ossobuco: Legion from Mass Effect 2 (Default)
[personal profile] ossobuco
Fandom: Dragon Age II
Word count: 1,216
Characters: Marie Hawke (warrior, sarcastic with a soft side), Anders
Rating: PG
Summary: Anders needs someone to talk to--and Hawke can't ignore a friend in need.


Marie paused just inside the entryway of Anders's makeshift clinic, leaning against one mildewed, water-stained wall and looking the place over. Little had changed since she'd last come by; the hovel itself was as clean as anywhere in Darktown could ever be, and Anders's equipment—herbs and medicines, bandages and tourniquets, blades and curved needles and various other tools and substances that she didn't recognize—were organized neatly on a little table. There were no patients that night, but Anders did not seem to have been taking advantage of the calm. He had changed more than his clinic—the lines around his eyes were deeper, and the blue-black circles beneath them more pronounced; he was paler than usual, his fingers trembled slightly. He sat hunched forward on one of the ragged cots, his crossed arms resting on his knees, and as he craned his head to look up at her, his eyes seemed so profoundly weary that her bones ached just looking at him.

“I got your message.” She took a few steps further in, glancing down to avoid stepping in anything.

He managed a smile. “Thank you. You didn't have to come. You probably don't need to sit around in a sewer all night while a half-crazed apostate complains at you.”

“Maybe not, but you need someone to listen.” She sauntered closer, finally sitting down on the bed next to him. "Besides,” she added lightly, “the alternative is sitting around in Hightown while half-crazed nobles complain at each other. Believe me, this isn't so bad.”

“Still, thank you.” He pressed his face into his hands, then ran them back through his hair with an exhausted sigh. “I haven't slept in days,” he said, “between the templars always getting so close, and these—dreams.”

“Why am I not surprised to hear you don't dream of kittens and rainbows all the time.” She rested her chin in her palm and watched him wipe his hands, damp with sweat, on his robes. He reminded her so much of her father in the moments when his convictions seemed to light a fire within him and fill him with determination, when the abuses he had suffered fueled and strengthened him rather than draining him, weighing him down. Those glimpses of Malcolm Hawke made it all the more difficult to see Anders in these moments of despair, for in his frailty, in his pallor and his eyes hollow with sleeplessness and frustration, she also saw the illness that had taken her father's life. It made her all the more intent on helping him, knowing that she could at least do something more than watch him slowly waste and die. She wished that she could give him the life he wanted—the life of freedom and safety that Malcolm and Bethany would never know.

“Well, sometimes I dream of kittens,” he replied, wistful for just a moment before seeming to shiver and looking away. “But the Grey Wardens have... terrible dreams, even when there isn't a Blight. We're connected to the darkspawn in a way—it's like listening in on their hive-mind.”

The darkspawn were horrible enough simply as another foe on the end of her blade; Marie couldn't even imagine having a constant window into their thoughts. “I can see why you'd want to avoid that.”

“It's more than that, if you'll believe it. The last time I was in the Circle, they put me in solitary confinement for a year, and I... lately I've had these dreams that I'm trapped underground, in a crack in the rock that's so small that I can't move and so dark that I can't see, and all I can hear is the darkspawn horde, growing. Hunting. And when I wake, it doesn't end, it's just—instead of darkspawn, I'm hiding from the templars, and instead of the hive-mind, I hear him. Demanding vengeance.” A subtle flicker of blue light ran along the side of his face, seeming to blend in the wrinkles around his eyes, and then to shine in his pupils for a second. He tensed, clenched his fists, drew a small, shuddering breath—and then the light was gone as quickly as if she'd imagined it. “Or maybe it's not him, now. Maybe it's just me. I can't tell them—us—apart anymore. Maker, how can I fix what's wrong in the world if I can't even fix myself?”

“One step at a time.” She gave him a sideways sort of smile. “The stronger you are, Anders, the more he has to listen to you. He'll never get what he wants if he's always trying to be in control—he needs you. Make him understand that.”

At that, he glanced at her from the corner of his eye, and laughed weakly. “You make it sound so easy.”

“You won't have to do it alone.” She put an arm around his shoulders and squeezed, carefully but warmly. He was so exhausted—she could feel it in the muscles of his back, his breaths, the hunch of his shoulders—that he practically fell against her, wrapping one arm loosely around her waist. Between Marie's height and the angle at which Anders leaned to reach her, this gesture ended with the side of his face pressing against her chest—inadvertently, she assumed, as he seemed almost too tired to realize it. She cleared her throat pointedly, glancing down at him with her eyebrows humorously raised.

“Hawke?” he mumbled, and then, suddenly seeming to notice his position, “oh, Andraste's tits—I mean—”

Marie only laughed, leaving her arm draped around him. The boundaries of their close friendship had been firmly and mutually established for some time, and as neither had shown intent to change this, she remained unperturbed, and he didn't move. “You know, to cry in someone's bosom is usually just an expression.”

He sighed again. She could feel the rise and fall of his shoulders, and the warmth of his breath through her tunic. “This whole world is so hard,” he said, “but you, Hawke, you're—soft, and... wait, that didn't come out right at all—”

“I think you're the first person in the history of Thedas to call me 'soft',” she smirked, “unless you mean...”

“I swear I didn't—though I suppose they are rather—”

“Don't push your luck.” Still, she smiled, and ran her fingers through his tangled hair. She felt him relax slowly under her attentions, and after a few hushed moments, he lay down on the cot and set his head in her lap.

“Thank you for coming here, Hawke.”

“How could I pass up the chance to have my bosom so eloquently complimented?”

It was difficult to tell, from her angle, but she thought she saw him smile. All was quiet for several minutes; she could hear the slow dripping of water resonate through the cavernous stone spaces, the soft scurry of tiny clawed feet in the shadows, and now and then a low voice or a cough from the tunnels beyond the door of the clinic. She focused instead on his breathing, which had become even, shallow, almost restful. She was no mage—just a friend—but she did what she could to keep his nightmares away.
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