I.

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My Creator, judge me whole:
find me well in Your grace.
Touch me with fire that I be cleansed
Tell me I have sung Your approval.

-- Canticle of Transfigurations 12:5

Fenris can't remember the last time Kirkwall had been this quiet.

The streets are all but empty, and the few souls that dare to venture out in the aftermath of the war that had almost torn the city-state apart are as silent as ghosts, rummaging through the rubble with glazed over eyes, and moving as though they wade through honey. It's been months, but the recovery process has been slow, the chaos too great for any one to know even where to begin trying to pick up the pieces.

He doesn't know where his feet are leading him, but he wanders through the once-familiar streets like he had set foot in Kirkwall for the first time only yesterday morning. But his heart knows that this is his home, even if the chaos and destruction has rendered it all but unrecognisable. His heart still knows the way to the Hanged Man even if all the street signs have been knocked to the ground, letters burnt away by mage fire. He knows the places they used to gather and celebrate; him, Merrill, Varric, Aveline, Carver, Isabella, Sebastian, and...

Hawke.

He hasn't seen the Champion of Kirkwall since that fateful day. She had watched, almost silent, as Meredith had been consumed from the inside out by the lyrium that had fuelled her, and then... Then she had looked Anders in the eyes, her hands curled in fists by her side in an attempt to steel herself—in an attempt to keep from shedding the tears that pricked at her eyes. It had worked, but only just.

"If you come back here again, if I ever see you again, I'll kill you."

She had loved Anders once, and it had almost sickened him. They were far too innocent, far too childish for this world that was not kind to people like them. He remembers mocking the way they used to look at each other when they thought no one else could see them. He remembers hands interlaced beneath the table, stealing moments they would not have gotten if their lives had taken a different direction. Had the two apostates lived their lives as the Chantry demanded they ought to, they never would have had the chance to fall in love. They'd have died alone, locked up in a tower far away from the rest of society.

Once, long ago, Fenris had thought that that was what mages deserved. Mages, he had thought, were capable of the cruelest things, capable of causing unimaginable destruction. But if the war had proven anything is that neither mages nor mortals are innocent, and both are dangerous, if only in different ways.

"Fenris."

The elven warrior looks up from the stone pavement at the sound of his name, surprised yet not all that surprised to discover that his feet have, unknowingly, led him to the front of a once-familiar estate. The ivy had died, untended to without Leandra's nurturing touch, and the painted crests on the shields hanging by the front door had been scrubbed off with wire, judging by the scratches in the steel. But the stonework is still the same, even if the touches that had made this home almost as familiar as his own are now gone. Even the lanterns by the door have cobwebs, and that's when he realises he hasn't been here since before... Since before...

Since before there had been more on the horizon than just crumbling spires of marble.

Green eyes meet blue as he finally looks at her, and part of him wishes that he hadn't. Elira Hawke, the so-called Champion of Kirkwall, looks like she shouldn't be standing. The slight olive tone to her skin from her father's Antivan blood is all but gone, leaving her sickly pale, and exposing the dark purple bruises beneath her tired eyes. Untended to, her short, midnight hair had grown out, and now brushes her shoulders. She pushes it awkwardly behind her ear as it falls across her face, but it does little to help her appearance in any way. She still looks like one of the dead whose bodies still rot in the streets without anyone to come bury them.

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