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Helpless

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Fenris hangs limply in the beast’s grasp. Paralyzed, but aware. They all are. Unable to do more than turn their heads and speak, when they can gather the strength to do so, they’re helpless, cradled above the ground by countless black, slick tentacles, trapped and invaded, violated over and over.

Fenris knows a hopeless fight when he sees one. Or is experiencing one. He stopped fighting long ago, tiredly allowing himself to be positioned facedown, spread out and held firmly as the tentacle that had already invaded his ass shoved further, curling into his bowels. He made the mistake of looking down at himself, once, and had seen the shifting bulge under his skin, and had shuddered in revulsion and unwanted arousal.

Now, his belly is heavy and full, jostling pleasantly with each leisurely push-and-pull of the impossible length of ropey muscle inside of him. He wants to throw up.

He can hear Merrill’s Elvish cursing and the sounds she makes in her pleasure, sounds Fenris wants to be angry to hear but he knows she didn’t ask for this, doesn’t want this for any of them, doesn’t deserve this. Not even the foolish little blood mage deserves this.

He can hear Sebastian’s weeping, ragged moans, because the prince gave up praying long ago, exhausted and used and thoroughly broken but given no reprieve.

Isabela still fights when she can, clamping her teeth around any tentacle brave enough to get close to her mouth.

Aside from the occasional brief, short-lived string of swears from Varric, the dwarf is uncharacteristically quiet. From his vantage point, Fenris can spy Bianca discarded in a puddle of goo. Varric will be cleaning it out of her for months. He’ll be furious.

Aveline…Aveline held out the longest, he thinks, before succumbing to the toxins laced into the slick coating the tentacles, and he thinks fondly, proudly of the moments between when he fell and she did, watching her cut through more of the evil tendrils even as he was screaming at the invasion, still able to squirm and struggle at the time. There were too many of the things, and they hadn’t been able to find the core of them. The source. He knew Aveline would fall, but Fenris was so glad he could have wept for each of the slimy lengths she slew.

Now, her eyes are shut and she’s unresponsive, and Fenris feels a creeping tendril of worry, even as he sees her chest rising and falling. He hopes she isn’t severely injured.

And Hawke—Fenris hurts to see him this way. He’s sure they all do, as most of them are angled so that if they turn their heads, they can see him, spread eagle, glorious body displayed shamefully, two tentacles relentlessly plowing his ass while a third is shoved too far down his throat in a manner that has him gagging constantly. Tears streak down his flushed face, mixing with the slime soaking his beard.

His stomach is full, swollen the way their stomachs all are, and Fenris watches in muted horror as the tentacles inside of Hawke seem to quiver, and the mage screams, muffled, as his stomach stretches further.

The moment passes, and Hawke’s eyes find Fenris watching. Shame passes over his handsome face and he squeezes his eyes shut.

Fenris drops his head, his heart as well as his abused body aching in sympathy.

This angle has him looking at Anders, who is so close that if Fenris could free an arm, he could touch him.

If Fenris wants to be technical, he’s looking at Justice. Burning blue eyes stare up at him, upside-down, as dark smoke leaks from the similarly-glowing cracks tearing along the abomination’s naked body. Occasionally, one of his lanky limbs moves convulsively, struggling against the tentacles holding him.

Dimly, he’s envious of Anders. When Justice takes over, he loses time, does not know what’s happening beyond his mind. It’s a horrible, trapped sensation, but the invasive tendrils cannot reach him there.

The spirit is quiet, now, and it’s unsettling to Fenris, because he’d broken free of Anders’ hold in a blaze, maybe only moments too late, screaming and fighting as their shared body was violated. The toxins had only set in after he’d burnt through so many of the tentacles, and then it was too late, and he couldn’t struggle anymore, and he’d been lifted to face Fenris. Like the creature knew Anders had been trying to free him, and was taunting them both.

Fenris thinks that if the abomination…if Anders hadn’t been distracted, trying to free him, the demon…spirit may have turned the tide.

“Justice.” He barely recognizes his own voice. He coughs around the goop clinging to the inside of his throat like mucus.

The spirit stares, and blinks. His mouth falls open and he gasps out, “Fenris.”

Pleasure soars through his body at the sound of his name in that otherworldly voice. He suppresses a gasp at the sensation, struggling to stop his eyes from falling shut.

“What’s going to happen to us?”

Justice closes his eyes. Blue light shines through his eyelids even so. “I don’t know. This is…not a demon. I cannot guess at any intention beyond…beyond this.”

Fenris falls silent, and Justice does not say more.

The Champion of Kirkwall and his companions, raped to death by some unfathomable abomination of a creature.

They all deserve better. Even the Dalish witch and the abomination.

He’s not even sure he’d wish this on a demon, even if Justice truly is one.

Fenris has his doubts.

The tentacle in his bowels suddenly shoves deeper, and discomfort bordering on the edge of pain pierces the haze of nauseating pleasure. He grunts, trying and half-failing to relax as more of the creature’s discharge fills him. The skin of his abdomen burns, stretched too far too quickly.

He opens his eyes, unsure when he closed them, and finds Justice watching him. He feels nothing about it, but knows that just a few hours ago, the spirit’s gaze would have infuriated him.

Now, he just wonders what Justice’s take is on all this. Without a doubt, he does not approve. Not with the way he’d struggled. Not with the way he’d cried out in fury, face pinched with rage, as he was stretched out and impaled without regard for mercy.

But now, his face is a stony, calm mask, brow furrowed only slightly, a snarl showing teeth as he gasps for air, like it’s been beaten from his lungs with each deep-sliding thrust.

Recognizing the spirit’s anger rallies Fenris’ silenced fury, coaxes it back to the surface even as he knows he’s too helpless to put it to use.

And then it’s gone, snuffed out like a candle, replaced with a sense of dread and desperation as he sees bumps travelling down the tentacle fucking Justice. A sense of panic sparks through him.

Those are eggs.

“Spirit,” Fenris manages to warn him just moments before the first egg reaches him.

The abomination’s body seizes, sparks dancing over his cracked, glowing skin. His eyes are wide and furious again. “No. NO. I will not allow—”

The tentacle shoves itself violently into him, brutally distending his stomach and forcing at least three of the fist-sized eggs past his resisting entrance at once.

Fenris watches in horror as Justice screams, heart nearly stopping as the glow falters momentarily and he is Anders, instead, and it’s the mage’s voice rending the air, hurting and alarmed and scared instead of furious.

Fenris’ fingers twitch, wanting to reach out, taken by the urge to comfort the abomination, whose eyes are wide and leaking tears, whose pink mouth is sucking in air desperately between cries as eggs are pushed into him and deposited into his body.

And then he lights back up, and Justice wheezes and shouts and struggles, calming somewhat but still fighting. Raw magic bleeds from him, threatening and overpowering, and Fenris’ brands light in sympathy.

Justice looks at him, suddenly silent, face gone lax in something like pleasure. He’s given no time to wonder about it. Fenris feels increased pressure against his hole, and as the tentacle pulls back a fraction and then shoves, it is his turn to cry out.

The intrusion of the tentacle was more than too much already, too deep in places it doesn’t belong, but feeling eggs, hard, solid lumps being pushed through his body, one by one, the sensation makes him retch—

Distantly, through the newly-enforced haze of sensation, he hears Merrill’s panicked cry, the shrill sound of her voice saying no no no and Fenris wishes desperately that he could find the strength to free himself so that he could tear apart the creature making her make those sounds.

He doesn’t even like Merrill.

Someone laughs nearby, which is infuriating and inappropriate, and—

Oh. Oh, it’s Fenris.

His breath hitches, and he keeps laughing as tears begin to roll his cheeks. Justice stares at him, having regained his wits, and somewhere, someone calls his name.

Broody.

It’s not his name, not really, but it’s what Varric calls him, and he thinks, gladly, Varric! Because the dwarf has been quiet so long, and the silence is wrong wrong wrong—

“Don’t—don’t crack on us now, Broody, come on,” Varric is saying, and the laughter breaks into sobs, and Fenris cannot stop.

Isabela curses up a storm, and soon after Sebastian is renewing his efforts at convincing the Maker that they are all worth saving. Merrill swears by every single one of her absent gods.

Hawke gives a gasping, throaty cry as his mouth is freed at last, and one of the tentacles in his ass slithers free of his body to make room for the eggs working their way towards him.

Fenris can’t save him. He punishes himself by watching Hawke as the mage accepts the eggs into his body, nearly silent.

One by one, they’re all filled up, distended with seed and a monster’s eggs. One by one, they’re all lowered to the ground, where they can do nothing but lay there, full and aching and still immobilized.

Justice’s control finally gives out, and Anders is no longer spared the horror of what has happened. Fenris, numb again, watches the mage break down, gasping and sobbing.

Fenris still can’t move his arm to offer comfort.

Chapter Text

When Aveline drifts back towards consciousness, it’s not without some reluctance: she feels warm, sated. Comfortable.
She wants to stay asleep.

And when she opens her eyes and takes stock of her surroundings, she wishes she had kept them shut.

Far overhead, tentacles loom, swaying to the rhythm of some imaginary breeze, blotting out much of the light from the setting sun.

All around her, puddles of slime and the not-quite-right bodies of her friends. They’re naked, but whole and there, so what—

She looks harder, trying to discern what it is that’s so wrong, aside from the obvious—the nakedness, the mottled bruising here and there—and finally her eyes land on Varric, flat on his back in the mud. Aveline realizes what’s wrong as she both sees the dome of the dwarf’s gut and feels the heavy weight of her own body.

She turns her eyes down her own body, sees her swollen belly. The horror is slow to come to her, creeping up like a drop of water rolling down skin, till suddenly it’s upon her, revulsion squeezing her gut. She struggles not to retch, tearing her eyes from herself. No time. Not to feel sorry for herself. Not even as she becomes distantly aware of the aches in her body she hadn’t noticed before.

Aveline tries to sit up, to better look around, but can’t. She can get no further than halfway to her elbows before her arms give out, shaky and tired and too slow to respond. A prickle of dread and panic starts, but she stamps it out. No time for that.

She takes a deep breath, holds it, and lets it go. She repeats this four more times, and then asks, as loud as she can raise her voice in this state, “Is everyone alive?”

There’s a moment of not-quite silence. Nobody answers immediately, and in the lack of that Aveline can hear the wet sounds of the black tendrils sliding over each other, labored breathing from several parties, and wind blowing through trees she can’t see from here.

After a minute—or more—Merrill’s voice picks up, softly, just out of Aveline’s view, “Yes. We’re—we’re all here.” There’s a sharp, barely-there whine to her voice, the one she gets when she’s hurt or scared. Aveline shuts her eyes tight. Poor girl. Poor all of them. Merrill goes on, “I-I don’t think it wants us dead. We’re carrying its babies, it—it shouldn’t kill its hosts. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am.”

“Babies.” Aveline repeats it, uncomprehending.

“The eggs,” Merrill clarifies, “A dozen or so, each, I think.” Aveline can hear her swallow and take a shaky breath. She must be closer than Aveline thought. She glances down at her stomach, trying to imagine—

Aveline regrets thinking of the eggs forced into her body immediately. Aware of them now, she imagines she can feel them—in her womb and her gut, weighing heavy and hard. Along with the—the fluids

She remembers, vaguely, before she lost consciousness after her head hit the ground, being penetrated by one of those…things. More clearly came after, and she’s grateful she wasn’t awake for it, but concentrating now she can feel the ache left over, the paths the tendrils took through her body.

“Maker help us,” Sebastian breathes, a little distant. His voice is cracking. Aveline’s not sure she’s ever heard him sound so…undignified.

“Yes,” she agrees after another long, silent moment as she struggles to digest the information she’s been given, “we’re definitely going to need some help.”

Because as it is, none of them are in any state to fight their way out of this.

Chapter Text

It could be so much worse, Aveline thinks, as the last of the sunlight leaves and she struggles to regain her strength, we could be dead.

Death is such a permanent thing. This, this weakness, this exhaustion, being stuck on her back on the ground, it can’t last. The fullness of her stomach feels like being condemned to death, but it can’t be. She’s just scared, like they’re all scared. This…thing, this beast, it doesn’t want them dead. Not yet. It just wants them to incubate its eggs.

They’ll hatch. This can’t be forever, because the eggs will hatch, and they might be able to escape after, maybe. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Too many maybes, and Aveline hates it. There’s no time to wait, no time to watch and plan because this could only get worse from here on out, but at the same time there’s nothing but time because they can’t move.

Come on, Aveline, she coaxes herself, that’s quitter talk.

She didn’t get this far in her life by thinking that way, and she didn’t get this far in her life just to incubate eggs for some beast for the rest of her years.

Aveline can, in fact, move. It’s exhausting, her body aches with every shift, but she can move. And so she does, struggling with her elbows and shoulders and hands till she can sit up, and has to catch her breath, dizzy from the change in elevation.

But she’s up. She’s this far, and it’s a good start as any. Her eyes are adjusting with the dimming light, and she can still see where everyone is, and she’s relieved to note she’s not the only one working on moving. Varric, for instance—poor Varric, who would have better luck rolling than walking—has painstakingly scooted himself most of the way to Hawke, who has been dreadfully quiet and isn’t lifting his head, but at least he’s sitting up. He looks quiet, defeated—and when he does glance up, casting his gaze around the lot of them and briefly meeting Aveline’s eyes, Hawke looks guilty.

And why wouldn’t he? No doubt he’s blaming himself for this. As if he could have known.

That’s the kind of idiot he is, she thinks, fondness creeping in before it’s crushed with worry and she sets herself to the task of struggling her way towards Hawke. Maybe between herself and Varric, they can beat the misery and self-blame out of him. At least he won’t be alone, regardless.

Aveline looks around, hesitates before she moves towards Hawke and Varric—checking on the other five, first, just in case. Not a single one of them has taken well to what happened, but she needs to make sure nobody is in need of immediate assistance. The kind she can provide, at least.

Anders and Fenris have more or less pulled themselves together. And each other. For all their time spent at each other’s throats, it didn’t take much to get them to set it aside and help each other.

Fenris is kneeling, mostly upright while he braces Anders by his shoulders to hold him up the same way, while the mage casts a spell over Fenris’ swollen stomach. Aveline imagines it’s something to lessen the burn of skin stretched too far in such a short span of time, and she’s momentarily envious, until she easily reminds herself that Anders would just as quickly heal every single one of them, were they all just closer together.

As he is now, exhausted and—and, well. Aveline doesn’t want to think of the other bit, but it’s right there so it’s hard not to—full of eggs, Aveline doubts Anders will be able to move much on his own. She’d never known he was so thin. That ragged, feathery coat hides so much, and she can’t believe she didn’t notice until now just how bony he is. He looks like he’s been starved—of course he does. He bloody starves himself if he has to, to feed the refugees he tends to at his clinic, doesn’t he? How did she not notice before?—and it makes the fullness of his gut more pronounced, almost cartoonishly disproportionate to the rest of him.

Fenris, next to him, is a sharp contrast in all but the skinniness—Aveline wonders suddenly, does he actually eat? She’s only ever seen him drink, and drink, and drink. Some people are anxious about eating in front of others. But he still needs to eat more, if the outline of his ribs is any indication—he’s all dark skin and wiry muscles, and now Aveline knows that yes, the tattoos are everywhere, and she really didn’t need to know that, but there it is.

Maker, they both look awful, and it twists a knife into her gut, brings out a surge of protectiveness she usually reserves for less obnoxious people. Like…Hawke, and Carver…and…

And Isabela…

Well, shit. They’re all pretty obnoxious, aren’t they.

At least Carver’s not here.

It’s not much of a silver lining, but she’s glad for it anyway. She’s not sure she could handle both Hawkes like this, when she’s already blaming herself for one. One Hawke, and the rest of their group. She’s no better than Hawke, is she, blaming herself for this situation, when really, it’s just a terrible coincidence that they crossed paths with this beast. They’d all fought, all done their best.

All gotten beaten down and—

Don’t you dare, Aveline cuts herself off, curling her hands into tight fists. Don’t you dare start feeling sorry for yourself. They could work together, and they’d get out of this. With or without extra passengers. If with, they could be dealt with later.

Fenris and Anders are leaning on each other for support, and it’s a soul-crushing thing that’s forced them to do it, but that they can lean on each other gives Aveline hope.

That little spark of hope is nearly doubled when she turns her head the other way to check on Isabela and Merrill and finds Sebastian with them both, none of them quite upright but all of them close together, Merrill leaning against Isabela while the pirate hangs onto Sebastian’s bicep like an anchor, and Sebastian in turn holds his hand over hers.

Aveline feels a little bad, seeing it. All of this makes her feel bad, but she’d expected—she’s not sure—something from Sebastian. A pity party? Something like that. His posture suggests a lot of things—pain, humiliation—but he seems to have himself together. Ish. Together enough to give out comfort where he’s also accepting it.

Good to see we can all get along when we’re stripped bare and fucked raw together.

It’s a bitter thought, and she regrets thinking it immediately.

A soft, cut-off groan drags Aveline’s attention from the others, back to Hawke—who, while she was distracted, had managed to close most of the remaining distance between them. Varric is a few feet behind, grimacing at the effort of moving.

Really, she can’t blame him. Every move she makes seems to make her leak, and it’s probably the same for everyone else. It’s…embarrassing. Can’t be helped, but it is disgusting.

“Aveline,” Hawke grits out, teeth clenched behind a tight smile. His voice has echoes of his old humor, the tone he used to fall back on to diffuse tension before the years in Kirkwall burnt him down to a short fuse.

“Hawke,” she responds, trying to keep her tone light as well. Being serious is all well and good, but it’s too soon to panic, too soon to try thinking hard when it’s hard to think at all. Still too warm, too fuzzy. Everything seems slowed down. She drags herself close enough to put her hand on Hawke's shoulder, watches him sigh and shudder and flush at the contact. His skin is hot under her hand. It worries her, but she doesn’t withdraw the gesture. “Are you alright?”

Hawke’s response is a raw-sounding chuckle. “Oh, yeah. Absolutely, I mean—I-I wanted kids, anyway. Didn’t expect them to be tentacley little monsters, but that’s life for you.”

Maker, Hawke—” she starts, blanching, but Varric cuts her off a moment later.

“I’m sure we can teach them manners. We’ll need to hire a tailor with very specific talents, but I’m sure in time Hightown will be populated with well dressed—”

“I am not having babies with some—some thing out of a bloody nightmare,” Isabela yells, voice cracking, before the pirate coughs—and then gags, and Aveline makes the mistake of looking over her way just as Isabela throws herself from Sebastian and Merrill and throws up on the ground. She grimaces, but watches anyway as her friend empties the contents of her stomach.

“Oh, Isabela, are you alright?” Merrill calls, “Oh—I suppose not, not really. That’s a stupid question, I’m sorry.” Her voice is just as rough and thick as Isabela’s. Aveline grimaces, trying not to imagine why. Dwelling won’t fix anything.

-

“Alright alright, enough,” Aveline sputters, waving her hand, after Isabela’s wiped her mouth and Hawke and Varric have once again picked up the discussion of spoiled noble tentacle brats, and nearly overbalances, but Hawke snatches at her arm and hauls her back upright, grunting at the effort.

“Sorry,” he says after, giving a breathy little chuckle.

“I’m not,” Varric says in a cheerier, but false, tone, “the last thing any of us needs to do is start moping.”

“Mm.” Isabela pauses, and spits on the ground, reaches for Sebastian’s offered hand and drags herself nearly into his lap, propping herself up against him. He glances the other way, face flushing, but doesn’t protest. Aveline, oddly, wants to laugh at that—he’s kind of cute, when he stops talking. “Pick a better topic, then, or I’ll aim for you next time I vomit.”

“Rivaini, if you manage to hit me from there, I might just be impressed enough to forgive you.”

Over where he sits with Fenris, Anders snorts. If Aveline closes her eyes real tight and ignores every new sensation in her body, things seem normal for a moment. She indulges herself briefly in the fantasy before she opens her eyes again, and looks to Anders.

“So what’s the word, healer?” she dares to ask, trying to keep her tone conversational. If that’s the plan—keeping themselves from spiraling into their misery—she’s sticking to it. It seems like a good one.

Anders sighs, the sound of it nearly inaudible, before he answers. “There are eggs, as we’ve established. About…a dozen and a half. Each, I’m assuming, if the rest of you are in the same state Fenris and I are. No, um...no internal damage. Somehow. But you’re probably all sore, if you, um…give me a while I can go over everyone and do what I can to take care of it.”

There’s a beat of silence. Probably, everyone is thinking the same thing: Anders already sounds exhausted, and it will take monumental effort on his behalf to go through every single one of them. He doesn’t have that kind of energy.

Hawke clears his throat, spitting onto the ground before he speaks. “We’re alright, Anders,” he lies kindly, “don’t worry.”

“No rush, sweet thing,” Isabela agrees, tone softening, “if it’s not going to kill us and there’s nothing to be done about these things, there’s no reason to overwork yourself.”

“Thank you, though, for the offer.” Sebastian’s voice wavers and cracks. He’d shouted himself hoarse, earlier.

“Yes. Very kind of you, Anders, but we’ll be alright.” Merrill, at least, sounds more convincing. She sounds calmer now, steadier. She’s always seemed difficult to rattle, but she’d obviously been in tears earlier, or close enough, and it’s…strange, to hear her recovering so soon. Aveline hadn’t expected Merrill to be able to put up a falsely cheerful front. But if she can…

Aveline’s stomach twists unpleasantly at the thought. Merrill always sounds cheerful. Is that always a front? Has Merrill been not okay this whole time? Aveline hadn’t realized. Maker, that’s awful. She’s supposed to be the group’s rock, their support, even if they don’t always get along with each other, she should have noticed. But she didn’t, and now she’s not really sure how to make up for it. Or if she can.

“Well you’re all optimistic,” Anders chuckles weakly. “I’m—Maker, I’m glad I missed out, the parts that I remember…” Silence for a moment, and then a shuddering sigh. “I’m sorry.”

“Anders,” Aveline soothes, “It’s not your fault. This didn’t happen because of you.”

“I know,” the mage responds quickly, and it’s a relief to hear. He’s too inclined towards self-blame. It occurs to Aveline with a pang of guilt stabbing at her heart that it might help if the rest of them stopped telling him to quit whining. He’s angry and miserable too often, sure, but maybe if they talked with him instead of dismissing him… “This isn’t anyone’s fault. For the record, though, I can think of worse tentacle monsters to be impregnated by. If that helps any?”

“I don’t want to know,” Fenris rushes out, as if afraid Anders will actually elaborate.

“I’m with the elf on this one,” Varric groans. He’s flat on his back again, and Aveline doesn’t blame him. It’s exhausting, staying propped up. After a moment, the dwarf mutters, “Oh shit.”

In unison, all of them look up.

Oh shit, indeed.

Chapter Text

All at once, they’re all in motion again as the tentacles descend, curling wetly around their limbs and torsos, ends resting over their swollen bellies. Nudging, nuzzling, prodding and it’s so unwelcome Sebastian could scream.

He shouts as he’s wrenched from both Merrill and Isabela by the tendrils, all of them lifted but held away from each other, again, that reassuring bit of human contact ripped from them like this beast is isolating them on purpose, and the brief flash of fury the thought inspires in Sebastian is enough to cause him to struggle, ignoring the many aches of his body. Wetness leaks between his thighs as he fights and he struggles to clamp his legs shut, red-faced from embarrassment.

“Save your energy,” Hawke tells them all, “No point in exhausting—shit.” He gasps, sharply, as he’s moved smoothly through the air, passed from one formation of tentacles to another, and Sebastian feels himself likewise being shifted.

Afraid of slipping and falling and risking severe injury in this state, Sebastian allows it without further struggle, breath catching in his throat as black ropes of muscle grope at his body and leave behind slick trails that tingle on his skin. It feels like they’re everywhere at once as he’s passed around through a veritable forest of the things. It’s inescapable, and between the twisting feeling of helplessness tightening in his chest and the threatening curl of the things between his thighs and the slime they leave in their wake, his cock begins to stir.

“What’s it doing?” Sebastian yells, as disgusted with himself as he is with the monster that’s caught them. He struggles half-heartedly again, summoning a spark of anger to burn out the shame he feels at his own reaction.

It’s dark, and with countless tangles of tentacles blotting out what little light is left, it’s nearly impossible to see as they’re passed further in. Further into what, Sebastian is afraid to learn, but now there are tentacles everywhere, rather than just scattered about a large clearing. He doesn’t know why they fought as much as they did, now. It was inevitable that they were overwhelmed; that much is clear now.

There was never any hope, and nothing short of divine intervention will save them now.

“It won’t hurt us,” Merrill calls out, trying to be reassuring, “It can’t hurt us, we’re carrying its babies. Try not to panic.”

A little closer than Sebastian expected, but still distant and nearly smothered by the wet sounds filling the air, Varric grouches, voice tight, “A little late for that, Daisy.”

But Merrill is, more or less, right: they’re all deposited harmlessly onto the floor of a nest woven of the tentacles, some of the tendrils uncurling themselves from the living structure to wrap around them, trapping them in, tying them down to the sides of it even as it shifts to support their bodies.

Positioned like this, Sebastian finds the pain is less, and breathes a shaky sigh and finds his arms are still free.

Strangely, the beast arranges them more or less as they’d managed to arrange themselves, and he is flanked now by Isabela and Merrill, who are settled neatly beside him, skin hot and slick on either side of him. It’s uncomfortable, a helpless and vulnerable feeling, but he’s glad it’s them despite his reservations. Better them than someone he hadn’t already been naked and pressed against. The pirate and the blood mage are at least familiar.

“Are you alright,” he asks them both, fidgeting against the gentle restraints. Isabela does the same, but on his other side Merrill is still, aside from her slow, even breathing. The worry Sebastian feels spikes stronger for her, his disapproval for her magic shoved aside. Nobody deserves this. Nobody. “Is everyone alright?” he elaborates.

Over on Merrill’s other side, there’s a distinctly unhappy noise that undoubtedly came from Fenris.

“We’re all alive,” Hawke says, “it’s a start.”

“I’m sure it could be worse,” Isabela half-muffles, voice thick with sarcasm, against Sebastian’s shoulder. Her breath skirting across his overly-sensitive skin elicits a rather predictable reaction, and he tries to ignore his hardness. He doesn’t dare look, but he knows he can’t be the only one with this reaction. It’s something in the slime they’re covered in, but at least the dose wasn’t enough to paralyze them this time.

“It could be,” Anders reminds them, a forced lightness to his tone.

“And we still don’t want to hear it, thank you,” Aveline says politely despite the breathy tremble in her voice.

Fenris snorts.

And then there’s silence.

…Except, it’s not silent. At all. All around them, wet, slick sounds fill the air. Over their heads, behind them, beneath them, and where the tendrils stroke across their bodies and hold them in a wretched parody of an embrace.

Another tentacle creeps over his arm, stretching across his shoulders, and Sebastian recognizes the further attempt at entrapment but knows he can do nothing to stop it, resigning himself to his fate.

Until a moment later when yet another of the tentacles dips down from above and starts prodding at his closed mouth, and he tries to lurch away, but has nowhere to go. More of the tendrils catch at his wrists, pinning them at his sides.

Fuck,” Isabela hisses—through her teeth, smartly—as she’s given a similar treatment. The tips prod at their lips, pushing, testing, and all of them fight against it, even knowing it’s a losing battle. Refusing this isn’t exhausting when they’re not being thrashed about and fucked within an inch of their lives, and the beast—beasts? Is this one singular creature, or many?—is being almost gentle, if insistent.

Sebastian doesn’t realize Merrill’s relented until she makes a throaty, muffled noise, almost gagging as the length pushes into her throat. He stares at the outline of her pale face, eyes having gradually adjusted to the darkness, and watches as much as he hears her swallowing something.

His breath comes unevenly as he watches her take it with something like ease, and catches himself imagining what she’d look like between his legs, lips wrapped around his cock instead of the tentacle. He only turns away when he’s forced to, the tentacle trying to work its way into his mouth from varying angles.

A moment or two later, there’s a slick pop as the end of the tentacle leaves Merrill’s lips, retracting out of sight. She struggles to catch her breath, and Sebastian watches her narrow chest heave.

“It’s alright,” she chokes out in a roughened voice, “I think it’s just trying to feed us.”

“Fuck that,” Hawke nearly laughs, narrowly dodging another push. “I had enough earli—urghk—”

Sebastian cringes away from watching as the mage’s throat is abruptly and inevitably invaded, trying to ignore the choked gagging that follows. Hawke was tempting fate, honestly, he shouldn’t have opened his mouth at all, but—

If there’s no other way to get them to leave—

Sebastian takes a deep breath, bracing himself, and opens his mouth to the thing pushing for access. It slips in quickly, but he anticipated that, narrowly avoiding gagging by relaxing his throat as the thing pulses and shudders against his flattened tongue. He's done...similar things, in his past, yes, but there's nothing familiar about the feeling he's experiencing now. Rubbery and firm, the texture of the thing alone is nearly enough to make him sick, and he’s forced to blink back tears.

Trembling, Sebastian squeezes his eyes shut and swallows as something warm spurts into his throat, and swallows again, and again, until it’s withdrawn and he tastes something sweet in the back of his mouth.

Isabela’s choking next to him, teeth bared and biting uselessly at the thing in her mouth, and Sebastian worries till it’s withdrawn that her body will try too hard to expel the tentacle and she’ll wind up drowning in her own vomit.

The tentacles don’t relent till the beast's fed them all, and by the time everyone’s given in and swallowed down what they’re forced to, Sebastian feels warm and full, and realizes only after the pleasure has clouded over his anxiety that they’ve been drugged again.

He recognizes the moment panic should come but doesn’t, when he feels the slow twist of a sloppy tentacle curling between his thighs, looping around his balls and wrapping around his cock, and instead of screaming he only exhales a despairing moan, unable to conjure any further protest.

Its grip is firm and the tentacle itself is warm, though it’s not quite like the tight clench of a cunt or his own frenzied grip as he would rush to bring himself to completion. It’s foreign, moving itself in a smooth, slick spiral around him as it works up and down his length, and there is no rushing the steady movements. His body tries, anyways, struggling against the hold of the other tentacles pinning him along with his own weight, hips rocking in a vain search for more of this sensation. The wet muscle around him squeezes, just nearly too tight, and Sebastian’s eyes roll back, head lolling into the support of the living nest beneath him.

“Oh, fuck,” he gasps raggedly.

There should be some measure of shame, here, he’s sure, but the slick grip of the tentacle working him consumes him, the slow burning build of pleasure and pressure scorching through his mind until he forgets why he ought to be ashamed. There’s only desperation and want, mind overwhelmed by the drug and surrounded by the gasping moans of his friends, a cacophony of frightened pleasure. Isabela’s thigh presses warm and sweat-slick against his own, while Merrill’s dainty ankle tangles with his. The contact is—unbelievably good. Human contact—elven, too, yes but they’re people, they have faces and they talk and they care and they’re touching him and it would be sobering if he weren’t so far gone.

Heat builds and burns in his core, cock impossibly hard in the grasp of the tendrils. Every time his abdomen shifts with his breathing he becomes aware all over again of the weight of the eggs inside of him. The fullness of his body weighed down with them. It’s disgusting, and frightening, and he knows—he really does, he knows he shouldn’t be enjoying himself, and he should be fighting more, but he’s trapped, body held down and mind fogged over with the drug. It’s not his fault, it’s not, it’s not!

When another, thicker tentacle slides up between his legs, destination unmistakable as it reaches the cleft of his ass, he only tries to spread his trapped legs, pressing more firmly against the women on either side of him. Nothing else to be done. Faster, faster, he craves the penetration almost as much as he craves for this ordeal to be done.

Let it be over.

The blunt head nudges against his hole, testing, and Sebastian squirms. Even that contact makes his cock twitch, pre leaking from his slit. It’s overwhelming, inescapable, and the minute the tentacle breaches him, all the tension within him snaps. His head rolls back against the walls of the living cradle he’s held in, a cry of pleasure wrenched from his throat. The intensity is so much that it aches, almost hurts, and even as he shudders at his peak, the tendrils continue their movements. On his cock, and inside him—it inches further and further into him as his body spasms and clenches around it.

Having already reached his peak, Sebastian expects the arousal burning through him to fade somewhat, for his cock to soften, but neither of those things happen. Neither does his mind slow. Even as the thicker tentacle slows to a stop inside of him, the one on his cock keeps moving, working him insistently and building him up towards another toe-curling orgasm. Held down as he is, he’s unable to rock into the set rhythm, but his body tries anyway, jerking against the slick restraints. He’s rewarded for his efforts as the tendril on his cock squeezes him again and quickens the pace, stealing the breath from his lungs.

Deep within him—though the penetration is, horrifyingly, shallow when compared to what was done to them earlier—the tentacle shivers, immediately after which Sebastian feels a bloom of warmth in his gut. Disgust wars with the drugged haze of arousal set in over his mind and body. Nurturing its spawn, he thinks, feeding them. Maybe simply fertilizing the eggs. He doesn’t—he doesn’t know but the thought itself is so utterly repulsive that disgust begins to win out, even as his erection refuses to flag—the drug, and the insistent tentacle on his cock make sure of that.

He tries to close his eyes and ignore it, to just let it pass, but the sensation is too much and too sickening. Can’t pretend it’s a hand. Can’t pretend he’s in a bed of anything but what they are; he’s surrounded by tentacles, cradled and restrained. Drugged.

Another orgasm is wrenched out of him in moments, an overwhelming and wretched sensation, and he grits his teeth against the cry that rips its way from his throat. He wants the end. Waits for it. He needs it to be done.

And thank the Maker, when it is, when the tentacle unravels from his cock and the other eases out—it’s over.

But knows it’s truly not. He can’t forget that it’s not, because even as he goes boneless against the living support cradling him, Isabela thrashes beside him, still being used, as Merrill recovers opposite of her, and he can still feel the weight of the eggs in his own belly. See it, even, if he looks down.

The inside of Merrill’s foot is stroking the inside of his, he realizes, their ankles are still crossed. Or are crossed again, he’s—he’s not sure. Her skin is warm, and sweat-slick, but it’s the kind of intimate contact that couldn’t come from anything but a person.

It’s a new sensation. The tickle of delight under the drugged haze, because he’s never had this casual intimacy.

Sebastian turns his head toward the Dalish elf, finds her large green eyes already watching him. Her little chest rises and falls with each shallow breath she takes. She’s a nicer sight than that of their companions still being violated. He can turn his eyes away from that, but not drown out the noise.

He still understands when Merrill tells him, softly, eyes wet with unshed tears, we’ll be okay.

He doesn’t believe her, but he desperately wants to.

Chapter Text

The tentacles are almost gentle, now, a sharp contrast to the brutal fucking Hawke had been punished with before. It doesn’t really matter, honestly, it’s all the same to him. His belly’s full of eggs, there’s a creepy wiggly pseudo-cock in his ass, his entire body feels sluggish and achy, and despite it all his cock’s still fairly certain what’s happening is a good thing.

It doesn’t matter how gentle this creature is being; it doesn’t lessen the shame of what’s being done to him. To all of them. The drug makes the pleasure of the stimulation burn hotter, makes his body feel less like it’s being torn in two, but it’s not enough to make him forget.

But the fucking is slow, though, lazy enough for Hawke to rest, for his body to not violently reject the intrusion with each and every movement. No part of him—body or mind—accepts this, but he’s long since exhausted his mana—or it had been leeched away by the drug, now that he’s thinking about it—and his body is more or less in the same state; he can barely keep his eyes open.

Which works for Hawke. It’s not as if he has plans he has to stay awake for. Well, actually, there was that party Comte What’s-His-Name was throwing that he’s supposed to attend, but really, Hawke has been looking for an excuse not to go since he’d been invited.

He settles against the support of the tentacles, eyes closing lightly as he tries to relax. Tries being the key word, here, because the moment his muscles loosen up even a fraction, the tentacle fucking his ass speeds up, causing his brow to furrow and pulling a hissed sigh from him. He barely stifles the moan that almost leaves his mouth.

Sure, he thinks, grimacing as his prostate is grazed. The spark of pleasure transmutes despite the drug’s intensity into nausea, Go to town. Have enough fun for the both of us.

He wishes it would get off his dick. He’s really not in the mood. His cock seems to think he is, though. Traitor.

But it does make it easier. Even if he hates it, Hawke knows it would only hurt if he weren’t drugged out of his mind. It did hurt the first time, and he had been drugged out of his mind. That first round had been punishment, and this? This is just business. Mostly. Admittedly, Hawke’s no expert in tentacle monster psychology, but the muscle wrapped around his cock doesn’t really need to be there, does it?

His arm twitches with the urge to knock it away, and the restraints trapping him give him a squeeze that’s more like a massage than a vice grip.

There’s a nice thought. Massages. Long, thorough massages given by people with hands. The last person to give Hawke a massage had been Anders, some time back, after he’d recovered mostly already from an injury that had left him stiff and sore.

Anders has wonderful, clever hands. Good hands. He misses those hands. Even though they’re right over there. Where Anders is, legs held splayed open by several coiled tentacles while another one fucks his ass in a rhythm that’s almost hypnotic, punching the softest exhalations from the apostate on each push inward.

Hawke’s stomach twists guiltily and he turns his face away. Your fault. Your fault. Finds himself staring at Sebastian and Merrill, well-fucked and loose-limbed and still panting softly, swollen bellies heaving while Isabela still writhes and cries out beside them, her loose, soaked hair looking like ink painted onto her skin where it sticks with sweat. Fenris between her and Anders, terrifyingly silent (at least he’s not laughing now, Maker), the tentacles already having finished him off. His face is turned towards Anders, but Hawke can’t tell if his eyes are opened or closed with the shadow his hair casts across his face.

And then on either side of him there’s Varric and Aveline, and it’s just uncomfortable how loud he feels, bracketed in between them when they’re so quiet. This close he can hear Aveline’s harsh breathing and bitten-off groans, can see the muscles in her jaw tensing, watch her throat bob when she swallows.

Varric struggles at his other side, twisting and squirming and between the sharp little curses Hawke’s straining ears can pick up, he could swear he hears the occasional whine, and it makes his heart hurt so badly that he wants to be ill.

If Varric cries, Hawke’s going to—well. He’ll do something outrageous, he’s sure.

Probably cry again, himself. Hate himself a bit. Feel like the worst friend in the history of Thedas.

If anyone has a reason to cry, it’s the elves and the dwarf. They all look like they’re going to pop. It’s kind of a horrifying thought, now that it’s occurred to him—is that possible? Could things get that out of hand by the end of this?

Anxiety wraps itself tight around his spine and coils down into his gut. Is that what they’re all going to do? Pop? Are the eggs just going to keep—

Hawke,” Aveline gasps, jarring him out of his increasingly morbid thoughts, as well as sparking a different and incredibly unwelcome sensation, “breathe. Slow—deep breaths.” Her words follow the rhythm of the tentacles on and in his body. His eyes drop down between her legs, and sees the ones there moving the same way. They’re being fucked at the same tempo, slowed down and almost lazy again, their bodies rocking together. It’s disturbingly erotic. “You’re panicking; stop that.”

Horror dawns on him even as heat coils in his gut, cock throbbing in the grasp of the tentacle working him towards the edge. Horror, and then guilt as the heat spreads, reaching out to his fingers and his toes, a flush creeping down his neck, breath coming in harsher pants as Aveline unknowingly talks him towards his peak.

And there’s no telling her, either—the moment he opens his mouth to say something to warn her in some desperate attempt to keep things from becoming awkward, as if they aren’t in the world’s most awkward position together already, the tentacle penetrating him pushes harder into him, twisting against his prostate as it goes and making his toes curl and back arch painfully.

He shouts, and so does everyone else still being fucked silly, as lights dance behind his eyes. He gets a dizzying rush out of the sound Isabela makes, recognizing all too well the sound of her climax. It’s a familiar sound, a good sound, and it draws the tension in him to a peak at last, body drawn tight in the pleasure that courses through him, amplified by the drug still burning through him. The tendril wrapped around his cock wrings every last ounce of cum from him, splattering over the swell of his stomach, adding to the rest of the fluids already there.

There’s a twinge of disgust and resignation to the immediate afterglow, as the tentacle slowly eases out of his ass, but he takes a moment to just try to enjoy, to close his eyes and pretend everything’s normal, even though he fails spectacularly because he can feel the tentacles underneath him pulsing with life, and he feels the weight of his gut and the ache in his ass, and Varric’s making a rough, low sound that’s so obviously at least partially pleasure and there is literally nothing Hawke can do to convince himself that he didn’t lead his entire little group, his family, into the nest of a tentacle monster where they were probably going to spend the rest of their life being drugged and raped and used as fucking incubators.

Depression rushes in hot on the heels of the orgasmic bliss as it fades out, leaving tears stinging in Hawke’s eyes and a tightness in his chest he can’t will away.

Beside him, Aveline speaks again, voice having lost the sharpness in favor of sympathy. Pity.“Oh, Hawke.”

He aches with the need to curl in on himself and hide. “Maker, I’m so sorry.” He doesn’t even know what he’s apologizing for this time. Is he apologizing for making a mess of himself over the sound of his friend’s strained voice—his married friend’s strained voice—or is he apologizing for the general situation?

He’s cringing away from the actuality of the situation even in his mind. The actuality that is his friends, the entire merry little band of them, being drugged and raped and bred relentlessly. His stomach turns at the thought, and he stifles a gag, only to choke on the mucus stubbornly clogging his throat, coughing wetly in an attempt to rid himself of it and only making himself so dizzy that he sways in the confines of the tentacles’ grasp.

He hates this, he thinks, he hates this more than hiding with Bethany and his father in cellars and closets, waiting for the Templars to leave, he hates this more than fleeing from village to village, he hates this more than kissing up to Meeran for an entire year, more than the helpless, inevitable feeling of Kirkwall falling to pieces around him, more than being named Champion in a city that hates him and being expected to clean up every damned mess Kirkwall leaves for him.

And that’s how he got here, isn’t it? He’s here because a dozen people have gone missing in the area, and as Champion, the burden had fallen to him to find out what happened.

Doesn’t everything.

There’s a bitter twist to his lips, a snarl as fury burns away fatigue, fed by anger, humiliation, the sensation of entrapment. This is enough. This is it, he is done, Kirkwall can damn well burn down for all Hawke cares but he will not fall here.

Hands shaking, he twists his wrists, hooking his thumbs over the fleshy restraints and forcing the tentacles into his palms. It takes a distressing amount of concentration to scrape at his mana reserves, and it wasn’t without a sudden, sharp flare of pain between his eyes that fire caught in his hands and at his feet where his heels dug into the living nest.

The reaction is immediate: as slimy flesh shrivels and blisters under his hands and feet, the entire nest lurches as an inhuman shriek echoes through the air from all around them, and, most importantly, Hawke is released and it’s like a cue for the fight to begin again.

Before he’s even entirely out of the grasp of the tentacle around his middle, Hawke twists to his side, Aveline’s wide green eyes watching with something like wary disbelief as he reaches both still-flaming hands between her legs and grabs both tentacles penetrating her. Mercifully, they’re not that deep within her when they wrench themselves out, recoiling from the burning touch, so he doesn’t worry too much over internal damage, but Aveline still shrieks, and then throws the gentlest punch Hawke has ever felt from her as her hands are freed. As he wobbles from the minor force, she reaches to balance him, but he’s moving again, turning to his other side to Varric. Hawke’s migraine worsens and doesn’t let up even as he allows the fire at his feet to go out, but it leaves him with just that much more mana to work with.

At every corner of the nest, there’s movement. Isabela has kicked and squirmed her way mostly free as the tentacles woven into a nest try to retreat from the fire, the impending burning and pain, and her clever hands work at unwinding the tentacles still grasping at Sebastian, who is sluggishly working to help her along.

Over Varric’s yelp as the tentacle yanks itself out of his ass, Hawke makes out the sound of Merrill telling someone urgently, bite me, bite me, and just as Hawke is turning to ask what in the void she’s thinking, he watches Fenris tearing out of his bonds with half-phased hands, leaving smears of gore across his skin, falling against Merrill face-first, teeth closing around the meat of her shoulder and clenching his jaw hard.

Hawke smells the copper in the air, dizzying in its intensity and power before he sees the red smearing over Fenris’ lips as the elf falls back from the blood mage looking absolutely feral in his desperation--to assist in the use of blood magic, of all things--and with sharp crackles of electricity pouring from her dainty hands, Merrill frees herself and finishes freeing Sebastian at once and is on her way to helping Fenris tear Anders free.

The monstrosity that held them finally begins to react in proper—even as the nest is unwoven, tentacles unwinding and parting and getting the fuck away from them, leaving them stumbling into shin-deep warm water, the tendrils begin to curve overhead, swaying ominously and darting in and then snatching away as soon as a bolt of lightning or a burst of fire is sent its way, just as it had at the beginning.

Merrill stands on shaking legs, staggering awkwardly as she struggles to balance her huge belly, fingers digging into the asked-for bite wound, red mist pouring between her fingers.

“Hold on,” she calls, voice just as wobbly as her skinny little legs, “Hold on, I’ve almost—”

“Daisy, try not setting off an earthquake under us!” Varric hollers, tripping as the ground shifts beneath the group’s feet. Hawke tries to catch him but only goes down with him, barely managing to keep their heads above the water. Both grunt sharply at the impact, cushioned as it is as the eggs inside of them are jostled.

Merrill doesn’t answer, concentrating on the spell, wide elven eyes glinting in the dark as her lips move around words Hawke couldn’t make out. Briefly, absurdly, he panics at the thought that she’s dealing with another demon, that she’s finally going to let one in, that he’s going to lose her over his own mistake—

From the slippery mud underneath the water’s surface burst what Hawke thinks are more tentacles, but they’re different, moving less fluidly in their ascent into the air over all their heads, knocking away the monstrous tentacles as they curve over them all, some of them going back into the ground opposite of where they started.

More of the—the things—are coming out of the ground, twisting and coiling underneath their feet, and as one bump against Hawke’s shoulder on its way out of the water, he realizes it’s a root.

And Merrill’s building them a cage made of them, to keep the tentacles at bay. And it’s working. Maker bless Merrill, it’s working. She’s buying them all time, they may yet turn the tide, make their grand escape—

Fenris?” Varric blurts, voice rising in alarm. Hawke turns toward the source of the blue-white glow bathing the area in light, rising to his knees, ready to free Fenris again even if it means another flare of agony in his head from his depleted mana pool.

Instead, the sight that greets him manages to be more terrifying than one of their most powerful fighters bound and fucked open on a tentacle.
Fenris, in all his shining, terrifying glory, is straddling their arguably most powerful mage, one hand pinning Anders—Justice—both? He’s glowing, either way, frighteningly still—with a hand at his chest as the other arm plunges straight into his gut.

The sound that passes through Anders’ lips to rend the air is indescribable, caught somewhere between Anders’ voice and the voice of the Fade spirit, warping into a shriek that was wholly Anders’ as Fenris’ fist snaps right back out, something in his hand.

Merrill’s cage continues forming, growing, twisting, and as the roots blot out the last traces of faint starlight, all that’s left to illuminate the area is Fenris and Anders.

Light shines off the surface of the strange round thing that plops wetly into the water, and as Fenris reaches back with no hesitation into Anders’ gut, the mage arches, Fade cracks pulsating to the rhythm of a heartbeat as he cries again, and Hawke’s frozen terror melt away to a muted, horrified understanding.

Another egg lands in the water.

Another.

Fenris works quickly, frantically, his own breath sharp in the enclosed space as tentacles batter the walls from the outside.

“Hurry,” Merrill tells him, barely audible under another hair-raising vocalization from the mage and his spirit, “Fenris, hurry, I can’t—I’m running out of roots to work with, and it’s trying to break through.”

“Game plan, Hawke?” Varric prompts.

His mouth gapes open—he’s stunned, unable to stop watching where Fenris relentlessly works. Anders’ stomach already looks smaller, and the mage’s hands are glowing and grasping at the hand pinning him, no doubt desperate for a hold on something. Anything. He’s screaming like he’s being tortured, and he sounds like he’s enjoying it.

The drug. The drug, it’s the drug, Hawke has seen Fenris murder men with that technique, knows from watching it happen that it must be agony. Anders is drugged senseless and any touch feels sickeningly good.

Hawke,” Aveline snaps, “a plan. Now!

Dazed, trying to shake the haze free and only sort of succeeding, Hawke turns his face to her. He’s tired. The soreness from the fucking, the impregnation, only made worse by mana exhaustion.

Shit, he thinks, and rises to his knees, and tries to wobble to his feet. His knees try to buckle but he catches himself, staggering to the wall to grasp desperately at the tightly-woven roots to keep himself up, back turned to everyone.

“Keep them off him,” he calls, and casts a large barrier spell.

Immediately it’s too much, and his vision goes white as his blood turns to liquid fire in his veins. His mouth drops open on a silent scream—or maybe he just can’t hear himself. All he can hear is the ungodly ringing between his ears, the deep piercing hurt between his eyes.

His body is cannibalizing itself to feed his magic, but he doesn’t stop. Death would be a relief now but—not here. Not like this. It’s not his own life alone; his friends are on the line. His family.

Something drips from his nose, wet and tacky. He doesn’t stop casting even when he tastes copper on his lips a moment later.

Chapter Text

Anders’ awareness flickers in and out, Justice’s roaring panic at the sensory overload wrapping him up and crushing him down beneath the flood of sensations. Every time he comes to, it’s like bursting free from the surface of the water only to find himself being burned by fire. He can barely breathe between the screams that don’t sound like his own, barely has the mind to stop the noise.

Fenris curls over him—Anders’ eyes can’t focus, but he knows it’s the elf, nobody else has tattoos that leak raw mana. His body tries to take it in, to rejuvenate his own mana, but still struggles desperately in the conflict of pleasure and pain—and there are no words for the sensation of hands reaching inside him without tearing him open, all he knows is wrong and hurts but the pulses of lyrium are like a balm, soothing the pain without stopping it, and Justice is afraid, terrified, to allow himself to bask in this strange almost-pleasure. Justice doesn’t want to equate pain with something that reminds him of home.

But when Anders is aware—no more than seconds between these moments—he is too aware, of everything. He aches, and his skin is so sensitive that the muggy air against him makes him itch. Fenris’ arms feel like ants crawling over his skin where they’re reaching into his body, and every time those hands leave, they take away eggs, and the remaining ones shift. Every time it happens, more fluid escapes from his body, the pressure relieved bit by bit even if shame twists in his gut every time he feels it flowing from him, leaking out of his ass. Embarrassing, disgusting, but just one more awful sensation among the rest, a thing too tiny to focus on when Fenris is setting his skin on fire like this and Justice is screaming within him, and it feels like his mind is being torn to pieces every time he blinks out and back into consciousness.

At some point he—or Justice—shifted their grip, probably when Fenris let go of him to use both hands, whenever that happened, and instead he clutches blindly at strong shoulders, fever-warm skin burning beneath his palms. The lyrium rings in his ears, and he swears he can taste it in the air. It burns in his lungs in place of the breath he isn’t getting enough of, and Justice’ presence grows heavier in his mind, harder to fight through, every time he goes under, where the only thing he’s aware of is his magic, in reach again. He tries to focus on that, tries to feel relief, desperate to calm the fearful fade spirit before Fenris just gives up and takes his heart out instead.

He’d almost rather that, than this. He’d beg for it, for death, if he could only catch his breath.

He blinks out, and in, and he feels disgusting and wrong. Loose and empty and the skin of his stomach burns and stings. Justice is a heavy presence against his mind, exhausted and trembling but they’re aligned, now, and Anders is no longer at risk of drowning.

Something sharp digs into his back and he struggles to catch up to what he’s missed, groaning low in his sore throat. It’s the root cage, he’s propped against it, pinned there still by Fenris. It must be Fenris, Anders can see the lyrium glowing through his eyelids, which means the heavy weight in his lap must be the elf.

Which means the rounded weight against his own stomach—flat again but sore and feeling weak—is also Fenris. He should be horrified.

Not of the contact itself—but the fact that he’s achingly hard, and his cock is pressed between his own abdomen and Fenris’ and there’s no doubt in his mind that the warrior can feel it.

He should be horrified, and he is mildly embarrassed, but mostly exhausted. Overstimulated. Everything is too much and he wants to sleep.

He must sway where he’s sitting, because Fenris’ hand is abruptly catching his shoulder and shoving him roughly against the wall as he catches him, and the elf’s other hand goes to his jaw. Pleasure ripples through his body from each point of contact, wrenching a soft moan out of him.

“Anders.” Impatient, desperate. Anders’ eyelids flutter open in response, and it’s a struggle not to flinch away from the glow, and more of a struggle not to lean in and lave his tongue sweetly across the markings shining brightly in wickedly beautiful patterns across Fenris’ skin. His eyes drop slowly downward from Fenris’ chin, over his neck, following the lines down his chest and stopping at the tattoos where they’re stretched across the elf’s pregnant belly.

Fenris is beautiful like this, and that—that is what horrifies Anders, at last sending a chill down his spine that wakes him fully.

His shoulder is shaken and the hand on his jaw tips his chin up. He meets Fenris’ glinting eyes with his own.

He responds, finally, voice trembling on the edge of manic hysteria. “Hi,” he breathes. “You got the eggs out.”

Relief. Such immense relief, but only him, he thinks, Fenris has only managed him yet. Fenris needs to help the others. Can he help himself?

“Of you, yes.” Fenris speaks quickly, and he is trembling. Anders wonders how much pain he must be in, maintaining the lyrium’s glow. It does hurt when he uses it, right? He’s glad for the light, though it wouldn’t be entirely dark without it. Light shines almost as brightly from Hawke’s hands and Merrill’s, and magic permeates the air. There’s a barrier up, outside the cage. He can feel it. “How is your mana? Can you cast?”

Yes, Anders can feel it now—and he should be helping. He needs to help, they’re not safe here. He struggles through the drugged haze and reaches for his connection to the Fade, expecting almost nothing left of his mana pool and startling when he finds it almost overflowing, coming almost too easily to his hands—

—where they curl over either side of the elf’s waist, and there’s a burst of energy in the air that leaves him dazed when Fenris shouts and his markings flare brighter. The burst is short lived and the painful aftermath has Fenris crumpling against Anders, face coming to rest in the crook of his neck.

For an elf he’s heavy, and with the swell of his belly there’s no space left between their bodies. Fenris’ skin is slick and warm against his and it sends Anders reeling and grasping desperately at his higher mental functions. In the absence of his own willpower—Fenris is hard against his hip and panting at his ear, and if it were only him, he’d break down and do something unforgivably stupid like rut against him or worse, kiss him—Justice enforces his own will (don’t get distracted don’t get distracted please stay focused, a desperate litany in his mind), lending Anders the strength to re-gather his wit and help Fenris struggle off of his lap, water splashing about both their waists. Even that feels erotic, the gentle lapping of it against his skin.

“I’m sorry,” Anders manages to say, “I forgot—your markings. I’m sorry.” Did it hurt, though? Or was it pleasure that had Fenris collapsing against him—or did the pain just feel good, at this point, for him too?

“Fenris!” Isabela calls out, and Fenris’ face turns to face the pirate where she knees beside Merrill to hold the wobbly elf up where she, too, kneels. Her voice is devoid of any humor, and Anders tacks that onto the list of terrifying things to happen today. “If Anders is alright, Kitten here could use your magic hands. She can’t keep bleeding herself like this.”

Something bumps against Anders in the water, and he looks down and squints at the pale orb, glinting in the spells’ light. Half a second later and realization kicks in, disgust roaring through him as he smacks it away from him, so hard it flies out of the water and sails through the air.

It hits someone, and Anders watches sheepishly as the silhouette flinches. Sebastian’s voice cries out when he, too, realizes what just hit him.

“Anders!” the prince barks.

 A manic giggle bubbles up from the mage’s mouth. It shouldn’t be funny. “I wasn’t aiming!”

There’s a hand on his arm—so suddenly he flinches away, sobering up (as much as possibly considering the situation), but the hand follows, catching him by the bicep. It’s just Fenris, he realizes a moment later, and manages to calm himself.

“Help me stand, if you’re able.” So quiet is the request that Anders nearly believes he imagined it. But he saw Fenris’ mouth move, and the elf is watching him with tired green eyes and waiting, so he gives a shaky nod and starts struggling to his feet. His legs tremble with the effort, even without the eggs weighing him down, and his cheeks burn as he feels yet more seed trickling through his opening and down his thighs whenever he moves. He keeps one hand clutching at the wall as helps Fenris up with the other, and it’s neither surprising nor bothersome when Fenris stumbles against his chest.

He wishes—stupidly, again, but these are extreme circumstances so he can accept blurred boundaries—that he could hold Fenris close longer, take time to rub up and down his back to soothe him, but instead he keeps himself focused (with Justice’s aid. Anders can almost think straight with the spirit pushing at the edges of his mind, frantically fighting back the warm haze that makes him want to do nothing but touch and feel because there’s an aching emptiness in him, and he doesn’t mean the space left after the eggs were removed) and rights Fenris gently, helping him navigate through their companions to the blood mage.

When they reach her, Fenris readily sinks back to his knees with Isabela reaching to help slow his descent. His movements are sloppy, shaky.

How long can he keep going?

“Let go of the barrier, Merrill,” Anders coaxes, allowing himself the luxury of sitting down while he casts a spell to augment Hawke’s increasingly brittle shield.

He hears the other mage groan in relief as the strain is lessened. It hurts his heart to hear it.

“Thank you for helping, Fenris,” Merrill whispers, honest and sweet.

Then Fenris’ lyrium is flaring, and Merrill’s voice rings sharply through the air—just once, and then she’s gathered herself, leaning heavily into Isabela’s arms as Fenris works. He starts off with both arms, this time, instead of just one.

Merrill is quiet, breath hitching, tiny gasps leaving her mouth, but she is almost calm, eyes fluttering like she might be trying to fall asleep. Anders feels a pang of embarrassment—he must have made such a racket in comparison.

Merrill also doesn’t have a lyrium-hungry fade spirit in her head, though.

Fenris works surprisingly quickly for how tired he is, and it’s over in less than two minutes. Anders isn’t sure he believes it—for him it had been an eternity—but Merrill’s belly is as flat as can be expected after that and it looks like the right amount of eggs are floating in the water.

They keep bumping into everyone. It’s kind of disgusting. Then again, there’s an equally disgusting amount of monster semen in the water as well, so there’s that to be aware of. Not that it helps. In fact it makes things a little more nauseating for Anders. He deeply regrets thinking about it.

 “Thank you, Lethallin,” the little blood mage breathes, leaning in to press a kiss to Fenris’ forehead. Anders is surprised by the gesture, and more surprised that Fenris doesn’t yank himself away hissing and spitting—in fact, he seems to lean into it.

His attention is quickly stolen as Varric calls out to him. “You alright, Blondie?” Anders decides that tired and serious tones don’t suit the dwarf. There’s not a hint of Varric’s usual humor here, now. “That sounded…rough.”

Anders takes a moment to think about his answer. He’s breathing easier and able to move without the massive belly. Sure, he’s more than a little sore (in fact he feels very much like his bowels have been thoroughly violated with only a bit of healing to ease the pain, which is exactly what happened), but this is quite the improvement.

Still, there’s the looming threat of the tentacles outside the cage, waiting for their shield to waver and break so the roots can be picked apart. They’ll have to escape, somehow—and then run. Quickly.

Anders isn’t sure they’ll be able to escape, so he’s not okay, but maybe Varric’s asking about the aftermath of Fenris’ attentions, so he just nods and says, “Yes.”

“And you, kitten?” Isabela asks, voice breaking into a yawn towards the end. Another sign things aren’t in their favor—they’re all exhausted, operating on adrenaline and desperation, and those can only get one so far.

Adrenaline, desperation, and apparently, Fenris’ lyrium tattoos, Anders amends.

“Much better. That trick of Fenris’ is quite handy, but I’m sorry he has to use it like this.”

“Are you well enough to attend to Hawke, Fenris?” Sebastian sounds reluctant to ask, and Anders doesn’t blame him. In fact, in his own professional opinion, Fenris should do nothing of the sort—he should rest, let the lyrium glow fade and give himself a rest from the pain, but they don’t have the luxury of resting right now.

Fenris grunts, and reaches for the prince. Sebastian waffles here a moment, and even as tired as everyone is Anders is only moments from a snide comment about Sebastian’s vow of chastity being already broken, but the awfulness of it catches up with him before it leaves his mouth, and he bites down hard on his tongue to make sure that doesn’t change. Now is not the time to be carelessly cruel.

And anyways—given a moment long enough, Sebastian’s anxiety lessens, or at the very least he must decide handling his naked friend when he’s already been crushed between two of the others isn’t worth hesitating over. He dips down to catch Fenris’ arms in his, hauling the elf to his feet. The elf staggers against him with another straining sound, and Sebastian’s knees nearly buckle under him and he has to make a wild grab for the cage’s wall to keep them both up.

It’s very stressful to watch. Anders wants to help, but he’s already sitting down, and getting up would be quite the task—not to mention, he’s busy with trying to keep the tentacles from tearing their little sanctuary to bits.

“I hate to make complaints when everyone’s already doing their best,” Aveline announces as Sebastian and Fenris waddle carefully towards Hawke, “but at this rate you’re all going to run out of mana all over again—Fenris doesn’t have time to take care of all of us.”

Her voice feels distant, strange, and Anders is slow to realize she’s addressing him. Looking for help. He should try to help, but Maker is it hard to think. This high is different from the one that accompanied the first violation. Different chemical combinations. How adaptable is this creature?

Anders closes his eyes tight, trying to ignore every bodily sensation he’s suffering so he can think. Because Aveline’s right, time isn’t on their side, the odds are not in their favor, and their problems need to be addressed now.

They only have one person who can become intangible and remove the eggs the easy way.

The women are full on both sides; eggs stuffed in their gut and buried in their womb—a sensation Anders himself is spared, thankfully, but he imagines it must be twice the awful strangeness those lacking vaginas feel.

“You could try,” he flounders, uncomfortable and headachey, “pushing them out?”

“Like giving birth?” Aveline tries to understand, sounding distinctly unhappy about the idea.

“And/or, taking the biggest shit of your life,” Varric provides.

Anders desperately wants to laugh at that—more than the tiny hitching breath he manages, but before he can gather the energy necessary for more, Fenris coughs out, “Hawke!

The tone is hurt, mourning, and meant to draw attention to something wrong. Adrenaline surges anew in Anders, and he’s struggled halfway to his feet, barrier flickering under his faltering attention, when Hawke makes a noise in reply and then says, “Hi.

“Maker’s breath, Hawke, what happened?” Sebastian’s voice quakes, shocked and fearful. Anders can’t see around Sebastian and Fenris, so he moves closer, trying to make sense of the situation. His heart is beating too hard in his chest, and it aches.

The feeling worsen when he’s close enough to peer over the shoulders of the warrior and rogue, one of his hands landing on Sebastian’s back to help keep his balance. It takes a moment to understand what he’s seeing, what’s wrong with Hawke’s face and what the darker places on his skin are.

It’s blood. Leaking from his nose, his eyes—glassy and bloodshot and, again, literally leaking blood.

The rush of anxiety calms into a grim acceptance of Hawke’s condition—severe mana exhaustion—and Anders waits for the frustration, the urge to scold, and it doesn’t come.

The hand on Sebastian’s back moves to his shoulder, exerting the most careful pressure he can manage. “Move,” he says, to push the point, and the Chantry Brother shifts out of the way, hovering still nearby.

“What’s going over there?” Varric demands, at the same time that Fenris says nearly into Anders’ ear, “I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”

Hawke’s eyes watch his own, a vacant smile holding its shape on his lips.

You knew exactly what you were doing, you bastard, Anders thinks, though there’s no real anger in it, just—just a whole lot of aching nothing, waiting for an emotional reaction that won’t come, and he raises his hands to Hawke’s head to cradle his face in his palms. “He burnt out all his mana.” Reckless, self-sacrificing fool. Buying Merrill and Anders time.

Hawke turns his head, still half-smiling, biting softly at the fleshy base of Anders’ thumb with a blood-smeared mouth.

The mage’s stomach flips. Breath stuttering between his parted lips, he only barely remembers to heal Hawke, calling the spirit energy to his hands and channeling it into his friend’s ravaged body, trying to mend the damage he’d done to himself as well as soothing the aches of the earlier ordeal.

Hawke’s hand lands on one hip—Fenris’ on the other, almost at the same time. Different in size, shape, and one palm is lined with stripes of lyrium that sing against his skin.

“Hawke,” Fenris says again, a tiny echo of the way he’d called for help before, and Hawke releases Anders’ bitten flesh to tell him,

“It’s okay.”

Chapter Text

Hawke sounds very much like he’s being fucked. The gasps and faint moans are fit to curl Isabela’s toes, even though he is very definitely not being fucked—just being healed, and getting eggs ripped out of his stomach by a glowing lyrium elf.

Sebastian is edging away from them back to the rest of the group, his steps short and staggering under the weight of his belly and the ache of it.

Isabela can sympathize. She can really, really sympathize. Every movement of her abdomen causes a shift in the eggs inside of her, churning in her gut and pressing against her partially-dilated cervix from the inside.

And Anders’ solution is to just push them out. Which makes a lot of sense, after all, they went in, so they should be able to be pushed back out, but oh Maker it hurts just thinking about it. Trying to do it on their own will be uncomfortable, exhausting, and still take too damn long.

“So what do you think, Big Girl,” she asks, slinking slowly through the water towards the guardswoman, “feel like helping each other out?”

“What,” Aveline deadpans, head whipping around from watching Hawke to staring at Isabela like she’s gone mad, “What?

Behind her, Isabela hears Merrill snorting softly in amusement. A good, normal sound. Isabela tries to keep her tone from becoming too serious and melancholy. “Our healer says we need to pop these things out on our own, but I think a little teamwork would speed things up a bit.”

Aveline’s unbelievably broad shoulders relax by a small margin. It’s a treat, seeing all that rippling muscle bared, but Isabela’s just going to have to make something up for the woman’s belly—it’ll take a good long while to erase the mental image of Aveline, pregnant and unhappy from her mind. It’s frightening, and one hell of a moodkill.

“Alright, pirate,” the redhead responds slowly. Pirate is so much better than whore, Isabela thinks. “What do you propose?”

“Easy, one of us props back and starts pushing and the other helps!” She pushes closer, flattens a hand to the taut skin of Aveline’s abdomen, feels her tensing up. Isabela feels goosebumps break out on her skin, all the hair on her body standing on end in response. Her voice softens, but she desperately clings to her false cheer. “If I push down, I’ll be able to feel out where the eggs are—this isn’t like a normal brat, we don’t have to be careful.”

She’s already got Aveline backing up towards a wall, moving at a slow, easy crawl. As much as Isabela wants first dibs on being monster spawn-free, this feels like the best way to break the redhead of her squeamishness.

“But they’re—” the guardswoman grimaces, “deep.

Isabela cracks a grin. “I’ve always wanted an excuse to get elbow-deep in your ass.”

Aveline freezes, suddenly stonefaced, the very picture of disapproval. Isabela half expects a punch to the face.

Isabela,” she whispers instead, reprimanding. A little horrified, more than a little nervous.

“Look, I promise I’ll be gentle if I have to do that,” Isabela relents, “If. You might manage on your own with just me pushing from the outside, but we need to be able to run when this cage comes down.”

“It won’t hold forever,” Merrill agrees. “I’m sure Fenris will come help as soon as he can, but we can’t expect everything of him.”

“Yeah,” Varric sighs, breaking his silence at last, “c’mere, Choir Boy, let’s get you taken care of.”

 

-

 

It’s exactly as intimate as Isabela thought it would be, holding one of Aveline’s knees bent towards her shoulder, her free hand pressing at her belly in uneven intervals, searching for…something. A weakness, maybe, the best place to push to help as Aveline bites savagely at her lip and flexes abused, protesting muscles.

“This isn’t going to work,” the guardswoman hisses, eyes looking everywhere but at Isabela’s face.

Isabela moves her hand again, lower, feels out the bulges beneath the skin. Pushes. Aveline gives a full-body twitch, grunting in displeasure.

“Easy, Big Girl,” the pirate attempts to soothe her. “Easy, easy. Let it happen.” Pushes again.

Quietly, shamed, Aveline tells her, “You’re making me leak.”

Her pelvis is submerged in water—Isabela hadn’t noticed.

“Good, it’s a start.”

Somewhere else, Sebastian makes a noise that has Isabela gnawing at her lip, resisting the urge to look. Nothing fun to be seen, after all. Varric says something in response—it sounds like praise. They may be having some luck over there.

Isabela waits for Aveline’s body to tense in another push, and presses her hand down to match it.

The first egg to pop free, bobbing immediately to the surface, is one that escaped from Aveline’s womb, and it’s accompanied by a rough shout from the woman.

Isabela bats it away, tries to ignore it. Her head is spinning, and her focus keeps honing in on the eggs—large, round, and there are so many of them, in the water, inside their bodies, and it makes her sick so she focuses on Aveline flushed and gasping underneath her, pushing with renewed determination.

 

-

 

It’s not too much time before there’s a disturbance in the pattern of noises, and Varric is saying something like “No, no, take care of the women.”

It feels like it’s been an eternity, but it’s only been a few minutes. She thinks. Magic is flickering in the air, smelling new and different and more alive again. Isabela feels Fenris’ approach in the rippling of the water, disturbing the floating eggs. She blinks up at him in a daze. Aveline shyly folds her arms over her chest, knees closing around Isabela as she tries to close her legs.

Isabela, with what little tact she generally feels like putting to use burned out of her brain by the slime the tentacles force-fed them all, takes one look at the exhaustion written clear across Fenris’ pretty, dazed face, and says, “You look like shit.

Fenris nods, jerky little motions that either mean I feel as terrible as I look or I have no idea what you just said so I’m just agreeing because it’s the easiest thing to do at this point. He looks between them, hands half-raised as he sinks to his knees in the water next to them.

Aveline slowly unwinds, shame forgotten in favor of concern. “Are you well enough for this, Fenris?”

“I need to,” Fenris begins, hands clenching and opening and clenching again, “Which one of you do I…” He’s blinking slowly at Isabela’s stomach, and Aveline’s.

“Are you up for it, sweet thing?” Isabela tries to prompt him. She hopes he is. He can do this so much faster than the rest of them.

There’s another long pause, and then he nods—the same jerky motion from before. “I—Aveline?”

Isabela gives him room.

 

-

 

Anders joins them when Fenris is in the middle of working on Isabela, Aveline sitting a few feet away, breathing heavily and still recovering.

“Hawke will be fine,” he says, “as much as he can be, right now. As much as any of us can be, but—you,” he addresses Fenris, brow furrowing. His voice is slow and his words are slurred. Isabela can’t help but think he needs a nap.

She needs a nap as well, certainly. They all do.

“—Can I cast a rejuvenation spell, Fenris? On you.”

Fenris’ hand pauses, wrapped around an egg in Isabela’s gut. She shivers as it slips out, slowly, and he drops it into the water. “Yes,” he mutters, and goes back to work, hands leaving a ghostly, hollow ache in Isabela’s flesh.

Anders’ hands rest between Fenris’ shoulders as he casts—just a quick burst of energy that has the elf trembling, breath leaving him in a ragged moan.

He moves faster.

 

-

 

Sebastian’s belly is surprisingly flat already, by the time Fenris can finally get to him, so there’s little work to be done with the prince before he can move onto poor Varric, who looks like he could be rolled around like a ball.

Fenris’ permission was only given the one time, but Anders keep casting rejuvenation spells. Not just on the warrior, but on them all, healing energy pouring from his body left and right, and with her renewed energy, Isabela’s beginning to feel restless, like she’s not doing enough. But there’s nothing, at present, to be done. Right now, everything is on the shoulders of their spellcasters—and Fenris.

Later, Isabela imagines that will rankle—that Fenris had to work so closely with mages again, and after he’s done being hurt over it he’ll just be prickly, and then she’ll be able to tease him mercilessly about the moans he’s been wringing out of everyone tonight. She’ll gloss over the wincing and pained grunts, but Anders’ howling had unmistakably been half pleasure.

Anders may have changed, over the years, but Isabela’s fairly certain he still likes things a bit rough in the bedroom.

She’s messed around with them about all that tension before, had them both squirming and offended at the implications she’d made at the time, but now she’s really wondering how compatible they’d be, if they stayed…on friendly terms. Companionable terms, at least.

It’s a naughty thought at a bad time, but Isabela’s anxious to get out and stop thinking about the bad time.

It just had to be a sex monster, didn’t it. Ugh. Her nose wrinkles in disgust as she strokes a hand over the painfully sensitive skin of her belly, and considers the lingering ache that Anders will probably exhaust himself later taking care of—for all of them, not just her. Selfless git.

Why couldn’t it be the remaining Tal Vashoth on the coast? Isabela’s had it up to here with their kind, and the wreck the Qunari made of her life for years—though (and she won’t admit it, but) she’s glad for this little crew of Hawke’s and wouldn’t take the time spent with them for granted—but a few horned giants aren’t something that will follow her home like the memory of eggs being forced into her body.

If they’re lucky—which they haven’t been, all day—the chemicals pumped into them won’t do long-term damage.

Isabela’s experimented with plenty of aphrodisiacs in her time. All for fun, of course. Willing, consensual, fun of an absolutely filthy sort, so she’s felt similar highs, but she certainly doesn’t trust what concoctions this thing is forcing down their throats. It hits quick and hard and she’s still feeling a little sloppy from it. And warm. And more than a little wobbly, but she’s felt worse when poisoned and still finished a fight.

She’s fit to run. Adrenaline and determination and spite do wonders.

Chapter Text

“How are you holding up, Merrill?”

“I’m fine, Anders. Thank you.”

It’s the gentlest Varric’s ever heard Anders speak to Merrill, and it’s fucking weird. If the attitude change sticks, he’ll be proud, but Varric’s not sure he likes the way Blondie is looking around, gazing at everyone like he’s lost, unsure if they’re real or not. He’s touching everyone when he goes around healing them, hands lingering too long—and it’s not like he’s upset or minds it, really. Varric’s awful thirsty for contact, himself, and without Bianca to keep his hands busy—oh, shit. Where did he drop her? Is she busted? Oh, fuck, that’s a sickening thought—even handling Choir Boy’s, er, problem, had been satisfying. A little human contact was clearly going far for all of them after the night they’ve had.

But there’s an end in sight—it won’t be easy, and he’s expecting losses now that he’s thinking of it. There won’t be time to gather weapons or clothing, and he’s already dreading the trek home to Kirkwall naked. He doesn’t know if he’ll have time to grab Bianca on the way out.

And when the thought hits him, it’s—it’s a lot. That crossbow’s a lot to lose. She’s seen him through more than her namesake ever did, at this point. She’s one of a kind.

But there are other crossbows in the world. And he’s not compromising the entire group’s safety over some lingering sentiments.

Resigning himself to that thought, though, aches like a dagger to the heart.

But he survived losing Bianca once. He’ll manage again.

But Hawke—Hawke, and Blondie, and Daisy, he’s not so sure he’ll be able to handle. All of them, really, but dammit, he’s so weak for those idiots in particular. All of them forget to take care of themselves. He’s lost track of the amount of times he’s had to help Bodahn sit Hawke down long enough to eat, and the times he’s taken food straight to Daisy’s doorstep, and how often he’s had to literally drag Anders by the arm from his clinic for food and rest.

He’s seen the three of them vulnerable, at their worst, time and time again, but now it’s everyone. And he just had his hands on Sebastian’s vulnerable bits about five minutes ago, before Fenris had finished that messy work, and then he’d taken care of Varric’s…issue, after.

Between the eggs being gone and Blondie’s healing work, Varric feels…alright. Less fatigued than he had before. If it weren’t for the encroaching bout of depression, he’d even go as far as to say he’s feeling refreshed. Escape feels possible, now, even if the team’s all scattered and a little too high to stay perfectly focused.

Especially when they’re all just kind of stewing in…ugh. Okay, different thought—they’re all stewing in their anxiety, definitely not egg-and-monster-cum-filled water.

Ugh.

“Shit,” he huffs, under his breath.

Hawke, as nosey as he is perceptive, takes a few moments before asking, “What’s wrong?”

Varric runs a hand through his loose, wet hair, grimacing as his fingers dislodge something sticky. He rubs it off his fingers under the water, even though that hardly leaves him cleaner. “Do we even have a plan?”

The Champion is silent for only a moment, eyes distant as he tongues at the corner of his mouth. “Yes,” he hesitantly offers, “Anders and I will hold the barrier while Merrill takes apart the cage. We’ll run, and…we can’t move the barrier but we can drop and raise them, till we’re far enough away.”

“That sounds…complicated.” Varric’s unsure about the ins and outs of magic, but dropping and casting a spell repeatedly sounds tedious. And exhausting.

“Not to mention,” Aveline interjects, “it’ll put all the responsibility on you mages.”

“And,” Anders adds unhappily, “we have another…problem.”

Hawke, who’s been resting against the cage wall, does his best to straighten up, peering over Anders’ way, where the other mage sits near Fenris.

Very near Fenris. Between Fenris’ legs. He’s—oh. That’s why Fenris is being so quiet. He’s all clammed up, jaw clenched tight, while Anders is…handling the egg issue. Manually.

“Stop—looking at me!” Fenris barks, twisting his body to hide himself behind Anders’ silhouette. His voice is filled with shame and anguish, and even Varric—used to everyone’s extremes by now—flinches. He does avert his eyes. For a second. But he’s worried.

“Can’t you just…do that yourself?” he questions, as puzzled as he is alarmed. Magic is weird.

Fenris makes a noise that was probably meant to be a growl, but it comes out a hitched whine when an egg squeezes through his sphincter and plops wetly into Anders’ palm.

“What’s the problem? Is the lyrium causing complications?” Hawke makes to lurch to his feet, but Aveline’s quick hands have him pinned back against the wall before he can do anything to overexert himself again.

“No, no, just—it’s taking time, when we…don’t really have any to spare. If it’s just us mages who’re going to be handling our escape, when our mana’s already half-drained from holding this shield. Hawke, you’re still on watch, and I’m not keen on Merrill bleeding herself dry to keep a spell going.”

“Are you feeling well, Anders?” Merrill inquires in her usual tone—but somehow manages to convey heavy sarcasm.

Anders, always the one to overreact, shoots a vicious look over his shoulder that, to everyone’s surprise (because come on, Varric can’t be the only one shocked over it) softens after a moment.

“I don’t hate you.”

Watching Daisy from the corner of his eye, Varric’s concerned to see her ears drooping as she rubs at her shoulder.

“Now’s not really the time. But I know. Thank you, though, it’s nice to actually hear you say it.”

Yeah. Now isn’t the time, but it’s obvious Merrill wants it to be. There’s a lot of bitterness in there—not that Varric blames her. She’s gotten the shit end of the stick from Broody and Blondie as long as she’s known them.

This is progress, at least. They’ll just have to sort it out after they’re all home and have had plenty of rest.

Chapter Text

They’re not going to get to sort it out.

Merrill’s cage dropped after Anders had finished with Fenris, healing him up afterward, vines and roots peeling away and unwinding like a sharper, earthier, cage of tentacles, only to reveal the actual tentacles lashing against the translucent shield the mages were holding up, writhing and pulsing and—it was actually pretty nauseating to see, honestly. Though getting a little queasy was going to be the least of their problems very soon.

They’d thought they were prepared as they could be in the situation. With accompanying blasts of fire and lightning and ice, the magical shield was dropped, and they all readied themselves to make a dash for it—

When the smell hit them immediately. Pungent, overpowering, so thick it nearly choked them all.

It shot straight to Varric’s cock, head spinning at the suddenness of it. He’d had no idea the barrier was holding the chemicals in the air out.

And the chemicals in the water.

And the chemicals seeping from the slippery tentacles that dove out of the water to wrap around them.

Arms, legs, torso—their throats, this time actually choking, viciously punishing Hawke’s attempts to burn himself free again by plunging him down into the knee-deep water, forcing his head down again and again till he grew weaker and weaker and Varric felt his heart in his throat, shouting himself hoarse, terrified that the monster was actually pissed enough that it was going to kill Hawke.

Not far away, there was a rain of gore around where Justice stood, magic lashing out left and right in raw, billowing blasts that ripped apart the tentacles reaching for him.

Varric himself inevitably lost track of what was happening and where everyone was—as Merrill fell, magic failing to heed her call as she was efficiently drugged—as they all were, far too quickly, Varric was left vulnerable, unable to stop himself from being wrapped up by countless of the tentacles. His skin tingled with heat everywhere they pressed, and he’d never admit to it but he trembled under the onslaught of sensation.

It only got worse when he failed to open his mouth in time for the impatient and apparently angry monster to work a tendril in, and one was shoved up his ass with zero preamble, startling a sharp cry out of him.

And then there was one in his mouth anyways, and with his body full of drug-laced air and disgusting tentacle goop, it was depressingly little time before he slipped into unconsciousness.

--

It’s a slightly pleasant surprise when Varric wakes briefly much later—the sun’s high in the sky, now, nearly out of sight with the countless inky-black tendrils forming a canopy above them—and finds himself uncomfortably bloated and suffering a headache like he hasn’t had since Bartrand was still around to be a pain in his ass—actively and on purpose at least—but there are no eggs.

He’s too exhausted to be relieved. And there’s the sound of someone gasping, half-sobbing and the wet squelching of a tentacle’s thrusting, but Varric can’t wake himself up enough to even figure out who it is, and passes back out before the horror and disgust can properly set back in.

Chapter Text

It’s happening again. This deep, twisting violation that knows no boundaries, no limits. A sickening ache as a thick tentacle lurches deep within their body, more of its seed oozing into them, leaving their body warm and weak. Helpless and compliant, with no hope of fighting back.

Within their shared soul Justice can feel Anders scrabbling for sight, for control, a way out of the darkness he’s been plunged into, and it is with no small measure of guilt that he plunges his friend deeper into their subconscious, holding the control of their body far out of the mage’s desperate reach.

Anders doesn’t need to be awake for this. He doesn’t need to feel the girth of the thing violating his body, or the frightening sensation of being wholly awake, but unable to move, to react—to even voice protests.

He’d been able to speak, last time—all of those still conscious had been able to—and he’d been able to lift his head. He’d retained some control over their body, but this time, the creature is more thorough, and there is no fighting back.

If it weren’t for the support of the creature’s limbs, curling tight about their body and holding their head up, they would have plunged face-first into the water beneath them, and Anders’ mortal body would have drowned, with Justice unable to even keep their head above the water.

Spikes of fear and resentment stab at Justice from inside, the pain very nearly a physical sensation. The mental attacks from his host leave him aching and feeling perhaps…betrayed? But Anders is likely feeling much the same—how is Justice to say he’s no demon when he blinds his host and traps him in the darkness? How is he better than the malicious creatures of the Fade who trick and manipulate mortals till they’ve become the perfect puppets? How is he better than the Templars, locking Anders away like he himself is doing now—

Justice attempts to communicate his guilt, his remorse for taking control so forcefully, and for throwing Anders into the dark, leaving him floating helplessly, frantically searching for anything.

Going only by feeling, Justice is unsure of his success—in the Fade, simply feeling was enough to communicate thoughts, intentions, concerns, warnings—but this is not the Fade. This is the mortal realm, and Justice is trapped in a mortal body.

Mortal bodies are weak, easily turned against themselves. And that’s the worst part of this—while this is without question a horror beyond measure and a violation to which Justice will not turn a blind eye—it feels exquisite.

Anders has called him a prude before, muttered it under his breath or joked loudly about it with Isabela, for the way he shrinks away from carnal pleasures, but this.

This is why.

It’s too much—the all-consuming cloud of lust fogging more important trains of thought, leading him again and again to the constant, inescapable pressure against their prostate, the aching hardness hanging between their legs—even now, Justice shies away from claiming even partial responsibility for that part of Anders’ body, even as he acknowledges the absurdity of his feelings—and constantly, without reprieve, he’s assaulted by tentacles leaking the same aphrodisiac-laced toxins stroking everywhere on their body, leaving hot, tingling on their skin, flesh always wanting for more contact.

Justice had no idea Anders’ nipples could be so achingly sensitive. Every tendril that curls over or tugs at the pebbled flesh on their chest has arousal coiling tighter and tighter at their core, offset only by the pressing awareness of the wrongness of being filled so deeply, of being so thoroughly violated.

The frightening thing is that he could ignore that, if he so chose. If he stopped thinking about it and relaxed, allowing the pleasure to truly take hold on his mind as it would so easily manage with Anders, this would feel better.

And there is a certain allure to the thought—he tires of this, of fighting an onslaught of sensations that constantly threatens to overwhelm him. Why not simply give in, when the creature has already won? Why allow himself to be tortured by physical sensations that would otherwise be enjoyable?

But the thought of giving in and allowing himself to be overwhelmed is more offensive than simply being forced into submission.

No—he needs to fight this. He cannot allow himself to give into the siren song of pleasure, not when it’s forcing itself upon him like this. What is happening to them all is wrong, an injustice even if it isn’t pain that they suffer, but pleasure.

Justice can and will fight this. As infuriating as it is that his only option is to endure, it is better than the alternative. It is sickening that his ability to do battle has been stripped from him, and that he can’t even push Anders’ body to fight this, when together they have survived a blade to the heart, is an absolute outrage.

A mage’s power is driven by an unshakeable will—has Justice failed to provide that for his host? Is it for lack of trying on his part? Has he failed Anders?

He did fight. For as long as he could, he’d fought, till Anders’ body became too weak and gave out as the toxins seeped into his skin and his lungs, and when a tentacle came to force itself into their mouth, there was nothing he could do. It was like their body had been stolen from them.

Even now, they’re blinking only on automatic—there’s no thought, no control to it, just as they have no control over their body’s responses to what’s happening.

The beast in control of the tentacles is as eager as it was before to take advantage of those responses, though—or perhaps it’s a reward of some kind? For…remaining compliant?

It doesn’t feel like a reward. The slick length of flesh wrapped around Anders’ erection, coiling and stroking and squeezing from base to tip feels like torture in the way it leaves their body aching and desperate. Tortured with the need for more.

Perhaps not being able to move at all this time is a blessing, Justice thinks—there is much less pain this time, and without that to distract from the pleasure, he thinks Anders’ body would be respond positively enough to try rocking back into the deep-plunging thrusts of the tentacle inside him, and forward into the grasp of the one wrapped around his cock.

Indeed, as his body is forced at a slow crawl towards its peak, Justice finds the urge to move so that he can fight transforming into wanting to move with the tentacles, to drive himself into the tentacle’s grasp again and again, to coax as much pleasure as possible from the beast’s ministrations.

There’s a thread of panic within the realization. The fear of succumbing to desire. Would giving in to a physical creature of the mortal realm be the same as giving into the temptations of a demon? Would it tear him apart and remake him, twisted and wrong, even here? What would happen to Anders?

Justice cannot bear to imagine how it would warp Anders, were he to bend to desire.

He must fight.

And he will—despite the onslaught of pleasure, the temptation to enjoy it, he will fight.

Tension is coiling tight in their gut, a gradual incline towards orgasm (towards being overwhelmed, towards a furthering of Justice’s loss of control, towards something that might have him quaking in terror if Anders’ body could only respond to their emotional input rather than the assault on their body), and Justice seeks to close their eyes and clench their jaw to bite down upon the intruder in their mouth, their throat, and brace himself for the coming wave of sensation.

But their watering eyes remain slow-blinking and unfocused, and their drooling mouth remains slack, accepting the mismatched thrusting of the tentacle in their mouth.

Justice must fight this. He must resist, somehow, he must keep some part of himself untouched by this assault, but what will be left of him, after their body is ravaged and their shared mind is left warm and happy with the rush of endorphins?

Justice was not meant to be an emotional creature. He never meant for this. He was supposed to stay—steady. Unrelenting, willful, just and pure.

A spirit can’t live in a mortal host—living or dead—without being touched by emotion. Even at his most furious, when he’d existed in the Fade, a manifestation of all that was meant to be Just and Good, he’d been…detached. It had been right, then. It was meant to be that way. But that detachment could not, and still cannot, and will never, coexist with emotion.

Beyond that, there is the sheer physicality of existing like this, being touched, out of control, with no choice in how one may perceive the touch—

A throbbing heat between their legs and more tension, and Justice wavers. It’s here. It’s here. No—

Justice feels the briefest push from within, tight-twisting concern, Anders fluttering restlessly in response to Justice’s panic (and of course he is concerned. Justice is not meant to panic. Justice is unafraid, unfeeling)—

Orgasm sweeps over him with agonizing intensity, their body responding despite the toxins in their bloodstream. Justice is hyperaware of the jumping of their cock, the spasms of their abdomen. Heat burns across their cheeks as their eyelids flutter and their muscles clench and relax in turns. Their anus clenches around the tentacle penetrating them, and the aching tightness of their swollen belly becomes more pronounced as the tentacle shudders in response, and, comes again as well.

And Justice feels panic, panic, panic until the waves subside, feelings sinking like a physical weight into their belly and twisting into sickening dread.

Shame.

The pleasure, the brief burn of ecstasy that raced through him, has withered away into a deeply-settled illness. Anders’ eyes no longer water only from the intrusion in his throat. They are—

Justice is—

Crying.

Dominated and forced to submit, Justice is shamed, sullied, but—

He has not been made to want more.

Even having orgasmed, their body aches, oversensitive but still alight with pleasure, but as the rush of endorphins has passed, it’s not the same.

He wants it to stop.

Justice knows the want for more will come back, with time enough to recover, but he feels a small measure of relief—no, a great measure—in not wanting it, not truly. He didn’t ask for this. He didn’t want this. Justice cannot be made to want this, even if Anders’ mortal body is unable to resist craving it.

Within, he feels Anders pawing, pressing, sluggish and hazy and Justice realizes he has failed in keeping his host trapped far enough down to prevent him from feeling the effects of the toxins, of the unwanted sensory input. If such a thing is possible at all.

Anders is very persistent.

And Justice is very, very tired.

Hesitantly—fearfully, almost—Justice does at last begin to relent, trying to slow Anders’ ascent to the forefront of their mind so it’s not so abrupt, so it doesn’t…hurt, the snapping from real-to-not, not-to-real. It’s an inadequate explanation, but Justice’s vocabulary and knowledge often feel inadequate in this world.

For the first time, the transition is something approaching gentle. For a moment, as they align perfectly with each other, Justice is treated to the full force of Anders’ relief, his joy at being here again, even in such an awful reality.

It’s—the force of it, the emotion Justice feels, is like hearing the first note of the lyrium’s song for the first time since he was thrown from his home.

He misses Anders, he realizes, as the darkness creeps in towards him. Clutching him like living chains, dragging him down, he knows this endless cage. He lives here, like Anders lives in the mortal world, alive and living instead of just existing, defiant and fierce.

The darkness, the emptiness, the suffocating void beyond the realm of physical sensation or emotion, feels like a reprieve. He doesn’t hurt in here. He doesn’t ache with pleasure in here.

Here he can rest, he should rest, he is no use to Anders battered and worn and wounded—even if Anders inflicted some of those spiritual wounds himself, scrabbling so violently against Justice’s soul as he sought to escape.

But Justice wonders with a sharp spike of anxiety, if he should be afraid of this reprieve—he wants it, desperately; does that mean he should resist it?—before something not unlike sleep, at last, takes him.

He is glad he has no strength to fight this.

Chapter Text

By some time in the evening, they regained the ability to move again. Varric first, and then Isabela, and then the rest of them, bit by bit, gained control over their bodies.

Merrill herself still feels sluggish and weak and exhausted, and suspects nobody here fares any better than herself. As soon as they were moving almost-properly, groups of tentacles grasped and lifted them to their feet, guiding them with staggering steps out of the filthy, watery pit they’ve been held in, far enough distances away from where they’re being kept for the beast to force them to relieve themselves with tentacles pressing against their abdomens and stroking and prodding between their legs.

It had been humiliating—more so after Merrill was moved further away, shoved down under shoulder-deep water repeatedly until the monster had deemed her clean, and then she was placed back in the nesting pit, and she didn’t understand why it bothered cleaning her.

Being forced to urinate all over her legs and then being nearly drowned aside, Merrill did feel better, though. A full bladder was one more discomfort she imagined they’d all been dealing with, and she’s glad for it to be taken care of.

Now she’s just left feeling bloated and heavy, and more than a little clingy, but Sebastian didn’t complain when she crawled over the few inches between them and lay on his chest. And he still hasn’t.

She casts a glance towards his face, to see if he’s uncomfortable—but it’s hard to tell, she finds, because he’s sleeping. That’s alright, though, he needs rest. Merrill could use some rest, too, but she can’t stop thinking long enough to fall asleep.

Which isn’t odd, she thinks, though she does feel it’s strange that she’s thinking that so defensively when it’s only herself in her head, but it can’t be that odd, that after the time they’ve had, to be too upset to sleep.

She’d been so determined it would work, after all. She’d wanted to get everyone out. She’d been sure she could do it, that they could all do it. All of them are so strong and talented, and she knows she’s very good with her magic, but she feels like she’s let them down.

But it can’t be all her fault, can it? There was nothing any of them could do.

No, it’s silly that she’s blaming herself. With no way to counteract the toxins, they can’t fight back.

It’s such an awful thought, but maybe they can’t win this.

Maybe they’ll just have to…wait it out. Maybe for the rest of forever. Maybe they’ll spend the rest of their lives making little monster babies.

It would be incredibly foolish to hope for a rescue—in fact, it would be selfish to, as well. It would take an army of mages to slay this beast, with all its writhing, squirming tentacles flailing about everywhere. Anything less than that and the people would be dragged in to join them, and Merrill doesn’t want this for anyone.

But still, Merrill wishes…that the beast had grabbed up some group that wasn’t Hawke’s. It’s cruel, she knows, but she wishes…

That it had been someone else. There are such awful people in the world; why couldn’t it have been them instead?

Hasn’t she suffered enough? Haven’t all of them?

It’s…it’s just not fair.

 

--

 

It takes her some time just staring at the green sky to realize she’s fallen asleep.

Merrill’s dreams in the Fade are muddied, distorted. They have been ever since she began using blood to fuel her magic.

She’d missed the clarity, before, but now as she wades formlessly through a waist-deep lake of tentacles, trying and failing to grasp at her intangible form, she is glad for it. She is glad to be not-entirely-here.

She’s lost, but content wandering here. She knows where her body is. She knows, more or less, what tomorrow will hold. Merrill is in no rush to return to that reality.

She hadn’t even really expected to fall asleep at all tonight, so abruptly drifting off was a nice surprise! Maybe if they were quite lucky, the beast keeping them would prefer them asleep. They can’t really fight that way, after all.

And if they’re all drugged to sleep, they can’t very well feel what’s being done to their bodies, can they?

But the beast seems intelligent. Certainly intelligent enough to be cruel, at least. Earlier, she thought—

Creators, she thought the monster was going to drown Hawke. It had been rough with Fenris, treated him similarly but it didn’t hold him underwater like that.

Under the force of Merrill’s horror, the Fade tentacles flicker and ripple, nearly disappearing. Some of them actually do fade away. She sits in one of the clearings left—or, sort of sinks into it. She’s not entirely sure she’ got legs, at the moment.

The creature’s intelligent enough to pick out the troublemakers—Hawke, Fenris, Justice—it pushed Isabela more than it did herself, too. Because Isabela fought, while Merrill’s been…

She’s been very good, she thinks—and the thought makes her feel mildly ill, but all the same, the monster has not hurt her aside from what it did to put its eggs inside her body.

Merrill is proud, but not too proud to value her life. She knows that behaving will keep her alive longer, and will hurt less in the long run.

And that—for everyone, not just herself—might be a way to make it through this. If they all stop…exhausting themselves, fighting back, if they just learn to be patient (something Merrill’s never been good at, but there’s a time for everything, she supposes), and wait this out, they may survive this. They may go home someday. Even if they have to endure…terrible, awful things, first. Plenty of bad things have happened to them all before. They survived those.

Merrill survived losing Tamlen. It still hurts, sometimes, but she survived, didn’t she?

She’ll survive this. She’ll wake up in the morning and get through the day.

Chapter Text

What coaxes Merrill back from the Fade, come morning, is the tingling warmth being massaged into her limbs by a small gathering of tentacles, pressing and stroking and pushing at her aching body till the soreness is a little less, and she’s not so reluctant to awaken.

Her eyelids flutter against the light streaming in through the canopy of swaying limbs above them, and she blinks to adjust to it.

The tentacles wrapped about her legs are still stroking and squeezing, coaxing her into unthinkingly stretching them out and curling her toes till they pop. Relaxing into the hold of the tentacles supporting her, she can’t help but give a small, satisfied groan.

Really, she doesn’t feel nearly as awful as she thought she would this morning. The headache thumping behind her eyes is manageable, and the tendrils curling around her body aren’t as intrusive as they were yesterday, but she thinks that maybe even if that changes she’ll be able to bear it. She’s only a bit sore, and she’s still floating in a half-asleep daze. If it doesn’t get too rough, she’ll probably be able to sleep through it.

Did it move her, though? She seems to recall being partway in the water when she fell asleep, and now she’s in another nest, like the first one, made wholly of the tentacles woven together.

And wasn’t she also with—

Heart suddenly beating far too hard in her chest, Merrill sits up—the tentacles let her, and brace themselves against her back as if to support her—and casts her gaze around, counting out the rest of the bodies curled in the nest. Her panic slowly subsides.

Everyone’s still here, more or less where they were. Sebastian’s still right next to her, caught under a sunbeam, damp skin gleaming and hair mussed and curling.

To Merrill’s embarrassment, she finds her breath catching at the sight of him, sleeping soundly under the shifting light and shadows.

How strange, she thinks—she’s seen him so many times. Why does she feel like her belly is full of butterflies now?

She’s not given too much time to ponder the attraction, but at least the interruption isn’t a violent one.

A tentacle squeezes gently at her bicep, and one strokes its way over her shoulder, a third curling gently beneath her chin to turn her face upward to see a fourth: It descends towards her face, wet and shiny at the bulbous tip.

Waiting.

It must want to feed her.

Face pinking at the shape of the thing, and at what she’s about do to without fighting it, Merrill steels herself and opens her mouth wide. There’s a brief, awkward moment where nothing happens, and she’s left wondering if she’d guessed wrong, before the tentacle lowers itself slowly into her mouth.

Slowly enough for her to adjust to the shape of it—narrow, not thick enough to choke her—it presses into her mouth till the tip of it sits at the back of her tongue.

The first gush of the warm, sugary liquid startles her in its volume, and she narrowly avoids choking on it, but she swallows what she’s given.

Not once does the tentacle try to choke her, and when she’s full enough to struggle with swallowing; it pulls away, leaving a sweet trail on Merrill’s tongue in its wake.

Merrill feels heavy and warm and a little sleepy again, but there’s no rush of tingling or heat, and she doesn’t particularly feel the need to rub herself all over her friends like a cat marking its scent.

Even though it didn’t drug her, she’s still surprised when the tentacles pull away, relaxing their grip on her and then sliding away entirely, leaving her entirely capable of free movement.

…Maybe today really won’t be as bad as yesterday, she tentatively hopes.

--

One by one, the entire group is gently coaxed awake and fed by the tentacles. It starts off as careful as it had been with Merrill, but Isabela’s choked gagging is rather telling—the beast still reacts poorly to struggling.

Hawke, at least, doesn’t fight this time. Merrill’s glad, as he must be feeling terrible already. He’s simply fed, and allowed to fall back to sleep.

Merrill hopes his dreams are more pleasant than her own.

Chapter Text

It’s only been a short while, he knows, but Fenris has already lost track of the number of days they’ve been kept. He tries to recall, but things blur around their second escape.

Only two days? No, three? Four, perhaps, or maybe they’ve been here a week.

Perhaps we’ve been here forever, he considers, even though it’s an utterly mad thought. It’s difficult to believe anything exists beyond this beast’s swampish domain. Such a short time, and Fenris is already forgetting what it was like to roam free. To make reckless decisions with no consequences. To have control over his own body.

Worse, he already feels his mind…slipping. Rationally, he knows it’s only what they’re being fed. It’s meant to leave everyone stupid and happy, content to spread their legs and be fucked. It hurts less when Fenris doesn’t fight. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt at all. He’s fed whatever concoction the beast deems right for the time, and then the beast takes him how it sees fit.

Or sometimes, like today, he’s rudely awakened by being hastily flipped over onto his stomach, and before he can get his bearings or brace himself at all, he’s dragged up the side of the nest and over the edge of the pit it consists of, where his chest is pressed flat. Perhaps it’s the shock of being woken so roughly after a couple days of relative peace, but he panics, trying to brace his hands against the tentacles to support himself, but his wrists are snagged by loops of slick muscle and trapped behind his back, leaving him with only his shoulders and the side of his face to brace himself with.

“No, no—”

“Fenris?” Anders’ voice slurs behind him. “What—”

With everything beneath his chest still in the nest, he’s forced to scramble quickly to his knees or else lay at an angle that causes only discomfort. Shame burns hot and cold in Fenris’ belly as it occurs to him that the position has presented him to the rest of the party: ass raised and knees spread wide, positioned to be used

Terror clawing at his chest, the elf digs his feet and knees into the tentacles beneath him to try pulling himself back into the nest, desperate to make himself less vulnerable, but the moment he’s moved an inch there’s a collar of warm flesh around his neck, pulling his cheek tighter against the uneven surface of the tentacles all woven together.

Behind him, there’s something of a commotion. Hawke’s voice, raspy with sleep, rises in alarm, and closer to him his name is called again.

A hand touches his hip, warm, and even with his head angled away, cheek pressed against a slimy, uneven surface, he knows who is and who is not touching him, but his body remembers different hands, cold and rough instead of warm and soft, and he begs, “Don’t!

But it’s not the mage fucking into him a moment later. In fact, it is not any mage, and he’s unsure what he would prefer, a dead man’s hands gripping tightly to his hips (or Anders’ roaming, gentle hands, healing as he touches him) or this thick, bluntly-tipped tentacle shoving at his stretched hole, remorselessly agitating the preexisting soreness of it.

There’s no way to keep from crying out at the agony of the initial penetration, and there’s no reprieve after. Fenris’ ass is stretched wide around the girth of the intruder, too large by far to be any man’s cock, even a Qunari’s, as it plunges mercilessly forward.

Within moments Fenris has run out of air and his screams have turned into throaty, squeaking whimpers, as if the size of the thing inside him has chased all the oxygen from his lungs to leave him gasping, mouth agape like a fish out of water.

The only mercy is that slick seeps readily from every pore on the tentacle’s surface, but no amount of lubrication can keep Fenris feeling from like he’s tearing apart. His body somehow, impossibly, makes room for the thing pillaging his bowels (how, how is this not tearing his insides to pieces?). It feels as if there’s not enough room for him to live in his own skin, with this foreign invader taking up so much space inside of him. Making so much space inside of him for itself. He can feel his stomach bulging with it.

Breaking out into a cold sweat as nausea grips him, unpleasantness roiling in his violated and cramping guts, Fenris begins to tremble. There is nowhere to go. No escape. He is collared, cuffed, kneeling to be taken as his master pleases—

A choked noise escapes him. No.

There is a hand on the back of his neck. He cannot flinch away, as at there is nowhere to go.

“No,” he moans out, a ragged gasp.

But the hand doesn’t move to grip him—instead, trembling but careful fingers pull at the strands of hair trapped under the tentacle on his neck, freeing him from tiny pinpricks of pain that he’d barely noticed. They were inconsequential sensations, but it draws his attention from the pain long enough to realize whose hands those are.

Anders radiates magic even at his calmest, and now it’s easy to sense the nervous energy beneath the waves of warm energy from the hand now stroking his neck, and down his back, gentle and soothing. Fenris needs those hands further down on his back, and on his stomach. He desperately wants to ask for healing—he’s not torn (somehow. it has to be magic, it has to be, even if his brands sense nothing of the sort and Anders’ spirit said it wasn’t a demon doing this to them) but the burning stretch can be soothed, and he craves a reprieve from the pain—but the tentacle has started fucking in and out of him, taking far too long to withdraw to where it wants to and then harshly plunging back into him in a long, drawn-out rhythm that he thinks might kill him if it quickens too much, and he can’t do much more than gasp and choke. It’s like the first time, before the toxins took hold and he was paralyzed and limp, too warm and hazy to register most of the pain.

The soothing touch is abruptly snatched away as Fenris registers a sharp gasp, and then a bitten-off groan.

Faintly (over the wet, obscene noises the tentacle is making as it violates him), he hears, “No, no, just let me—” and the surface his face is pressed against shifts like a web being plucked at, and there’s a weighty slap behind him as the tension releases.

Apprehension wars with understanding as Anders’ hand returns, warm fingers touching his sweat-slick neck around where the tentacle has formed a collar to pin him where he is. Another hand joins, fingers tugging gentle at one side of the tentacle, trying to ease it away from his throat.

He knows these hands. He knows they won’t choke him. Fenris has always known these hands would never harm him, even back when he thought of Anders’ magic as something that oozed instead of radiating.

The tentacle around his throat, though, he’s not so sure won’t choke him. He feels some resistance as it’s tugged at, and expects it to restrict around his neck in response.

Anders’ hands shift away again, and the collar relaxes—still keeping him trapped, but it doesn’t cut off Fenris’ blood or oxygen supplies.

A terrifying thrill runs through the elf as the mage’s body settles closely against his side, heat radiating from Anders like a fire—he’s unable to turn his head to look, to watch, and he can’t control his voice enough to warn Anders against doing—

Fenris is not sure what he was wary of Anders doing, but suddenly he feels hot breath on his neck (Fenris thinks he hears someone call out to the mage in protest. Someone’s watching—all of them are watching. And why wouldn’t they? What else is there to watch, in this hell?) and the brush of a nose against his skin, and then—

A wet, slick noise too close to his ear, the wet touch of a tongue beneath the tentacle. It shifts in response, and so too does Anders move, pressing in along Fenris’ side, an arm thrown over the middle of his back and curling so that his hand curves along his side and against his belly. A throaty moan finds its way from Fenris’ gasping mouth as Anders actively casts a healing spell, the relief of pain spreading from his stomach down, the magic shortly reaching the point of penetration. His lyrium reacts to the healing as it often does (and against his neck, around the tentacle, Anders gasps and then groans a sound that is unmistakably sourced in pleasure), but so too does the thing fucking him—it shudders within Fenris as its thrusts lose their even timing. Seconds later, or an eternity—Fenris can’t be sure—there’s a slight bulge that moves down the tentacle, barely pausing where he’s stretched taut around it, and shortly after that—

His thoughts fail him, brain caught in a loop of confused dread and something approaching pleasure. There’s pressure, deep in his gut (and no pain with it, with Anders still pouring healing magic into his body), and then intense heat suffuses his belly, the overpowering warmth enough to make his legs tremble and his cock stir with belated interest.

Fenris is so distracted he barely notices Anders moving, taking his mouth away from the elf’s neck as he maneuvers himself awkwardly without letting go of Fenris to get his hand under his throat with the intention of clumsily unwinding the tentacle. There’s only minor resistance as it’s pulled from his neck, this time.

The mage moans shakily far too near to the back of his head, the sound going straight to the Fenris’ cock, and it occurs to him he can lift his head to turn it and look (and oh does his neck cry with relief at the allowed movement), and he nearly stops breathing at what’s only a couple of inches away from his face.

How Anders “convinced” the tentacle to release him is apparent in the way the mage has the end of it pulled to his face, mouthing wetly along the length of it. He grips it tightly a few inches below the bulbous head—the direction in which it’s squirming suggests it’s trying to get into Anders’ mouth, but he holds tight, pressing suckling kisses just under the head. His mouth is flushed red already, and his brow is furrowed and his eyes squeezed shut in concentration.

The sight of the mage is utterly obscene. The warmth of him, too, the nearness, and the way the mage’s fingers flex against Fenris’ skin in even intervals that match the catches in his breathing. Fenris knows that were he able to look down the length of the mage’s body he’d see Anders being fucked by another, smaller, tentacle. He can feel Anders’ body rocking to the rhythm the beast has set, moving at a quicker tempo than the one plunging and dragging its way through Fenris’ guts, dribbling its filthy seed inside him. The mismatched rhythms do little to distract the elf from the warmth of Anders’ body or the small comfort of the arm around him and the healing magic seeping into his gut to combat the violence being inflicted on him.

Fenris recognizes the care Anders is showing him, and the effort the mage is making to lessen his pain, and imagines that later he may feel appreciative, even…touched, that Anders would do this much, but he finds it increasingly difficult to focus on anything but the tentacle buried in his gut or the mage’s pleasured gasps, muffled against the tentacle he’s still working his mouth over. At the sight or the sounds or both, Fenris feels his length twitch between his legs, aching with want at the imagined thought of what the mage’s mouth might feel on him, instead.

Dizzy and growing warmer by the second, Fenris wonders if that is too much to want? He knows this heat, this all-consuming arousal creeping into him, and knows just as well that it’s the source of such thoughts, but he has to wonder. If he would be allowed to indulge that want. If Anders would want, too.

If that would make it alright for them to…

Even with the beast’s influence…

Are they capable of consenting? Would it count, as drug-addled as they are?

Fenris grunts sharply when the tentacle inside him pushes as deep as it can go, and stops, and there is little more he can do than shake and gasp as it fills him with more of its drugged cum—with Anders keeping the pain at bay he feels only intense pressure and warmth, and a heady satisfaction that only encourages his insistent arousal.

Sagging against the mage and into the grip of the tentacles, Fenris is only barely aware of his name being called. Once, by Hawke, and then again, but louder by Isabela, which prompts the elf to open his eyes again.

The sight that greets him is Anders, gaze cast over his own shoulder towards the others, a dreadful mix of worry and anger pinching his expression.

“Whhuh,” Fenris groans, trying to parse what the mage’s dour expression could mean.

“Fenris—” Anders tries to warn him, voice sounding strangled.

And then Fenris feels it: a firm bulge in the tentacle, pushing against his hole. Harder and harder, till his body has no choice but to relent, let it in, and between the mage’s constant waves of magic and the drugged haze of arousal he’s writhing under, he’s helpless against the sparks lighting up behind his eyes at the painfully intense pressure on his prostate.

He cries out sharply, shocked at the pleasure wracking his body in the absence of the earlier searing pain, staved off only by one particularly determined mage who Fenris has spent years trading barbs with. He could be in agony now. Would be, if Anders were to let go. If Anders were less inclined to give so much of himself to prevent another’s suffering.

The first egg works its way deeper into his body, followed by a second, Fenris’ back arching and arms straining against his fleshy binds.

It’s not so strange that Anders is taking care of him, though; they’ve protected each other for years. If Fenris had the power in his body to remove all his friends, the mage included, from this situation, he would.

But Anders is so warm where he’s pressed up against Fenris, and somehow the invasion of the tentacle, and the impregnation, is less…frightening, pulled snugly under one of the mage’s arms. He feels almost safe. What is happening to his body will not destroy him.

There is a third egg, and a fourth, and when all have been deposited into his gut the tentacle begins to withdraw, a long series of short tugs that have Fenris groaning, and when it is gone he feels empty despite the weight of the eggs and the fluids remaining in his body.

Beside him, Anders is still being fucked, and though the tentacle taking him is much smaller than the one that had invaded Fenris, the mage is weary from mana exhaustion and the tendril he’d been holding away from Fenris’ neck earlier has managed to force its way into his mouth. For as worn down as the apostate appears, when he notices Fenris watching, he manages to smile even with his mouth full.

Fenris cannot keep Anders from being violated, but as soon as he has been freed, he reaches with heavy arms to pull the blond against him, hoping to offer some meagre amount of comfort as the man rides out their captor’s attentions.

Chapter Text

Anders feels all loose and warm, lost in a giddy haze and awash in pleasure as Fenris hugs him close, tucked up under his chin, and the mage is unsure whether it’s the emotional or physical aspect of the closeness that has him groaning raggedly around tentacle stroking in and out of his mouth, the tip only teasing at the entrance to his throat—as if it’s not actively trying to choke him, merely chasing its own pleasure.

Much the way Anders nearly does, when his aching cock brushes against the outward curve of Fenris’ stomach, pushed forward by the tentacle fucking into him, but despite the urgency of his arousal, he resists the temptation. It feels…wrong, to fight it, like he’s all slippery inside of himself and out of control, like he doesn’t fit into his own skin. It feels like he needs that contact to keep…being himself, whatever that means. Justice has been quiet; withdrawn, since their failed escape attempt, and with so much room inside his own head Anders has felt lost. It’s a relief, feeling even the quietest hum of the spirit stretching out again in response to the proximity of Fenris’ lyrium.

A relief, and yet it only serves to make Anders dizzier than he already is, and it’s a monumental effort to angle his hips away from the elf. The task is made difficult by Fenris clinging so tightly (and Anders is holding him just as tightly, dammit, he’s sure at least one of them will regret it by the time the drugs have worn off but he won’t be the one to let go first) and the moment he manages to squirm away enough to keep his traitorous cock to himself, Fenris drops a hand down to his hip and drags Anders right back against him. Firmly.

White-hot pleasure flashes through his core, wrenching a throaty cry from the mage, muffled as it is around the invader in his mouth.

Against his collarbone, Anders is distantly aware that Fenris is shaking his head, and that the elf’s fingers are curled into blunted claws, clutching at him like a lifeline.

Confusion flickers through his thoughts, swept away almost immediately by a wash of mind-numbing pleasure when Fenris lets go of his hip to maneuver his hand between their bodies to wrap sweat-slick fingers around Anders’ erection. The touch is like the shock of a lightning spell in its intensity, and nothing like the stroke of the tentacles that have been taking care of his erections lately, whether he wanted them to or not.

At the first desperate, keening moan to leave Anders’ mouth around the tentacle stuffing it, Fenris tightens his grip and works his fist up and down the mage’s length, stroking in time with the tentacle occupying Anders’ ass.

Hands scrabbling at the elf’s back for purchase, for contact, Anders is grateful their captor did not bind his hands. He can’t see Fenris’ face—his head is still tucked against his chest—but he can still hold him, feel him there against his body, feel him holding him back just as tightly, the unoccupied arm still wrapped around Anders’ waist. Anders can’t pretend they’re anywhere but in a pit of tentacles, considering he’s being effectively spit-roasted by a pair of them, but with Fenris touching him…

Maker. He wants—actually, truly wants—that lyrium-lined hand on him, the rough calluses and the prickle of latent magic. Andraste’s ass, he wants the whole broody package, and he’d be lying to himself if he tried to blame it solely on the sweet drug dripping down his throat even now. Fenris is beautiful, and anyone who tried to say otherwise would be lying, whether or not they’re attracted to the elf. They’d never really gotten on before, but now—now there’s nothing to fight about, is there?

There are no mages and Templars to fight over anymore, not here. There’s no place for it between them, no place between them for anything right now but Fenris’ hand on his cock.

Between the elf, the tentacle in his ass, and the one steadily dripping aphrodisiacs down his throat, Anders doesn’t stand a chance of lasting long at all. Heat coils painfully tight at his core, cock so hard it aches, every muscle in his body going taut as his back arches—and then the built-up pressure, all that tension gives out at once as one more stroke of Fenris’ hand sends a wave of molten pleasure through him, cock pulsing in the elf’s firm grasp, shooting ropes of cum over Fenris’ swollen belly.

Oh, fuck, and that imagery just makes his cock throb harder, makes the orgasm all the sweeter, coupled with Fenris’ still-moving hand, milking him for all he’s got in him.

And at last, thank the Maker, the tight clench of his body around the tentacle in his ass seems to have done it for it, too: one more deep thrust and the thing stills, pulsing so hard he can feel it where it’s penetrating him, and soon there’s a bloom of warmth in his gut that turns his legs to jelly as there’s more, and more, and more poured into him.

The one in his mouth, too, pulses, and more of the sugary-sweet drug splashes into his throat. Relaxed all over, feeling heavy and sated—if awkwardly bloated—Anders easily manages the first few swallows, till Fenris’ hand leaves his cock to stroke his side soothingly, and then he feels the man’s head lift from his chest, and then wet heat beneath his chin as Fenris licks his bobbing throat as he swallows and he nearly chokes—at which point the tentacle in his mouth pulls out, the final pulse of the drugged cum splashing over his lips and cheek instead.

A weak sound of shocked pleasure leaves Anders as Fenris’ mouth latches onto the space beneath the right side of his jaw and sucks. The noise is only drawn out when the remaining tentacle inside of him begins its slow removal process, setting his nerves alight with sparks of pleasure that are almost enough to distract from how wrong it feels to have had something so deep inside of him.

When the bulbous head of the tentacle finally pops free, Anders shudders and gasps, squirming in discomfort as a considerable amount of the beast’s seed pours out of him, shame contrasting sharply with the relief at losing some of the pressure in his gut.

Fenris is still mouthing wetly along his throat and neck, biting and sucking a series of marks over the tender skin, apparently in no rush to pull away from the mage. It occurs to Anders that, earlier, Fenris hadn’t come, had he? He certainly hadn’t been trying to get the man off; he’d been too busy trying to keep the pain at bay. He should rectify that now, he thinks. The tentacles that had been holding his legs to keep him from escaping (as though it’s necessary—where would he go? There is no escape) gently unwind and pull away, and Anders is free to move as he pleases again.

In…in a moment, at least. Once he’s recovered, and his limbs are actually more responsive. He’s still hard—Anders has being a Grey Warden and two loads of drugged cum to thank for that—and, frankly, the idea of paying Fenris back for the best orgasm he’s had in recent memory is a very arousing one.

If Fenris wants him to. He might not be okay with being touched like that right now, if at all. He’ll ask, just…just once he’s basked a little longer in the attention. He’s not ready to leave the arms holding him.

Chapter Text

The first thing Anders does when at least one of his arms feels less like jelly is wipe the monster cum from his face. Grimacing as he collects most of it with his hand, he reaches over Fenris to wipe it on a nearby tentacle. He’s only successful in wiping most of it off.

“Hate to break it to you, Blondie, but that’s really not going to do you any favors.”

Varric’s voice is about as startling as a slap to the face, but Anders still feels far too weighed down under a blanket of warm fog to jump. Still, his heart speeds in his chest, beating uncomfortably hard like it’s too full and too heavy.

Against him, Fenris has gone still, mouth parting from Anders’ freshly bruise-mottled throat with a wet sound that has Anders biting his lip.

The reminder that they have company is an unwelcome one, but Anders supposes they had to face the facts eventually. He’s a little embarrassed about having just received a handjob in front of all of his friends, but these aren’t exactly normal circumstances.

“Oh shush, Varric,” Isabela scolds him, “don’t interrupt.” While Anders wants very much to pretend that he doesn’t hear them, he can’t help but notice that Isabela sounds like she moved. She’d been much closer, before.

“Let them have this, dwarf.”

At the sound of Aveline’s hushed voice, Anders finally picks his head up, finding the guardswoman huddled cross-armed on the opposite side of the nest, purposely angled away from Anders and Fenris, while Varric looks much more comfortably reclined against the side of the nest.

“I’m just saying, his hand’s not getting any less covered in monster juice.”

“Eww,” Anders mutters. Varric has a point, but he was so fine not thinking hard on it.

“Just ignore us, pretty,” Isabela calls over. Anders finds the pirate with Merrill’s head in her lap, the rest of the elf draped over Sebastian, making herself comfortable over both of them like a pale, lanky cat. “Unless you’d like a more active audience—”

The tone in her voice is enough for Anders to be sure she’s only teasing, but still, he shakes his head. “Er—no, thank you.”

That settled, he turns his attention to the elf bundled against him, seeming smaller and more vulnerable than anyone as dangerous as Fenris had a right to. How handsy the man had been earlier has Anders feeling bold—or maybe his inhibitions are just dangerously low, which is absolutely a possibility—and he leans away from Fenris to get a better look at him as he coaxes the elf’s head up with a finger under his chin.

Without so much as a frown at the touch, Fenris complies, lifting his face to peer at Anders with heavy-lidded eyes. His pupils are blown so wide that the mossy green of his of his eyes has darkened by several shades.

Maker, he is so beautiful like this. Fenris is gorgeous even when his expression is curled back into an angry snarl, or when he’s covered in blood after a battle, but without his usual frown twisting his mouth he looks…peaceful.

And very, very out of it.

“Maker, that thing really did a number on you, didn’t it?” he finds himself muttering. He’s mildly concerned now—it’s not really possible for him to feel properly panicked at this point—that Fenris may not have been thinking clearly when he’d…well…but he did kind of…go out of his way to get his hand on Anders’ dick, so.

Blinking, the warrior breaks eye contact, craning his neck to down the length of his body instead. Anders follows his gaze to the swell of Fenris’ stomach, where the elf lays a hand, fingers spread over the curve of it. Smearing some of Anders’ come over the taught skin.

Anders swallows, but says nothing. That he’s so affected over having even temporarily marked Fenris in such a way is embarrassing.

“It is…not as many as before,” Fenris acknowledges haltingly.

“Oh—oh good, you’re lucid.” Some of the tension drains from Anders’ frame. “Thank the Maker.” He hadn’t taken advantage.

Fenris grunts. “Arguably, yes.”

“Arguably?” Anders prompts, confused. And worried again.

Shuddering, Fenris nods, putting his arm back over Anders’ side to pull their bodies closer together once more. Anders bites down on his bottom lip to keep from making any noise as every single nerve in his body seems to light up with pleasure at the contact. Fenris speaks against the mage’s throat, low and muffled, “I am…warm. Everything is hazy, but I am…not out of my mind.”

“That’s good,” Anders whispers, comforted by this information. The warrior huffs against him.

“Is it?” he asks Anders flatly, “I am still…far too aware of what’s been done to me; I can…feel where the eggs sit. It feels heavy, and…”

“Does it hurt?”

The elf shakes his head slowly. “I’m…not sure.”

Anders had healed him earlier, of course, so Fenris shouldn’t be hurting. But his mana is a slippery thing at present and he’s not thinking quite right, so he may have missed something in his rush to end the elf’s pain.

That first pained cry from before echoes through him and he shudders, settling his palm against the small of Fenris’ back. “I can make sure,” he offers gently. It’s difficult to keep his thoughts from scrambling, touching the other man like this, but this is important, he can…focus. Mostly. But he still really wants to—he should really just ask. In case he forgets. “And then if you’ll let me, I’d…like to take care of you.”

“Is that…not what you just suggested doing?”

Face flaming, the mage huffs, eyes glued to one of the tentacles swaying outside of the nest. It’s marginally easier to speak to Fenris without fumbling right now, with the drugs in his system—or maybe it’s just because he’s not working under the sway of his temper. Maker, he’s said some of the worst things in anger.  Trying to smother the guilt twisting inside him, he goes on, “I mean, you just kind of…gave me the best handjob of my life. I thought I’d at least offer to try to do the same for you.”

The elf shivers in his arms as if cold—or revolted. Anders wonders if maybe he said something wrong, if he should give the man space, but Fenris has repeatedly demonstrated his unwillingness to let him pull away. So maybe not revolted, but still. He’s determined to take more care with his words and his actions than before. Regardless of his maddening attraction to the man, Anders can’t bear the thought of alienating Fenris right now. They…need each other. They all do. Maybe Hawke would be better suited to comforting Fenris, to helping him heal in the long term, but right now…right now Anders has the elf in his arms, not Hawke. He will make the best of it. He will do everything in his power not to ruin this fragile peace, this trust between them now.

At long last, they have something. A level field between them, one neither of them can deny. An opportunity to empathize without finding reason to lash out like frantic, fearful children.

Fenris leans back just enough to peer up at Anders. White hair clings to his face and forehead from sweat, and the mage can’t help but stroke them away from the elf’s wide green eyes, butterflies in his stomach as the man lets him. Fenris blinks, tracking the movement, but closes his eyes and shivers again when Anders trails his fingers over the edge of one long ear.

“Mn. Yes, I…yes.” Almost a whisper, Fenris’ words nearly slip by Anders without being heard. Nearly.

Lucky for them both, Anders has a one-track mind right now and is hanging on Fenris’ every action, every softly-breathed word. His heart pounds harder in his chest, hopeful. Eager.

“To healing or the other thing?”

“Yes.” There’s a moment of silence between them, after which Fenris finally seems to understand the vagueness of his response. He opens his eyes to stare up the mage. Anders watches him in return, heart slamming against his ribcage. The mage feels heavy, weighed down, but at the same time brimming with anxious energy and the desperation to do something. Hopefully to the gorgeous elf pressed up against him.

“…to both,” Fenris clarifies at last, voice pitched low.

The huskiness of his voice makes Anders’ cock twitch, all too eager for another round. He’d intended on prioritizing healing, and then taking care of Fenris.

But he can multitask.

Chapter Text

Maker, to be allowed to touch. To be encouraged by trembling groans and sharp gasps, fingers reaching for his shoulders, his hair, groping for something to hold onto, something to ground the elf against the waves of arousal and sensation as he trails his mouth over sensitive, tanned skin.

Anders get it, of course. Everything is so much. Too much, but not enough as he sits curled over Fenris, hands alight with spirit magic where they rest on either side of his belly, while his mouth works over the stretched skin, sucking and licking away his own sticky spend and moaning at the taste where it blends with the lyrium tattoos stretched across Fenris’ body.

Fenris, too, is glowing, too overcome by a combination of pleasure and magic to control himself, and with Anders’ mana replenished, overfull, overflowing, it is nothing to keep casting. An endless loop of lyrium and magic, the source unlimited, but Fenris cannot feel the normal prickling pain of his markings with Anders soothing his body with spells and firm but careful touches.

He’d found nothing wrong save the obvious invaders in Fenris’ body, and he’d moved on to restore muscle elasticity and heal residual aches, but he doesn’t need to stop here. Fenris doesn’t need to feel discomfort at all while Anders pleasures him—the mage is determined, descending the elf’s body mouthing trails down his skin, scraping teeth lightly across one jutting hipbone to hear the man whine in pleasure, moving one hand down to grip Fenris’ hip while the other continues to smooth over that taut belly, smearing what’s left of his cum into his skin.

Marking him.

Mine.

A thought that Anders can safely enjoy, knowing that it can so easily be wiped clean and forgotten later, when they’re done. What matters now is that Anders has him, and that thing isn’t using him. Isn’t hurting him. It’s only Anders and Fenris right now, if only for a short time. He’s going to make sure that the elf enjoys every single moment.

Anders has worked his way down to Fenris’ cock, closing his mouth over one side with his lips curled over his teeth, earning a choked-off moan from his partner.

Maker’s breath, he’s unworthy of hearing the sounds Fenris can make. No mortal’s voice should be able to sound like that; sweeter than the call of any desire demon. A siren’s song Anders can’t get enough of, and he’s gripped by the urge to wring more of those sweet noises from the elf.

Throwing himself into his task, Anders presses more wet kisses against the silky skin of Fenris’ throbbing erection, dragging his tongue up the throbbing vein on the underside till he reaches the head, groaning softly at the taste of the elf’s precum as he drags the flat of his tongue over the tip.

“Vuh—venhedis, Anders…” the warrior hiccups, fingers hovering near to Anders’ hair, but barely brushing it, as if afraid of pulling too hard if he grabs on. His thighs shake on either side of the mage, and Anders revels in the reactions he’s getting—physical, verbal…and Maker, that voice…After so many years spent making love as quietly as possible in hidden nooks and corners around the Circle, he revels in the louder reactions of his more recent partners.

Of course, Fenris is making an effort to stay quiet still, as he’s likely just as aware of the presence of their friends despite the fog of arousal and the sensations of a talented mouth on his prick. Anders may not be at his best right now, but enthusiasm more than makes up for any lack of coordination on his part.

Both hands on Fenris’ hips now, keeping himself up as much as he’s keeping the squirming elf beneath him down, Anders  wraps his lips around the head of the other man’s cock, tonguing at the weeping slit once before he swallows Fenris down to the root.

A shocked, throaty moan catches in Fenris’ throat, hips bucking futilely against the mage’s hands holding him still, at last losing himself enough to wrap fingers tightly into the mage’s hair. And Anders, for his part, can’t help moaning at the elf’s responses, a thrill of arousal pooling at the base of his spine, clouding his thoughts till all that remains is the hot skin under his hands and the taste and feel of a man’s erection in his mouth.

Though Fenris is far from what the mage would call small, in his drugged state Anders finds it amazingly easy to take him to his base and hold him in his throat, swallowing to enhance the sensations for his partner, and he’s rewarded with another muffled cry and a convulsive pull to his hair, the sensation prickling delightfully along his scalp while he lifts his head, nearly pulling entirely off of Fenris’ cock and pausing there at the tip just long enough to swirl his tongue once, twice around the head, before he eagerly allows Fenris to pull him back down, groaning the whole way.

He muffles his own pleased sounds against Fenris’ pelvis, face flush against the soft hairless skin.

Content with the knowledge that he can take all of Fenris without choking, he sinks back to his elbows, pressure taken off of Fenris’ hips, and returns both of his hands to Fenris’ stomach to cast again. Fenris lights up like a firework beneath him, fingers jerking in Anders’ hair, and the mage moans shamelessly at the pleasure the lyrium’s power brings him, knowing he can halt any pain the tattoos would usually cause.

Feeling little more than intense pleasure and smugness that he can bring about those sensations for his partner as well, Anders is happy to let Fenris take control.

--

And though intentionally controlling the mage’s movements is the last thing on Fenris’ mind, that’s exactly what he does; trembling hands gripping at the apostate’s hair to hold his face in place while Fenris digs his heels into the ground to get enough leverage to rock his hips up, driving his cock into that willing mouth over and over again, with Anders making encouraging noises the whole time.

Fenris can scarcely believe any of this is real. He’d dared to wonder how it would feel, dared to wonder if Anders would consent to the act, perhaps even eagerly, but there was simply no accounting for the enthusiasm the mage is showing. The healing magic Anders is pouring into him only enhances the pleasure in how it negates every single distracting ache in his body and going beyond that—it interacts with his tattoos in a way most magic doesn’t, leaving the marred skin tingling—nearly aching—with pleasure like it never has before.

Anders’ healing had never hurt, but it certainly hadn’t ever felt like this.

He can scarcely breathe. Every breath he does take in leaves him struggles to become a moan on its exit, and though he aches to show his appreciation the way Anders deserves he’s still too aware of the presence of their allies, the show he and the mage are already putting on. Some restraint is needed—yet Fenris craves an opportunity to lavish Anders in praise for his skill, for the pleasure he’s giving with such intense focus, his blond head bobbing up and down over Fenris’ prick guided along by his own hands.

That Anders would allow him to—that Anders would trust him with control over his body when he can barely control his own actions—

The coil of pleasure at his core tightens, and in the moments before the shockwave of his orgasm crashed over him, Fenris realizes some sort of warning is due, if only to be considerate, but there’s no time to speak and when he tries anyway all that comes out is a hoarse, wordless cry as pleasure wracks his body and leaves him arching up into that sweet mouth, instinctively and desperately seeking more of that wonderful heat and suction.

Wave after wave of sensation crashes over Fenris as he paints the back of Anders’ throat with his semen, fingers relaxing in the human’s hair and eventually coming away completely from it, moving instead to stroke his ears, his cheekbones, and as Anders slowly draws himself off from his length, Fenris cradles the man’s jaw and admires his flushed lips and half-lidded amber eyes.

Body suffused with warmth from his orgasm, Fenris finds that he’s unable to suppress a smile. He feels…too good. Too warm and sated to be anything but giddy.  

Licking his reddened lips, Anders beams back at him with all the brightness of the sun, and Fenris can’t help but slide his hands behind the man’s ears and pull him forward.

Shrugging Fenris’ legs off his shoulders, the mage complies, crawling over the elf till their faces are level and then he ducks without prompting to kiss him, and Fenris seeks out the taste of himself on Anders’ tongue, desperate and greedy in his want to have the mage as close as possible.

Anders seems just as eager to kiss Fenris, keeping himself propped up on an elbow and coaxes Fenris’ tongue into his mouth. Allowing Fenris to lead. The elf tastes sweat, his own spend, and the lingering aftertaste of the tentacle that had so recently occupied the blond’s mouth tingles warmly beneath the other flavors.

He hadn’t expected Anders to be so eager to perform the act on him so soon after it was forced on him by a monster, but Fenris thinks he can understand the appeal of covering up an unpleasant memory, masking it with something nice. Something wanted.

Fenris had wanted it, too, with a desperation that had left him aching up until Anders had taken him into his mouth, but he hadn’t thought to ask for that specifically. It was like Anders knew what he’d been thinking earlier, and yet that’s impossible. They’re simply thinking more along the same lines these days, and though that’s a curious thing, it’s…appreciated.

To ask for something he’d expected to be refused would have left him embarrassed, even though Anders clearly would have complied.

Happily.

Not having asked out loud meant that Anders had wanted that all on his own, with no pressure from Fenris. No sense of obligation to fulfill a wish for any reason. Anders had chosen to do that.

Anders had chosen to engage Fenris beyond simply healing him.

And so too has Fenris chosen Anders. The mage has gotten under his skin, both in the metaphorical sense and the physical—even now his markings thrum with life, pulsing from the tingling pleasure left behind from Anders’ healing magic.

Kissing him now, lips mashed together and tongue deep in the mage’s mouth, tongues stroking together, Fenris feels alight with a giddy sort of pleasure that he never wants to let go of. A foolish, reckless, dangerous thing to want when he doesn’t know what Anders wants; if the mage desires more than a physical relationship or if he doesn’t. Maybe engaging in something more than physical would be even more foolish than giving into the urges the toxins inspire in them, but right now there’s nothing Fenris wants more than to crawl under the mage’s skin like Anders has crawled under his, to show him the relief he’s been given.

Hands leaving the mage’s face, he slides them over prominent ribs, up to his back, hands stroking firmly down scarred flesh and the action is awarded with a low moan that vibrates against his tongue and an arch of Anders’ back. As the apostate—accidentally or otherwise—rocks his hips against Fenris’, his rock hard erection brushes the underside of the bulge of the elf’s stomach, and the mage’s apparent desire rekindles Fenris’ own.

Jolting against him, Anders gasps, breaking the kiss with startled eyes and an embarrassed flush on his face as he leans his hips away again. Fenris is torn between frustration that’s ignored in favor of lust, and amusement. When, in the past…however long they’ve been at it, has Fenris given Anders cause to think that his desire is unwelcome?

“Is it that you’re too sensitive,” he questions, voice husky from desire—he doesn’t want to assume the mage is being ridiculous, despite the rather high odds, after all—before continuing, “or are you still… convinced that I’m incapable of consent?”

That would be ridiculous of the mage to assume, especially given that he’d accepted Fenris’ consent just a short while ago.

He’s still a bit out of it, certainly. He’s too warm, too weak and uncoordinated—Anders’ earlier flattery was appreciated, but that was most likely the sloppiest handjob Fenris had given and ever will give—but were the mage forceful and uncaring of his feelings, Fenris knows he would have wanted to deny him.

Anders would never. He’s certain of that, but it’s the best test of his own mindset he can come up with; imagining his current partner being cruel and wondering if he’d still welcome his advances anyway.

He certainly would not.

It is not out of the question that Anders’ will may be so weakened by drugs that he can’t help touching Fenris, can’t help seeking his pleasure in his body, but that is…different. The toxins inspire a certain type of awful helplessness, and overwhelming desire, but never anger or rage or the compulsion to hurt someone that Fenris in his right mind would never want to harm.

Of course, Fenris has in the past fantasized about punching the mage in the mouth for his snide comments, or the crueler ones, but those fantasies have remained so. Fantasies.

And now, with no barbs or cruelty between them, Fenris has no desire to even shake the mage by the shoulders in frustration. Though, that will change if Anders continues being difficult.

“I just can’t believe,” the mage finally confesses, out of breath and panting. The flushed, disheveled look suits him. Fenris wants to push the mage down into a bed far from this defiled place and see just how debauched he can get the man. “…that you want me. After everything…”

Fenris returns a hand to his stubbled jaw, gripping him carefully and tugging till Anders is forced to duck down, mouths brushing together as the elf speaks.

“Swear to me that you will never call me a dog again,” he whispers a demand, keeping eye contact—this is for them, and only them. The others may watch, but they do not need to hear everything said between them. “And it will be left in the past.”

I don’t want to keep hurting you. But Fenris knows his own temper all too well. He knows that if the mage pokes hard enough, one insult could burn their shared peace to the ground and burn them both with it. If needled, he lashes out. And here, now, he is more vulnerable than ever. If Anders cuts him down with words after this, Fenris will show the mage the worst of himself in his anger. His pain.

Above him, Anders’ breath stutters. Wide amber eyes stare down at him, disbelieving. Fenris can hardly trust himself to speak, either—until now, he felt like they simply wouldn’t talk about it. But if Anders doubts him, he needs to lay this feud to rest. For good.

“Never,” the mage promises him, voice trembling. But sincere. He means it. “On my honor—on my life. No matter what happens from here I—I swear. Whatever it takes I will hold my tongue. I won’t compromise on my morals but I—”

Silencing the mage is as easy as placing a palm over his mouth. Fenris knows. He doesn’t expect the mage to throw away his beliefs. Not when he himself so stubbornly refuses to believe that freeing all mages would result in anything but disaster.

“I know,” he assures the man, “And I would not see you in the Gallows. Whatever else you assume I feel about you, believe that.” Please, Fenris does not say, but he feels it almost desperately; the need to convince Anders that he’s never wanted to see him in chains. However dangerous Fenris believes him to be, Anders tries to be good. He runs a free clinic (ran? It’s hard to say if there will ever be a time where the mage is free to return to that life), offers everything he has to those he feels need it more than himself.

Anders nods with his eyes averted, a shaky little gesture, and Fenris takes that as acknowledgement. Trust that he is telling the truth. Fenris has only ever been honest with the healer, and has no reason to stop now.

Stroking his hand down Anders’ neck, down his chest, he turns his hand to reach for the hardness Anders keeps trying not to press against him, and cups it, pressing it firmly against the human’s abdomen.

Lower lip bitten, Anders shakes above him, hips pushing into the hand.

“I am touching you because I want to,” Fenris reassures him. Verbal explicit consent should do it, or else Anders is a stubborn fool. The mage nods again, daring to make eye contact for only a moment before he has to look away. “I enjoy touching you. Feeling your skin against mine.” He shifts his hand to grip Anders’ cock, giving it one firm stroke root to tip that has the man shaking and stifling a deep groan in his throat. He can’t help grinning. “The weight of you in my hand. By my own choice,” he finishes in a softer whisper, still far too smug with the reactions he’s earning but very, very serious, and it’s enough to get Anders to look at him again.

“Alright,” the mage agrees, “okay. Just—just so long as you can promise me you’re as aware of what you’re doing as you seem. I can’t…do this, with you, if you think you’re going to regret it later.” The mage swallows hard before repeating, “I can’t.”

“I swear,” Fenris promises, and coaxes Anders closer with his free hand on his back. Anders comes willingly now, and though the angle is harder on Fenris’ wrist, the closeness is what he cares for more. If his wrist is sore later, he doubts Anders will complain if he asks him to heal it. “Just so we’re clear,” the elf abruptly prompts, “you want this too.”

Anders actually snorts, chuckling for a moment as he leans his forehead against Fenris’. “I should give you hell for presuming, but yes. Maker, yes.” And as Fenris takes that as his cue to start stroking Anders’ cock in earnest, the mage barely restrains a moan. “Please, yes, that feels amazing.”

Fenris grins again. “Good.

Letting Anders call that last wreck of a handjob the best he’s ever had is absolutely intolerable.

--

A good deal of time and a couple of orgasms later, the lust inspired by the drugs they’ve been filled with abated, and they were able to settle comfortable with one another with no further prodding interruptions from their bodies.

For all his supposed Warden stamina, Fenris finds it a bit amusing that Anders fell asleep first, curled up at his side, his head on Fenris’ shoulder. Then again, from what he’s heard, a sizeable amount of human men tend to do that. Warden stamina or no, perhaps that’s just nature.

Or it’s yet another side effect of the drugging Anders endured while trying to interfere on Fenris’ behalf. The monster is wary of them being too close to one another while one’s being fucked and filled—they’ve all seen it a couple of times, now, and Fenris is grateful its use of Anders was gentler than its use of him had been.

He doesn’t know how the creature can tell, but he’s sure it knows he’s responsible for the eggs being ripped from their hosts. Just like it can tell Hawke is their leader, and responsible for most of the damage done.

Fenris tries not to dwell on the monster’s intelligence. It’s unsettling—a mindless beast driven only by instinct would be one they had already escaped from. But this one—it’s learning their tricks. It’s recognizing them individually in their habits and handling them accordingly.

Fenris is usually bound—though not like he was today—and held in place as he’s filled. Hawke, more so, and he’s usually fucked and drugged till he’s incoherent for hours afterwards.

Isabela is frequently used roughly, nearly always choked during feedings, and generally left at least a bit sore when she’s been fucked.

Merrill, however, is handled with a great deal of care. The way the creature handles her is coaxing and gentle, as she is compliant and well-behaved.

As they all should be.

Fenris fears allowing himself to be handled without a fight or protest, fears enjoying being used again, but perhaps this would be easier to endure without pain. It hadn’t hurt as much, being filled with eggs the first time. And that had been so many more. Glancing down at himself, he considers the swell of his abdomen, the bulge reminiscent of that of a pregnant woman.

Four eggs. Inside of him.

It’s alarming to consider, but he is pregnant, if not in the…normal way. He is going to be forced to carry these eggs to term. There is no point in having Anders help him get them out again; they will both be harmed for it and perhaps be handled even more roughly than he was earlier.

And he can’t. He simply can’t handle that; just what was done earlier had been too much to bear. Left alone, he may have broken under the pain and the shame, but he had not been left to suffer, and now he feels…

He feels safe, for once. Despite the glaring reminder of what was done to him, the weight of Anders leaned against him is just as real as the eggs sitting in his bowels, incubating.

He looks down at the blond head on his shoulder, and then down at his stomach. And slowly, with a great deal of hesitation, he places a palm over his abdomen (stickier from yet another load of the mage’s cum), skin tingling pleasantly at the sensation, surprisingly sensitive. He’s more sensitive in general from the toxins, but here, it’s more pronounced—perhaps because of the way the skin’s been stretched, or perhaps the heavy load of drugged seed held within him by the eggs.

It feels…good. Far too pleasant considering the situation. Fenris doesn’t know what will come of this. He doesn’t know if the spawn of the creature will eat their way out of him or leave his body safely, but he does know he won’t be alone. None of them are alone, and he’s willing to risk further punishment from the monster if it means keeping himself and his friends from dying like that.

If it comes to that.

For now, he will try to enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts. The tentacles are plucking his allies one by one, tending to them, and he suspects there’s little point in joining Anders in sleep unless he wants a rude awakening far too soon.

So he simply rests next to his apostate, and waits until, inevitably, it’s his turn. He does his best to gently readjust Anders so that he’s not more or less thrown off Anders by impatient tentacles. The mage doesn’t wake up as he moved, for which Fenris is grateful—and yet he’s loathe to be parted from the man. With luck, he’ll be back before Anders awakens alone and worries. Worrying seems like something he would do.

Fenris makes the choice to allow himself to be handled, as he is entirely without pain after Anders’ healing and wants to keep it that way. It’s admittedly incredibly nerve-wracking, being passed from one group of tentacles to another for minutes on end, only to dumped into water and be forcibly dunked under several times till you think you might just drown—

Or, today, simply be lowered carefully down until he’s up to his shoulders in warm water, the tentacles stroking over his skin as if attempting to gently scrub the grime from his body.

He holds very still, feeling as though one wrong move could set the beast off and it could return to trying to drown him. Even as the creature curls its tendrils around his stomach, making him shudder as the sensitive skin is teased, he keeps still.

It’s like he’s being…petted. Like the creature is admiring where its spawn lay, waiting to hatch. Like it’s proud of itself.

Or perhaps of him, for taking it so well, for submitting like a good pet—

Shuddering violently, Fenris lifts his arms from the tentacles supporting more than holding them and splashes water into his face, scrubbing away sweat and tentacle slime to busy himself.

This monster is no doubt very intelligent, but it will do him no good in the coming days to speculate on its way of thinking. He is nothing and no one’s pet. Not even this abomination’s.

At that thought, he nearly snorts.

He may not submit to the creature holding him now, but he did submit to one abomination—er.

Perhaps…that is too unfair, and also very untrue—while Anders hosts a spirit, he is not some mindless, monstrous creature rampaging about, ripping apart anyone in its path, and also, there was no submission on his part. Or if there was, it was mutual. Not a single barbed comment from either of them. That’s almost unheard of, between the two of them. And further, the agreement to be done with their arguing (or at least the insults and cruelty. Perhaps one day they will return to bickering, but nothing so awful as before).

It’s a relief, to be past that.

Previously it felt like breathing the wrong way could set Anders or his dem—his spirit off, but now without the constant arguments, the mage’s company is enjoyable. Not to mention the relief Anders provided—specifically the nonsexual relief, when he ended Fenris’ pain. He’d felt like he was being torn apart, and the mage hadn’t hesitated even a moment to assist.

And after all that, it felt only right to do something for Anders. He’d eagerly taken the opportunity to hold the mage, to comfort him, and initially that was all he’d considered, but.

Anders had been hard. And considerate enough to try hiding it from Fenris.

Choosing to give him some relief with his hand had felt right, too, in the fog of arousal after he’d been filled with eggs and drug-laced seed, and now that his mind is much more his own, he finds it still feels right. The way the mage reacted, he must have been desperate for that contact, and yet he hadn’t moved to act on it.

One of the first things he’d done after coming to his senses was to check on Fenris. To make sure he’d been himself when he’d chosen to touch Anders like that.

The thought is heartwarming. Enough that he’s able to tolerate the prodding touches of the creature keeping them all prisoner. There is someone who cares enough to ask after Fenris’ comfort waiting for his return.

Anders is the last person Fenris would have expected to show him that care, but he appreciates it dearly nonetheless.  Even if his constant need for reassurance is frustrating. To need repeated promises of Fenris’ consent to sex is not something he considers bad, per se—in fact, he is grateful. Perhaps it was simply the possibility of being denied that contact if the apostate didn’t believe him, but that hadn’t happened.

So long as he and the mage both continue to want each other, they can have something good, even here.

--

When Anders wakes, it’s with an odd, misplaced anxiety in his gut, leaving him unsure of the source. He stretches a hand out, patting around, but finding no warm body beside him. Only the nest he’s lying in.

Blinking his eyes open with some difficulty, he sees…

Tentacles.

And no Fenris.

Oh no.

His stomach twists itself into knots, and he shoots into an upright position, head swiveling around as he tries to find Fenris, no doubt huddled far away, regretting his decision to let Anders anywhere near him—

A callused hand catches him by the shoulder, and the mage nearly leaps out of his skin, squeaking in surprise.

Right next to him, opposite of where he’d been facing—towards where Fenris had been, that is—is Hawke, who, as ragged and worn down as he appears, looks…amused. If only a little. He mostly just looks tired. He hasn’t stopped looking that exhausted since they got here.

“The…thing picked him up,” the other mage vaguely informs him, “it’s doing the rounds again, trying to drown everyone. Should be back soon.”

The knot in his gut relaxes. Of course he hates to imagine Fenris (or any of their team, really) being handled roughly by the tentacles as the creature tries to bathe them, but…

Maker. He didn’t run away out of disgust.

“Alright,” he breathes out, nodding as he settles against the side of the nest again. Taking his hand back from Anders, Hawke does the same before unabashedly leaning against the healer, pressed shoulder to shoulder. They’ve sat like this before, plenty of times. But they always at least had pants on, before.

Rather abruptly Anders finds himself flushing—not because of his nudity or even Hawke’s, but because he remembers that he just gave Fenris a blowjob in front of everybody. And then gotten another handjob, during which he’d been…not exactly quiet.

“Hey,” says Hawke.

Anders’ throat feels tight when he asks, “Yeah?”

Straight to the point, and uncharacteristically serious—though, that’s basically Hawke’s new normal, to most likely everyone’s dismay—the man tells him, “I just…want you to think this through.” The soft tiredness of his voice hasn’t left. Anders tries to pick out a stern warning in there—but all he hears is exhaustion and something like a plea. “I can’t…I don’t want to see you two go back to the way you were.”

Of course they’d spoken so quietly so as not to let the entire team in on their discussion, so Hawke couldn’t know that they’d spoken of that already. That they’d sworn to one another. Things could never be perfect; they’d never agree on everything, but they didn’t need to. Especially not if those disagreements might never matter again.

We may never escape. We may never even have cause to consider fighting like we used to again. The very idea is appalling anyways, though, and Anders is quick to try assuring Hawke of what he’d promised Fenris: “I don’t think I could stand myself if he and I—”

But Hawke cuts him off before he can continue, gaze turned away from his fellow mage, “Just, please. Anders.” He takes one of the blond’s hands, lacing their fingers together palm to palm. Squeezing firmly, comforting and pleading at once. “I’m not going to ask you not to…be with him. Maker knows you could both use some happiness right now. Just please, promise me that if this doesn’t last, you won’t go back to tearing into each other like you did before.”

It had never been any secret that Hawke hated it when they fought. He’d stepped in more times than Anders can count, always furious but never directing it at either of them. Maker knows it must have hurt the man, watching two of his best friends snarling and growling at one another like cats and dogs, likely appearing only moments from coming to blows with one another.

Sick at that particular thought, Anders shakes his head, “No. Maker, no—I won’t. I swear. I don’t want to go back to that.”

Hawke’s answering sigh sounds every bit like a death rattle, and it makes Anders’ heart jolt with alarm, but the other mage only squeezes his hand again. “Thank you. Thank you. I-I’m not…singling you out, I promise, m’gonna have the same talk with him later, but. S’not back yet.”

Though it hadn’t been any real concern, Anders is relieved to know that Hawke isn’t favoring one or the other out of the two of them—he usually didn’t, but depending on who started the argument and who said what after, he did take sides occasionally.

That matter settled, Anders tries to change the subject. “I…appreciate that, Hawke, I do. But are you…hanging in there?” he has to ask, because it’s clear Hawke isn’t okay by any standard. Mana exhaustion could have killed him, and he’s still recovering from that. Being constantly under heavy doses of the monster’s drugs can’t be doing him any favors.

“M’not dead yet, am I?” he chuckles roughly, not meeting Anders’ eyes. He loosens his grip and begins to slide away and move like he’s getting up, but Anders tightens his grip in response and holds him back.

“Hawke,” he pleads gently, “if you’re not going to talk about it, please at least let me cast a rejuvenation spell on you.” He could also give the man’s body a head start on purging the toxins from his system and give him at least a short reprieve.

As stubborn as he usually is, Anders is both relieved and concerned with how quickly he settles back down, nodding. “That’d be…yeah. That sounds good. I-I hate feeling like…” he lifts a hand, making a vague circling gesture through the air. “This. Blurry. Ev’rything’s too slow and heavy.”

Anders grimaces. “Thank you, for letting me. I’ll do my best to take the worst of that away.”

Hawke nods slowly, eyes fluttering in his struggle to keep them open at all. “Hey, Anders?”

“What is it?” the mage replies, reaching for his mana and Justice both, hoping the spirit is willing—and capable—of lending his strength for healing. It will take some work, but if Justice is up to it, Anders would like to think they have a chance of flushing the toxins almost entirely from Hawke’s system. Maybe there’s no point in the long run, but if he can help for at least a little while…

“Thanks for…not getting mad. I know I come off as overbearing, I-I don’t want you thinking I’m trying to…chase you from him, or something. Want you both to be happy, but you’re so much alike.”

It’s as sad as it is heartwarming.

“It’s alright, Hawke,” he shushes the other man. Hawke tends to ramble when tired, so this is hardly a surprise.

Justice, for his part, surges forward to aid Anders, though there’s something sluggish and heavy about the feeling as he begins to cast.

It worries him. He has to do something—what, he doesn’t know, but for now he’s got Hawke to deal with.

By the time Anders is satisfied, Hawke has turned into a sweaty mess as his body tries to flush the toxins out, and he’s blinking around at everything like a man who’s seeing sunlight for the first time in a year.

And then he rolls away from Anders, drags himself halfway out of the nest, and starts vomiting.

The mage grimaces and rubs the other man’s back in soothing circles, offering what meager comfort he can at this point.

--

“Maker, that was awful.

“You feel better now that it’s out of your system, though, don’t you?”

“That doesn’t make it less gross,” Hawke complains, gradually working towards standing up. Anders doesn’t know why he bothers; it’s easier to crawl, as humiliating as it is. The tentacles shift too easily, and Anders honestly suspects the monster of tripping them on purpose. “Thank you, though. Really. I’ll let you be for now. Your boyfriend should be back soon.”

Anders flushes, smothering the urge to state that Fenris isn’t his boyfriend. That defensiveness implies shame, and he feels none for his affection towards the elf.

“Wait, wait a minute--” he says, reaching to catch Hawke by the hand. “Come back down here a second, I—I need your help. If there’s anything you can do. Please.” Feeling and sounding a little too desperate for his liking, he tries to smile and joke, “and then you can go back to covering your ears and pretending you didn’t have to listen to me snogging the life out of Fenris.”

“I had to listen to a lot more than the two of you making out, but sure,” Hawke grunts, dropping back to the floor of the nest next to Anders. Dropping the teasing tone in favor of clear concern, he asks, “What’s wrong?”

And though it’s a very important and potentially disastrous problem Anders is facing, he hesitates to explain. Hawke has only been supportive concerning matters involving Justice, and has even talked the spirit down from what Anders can only describe as a panic attack, and as far as Anders can tell, Justice likes Hawke—but he’s so used to skepticism and disapproval from the others. Merrill calls him a hypocrite, Varric only half-jokingly calls him crazy when he thinks Anders doesn’t hear him. Fenris calls—called—him an abomination, and Justice, a demon. Isabela takes very little seriously, but seems to regard Justice as a nuisance and a joykill.

Anders’ very dull half, as she says.

But regardless of anything, Justice is one of the only people he’s ever trusted completely. Justice was one of the first people outside the Circle to tell him he was worth something. That what was done to him was wrong. That the Templars should face consequences for what they had done to him.

Regardless of anything, Justice is the only reason Anders survived Rolan’s blade through his heart.

Anders owes the spirit everything.

Blinking back the tears he didn’t realize he’d almost shed, Anders looks away and takes a deep breath to gather himself before reestablishing eye contact with Hawke.

There was no easy way to say this—he’d already asked so much of the man—but alone, Anders can do very little to help his friend. He has to try.

“I think something’s wrong with Justice,” he begins, voice trembling. It’s a poor—no awful—choice in words, and he flinches at the way they sound and shakes his head. “He’s—he’s hurting. I think. I-I think he’s scared. But he keeps trying to protect me anyways.”

He watches Hawke’s alarm soften to sympathy, and so he feels brave enough to go on. The subject is kind of awkward, certainly, but Hawke’s heard and said much worse, and they’re all getting thrown through the void here with this monster anyways, so…

Anders swallows, clenching his hands together to stop himself from fidgeting too much—but he can’t stop from restlessly curling and uncurling his toes, too nervous to stay entirely still.

“Justice has always—he’s been very concerned, for as long as I’ve known him, about the possibility of becoming a demon.” Just saying it makes it feel like he’s been run through again—Justice recoiling from the thought. The shame Anders feels isn’t his own but he still covers his own face, suddenly unable to look at his friend. “You’re not,” he whispers aloud to Justice. His own thoughts can’t be heard by the spirit, but Justice can hear what’s said around him. It’s just, Anders can’t speak out loud around his friends, it makes him look crazy, he sees the looks they give him, but… “You’re not a demon. If you were you…you wouldn’t be so afraid of it happening. You’re not.”

A warm hand closes very, very gently around his wrist, tugging. Anders allows his hand to be pulled away by Hawke, and peeks out, blushing furiously, at the man’s crumpled expression. He’s—he’s so sad, he looks like a kicked puppy.

“You don’t need to hide,” the other mage tells him, “don’t be embarrassed. I know he’s there even if I can’t see him.”

“This is my fault,” Anders rushes out, voice shaking, “every time I lost control and he got out and—and fought Templars, I always came back to myself wondering if I’d made a monster of him, if my temper ruined him, but he’s—he’s not a demon. If I hadn’t kept thinking he was, maybe he wouldn’t be so afraid now.”

“Anders, no,” Hawke admonishes softly, far too understanding. Anders doesn’t deserve his sympathy or his kindness.

“After I nearly killed that girl, I—I called him one. I called him a demon.” Another awful, stabbing wave of hurt, and then an aching hollowness where the pain was. “But it was my fault. If I could just…If I didn’t lose my temper like that he wouldn’t have lashed out anyways, I--”

Apparently without reservations about anyone’s nudity, Hawke gathers Anders up in his arms and tucks the blond’s head under his chin.

“Anders, no,” he says again, just as softly as before. “You were scared. Maker, I was scared, not to mention furious—sick, even—what Alrik was doing was monstrous. You panicked, and so did Justice. But you stopped. Ella’s fine.”

“But I could have—”

“But you didn’t. Did you ever apologize to Justice?”

Anders’ spiraling panic slams to a halt at the matter-of-factness in Hawke’s tone. How easily he’s handling this. Maker, Anders had only just helped him recover a bit and he was relying on him far too much, as always. He hates being such a burden. “What?”

“You called him a demon. He isn’t, and you’re sorry. Did you ever tell him?”

“N…no.” It feels foolish, talking to someone he couldn’t see when he’s all alone. And that was all it had taken to keep him from apologizing when he needed to—pride. Over looking foolish when nobody was around. Guilt sits heavily in his gut.

“Apologize now. He can hear you, can’t he?”

Yes. And everyone else will, too, if he can’t keep his voice down. It’s difficult when he’s so emotional.

Heart aching, Anders rubs a hand over the scar there—a scar is all he has, when he should be dead. Justice had protected him. Has protected him, so many times.

“I’m…I’m sorry,” he grits out, fighting back tears, “that I called you a demon, Justice. You aren’t. A-and you’re hurting right now, and I don’t know how to fix it, and I’m sorry.” A fraction of the tension inside of him unwinds, but he’s still got to deal with his own guilt. The idea that Justice could just forgive Anders for what he’s said about him, what he’s done, it’s…it just seems impossible. He doesn’t deserve forgiveness. He never deserved Justice’s friendship.

It’s Hawke’s turn to rub his back, slow, repetitive motions as he tries to even his breathing out.

“Do you know what’s wrong right now?” Hawke queries patiently.

Anders feels all twisted into knots on the inside already, and he’s fairly certain the embarrassment he feels on top of everything else isn’t entirely his own. This isn’t his problem to speak about, but—he’s not sure Justice wouldn’t be too stubborn to tell Hawke.

“He’s always been—he—he doesn’t like sex,” Anders grumbles, squirming. Hawke pats him on the back and there’s a sharp twinge of annoyance that may be his own. He’s not sure. It’s just as likely that it’s Justice who’s perturbed. “He’s wary of desire in any form; he always…said that desire is what turns a spirit into a demon.”

“And…since you just had sex with Fenris, he’s…what, all hot and bothered and freaking out about it?”

Anders’ immediate reaction is blaring denial, and then guilt. He can’t tell what’s coming from whom. “N-no!” he splutters out, leaning back to stare at Hawke. “No, he—he was…actually he didn’t seem upset by that,” he mutters, ducking his head. Unlike when I’m trying to get off on my own, he thinks, a little spitefully, but he shoves the thought aside. It’s not important. He had some guilt-free orgasms for the first time in ages and he was able to enjoy them with a partner involved.

“So…what’s the probl—oh.” Hawke grows quiet and very, very pale.

“When we got caught, he…well, you saw. He took the abuse that was meant for me.” The first time, Justice’s takeover had been absolute; Anders had been blind and deaf to all that was happening around him, feeling nothing. Knowing nothing. He’d awoken to pain and a deep, unsettling wrongness.

The second time, Justice had been worse off. Unable to hold him down entirely, too weak from before. Feeling Justice’s fear and hopelessness had been sickening and awful, and there had been nothing Anders could do.

Maker. Justice always retreated when Anders had some private time with his hand, he’d never really been present for anything sexual. Anders had resented him for making it more awkward than it had to be, but now—shit, he should have at least had a conversation with him about it. Written something out for Justice to read through his eyes.

The second time Justice had taken over for Anders and had suffered because of the tentacles, he’d been forced to orgasm, and Anders remembers the soul-crushing terror he’d experienced second-hand in those moments.

Justice feared being overcome by pleasure the way Anders fears the brand.

“This last time, it…this,” he waves around, at the nest, at the tentacles swaying like plants in the breeze for as far as he can see, “this thing made him get off on it.” Shame burns hot in his belly and his heart aches, sending pins and needles down to his fingertips.  Anders wishes Justice were in front of him, so he could take him by the shoulders and shake him until the spirit understood that it wasn’t his fault. None of this was. “I think he’s afraid of…of being made to want it. Just like the rest of us,” Anders laughs hollowly. “That’s the worst thing, isn’t it; when it feels good. When it doesn’t hurt. When you come so hard you see stars and for a second you think maybe the…the pain, and the humiliation were worth it. And then it’s over, and the bliss fades away, but it just keeps using you, and it does it over and over and it takes you with it as often as it can—”

 “Anders,” Hawke cuts him off, and the mage sucks in a sharp breath, holding back anything more of his rant. “Anders. Maker, you know it’s not your fault if you get off on something you didn’t ask for.”

The blond’s breath hitches in his chest, and he whispers, “I know.”

“And what about Justice? Does he know that?”

“I don’t know,” Anders confesses, “we didn’t talk about this kind of thing before…we joined. I don’t even know if that’s really the problem.” It’s painful to talk. Squeezing his eyes shut in anticipation of his next request being refused, or laughed at, or something else, he rushes out, “Next time it happens—next time he takes over, please. Talk to him.”

Hawke’s arms are still holding him just as tightly, and his heart’s beating just as steadily—if a bit quicker—but he stays quiet for just a second too long, and it’s a struggle for Anders to withhold his panic. Shaking, he starts to pull away, squirming out of Hawke’s arms to sit next to him so he can look him in the eye. The other man lets him, a worried expression on his face.

Hawke opens his mouth to reply, but Anders jumps to speak before he can.

“He deserves to talk to people again. He deserves to have friends again. He actually—he trusts you, Hawke—” And as the tears finally spill over, Anders is quick to wipe them away, grimacing. “He can’t stay cooped up in my head forever. Maker, I can barely stand being in my own head. If—If I knew what it was going to do to him—”

His stomach seems to flip, guilt gnawing at him and threatening to tear him apart from the inside. But it’s not him, it’s Justice.

This is what he’s reduced the fade spirit to. He’s managed to convince Justice it was his fault that things have gone so wrong over the years.

“I wouldn’t have joined with him in the first place,” Anders finally chokes out, wrapping his arms around himself. “It’s not his fault.” Maker, how his heart aches like it’s being crushed.

Hawke suddenly grabs him by the shoulder again and gives him the tiniest shake, making him raise his head to look at him properly.

“Anders. Yes. I will,” Hawke states—as if it’s all so simple, “I’ll do my best to talk him through this next time he’s…out and about. For now just…don’t let it eat you up. We can’t sort things out without him having his say.”

Sniffing, the blond nods, sighing raggedly. He’s an absolute mess and it’s ridiculous. Here he is feeling so sorry for himself when he’s been pushing Justice to the far corners of his mind for years. Maker knows how much damage that’s done to him.

“You’re right. I—I can’t thank you enough, Hawke. For everything.” Maker, Hawke’s put up with him for all these years and still has the patience to put up with his problems. It had felt like too much to ask, for Hawke to take care of Justice too—when that should be Anders’ duty alone—but he can’t be surprised that he said yes. Hawke’s turned very few people away.

“Maybe not,” the other mage mused, “but I’d settle for a hug.”

Unable to stop a watery giggle from escaping, Anders reaches over to the larger man, pulling him down into the asked-for embraced.

--

When Fenris is finally returned to the nest, he’s greeted with the sight of Anders and Hawke…cuddling. It’s an alarming sight—and no, not because he’s jealous, though looking at them does have him itching to be close to Anders now—but because Anders has clearly been crying by the red, puffy look of his face and Hawke…

Well, Hawke looks only slightly less terrible than he has since they got here.

Still, Anders looks relieved—even eager to see him returning, and it is…heartening. Fenris is glad to know the mage was indeed worried about him. He’d expected to feel annoyed at Anders’ fussing, but the expression on his face only makes him strangely giddy.

To perhaps everyone’s surprise, Fenris is lowered directly into Anders’ reaching arms, and isn’t released by the tentacles till he’s safely placed in the mage’s lap, still dripping from his bath.

“Hello,” Fenris greets him, voice stilted—he would prefer to kiss the mage right now rather than use his words, but Hawke is right next to them, and it’s awkward enough just acknowledging the man’s presence with a polite nod before he tips forward into Anders’ embrace, resting his chin on the human’s shoulder. The mage folds long, pale arms around Fenris, holding him close without holding him too tightly, and the first of the elf’s many worries as to whether Anders would come to regret their earlier activity begin to dissipate.

“I’m glad you’re alright,” Fenris hears him say, voice straining, “I worried when you weren’t there when I woke up. I thought maybe I’d frightened you away, or I’d done something wrong—”

Fenris huffs—Anders had been right, that time he’d suggested that they were alike. He suspects that there will be more conversations had on the subject of their relationship, but now is not the time. “You did not,” he replies firmly. Tilting his head, he casts his gaze towards their leader, who in turn smiles tiredly and rumbles, “Hey. Our favorite healer was just helping me work the toxins out of my system.”

They’d clearly done more than that, else Anders would not have been crying, but Hawke has been a steadfast companion and friend since the day they’d met, and Fenris cannot find himself to feel accusatory or suspicious. If his mage had been crying, it was not something Hawke had caused.

And more than that, it may be something…personal, that Anders is not yet comfortable discussing with Fenris. He and the mage have arguably been friends for years, but only recently has there been some peace between them, and only now are they becoming close.

“Is that why you’re so sweaty,” he replies flatly instead of asking about a conversation he had likely not been meant to hear anyways.

“You missed me puking my guts up, too,” Hawke shrugs.

Though Anders is quiet for the exchange, his hands are quite mobile; restless fingers finding knots in Fenris’ neck and shoulders and massaging them away, and now and then simply stroking up and down his back.

“How fortunate that I was stolen away for a short time.”

As if on cue, Hawke’s entire body is shifted, and the next moment he is flat on his back, arms flailing. He laughs, but the sound is sharp, bordering on hysterical, and Anders and Fenris are both moving to reach for him out of reflex. Fenris’ heart clenches in his chest. If it’s time for Hawke to relieve himself and then be washed, there’s very little anyone can do, as the human will be separated from the rest of them, but knowing that doesn’t stop Fenris from wanting to keep his friend where he can protect him.

“Speaking of,” the larger man laughs, eyes a little too wide as thick tentacles wind around his arms and his waist, pulling him up and away. “I guess—I’ll leave you both to it?”

Fenris, still half in Anders lap, grasps one of Hawke’s still-flailing hands to still it. “Don’t fight,” he implores him, “it is less…aggressive, if you do what it wants.”

Hawke barks an unsteady laugh, squeezing Fenris’ hand once before he’s yanked away, throwing the elf off balance—Anders catches him before he can fall over, bundling him back into his lap.

“When have I ever been that sensible?” Hawke shouts, already high in the air. He’s never one to back down from a fight, or accept defeat with any amount of grace. Fenris has forever admired the mage’s stubbornness, but this is foolish. Pride is not worth being beaten and broken and poisoned till you can barely lift your head, or speak, or feel anything—

“Hawke, please!” Anders calls after him, voice high with concern.

“It really is much gentler if you don’t hurt it or try to get away!” Merrill pipes up, obviously having wanted to stay quiet—there seems to be some strange, unspoken rule in the group, not to interrupt conversations that are meant to be private—but thinking better of it. And truly, the blood mage does speak from experience, so she would know; the beast keeping them prisoner handles her with a great deal of care—at which Fenris is both disgusted, and envious. He has already been a favored pet once before, and the idea of sacrificing his pride in favor of comfort is appalling—

And yet.

He can only feel relieved when he watches Hawke’s struggles stop, the mage not relaxing, but tensely allowing himself to be handed from one group of tentacles to another.

Breathing out a trembling sigh, Fenris turns back to Anders, whose eyes flick to his after a moment, meeting his gaze.

The mage opens his mouth, struggling to find words for a short stretch of time till he simply gives up, clenching his jaw shut as he drops his forehead against the elf’s, closing his eyes.

Yes; Fenris isn’t quite sure what can be said, either. It would be too much to voice his fears for Hawke’s safety, and trying to make small talk right now would feel wrong.

“I…would like to sleep now,” he decides to say instead, suddenly acutely aware of how the day’s events have taken a toll on him.

“Alright,” the mage answers quietly.

For a little while, at least, they can rest together—inevitably, Anders will be taken as well, but he’ll be brought back. And then there will be nothing stopping them both from sleeping the remainder of the day away together, should they wish.

Chapter Text

Only after every other person has been removed, cleaned, and returned, sopping wet like a cat in the rain and just as uncomfortable in the grasp of the tentacles, is Anders pulled—coaxed, even—from Fenris’ arms.

Startled awake, the elf clings tighter to Anders, wide eyes darting about till they settle on the tentacles, at which something like horror crosses his handsome features.

“It’s alright,” the mage comforts unthinkingly—followed by a spike of bright denial, it’s not it’s not it’s not, but the tentacles are tightening around his arms and torso, not squeezing, but reminding and demanding compliance.

Years of struggling against the same sort of grip from the Templars wars against awareness of strict and immediate consequences in Anders’ mind, but as one thick tentacle winds around one of Fenris’ arms to pry the elf off of him manually, Anders unwinds Fenris’ arms from his body himself, catching one dark hand to squeeze in his own for the briefest moments before he sits up to move along with the pull of the ropey appendages trying to take him away.

“I’ll be right back, don’t worry.” He tries to smile, the same way he used to try to smile to comfort a very young Surana when the Templars would remove him for punishment after what was a harmless prank was taken too personally.

Some of the tension leaves the elf, and he nods a little too quickly, eyes averted. His chest still heaves as he recovers from the startle, however. Anders feels a pang near his heart, wanting to stay, to comfort Fenris and coax him back to sleep, but if he resists or even just stalls too much longer, there will likely be ramifications for more than just himself.

As always his stomach seems to turn over when he leaves the ground, the tentacles holding him arcing high through the air as they pass him along through different groups, from one set of slimy grips to another.

Unwilling to linger on the way they stroke over his body, squeezing and sliding where they hold him, the mage finds his thoughts wandering back to Fenris, and the way he’d held on to Anders, refusing to let him go till he was presumably awake enough to recognize the consequences refusing their captor could bring.

In the Circle, at least, they hadn’t taken to punishing Anders’ friends for his rebellions. Here, now, he longs for the freedom to set fire to every tentacle touching him and to feel secure knowing he alone would be punished for it. Not Fenris, not Hawke, not Justice—none of his friends.

But it is not so.

So when he is released onto his feet in chest deep water, toes curling into actual dirt at the bottom, he does not run.

He scrubs at himself as well as he can with his hands, wishing for soap and a razor to shave with, but tolerating what he has because he must.

He tenses as the stroke of a tendril over his inner thigh, heart quickening, but when it slides lower and simply curls around his leg just above his knee, he elects to ignore it, continuing to wash.

The fear persists, but Anders keeps his breathing steady.

“It’s okay,” he whispers, reminding himself that it’s only the both of them here together. Nobody to watch, to gawk at the crazy mage talking to himself. The knot in his gut tightens, and Anders closes his eyes tight against it, and presses on. “I know it’s not. It’s not okay,” he relents, “nothing about this is okay, but this, this doesn’t hurt. It’s—more than a bucket of freezing water, right?.” A strained, tinny laugh leaves between his teeth, and he regrets joking, because Justice never appreciated his humor, but he can’t help himself. He never could. Better to laugh at things he can’t help than to cry over them.

“The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can go back to Fenris and sleep.”

A measure of tension leaves his shoulders like the beads of water rolling down his skin.

“You…do you like Fenris?” Anders ponders aloud, opening his eyes, wanting to search out an expression on a face he can’t see anymore, “I guess I never really…asked what you thought of the company I’ve been keeping.”

There’s a flutter of—thought, of a sort, that Anders can’t parse, but he feels a bit of embarrassment he doesn’t think is his, and an absolute sureness that the answer is yes.

Considering this, the mage takes a moment to dunk his head underwater, holding his breath while he roughly scrubs his fingers through his hair, undoing sticky tangles. He comes up shortly after, slicking it back before it can flatten over his face.

“Okay,” he says, a little too loudly into the open air. It’s a struggle not to flinch at the volume, even with nobody here. Just us, just us. Hah, Just-us, Justice. He smirks, lopsided, far too amused at himself. “Well, that’s…good?” He might’ve been mad if he found out only a few weeks ago, with how Fenris rails against mage freedom on the regular, but if Justice approves, there will at least be less guilt involved if he and the elf go on with what they’ve started. “He’s…very strong.” And good with his hands. He doesn’t voice the second, and he’s glad, because he may have ruined the surge of approval rising in his chest. “And…brave. He’s been through a lot.” Yes, yes.

It’s—a little dizzying; the immediacy of Justice’s responses was unexpected. Anders hadn’t expected a response of any kind. He’d have known better years ago if he’d ever have thought to just try.

The guilt is like a lance delivered straight through the bubble of unexpected, raw positivity, and all at once it disperses, leaving Anders feeling smaller, empty, and panicking.

“Not you, not you,” he rushes out, fumbling with his phrasing, “it—you—I should have tried this sooner, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m not upset with you, just myself.”

There’s a restless flutter within, but the almost-maybe joy the spirit had shown him doesn’t return.

“I ruined it, Maker, I’m sorry, I ruin everything.” No. The force of the denial has him rewording before he has time to process whether it’s sourced in himself or in his companion, “All these years and I’ve never just talked to you like this…I have been a terrible friend.”

No, but there is an echo of an ache in his heart, and he grimaces.

“No, I have,” he insists, and there’s a rise of anger that follows, but he ignores it to press on, “I’ve been foolish, and angry, and I spoke so terribly of you after what happened with Ella.”

What have you become? You demon. Monster. She’s one of us and you nearly—

Anders remembers the horrified denial, the fear, the hurt, but he’d thought all of it to be his own.

“I was afraid, and cruel. It was wrong of me to lash out at you.” For years he’d refused to apologize to anybody. Keeping a clashing group of friends like Hawke’s made him more reluctant to voice regret, and even the apology to Justice earlier had tasted bitter on his tongue. “I’m sorry,” he repeats anyway, “you avenged Karl when I was too angry and afraid to, and I called you a demon for it. You didn’t deserve that. You have—” he winces at the tightening in his chest, wishes for what emotional control he has when he’s not under the influence of drugs so that maybe, he could keep his voice even, and maybe, he could refrain from weeping as he had with Hawke earlier, “you have been a steadfast companion, and stood strong where I failed. Thank you.”

The band of pressure he’d been fighting to breathe evenly against snaps away between one breath and another, leaving him gasping softly, tears springing to his eyes despite his best efforts.

A warmth bubbles up in his chest, and a fondness he has nothing to apply to, and without thinking he flattens a palm to the scar over his heart, wishing he could reach within himself and touch the spirit, hold him like Hawke had held him earlier—something he’d never done with Justice, as he’d been in a corpse before they’d joined, and Anders had been trying to keep everyone at arms’ length anyways.

I am a terrible friend, and I don’t deserve any of you, he thinks, but can’t bring himself to voice again, for fear of losing the warmth he feels.

It vanishes anyway a moment later when the tendril around his leg squeezes anyway, replaced by an anxious buzzing when another slimy length drags down Anders’ neck, following his spine downward before curling around his abdomen, squeezing there, too. Impatient, or just copping a feel? Anders doesn’t want to know.

“Just…stay calm,” he hushes, trying to reach for his healer’s voice, like he’s trying to calm one of the younger children in Darktown, “I know that nothing about this situation is alright, Justice, but if we keep our heads—” fear, fear, a deep, sinking fear of that haze of pleasure, “we just have to stay strong,” Anders tries instead, knowing too well that he won’t always be himself where this creature is concerned, “if my anger couldn’t turn you, neither can this thing.”

He resumes vigorously scrubbing at the skin of his arms, to busy himself or to satisfy the creature, he can’t be sure, but it feels better doing something while Justice processes his statement. He hopes it sinks in—if being called a demon by others and by Anders himself after years of toiling away fruiltlessly in Kirkwall didn’t break the spirit, Anders can’t believe that drugged, forced pleasure will be what undoes him.

He can’t believe that. Because if he’s wrong, what hope do any of them have?

Is it that out of the question, he wonders, despite his best efforts not to think too hard on it, that eventually we’ll all break? He’d already seen Fenris in such a state this morning, nearly out of his mind with panic, and his own inhibitions had been low enough by that point for him to debase himself to draw the attention of the beast, distracting it so he could soothe Fenris’ pain. He’d allowed Fenris to pleasure him in a questionable state after—

He insisted, he reminds himself, we talked about it, after, with clearer heads, and he didn’t regret it.

He’d smeared his own spend over Fenris’ stomach with the desire to mark him like some sort of object, he recalls with a grimace.

That’s not why I did it, but even knowing that he had no desire to own Fenris did little to quell the feeling of ugly wrongness and guilt.

But the memory of Fenris’ hand gripping his jaw, firm and sure, the elf’s mouth so close to his their lips brushed, and the ease with which he extracted a vow Anders hadn’t expected himself to be so eager to promise and yet—

Some of it is the drugs. The drive, the need, yes, and perhaps even some of the budding affection, but even now, thoroughly sated and having napped a spell, Anders still means what he said, and still aches for the elf’s unexpectedly tender touch.

I would not see you in the Gallows, Fenris had said, and a week ago, Anders would not have believed him. A week ago, Anders would have accused him of lying, or of demanding why he alone should be free, when so many innocents spend their days in cells, waiting to be tortured by Templars.

But that was before they’d ventured out on this fool’s errand. Before they’d suffered the unthinkable together, before Anders had watched Fenris break Merrill’s skin with his teeth to fuel her blood magic, all for the sake of escaping together.

The memory sours in his stomach, earning a shudder, and his shifting emotions are followed by a nagging sense of curiosity and a creeping anxiety that grows stronger with each squirm of a tentacle against his flesh.

“We’ll escape,” Anders decides to stay, in case that’s Justice. It’s probably Justice. He may yet get the hang of this; feeling Justice out. If he can only keep something of a clear head, and be patient in the midst of Kirkwall’s constant disasters and emergencies, Anders won’t have to feel alone. Even if…even if Fenris decides to change his mind, after this—Anders tells himself very firmly that he will not be angry with the elf if Fenris decides not to continue their relationship after they’ve escaped—Anders will still have Justice, and Justice will have Hawke, even if Anders himself continues to be an unreliable friend to the spirit.

“We’re going to get out of this. We’ll put a plan together properly, this time. We were at a disadvantage going in, because we didn’t know what we were up against, and we were all exhausted when we tried to run the first time.” The first time he tried to run from the Circle had been immediately after his arrival—he hadn’t gotten far.

He’d only ever gotten anywhere in his escapes with plenty of rest beforehand and careful planning.

This creature is intelligent, certainly, but not infallible. There has to be a main body, somewhere. They can’t count on it revealing itself, though. Escape seems more plausible than killing it. Not as satisfying, certainly, he considers with a grimace as one tentacle creeps higher around his thigh. He doesn’t risk trying to push the curling limb back down toward his knee.

Not as satisfying, but less likely to end horrifically.