questionablewit: (z Anders - kiss)
[personal profile] questionablewit
[[Backthreading nsfw romantic history post for [livejournal.com profile] birdhousesoul. Set not long after they hook up, before All That Remains]]



Hawke falls back on the bed, sweat sticking her hair to her forehead, skin flushed. It's the middle of the night, but the fire in the fireplace still burns enough to cast more light than shadows on her skin, and on the skin of the man next to her. "That was amazing." Still breathing hard, she smiles brilliantly at him, then decides that's not enough and rolls towards him for another kiss. She can't seem to stop kissing him now that she's finally able to. Not that she's tried hard to resist the urge for the past...week, maybe two weeks? It seems longer, and not long enough. "Andraste's flaming pyre, Anders, where'd you learn to do all this?"

Date: 2011-12-27 10:11 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Anders is not averse to being kissed. The past few days have put paid to the entire notion that Justice precludes an active sex life. No, love life, and that notion may have taken longer to dispel than the other, the idea that no mage should dare to fall in love.

He gives a good-natured groan. "Everyone knows where I learned to do all this. Isabela's already told you more than I ever knew she knew about my sordid history, I'd wager." Rolling onto his side to face Hawke, he yields to a less colorful temptation, allowing himself to tuck a stray wisp of hair behind her ear. How many times in the past three years has he longed to do that, something so simple? "I ought to ask the same question of you. You're far too good at, mm, a few things I could list, but I'm too much a gentleman to name them all. And I know you turned down Jethann, so I can't credit him for it."

Date: 2011-12-27 10:35 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"From books." Anders' skepticism is plain. "I've been reading Varric's serials too, you know. I can't recall one where the hero's girl learns how to avoid scraping sensitive areas with her teeth. Varric's women always know what they're doing, except for the ingenues, and even they take to it like ducks to water. Like Ser Quackers to a bath." He cards through the soft short hair at the base of her skull, runs light fingertips down the back of her neck. "Like you, really, which tells me you're no blushing ingenue, love, since real life doesn't work like Hard in Hightown. Confess, now, you've spent at least the past year in intensive training for some sexual triathlon where only the most beautiful rogues can compete."

Date: 2011-12-27 11:10 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
He thinks about it. "Fifteen maybe, depending on what counts. What achievement lifts a person from the ranks of ingenues, blushing or not? You start early, in the Circle, because there's nothing much else to do unless you really love books to a degree that's unhealthy. So, earlier than fifteen, for that, but does it really count if you're just sort of messing about with people just as inexperienced as you are? Making it all up as you go along? I wouldn't say I'd really even been properly kissed until ... oh, until Karl, and I'd done a lot more than kiss by then, just not properly."

It's still difficult to think of Karl, it will never not be difficult, and the banter loses its effervescence for a moment, Anders closing his eyes. Kissing Hawke's forehead, soft and chaste, nothing like the kissing that's been going on in this bed or the kissing Anders has just been recollecting. It would kill me to lose you. She promised he wouldn't lose her, and he's clinging to that promise.

He sighs. He lets the pain go. There's too much happiness washing over it, drowning it out, too much happiness even to allow room for guilt. "Now, you, I expect you reinvented kissing, not a false move or a single misstep. Graceful in everything," his hands move again, caressing her back, petting her the way he would pet a sleepy cat.

Date: 2011-12-28 01:30 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
He chuckles at that, quietly, and stops petting her, lifts a hand to her face. Runs his thumb across her lips. "Our first kiss was not even close to proper. I ought to be ashamed of myself, attacking you like some starving thing. I hope I've made up for it, somewhat, since."

Date: 2011-12-28 11:01 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
It is a difficult subject, and also Anders needs a moment to string together this request with its likely catalyst, to get why Hawke is asking him about Karl. He's a little blurry with exertion and the general intoxication of new relationship energy love. He could have gone on happily enumerating the third, fourth, and fifth times he ever kissed Hawke, and so forth, possibly with reenactments.

Right, he's just mentioned kissing Karl, and. That's why. "Er, that doesn't bother you, does it? That I've been with ...?" The line doesn't quite come out the way it might if Hawke were also a man. "Yes, he was. Important. Essential. I talk a lot of rubbish about Kinloch Hold — it's all true, mind, but it's not nearly as much fun as I like to make it sound, everyone kissing everyone. It's only a distraction, and a way to kill time, or curry favor. It's not enough. To have someone who cared for me made all the difference in the world." Cared for, not loved.

It isn't easy, no, but he will talk about it, with her, because he loves her, he's allowed himself to love her, and because Karl deserves to be remembered.

"He was a healer, like me. Far more patient than I've ever been." Even in the calmest, most focused act of healing, there's an anger that fuels Anders' work, a refusal to accept damage and disease as inevitable, a rage against mortality and the depredations of violence. It makes him burn the brighter, goads a faster flow of mana; it's useful and wasteful at once. Karl never had that problem. "And generous, and kind, and a true friend even when I didn't deserve one, which ... was most of the time. He was just able to accept so much, all the indignities Circle life could throw his way, and he'd rise above it as though it weren't even happening. We found ways to make it bearable. For me, it was just pretending, though, a temporary respite from the truth of what the Circle was. For him, it really was bearable. He tried to help me with that. Didn't work, but bless him for trying."

Date: 2011-12-28 03:04 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Another woman, hm?" He's a little surprised; not too surprised, as it's not uncommon in Thedas and certainly nothing remarkable within a Circle, the issue is more that he's never seen any inclination of Hawke's in that direction. Flirting with Isabela doesn't count, since flirting with Isabela is basically an exercise in sport and wordplay, as much for the spectators as for Isabela's partner. Belatedly, it occurs to Anders that he's never seen such inclination because that would require his being present to see it, and that with him there, Hawke's inclination toward him would take precedence. He still can't really believe that he wasn't the only one of them who spent three years aching for the other, but he's accepted it on an abstract level, at least, as fact, because otherwise he'd be calling her a liar, and that's the last thing he'd ever think of her. Humorous exaggeration, maybe; lies, never.

"Tell me it was Isabela, and I'm afraid I'll need to have words with her, just to be on the safe side. I've waited years for this and it's my turn now; I'm not inclined to share." He pulls her closer with the arm that isn't tucked under the huge down pillow he'll never think of as his. "You're warm," he notes, appreciatively. "Why are we on top of the covers, instead of under them, again?" Changing that would require some wriggling about and some rearrangement, and he's quite comfortable where he is, thanks. He'll just have to cozy up for more warmth. A terrible fate.

"You can ask, but only because you're you. I told Bethany a very, very little, when you all were still living with Gamlen, when it seemed she might be considering turning herself in to the Circle. I wanted her to understand what she'd be losing. I think that to some Blight refugees, the Circle wouldn't sound all bad, compared to what they'd been through getting here. You're sheltered, you're clothed, you're fed, there are Templars around who could fight off any darkspawn or, I don't know, bogeymen. Never mind that the selfsame Templars will happily throw you at demons," and there's a little snarl in Anders' voice now, and he forces it back, instructs himself to behave. Karl shouldn't be remembered this way, he should be remembered for himself, for the good things about him, not for the fact he lived his life under constant Templar oppression.

Bethany, that's where he left off. Yes. "The pressures were obvious even to me, very much on the outside of things, and I thought that if I didn't say anything, Bethany might turn herself in just to give you one less mouth to feed, with Gamlen pressuring your mother about money, and the two of you fresh out of bloody indentured servitude, and I had to be very clear with her what she'd stand to lose if she did this. I didn't talk much about Karl. A little more about Senior Enchanter Wynne, and what everyone knew, that she'd had a son who was taken away. All children born to Circle mages are taken away in infancy, you know. Other people I knew, things that had happened to them, Templars taking a fancy to them — I didn't go into very much detail, even so. I had ways of getting around those kinds of problems, for myself, and I told her what they were, too." That advice essentially amounted to You can't rape the willing. And a little bit of Do you really want to become me? Because it's not as much fun as I let on. Bethany was innocent, and sweet, and she might have a farmgirl's earthy sense of humor at times but she wasn't cut out for Circle politics. Anders is not sorry she became a Grey Warden, if the choice was between that and eventual Circle confinement.

None of this answers the question Hawke actually asked. "You want to know how ... things happened. Between me and Karl. I take it you're not asking about the mechanics of the act. Is it that you want to know about the specific occasion? Or how it all began? Or how it is that a dissolute rake like me would seek out some serious graybeard? I'll tell you right now, that was premature gray you saw, and it wasn't gray back then to begin with."

Date: 2011-12-28 03:53 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Anders laughs. "I won't deny I did some chasing. Not of Karl, though. He was a captive audience, you see: my tutor. If you're thinking I cribbed this out of Varric's stories, I promise I'm not. It all seemed very logical to me, only it took some time to construct an argument he would entertain. The sweetest man you could ever hope to meet, but give him a pot of red ink and a report to use it on, and he was an absolute terror."

A pause. He traces the line of Hawke's shoulder, his finger an imaginary pen, her skin the parchment. Idly he draws little glyphs on her shoulder blade. "He knew that it wouldn't be doing me any favors to go easy when the stakes were low. Even when he was being stern, he was really being kind. And I'd seen so little of that, in anyone, for ages," Anders admits, and there is not a lump forming in his throat, and he does not have to swallow hard. "I knew one way to show my gratitude. This will sound dreadful, but I was horrified when he was horrified. I assumed it was the done thing, you see. Everyone talks about their favorite and least favorite of the apprentices and enchanters; everyone claims they've gotten by with something perhaps they really haven't, or that they've earned some special grace, so they can feel special, for a while. And I knew the way he looked at me, and I thought I knew what that meant. Imagine my consternation when Karl Thekla very gently picked my hand up off his knee and deposited it upon the desk. The maneuvering I had to do even to be sitting on his side of the desk, to make that move ..."

Is she going to laugh? Anders has to laugh at his younger self, a little. "Well, then he'd just made it a challenge. I could have let it go, before that. Not after."

Date: 2011-12-28 05:14 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"A man of principle, indeed. He kept on resisting up until he wasn't my tutor anymore. Can you have any idea how long that took?" Anders is amused despite himself, remembering. It's Hawke who does this for him, lets him see what's good amid so much that could be painful. "It wasn't as though I could tally the days on a chart, or count down how many left, because he didn't tell me he'd be all right with it when he wasn't my tutor anymore. He should have done; I'd have worked even harder. I've always been gifted," he says this as a fact rather than a boast, "and I had two strengths, healing and elemental magic. My natural inclination might even have been more strongly toward the latter." Burning down the barn, that was an accident, best not to allow that memory in to taint the rest. Fire and lightning and ice, the sheer delight of releasing those forces, letting everything burn, sizzle, crack ... "It was Karl's work that made a healer out of me. I was very good at it, and he was a good tutor, so soon enough I was advancing to the higher levels. I may have been holding back a little bit, not wanting to let those lessons go, but I couldn't do that for too long. He'd be terribly disappointed in both of us if I didn't perform well."

Anders has disappointed Karl too many times, for too many reasons, for there to be anything much funny in that, the double entendre notwithstanding.

"So eventually we were working together. He wasn't that much older, little more than a handful of years; the way you saw him, the Gallows had changed him, aged him beyond his time. They had no right —" Anders' hand clenches into a fist behind Hawke's back. He's silent for a moment.

He doesn't know whether he can finish this story without ruining something, casting some shadow across the evening that can't be dispelled. It's the middle of the night, he's not inclined to pull on his pants and head back to Darktown, and if he tried, Hawke would probably point out very sensibly that this is the hour for roving gangs with silly names to be waylaying solitary travelers. Anders forces his hand flat, lets it rest in the curve where Hawke's back dips in and yields to the outward swell of her (amazing, incredible) hip. Soaks in the warmth of her skin.

"Anyhow. There was one time, we were making some salves that turned out to be rather convenient, and I asked Karl, is it strange for you, to be working beside me when I used to study under you? And he said, I wouldn't call it strange, it's how the Circle works; you'll be teaching soon enough yourself, and then your students get older. I hadn't gotten that much older, mind. He was deflecting, and I wasn't about to let him get away with that. I took his wrist, and I said, You've done me a disservice. You haven't taught me everything you could. The look on his face, I don't think I'll ever forget it — as though I'd burned him." The barn burning, but it was an accident, an accident, no one was supposed to get hurt.

No one was ever supposed to get hurt.

"I'd really gotten to him. No more evasion. He said it straight out, more honest than anyone in the Circle had ever been. I can't love you, he said. It costs too much. I should have taught you that." Perhaps it does sound too much like Varric's stories. The Circle mages do a lot of reading. Karl might have planned out what to say in this eventuality, Anders has no idea. All he knows is that it happened, in this way, and no other. "Well, what was I going to say to that? I was never as kind as Karl, otherwise I'd have let him go. I said to him, Who said anything about love? And then I kissed him, very smug, probably smirking, I was so damned proud of myself. For about thirty seconds. Then I was the one being kissed, and I couldn't be smug in the slightest."

Date: 2011-12-28 06:45 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
That parallel has not escaped Anders, either, and he chuckles. "Turned the tables on me, to start with. Then I was on the table; hard to say whose victory that was. Neither of us, I think, after all was said and done. We couldn't afford to develop any obvious attachment, and we couldn't hide anything for very long, so the best expedient was for me to continue what I was already inclined to do." Chasing people, being chased, typical Circle games. "That made him only one of many, safer for him and for me, though he never asked it of me and I never spelled it out to make him hear. I think he knew anyhow, or else he didn't want to let himself care enough to object.

"The only time he ever said a word, I'd gotten involved with this apprentice transferred in from Orlais, she'd been a troublemaker where she was, fairly strong Resolutionist sympathies. Karl and I didn't see eye to eye, politically, and I thought that was the problem, or else that he didn't like my being with a woman, someone he couldn't match or best." They had a tacit understanding: No matter how many lovers I take, you're the one I want most, better than anyone else. Not love. Preferential treatment. "That was the one time he had to speak up. As pretty as you are, he said, you ought to know it isn't you she wants. I thought that was comical, really, coming from Karl; he had less interest in the Circle's romantic intrigues than anyone else I knew." Which was part of why Anders had to be the one to play the field, to confuse the trail.

Anders clears his throat. "This is something I did tell Bethany. Resolutionists, you know, want mages to be free of the Circle completely. They're the main faction supporting the mage underground. And one of the principles they have is, the more mages there are, the harder it will be to ignore their plight or suppress them. The more mage children are born, the more power we'll have to fight for what should be ours. I can't say Karl was right in what he thought or feared, but he could have been. In essence, he decided what she wanted was to ... carry my talents over to the next generation. Posterity, and all that, in a literal sense. It's ridiculous this should ever have come up, but it's the one time he ever asked me to stop seeing someone else. I did cool things off a bit with her, to keep him from worrying too much — he was a world-class champion at worrying. But I got to know other Resolutionists through her, and I wasn't in the Tower for much longer after that. Not as a permanent resident. Being in the cells doesn't count."

Date: 2011-12-28 07:40 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"He considered the Circle the lesser of many evils. He'd been surrendered so young, it was the only life he knew; looking back, I can't blame him for failure to understand why I couldn't be content with that life. At the time I was ... not as sympathetic. There were harsh words. He may have felt I was using our apothecary and herbalist work to cover for other activities, though he didn't accuse me outright and I couldn't have denied it if he had. What disappointed him the most, I think, was that I never quite managed to stay gone once I'd left again. Some of the letters he wrote me from Kirkwall, later on, I got the impression that he thought I was being recaptured deliberately, to put me back inside the Circle walls so I could do more damage. He never asked at the time, I suppose because he didn't want to know. That way, he couldn't tell anyone anything that would hurt me."

Anders kisses Hawke's forehead, again. The same place where the Tranquil brand would go, he thinks, despite himself, and shudders. Part of the justification for allowing himself to be with her, to love her, to let her love him: she's not a mage, she will never be subjected to that.

"When they put me in solitary confinement, that was the end for Karl and I. It saved us from all kinds of unpleasant discussions we'd otherwise have needed to inflict on one another, I suspect. I hated being alone, thought it was the cruellest sentence they could have imposed, and Karl thought they were doing me a favor, going lightly on me. They don't want to make an example of you, you idiot. They just want you to stop giving people stupid ideas. That's what he claimed to believe, anyhow, the one chance we did get to talk before they locked me up for a year. It wasn't as bad as you might think, hardly the stuff of martyrdom — there was Mr. Wiggums the cat on that floor, and I wasn't being starved, and I had books, and I knew half the guards already so there were chats every now and then, sometimes shouting matches if it was a guard I didn't like. But it was like torture to me, all the same. If it took becoming a Grey Warden to keep from ever going through that again, by the Maker a Grey Warden was what I'd be. I didn't plan on becoming a Grey Warden, of course. But I don't regret it. Or the same, for Bethany," he tells Hawke firmly. He knows there's hard feelings there, will always wonder whether Bethany blames him for the hardships of her new life, too.
Edited Date: 2011-12-28 07:43 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-12-28 08:18 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
And now perhaps she sees why, when she joked she'd lock him up to keep the Templars off him, he didn't take the opportunity to flirt.

He lets her kiss him, unsure why that is her response to hearing all of what she's just heard, most of which hasn't cast Anders in a very good light. He likes being kissed, so he's not going to object. His arm is trapped under the pillow and he'd like to return her embrace, so he rolls them both a quarter-turn, pulling her atop him, careless of the weight, and twines his arms about her waist. She did reinvent kissing, he thinks, after all, whether she'll admit it or not. It's certainly different to kiss Hawke than to kiss anyone else.

So, of course, he has to tell her that, which means he has to break off kissing her. "You did some kind of arcane research in Lothering, I'm sure of it, just to develop unique kissing abilities. An elven courtesan sprang out of concealment in a haystack and taught you everything she knew. That's got to be it."

Date: 2011-12-28 09:08 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"I can't quite quantify it yet. I haven't kissed you enough to capture all the little details. All I can say is that I've done more than my fair share of kissing, and nothing comes close to what you do." He stops short of saying anything about enchantment, because no reminder of Sandal should ever be spoken in this bed. "Out with it, now, I've unburdened myself of practically my entire life story. The least you can do is regale me with tales of pastoral amours. And you kissing women, pastoral or not." He can hate the idea and really like it, all at once.
Edited Date: 2011-12-28 09:09 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-12-28 11:39 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Ah. I know your weakness. You like a man who's kind to animals." He finds it more difficult to imagine a young Marian than she might think, and it's mostly that he has a hard time filling in the setting around her. He's seen the landscapes and the rural accoutrements, he knows Ferelden backwater towns and fields, but the life itself eludes him. Forever getting into trouble, and forever curious about things. Just rambling about, as a child, with no supervision, no one to reel her in if she seemed likely to veer outside their control. No one to give chase if she ran ... and why would she run? She had a home. She had people she loved.

"I'm picturing the farm boy. He's nowhere near as dashing as I am."

Date: 2011-12-29 12:42 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"The Circle," he confirms, "most likely, would have given your father a very good education indeed." Another reason it's hard to convince some refugees that Circle life isn't paradise. Free food, shelter, a career set for life, an education; all in all, more than they can expect to scrounge for themselves in Darktown, or the Old City slums. "Better than some nobility might be able to acquire, depending." It's a parenthetical comment, absolutely irrelevant to Lonny the farmboy and his hayloft idyll, and Anders reminds himself they are not having a conversation about Malcolm Hawke, they are having a conversation about things Malcolm Hawke hopefully never knew. "So all this in the hayloft, this was more a collaborative learning endeavor. Whose idea was it, I wonder?"
Edited Date: 2011-12-29 05:49 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-12-29 08:58 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Other things to do. He knows the story. He does not say a word about Carver. He spares her, too, condolences on the Blight sickness that took her father. It's not the time to speak of death, Karl's or her father's or anyone's, except as a passing fact, the milestone that marks a shift, the stone in the river that diverts its course. He holds her closer as she notes these moments, though, for comfort, and wishes he could have done when these were happening. Someone should have been there. She shouldn't have been the one to shoulder the responsibility of a whole family, that young.

If she hadn't, though, she wouldn't be his Hawke today, and that's unthinkable. "Thus you progressed onward, to greater heights," he suggests, "beyond the home fields and into the wide world, where I'm certain you made many acquaintances and broke many hearts. Not your fault, of course, the heartbreaking, just an inevitable consequence of being this beautiful and there only being one of you, not nearly enough to go around."

Date: 2011-12-29 07:51 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Now that Anders hears the details, the mental image is considerably less exciting than he would have expected. "Like a naughty sort of obstacle course," he muses. "In the mud. In Ferelden." He's well acquainted with Fereldan mud. It holds no sensual appeal. "You're only confirming my deepest suspicions about female rogues, you do realize. Intensive training in the erotic arts, with the end goal to sweep all categories in the triathlon of lockpicking, trap-springing, and the Orlesian kiss."

Date: 2011-12-30 07:40 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"I'm afraid the last thing I think of after finishing off a sortie is grappling against trees," says Anders, bemused. "There's usually lots of other people's blood, which is not sexy, or darkspawn blood, which is even less sexy. Aside from any bleeding your allies are doing, of course, but that's the healer's problem, I suppose." He tries to imagine being a rogue, a female rogue (that is important; it might be different for women, and this story is about women), who does not have to worry about healing anyone, and who may be inspired to fierce arousal by a light rain of darkspawn blood. The closest he can imagine is Sigrun, but he thinks Sigrun would laugh at the idea. Sigrun would point out that trees have scratchy bark.

Sigrun might not find all the blood excessively offputting, though. She was always very practical.

Why is he thinking about Sigrun, again? And why is he imagining Velanna trying to convince her that trees are sexy? Crazy Dalish woman. Velanna would be into trees.

Focus, Anders. "Well, anyhow, her lessons must have stood you in good stead, where all the lockpicking and rogue things are concerned. You're brilliant at it." Compliment the lady! Do not breathe a word about dwarf-on-elf-on-tree action!

Date: 2011-12-31 07:45 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Ostagar, he knows, and will not ask about. He opts to make her laugh instead. "Casual friends passing time," he repeats, mock-skeptical. "With half the Coterie panting after you, and the entire staff of the Blooming Rose, I'm sure. A paragon of chastity, yes, because you knew you were going to meet me in a few months' time, and no woman can resist the prospect of a possessed Grey Warden who really knows his way around the Deep Roads." He makes Deep Roads an innuendo. He also pinches her bottom as he says it.

Date: 2012-01-01 06:23 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"I didn't say the entire city," protests Anders, who is perhaps unwittingly giving her a reason to smirk, as those suggestive movements have their inevitable effect. "I only implied most of the city. Far be it from me to spoil the end of any story, especially one so sweetly told. Hereafter I shall listen most intently. What about this terrible, yearning, unrequited crush, and leading me on with tales, and ... the rest of that part?" She's taking unfair advantage, really, dulling his wit with her charms, what is that, some kind of rogue thing? What name does that technique get, and how many trees got their bark all abraded in the teaching of it?

Date: 2012-01-01 06:26 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Mm. This is a fascinating story. I was almost positive this was going to be about Varric Tethras, only you haven't mentioned any luxuriant chest hair yet, so I'm still being kept in suspense. Tell me more about this horrible person, because if he isn't Varric, he isn't already married to a jealous crossbow, and therefore his actions in this story have no justification whatsoever. Also, why did you become so deeply enamoured of a complete idiot, and how did your many admirers fail to distract you from this silliness, and where was Isabela during all this that she didn't contrive something outrageous to throw you into one another's arms. This is the most improbable part of your entire history thus far, Hawke. I think you're making it all up to tease me."

Date: 2012-01-03 09:10 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
He nips at her finger. He tries an opportunistic little shift and arch, capitalizing on that inviting position she's adopted, only to be foiled by a maneuver at once evasive and tantalizing. She did not learn this up against some Fereldan tree, surely. No?

They've been sleeping together less than a fortnight and already Anders wonders whether Hawke plans to repay him in kind for the preceding years of frustration. He could swear she delights in teasing him to the point he can't do anything but pounce. Perhaps that first kiss set a pattern — or a bad example — or a good example — whatever the case, her games haven't palled, and he enjoys playing along.

"What an absolute trial it must have been. You, lying awake, saddled with such an active imagination. All alone, left to your own devices. Your own ... inventive ... devices." She's not making this easy on him. "I can pity your poor chimera, who probably spent most of those nights suffering the effects of your wiles. I met a woman like you once, a few years back, and she was an unholy terror. I lived in mortal fear of her, I swear it. Never knew when she might materialize from the shadows to demand aid with some dodgy mission or other, perhaps to help find someone's lost hat or to recover some illegal shipment that a thief stole from a smuggler. You'd think I might have learned to tell her no, and perhaps I might have, too, except for one thing. She always walked at the head of the party. And that meant I got to walk behind her. Wherever we went, the view was always stunning."

Date: 2012-01-05 07:37 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Details should rule out the Warden-Commander, sooner or later. “For one thing, she was bloody hard to avoid. Anything halfway interesting or downright dangerous within miles of the city, somehow she found her way into it, or someone dragged her into it. I think she had a problem saying no. When we met she’d already begun to acquire a certain reputation: eye for the main chance, discreet and unafraid to get her hands dirty, would do most anything for the right price and would make sure it got done well. Hungry, too, and young, a Fereldan immigrant living in the Old City slums. In other words, good value at reasonable cost, if you were looking to hire that sort of person, and people always are. I remember very few times she ever turned down work, and she wasn’t haggling for higher pay when she did, either. She had principles. That’s a secret, by the way, the part about having principles. She was smart enough to keep them to herself.”

Anders warms to this conceit, telling Hawke the story of herself as though she were someone else. Let her see herself as he sees her, mirrored in his eyes. “I wasn’t doing the best job lying low, around the time she started looking for maps into the Deep Roads. Only thing keeping the Templars off me was Fereldan refugee solidarity, some self-interest in that for them since if I got hauled off to the Gallows they’d have had to start paying doctors when they got sick. That didn’t help me much where this woman was concerned since she had the same Fereldan connections. Once she knew I existed, I might as well have replaced the lantern in my window with a white flag. Too blighted easy to find, and easier to persuade. Just as I am now, I’ve always been. Too easy, in general.”

He grins at her, and kisses her on the nose, and from nose to lips isn’t such a leap so he kisses her there too, and then he wants to make that a proper kiss so he gets distracted for a moment or two or ten. “Mm. I talk too much. I should stop talking. Make a long story short, she found me, she made a deal with me, she got the maps she wanted. That’s all I thought she wanted, really. Then she kept coming back, a healer’s a useful thing to have following you about, and she’d keep me supplied with useful things by way of incentive. Lyrium potions, for one. I went through those like crazy, drank them down like water sometimes, there was so much to be done. Expensive stuff, and me without a reliable source of income, which she had and was. Then there was her sister, a mage, and I spent more time hanging about to talk with the mage, really, which brought us into contact more often as well. So there were several reasons why I put up with the constant aggravation, as you so rightly term it, besides the pretty backside view.” Said backside is currently being groped. Anders has no shame.

“In fact I tried to ignore that view, after a while. It became a deterrent rather than an enticement, as pretty as it was. The woman was the most incorrigible flirt, and ordinarily I might have liked that — I did, at first — but I couldn’t stand it for long, not from her. She’d flirt with anyone and anything, and as you know I’ve never been in the running for Kirkwall’s most eligible bachelor, what with the contest lacking a special category for impoverished apostates with Fade spirits in their heads, so obviously she couldn’t have meant any of it seriously when she’d flirt with me. She would say the most ridiculous things, Hawke, I can’t repeat them because they stretch credulity."

Date: 2012-01-06 07:40 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"I put up with it because I hated the idea of anything happening to her," says Anders, simply. Though he loves making Hawke giggle — he thinks she's done far too little of it, these past years, and wants to give her more — the shameless groping gives way to a gentler stroking, up and down her spine, from sacral curve to cervical vertebrae and back again. "If I were there with her, I wouldn't worry so much. I did try to warn her not to flirt with me, as no good could come of it; but then, if she wasn't flirting with me, she'd be flirting with someone else, and that was worse, for some reason I couldn't quite name. I took comfort in the differences I could notice — what she aimed at me felt a little different than the charm she turned on others. Quirkier, I suppose. When she found out about Justice, she commented something to the effect that he'd chosen a nice body. Who says that about a possible abomination? Whether or not she meant it is almost immaterial, for the purposes of gauging relative credulity against the finer examples of dialogue in Varric's oeuvre."

1/2

Date: 2012-01-06 09:16 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
He can't say She didn't know I was suffering, I was hiding it too well, or some such thing, though it would work best for narrative purposes. The way he tells the story, he's following the pattern she invented for this game: It started slowly enough, mild interest combined with sympathy and admiration, Hawke said, and he supposes that was the truth for her, and she's the character he has been describing up to now. But he can't rewrite their history to make the deepening of his feelings match the trajectory of hers, so he has to be more honest now, even if he keeps pretending he's telling a story about someone who isn't her. Hawke was there; Hawke will remember what he was like from the very beginning. More serious than he had any right to be, more serious than he really knew how to be, Anders' habit of flirtation colliding with Justice's inclination to undertake nothing lightly.

He remembers the conversation so well because he repeated it in his head, night after night, wincing at his own presumption and the unattractive neediness made naked in everything he'd said to her that time, practically at the outset of their acquaintance. Setting the tone for everything that followed, blight it all.

He started out well enough, the promising start Anders would have made before Justice. Kind, wise, and beautiful ... you must have made a deal with some demons yourself, but then rethinking, stopping himself, I'm sorry, I shouldn't presume, I just — we've hardly met and I feel like I know you. Am I making you uncomfortable?

And Hawke, lightly: Keep telling me I'm beautiful. You can't go wrong with that.

Oh, I'm sure I can get more creative — but stopping himself again, turning serious again, no, I shouldn't do this. I don't want to hurt you.

Again, her light reply: Hurt me? I might like it. Reciting it in his head afterward, Anders was certain she was trying to keep him from embarrassing himself further, trying to re-establish a playful and altogether risk-free tone.

Which Anders was too stupid, too singleminded, to pick up on. Concerned about hurting her, breaking her heart, as if there were anything on the table beyond some sociable banter. Presumptuous, this, embarrassingly so.

That didn't develop over three years of aching. That was at the beginning. It can't be reimagined or reconstructed to make Anders better at hiding his feelings, or to underplay the feelings he hadn't hidden. He knew from the outset that if he let himself get involved with this woman at all, he'd be involved to the fullest extent possible, whatever she thought she was getting into. He no longer knew how to go about it any other way. As long as the words were just words, she'd be safe, so words were all there could be between them, and the shallower, the better.

Perhaps that sometimes created the impression he wouldn't be averse to something more than words, provided it stayed as shallow as the little verbal skirmishes he did permit himself. He might have been the worst tease in the Free Marches. That was still better than the end he saw for them if she responded to the advances he wanted to make.

Which he's made, now, consigning them both to ruin. But he has such faith in her, he's certain if anyone can prevent him from destroying everything, that person would be Hawke. He wants to believe they can make this work. He does believe it.
Edited Date: 2012-01-07 02:46 pm (UTC)

2/2

Date: 2012-01-06 09:17 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"My own fault," he says. "I told her not to tempt me unless she was ready for the consequences. That's as good as issuing a gilt-edged invitation. I wouldn't use the word unkind for her. Merciless, perhaps. That might suit. I did put a lot of effort into behaving above reproach, and refusing to respond, and all, so it's possible she lost the scent after a while, good tracker though she is. I can't really be sure. There were times I couldn't help suspecting she had every intention of making me suffer. With Isabela's assistance, damn that woman. A lengthy session of practicing how to sheathe a dagger, in front of everyone, really? Not that she needed Rivaini help to make me sweat."

He decides to requite her kiss with another of the same temper. Anders revels in it every bit as much as Hawke does. The fact he was the one preventing it from happening for so long doesn't make their new arrangement any less satisfying to him, or any less a relief.

"Not that she needed to try at all, in fact. I'm not sure she could have been aware, sometimes, of what she did to me, or even whether I was watching. This one I'm not proud of — on the Wounded Coast, with our warrior friend off glowering and our Dalish friend off gathering things, and I was supposed to be gathering things too, useful stuff, looking for a certain kind of flower. I swear it was by accident I came upon her washing off spider blood in a convenient spring. However, it was not by accident that I somehow failed to make my presence known, or to leave. And certainly not by accident that I ... hid behind a rock."
Edited Date: 2012-01-07 01:20 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-08 12:18 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
She did know, then. The smile's what gives it away for certain, though Anders had his suspicions at the time. The complete disrobing was what made him wonder — the shirt, he understood, but the rest of it, he thought less likely under the circumstances — and he had no will to question that, because he couldn't have kept watching if he'd questioned, and he could afford to entertain no suspicion strong enough to tear his eyes from Hawke or flush him from concealment. Justice hadn't cared, surprisingly; it was all part and parcel of the ongoing distraction that offended the spirit's sense of priorities, not troubling in any other aspect; all the guilt attached to this particular indulgence belonged to Anders. Likewise, all the reluctance to relieve the consequent tension in his trousers belonged to Anders. Justice has neither interest nor distaste for bodily functions beyond the inconvenience they can pose.

"The view? Not clear enough to suit me, more than clear enough to keep me transfixed. I couldn't turn away if I'd wanted. I had to savor every moment, every inch of skin revealed, even knowing what this would do to me, the dreams I'd have, worse than before." The amount of laundry the dreams would occasion. "It was over far too quickly for my liking, and when she'd gone, I couldn't rejoin the group, not in that state. There was a tent, not far away ..."

Another of the little camps that raiders and apostates had a habit of leaving in place, what with sudden death preventing them from breaking camp, whether that death came from mercenaries or rival raider troops or Hawke's friends themselves. Merrill found it, that day, and it demanded a cursory looting although everyone knew it'd probably been well picked-over. The most they found were a couple of coppers, and they not too proud to pick those up, Deep Roads wealth notwithstanding. Those, and some of the typical assortment of torn trousers and the like. A silk headscarf torn beyond darning, not the right stuff to be sold for rags. These weren't worth taking, the pack growing full with richer pickings found earlier.

"What could I do? Took refuge there and, ah, took matters in hand." His hand has better tasks now, creeping round the back of her thigh and to the softer flesh inside. His voice is low, conspiratorial. "I came so hard I thought I might pass out. That would've been difficult to explain."

(With his luck he'd have hit his skull on the way down. The others would've come looking for him and found him in what could be euphemistically termed a compromising position, breeches open, a conspicuous wad of old silk fallen nearby.)
Edited Date: 2012-01-08 05:21 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-08 05:44 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Something about dreams," he repeats, mock-incredulous, still low and with the hint of a chuckle in it. "If you had any idea, you wouldn't ask. Wouldn't want to know any more than what I've already let slip, thoughtless of me to say even that much." They are pretending he's talking about some other woman, or aren't they? "Since you have asked, and so nicely ..."

It's convenient to have her lying atop him this way. He has so much scope for movement. His other hand makes an unhurried pass up her side, brushing the curve of her breast there before glancing off and over to her shoulder, the side of her throat, the line of her jaw, the kiss-stung swell of her lower lip.

"You know how dreams are," Anders confides. "Anything you've seen or felt or read in waking life is fair game, can come swimming up to haunt you. This woman I've been telling you about ... I worked with her very closely. Saw her every week, sometimes every day, for years, in a variety of circumstances and outfits and moods. And as we've discussed, I am no blushing ingenue. Awake, I knew I couldn't touch her. Asleep, all that reasoned certainty was gone. Everything I'd ever done with a woman, every moment that had ever snagged and caught in my memory, those belonged to her in my dreams, and she belonged to me. Her hands, her mouth, her arse, her breasts pressed together ..."

His fingers have been tracing lazy patterns at the verge of her inner thigh, but now without warning they wander in and up, the lightest ghost of a touch tracing the cleft there, not even granting enough pressure to part. "What I wanted most ..." If her breathing is labored, his is held a moment when he touches her there. He's teasing himself as much as he's teasing her. "Every way I'd ever taken a woman, I took her, in those blighted dreams. However maddening she was in life, in dreams she was most sweetly yielding, would do anything, would ask for more. I'd wake up throbbing or a mess."

He holds her face, cups her cheek, refuses to let himself take the kiss he wants, not just yet. "And that," he whispers, "was before I'd actually seen all of her. Imagine the torture after."

Date: 2012-01-08 09:16 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
No, it's not her imagination. Anders is stroking her, just barely, as she speaks, challenging her to withstand it or to demand more, curious to find how long she can keep talking. On that last word, a practised thumb swipes lightly over her pearl, then bears down a little harder, giving a good rub that's only repeated once.

"Ah, but there's a difference. I was dreaming, you were awake. You could control your fantasies. Even when you imagined him directing it all ..." Now he does part her, against his better judgement, because he wants to feel her, wants her to know he's sure of the effect he's having on her. His fingers slide along slick folds, declining to seek entry. "... really, you held the reins, didn't you? In those scenarios you envisioned, he'd do anything you wanted. However improbable. Though what could be so improbable? Who wouldn't do anything for you?"

Date: 2012-01-08 09:54 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Impossible things, impossible places, and for all that, this bed, Hawke's bed, is the most impossible of all. How did Anders get here, exactly? The weight of years against mere days of love, the force of habit still very much on the side of restraint and self-denial, it's hard to believe he's actually here, with her. I'm still terrified I'll wake up, Anders told her, the morning after their first night together, and he wonders if that fear will ever quite dissipate.

He can't contest the voyeuristic stream-bathing, as indelicate as her summation is. "There are better things to use than fingers," he points out, while using his fingers, teasing her open, darting shallowly in. "You're a clever girl, surely you found some out."

Date: 2012-01-08 10:20 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Could still be useful," Anders murmurs, against her mouth, and finally gives in to the temptation to bite, a gentle nip, careful. "I'd like to see the collection, some time." He lets her have this much, the roll of her hips driving his fingers deeper, and she'd better believe he has never been as carefully manicured in years as he has this week. He never wants to hurt her, not even a little, never wants anything to interrupt their pleasure. And he's giving up the pretense, now, that they're talking about other people, so if she's keeping track, she's won: "There's nothing I don't want to do to you. Repeatedly."

Date: 2012-01-08 11:08 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Not just yet, I think." Anders kisses her, slowly and with profound attention to detail, his tongue exploring her mouth as his fingers explore her depths. "We've got all the time in the world, love."

Date: 2012-01-09 06:33 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"As your healer, I advise against missing too much sleep. As your lover, I should point out you'll need all your stamina to keep up with a Grey Warden. Sleep is restorative. No, you'll have to take time off. We'll draw all the curtains, spend the days indoors."

He hasn't got the heart to resume his work for mage freedom, not after what he almost did to Ella. He's gone back to the clinic every day, done what he can for those in need of healing, but to his apostate contacts he is emphatically not at home, and it's getting difficult to come up with reasons why. Funny, that: he used to flee to the clinic to escape Hawke; now he flees to Hawke to escape the clinic.

He can't feel remorse for this. He's not neglecting the cause, he's doing it a favor. He's a monster, he can't be trusted, he nearly killed an innocent girl and only Hawke stood between Justice and murder. He's safest with Hawke. Everyone is safest.

And he's wanted her for three years, wanted this. Went into the Deep Roads for her, something he'd thought he would never do again. Perhaps he'll never deserve her, but he deserves something. For himself, for the both of them.

"If people start paying business calls to try and get you out, we'll just have to go to ground somewhere else, won't we? Kirkwall can wait." He withdraws his fingers, awaits protest, arches and shifts to guide her onto him.

"Everything else can wait."

Date: 2012-01-09 04:24 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Were it not for the inconvenient demands of flesh and quotidian life, they'd no doubt have happily stayed in this bed for days, just like this, intertwined and interlocked in a communion more complete than anything Anders has ever known. For all his experience, he's never had anything like what Hawke brings him. He's never been in love before her.

Nor has he ever had the luxury of spending this much time with someone intimately, even taking necessary and mundane interruptions into account. To spend the entire night with the same person every night, both of them free to devote their full attention to one another, no listening for the door, no furtive arrangements, no care to arrive separately or depart at staggered times, no keeping watch while the other rests, no Templars, Maker, no darkspawn.

And it's odd to think, after Anders' lifelong disregard for money, that it's Hawke's growing fortune making all this possible, really. The clinic's a dangerous place — that's why he's moved in with Hawke in the first place, though the arrangement is mostly nominal at present, almost all Anders' effects still in Darktown as he can't be bothered packing or moving anything, having better things to do. The idea of them trysting in Gamlen's house is laughable. No, it's this blighted big Hightown house that creates a safe harbor for their love, as strange as it feels to Anders that he lives in a place like this, can call the Amell estate home. He knows full well that Hawke doesn't care about the house, that it's all for Leandra's sake she's bothered to acquire it, and Anders loves Leandra, wants Leandra's happiness and comfort as much as he'd would for his own mother, maybe more. Still, it's strange.

Strange, too, to be in the dining room with portraits gazing austerely down upon them, patrician lineaments of Amells and interrelated families, what portraits the prior residents didn't sell or ruin after Gamlen's loss of the estate. Anders is learning table manners. No one expects it of him, and he's never been uncivilized, but he's never had this much silver to contend with, either, all the forks alone ... It's not for Hawke he does it, even, though there's that too, the surety that someday she'll be a name to be reckoned with, already on the Viscount's short list of problemsolvers and rising higher in the city's collective esteem, and if he's going to be with her, he's blighted well going to be something other than an embarrassment. It's for Leandra, whom he wants to please. Whose son he would have liked to be, as he reflected with Bethany years ago.

Strange to walk these halls and have Bodahn ask to run errands for him, Bodahn whom he knew in the Deep Roads. As Hawke has pointed out, no one asked Bodahn to be a manservant. Anders has decided, privately, that the dwarf must be undertaking some kind of cryptic penance or service for reasons indecipherable to humankind, and that allowing Bodahn to do chores must serve that end, otherwise he can't countenance the situation.

Strange to have hot baths drawn for him, not a stream or a rusty tin tub scarcely big enough to crouch in. Baths with a beautiful woman and a wooden duck.

All of it is strange. Some of it will never be comfortable, and some of it is already so comfortable that Anders feels guilty, thinking of the refugees in Darktown, or of his fellow mages in the Gallows. But the best of it is here, in this bed, atop him, surrounding him. And for this, he'll do anything.

Her kisses are hundreds of times better than he'd dreamed, because the dreams were echoed fragments and composites of other people, people he didn't love, and he loves Hawke with a fierceness he once would've denied himself capable of possessing.

So he has to stop her kissing him, so he can tell her all over again. "Love you," and he'll hold still if it's what she wants, though he aches to grab her hips and rock together. "So much."

Date: 2012-01-09 11:39 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
The only thing sweeter to Anders than that smile is the way Hawke's lips part when she makes that sound. Then she moves just so, and his eyes slide shut, so he can't see her face, but he knows just what she'll look like anyway, because he can't keep still any longer, he's working with her and against her and it's brilliant what she does, whether she's trying or it's a natural talent or a bit of both.

He can't say more than love, meaningless repetition but the semantic import ceased to matter a few moments ago, and then her name, he's been hearing it used around the house consistently and it's slipped into his mind.

Marian. And he doesn't so much say it as breathe it, "Marian," and pushes upward, hard, unable to hold back.

Date: 2012-01-10 08:52 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Hmm?" He's still a bit foggy himself. "Did I?" He supposes he must have. "That's your name, isn't it? Your mother seems to think so."

They do talk, sometimes. Sometimes even when Hawke is busy doing other things. The writing desk alone is loaded with tasks Anders does not envy. Were he less busy himself (even while ignoring the mage underground, he knows Darktown's quota of knife-fight wounds and bad falls down rough-hewn stairs will never be exhausted, with the occasional breech birth thrown in for variety), he would volunteer to help her sift the legitimate correspondence from the merely interesting.

"Should I not? I suppose it's a little like ... that rosey outfit you're always changing into when you get home. You've got the armor for outside, but you don't wear it in..."

Date: 2012-01-12 09:36 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Anders, whose use-name is nothing more or less than an abbreviation of the geographical region where he was born, should know very well what it's like to Have Issues surrounding nomenclature. And he does, and he's sensitive to it.

"It's only ... things are different now," he tries to reify it by putting it into words, and finds that words won't do the job they're needed for. "You're Hawke, to me, always. It's how I first knew you, how I'll always know you. But now you're something else as well, and I come home to you at night, and your mother's here and telling me about you, Marian's in the study, Marian's gone out, or ... this is a secret, mind, but she may have volunteered a tale or two about your adorable toddler years."

Date: 2012-01-12 10:35 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
He laughs at her pillow-dive, and lets her have that shelter from scrutiny — for now. "Not that one, no. Sweetheart, I love your mother, but there are some things I think she doesn't need or really want to know. The fact I've met Ser Quackers falls into that category." Her face may be under the pillow; the rest of her is not, and Anders walks mischievous fingers up her side, half a tickle, half a caress. Reminder of his introduction to Ser Quackers.

She would have found out he's a little ticklish. And it would be in a blighted bathtub.

"Now you've mentioned it, however, I demand to know the story. I shall not rest until this adventure is unfolded."

Date: 2012-01-13 02:07 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Anders, for his part, will continue to use Ser Quackers' title stringently and without exception. However, he'll let Hawke's omission thereof go unremarked ... this time. (Watch him start trying to make towel animals, just to create tableaux for Ser Quackers to nestle in. The man has too much whimsy to contain, and needs to bleed some off, every now and again.)

"No ducks in these at all. She's far too gracious a lady to go out of her way to tell me these scurrilous tales, you know; it's only ever when something reminds her, which means a prompt from some little household object I've remarked upon or tried to do something with. Tried offering to do the dishes, once — three days ago, you recall, you got called away from dinner to talk to that silly person who wanted to start a Hightown Estates homeowner's association — and that put her in mind of the time you tried to wash dishes in a mud puddle. Nothing was broken, she's proud to note, only the job to do over again, her first clue you'd never make a domestic goddess. Which wasn't much of a story, in itself, but reminded her also of the time you decided to set the table, very helpfully, and apparently you felt the job wouldn't be complete until you'd also provided the meal ..." He pauses to see whether she recognizes the anecdote yet. It's from before Bethany would be old enough to remember; perhaps it hasn't been rehearsed much en famille.

Anders continues. "She'd not finished cooking the actual meal just yet, so you rather got the drop on her. Your father was the one to find it, he'd been in the house working on something; what appetizing mud pies you had made! And you were sitting there, quite patiently and proudly, at your place, waiting for suppertime. And you didn't catch trouble for it in the least. She says, your father pretended to take a bite, to see what you would do; he'd learned some sleight of hand." Real magic isn't always the showy stuff the Viscount's parties demanded; one of the ironies of bringing trained Circle mages into court functions as entertainers was that half the magic couldn't even be real. "Declared it was delicious. And you were just delighted — she was watching from the doorway, facing him, she could only see the back of your head, but she says she could hear the grin — and informed him that you'd put an extra earthworm in his, because you liked him specially."
Edited Date: 2012-01-13 05:35 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-13 06:28 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"You'd rather risk the chokedamp than have me learn these things? That pillow can't protect you from your past, sweetheart. I already know about the time you tried to water the flowers patterned on the rug, so they'd grow bigger." Hiding her face means she can't see him coming; he takes advantage of this to tickle her again, not aggressively, just a swift light dance of fingertips across her ribs. "And the time you got woodworking glue in your hair, and had to have it trimmed short to even out the place where the glue was cut out, and you weren't pleased until your mother told you all the noblest knights in Kirkwall wore their hair this way. At which point you not only liked the cut, but got the shears and snipped off all the twins' wispy baby hair, to make them match. You wanted them to join your battalion."

Date: 2012-01-13 06:45 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Oh, come now," Anders pleads, wrapping his limbs about the ball she's curled into, curving his body around hers, trying not to laugh. "If you tell me more of Ser Quackers, I'll tell you ... hmm ... I haven't got any childhood stories worth the telling," which means, none that are amusing, "except for the phase in which I wished to become a goat when I grew up."

He rocks her back and forth a little, quieting. "Of course, I haven't got to know your past," he reassures her, since turnabout is fair play and he doesn't particularly care to delve into his own younger years, not anything before the Tower, not the rage thereafter. "It's only I adore the tales of little Marian. I'd say I would have liked to have such a sister, but then you'd be my sister, and I really wouldn't prefer that at all."
Edited Date: 2012-01-13 06:45 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-13 07:09 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
He's wearing that particularly Anders look that's not half a smile, more a quarter-smile, with dancing eyes and both brows fractionally lifted. "Who wouldn't want to be a goat? I'd think it self-explanatory." He's teasing, though, and kisses her nose to show it, then her cheek. "Mmm, where to begin. You know the Anderfels aren't the most hospitable of terrain. Subsistence farming supplemented by herding, and nearly all the inhabitable land too steep for your soft rich lowland cattle. No, it's goats for us, and sheep. Well, we had goats, like everyone, and you've got to follow them about. Grey or white or what we called blue, sturdy ordinary goats. Great shaggy things, at least seen from a child's height, with horns and attitude. They liked me well enough" (one day he'll chat with Ged about goatherding), "which was a mercy, as my life would've been miserable had they taken exception to me. Anyhow, goats are not a bad example to aspire to, if you've not seen much of the world that's not got goats in, and you're looking for a vocation that gives you greater freedom than being tied down to a farm. They're surefooted, they can go anywhere. They can live off anything. And no one gives them trouble, if they know what's good for them, because they've got their horns, you see."

Anders twists two locks of Hawke's hair into goat horns as he speaks. It doesn't matter that the twists won't stay.

"I knew from early on that I was different, somewhat. Smart enough to keep it to myself as best I could. I wasn't a quiet child, or especially given to self-reflection, mind. I didn't keep myself to myself, just didn't talk about some things I knew." Learned that early on, from mother's warnings, but he won't talk about mother. "Somehow I got it into my head that I could turn into different things. Later on, when I learned there were such things as real shapeshifters, I realized how laughable that was; I never showed one sign of such a talent, thank the Maker. It was an idea I'd gotten from fireside stories, the child who's always different because he's descended from some animal, and doesn't find it out 'til later on. It's usually a bear, you know, but me, a bear? Not bloody likely. Fancied myself more the goatish type." At that age the double entendre would've been quite beyond him. "Able to leap crevasses in a single bound."

Date: 2012-01-13 07:27 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Yes, well, it took a while to break me of the habit of headbutting people I disliked. And now you know how I developed the thick skull I have today." Anders shivers pleasantly at the feel of her fingers against his scalp. He could get used to that.

"That's my goat story, and I am owed a Ser Quackers adventure in return. What about it, hm?"

Date: 2012-01-13 11:29 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Mine has a higher value on the scale of potential embarrassments. One strange story is worth five endearing ones. That said, I'll accept the deal proposed." He knows quite well it's teasing. Anders gives backrubs for free, even if you're not his lover, if you look like you need one, and you happen to be someone he cares about. Hawke's companions could be neatly divided into a list of those who merit backrubs, and those who'll never know the pleasure.

"I reserve the right to choose the oil we use, and to suggest an alternate location should you demand one unsuitable for optimal backrub delivery."

Date: 2012-01-15 08:31 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"A small sample? Sweetheart, I don't do small." Laughing, he extricates himself from her embrace, rolls away and slides off the bed.

The things he's bothered moving from the clinic are basic. He doesn't own much by way of clothing: a few changes of shirts and smalls, and all of those ancient as time, greyed by age and washed soft as eiderdown; stockings darned countless times, the same; there's the tiny embroidered pillow he hides at the bottom of a knapsack, and the fact he's moved that here says a lot, if she's ever seen it. More of what he's brought is by way of healer's supply, some of that already here in case of emergency, things she could use if he weren't around. Health potions, stamina potions, bandages and ointments and oils, a pot of redblossom salve he presented to her and Bethany as a joke ("for dear uncle Gamlen") the day after they caught Gamlen at the bar in the Blooming Rose. Some things he buys from Solivitus, more recently, after the Deep Roads put a little coin in his pocket (not that he didn't pour most of that into Lirene's donation box and Selby's succession of needs, a care package for every blessed apostate funneled through Darktown), but he used to make most everything himself. What he rummages for now, in the jumble of things whose arrangement and logic only he knows, was made by Solivitus to special order, simple proportions nonetheless spelled out.

Anders steps into a pair of smallclothes himself, she can't keep him naked all the time, and brings his bottle of oil with him back to the bed. Grapeseed oil compounded with evening primrose and sandalwood oils, nothing he'd use himself, why would he need it? He'd gotten it a month ago, half convinced himself it'd make a nameday present for Isabela (only half convinced, because he knew full well that giving that kind of gift would mean a demand for personal application, and that meant it was out of the question). There are things he's wanted to do to Hawke for ages, and to do for her; and a surprising proportion of these have nothing to do with sex, or very little to do with it, though too intimate for a friend. Brush her hair out of her face. Rub the tension out of her muscles, properly, at length. Now that he's permitted these indulgences, he'll never get tired of them.

"On your belly, then," but finds he doesn't have to direct her, she's already anticipated this, stretching out with her arms slightly apart from her sides, her head turned sideways on the pillow. He clambers over to straddle the backs of her thighs — this is why he put the smallclothes on, it could be uncomfortable for him otherwise, he'd stick — and uncorks the bottle with his teeth, for whimsy. A small dash to begin with, a pool the size of a silver coin in his palm, and he reaches to place the bottle out of toppling range to a safe spot on her nightstand before he rubs his palms together and sets to work.

"Squeaker the Mad, hm?" Starts in on her shoulders first. "A name to conjure terror."

Date: 2012-01-16 07:00 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
He digs the heels of his hands into her muscles, both latissimi dorsi at once, a hand to each side. He's not fussed over the hour; they've stayed up half the night for lesser reasons. (Lesser reasons include clearing the city of vicious thugs who prey on the citizens by dark. The love of one woman outweighs the safety of entire neighborhoods, for Anders, at this point, he readily acknowledges, and Justice doesn't like it, but Justice has no choice. Justice is a little shocked himself, after the problem of Ella, and has been quieter than usual even before Anders' surrender to Hawke occasioned the spirit's distaste and retreat.) They can doze tomorrow, if they like. The lost hats and mislaid tomes of Kirkwall's careless denizens can wait.

"If your mother kept the map, it would be smeared beyond recognition by now, I suppose," Anders muses. It's sad, because he'd love to see that map. "I notice that Ser Quackers is the captain, and you're only first mate. I'd have expected he would be your companion. Why was that, do you think? Were you learning leadership from him?"

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Hawke

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