It was most charming to watch Anders' face change from a tired scowl to an expression of utter, childish joy, Hawke mused. It was totally worth the trouble of walking all the way to the clinic with the squirming bag of hiss he had just presented to the apostate. It wasn't just the hissing, it also had a nasty set of sharp claws. Hawke was more of a dog person himself, and honestly had no idea how to treat a cat. Especially a cat that kept insistently sneaking into his mansion through open windows and cracks in the cellar, often to be either backed up in a corner by an overly curious mabari or gently tossed out, mewling in outrage as it landed in the garden.
What at first looked like a flailing ball of fur sticking out all over unfolded on the table into a crouched, annoyed and thoroughly disgruntled tabby. It looked a bit on the hungry side, but its fur looked healthy, shiny even.
It was easy to tell that Anders was completely enthralled by the little creature; his eyes kept dancing from Hawke to the cat, his face split with a wide, radiant smile.
"Y-you remembered-? You mean, for me-? Can I keep it-? Can I-?"
"You're welcome," Hawke cut in, beaming - the joy was rolling off Anders in waves, threatening to spill over any moment.
"I'm going to name him Ser Grumpypants!" the healer yelled after the retreating Champion, and Hawke sincerely hoped he was joking, at least for the sake of the poor cat.
The first days with Ser Grumpypants were rather trying. He would bolt and hiss every time Anders approached, dashing for the clinic entrance. He obviously wanted to be somewhere else, away from Anders and pretty much away from anybody who came near him, but seemed somewhat lost. Or maybe it was thanks to the impeccable animal instincts, that he knew he won't make it past the inhabitants of the Undercity, so he stayed, looking as disgruntled and annoyed as only a cat can.
Bigger problem, however, was that he would climb the highest beam he could find, hissing and growling anytime Anders had to use magic. And that was, given his occupation, a lot.
He tried putting out milk, which failed spectacularly, just as trying to goad the cat down with a piece of fish one of the patients brought him. Anders had to chuckle, the tabby apparently hated fish just as much as magic, if not more.
Nug ham, however, was a different story, and marked the first Truce of Noble Ser Grumpypants and The Apostate.
Still, he had to repeatedly warn all the children milling about the clinic that the cat fell to the same "no touchies" category as his tools and potions. He truly didn't want any additional workload in the form of cat scratches and weeping, bleeding children. Ser Grumpypants truly gave the "have a cat around" phrase its literal meaning. He wasn't the kind of cat that would sleep curled on people's laps - he simply sneaked all over the place, yowling at every sign of affection - but definitely not out of fear, as Anders noted, the cat simply was grumpy. And if that was simply its nature or it was caused by severe mistreatment, he could not tell.
In the rare moments of spare time, between treating cooties and assisting Hawke - and damn how irked the Champion was these days - he marveled at Ser Grumpypants' prowess. Even though he looked like a true tabby at the first glance, he could see more exotic features here and there - maybe the cat got to Kirkwall on some of the ships from Seheron or perhaps even Tevinter. He had little in common with Ser Pounce-a-lot, though. Where the brave hero of a cat had a regular orange coat, his current companion had a marvelous marbled pattern, in greys, faded browns and specks of almost silverish white, with round, green eyes. Anders had to smile, it was especially the eyes that kept drawing him in.
The Second Truce was established when Anders accidentally flicked the cat's ears, and Ser Grumpypants made a surprised half-mewl, half-purr. His ears were apparently sensitive and he rubbed his head against Anders' palm with abandon. It brought Anders the greatest of joys as it allowed him to finally pick the tabby up properly, to hoist him against his chest. He could even feel a glimpse of approval from Justice - warped as he was, he did not forget what Ser Pounce-a-lot stood for.
On his way to the Hanged Man for the weekly round of Wicked Grace, he attempted to securely lodge Ser Grumpypants in his robes - it didn't go well.
After having a good laugh at Anders' expense (the scratch marks all over his cheeks were impressive), Varric had to agree that Blondie has been far more stable now. No glowy "accidents" tended to happen these days, and he'd swear there were less manifestos lying around as well. Though, if only he could say the same about Hawke, who seemed just as irritable as the Knight-Commander thrown into a pit of mages. The spot across the table from Varric was empty again, the obvious source of Hawke's foul mood. Fenris was either doing a splendid job at avoiding everybody, or was gone from Kirkwall - and neither option was pleasing. Hawke had been joking about it before; wondering aloud if Fenris managed to drink himself into a stupor and fall into the harbor, but it hardly felt appropriate anymore. Even Isabela managed to have a genuine sliver of worry in her voice, even though she complained only about the lack of eye candy in form of slender curves of elven asses. Anders found himself chuckling at that, and absentmindedly patted Ser Grumpypants' head. The former slave was a pain in the arse to reason with, but his disappearance was unsettling.
The Third Truce was reached when Anders woke up with a start in the middle of the night, slightly panicked from the lack of air in his lungs, and found Ser Grumpypants curled up on his chest in a manner most ingenuous. Still breathing hard, he scooped the cat in his arms, and for some reason, thought of Fenris. Fingers carding through the soft fur, he realized that the elf was probably the loneliest of them all - unlike everybody else, he had only the dank mansion and a bottle of wine to return to. Clinging to the small, purring body, Anders dreamt of happier times that night. One would hardly consider a Grey Warden Joining ritual as happy times, but those memories were truly his, the ones he enjoyed. Memories of hijinks with Ser Pounce-a-lot, loitering around the Keep, setting Oghren's pants on fire, getting drunk off his robes with Mahariel or just doing whatever.
Anders was caught in a rather embarrassing situation the following evening - dictating his newest manifesto ideas to Ser Grumpypants himself, who was most interested in meticulously cleaning his paws. Hawke would've chuckled at such sight, but was busy trying not to bleed all over the floor.
Anders could only swallow a frustrated sigh as he channeled the healing magic. He had to use plain old tweezers first, to pull out all the jagged chunks of glass from Hawke's knuckles. He had little time to wonder that Ser Grumpypants didn't shy away from the magic, and kept weaving himself between Hawke's greaves, before Hawke started to speak.
"Been to the Emporium," he offered. "It was the last place I didn't turn over to find the damned elf. Bastard of a proprietor was just mocking me and spoke in riddles. So I kind of..."
"...smashed the darned mirror to pieces?" Anders finished the sentence, deadpan. Demonic devices were better off destroyed, but... "Isabela might throw a fit about it later, you know?"
Hawke's mouth curled up in a small smile, "Tragic, I know. Had to wrestle a golem on my way back, and still found nothing. Mind if I crash here for the night?"
Anders certainly didn't mind, and Hawke was soon dozing off on one of the less filthy cots. He finished the remaining chores quietly, voice barely louder than a whisper as he narrated the Tale of Isabela and the Mirror and her "personal adjustments" to Ser Grumpypants, and climbed under the covers of his own bed.
Hawke woke up to the faint smell of a lyrium discharge in the air, and frowned. It was far too early for Anders to be up already - the sun barely crawled over the horizon. Wincing, as his hands still stung, he crept carefully between the cots... to stop dead in his tracks. In front of him was a scene most improbable, and if it were just moments ago, he'd make a sure bet even against Varric, that stumbling upon the First Enchanter with the Knight-Commander bent under him over a fountain was more probable than... this.
Anders was sprawled on his back, one hand dangling down from the narrow bed, as a good half of the bed was occupied by another, lanky figure. Fenris was wedged in the crook of Anders' arm, snuggled as close to his side as physically possible, with the healer's arm draped across his waist. Hawke had no idea that elves could purr, but that was exactly what Fenris was doing. The elf looked impossibly content, apparently unruffled by the complete lack of clothing on his part.
Hawke could feel a true smile tugging at his lips, and wondered if he could make it to the Hanged Man and back with a hungover Rivaini and a slightly-less-hungover dwarf in tow, because something so wondrous demanded the best audience, but decided against it in the end. Instead, he shuffled out of the clinic, as quietly as he could, making a mental note to send Bodahn over with a spare set of Fenris' clothing.
An early Kirkwall morning haven't felt this good in ages, Hawke grinned to himself.
* * *
If the poor abused door leading into the Hanged Man was ever allowed to express its opinion, it would probably say it hated angry apostates the most.
Anders nearly tore the door off its hinges to properly show his ire as he marched inside. He paid little attention to the variety of still slumbering drunkards in the morning light and stomped towards Varric's suite. At this hour, Hawke was most likely having his breakfast there, and this very day was no exception.
"Up already?" Hawke mouthed around a piece of bread at the sight of Anders, swallowing hastily. Varric stirred next to him, staring rather blankly into a steaming mug of something hardly identifiable.
"Is this some kind of a giant joke no one told me about? " the mage hissed, slamming his palms against the table. "Is it fun throwing naked homicidal mage-hating elves into my bed?"
The question hung in the air, and it seemed to wake Varric up completely, and he blinked at Anders with more clarity than before. Hawke grinned, putting his plate away.
"Now, now. You talk as if you didn't enjoy yourself."
"Are you truly that dense? Why would anyone enjoy such a thing!" Anders spat, but his mind seemed to freeze over, spinning hopelessly around the word enjoy. Because he'd be lying if he said that he really didn't. Because...
...he woke up slowly, with sun tickling his face, and not because of screaming patients or thanks to a Templar raid kicking his door down. He allowed himself the luxury of slowly floating towards consciousness, enjoying the warmth his good old bed provided. Anders could feel the sun shift against his skin, but was far too content to move - Kirkwall and its business just had to wait a few more minutes for him to start giving a damn. He could feel the warmth radiating off Ser Grumpypants too, as the cat snored softly in the crook of his arm. Willing his eyes open, Anders blinked against the sun, and reached over to give a good belly rub to the sleepy bundle of fur next to him.
His fingers landed on something equally soft as Ser Grumpypants, but it certainly wasn't fur. He stared in dumb shock, his hand still entwined in a mane of stark white, lyrium-bleached hair. It made no sense and, holy Andraste's slippers, he had no idea whatsoever why there was Fenris, naked, spooned against his side like he owned the place. He swore, in a way so loud and colourful it'd make Oghren shed a tear of fatherly pride.
Fenris stirred and Anders could only gape as he rolled over, dark skin radiant in the morning sun, lyrium patterns literally sparkling.
"Mn, must you yell so early in the morning, mage?" he drawled, and stretched. Anders doubted he's ever seen anything even remotely elegant as the display of muscles rippling right in front of his eyes, presented in a glory utterly unabashed.
"Maker's breath, what are you doing?" he gasped, scooting away till his back hit the headboard.
"I'm doing what I'm always doing," Fenris answered calmly, his voice thick as if after a long disuse.
"Don't make me repeat myself," Anders croaked, confusion suddenly clinging to his voice. Instead of an answer, Fenris flopped back to lay on his side, his face displaying nothing but genuine confusion, as if seeing nothing wrong on laying naked in an abomination's bed. His large moss-coloured eyes bore into Anders' own with an intensity almost dizzying.
"Fenris," he managed to grind out, hoping to knock some sense into the elf, and it apparently had the desired effect. Fenris' eyes shot wide open, and he scrambled against the bedsheets in alarm. Anders' bed was never intended to cater for two grown men, and Fenris slipped over the edge with a yelp, as if he lost all his previous prowess and elegance. All Anders could see were limbs flailing, accompanied by an endless string of curses in Arcanum.
What followed still puzzled Anders to no end, as it seemed to happen all at once. He wasn't sure if it was Hawke's dwarven servant arriving first, or if Fenris had yanked away the bed cover instead of a tunic, bolting for the door, tripping over his feet. He was left alone, half-sitting on the bed just in his breeches, too shell-shocked to even start looking for poor and no doubt frightened Ser Grumpypants. Which was one of the reasons why he was now raining fire at the honorable Champion of Kirkwall, adamantly hoping there was a sane explanation for this whole mess. There had to be.
"Seriously, Hawke, is this your idea of a joke? The sodding moron scared my cat away!"
"Well, your cat certainly isn't here," Hawke snorted with great mirth in his voice, elbowing Varric.
"I wish you blighted backstabbing rogues actually grew up someday," Anders heaved a sigh of utter frustration. Turning on his heels to leave Hawke to his breakfast, he spat over his shoulder: "And if the rabid elf of yours doesn't have an explanation for this Maker-forsaken morning, he can as well go die in a ditch somewhere."
Anders almost made it to the main hall of the tavern when Hawke managed to catch up with him.
"Wait," Hawke wheezed, face twisted in disbelief. "You mean, he didn't explain himself?"
"Didn't explain what exactly?"
Kicking pebbles along the way back to the clinic, Anders had plenty of time to allow his brain to slowly digest what Hawke had told him. It involved Fenris, Emporium's now shattered mirror and a cat curse, and it was way too much for one mind to actually swallow whole. Just two hours ago, the world was relatively stable, warm and comfy, and now he was riding on the back of a raging dragon with severe stomach cramps, plunging from utter confusion to anger and exasperation, to land in a pool of nothing but morose abandonment. Things for once managed to make sense again, but it hardly mattered, as he was now trudging towards his empty clinic. Empty, with no small inhabitant waiting for his helping of shaved ham, who'd purr on his lap and nap on his manifestos, who would knead his feathery robe and chase dust bunnies, who'd sleep on his chest and play hide and seek in his overcoat. He was alone once again, and Anders was shown yet another reminder that there was no justice in the world, except the one deep inside his own soul.
What he did not expect was finding the very perpetrator of this mess slouched against the clinic door.
"I suppose you wish to interrogate me," Fenris sounded carefully neutral, and didn't seem to be willing to meet the glare directed at him.
"I suppose I do," Anders shot back, voice weary and rather dispirited. He wanted to be left alone, so he could wallow in his misery over a lost cat - if the bloody elf came to rub salt in his wounds, it'll be lightning and fireballs chasing him out of the clinic.
However, Fenris didn't rise to meet the challenge, and just wordlessly followed Anders inside, closing the door behind them.
"I take it you have spoken with Hawke," Fenris decided to breach the uncomfortable silence first, as Anders remained obstinately quiet, suddenly overly busy rearranging all the potions and elixirs.
"Yes, but he was rather sketchy on the details. For one, why didn't you try to break the spell somehow?" Anders ground out between his teeth, "and instead you decided to ridicule me the whole time" left unspoken.
Fenris answered with a hollow laugh. "I have tried, believe me. It was rather hard when your very own self, your entire world, was reduced to nothing but a handful of jumbled instincts."
Thinking back, Anders realized that it now made sense - magic meant bad, fish meant nasty and Hawke meant help. He briefly wondered what exactly he himself stood for, and came to a conclusion that he probably fell into the "gives-good-ear-rubs-and-provides-noms" category.
"If the mirror had not been destroyed," Fenris continued, looking suddenly very scrawny in common clothes instead of his armor, "I would have died a cat, neither knowing nor caring that I had this body, this life, anything," he went on, voice hitching ever so slightly as he sat down on one of the cots. "Thank you... for taking such a good care of me. I would be the happiest cat alive to have you as my master."
It left Anders speechless, his eyes wide with sheer amazement, wondering if Fenris realized the full extent of his words. He cleared his throat and moved to unceremoniously flop down next to the elf.
"Now I feel like I'm the one owing you an apology instead," he allowed himself a tight smile, glancing at Fenris sideways. "I'm here all prissy because of a cat and you had your world turned literally upside down."
"A mage wasting a perfect opportunity to sneer at me, that the pathetic little slave enjoyed having a master again?" he choked out after a few moments, eyes downcast once again.
"I'm not your master," Anders whispered. "That's not how it works."
"Then how does it work, Anders? How am I supposed to know? How demeaning it is when living as a cat was more satisfying than my entire life before? The mere idea of having a master again should do nothing but repulse me, but it doesn't - the very concept of having a friend was alien to me until not so long ago - and now am I supposed to deal with wanting more? I simply don't know how," he heaved, the outburst leaving his voice laden with desperation.
Anders remained silent for a very long time, and Fenris nearly jumped when he did speak.
"If this is too much to handle... what would the cat do?"
"You said you had nothing but instincts, what are they telling you to do now?" Anders elaborated, offering his half-upturned palm to Fenris. After a moment of confusion, he could see the sudden spark of recognition in Fenris' eyes, and slowly, oh so slowly, he moved his head towards Anders' hand, tentatively placing his chin against it.
Anders breathed a sigh of relief and molded his hand against Fenris' face, caressing it gently. He relished the texture under his fingers, noticing how the glinting green eyes slowly glided shut. Adding his left hand, Anders decided to push his luck one step further and went for the ears.
Fenris managed only a strangled yelp, collapsing bonelessly against the mage, clinging to him as if for dear life, eyes suddenly wide open again.
"Maker," Fenris barely managed to remember how to breathe. "More."
Anders chuckled, sporting one of his rare smiles, letting his hands run wild. Fenris obliged, craning his neck, head resting against Anders' shoulder. He could feel the gasps against his neck, Fenris' lips barely a breath away - it shouldn't have, but it made his groins stir, a sensation long, long forgotten. Suddenly, Fenris squirmed against him, face nuzzling against his throat in earnest, and started purring. It was a deep, rich sound, resonating through his entire ribcage, and Anders could feel it through his fingertips.
Fenris' reply was only a content mumble and Anders couldn't fight back the grin that threatened to split his face apart. It truly was like having an oversized elf-shaped cat - a cat utterly starved for affection that was drinking in every touch and caress he was willing to offer. And he was willing to offer plenty.
Fenris needed little encouragement to move somewhere else, and practically clung to Anders the few steps that separated them from Anders' bed.
Before he could say or do anything, Fenris climbed onto his lap, trailing hungry nips all over his jaw, heedless the few days worth of stubble the mage sported. And before Anders could react, he licked his lips and kissed him.
It definitely wasn't earth-shattering and it didn't cause the Knight-Commander to throw up rainbows - it was messy, with teeth clinking and there had to be something wrong with the angles and all, but it felt heavenly. Fenris soon had to break the contact, dazed and out of breath, and Anders belatedly realized exactly how hard the elf was, flush against his body.
Gathering all the remaining shreds of will he had, Anders placed a palm against the warrior's chest, "You don't have to do this."
"Neither do you," Fenris pointed out, eyes bright and dilated. "I have to admit you were right, back then," he continued, divesting Anders of his clothes, urging him to do the same. "You - mnngh - said I let my past colour my entire life, and trust me, I wanted to punch your throat out then. But you were right - and what I needed to understand that was being a cat for a whole month, strange, is it not?"
"Glad to hear you are willing to indulge yourself more, then," Anders smirked and fell back, spread-eagle, letting Fenris enjoy the view.
And suddenly the elf was all over him, from sloppy, little kisses to nips all across his chest, diving straight down, making him arch into the touch almost violently. Anders tried to hold back from moaning, because Maker, he knew he could be damn loud if he didn't keep himself in check. However, his resolve shattered to pieces the moment Fenris' lips slid around him, and keened. He panted, open-mouthed, breathy, as if he'd just outrun a battalion of Templars, in sync with the almost clinical, precise movements of Fenris' furnace of a mouth.
"You seem awfully - ah! - used to this," Anders gasped, finding it very hard to concentrate on speaking with a gorgeous elf between his legs. A very skilled elf at that, and Anders would swear he saw stars when Fenris licked a devilishly slow stripe on the underside of his flesh, before swallowing him almost whole again, with staggering efficiency. "Did your mast-..."
Fenris answered with a deep growl, and Anders really couldn't decide if it was a sound of displeasure or an application of a secret Tevinter blowjob technique. Leaving a wet trail, Fenris moved his attention back upwards - and Anders had trouble not to buck against every caress - until he rested his head next to Anders', chest heaving.
"Danarius was an impotent old bastard, but that does not mean his precious guests were as well," he snarled, and just the sound alone made Anders shudder in the exactly right places, wrong as it sounded. The elf could be reciting Hanged Man's menu backwards and the effect would be the same.
"G-good thing we put that sodding coffin dodger to rest," he breathed instead, trying very hard not to thrust up against Fenris. "Let's try something a bit different, then." Not waiting for a response, he flipped the elf over, straddling him.
Before Fenris could object - and it looked like he was just about to - Anders rolled his hips forward, and it had exactly the effect he'd hoped for. Wide-eyed, and so very pleased with the friction, Fenris spread his legs wider, shamelessly seeking more, letting his head fall back into the pillows, allowing Anders to target his lyrium markings with that wicked tongue of his. It was a gorgeous sight, and Anders was tempted to comment on how glistening with sweat really did make the elf look delectable.
Slowly stilling his movements, Anders groped for a vial of medicinal oil from one of his discarded pouches. Seeing the small bottle, Fenris writhed under him in apprehension, and Anders enjoyed the sharp intake of air his next action caused. It was most satisfying to see the elf's eyes spring wide - he certainly didn't anticipate that Anders would start to prepare himself.
He'd intended to make a show out of it for Fenris, but he obviously underestimated how long he's been neglecting this part of himself. Still, Fenris seemed enthralled by the motion, head lifted off the pillows, and Anders idly noted that his pretty elven neck was going to be sore the next day if he kept that up.
"Allow me," Fenris whispered, voice deliciously low, and he batted Anders' fingers away. Anders wasn't sure what exactly happened afterward, but it was thoroughly amazing.
Fenris' hand came aflame with a familiar pale lyrium glow, and he slowly, exquisitely and carefully, replaced Anders' own fingers. Where the mage expected discomfort, none came - Fenris was apparently a lot more resourceful than he cared to divulge, as he was capable of phasing out just the base of his fingers, leaving the rest gloriously solid inside, exactly against the right spot. Anders moaned in earnest, hovering above the elf on trembling arms. He knew he wouldn't last long - as this was almost better than the electricity trick - and managed to breathe a shaky s'enough against Fenris' chest.
It was nowhere near enough, and yet he was far too immersed to care. Painstakingly slowly, he lowered himself onto Fenris' straining cock, the sensation both stretching and burning, yet immensely satisfying. Every breath he drew turned into a heavy moan as he straightened, fully seated, taking Fenris in to the last inch. The elf was shuddering under him, hands gripping Anders' thighs like vices, head lolling against the pillows. He looked perfect, and Anders soaked in every single detail from his vantage point, everything from his little, forbidden moans to how the sweat beaded on his tinted, flushed skin.
He could already feel the telltale heat pool at the pit of his stomach and finally willed himself to move, snapping his hips. Fenris immediately thrust up to meet his pace, growling at the back of his throat, green eyes sparkling under his sweat-soaked fringe and Anders fervently wished this moment would never end.
However, it did, both too soon and too fast, with a strangled cry in Arcanum and a howl in plain old Fereldan as Anders spent himself, long and hard, his cock twitching with every spasm of his body, with Fenris following soon after.
Collapsing on top of him, Anders wheezed, too dizzy to do anything else than wait for his lungs to catch up. Fenris made no attempt to disentangle himself save pulling out, fighting to catch his breath just as much as Anders did.
"If I knew-" he croaked, voice failing him, "that being cursed into a cat would lead to this, I would have done it much, much sooner."
Anders attempted to jeer at that, but his throat only managed to let out a weak chuckle, and he rested his forehead against Fenris' heaving chest. "Alert the Chantry! The elf is not slandering magic for once!"
"Don't push your luck, mage," came a playful groan and for all Anders cared, the Archdemon could be crashing through the door the very moment and he wasn't about to give a single sodding damn.
The clinic lanterns remained unlit for the rest of the day - Anders claimed a day off and stayed in bed, dozing off, with noble and beautiful Ser Grumpypants protectively curled up against him.