Ezekiel Hawke stood leaning against the doorway to the bedroom, silently watching Anders as he sat perched on the edge of the bed, head hung low. Anders had become so moody as of late, and now refused to tell Ezekiel what he was doing. It was big, whatever it was, and it was slowly killing Anders from the inside out.
Ezekiel was worried.
Quietly, Ezekiel moved from his spot in the doorway and made his way over to sit next to Anders. The mage made no moves and continued to sulk in silence. After a few moments of nothing, Ezekiel sighed.
“Anders,” he said quietly, “are you really not going to tell me what’s going on? Because you know you can. You can tell me anything.”
A few seconds passed.
Ezekiel sighed again and moved to stand up, when Anders finally spoke.
At those two words, Ezekiel’s heart broke. Anders sounded so lost, as if he couldn’t find his way so he’d just given up. As if he’d already accepted death.
“Anders,” Ezekiel said again as he moved closer to place a hand on the mage’s face. “Look at me. Please.”
Anders finally looked at Ezekiel for the first time since he entered the room.
“What is going on? You aren’t telling me anything these days. I’m worried. You have no idea how worried I am.”
Anders cast his gaze downward as he spoke. “I already told you. I can’t. I don’t want you wrapped up in this. If you… if something happened… I just can’t.”
Ezekiel studied Anders for a moment, mind racing through every possibility of every secret he could be hiding. But in the three years they had been together, he had never seen Anders like this. With each day, the paranoia caused by the threat of the templars increased. Sleep didn’t come easily any more. The healer was falling apart.
Ezekiel gently swept his thumb over the mage’s cheekbone and moved his hand to run his fingers through Anders’ hair, as he usually did when Anders was feeling distressed. Finally, he spoke.
At that, Anders seemed to relax, but only a little.
“What is it?” Ezekiel asked.
“I don’t deserve you,” Anders whispered.
“Don’t say that. Don’t you ever say that.”
“I don’t understand why you would want to stay with me. This whole bloody mess with the templars and Justice and I just…” Anders closed his eyes. “Sometimes I just don’t understand why you would want to be with someone like me.”
Ezekiel placed both his hands on the mage’s shoulders and faced him, serious. “Anders, I choose to be with you. I’m here because I want to be. You have to stop doubting yourself. I love you. I’ll never leave you. What more do I have to do to prove that?”
For the first time that night, Anders cracked a bit of a smile. “Well, you could marry me.” His lighter tone cast a small wave of relief over the rogue.
And then, Ezekiel had an idea. He got off the bed and started to make his way out of the room.
“Where are you going?” Anders asked.
“Wait here; it’s a surprise.”
Ezekiel’s bright mood was cut short as he stood at the door to his mother’s room. All he had to do was go in and grab one thing. It wouldn’t take more than a few seconds. But… it was difficult. His hand hovered over the doorknob. He took a deep breath, counted to three, and took a step inside.
He couldn’t get farther than a foot into the room.
Ezekiel had not entered his mother’s room since her death. It was all still too fresh. Too raw. He just stood there, fists clenched at his sides.
“Hawke, what are you…” Anders appeared in the doorway behind him. His exasperated tone softened when he saw Ezekiel standing in the midst of repressed memories, trying to hold himself together. “Ezekiel, whatever it is, you don’t have to do it. I can get it for you, or—”
“No. I can do this. I just need to find something…” He paused to look around the room. Everything was still where it was when he last shut the door years ago, aside from a layer of dust that now lay atop it all. He finally spied what he was looking for, and quickly went over to grab it and get out.
The door shut behind Ezekiel with a click. Anders stood there, a quizzical look on his face. “Come on,” Ezekiel said, as he made his way back to the bedroom.
The two sat down on the bed once again, and Ezekiel placed the object on his lap. His mother’s jewelry box.
Carefully, he undid the latch and opened the lid. Necklaces and bracelets lay in tangled piles and Ezekiel had to sift through them all to find what he was looking for.
Anders was silent while Ezekiel pulled out the objects from the small box.
“Are you going to tell me what it is that you—” Anders’ eyes grew wide as Ezekiel opened his hand to show the two silver rings that rested on his palm.
“You know—you know I was joking, right?”
Ezekiel sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. “These were my parents’. We don’t have to, you know, actually get married or anything. I just thought that this might be a good idea, since you brought it up and all.” The normally brash and sarcastic rogue was nervous as he picked up the smaller of the two rings. Anders was still in disbelief as Ezekiel took his hand and slid the ring onto his finger.
“Well, your hands are definitely smaller than mine. That one was my mother’s.”
Anders choked back a laugh as he took the other ring and slid it onto Ezekiel’s left hand.
He was smiling. For the first time in what felt like forever, Anders was truly smiling. And Ezekiel could not help but beam back.
Ezekiel took Anders’ face in his hands and kissed him, overjoyed to finally see the mage happy. He had tried so hard to turn things around for Anders, and even if it didn’t last, this moment was worth it.
The two lingered, foreheads touching, the rogue’s fingers running through Anders’ hair.
“So,” Ezekiel finally said. “Do you believe me now?”