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Operation Protect Hawke From Himself

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As soon as he steps foot inside The Hanged Man everyone cheers “Hawke” and lifts their bottles in his direction. There’s waving and handshaking, then after a drink (or two), he heads to Varric’s room.

Despite the immeasurable wealth it brought, the Deep Roads expedition came at a price: Carver. No amount of money was worth his little brother’s life. With Bartrand leaving them there to die, they had to find an alternate route back to the surface. Said alternate route made Carver contract the taint. Or maybe just being there in general made Carver sick. Whatever the reason, had Anders not been there with those extra Grey Warden maps there’d be one less Hawke in the family tree.

With the money he got from the expedition he was able to speed up the process his mother started, petitioning the viscount for ownership of the Amell estate. He was going to put it under his mother’s name but she insisted he claim ownership himself. Considering how badly she wanted the place, he was surprised to say the least.

“Cheer up, Hawke, Junior’s a fighter. You’ll be out of Gamlen’s hovel in no time and we’ll get word of your brother being the latest, moodiest Grey Warden.”

“It’s still my fault. My mother pleaded with me not to take Carver and I did it anyway.”

“If it’s anyone’s fault, Hawke, it’s mine. I should’ve seen Bartrand’s betrayal coming. He’s never been all that loyal. Not sure why I thought this would change things.”

“Despite the obvious bullshit, Bartrand is your brother. You’re always gonna give him the benefit of the doubt.”

“No offense but you’re twelve-hundred times the older brother Bartrand ever was; I doubt you’d understand.”

“I understand my brother probably hates me, if he even survived. I don’t know why I let Anders talk me into offering up my brother—”

“You did it because you know he has a better chance of survival as a Grey Warden. Hell, it was his only chance of survival. You know about the tale of The Warden, don’t you? A Dalish Elf who caught the taint after coming in contact with some elven artifact. A Grey Warden saved her life too. Junior will be fine Hawke.”

Hawke stands, “I need some air.”

“Just don’t do anything you’ll regret?”

“I can’t promise that.”

“Humor me.”

The redhead sighs, “alright Varric, I’ll try not to do something I’ll regret.”

Kirkwall’s never been safe at night but he helped get rid of the scum plaguing the city and that “Friend” paid him good coin too. Other than a few stragglers, there hasn’t been much action since he’s been back. What would he do if Carver died? He already lost Bethany, too damn weak to protect her – his little sister. Their mother was right to blame him. Now he’s gonna lose another sibling. Is he so unfortunate to lose both siblings due to his powerlessness? Both to darkspawn?

He didn’t realize his feet took him straight to hightown until he spotted the familiar outline of Fenris’ mansion. His parents taught him better than to barge into people’s places without warning but he’s already reaching for the doorknob. (Why doesn’t Fenris lock this place?) Fenris’ company was always preferable to his other friends, even if the elf abhors magic. Although, Hawke can say his magic has yet to make Fenris hate him.

He’s shuffling his feet across the floor when Fenris’ voice snaps him out of his reverie. “Something is troubling you.”

“Astute observation.” At least that gets a smirk out of Fenris. “I got sick of drinking whatever The Hanged Man passes for a decent drink and I know you usually hoard the good stuff.” Fenris beckons him closer and they head to the cellar.

He’s been to Fenris’ place a few times, even spent the night shooting the shit with the man, but he’s never gone to the cellar. Hawke’s always known there was one: where else would Fenris’ endless supply of alcohol come from? Danarius is a first class prick but he has decent taste in booze.

The cellar is far less sinister than Hawke imagined it would look like. No dead bodies to speak of in the immediate area. Fenris plucks a bottle from the wall and hands it to Hawke. “I’m assuming you heard nothing from your brother? Hence the reason for a strong drink?”

Hawke sighs heavily, accepting the bottle. “I feel so useless. This place...coming to Kirkwall’s been one disaster after the next. I-I should’ve been able to do something for Carver.”

“There’s nothing you could’ve done.”

“We were all there. Why did it take Carver? Why not me instead?”

“Hawke...” Fenris puts a hand on his shoulder, “brooding doesn’t suit you.” The redhead chokes a laugh. “Come. Let’s do something to occupy your mind.”

“Just my mind?” The redhead waggles his eyebrows.

“Your flirting skills put mine to shame, Hawke.”

“Wait until I have a few of these.” He shakes the bottle in his hand. After grabbing a few more bottles, they head back upstairs. Into a bedroom Hawke’s never seen before. He looks around as Fenris sets the bottles down. There’s a perfect view of the (half) moon from this window. “This is weirdly romantic.” They pause then stare at each other. Chuckling awkwardly, Hawke puts the bottle to his lips. Something is definitely bubbling between him and Fenris. Ordinarily, it would be arrogant to think so but how else could one explain not only Fenris’ tolerance for him, a mage, but the willingness to pal around him. Given the guy’s history with mages, Fenris is not the least bit wary of him like he is with Merrill and Anders. Hell, Hawke himself is wary of those two; weary too. Merrill is more of a threat to herself than anyone else, though.

“If I was trying to romance you, I’d do a better job.” Eyes widening, Hawke spits out his drink. “Perhaps I should’ve waited until you were finished drinking...” Fenris shrugs, “come. Sit. We’re going to meditate. You don’t need to put all of Kirkwall on your shoulders, Hawke.”

Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, Hawke takes the space next to Fenris on the floor. “It’s not solely about Kirkwall, it’s about my family. My little brother.” He sighs, “did Varric tell you I had a little sister? Carver’s twin. She didn’t make it to Kirkwall, got crushed by an ogre then tossed aside like garbage. I blamed myself for it. My mother blamed me. Carver blamed me—”

“Why did they blame you?”

Hawke sighs then takes a swig of the bottle, “everyone was angry. We left Lothering, fought through darkspawn together only to have one literally tear apart our family. I’m the eldest, I protect by default. What purpose do I have if not to protect those dear to me?” He starts shaking, “sometimes I just...” He takes a deep breath, still shaking slightly. “I feel like it should’ve been me, you know?”

Fenris nods slowly, “your guilt drives you to take impulsive and potentially reckless action.” A beat, “even more reckless actions.” Hawke smiles a bit. “You couldn’t save your sister so you’re trying to save whoever you can. Not everyone can be saved Hawke. Not everyone deserves saving.”

“I...” Tears run down his closed eyes. “Damn do I ever know. Not everyone who needs saving gets it either.” A sniffle, “thank you, Fenris, you’re real easy to talk to.”

“As are you.” Hawke hands him the bottle and Fenris takes a sip from it. “I understand why you’ve attracted such a following.”

Hawke smiles at him then wipes his eyes. “It’s not usually due to me wailing I assure you.” Fenris chuckles. “T-This probably doesn’t mean much but I wanna thank you for being here. Being my friend. It means more to me than you know.”

Fenris stares at him a bit before returning his attention to the bottle. “I must admit, I was doubtful when we first met. When I first realized what you were. I suppose befriending a blood mage would make anyone cautious.”

“Merrill’s not so bad, a little crazy but hey so are the rest of us.”

“Still, I’ve never met a finer mage – a finer person than you, Hawke.”

“U-Uh, t-thank you.” Did it get hot all of a sudden? He can’t remember the last time a mere conversation left him this flustered. Shit, perhaps he needs more of whatever Fenris is drinking? Or less? When Fenris passes him the bottle he all too eagerly takes a big gulp. Fenris will be the death of him, of that he is certain. Hawke can think of no better way to go, though.

“Maker’s breath, I wasn’t even certain you still lived here but you keep getting mail.” Gamlen says on his way out.

“I wasn’t sure if you still lived here either. You’ve been spending an awful lot of time with that elf. The one who glows?” Leandra pinches his cheeks, “my little boy is growing up into quite the young man.”

“Mother. Fenris and I are just friends.”

“Of course, love, now you are.”


“I’ve seen the way you two look at each other. I remember I used to look at your father like that.” She sighs dreamily. “Honestly, I don’t blame you for spending the night at his place. I’m sure it’s better than here.” Hawke chuckles, then the two of them sift through the letters on the table until one with an all too familiar handwriting catches their eye. “Carver!” Leandra gasps. The redhead hesitantly reaches for the letter, his hands are shaking his mother takes the letter from his hands to open. It’s been three weeks since he came back from the deep roads. The nights he’s not in his “room” gasping for air, dreaming of Carver’s death, he’s with Fenris staying up and trading stories. Although he spends most of his free time with Fenris, he’s visited his other companions occasionally; each of his friends busy with other matters. The two of them read Carver’s letter. A letter from Carver. He survived the joining and is now a Grey Warden. His mother has tears in her eyes and he can’t help shedding a few himself. “He’s alive.” Leandra sobs.

“Mother?” She turns to him, “I-I’m—I’m sorry. None of this would’ve happened if it weren’t for my stupid idea.”

“From what I heard, Carver is just as responsible.” Leandra sighs, patting her son on the face. “Sweetie, don’t fret. You are too hard on yourself. Carver is alive and from his letter he doesn’t sound upset.”

“You’re not mad?”

“At you? Oh honey, no.” She wipes the tears from his eyes. “Things will work out, you’ll see.” She goes through the pile of letters. “Oh. A letter from the viscount. I wonder if this is about the estate.”

It takes nearly a year to move into the estate. Qunari problems, bullshit paperwork, more paperwork, people not sure what they’re doing. An endless array of fuckery is involved. Eventually, everything gets settled and the Hawkes take over the Amell estate – well it’s the Hawke estate now. They didn’t have anything to move from Gamlen’s, fortunately, so it was just the two of them. Then Bodahn pops up out of nowhere pledging his loyalty and with Bodahn comes his son so there are four people living in the Hawke estate.

It’s bittersweet. The place definitely has enough room for everyone – it would’ve had enough room for Bethany and Carver too. Hawke sighs then plops down on his fancy bed. Anytime he’s alone, he begins harboring dark thoughts. Since the process with acquiring the estate began he’s been keeping to himself more. No reason to drag anyone further into his shit. He feels as empty as this house. The slavers took out everything before he and Carver killed them all. It’s a miracle the place still has its beds.

He lays back and looks at the ceiling. All of this was for their mother – she’s his only family at an arm’s length, barring Gamlen. If he can’t protect her or make her happy there really is no point in doing anything.

Within the next year he generally keeps to himself and makes sure his mother is taken care of. She worries and fusses over him but that just means she’s content.

Town criers going on about missing women just makes him even more paranoid.

His peaceful life as a recluse gets interrupted when the messenger gives him an urgent letter from the viscount. Although she says nothing, his mother is happy to see him get out of the house. He grabs his staff and hesitantly gets dressed to face whatever crap the viscount will undoubtedly throw his way.

When he arrives at the keep he gets a fifteen minute lecture from Aveline (halfway into said lecture he zones out so he’s not sure what she’s yelling at him about). Once Aveline’s had her fill, or realized he stopped listening, he heads to Viscount Dumar’s office.

The viscount wants him to talk to the qunari. You get involved one time and suddenly you’re everyone’s favorite delegate. He hasn’t even seen a qunari since escorting that Saareabas essentially to its death.

“Don’t get involved. It’s as simple as that.”

After meeting with the viscount, he calls everyone together at The Hanged Man. The only other halfway decent drinking establishment rumored to exist in Kirkwall is The Screaming Duck and no one’s sure how that place got its name. Not that Hawke’s ever been, they have a ridiculous “no mages” rule after a templar “saved” the owner “from abominations.” Now the place is a popular templar hangout.

They’re all at that big ass table Varric likes to write his stories on. Aveline sighs, massaging her head. “Hawke, please don’t listen to her.” Isabela scoffs, “you can’t turn down a request from the viscount—”

“Says who? And really, isn’t this something your people should handle?”

Aveline scowls at her, “I agree on the second part but not the first.” The redhead folds her arms over her chest, “I said my piece.”

Anders leans back in his seat. “I think you should help. You never know when you’ll need a favor from the viscount.”

Isabela points at the blond, “that makes sense. I change my vote – are we getting paid for this ‘help?’”

Hawke shrugs, “probably?”

“Good. Then I agree wholeheartedly. Kitten, what do you think?”

“I’m all for helping.” Merrill nods. “Paid or not.”

“W-Whoa, let’s not get carried away, Daisy. Personally, I think we should get paid. A lot. Sticking our necks out for...for...” Varric’s eyebrows furrow, “what was this job again?”

“Seeing what the Arishok wants. Apparently he sent some letter to the viscount or something? The job description was vague.”

“Ah. Yeah, is it too late to turn him down? You remember the last time we got involved with the qunari?”

“If I’m not mistaken it was that chantry sister who fucked us over. Not the qunari.”

Varric waves Isabela off, “same thing, Rivaini.” He sighs. “I doubt things will get settled if we don’t help and I’m sure I’ll find some material in this mess. What the hell, I’m in.”

Hawke glances at Fenris and he gives a one-shoulder shrug. “Okay. So it’s unanimous. We’re helping the viscount.” The others shrug in agreement. “Any volunteers to see the Arishok?”

Merrill raises her hand, “I wanna go.”

“I shouldn’t. If I’m there it’ll look like the guard is involved and Viscount Dumar clearly doesn’t want that.”

“I’ll sit this one out too. I paid for a room at The Blooming Rose and I’d rather it not go to waste.” Isabela holds out her left hand, “speaking of which, can I borrow two sovereigns?”

“You still owe me two sovereigns.”

“Then I’ll make it four. Madame Luisine says she has a special for repeat customers.” Hawke grumbles something under his breath before handing Isabela the money. “Thank you~”

Anders’ eyes flit briefly to Fenris before he leans forward, smiling at Hawke; Fenris, on the other hand, curls then uncurls his fingers. “I’ll go.”

The blond watches Hawke and Fenris exchange a glance – a strange indescribable glance – then they nod minutely. Something is going on between those two. Hawke’s such a damn sweet-talker it would be impossible not to fall for him. But... Fenris?! That guy’s unworthy of Hawke’s attention and affection and wouldn’t you know it, he has most of both. It’s a damn shame; Hawke really deserves better.

Varric sighs, running a hand through his hair. “We should head out before nightfall, never know what gangs are trying to take over the streets nowadays.”

As they’re already in lowtown, they head to the docks. The qunari guard eyeballs them before allowing them entry. The Arishok tells them someone’s “stolen” a formula for a poison instead of the explosives that dwarf tried to get a few years back.

“I’m hungry.” Hawke says once they leave the qunari compound.

“I know a place.” Varric jerks his head to the left. “I was hoping to try it but I needed some witnesses.”

“Witnesses? Where the hell are you taking us, Varric?”

“Hawke, you know I love you but my lips are sealed.”

“He doesn’t know the place himself.”

“Keep cracking jokes, Broody, and your frown lines will dissipate.” Fenris glares at the redhead who has the nerve to chuckle. Then Hawke coughs into his fists and shrugs.

“The won’t disappear because he’ll just get new ones. Fenris can’t go ten minutes without frowning.”

“Well said, Daisy.”

“We all can’t smile all the time like you do.”

“Sure you can.” Merrill tilts her head to the left, “maybe not you ...or Anders but most of us.”

“I smile plenty thank you very much.”

“You’re in the running for top brooder, Blondie. Sorry to tell you. With Junior in the Grey Wardens it’s between you and Fenris.”

“Don’t discount Aveline, Varric, she broods just as hard as Anders.”

“Truer words never spoken, Daisy.”

“Still.” Hawke shrugs, “my money’s on Fenris.”

“So glad to be your source of amusement.” That smile he gives Fenris just annoys the hell out of Anders. He’s sure Hawke doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. The fact that Fenris’ lips quirk upward really makes matters worse.

“Ah! Here we are!” The others look around, “the place doesn’t have a sign. It’s a working development.” He pushes open the door and it’s full of people who look like they’re half a second away from breaking a chair over someone’s head – and that someone is easily one or all of them.

“Are we here to eat or fight?”

“A little of column A and a little of column B.”

Hawke bounces up and down on his feet. “Varric Tethras, you magnificent bastard!”

Varric shrugs, “I try.” Still grinning, Hawke bear hugs the dwarf.

“Is this some kind of dine and fight place?” Anders asks, “I’ve never heard of anything like that.”

A rather large man steps up to them. “I know you.” He sneers, “you’re Bartrand’s brother.”

Varric looks up and his face falls. “Oh, shit.”

Hawke gracefully takes a step forward, putting himself in front of Varric and the big guy (who could easily be mistaken for a qunari, without horns). “Hi. I’m Hawke. We haven’t met. I like your beard. I have trouble growing facial hair. Not the point. You guys are out for Bartrand? So are we.”

The man looks at Varric then back to Hawke. “So you’re against Batrand?”

“The bastard left us to die three years ago so, yeah, we’re against Bartrand.”

The large man relaxes. “It takes a while for it to grow.” He clasps Hawke on the back, “but you’ll get there. Now, if you see that pisspot tell him ‘A’ is looking for him. And make sure to leave a body part or two for me to break.”

Hawke salutes him, “will do, Big Guy and thanks.” The man grunts then stomps off.

“Andraste’s holy fire, how do you do that Hawke?!”

“Do what?”

“How did you get that man to not kill us!?” Anders asks with a hiss. “Did you see the size of him? I mean, you’re a big guy Hawke but not that big.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You don’t even realize you’re doing it.”

“Hawke, Daisy notices – no offense.” Merrill shrugs him off, “but you don’t? You have this way about you. I can’t describe it. I mean, look at the people you’re friends with. None of us would even meet under normal circumstances yet here we all are brought together by you.”

“I’m still not following.”

“You’re a people person, Hawke. A real good one. You use violence as a last resort.”

“That’s not true. I enjoy violence.”

Merrill frowns, “maybe but you’ve talked more people out of fighting than you did actual fighting.”

“Have I?” Hawke tilts his head. “I distinctly remember killing a lot of things over the past four years.”

“I guess he enjoys killing things more than killing people. That’s good to know. In any event, you’ve killed four-hundred-fifty-seven ‘things’ by my count, and those are just the things we couldn’t identify as they came rushing at us. You’ve killed about eight hundred bandits and maybe two-hundred to two-fifty rebellious apostates.”

“You actually kept track of how many apostates we’ve killed?”

“Not ‘we’ Blondie. Just Hawke.”

“It was two-hundred-fifty-two apostates.”

“Of course you’d know that.”

“You sure? I had two-fifty-one. It doesn’t count if the guy split into two.”

“It doesn’t? Hmm. Then it’s two-fifty.”

“This is unbelievable.” Anders massages his temples. “I feel a headache coming on.”

“Blondie, you’re not the only apostate in the group. Something I really shouldn’t’ve said out loud but I doubt Hawke enjoys spearing fellow mages with lighting.”

“I do so enjoy when their bodies explode!” Fenris actually snorts at that, the ass. They grab a table at the back of the establishment and Fenris sits on Hawke’s left, Merrill sits on his right and Varric is in front of Hawke. With no other choice, Anders takes the empty seat on Varric’s right. “I really wanna have a discussion about the best way to kill with magic.”

“Fire.” Merrill replies. “Hands down.”

“Daisy, I’m...a little intrigued.”

“I’d say ice. If you freeze the body the right way it’ll shatter instantaneously.”

“Really?” Merrill folds her arms over her chest, “I’ll have to try that.”

“This is not a conversation to have anywhere.”

“What about that other magic you do?” Fenris moves his left hand up and down. Merrill, Hawke, and Varric look at him. “Am I not allowed to partake in this conversation?”

Varric clears his throat, “I’m willing to be magic isn’t the only thing you’ve noticed Hawke do.” Fenris’ eyes narrow. “But what is that shit called?”

“Force magic. It’s—”

“Rare.” Anders breathes. “How?”

“My father taught us. Bethany was always better at it than me. She was better at a lot of things.” Hopefully, it’s just the lighting making shadows all over the place but Anders could swear Fenris’ hand goes on Hawke’s. Briefly. So brief he has to wonder if it was even there at all.

“Bethany was your sister, right? Carver told me about her—”

“What’s this? You and Junior had some special alone time?”

“I don’t...” Merrill tilts her head, “think so? He spent most of the time at my house complaining about you.”

Varric points at himself, “me?” Merrill nods. “Why not Hawke? He came to The Hanged Man to complain about his brother.”

“He complained to me about the rest of you when we were at home.”

“A vicious cycle.” Fenris mutters.

“You only say that because he never came to you to complain.”

Fenris gives a one-shoulder shrug, “true.”

“There you are!” Isabela literally pops up out of nowhere and puts her body flush on Anders’ back. “Maker, Andraste, everyone up there. Searching for you guys with Aveline is the worst.”

Aveline is right here.” Everyone tilts their heads collectively to the left at the orange-haired woman. “What?”

Varric taps at his chin, squinting at Aveline. “You look different.”

“She’s not in uniform.” Merrill whispers. Everyone looks at Merrill, then Aveline, then nods at one another murmuring.

“Honestly.” She sighs, taking the seat on Varric’s other side. “Why in the Void are we here?”

Although no one’s sure when she disappeared, Isabela sets a tray of drinks down before everyone. “This shit is much better than The Hanged Man.”

“You’re preaching to the choir, Rivaini.” Varric toasts glasses with the brunette who half shares a seat with Merrill. “Hey, we should toast Hawke. He’s the best damn friend anyone could ask for.”

“What amazing thing did we miss?”

“He talked a guy twice his size out of killing us.” Merrill says, weirdly proud, nodding emphatically.

“No!” Isabela gasps.

“He wanted to kill my brother, no surprise there, gave us a letter then asked us to leave a body part for him to break.”

“A letter? Like a note?”

“No.” Fenris replies, “an actual letter of the alphabet. I believe that was his name or a nickname.”

“You’re shitting me!” She leans over and punches Hawke in the arm, “you bastard. I miss all the fun!”

“Speaking of ‘fun’ how was The Blooming Rose?”

A dark look crosses Isabela’s face, “never order the special. I’ll pay you two extra sovereigns for that...mess.”

“Spill, Rivaini. We need details after that ‘I wanna kill someone’ look.”

“We need more drinks first.” Then Isabela’s off again, only this time she takes Merrill with her.

Aveline raises an eyebrow in Hawke’s direction, “did you seriously talk a man out of killing you guys?”

“He was more interested in killing Bartrand. It’s an easy mistake to make. I mean, you guys all met my brother right?”

Aveline fixes him with a glare but before she can comment Isabela and Merrill come back with two more trays of drinks. “Let’s get soused!”

“Shouldn’t we be eating with these?”

Isabela huffs, “spoilsport. C’mon, Kitten.” Merrill easily bounces up and follows the brunette.

“I’m definitely out of the loop here. When did everyone pair up?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Oh. Sorry, Blondie. You’re out of the loop too.” Varric glances at Aveline, “alright, so not everyone but the majority.”

“Now I’m confused.”

“Daisy and Rivaini. Hawke and Fenris.” As if on cue, both of them spit out their drinks. “See? Not the reaction one expects from two people who aren’t together.”

“Maker’s random body part, Varric. No.” Anders shakes his head, “just no. They’re not—”

“Hold on, Blondie. I’d like to get actual verbal evidence against my claim.” Hawke sends a pained look Fenris’ way and the white-haired elf simply picks up his drink and starts sipping. “Ha! Hawke, you sly dog!”

The redhead lulls his head back and forth, “I can’t answer this without incriminating myself...” Fenris tugs Hawke in his direction then whispers something in his ear. Anders blanches at the intimacy of their body language, the fucking comfort, the ease of it all. If only Justice allowed him to get drunk. Plus, whatever Fenris whispers to Hawke has him blushing. When they part, Hawke chuckles. “True. Alright. I have an answer for you Varric. Ready?”

“I have a feeling I’m not gonna like this but go on.”

“Then I’ll put it in literary terms: the prologue is over and we’re working our way into the heart of the story – particularly the really juicy bits.”

Varric breathes a heavy sigh of relief. “Ah, Hawke. I knew you wouldn’t let me down.”

Aveline looks bewildered. “That...makes no sense!”

“You can bet The Maker’s ass it does. Hawke’s a natural born charmer, that one.” Varric nods to himself. “Even caught me a few times. I should be immune to sweet talking apostates yet here I am.” Aveline continues to shake her head. Isabela and Merrill return with a tray of unidentifiable foodstuffs on it.

“Enjoy!” Merrill cheers, resuming her spot with Isabela beside her.

“We don’t know what the hell it is but Kitten really turned on the charm and got us everything for free~” The brunette wipes a tear from her eye, “I feel so proud.”

“Is this edible?”

“Damn if I know, Sweet Stuff.” Fenris shrugs then pops a circular, fluffy object into his mouth. Everyone watches, gauging his reaction. He shrugs and the others take it as a sign that it won’t kill them instantly. 

Chapter Text

He may no longer need money for any underground explorations but it can’t hurt getting any extra coin. That estate won’t pay for itself. He and Varric just finished dropping off a strange package to an even stranger, suspicious looking guy at the chantry when a brunet flags him down. Hawke’s met so many people over the course of his time in Kirkwall it’s any wonder he remembers half the people he speaks to regularly. Oh wait, he doesn’t. Doesn’t help that he was never good with faces and names. The brunet gives him a smile as blinding as his shiny white armor, then starts talking in an unfamiliar accent about some favor Hawke doesn’t have the foggiest idea of doing. Judging by Varric’s blatant confusion he doesn’t remember either. If he thought he had trouble remembering people he has even more trouble remembering every job he’s done. “—helped me out a great deal a few years back.” The Grand Cleric is standing there looking more amused than anything.

He really should stop zoning out mid conversation. “Wait. I’m—what?”

The Grand Cleric chuckles, “you help a lot of people, child, if only your grandparents could see you.” She says fondly.

“You knew my grandparents?”

“Ah yes, I anointed your mother into the chantry.” Something he needs to ask his mother about later. Although that might lead to talking about Carver and they’ve done a very good job of avoiding that for the last week. “I recall you helping Sebastian find the people responsible for murdering his family.” Hawke nods slowly. Doesn’t sound familiar but whatever. “Well, now he’s found the people who hired the people who murdered his family. He is insistent on confronting them and I was hoping you could talk him out of it.”

“Grand Cleric—”

“But he is hoping you’d help.”

“Choir Boy here is hoping Hawke jumps to the rescue?” Varric taps his chin, “hmm, that’s not bad.”

“Varric, no.” The dwarf mumbles something then folds his arms over his chest. “I... have literally no excuse to come up with why I shouldn’t help you.”

“The Maker will smile upon your selflessness.”

“He might just frown at my need to get a few drinks in first.” The Grand Cleric frowns at him, “kinda like that.”

Sebastian agrees to accompany them to The Hanged Man to meet up with everyone else. A quick stop before dealing with ...whatever they’re supposed to deal with. Hawke really should work on his ability to pay attention. The tavern collectively cheers his name as he, Varric, and Sebastian walk inside. “I’ve been living here for years and they never chant my name like that.”

“You haven’t brought the entire bar a pint, Varric.”

“Bullshit. Wait...” Varric puts his hands on his hips, “yeah. Bullshit.”

“Alright, neither have I but I got someone else to do it.” They take their usual seats in Varric’s room and the rest of the gang is already there. Hawke takes the empty seat in between Fenris and Isabela, while Varric puts Sebastian next to him and Aveline.

“Is this your new friend? He’s cute.” Isabela winks at Sebastian who flushes almost immediately.

“I, uh, like your armor.” Merrill says, squinting. “It’s very, very shiny.”

“Alright, gang, drinks on Varric.”

You’re the one with the fancy estate.”

“And you live in a fancy room in this dump. You owe us for having to come here every other day to have these ‘daily meetings.’”

“Okay, Serah, I know when I’m beat. Drinks on me.” He gets a round of applause from the others. “I’m paying for two drinks, maximum, so you better pick the two you wanna drink the most.” He’s met with several grumbles of disappointment. “What are you having, Choir Boy?”


“I don’t think The Hanged Man serves the type of water you wanna drink.”

Sebastian grimaces, “then I’m fine. Thank you.” He looks around at everyone staring at him, “have I said something wrong?”

“You don’t drink?” Isabela asks, almost hesitantly.

“Of course not. The chantry frowns upon the consumption of alcohol.” He says it so jovially the others can’t help gaping at him.

There’s a brief period of silence before Isabela snorts, “Aveline~” She sing-songs, “he doesn’t drink either.”

“I refuse to believe the captain of the guard doesn’t drink.” Varric says, “I’ve seen a few people who work for you. It makes me drink just thinking about it.”

“Which is exactly why I don’t drink.” The others shake their heads. “Someone has to make sure Kirkwall is safe.”

Isabela sighs, “poor thing.”


“Alright, alright.” She slides a mug toward Merrill, “drink up, Kitten, time to see your tolerance level.”

“Is this wise?” Everyone turns to Sebastian again, “will any of you be able to function after consuming so much of this...this poison?”

“Trust me, Choir Boy, we can’t function without the stuff.” Sebastian shakes his head sadly. “Anyway, let’s get introductions over with. You know Hawke, that brooding being beside him is Fenris. The even broodier blond next to him is Anders. Red over here is Aveline, Kirkwall’s Guard Captain. Our black-haired elf is Merrill and lastly we have Isabela.” They all hoist their mugs in the air at him. “Crew, this is Sebastian. Apparently, he’s a prince.”

Merrill puts her empty mug down. “Is he now?”

He frowns, “technically, I am the Starkhaven’s prince but that is only because my entire family was murdered. I cannot rule anywhere when I’m so conflicted.”

“Conflicted? What could you be—Oh!” Isabela hits her right palm with her left fist, “you need a princess! I volunteer!”

“Uh, n-no, that isn’t it.” He frowns, then Isabela frowns. “Everything happens for a reason but even...” His frown deepens, “no, I know better than to question whatever path The Maker set me on.”

“I’m sure even Andraste complained about the path she was sent on now and then. It’s no good keeping things bottled up.” Isabela sends a pointed look Hawke’s way. The redhead does a double take before pointing to himself in confusion.

“I don’t get it.” Merrill says, “if you don’t want to be a prince what will you do?”

“Give myself to the chantry.” Again, the others gape at him. “I took vows to the chantry, I can’t abandon them to rule Starkhaven.”

Isabela elbows Hawke, “is this guy for real?” She whispers. Hawke shrugs in reply.

“If you, the rightful prince of Starkhaven, don’t rule who will?” Anders asks.

“I am not the rightful prince, I am the last resort. I had two older brothers. I only wanted the title when I could not have it.” He frowns. “Starkhaven will function just fine without me.”

The others look among one another. “Well.” Sebastian looks up at Hawke’s grinning face, “if you’re gonna be in Kirkwall for the foreseeable future, you should stick with us—”

“Wait a minute, Hawke. He’s a chantry boy, right? Who’s to say he doesn’t have that bullshit logic they drill in you? The one about locking up mages for ‘their protection?’”

The redhead facepalms, “Anders...”

The blond shrugs. “It had to be said.”

“Yes, a regular conversation starter.” Anders glares at Fenris. “Considering most mages need locking up ‘for their protection’ the ‘Chantry Boy’ can feel however he wants.”

Anders’ mouth sets in a firm line. “What about Hawke?”

“Maker, please don’t drag me into this.”

Fenris’ eyes narrow, “what about Hawke?”

Grumbling under his breath, Hawke puts his head on the table. Grinning, Isabela pats the groaning redhead on the back, “yes, Anders, what about Hawke? Do tell.”

“Fenris says mages need to be locked up for their protection. I won’t even bother asking about me or Merrill, I already know how he feels. What I don’t know is if Hawke is just another mage who should be locked up without a key?”

“Hawke is a mage, then? As are you and Merrill?”

“Yup.” Merrill replies. “We’re mages, apostates I suppose you can say. Still want Hawke to help you?”

“The three of you?” Sebastian frowns a bit, “I...” He glances at Fenris, “am interested in what Fenris thinks about this.”

“Way to take the attention off yourself.” Fenris mutters, “no, Anders, I don’t think Hawke should be locked up. Is that what you want to hear?” Hawke slowly lifts his head and blinks at Fenris.

“I agree.” Isabela says, “neither does Kitten—” She’s met with various monosyllabic noises. “She’s never—” The brunette hisses then glares at Hawke.

“Let’s focus.” Hawke glares back Isabela. “This isn’t gonna be another one of those conversations. Remember the last one you guys had with Carver?”

Oh!” Isabela nudges Hawke, “did you hear from him again?”

“No. They say Grey Wardens don’t stay in the same area for too long so I have no idea where he is.”

“Your brother is a Grey Warden? There is so much I do not know...”

“Varric tells the story better.”

“On the contrary, Hawke, you don’t have my talent for embellishment, which makes it even more unbelievable coming from your lips.”

Hawke tells him they’ll get started on helping him in the morning so Sebastian returns to the chantry. “Is something troubling you further, Sebastian?”

“Grand Cleric, did you know that Hawke was a mage? Is a mage? An apostate too.”

“Yes, I know. Has that impacted your decision to have his aid?”

“No.” Sebastian frowns, “it’s just this. He has two friends who are also apostates. However, none of his other friends wanted to speak more about it. I believe they’re not just ‘regular’ apostates. Perhaps they’re blood mages or something even worse. If something worse exists. Is it not our duty to the chantry to...” He grimaces, “turn them in?”

“I believe turning them in will get Hawke a one-way ticket to the gallows, or worse.”

“You believe Hawke should be free? What of other mages?”

“I cannot speak of all mages, child. But Hawke? Someone like him doesn’t belong caged for the rest of their life. He does things no one else is willing to do. Stands up for people – mages or otherwise – no one else is willing to stand up for. He is a good man and I do not believe his companions are dangerous.”

“Okay, Grand Cleric.” He sighs. “I think I need to pray.”

“What happened? Not that I should question it.”

“They were in a tavern, consuming alcohol. I did not join them, of course, but I don’t think I should’ve been in there.” The Grand Cleric chuckles, “it—it’s not funny. What if I reverted? I know my faith is strong and that’ll be enough to resist me from temptation.”

Hawke brought the entire gang together. The sun barely rose an hour ago and the redhead had enough cheer for the group, who practically looked dead on their feet. “Lead the way, Sebastian!”

Fenris seemed closest to Hawke, so Sebastian walked alongside him. “Is he always this cheerful so early?”

Fenris snorted, “quite the opposite, actually. It's strange, the less sleep he gets the more awake he seems.”

“Hm. That is strange. You and Hawke are close.” Fenris raises an eyebrow, “no. I meant nothing by it. The chantry might not approve but all love is accepted in the Maker's eyes.”

“The chantry won't approve?” Fenris repeats.

“Well, Hawke is a mage.”

“Are you...did you just make a joke?” Sebastian smiles at him. “Hm. But Hawke and I aren't together.”

“Ah.” The brunet nods knowingly, “but you want to be—”


“Fenris, it's alright. Your secret is safe with me. Hawke could show a little subtly though. He clearly favors you over everyone.”

“Don't I know it.”

“You don't revel in the attention, then?”

“It's the first time I've ever received positive attention over everyone else, so I revel...I'm just not used to it yet.” If Sebastian hadn't sworn himself to the chantry, Fenris would've sworn the smile he gets from the brunet is suggestive.

Anders looks ahead at Sebastian chatting with Fenris – seems like the elf found another “friend.” Varric and Isabela go out of their way to converse with everyone and Aveline is, quite frankly, a bit terrifying. Apparently, it’s only him and Merrill Fenris bears animosity toward; him even more so than Merrill it seems.

Scowling, the blond looks over his shoulder where Hawke and Isabela are laughing. “You know, I'm thinking of calling you Broody instead of Fenris.” He looks down at Varric. “What's pissing you off this time, Blondie?”

“Let's see. Hawke giving most of his attention to a mage-hating elf? Or is it his new friendship with the chantry boy?”

“No one can say Hawke isn't helping mages, Blondie. Like Fenris said, everyone's entitled to their opinion.”

“I grew up in The Circle, I know how those chantry types think.”

“I doubt Choir Boy would do anything without asking for The Maker's permission first. Besides, he seems to like Hawke – mage or not.”

Hawke isn't the issue.” Anders grits out, “everyone likes Hawke.”

“Some more than others.” Aveline replies.

“If any of us didn't like Hawke, we wouldn't be here.”

“Fair point, Blondie. So, are you ever gonna tell Hawke how you feel or are you gonna continue to glare at Fenris whenever the opportunity presents itself?”

Aveline massages her temples, then mumbles something under her breath. “Varric—”

“What? I’m sick of dancing around the issue.”

“You don't think I've tried talking to him? How could someone who flirts so naturally be so damn oblivious when someone's flirting with him?”

“Let's be fair, Anders, Hawke's oblivious about a lot of things not just flirting.” Varric nods in agreement.

“So...” Isabela smirks, “have you?”

“Have I—” Hawke tilts his head to the right, then Isabela whispers in his ear. “Ah! N-No.” He clears his throat when Isabela leans back and frowns. “I didn't even give him the thing.”

“Maker's breath, Hawke, you are pathetic.”

“I know.” The redhead groans.

“Give him the thing, tonight or so help me—”

“No. I don't even wanna know what you're gonna threaten me with.”

“You need to take some time for yourself. Or for you and Fenris.” She waggles her eyebrows. “You know, I saw the cutest thing in Lowtown the other day.” She digs in one of her pouches and pulls out a necklace.

“Ooh, that's pretty!”

“It's yours.” Hawke giddily bends so Isabela can put the necklace around his neck. “I even paid for it, Hawke. So, you're welcome. It's the least I can do for you being such a good friend and giving me that adorable bottled ship.”

“Still don't think ships are adorable, 'Bela.” She sticks her tongue out at him. “Is this a dragon's tooth?”

“I think it's a dragonling's tooth?” She shrugs. “But they're in the dragon's family.”

“Thanks.” He hugs her and she pats him on the back.

“You're welcome, you'd think you never got a gift before.”

“I...haven't.” He says releasing her.

“You—what?! You get us stuff all the time and no one gets you anything!?” She yells the last part and everyone stops to stare at her. “None of you ever gave Hawke a gift before?!”

The others look among themselves. “Isa—”

“This is ridiculous!” She grabs Hawke by the arm, “go handle whatever it is without us.” Then she drags Hawke off.

Without Hawke, the group really has no reason to work together but they still manage to take care of Sebastian's problem then immediately go their separate ways once the task is complete. There's no banter, there's practically no talking from any of them. Even Anders is silent and that abomination always has something to complain about. This is only the second time Fenris has seen Isabela pissed – and wouldn't you know it both times were for Hawke.

Fenris frowned. Hawke was always personally delivering little trinkets he found that reminded him of his friends yet, for the past three years, no one thought to do the same? No wonder Isabela was pissed. Thinking about it pisses him off. Although, Fenris was guilty of never getting Hawke something he had thought of it. Far more often than he's comfortable admitting.

“Fenris?” It's embarrassing how fast he gets up from the chair and heads to the top of the staircase where Hawke is standing, hands behind his back. “Hey.”

“Hey. Where did Isabela take you?”

“A spa, right outside Kirkwall. They shoved brightly colored drinks at us as we were pampered from head to toe. It was nice. Anyway, I found something you might like.”

“I'm afraid I didn't get you anything.”

“I wasn't looking for anything.” It's amazing how the redhead manages to walk up the staircase with his hands still behind his back, as this is the same individual who can't take three steps without tripping.

“I know. That's the problem isn't it?” Hawke puts something heavy in his hands. “It's a book.”

“Keen observational skills you possesses. I found it in the alienage of all places. It's about Shartan, the elf that fought with Andraste to free slaves.”

Fenris sighs, “oh. Thank you.” That damn confused look. “I appreciate the gift, Hawke, it's just...” He frowns, “I don't know how to read. I tried, being here with all this free time.” He sighs again, heavier. “It hasn't been easy.”

“I can help!” The redhead clears his throat, “I mean, I wouldn't mind. Helping.”

Fenris smiles. “You do so much already. What would you get out of this?”

Hawke rubs the back of his neck, “helping you? Also, we get to hang out without either of us having to stab someone.”

“That might still be a possibility, Hawke.”


“Very well.” Fenris hefts the book. “Perhaps we should start on something smaller?”

“Perhaps. There's a small library at my place.” Fenris raises an eyebrow. “I'm not suggesting we do anything aside from read.”

“You think I was suggesting something?”

“I—no. Fuck.”

Fenris chuckles, “relax, Hawke.” He puts the book down on the table then tiptoes to kiss Hawke on the cheek. “Like I said some time ago, you'd know if I propositioned you.”

“I—r-right.” He clears his throat, “let's go to my library.”

On the way to Hawke's mansion, the redhead talks about the spa and how Isabela got them pampered for free. Bodahn greets them at the door telling Hawke his mother stepped out to have lunch with his uncle. Fenris was internally (and externally) grateful he didn't have to avoid the scrutinizing gaze of Leandra Hawke (again). He may not know much about mothers or families in general, but for such a gentle looking woman her gaze promised a (short) lifetime of torture should Fenris ever hurt her son. Even Hawke's uncle eyed him skeptically, and Fenris has seen the man literally sell his nephew out to make some coin.

Hawke leads him to the library and Fenris looks around in awe. When Hawke first got the mansion he invited everyone over to “introduce it to everyone.” Since then Fenris hasn't stepped foot near the place. Hawke's mabari nuzzles his leg then trots off to Hawke's bedroom, supposedly. Fenris tried very hard to tune out the location of Hawke's bedroom.

“Sit.” Hawke guides him to the obnoxiously large chair as the redhead sits on the table beside it with a small book in his hands. “Thanks for, uh, sharing this with me by the way.”

“Thanks for offering to help.”

“No need to thank me.”

“Tell me something, Hawke, would you jump to help any of your other friends if they had the same problem?” As the redhead stutters, Fenris bites back a smile. As much as it pains him to admit, he could get used to this treatment. Eventually, Hawke looks over at him while biting his lip then he shakes his head. “You don't think your blatant nepotism is a problem?”

I don't think so but I doubt anyone else agrees.” A strange look crosses the redhead's face before he leans back, frowning. “Does it bother you?” Fenris blinks at him. “Me liking you more than the others?”

“I'm sure if I found it a problem I wouldn't readily agree to spend more time with you.” Fenris hums, “to be chosen over all of Kirkwall is an honor.”


“Isabela's right, you know.”

“Maker's balls, what is she right about?”

“She stopped by before you did.” Hawke frowns. “She said you'd take care of all of Thedas before taking a moment to take care of yourself. That's why you didn't seem bothered by none of us getting you even a crumb for the last three years.”

“I don't do things just to get anything in return.”

“Your selflessness is mind boggling.”

Hawke rubs the back of his neck, “I'm not completely selfless.” He glances at Fenris from under his eyelashes.

“Are you attempting to seduce me?”

“I—no?” Hawke goes through a series of complicated facial expressions before his face settles on blank, “although if I was, would it be working?”

Fenris pats the chair arm and Hawke obediently sits on it, “I'll let you know.”

Bodahn lets her in as he and Sandal are on their way out. “Hello, Mrs. Hawke.”

“Oh, hi there Isabela. I don’t suppose you know what’s wrong with Evan, do you?”

Evan? Ah. Hawke. Not like she’d call her son by surname all the time; especially as they share the surname. “Something is wrong with him?”

Leandra frowns. “You’ll see.” She motions for Isabela to follow her to Hawke’s room. The redhead is sprawled out on the floor. Isabela cracks a smile, eyeing the necklace she bought around his neck. “He’s been like that all day. Bodahn doesn’t know what’s come over him.”

Isabela taps her chin. “I don’t know what this is... but I bet I can find out.”

Leandra pats her on the shoulder. “Thank you.”

“No problem.” Isabela waits until she hears the front door lock before striding into Hawke’s room. “I can’t tell if you’re depressed or happy.”

“Happy.” Hawke’s eyes flit over to hers. “Very happy.”

“Ooh. Let’s get drinks!” They raid the cellar then return to Hawke’s bedroom. “Tell me everything.”

“Fenris came over last night and we read.”

Isabela tilts her head to the left. “Is... is that a euphemism? A code?”

“What? No. It’s what I said.”

“Oh, I see. You two read and you’re obscenely happy about that?” Hawke nods. “So what I’m trying to understand is you’re exhibiting clear euphoric signs one puts together with that of a good fucking but without the fucking.”

“Is that really so weird?”

“Oh honey. Did you not even think of the sex?”

“Who cares about sex?” Isabela blanches. “Don’t get me wrong. It can be fun and I like it as much as the next freelancer but it’s not something I need.”

“You’re telling me if you and Fenris never have sex, you’ll be alright with that?”


Isabela sighs, “sad thing is, I believe you.” She shakes her head. “What did you two even read? Did he like the book you found?” Hawke nods. “That’s good, at least. Last book I read was one of Varric’s. More like he made me read it. It was surprisingly dark for someone so cheerful. Hey, wouldn’t it be amazing if he wrote a book about us?”

“Why would he? We’ve never done anything.”

“What about The Deep Roads?”

“Aside from that.”

Isabela puts a finger to her chin, “hmm... I guess you’re right. I mean, just about anyone deals with blood mages on a biweekly basis, yes? How’s The Bone Pit?”

“Hell if I know. Haven’t seen Hubert in a year.”

“Such a waste of an investment.”

“Not like you put the coin into it.”

Isabela lifts the bottle, “true.” She takes a swig.

“Bela, I really like him.” She slowly lowers the bottle to stare at him. “I mean, I know it’s obvious but I never realized how badly I liked him until yesterday.”

“You are so fucking cute~” She coos, handing him the bottle.

“I’ve never liked anyone like this before. Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever liked anyone before.”

“Can’t say I have either. I mean, I like Zevran. Maybe even love him but it’s a different kind of love.”


“This Antivan elf with a penchant for leather.” She makes a face. “Wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, top three definitely but not the best.” A pause, “hmm. Wonder what he’s doing now. Last I spoke to him he was helping to stop the blight.”

“The blight? Oh, forgot you said you were in Denerim a few years ago.”

“I also said I slept with The Hero Of Ferelden.”

“Yes, you did.”

Isabela grins at him. “He was there. Not the first person we’ve ever shared and probably won’t be the last. Unless he’s dead, then that would be the last. Anyway, he was smitten with Mahariel.”

“What’s she like?”

“Tough. What did she say to me? Something about not taking any shem shit or something? Can’t remember. Point is, she’s very different from anything I’ve ever seen and I’ve met a lot of people in my travels. Hey, you think you love Fenris?”

Hawke hands her back the bottle, “I don’t know. The only people I’ve ever even said I love were my siblings and my mother. I guess my dad, too? Can’t remember him ever saying that to me though. The old man was kind of a hardass because I was a mage and a natural klutz.”

“Maybe if you weren’t so tall you wouldn’t trip over your damn feet so often.”

“Maybe so.”

“Anyway, about the love thing. It’s mysterious and shit. It’s alright if you don’t know.” She hands him the bottle after taking a generous swig. “And for the record, he clearly cares about you. Not just because you’re hot as hell and incredibly fit either.”

“Then why?”

Isabela laughs, “you dummy, you’re a good person. You being attractive is a bonus. Besides, Fenris is attractive as all hell too. If either of you were a woman I bet you’d have the best looking babies in Thedas. Ooh, I’d gladly have either of your babies if that’s something you want. I’ll even commit myself to the process fully.”

“You just wanna sleep with Fenris.”


Hawke laughs. “My mother will just about die of shock if I told her I was thinking about children. She had a talk with me about settling down.”

“Does she know about you and Fenris?”

“Not that there’s much to tell as nothing has happened but yes. However, I meant her settling down. Again.” Isabela whistles. “I’ve seen people look at her when we go to the market—”

“You think she goes to the Blooming Rose?”

“Eww. I don’t wanna think about my mother having sex. That’s weird. I mean, I’m here as a result of it but still. Eww. It’s weird. Did I mention it’s weird?”

“Don’t be a baby. Your mother is pretty, I’d hit that if I were into much older women.”

“Thank you for the overshare.”

“Anytime.” Hawke gives her the bottle and she gives it a shake. “What the hell? It’s empty.”

“Why do you think we brought up three bottles?”

“Well, cheers to us then.”