Tale of the Stranger (or How I Met Selena Hawke)

Chapter 26

Holidays in Thedas was something I had never really contemplated during game play. I knew they existed, of course. I'd read the books, the Wiki entries, but it was just a fact that I kept in the back of my head. But here, in real life- I can't believe I'm getting used to that- holidays are a thing.

It was Satinalia and with the inclusion of Orana and Fenris to the household, Leandra decided that it was time to throw a party. Oh, not one of those haughty Hightown parties, with boring talk and old geezers that don't know not to touch. No, this would be a friends and loved ones party. The people we couldn't do without and thanked God, the Maker, whoever, everyday of our lives that they were there.

Finding gifts for all my new friends was a bit of a challenge, but that was half the fun. For Merrill I went to a toymaker in the Alienage and purchased a small, intricately carved set of Halla, all in different poses.

For Varric I took his Hard in Hightown serials to a book binder, having them bound in hand tooled and gold chased leather binding.

Isabela's gift had had the goldsmith blushing and laughing. It was a thick gold armband, professionally etched with figures in sexual positions. A lot of them. And then I got her the biggest, gaudiest hat I could find, in bright pink with feathers and dried fruit, just because I knew it would make her laugh.

It took some time to come up with something for Sebastian that wasn't just something Chantry or archery related. Finally, hidden in a dusty, unused section of shelves at a booksellers, I found it. A bound collection of letters and essays written by the Princes of Starkhaven, all the way back to the very beginning.

The dwarves and Orana were easy. Stout leather slippers for Bodahn with lambs wool insoles, to rest his feet after taking care of us lazy louts all day, and speciality enchantment supplies for Sandal. And a big, red ball that he could throw for Spirit. You know, the simple pleasures. For Orana I bought dresses. The poor girl left a life of slavery with only the clothing on her back, and even that had been barely holding together. Getting her measurements had been a bit of a trick, but that is what I'm best known for.

Leandra. What to get for the Hightown Lady that could get anything she really wanted. I ended up in the Chantry Library, and with Sebastian's help found the birth and death records of the Amells of Kirkwall. And with a little secretive tinkering, added Malcolm, Garrett, Bethany and Carver. It wasn't much, but it was that little bit of proof that they had lived, had been a family.

For Anders, I replaced the simple gold hoop he had once been so famous for, before Justice. That tiny reclaiming of the man he once was. And for Garrett I found a match. Inside each hoop was engraved the name of the other. As proof that they could move forward, together.

Fenris' gift was simple. A tiny blank book, a journal. For when he felt confident enough in his writing, he could fill with all the things that he really wanted to remember.

Even Gamlen was getting a gift of sorts. Varric had tracked down Mara and she had sent a letter. I didn't know what was in it, hoping it wasn't filled with vitriol and pain, but at least it was something. And just maybe, when the night was over, he would know that he had a daughter out there in the wide world.

It was a night filled with raucous laughter, singing and mirth. Kind of like Christmas growing up, but with more alcohol and sexual innuendos. Orana and Bodahn had outdone themselves with the meal, a thick haunch of something akin to beef, drench in a candied fruit sauce that seemed to bring out the flavour of the meat instead of mask it. There were vegetables and breads, even some spicy Rivaini concoction that had my eyes watering with just a tiny taste. Isabela was beside herself with glee over that one.

When it came time for gift giving, there were tears of joy all around. Leandra gushed, crying so hard with her arms around my neck that I thought for sure one of us was going to drown until Garrett gently pulled her away and sat her near the fire. Even Gamlen came and kissed my cheek, vowing to reach out to Mara and maybe try and fix things between them.

There were even a couple of boxes for me. Most of the guys had pooled their funds and bought me new armour, supple black leather with metal studs of varying size, beginning at the shoulder and thinning out the further down it went. Light stars in a night sky. I kissed them each for my gift, even Sebastian though I knew it would make Hawke uncomfortable. I still didn't understand why Garrett tensed up whenever we were near each other, but that was for another day.

When it came time for the smaller box, Hawke had me sitting on the sofa, all of our friends lined up behind, Fenris and Anders at his side. It was a smaller box, the length and width of a necklace container, but taller. Painted rosewood with the Hawke emblem in the centre, hinged and latched in gold. He looked down at the box in his fingers, fumbling with it until Anders placed a hand on his arm.

“You once told me that marriage was out of the question because I hadn't given you a ring.” he said, eyes downcast and hands shaking.

I frowned, taking and opening the box. Inside was a miracle of metal work. Three rings in filigreed silverite, held together with thin chain links. Adorning each ring was a stone- blue sapphire, amber, and emerald. The eyes of the three men that I loved. At first glance I thought the rings would go across three fingers, but then realized that the chains were placed wrong for that. It was more like the finger of a gauntlet, each ring sitting just below a knuckle.

I looked up in shock and surprise. “But Garrett-”

“I know that, while you love both Anders and I, it's Fenris that owns that little piece of your soul. This is something that we discussed, all three of us. What if someone outside or our little circle were to...learn about your past? You might be hauled off to Meredith, or even executed as an unknown. A link to the Amells of Kirkwall will give you that bit of clout, some standing that that bitch goddess won't fuck with.”

“Garrett! Language!”

“Sorry, Mother. Add to that, Anders can't marry either of us according to Chantry Law and they would fight you tooth and nail if you tried to marry Fenris. According to the law, you would be marrying me. But according to this ring, according to us, you would be gaining all of us. Is...is that all right?”

I couldn't help it. I couldn't stop the tears even with my face breaking open with a smile. I jumped up and wrapped my arms around his massive shoulders and just held on, crying like an idiot. Soon Anders added his arms to the hug, and even Fenris threaded his fingers into my hair. It was an emotional, teary mess until Merrill exclaimed that she wanted to see the ring, and suddenly I was surrounded by cheering and glee befitting the holiday.

It was dark and quiet now, friends headed home and family tucked into bed. During his stay Fenris had been sleeping in my room while I switched off sleeping in Anders' next door or, when the mage needed to be alone or was at the clinic late, in the big bed with Garrett, sometimes for sex but more often not.

I was rummaging through a drawer in the armoire, trying to decided what sleep clothes to take with me when Fenris reached out and took my hand. I looked up, surprised. Since our night together, even knowing how we each felt, touches were few and far between. To have him instigate even this brief contact was a shock.

“I...have two more gifts for you,” he said softly, looking away as he spoke, as though afraid to see my reaction.

“Fenris, you didn't have to give me anything. Thank you,” I replied, wondering just what the elf felt he could give me. He released my hand and turned to his pack, sitting on the floor near the bed. After a quick rummage he returned with a bundle of neatly folded cloth. When he put it in my hands, though, it felt too heavy to be just fabric and rattled and clinked like metal. I placed the bundle on the bed and carefully unwrapped it. Inside were a series of small picture frames, a dozen in all, all in silver. They were the perfect size for the photographs of my family.

I couldn't speak, just stare at these perfect little frames with eyes overflowing with tears. Damn but I'm weepy today, I thought to myself, grinning like an idiot.

“They are to your liking, then,” Fenris said softly. I looked up at him, pleased beyond measure. “They are perfect, Fenris. Absolutely perfect. But there's more here than I have to fill them.”

“Hawke will be commissioning engagement and wedding portraits as well as singles of Anders and myself to fit within the frames. I- We wanted you to be able to keep your memories close.”

I reached out and lightly touched his arm, not the skin but where the pale dove grey linen shirt he wore rested. “Thank you, Fenris. You don't know how much this means to me.”

“I have something else for you , as well. Though really it might be more for me than for you,” he chuckled softly, that deep, rumble that travelled straight to my groin. He moved to the bed as I watched, collecting the frames and setting them aside, then turned back to me. Slowly, as though afraid to disturb the moment, he loosened the ties and removed his shirt.

I gawped, I admit it. Like a damned fish out of water, goggle eyed at the beautiful man before me. With a quirk of his lips he took my hand and carefully placed it, palm flat against his chest, against his heart. It was a steady, rapid heartbeat, nervousness showing only in this. “I would be greatly honoured if you would sleep with me this evening,” he began. “Not for sex, just for...closeness. To sleep.”

I think I nodded. Pretty sure anyway, because the smile widened upon his face, something so rare and special that I couldn't help but respond.

We spent that night curled up around each other, legs entwined, fingers touching, faces buried in hair and neck. It was warm and comforting and...perfect.

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