Sine Tranquillus ch. 22It wasn’t so bad - at least at the start. The tunnels leading down beneath the surface were not so different from the smugglers’ tunnels beneath Darktown that led to the coast. Anders could almost believe they were just out on another one of Aveline’s little missions. Albeit one that also featured several dwarves outfitted for an expedition and a handful of other mercenary types, in addition to Hawke and their group.Sine Tranquillus ch. 22 by ArkadyRose
But the deeper they went, the harder it was to hold onto that little fantasy. The air grew close and oppressive, as though the weight of miles of rock over their heads were pressing down on the very air they breathed. Anders instinctively hunched his shoulders and kept his eye on Hawke just ahead. Fenris was a constant presence at his side; occasionally, at the point where Anders felt the tension rising unbearably until he felt he must scream, the elf would gently brush his fingers against the back of Anders’ hand as though to remind him he was not
Sine Tranquillus ch. 21In the brighter light of Varric’s rooms, the change in Anders was more pronounced. Varric, Hawke and Bethany exchanged looks, wondering wordlessly how it was they hadn’t noticed before how much thinner Anders looked. Once he had divested himself of his coat, the change was obvious. He had always been slender, but now he looked positively scrawny, all angular bones with dark shadows beneath his eyes. His unwashed hair had been hastily scraped back into a perfunctory ponytail, and his ill-fitting faded grey shirt hung from a frame that was far too sparse. Bethany glanced to Fenris, and the elf shrugged helplessly as if to say, You see?Sine Tranquillus ch. 21 by ArkadyRose
She nodded wordlessly and glanced back to Anders, who was sitting down at the table and already reaching for the bottle of wine, oblivious to their scrutiny.
“This is rather better than Corff’s usual stuff, Varric - are we celebrating?” asked Anders as he glanced up.
“In a manner of speaking, yes,” replied H
Sine Tranquillus ch. 20It was a temptation. He knew that, even as he felt the press of the glass vial against his chest beneath his tunic. He told himself he carried it “just in case” of some nebulous emergency he didn’t quite care to define too clearly. He returned to his clinic and life continued much as it had before, though with a few small changes.Sine Tranquillus ch. 20 by ArkadyRose
Fenris brought breakfast on those mornings when Anders had not spent the night with him in the mansion; the mornings were given over to alchemical work for the most part, but twice a week they would spar. The rest of the day was given over to Anders’ work in the clinic. Sometimes Fenris would join him; more often he would arrive in the early evening and find Anders still hard at work. Fenris would extinguish the lanterns, send home those who were capable of walking, and help Anders tend to those who needed an overnight stay. If the clinic were empty, then often they would return to the mansion.
If Anders had patients to tend, then Fenr
It was a jubilant group that returned to the Hanged Man that evening. They’d found no further sign of the lyrium smugglers, but Aveline seemed reasonably confident that they’d sent a clear message to whoever was behind this new outfit that Kirkwall was not perhaps quite such an easy nut to crack after all.
“I’ll order double patrols through the tunnels for a while, but between your last sweep and this one we’ll have dealt them a serious blow - not to mention losing that shipment of tainted lyrium,” she said as she settled into her seat and nodded thanks to Varric as the rogue set a tankard of ale before her.
“What are you going to do with that, by the way?” asked Hawke, curious. She tapped her nose.
“Not your concern any more, Hawke,” she said, refusing to be drawn.
Hawke pouted, but they were all in too good spirits for him to sulk for long.
The wine and beer flowed, the cards came out, and they chatted, laughed and enjoyed one another’s company until far into the evening.
Anders was in a cheerful mood, still on a high after regaining his magic; but as the evening drew on he became slowly quieter and more withdrawn. He said nothing to the others, but he could slowly feel his mana draining away as the hours passed. As he felt his magic steadily dwindling, he took more and more solace in the wine.
Fenris was oblivious; he was engaged in a somewhat raucous game of Wicked Grace with Varric, Isabela and Hawke in which it seemed he was rather ahead. Distracted, he didn’t notice as Anders fell silent.
His mood did not go unnoticed however. As he stared into his glass, feeling himself growing cold as the power drained back into that empty space inside, he felt someone slip into the seat next to him. He glanced up morosely, unsurprised to find Bethany regarding him sympathetically.
“It went away again?” she asked quietly.
He nodded once, and turned his gaze back to the glass of wine again. She laid a hand gently on his.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly.
“So am I,” he whispered. He lifted his glass then hesitated, before downing it. He set the glass back down, empty; his hand trembled. “Now I know how Karl must have felt. Just before I...” He broke off, his voice rough, and he felt a prickling in his good eye as his throat tightened.
Bethany took his hand and pressed something cold and hard into his palm. He glanced down and stared at the small vial of lyrium, then at Bethany as she folded his fingers over it.
“Don’t tell Garrett,” she murmured. “He wouldn’t understand.”
“Nor would Fenris,” replied Anders. He stared at his hand for a moment, then tucked the precious vial inside his tunic. “Thank you, Bethany,” he said quietly.
“Just... be careful,” she replied gently as she leaned forward and kissed his cheek lightly before rising. She rested a hand on his shoulder and squeezed, briefly.
Anders glanced up to find Fenris scowling at him. He swallowed, then reached for the bottle of wine and refilled his glass. He was unable to meet the elf’s eyes. He kept his eyes on his glass as he felt the bench shift, then Fenris laid a lyrium-lined hand over his.
“Anders.” The name upon Fenris’ lips was not quite a question. Anders lifted his gaze slowly to glance at the white-haired elf at his side. The elf was frowning; his frown deepened as he stared into Anders’ face. “What is wrong?”
“I’m tired,” said Anders quietly, his voice not much more than a whisper. “It’s been a long day. I think I need to go home and sleep.”
“Home...?” Fenris was still frowning, but now his expression was a little uncertain.
“Unless... you want me to....” Anders’ voice trailed off, equally uncertain. Fenris’ expression softened as his fingers lightly squeezed Anders’ hand.
“I... do. Do you...?” Fenris was hesitant; Anders realised the elf was nervous.
“Come with you?” As the elf nodded, uncertain, Anders gave him a tired smile. “I’d like that.”
As Fenris rose to his feet, he slipped a hand beneath Anders’ elbow to help him up from his seat. The others glanced up as they stood.
“Leaving so early, Broody?” asked Varric.
“It is after midnight, Varric,” the elf pointed out.
“So it is,” Varric realised with some surprised, then waved them off. “Best get Blondie to bed then; he looks dead on his feet.”
Aveline rose and turned towards them both. “Anders, I’m glad you were with us today - and that you’ve gotten your magic back. Things would have been much worse without you.”
Anders managed to summon a wan smile, aware of Bethany’s gentle eyes regarding him sombrely. “Glad I was able to help,” he replied. “Beth, Hawke. Bela.” He nodded to them each in turn. “Thanks for the wine, Varric.”
“Any time, Blondie. You go get some rest - and don’t let Broody keep you up all night.” He winked at them both before taking up his hand of cards again. “Hope you’re prepared to lose, Hawke, because I’ve got four Kings here that say your gold is mine.”
Hawke’s groan followed them out the door as Fenris guided Anders away.
Anders was silent as they made their way back towards Hightown. He was aware of Fenris darting him sidelong glances, but he kept his gaze on the cobblestones. He hadn’t lied; he was tired - bone-tired. The last dregs of mana were gone, and it felt like it had taken the last of his energy with it. He was finding it hard just to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and it was only the thought of the large, soft bed in Fenris’ mansion that kept him going - that, and the steadying hand of the elven warrior upon his arm.
He leaned against the wall next to the door as Fenris fiddled with the lock and key, then as the door swung open the elf took his arm once more and led him inside.
Once they reached Fenris’ room, Anders moved straight towards the bed, shedding his coat as he went. He paused only to remove his boots before falling heavily onto the bed, burying his face in a pillow.
Fenris stared at him, frowning once more. He made his way over to the fireplace, stirring up the glowing embers with a poker before adding more firewood; then he stood, dusting ashes off his leggings as he approached the bed slowly. “Anders. There is something wrong.”
“It went away again.” Anders’ voice was muffled by the pillow.
Fenris paused by the foot of the bed. “I... see.” He turned away.
“Do you?” asked Anders. He lifted his head and looked around, his eye red-rimmed. “Do you really?”
Fenris reached for something on the floor beside a chair then straightened as he turned towards the bed once more. “I see the effect it has on you.” His hand lit up briefly as he phased it through the neck of the bottle, deftly removing the cork; then he held the bottle of wine out towards Anders. “It will not bring the magic back, and it cannot heal what has been taken from you. But it can help you forget for a while.”
Anders sat up and stared at the bottle of wine in Fenris’ hand for a moment before reaching out to take it. He took a long pull from the bottle then lowered it, staring down at the dusty label.
“Is this to be my life then?” he whispered hollowly. “A few fleeting moments of feeling truly alive, and then drinking myself to oblivion afterwards when it goes?”
The edge of the mattress dipped beneath him as Fenris lowered himself to sit next to the blond apostate. “It need not be,” he said quietly.
Anders lifted his head slowly and stared hopelessly at Fenris. “I wish I could believe you,” he said wistfully.
Fenris stared at him a moment, then gently plucked the bottle from Anders’ unresisting hands before gently pushing him back down to lie upon the bed.He drew upon the power of the lyrium in his flesh as he cradled Anders’ face in his hands and bent down to kiss the mage, and he tasted salt upon Anders’ lips. He kissed the tear-wet cheeks and then lightly kissed the closed eyelid of Anders’ good eye before gently removing the eyepatch and then lightly kissing the ruined remains of Anders’ other eye.
Anders’ indrawn breath was a ragged sob; he kissed Fenris back fervently, and when the elf reached for his belt he willingly allowed himself to be divested of his pants before rolling over onto his stomach at a whispered word. He heard Fenris open the bedside drawer, and then the sound of a cork popping off the top of a small glass bottle. He spread his legs as he felt Fenris’ questing fingers probe gently into him; and as the elf took him with care and tenderness, he buried his face in the pillow.
The vial of lyrium was cold and hard, pressed against his chest.
Professional artist working in both traditional and digital media, craftsman, doll customiser/costumer, jeweller.|
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