Autumn whispers

Banter of women with broken shoes

Summary:

As Fenris recovers from being ill, I ask him what would you do when a damsel in distress has only one shoe? SOngs Karen Mok: I say


Fenris

Varric and Donnic wanted to help him get dressed, but Fenris declined. Buttoning a shirt should not be that exhausting, he reasoned. This dawn, he had woken up refreshed by the peaceful sleep and taken some food. He could not wait to go home, where nobody would forcefeed him bitter herbs and subject him to waves of magic. Thankfully, Elf noted that he was on the first floor of Dwarf’s house so he need not navigate stairs. His legs held, as he made his way to join them.

“Why don’t you have another lie-down, Broody? Take the time to check out my wonderful house.” Varric joked.

“I slept the whole night.” He replied cheerfully, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. His head was woozy but his vision was clearer than yesterday. “Miss my bed. Thank you, both of you.”

They laughed. “It is quite a long walk. I’ve called for a carriage. When it comes, we’ll wake you. Relax.”

Fenris yawned and took a seat on the inviting soft couch. He still felt hot and feverish but had no intention of letting his friends know or they would stop him again. Somehow his temporary eagerness to deny his feebleness had ebbed away. Just a few minutes. Then the elf started, feeling the surface bump below him. Donnic told him they were on their way to his home. Fenris had not even realized when they had carried him. His head was on his arm braced on the side of the carriage. For a moment, he roused and looked at the buildings. Then the call of sleep was too strong to ignore.

Then he heard familiar voices calling his name, Zevran, Mary the servant and also Sabriel. The door opened and the others stepped out. “Is he alright? Why don’t I see him, Donnic?” She sounded fierce. A tingling warmth from the centre of his chest glowed. Usually the brandings would only light up when Fenris was triggered or about to fight, but now the lyrium reacted pleasurably. He felt a smile tug his lips. Why do they panic? It was just one night away.

“He is sleepy. Chill,” Dwarf told her. “No hug for the little man?”

“You know I love you, Uncle V.”

Zevran added to all the mix of the voices, “Hello Donnic, Varric. We received the message. Gracias.”

“Er, what do you mean? You are the other elf?” That was Donnic who sounded baffled.

“Ah yea I am Zevran. Friend of Alistair’s. Mi cara, don’t worry. He’s right there, I see him. ”

Fenris moved to the open door of the carriage, eyes narrowed against the sunlight’s glare. He stretched his long legs, an arm braced on the handle. People urged him to be careful and they supported him off the steps to the firm ground.

He had to swallow to speak when Zevran asked if he felt all right. The other elf smelled of spice and leather. He felt woozy, but didn’t want them to worry. “Hey Fen, you’re pale. What happened?” the girl asked, grasping his hand.

“Careful Squirt, he’s glowing,” Varric warned. Sabriel had not told them yet, that her aura was able to cancel out the lyrium. She said something which he did not catch.

“I’m just tired,friends. Sorry for the wait,” Fenris replied, his vision blurry. He squeezed her hand, leaning on Zevran for support. Although Fenris was unarmored, he did not mind it overtly. Focusing on his inner will, he toned down the markings.

“Oof, this is heavy,” Donnic said, lugging the Blade of Mercy on the ground.

*****

Sabriel

Mary heard them come back first. I had been threading my laces through my shoes, but tossed that aside. Fenris! I ran out to the garden barefooted, feeling the grass tickle my soles. Varric and Donnic came out. I didn’t really want to hear what they were saying.

After the longest time, Fenris stepped out and would have crumpled had they had not supported him. He smiled, but his gaze was not focused. Sweat plastered his hair to his brow and he looked even thinner without the grafted armor. Zevran urged me to be patient and to calm down. Fenris was glowing slightly, should be a good sign.

“I’m just tired, friends. Sorry for the wait,”he murmured, squeezing my hand, minus the metallic gauntlets. Donnic and another man were transporting his equipment in. “You need to lie down.” I felt like nagging. Fenris agreed softly.

We all did our part to make him comfortable in the guest-room downstairs. I dusted off the pillows and Zevran said he’d gather the scented candles, spare clothing for Fenris to change. Varric was the only one giving a running commentary about what kind medicines they had given him and the healing mages. Broodyelf was now Sleepy-elf which sort of made me smile though I was so anxious.

Mary held the cup to his lips.

“Sabriel, come sit with me.” Fenris said, unbuttoning the shirt. The fabric was dark with sweat. They all exchanged some trivialities, and somewhere in there, my friend thanked them for their help. He did not move to lie down yet. I came and looked at his marked legs and toes. “You don’t have to worry.” He said in a low voice.

Of course I was worried! He looked as white as he had been when he collapsed, that time. “Guys, sorry for the trouble. You can go now.” I touched his brow.

Then Zev came in. I turned my back while Fenris got changed. Our guests said their goodbyes, Mary and some servants bustled around with chores.

“Are you hungry, Fen?” Zev asked. A fresh jug of water was on the side table as well as some bottles of potions.

“No. I have taken food. Go and eat.” He lay back on the pillows, patting my hand. Now he was wearing a loose dark robe. Mary opened the blankets. They were pink but Fenris did not seem to notice.

“We did. How’s the fever?” I touched his brow, damp and warm. The others had talked about feverfew and elfroot to ensure that he got better. His forehead and face were unmarked and not as sensitive as the other parts of his body. Using a wet cloth, I sponged the elf.

Fenris did not open his eyes and poked me. As he drifted off, I looked at our linked hands, Zev on his other side and I felt Fenris’ calloused skin on mine. He had never reached out to clasp my hand before. Though his grip was slack, I did not want to pull away and treasured this moment.

“Wait, don’t you have to go anywhere? Both of you?” he roused about an hour later.

“No, it’s the weekend today Uncle.” I looked up from my reading. The elf lay more comfortably on his side. “Zevran is reading some documents. Why did you faint?”

“Sabriel, I am much better now. I’m not sure why. Perhaps, the heat.” He admitted, shifting on the bed with a neutral expression. When I told him how frantic we had been, the mask slipped- Fenris’ eyes sparkled, his ears pricked. His voice was rough,“I understand. Well, I shall have to take it easy these days. Have more time together.” I cheered up at that, bringing his hand to my cheek.

“Don’t run in the rain, you hear me?” I scowled. He denied ever doing that although I had not seen either of the elves carry an umbrella. ‘It’s just not manly. I do wait for the rain to stop’ he grumbled good naturedly.


We were not entirely alone, with concerned visitors like Aveline, Donnic and the gang. Fenris’ fever fluctuated, so he was mostly in bed but not exceptionally brooding everyday. Zev and I came back early whenever possible to talk with him. Zev said Fenris bristled and snapped at them, as well as him. He sulked at that revelation. He did not do that to us women. "Not fair. I'm helping with work too." I smiled. Fen has a soft spot for some of us, how can we change him? "Really? He is grumpy just let him be." After all Fenris had courage to admit his faults. Still, it was inevitable that the lyrium elf was reminded of his traumatic past unable to train or be occupied.

Today, he went on about a group of people called the Fog Warriors. Now, I had heard that account before. He was focused on somewhere beyond me as he described how he had single- handedly slaughtered them. I was making some blue balm to apply to his aching muscles and tattoos.

“Why these sad stories? It won’t help you recover faster.”

“Oh. I am sorry. Should I try to make it merry?” At the acute hurt in his face, I chided myself and apologized. Broody had his head bowed.

“Hey that was unkind of me. You need to let it out, by all means Fenris. I shouldn’t…” I was scared that he’d clam up with bottled up anguish. His immune system was already poor now.

He had moved closer to me, much to my astonishment (usually Fen would withdraw from contact when upset) “No no you are right. Being an ex-slave was not a bed of roses, but I apologize for having sad tales. Hm, let’s see. You are free to correct me, my friend. I wish to… try being different.” Taking the scoop from my hand, he started applying the balm to his right arm.

There was silence until I looked at some shoes! “Oh I’ve something, Fen! One of my friends had her heeled shoe broken and she had to limp around. None of the boys offered to help or carry her, haha she was so upset. I’ve a question, for fun. What if a damsel in distress breaks her shoe when you are saving her? She expects you to carry her. What’ll you do? ”

He smiled. “Ah yea those roleplays. I don’t have to. Why can’t she get better shoes?”

“You’ve always been a gentleman- elf! That is the setting, Fenris. ”

“Haha I don’t claim to be one. Those are Varric and Zevran’s areas of expertise. And I think Alistair. I’ve quite a long sword to carry and wield. That is in the story?” Fen said, putting his arm around me as I stirred another container.

“Yup, you still have your usual gear. What about consider letting her lean against you--- oh dear oh dear!” An image popped in my mind and I started shaking with mirth.

“Hey why are you having a naughty smile and laugh Squirt? Out with it!”

“Ok I’m picturing her getting cut. Ow-ow! Your armor is very pricky. If you carry her like that (I made the action of cradling the woman to his chest) she’ll look very different when you let her down. Isn’t it?” She would not look pretty anymore from all those cuts. At first he frowned.

Fenris suppressed a laugh and coughed. “Pure nonsense. The answer is still no, she is not lame and I’mnot carrying her…” He was about to reply more, when Mary came in with some drinks on a tray. Fen and her talked about something in Elven as she collected the used plates and utensils. We applied the medicines after meals, so it won’t be toxic and did not have to be washed off.

He had eaten slightly more today. Feeling the need to stretch his legs, Fenris got up from bed. I noted that he did not turn pale or wobbly, but his hand tightened on my shoulder as I supported him. “You are so funny and half crazy, child. I won’t carry or kiss some stranger. Hm, what about the other shoe? Surely it’s still not on her foot. Or she can toss it at the enemy.” He started warming up to the roleplaying.

“Yea it is! Because the crux of it is how you will rescue the damsel. Gah.” I pulled a face as Fenris shook his head firmly.

“Footwear is important, and I see that she can't limp fast on one shoe only! That’s my answer, stop criticizing it.” He chuckled, his brows raised.

“No take it as she won’t. Friend told me, at all costs must get a cobbler to mend the shoes. They're too expensive to throw. Aw Fenris! It’s out of point. But very cute!” I countered, laughing again.

“Either very thrifty or stingy. (that killed me haha) Then perhaps that option for her to lean on me, ignore being cut. Hm this is interesting, like a game planning. You don’t have to hold me anymore, my friend. Let me consider how to continue the story…” Fen said gazing at the outer city. He was able to stand straight, both hands holding the windowsills. “Ah might I suggest that you cherish your life and run, Venhadis! My arm may have been wounded in a battle. You’re too much in love with the notion of rescue. ”

He had carried other women and girls before. They hadn’t been so cooperative. “You carried me. I wasn’t impaled but… what if it’s Isabela?” I had heard of the feisty pirate, rumours were they had had a fling.

“That depends. Isabela can take care of herself. Sabriel, there doesn't seem to be a problem. If she wants to escape, she must get rid of cheap lousy shoes. I've run barefoot, surely she can too! Not to mention I’ve to distract a demon.”

What? He laughed, spark of mischief. “Whoa whoa when did a demon come in? I didn’t have it so complicated Fenris!”

“ In most stories, the hero rescues the woman from some demons. So there is a big one, and I draw its attention away. The foolish woman ought to run for her life. Then I will drop her off at a shoemaker’s. We had a hostage problem once and I did without having to carry anybody.” Now he climbed back into bed and I took the chair once more.

“Cute. I love how this is turning out. And you won’t be sending her home?”

“She should be grateful I bothered to walk her to the nearest town, not leave her in demon- clutches. No that is incorrect. I am Not CUTE. That is like some lost puppy. Or baby animals. I have always believed in speaking truly. Too bad for the sensitive people. I can't stop them crying.”

He shrugged. So Fenris alright! He can just crack jokes with such blunt innocence.

“Even if you carry a big sword, you’ve a softie -heart. Oh Fen, I’m so proud of you! Doesn’t matter about other flaws. ”

“Hehe thanks. I will disagree about the softness part. What was it, softy- softies one?” he smirked. I explained that their hearts were like cake. He frowned.

“Edible? Yuck. I am flawed, yes. Too much about the past, ignore me. Thank you, for listening and this game. Does Zevran play this too?”


Uncle Fen cuddled me close for warmth in the armchair closer to the fireplace. Even though he felt healthy enough to venture downstairs this evening, and did not tremble from frailty, Fenris could not exert too much. While he used to rush down, now the recuperating Elf needed to hold the banister and take each step carefully. A manservant hovered close by, from my instruction.

“I’m not made of glass. You’re like a mother,” he joked when he reached the ground floor. The rainfall was extraordinary these days with billowing winds, and whenever Fenris came out from his bedroom I’d remind him to wear an extra layer. Maybe more than five times! Normally his brandings would be painful when fabric clung to his skin and he was wearing long sleeves now. Yet he was smiling at all the care we were showering on him.

“Could it be because I’m here? Having the opposite of lyrium.” I mused.

He nodded, eyes shining. “Yes. I am better, and they don’t glow as much.” I looked at his left palm’s tattoos as he reached out to cup my cheek. Each of his long fingers had a blue line that joined into a star in his palm. I had been intensely sad looking at this, when he woke up one day and recalled how Danarius’ people had inflicted them on his body. Fenris must have been chained and they had not spared the inside of his palms too. To my astonishment, Elf had cheered up and remarked, “Hence I don’t have to wait for a shooting star to wish. If you like, you can make two wishes.”

I blinked back tears and laughed. “Sure! I’ll have to think carefully don’t rush me.” Fenris looked impatient.

Then we invited Zevran to answer this scenario, once he had wrapped up business.

“Of course you must carry the girl, Fenris! I won’t miss the chance to carress her soft lips and sweep her off her feet. Adding a demon is so much challenge, haha!” Zevran rubbed his hands together, grinning.

“Ah Maker. Unless you slay it first, where will you get the time to do all of that? Oh yes Sabriel says she insists on holding that broken shoe too.” Broodyelf pointed that out. Zev laughed merrily.

“It would be so awesome to act it out. But anyway all of that won’t be a problem. I shall be the dashing Elven prince and succeed. My lackeys will kick ass.” He told the story.


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