Being able to rid myself of my sexual frustrations has greatly improved my mood. While it may not have been the man I was hoping for, the tension is gone and maybe I can move past the awkwardness with Anders. I left Tate at the spring, telling him I didn’t wish to enter the camp with him. He understood.
“Hawke, where’d you run off to,” Varric questions as he exits the tent.
I can’t help the grin that spreads across my face, “I found a nice hot spring,” I shake my wet hair in his face and we both laugh, “It’s tucked away in a little grotto not far from here. I was not about to pass up the chance to bathe first this time,” he chuckles, remembering our first day and my semi-irrational fit. It’s good to hear him laugh. With tensions growing within our little group, it has been far too long.
“Where are the others,” I begin scanning the camp, trying to catch sight of either Anders or Fenris, but they don’t seem to be hanging around anywhere nearby.
“No clue,” he shrugs.
“Hmmm, well, I don’t suppose you know what’s for dinner? But if you say stew, I might have to punch you,” another chuckle. The stew we had our first night has been stretched and remade for the past week.
“Ha, not tonight. Bartrand has brought out a feast. Reward for finding the Thaig. He’s had it planned all along,” he rolls up the parchment he had been writing on and tucks it into his bag.
“Thank the Maker,” I lean down and place a kiss on his cheek.
“Oh, Sweet Andraste, Hawke! I didn’t make the food,” he rubs the spot where I kissed him and scowls at me.
“Are you telling me I should have reserved that kiss for Bartrand,” another scowl, “He can be quite forceful. I do like that in a man,” we both laugh and I head off in search of the food Varric promised.
He wasn’t joking. There is a makeshift table loaded with roasted meat, cheeses, grapes, apples and campfire bread. I begin loading up a plate. I pile enough meat and cheese to make several sandwiches and some of the fruit. When I look up from all of the glorious food I see Anders approaching, “Hey Blondie,” I say jokingly, “Check it out. Someone must have informed Bartrand of my appetite. There might be enough left for you when I am done.” I smile but he does not return it. I approach him and reach out to place my hand on his shoulder but he turns to grab a plate before I reach him.
“Hey, listen, I’m sorry. These last few days have been hard on all of us. I know I’ve been in my own head and have shut you guys out. That was unkind of me. I invited you and Fenris along. I shouldn’t have let my own hang ups get in the way of our friendship,” he makes no comment and I can’t help but be grateful. The last thing I need is him asking me what is on my mind.
I approach him again and this time he allows me to place my hand on the small of his back, “Why don’t we take our feast over to camp and we can talk.”
“Hawke, you don’t have to do that,” he doesn’t pull away, but I get the sense that my touch is unwelcome. I drop my hand back to my side.
“Anders,” saying his name brings his eyes to mine and I see hurt laced with doubt. It confuses me.
“Are you alright,” I ask and he turns away from me, “Did I do something?”
Just as I am about to follow Anders, Tate appears at my side. He takes my elbow and whispers into my ear, “Your wet, porcelain skin was a sight to behold.”
I can’t help the blush that creeps into my cheeks. “Let’s not discuss this here.”
“Does that mean you will be joining my crew for drinks later? We can discuss it then.” His smile is warm, genuine.
“Listen, Tate,” I start but he quickly cuts me off.
“Later. I understand.” He turns on his heel, a slight skip to his step.
What have you done now, Hawke?
The campfire is warm, the food delicious and the promised wine has my head abuzz. Yet, the tensions in our group have not lessened. I tried my best at jovial companionship. I tried being angry. I even tried being indifferent to it all, but in the end, I end up nothing more than simply tired. With a full belly and a fresh tunic, I make my way into the tent. I do not bother excusing myself, as there seems no need. I eye the bedrolls. Fenris and Varric’s lay alongside mine, with Anders at the head where our gear usually lays. This gives us ample room to move about in our sleep.
Well, this layout would have been helpful earlier. Not that we could have made it work in the close quarters of that night, but it makes me wish I would have thought to do something, anything to avoid the near hostility our group is in now.
With this new set-up, our gear will need to be placed outside. I release the straps holding me in my breastplate and lift it over my head. I allow it to fall to the floor. The clang echoes off the cavern walls.
The noise has Anders poking his head through the tent flap. “Is everything alright,” he questions, concern clear in his eyes.
“Oh, I’m fine.” I nearly growl.
“Oh…” He turns to walk away but my voice calls him back.
“Anders, can we talk.” I can see he is about to turn away again, so I reach for his arm, adding, “Please.”
He takes in my hand on his arm for a moment before nodding and stepping into the tent with me. I continue to remove my armor while I speak. “Listen, I’m sorry I’ve been avoiding you for a few days, but I need you to know…” I pause, uncertain how to phrase what it is I need to tel him.
“Look if this is about the Merc, save it. I heard what he said.”
I blush, and my mouth falls open in surprise. “Umm… No, it’s not that.”
He crosses his arms over his chest and raises an eyebrow.
“I… Uhh… The reason I have been avoiding you, is because… Well… The other night when we were in cramped quarters, I had Fenris breathing down my neck and I tried moving away but that put me flush against your body.” I can see I have his interest now so I continue. “I scooted as far away from him and as close to you as I could get without touching you, but I quickly became very uncomfortable. I couldn’t sleep. My hip was digging into the ground, my arm falling asleep, so I decided…” Again I pause, not knowing how to finish but he gestures for me to continue. “I wrapped my arm around you and snuggled into your shoulder.” I blurt.
He stands there for a moment analyzing me and I find it more than a little unsettling.
“I know,” he states plainly.
Taken aback, I can’t help the screeching “What?” that escapes my lips.
He smiles then. “Varric told me.”
Before another screech comes, I take a deep breath. “What do you mean Varric told you?”
“Just what I said.”
He doesn’t elaborate, so I ask, “Just what did he say?”
“He told me that when he woke, he found us tangled together in each other’s arms. In fact, I think he even said we were adorable.”
He grins and it causes my stomach to do a somersault. “Oh…” I fumble with the last of my armor, doing everything I can not to look at him.
“Hawke.” He walks up to me then placing his palm in the small of my back. “Why did this have you avoiding me? I would think it would be something for us to laugh at, to bicker about, not something that would have you running from me.”
His warmth seeps through me at just the small touch. I can feel it settling my overworked nerves. I know it’s his magick at work but I would like to think it is also my body’s natural reaction to his proximity. “Anders, I know how you feel about me. You’ve made it very clear. When I woke up next to you, I felt so comfortable… So safe. It felt so right that, for just a moment, I wished it wouldn’t end.” He moves closer, stance mimicking mine, but I pull away. I want his touch, his comfort but knowing he doesn’t feel the same breaks my heart.
“Please, Hawke. I don’t want you to think that. The first part, anyway. The rest… Well…” His hands fall on my shoulders.
Again my tension releases. I turn to him, causing his hands to slip from my body. “Tell me then, to my face, that you haven’t turned down every advance I’ve made in the last few months. Tell me that you haven’t already told me we can’t be together.” I inch closer to him with every word, until our chests touch and he is either forced to stand there and hold his ground or take this as another opportunity to walk away. “Tell me that you want nothing more than to kiss me right now.”
His lips press into mine as he takes my face into his palms. His breath tickles my skin as he moans, deep and guttural. With one hand he takes my hip, pulling me into his body.
“Do you believe I want you now?”
The evidence of his arousal is pressed against my thigh. I pull his head to mine needing to taste him again. My fingers tangle in his golden hair. After each kiss he sighs and the sound ignites a desire deep within me. His fingers find the hem of my tunic. They brush across my belly, around to my back, in feather soft strokes. As his hands reach my back he pulls, digging his fingers into my muscles and moving up my spine.
“Have you two finished kissing and making up yet?” Varric’s voice calls from outside the tent.
We pull away, both smiling and decide now is not the time. We are about to exit the tent when I make a last minute decision. I pull Anders’ bedroll back alongside mine. When I turn back to him he smiles and takes my hand leading me out of the tent.