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

Chapter 28

I am getting so tired of waking up in strange beds.

Eyes closed, I could feel the difference in the thin mattress beneath me from the one in my room, and smell the undeniable scent of thick vegetation and hot copper that was Merrill. Okay, I'm in Merrill's bed. It's warm so I've probably been here a while. I tried to lift my arm, but the blankets had been tucked around me so tightly that I couldn't shift more than an inch or so. And they're prepping me for burial, I guess.

Soft, hot, calloused fingers stroked my forehead and I sighed. Underlying Merrill's scent was sunshine, leather and Lyrium and I knew that Fenris was here with me, caring for me. I leaned into the touch, enjoying the carress. Fenris was susceptible to pain when touched and I wasn't going to shy away from this seldom-received pleasure.

"Selena? Carrissimi? Are you awake?" he whispered breathily into my ear, causing me to shudder. It was as though he reached directly into me to stroke my center. I moaned softly and cracked open my eyes.

ARGH! My eyes are burning! Even the little light cast by a nearby candle seared at my eyes and I shut them tightly again. A soft huff of breath and the smell of sulfur from a blown wick and the room was dark enough that I could open them again. Fenris had lit his brands just the slightest fraction, casting a soft blue glow over the room. It was so soothing that I felt I could sleep again if I wished.

His eyes were a mix of happiness and concern, lips twitched at the corners in what I knew to be a smile. His arm slipped beneath my head and lifted me enough to place a cup of cool water to my lips. I spilled more than I managed to get down my torn throat and when I tried to thank him, no sound emerged. I began to panic but the elf hushed me as he would a child.

“It's all right, Carissimi. The- Merrill has gone to fetch Anders. You...screamed so loud and so long that something...broke. But I am sure that it can be repaired.”

I recalled the pain, the agony caused by the mirror that I shuddered and Fenris, who had yet to release me from his arms, held me to him. I splayed my hand across his chest, realizing that at some point he had removed his coat, and breathed deeply of the heat of his skin. His markings buzzed, like the faint purring of a cat, a comforting feeling. I tried pulling back, to ask about the pain, but his grip merely tightened as though he were afraid of my leaving. I glanced up and could see that he had closed his eyes, seemingly relishing the closeness. He was smiling. Really smiling, not just a quirk or twitch of the lips, but truly smiling. I sighed and curled in closer.

Suddenly there was a tremendous clamour at the door, Merrill and Varric returning with a very out of breath Anders and Hawke in tow. Fenris' arms tighten just a little bit more before slowly releasing me and gently helping me back into a prone position on the bed. The elf backed away to give the healer room to work, though I did reach out and snag his fingers in mine. I needed to touch him, a compulsion I couldn't control. He seemed to understand and settled my hand in his.

“What the hell happened?” Garrett demanded of Fenris as Anders began his delving magics. “Varric made little sense, Merrill less so. Izzy was so fucked up we had to leave her at the Hanged Man. What happened to her?”

I could feel Fenris tense and brushed a thumb across his knuckles. He glanced down at my eyes and smiled, relaxing, returning the gesture. Turning his attention back to Hawke, he attempted to explain the mirror, the light, the vision of the changing city. Meanwhile Anders' peppermint cool magic was washing over me, centered upon my throat. His fingers grazed down the length of it and I could feel things knitting back together, a not completely pleasant feeling.

When I flinched he smiled knowingly. “It's all right, love,” he whispered to me, caressing my throat beneath slightly calloused fingers. “I know it's not the best feeling in the world, but it will get better.” I nodded and tried to relax into it.

“What do you mean she was 'fixing the Golden City'? That's...that's impossible!” Garrett was truly agitated now, pacing back and forth at the side of the bed.

I turned my head, trying to follow the movement, but Anders just took my face in both of his hands and turned it back. “Stay still please. I'm working.”

“We saw it, Hawke. Through the mirror. It was black, then began to...change. Become golden.” the elf said softly, rubbing his thumb gently across whatever skin he could touch.

“Believe him, lethalan,” Merrill added, coming up behind Garrett and gently touching his arm. “We saw it as well. It was beautiful. Just as I imagined Arlathan must have looked once. Tall spires and lattice and-”

“You!” Hawke yelled, spinning to face his new quary. “You insisted she come and see your damned mirror! What the Void were you thinking?”

“Don't take it out on Daisy, Hawke.” Varric interjected. “She couldn't have known what would happen.”

“That's my point! She doesn't have a fucking clue what she's doing! What if Selena'd been tainted, like what happened to that Tamlen guy she goes on about? What if she had died?”

I pulled my hand away from Fenris and hit Garrett as hard as I could against the arm, which was really all that hard at all but I think I got my point across. His eyes jumped down to me and I raised a finger up to him and, gathering every bit of will I could, I whispered hoarsely, “No. Bad Hawke. Appologize. Now.”

He immediately looked contrite, bowing both head and shoulders. “I-I'm sorry. I'm just...upset. I didn't mean it.”

“It's all right, lethalan. I get yelled at all the time. Usually it's for being in the Viscount's garden, but it's very similar. Would you like some tea, Hawke? Anders? Or there's biscuits. Or, I think Isabela left her whiskey if you prefer.”

Varric, Hawke and Merrill ended up at her little table, finishing off the whiskey, while Fenris stayed near and Anders finished working on my throat. “Now, nothing above a whisper for a day or two. The nerves in your throat are going to be pretty raw for a while. Also, bland soft foods. Nothing spicy, nothing hard. That goes for sex too. Nothing spicy, nothing hard.” he added, grining.

I smiled, struggling to sit up from the sheets tucked tightly around me. Fenris ,on the other hand, blushed all the way tot he tips of his ears. It was probably one of the most adorable things I had ever seen, my strong, snarky warrior of an elf blushing like a teenage girl. I couldn't help myself but reach out and run a finger along the edge.

The sudden groan, the dark heat that filled his eyes made me freeze midmotion. I stared into his eyes, caught there, until a hand reached out and lifted my fingers away. “What did I just say? Nothing spicy. Nothing hard.”

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