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heart of winter

By Fenris2

Thriller / Drama

Untitled Chapter


The moment we penetrated the Fade, it was a realm of blizzards. Some crystalline flakes blew past. But my focus remained clear and there my love was! No abominations stood in our way, so it should have been easy to reach him. He lay so still, the vine-like tattoos such a faint glowing blue, but his tan had turned as ivory as his hair. No- no he can’t be dead! As I squinted, the elf’s lips were parted and mists wafted as his chest rose and fell. I wanted to run up to him and make him open his eyes! Even though this had to be an illusion of a real winter, the chill weighed down my body and speed was virtually impossible. Fenris, close at hand but why couldn’t I get to him yet?

I glanced at Alistair, who had volunteered to come here with me. ‘That’s him eh? Hawke, are you sure about this? And I thought no demons means we could be quicker.’  He grabbed onto a branch and was sinking into the bog. We supported each other.

Yes I’m not wrong. Oh Fenris, don’t give up now. The surface that he lay on was a rectangular stone slab, not chained thank the Maker! His arms were at his sides, no blood unlike his physical form. Nobody could predict what the Void would interprete our fears. For my dear elf, his past had been enchained and being hurt by magic. This time, he had been captured because of me.

Zevran and Alistair were busy fending off the guards, while Fenris had intercepted a huge wave of lyrium energy hurled by an enchantress. Being phased, the brave elf managed to stab through her chest, but the magic did not cease. We just heard her scream die out. Because Fenris had his back to us, I did not realize he had been hurt too, until he groaned and collapsed atop her body. He was unresponsive and covered by both her blue blood and his own. We turned him over. A black sigil had singed his abdomen, through the cuirass. No matter how much I screamed, he did not open his eyes! Most of the enemies had already perished, and we had not brought a healer. Fenris’ brows knitted when we attempted to unbuckle his cuirass. He grit his teeth, sweat sheening his face.

The calmest was Zevran, who suggested not to touch him anymore. ‘Perhaps it is just temporary. Do you have any more red potions? May help.’

Alistair salvaged an elfroot potion, but we didn’t know if he could swallow.

A surviving magister was crawling away, when I grabbed her. The blade at her throat made her sing like a lark, and she said the enchantress had used a curse to drag him into the Fade as well. ‘If you spare me, I can create a counter-ritual. What is his name? I will need to track his soul.’  

I was determined to go after him! ‘Fine, if you do this, you won’t be executed.’

She agreed not to use blood magic, but to draw on the Fade, so we only had a few hours to accomplish the rescue. She did not use a dagger or unfold her sleeve, indications of a blood-mage, but used her staff to trace complicated runes around him.

He cried out, his gauntlets scratching the ground and his body arced up. ‘No! Lie still please!’

‘He’s struggling. We do this now. You have to take off your armors, then your souls can cross to the other side. Sit with your legs crossed, one at his head and one at his feet.’

Zevran’s head was bleeding, so it was too dangerous for him to venture into the Fade. ‘Go, I’ll take care of things here!’ I had not known him for long, but was filled with gratitude. Alistair looked worried. ‘Er yea, I can’t let you go alone, Hawke. Your cousin wouldn’t forgive me. But I’m nervous.’

Zevran embraced us and shared a kiss with the templar. They had weathered several wars together after all. ‘Zev don’t go to the light if you pass out. Or I’ll hunt you down.’ The Antivan grinned.

When we were ready, I chose to be at Fenris’ head and checked that his heart was still beating. We’re coming, hang on.

“Can I hold his hand?” I asked, trying not to break down. The mage said it was too dangerous to move him. I combed some of his pale hair from his forehead and let the darkness overtake me. The mage’s voice guided me, though I did not understand what language she was using.

Now, Alistair said it seemed like we were all in this world together, not our own fears. If that makes any sense. Come on, let’s get him out of here. Bloody cold The guy shivered, clad only in his red civilian clothes. I looked down, astonished that I was in a black dress down to my knees. I didn’t remember having this dress. It seemed an eternity of wading through knee deep snow before we were finally in front of the altar. His armor was split in two here, showing his thin chest but not covered with blood or markings.

I reached out my hand, bracing for the tattoos’ flare. He had been grateful for their instinctive defence against strangers or anyone, even friends who touched him too suddenly. I had also been spurned by that electric jolt, when I wished to console or pat his shoulder. He so rarely smiled, otherwise. Once, after a backlash sent me against some hard surface, my love had apologized profusely, but also chided why I had not been more careful.

When I touched his cheek gently, I implored him to awaken. Wait, would it hurt to… I raised my arm and Alistair yelped, grabbing me. ‘Whoa whoa must you hit him? He could be- wounded internally!’

‘Fenris look at me! If not I’ve to slap you,’ I choked out, for the warrior still remained coldly asleep, like a sentinel. ‘This is an order! Stop lying there and fight it. Fight the curse.’ Alistair also shouted at him. Too long in the Fade, the bonds to our mortal bodies would be severed. We were not breathing, and felt as if we could be whisked away at any moment.

‘Eh your lips are blue. I can’t feel my hands. Oh shit. Never mind, Fenris sorry.’ He punched his shoulder. Fenris jerked from the impact, but still did not respond. I started to cry. Would tears work, like those tales of the Sleeping soulmate? Here, he did not have any wounds. I prayed to any of the gods. No idea if any of the little time we had spent together would be of much help. Was it love, when he got drunk and started spilling about his little fragmented memories? Sometimes we were both too tired for sex, but just lay naked together. I always initiated the kisses, but eventually got too much and Fenris pressed his temples from the sudden surge of memories.

‘I’m sorry, I just wanted to be happy.’ Though I gave him space, Fenris still continued being all Worry, protective, logical, present, bloody stubborn, bloody critical of magic. I tried to protect him emotionally and here he had, with his life.

I climbed onto the altar. As his face loomed nearer, I found that I had to close my eyes from the dizzying sensation. His lips were chapped and bitter. Don’t you let me down, not after what we shared! As I held the kiss, my arms braced on either side of his head, I prayed for a miracle. I would sacrifice ten years of my life for him. Never doubt it. Nothing could drag me away, even Alistair’s urging faded away. Until I felt something rap me on the back.

Who is interrupting? The tapping got harder like giant hand smacks.

A croney woman with multi-colored robes, glared at me. Besides being oddly short, she also had a curved lizard’s tail. There was some kind of ancient orb hanging off the frail looking sceptre. She barked something. Her face was so wrinkled I could not judge her expression. ‘Oww she already hit me many times too. Didn’t know a spirit can feel pain.’ Alistair complained, rubbing his head.

I glanced at Fenris, and as she spoke a foreign word, he coughed painfully like something blocked his lungs. Was the curse an illness?

‘Ah who are you?’ No way was I leaving his side. Shit, didn’t have a sword here! I clenched my fists.

‘None of yer business! Is this buffoon also your friend?’ she demanded, gesturing at the knight that was moving away from her.  I nodded. Now my elf was gasping for breath, but looked less white than before. As we stared at each other, he couldn’t speak nor move. I touched myself and said his name.

The croney said with deliberate slowness, ‘Woman, Get off the place. Do you want to save this elf or not? ’

Of course! She waved the sceptre and finally my brave warrior got up. Agilely she leapt up the slab and traced something on his forehead. He blinked and looked around. The remains of his armor disintegrated and were swept away, leaving him naked except leggings. Fenris examined his bare hands. ‘Fen, it’s me Hawke. Don’t worry, we’re going to take you back.’

Gods, did we break the spell in time? Will he forget me? One time, when some bounty hunters took him offguard, he almost resisted our attempts to get him back when some of his memory got erased.

I can’t bear it if he didn’t know us now.

Alistair stepped around the croney who was yelling at the bewildered elf. But he did not shout back at her. ‘Is it just me, or is she a psycho?’

I covered my mouth, sinking to my invisible knees.

‘Guys? Hawke it’s you?’ he spoke in a rasp, one hand rubbing his throat. ‘Where’s-- this?’ His lids were lowered to half-mast and he found it hard to stay upright.

I said his name again and again and hugged him tightly. They told him we were in the Void. Or the Fade. ‘What? How can you use magic? You’re fools, what if we’re stuck here forever? Vishante Kafass!’ He jerked away from me and glared. But since the lyrium did not have effect now, we overrode his cursing and told him briefly what we did.

It was a huge mistake to rile the angry woman thingie.  ‘Hey! Don’t ignore me, it’s too much trouble to keep you all here! These mortals bravely came here, when that witch conked you with the hex, Elf.  Book of Life here says it’s too early for your end here! You’re all buffoons!’ the croney yelled hopping agitatedly and out of nowhere a floating tome appeared. The pages were flipping too rapidly. Fenris apologized and stood between us. He felt for my hand.

‘You must be the Hawke, and the templar fellow? Tevinter, t- aha there you are. Formerly Leto?’ She asked, jabbing at one page.

We all answered yes. Fenris rubbed his mouth, turning pink.

Ali said: Scary witch, can we go back now? Please.

Croney replied of course we were a huge nuisance. I fought not to giggle and then we held hands, seated in a circle. Fenris’ hands were smooth and cool here. Not covered by metal. It happened really quickly, and the last thing I saw was his lips moving. We rescued him!!

As a loud bang, I felt as if I had been slammed. My head ached. The men moaned, Fenris was able to sit up now and clutched his wound. The mage collapsed. Other people in robes dispersed the circle and said they would take care of healing us. Zevran had passed out. I touched his back and thanked him silently.

Before my lover allowed himself the resting sleep, he reached out and we held hands for a moment. They set up some pallets, so we did not have to move far. I was out as soon as my head touched the pillow.

Water being rinsed into a pail. A soft gasp. Fenris was lying on a bed beside mine, half awake, his back to me. A wet rag was on his forehead. ‘Hawke?’ he whispered, turning slowly to face me. I held up my hand, for him not to exert himself. The wound is gone. I recognized Anders making some kind of drink, measuring portions into a vial at the other corner of the room. Alistair popped in for a while. Elf smiled and they talked for awhile. Before the templar left, they clasped hands and Fenris bowed his head.

‘Does it hurt? You were going to leave me.’ I scolded, adjusting the pillows.

 ‘Never, but I saw… someone. She forgave me. My sister.’  He murmured, his gaze unfocused. Perhaps he had lain there in the cold too long, for now his forehead felt too hot. Could he be suffering some aftereffects? Fenris chewed his lip and stopped my hand sponging him. ‘Truly. It was her, but she was all this Light. Her hair was long. Varania was smiling. I didn’t mean to kill her, I said. She said she knows and though I couldn’t see Mother, they were happy. Then she said I had to follow her up this long stairway, because you were calling for me. I didn’t hear anything. So strange.’

‘And, would you have followed her, not wake up?’ I put the rag down and kissed his cheek. Those green eyes were dreamy. Now they glinted.

‘Hmmm, No. I was awake and yet I was not. As I got to the top of the stairs, Varania said I’m needed in the other world. I forgot to say farewell. But, Hawke, thank you.’ We leaned our foreheads together and I chuckled. Fenris rumbled.

‘Zevran helped us too. I did not expect him to honour staying by our bodies.’ Now, Fenris had dozed off, snoring softly. I played with one of his tipped ears and laid my head on his chest. Perhaps because he was still fatigued, no mana burned my skin.

Anders cleared his throat. ‘I’m sorry Hawke. He won’t be able to breathe properly like that. Maybe tomorrow is better.’

‘Sure. You sound like the old woman in that place, Anders…..’ I related the surreal story to him, careful not to be too loud though I wanted to guffaw at the memory. He beamed, and surprisingly gentle, replaced a fresh cloth on Fenris’ brow and tucked his arm over his chest and the blankets. When I got weary from my vigil, I went back to my pallet. This was the castle that we had conquered, and though it was not the best option to sleep here, after what we had been through, we could do with an entire week off.  

His condition improved the next day. Fenris had not got nightmares for the first time, his mood was stellar. I was simply content to hear him talk and to repeat some of the words on the book. Ah, his deep bass and wisdom. ‘Should we not depart this place of death? It must be very haunted,’ he asked, while I helped him to button a spare shirt. His hands still trembled. I felt the same way, but I had not been hit by a curse so I was able to move about steadily. ‘The tattoos don’t feel much like before.’ He let them glow for a bit and sighed.

‘When the healers say it is fine, you almost died. Hey you were conked out while I was telling how Ali and me went there.’ I admonished. He nodded and tottered to a chair.

‘Well, I can hear it now. But I did not die.’ The elf insisted, starting to eat the broth. I would be firmer this time and order him not to use himself as a shield. But after our bickering, he was exhausted, paler and said he’d surrender. I was very much taken by surprise when the patient grabbed my hand and pulled me to lie down on top of him.

‘Allow me to make it up to you.’ His lips coaxed down my bare skin.

Then we made love, the temperature rising in the room. All that lost time, coming back.


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