It had taken almost two hours and asking various people, but finally, Fenris had found him.
Anders looked peaceful, kneeling in the high grass and picking herbs and flowers he no doubt needed to make potions. The slightly humid air was heavy with spicy, sweet and tangy scents, mingled with the salt from the sea that a strong breeze carried up to Sundermount.
Moss green eyes rested their gaze on slender hands moving gently as they picked and plugged, like Anders was afraid to hurt the plants. The mage was humming to himself, a tune unfamiliar to the elf. It was almost astounding how different the mage looked in daylight, compared to his otherwise haggard appearace whenever Fenris saw him at his Darktown clinic. Blond hair was shimmering golden in the sun and Fenris understood why Hawke used to have a thing for the mage’s hair. Or a thing for the mage in general, who had been kindly ignoring Hawke’s advances until eventually, the rogue had moved on. Fenris wasn’t sure if entering a relationship with a Dalish blood mage was wiser than courting an abomination.
Or having a romantic interest in mages in general.
Realizing he was staring, Fenris huffed and tore his gaze away from the mage, arms crossing defensively. The sound made Anders aware of his presence and Fenris watch honey-colored eyes slowly lifting their gaze.
“What are you doing here?” Anders asked, surprised.
Fenris growled. “Where is everyone?” he demanded.
“Everyone’s gone. Hawke is not at his estate. I haven’t seen or spoken to him in days. Varric apparently left Kirkwall for business matters. Aveline is drowning in work at the Keep. Even the witch has disappeared!” Fenris fixed a glare on the mage. “Where is everyone?” he repeated.
Anders’ brows furrowed. “Why are you so concerned?”
Fenris snarled and kicked at a small stone close to his right feet.
An amused smile stole its way on Anders’ lips. “The elf is bored,” he teased.
That only added to Fenris’ annoyance, not to mention it made him feel embarrassed how needy he sounded. “It is not like…there is much going on in my life,” he muttered. “Not anymore.”
“Ah.” Anders nodded. “Well, if you are so desperate for some action, Broody, why don’t you go ahead and kill a few slavers? There are always slavers on Sundermount, from what I hear.”
Fenris gave a non-committal grunt in response. What had he been thinking, coming here to seek out the abomination?
“Alas, if what you really need is some company,” Anders went on, “you are welcome to stay and help me.”
“Help you?” Fenris asked, nose wrinkling.
“I am out here to collect herbs and flowers to make you potions,” the mage said pointedly. “Well, not only for you, obviously. Where do you think they come from?” He held up a yellow-colored flower. “I need more of these.”
There had been a time where Fenris would have balked and snarled at the mage for making demands, no matter how friendly they were worded. The years that had passed since had made the two of them more…social with each other, Fenris guessed. Belonging to Hawke’s circle of friends made it inevitable to get to know each other. Fenris, despite his wariness of mages in general, did not turn a blind eye to the things Anders did for the people of Kirkwall on a daily basis, or for his friends. Anders, in return, turned out to be an exceptional listener and, once they had learned to stop snapping and snarling at each other or trying to hurt each other with insults whenever a chance arose, someone who actually didn’t judge the way Fenris behaved or felt. They had reached a comfortable level of agreement that, right now, made Fenris feel relaxed in the mage’s company.
As Fenris waded through the knee-high grass, eyes searching for the yellow flowers the mage wanted, he noticed how peaceful it made him feel. Whenever he wasn’t out with Hawke, played Wicked Grace at the Hanged Man with Varric or invited Donnic over to enjoy a bottle of decent wine and talk, Fenris barely ever left the mansion. He didn’t like crowds; he saw no appeal in wandering across the city, or visit the market to buy things he might like or actually needed. He only ever went out on his own if he absolutely had to, still not used to having the freedom to simply go wherever he wished, whenever he wished. He was good at following orders or being given a task.
But this, Fenris thought to himself, was nice. The grass was soft beneath his bare feet, the ground warmed from the sun. The various smells that had previously attacked his olfactory system were now comforting and he even paused at a particularly sweet-smelling flower to enjoy its scent. The air was fresh and clear, despite the humidity and the breeze was gentle, caressing over his lithe form. Anders, who usually liked to talk a lot, remained silent except for humming the tune from a moment before.
After a moment, Fenris returned to the mage, a bouquet of yellow flowers in his gauntleted hand and awkwardly thrust them at Anders.
“Thank you,” Anders said softly and took the flowers to put them into his pouch. “To answer your earlier question – all I know is that Hawke accompanied Merrill to the Dalish camp. He said they’d be back in a few days. He, uh…asked me for some very special potions and herbs before they took off.”
“Why did he go to the Dalish camp? Is something wrong?” Fenris asked.
“Wrong? No.” Anders gave Fenris a scrutinizing look. “I was actually surprised to see you, seeing as most elves seem to have disappeared from Kirkwall.”
Fenris frowned. “Disappeared?”
“Mating season?” the mage supplied. “Since you are a free man now, with Danarius no longer haunting your sleep, I figured you’d be off finding someone for yourself.” He paused. “Or simply get laid. Both would probably do you good.”
“Excuse me?” Fenris growled and Anders inched away just a little.
“I’m just saying –“
“What is all this mating season nonsense?” Fenris huffed. “I have never heard of such a thing. I can’t remember Merrill leaving Kirkwall for such an occasion during the past few years, either.”
“That’s because she took suppressants,” Anders explained. “You – you never heard of it? For real?”
Was that concern? Fenris eyed the blond man. They could tolerate each other, sometimes even hold a friendly conversation, but Fenris still didn’t appreciate anyone being concerned about him – or showing pity.
“It’s part of your culture…or nature, Fenris,” the mage said. “Elf mating season?”
Green eyes narrowed. “I have never heard of it.”
“Oh.” Anders pursed his lips and Fenris could actually see the mage think, could see realization in those honey-colored eyes. “Of course,” Anders eventually said. “You never mentioned it in all those years I’ve known you. I should have assumed that Danarius may have taken care of that, too.”
“Danarius is dead,” Fenris snarled.
“But you are not.” Anders closed his pouch. “I think I am good for now,” he announced. “Will you accompany me back to Kirkwall or would you like to stay here for a while longer?”
“And do what exactly?”
Anders huffed out an amused laugh at the elf’s annoyed expression and nodded his head. “Come on then, you insufferable ass. Maybe we can get something for dinner on the market?”
“Dinner?” Fenris asked as he followed the mage toward the passage leading back to Kirkwall.
“Assuming you’d like to have company for dinner. I could be wrong, of course. And, well…I am sure I have lots of patients waiting for me at the clinic, anyway? Maybe even a cat? I put out milk before leaving earlier, maybe the Maker finally had mercy and –“
“Shut up, mage,” Fenris grumped and was rewarded with an amused smile.
Fenris’ nose wrinkled in disgust as they exited the passage and marched up the staircase leading to Lowtown, Anders leading the way. He’d lived in this city for years now but Fenris had never been aware that the entire city stank and now just Darktown. It was a little unsettling how heightened his sense of smell was today.
They hadn’t spoken the entire trip back and Fenris had found himself enjoying the comfortable silence. There had been moments where Anders looked like he was going to burst with the need of nervous babbling, as he had never been one to deal well with silence, but he had refrained from giving into the urge. It had given Fenris time to think about what Anders had said about his…culture. Fenris had never actually identified himself with the Dalish elves. Elven slaves in Tevinter hardly had the opportunity to pass on their history and culture to their offspring, having to service their master at every minute of the day. Merrill had attempted to make him familiar with their custodies, but Fenris…
He wasn’t even sure what he identified with. He was born and grew up in Tevinter, so he did see himself as Tevinter, but only as far as that went. He was an elf, yet he did not identify with the elves as a race, least of all the Dalish. The few times he had visited the alienage, he had experienced a distant feeling of kinship and the urge to protect these people from the slavers that would occasionally stroll Kirkwall’s streets in search of elves suitable to be sold on the slave market for a decent price.
Fenris had once told Hawke so, after one too many glasses of wine. Hawke had suggested that Fenris just be…Fenris. Unfortunately, the elf had no idea what that meant, either.
And yet, the mage mentioning this mating season and how he should not be surprised that Danarius had erased that part of his nature, too, it bothered Fenris. There was a feeling of loss and disconnection, stronger than he had ever experienced before. If Varric, right this moment, would have once again pointed out that Fenris was brooding, the elf, for once, wouldn’t have argued with it.
Fenris almost bumped into the mage and glanced up, meeting the blond’s expecting eyes.
“Or do you have enough of my charming company by now?” Anders added with a smirk. Fenris frowned at the mage and the way the other man’s appearance seemed to have changed, now that they were back in Kirkwall. He looked exhausted, worn-out and there were actually circles under his eyes.
Fenris leaned in close in order to find out whether or not it was just the light, and Anders stepped back just a fraction, more muscle memory than actual concern that Fenris would still want to rip his heart out. The elf wanted to make a sarcastic comment on that but instead, he suddenly found himself frozen to the spot, eyes wide.
A scent filled his nostrils, sweet like apples, rich like cinnamon; tinged with the comforting smell of elfroot, Anders’ musk and ozone. Something hot and needy unfurled in Fenris’ stomach and the warmth spread through his entire body like a wildfire, leaving his toes and fingertips tingling. He felt drunken with pleasure.
He wanted more of that scent.
Instinctively, Fenris reached out, grabbing the mage’s shoulders with his gauntleted hands, feeling muscles tense beneath his touch as he pulled Anders closer. With a growl, Fenris nosed along the mage’s neck, feeling and hearing him swallow hard.
“Fenris?” Anders asked, concerned. “What’s the matter?”
Another low growl had the mage’s mouth snap shut, body tensing further. Fenris allowed his eyes to slip closed as he pressed his face into Anders’ neck, lips parting slightly to catch more of this scent, to inhale it and make it his. The mage’s pulse quickened where the elf’s lips ghosted over warm skin.
Moss green eyes snapped open and with a snarl, Fenris jumped back, putting some distance between them. Anders looked at him with a bewildered expression as he lifted one hand to touch the area Fenris had just sniffed on.
“Well…that was…creepy, elf,” Anders informed him. “What did you do that for?”
Fenris’ mouth opened and closed, yet no sound crossed his lips. His mind was still overwhelmed with the scent and the sensations it had caused inside him and the need was a raging beast inside his stomach, demanding more, demanding closer again. Fenris’ hands balled into fists as he fought the urge.
“Another time,” Fenris gritted out as he fixed his gaze on the hard ground. “Dinner, that is.”
“Fine,” Anders said with a shrug. “You alright?”
Instead of answering, Fenris roughly pushed past Anders and marched off, his knees weaking when his nostrils once again filled with the scent of the mage. Ears pinked with embarrassment and the humming of his own blood in his ears drowned out Anders’ half-hearted complaint at being shoved out of the way. Fenris told himself to focus on the way home instead and the sudden need for a glass of very strong wine.