d probably get along great.
Aside from Templars, there wasn’t much he hated more than feeling helpless and Adara Hawke seemed hell bent on making him feel that way whether she realized it or not.
From an outsider’s point of view, Hawke probably seemed like she was back to being herself again. A little sad at times maybe, if you caught her off guard, but that was to be expected. After all, she’d just lost her mother to a depraved murderer and the event was far from a secret, the whispers following her through the city for weeks.
He knew better though. The rest of them should have too.
To their credit, some of them did try. Varric had come by the first night and then Sebastian had shown up at some point with polite platitudes. And then Aveline had pulled her aside when they'd been in the Viscount's Keep and that had gone... less than ideal. He hadn't been in the actual room when they'd talked but he'd heard just enough through the door and seen the look on Hawke's face as she walked out before she slammed her mildly amused mask back in place to figure it out. And even if he hadn't then, Hawke's careful avoidance of both the Keep and inviting Aveline to join them for jobs would have given it away.
It was more than that though. Oh sure she still went with people when they asked for help like when Merrill needed her help getting some mirror or Fenris wanted someone to go with him to deal with this matter with his former masters but it wasn’t the same. If anything, it seemed more like… obligation. She even stopped swinging by the Hanged Man to chat with Varric or Isabela just to pass the time. It was all he could do to avoid the questions from Varric about it. He was too observant for anyone’s good and Anders didn’t think it was his place to meddle.
About the only thing Hawke didn’t do was pull away from him. Every night, he came to her chambers and every night, they clung to each other like life lines as they made love and then drifted off to sleep. Despite his occasional prompting, she wouldn’t talk about the grief he knew she must have still felt but at least she still let him be there for her. Somewhat.
Every time he was in his clinic now, he felt a pang of guilt. He should be there more, helping the people who needed him and his magic. But Hawke... Hawke need him too. This wouldn’t be forever. She just needed time to truly be fine and he was willing to be the one to give it to her.