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A Healing Touch

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“Fenris! Come back!” Hawke yelled.

The white haired elf stormed off through the brush, his lyrium markings still glowing bright blue. He was clutching his side. Hawke bit her lip and took a step in the same direction as Fenris.

“I wouldn’t bother if I were you,” Anders muttered darkly, “Let him sulk.”

Varric touched her arm.

“I actually think Blondie is right this time,” he told her, “Let the elf calm down. You don’t want your heart ripped out of your chest.”

Aurelie Hawke hovered in indecisiveness. Although, Fenris had proved himself to be a skilful warrior, he was injured and the Wounded Coast was well known for being rife with bandits and Tal Vashoth. There was no way he could fend them off on his own if he got attacked. But, on the other hand, Varric and Anders were right. Maybe he needed time to calm down, in which case, her presence would only agitate him more.

“Fuck sake.” She grumbled, before turning to the others, “You boys can go home. I’m going to make sure Fenris is ok. Giacomo, come.”

Hawke’s mabari barked happily as he bounded through the bushes after her. She cursed under her breath with every step that she took. The day could not have gotten much worse. She had not even intended to bring Fenris along with her — given the elf’s inherent mistrust of mages. But Aveline was busy with her duties as a city guard and Carver, well, he was doing some errands with their mother. She’d told him that they were going to escort some mages back to the Circle and well, the moment they had entered that blighted cavern, things went downhill.

“Fucking crazy blood mages,” she muttered, “I don’t even think it was worth the coin that Thrask gave us.”

She continued to trample through the dunes, Giacomo at her side. Where had Fenris gone? He couldn’t have walked back to Kirkwall that quickly surely? She knew that he was strong and athletic but his injury was sure to slow him down. Maybe he had already been attacked by bandits? Hawke bit her lip, trying to ignore the anxiety growing in the back of her mind. No, he was fine, he was probably fine. Right?

Giacomo let out another happy bark and ran off down the narrow sandy path, his stumpy tail wagging with doggy enthusiasm.

“Not you too,” Aurelie huffed as she saw Fenris sitting on a rock.

She watched as her mabari bounded up to him and the elf instinctively bent down to scratch the dog behind the ears. Fenris was still clutching his side, his movements were stiff. She walked up to him, hoping that her presence wouldn’t spook him.

“Aww, I think he likes you,” she remarked, taking a cautious step towards him.

Fenris looked up and narrowed his eyes at her.

“What are you doing here?” he snapped.

“I was looking for you,” Hawke replied, her tone defensive, “You were injured and you just walked off. Are you okay?”

“Leave me alone, Hawke.”

Hawke took a step back.

“But you’re injured,” she replied, pulling at her hair, “Please just let me —”

“I said leave me alone.”

Hawke folded her arms, feeling her temper flare in her stomach. Did he have to be so moody all the time?

“Okay, what is this about?” she asked him, tersely, “Is it because I let those mages go?”

Fenris glared at her.

“They were blood mages,” he growled.

“You don’t know that! They were desperate —”

“—Which is exactly why they’re so dangerous,” his markings began to glow, “Kaffas, Hawke. How could you be so naïve? Those mages cannot be trusted and you just let them run around free to abuse their power.”

Hawke scoffed.

“And locking them up would have been the better option, would it?” she replied, balling her fists, “If the Circle was safe, then why did they not simply hand themselves in? From what Anders has told us about the Circle —”

“—And you trust that abomination's words, do you?”

Fenris winced as he stood up and began to pace up and down. His chest was rising and falling in rapid shallow breaths. Hawke dug her fingernails into her palms. How could he be so obtuse? How could he not see the nuance of the situation?

“Whatever he is, there was a reason he tried to escape so many times,” she retaliated, her jaw clenching, “Even you have to admit that there are abuses on both sides.”

“Because mages are weak! They are dangerous!”

Hawke rolled her eyes. She could feel her temper beginning to boil over.

“That doesn’t excuse the Templars!” she retorted, “Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe if we showed mages more kindness, they wouldn’t resort to blood magic?”

“Oh! Of course, they have such a difficult life — sleeping in feather beds and eating three full meals a day.”

Hawke let out a scream of frustration. Giacomo let out an angry bark. He was standing at Hawke’s feet, hackles raised and snarling.

“But of course! No one has had such a difficult life as you, Fenris,” the words were out of her mouth before she could stop them, “You’re not the only one who’s suffered.”

“Venhedis, Hawke. Just leave me alone.”

Fenris stalked off through the dunes. Aurelie swore under her breath and chased after him. Fuck. This was not the way things were supposed to go. She had just wanted to heal his wound and had ended up getting into a stupid argument.

“Fenris! Stop! Wait!” she yelled after him, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that — at least let me heal your wound!”

Fenris stopped and spun round. If looks could kill, she thought, I’d be a goner right now. The blue of his lyrium markings burned into her retinas. His green eyes were aflame with searing hot anger. Aurelie held her breath; maybe Varric and Anders were right, it would have been best to let him calm down alone.

“Do not even think about touching me, Mage,” he spat.

Aurelie’s anger boiled over. Her fists were balled even more tightly.

“You know what? Fine! Sulk the afternoon away,” she snapped, pulling a healing potion from her bag and throwing it at his chest, “Take this, I know you’ve ran out. Just don’t come complaining to me when your wound gets infected, Elf.”

She stormed off, muttering and swearing under her breath. She’d had enough of this. She was fed up of people criticising and trying to undermine her decisions. Sometimes she felt like she was losing a constant battle. Everyone seemed to be looking to her — her mother, her new found friends, Carver — expecting her to help with their problems and whining when she didn’t do things their way. Well, you can’t please everyone and you can’t expect people to solve your problems for you.

By the time Hawke had stomped her way back to Kirkwall, her anger had abated and her thoughts were well steeped with a feeling of guilt. She paused as she stepped through the city gates. Giacomo stood next to her, looking up at her balefully.

“I suppose we should go home, boy,” Hawke told him, scratching his ears, “Mother will wonder where we’ve got to.”

She turned down the familiar narrow alleyway and made her way back to Gamlen’s hovel. Ignoring the guilt nagging at her in the back of her head. She paused outside of the door to her home and groaned. The muffled sounds of an argument floated through the rotting wood. Her mother was arguing with Gamlen again, he was complaining about the lack of space again. She was accusing him of selling the family fortune and ruining the Amell name. Again.

She glanced down at Giacomo.

“Let’s go and find Varric,” she said, giving the mabari a sad smile, “What do you think, boy?”

The mabari barked in agreement. Aurelie felt a weight lift off her shoulders as she turned away from her front door and walked briskly to The Hanged Man. She stepped into the tavern, the familiar smell of beer, body odour and cooking meat.

“Hawke! Over here!” Varric called, waving at her from his spot at the bar as she weaved her way through the crowd towards him, “So glad you’ve joined me. Blondie just left. Well, stumbled his way back to Darktown.”

“That man is such a lightweight,” she chuckled.

“He was the one who insisted on a drinking contest,” The dwarf replied as he gestured for the barmaid to bring Hawke a mug of ale, “Not my fault he couldn’t handle his beer. Why are you here?”

Hawke picked up her flagon of ale and sipped it. Her shoulders sagged a little.

“Mother and Gamlen were arguing again,” Hawke grimaced, taking another swig of ale, “I’ve had more than enough of arguing for one day, so I thought I’d pay a visit to my handsome dwarven friend.”

He chuckled and patted his crossbow lightly.

“Careful, don’t make Bianca jealous. I won’t be responsible for her actions.”

Hawke laughed. Grateful for Varric’s easy manner. They had only known each other for a couple of months but they had become fast friends. It was a breath of fresh air to find someone who shared her glibness. Usually, it would confuse people at best and at worst it got her into deep shit. She took another swig of her drink, letting the loud laughter and drunken conversations of her fellow patrons wash over her. Varric gave her a strange knowing look. She knew he was going to ask her a question.

“So, did you catch up with our resident broody elf?” he asked her, smiling at a barmaid who caught his eye.

Aurelie clenched her jaw. The guilt that she had been numbing with alcohol had come back to nag her with a vengeance. She took a large gulp of ale and sighed.

“I did. It went as well as you would expect.”

“So it was a total disaster?”

“I’d say disaster was an understatement,” Hawke replied, feeling a stab of frustration, “He’s just belligerent. I tried to talk to him — help him see things from my point of view, but he just straight up refused —”

“Can you blame him?” Varric asked, his tone neutral, “He was enslaved by mages, that couldn’t have been a fun day at the beach.”

The nagging in the back of Hawke’s head was getting louder.

“Yes, I know. But I thought that if I had just explained my side —”

Varric fixed her with a sardonic look, there was an odd half amused twinkle in his eye. Hawke felt as though he had figured something out that she didn’t know about. She drained her drink and ran her hand through her hair.

“Fuck,” she groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose, “I’ve been such a twat. I didn’t even realise — Maker’s balls, I should go and apologise.”

Varric gave her another knowing look as she slid off her bar stool. He laid a hand on her arm as he ordered a bottle of wine. Hawke watched as the barmaid picked up a bottle of their finest Antivan red and handed it to him.

“Best take this before you go,” Varric said to her as he thrust the bottle into her hand, “As a peace offering.”

“Thanks, can you look after Giacomo for me whilst I’m gone? He’s tired and I don’t want to take him home and get suckered into another argument.”

“Of course, I’ll teach him to play diamondback until you get back.”

Hawke chuckled and shook her head.

“That’s something I’d like to see. Ten sovereigns says that you can’t.”

Giacomo whined as Varric cackled.

“I’ll take that bet,” he called as Hawke started to weave her way to the exit.

After a few minutes, Hawke found her standing outside the mansion that Fenris was squatting in, her hand gripped the bottle of red wine firmly. She swallowed, her mouth was dry as she knocked on the door and occupied herself with planning out her apology.

Hawke bit her lip. No one answered. Not surprising as Fenris was trying to keep a low profile. She huffed and knocked again. Trying to ignore the growing concern that began to creep over her. Had he even made it back? What if he was lying somewhere between Kirkwall and the Wounded Coast, alone and dying with sand getting in unwanted places…

...Maker’s balls, she was getting carried away with herself. Aurelie looked up at the mansion and saw a light flickering in an upstairs window. Good. He had made it home at least. Was he just being an belligerent arsehole by not answering the door or was he simply unable to get down the stairs?

Aurelie cursed under her breath as she knocked again, rapping on the door as loudly as she could.

“Fenris, open up!” she called through the wood, “I know you’re there! It’s me Hawke!”

She knocked again and again.

“I’m not leaving until you open up! I’ve come to apologise, you prat!”

She almost jumped as the front door was wrenched open. Fenris was staring at her, his eyebrows raised. He was holding himself very stiffly.

“Fasta vass, Hawke, what are you doing?” he asked, as she walked into the foyer.

Fenris closed the front door, his expression guarded as his eyes fell to the bottle in her hand. She held it out for him.

“A bottle of Antivan wine,” she explained, “The finest the Hanged Man has to offer. It's for you; I figured that you might want to use it to decorate the walls.”

Fenris gave her a bemused chuckle and ruffled his silver hair. An awkward hush fell upon them for a few moments as they stood in the foyer staring at each other. Hawke’s eyes roamed around her dusty and dank surroundings. He hadn’t moved anything since they raided the mansion a few months ago.

“So... I like what you’ve done with the place,” she remarked, trying to break the awkwardness with some levity, “It’s so welcoming and cosy.”

Fenris smirked.

“You know me,” he replied, gesturing for her to follow him, “I am an expert in interior design.”

Hawke’s eyebrows shot up as she put her hand to her mouth in fake surprise.

“Maker’s breath!” she gasped, “Was that a joke? From you? Someone pinch me. I must be dreaming.”

“Very funny, Hawke,” he deadpanned, rolling his eyes as she gave him a shit-eating grin.

“Why yes, yes I am. Thank you for noticing.”

Hawke swore that she heard the elf scoff as he turned away. She followed him into the library and sat down next to the fire. He sat in the chair opposite her and opened the bottle of wine. She watched him, trying to decipher his expression as though he was a dwarven puzzle box. The cork popped and he took a few swigs of wine, his nose wrinkling in disgust as he swallowed.

“Ugh!” He exclaimed, before clearing his throat and handing the bottle to her, “I owe you an apology, Hawke.”

Hawke took a sip of the wine and winced as the liquid slid down her throat.

“Are you sure about that? It seems like the finest Antivan wine the Hanged Man has to offer is vinegar. If you want to rip my heart out for giving you such a disappointing peace offering, I’ll understand, I swear.”

Fenris rubbed his mouth. Was he hiding a smirk?

“Hawke, I was being sincere,” he told her, frowning, “I should not have lost my temper with you — you were just trying to do the right thing in the moment —”

“—Honestly, I don’t blame you for acting the way you did —”

“— In Tevinter, Danarius tormented me. He used blood magic to experiment on me and gave me these — markings,” he spat the words out in disgust, “He would heal my wounds only to break my body again. Those mages today reminded me how weak they can be, how easily their power can corrupt them.”

A haunted look darkened the elf’s forest green eyes. Aurelie swallowed as she handed the bottle of wine back to him. What had that magister done to him? Whatever had happened to him in Tevinter must have been torturous. He took another long draft of wine.

“In any case, what happened in my past is not your fault,” he continued, meeting her gaze, “And I am sorry for taking it out on you when you were trying to help me.”

Hawke gave him a sad smile as she tucked a few stray hairs from her ponytail behind her ear and took a deep breath.

“It’s OK, Fenris. I don’t expect you to agree with me all the time. That would be boring,” she told him as she winked at him and adding, “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry too. I should have been more understanding instead of just losing my temper and yelling at you.”

Fenris handed the wine back to her, giving her a lop-sided smile that made butterflies flutter around in Hawke’s stomach.

“That’s quite all right,” he drawled, sitting back into his armchair, “We all have our differences after all.”

“I hope that means that we can still be friends,” Hawke replied before taking a sip of the foul wine, “We’re a dysfunctional bunch, but we’re good people I promise.”

To her surprise, Fenris looked a little taken aback. Was he really so used to being alone? So used to being guarded and distrusting of others? She bit her lip, before giving him a fleeting smile.

“So anyway, how is your injury?” she asked, taking the opportunity to change the subject.

Fenris rubbed the back of his neck.

“It’s fine. It hurts a little every now and again,” He replied, shifting awkwardly in his seat, “I bathed it when I came home.”

Aurelie frowned as he winced, she felt a stab of concern — or was it guilt for leaving him when he was injured? She bit her lip and tugged on a loose strand of her auburn hair.

“Would you — would it be OK if I took a look at it?” she asked, chewing her bottom lip, “It was an undead blade that you were cut with, it could have been poisoned or rusty or—”

Her words trailed off as Fenris fixed her with an odd look. One of astonishment mixed with apprehension.

“I won’t use magic,” she told him, making sure to look him in the eye, “I promise you.”

An indecisive expression hovered over his face for a few moments before he gave her a reluctant nod.

“Very well,” he said gruffly, “You may.”

Aurelie felt a rush of relief wash over her. She stood up and knelt beside his armchair.

“Um, could you — this might be easier if you removed your tunic,” she told him, “I’m not trying to be a pervert, I promise.”

“Makes a change,” he scoffed.

Hawke shook her head dismissively, staring pointedly at the fire as Fenris removed his tunic and joined her on the floor. She felt the heat of a blush spread across her cheeks as she looked at him. His tattoos unfurled themselves across the firm muscles of his chest, flowing down his ribs and over his waist. She felt her heart convulse. Did they adorn other parts of his body as well? Fucking Maker’s balls...

Focus, she chided herself. She was here to help a friend, not drool over him. She swallowed and stared at the ground, trying to hide her face from him. What the hell was wrong with her? She was more than acquainted with the male form, so why was she blushing like a sheltered virgin?

Because none of the men — well, boys really — who she had lain with were as beautiful as Fenris. Truly, he was breath-taking — the paleness of his lyrium markings contrasted strikingly with his tawny skin and his arm muscles looked more defined as shadows from the fire flickered across them.

“Hawke?” Fenris’ baritone voice dragged her back to the present, “Is everything all right?”

Andraste’s mother-fucking hairy tits.

He had caught her staring at him. She gazed up at him with wide blue eyes, feeling her face flush bright red.

“Oh! Um,yes!” she replied with a nervous chuckle as she scrabbled for composure, “Sorry — I was miles away.”

Hawke turned her attention to the gash just below Fenris’ ribs. The jagged edges peeled back to reveal a deep redness that screamed pain at her. She gently touched the surrounding skin, feeling his muscles stiffen under her fingertips. Her skin was tingling, but whether that was from his lyrium markings or not, she couldn’t say.

“Well the bad news is that you need stitches,” she told him, rubbing the back of her neck with her free hand, “The good news is that there’s no sign of infection and you will most likely have a sexy scar to show off to the ladies.”

To her amusement, Fenris blanched.

“I do not show off to women,” he protested.

“Oh, so men then?” Hawke replied, grinning, “I don’t judge and I mean it’s a shame but —”

He fixed her with a dead stare.

“Shut up, Hawke.”

She chuckled as she stood up and walked over to her bag which she had deposited by the other moth-eaten armchair. She rifled through it and pulled out a small medicine kit.

“Don’t tell Anders,” she told Fenris as she sauntered over to him, “I know he likes to believe that magic can fix everything, but I like to be prepared for emergencies.”

Fenris raised his eyebrows and gave her a smile as she sat back down.

“I never took you as a prudent woman, Hawke.”

“Well, I aim to surprise,” she replied as she took a needle out of the bag and held it into the fire, “Being prudent has basically been my whole life since coming here — could you do me a favour and pass me the thread whilst I sterilise the tweezers?”

Fenris complied. She could feel him watching as she threaded the needle and knotted one end.

“Now, this is going to hurt so you may want to drink the wine,” Aurelie told him, “Also, I am a bit rusty so bear with me.”

“Noted,” Fenris replied, before taking a swig out of the bottle of wine.

She took a deep breath as she lifted the edge of the wound gently with the tweezers and gently pressed the needle through his skin. She heard him let out a sharp hiss of pain as she pushed the needle through the opposite side of the wound and pulled the thread.

“Where did you learn to do this?” Fenris asked in a strained voice, “Did your mother teach you?”

“My father actually. He used to heal people back in Lothering, in between teaching Bethany and me of course,” she replied as she made another stitch, “Sometimes we’d help him in the clinic, Beth was always better at healing than me.”

She heard him grunt as she pulled the needle and thread through his skin again.

“What was she like, your sister?” he asked.

Aurelie took a deep breath and bit her lip. Although her sister had died over a year ago, it was still difficult for her to talk about.

“Father used to call her his Sunshine,” she replied, “She was so kind and sweet. She would light up the whole room and give you the food from her plate if you were starving. Not like me, always running head first into trouble — Father used to call me his Little Fireball because I would always argue with Carver.”

Fenris chuckled and drank some more wine. She felt his body tense as she continued to pull the lips of his wound together.

“So you were close to your father and sister?” he asked her.

Aurelie nodded, still concentrating on her work.

“I think Carver was jealous of us,” she told him, “Beth and I were always off with Father learning how to control magic. I think he felt that Father neglected him sometimes. There! Almost done.”

Hawke tied off the thread and snipped off the end with a pair of scissors. She sat back and admired her handy work with a small satisfied smile.

“Not bad, if I do say so myself,” she remarked, before ferreting through her emergency medical kit and pulled out a small glass tub. “It’s a poultice,” she explained as she unscrewed the lid, “To prevent infection.”

Fenris’ nose wrinkled as the pungent smell of embrium and eucalyptus filled the air. Hawke couldn’t help but let out a little giggle at his expression.

“What is it?” he asked, in a defensive tone.

Hawke shook her head as she dipped her fingers into the tub, the viscous liquid was cool on her skin. She swirled it around the tub for a few times before slathering onto the wound, Fenris seethed at the sudden contact with a cold substance. She felt the muscles in his side tense under her fingertips as she rubbed it in, trying to resist the urge to kiss his warm skin or run her hands over the firmness of his body.

Calm down, Hawke, she berated herself, he’s just a friend. An ally who needs match up with hers for the moment. Nothing more.

“Why don’t you return to Ferelden?” he asked her suddenly, his deep voice bringing her out of her thoughts, “The Blight is over now. You could return and rebuild.”

Hawke let out a hollow chuckle.

“Mother would never let me,” she told him as she smoothed some more lotion over the wound, “I promised her that I’d get the Amell estate back. Besides, we lost everything in Ferelden, why go and live in the past? My life is here.”

“It must be good to be able to put down roots. It’s something that I can never do, until I find Danarius.”

Hawke wiped her fingers onto her robe and unravelled a bandage.

“But you could do it here,” she said as she wrapped the bandage around him whilst he held it in place for her, “I mean, you could have friends here if you’d let us.”

A heavy silence fell upon the room as Hawke finished bandaging the wound. His rough, calloused fingers brushed against hers by accident, sending sparks of electricity down her arm. She locked eyes with his green ones for a few moments. There was an odd look in them, an intense fire that seemed to burn constantly. Hawke swallowed as her eyes fell to his lips. The looked smooth and soft as she wondered how they would feel against hers. What would happen? An image of him kissing her back, gathering her up in his strong arms as her hands trailed all over his taut body played out all to vividly in her salacious mind. Maybe he would kiss and nip her neck as he lay her down onto the dusty floor, covering her body with the warm weight of his own, rough fingers running up her thighs…

Maker’s fucking tit-balls.

She knew it had been a while, but she needed to control herself. Her eyes returned to Fenris’ green ones and she caught her breath as she felt a warm heat begin to build in the pit of her belly. Was he experiencing the same thing? What would happen if she were to reach out and brush his silvery white hair out of his eyes? All she had to do was to lean in closer, close the small gap between them. It would only take a moment — a second of foolishness…

Fenris coughed. Hawke blinked a few times before she realised what she was doing and withdrew her hand sharply. She busied herself with gathering up her medical supplies and returning them to the bag.

“Sorry,” she babbled, hiding the blush that was burning across her face like a forest fire, “I don’t know where I was. Um, your cut should be fine now. Just remember to change the bandages once a day.”

Fenris stood up and to her relief — well, disappointment — shrugged his tunic over his shoulders. He nodded at her, the corner of his lips curling slightly.

“Thank you, Hawke.” He murmured.

“Oh, it was nothing really. I had to — you’re too handsome to die,” she beamed as she shouldered her bag, “Look, it’s late. I should probably go home. Sorry again for the wine.”

Fenris gave her the briefest of small smiles as he showed her to the front door.

“Good night, Hawke,” he said, opening the front door for her.

She turned around and looked up.

“Good night, Fenris,” she told him softly, “And I meant what I said about having friends here. Come and join us at The Hanged Man next time. I’ll buy you a drink, I promise.”

“I will consider it,” he replied as she stepped into the cold night air.

Aurelie’s stomach did a strange flip as the door closed behind her. Was she attracted to Fenris? Or was that moment she experienced in his mansion, just her body reminding her that she should probably get laid some time? Or had she simply drank too much alcohol?

Hawke shook her head as she wandered through the deserted Hightown Market. Fenris was handsome, that was for sure. And he was mysterious and closed off in a way that piqued her curiosity. But the idea that he would ever be interested in her — a mage — was ridiculous...

Wasn’t it?