isadora-legata:

                She doesn’t even notice it; not at first.

The months after fleeing Kirkwall hadn’t been easy after all. Hardened fighters they may be, but there was an emotional toll at what that battle had cost them and even though they’d gotten away from any immediate harm, the weight of it all was exhausting. But they’d finally found a place, somewhere quiet, somewhere away from the commotion and looming war, somewhere where a mage like her and a warrior like him could recover.

She didn’t have a lot of money, what with how quickly they had to leave the city and how long and far they traveled, but it was enough to get decent accommodations. It felt almost right going back to doing odd jobs around town for coin. It was how she was used to making a living, after all. Fenris helped, of course. He would smile, tell her he wanted to be near her, that the way she attracted trouble, he might never leave her side. She’d give a coy smile back and say ‘Good. All according to plan then.’

This job, however, she had to do alone. The man who hired her was distrustful of elves, especially intimating ones, and though Hawke had argued Fenris had stopped her, telling her it was alright, that it didn’t sound like a hard mission enough mission for two of them, that he could use an afternoon to rest.

                She’d relented, let him go back to the place they were renting, did the job, and had even been able to convince the elf-hating bastard to give up a few more gold pieces for the trouble.

                She returns just as the sun is dipping below the horizon, smiling triumphantly and dropping the coin purse on the table. “Absolutely miserable man,” she says to Fenris who she sees gazing out the window. “But he paid well, I suppose. Anyway, you won’t believe what shite I had to walk through to get his shipment and-“ She places her staff against the door frame and continues to rattle on for a good few minutes before she notices Fenris hasn’t responded.

                He hasn’t even moved.

                “Fenris?” she asks, tilting her head. When he doesn’t answer, she feels a small swell of panic. “Fenris, what’s wrong?”

                When he doesn’t answer again, she moves quickly towards him, grabbing his arm and turning him to face her. “Fenris!”

He stares at her, as if surprised to see her there. He blinks, shaking his head as if coming out of a daze. “I… I apologize,” he sputters, blinking and turning to her. “I… My mind must have wandered off. You were saying?”

And he smiles.

And everything is alright.

Only it isn’t.

~*~

Carver has the answer.

They hadn’t see much of each other these days, what with him being a Templar and the ever increasing pressure from his superiors to bring in any and all apostates and her being not only an apostate, but the apostate that everyone swears to Andraste tried to start a war against the Chantry. Their visits were rare and brief, but meaningful and worth it all the same. They were the last of the Hawke family, after all, the only family each other had.

“It’s the lyrium.”

She stares at him, confused at why he pulled her aside leaving Fenris to turn his calm gaze back to the window, confused at the words that fell from his lips. “What do you mean, ‘it’s the lyrium’?” she asks. “What’s the lyrium.”

Carver doesn’t want to meet her gaze for a moment, dropping his to the floor as he draws in a breath and finds the words. When his eyes meet hers, she sees the seriousness in them. “I’ve seen it happen to some of the Templars,” he explains. He keep his voice low, darting a glance to the elf in the other room, but Fenris is paying no attention. “The older ones, the ones who have been taking lyrium for too many years. It started to affect their minds. They would forget where they were, what they were doing.”

She blinks and gavse a half smile at her little brother. “Come on, you can’t be serious,” she replies, shaking her head even though the hardness hasn’t left his expression. She tries to smile wider. “Being forgetful doesn’t mean you’ve gone soft in the head. He’s relaxing. He’s happy. This is the first time we’ve been able to breathe since Kirkwall. It’s probably the first time he’s been able to relax ever.”

But Carver has started shaking his head in response. “Sister… I’ve seen it happen before. I know the signs.”

She feels a swell of anger as her own features twisted into a scowl. “Stop it, Carver. If this is a joke, it isn’t funny,” she has to work to keep her own voice quiet. No need to cause a fight between her brother and her lover. “I may not be a Templar-“ the word has a venom in it that made Carver flinch- “but I know what lyrium does. It’s not like he drinks the stuff and it takes years for it to start affecting Templars-“

“It’s in his tattoos.”

“Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed. All these years and I thought they were glow worms.” The bite in her tone is unmistakable and she shifts to make back towards the room, back to Fenris. Carver catches her arm and she almost turns and punches him, but settles for a glare.

“Has he ever had nightmares?”

It’s a stupid question. Haven’t they all? Especially Fenris in all that he has been through? But there is something in his tone that makes her pause, something that makes her anger retreat. “Of course he has,” she replies, warily. “So have I.”

“Has he ever had nightmares when he’s awake?”

She doesn’t reply.

She doesn’t have to. There is confirmation in her silence, sure enough. Carver lets go of her arm and she keeps her eyes locked on his. There is a full minute of silence before she swallows and opens her mouth.

“He thought… he thought he was back in Tevinter. He thought…” She swallows again, the anger having become a horrible pit in her stomach. “He thought I was Hadrianna.”

Carver’s face hardens. “Did he hurt you?” he asks.

“Of course not,” she replies, shaking her head. She crosses her arms, feeling vulnerable all the same. It had been a horrible few moments, seeing the hatred in his eyes, the aggression in his stance. She never thought she’d ever see those directed at her, not from the same elf who gave her those puppy dog eyes that made her heart skip a beat and whose rare but beautiful smile lit up her world. “It was barely a few minutes. I thought he’d slipped into a nap and I’d accidentally woke him up in the middle of a bad memory.”

Her brother is silent a moment and she feels the pit in her stomach grow. “It’s going to get worse,” he says quietly.

“It’s just one waking nightmare, Carver, it doesn’t mean-“

“But you said he was relaxing.”

She closes her eyes a moment. It’s still possible that the forgetfulness and the flashbacks are just that, and that they aren’t connected as Carver thinks. It was possible, but she knows it isn’t likely.

“The lyrium has probably been seeping into his system the entire time,” Carver continues. “He may not be taking it like a Templar, but he’s been getting a constant dose all the same. For years.”

She opens her eyes, shakes her head. “Then we’ll get them removed,” she says, determined. “We can find someone to do it. Someone in Tevinter. Or maybe Merrill knows something. Or Varric, he knows everybody, he can-“

It’s the pity in her brother’s eyes that silences her. The pit in her stomach grows at the sight of it.

“Chances are he’s already addicted.”

Her eyes slam shut, this time to stop tears. She covers her mouth with her hand. She has to block out the world for a few moments because the horrible weight of it all is too much. Fenris has been through too much, she has been through too much. It’s not fair and there has to be a way to fix it. She can find a way. She’s Hawke, Champion of Kirkwall. She can find a way, right?

Carver is speaking and she starts listening just as he’s saying, “-start confusing the past with the present and you’re going to be his target. If you stay, you’re going to be in danger, you should-“

“Leave him?” she asks, angry again. “Or kill him? Tell me, which would be easier for him? Which would be easier for me?” Carver falls silent and looks away as if ashamed he even brought it up. He should be. “I know you’ve had a hard time understanding what’s between Fenris and I, but I love him-“

“He hates mages,” he tries.

“He loves me.”

Carver’s lips twist. “Not when he’s lost his mind. Not when he can’t remember who he is anymore. You’re just going to be an enemy then.”

“I won’t leave him,” she says, firmly. “I love him too much. I won’t abandon him when he needs me most.”

Carver won’t meet her gaze anymore, now that her decision is final. She can tell he doesn’t know what to say; doesn’t know if he should call her an idiot or console her. Her gaze turns to Fenris, who hasn’t moved through their entire talk. He looks so peaceful. To think, she’d actually been relieved to see him so calm.

A thought crosses her mind and her heart twists.

“It’s going to happen to you too, isn’t it?” she asks.

He doesn’t reply.

He doesn’t have to.

~*~

                She had prayed to Andraste that Carver had been wrong, but he wasn’t.

                Some days were better than others, of course. Some days he was completely himself, with the smirks he only gave her, the laugh for her ears alone, and the kisses he gave no one else. There were the quiet days, when he’d sit for hours, gazing out the window. She’d talk, and he’d only respond half of the time, probably not even realizing she was there the other half.

                And then there were the bad days. There would be yelling and screaming. Their possessions would be throw against walls and he would come at her with all he had in him. Sometimes she could talk him down in minutes, tell him he was safe, he was no longer a slave, she wasn’t his enemy, she was his lover. She’d tell him she loved him, she’d kiss him even when his fingers were leaving bruises in her arms. Her words mostly confused him and he’d wander off in a haze. Other times, she’d have to defend herself. She tried not to use magic, not the thing he hated so much, but sometimes a sleeping spell was the only thing that would stop his rage.

                Either way, she’d had to move them away from any cities and towns. He drew too much attention and now she heard word that people were looking for her; Seekers trying to find the Champion of Kirkwall, the woman who was there when the world started to break apart. There was no telling what they wanted with her, and she couldn’t protect Fenris if they dragged her off. So she found a quiet place in the hills. She locked the doors whenever she left for town to get supplies. She kept Fenris as comfortable and as calm as she could.

                And she prayed.

                She couldn’t tell you what she prayed for anymore. Prayed for their safety. Prayed the seekers wouldn’t find her. Prayed Fenris would have a good day.

                Prayed she’d see him smile just once more.

~*~

                It’s night when she returns.

                The house is dark, as it almost always is, and feels so abandoned. She sets the bundle down in the front room, closing the front door behind her and walking inside. She sets her cloak aside and with a wave of her hand and a muttered word, the candles alight.

                He’s sitting there, just where she left him, staring out the window and seeing nothing. He hasn’t spoken in days now, eats very little and only when coaxed. He doesn’t register her return, probably didn’t even know she was gone. She feels her heart twist standing behind him and stroking his hair. It’s so long now. She dares not cut it (having sharp objects near him proved to be a bad idea a few weeks back), so just brushes it every morning and every night and ties it back for him.

                She has this horrible feeling. Carver was supposed to meet her in town today, but he didn’t show up. Had he forgotten, or was the same thing that was happening to her lover now happening to her brother? Maybe he was just busy. Templars had a hard time of it these days.

                It was all so horribly unfair. What terrible thing had she done to deserve to lose so much? Her father first, then her home in Lothering and Bethany with it, her brother leaving her to join the Templars, her mother killed by a crazed necromancer, her home in Kirkwall…

                And now Fenris.

                And how unfair for him as well. Spent his life as a slave, fought so hard for his freedom. His hands were so bloody with the people he killed just so he didn’t have to bow to the whims of a master, and now he was a prisoner again. There was no escaping this prison, however. There were no magisters to fight to win his freedom. The only way to escape the chains of his mind was death.

                That horrible feeling she was having… maybe death wasn’t so far off for him.

                She kisses the back of his head, leaning forward and burying her face in his hair, one hand sliding down his chest to hold him. There is no indication that he took note of her, no change in his posture or change in his breath. Still, she hopes he knows she’s there. She hopes some part of his broken mind remembers her and is grateful for her presence and her warmth.

                She prays to Andraste that he still knows how much she loves him.

http://isadora-legata.deviantart.com/art/Adverse-Effects-447426623

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