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[personal profile] augustbird
Title: Stray
Fandom Dragon Age 2
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,221
Characters/Pairing: Fenris/Male Hawke
Summary: After Kirkwall, Fenris and Hawke visit Lothering.
Author's Note: ❤ ❤ adri ❤ ❤ kora ❤ ❤

It's winter by the time they reach the ruins of Lothering. The snowfall is light, collecting as a fine white on their shoulders and dusting the well trodden paths winding through the woods. Hawke leads without hesitation, his ceaseless chatter having dwindled into a few words of caution here and there to indicate a patch of ice. Fenris is too concerned to be annoyed and he takes the warnings as an excuse to touch Hawke--briefly hold his arm, press a hand to Hawke's shoulder to steady himself.

The signs of darkspawn are too obvious for even an untrained eye to miss--scars of old battles on tree trunks, scorched boulders and impromptu mass graves long overgrown with weeds. Fenris stays close. He spends most of his time surreptitiously looking at Hawke's face--the calm way Hawke looks at fields still barren from salting or stone markers on the side of the road: here lies a family of seven, here lies a child. Fenris curses this stupid idea, for letting Hawke talk him into wandering so far south so soon after the Blight had ended.

They come across a crude memorial--white stones placed like teeth in rows along a recently burned clearing. The trees here are twisted and bare. The fire must have burned straight through to Lothering--it still smells like smoke.

Fenris shivers, half from cold, half from fear for what Hawke will find.

Hawke steps close and unclasps his cloak. Fenris steps away automatically with a warning glare, but Hawke ignores him and wraps an arm around his shoulder, pulling Fenris to him and shoving a cold nose into Fenris's temple with a smile against the side of his head.

"No need to look so serious," Hawke says.

Fenris gives in and slips his arm around Hawke's waist, cold leather against cold leather. He tilts his head up and touches his lips to Hawke's cheek.


The bridge connecting the two parts of Lothering has been destroyed. The survivors who haven't fled to Denerim have laid down a burnt tree trunk over the ruins of the old bridge--enough for the able-bodied to climb over but certainly not optimal for a wagon.

Fenris sees the way that Hawke looks at the makeshift bridge before he knows exactly what the idiot is thinking. Hawke doesn't even have to turn to look at him before Fenris says, "You're not a carpenter."

"How hard could it be?" Hawke asks--like they're in Kirkwall all over again, like he's buying a mine or facing down the knight commander--how hard could it be? Fenris wants to point out that they're standing a mere hundred feet from the Lothering chantry, that they agreed to keep a low profile--but there's something in the way that Hawke's looking at that stupid tree trunk that Fenris gives in and prays to a maker he doesn't believe in that this won't end in a spectacular disaster.


Hawke fits in with the rest of the dark-haired Fereldens but Fenris can't take his hood off in fear of attracting unwanted attention. He spends most of his day trying to forage in the area surrounding Lothering but the fire has destroyed too much. An abandoned barn, half gutted by flames, becomes their home base for the week that Hawke indulges in his harebrained scheme to build a bridge and Fenris meets Hawke there in the evenings, once the sun has set and the workday has ended.

Fenris is lucky if he can even find a rabbit to shoot--but there are mushrooms growing from old detritus that tastes vaguely like the smoke of the charred logs they grow from. There are still potatoes in the ground if Fenris ventures far enough to where the villages are scared of the wild mabari and the threat of still lurking darkspawn.

Hawke brings a bottle of wine back one night. "Bought it off the mayor," he says. The grin on Hawke's face stops Fenris from asking how much he's spent on it, to worry aloud about how their funds are draining away and how they might need it--how Hawke doesn't understand what it means to be on the run--

--but maybe Hawke does understand. Kirkwall was nearly a year ago.

"Come on," Hawke says, softly. He sweeps a thumb across the span of cheek under Fenris's left eye. "Let's celebrate something."


It's Fenris who finds the litter first.

The mother growls at him, hackles rising. He pauses in the doorway of the stall and looks down at her, unmoving. Eventually, she stops growling but keeps her eyes on him.

There's a small black pup, trying to crawl over the others to get at the milk, but its siblings keep shoving it out of the way. It yips as one of its littermates kicks it away and crawls around, trying to find another angle to be fed.

He doesn't know how long he stands there watching until Hawke peers in over his shoulder. The mother starts growling again but still doesn't get up.

Hawke watches with him for a few minutes. Fenris feels like maybe he ought to explain himself or say anything at all when Hawke gently moves him aside and steps into the stall. The mother starts barking and Fenris immediately knows what Hawke is going to do but he can't get the refusal out fast enough before Hawke has a pup cradled in one hand and pulling Fenris along with the other as the mother struggles to her feet.


"How are we going to feed it?" Fenris asks, watching the pup trying to suck at one of Hawke's fingers. "Milk is near impossible to come by."

"She's probably old enough to take some solid food," Hawke says, "Maybe some mashed up meat--Dog really liked potatoes when he was a puppy."

"You've named it already, haven't you?"

"You'll hate it,"

"It's hard enough finding food for ourselves."

"I've named her Cat."

Fenris doesn't say anything. He shouldn't be surprised at how stupid the name is, but Hawke never ceases to amaze him. Cat lets out a loud whine and immediately throws up all over the front of Hawke's shirt.

"Maker," Hawke sighs just as Fenris begins to laugh.


They leave Lothering with a half-wild mabari dog tucked into the crook of Hawke's arm. They travel east, towards a lake that Fenris had visited once as a fine experimental specimen in a past life. There might still be remaining members of Hawke's family somewhere in Redcliffe.

Cat eats her share of the food and then half of Hawke's. Fenris eyes the dog and then Hawke disapprovingly because Hawke should know better than to jeopardize himself or their ability to defend themselves for a dumb mutt. He doesn't know if this irrationality is purely a Hawke trait or if it runs rampant in Ferelden.

On the third day, Fenris sighs loudly and pointedly, but divides their rations so that the mabari's share comes from both their meals, not just Hawke's.

Hawke's answering smile is wide and immediate. Fenris has to consciously stop himself from smiling back and encouraging this behavior. But it twitches at the corners of his lips anyway and Hawke knows him too well to mistake it for anything else.


Hawke has this bad habit of picking up strays. After all, Fenris can't think of a better word to describe himself.
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