Trigger Warning: Story mentions non-descript rape
Freedom: The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint
Something hit her hard from the side, slamming her into the ground and knocking the wind out of her mere milliseconds before a blast wave of heat and debris flew out. Instinctively squeezing her eyes shut, Mykale Hawke could feel the dirt and dust with the blistering warmth bite at her cheeks and arms. Then, just as soon as it had happened, it was gone, the rush of air leaving a decided chill.
Dazed, Mykale looked up at the living shield, blinking in confusion as her brain tried to restart after the shockwave had attempted to jar it loose. Fenris, the elven warrior she had met scant weeks ago, was half hovering half collapsed atop her, shielding her body with his and evidently taking the brunt of the explosion in her stead. Despite blood dripping down a gash on his forehead, the elf was alert, his mossy green eyes scanning their surroundings for any signs of an attack.
She could hear a groan that seemed both faint and loud at the same time, a distinct buzzing sound over lapping any other noise. Sluggishly Mykale automatically sent a small burst of healing magic throughout her body, almost sighing in relief when some of the fog that had enveloped her head faded along with the ringing in her ears.
Fenris' attention was suddenly on her as though he could sense her use of magic. He probably could, she reasoned, given the fact he was covered in lyrium.
"Is everyone all right? Does anyone need healing?" Anders' voice still sounded distant.
"Just great, I've got my leg stuck," Isabela complained. "Going to ruin my boots,"
"And you're not worried that you might have broken that leg?" Anders retorted.
Seemingly accepting in his assessment that she had healed her own injuries, Fenris slowly moved off of her, allowing Mykale to scoot into a seated position. She winced, noticing the scrapes that her automatic attempt to heal herself had missed.
"Thank you." She said quietly, earning her another intense look from the elf. "If you hadn't," she trailed off, both knowing what she had not said. If he hadn't tackled her to the ground she would have taken the brunt of the detonation and no magic could have helped her survive that.
He gave a curt and emotionless nod. The man started to stand when his face contorted in pain, one hand shooting to his shoulder the other around his ribs. He pulled the gauntleted hand away from his shoulder and, despite his immediately clench of the hand, Mykale was quickly aware that there was blood coating the metal.
"You're hurt!" she whispered, shifting to her knees, grimacing at the soreness that she was certain was a new bruise on her back.
Fenris flinched, recoiling back when she reached toward him. His head bowed, allowing his shock-white hair to dip in his eyes as he avoided not only her touch but her gaze as well.
"I just wanted to see how bad it was." Mykale tried to explain. While no one who discovered she was magical ever really jumped for joy, she had never had such a reaction of fear and unadulterated loathing.
"Hawke?" the panic that laced Anders' voice drew her attention away from the elf. "Hawke are you all right? Can you hear me?"
Glancing behind her, Mykale realized that the entryway she had come through was collapsed from the explosion; the now broken wooden frame was encased with rocks and boulders. Unconsciously she shivered; thankful once again that Fenris had managed to knock her out of the way.
"We're fine, Anders." Mykale got unsteadily to her feet, her hand going to a sore point on the back her head where she found her hair damp with blood. "Scraped and bruised and a little claustrophobic at the moment," she admitted gingerly touching the wound that was only partially closed.
"Is there a way out on your end?"
Mykale turned and surveyed her location, dismayed at what she saw. "No." she flexed her fingers trying to coax another tendril of healing magic out in order to heal her head wound. "The other door is caved in as well." She frowned peering at the way the rocks had formed a barricade. "I think there might have been a secondary blast."
Brushing a strand of auburn hair out of her face, Mykale searched for the source of the light, hoping it might lead to an exit. Instead she saw a gap in the rock ceiling, clearly recently formed if the giant bolder beneath it was any indication. Nonetheless it was large enough that she might be able to shimmy out of it if she could reach it. Quickly she relayed the information to Anders.
"Can you get to it?"
"Not easily." She admitted.
The hole was easily fifteen feet up but it was close to the wall of the passageway she and Fenris were trapped in. A few low hanging roots dangled through the opening that, given leverage, she might be able to pull herself up with.
There was the sound of something shifting seconds before she lightly was dusted with debris.
"What are you doing?"
A few pebbles sprinkled down from above, some bouncing off the caved in doorway and some hitting her.
"Trying to dig you out!"
Several more stones vibrated loose.
"Anders," Mykale watched as more dirt and stone showered down.
The rocks that were falling were starting to get bigger with each movement the blond seemed to be making on the other side.
"Anders!" she tried once again to get his attention, shielding her face as more rocks began to shake loose and fall. "ANDERS STOP!"
Mykale barely had time to jump back as a pile of rocks from above rumbled and then cascaded to the spot where she had been. Louder thuds continued from the other side of the wall followed by a coughing fit. As the dirt and dust settled she hesitantly called out again, wondering if the blond had managed to get himself squished under the unstable rock.
"I'm fine." His voice was fainter now. "I can't dig you out."
Mykale could have laughed at the declaration. "No kidding." She muttered biting her lip as she looked away, unintentionally meeting Fenris' gaze. The elf was watching the exchange with an arched eyebrow as though he had expected Anders to fail. Shaking her head, she sighed. "Look, you're going to have to get help." She finally said. "Get Isabela back to Kirkwall and find Aveline or Carver, they'll figure out a way to get us out."
"I'm not leaving you here alone!"
"I'm not alone." She retorted, wishing, not for the first time, she could slap the mage across the back of the head for implying Fenris didn't count. Mykale could swear she heard Anders let out a few choice curse words relating to the idea of leaving her alone with the elf, a man who frequently expressed his dislike for mages. "Go back to Kirkwall," she insisted. "You can't get us out without help and help won't come by sitting here."
For several moments Mykale wondered if he was going to remain; Anders had been stubborn like that since she had met him; as though the blond mage had gotten it into his head that he needed to protect her. Another string of curses, this time loud enough to make her wonder why he would think a darkspawn would be screwing Andraste, she heard him hit the wall and then shout:
"All right, just, just be careful, Hawke."
"No becoming a Hawke pancake; got it." She agreed glibly.
"Hawke," Anders moaned.
Blowing a strand of auburn hair out of her face, she shook her head. "I'll be fine. Go, the sooner you leave the sooner you can play hero and rescue me."
Finally satisfied he was going to get help, Mykale turned around. The immediate danger out of the way, she could feel her adrenaline start to fade, leaving a familiar nervousness in its wake. Looking at Fenris, she tried to ignore the distaste he had on his face.
"So…" she shifted. "I guess this is a bad time to confess my hatred for caves?"
He made a face. "You're planning an expedition to the Deep Roads and you hate caves." He repeated in disbelief.
Waving her hand at him, she didn't miss how he flinched, his eyes shooting to her staff and then back to her face. "Hush, don't confuse me with your logic."
A wiry smirk appeared on his face but was wiped away a second later. Mykale chewed her lower lip pensively, studying the wall closest to the opening in the ceiling. While she had tried to keep her comment light, she was telling the truth, she hated caves.
"Do you think you can give me a lift?"
The intensity he was staring at her made her feel as though she had just asked him to sprout wings and fly.
"I might be able to climb out that way." She pointed to the hole in the ceiling where light was streaming in.
Fenris eyed the wall. "Looks unstable," he warned.
Mykale rolled her eyes. "We're in a mini-cave whose entrances collapsed on itself, of course it looks unstable." She said dismissively, the anxiety she was feeling was starting to build.
He didn't respond.
"I'll cast a shield around you," she offered. "If anything caves in again at least we'll be protected this time." She reached for her staff thinking that it might be a good idea for her to try and shield them both, that way if the wall or ceiling did start to give way she would have a preventative protection rather than a reactive one.
Fenris tensed causing her to still. At first she was a confused at what he could possibly be afraid of, she hadn't even started climbing yet. Then she noticed that his attention was on her staff or more specifically what her staff obviously represented to him.
"I'm not going to hurt you."
It was clear that he didn't believe her.
"I'm a mage, Fenris. That fact hasn't changed since the night we met." She felt a small bubble of annoyance. "You've gone on excursions with me nearly a dozen times. Haven't you gotten used to it by now?"
"Just because I ignore your spells when cast at the enemy does not mean I will allow you to cast them upon me." he snipped.
"Is that why you won't let me heal you?"
He didn't answer but she could read his face easily enough. The elf still didn't trust her because of what the Tevinter mages had done. Frustration and hurt flickered through her but she quickly hid it behind a mask of determination; she had learned long ago never to let anyone see her vulnerability, it just made her more of a target.
Turning her attention back to how they were trapped, she tried to figure out how to pull herself up on her own. She hated caves; loathed them with a passion and with the Deep Roads trip looming on the horizon for her she didn't want to spend any more time in one that she had to. Fenris might be content to sit around waiting to be rescued but she had to do something, even if it failed.
Leaning her staff against the wall, she assessed the rock, ignoring the small voice in the back of her head that reminded her that it had been years since she had tried to climb anything more than stairs or hills. She could see there were a few foot and handholds that might just be in reach that could give her enough height to reach the lowest root. Maybe if she got it, she could hoist herself up and climb out.
Digging her boot into the first spot she pushed up, grabbing at another spot on the wall higher. Her muscles groaned, aching with the exertion. When she was younger she used to be able to scale trees in seconds, she hadn't thought rock would be much different. It was; between the years since she had last climbed a tree and the soreness she had already felt, it was proving to be much harder to scale the wall than she had thought or hoped. Reaching out she grasped the edge of a handhold when it crumbled. Though only a few feet up, Mykale grunted when she landed, the stone scraping into her palms painfully.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw that Fenris had jerked, as though he instinctively wanted to catch her but he didn't; whether because he was still across the tiny room and therefore too far to reach her before she hit the ground or because he felt like she should pay for her own stupidity for trying to scale an unstable structure, she didn't know.
Grumbling, Mykale sat, crossing her legs and staring at her hands. Blood pooled in the gashes that had been made. Huffing a strand of hair out of her face, she picked at a few of the pebbles that embedded themselves into her skin.
"Stupid rocks." She muttered, almost glaring at the wall she had fallen from as though it had planned to throw her off.
The hairs on the back of her neck raised and Mykale became aware of the heated scowl Fenris was giving her.
"What?" she misinterpreted his look. "The rocks should know better than to toss me off like that!" Getting carefully to her feet, she stared at her hands, trying to figure out the best way to remove the grime and stone from them while simultaneously stopping the bleeding.
Wincing she pulled another small rock from the wound, realizing how deep it had managed to imbed itself by the bubble of fresh blood that pushed its way to the surface. "Maker, that stings."
Absently she waved her hand, flicking blood and a few loose pebbles off, barely aware of how the scarlet liquid splashed against the wall. Just as she was about to work another rock out there was a noise that sounded suspiciously like—Mykale froze, her heart skipping a beat.
Fenris had drawn his blade.
It wasn't pointed at her—yet. He was watching her with the tension of a mabari ready to pounce. Mykale followed his gaze to her hands, confusion and fear mounting before it occurred to her.
Indignation burned in her. "I'm not going to use blood magic, Fenris!" she exclaimed, insulted that he would even think that she would make a deal with a demon.
He didn't move.
"Why is it that you always think the worst of me?" Mykale demanded. "I've never used any sort of dark magic before. What could possibly make you think I'd use it now?"
Fenris sneered at her, his grip tightening on the hilt of his weapon. "Mages find many less prudent reasons to justify their need for power."
The auburn-haired woman frowned, begrudgingly admitting to herself that he was right. Merrill was a prime example; the damned Dalish elf had made a deal with a demon over a mirror that might give her a clue into the history of her people. It had caused her to be ostracized from her clan, her family; nevermind the risk she had posed not only to herself but to others with her actions. If it hadn't been Varric's request that she give the elf a chance, Mykale would have likely slain Merrill the moment the elf preformed blood magic. As it was she and the Dalish mage had a tense arrangement that Merrill would not preform blood magic alone and she never would use it while with Mykale.
Closing her eyes, she forced a small but controlled mind blast focused around her hands, biting her lip to avoid the cry of pain as the remaining pebbles flung themselves free, heedless of the damage. The moment she was certain all debris was free from her hands, Mykale cast a healing spell, allowing the light to bathe her hands and seal her wounds, magically taking the blood that had seeped out with it. Holding her hands up to him to show that she was now blood-free, she was relieved when she saw his grip on his weapon relax slightly.
Spinning around, Mykale faced the wall again, desperately trying to ignore the hurt she felt in her chest. Every part of her loathed how much the elf's distrust bothered her. All her life she had been told about the evils of magic. She knew from firsthand experience that the moment magic came into the equation people stopped seeing a person and started seeing a thing, a monster, all the things a mage could become.
Why did she torture herself with this man? He had made it clear from day one that he abhorred all mages. Despite that, Mykale felt the need to help him and every time she tried, she felt as though he rebuffed her, painting her with the same brush as the magisters and all other monsters that existed.
She knew it was a reaction, a byproduct of the cruelty he had gone through. He had been horridly abused and fought for nothing more than freedom from his oppressors. Time and time again he had seen the same behavior in people he encountered, mages falling prey to the easy way out and causing death and destruction in their wake. It had become such a pattern in his life, Fenris had come to expect it from every mage he encountered, regardless of what they had actually done.
Giving her head an abrupt shake, trying rid herself of the thoughts of the elf that plagued her mind, Mykale determinedly climbed the wall again. She wanted out of this cave; rescue be damned, if she could just reach the root that was hanging. Her fingertips brushed the tip of the root causing it to sway. After two more attempts she managed to secure her hold on it. Fumbling for another foothold she used the root to help pull herself up.
She could feel it before it happened, the dirt and rock around the root was shifting, giving way. Swallowing a few choice curses that would have made her mother blush, Mykale released the root, clinging to the wall as she prayed that letting go of the root would make the rock formation stop.
Only it didn't. Something was still shifting above her and the root was sliding as though—panic seized her as she realized what was happening. Scrambling down the wall, she backed away.
A rock crashed through the opening in the ceiling landing in front of her. Mykale let out a squeak, leaping backwards to avoid being crushed by another falling stone. Her body collided with Fenris, forcing both of them to stumble back into the opposite wall and earning a painful grunt from the elf.
Several rocks began to rain down, hitting the ground where she had just stood. Instinctually Mykale summoned a shield to surround them, flinching at each rock that vibrated the eerie magical covering. Then, just as she thought it was finally over, the small room they were in plunged into complete darkness.
Her entire body went rigid, the shield vanishing as she lost control of her magic. Fear prickled her senses and she trembled, heart pounding in her chest. She was terrified of the dark, gut wrenchingly afraid of what could be lurking in the shadows; she had been ever since—
Breath tickled her neck causing her to jerk turning blindly in a panic, nearly falling over. Two arms shot out, barring her tumble to the ground but doing nothing to calm the fear pulsing through her.
Even as the arms tried to keep her upright, Mykale could not stop the terror she felt, causing her to fight, her mind somewhere lost between flashback and the potential of who might be in the dark with her.
"HAWKE!" she suddenly froze, realizing she recognized the voice. "If you keep struggling you'll cause us both to fall over."
Mykale tried to get her mind to work. "Fenris." She whispered more to reassure herself than to affirm who was there.
Extending her hand away from the two of them, she flexed her palm. It took several sparks before she had a ball of fire, burning happily in the center of her hand. The shadows in the room danced with the flicker of the flame but it was far more comforting than complete darkness.
"What little air we have will be eaten by that flame," Fenris cautioned.
His words were all Mykale needed to lose control and the fire popped out of existence. Panic hit her once again. If she couldn't have fire how was she to make light? She had tried, when younger, to create a spell that would be a small glowing ball of energy, likened to a wisp or lightning orb, whose only purpose would be to light up the night but she had failed. No matter how she tried neither she, nor Bethany (or her father for that matter) was a spell weaver.
Every movement she made caused her to brush against Fenris, which sent a whole new wave of panic through her. Mykale's breathing increased, eyes darting around the pitch black room, frantically trying to think of a way she could bring light to the small cave without using fire.
Magic for long periods of time would be unsustainable so a ball of lightning would be useless, never mind that lightning was ridiculously hard to control. A spell wisp would rapidly drain her mana and while feasible for the short run, she had no idea how long they would be trapped.
As though an answer to her prayers a soft blue glow burst into life, bathing the two of them in a gentle light. Blinking, it took a moment for Mykale to comprehend that Fenris had lit his tattoos.
She couldn't help but trace the markings with her eyes, leading to his face where the blue reflected in his green eyes. "I," her voice cracked. "I didn't know you could light them outside of battle." Mykale whispered finally meeting his gaze.
He didn't say anything.
Unintentionally she grasped the arm that held her upright, her fingers curling around his gauntlet like a life-line. "Thank you."
His eyes narrowed at her. "You are afraid of the dark?" while his tone was curious, Mykale couldn't help but flinch as though it was a flung accusation.
Of course to him it would seem irrational that the same person who could fling herself into outnumbered fight after outnumbered fight and win would be afraid of something as simple as the dark. Maybe it was irrational, after all she was far from helpless now.
Swallowing hard, Mykale awkwardly stepped away from him, trying not to think about how the one person she traveled with who might actually betray her now knew one of her most paralyzing fears.
The space was far more cramped than before, not that it had been particularly roomy. She couldn't move much more than a few feet away from him without getting lost in the darkness again and no matter how badly she wanted to go to the other side of their small prison and pretend that nothing was wrong, she couldn't. The same cold fear still gripped her, teasing the edges of her control, taunting her menacingly with the darkness that surrounded them, forcing her to remain closer to the elf than she wanted.
Taking a seat on one of the fallen boulders, Mykale dug through her pack, trying to ignore the look she was receiving from Fenris. Thankfully, he did not speak again. The only sound he made was a soft grunt when he sat, his greatsword spread on the ground next to him, his hand holding his shoulder.
He was stilling watching her when she stopped needlessly riffling through her things and instead concentrated on her breathing as a way to calm her nerves. Nothing was here, nothing will hurt her. The mantra repeated in her head while she clenched and unclenched her hands, the movement taught by her father to try and calm her down. It was a conscious recognition that if she did not control her emotions, magic could pour out of her fingertips.
Something occurred to her and she suddenly looked at him, or technically at his shoulder. "Your shoulder," At his confused look she realized that her words had been rather abrupt. "Is your shoulder still bleeding?"
Fenris' brow furrowed but he pulled his hand away. Even in the eerie blue haze of the only light in the room, they could see his hand coated with fresh blood. Several things fleeted across his face, not the least being resignation and fear. Finally he looked up from his hand, his eyes settling on her.
"I don't have to use magic to heal it." Mykale offered, allowing the focus of his injury to take her attention, pushing the fear to the back of her mind. "But if it's still bleeding you need to have it looked at."
At first it seemed like he would refuse, chancing that they would be dug out in only a few hours and he could take his wound to a clinic and have it looked at by a non-magical healer. Mykale could almost see his mind turn; weighing the chance they would not be out for more than a day over the severity of his injury.
He looked down, his lips pressing together tightly. "I have no bandages." he confessed.
Mykale let out a breath of relief. She could do this; she knew how to heal normally and magically. As long as she kept her attention on him, on making sure he would mend properly she could get through this. "I have some." she fished out the wrapped gauze.
His face was contorted into confusion.
Blinking, she froze at the look. "What?"
"Why do you carry bandages?" Now his voice was accusing, as though demanding her to answer the absurdity of a mage carrying bandages when a simple wave of her hand and a spell would heal almost any wound.
"For situations like this of course." Mykale retorted cheekily.
Fenris' glare didn't change.
"I actually mean that almost literally," she surrendered. "I have medic training, the healer in our village taught me." Shrugging, she pulled a cloth and canteen from her bag. "I couldn't use magic outside the house but I wanted to be of use, I hate sitting around."
Although his face was clouded with shadows she could see his eyebrow arch, an amused smirk twitching on the corner of his lips as though mocking her playfully.
"Hard to imagine me getting restless," She joked at her expense. Shaking her head, she tied her auburn hair back with a red ribbon and then turned to him. "I," clearing her throat she tried again. "I obviously need to see the wound if I'm to treat it."
With cautious movements, Fenris shifted, leaving his leaning position against the wall to sitting in front of her, sideways so he could still see what she was doing. There was a dark patch on the wall where his blood had stained the stone.
She grimaced at the sight of the smeared blood on his armor. Wiping as gently as she could, Mykale attempted to clean the area around the wound only to determine that it somehow managed to stretch beneath the armor and she couldn't bandage the wound with it on.
Licking her lips nervously, she spoke. "The wound goes under your armor."
He looked at her.
"I can't reach it all with your breastplate on."
His glare twisted into one filled with mistrust and discontent. After several tense minutes, Fenris started to unlatch the buckles of his armor, wincing when his movements pulled at the wound.
"Let me help—"
Mykale leaned forward only to stop when he cringed back, one hand stretching for his weapon, a noise falling from him that sounded like a snarl. The glow from his markings flickered for a moment. She didn't move. The seconds dragged on for ages as he took the armor piece off himself. When the armor from his upper half was removed she held back a gasp of awe.
His markings, the lyrium tattoos carved into his skin, wove their way down his body, stretching in vine patterns down his arms and back, dipping toward his trousers.
She had never seen anything so beautiful.
Forcing herself to look at his shoulder, she tried to focus, knowing that he would not like her staring at him. The wound was harder to see now that he was farther away but the gash marred the flow of the tattoos and blood darkened his back.
Dripping water onto her cloth sparingly, she waited. Fenris sat closer to her, hesitation marring his tense movements. Mykale pressed the cloth on his back and both of them gasped in unison.
His marks sung out to her through the damp fabric, burning brighter as it tangled with her magic. Whether her magic was fueling his markings or his markings fueling her magic, she didn't know.
Pulling her arm away, she took several deep breaths in, gawking wide-eyed at the elf who had gone still. "Maker," Her arm fell limp in her lap. "That was," she couldn't continue.
Mind reeling Mykale went over the reaction analytically in an attempt to calm her racing heart. The lyrium had burned brighter for the brief moment she had touched him, yearning to be utilized more than they were. In all her life, she had never heard the lure of the lyrium that loudly before.
When younger, her father had explained what the Harrowing was and how it felt when touching pure lyrium, the ecstasy of that much power at the mage's fingertips, the feeling of bliss. Goosebumps ran down her arms. The power, the feeling, it was intoxicating, alluring—it burned in her a desire for more.
She looked at him, her mind finally catching up that her reaction could have startled him. Fenris was hunched over, head bowed, nearly still but for short soundless breaths. A horrid thought struck her.
"Did that hurt you?"
With how sharply his head turned in her direction she was worried his neck would snap.
"The lyrium, I," she shook her head. "I had no idea." Mykale floundered for something to appease him, to let him know she now understood. "Does it react with all magic like that? Or does it only do that when I," she looked at her hands. "When a mage touches you?"
Fenris didn't answer, as though trying to determine how much he should entrust to her.
It made sense, she reasoned, just as she was unsure whether to tell him why she was afraid of the dark, he might not want to reveal a weakness to her. After all, they had only known each other for a fortnight. While in that short time, Mykale had grown close to the others in her group, Fenris had always held all three mages at a distance, watching them with open mistrust. Even full-blown hatred the one time Anders had cast a healing spell at Fenris without warning, the elf had nearly attacked the blond. If magic of any kind caused his marking to react the way it had to when she touched him; if that reaction hurt—no wonder he hated magic.
Mykale was annoyed that she actually jumped when he finally spoke.
"Is fine." He said through clenched teeth, as though the words were hard for him to say. The elf moved so he was positioned back in front of her.
Shaking, she began to clean the wound. The surge of power happened again, tingling her fingertips. Desperately Mykale tried to ignore it, focusing all her attention on his injury. His wound was shallow and seemed more a burn mark than a cut. That was easily fixable; she fumbled for the salve of healing balm. A smear of that covered with a bandage he would be healed in a day.
Her hand trembled and then stopped right above his skin. "I, I have to put on an elfroot poultice to prevent infection." Mykale whispered, hesitating for fear of hurting him. "I don't know how it will react to the lyrium."
Fingers brushed on his skin and she felt a jolt, sending tingling waves of energy through her body. Closing her eyes she lost herself to the call, listening to the enticement beckoning her to use the power at her fingertips. Suddenly something pressed beyond the song of the lyrium, a darker voice. Yanking her hand away as though he had burned her, she felt horror hit her like a slap across the face. His lyrium was being augmented with his blood, opening a path that screamed for her to use.
"Fuck." The word fell from her lips as the understanding that, between the burning lyrium and her fear, a demon had been drawn to her.
Fenris arched his brow, regarding her with surprise, this being the first time he had ever heard Mykale curse.
But she couldn't bring herself to care about her expletive; she had to cover the blood, she had to stop the call. She quickly padded the bandage and wrapped it around his injury. Sod rubbing in the cream, the sooner his blood was covered and she could stop touching his enthralling markings the better. It wasn't the best job she had done treating a wound but it would have to do for now. With a quivering hand, she tried to clean her hands.
"You'll waste water." Fenris' voice of reason broke through the silence.
It was clear from the look on his face that he thought she was disgusted with him and wanted to remove any trace of him from her. Nevermind that it was far from the truth, Mykale couldn't help but feel a thrum of fear pulse through her at the idea of what he would do to her if she told him about the whispers from his lyrium and blood.
Looking away, she tried to stop trembling. The call from the Fade had startled her. It had been years since she had heard it that clearly and she had never heard it outside of her dreams.
Closing her brown eyes, she hugged her knees to her chest, trying to seek comfort as she began to attempt to regain control, not only of her emotions but of her magic as well. One by one, she began to recite the recipes of potions in her head, a technic she invented when she was in a situation that she couldn't leave but needing to remain calm.
It was perhaps close to two hours later when Mykale ran out of potions, poisons, salves, and even cooking recipes. Ever the herbalist, she had learned hundreds of ways to keep herself alive in the wild on the off chance her family had to run into uncivilized land. She took a deep breath in and opened her eyes, startled to see Fenris staring at her.
"Your hand is bleeding."
Looking down she blinked, uncurling her fist. Her fingernails had dug into her palms, cutting little crescent shaped wounds. Sighing, Mykale shook her head; just what she needed, Fenris thinking she was trying to cut herself to use blood magic or something. A blue glow enveloped her hand and the wounds healed.
Despite the 'threat' of blood magic vanishing again, the elf still stared at her, studying her in that intense way of his. "There is no one here but you and I."
Coming from nearly anyone else, Mykale wondered if those words were meant to be comforting but from him she could hear the question behind his statement.
Why was she afraid?
Racking her mind in order to come up with an excuse or at the very least a way to avoid answering the truth, Mykale frowned. All in all, she was usually a fairly straightforward and honest person, accepting long ago that sometimes questions needed to be answered directly rather than tactfully.
But this wasn't like giving bad news to someone or responding bluntly to a personal question. If she answered him, she would be sharing something that she had rarely talked about with anyone since it happened. Nevermind the fact she wasn't even certain she could trust him enough not to turn her over to the Templars; why should she bother sharing the truth of her deepest fear with him if he was allowed to keep his own secrets?
He had never been all that forthcoming about himself. True he would viciously spit out vacant words about the abuses of the Tevinter mages but he never really shared anything about himself. Like herself, Fenris had long ago become skilled at answering a personal question without actually giving any details.
Doing such left him a mystery that enticed her to keep the broody elf around. Despite his bitterness and blatant hatred of magic, she had wondered if there was a deeper sense of almost unconscious camaraderie she felt toward him. After all, she understood how hard it was to move past old abuse.
Curiosity about her white-haired enigma stirred in her as an idea came to mind. "How about this," Mykale scooted back until she found the wall, almost comforted by its presence behind her. "I'll answer one question from you honestly if you do the same for me."
A nasty look passed his face. "Honesty?" he spat, the unspoken 'from a mage' rang out.
She shrugged. "I suppose we could play Truth or Dare but Isabela would kill us if she found out we did it without her, she loves coming up with dares." Mykale could have sworn she heard the smirk that was fighting its way onto his lips. "You can go first, I guess, though I think I know what you want to ask."
Several long minutes passed but she was grateful for them. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she tried to figure out how to answer him if he took her up on the offer of a question for a question.
"Why are you afraid?" His deep and almost silky voice caused her to shiver slightly when he finally spoke.
"There are many ways I can interpret that question." Mykale mused. "I don't do well in the dark." She had to chuckle at the look he gave her. "The dark is one of the few places that the unknown still lurks. You never know what danger might lurk within the shadows." She neatly side stepped his inquiry, hoping she could get away without sharing more details. Glancing at him she settled on her question. "When I touched your marks, did it hurt you?"
His eye twitched and Fenris seemed to be trying to ascertain her motives. "Not in the way you might be asking."
A sliver of a smile spread across her mouth and she idly wondered how long the two of them could answer without answering.
"Is there any particular reason you 'don't do well with the dark'?"
Damn him, she should have known he would prod deeper. "Yes." Mykale replied curtly. If he wanted the story he would have to give tit-for-tat. "Would you clarify your response?" in any other situation she would have laughed at her formality but for reasons that escaped her, she felt the need to cling to it.
Fenris shifted so that he was leaning against the wall himself, angled toward her but not quite facing her. "They did not cause pain like the wound you treated."
Mykale arched her brow slightly; interesting. He did not deny that his tattoos hurt only that it wasn't the type of pain she had thought it was. Frowning, she chewed on her lip pensively. What other types of pain were there?
"What is the reason you are afraid of the dark?"
She hoped he hadn't notice the way her breath had caught at the question. Swallowing convulsively, Mykale clenched and unclenched her hands. "Something bad happened to me once in the dark." Her turn. "What exactly did you feel when I touched you?"
Fenris didn't respond. Mykale glanced at him, curious at his silence. He seemed to be deep in thought.
"The markings burn when activated and when in close proximity to a source of magic." he decided on. "What exactly," The elf reiterated her words. "Happened to make you afraid of the dark?"
Absently she clenched her hands into fists, unaware of how her knuckles began to turn white from the pressure. Her heart pounded in her chest as she tried to figure out how much to share, to explain. Fenris was smart enough to know when she was holding something back just as she seemed to be able to tell when he held back. She had known that she would need to give him something more than vague answers but was it worth the risk? If she shared the truth, the details of the truth with him would he in turn trust her?
Beyond her fear, that cursed sense of curiosity bubbled. She wanted to know more about him. He would never talk to her as he did Varric if only because she was a mage. An even exchange of information seemed the only way to get to know him.
"When I was seven," the words began forming before Mykale had fully made up her mind to tell him. "I went wandering away from camp." Leaning her head back, she focused on the blue reflection his markings made on the ceiling. "My family was in the middle of moving again to avoid the Templars and I was trying to help by gathering herbs we could trade for food." She hoped he couldn't see the way she was trembling. "I found a cave system nearby and had the less than brilliant idea of exploring it. I thought there would be treasure or pirate gold or something but," she trailed off unintentionally, lost in the memory.
Fenris was surprisingly patient while she tried to find the words to continue.
"I know now it was an old slaver's hold but then it looked like something out of nightmares. I suppose it still is." She reasoned. "The jail carved into the back was open and there was a man there." Mykale felt detached, as though she was reciting a story that had happened to someone else. Perhaps it had, she was so different from that fearless girl now. "He noticed me spying and doused the torches."
Biting her lips she took a deep but haltering breath. "I had never been in pitch blackness before so the sheer lack of light caused me to panic. The fear broke through the veil and for the first time I heard the whispers of the Fade. Spirits promising help if I let them. I thought a demon was going to try to possess me."
Fiddling with the long strands of her auburn hair, she scowled. Part of her was tempted to finish off the story with a harrowing escape, pretend like the reason she was afraid of the dark was because it had come with her first contact with the Fade. She balked at the idea. She was not ashamed to admit what really happened that night; after years of struggles she had long ago accepted that she was not at fault but a large part of her was still embarrassed that even after all this time it was the dark that frightened her.
Shaking her head, Mykale continued, determinedly staring at the ceiling as though it could somehow make it easier for her. "The man attacked me." She hoped he could not see the way she grimaced at the description, knowing that 'attacked' was hardly an accurate term. "In the dark I could not find my way to escape." Biting her lip Mykale tried to block out the emotion that was twisting with the memory. "I remember been terrified that if I called for help a demon might come instead of a human." Once again she trailed off, trying to figure out a tactful way of finishing the story only Fenris seemed to think she had finished.
"You are frightened of the dark because of a beating you received while being afraid of possession." He recapped making it sound as though it was ridiculous.
Scowling she looked at the elf. "I'm frightened of the dark because I was raped by a man in the pitch black of a cave while the Fade begged for me to agree to help, no matter the cost." Mykale bit back.
Fenris' face suddenly became unreadable, a look of shock flickering across his green eyes before his mask settled on.
Turning away from him, she flexed her hands, aware that the shaking had yet to stop. "Ever since, whenever it's dark, I remember that night and how the whispers from the Fade came up all around us. This blackness causes the whispers to come back, trying to use my fear to their advantage."
"I am sorry." Words she had never thought she'd hear from him fell from his lips. She looked at him, trying to read his face. "It was unjust of me to dismiss it as nothing."
Slowly she nodded. "It happened a long time ago." Mykale reasoned. "It's not the act that frightens me," the mage found herself explaining. "It happened and nothing I do can change it. For years I was ashamed, thinking it was somehow my fault," Something akin to understanding fleeted across his face. "Even now that shame can affect me but I know it's irrational. What happened was not my fault, it was his. I was just a stupid child drunk on adventure stories who hadn't a clue what was really out there," she explained, flicking a piece of dirt from her knee. "Still, whenever it's black, no light whatsoever, I feel,"
"Like you're back in that place." Fenris finished.
Mykale held his eyes and nodded. For someone as abrasive as the elf was, he was remarkably astute. They were silent again, each lost in their own thoughts.
"It is your question." He brought her attention back to him.
Her brows arched. He was welcoming her to ask? Unknowingly, Mykale gave a small nod when she determined she would continue their game.
"Why won't you let Anders or I use healing magic on you?" the question came to her several minutes later, deciding that it was likely the safest question that could steer them away from the heavier topics either could ask.
Fenris' lips turned into the closest thing to a smile she had ever seen on him. "Are you aware that magic has a feeling when it is cast?"
Mykale wondered if he realized that he had answered her question with a question. "For the caster I suppose we feel the tinge of magic. Is that what you mean?"
He shook his head. "Not quite. The lyrium in my markings provides me with a natural resistance to most if not all attack magic," Fenris began explaining, his deep brogue comforting in an odd way. "Those spells are full of determination, usually to hurt."
She had never heard magic be described this way.
"Healing magic along with augmentation and protective spells are different, they transcribe the," He seemed to search for the word. "Soul, the personality of the caster."
"You mean you feel what the caster feels when it hits you?" the idea astounded Mykale. If that was the case—her mind churned the possibilities.
"In Tevinter healing magic was as much a punishment as it was to mend the injured." Fenris couldn't keep the bitter tone from his voice. "When healing, the magisters care nothing for the person, the only reason they waste the energy is so that they will continue having able slaves to do their bidding."
Mykale shivered at the thought.
"Their healing spells burn, the magisters enjoy it. They want their slaves to feel every bit of pain possible while closing the wounds."
Mykale felt ill. Actually feeling the wound mend, the skin coming together, blood flowing again, she shuddered, a renewed desire to murder every magister she came across burning through her mind. "Maker," she breathed. "So when Anders and I cast healing magic on you, you must have thought—"
Fenris shifted, wincing when he moved his shoulder. "When that abomination," he sneered at the mention of Anders. "Casts healing spells, he is completely unaware of how they scream."
She frowned. "I don't understand."
"His magic is torn, Hawke. That thing that possesses him is unnatural and whether the mage senses it or not, his magic rebels. Every time he uses his power, it is forced along a path that the demon wants it rather than how it would be natural for him to cast." Fenris clenched his hands, glaring hotly at the wall as though it were the subject of his bitterness rather than the blond mage. "The magic tries to latch onto the lyrium in my marks to backlash, to repel the foreign force but it doesn't work that way. It causes the markings to burn as though they were fresh."
Blinking, Mykale tried to process the information. Her father had taught her everything she knew about magic. Most people described magic as a splash of water when it was not an attack spell—attacks usually were spoken of what they were and that they caused pain, she had never heard of anyone saying that magic felt. And yet when learning magic, her father told her to feel, to summon the strength to put aside her emotions and thoughts, and just feel the pulse of nature, bend her desire into reality.
When she was younger she had broken her arm and tried to practice with her non-dominate hand only to discover it felt wrong and either summoned nothing or exploded in her face. If that was how Anders magic was being contorted, how could he not notice?
Looking back at Fenris, grateful he gave her time to mull over his words. "And me? Does my magic hurt you like the Tevinters did?" She hoped he would answer her. He had already given her the answer she sought and this was technically another question on top of her previous.
Slowly, the elf shook his head. "I don't know what to make of your magic, Hawke." He admitted. "I've never felt anything like it before."
She tilted her head to the side, curious. The one time she had healed him magically was after a battle, she had done it unconsciously and panicked after the spell had been cast. He had looked at her with an alarmed expression causing her to spill apologies.
"Your magic is soft." Fenris was staring at her but seemingly seeing through her. "Like a gentle breeze,"
She quirked her brow at the imagery, unaware of the half smile that tugged on the corner of her lips.
"You don't want to hurt people and it shows. Your healing magic sooths like cold water on a burn." the deep vibrato of his voice washed over her.
Mykale felt tension she didn't know she was carrying release. The fear that she had hurt him, albeit unintentionally, had weighed on her.
"That day you healed me, I wasn't even sure what you had done." Hints of amusement reigned in his tone. "I only realized that you healed me after you started spewing those apologies."
A blush crept on her cheeks. "I didn't want you to go all angry warrior on me the way you did Anders." she muttered. "I prefer my heart inside my chest, thank you very much."
He let out a throaty chuckle causing a smile to spread across her face and a shiver of pleasure to run down her spine. His laugh was beautiful, rich, something she found herself longing to hear again. "How is it you became a mercenary, Hawke? You are a contradiction if I've ever met one." Fenris shook his head. "You're in the wrong line of work."
Mykale shrugged. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean."
"You can flatten a Qunari, you have defeated more than one," He narrowed his gaze at her. "You've taken on groups of thugs, mystical forces, and aided more than one stranger. You refuse money you've rightfully earned."
She bit her lip, knowing he was referring to her insistence that he keep his coin the first night they met. Mykale hated slavers and was happy to help kill them, no payment required. Apparently that concept still confused the elf.
"You're powerful, Hawke." He said pointedly. "And yet you do not seek power. You're intelligent but you let your heart rule your decisions. You have the guard-captain in your pocket and are well on your way to becoming a rich woman if the Deep Roads trip goes well, but you don't seem to care about any of that."
"I don't." she agreed.
"What do you care about? What do you want?"
She picked at a spot on her boot. His question sounded eerily similar to what he had asked her just after they left the mansion. She hadn't known how to answer him then and she didn't know now. "I care about my family." Mykale reiterated what she had said before. "My mother lost so much and I'm trying to make her happy, maybe give Carver the break into heroism he's always wanted." Looking up at him, she found herself lost in his eyes for a moment. "Freedom," she whispered the truth.
"For mages?" he was obviously trying to control the growl in his voice.
"Not that type of freedom," Mykale whispered, bringing her other leg back up to her chest. "Mages are dangerous, I've never denied that," She rested her chin on her knees. "Many mages turn to horrid things because they claim they have no other choice."
His gaze pierced her like pinpricks.
"It's mostly bullshit, I know. Blood magic has no excuse, it opens another gate for demons to torment you with." She licked her lips. "But I understand the desperation."
Fenris glowered but thankfully didn't argue.
"The Circle doesn't work like it should, Fenris." she started. "The Towers should be a place for mages to learn magic in safety, both from themselves and from others but that's not always the case." Mykale tried to explain in a way that wouldn't antagonize the elf.
Sighing, she picked at her bracer. "Templars, for whatever else they are, they are still just men. In a position of power and power can corrupt,"
Mykale met his gaze, her brown eyes trying to get him to actually listen for once rather than immediately condemn or judge. "For every Templar like Cullen who takes the heart of his job to action, there are a dozen who are in it because they crave the power. They want to punish us magic users and being a Templar gives them leave to do it."
"And your solution is to let mages run free? Let Tevinter rule again?"
She was actually surprised at how well he kept the animosity out of his voice. It might have been the first time she had ever heard him say the name Tevinter with looking as though a dragon crapped in his mouth. "No." Mykale said firmly. "I do believe that the Chantry is right; magic should never rule over man."
Fenris regarded her with surprise.
"But neither should magic users be taught to fear and hate their magic." she rebutted, wishing that she could make him see. "Mages are told again and again from birth that magic is a plague, a vile curse that makes people see children as evil. Children, innocents who have not yet learned who they are, are told that they are evil because of something they were born with, not unlike how elves are treated."
"Magic is far different than being born as an elf." Fenris ground out.
"Different yes, but the abuses are the same." Mykale contradicted. "Elves are hated because they are unlike humans. They are look down on because for a perverse reason humans think they're better. Normal people, humans, elves, dwarves, people without magic enact crimes just as vicious as mages but it is we who are told that the Maker hates. There is no hope for justice when you are a mage."
Fenris scoffed; disbelief on his face.
Looking at him, practically willing him to understand, Mykale found herself revealing more of her past. "My mother wanted to report the man who attacked me; to tell the authorities and have him arrested. She had was certain that if we just left my father out of it justice would be served." Mykale scowled. "The man turned out to be the son of a duke visiting from Denerim. It became my word against his." She clenched her hands tightly. "He didn't even deny what he had done."
The elf recoiled slightly, stunned that the monster from her past hadn't even tried to hide.
"The moment they heard I did magic, it was my fault." Mykale looked at Fenris intently. "I enticed him; I spelled him." She repeated a few of the accusations. "It was I, a child, who forced this man to rape me and he was the victim." Raking her hand through her auburn hair, she tried to focus on untangling some of the knots. "We barely got out before they shipped me off to the Circle."
Fenris turned away, trying to think over the information she had told him.
"In as much all men are not like the monster who stole my innocence, not all mages are the power-hungry fiends you paint them as. Many of them are simply desperate." Mykale tried to explain. "Templars have the same type of absolute power in the Circle as the Tevinters do to slaves. Not all abuse them," she continued quickly before he could object. "But even you admit, that power is enticing, intoxicating. Those men vow themselves to guard people they are told are evil. Mages have no one they can turn to for justice if a crime is committed against them, no one believes them. To the world, they deserve it because they have magic."
It was obvious that the comparison was bothering him.
"Mages are ripped from their homes and sent to a tower where they are rarely ever allowed outside again." Mykale shivered, remembering the first time she had seen the Circle Tower in Fereldan. Kirkwall, granted, was worse being a literal prison but Ferelden's seemed so isolated; at least Kirkwall mages had a courtyard they were allowed into that had passing merchants for socialization. "They are verbally abused with the concept that their magic is an affront to the Maker and because of it they are worse than criminals and must be watched. Some, if they step even the slightest toe out of line, are punished."
"You have seen what happens when those guarding mages become lax," Fenris challenged. "You have seen the damage the mages cause."
"The damage one mage causes." she corrected.
Fenris reared back at her volume.
"Why is it our society can judge one man on his actions without involving those around him but when it comes to mages we are all guilty for the sins of some?" She could almost see the thoughts racing through Fenris' mind. "Am I guilty for the abominations that we run into? Is it my fault that a group of mages give in to what we are told our entire lives, that we are evil? If it's not my fault, if I'm not guilty, why am I hated for what they did? Do I not have the right to be judged on my own actions? On my own merits?"
Mykale looked away, staring at the shadows on the collapsed doorway. "You asked me what manner of mage I am, what I want, what I seek," She closed her eyes. "I seek the freedom to be judged for who I am, not what I am."
Quiet permeated their small cave, neither breaking it, both lost in their own thoughts. Mykale had to feel some sort of relief that, despite the conversation turning to a subject that was uncomfortable for both of them, Fenris had not become vindictive. His tattoos still lit the cavern. Hours or minutes, time did not have much meaning, it came and went and she had begun repeating the recipes in her head when she heard a sound.
"Carver?" she was on her feet, stumbling towards the voice.
"Bloody hell, how do you get yourself into these messes?"
Her brother's question caused her to laugh. "Just lucky I guess," Mykale retorted. "How about you worry less about how I got here and more about how you're getting me out." She could picture the face he was making at that statement.
"Hawke?" another voice came through the stones.
"Merrill?" Mykale was surprised they had gone to get her. What could Merrill offer in way of help? The elven mage was rambling but she could only catch every other word. "I can't hear you, speak up?"
"Oh!" Merrill's squeak was loud and clear.
"Stand away from the stone, Hawke." Varric ordered, summarizing whatever Merrill had said. "Daisy is gonna blast them away."
"Are you sure that's wise? Wouldn't that cause the cavern to cave in on us?" Fenris' voice came from beside her causing her to jump. She hadn't even noticed him getting up.
"It's not really a blast," Merrill reasoned. "More of a repositioning."
Mykale frowned. "If you kill us, I'll come to haunt you!" she threatened.
Fenris looked at her bemused.
"That sounds interesting, please do. I'll set out tea for you—do ghosts like tea? I've never met a ghost before," Merrill's statement earned faint laughter.
"Just move away from the door, Hawke."
"Aveline? Did everyone come to rescue us?"
Anders' laugh broke through the stones. "You're just that special, Hawke. Trust us now, move away from the rocks."
Shrugging she stepped back. "Come on," The two of them retreated to the back corner of their cave. "OKAY!" she shouted.
A rumbling vibrated through the ground. Moaning followed by the sound of something shifting caused dirt and pebbles to fall from the ceiling. Fenris muttered a few words in Arcanum that she was more than certain were curse, automatically shielding her again with his body. A few moments later light spilled into the cave and the reverberating noise stopped. Peeking out, Mykale squinted.
Vines had shot out from the ground, forcing the stones up and holding them there like a net. Anders and Carver were ducking under the arch, looking up nervously and motioning for the two of them to move. Wordlessly, Fenris and Mykale ducked out, pausing only to grab his sword and her staff.
They had made it to the main cave where her entire group of friends was when there was a loud rattle followed by a thump. The arch had collapsed. Merrill turned red; mumbling something about thinking it would last longer.
"Are you injured?" Anders was at her side, giving her unneeded support.
Carver met her eyes. She gave him a smile, gently pushing Anders away. "I'm fine." she assured. Her eyes flickered to Fenris and then back at the group. "I can't believe you all came." she said mildly surprised.
Aveline came forward. "Anders needs to learn that storming the barracks is not an efficient way to remain anonymous."
Mykale looked wide-eyed at the mage who had the decency to look embarrassed.
"It took me ten minutes to get the whole story from him." the redheaded guard shook her head. "I thought the darkspawn were attacking with the way he raved."
"I did something productive," Isabela announced. All eyes turned to her. "What, I went to the Hanged Man."
"To tell Varric?" Fenris asked.
"To get drunk." she stated. "Scuffed up my best pair of boots when that damned rock fell on me." Isabela bemoaned.
Varric laughed. "I found her nursing a pint, when she told me what happened."
"All the dashing details of course," she wagged her eyebrows at Fenris. "How the broody warrior elf tackled our dear Hawke to the ground, not able to wait to have her beneath his taut sexy body."
Anders bristled but Varric interrupted the mage before he could say anything. "I went to get Daisy when I ran into Junior here. By the time I got Daisy, Aveline was at the Hanged Man interrogating Rivaini."
Following the chain of events was making her head spin.
"It was Merrill who came up with the plan," Aveline explained. "Someone wanted to blast through the rocks with magic." the guard-captain eyed Carver who shrugged. "Others wanted to dig you out rock by rock but it the idea of another collapse was too dangerous."
Merrill waved her hands. "Oh no, I got the idea from Isabela," the pirate winked at her. "She described lifting a bunch of boxes on her ship with a net and I thought the rocks would work the same way."
"You did well." Mykale encouraged, happy the elf hadn't used blood magic, only elven. Merrill beamed. "Thank you," she addressed everyone. Making a face she looked at Carver. "You didn't tell mother did you?"
Carver snorted. "No way I'm making an excuse if you didn't come home; I decided if you were going to be stuck here all night until we thought of a plan, I'll be out too. A least then she won't pester me with your location."
"Speaking of home," Aveline started forward. "We need to head back to Kirkwall if we want to make if by sunset." And with that she determinately marched out of the cave system, followed by the others.
"Are you sure you're all right?" Carver asked falling in step beside her.
Swallowing hard, Mykale looked up at him. "Well when the cave was sent into pitch black I didn't do so hot," she said softly. Her eyes fell on Fenris who was studiously walking without talking to anyone. "But I'm all right, I survived."
Carver gave her shoulder an affectionate squeeze. Smiling at him, she watched him get drawn into a debate happening between Varric and Isabela. Anders joined in a moment later leaving her walking toward the back by herself, the others content she was safe and now working off the adrenaline they had built when they thought she was in danger.
She was surprised at how they all worked together to try to rescue the two of them. True it was mostly Merrill who saved them and Aveline needn't have gotten involved but it touched her that the large group of misfits she had come across put aside their petty differences enough to care—Anders snapped loudly at Merrill—even if it was only for a little while.
Someone had fallen in step beside her. Her brow furrowed. She had thought after their conversation Fenris would avoid her for a while longer until going back to the 'I hate mages' mantra he had.
"You are different Hawke." His voice was low as to not catch the attention of the others.
Mykale looked at him.
"You fight for my freedom without want of recompense," Fenris looked at her, green eyes filled with some emotion she couldn't place. "I shall give you what you seek." If anything his voice dropped lower, sending a tingle down her spine.
Mykale blinked, stopping. She glanced at the group and then back at him. "Just like that?" Something stirred in her as she finally recognized the look.
It was respect.
"I can promise nothing more than to give you the same chance you have given me." Fenris said, his gaze intense. "The freedom to be judged not by what you are but who you are."
"Thank you, Fenris." She whispered softly.
Fenris gave a curt nod and then started walking again. Mykale stared after him, a light feeling covering her. Something fluttered in her gut, like butterflies swirling. For the first time since he had discovered she was a mage, he had not looked at her with veiled contempt. If he could look past his hate, Mykale reasoned as she began to catch up with the group, there was hope for the rest of the world.