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Share House

Fenris woke that morning to the news that Qarinus was being bombed. He turned off his radio, he remembered, because the roiling emotion at the newsreader's words made him feel as if nearly a decade of expensive therapy was worthless. In recent months, he had finally begun to remember how he felt about his life before the torture, though it did feel more like a dream than his history no matter how hard he tried.

He remembered, because while he was quietly sitting in the current sharehouse's kitchen, breathing long, slow breaths and thinking the taught paths of anger control, nursing a mug of coffee long since gone cold, Dorian picked the moment to start hurling his belongings down the stairs, yelling at him all the while for using an aerosol deodorant, didn't he know what he was doing to the ozone.

No, he didn't. He knew there were protest marches all through the Ferelden cities demanding peace from their leaders and to oust the Divine Victoria (and her martial bent against the Qun) from power. He knew Divine Victoria and her particular connections and abilities were very likely their united nations' only chance to repulse the Qunari, but at what cost, to become another Tevinter?

He knew what it meant if Qarinus was being bombed, which was that Seheron, which had once been his homeland and which had shaped him in ways known and forgotten, was no longer. Physically there, maybe. Even the people, because the Qunari did not kill with malicious intent. But they changed things, as fundamentally as Fenris had once been changed, and the sheer thought of losing himself again incited this monstrous dread, and the accompanying terror/shame/panic/rage.

He knew that his companions and housemates — shiftless rebels that Dorian had run away from home to emulate, vagabonds from a stiflingly middle class - would have to fight the war that they currently protested against. Or they would be killed by their own for turning traitor, their bastardised, idealised Qun no longer a benign "alternative" philosophy when it was on the doorstep with saarabas and guns. Or perhaps they would slip through and end up homeless, cracked on the lyrium they'd once used to shift perception and fake the power necessary for their so-called freedom.

Fenris knew that the first thing the Qunari did when they took a city was to take its mages. Whatever Dorian was shouting at him, Fenris saw the mage with his mouth stitched shut, the well-made shoulders forced to bear the weight of the collar.

Maybe his therapist was right, that it was empathy in the end that would give him the key to conquer his shame/rage. Because Fenris also knew that Dorian's family lived in Qarinus, the family who paid the obscenely cheap rent which so pissed off their housemates - it triggered all their class issues - and that family as a concept now meant something to Fenris. In all likelihood Dorian's father and mother were dead or made saarabas, and Dorian wouldn't know for days because one of his petty acts of rebellion was to refuse to listen to mainstream radio and eschew the purchase of a tv. Books. Only ever books.

Knowing all of that dissolved Fenris' terror/anger into nothing more than a leaden, dragging pity, so thick in his chest he wanted to vomit instead of fight.

His lack of usual reaction made Dorian falter.

So Fenris didn't attack him. He'd had enough of prison, enough of cages. He did gather his single bag of belongings and leave, though, and couldn't speak a word to Dorian as he did, even when the pleading starting, the breaking desperation. If Fenris said a single word, the floodgates would open.

Sometimes it felt like he had seen too much, and that was why no matter how hard he tried, he still couldn't remember the smaller things from when he was still normal, untouched. There were too many big things, and none of the increments of life that made for reality. Fenris had met the Warden who killed the Archdemon, he had seen the start and end of a Blight; spoken to the King of Ferelden, been called a friend by Starkhaven's prince. He had loved the Champion of Kirkwall, then lost his love to the Inquisition's cause. He survived war, assassinations, decades on the street, a year behind bars. He had killed his sister. Silk and caviar and stale crusts and water gathered from the condensation off a servo's outdoor refrigerator. He'd been a magister's plaything, then made a magister his.

He left, because he did not believe there was enough room in his life to see the coming of another saviour. Some things were still so much easier to leave behind than to lose again.

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