“Why are we here again?” growled Fenris, pushing through the tall grass of the Kokari Wilds.  “I like to think our history speaks for itself when it comes to apostate mages.”

I sighed and looked back at him. “I can’t just let him get away with what he did in Kirkwall Fenris, especially when he made me his unwitting accomplice.”

Fenris is an elf, an escaped Tevinter slave, and my lover.  Tall for his race and lean, he is a brilliant warrior, the two handed Tevinter Blade of Mercy on his back being for more than just show.  Branded with Lyrium runes by his mage master, these brands covered his face and body like tattoos, giving him a permanent “I’ll kill you” appearance.

Fenris had lived a hard life before finally escaping his ruthless master and joining my band at Kirkwall.  He had lost his family and his past, but thankfully we were able to get some of it back for him.  His unwavering hatred towards all mages causes us to clash more often than not, and magic in general is a touchy subject for him.  But despite his fierce appearance and demeanor Fenris is a good and honorable man.

Besides, I like fixing broken things.

A yip off to our left drew our attention and we saw my Mabari hound Áedán rolling in a patch of dirt, happy to be back on Fereldan soil.

Fenris looked back at me, his shaggy white hair falling into smoldering blue eyes as he glared at me.  “You already let him get away with it, or did you forget that part Tanis?”

I stopped and faced him.  Scowling I braced my hands on my hips, my violet eyes flaring right back at him.

Me, I’m not your typical Fereldan.  Fenris almost matched me in height (I was a touch shorter much to my chagrin), and years of working for smugglers in Kirkwall had made me supple and sinewy when I was already slender to begin with.  But the big thing the screamed ‘freak’ was my hair and eyes.  Fair complexion, violet eyes, and white hair.  Yeah.  Figure that one out.

I blame it on my father personally.  Magic in the blood you know.  He and my sister were mages, both apostates from the circle.  Hence magic and mages being a touchy subject.  I think something went funky when I was conceived and instead of being magically talented I was tainted for lack of a better word.

But it’s all good.  I play it up with interesting colors when I have the opportunity to wear makeup.

“Just because he’s a fanatical murdering bastard doesn’t mean I was about to cut off my nose to spite my face.  His spells and healing came in handy fighting Meredith, or do you forget that he came pretty damned close to saving your life that night?”

His scowl deepened if that was at all possible as he stepped closer to me.  “If you hadn’t let your past with him blind you those people would be alive still.”

That was a low blow, and he knew it as he watch me deflate.  His eyes softened and he made to reach for me, but stopped himself. We’re still working that.

It was true though.  A thought I had brought back onto myself time and time again.

I had once entertained the thought of having a future with Anders, the mage we were seeking, when we first met.  He was funny, charming, and an apostate trying to make the world a better place for mages.  But as the Templars in Kirkwall pressed down harder on the local mages to control them, so too did Anders push the boundaries of what I felt was acceptable measures for making changes.

I know mages.  I came from a family of them and are not adverse to their plight, being locked away for most of their lives separated from society and their family, being told they were monsters just for what they were born with.  I get it, I do.  Not fair.

But I also agree with the Circle.  Mages need proper training to keep from being demon fodder.  And like all people there are good mages and bad mages, so I also agree with the Templars having a hand in the circle to help battle those mages that go rogue.  I just think the Circles should be places of sanctuary and learning for mages, not prisons.

And because I sympathized with him, I wanted to help.  But the further he went along his path, the more I realized that his revolution would be the only love in his life, and I didn’t want that.  I helped him get into the Chantry that night, my last good deed for him before I left him and all those people -good people- died.

“I’m…I’m sorry,” Fenris whispered.  “That was uncalled for.”

I shook my head, and smiled softly at him.

“No, you’re right in your way.  But we’ve talked about that enough, I’m tired of it and I’d like to drop it now.  Or do you want me to keep bringing up how you walked away from us after our first night?’

At least he had the decency to blush at that.  “Agreed,” he said with a decisive nod.  Then he stepped forward and hesitantly, gently, held me in his arms.  Sometimes he was still so unsure about himself, about us.

“But can I still tell you what I fool I was for that on occasion?”

I chuckled and looked up at him, my arms wrapping around his waist.  “I’ll never tire of that.”

Fenris smiled at me and his faced transformed from something scary to something…more.  Fierce, protective, proud.  And my eyes were filled with his face before I closed them as our lips met.

We stood like that for a few minutes, enjoying the quiet of the woods we found ourselves in before I reluctantly pulled away and made to continue on.

“As much as I would love for you to ravish me on the forest floor, I really don’t feel like having twigs poke me in my special places and we’ll never find him if we stop now.”

Fenris laughed as he moved to catch up with me and I whistled for Áedán who had disappeared into the brush.  I liked his laugh.

“C’mon lover boy,” I said, hitching my backpack further up onto my shoulder.  “Let’s find us an apostate.”

Part 2: A Night By The Fire

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