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What Is and Never Was

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The worst of it, Fenris decided, was that Hawke treated him no differently.

There were nights he would lie awake in his squatter's bed, touching his mouth again and again as though he could recreate Hawke's kisses through his fingertips, until the constant stimulation left his mouth tingling. Heat would pool ignored in his groin, a heaviness that was nearly as maddening as the teasing of his fingers, that he would refuse to sate. It was his punishment, his retribution for having put that stricken look on Hawke's face, to want but never have. No, to never have again.

He'd expected it to be awkward between them, gazes not meeting, words falling into empty space, but Hawke... Hawke had surprised him, again, as Hawke was wont to do. When next they'd met, Hawke had greeted him warmly, as though they were still friends. It was as though that night had never happened, as though things were not irrevocably changed between them.

No, it wasn't accurate to say that Hawke treated him no differently, in truth. Though Hawke still welcomed him as a friend, still shared his ever-earnest conversation (and how it was that the man could be so sincere all the time was a wonder), gone was the easy flirtation. Gone were the heavy-lidded glances and the private grins that curled one corner of Hawke's mouth just so. Gone were the ghosts of touches never quite made but so close as to give him goose pimples. (He could still remember the white heat of Hawke grabbing his arm, the flare of lyrium in his skin and in his mind, the unthinking reaction that left Hawke pinned to the wall, watching him with eyes wider than Fenris had ever seen, pupils dilated with fear or desire (or both). He'd felt like a god for that brief moment, that frozen span before his lips had crashed against Hawke's cheek, before Hawke had found the decisiveness that made him such a good man and brought Fenris's world down around his ears.)

It was too much, even the memory of it, yet Fenris could not bring himself to regret it. It was true: 'fine' was insufficient, couldn't cover even an infinitesimal fraction of how wonderful it had been between them. For one night, Fenris had been whole, his mind filled with his past, his body filled with Hawke, and it had been... Mm, it had been divine. To have that, to have lost that entirely through his own machinations, was a torment.

He'd almost rather Hawke hate him. Perhaps then he could stop dwelling on it, could move on as Hawke so obviously had. Hawke's continuing kindness, though, was a drug, an addiction Fenris would never be able to break on his own. Though he'd been the one to walk away, it was a constant struggle not to walk back, to wait once more in Hawke's home, to feel the stubble darkening Hawke's jaw against his lips, the lean muscles of Hawke's back beneath his hands, the stroke of Hawke's fingers through his hair.

But Hawke treated him no differently, or as near as could be expected between two men who were never truly lovers, and Fenris... Fenris would take what he was given and pretend that it was enough.