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Simple Gifts

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Hawke wandered down the aisles of the open air market, her head spinning. She had paused at the entry to nearly every stall, looked inside, and then moved on, overwhelmed with all the choices. Maker, she hated shopping. But Fenris had been back in her life for a month as of today, the one stable thing in a world that seemed determined to descend into chaos, and she had awakened with the urge to mark the occasion with… something.

She paused by a clothing stall and fingered the sleeve of a rich yellow robe. The fabric was luxurious and soft, but the color would look terrible on him. And he was out of armor so rarely, how could it be a practical gift? It had to be something he would appreciate, and use, and remind him of her. A tall order, she thought with a sigh. If only these sorts of gestures came more naturally to her.

“Any luck yet?” Hawke jumped, then turned around to glare at Isabela, who had popped up by her shoulder. Inviting Isabela along had seemed a good idea at the time — certainly her assistance was invaluable whenever Hawke needed to purchase new clothing for herself — but on this trip she’d been more annoying than helpful. “What does Fenris even like? Besides killing mages, I mean.”

Hawke did not dignify the second part of Isabela’s comment with a reaction. ”That’s the difficulty — even knowing him as long as I have, I’m still not sure. He likes good wine, but he has access to plenty of that. And he enjoys reading, although it’s still sometimes a struggle for him. So I don’t know whether a book would serve as a thoughtful gift or an unpleasant reminder.”

“Hard call.” Isabela tapped her index finger against her chin, then grinned. “Maybe you could give him a less tangible gift.” The smile widened into a playful leer, and Hawke rolled her eyes in response. “Just saying, Hawke. I’m sure you could make it just as memorable as any trinket.”

“You’re impossible,” Hawke growled, and stalked into the clothing stall. There had to be something here Fenris would find both attractive and useful. The shopkeeper looked up with a cheery greeting, and she sent back a forbidding glare. She hated interruptions from pushy sales people.

“No, wait.” Isabela was on Hawke’s heels, whispered in her ear. “Let him help you.” She waved at the shopkeeper, and he trotted over with a smile.

“Greetings, Champion!” He beamed at them both, and Hawke had to fight not to roll her eyes again. Sometimes she cursed the day Meredith had given her that title. “What an honor, to have you in my humble shop. How may I help you, and your lovely friend?”

Hawke looked at Isabela with a small frown; Isabela smiled back. “Go ahead, tell the nice man what you need.”

“I’m looking for a gift. For my—” Consort? Lover? Partner? Paramour? Each possible word seemed less appropriate than the last, and conveyed more information than Hawke felt comfortable sharing with a random stranger. “For a good friend,” she finished, weakly. “Something practical, for winter.” The sudden inspiration came to her: the weather was getting colder, after all, a snap in the evening air portending the change in seasons.

“Something in red,” Isabela interjected. Hawke looked at her, and she shrugged. “It would be a good color on him, don’t you think? And it would match that bandana he always wears on his wrist.”

The bandana — the favor he had taken from her bedroom and worn for over three years, the sole sign that he might return to her someday. And the color did suit him; Hawke imagined it around his neck, near his face, and nodded. “Yes. A scarf, perhaps?”

“Ah yes!” The shopkeeper’s eyes lit up. “I have just the thing. Follow me.”

-x-

Fenris came over to the mansion that night, and Hawke had dinner waiting — or, more specifically, the dinner she had directed Bodahn to prepare was waiting, including a pudding made with the Saharon spices she knew Fenris enjoyed. He walked into the dining room, paused in the doorway, and smiled at her. “Good evening.”

“Hello.” She got up from her seat and met him halfway to the table, greeting him with a kiss. The thought that she had the freedom to touch him without fear of rejection still thrilled her in a way she could not quite explain. No other lover had stayed by her side this long, or inspired quite this level of devotion in her. His lips lingered on hers, her palm rested on his smooth cheek. When she pulled away, she ran her hand down his arm and linked their fingers together, and then she drew him toward the table. “I have something for you.”

“You do?” Fenris raised his eyebrows and then noticed the small package, wrapped and sitting on the table. “Is there an occasion?”

“No occasion, just us. And that I—” love you, but the words stuck in her throat; even after everything they had been through together, so naked an admission seemed too much, too soon — “…appreciate you.”

His hand rested on the package. “I’m not quite sure what to say.”

“You don’t need to say anything, just open it.” Hawke lowered herself back into her chair, her eyes not leaving Fenris’s face as he did the same and picked up the gift. He unwrapped it with care, then shook out the red scarf, made of a knitted silk that the shopkeeper assured her would be both warm and lightweight. And its color did match the token around his wrist, almost perfectly.

“A scarf.” Fenris frowned, but it was a look of confusion rather than displeasure. “For— wearing?”

Hawke shrugged. “We aren’t in battle all the time. I thought it might be nice, what with winter coming, to keep you warm around your mansion, or here, or when we’re just out for a walk.”

“Ah.” He shook out the scarf and wound it around his neck — as Hawke had hoped, it contrasted nicely with his white hair and brown skin, and she had to smile at the picture he made. “How does it look?”

“Good.” She leaned forward to kiss him again, fingering the soft material of the scarf. “Do you like it? I wasn’t sure…”

His hand curled around the back of her neck, a smile in his eyes. “It is a gift from you, from your heart. How could I feel otherwise?”

Her eyes fluttered closed and their lips met again, her hand winding around the loose end of the scarf to pull him near, the special dinner forgotten as she found her sustenance in him.