Varric waits until they're well into their third round of drinks, with a fourth on the way, before he decides to confirm the theory he's been building for the past few weeks. He could be wrong, of course, but he doesn't think he is. Even if by some chance he is wrong, however, well, that's why he waited until after their third round of drinks.

He takes a mouthful of ale, frowns at the taste before setting the tankard back down. Clearly Jena has yet to forgive him. "So Hawke...I've been wondering."

The look Hawke gives him over the rim of his own tankard is completely undeserved. "I knew it. You want to talk, and by talk I mean cultivate more fodder for those ridiculous stories you write."

Varric can't help his grin. No one could ever say the man wasn't sharp. "I'm hurt, Hawke. Can't we just have a friendly chat? And my stories are not ridiculous."

"That particular gleam in your eye is pretty hard to miss, Varric." Hawke knocks back the rest of his drink, pushing the now empty tankard aside. Hawke grins, a bright slash of teeth in his dark beard. "It must be something big if you waited this long to try asking." He waves a hand, leaning back in his chair. "I don't know whether I find it amusing or insulting that you think you'd be safe after only three rounds."

Varric slides a look at the monstrosity of a sword resting against the back of Hawke's chair. The average man would struggle to lift it, and the first time he saw Hawke in battle with it, swinging the blade with supernatural strength, it was breathing taking for a whole variety of reasons. Mainly because he was praying to every deity he could think of that he never end up on the wrong side of Hawke's temper.

"If anything I was hoping it would make you more agreeable," Varric admits. He grins, wide and unafraid. "Has it?"

Hawke laughs and Varric breathes a silent sigh of relief. He's pretty sure he would have been able to outrun Hawke. Maybe. "Ask your questions, Varric. I'll either answer or I won't."

Tapping his fingers against the side of his tankard, Varric thinks over what he's seen the past few weeks, the little signs that pile up into one big picture. "So...Fenris, huh?"

There's an indrawn breath, a flicker of emotion that crosses Hawke's face too fast for him to read. Varric wonders if Hawke's going to try to play it off or pretend ignorance, until Hawke's mouth pulls into a rueful smile. "Caught that, did you?"

That brief glimpse of something Varric saw has him redefining what he'd thought was a passing fancy to something with roots. "Nothing's obvious unless you're paying attention." He shrugs when Hawke arches an eyebrow in silent question. "Trouble usually starts with you, Hawke. It's a source of great material for my ridiculous stories."

"You keep insisting that you're charming, but I really don't see it." Hawke sighs out a breath and Varric unconsciously straightens, can practically taste the juicy details. "Yes. Definitely Fenris."

He can see the attraction, he supposes, Fenris being all long lines of broody elf, and the tattoos certainly don't hurt. Still..."Really?" He raises his hands to ward off the narrow-eyed glare. "I have nothing but respect for our glowing elf, but even you have to admit he's got a lot more baggage than most."

A former Tevinter slave who was tattooed with lyrium? Ouch. Fenris was lucky he hadn't lost his mind from lyrium exposure, not to mention from the process itself. Not to mention Varric was pretty sure Fenris might have had other uses besides being an attack dog. Nothing concrete, obviously, but when he added up power hungry Tevinter mage with an attractive slave, the outcome wasn't pretty.

A muscle flexes in Hawke's jaw and Varric wonders if Hawke has drawn the same conclusion. He would bet ten silver that Fenris isn't the only one waiting for Denarius to show his face in Kirkwall.

Not that Varric wasn't interested in introducing this Denarius to Bianca, either.

"If I was a sunshine and flowers type of man, I think Isabela would have eaten me alive already," Hawke muses. Considering he's tapping his fingers against the table in that way that means bad guys are in danger of becoming body parts, Varric appreciates just why Hawke became their impromptu leader. At times control was more useful than a strong arm to swing a sword. "I know Fenris has got some rough edges, but," Hawke shrugs, "I think he's entitled."

"You got that right. Elf's got enough edges to rival an armory." He looks around for Jena, thinking it's taking a tad too long for their drinks to make an appearance. How many times did the woman expect him to apologize? "Does Fenris know?"

He isn't sure what to make of the grin Hawke flashes him. "You mean have we indulged in any nights of passion that you can add to the supposed epic you're writing right now?"

"Because I have nothing better to do than imagine you and the "Broody One" tangling up the sheets." Pssh, as if he was going to wait for that to happen. Where did Hawke get the idea that these stories were based in fact? "I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Fenris doesn't know."

Hawke looks longingly at his empty tankard. "I haven't done anything to hide my interest when we're alone together, but I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm joking."

"Probably because you're a smart-ass, Hawke."

Finally he spots Jena weaving a path towards them through the crowd. He smiles at her, winces when he gets a pointed glare in exchange. The minx serves Hawke first, the traitor laughing at Jena's quip about short men with shorter wallets.

He thinks about those moments he's seen Hawke watching Fenris, the quiet intensity, banked by patience and affection. How sometimes, out of the corner of his eye, he catches Fenris watching too, eyes dark with longing and almost desperation.

Opening his mouth now will almost guarantee that Hawke will make another move. It might work, or it might scare Fenris off. Or he can wait and let things play out, maybe see if Fenris will decide that life doesn't have to be all about brooding in his wreck of a mansion.

He takes a sip of the fresh ale once Jena saunters off to buy a couple seconds. It's an easy decision, really. He owes them both, these men who guard his back and trust him with theirs, to let them find their own way.

It doesn't hurt that it will give him the opportunity to pull one over on Rivaini.

"Why do I have a feeling that smile does not bode well for me?" Hawke says, resigned affection lurking behind his eyes.

Varric's grin widens. "Because you're a smart man, Hawke. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."


A/N: written for the "affection" square of my love_bingo card