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Anders was heartily sick of the Circle. He’d already escaped three times, and Karl was worried for him, worried about what punishment he would receive if he tried again. Pfft. Karl was always worried. He liked the man, but there were better things to do than bow and scrape to the Templars for the rest of his life.

He’d noticed a new Templar had turned up recently. Had even managed to catch him with his helmet off, so he knew the guy was young, and cute – blonde hair, broad shoulders…if he wasn’t a Templar, Anders might have been tempted to flirt with him. Actually…maybe that would be a fun way to spend the afternoon – Maker knew there was nothing else to do once classes were over.

He drifted through the corridors, aiming to seem aimless, but really he was looking out for the new Templar. Maybe he’d be in the library. Newbies often got sent there for guard duty until the Captain decided that they were worth putting somewhere else. Ha! Yes, that looked like him. He had his helmet on, but Anders was a quick study and had noticed that he had a nervous twitch – he stroked the back of his neck an awful lot. Almost as though he were embarrassed – or maybe the helmet just didn’t fit well. No time like the present to find out.

“Ser Templar!” he called out jovially.

“Ah…yes?” He sounded unsure, and Anders looked up at him with the biggest grin he could muster for a suit or armour, and batted his eyelashes. Predictably, the Templar’s hand went straight for his neck.

“Are you in pain, ser? Would you like me to heal that for you?” he snuck a little closer, hand slipping to the Templar’s shoulder as he stepped into the Templar’s personal space.

“Err…no…I’m fine.”

“Perhaps you’d feel better if you took off that nasty helmet. Must get hot in those things,” Anders said. Both hands were now on the Templar’s shoulders, and he swayed his hips a little, grinning when the Templar’s helmet filled with the sound of coughing and he backed up so quickly that he ran into and almost knocked down a shelf of books.
Anders quickly pressed his advantage, hands whipping off the Templar’s helmet before he could regain his balance. “Oh, you poor thing. Perhaps you should sit down,” he cooed. He dropped the helmet, ignoring the clang as it hit the ground and pushed on the armoured chest until he had the Templar backing up. The man was red in the face, mouth hanging open – he looked like he might have a fit as Anders giggled and got closer still.

“Let me take a look at you”, he said. “I’m a healer…maybe you’ve heard my name? It’s Anders.” He was tall, which was convenient, because he could look the young guy right in those brown eyes as he pretended to examine him. He took the Templar’s face in his hands, turning it this way and that with a little frown on his face.

“Enchanter Anders! This is…this…inappropriate!” the Templar stuttered, and Anders laughed in his face. “I have heard of you, you know. You don’t have the best reputation. Best not make things worse for yourself!” Anders pouted and let go of his face.

“And your name, Ser Templar? I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage.”

“Ah…” the man coughed, scrubbing at his neck again in that adorable, twitchy way. “Cullen. Ser Cullen. Rutherford.” He seemed to be having troubled with full sentences. Anders took his gauntleted hand and bowed over it with all the grace he could manage – which honestly wasn’t much, he was trying too hard not to laugh.

“A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Cullen Ser Cullen Rutherford. Perhaps we’ll meet again soon.” He was, honestly, he really was about to leave, when Karl surprised him by grabbing his arm from behind. Karl scooped the Templar’s helmet up off the floor and handed it to him, then dragged Anders off to their dorm.

“Are you crazy?” he hissed. “Do NOT antagonise the Templars!” Anders just laughed. This Cullen guy could be worth some fun.

Chapter Text

Anders always put milk out for cats. It was always done with a sad little smile, hopeful but not expecting much. He had that smile down pat. It pretty much encompassed how he felt about life at this point. One could always hope for the best, or just for better, than what one had, but hope in his experience, didn’t often translate into much good.
That morning he opened the clinic and lit the lantern. He picked up the milk dish, ready to dispose of the milk, which would have turned during the night. To his surprise, some of it appeared to be gone. He shrugged, it could easily have been one of the Darktown urchins. Most of them knew hunger only too well, and wouldn’t stoop to drink the milk that the healer put out for the non-existent cats.
When the floor shook, Anders flinched. That was NEVER a good sign. It wasn’t long until people were dragging injured patients in. Another tunnel had partially collapsed, and the injuries were plentiful, and mostly severe. He sent word with a patient’s son to Varric, hopeful that someone could help out with the cave-in, because he couldn’t. He was swamped.
By halfway through the day he had already finished every lyrium potion that he had squirreled away, and his mana was dangerously low. By evening, he had already drained part of his life essence multiple times, trying to save the last of those being pulled out. The horror of it was that they were children, ones who had been playing in the small spaces in the tunnels. They had been at the heart of the cave in and were some of the worst injured.
He kept healing and healing, lost past when he should have stopped. His hands were shaking when he finally closed the clinic, so badly that he couldn’t carry a saucer of milk to the door without spilling it all over the floor. He wobbled in his tracks when he tried to kneel down to clean it up, but before he could swipe a rag through the spilled milk, a tiny noise made him lift his weary head.
A kitten. The tiniest he had seen, was limping towards the spilled milk. Behind it, another kitten, even scrawnier. Anders sat back on his haunches, then fell onto his rump with a sigh. These kittens should still be with their mother, they were barely old enough to walk. Their little bodies wobbled and wavered as they made their way to the milk, and began to lap it up. Both of them were shivering, and he reached out automatically to send a burst of warmth and healing to them.
His fingers didn’t even fizzle. Damn it! No. This wasn’t good enough. He would save these kittens. He had wanted a cat again for so very long. He wouldn’t let them die. He scrabbled onto his feet, startling the kittens, but not badly enough that they left the milk. They must be so hungry. He picked them up, one in each hand – a ginger tabby, and a tortoiseshell. Gorgeous. He shuffled inside, feeling weary to his bones, and placed them on a blanket, putting a lamp beside them to warm them. It was all he could manage for the minute.
Anders ran a shaking hand through his hair, looking to see if he had any more milk in the cool-box he kept. Nothing. Well…maybe he could go and buy some? He shook his head in defeat, he was definitely not up to a trip to the market, and most of the stalls would be closed now anyway. It would have to wait until morning. He put out a bowl of water for them, and carried them to his cot. He could keep them warm and hydrated until morning. If they could only survive until then.
Morning came, and the sun’s rays came through the high windows in the side of the clinic, finally reaching Anders’ face and waking him from an exhausted slumber. He sat, rubbing his eyes, and it took only a moment before he remembered the kittens. He reached out, a sob rising in his throat before his hand even touched them. The tortoiseshell hadn’t made it. The tiny body was still and cold, eyes staring blankly. Anders heard a sound at the door, but couldn’t look away. He felt the tears running down as his face as he picked up the little body and cradled it in his hands. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he gasped.
Dimly, he heard Isabela’s voice, her cheerful, cheeky greeting after breaking into his clinic as usual. He didn’t stop apologising, couldn’t stop the tears. A gentle hand came to land on his shoulder, and Isabela sat on the bed beside him. She took his hands in her warm dark ones, and carefully picked up the dead kitten, placing it on the bed. She took him in her arms, wrapping them around him tightly. Anders sobbed out his sadness and frustration into her neck, listening to her while she mumbled soothing nonsense into his ear.
When he could, he sat up, wiping his face and trying to gather a smile. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t save her, Isa…yesterday…it was a nightmare, and I had no mana, I had nothing left to drain, and I…” Isabela shushed him with a finger on his lips, and turned to pick something up. She dropped a squirming bundle of fur into his hand, reminding him that he had a reason to get on with things.
“Looks like this little one needs some breakfast,” she said, no nonsense. “Let’s go get him some milk”. Anders smiled weakly, holding the living kitten cosily to his chest.
“Yes,” he said. “I need to stock up on milk, I think.” Isabela flung an arm over his shoulder, and together they left Darktown, emerging into the sunny, warm day, kitten mewling quietly in Anders’ careful grip. Perhaps things weren’t so bad after all.

Chapter Text

Sera woke up in her usual spot, face smushed into a pile of cushions that were flung haphazardly on the floor of the room in the Herald’s Rest that she called her own. She was quite impressed with the way she had managed that – something about being quick and small and incredibly stubborn. She pushed back the scraggly fringe from her forehead and tugged at her dress until it was reasonably straight. Wouldn’t do to have anything falling out in front of Josephine…or Cullen. She had a quiet cackle to herself at the thought.

It was midday, but the sun didn’t heat anything at this time of year, it barely choked it’s way through the clouds that hung, low and heavy over Skyhold, promising more snow tonight. Sera sprinted over to the main hall, her slippered feet chill in the slushy snow that was left on the ground from yesterday. She took the stairs a few at a time, and skidded on a patch of ice on the landing, straight into the Inquisitor.

“Mmm, Inky!” she tried to say, face pressed straight into the Qunari’s breasts, just where she liked it. Cynthia laughed, the vibration in her chest making Sera’s nose tickle, and she giggled when she was picked up and promptly sat on her shoulder. From here she could see the whole room, regulars and guests lined up for breakfast at the tables, and she stuck her tongue out at those who were scowling at her while she held onto one of Cynthia’s gorgeous curling horns and let herself swing to the side to kiss her cheek.
“Gotta show you something, Inky,” she said and Cynthia put her down so she could lead the way. She curled her small hand into the Qunari’s silvery fist and dragged her towards the kitchens.

“No, no, no, we are not cooking again!” Cynthia threw an arm across her face in mock dismay. “This never turns out well, Sera…” Sera pouted and Cynthia picked her up for a hug and swung her around before dumping her back on her feet. “Oh, don’t make the pouty face at me, you know I’ll eat it! What are we making today? The cook is going to kill us.”
Sera gave her usual raucous laugh, and bounced eagerly at her side. “Cookies!”

“But we tried cookies, they tasted like crap!”

“Got a new recipe!” Sera crowed, and Cynthia groaned but let herself be dragged in to the kitchen. When he saw them, the cook threw his hands in the air, took his apron off and left, shouting behind him “Don’t burn anything this time!!”

Sera busied herself with bowls and spoons, flour and who knew what else, while Cynthia sat on the bench, using a little of the cooking oil to massage the base of her horns. It was hard to get good horn oil here. She looked up just in time to see Sera giving her a furtive look and sprinkling a handful of something into the mix.
“Sera?” she asked, her voice low with suspicion…”what did you put in the dough?”

“Elfroot!” chortled Sera.

“You know it only gets elves high, right? Won’t do anything to me,” Cynthia said with amusement.

“Not for you, silly Inky,” Sera said fondly, sidling up to whisper in Cynthia’s ear. “We’re going to feed them to Solas.”

Chapter Text

Anders strolled around the Hightown market, picking up an apple here, a bottle of wine there, some sweet pastries. He had a date tonight, and he was in a good mood. The Clinic hadn’t even been too busy, so he was full of energy, despite the chill of mid-winter that was in the air.

The sun was starting to go down by the time he was done, and he casually looked around checking that he was unnoticed before trotting towards Fenris’ mansion. Fenris didn’t want any of their friends to know that they were working on a relationship, and until it was stable, neither did Anders.

Sometimes it was hard to tell where each of them stood with the other. Sometimes they made love as though it were a fight, sometimes they fought out of love, afraid what would happen to the other if they couldn’t let go of their rage.

Anders opened the mansion door, unlocked just for him, and waltzed in, packages gently whapping at his legs as he turned and headed up the stairs. Normally Fenris would meet him downstairs, but it was nothing for him to feel at home here now, and he headed up to the bedrooms confidently.

Confidently until he heard the strangled noises coming from above. Then he was taking the stairs two at a time, already pulling his staff from his back and calling magic to his command. He burst into Fenris’ bedroom, ready for anything, sparks dripping from his fingers. Fenris was laying in his bed, and looking at him as though he were completely mad.
“What in the Void are you doing, mage!” he barked, then coughed violently, doubling up over himself and trying his best to bring up a lung. Anders dropped his hands, shutting off the flow of magic, knowing how it bothered Fenris when he used magic near his markings. He rushed to the bedside, wrapping an arm around Fenris’ shoulders and helping him back to lay on the pillows once the coughing had stopped. The elf looked dreadful, his nose was red and dry, his skin pale and clammy and hot.

“Fenris, oh baby, are you alright?”

“I’m not a baby,” grumped Fenris predictably, a pouty look on his face making him look even worse. “Can you…waggle your fingers at me or something. I feel terrible.” Speaking had him coughing again, spasms of harsh noise followed when he finally sat back by a sneeze that had Anders giggling.

“You’ve got a cold, love. No magical cure for that, I’m afraid. I can tell you what to do though – plenty of water, rest, chicken and vegetable soup…that’s about it.”

“Pfft. Mages, useless when you really need them,” Fenris lay back on the pillows, no fight in him at all, and Anders decided to let the insult go. He busied himself setting out apples and water for Fenris on the side-table, but decided against letting him have any wine in the state he was in.

Running a bath came next, with a healing potion tipped in just to take the edge off Fenris’ fever. He went back to the bedroom, where Fenris just stared at him with a glazed look – until Anders picked him up, then he was fighting a squirming elf, weak punches landing on his chest until he tossed Fenris bodily into the tub, still dressed.

“You are so Maker damned stubborn, elf,” he said, hands on hips and a frown on hihs face. Fenris wilted into the water, looking chastened and like nothing more or less than a miserable cat in the tub. Anders allowed himself a chuckle and got the expected scowl in response. He busied himself pulling off Fenris’ wet clothes while the elf pouted, refusing to help and sinking into the tub until all that was out of the water were his eyes, the tips of his ears and a damp mess of hair.

By the time he had Fenris clean and dry, the elf was acting a little more himself. Still sniffling and sneezing, but the hot water had eased his lungs a little and most of the coughing had stopped. They went downstairs together, Anders holding his lover’s hand. It was nice when Fenris let him do that, it didn’t happen often…though he wished it did.

He set Fenris near the fire and bustled around in the kitchen. There was no chicken, but a vegetable stew should cheer him up a little. A flash of inspiration had him running upstairs for the apples, and he stewed them up too, adding cinnamon and cloves and some lemon juice and honey. Fenris snuck into the kitchen, lured by the scent of apples cooking, and made a nuisance of himself hanging over Anders’ shoulder until he was dragged out and into a seat by the fire again.

Anders dished up the stew, and the apples and carried the bowls out for them to share. The grateful look on Fenris’ face, and the kisses he received as payment for the apples almost made it worth having Fenris sick…almost. Finally he tucked his lover into bed and snuggled up next to him. If Fenris were sick again tomorrow it would give them a perfect excuse to spend the day together.

Chapter Text

By the time Hawke bothered to drag himself out of bed it was after noon and Leandra was having a mild anxiety attack. “Garrett dear, I know this isn’t your strong suit, but I need a favour quite badly.”

“What’s up mother?” Garett asked, scratching his backside and rubbing at his eyes in a way that made Leandra wince and wring her hands in dismay.

“Oh dear”, she mumbled, “this isn’t the best idea.” Garrett wrapped her in a bear hug and tried to sound responsible.

“I can do whatever you need, Mother. Just tell me what’s up.” Leandra looked up at him and patted his cheek – alarm bells began to ring for Hawke. What had he just agreed to?

“You’re right of course, darling. I’m sure you’ll be just fine. You were wonderful with the twins when they were small.” Oh Maker, Hawke’s stomach was now hovering somewhere around his knees. He had a sinking feeling he knew what this favour entailed. Leandra smiled, somehow not looking at all reassuring.

“I promised Aveline and Donnic that I would babysit for them tonight. The Maker knows that girl could use a bit of a break.”

“Oh, absolutely,” agreed Hawke, as he summoned a grin. “So, what’s the favour? Do you need me to go out for milk?” He inwardly prayed that this was the case.

“Actually, I was very much hoping that you could mind Avenic. My friend Jenna’s daughter has just gone into labour, and I promised her months ago that I would be there to help when it was time.” Leandra peered up at him, eyes wide, and Hawke knew that there was no escaping it. He grit his teeth, put on his most jovial voice, got the details and saw his mother out the door before his façade cracked.

Closing the door, Hawke threw his hands in the air and swore. “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!” Sandal poked his head into the room with a broad smile.

“Enchantment?” he asked.

“No, Sandal,” Hawke sighed, rubbing his face with one broad palm. “No enchantment. Why don’t you go keep Dog company?” he suggested, and as he went in search of Bodhan he heard a loud wailing come from upstairs – Avenic was awake.

 

 

Hawke found Bodhan in the kitchen, busily packing a hamper. “Bodhan!” he shouted cheerily, clapping the dwarf on the back. Bodhan jumped, dropping a cheese wedge in surprise.

“Oh, messere, I didn’t hear you come in,” he said, giving Hawke an awkward bow over the hamper. “I’ll be right out of your hair. Well, we will. My boy and I have quite the day planned.” Hawke frowned. Oh no, no, no, this would not do at all.

“Oh, don’t be silly Bodhan,” he said, planning to keep Bodhan around by any means possible, but Bodhan looked up at him with a concerned look on his face.

“Is there a problem, messere? Sandal and I have been planning this day off for several weeks. I organised it with the Lady Leandra. If you have need of me though…” he began stoutly. Although his words were as respectful as ever, Hawke noticed the sad look he gave the half-packed picnic and cringed guiltily. He backed out of the kitchen, all the while mumbling assurances that he was fine, that they should go out and have a wonderful day.

Upstairs Avenic was still wailing, and Hawke took the stairs two at a time, running into Leandra’s bedroom where a red-faced baby had just awoken from her nap, bolstered all around by thick cushions in the middle of Leandra’s bed. She saw Hawke, hiccoughed in distress, and began to wail again, louder than ever.

Dog’s head popped up over the side of the bed and Hawke suddenly had a brilliant idea. The BEST idea. “Dog! Go get Fenris!” Dog raised an eyebrow, head cocked to one side in doggy disbelief. “Go on Dog…pleeeease?” Hawke was not beyond begging his mabari for help at this point. Dog whuffed and galloped off and Hawke sighed with relief. Help would soon arrive.

 

 

Fenris panicked when Dog came to summon him. The mabari had howled and leapt at his front door until Fenris ran to it, sword in hand and eyes wide. Dog barked at him and danced away in the direction of the Amell manor, butt wiggling with excitement. Fenris bolted after him, sword still out, Tevene curses falling from his lips. What trouble had Hawke gotten into now?

 

“You want me to do what?” Fenris asked flatly, disgust on his face. Hawke gave his best hang-dog expression and Dog slumped onto the floor, covering his face with one paw and whining in sympathy.

“You know…can’t you just…glow? Just a little bit… to entertain her?” Hawke batted his eyelashes and Fenris snorted at him. Hawke didn’t have the build or the face for puppy eyes to work on his warrior lover.

“I am neither a toy, nor a night-candle, Hawke,” he stated firmly.

“Not even for kisses?” Hawke wheedled. Fenris’s eyes softened for a moment and Hawke began to grin, inwardly leaping up and down in celebration.

“Not even for kisses,” Fenris said with a smirk and Hawke’s face fell. Avenic had at least stopped wailing for the moment, distracted by Dog where he peered over the side of the bed, lifting one ear after another as little hands tried and failed to grab them.

“Dog,” Fenris called, clear command in his tone. “Fetch Anders, as fast as you can.” Dog leapt up and bolted for the door. Hawke shook his head at his mabari – the dog always obeyed Fenris without looking at him like he was crazy the way he often did at Hawke. Traitorous dog.

“Anders?” questioned Hawke once Dog had exited. Fenris smirked.

“If I must suffer this indignity I see no reason why Anders should not suffer alongside us,” he said. Hawke laughed and picked up Avenic from the bed. Immediately he was bellowing, two little hands clutched tightly into his beard. Avenic laughed at the painful yelling, and pulled harder. Fenris threw the infant a half smile. “I could begin to respect you, little warrior,” he said chuckling as Hawke growled at him.

 

 

Anders had been up all night helping with a difficult birth. When Dog came bounding in he was finally handing the newborn over to the exhausted new mother. Anders groaned when Dog bit at his coat tails, dragging him towards the door. He ran a hand over his face, and through his dishevelled hair. With an effort to keep his eyes open, he grabbed his staf and let Dog drag him out of the clinic and towards the passage to Hawke’s estate.

Only a short time had passed before Anders suddenly arrived on the scene, an excited Dog in tow. Hawke had no chance to explain. Anders took in the situation with a glance, a skill that he used to good effect when the clinic was busy “No,” he said, and turned on his heel to leave. Only to find his way blocked by Fenris in all his lyrium-enhanced glowing splendour.

“Anders, please,” he rumbled in his deep voice, and Anders swore vehemently. Fenris was using his puppy-eyes – on PURPOSE! He knew Anders could never resist them.

“You owe me so many kisses,” Anders cursed. “Both of you!” he reiterated, stamping a foot as they both laughed at him. Hawke waited high-fived Fenris behind Anders’ back.

 

A few hours later and Anders was flagging badly after his sleepless night. He and Justice had glowed and sang and fed and changed Avenic. Hawke had tried but…babies weren’t his forte. Fenris had been shockingly helpful; preparing food, cleaning up as they went, also glowing – though he would never admit it. He only did it when he thought that nobody was watching, but they’d both caught him at it and been subjected to fearsome scowling.

Anders flopped down onto the couch, clearly exhausted and Fenris didn’t look much better. Hawke struggled between guilt and selfishness for a minute before covering his lovers with a blanket and scooping up Avenic from Fenris’ arms.

“You two rest,” he said. “I’ve got this.” Anders protested weakly until Fenris snuggled up on his chest, pulling up the blanket until only a tuft of white hair and one pointed ear showed. Hawke grinned as Anders gave in with a sigh.

Hawke carried Avenic up to his room, hoping to give Fenris and Anders a quiet space to rest in. Avenic’s eyes were starting to blink closed and he lay down beside her on the bed. He would just shut his eyes for a minute, trick the kid into falling asleep. Yes…just a few minutes.

 

Sometime later, Fenris awoke with a start. He didn’t usually sleep for long, a hang-over from his time with Danarius. He blinked, peering around blearily as he lifted a tousled head. Poking Anders in the ribs, he threw the blanket to the floor and stood, long ears twitching. It was quiet, too quiet. He held out a hand to help Anders to his feet, holding a finger to his lips for quiet. Anders nodded nervously, and quietly moved to grab his staff.

Slowly they ventured around the ground floor, finding nothing untowards – just empty, quiet rooms that seemed to mock their concern. They moved together towards the staircase, Anders letting Fenris take the lead. Upstairs was the same – quiet and still, no movement, no sound. It was off-putting. There should be the soft movements of Leandra, Sandal and Dog playing, Bodhan’s sturdy footsteps – more than that, Hawke was always audible, noisy and cheerful and always moving. Fenris frowned as they approached the door to Hawke’s bedroom.

Once they opened the door, Anders almost laughed in relief – there he was, the great lummox, asleep on his bed – and he’d probably had a full night’s sleep too! Fenris though, was still frowning as he moved forward to shake Hawke by the shoulder, waking him. Hawke woke quickly, one hand snaking out to grab Fenris’ wrist, eyes flying open. “Oh, it’s just you, love,” he grinned.

“Hawke?” Fenris said, and Anders gave him a curious look – why was Fenris still so concerned. Hawke raised his eyebrows at them both, looking around to see what was wrong. “Hawke. Where is the baby?”

 

It felt like a good minute passed in shock, Hawke staring open-mouthed at Fenris, while Anders went pale, the baby was nowhere in sight and Fenris was shaking his head in dismay. Suddenly Hawke was all movement, flinging himself from the bed, swearing loudly and running out the door. Anders had to put a hand over his mouth to stop the hysterical laughter that was starting to bubble up out of his mouth. If they had lost Avenic, Aveline would kill them. For real, this time. Then Donnic would kill the remains. To say nothing of what Leandra would have to say. Fenris ran out the door after Hawke and Anders followed. He had no idea where to begin.

 

As Hawke ran down the stairs, the door to the lobby opened and Leandra let herself in. She removed her shawl and turned just in time to see Hawke leaping to the floor, Fenris in quick pursuit. Hawke’s eyes were wide and horrified, and he didn’t stop running, just kept sprinting, straight through the lobby and into the kitchen. Fenris took one look at Leandra and followed suit. Anders sighed and shrugged. Looked like it was his job to distract the Lady Amell. Giving her a little bow, he led her to the couch and asked about her day.

 

Hawke and Fenris meanwhile had detoured out of the kitchen and were now frantically searching rooms downstairs. They had split up to cover more space, and Fenris could hear Hawke rummaging around. It sounded like he was tearing the place apart. Fenris suddenly realised that they hadn’t even looked around upstairs yet, and bolted back to the stairs. Could Avenic even make it up and down stairs yet? He had no clue. Dashing up the stairs he began to search the bedroooms and bathroom. No sign of Avenic yet. He prayed that Hawke had found something as he made his way back down the stairs.

 

Hawke was afraid that he was hyperventilating. He needed Anders. Anders could always calm him down. He took great lungfuls of air, feeling dizzy. He had heard Fenris go dashing back up the stairs and thanked the Maker that one of them had kept his head. He was having no luck down here. He was going to have to admit that he had lost a baby. To his mother. To Aveline. Maker, this was rapidly turning into the worst moment of his life.

Fenris and Hawke met at the bottom of the stairs, both empty-handed. Fenris looked at Hawke, stern-faced and pointed a finger towards where Leandra and Anders were sitting. Hawke blanched, and Fenris gave him a shove towards his mother. “Mother,” he said, voice cracking. “How did the birth go?”

“Oh, Garrett. I was just telling Anders all about it. Mother and baby are fine. Now, how’s Avenic been for you? I do hope that she wasn’t any trouble. Where is the little one, anyway? I thought that she must be asleep, but you and Fenris have been making enough noise to raise the dead.” She gave her son a disapproving look, and Hawke paled even more beneath his beard. Fenris clenched his fists and dropped his gaze, feeling a deep shame welling up. He knew Hawke wasn’t responsible enough to care for a baby, he should have stayed awake.

Just then, Anders spoke up, looking far too perky and happy. He was staring at something over Leandra’s shoulder, in the kitchen doorway. “Oh, they’ve just been playing hide-and-seek with her, Leandra. Don’t worry, she’s just fine, happy as a lamb. Hawke stared at Anders, dumb-founded, and Fenris’ head shot up in shock. Then both slowly turned their heads to look in the direction that he was looking. There was Dog, coming in from the gardens outside the kitchen no doubt, Avenic slung over his back and hanging on tight to an ear with one hand while she swung a twig around in the other. She was smiling and gurgling happily, and Hawke almost fainted in relief. Thank the Maker!

 

It wasn’t until Leandra had left to deliver Avenic back to her parents that the three men allowed their guard to drop, rewarding Dog with as many mabari treats as he could eat. “Do not ever send that dog for me again if a baby is involved,” said Fenris, quickly seconded by Anders. Hawke rubbed his hair and chuckled ruefully.

 

The next time Avenic needed minding, Dog wasn’t sent anywhere. Hawke went to fetch them himself.