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And the Soul Slides Away


When Hawke dies, Fenris buries her. Anders gets older and sicker and grows a beard. Fenris smokes because weed is lighter than wine bottles when on the run, a handrolled fag permanently hanging from the lowest corner of his scowl. Turns out neither of them can haggle when it comes to food or accommodation, having very little idea as to what this thing money is, so they always get fleeced and never find home. Fenris acts as a bodyguard because that’s all he knows how to do to, Anders foreswears ever using his magic again, then uses it again, then hates himself for long periods of time. Everything is very sad and pathetic. There go the years again, where Fenris follows Anders around with the vague intention of watching him, because someone has to, because there is no Hawke with her eyes and her heart, they both think and never say. Fenris gets saggy and hunched and the lyrium is killing him, Anders gets heavily creased and mutters constantly because there are too many voices and not enough ears and only one mouth. The sex is terrible and necessary and over in moments. There is no shame. They hole up in a localised nowhere exchanging no more than two or three statements a day, generally about how much everything costs, because dialogues pose the risk of understanding and the barriers between them are all that remain. Anders makes potions and Fenris digs garden trenches to plant the herbs, and for the first few bitter years the plants die because they both forget about irrigation and never watch for rain, but the shovel and the hoe and the rake never bear a spot of rust and the edge on the things would humble a sword. Anders grumbles and argues and develops the shakes, Fenris grunts and smokes to ward off the pain and his hair goes yellow. Through the lyrium slowly stealing his sight and the sounds slowly stealing Anders’ mind they watch the local children playing ball in the village square below the shack on the hill and they know more about the lives of those children than the children would ever want to imagine they know. Fenris and Anders never, ever talk about the war. They cut each other’s hair once a year. The sex never gets better, but they forget there was ever anything else and still there is no shame. It takes Fenris a decade before he says Anders, but once he does he never stops saying it, Anders eat your food Anders come inside Anders read me this book then this book then this book, and one day Anders just goes, Fenris I can’t, and Anders just goes, out the door and to the middle of the road in the rain, hoping to catch pneumonia and die, and after the first hour Fenris comes out too, soggy cigaret and wearing Anders’ muddy boots with no stockings, and he sits next to Anders and says nothing until the cigaret melts away. Then he says with his whole mouth, not just the corner, Anders. And Anders says, I don’t know what I’ve done with my life I was spared to be more I should have joined this war I should have been a general if I was not to be a martyr. Fenris says, Anders come inside there is tea waiting. Those fried grey greens and the impossibly structural potatoes and the full ashtray next to the expensive cheese and the bedpan already warming their sheets and smoke filling the room because neither of them will clean out the chimney, and Anders weeps silently into Fenris’ chest and Fenris’ arm and breathes in the smoky, familiar sick smell of him and weeps, and laughs, and cries with Fenris’ helpless poisoned hand with the yellowed first joints of the fingers, stroking his hair, saying tell me Anders tell me, and Anders tells him, it’s nothing nothing love just nothing love just love.

Because lives are for people who know what to do with them.

When Anders asks, Fenris buries him, then Fenris sits in the middle of the road and waits for the rain.


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