Inspired by millibaley's Balorp Hawke art and comics, found at [millibayley.deviantart.com/art/Character-Change-Balorp-Hawke-206434883] and [millilicious.tumblr.com/post/34072107196/just-postin-this-again-since-the-original-was]. Any variation my own interpretation.
Once There Was This Mirror (And We Drank Ourselves To Death)
Her finger scrapes across the bridge of your nose, rough with scale. The dragon lady whispers in your ear, stories are words and words never describe the face. Later, on the boat, take a mirror and try to shave, find a new scar where she touched you, decades-old burn scar, over the other scars. Ash that does not wash away, and you can't make yourself care. How old are you? Twenty nine, ragged as sin. Your beautiful brother is dead still a peach-cheeked virgin, thanks to you.
Spend a childhood on the run with bad nutrition. There go the teeth and the proportions of growing bones. Survive the torment of the same childhood where children don't care one day and the next cast literal stones in mockery. (If only you could cast, you'd kill 'em). Wear across your sloping shoulders the Chantry's dogma of acceptance and repentance and your mother's constant piousness. In Lothering find not only a home, but happiness: the birth of your beautiful brother and your beautiful sister.
In Lothering, hear your parents thanking the Maker for their two beautiful, healthy children.
Lothering. Loathing. Lose your virginity to a scrawny farmgirl whose tits are smaller than a boy's, panic when she thinks she's pregnant, feel relief when she finds she's not. She says to your face, 'Maker! That was close. I nearly had to marry you.' How old are you? Fifteen.
Get away from the provincial life as soon as you can. In Denerim, find a mercenary band who never blink twice. Where your face might even be an asset, as you're willing to take a shield to the fore to get your sword through their guts. Berserker Balorp, bloody brawler, the first time another mercenary tries to wrestle you down for the ritual rape, you pin him to his belly and spit by his head. He sneers, 'thought you'd be grateful. Ugly fucker.' How old are you? Sixteen. Lost half your teeth already to the pommel of a templar's sword. Make a couple of friends by exclusion, not selection; bald bloke with one eye and a skinny thief with a cleft lip. Ugliness is an asset in a mercenary band, ugly as life your lot are. No illusions, no fear of mirrors, no need for them anyway. Scare the living shit out of the whores that call out to you, 'Hey Handsome!' But do you look handsome, you demand of them, do they really think you're handsome, what do you think, boys, are her eyes defective or something? 'She doesn't need her eyes,' one-eye might say, might bring out his knife for a bit of fun and a bit of threat, doesn't really mean anything by it. You're fairly sure. You laugh, but cleft-lip can't. Maybe cleft-lip lisps instead, 'What else will she tell you for a sovereign, beautiful Bally, where will she let you put your very handsome prick? Show us where you'll put our Bal's beautiful prick, lovey, make it lovely, make it cheap, and we won't put our pricks in there too.' Sitting back and dazed and drunk, fucking whores who closes their eyes and takes your sovereigns along with you. In Denerim, done her in. 'What a magnificent dick,' she says, to your face, 'shame about the rest.'
Make more than a few enemies. Those pretty blonde boys and young things whose noses you smash in with your big strong fists and whose pride you shame when you save their lives with your even bigger sword. A band of mercenaries and thugs and rapists and you're still loyal to life. You still tell the farmgirls in the houses you raid, shh, shh, not a noise, not a sound, when you shout out to the others, the bedroom is empty and you leave them alone. Are you even thinking of Bethany? Is it convenience? Are you ashamed to want to hear them scream? But there are always the sleek elves who join the band, tolerating the ugliness that is their lot in exchange for an equal share of loot and bounty, who submit without kicking or squealing. The only equality in Thedas, the elven mercenaries say: landbound piratical law, always equal shares, with an allocation for those who take an injury, and they'd never expect as much from any other life.
Such resigned companions, these elves, turning their faces away when you bend over them.
No one trusts you. You don't trust you. Never tell the family in your neat little letters, of course, you fuck whores and get high and fuck resigned elves and kill people. Some days when you (try to) shave you know what it looks like: to cut your own throat and smile through the gaps. How old are you? Eighteen. Spit whiskey through the absence of teeth, and it's not even your birthday.
Stop suddenly one day, sickened, and walk away.
But you can't walk away with so many broken bones.
You can look away, turn your face away, when a pretty boy whose nose you broke and his elven friends corner you, and put their knives in your gut and tug you open to the sky, pockets to their palms. Done in in Denerim, the city is a cesspit, and through it you crawl for the bells, sound of wells, buckets, girls, a Chantry sister and her endless welling of pity and a Circle mage who does her best on you and calls you, 'Son. Yhe Maker waits only for us to prove ourselves of worth.'
Proof in scars, ale in bars. At home waits only your mother and no handsome father for you to hate to death for his handsome face. Can't hate Carver with those stars in his eyes when his hero big brother returns. Can't hate Bethany with her spells and her seriousness and her skills to take away the worst aches from malformed bones. No one says, your face, what (else) has happened to your face, but Leandra says quietly when you show her the scars and you weep, 'Your life, my baby, what have you done with your life?'
In Lothering, walk into the tavern. Find the skinny farmgirl with her lack of children, not skinny any more, all laughs and smiles and welcoming you with a hug, a free pint. 'Would recognise you anywhere,' says she, 'you haven't changed a bit,' and you think she must be blind as a bat, 'would know that face anywhere, Balorp!'
The templars come again and Carver's eyes shine with stars for another lot of heroes, you draw them away from Bethany, when they mock and say to beautiful Carver, 'This shitheap is your brother? This is your brother? Can't quite see the resemblance!' Hunch your back further than it is, grovel and whine and fawn, louder than Bethany might flicker with magic and wounded pride, and they leave you all alone. Wonder why you ever fought as hard as you did to stand straight when humiliation gets you what you want.
How old are you? Nineteen. Should have been married with four strapping sons by now.
In Lothering, all loathing, to think you'd forgotten. Join the army. A veteran already, you are, with mercenary marks upon your heart. Trust and order and ritual, and when you see the little groups of thugs and gangs in your orderly soldierly lines you break them up with your fists and your scorn and your indefatigable armour of this fractured window to your soul. What do they think they could ever say to hurt you? Fools, fools, when you find the elves with their bows looking for their freedoms and the pretty boys and pretty girls with their hopes for a fighting future, you take them all aside, give them a dry practical talk, about the need to find good friends and watch their backs, that people aren't always in it for the reasons they are. If they ask you why you're in it, you try not to grin, your smiles aren't exactly calming, but you might let it slip that a sovereign a month goes a long way for a family on the farm, and you'll never let slip, with no striking apostate father to charm away the templar hunters from your buxom apostate sister.
Comes the day that Carver is there too. No surprise, but still a shock. Ferelden's newest brightest recruit, hero stars and hero dreams, and how old are you? Twenty seven, giving your downy-cheeked brother the Ugly Old Sergeant's Talk, watch your back, don't wrestle naked, motherfucking duck if someone swings a shovel at you when you're coming back from the latrines. And it's all over then, your childhood, when Carver looks at you and Carver looks away from you and you know Carver knows how you know all this; that once upon a time you were all this. Carver looks over your shoulder and never at you again.
Barely sergeant, you fight and you care but you can't command. A berserker on the field, secret weapon behind your helmet head, this uncaring.
At Ostagar, when it happens it happens. Another dumb grunt running from a war where you did no good, a war you lost, a king dead and country left undefended. It's unfair, this life is unfair, you're remembering that elf once, who was a whore as well, who told you to your face, 'I'd rather fuck a darkspawn,' and you think maybe he's got his chance now, now you're running so hard like a ballsless deserter you might trip over your own fucking useless dick, playing Father to your family without ever having loved a wife.
Maker, oh, Maker, oh, mother, you didn't mean it back then. Your handsome charming father and his deep voice and warm hands. That time when you were thirteen with a bloody nose from a fight you never should have been in, a broken nose, that time when the templars were looking at Bethy too closely and you stepped in between and started a fight to pull away the attention. When your father stood over you while your nose bled and set itself into its first wonky break, your father who was there and who wouldn't heal you because of the templars. You know, not for the first or last time that your face, your nose, your pain would always mean less to him than Bethany's freedom.
That day, on the road with a wagon of produce, when you didn't mean it. Your father looked at you without an expression on his handsome, handsome face, when you told him to fuck off to the Void and die, because he didn't heal you until after your eyes were puffed to slits and your nose was full of clotted blood and the templars were finally beyond the horizon, and it was probably too late for your face.
But you didn't mean it, mother, you didn't really wish he was dead, except he died anyway, the bastard, he died, and that's the last time you bothered to pray.
Kirkwall. Get scurvy on the boat over from Amaranthine, grin and grit it through Aveline's well meaning nosing. Find common ground with her being less than a typical lady and you being less than a typical lord, but she was a captain when you were only a sergeant and your urge to suck up to her is something which makes you sicker than the scurvy. Kirkwall! Where you suffer through a year in chains, slaved to a dumbarse mercenary captain who finds it amusing to send you into skirmishes without any facial protection, a black gleam in his eye when he tallies Kirkwall's brutality in your bruises. But that's Kirkwall, beating on you like crazy, you think you're going crazy, and there's an elf in the brothel who smiles and puts his whole hand in your arsehole saying, 'From the look of you, soldier, I'm thinking you can take more than that.'
City of Chains. A real city, with real chains, where you learn about cuffs and collars and harder hands than an elf's, hung from the rafters in a brothel while a stranger lays the blows into you like painting a masterpiece, titled War Refugee or maybe Aftermath, because you lean into the whip instead of away. Love the heat and sound of each breath forced out of you involuntary. Love the time. Love the eyes, that don't look away. They call you so strong, magnificent, a broken thing that never breaks. You wonder why it took you so long to find this after a lifetime of walking into oncoming fists and flying high with each landing blow. You mad fucking berserker, Balorp Hawke.
Kirkwall's ugly mercenaries and ugly history and ugly sex trade, the city's fascinated with ugliness, and you're ugly enough to be different even in a city of ugly bastards. Apart from the battlescars, the broken bones, the boxer's ears, face like a defective abomination with a few more critical impacts and some areas with no sensation from nerve damage, injuries taken while protecting your flawless younger sister and brother from every filthy dirty thing in the world that wants to break them instead of you, what is ugliness, only what you are and what you've done.
City of humiliation, learning to ride it like a wave. You're never going to be beneath notice, heads turn when you walk into a room, so laugh and flirt and sing like you're worthy of note for goodness sake instead of your face, talk as if you're not aware, learn to hug your mercenary masters, big widearmed embraces and thuds of fists on Meeran's back, challenging him to flinch away from you, calling out what he wants from you. You're not afraid of what you are, when he smiles at your face because he laughs behind your back, when maybe you can win yourself a piece of normality, the Red Irons call you without disdain, 'Balorp Hawke, you know the bloke, the one with the face and the,' generously ambiguous hand gesture, 'really big sword.'
Childhood on the run and mercenary criminal; Kirkwall is the longest you've ever been in one place. This city of people you know and who know you, names and lives and smiles building a better home than walls and dirt. Almost forget your own face in the tide of so many others, Aveline, Meeran, Elegant, Worthy, Tomwise, Varric, Anders, Isabela, Merrill—
When Varric says your face tells a story, it's not a pretty one. It's probably got a happy ending, Varric tells you, so long as you get your happy end in, you say, the sort of face that's lived a life. A polite way of calling you ugly, you tell him happily, because you don't care any more, and he says, 'Now, Hawke, I never called you anything but Hawke.'
Hero, in his books, see. In books they never describe the face, only the burn across the nose, the streak of ash, the dragon lady's finger. In books they describe the berserker standing screaming into the face of ill fortune, loud enough to scare it right away. The same tactic worked against the idiots in Meeran's gang who thought they could get Bethy alone, you tell Varric, and you share your ale and laugh when Bethy and her bouncing breasts join you to agree with her big brother, 'Honestly, Varric, the mercenaries in Kirkwall are the politest group of men I've ever met.'
Shame about the templars.
Oh, that day you meet Anders. Glowing and golden and tired and unbelievable Anders, who pauses with his palm outflung and his magic crackling into nothingness, who says, 'I'm not sure I can help you, those injuries look old, they really needed tending the moment they occurred.' You laugh, wish he'd been there to tell your father that, you laugh and fling your arms around him while he braces for the blow, and you say mirthfully, listen, brother, Fereldans are brothers, surely? It's the maps you're after, not the magic touch. Your brother Fereldan Anders, who surely knows how can this be done the easy way, that doesn't involve him being hurt in any way by your immense physical prowess and stunning strength at arms?
Anders from the Anderfels by way of Ferelden who says later, drunk and lolling against your shoulder in grief for a dead friend, 'So your name's Bålorp? But that's an Anderfels name.'
The lilt and the difference. When he says it again, 'Bålorp, Bålorp, Bålorp,' as if it's something familiar he's almost forgotten and suddenly cherishes the more with rediscovery, it makes your heart burn and your arse clench and your arm tighten around his shoulders. Tell him the story of the Anderfels healer who helped your mother when she nearly died squeezing your malformed head out her narrow highborn cunt, watch him without watching, see Anders barely even grimaces through the booze. Good man this Anders, who smiles a little tightly and sadly and rolls his shoulders to win back some space. Anders wants to tell you something special too, and yes, he can tell you anything, so he whispers into your lopsided shoulder the story about the dead friend who wasn't just a friend but was a lover, the first, and Anders looks at you the whole time through with warm eyes shining and leaning in, you think maybe a healer sees so many ugly things it doesn't matter. Maybe a healer who's an abomination can't complain about looks, twisted face and cracking skin and haggard possession doesn't care about faces. Anders tells you, 'I believe people fall in love with a whole person, not just the body.'
Then Anders leans over your shoulder and vomits a lot of alcohol and grief down your back.
There is also Merrill, who has no idea what humans are supposed to look like or be like but who simply blinks and continues when you offer her a kiss. Help carry some heavy piece of furniture down the mountainside when she asks you for a favour. She reminds you of Bethy, bright glowing eyes and potential to destroy an entire city with a bad enough mood, then you see it's a mirror, what you carried all that distance, a mirror when you'd break all mirrors if you could, a mirror she loves like a lover. You pat Merrill's shoulder and call it a lost cause, and wash away the sweat of the haul with a pint of stale ale and fresh bitterness.
Meet Isabela over that tankard and a lot of showy moves. Who tumbles you readily enough, just as many showy moves, without even a second glance. Isabela, who listens when you tell her, you've done bad things and maybe don't deserve this, the freedom of your fingers thrusting between her thighs in a way you hardly ever do (who fingers whores anyway? Not you). She rolls her hips and tells you about the other ships full of slaves she didn't release except with their manifest, about the people she's killed because she just didn't like them, everyone's done bad things. She wants you to know, 'Hawke, honestly, when I walk out it's not going to have anything to do with bad things or good things, but only that you're an itch I've scratched. Why keep scratching when the itch is gone? And how well scratched is this itch,' she pats at your crotch, 'that is a truly magnificent prick you have there.'
She vomits into your chamber pot, what appears to be an awful lot of Antivan brandy.
Then there is Fenris.
Who drinks so much wine at your little group's social nights it's practically magnificent, where and how he fits it, like being with the mercenaries again, those nights where it wasn't all bad and sometimes there was camaraderie as well as the general humiliation. Which you can provide in any case, because Fenris is drunk enough he complies when you tell him to prove that elves can't touch their own right ear with their tongue while trying to grab their right elbow with their right hand. The way he goes crosseyed while trying is just plain a bonus, everyone laughs, and Fenris flinches, recoils in rage; oh, he's not used to being the butt of a joke, is he? You're the joker, now.
Strange thing about the Fade, about talking to Justice and finding him a prig, about mocking a demon by listening: demons aren't anything to fear. Not your demons, anyway, no threats or taunts or warnings. This can't be anything like those dreams which used to wake Bethy screaming, when she'd look sobbing to your face for an image of comfort and familiarity. What your particular demon offers you is a mirror, in the mirror you see—
Almost your father. Shadows of your mother. Something so close to familiar (familial) that you feel like you're looking at the brother you never had. Not exactly beautiful, bordering on striking, threads of silver at the sideburns and a beard that grows thickly black instead of clumping and strange. Not exactly young, with the worry lines in the brow. But there is symmetry, and a jaw which closes instead of resting slack, the teeth which are there, the lips straight and thin. The proud dog at your side, instead of the puppy you stole from a dead handler that time in Denerim, that puppy who starved rather than bond with you, who you were, rapist of elves and murderer, brawler, child who never cared and nearly had to die to grow up.
This perfect shadow of a lean elf at your side with a shock of white hair. The pride in the green eyes that look up to you, a devotion matching the dog, two handed sword to your two handed sword and shoulder to your elbow.
That is what the demon offers, why you steel your mercenary heart and put your mercenary sword through Anders who called you a friend. Who reaches out lastly without Justice in his eyes and calls you, heartbroken as a backstabbed brother, that lilt that only Anders uses, Bålorp.
What if you've done worse to the man than kill him, the only friend you've ever had who says your name the way it's supposed to be said; what will you do if you've made him as numb as you are?
You meet your eyes in the demon's mirror. Your true eyes. Fine, there's the usual scars, the shattered, badly healed socket on the left side drooping the lid and compressing the cheek, oh, but the eyes, the eyes are the same . So you kill the demon, who has no eyes, tell that demon nothing ever said an ugly bastard couldn't change his mind.
Fenris puts his hand through another man's chest that night you first meet, so unexpected and revolting atop the gore of the massacre before you have to choke down the urge to hurl, helm off barely in time, in that charnel house of a slaver trap the fucking elf set for you and your friends, your bestest friends, your only ever real friends, when you all nearly died or were enslaved for this stupid elf who murders people in a foul way so easily traceable by the guard.
This stupid elf who has no idea.
The elf steps back and growls, 'Abomination!' Behind you Anders says, 'Am I wearing it on my face, now?' Isabela purrs at the elf, 'Abomination? The man who just saved your life? Now that was going too far.'
Because this elf who's come strutting down those stairs to murder someone for show and introduction is looking at you when he growls, 'Abomination,' looks more shocked by the face revealed than he has at his own atrocities, eyes wide and blood splattered over his armour and hair and face. When he walks close by he stinks like the worst of alcoholics. Piss off, you tell him, piss off and have a bath you piece of shit, do I look like your fucking patsy, you set us up, piss off. And you'd be off, but this pompous My Name Is Fenris starts begging when you try to walk away, begging you, looking at you desperately.
'Wait, I never anticipated a man so capable as you!'
Are you waiting? You sucker.
My Name Is Fenris says, 'I watched and saw how you handled all of them, almost on your own, your prowess, your skill, your power, your amazing headbutt. I need you.'
An elf begging for you. An elf with no friends and no hope without you. You're a mercenary at heart, what little you have left, he's ripped out with his fist and left lying in the gore on the floor, covered with the worst kind of flattery you've ever been a fool to never fall for before.
The first time Fenris drinks himself into a stupor at your side no one noticed, until you look down to see what was wet and warm inching under your thigh, a shared puddle of piss not of your own making. In public, Fenris drinks steadily and only gets quieter, it's unexpected when he slides smoothly from drunk and silent to unconscious and silent. Almost, almost you leap up yelling in mockery; it's what you would have done with a fellow mercenary and maybe rubbed his unconscious face in it, your churlish companions joining in, adding to the puddle. But you don't know what Isabela would do, if Merrill would just express pity, if Varric would sigh and bring over a blanket, if Aveline would decide to adopt the elf as her firstborn son.
For the first time maybe you care what they think of you.
So you sit in Fenris' overflow quietly for two more hours, waiting until everyone else leaves before you put him over your shoulder and carry him home. On other nights, too, twice more, three times more, once again when you think you've got him home early enough but he wets his unwashed bedding as you roll him into a position where he won't choke on his puke if he hurls. Another time when he goes down your back and is inarticulately, blind-drunkenly unamused when you tell him Anders threw up in exactly the same spot, this must make you all brothers of a sort, what with one bodily fluid being as good as the next.
When you start to wonder why Fenris drinks so much, why he chases the black. When you visit more, that unclean place where he lives, where you see what he drinks and when he starts, why he starts. When you realise maybe he never stops. When he tells you broken stories and looks away instead of at you, then at you instead of away: as if another's hand weighs his head down, or maybe countless hands, all of them there because he is an elf and all Thedas has used him as such. You know how Thedas uses elves, even the ones who carry big swords.
When Fenris leans forward suddenly after telling you too much, wearing a shirt sliding off his shoulders, when he slurs, 'You want to use me too, don't you, Balorp Hawke, or you wouldn't be here.'
Stammer and mutter an excuse, you would be good together and you like fighters and he's a fighter too and you can stand each other and he laughs at your jokes so long as he's not the butt of them, laughs harder provided someone else is. Because he begged for you once and no one ever does that, you won't even nag at him to stop drinking because you know what that's like, your mother nags. But you've learned too much, that vulnerability and ugliness is the worst combination.
So maybe you say something like, yeah, and what else are you good for, Fenris, apart from the sword?
He says, 'I could ask you the same thing.'
Drinks, looking right at you.
Fenris watches when Hawke, with his powerful arms and barrel body of solid muscle, brings down Hadriana with a roar and leaves her there for Fenris to handle. Hawke who expresses very loudly that he couldn't give a shit if Fenris goes fisting insane magister bitches or breaks his word to the aforementioned, because Hawke knows words are worthless as moldy rags and torn trousers. Hawke, who handles Fenris as if he has the right to, shaking him as he says he's done worse things to better people and lived better with worse done to him. Hadriana is dead, and Fenris knows it would not have happened without Hawke, who walked through her blood spells pissing out with pain and life roaring from every pockmarked pore, who reached through her shell and punched her full in the face.
Hawke, who won't let Fenris alone in that mansion when all Fenris wants to do is drink himself blind. Hawke, who reminds Fenris, shouting, that he was a slave as well, a year of it officially and fucked if before that he didn't live a life of harder work and less room to grow and know and learn morality than a magister's pampered perfurmed bodyguard, grow the fuck up, Fenris.
Did you sleep on his silks, Fenris?
Did you like your perfumed baths and the praise for your body, Fenris?
Did you flatter him the way you flatter me, Fenris?
Fenris, look at my fucking face, Fenris, you arrogant bastard!
Fenris, who does not look up, who can only look down, until Hawke stalks away in disgust and mutters, 'Drink yourself to a grave, fucking elf, see if I care when you die.'
Halfway there, Fenris thinks, in grim cheer, because the bitch was dead, at least.
But Hawke was right, it's not celebration Fenris is hoping to find in a bottle.
After, in Kirkwall's streets where life tries to be ordinary again, as if he ever knew what ordinary was. Fenris stands too close to Hawke, crowds the man, wants Hawke to lift his fists to push him away, wants Hawke to hit or hurt him so he can hit or hurt back. Fenris lifts his chin in provocation when Hawke sneers at him. Fenris, who likes the way Hawke looks at him so hungrily, maybe even drooling a little, when Hawke thinks no one is watching him. Every biting curse Hawke threw at him that night Fenris feels worse than a blow, truth used as bluntly as Hawke uses his head in a fight, and still, still Hawke wants him, even knowing what he was.
What he is.
Fenris has never had this kind of power over another powerful man before, even if he knows himself for conscious of his own particular appeal, trained for his body, made into a living weapon for another man's vanity. What else is he good for? He would make Hawke so happy, and spite Danarius besides; imagine the magister's face when he sees upon whom Fenris bestows all those years of training and investment.
The thought is cruel, and Fenris cringes. Hawke doesn't deserve that, surely. Even if Fenris does.
Finding someone with no vanity appeals on a level Fenris doesn't want to understand. Over time the contrasts work on him, the impossibility of Hawke's strength against that brutal, ugly face, the power in that twisted body, the damage so uncontrolled and without pattern. Chaos of war in knots and lumps and hollows of missing flesh. A mangled finger one knuckle shorter than all the rest, the broken rib which dents like a shield, the knotted muscle which grips and pulls that uneven skeleton together, the lips split and crooked and always slightly wet and open, the unhinged jaw that doesn't quite close neatly. First two knuckles on each hand welded together by callous from punching, palms rough as rock from labour. The personality which fills a room like a draconic myth, that story, Hawke's story, a power that exists without anything Fenris has ever known as power before. Power that might take out Danarius as neatly as Hadriana. Fenris knew it from the first, watching that brutal gorish battle when Hawke tore apart a hundred slavers, feeling his own heart beat high in his throat and dick hard as steel, only for the mixed lust and bloodlust and triumph to burst into a sickened shame at first sight of Hawke's face.
Now Fenris admits he finds it more than a bit fascinating, this concept of a person who takes the blows life throws and never dodges, never turns aside, never deflects, lies, hides; Hawke absorbs and wears it all, weary, plodding, bullish Balorp Hawke, human battering ram, no job too violent or large for someone who has no depth perception thanks to a detached retina. Sculptures of grotesques can be just as fascinating as paragons of elven manliness, even if only a drunk Isabela agrees. In his bed and in his memory Fenris turns over and over the image of Hawke until the edges of every jagged shapeless lump rubs off with familiarity, and when he lies back and fucks himself he almost sees the man Hawke isn't. The man he imagined behind that helm, that first night in the alienage. A man fit and fine as he was strong, Fenris' need to impress as overwhelming as the lust.
The crashing, gutwrenching, fascinating shame Fenris experiences after he comes, his palms sticky long after he's washed himself dry. The curling rejection when he sees Hawke again for the man that he is, and it is nothing like the worn image in his head which made him come too often in the dark.
I can't do this, Fenris thinks. Not sober, certainly.
He walks into your house one night, which is unusual, drunk which is not, leaning forward and calling you all those things that the whores used to say to get your gold. So Fenris wants you, oh, but Fenris wants you, does he? So strong, so magnificent, what a fool, trying to flirt, does he even know what you do with people who lie when they flirt?
You fuck him, of course. Two and a half hours of it. His slim beautiful dick begging for your mouth until you're drooling for it, but you give him nothing but the length and breadth and juice of your cock. He stares at anywhere except you, writhes and moans and bucks like a thousand sov whore, but it's a game you don't know how to play. Warm wet holes and sucking mouths are the same, always the same, welcoming after a good few thrusts, until you fuck all the pretension out of him him, limp and loose as a two bit whore. Later, after Fenris has spent twice, beautifully fucked over, he grumps and sighs when you pin him and spread his legs again.
Suddenly, he fights so hard to be free you pull away. Let him go. Go, Fenris. Go. Get him out of your house, that's all you want, your dick burning hard and heart hurting, after all of that. He's fighting you and you want him to go, this isn't the mercenary camp, there's not an audience to impress, and your dick is not your best feature to be thinking with it.
Then he looks at you. Sees you.
Pants and moans and covers his face with a pillow, spreading himself. 'Hawke, Hawke, Hawke,' like a chant, or a reminder. His twisting body when you thrust, the half-hidden faces he makes in hurt and tension, sloppy and drunk and he passes out again, slack as a breathless sail.
You wish maybe you were drunk too, so this wasn't so pathetic.
He punches you in the gut when you're inside him and you lean into the blow. The pillow goes. He punches you in the face, but you're still in him. He gasps high, moans low. Startles to see you, as if he was expecting someone else, grabs your hair and kisses you, desperately, with tongue even.
Passes out after he comes for the third time, and you end in him bare hot heartbeats after, your unhappy end in-out, in-out, in, ending, roll over, die.
The bedsheets are dry. Sweat, the alcohol reek, come, oil. Dry, he's been gone that long. You stare where he spread himself for you and try to remake the images in your head into something beautiful. Back to fucking resigned elves for shits and giggles. But what else is there to do but go on, and Fenris is still there at your side, looking sickly and worried and screaming at you not to die, reaching for his sword, and the Arishok's guards will kill him if he tries to step in now, which he looks like he's doing, and you think, not Fenris too, not Father, not Carver, not Bethany, not Mother, not the dog who starved himself rather than love you and the pirate who fucked and fled and the Keeper's apprentice lost to a mirror and the Anderfels brother so briefly found lost to a cause. Not Fenris, oh Maker, not him as well.
Which gives you the force and strength and caring and life-weary grit to hang on to the Arishok, to not care about the gaping impalement or what it's going to do to the defiled temple of your body, to headbutt the giant back right in the face at the point under the horns where Balorp Hawke the farmboy knows even oxen are vulnerable, that bones under all that flesh are purely a structural matter and all structures have a weakness, and damned be to your seven times broken now re-broken nose.
You grab the Arishok's secondary dagger and thrust it into the space where his skull and spine meet, with an animal howl.
Is it a surprise when you wake up and find yourself a part of a story? Champion of Kirkwall; the statues will be wearing a helm, you think, startled to find they do not. Two eyes, one nose, a mouth and all the skin between: everything a face might be, the reader fills the gaps.
Fenris waits until Anders leaves, then takes that place as if it's his right to be there, and you're a little afraid that might be stars in his eyes you see, bright and bold as Carver's right before an ogre crushed his skull.
Or maybe he's just drunk, because Fenris goes to his knees, his cheek on your thigh, mouthing you through fabric. What does he want from you? You'd ask, if you dared. Hope the answer's not your magnificent cock. But you've said it all already, you and he: men with big swords, what else are you two good for?
Let Fenris drink, let him fall into your bed sucking at your skin with your fingers sorting through his hair, let there be what comfort there can, all those delicate spaces between the knots of scars without sensation. How old are you? Old enough. At least you don't mind the smell of wine.
A mirror of transformation, blood magic or not, no demons attached. Hawke never brought Fenris here before, seat of magical perversion. He tells the story of how Isabela used the mirror, sleeking the wrinkles, watching her reflection shine. She never went further than that. As she said, imagine if she changed her face so far she couldn't remember how to get back to it.
'There was a demon once,' Hawke says.
There are always demons, Fenris knows. And so many impossibly magic mirrors.
'Of course I thought about it,' Hawke says. 'I know what I look like, Fenris, and it's not a fucking idiot.'
Fenris nods, nods, finds no words.
'Do you want me to?'
But it's not Fenris' face. Not his choice. Like lyrium scars, except the opposite; as if the mirror could take those away from him, even if they were erased from view.
So what if every head turns when they w alk into a room together. Beauty and the Beast, as they say, at least until the first time Fenris lights up and puts his fist through a nosy bastard and the names are switched around, to Fenris' satisfaction, because it's truer this way, he is the beast and Hawke is the impossibility. Let people scoff and wonder and joke, better grotesque than mundane, though Fenris will never admit to thinking any of that or to his uncontrollable fascination with the path of destruction. Some words Fenris is not cruel enough to speak, even drinking, even drunk. Those hands which worship his body with an unspeakable gratitude, with occasional loathing, a body likewise who leans into the punches and surpasses every blow. The crooked mouth which respects and defiles and gentles him, speaks every hungry emotion Fenris has ever denied and wanted to feel.
After the tenth hungover morning watching Bal take on the morning's utter complexity of shaving that ragged terrain, Fenris admits the alcohol is an excuse of an excuse, that he's never as drunk as he pretends to be.
'I know that.'
'You piss yourself when you're drunk. The bed's always been dry when we've shared it. It had to be love.'
Hawke smiles, and does Fenris wish he wouldn't? Every jagged edge wears smooth, eventually.
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