Part 1: Old Friends

Fenris and Varric left the Hanged man a few hours after Fenris showed up.  Despite his agitation to get back to Tanis as swiftly as possible, Varric made the argument that if they left too soon, people would think something was happening and follow.  Fenris reluctantly subsided, but spent the rest of his time there like he had something unpleasant crawling in his pants.

They had walked a few hours outside of Kirkwall, and it was close to the middle of the night by the time they approached an empty campsite.  The only indication that it was there was the fire in the center of the clearing, a beacon in the darkness around it.  Someone had obviously been there recently, but there was no sign of them now.

Fenris had noticed this too and quickened his pace, frantically searching the darkness.

“Tanis?” he called.  “Tani where are you?”

Tani? Varric thought to himself.  When did that happen?

A rustling in the brush had them both reaching for their weapons before they could make out Tanis and her hound Áedán coming forward.

Áedán saw Varric and bounded towards him, a big doggy grin on his face.

“Hey Pup!” Varric exclaimed as the dog reached him.  Áedán promptly flopped down onto his side and rolled onto his back, all four legs dangling in the air.  Varric obligingly reached down to scratch the hound’s belly, keeping a watch on the other two out of the corner of his eye.

“Where were you?” Fenris asked worriedly as he hurried over to Tanis.

“By the Maker Fenris!  I went to take a piss!  I can still do that on my own you know,” she exclaimed with a laugh as he reached her.  She slipped her arms around his waist and kissed him on the cheek.  “I even took Áedán with me because I knew you would worry.”

Áedán whined and looked up at Varric with such a pained expression he had to laugh.

Tanis turned from her lover towards the dwarf and hound and smiled.  “He wasn’t very fond of the experience to say the least,” she said.  Varric stopped the belly scratching to greet his old friend.

She hadn’t changed much over the years since he last saw her.  The Champion was still tall and slender, her white hair was a little longer than he remembered, but her violet eyes were still bright with life and mischief.  He noticed that she had put on a little weight, to the point where she had discarded her armor in the camp and wore only a simple tunic and some leggings.  Varric only noticed because it was so out of character for her.  Tanis once joked with Varric that she felt more naked without her armor or a weapon than she did without clothes, and now she had neither.

Varric knew something big was going on, and hopefully he would find out very soon.

“Well well well, if it isn’t the infamous Champion!” Varric cried as he reached for Tanis’ outstretched hand.  “Fenris has told me you two have been traveling together.  Not getting into trouble without me and Bianca are you?” he asked, patting the crossbow peeking out from over his shoulder.  “You know you can’t get out of it without us.”

Tanis laughed at her old friend.  “I see you haven’t changed a bit Varric, and that Bianca still stands in my way,” she joked.

“I think it’s more than just Bianca now,” Varric replied, eying Fenris playfully.

Tanis grinned at the two men and motioned them to sit down.

“Come, Varric, join us,” she said.

Varric took the proffered seat on a nearby rock, while Tanis sat across the fire from him on a log big enough for two.  Fenris hesitated to join them.

“I’m going to make sure we weren’t followed,” he said to Tanis.  “I won’t be long.  Do you need anything?”

Tanis rolled her eyes.  “Go love,” she said.  “I have Varric, Bianca and Áedán here to look after me.  I’ll be fine.”  Fenris nodded to them both before stepping off into the darkness.  Áedán ambled over to his mistress and lay down next to her.  Tanis’ hand came down as she absentmindedly scratched at his ears.

“I see the Elf has changed…a lot,” Varric noted once Fenris was out of earshot.  “I don’t remember him playing nurse maid to you before.”

Tanis sighed.  “I know,” she said.  “Things have changed these last few years Varric.  I’ve changed, and while I know you and the rest of my adoring public think I am invincible and can take on an arch demon single handedly, there are some things even the famed Champion cannot tackle on her own.  That’s why Fenris and I came back.  We need your help.”

‘Now now, Hawke,” Varric chided.  “I thought I taught you better than that.  Talk the mark up, flatter them, bribe them, then tell them what you need.”

“I wish I had that kind of time,” she said softly.  Varric immediately sobered.

“You know I will do anything for you that’s in my power Hawke,” he said.  “What do you need?”

Tanis just looked at him for a moment.  Reaching down behind her, she pulled out a wine skin and tossed it over.  Varric caught it in mid air and eyed her questioningly.

“Your bribe,” she said with a grin. “Not as good as the Hanged Man’s vintage, but I think you’ll like it.”

Varric nodded and took a swig.  He had to grudgingly admit it was better than the Hanged Man’s.

“People are still looking for me, aren’t they,” she said.  It was more of a statement then a question, and Varric let his silence answer.  She nodded at him and leaned forward.

“I’m sorry that I had to bring you out here, but you can obviously guess why.  I can’t be recognized, it’s still too hot for me in Kirkwall.  That’s why I’ve stayed away for so long.  We have to keep on the move.  Fenris and I have been traveling, mostly around Fereldan, helping out where we can where the fighting gets bad.”  She shook her head.

“I never would have come back here if it wasn’t important.”

Varric was getting a bad feeling but before he could say anything Fenris returned.

Glancing at Varric, he addressed Tanis.  “The night seems clear enough,” he said.  “Did you tell him yet?”

“No, I was about to though.”  She gestured for him to sit beside her on the log.  He settled himself and slipped his arm around her waist.

Varric was born in Orzamar, the dwarven capital city, located far, far underground.  Once he was the second son of a wealthy dwarven house.  But coming to the surface had stripped Varric, his elder brother Bartrand, and their entire household of all the standing that a noble house would normally have on the surface.

As a result, Varric had to make a new life for himself, away from the money, prestige, pomp and ceremony of the nobility in the slums of Kirkwall.  Living in the shadows, trading secrets for gold, Varric had navigated the warren of lies, deceit and subterfuge to become one of the more prominent and important members of the Kirkwall underground.

But despite his proficiency at the life he had carved out for himself, even Varric, as stoic and laid back as he was, could reach his limit when others were playing his game.

“Ok, I’m all for cloaks and daggers, but enough is enough,” said Varric with a wave of his hands.  “Something big is going on here and I would love it of you two love birds let me in on the secret.”

“We need a place to stay,” Tanis said abruptly.  Varric was taken aback, but kept his council as she continued.  “A quiet place; in the city or near it, for about a year or so.  And no one can know I’m there.  We need you to hide us Varric.  Please.”

“Why,” he asked bluntly after a moment.  “You know I will do it, but I need to know why so I can plan for any…eh, let’s say unpleasantness… if word leaks out that the Champion of Kirkwall is back in town.  In hiding no less.”

Fenris and Tanis looked at each other before Tanis answered him.

“I’m pregnant.”

****

“Well,” Varric said, taking another swig from the wine skin.  “This makes things interesting.”  I think that this was the last thing he had ever imagined his old friend would ever ask him.  A place to hide where she could bear her child in secret.

I nodded at him.  “I’m pregnant with Fenris’ child,” I repeated.  I felt Fenris’ arm around my waist tighten slightly at those words, and Varric’s eyes flickered at the motion.  I think he noticed.

“We won’t be able to travel much longer, and not at all once the baby is born,” I continued.  “We need a safe place to have the baby before we move on again.”

I paused and looked down at my hands.  “You’re the only one I can trust with this Varric.  Please say you’ll help us.”

“Well that explains why the broody Elf is so touchy-feely over you,” Varric said as he gestured to Fenris.  “Congratulations by the way Fenris!  Making a family at last.  And of course I’ll help you!  Hiding pregnant Champions gone rogue is my specialty!  Besides I think I know just the place.  But let me ask a few questions of my own.”  He waited till he saw us nod in acknowledgement.

“Why me?” he asked.  “Aveline is still Guard Captain of Kirkwall, why not ask her?”

I raised an eyebrow at that.  Varric waved me off.

“Ok, yeah, bad idea,” he said.  “Aveline is a little to straight laced to hide the reappearance of a pregnant Champion.”  That elicited a small chuckle from Fenris.

“Question number two however,” he continued.  He leaned closer to the fire towards us.  “What do you mean ‘move on again’?”

Fenris’ eyes tightened as he looked away, and I like to think I had the grace to look abashed.

“We can’t travel with a baby,” I said.  “I don’t know when people will stop searching for me, and until they do it’s not safe for an innocent child.  We were hoping-” a grunt from Fenris caught my attention for a moment before turning back to Varric.

I was hoping we could leave the child with you and Aveline to raise.”

I tensed inside at those words.  This was something we had argued over often.  After losing the memories of his past to the pain of the lyrium branding, Fenris was -to say the least- reluctant to give up his child, no matter how much sense it made.  But I think what bothered him most was the very real possibility that the babe could be mage born.

“You know, if dwarves could have heart attacks, you would have given me one three times over by now,” Varric said drawing me back to the conversation.  “What in the Maker’s name makes you think I am capable of raising a child!  Never mind what it would do to my reputation.”  He mockingly preened at this.

“Besides do you really want your baby to be raised among cut throats, thieves and prostitutes?”

“My thoughts exactly,” growled Fenris.

“You’ve been there for me since the beginning Varric, never once have you turned your back on me.  And you wouldn’t be raising the child alone,” I reminded him.

“Fenris is a warrior, and I am a rogue.  I for one want this baby to know the worlds of both its parents, even-” my voice broke for a moment.  “Even if it never meets us,” I finished.  “Who else can I trust with this?”

Varric was silent for a long, long moment, taking more than one swig from the wineskin as he thought.

Raising the child of the Champion of Kirkwall, the child of two of his oldest friends.  I think Varric knew he couldn’t say no.  He would probably play it off as a great opportunity for himself, and the fact that it would grant him leverage over certain parties if the secret ever got out, but I knew the truth.  Varric had grown up in the dark heart of Kirkwall, but he had a good heart.  One that wouldn’t let him say no.

“Of course I’ll help you Hawke!” Varric said at last, opening his arms wide. “What else am I here for? Shady real estate deals, hiding identities, and currying messages.  All your clandestine needs right here!” he thumped a fist on his broad hairy chest.  Fenris and I smiled at that.

“I would also appreciate it if you would send word to Aveline, Bethany, and Merrill once we get settled where you place us,” I continued.  “I want to speak to all of you at once and it would be nice to see you all again.”

“Sure sure,” Varric waved his hand at me.  “We’ll have a good old fashioned reunion.  Too bad the Prince and Ravini can’t make it.”  He was referring to the last two of our companions who had parted ways with me after the battle with Meredith.

“Now that business if concluded,” he said briskly, taking another swig from the wineskin I gave him and passing it over.  “Let’s move on to more…companion-y topics.”

“What’s this I hear about a dead Grey Warden apostate?”

Part 3: Secrets and Favors

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