21 February 2012 @ 08:12 am
[dragon age 2] pale white things [1/3]
Dragon Age kink meme fill, see original + unedited fill here.

Fenris and Anders, and the nature of sacrifice. Warning for sexual content of dubious consent, as well as later explicit scenes.


act i. snow on your open palms.
(each stray reminder of your home life)

No one had seen or heard them coming.

Not that there had been much chance of it. After all, there had been plenty enough to keep them occupied and otherwise distracted: the clatter of their overloaded ox-drawn cart as it creaked and groaned and fought against the deep ruts of the muddy highway, the nervous murmur of the dozen Fereldan repatriates that lined its splinter-laden bed, the discord of a handful of travel-dirty children occasionally dropping from the sides to lope lazy, restless circles around the meager procession when their pent-up energy overwhelmed the concern of their tired, malnourished mothers.

Until then, it had been an almost pleasant day -- despite the company, Fenris found himself enjoying this strange land of vast green forests and snow-capped mountains, sun-dappled hills and bitterly cold glacial streams, all of it so very different from the lands he had known. The Fereldan people might be looked down upon by the rest of the world for being dog-lords of a grubby, half-wild land, but Fenris observed much to appreciate, both in scenery and its earthy, practical people.

Their cart bore four families, each with an apostate to its name, two with magically-inclined children. They’d come to Anders in Darktown, beseeching him as they would some sort of magister -- of course, the mage had taken it up with Hawke. They are Fereldan, he’d said. They are frightened, he’d said. They cannot afford to return home, he’d said, and the Gallows loom greater, darker and further-reaching, with each passing day.

Help me
, he’d said, and I will guide them home.

Fenris had not approved, but had finally voiced his reluctant agreement, imagining a blessed few months free of the abomination, nursing an immediate flare of cautious hope that perhaps the unreliable, dangerous man would not bother to return at all. Had he known Hawke would insist on his inclusion on the journey, he’d have kept his mouth shut tighter than any saarebas.

.


His gauntlets creak against the worn leather of the traces as he shifts on the bench, and he averts his gaze from the trio of templars with a stinging sense of irritation -- for all Ferelden might have in its favor, elves are still looked upon by humans as something less. And though he’d prefer the company of a handful of templars over the dubious company of apostates any day, he is keenly aware that he is a stranger, both to landscape and custom -- and that many templars possess an … affinity, for lyrium.

Perhaps Anders will use that occasionally silver tongue of his to talk them out of this without trouble. Certainly, none of the people in their wagon wear robes or carry staves, and Anders’ own weapon is tucked beneath the bench, well out of sight. Without these features, there is nothing immediately visible to give any of them away for the dangerous people that they are.

He glances at the Anders out of the corner of his eye, quietly surprised to see the man’s usually insolent expression turned empty. Slender fingers move to smooth the fabric of his ragged, stained coat over a knee, and Fenris does not miss the flex there, a strange gesture -- he’s never seen the mage nervous enough to show it before.

“Sers,” Anders says, dipping his head in a moment of rare deference, if not respect. Fenris almost smirks. Where is your defiance now, mage?

Perhaps this will be easy. A few questions, and then a few more miles of this miserable road before camp, barring another mess of bandits. At this point, he’s fairly certain he’d welcome a mess of bandits -- or two.

The closest of the templars reaches up to slip his helmet over his head, revealing sweat-damp auburn hair, thinning at the crown. Again, that subtle spasm of fingertips, this time accompanied by a noise so soft the elf is momentarily certain he’s imagined it.

“Ser Isley,” Anders says, and there’s something in the ripple of his voice that tells Fenris no, this will not be easy at all.

The templar’s smile is tight and vaguely unfriendly -- not, it seems, a pleasant reunion. No surprise, given the mage’s penchant for dissent and trouble-making, especially when the Chantry’s servants are involved. “I thought, perhaps, you’d forgotten me. You’ve been away from home so long, after all.”

Anders tilts his head to the side. “You’re far from Kinloch yourself, ser.” He seems to Fenris to have recovered some; that startling quiver is gone, replaced by studied neutrality. It’s just what they need, he thinks, cursing the mage for his insistence upon this journey for the seventh time today. Even then, there’s something disquieting, the faintest shadow lingering over the entire exchange that sends a shiver down Fenris’ spine, despite the pleasant weather.

“One must always be diligent in serving the needs of the Maker and his chosen,” Isley drawls, and the mage’s fingers twist savagely into the hem of his coat, knuckles paling beneath fierce pressure as he sucks a sharp breath through his nose. “No matter where such needs may take you.”

There is no reply for a moment -- it seems Anders is full of surprises today, each one of them unwelcome. A few beats of uncomfortable silence pass, tension building like pressure in a corked bottle, before Anders gives a small sigh, a sound like surrender. “I have answered a different calling, ser,” he says at last. “You and Greagoir are both well aware of that.”

The templar’s gaze settles on Fenris, then slides past his shoulder to the huddle of ragged people within the cart. “And where are you headed, then, warden?” There’s a mocking lilt in the title that Anders, again, does not react to beyond the sense of tension building yet further, the unrelenting pressure of a coil drawn ever tighter. “You seem to be running the wrong way.”

Anders’ laugh is short, sharp and touched with bitterness. “Refugees, ser, recently returned from the famed hospitality of Kirkwall. I am delivering them to Redcliffe, to be reunited with their families.”

“And such a journey requires a Warden’s protection? They seemed to have done well enough for themselves in leaving.”

A few of the children, momentarily curious to see what might perhaps be their first remembered glimpse of Fereldan templars, return to the wagon bed as if sensing the unease of the exchange. Grimly, mothers and fathers gather them close, waiting with the resigned silence of the condemned. “Darkspawn still remain, especially this close to the remains of Lothering,” Anders says softly. “We encountered a ranging group of genlocks not two nights ago.”

He tilts his head in Fenris’ direction, and the elf silently curses the mage for drawing attention to him. “Fortunately, the elf’s worth the coin he was paid.”

“Really, now? I thought perhaps you’d found another … pleasant distraction.” Isley’s eyes meet Fenris’ for a brief moment, but his attention quickly shifts to the man-height length of Red Steel strapped to his back. There’s a flicker in his look that might be grudging approval. “Are you a man of faith, elf?” he asks, and Fenris returns a curt nod.

“Redcliffe has its own issues, mage,” Isley says after another look at the cart’s passengers. “It certainly doesn’t need the kind you’re likely to bring.”

“Their passage is assured by Lady Rowden,” Anders shrugs. “The blond with the twins is her niece.”

“Fascinating,’ Isley murmurs. Fenris does not miss the way one of the other templars touches the pommel of his sword, and he has a moment to consider what he intends to do should this dissolve into violence. He owes the mage no allegiance outside of a hastily-wrought promise from Hawke -- truly, an abomination deserves little more. And yet --

“But who assures your passage, mage?” Isley asks softly.

“The Warden-Commander,” Anders says, a hint of a growl in his voice -- the first real sign of defiance he’s shown. Fenris can feel the tension radiating off the mage in waves, an overabundance of nervous energy that’s almost infectious. Fenris half-expects Anders to start glowing at any moment, destroying any chance of maintaining this stilted peace.

For a moment there’s silence, save for the rustle of wind through the trees. An infant whimpers, and is quickly hushed.

“Rolan was my friend.”

A beat, then, “I am sorry for your loss, ser.”

“You should have died instead, mage. The thought that you had was our only comfort.” There’s nothing pleasant on the templar’s face now, Fenris notes, and crosses his arms over his chest in a manner that indicates that he has nothing to do with this mess. Maker, but Hawke has the worst judgement when it comes to mages -- too much time with his sister has done much to blind him to the truth of their natures, no matter their intentions.

“Perhaps so,” Ander says, dropping his gaze to his hands, where they are still worrying at his coat. “But my life has already been claimed, and you know it.” He lifts his head, shoulders straightening, and Fenris bites back a groan of irritation -- the mage is about to do something stupid, undoubtedly. He’s going to open his mouth and say something or do something, and there will be blood and Hawke will never hear from either of them again because Fenris will not take part in this mess. “So what is it that you want, ser?”

The question hangs in the air between them like chokedamp. Another uneasy silence looms as the templar considers Anders, and Fenris catches the flicker of something unpleasant and knowing in the man’s muddy green eyes, something that speaks to him of dark places and -- strangely -- the gloating of a magister.

“We had an arrangement, once, did we not?” Isley asks after a thoughtful pause, and Anders nods mutely. His hands have gone still at the very least, a small blessing in what’s shaping up to be quite the unpleasant day.

Fenris glances at the mage, who very deliberately does not look back. “Nothing more?”

“It sounds like you’re encouraging, mage.”

Anders frowns. “I’ve come to dislike surprises, ser.”

The templar shrugs. “It seems everyone grows up -- though we certainly had our doubts about you. The old terms stand.”

Another dip of the head, and Anders lifts a hand to push a strand of hair back from his face. There’s the barest hint of a tremble in the gesture, and the mage takes a moment to glance behind him, at the nervous people under his protection. There’s a breath of hesitation, and those honey-gold eyes flicker over in Fenris’ direction, a glance quickly lowered, as if containing some hidden shame. “Nothing more,” he repeats, almost to himself.

Fenris’ brows knit in a rare moment of concern -- the mage’s behavior is unlike anything he’s ever seen from the man. Stripped of his smart remarks and foolish rants, placed against the background of this strange land, he seems somehow … less, diminished in some unmeasurable way. Something in his demeanor galls Fenris, watching the apostate assume the mannerisms of a beaten slave, despite his cursed power. Such a creature has no right to play games of helplessness, mocking those who live wretched lives truly pinned beneath the heels of a magister--

“Very well,” Anders says, just loud enough for the templar to hear him, and closes his eyes with a shuddering sigh.

Isley arches a brow. “Has age dimmed your enthusiasm, mage? I trust you’ll not to disappoint me, lest I consider … other options.”

“Nothing more,” Anders repeats, that soft growl rising once more in his tone. “You set the terms, ser.”

The templar laughs, baring his teeth, and it is a humorless, grating sound that sets Fenris’ nerves on edge. He has no idea what sort of accord has just been struck, but he doubts he’ll like it. It’s what comes of keeping company with mages, he supposes -- unpleasant bargains all around, and pray to the Maker that someone remains standing in the aftermath to pick up the mess. “I suggest you recall yourself then, mage,” Isley says sharply. “But as you insist --”

His attention focuses on Fenris once more, and the elf bristles. What now?

“Certainly, a … neutral party, to make certain the terms are kept,” he says. “‘Tis quite a shame, for you to have wandered so far from the light. What righteous man would doubt the word of the Maker’s servants?”

Anders glances toward Fenris, eyes wild and dark with the stirring of what might be panic, before facing the templar once more. “There is no need for such measures, ser. Besides, he is hardly neutral -- it is my coin that weighs his purse, after all.”

“And yet he has proclaimed himself a man of the faith,” Isley points out, emphasizing his words with an uplifted, armored finger.

“I have no allegiance to you, mage,” Fenris snarls, annoyed at Anders for putting them in this position in the first place. He was the one who decided on such a ruse, claiming the elf as a mercenary of all things, and he could damned well live with it. “You hold a contract for my services against bandits and darkspawn. I see neither here.”

“See?” Isley says, and the look Anders directs at Fenris this time is seething with absolute fury.

Fenris looks back, placid in his confusion, and sighs through his nose. Anger from the mage is something much more familiar, and it surprises the elf how much that familiarity grounds him. “We’re wasting time, dawdling about like this.”

Disbelief wars with the rage in the man’s gaze, and Fenris is surprised to see something like betrayal rise up to overcome them both. “Very well, then, Fenris,” he grates out. “If you insist.”

Anders slides down from the wagon, stumbling a little as his boots make contact with the uneven road after hours of sitting on the stiff bench. He takes a moment to stretch his legs, then straightens to his full height, as if attempting to gather up some semblance of dignity, moving toward the trio of templars. Isley is turned aside, ordering the third templar to stand guard over the refugees in his absence. Fenris waits in silence, unsure of what’s expected of him, especially since the mage refuses to so much as look in his direction. Murmurs rise up behind him, confused people, made nervous by the pause in their journey and by the mage’s obvious displeasure.

“Well?” Isley calls to Fenris, amusement finally surfacing in the too-sharp features of his ruddy face. “Are you expecting some sort of invitation?”

Silently, the elf dismounts, knotting the tied traces carefully around the brake. “Be calm,” he assures a nervous-looking man who stares at him from the bed of the wagon. “We will return soon.” If the mage can keep from doing anything foolish, he thinks, as he turns away.

Isley takes the front, leading them off the road and into the densely-wooded forest, and the remaining templar takes the rear, five paces behind Fenris, his hand never leaving the pommel of his sword as if waiting for an excuse to use it. Fenris’ eyes are riveted to the back of Anders’ head, studying his posture -- he sees him shake his head briefly, and knows he’s speaking to the demon within. What sort of destruction is the spirit counseling? What does the mage expect of Fenris, were he to give in?

Fenris growls a soft warning, and the mage tenses. Do not cause further trouble.

Finally, Isley halts in a small clearing, and Anders stills behind him. Fenris and the other templar pause as well, the elf glancing at the unhelmed templar, looking for some sign of what was expected here. Isley turns to face the mage, studying Anders with a critical eye, the hint of an unpleasant smile lingering on his thin lips. “It has been a long time, mage,” the man drawls, stepping closer. “The Tower is so much quieter, without your special … brand of entertainment.”

“Save the reminiscing for later, ser,” Anders mutters. “The sooner we’re done here, the better.”

Isley chuckles. “Age has made you even more impatient, I see. Perhaps you … missed us, more than you admit. Did you miss us, mage?”

“I missed nothing about this blighted place.”

Do not turn this into a fight, Fenris thinks, as if his thoughts could somehow penetrate the other man’s thick skull.

The templar snorts quietly, then lifts a hand, armored fingers sinking into Anders’ hair to fist roughly at the top of his head. “On your knees, mage.”

Startled by the suddenness of the demand, Fenris watches as the tall man sinks to his knees on the damp forest floor, a quiet hiss escaping from behind gritted teeth as silverite snags, ripping free strands that the breeze catches like spider webs. For a moment, as the lack of comprehension wars with a sinking sense of unwelcome knowledge in Fenris’ mind, the elf’s eyes are captured by the way the sunlight catches those frayed strands, glinting red-gold.

“Explain, to our observer here, the terms of our agreement,” Isley says, tugging at Anders’ hair to force his head in Fenris’ direction. This time, Fenris thinks he understands that look, all that buried, thwarted defiance. “Difficult to know if either of us breaks it, otherwise, wouldn’t you say?”


The elf takes a moment to retrace the entire encounter in his mind, sucking in a quiet breath as that quiet exchange, the mage’s deference and misery, insists upon a darker meaning. Fenris remembers muttered epithets, hatred he has most often trivialized and dismissed as the rantings of a dangerous mage who’d say anything to win sympathizers to his misguided, foolish cause.

Perhaps. Perhaps. And yet Anders has not hesitated to slay templars in the past for far less. Why would he stop now?

Confused, unwilling to ask under the their watch, Fenris watches the man with a blank face.

Perhaps it is not what he thinks at all.

Anders swallows, his mouth opening as he takes a shaky breath.

“The terms, mage,” Isley growls with another twist that pulls more of Anders’ hair from the confines of the tie that holds it back from his face; a lock slips free to slide over an eye, as if attempting to shield him from this disgrace. “Far too late for coyness, now.”

“Ser has the right to take his pleasure, however he sees fit,” Anders says at last, his voice flat and without inflection, that defiant glare pinning Fenris where he stands with all the weight of a greatsword. “What he demands, I shall provide, without complaint. There is to be no … penetration. No magic. No scarring.” A shudder sets the mage’s shoulders trembling, but he balls his hands into tight fists atop his thighs, forcing his body into submission. “And no word of this, to anyone.”

“Generous, I think. Don’t you, mage?”

For a time, Anders does not answer. The hand in his hair jerks viciously, and Anders grits his teeth, those golden eyes flickering away from Fenris to the path they’d walked to reach this place, toward the wagon they’d left on the road. Fenris watches that too-familiar, insolent rebellion fade like the last embers of a dying fire, leaving behind nothing but bleak acceptance to stir the ashes.

It’s a little like watching a man die, Fenris thinks, refusing to acknowledge the horror and revulsion threatening to well up inside of him like a sickness. He crosses his arms over his chest, glancing dispassionately to the side -- while there’s little to be done, at least he can … make certain the mage is not damaged any more than could be expected by such a bargain.

It makes him wonder how this bargain was struck in the first place. Given the history he’s unearthed from the interaction of these men … punishment, perhaps, for one or more of all those escapes.

Was this how Ferelden’s tower kept its fragile balance?

“Attend me, mage,” Isley murmurs, and Fenris steels himself for what is to come.


.


What follows is a blur, snatches of color and sound, too-bright sunlight spearing through the canopy of leaves to leave Fenris half-blind and strangely dazed: the whispered rasp of heavy fabric over metal and leather; the strange, argent glow of Isley’s gauntleted hands against the mage’s head as he bends over him; the soft, quickly-swallowed noises of pain as the base of a polished breastplate scrapes roughly over skin and scalp, tearing snarls of hair free with thoughtless brutality. Fenris’ eyes may be tilted in the direction of this unanswered crime, but his attention is a thousand leagues away, recalling Tevinter, his mind circling, wheeling like a carrion bird over the memory of warm, chapped lips, hands that had never known a day’s honest work tracing the still-tender (always tender) filigree of lyrium etched into his bare hip, little wolf, little wolf, little wolf--

He blinks, growling as he’s jerked out of his thoughts by another muffled yelp, overlaid with the heavy, rhythmic grunts of the templar’s labored breath as he pushes into the mage’s mouth again and again, quick and efficient and merciless.

A thought flits through Fenris’ mind, Anders laughing, making some wise crack about legendary gray warden stamina, and he thinks for a moment he might lose the contents of his stomach. He casts a glance to his right, where the other templar stands like a statue, hand curled firmly around the grip of his sword. Fenris wonders what the other thinks of this violation, or if he thinks of it at all.

And then, just like that, it’s over. A guttural, animal noise escapes Isley’s throat as he comes with an erratic pistoning of his hips, and the mage’s free hand claws deep furrows into the humus beneath him, as he is forced to accept this, too. When Isley releases him, the mage reels almost drunkenly, head lolling briefly against the feathers at his shoulder before he struggles upright once more.

Without a single command -- without a single word spoken at all -- Anders lifts his hand from the ground, wiping it absently against his leg before reaching up to tuck the templar’s spent cock back into his breeches, settling the skirt and sash back properly around the man’s hips with a practiced familiarity that makes Fenris’ stomach lurch again in unaccustomed horror. Ingrained habit, even after years of separation; indignity weathered until it is reflex. These are things Fenris understands.

When he is finished, Anders bows his head, shoulders slumping as he gathers his hands to himself, holding them in his lap like wounded birds “Satisfied, ser?” He asks, barely loud enough for Fenris to catch the words, unaccountably angry at the meekness threaded through the mage’s rasping voice.

Isley considers the mage for a few moments as his breathing slows to normal, and for a moment Fenris thinks that this will still be a disaster. He braces himself, momentarily surprised to find the lyrium ready to flare at a thought, ready to take those final few steps between them to crush this corrupted templar’s heart like so much trash. As if in response to his silent anger, the man to his side shifts in his direction, ready to draw. And yours, too, filth.

“I suppose it will do,” Isley says with a melodramatic sigh, reaching down to slide his thumb against the younger man’s face. “Though you’ve certainly not improved since the last.” He straightens, then lifts a booted foot and plants it in the middle of the mage’s chest, pushing -- Anders sways, seeming for a moment to catch himself before he keels over on the forest floor and stays there, unmoving. “It’d be a shame to deprive the world of your few useful gifts, alas. Perhaps we shall meet again, before your cowardly instincts get the better of you.” The templar’s smile is pleasantly malicious. “The Maker moves in mysterious ways.”

Isley gestures to the other templar, a quick sweep of his hand, pointing back toward the road. “Our business here is concluded. Let’s be on our way -- I trust the mage will find his own before too long.” The man turns a glance to Fenris, who holds himself neutrally, unconsciously imitating the mage’s caution from earlier. “If I were you, I’d find a new employer,” he says simply -- as if nothing at all has happened here, as if he’s just met the elf on the road and was passing along a warning. “That one’s nothing but trouble.”

As if you have the right to talk. Fenris’ brows knit together, but he dips his head once, unwilling to speak. Isley watches him for a moment longer, then nods as if finding some sort of satisfaction, moving past in a whirl of gleaming armor and heavy fabric, the other following in silence, back towards the road.

For a moment, Fenris remains still, unsure of what to do now that the crisis has passed. The templars are gone, and he can only assume they’ll be on their way well before he or the mage return. Their charges will be nervous the longer they are away, and in Fenris’ experience, nervous mages are never a good thing. He blinks, glancing over at Anders who has yet to move, anger and disgust warring with something that feels suspiciously like understanding.

Leave Anders to whatever might lurk out here for a few moments, or go make certain the two of them won’t return to a cart full of shades? Would their passengers even believe what he might say? It’s beyond dispute that Fenris’ attitude toward Anders has been an unyielding policy of bare tolerance at best.

The lot of them should have stayed in Kirkwall, and avoided this entire mess.

Fenris curses softly and pads over to the mage, watching as that broad back shifts with every drawn breath. There are leaves and twigs caught in the now-ragged mess of his hair, and for a few beats, that minute, worthless detail bothers Fenris more than anything.

You could have killed them.

But you didn’t.

You didn’t … want this.

But you did it.

Where is your demon’s hate of injustice?

Why did it allow this?


Fenris swings a wide arc around the mage, until he can see his face -- the mage’s eyes are wide and unblinking, staring at perhaps nothing at all, breath a thin rattle between parted, swollen, still-damp lips. There’s a smear of … something, there at the corner of his mouth, and Fenris’ face twists in disgust.

“Oh, Irving’s going to be so mad,” Anders breathes, fingers curling into the dirt as he lets out a soft groan, a sound that slips into the beginnings of quiet, bitter laughter. Fenris starts -- that voice, lost and breathy and almost young -- it’s nothing like the man he’s grown accustomed to.

“Pull yourself together, mage,” Fenris growls, surprised to see the man flinch, sucking in a sharp breath from between his teeth. Ah. Isley’s abuse, a title spoken with derision, like ground glass in an open wound -- no wonder the man had been so insistent upon his name. Well. “They’re gone.”

Anders blinks up at Fenris, and the elf is startled by the dilation of his eyes, black so wide it almost swallows the honey-gold ring of his irises. Maker’s breath, mage. For a moment, the two of them just look at each other, until comprehension surfaces in Anders’ expression and he turns away, pushing himself up to his hands and knees. “Enjoyed the show, did you?” He growls, turning his head to the side to spit viciously, scrubbing at his mouth with the edge of his sleeve. “Or are you just upset we’re wasting time?” There’s equal amounts of fury and venom in the mage’s voice, the same harsh tone that has driven Merrill to injured silence more than a few times.

Fenris just sighs. Were he a different sort of man, he might jump to his own defense, attempt to explain the fact that he’d had no blighted clue what was happening, that Anders himself had crafted and thrust the elf into a role he’d not been expecting, that he’d been irritated and perhaps a little naive … but Fenris is not that sort of man. Words have always meant little in the face of action, and he has nothing else to offer.

Hawke would know what to do, but the friendly warrior is not here to ease the scars of this.

In silence, Fenris slips the skin of water from his hip, dropping it to the ground beside the mage’s hand -- paltry as the offering might be, it’s all the succor he has to give. “I will check on the others,” he says quietly, and turns on a bare heel. He is not fleeing, he tells himself. There are unattended mages to be dealt with, and this one has never wanted his help, even when he has been inclined to offer it.

There is nothing more he can do here.

The sound of retching follows him into the shadows of the trees, a terrible sound Fenris knows will chase him well into his dreams this night.