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Anders was about to sit down at his desk when someone frantically banged on the clinic door. Anders sighed and went to unlatch the door. As he opened it he saw a young elf standing there looking frantic. “Healer! Come quick. I found a friend of yours…of the Champion’s. I think he’s ill.”

Anders shook his head and grabbed his staff before running after the child.

What Anders found was one very passed out Fenris, clutching an empty bottle of wine. Beside the elf was a pool of vomit, stained red from the wine and clearly there had been little else in the elf’s stomach.

“Do you know him Healer?” the child asked.

Anders nodded. “Yes, I’m afraid I do. I’ll take him back to the clinic. Thank you.”

The child smiled happily at the healer before darting away.

“What am I supposed to do with you, elf?” Anders muttered as he placed his staff against the wall and picked up the elf, throwing him as gently as he could over his shoulder.

Then picking up the staff again, he slowly made his way back to the clinic.

Justice hummed happily in the back of Anders mind, pleased with the mage for helping the elf despite their constant, often bitter, arguments.

Anders noted how light Fenris felt as he carried him. Far lighter than a warrior capable of swinging a sword as large as he did should be. Anders frowned at this and wondered how much strength the lyrium markings really gave him.

Once back in the clinic, Anders locked and barred his door again before carrying Fenris back into his small room and laying the elf down on his own bed, which was only slightly more comfortable than the cots he had scattered throughout his clinic.

Once Fenris was lying there, Anders began the task of removing his armor, beginning with those razor-sharp gauntlets. Once he was done, Fenris only wore his leggings and undershirt. Then Anders covered the elf in a blanket.

Looking down at Fenris after the elf was all tucked in, Anders noted how soft and vulnerable he looked, when he wasn’t always scowling at him. Anders recalled that he had once fancied the elf, when they had first met and before Anders realized how deep Fenris’ hatred of mages truly ran.

Anders shook himself out of that reverie and went to make a hangover cure for when the elf would eventually wake up. Once that was complete, Anders finally sat himself down at his desk and began to work on his plans in earnest.

***

Anders was so focused on the plans before him that he didn’t react at first when Fenris began crying out. “Anders!”

Anders jumped up as soon as he realized what Fenris was crying out. It was unusual for the elf to call him by his name. As Anders entered his small back room he saw that Fenris had thrown the blanket off of himself and was now thrashing about.

“Anders! Please…you don’t…need you to understand…” Fenris mumbled. Anders realized the elf was talking in his sleep and began to retreat when Fenris shouted something that made the mage stop in his tracks. “I love you!”

Anders’ heart began pounding at the unconscious declaration. Fenris loved him? Then why was the elf always so hostile towards him?

Anders crept forward, staring at the elf as he tossed and turned on his bed. Anders reached out, cupping Fenris’ face and the elf immediately stilled as he leaned into the touch. He mumbled once more. “Anders…love you…stay…please…”

Then Fenris was still again, as his breathing evened out and his body completely stilled. Anders stared at him for a long while, emotions conflicting inside of him as his old attraction for the cantankerous elf resurfaced.

Justice starting going off about distractions from their plans, but Anders shrugged the spirit off as he sat next to Fenris and watched him sleep a while longer. Anders wondered how long Fenris had felt like this and why he had never come forward with his declaration before. Perhaps it was easier for the elf to bury his feelings behind his animosity toward mages?

Anders sighed and ran his hands over his face. Who knew with Fenris? Anders got up and tucked Fenris back in before going back out to the clinic. Despite Justice’s protests, Anders blew out his lantern and laid himself upon a cot. He felt bone weary and decided the rest of his planning could wait another day as he drifted off to sleep and dreamt of being warmly embraced by an elf he had long thought hated him.

***

The next morning Anders awoke to the sounds of a more than usual grumpy elf. The mage smiled to himself as he got up and grabbed the hangover potion he’d concocted the night before and brought it into the back room.

Fenris sat on the edge of the bed looking very out of sorts. “Mage! What in the Maker’s name am I doing here?”

Anders shook his head. “And he’s back,” he thought to himself.

“Some urchin found you passed out at the other end of Darktown,” Anders replied handing the elf the potion. “Here drink this, it will relieve the symptoms of too much drink.”

Fenris eyed the potion suspiciously before removing the corking and drinking down the contents, making a face once he’d finished it. “That is the most vile potion you have ever concocted.”

“Blame my mother,” Anders shrugged. “That’s from an old family recipe. I used to help her make it for my father as he often indulged in too much drink as well.”

“So how did I come to be in your clinic if I was on the other side of Darktown?” Fenris questioned.

“I carried you here,” Anders shrugged. “You are deceptively lighter than you look. I’m amazed how you’re able to swing that great sword of yours, weighing as little as you do.”

Fenris harrumphed at that. “Where is my sword?”

Anders shrugged. “It wasn’t anywhere near you when I found you. You were just clutching an empty bottle of wine, most of which you vomited back up, I might add.”

“No wonder my mouth tasted so vile when I awoke,” Fenris groused. Anders stood and poured a cup of water that he handed to the hungover elf. “Here, this should help.”

Fenris drank the water and sighed. “I suppose I should thank you. No telling what some Darktown hoodlums would have done to me if they’d found me in such a state. I wonder why I came down here?”

“I have no idea,” Anders shrugged, lying. “I have to open the clinic. Stay here as long as you need to until you feel better.”

“I…” Fenris began and then shook himself. “Thank you, mage.”

***

Anders busied himself with the first group of patients that morning. Mending a scrapped knee, checking on the progress of a pregnancy, and providing potions for a child with the croup. Anders didn’t notice the elf watching silently from the shadows of his back room.

By the time Anders was able to take a break, Fenris was gone. Anders realized that the elf must have slipped out without saying anything. The mage sighed to himself and went to have a quick bite to eat before the next patients would inevitably arrive.

Over the next few days Anders buried himself in his work and completely forgot the incident with Fenris almost entirely. One night he was working late at his desk when he passed out from exhaustion, as he often did. He slept fitfully and dreamt of the night Fenris was sleeping off his drunkenness and he recalled again the words the elf mumbled in his sleep. “Anders. I love you.”

Anders startled himself awake at the recollection, looking around him and seeing that he had once again fallen asleep at his desk. He slowly hauled himself up and stumbled groggily to his small bed, ignoring the protests from Justice that he should resume his work.

As he lay down he realized that this was the first time he’d slept in his bed since Fenris had been in it and the elf’s faint scent still lingered there. Anders breathed in the scent and hummed happily as he drifted back to sleep, his thoughts filled with that cantankerous elf once again.

***

With the memories of that night rekindled, Anders mind wouldn’t let go, replaying the words over and over in his head. Justice was unhappy with how preoccupied Anders had become and pushed Anders to finally talk to the elf if only in the hopes it would help get the mage past all these distracting thoughts.

So, Anders closed the clinic early the next day, cleaned himself up and headed towards Hightown. Along the way, he even spent a few coins to buy some apple tarts and a bottle of wine as a peace offering. When he knocked on the door of the crumbling mansion that Fenris had claimed as his own, he was feeling decidedly nervous and nearly turned around to run back to Darktown when Fenris yanked open the door.

“What do you want, mage?” Fenris groused.

“Oh, well,” Anders mumbled nervously. “I thought I’d check to see how you were doing? Healers do sometimes make house calls.”

“You make house calls to check on a patient’s hangover several days after the fact?” Fenris asked.

“Well, ok fine,” Anders sighed. “We need to talk. Or rather I need to talk to you. Can I come in? Please? I brought you some apple tarts and wine we could share?”

Fenris eyed the offered items before turning around and walked back inside the mansion without closing the door. Anders assumed that was an invitation to follow and so he did, closing the door behind him.

Anders followed the elf upstairs into his room where a fire was roaring in the fireplace. Fenris turned and grabbed the bottle of wine from the mage, quickly pulling out the cork with the tip of one gauntlet and taking a long pull of the wine before offering it back to the mage.

Anders nodded in thanks and despite more protests from his spirit, Anders took a long pull of wine as well to steel his nerves. After they both sat on one of the benches by the fireplace, Anders put the bottle down between them and unwrapped the pastries he purchased, offering one to Fenris.

The elf hummed happily as he ate the apple tart, looking decidedly less grumpy as he enjoyed one of his favorite treats. After he washed it down with more wine he glared at Anders. “Speak,” he ordered brusquely.

Anders swallowed nervously. “The other night, when you were asleep in my clinic. Well you sort of…confessed something in your sleep. Something that perhaps you didn’t want me to hear but, well I did and now I can’t get it out of my head.”

“What could I possibly have to confess to you?” Fenris sneered, trying to remain aloof but a sudden apprehension appeared in his eyes.

Anders blushed. “Well, you sort of said that you loved me.”

Fenris’ eyes went wide and at first it looked like the elf was going to deny it, when his entire demeanor changed. He looked up at Anders almost kindly, his eyes flicking to the empty pastry wrappings and back to the mage. “Are you…trying to say you would be…receptive to such a thing?”

Anders blushed even more then. “Yes, you foolish elf. I’ve had affection for you for years but I never held out much hope of the feelings being returned. You always made your hatred of mages so abundantly clear.”

For a moment Fenris looked like he was about to argue the point, the way he often did, but instead he took a deep breath and another drink of wine.

Then Fenris did something surprising. He put away the bottle and slid closer to Anders, slipping off his gauntlets and with unsteady hands took Anders’ hands in his.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Fenris said. “My feelings for mages hasn’t changed. It’s only my feelings for you that have…softened. Despite being a mage, and an abomination, I see how much you care. You care for your patients and all the people of Darktown. You care for all of Hawke’s companions when we go out. You make sure that we all return home safe and whole. Despite the fact that you are an apostate, free of the Circle, you have never once done something to increase your power. And you are a very powerful mage. I have seen the spells you wield. You could easily take over Kirkwall if you had a mind to. But I see that is not in your nature.”

Anders looked shocked at Fenris as he praised him, his thoughts whirling over the plans he had been making lately. Everything with the Chantry and the Circle was coming to a head and he knew that something drastic had to happen, and soon, or all the mages in the Gallows were in jeopardy. If Fenris only knew what he was planning, would he still feel this way about him?

Before Anders’ thoughts could swirl more out of control Fenris leaned in and captured his mouth in a kiss. Anders’ thoughts flew out of the window as he lost himself in the wet heat of the elf’s mouth, which tasted of a mix of the apple tart and wine. Anders groaned and slid his hands around Fenris, pulling the elf closer.

When Fenris pulled back to look at Anders he looked into the mage’s eyes. “I l do love you, Anders.”

Anders was so swept away by all the feelings bursting from him, he cupped the side of Fenris’ face, and smiled. “I don’t know yet exactly how I feel, but I do care about you. So much.”

Anders leaned down and kissed Fenris again, with all the passion he currently felt. It felt so good to hold and kiss someone again. It had been so long since he’d felt someone’s touch, he needed and craved more.

Without thinking Anders stood and reached down, picking Fenris up in his arms. At first the elf struggled and protested but Anders kissed him again and Fenris melted into his embrace.

Anders carried Fenris over to his bed and lay him down, and began to undress. Fenris just stared for a moment as Anders revealed himself to Fenris. “Is this okay?” Anders asked, hoping that the elf wouldn’t back out now. Justice was protesting loudly as it was and if Fenris backed away, this may be Anders only chance to be with the elf before all his plans were finalized.

“Justice, just let me have this. Just one night. Please,” Anders argued with the spirit warring inside his head as he lay down next to Fenris, reaching out and pulling the elf back into his arms. Justice settled back then, with a final though. “Just one night.”

***

The next morning Anders awoke feeling the most rested he had in a very long time. He was entirely entangled with Fenris and it felt so good to wake up with someone in his arms. Even he and Karl never had the luxury of this and Anders had dreamt of waking up in a lover’s embrace at least once in his life.

Thank you,” Anders thought to Justice, as tears of joy and dread slid down his face.

Anders took one more moment to look at the peaceful face of Fenris as he slept. He didn’t fully understand how he’d earned the love of this grumpy, mage hating elf, and it broke his heart that he would destroy that love soon. But it couldn’t be helped.

Sighing to himself he carefully extricated himself from Fenris, hoping not to wake the elf. Then he quickly dressed and thought of leaving a note, until he remembered the elf couldn’t read. Anders sighed again and grabbed his staff and hurried from the mansion. Back to his clinic, his patients and his plans.

After that night, Anders purposefully avoided Fenris as much as possible. He turned down jobs with Hawke, refused to come play cards with everyone at the Hanged Man, and basically avoided everyone. Hawke was being kept busy chasing down blood mages, brigands and slavers while trying to keep the peace between Meredith and what remained of the Viscount’s staff and the city guard.

Fenris nearly caught Anders as he snuck his way out of the Chantry one night and as Anders hid behind a pillar and watched Fenris make his way across Hightown, he felt his heart clench over what could have been. “I’m so sorry, Fenris,” Anders said quietly to himself.

***

Several weeks later, everything finally came to a head when Meredith called for the Rite of Annulment for the Kirkwall Circle. Anders was at the end of his rope. He’d tried talking, begging and pleading and it all fell on deaf ears. He was sorry it had come to this but he felt no regrets when he jammed his staff into the pavement and incited the magical bomb he had planted inside the heart of the Chantry.

After the deed was done, Anders just slumped onto a crate, awaiting his inevitable death. He was somewhat surprised that Meredith herself didn’t relieve him of his head right then and there, but instead let Hawke make the final call as to his fate.

Hawke was shocked and angry, of course. Asking why he hadn’t come to him. Talked to him. Confided in him. “I thought we were friends,” Hawke said as he brought out a knife from his belt. “I wish it didn’t have to come to this.”

Just then, just as Anders could feel Hawke moving behind him, ready to have his miserable existence ended, a voice rang out that shocked them both.

“Hawke! No! Stop!” Fenris cried out.

Hawke hesitated, looking at the elf in confusion. From all his companions, he never expected Fenris to object to Anders being brought to justice for this crime.

“He killed innocents,” Hawke growled. “He has to pay the price for that.”

“Yes,” Fenris agreed. “But not like this. Please.”

Hawke hesitated and then put the knife away. “Fine, but I leave him in your custody. Take him out of Kirkwall and let him never show his face in the Free Marches again. If I ever see him again, I will not be so merciful.”

With that the Champion of Kirkwall gathered the rest of his companions to mop up the mess Anders made. Once they were alone Anders dared to look up at Fenris as tears streamed down his face, still disbelieving that he was still alive.

“Come, mage,” Fenris said. “Follow me.”

Dumbfounded, Anders nodded and stood, following the elf, wondering exactly what was in store for him.

Chapter Text

They had been traveling for nearly a week, making their way out of the Free Marches as quickly as possible. Fenris refused to talk to Anders, just telling the mage to remain silent and follow. Fenris kept them off the more travelled roads, preferring to avoid other travelers as much as possible. They hunted and foraged for their food and bathed in cold creeks and streams along the way.

Anders ignored Justice entirely now, having told the spirit. “It is done. We are done. I want no more part of your plans for justice or vengeance.” Instead Anders solemnly followed Fenris, waiting each day to see if the elf would mete out whatever punishment he saw fit on him.

Finally, they crossed the border out of the Free Marches and into Nevarra, and soon found themselves in Cumberland. Anders was somewhat relieved to see civilization again and was grateful when Fenris got them a room for a night at a local inn where they could have a hot bath and a hot meal.

Still, Fenris wouldn’t talk to him. Was that part of his punishment, to never communicate again? Until Fenris told him he could speak he decided to remain silent.

The next morning Anders awoke alone and was puzzled as to why Fenris had left without him until he saw that his pack was still there. So, Anders rose and dressed and then just sat by the fireplace and waited.

When Fenris finally returned, he stared at the mage sadly for a moment before grabbing his pack and gesturing for Anders to follow. Anders grabbed his staff and followed the elf, curious as to where they were headed. They walked for the better part of the day before finally stopping at a small hut nestled in the middle of the woods, near a babbling stream.

From the pouch on his belt, Fenris produced a key and opened the door of the hut and led Anders inside. Anders looked around. There were sparse furnishings all covered in a thick layer of dust. Fenris put down his pack and took Anders’ staff from him, setting it down in one corner of the main room.

Looking around, there was a kitchen with a wood burning stove and a small table with chairs on one end of the hut and a small living area with a sofa and some chairs in front of a fireplace on the other. A ladder led up to what presumably must be a loft and probably was meant for sleeping.

Fenris sighed then and looked at Anders. “Welcome to our new home. I purchased this place with the remainder of the sovereigns I had saved from my share of the loot we were always collecting with Hawke. It is far from any of the main roads and so we should be safe here, regardless of what comes from your actions back in Kirkwall.”

Anders nodded. “I…”

“Hush mage,” Fenris cut him off. “I am still very angry with you and we will talk about it, but not right now. First, I want you to take that magic of yours and clean up this place and light a fire. Then we will cook dinner and afterwards we will talk more.”

Anders nodded, and set about removing all the dust from the hut while Fenris went to gather wood for the stove and fireplace. Once Anders was done cleaning every inch of the hut, including the loft which indeed included a very cozy looking bed, he went out to the stream to catch some fish.

Fenris brought back both wood and a bunch of fruits and wild vegetables, and Anders set to work lighting the fires and cooking a pot of stew. “I’m sorry it’s a fish stew,” Anders apologized.

Fenris shrugged. “It is acceptable.”

After dinner Fenris led Anders to the sofa and produced a bottle of wine from his pack that he’d clearly been saving. He opened it and shared it with Anders.

After sitting in companionable silence for a while, Fenris finally spoke. “First of all, I wish to speak with your demon.”

Anders sighed and was going to argue when Fenris flashed a look. Anders nodded and relaxed, letting Justice come forward for the first time since they had left Kirkwall.

“YOU WISH TO SPEAK WITH ME ELF?” Justice asked, leveling his crackling, glowing blue eyes upon the elf.

“I want to make one thing perfectly clear to you,” Fenris said with conviction. “Anders will no longer do your bidding. Do not get any more fool notions of freeing mages or even slaves. He has done enough. He has suffered at your whims enough. He is mine now. I claim him for the rest of whatever life he has left. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”

“THERE IS STILL MUCH TO BE DONE…” Justice began to argue.

“Enough!” Fenris growled. “Let others do it. Anders is MINE. Retreat as far as you can into his mind and do not bother him further. He will now eat properly, sleep properly and serve my whims, not yours.”

Justice was silent for a moment before nodding in acknowledgement. “IT SEEMS ANDERS IS IN ADAMENT AGREEMENT. I WILL RETREAT AND BOTHER NEITHER OF YOU ANY FURTHER.”

Fenris sighed in relief as the blue cracks in Anders’ skin faded and his eyes returned to their honeyed hazel.

“Thank you,” Anders said quietly once he was himself again. “I’ve been arguing with him for days about this.”

“I’m not through with you,” Fenris said. “I just wanted to make sure Justice was completely clear before I proceeded.”

Anders nodded and waited silently.

“I have thought over what you did in Kirkwall,” Fenris said. “Everything you did. Good and bad. You accomplished a lot of good during the years you lived there. While you and I will never agree in regards to how mages should be handled, I do agree that the Rite of Annulment does go too far. However, retaliating by killing all those innocents in the Chantry was also going too far.”

Anders was about to argue when Fenris lifted his hand. “I have heard all of your arguments. I do not need to hear them again. I will not force you to remain here, but if you do you will obey me. If you choose to leave, I will not come with you. You are probably the most wanted man in all Thedas right now, so think carefully how long you would last without me to protect you. Do you accept my terms?”

Anders looked at Fenris and smiled. “If it means I get to be with you, then yes. I accept.”

“So, you will obey me in everything?” Fenris pressed.

“Yes, Fenris,” Anders nodded. “You gave me back my life. You saved me from a death sentence at the hands of Hawke. I owe you everything.”

Fenris nodded. “For now, you will sleep here on the sofa. I am not yet ready to share a bed with you. You will keep the hut clean, with minimal use of magic from now on. If you wish to use your magic, you must ask me for permission. I will hunt and gather our food. I will save the pelts of what I hunt and occasionally go into Cumberland to trade. You will remain here and ward the hut when I am not nearby. That is the only time I will permit you to use magic without asking. You will keep yourself safe and use your magic if attacked.”

Anders nodded in agreement.

“Thank you, Fenris,” Anders said sincerely. “Thank you for asking Hawke spare my life. I was prepared to die that day, but I’m glad I didn’t.”

Fenris looked at Anders, contemplating for a moment. “I made him spare you because I do still care for you, despite what you did. Even though you ran from me after that one night, making me wonder if I had done something wrong. We will have a lot to discuss, but as long as you stay here, you are mine.”

***

They fell into a companionable routine over the next couple of weeks as Anders did his best to win back Fenris’ trust. Fenris had said they needed to talk but he still seemed reluctant to do so and Anders decided to try and remain patient.

One morning Fenris began to gather up the pelts he’d cleaned from the rabbits he’d caught recently. “Mage, I am heading to Cumberland to trade. Ward the hut after I am gone and do not light a fire. Keep yourself safe until I return. I should be back by tomorrow afternoon.”

After Fenris left, Anders extinguished the fireplace and wood stove and set up wards around the hut and then occupied his time mixing the herbs had been gathering for poultices. After it became too dark to continue working without lighting a fire, Anders washed up and curled himself onto the sofa and fell asleep, completely forgetting to reinforce his wards.

The next morning, Anders awoke feeling strange and to the realization that he was not alone. When he opened his eyes, and looked up, he was surrounded by several Templars.

“You’re finally awake, apostate,” the tallest of the group said, his voice sounding tinny behind his helm. “Are you sure it’s him? This one looks pretty harmless.”

“Oh, I’m sure it’s him alright,” one of the other Templars insisted. “I always saw him having the audacity to come and go through the Gallows, thinking he was safe because he was friends with the Champion.”

Anders realized then he had been recognized and tried to call up an electricity spell when one of the Templars cast a Holy Smite, temporarily cutting him off from his magic. Anders panicked then, trying to rouse Justice but the spirit either could not or would not come forth.

“We have been watching your hut for days now, waiting for your companion to leave long enough to let is complete our task. We have orders to kill you on sight, abomination,” the tell Templar sneered. “However, I think that would be entirely too merciful for you.”

Before he could even utter a protest the Templars grabbed him off the sofa and stripped him naked and tied him to the ladder leading up to the loft.

“I’d give you the whip if I had one with me, but a belting ought to be a good start,” the tall Templar said, as Anders heard him loosen and remove a belt from his armor. “One of you go outside a cut me a switch for later.”

“Aye Ser,” one of the other Templars responded.

Anders heard the Templar leave just as the sickening sound of the whoosh of the belt cut through the air, seconds he felt the pain of the blow flare across his back.

***

A couple of hours later and Anders hung limply from his bonds, as he screamed every time the wicked switch landed. He was sure all of his skin must have been flayed off by now with the force of the blows that he’d endured as each Templar took another turn at him.

He had lost hope of Fenris returning to rescue him in time and he just kept begging for death.

“For what you did in Kirkwall? The innocents in the Chantry you killed? The destruction you caused? No, you do not deserve our mercy,” the Templar growled.

Just as Anders screamed after another strike from the switch, the door of the hut burst open. “Let him go! He’s mine!”

The Templars looked at the wiry elf standing in the doorway. “Wait your turn, knife-ear. We haven’t finished punishing him for his crimes yet.”

Fenris narrowed his eyes. “Oh yes, you have.”

As he drew the Blade of Mercy from his back and shifted into his Lyrium Ghost form, the Templars tried to reach for their own weapons. Fenris was too swift, moving from one Templar to the next. The first lost his head with a swing of Fenris’ sword, and the next had his heart ripped from him. The last one tried to run but Fenris tripped him with his sword before taking off his head as well.

Fenris shifted back to his normal form and dropped his sword, rushing to free the mage. “Anders! Maker have mercy what have they done to you? I told you to keep the hut warded!”

Anders passed out almost as soon as Fenris freed him from his bonds, mumbling something that sounded vaguely like “m’sorry.”

***

Two days later, Anders finally regained consciousness. By then Fenris had cleaned and bandaged his wounds, applying some of the poultices that the mage had been preparing before he was attacked.

As he slowly awoke, he realized he was lying on his front and he was on the bed instead of the sofa. Fenris must have carried him up to the loft and let him sleep in the bed.

Anders groaned as he tried to move, remembering everything. Thankfully his connection to his magic was restored and Anders gingerly worked his hands around and began the process of healing the damage.

Just then he heard Fenris’ bare feet make their way up the ladder.

“I thought I heard you stirring,” Fenris remarked. “How are you feeling? Will you be able to heal yourself fully?”

Anders looked over his shoulder at the elf. “There will be scarring. It’s been too long since the wounds were inflicted,” Anders replied. “You did a good job patching me up though. Thank you for that.”

An hour later and Anders had healed himself as much as possible and was sitting up in bed, eating some rabbit stew Fenris had prepared. Fenris came back up to the loft after fetching a bottle of wine that he had traded for when he was in Cumberland.

“I was wondering,” Anders said absently. “Did you happen to come back early or did you know?”

“After I had concluded my business in Cumberland, I heard word of Templars searching for you,” Fenris explained as he sat next to Anders, opening the bottle of wine and taking a swig. “I ran back here as quickly as I could. I’m sorry I didn’t make it back sooner, but why didn’t you have the hut warded?”

Anders grabbed the bottle and took a swig himself. “I did set up wards, but then I got busy working on the poultices and when it became too dark to work, I laid down and fell asleep and I forgot to reinforce the wards. I’m sorry, I screwed up.”

Fenris put aside the bottle and the bowl of stew on Anders’ lap and moved closer to the mage. “Why didn’t Justice remind you? Or defend you?”

Anders shrugged. “I think he’s still sulking after you told him off. Also, I think the Holy Smites the Templars threw at me hurt him because I couldn’t call him forward, although I kept trying.”

Fenris looked around. “If they found you, so could others. Perhaps we need to think about moving.”

Anders shook his head. “No, I’m tired of always running. I’ve been doing that most of my life, and so have you. It’s time we took a stand. You’ve done your best to make a home for us here and I’m not ready to give that up. I’ll work on setting up longer-term wards and perhaps we could think about getting a Mabari for protection as well.”

“I thought you preferred cats?” Fenris teased.

Anders blushed. “I do, but I doubt an adorable tabby will scare off any Templars.”

“Good point,” Fenris agreed before grabbing the bottle of wine and taking another swig.

The elf took a deep breath and looked up at Anders, studying the mage’s face. “I didn’t know what to think, when you walked out on me like that,” Fenris began, finally ready to talk. “I thought I’d done something wrong.”

Anders looked like he was about to offer another apology and Fenris raised his hand. “Let me finish.”

Anders settled back and nodded.

“After you destroyed the Chantry, I understood why you left,” Fenris continued. “You were trying to protect me, weren’t you? I will admit I was…I am…very angry that it came to that, but on some level I understand.”

“You do?” Anders asked.

“I’ve tried to imagine how it would feel to destroy the Magisterium, preferably with all Magisters in attendance,” Fenris said with a smirk. “I will admit the thought of that is oddly satisfying.”

Anders smiled. “So, why did you save me? I was sure I had hurt you too much for you to interfere,” Anders asked. “I fully expected to die for my actions that day.”

Fenris looked at Anders seriously. “I wasn’t ready to let you go. Everything happened so fast and I needed time to think and to eventually talk to you. I had spent too long pining over you to just watch you throw your life away like that.”

“Thank you, again, for saving this fool mage,” Anders said. “I will spend the rest of my life repaying you for that. I don’t deserve you.”

“No, you don’t,” Fenris teased. “However, you have somehow managed to get me and you better damn well never let go again, or I’ll tan your hide myself.”

Anders winced just at the sound of that. “I won’t ever let go. I love you, Fenris.”

Fenris then crawled up over Anders and straddled him, grabbing the mage’s face in his hands and kissing him fiercely. “Then just remain here and be mine, forever.”

“Yes, I am yours,” Anders whispered against the elf’s lips. “Now and forever.”

Chapter Text

The years came and went while Anders and Fenris turned their small hut into a comfortable home. Anders planted a large garden in the sunniest patch next to the small home and began growing his own herbs and vegetables. Fenris also decided to catch and breed some rabbits so he didn’t have to go hunt every day and occasionally he allowed Anders to catch and prepare a dish with fish as well.

They adopted a Mabari puppy that Anders promptly named Ser Growls-a-Lot, although he went by Growly for short. The pup grew into an impressively large beast and had successfully scared off numerous intruders over the years.

***

Early one balmy evening, Anders and Fenris were sitting outside of their hut. Fenris had taken up whittling and Anders was knitting them a warmer blanket for the coming winter. Just as Anders was about to say something, Growly began his namesake growling as he sensed the approach of someone.

Fenris immediately put down his whittling and curled his hand around the hilt of his sword which he still always kept close. Anders followed suit, putting down his knitting and grabbing his staff as he alerted Justice, who had stopped sulking years ago. Anders rarely let Justice take control but when there was a potential threat the mage was more than happy to have the spirit as back-up.

Just then they saw a young man emerge from the surrounding forest, carrying nothing but a leather satchel. Growly began to growl in earnest and Anders shushed the beast. “Hush now Growly. Let’s see what he wants first.”

Growly whined and sat down next to the mage.

As the young man approached he called out. “Are you Ser Fenris and Ser Anders by any chance?”

Fenris came forward, still wielding his sword. “Who wants to know?”

“I have a message for them,” the young man explained. “I’ve been searching for days. Please if you know where they are I would be grateful.”

Fenris sheathed the sword down and walked over. “I am Fenris. I’ll take the message.”

“Oh, thank you Ser!” the young man sighed gratefully. “If I hurry I can still make it back home before it’s too late!” He handed the message to Fenris and promptly ran off, back in the direction of Cumberland.

Fenris handed it to Anders, who could still read better than he could. “What does it say?”

Anders scanned the message and gasped before sitting down and reading it again. “Could you please read it aloud?”

“Oh yes, sorry,” Anders mumbled. “You will never believe this!”

Dear Blondie and Broody,

I hope you receive this message. I had word you two were shacked up somewhere outside of Cumberland. I hope that information was still current.

Anyway, I’ve got some good news I wanted you both to know, just in case you weren’t keeping up on the latest gossip and all.

First off, we defeated Corypheus. For good this time, I hope. The Inquisition is also formally disbanding and our dear Inquisitor is taking a vacation in Tevinter with his husband Dorian before figuring out what to do about Solas (long story. I’ll tell you all about it if you come back to Kirkwall to visit me sometime).

That brings me to the other good news you may not have heard about. The Divine Victoria has formally disbanded the Circles and the Templar Order. Instead, Grand Enchanter Fiona has started setting up a system of colleges for mages instead. They are to be run by mages, for mages. Once a mage completes their education there, they are free to go back home and be with their families. They are no longer apostates, and neither is Anders.

A lot has changes around Thedas since that decree was made. Mages are finally integrating back into society and most folks have welcomed and accepted them.

Oh, yeah and since I know the Divine Victoria pretty well, I asked her for a huge favor. She has officially pardoned Anders. All warrants out for his arrest and execution have been rescinded. If anyone tries to harm Anders, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of Chantry Law.

So there you have it, Blondie. You finally have the freedom you’ve always wanted. Congratulations.

I hope you’re both doing well. Feel free to drop me a line to let me know how you’re both doing and maybe come back and visit. You are both welcome to come back any time you like.

Varric

Anders face was wet with tears by the time he finished reading and Fenris’ mouth was agape. “I’m free. Completely, truly free.”

Fenris slid to his knees and embraced his mage. “It seems like you did the right thing, after all.”

Anders hugged Fenris and wept happy tears. “What do you think? Should we go visit that surly old dwarf?”

Fenris nodded. “I’d like that and I’m sure Growly would love the adventure.”

“What do you think Ser Growls-a-Lot? Would you like to go on an adventure?” Anders asked the Mabari. Growly lept up and barked and wagged his tail happily. “That settles it. I guess we should start packing!”

“Not so fast,” Fenris growled. “First I need to take you to bed to celebrate, and to remind you who you belong to.”

Anders laughed and let himself be dragged into the hut and pushed up the ladder towards their bed.