|Why you gotta go rifling through my stuff???|
I'm a writer first, and once upon a time I was one helluva wiz with pencils, pastels and acrylics. Alas, I've neglected the latter talents in favor of real life, though I hope one day to pick them up again. Writing is my passion, though it was not always my strongest skill (and is still in the refining process.) I'll quit that when I'm dead... maybe. ;o)
You can also find me on fanfiction.net and AO3 where I'm still Lourdes23. I've got a bit more posted to FF.net, but much of it is years old and nowhere close to the standards I now hold myself to.
I've copied my favorite pieces here though.
I also post photographs I take which I find appealing, though I wouldn't call myself a photographer, or even a hobbyist. My camera is older, my skills are remedial and there are many times in which I am scolded by family for not taking enough pictures at special events. But I can appreciate lovely scenery, so if I catch a lucky shot I'll share it with the class.
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With a hand braced against the low, geometric rock formation behind her, Hawke leaned forward once more, plunging her head into an incoming swell and scratching at the short strands of her hair with her unoccupied fingers to help release the soap suds into the water. The sea was bloody cold but, after weeks with only being able to run a soapy wet cloth over her skin, Hawke was determined to have a proper bath. And while bathing in the Waking Sea was not ideal, it was the only body of water near their camp which she could safely venture to after dark, once the others had retired for the night.
And so the bar of soap upon the rocks beside her was applied to her skin for a second time, and she furthered its efforts by adding her nails to her scrubbing, scratching away at the grime she could still feel more than see, for the stars were obscured by the ever-present clouds, and she had decided against leaving a torch on the shore. While half of her party may already know what she looked like without her smalls, she was in no hurry to allow the stable boy or the lecherous dwarf the same knowledge.
Another wave lapped up over her hips and, gritting her teeth against the cold, Hawke dipped low, allowing it to rinse the soap and filth from her skin; her body swaying slightly against the tide as it pushed and pulled at her. In spite of the temperature, the sensation of being clean felt marvelous, and she ran hands over her scoured flesh, ensuring that no place had been neglected.
"Ah, there you are."
Startled, Hawke turned to find a dark silhouette topped in shining silver standing beside Horse, whom she had brought to act as a second set of eyes and ears while she bathed. Yet it stood to reason why she had received no warning of the elf's arrival; her mount would have raised no protest against someone who had helped care for him for so many weeks. Instead Horse stood by quietly, nosing at the man for a scratch when one dark hand was placed upon his neck, to which Fenris absently obliged. "When you had said you were going to freshen up, I had thought you were simply going to splash some water on your face."
The concept of not bathing seemed repulsive to her now, and with that a long forgotten memory resurfaced, bringing a wistful smile to her lips. Without having to apply any conscious thought she spoke from rote; the tone perfectly mimicked even after all of these years. "A lady must take every care in how she presents herself to the public."
The silver hair swayed in the dark as the head it crowned presumably tipped. "I beg your pardon?"
She shook her head. "Just something my mother used to try to teach her daughters. Clearly Bethany was better at listening to that particular lesson." She smiled ruefully. "She always did say that my idea of caring for my appearance was to smear war paint across my face."
A low chortle rose up in response to her admission. "If it is of any consolation, it attracted me."
Distracted as she was by their banter, Hawke failed to notice the large swell at her back until it was upon her, knocking her off balance and pulling her beneath the frigid waters. Surrounded by the blackness of the nighttime sea water, her hands scrabbled for purchase on the rocks until a hard grip caught her up beneath one arm and lifted her to the surface, spluttering lightly, though no worse for wear.
"Thanks," she murmured and turned a slightly abashed expression to the man who had trudged, fully clothed, into the water to retrieve her. "I believe I'm clean enough now."
"I believe you may be right." Fenris countered, and together the pair waded from the surf, stopping beside Horse so that Hawke could retrieve the small towel and run it over her body.
With the last of her skin patted dry, she then turned the towel upon her hair, rubbing vigorously as she twisted and turned her neck before finally noticing how - or more precisely where - Fenris' eyes had trained on her. Lowering her own gaze to her body, she wondered how he would see her now. They had not discussed the matter in any great detail yet. Escaping from the darkspawn infested tunnels had understandably taken priority over public conversations on whether or not the father of her child really wanted to be a father.
Now, however, seemed to be as good a time as any.
"I've heard that it takes a few months before there is a visible change," she offered quietly, her skin tingling at Fenris' proximity.
"No," he murmured, lifting a hand to place hesitant fingertips against her abdomen, "it is there."
Hawke knew that if the cold had not already raised her skin into gooseflesh his touch would have. As his touch moved up towards her ribs her eyes followed, noting the way that it followed a very slight curve, one that had not been so prominent before. Re-tracing the path that his fingers had just followed, his hand ceased its travels at a place just below her navel where it hovered tentatively before he pressed his palm over her lower abdomen, dark and warm and firm against her skin. Slowly his fingers spread to cover more area while the pressure of his touch became slightly more confident, and she wondered if he could feel the tiny, hard ball within her that she had only just become aware of in recent days.
With a hand that trembled as much from the cold as from the electric current flowing through her veins, Hawke placed a palm over his hand, only too grateful for the warmth of his body when his free arm pulled her near.
"You should not be out here like this," he said at last, his breath a hot wave against her temple as he reached for the cloak she had previously set over Horse's back, draping the warm fabric over her shoulders and wrapping it around her naked body. "Come," he murmured and clucked for Horse to follow as he lead them back to the tents.
The two structures had been delivered a few weeks prior to their reemergence as gifts from the Inquisition's Spymaster, Wilhelm had confirmed upon their return to the surface. As to why or to what end the woman continued to support their efforts Hawke could not say. Perhaps she owed the Commander a favor. Perhaps the two were friends. Whatever the reasoning, however, the former Champion was glad for the aid. For, along with the tents, healing supplies and fresher rations had been delivered, which included preserved apples - the first food other than travel biscuits which did not turn her stomach, she had discovered gratefully.
Once within the tent Fenris had claimed for himself and Hawke, she was grateful she had left the little brazier smoldering, for the temperature change - while slight - was welcome. Besides the brazier two fresh bedrolls were warming nicely, while their gear near the entrance and an enclosed lantern completed the contents of the structure. All-in-all it was nothing extraordinary, but after weeks of sleeping with nothing but crumbling stone and eery shadows surrounding them, Hawke found the tent to be nearly a luxury. Moving quickly to sit upon the bedrolls, she began the process of thawing her hands and toes before the glowing embers while watching as Fenris stripped his sodden clothing from his body; his leggings proving the most difficult as they pulled away with a wet sucking sound. "Sorry about that," she muttered sheepishly, but did not fail to catch the glint in those green eyes, or the arched brow in the dim light.
"It would seem that you were not the only one due for a bath." He replied, and she chuckled again, returning her attention to the coals before her and the wonderful tightening they brought to her skin.
Warmth then engulfed her back when her beloved moved behind her and pulled her against his chest, his bare thighs cupping her hips and encasing her in his comfortable heat. "Better?" He asked and she hummed her relief, leaning into him and stretching out her arms as his hands traveled up and down their lengths until the movement ceased at last, and he was simply holding her.
"There have been too many occasions recently which have given me cause to believe I might never know another moment like this with you." His voice was low and graveled in her ear, and she reached up to give the arms around her a comforting squeeze.
"I'm here, Fenris," she replied softly, feeling his nose bury into the hair behind her ear.
"A fact I am grateful for," he admitted, his hand lifting to brush the backs of his fingers against her cheek before lowering to the slight mound of her belly. In the quiet of the tent and the night, away from the prying eyes of their companions, Fenris had seemingly given in to his desire to explore her, and Hawke obliged by pressing his hand slightly lower, over the place where she knew their child to be hiding. For a moment he was still but for his heartbeat against her spine, his lips and nose pressed to the softness behind her ear while his grip shifted to cradle her stomach within his palm. His fingers continued their gentle movements over her skin, barely kneading the flesh as he caressed the slight rise.
At last her lover stirred, using his free hand to carefully pulled the fabric of her cloak aside slightly, his fingertips ghosting over the scar at her flank where Anders had removed the arrow she had taken defending him. More of the cloak was pushed from her body after that, and Fenris continued his inspection of the other two scars she had earned; pink stars fading against pale skin, but still vivid enough to remind them they had been earned just weeks ago.
"So many changes to this body," he murmured, fingertips trailing over the healed wound upon the soft depression beneath her shoulder, and Hawke's eyes slid closed at his touch, her head tipping slightly to keep from impeding his view. Taking the invitation, Fenris pushed aside another fold of her cloak to reveal a single, heavy breast, and pleasure rippled up her spine as she felt his response against her lower back.
"It's good to know that not all of those changes have been for the worse," she commented lightly, hissing and arching her back into his touch when his hand trailed down to cup at the over-sensitive mound. "Maker," she breathed Once his grip slackened, and he resorted to gentle caresses of her raised peak with his forefinger.
Is this wise, Raina?" He murmured, his lips brushing against the lower junction of her throat as he spoke. "You are-"
"If you start to treat me like a glass figurine, Fenris, I swear I'll go mad." She warned, turning in his arms so that she could capture his angular jaw in her hand and his gaze with her own. "Besides, haven't we waited long enough?"
The spark of desire lit those pale green depths, much to her gratification. "Too long," he rumbled; his voice liquifying her insides into molten honey. The admission was immediately followed by a kiss that threatened to drink her in with its need, yet this time there was no urgency to the act. Tattooed hands carefully pulled the cloak from between their bodies while his kisses remain languid, and the heat of his bare skin against hers set her afire in a way that had nothing to do with temperature. Already her center was pulsing, feeling fuller - more swollen - than it ever had felt before. Distantly, she wondered if she had her pregnancy to thank for that, or if it was due to her plunge into the icy sea.
When at last her lips were freed, it was so that the tongue she had been savoring up to that point could lave upon her throat as, with gentle hands, Fenris maneuvered her so that she was seated across his lap; his manhood pinned between her hip and his stomach. It was almost too much for her to feel it there; the need to have him was unbelievably strong. With the hand that was not wrapped around his shoulders she reached down to draw feather-soft trails over the protruding head, marveling in its silken texture.
The man beneath her groaned and lifted his mouth from her throat. "Patience," he hummed, "we have the entire night before us."
"What," she said, trying to smile cheekily in spite of her physical state, "no begging for mercy this time?" Elegant fingers lifted to tilt back her chin and once more his lips found the column of her throat; the attention causing Hawke to forgot her attempts at levit.
"Not tonight," he admitted in between light suckling. "I plan to spend this night worshipping you as you deserve."
The marked hand which had granted him access to her throat then flattened to her collar, caressing her the peaks and valleys of her body before dipping between her thighs, and Hawke moaned her pleasure when those expert fingers began stroking her bud; her thighs parting wantonly while her hips bucked slightly, pressing her mound into his palm.
"Maker, Fenris," she gasped, fearful that he would toy with her and end this pleasure before she found release. Her worry was pointless though, for her crest grew and swelled rapidly, and before long she was quaking in his embrace, curling in on herself as her muscles clenched and her sex tightened around nothing. At her ear his low crooning urged her to let go, while his fingers continued to stroke her with firm certainty, coaxing her on until nothing remained but a pool of warmth in her belly.
In spite of the pleasure radiating through her body in warm waves, it had not been enough. Indeed, she found that the experience had left her only wanting more. She was voracious; starved for his touch - for his presence within her - while knowing all too well that the torment of his fingers alone would not be enough to sate her tonight. Her hips began to rock within his lap again, seemingly of their own accord, and Fenris placed a firm grip upon the curve not pressed to his body.
"Do that much longer," he graveled, "and there will be nothing left for you at the end of the night."
"You don't honestly plan to make me wait that long," she all but pleaded, pressing her lips to his throat before taking one angular shell into her lips, tracing its edge with the tip of her tongue and listening to him hiss, his control slipping.
"Kaffas." He grated softly, and lifted her enough so that he could slip out from beneath her while twisting in order to hover over her body, compelling her to lie back. "You will not end this so quickly," he continued. "I will have you, make no mistake, but first I will watch you come undone again," the word was punctuated with a ripe kiss to the corner of her mouth, "and again," more wet kisses followed, accompanied by further promises to see to her pleasure as his mouth traveled down her throat, teeth pulling at her skin gently as he moved over her.
Until those smooth lips reach a firm breast that positively ached from within. It was there that he pounced, pulling the tender peak into his lips eagerly and taking the tiny nub between his teeth. The ache within the mounded flesh crystalized into a physical knot and, unthinking of the other tent just a few paces off from theirs - or its inhabitants - Hawke let lose a warbled cry of pleasure and pain.
The starlit colored head bent over her breast lifted with a snap while green eyes fell upon her instantly, wide and utterly aware. "Are you hurt?" Unconsciously her hand slid up her ribs to cup the underside of the globe as she shook her head, rubbing a thumb over her nipple to both sooth and stimulate.
"No. They're just tender," she assured him, "as though they're bruised from within."
That uncertain gaze turned down to her occupied hand, and Fenris shifted his weight above her, replacing her touch with his own as his thumb continued the soft caresses hers had just performed. With a sigh she laid back once more and watched as he descended upon her breast again, lapping at it gently before blowing cool air over the peak. Humming her approval at his new tactic, she lifted a hand to the back of his head, encouraging him, and was gratified to feel the flesh pulled into a far softer kiss; the heat of his wide tongue bringing the ache back, though not unpleasantly.
"Ego diligo vestri osculum ," she breathed, her mouth clumsy with the words yet still earning an approving expression from the man above her.
"Do you, now?" His voice was a delicious purr, and her insides squirmed with anticipation. The shoulders above her rolled as his weight shifted again, and her breath hitched when she felt warm fingers at her center; a feather soft touch placed at her opening, but nothing more. "And if I were to kiss you here?"
Without her consent her sex tightened and clenched against the pad of his finger, and the responding smirk above her was positively sinful in its intent. "I see," he rumbled, and consciously Hawke tangled her fingers into the fabric beneath her, aware that if she tried to interfere he could decide to prolong the torture further.
Thankfully the beautiful figure above her slid away from her without further taunting, though she was by no means neglected. Powerful hands were upon her thighs, lifting her knees and spreading her legs so that lyrium etched shoulders and a silver head could fit between their lengths. Hawke's body rolled against the blankets as she whimpered, quickly losing herself to the carnal desires consuming her.
And when next his lips met her skin it was over her swollen sex, the tip of his tongue spreading thin folds of skin and licking away the arousal which was already seeping from her, before spearing her opening as deeply as the muscle would reach, then emerging to flatten against her pearl heavily. Dark brows knitted and beautiful eyes slid closed as he devoted himself to the task of satisfying her. A sigh of decadent pleasure rasped from Hawke's slackened lips, and without thought she plunged her hands into his hair; kneading his scalp and relishing in the silken texture of the tresses, lips, and tongue against her overly-sensitized skin. Need built steadily within her, consuming her reason, and soon her hands had fisted within his silken mane, pressing him more tightly to her center; begging without words for him to enter her more deeply, to increase the pressure his tongue exacted. Her enthusiasm earned a low growl from her lover as he took her bud into his lips, vibrating the tender flesh and sending rippling tingles up her spine. Lips and tongue lapped and suckled at her juices, his head bobbing lightly with each action, until he, too, was lost to the act; his mouth full of flesh and movement and her essence as he all but devoured her arousal covetously.
Pleasure wracked her body, lifting her shoulders from the blankets as she spasmed and panted vocally. No longer did she worry about those who slept nearby. They were a thousand years from this place, and so very small in comparison to what she now experienced. Fenris' kiss plucked at her swollen lower lips as his grip upon her waist tightened possessively, and while it was passionate and electrifying it was also slow. He was taking his time with her - ravenous but deliberate - as he threw her into a state of mindless bliss and longing, a state she was only too glad to be pulled along with.
Without thought for the hard ground beneath her bedding she collapsed to the faric beneath her; chest heaving with each desperate breath. Another wave surged within her nerves and her back arched, thrusting her breasts into the air while her hips gyrated and ground her sex against his mouth, until the spiraling climax that had been building within her for what seemed to be an eternity broke free at long last. Convulsing, her palms slapped the blankets beyond her head, grasping at the bedroll. Mindlessly she keened her rapture into the tent's warmth as her body quaked with the power of a release Fenris worked ardently to prevent from ending.
Until it did, and she lay before him panting, trembling, depleted; her chest heaving and limbs slack. For a time she was simply content to lay there with her eyes closed and experience the feel of her beloved's mouth and hands as they traveled along the curves of her body; of his tongue as he kissed her wetly behind her knee, his hands as they massaged her inner thighs, his teeth as he nipped at her hipbones, his fingers ghosting over ticklish ribs, and finally a gentle, chaste kiss to the place that held their child. There he remained for a time, inhaling her scent and nuzzling her skin while she combed her fingers through his thick, soft hair.
Yet the ache was still there within her; the deep emptiness that needed - craved - to be sated. She didn't understand it. How could she have come so hard and still want more? With pleasantly hollowed arms she reached for her lover, feeling her channel tighten at the thought of taking him into her, of being filled by him completely; broken words of entreaty rasping from her lips as those fierce eyes regarded her with pupils widening enough to devour the green.
A primal growl cut the air between them. "Venhedis! I can resist you no longer."
He was upon her then, his solid heat pressing against her heavily, though he had propped himself with an arm above her head while his free hand reached back to drape her leg around his hips. And it was with one slow, sure thrust of those powerful but narrow hips that he entered her, and - by the Maker - she could swear that he was twice the size he had been when last she taken him in.
The effect must not have escape her lover's notice, either, for what could have been a pained groan broke from his chest, and his jaw clenched forcibly above her. For a moment she worried he had hurt himself, until his eyes reopened and she saw within them the desperation her own body was experiencing. Slowly he leaned in, pressing his forehead to hers but not moving where they were joined. Laying there, she waited for him to gather himself again, reveling in the feeling of simply being overfull with him, even without the gratifying motion he could bring about.
And then, with a careful, purposeful roll, his hips pulled his length from her body before impaling her again slowly, and Hawke's mind exploded into nothingness; giving no thought for the world beyond their bed as she lost herself to the sensations she experienced and the man creating them within her. Lips claimed hers in a kiss so deep and demanding it should have gagged her, yet it wasn't enough, and she tilted her head, trying to taste more of Fenris' flavor until her head swam with the need for fresh air.
When at last they parted for breath her given name poured from his lips like a prayer, while the hand upon her hip pulled at her, squeezing her in an iron grip which he used to claim her in every possible way. Beside her she could feel his parted lips against her shell, and the air that they expelled; could hear the barest hint of his voice in each exhalation that did not carry her name with it. Alone, that would have been enough to unravel her.
Yet she could feel him within her; the slide of his heat, of iron and velveteen and life as it pulsed and spread and stretched her. Never had she felt so sensitive. It was as though every nerve ending within her body had come alive, forcing her to experience every physical sensation with perfect clarity. The slide of his skin against her inner walls, the ridge of the bulbous tip as it stretched her insides, the flow of blood within his veins - she was aware of it all.
There was no build-up to her climax this time. It came on as suddenly and as powerfully as a physical blow, leaving her to cling to Fenris tightly as she lost herself to the ecstasy of his passion.
Teeth clamped down upon her throat and she whimpered when air at last returned to her lungs. Her arm had wrapped tightly around his shoulders during her release; fingers tangled in his hair or gripping the flesh of his backside as she held to him like she could at any moment be swept away and drown in another ocean of desire. For he yet moved within her; his rhythm as steady and compelling as it had been. Powerful muscles rolled and twisted between her thighs while he fought for control, for restraint. Already her overstimulated walls were tightening, readying to plummet her into another wave of passion that she wasn't all together certain she could take.
Yet it seemed control was escaping her beloved as well, for as he claimed her so completely that easy pace he had established in the beginning slowly began to unravel, and she could feel the urgency in his movements begin to build; could hear it in the ragged breaths against her neck.
"Raina," her name was a harsh croak of desire and crumbling resolve, "Aadiuvetis me ."
Against the tender bulge of her middle she could feel his muscles tense and bunch. He was so close, and all it would take from her would be a whisper, the proper angle...
Pressing against his weight, Hawke tipped her pelvis and instantly light danced before her eyes as Fenris' length struck that place deep within her that could shatter her so easily, while within her her lover surged; a groan as jagged and helpless as she had ever heard from him filled her senses as he spent himself deeply into her.
Then there was stillness, but for their shuddering breaths and hammering hearts as the lay entwined with one another. And after what could have been minutes or hours for all she knew, Fenris pushed himself to his elbows in order to peer down at her. His eyes were strangely peaceful as he searched her face, and she smiled at him through her fatigue. Dark fingers tangled into her black tresses as his springtime gaze held hers intently.
"When this is over," he murmured, "I am taking you away from here."
Beneath his regard Hawke smirked. "'Here' is a fairly general term, Fenris. Do you mean this tent? The Storm Coast?"
"Away from any who have heard of the Champion of Kirkwall," he said, and her humor died away at his quiet surety. "From any who would wish to use you towards their own gains." The fingers in her hair slipped down to trace over her cheekbone reverently. "I can no longer sit by and watch you risk your life for those who will not do for themselves what they ask of you."
Hawke tilted her head against the bedrolls beneath her. "You're saying we should abandon Thedas to its own devices?"
"I am saying we let another step in and save the world for once, yes."
Swallowing her fear she lifted her chin, trying to appear as determined as her present position would allow. "Alright. I'll agree to your terms provided you agree to mine."
An ebony brow above her arched curiously. "Which would be?"
"That you marry me."
The words were out at last, and it was clear from the wide eyes above her that they had been the last thing Fenris had expected. In truth she had never expected to utter them - they contraticted everything she had tried to emulate in their relationship. Marriage meant binding and permanence. Fenris had lived as a slave for so long - he deserved his freedom, whatever she may wish.
Before her, Fenris' gaze slipped from hers as he pushed himself off of her, and she rose to sit before him, watching his face as her demand sank in. It took longer than she thought it would but she did not speak.
"As a slave," he murmured at last, "I'd never considered what it might be like to have a family. And there are only flashes of my life before receiving the markings. I remember moments of having a mother, and a sister. But the thought of marrying... of having a child I was not bred to create..." he shook his head.
Hawke's throat tightened, nearly choking her from within. To hear him speak of himself as though he had been nothing more than livestock was never easy, even now. "Are you saying these are things you don't want?"
"I am saying these are things I never dreamt I might have." He replied quietly. "Have you ever entertained a desire so impossible you simply knew it could never be true? No, of course you wouldn't. Because to do so would serve no purpose beyond reminding yourself of what you could never have. That... is what you are offering me now."
"But you can have it Fenris," she whispered, placing a hand over her stomach, "half of it is already yours."
"But it doesn't feel real," he pressed. "Not yet. Not until I see him; feel his weight in my arms."
In spite of herself Hawke felt her lips quirk slightly. "You said 'him'," she whispered. It implied he had thought on the child as a person. As someone of value.
Fenris' gaze slipped away for a moment while he contemplated the meaning behind her words. "That I did," he breathed, and then fell silent for so long that Hawke began to doubt herself. She would not tolerate him being trapped by anyone - least of all her personally.
"Look Fenris," she sighed, "I don't want you to feel forced into doing something-"
"No," he growled; his eyes suddenly flashing before her with the fires of irritation she was so used to seeing, "do not do that."
Hawke blinked. "Do what?"
"Do not try to take back what you just asked for," he barked. "Not unless you truly do not want it." The ire smoothed from his features slightly at that; his brow furrowing, though not in anger. "Do you?" He spoke quietly again. "Wish to take it back?"
Her head shook before the word could leave her lips. "No," she whispered. "I want that dream."
"Then... it will be yours," he vowed solemnly. "When this is over, I will take you as my bride, and we will find a place where no one has heard the name Hawke."
Her heart surged within her chest and she realized that her elation at his commitment had been visible, for one of those rare, beautiful smiles of pure happiness lit his features.
"That might be difficult," she chimed, "you only have your given name. What will I be if not a Hawke?"
The smile upon his dark features melded into a cunning smirk as he took the taunt with good nature. "Beyond a nuisance?" He quipped and her grin grew more playful. She felt drunk on giddiness and physical gratification. "In Tevinter," her lover continued, "slaves who manage to secure their freedom often create surnames for themselves if they did not have one previously. I simply never felt the need to do so for myself. Until now."
"A new name," Hawke murmured thoughtfully, "a new name to go with a fresh start. I could get used to that."
Leaning into her, Fenris' palm cupped her cheek gently as his lips brushed over hers in a peppering of kisses broken only by his words. "Give me time," he murmured as his eyes slid closed before her, "and I will think of a name worthy of giving you."
Rain had begun to fall again, the sound of it tapping on their canvas roof melding with the noise of the surf further off. Beyond that, and the occasional snort from one of the horses, the camp was blessedly silent. It would have been soothing had his mind not been buzzing so loudly.
He had come to terms with the fact that he would never earn back Hawke's heart, but the knowledge that she had turned to him instead twisted his insides. The elf fed on his bigotry towards magekind like a drunkard on his ale. That Hawke - a mage sympathizer - could find happiness with someone like Fenris completely evaded Anders' understanding.
At first he had written the entire affair off as a distraction - something to take her mind from the hardships she had been facing - until Anders had discovered she was with child. His gut clenched at the thought and he rolled over, burying his face into his pillow.
And now this.
He should never have involved her in Kirkwall, he bemoaned inwardly. He should have kept her away; resisted temptation. Perhaps if he had, things would be different. She may never have chosen him, true, but she would not be with that rabid dog now, he was all but certain.
But she was with him. Anders had heard the evidence of that last night; muffled sounds and voices the nearby sea had not been able to drown out. Then there had been a conversation he could not make out before they had resumed their coupling until just a short while ago when silence had at last claimed the camp.
This was no longer just a passing affair. For better or for worse, Hawke had made her choice.
And now Anders knew that he must make his.
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There was no doubt that they were in danger, but she could not stop to consider that just yet. Not now, when the world itself had grown quiet in spite of the activity blossoming around her.
Because Hawke could still feel the flow within her veins as it tingled and resonated with a coolness that was reminiscent of Anders' healing magic; could feel it disperse the whispers within her mind like smoke in the wind, before pooling low in her belly where it remained briefly before fading into nothingness.
Beneath her ribcage her stomach still roiled with hunger at the same time it threatened to reject anything introduced to it, yet this was not the taint. Her stomach had held this feeling before her fight against the ogre, and thanks to Anders she could now identify it. This was the child within her, making its presence known. It was here and, like its parents, it had fought for its little life.
Hawke now could do no less.
Yet she was weakened by hunger, possessing only enough strength within limbs to hold her own in light combat for a short time. And while she had the distinct feeling that what was to come would be anything but a casual skirmish, she also knew that it was unavoidable. Guile would have to be her greatest weapon here, and she had more than enough of that. She need only put it to work.
At her side Fenris had grown as rigid as steel, with his eyes fixed upon Avernus and his lips pulled back in a sneer. She knew well the stance he now adapted; his arms held slightly outward and fingers splayed like a bird poised for flight, and his spine curved inward with his weight balanced not for speed, but for power. This was not the bearing he exhibited when he was ready to strike out for the quick kill. On the contrary, Fenris' posture was promising something far more grisly and personal. During these moods was when he was at his most dangerous, for when the warrior chose not to fight but to slaughter, not even Hawke could coax reason back into him.
Yet her lover was not the only one bent on what was to come. Beyond the steps which lead down to the main level Anders and Oghren had weapons in hand; the dwarf chuckling a low, dark sound that promised bloodshed and carnage, though not to the same degree Fenris' silence did. It seemed to her that Anders was her only ally who still held to reason - the irony of that not lost to Hawke.
With an imperious wave of one gnarled hand, a wall of fire erupted between the ancient mage and his foes, while Avernus himself casually strode from the dais from beyond the small inferno, calling to his comrades that the Champion was not to be harmed.
Disdain was clear in his features even beyond the licking flames as his eyes slid over her allies, and he sneered. "Dispose of the others."
A guttural laugh broke the tableau as Oghren struck first, his axe already whistling through the air as he bellowed demands for someone - anyone - 'to come and get it,' while Anders stepped back from the dwarf, his staff belching fire at the first of the ranged fighters to breach the entrance.
Yet the man at Hawke's side maintained a raptor's focus upon the blood mage; his lean warrior's frame maintaining its perfect, eery stillness. It would not be so for long.
Flecks of frost and ice from one of Anders' closer attacks peppered her cheek and Hawke moved, her soft boots spinning easily upon the worn flooring as she ghosted down the short steps and rushed Anders in a flurry of movement too quick for the mage to react to. Leather-glad hands clutched at his shoulders and spun him forcibly as she would clutch at a man she intended to use as a human shield. Instead of holding him in place, however, she ignored the outraged cry her companion emitted and wrenched the broadsword free from his back, spinning back to the weapon's owner.
"Fenris!" She cried, not hesitating when that piercing stare turned on her; rage and violence clearly shimmering in those green depths even from a distance. Twirling on her toes with the blade extended from her body, she completed two full rotations and released the handle, staggering slightly as the heavy weapon left her hands and shot through the air like a bolt from a trebuchet.
The warrior in its path took one deft step back and latched on as the weapon sailed passed, his own body spinning as Hawke's had to slow the sword's momentum so that he could brandish it before him. Hard eyes returned to her as his curved lips pulled back over gleaming teeth; his voice rising up on a forceful bellow. "Leave this place!"
And then, seemingly without a second thought on her presence, Fenris took action; his beautiful form shimmering as he phased from the corporeal to the intangible while several Wardens converged upon him, weapons drawn and already in motion.
A twinge of sadness sparked within her as she watched uniforms she had so respected swarm the man that she loved. Those Grey Wardens would not last long, she knew.
And then reality crashed back about her ears, as a rough shout caught her attention; clearly meant for her though her name was never used. "'Ay! Pincushion! Watch your sodding back!" Her dwarf companion's gruff call from the vicinity of the door came with only just enough time for Hawke to turn and dip low as the blade of a longsword sailed over her back. Twirling lightly from her crouched position, Hawke tore loose her daggers and deflected the follow-through blow. Beyond her adversary the offensive man held another Warden at bay; the haft of his axe gripped at both ends as he crushed it against the rogue man's throat and choked the life from him.
Hawke startled; she had been foolish to drop her guard as she did. Cursing herself loudly and shouting a quick word of thanks to her companion, she darted behind the back of the warrior who had also thought to capitalize on her distraction, thrusting a dagger through the seam between the woman's breastplate and pauldron. The Warden's scream was cut short when the woman turned her head towards the wounded appendage and gave Hawke the opening she needed to slit her quarry's throat. Yet there was no chance to savor in her first true victory since her fall to the ogre. The chamber was rapidly filling with blue and silver uniforms; the whole of the stronghold had answered the blood mage's call, and it now appeared that the hold had been fully established.
Judging by his barked command, Fenris had clearly known their situation before she had, or at least he had an idea of it.
"We can't fight them all!" She called over her shoulder to the apostate in their company while dancing out of the way of an oncoming arrow, barely aware of Avernus' enraged admonition to those under his command that 'the woman' was not to be harmed. "We have to run!"
"Run?!" Anders barked, his staff spinning around his body and shoulders like a mad acrobat's performance, throwing off sparks and flashes of bright energies that charred and ignited those unlucky enough to find themselves the focus of his attention, "to where exactly?" With a sudden startled cry he lurched back unexpectedly, earning a scratch to his cheek instead of a shaft through his eye. Cursing out a mixture of shock and outrage, the blonde slammed the end of his staff into the ground and lightening irradiated in jagged paths along the floor, only to meet its target standing not more than fifteen paces off - a young archer who had tucked himself against a wall where he had held his assault from a distance. The man - boy really - convulsed as blue energies surged up his legs and through the rest his body before at last he collapsed, power still arcing over his uniform though the Warden himself showed no further trace of life.
Irritated with the waste of a good life, Hawke grimaced and took up the role of giving the mage close cover; dancing around him and fending off physical attacks while Anders delivered his spell work onto any that tried to overwhelm the pair. It was strange dancing so closely with him again, after so long; for not even during their journey to this place had she acted as his personal bodyguard. Yet she needed support as much as he needed time to cast forth his magics, and so together they fought, felling Wardens more rapidly and effectively than the two men who chose to fight alone.
From the other side of the room a coarse Tevene obscenity bit into the air; backed by rage and physical exertion. "Vehedas! I told you to leave!" In spite of the fact that his attention had not turned from his attacks since they had first been launched, Fenris was clearly monitoring her position.
Yet Anders had been right, she realized. Where could she run? Where could they run? Even if they escaped this room and the dozens of Wardens streaming into it, they were still in the Deep Roads. Racing through these passages without care was all but begging for death.
And at the moment it did not appear the Grey Wardens would allow her the luxury of a choice. The size of the chamber alone prevented the rest of their ranks from joining the fray, but she could hear more voices still from the passageway they had entered from. Regardless of what Fenris may wish, she was not going anywhere, and neither were her companions. If there was going to be any chance for the lot of them to make it out of this with their lives, she was going to have to come up with a plan.
Thankfully much of the Wardens' focus had been removed from her. Either that or those loyal to Avernus simply did not want to be the ones to risk his wrath if she was slain. She found that she had to chase the battle more often than not; the effort taxing her limited physical resources despite her diminished battlefield of four paces in any direction from where Anders stood his ground. Warriors soon abandoned their attempts at reaching the mage when the rogue placed herself squarely within their path; goading them into fighting her. Soon magical attacks and the occasional arrows were all that flew at them, and even that was waning as more often than not Hawke was in their path.
Beyond her blades and Anders' staff, the battle had grown fiercest in two tight gatherings, where Oghren and Fenris served as the eyes of the chaotic storms. Blades flashed red in the dim light as her two warrior companions fought the hardest of them all; Oghren glad to take down anyone who approached him while Fenris worked steadily towards a single, fixed target.
Given how ferociously the men and women standing against her companions fought, it was clear that while the Grey Wardens stationed to this thaig may have reported to Commander Valeria at one time, someone else now commanded their loyalties. Someone who had undoubtedly made promises these Wardens were all too willing and desperate to believe.
Talented though he may be, Fenris would never get through to the blood mage with his present efforts. Vivid cuts streaked his arms and scorch marks darkened his skin, giving evidence that he was not as untouchable as he seemed to think. And there were still so many Wardens willing to stain their blades with his blood. He would never get close enough.
No one would.
Hawke physically stilled from her place just beyond the apostate's back as her mind tripped over a sudden idea, and without a second thought she pulled a purple flask from her pack, shattering the container at her feet. Acrid smoke billowed from the liquid which pooled upon the stone floor, and Hawke drew a careful breath, stepping into the cloud as is expanded and enveloped her.
With silent footsteps the rogue skittered around men and women too distracted with their own battles to notice her, knowing that she had just seconds from the time the flask broke to act. Not enough time to reach Avernus or to take down a large number of enemies, but more than enough time for what she intended.
Reaching her destination at last Hawke sheathed her weapons and retrieved her prize, while around her the last of her smokescreen dissipated. Now it was all she could to to remain in the shadows and avoid detection for as long as possible.
In an area as crowded as this, the effort taxed her abilities, if not her stamina. Oghren's tangent was doing well enough to distract them for now, but soon enough Avernus would notice her disappearance. She couldn't just avoid combat - she had to remain unseen, and in a battlefield as heavily populated as this she could not escape detection for long.
Her breath caught when Anders' head jerked with a start, having at last taken notice of her absence. Amber eyes darted over the chamber briefly until his body grew impossibly still for only a moment, before he made a visible effort to lock his eyes forward, resuming his attacks on those who grew too near to him. No longer did he try to find her, though the strain of worry still creased the corners of his eyes. Whatever his concerns, he knew her strengths and abilities, and had clearly decided to leave her to her craft.
She may never be able to trust him as she once had, or as he now trusted her, but when this was over she would see him cured of the Taint. She would see him given a chance at redemption. If she owed him nothing more, she owed him that much.
With feather-fall steps Hawke continued to tread through the shadows along the edges of the battle; flinching and then ignoring the pained cry that rose up from her mage companion behind her. His magic still charged the air, and rushing back to his side would serve no purpose. If any of them were going to survive she had to keep to her plan.
When she had at last reached a suitable location Hawke's steps ceased and she lifted her prize carefully. The bowstring felt warm against her cheek and her fingers carefully avoided fouling the fletching of the arrow she knocked. Hawke was no expert with a bow. She never had been. Like Isabela, she preferred the surety of two solid blades in her grip. But blades would not win her this battle. Not when her body was no longer hers alone to endanger. Not when her enemy's defenses were so numerous.
Not when her life was the prize for victory here.
Instead she waited and watched as the yellow aura surrounding Avernus held firm and then slowly began to waiver. Hawke's arm burned with the effort of maintaining the draw of the string, and she stubbornly refused her limbs the luxury of shaking beneath the stress. It was clear that what little strength she had reclaimed from the cure was waning. When this was over she would be useless on the field, regardless of if she succeeded or not.
From his place beside the platform, Fenris had resorted to alternating between phasing to protect his person and returning to the physical in order to batter against the defenses of the mages who acted as a living magical shield for the blood mage; all the while Avernus himself threw forth walls of fire and great spears of ice meant to scorch and shred the elf. Her lover staggered under the assault more than he had, and in spite of her desire to rush to him and save him from further injury, Hawke ignored his struggles as she watched for her opportunity.
The shimmering of the blood mage's wards flickered all the more erratically and Hawke took her breath, holding it as she waited.
There would only be this one moment.
There would only be this one arrow.
The ward died and the Grey Warden lifted his arm to recast.
Hawke exhaled and let the thin shaft and feathers slip from her fingers; watched as the arrow raced through the air between his subordinates before finally burying in the ancient man's chest. As one, the men in his command acting as his living shield whirled in response to his pained outcry, and without hesitating Fenris cleaved through the closest of the pair, his sword severing the mage's shoulder from the torso in an ugly, jagged line that stopped just beyond the breastbone.
The bow clattered to the ground and Hawke rushed the felled Warden, headless of the combatants still surging around her or the growing fatigue of her limbs. Spinning and dipping to avoid stray attacks as she went, Hawke tore her way through the chamber before at last crying out to her lover as he pulled his sword free of the corpse it was lodged within; his blade lifting high before driving its point down with clear intent. Panicked, Hawke reached out and thrust her hands up beneath one shimmering forearm, knowing that her effort alone would not be enough to stop the blade's decent.
It was not, but Fenris' was, just as she had counted on; the forearm Hawke clutched to pushed her aside while the other dragged the blade away, ruffling her hair with its passing air current before drawing to a halt behind the warrior.
"Kaffas! Fasta vass!" Her lover roared, panting his exertion as he set a murderous glare upon her, yet Hawke ignored him in favor of dropping to her knees beside the man she had spared an immediate death.
"You won't survive," she announced flatly, "but there is still time to save your Order. Tell me - what are the components of the serum?"
Blood blurbed from the man's mouth as he laughed a derisive sound. "My life's most important work, and you think you can know it in three breaths?"
"Not all - just the most important parts. Give me that at least."
"You selfish child," he rasped. "I could have saved Thedas. And all it would have cost was your life."
"You still can." Hawke pressed. "Or are you too petty to give me what I need? To give your Order what it needs?"
"I already told you," Avernus sneered through a bubbling cough, "the Grey Wardens must take back their Joining. Give that to the Commander. If her mages cannot decipher it, then they don't... deserve... their lives..."
"And what of these men that just fought for your life?" She demanded indignantly, her fingers tightening on the Warden's shoulders in frustration and unaware that the room was growing steadily quieter. "You will allow them to die for your pride?! Answer me!" Hawke cried out angrily, yet it was too late. The mage's eyes stared vacantly up at the ceiling above her, motionless except when jostled by her.
Her first thought was the most painful one her mind could conjure at that precise moment: Bethany's sweet face, smiling at her through sunken eyes and pale skin.
With a physical shake of her head, Hawke forced herself to abandon her despair for the moment; her head snapping to the elevated work station. On legs far steadier than they felt she mounted the steps and crossed the dais, pushing passed Fenris while stepping carefully over the bodies he had left in his wake. At her back her lover uttered words she did not yet know in a dark, menacing tone, yet she could not afford to allow him to effect her emotions yet, or all control would be lost.
With numb fingers she reached for the flask she had taken the cure from; the dark residue still clinging to the glass and pooling slightly at the bottom. Locating a suitable stopper, Hawke pushed the cork into the glass opening, depositing it into her pack. Methodically she applied the same practice to the bottles she had watched Avernus lift just a short time ago, stopping up the vials and packing them away as she went.
"What exactly do you think you are doing?" A gruff, unfamiliar voice demanded from below the platform, and Hawke lifted her eyes in the direction the voice had come to find a large man with a thick beard glaring at her.
"These are the vials he used to make the cure," she said, waving an arm over the workbench. "The Commander must have someone who will be able to identify these mixtures."
"She did," the Warden growled. "You just murdered him."
From further off to her left Anders scowled darkly. "I think you may have missed the part where he decided killing Hawke was a good idea. He had his serum. He didn't need her."
"You don't know that."
Anders' posture visibly tensed as it did when something outraged him. "Were you not listening?" He demanded, his hand gesturing emphatically before him; staff still clutched in a white-knuckled grip. "He didn't need her to cure us! He had his cure. He was going to use her for experiments. To research a way to end all Blights - something the Commander had not sanctioned."
"Blood magic," Fenris sneered from his place over the body of the mage in question. "He was consumed by it; just as any other mage desperate to secure their own immortality."
Hawke shook her head, continuing to gather up each vial that contained a substance of some kind, packing them away before moving onto the research notes and books. "It won't be for nothing," she stated firmly, as much for herself as for those in attendance, "I won't let it be for nothing." With her pack near to bursting, Hawke at last began to descend the steps from the dais, only to have the bearded man who had spoken out against her move to block her path.
"You think we're just going to let you walk out of here with Grey Warden property?" His eyes narrowed as the tip of his sword lifted beside him in a clear threat; Hawke sensed Fenris' approach even if she could not hear it and lifted her fingers in a gesture meant to halt the violence he would inflict, if nothing else. Now was precisely the time when they could not afford more fighting. Now was the only chance she had to secure their lives and safe passage from this place.
"Your Commander sent me for this," she replied, her voice a hard knife edge in a throat raw with emotions she dared not express. "I am to bring her the results of the research she supported for nearly a decade." She stepped forward, lifting her chin so that she could hold eye contact with him despite the difference in height between them. "Unless you intend to try and keep it from her. Do you intend that, Warden?"
"You killed her men," the bearded man growled, "why should we believe you?"
"Because unlike Avernus, I've done nothing but keep my word," Hawke countered, consciously keeping her voice steady. "I agreed to travel through the Deep Roads for your Commander, and I have. Even though it almost killed me. I agreed to take the serum here, instead of in the Commander's presence, just as Avernus demanded. I held to that." Her eyes swiveled to the enraged elf standing a few paces off, "and I promised this man that I wouldn't die if he didn't. He still stands, so I fought for my life. Just as I promised." Her gaze returned to the great wall of a man before her. "Now I have one final promise to keep. I need to take the cure to your Commander. If what Avernus said is true, I have part of it within me, and she'll know the rest."
Her eyes narrowed and her lips pulled back. "So unless you think you can do better to recreate Avernus' work, I suggest you stand aside and let me finish what I swore Valeria Therin I would do. Do you, Warden, have a problem with that?"
The man before her glowered down with such anger until at last he huffed an angry breath. "I don't rightly have a choice, do I?" He demanded as he stepped aside. "But you had better pray to the Maker she finds a way. If you fail, the Grey Wardens won't forgive this attack."
In spite of her better judgement, Hawke felt her ire pique at the threat of future attack. She was done with running. With hiding and living in fear of being pursued. She had too much to do; too many reasons now to desire a right to her own path.
She was done with all of it.
"If you think you can hold me accountable for the actions of a power-mad blood mage," she sneered back, stepping in closer to the man despite his retreat, and straining for as much height as she could muster with her dignity, "I invite you to come and try to exact your judgment. You won't need to go to your Callings when I'm done with you."
And without a backward glance to see if the man would raise his blade, or to confirm her companions would follow, Hawke shouldered passed the enraged Grey Warden and strode from the room, never deigning to meet the gazes of any who stepped aside to let her pass.
Her heart thrummed beneath her breast as she marched forward, and she knew that if she stopped moving the others would see how her body trembled. Her composure was cracking, tearing long fissures in the confident veneer she had presented to the Grey Wardens.
It was over now and, without a life-or-death struggle to distract her, Hawke could not avoid the onslaught of emotions that were now overtaking her. The knowledge that she and her child had been saved swirled into a sickening mixture with thoughts of others. Of Bethany, and Anders, and the countless Wardens who may never know the kiss of the cure in their veins. Of her mother, who had so wanted to be a grandmother, yet would never know the little one growing inside of her. And of the life that she would have to offer the child - a life of running from those who would seek to use her for their own gains.
Yet just as these thoughts came to be they were snuffed out, as a painful grip took hold of her arm, spinning her around so that her eyes clashed with a flashing crystalline green glare.
"Festis bei umo canavarum!" Fenris railed as he pulled at her roughly, heedless of the way she stumbled within his grasp. "You had no right!" His voice came on as a thunderous boom instead of a quiet growl; he was angry, but not so far gone to his rage that the horrible quiet had taken over. Hawke thanked the Maker for that much.
"They were in the corridors," she replied, pulling his fingers from her arm with great effort, "even if I tried I wasn't going to get by."
"So instead you threw yourself into the fray?" He demanded, his face contorted in a mask she knew too well as he threw a wild gesture to the great hall behind them. "You are not yet well. You could have fallen to them!"
"I had to do something, Fenris," she pressed, "or there would have been no clear path to escape through."
"If you knew from the start that you were not going to be able to run then you should have kept to the shadows! But no. You simply could not be bothered to spare yourself the danger!"
Hawke balked. "And abandoned the three of you to your deaths?" Metal clad hands gripped her shoulders tightly and pulled at her, bringing her face-to-face with narrowed green eyes and gleaming teeth.
"Kaffas! Your life is no longer your own, Hawke! Does that mean nothing to you?!"
And there it was again, that expression she had never known before recently, and yet was confident now that it existed.
Beneath his ire and his outrage, Fenris was afraid.
Hesitating only a moment, Hawke allowed her tension to slip from her body as she slowly lifted her hand, resting her fingertips to one dark cheek. He flinched away from her touch at first, and yet she did not let that deter her, pressing a delicate touch to his overly warm skin. For a time she simply stood there, her fingers slowly sliding up into the downy soft hair at his temple so that she could cup his cheek, watching as the expression of rage slowly quieted from his features.
"It's alright to be afraid, Fenris," she whispered, "I am."
His expression hardened once more; his grip upon her shoulder tightening as though he intended to shake her. But the action never came, and after a moment his lovely face tipped away from hers, hidden slightly behind starlight colored hair; the grip upon her arms loosening and tightening sporadically as Fenris struggled against whatever emotions were vying to overtake him.
"I... cannot believe that," he admitted in a broken, graveled voice. "I spent too long living in fear. When I finally cast it off I swore I would never live like that again. Now I find myself returning to that uncertainty, and it gnaws at me."
The fingers in his hair stilled as an icy dread took hold of her, and before she could stop herself she heard the words pouring from her lips. "I would never ask you to do or be anything you do not wish for, Fenris," she breathed. "If this is not what you want-"
Lips claimed her mouth in a crushing kiss before she could complete the thought, drowning out her words and bringing forth the slight taste of copper from the desperate pressure. Helpless beneath his fervor Hawke opened her mouth and found his tongue immediately present; swirling against her own and laving at the blood he had drawn from her lips.
Forgetting herself and where they stood, Hawke surrendered to his attention, sliding her hands behind his neck and allowing him to pull her against the uncomfortable metal that shielded his chest as they lost themselves to one another. His arms encircled her, pinning her to him and enveloping her in his unusual heat which she had grown to enjoy, especially here in the damp cold of the Deep Roads. And if she heard the faint sound of suggestive laughter at her back she certainly did not care enough to stop.
Finally, though, the lips against hers became softer, cupping her upper lip gently with soft, wet sounds before at last allowing cool air to come between them. "If you think that I will leave you now," he murmured, "you are as mad as the company you keep." His words drove a bubble of relief up to her throat, and Hawke swallowed, resting her forehead to his and hoping it would speak the words she could not utter aloud.
"Well," the apostate behind them chimed brusquely, and Hawke suddenly realized she had just done to the mage what together they had done to Fenris for years in Kirkwall. Even if he no longer held romantic feelings for her - which she dared not try to find out - it might still have been awkward for him. "Now that that's all settled," Anders continued, "perhaps we should move on? There is, after all, an entire thaig of angry Grey Wardens not more than fifty paces behind us, and hordes of darkspawn roaming the corridors we are going to have to travel through."
Fenris' gaze hardened again, sliding towards the apostate, but Hawke's quick fingers kept his face turned towards her. "Come on," she murmured, "you've got a job to do." The dark brows before her lifted with mild curiosity and she smiled for his benefit more than out of true humor. "My daggers are retired now, remember?" She pointed out, cocking a brow of her own in mock-warning. "Unless my hand is forced."
A barely perceptible smirk tugged at her lover's full lips all too briefly before he set her away from him. "I assure you, that will not be necessary. I remain at your side."
Turning in the direction that they had come, Hawke ignored the grumbled complaints from the dwarf and the awkward glances from the apostate. There was too much to consider, and she had just under two weeks until they reached the surface.
As they walked she began to mull over the idea of asking Anders to try to identify the substances within the flasks when next they set up camp. He was a healer, and had as good a chance as any Grey Warden mage to identifying the components of the serum.
The thoughts that had tried to bury her in despair moments ago rose up once more, and it took all of her effort to muscle them down. There was too much to do, and as tempting as it was, giving in to grief would serve no purpose. Between the vials in her pack and the cleansed blood in her veins, there was still hope for the Wardens - for her sister. And with Fenris' vow she knew that she would not have to endure what was to come alone.
She would not give up so easily.
She could not return to Valeria empty-handed.
Although Hawke is used to fighting against those she has sworn to protect, after all of these years it has not gotten any easier. Opposition meets her at every turn, and from every direction. Yet a hero does not run when the tide turns.