It’s a blessed rarity when Hawke hasn’t thought to drag the entire entourage into the Hanged Man after a battle, even more rare when that same night doesn’t immediately turn into a knock-down, drag-out fight on either Hawke’s end, or said entourage.
Even more blessed, they both note, because a certain elf isn’t in attendance. Why Hawke keeps her around is a mystery to them both; she’s a liability who cannot be trusted. (And unknown to either of them are their own faults; freedom and justice both have their price, and pride is blinding.) It is something they undoubtedly both think about each other as well; the glares they exchange over that filthy bar say more than the words they’re not exchanging.
Fenris’ wine is too sour for his liking, and Anders is quite certain that this ale really is watered down piss, but they take drinks silently, in company they both claim to hate, glowering off into the distance. (It’s a wonder Hawke hasn’t mentioned it; even brooding would become a competition and then where would they be?)
It takes a full half-hour before either of them breaks the uneasy silence with a quiet posturing that sounds more like private muttering than anything approaching true conversation. “Blood mages, why is it always blood mages?”
Fenris glances over, waiting for the rest of that typical argument (the “they make us all look bad, we’re not all awful, but we all deserve complete freedom to prance about, waving our hands, and lighting every damned thing on fire because we feel like it”), but it never comes. He grunts in reply. Blood mages indeed.
“I fail to see what Hawke is trying to accomplish, dragging her along,” Anders adds with a scowl.
“Charity, most like,” Fenris answers simply. The anger lancing his voice is evident in the scoff that follows. The girl deserves no charity. She’s grown—enough to know the part of the world with which she’s familiar, enough to know better—and knows damned well what she’s doing. As far as he sees it, she’s a step away from joining the Tevinter. Their careless disregard for Elvhen culture aside, he hardly sees a difference.
He’s not nearly as angry as he is scared. Not that the abomination needs to know that, or would understand even if he said as much.
The order a second round of their respective godawful drinks together, both staring at their hands as they stumble over each other in their speech and for once neither feels the need to swing a fist or a stick at the other. If Nora notices the lack of animosity in the room, she says nothing.
“She’s the problem,” Anders says in tha matter-of-fact tone he undoubtedly picked up as a residual carryover of Justice’s lingering personality. “They all are.”
Here we go. “Yes, Mage, they are.”
“And they’re all like that in Tevinter?” Anders asks, and Fenris cannot decide if he’s being goaded.
“Enough of them to matter.”
Anders stops in-between drinks and swallows heavily despite not needing to. His eyes avert to the ground, something the abomination never lets himself do, and Fenris has to force himself to look away; this cannot be happening.
“Yes, well, it’s not as if you—what?”
The mage grimaces and looks away as a faint blush creeps over his face. “Nothing.”
Fenris coughs, and pretends he’s heard nothing. Even if what he’s just heard means everything. “Noted.”
Two silent rounds later, and they graduate to brushing knuckles and knees. And Anders stops looking away as he does it. And despite his hesitance, despite knowing that this is all wrong, that this man is only as good as the ability he carries in his blood, Fenris stops flinching away.
Twenty minutes later, it begins with a shared laugh over one of Hawke’s stupid stories, overhearing some drunkard on about a Qunari conspiracy and how Hawke must be bedding one of them to get on the Arishok’s good side—if the ox even has one—and Anders finally breaks in with a slightly-slurred: “You know, I’ve always wondered…”
“Wondered what?” Fenris is admittedly off guard, the oddly-easy conversation leading him to drop his immediate guard, the assumption that talking with Anders is a one-way-trip with a single destination.
“You wouldn’t want to hear it.”
Fenris sighs. “You’ve already started, mage, you may as well finish it.”
“What the markings look like.”
“You can see them.”
“Not all of them.”
They’re back to not speaking the next morning. But if they stand a little closer, exchange glances behind everyone’s backs…surely, that’s all coincidence?