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"Hope, in Silence"

Title: "Hope, in Silence"
Author: Amorissy
Characters: f!Hawke/Fenris, Varric, Anders, Aveline
Rating: 16+ (violence, slavery)
Warning: Set during game events, after "Alone"; spoiler warnings for up to and including Act III.
Summary: One-shot. A plan, a choice, and the consequences he suffered.

Author's Note: Title taken from "The Enemy" by Mumford and Sons.  Written for Oleander's One.  A CMDA exchange fic.




Hope, in Silence



It's been days since he properly slept.

The shackles are a strange weight to bear. He is accustomed to such burdens, he has been told this and now with all certainty his body knows this, for it's ingrained far deeper within him than mere markings on his skin could ever hope to pierce. To be someone he no longer remembers, to be bound wrist to ankle, helpless to fight.

Truly, it is only his own will that holds him. These are not the spellwoven chains of his master, forged in dragonfire, thousands of years old. These are crude and heavy, made of iron and so, so brittle. Made for the transport of prisoners and not the traffick of slaves, the noise they make as he moves is deafening.

And so he does not move. He sits and he waits.

She will come to him at dusk.


Hawke took the job as a favour to Aveline. It certainly wasn't because she needed the money.

"I've been hearing some unsettling rumours," the guard captain had said, pacing before the fire in the great hall.

Hawke had left the door ajar when Aveline was announced. He listened from the solar, an old habit. The book she had chosen for him was forgotten, its words already gone from his head.

Hawke had laughed at her friend, as she always laughed first, wholly and without reservation.

"Rumours? That's more Varric's speciality, isn't it?"

"Who do you think brought it to me?"

"All right, I can't stand the suspense. What are these unsettling rumours?"

"One of the regular caravans has been seeing some irregular activity," Aveline said.

"Is it mages?" Hawke asked. He could hear the frown in her voice, the hesitance.

"No," Aveline had said, utterly grim. "Slavers."

The sigh of resignation that had followed was as familiar a sound as any he'd come to know since arriving in this city, since he'd made the decision to spend his days at her side. A sigh with a smile, a breathy laugh, a shake of the head. He could not see her but he knew these tells of hers as well as he knew his own. She might bemoan herself and her friends and the whole damned world while she was at it, but she would not in all her selfless, sarcastic glory say no.


His captors are not Tevinter, he has decided, but they are all human, with not an elf or dwarf among them. He hears a good deal of Ferelden in their ranks, and the arrogance of Orlais as well. There is one who never speaks, whose face is old and rutted with scars. And then there is the mage, the only one in the company, a woman who speaks only Antivan, who eyes him greedily and without shame whenever she passes him by.

Evenings leave him with much time to wonder at his current state, when the travelling is done and the fires burn brightly at each circle of wagons and tents all up and down the roadside. Fenris watches and waits, learning what he can of those who hold him so confidently, so ignorantly. They know not what he can do – but night by endless night, he comes to know what they can do. He comes to recognize that there are a few good blades among the company and twice as many bad. And he comes to know the mage. Talented, well-trained – and careless with her magic, with how she uses it and who sees it.

These are the things he learns as he listens to them bicker and plot by the fireside each night, these slavers turned bounty hunters on a whim of chance and the promise of gold.

They will try to kill him when they find out there is no gold.

He cannot promise their success.


"Will you come with me?" Hawke had asked him later on when they were abed, after the candles had been extinguished and the fire had burned low, after she had fit herself snugly into the crook of his arm and warmed herself with her hand upon his chest.

"You need not ask. You know I will join you."

She raised up on an elbow, the lines of her face muted in the gloom. With the lightest touch upon his jaw, she turned his face to hers. A silly simple thing, really, because in the darkness, who was she to know what he saw?

"I think I do need to ask, if you don't mind," she said. Her fingers had spread out across his jaw and neck, her thumb sweeping across his cheek. Mapping him, finding her way. "Danarius is dead. You're a free man. I will always ask you what you want, even if I already know the answer."

Her words stirred him, touched him deeply. It still unsettled him how she could affect him so, and his arms tightened about her scarce without thought.

"Thank you, Hawke."

"It doesn't mean I can always give you what you want," she said, "and, mind you, I do like getting my own way now and again."

"So I had noticed."

"Will you come with me?"

"Always."

She had leaned down to kiss him then, smiling against his mouth.


The routine, so far as he has come to understand it, is as follows:

He is roughly woken from his miserably light sleep and given food and water in the hour before dawn. It is always the woman, the mage, who brings his bread. He is kept separate from the others being carried around as property to be sold. She feeds them when she has finished with him.

There are others. He's certain of it. It's the reason they came out this far.

The mage's thirsty eyes are eager to catch his when they two are alone. He gives her no satisfaction. Distant, removed, he is a slave who knows his place. For he does know his place in this, what is expected, he remembers but he does not remember it like this. There is a lifetime of such rules behind him and she is new to this, oblivious to the weakness she bears so readily to him. She does not know what he could do to her, given the will, the cause.

She lingers over him for far too long. She speaks low to him in her foreign tongue, murmuring and purring as a cat might, ready to curl about him, claim him. Callous, but not cruel, and greedy above all else.

After she has grown bored of his indifference, two of the men come to move him. He goes readily, puts up only what resistance would be expected, and is loaded into a wagon amongst a hundred ownerless things, spices and trinkets and bolts of silk. A cover comes down over the bed and he does not see the sunrise.

He knows that the other wagons must carry the other captives – he finds it difficult in his haze of anger and impatience not to refer to them yet as slaves – and he knows they are packed in tighter, scared and without hope, as the jostling of these wagons laden with goods cloaks the clatter of their chains.

The caravan leaders will not stop to make camp again until late into the afternoon, and these slavers who work their vile trade among them have travelled the route many times by now, this grievous exchange of life for coin. Perhaps the lead driver is aware of what happens under his nose, perhaps he is not. Anything is possible in this world, he has found.

He knows these truths and does not shrink from them.

In his isolation, Fenris tracks the day. The sun moves across the sky, a circle of light far beyond the heavy, dark canvas. He is not blindfolded, and even in his humiliation, he is grateful for such a small thing.

This was his choice, after all.


It would take them almost a week of hard travel to overtake the caravan.

"It won't be easy to pick them out once we catch up," Varric had said, taking the lead only after Aveline had made it clear she couldn't spare herself for the job. The map was on the desk, but he was the only one who loomed over it, casting that daunting shadow of his. "If our information is good, then they're posing as merchants to travel on the main road to Wildervale. We can catch them on the far side of the pass if we're lucky. If not, farther on. This whole thing looks like it could takes weeks, all told."

"And what happens once we get there?" Anders had asked, staring darkly into the fire. He was always staring darkly at something of late.

"We're going to have to ask some questions," Varric had replied, sounding already weary. "We can make some friends."

It was then that Hawke had finally spoken up. "Because that's not conspicuous at all." She sat by the fire, her back to the abomination as she inspected each of her arrows carefully. The dwarf had turned away from the map to the sound of her voice. He leaned back against her desk, his arms crossed over his chest in that smug way he had. When she raised an arched brow at him, he only shrugged his shoulders in response.

"We'll figure something out."

She was not so easily convinced.

Through all of it, Fenris had said nothing at all as he stood apart, watching and listening while hidden in the darkness of the gallery.

He had gone down the stairs to sit with her after Varric and Anders had left, once the estate was quiet and the only thing that still stirred was the two of them. The fire was naught but coals by then. Neither of them moved to bank it for the night, letting the shadows claim the room one flickering breath at a time.

"Are you certain you want to do this?" he had asked, seeking her doubts and her fears only in those moments when no others would hear them brought to voice.

"Certain? No, no I'm not certain anymore. I wish Aveline was coming." She offered him a brave, tremulous smile. "We'll go and help anyway, of course. It's what we do, isn't it?"


Every night, she comes to see him just after dark.

He never hears her approach, a mark of her talent, what makes her special, this beautiful creature of shadow and nightsong to whom he truly belongs. He only knows her as she falls upon him, kneeling in the dirt and dead leaves to press a slender finger to his lips. Soon she replaces it with a kiss, and she tastes of wind and dust and sorrow. He aches to put his arms around her, to feel her soft beneath his hands, but even to tighten his fists against his thighs is to rattle his irons. To fit his arms about her would be to tangle her in his chains.

He lets his head fall back against the wagon he sits against. On the other side, merely a few yards away, the men and the mage who hold him sit around their fire, blinded by its comfort, unaware of the shadows that move around them. Farther up and down the road, other camps are set, and the voices carry through the trees. Women, children, innocents that shield the crude methods of his captors, all their brutal work.

But Hawke is not to be ignored, and she means to make her purpose clear. She crawls into his lap, a knee to either side of his hips. The chains are caught tight between them. He crooks his knees to cradle her where she is, and a breath of surprise flutters over her lips to brush against his cheek. Her forehead presses to his and there she rests for longer than she should.

Each night, the same; this struggle for courage, the will to go on as they are.

When she finally pulls away, she holds a flask to his lips and he drinks.

"Let me pick these locks," she says.

"It cannot be much longer," he answers. "A few days more."

"You don't have to –"

He smiles at her, but it's a crooked and halfhearted thing.

"I've endured worse."

"Bloody stubborn," she mutters low, her patience eternal for his repeat offences. She presses a piece of fruit to his lips; he eats it dutifully though he has not the stomach for it, even as she kisses the juice from his lips, brushing her fingertips along the lines of lyrium that stain his throat.

"If you continue to feed me this well, they will grow suspicious."

"Let them," she whispers, and her icy blue eyes tear into his. "Let's be done with this, let's just go home."

He shakes his head, and his hand jerks to grip what he can of her, the swell of her hip, the edge of her leather cincher. The chains clink and clatter again, muffled by their close press. The touch of the irons is maddening. His teeth clench against his frustration as a further reach is denied him, and he is forced to cling to such minimal purchase when she hangs over him so, torn and without comfort.

"We've come this far," he says. "I am fine, Hawke." A gentle word, a bit of hope, is all he can give her. He will not relent, and she knows it.

"Fenris –"

"Go," he says, commands, shutting his eyes against her closeness, the scent of the road heavy on her skin. His legs go slack, his bound and useless hands relax, he lets her go. "I will wait for you tomorrow."

Reluctantly, she goes. Without a word, she goes. Her weight and warmth are lifted from him, leaving him burning with envy, with anger, and with want. She goes and once more he is left alone. He does not open his eyes again to see if she looks back. He does not think he could bear the guilt if she did.


It took them five days on foot to catch the slow-moving caravan.

What they found was nothing out of the ordinary. A dozen guarded wagons, twice as many carts pulled by hand lumbering along with them, all heavy with sundry goods. On their way from Kirkwall to Wildervale and beyond. Many of the merchants travelling across the Marches with the caravan made their life on the road, dragging their families along with them from city to city, extra hands to work on market days. A hard life, but an honest one. As the four companions had stood on a ridge to watch the caravan snake along in the distance, it had not been known to them, not then, that two or three of those wagons carried slaves hidden in amongst the cookware and linens and spoiling fruit.

Hawke had not believed then that so simple an existence could harbour such wickedness in its midst. Fenris had kept his dark thoughts to himself as he'd stood at her shoulder, knowing the world as she would never know it, she who held her freedom by birthright, whose father had lived and fought and died to make it so.

It took them two days to work their way in. Hawke, all but anonymous on the road, offered her services as a scout to the lead driver, while Varric's penchant for stories and gambling made him friends easily at every fireside he passed. Fenris and Anders remained with the last wagon of the group, lagging behind with other travellers who followed the relative safety the caravan provided on the road through the Marches.

Hawke and Varric returned each night after the darkness fell, and disappeared again once the sun came up. It was only two days more before Varric overheard something he ought not have from a liquor-loosened tongue during a game of Wicked Grace. That night, Hawke had gone sneaking through the camps to single out the slavers masquerading as merchants and their secret chained burdens. She returned just before dawn looking utterly grim, and her normally bright eyes were shadowed and sad.

But the camp had been just waking then, and the air was alive with the calls for water and wood and wayward children. Hawke had only shaken her head at him, and left with him a kiss and a promise to return before dark.

It was, of course, later that evening when a new complication arose.

"We have a problem," Varric said, finding Fenris and Anders at the last fire. Night had fallen and Hawke had not yet returned from scouting.

"We always have a problem," the mage had replied breezily, but he stopped a moment later and turned to give the dwarf his full attention, a move that did not go unnoticed by Fenris. "Wait, is Hawke all right?"

"She won't be when she finds out what we have to do," Varric said, too serious to truly be himself. He kept glancing at Fenris, his brow knotted tight. "Those slavers I've been dicing with, turns out that when they were last in Llomerryn they heard about some magister who put a bounty on the head of an elf with lyrium brands." He laughed then, a hollow and humourless sound. "What a coincidence, eh?"


He is a prisoner to his own sense of honour a total of five days.

It still surprises him when he wakes to the nudge of a boot come dawn, how easily he can fall back into old habits, chains of his own making in his heart and mind. He fights less now, too fatigued to care. The silence within his head is surreal and it swallows him whole. He knows that he should find it strange, repulsive, unforgivable, but there is no malice within him to fuel such bitter thoughts.

All he can think of is Hawke.

Hawke and her quick smile, that clever and awkward tongue.

Hawke and this Maker forsaken willingness of hers to put herself before others, to put life itself on hold to help another soul as it struggles along in this world, someone truly and desperately in need. From what he's learned over the years he's spent with her, she wasn't always so fearless. It had started out about the money, about protecting those she loved, as it always does with the unlikeliest of heroes, but the years of loss and fragile joys have changed her. Everyone she loved and fought to protect is gone. Now she fights and puts the world on hold for its own sake, everything else be damned, and now all she has left is him.

She had found him in such need once, and she has never asked him for anything in return. And now here he finds himself, biding his time as rusted iron fetters weigh on him night and day, giving back to her what he can, suffering through each misery and blow to his pride just to help her save what she's gone and troubled herself to save. He does not blame her for being as she is, nor does he condemn her for aspiring to such noble action.

It is her choice. And this is his.

He realizes in these long hours of contemplation that it is not for Hawke alone that he endures what he has. It is loyalty to Aveline, who would see this injustice dealt with. It is trust in Varric, who has gotten him into worse scrapes over lesser causes. And yes, perhaps it is even for the strangers bound hand and foot as he is, somewhere along this lonely road, for those that have come before and for none to come after.

A bit of Hawke rubbing off on him, he supposes, and the thought is enough of a comfort that he makes it through another day.

Until the night comes and he sees her again.


Hawke had not been agreeable to Varric's plan.

"This is stupid," she'd muttered. "It's stupid and I won't do it."

"It's a genius plan," Anders said, sitting atop a stack of crates at the edge of the firelight, grinning like a cat with a mouthful of feathers. It was the most engaged he'd seemed in months, pulling himself from the abomination within long enough to enjoy watching Fenris thoroughly tormented. "Did you really promise to split the reward with them?"

"Only if they help me get his broody ass to Minrathous. I'm honestly a little surprised they didn't try to just slit my throat and come here themselves," Varric had said, though he sounded less pleased with himself the more Hawke protested. "Listen, Hawke, this is going to work. We gain their trust and the plan doesn't change, but we need to hurry, or else they're going think I couldn't handle this myself and come looking for him. We don't want this to turn bloody. That's the whole point, isn't it?"

She ignored him.

"Fenris, you don't have to do this," she'd said instead, glaring up at him. She held a length of rope in her hands, but she had twice already refused to bind his wrists. "This could not possibly hold you," she said, shaking it in his face as if he had not already known it to be true.

"It will hold me only because I allow it, Hawke."

He put his bare hands on her arms. He had already relinquished his armour to Varric; he felt vulnerable in that moment, standing there in his tunic and breeches, but his resolve was not to be denied. It was Hawke who trembled in his stead, Hawke who needed convincing.

"Hawke," Varric said, softening just for her, "we need to do this."

"This is stupid," she said again, but with one last withering look to Fenris, she tied his wrists all the same. "Stupid." When she was done, she reached for his gauntlet where it lay abandoned at their feet. Slowly, and with far greater care, she unwrapped the length of scarlet ribbon and knotted it about the palm of her bow arm.

She kissed him once when she was done before she turned and walked away, leaving him to his decision and his fate.

Varric looked miserable after she had gone, as if even he himself could have never imagined a twist such as this. "Listen, elf, I'm really sorry about this," he said, scratching the back of his head as his eyes guiltily skipped away. "We'll get you out of this as soon as we can, I promise."

"Get it over with," Fenris said as Anders stepped behind him. The last thing he remembered was the dancing firelight, the shadow slipping across the ground as the abomination raised his staff, and then no more.


On his last night in slavers chains, Hawke comes to him in the darkness to set his heart free.

"We're only two days from Wildervale," she whispers. She's in his lap again, her hands cupping his face.

"What happens now?" he manages to say. His voice has grown hoarse of late; it is all he has now, these few words they exchange every night. He leans his forehead against hers, and the cool touch of her skin is almost all he knows.

"Tomorrow they leave the main caravan, and take the road west. Varric says there is a buyer outside Nevarra."

"A long journey."

"One they won't make," Hawke assures him. "We'll wait until dusk. Then we'll come for you, and free the others."

Fenris tilts his head back to look into her face. "Have you spoken to them?"

Mutely, she nods.

"How many?"

"Fourteen," she whispers, and bites her lip.

It is more than he expects.

"And after?"

"I hadn't thought that far yet. Your act of nobility threw us all off."

"Varric assured me–"

"You still said yes," she says, and there is an edge to the words.

"I apologize," he says. He knows it breaks her heart to see him as he is when she has fought for so many years to keep him free. If he could see himself, the willing victim, he wonders if he would feel anything but disgust.

"You're in chains and you apologize to me?" she asks, incredulous. "I'm the sorry one – me – do you hear me? Oh, you damned fool." She kisses him fiercely, arches into him, over him, forgetful in her gratitude. The chains rattle and groan as he reaches for what he cannot have. She does not desist – she must, must –

"Hawke," he all but begs, tearing his mouth from hers. "You should go, I cannot –"

She nods, blessedly without argument.

"Tomorrow," she promises, and disappears.


When he next opened his eyes, there she was.

Her face was pressed to the dirt, and belatedly he realized it was because his face was in the dirt and she had been watching over him. The pounding in his head blotted out all else for some time, all else but Hawke and that defeated, disapproving frown of hers, and if his head had not pulsed with pain as it did he might have found the decency to look properly ashamed of himself. Soon enough, however, the rest of the world came back to him, unfamiliar voices not far off, the tiny flicker of firelight reflected in Hawke's eyes, the night's chill on his unprotected skin.

And then as he shifted came the slither of chains, and he stopped cold.

"Hush," she said softly, and very carefully helped him to sit. Irons on his legs, his wrists; he could move only at the cost of his silence. He swore darkly, words he knew she did not understand. A small allowance, that forgotten indulgence, the old life brought to light again, and there was Hawke to see all its dark corners and sharp edges. He felt shame then. Such a selfish thing.

She found her seat atop his legs, pinning his wrists to her lap, something that was soon to become very familiar to him – and very precious. Her own hands twined in the hair at the back of his neck, and once she was anchored, immovable, she asked, "Fenris, why are you doing this?"

"I had thought I made myself clear," he said, and tried to smile for her. She was not placated. Her eyes searched his for lies, for truth, as restless as the sea. "Hawke–"

"I don't want you to do this. We can find some other way."

"Until then, this will have to suffice," he said, too wilful for one bound and brought low, "and I seem to recall being told that we don't always get what we want."

She gave a breathy laugh then. It stirred the hair hanging in his eyes.

"You appear to be," she said, words that stayed with him long after she'd gone.


The day of his escape is, as he expects, the longest day he has ever been made to endure.

Almost a week has passed since the deception of his capture and he is still kept separate from the other prisoners. Now that he knows how many there are, he cannot understand how the slavers have been able to keep their captives silent, how they have gone so long without notice. Perhaps they are gagged, or drugged. Perhaps they are simply already broken.

The road due west is quieter without the presence of the caravan, and they are travelling faster now. The dead magister's bounty on his head has made him something special to these fools, men who are nameless and faceless to him. Only the mage stands apart from the rest, yet he feels nothing toward her. There are few tasks more damning than the one she has chosen. Before this is all over, the slavers will be dead.

He wonders if he will be the one to kill her.

He finds relief in the fact that Varric has charmed his way into the ranks of the slavers with his bawdy jokes and tall tales, that there is someone close by with his interests at heart, now that the protection of the caravan and so many eyes is gone. He can hear Varric over the din of the wagon that bears him, telling the same old stories, spinning lies as shiny as new sovereigns.

Fenris takes his solace where he can find it, another lesson learned long ago. He lets it lull him into uneasy sleep.


The routine remains the same.

He is pulled from the wagon, thrown to the ground. For all his worth, he is still treated as the escaped slave they believe him to be. The mage comes to give him water and food. She plays with his hair as she watches him feed himself, the chains making an unholy noise in growing twilight. When she goes back to the fire and the other men, he cannot say that he is sorry in his knowledge of what will happen when the slavers are forced to fight Hawke or lose their precious cargo.

An hour passes, he thinks, before his saving grace is upon him. He hears them coming this time, Anders all but assuring it with his heavy footfalls, the knock of his staff against the trees. Varric has the slavers around the fire roaring with laughter, oblivious to their fate.

Hawke does not bother to greet him. She only sets straight to work with her lockpicks, and when the locks spring free, she gently pulls the chains away. He does not look upon them again.

His arms go about her as soon as they are able, and he sags against her a moment. Anders rolls his eyes and looks away. Fenris only holds her tighter, this simple blessing denied too long.

His armour is returned to him. She helps him with the buckles, moving quicker than he can think to, his aching muscles and raw skin his only burden now, one he can bear proudly and without shame. She gives him his blade, handled with reverence. The lyrium that runs through his flesh begins to thrum and glow as he touches upon the hilt. The familiar, heavy grip in his hand strengthens his resolve.

"And now?" he asks.

"Now we free the others and get them to safety," Anders says, pointing off into the darkness.

"And if we can do that without getting caught, then we rescue our dear friend Varric," Hawke says grimly, "and we put an end to this."

For the first time in far too long, Fenris smiles.


The slavers put up a poor fight.

For all it has taken to reach that very moment, it is over in under ten minutes. The mage is the last to succumb. She falls to his hand, her eyes pooled with disbelief until the moment the life in them goes out. Fenris watches, thirsty, and does not look away.

They leave the bodies for the scavengers. The horses, the wagons, and all the goods within them are given without question to the fourteen they save. They will escort them to the crossroads and then go their separate ways. It is a better outcome than any among them had ever hoped for. It is almost a happy ending.

Varric outs Hawke as a hero. She is thanked, hugged, kissed, and blessed until she is blushing.

Fenris hangs back, silent. His thoughts are dark. The anger inside him writhes.

Anders approaches him, less himself in his charity, amiable and smug.

"Oh cheer up, Fenris," the mage says. "It's a good thing you did to help these people."

Fenris snorts, and says nothing.

"I'm serious. Letting them put you in chains again so Hawke wouldn't blow her cover? I could never go back to the Circle willingly like that, not even for her."

He walks away then, giving Fenris much to think about on the journey back to Kirkwall.


"I don't believe it. You're making it up."

"Would I lie to you, Rivaini? Most selfless thing I've ever seen, and I follow Hawke around for a living."

The solar of the Hawke estate is impossibly crowded, filled to the rafters with voices and laughter as all her companions gather together. This latest adventure had kept her gone far too long. Sitting before the fireplace, Varric's exaggerated retelling of their harrowed tale for Aveline and Isabela has held their attention rapt since their arrival.

"Hawke," Isabela says, shaking her head, "are you telling me you had Fenris in chains for five days and never once took advantage of the situation?"

From her perch atop the desk, Hawke does her best to sound scandalized. "Really, Isabela–"

"That's it, I'm sorry, but I don't think we can be friends anymore."

As a gale of laughter goes up, Fenris slips up the stairs to the quiet of the gallery, where the lamps have been dimmed and the shadows are deep. Hawke is quick to follow. She's had trouble keeping her hands to herself since their return, and this moment is no exception – or at least, so he thinks, until she pulls from her pocket his ribbon, her eyes alight.

He holds out his wrist without a word. As always, she fills the space between.

"I know why you chose to do it," she says softly, glancing up at him every so often as she wraps the ribbon carefully about his gauntlet, tying a delicate and careful knot. "Even though you knew I didn't want you to."

"Well," he says with a smirk, remembering his best defence, "we don't always get what we want."

She grins. "Oh, we'll see about that."

And it's then that she presses up on her toes to claim his mouth with her own, and their friends down below are all but forgotten. It's then that he finds that he might give in to the warmth of this selfish, selfless woman in his arms, in this place where he has chosen to be.

And even as they are missed and their names are called, as the lamps flare and their refuge is discovered, as Hawke pulls away and her eyes shine as she looks up at him, he knows that he would not choose differently if given the chance.

Whatever the cost, he will remain at her side, and she will ever be the burden of his freedom.

And that, he finds, is no true burden at all.

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