A/N: Thank you to everyone who has been reading, and especially to those who have been reviewing this story. Your support means the world to me! :) Sorry I didn't post last week, but this week's post is extra long. I know that doesn't make up for it, but I hope it helps. Enjoy!


When Kimberly awoke, Fenris was already up, sitting before the fire. She yawned and stretched like a cat before crawling out of bed. She quickly donned her comfort clothes and took the seat next to him.

"Do you feel up to sword shopping today?"


This took Kimberly by surprise. Fenris would never go out without a sword. "Did you want me to pick one out for you?"

Fenris shrugged as if he didn't care one way or the other.

"Did you want to talk some more?


"Varric and I were supposed to meet with the Merchant's Guild today, but I can postpone that."


"Are you hungry? I'll order some breakfast for us."

Fenris shrugged again. Kimberly took that as an agreement and went downstairs to order breakfast then returned to their room. The kitchen maid was quick and apologetic that they didn't have more foodstuffs to offer, but Kimberly took the plate of fruits and bread. She tipped the girl 10 silvers and sent her on her way.

Kimberly set the plate down and took an apple. She watched Fenris but he didn't touch the food. He was behaving very strangely. It reminded her of their first night together three years ago, when he left suddenly after they made love. Henric's death must be affecting him greatly.

"It's not your fault."

Fenris turned his gaze on her and she Kimberly felt as if he was looking through her rather than at her. It was an eerie feeling. Silence permeated the room. The edge of his mouth turned downward in half a frown.

"How do you know? If not for me, he wouldn't have been there."

"Fenris, don't do this to yourself."

He stood up. His armor shone in the firelight. "I need to be alone." He turned and walked towards the door.

"Fenris, wait! Don't go alone. Let me come with you."

He paused with his hand on the door. "No. This is something I need to work out for myself."


"It's daylight. I will be fine." With that, he left, closing the door behind him.

Kimberly contemplated going after him but decided it wouldn't do any good. She was still clothed in her comfort clothes and would need to put her mages robes on. By then he would be gone. Kimberly set her apple down. Her appetite was gone. She might as well get ready to go to the Merchant's Guild with Varric.


Fenris sat on the edge of the docks and watched the boats pass by. There weren't a lot of boats, but he wasn't there to watch boats, he was there to think. He couldn't stop thinking about Henric. About how the young mage had given up his life for Fenris. About his last words: You love Hawke. Tell her. Live free with her.

Why was it all about Hawke anyway? Did Henric give up his life just to please Hawke? Or was it something else? And why wasn't she upset by his death? Did it not affect her? She hadn't said a word about it. She was kind and supportive of him but didn't offer any commiseration. Could she be so callous? He shook his head at the thought. His Hawke was anything but callous. But he couldn't figure it out. He couldn't figure her out. They hadn't spoken about how she felt. Whenever they talked it was always her listening to him. Maybe it was time that he learned to listen instead of talk.

Turbulent emotions were running rampant in his mind. He was angry. Was he also sad? He felt as if he had lost something. He couldn't figure out why he would be sad. Henric had been a mage. A mage! An enemy if there ever was one. Henric represented everything he hated about mages. He was conceited, indifferent and rude. His dark eyes watched everything, as if he was storing information that he would later use as a weapon. He wanted to be a magister, even if it meant owning slaves. So why would he save a slave? Given Henric's attitude, why was Fenris saddened by Henric's death?

Magisters. Magic. Magic to hurt and magic to heal. What does magic touch that it doesn't spoil?

Hawke. It didn't spoil Hawke.

Fenris's thoughts drifted to the man who had given his life for the elf's freedom. Henric had used magic to save him. Maybe it was more than Hawke. Maybe, just maybe, magic didn't spoil everything.


Kimberly was already drinking by the time Merrill and William came back to the inn. She was on her third or fourth cup of ale. She wasn't counting. She hadn't eaten much of anything all day and the ale was making her head spin. She didn't care. She wanted it to spin. She needed it to spin. Anything to take away the memory of so much death. First Anders, now Henric. Couldn't she protect anyone?

She signaled to Jonwain for another cup of ale. This one wasn't empty yet, but she might as well be prepared. She heard the chatter of Merrill and William's voices as they entered the inn, but she wanted to sink under the table. She didn't want to see them. She didn't want to see anyone. Mostly, she didn't want anyone to see her.

Didn't they realize their faith in her was misplaced?

Merrill and William spotted her and walked over to her table in the corner. Apparently it hadn't been a dark enough corner to hide the Champion of Kirkwall from her crew. Crew. Isabela would have a crew by now and her own ship, no doubt. Isabela - someone else she had let down. Kimberly groaned and dropped her head to the table.

"Hawke? Are you all right?" Merrill asked. William sat down to Kimberly's left and Merrill moved to sit to her right. Merrill was puzzled. "Hawke?"

"Yes Merrill?" replied, directly to the table top. She felt Merrill's hand in her hair, gently lifting her face from the table.

"You aren't all right. You've been drinking." The barmaid came over and sat another cup of ale in front of Kimberly.

"Would you like some food, Mistress?" asked the barmaid.

"No thank you," Hawke replied. The barmaid turned and left.

In one large swallow, Kimberly finished her current cup of ale and then reached for the next. The pain inside her was slowly starting to ease. She wasn't anywhere near drunk yet, but she intended to be before the night was out. Merrill stopped her. "How much have you had to drink?"

"This is only my second cup," she lied.

"Have you eaten?"

An idea struck her. Maybe she could get rid of Merrill and William. "Why don't you two get something to eat? I'll be fine."

Merrill exchanged a look with William and nodded. "I'll go order some food," the elf announced. She hopped up quickly and went to the bar.

William watched Hawke take another long swig of ale. He narrowed his eyes. "How much have you really had to drink today?"

"Today? All day?"

William frowned. He didn't have much experience with women, or ale, or anything much at all, but he was smart enough to recognize when someone was hurting. "Is this about Henric?"

Kimberly contemplated lying again. Instead she said nothing and reached for her ale. William put his hand over hers, stopping her from lifting the mug. "I miss him too. I didn't sleep at all last night."

"It's my fault," she whispered.

"No, if it's anyone's fault, it's mine. I never should have let him go off on his own, but he had such a great idea about getting onto the ship. I didn't know he couldn't heal or I never would have left his side."

Merrill ordered the food and then turned back to look at the table. William's hand rested on Hawke's and they were talking. She watched as Hawke shook her head, but didn't pull her hand away from William's. Instead, she seemed to be talking with him, but they were holding hands! Oh, Merrill, how could you be so stupid? She chastised herself. Someone like William would naturally be attracted to someone like Hawke. She was beautiful and strong and always knew the right thing to say at the right time. Unlike herself, who never seemed to know the right thing to say at any time. Merrill, who are you fooling? You like him but you can't say it, can you? You can't even admit it to yourself, can you? Certainly he likes Hawke more than he does you. Look, they're holding hands! Merrill turned away. She couldn't watch anymore.

Kimberly broke the grasp William had on her hand and grabbed her cup of ale. She took another drink. "You don't understand, William. Everyone expects me to be in charge. I'm supposed to take care of everyone. Yet one night I fight with Fenris and he leaves only to be captured. I dragged all of you with me to find him and I didn't find him. Henric did. And he paid the price. He died. He never should have died. If it was anyone who should have died saving Fenris, it should be me. Fenris is the other half of my soul, William, do you understand what that's like? I should have been the one to find him."

William looked towards the bar. Merrill's back was to them. Did he understand what it was like to meet the second half of his soul? Maybe he did. But could a person be the other half of your soul if they didn't feel the same way about you? He had no idea how Merrill felt about him. She liked him well enough, they were friends at least, but was there more than that? He definitely wanted more than that but did she? How would he ever find out?

He turned his attention back to Hawke. She was drinking again. "Don't you think you should slow down? You're going to get drunk."

"That was the plan, yes."


"Why? Why? Weren't you listening? Fenris was captured. Henric is dead. Anders is dead. I killed Anders. Did I ever tell you that? The mage who blew up the Chantry was a friend of mine and I killed him. Have you ever killed a friend? Someone you were meant to protect?"

"No, I've never killed anyone. Well, except for those templars we met on the road."

"Then don't talk to me about getting drunk. I have every right to get drunk. Everyone under my protection is in danger. You would be better off without me. Take Merrill and go away somewhere. Somewhere that the two of you can be together without interference from the Circle or templars or people like me."

Kimberly signaled to the barmaid for another drink. Merrill returned with their food and sat it on the table. Kimberly took one sniff and pushed the bowl of stew away. It wasn't that it smelled bad. It wasn't that she wasn't hungry. It was that she couldn't eat. The guilt was eating away at her soul and that was enough. The ale wasn't enough to wash away the guilt. All the blood, all the lies, all the death over the years. So much needless death. Templars, mages, friends. Tears formed at the corners of her eyes and she tried to wipe them away before Merrill or William saw them. But more tears kept coming and when Merrill looked at her she knew her façade had cracked.

"Hawke, why are you crying?" asked Merrill.

"I can't do this anymore!" Hawke tried to stand, but she knocked over her chair. She stumbled past Merrill and right into Fenris's arms. He stood her up and looked at her tear-streaked face.

"Come with me," Fenris said. He tried leading her around the table, but the ale had made her dizzy. Instead, he swept her into his arms and carried her upstairs to their room. She shook in his arms as tears wracked her body. He laid her gently on the bed, then turned and shut the door behind him. When he turned back to her, she had curled up into a ball as the tears fell.

Fenris sat beside her on the bed. He stroked her hair as she cried. When her tears ran dry, he finally spoke. "Talk to me."

Kimberly sniffled. "About what?"

"About why you are crying. And why you reek of ale."

Kimberly sat up on the bed next to Fenris. "Henric is dead. Anders is dead. You were captured. I can't protect the people I am supposed to."

"It isn't about you, Hawke. Anders is dead because he did something horrible. Henric is dead because he made a poor choice. I was captured because I made a poor choice. I went out that night and allowed myself to be distracted. Don't take on guilt that isn't yours to take."

"But there's been so much blood over the years. Some days I think I will never be clean."

"Hawke, we killed in self-defense. We never set out to murder anyone." He thought of Hadrianna and Danarius. "Well, you didn't." He put his arm around her, gently leaning her into an embrace.

A fresh wave of tears washed over her. "I'll never see Carver again."

"I know."

"I miss him. My little brother. I never missed him when I was in Kirkwall because I always knew where he was and I knew he was safe. Now there's a war and we are on opposite sides. I don't know if he is even alive."

Fenris continued to hold her and just listen. She had done this for him so many times, just listening to him and he rarely did the same. It felt good to be here with her – holding her, supporting her.

"I miss Bethany and my mother too. They are at the Maker's side now… with Father. So many people I couldn't protect."

"You can't protect everyone, Kimberly. People make their own choices."

"But I could have protected Mother! And I should have shielded Bethany from that Ogre."

"Don't do this to yourself. You did the best you could."

"No, no I didn't. I should… should have listened to DuPris. The killer and the white lillies. I failed her. I failed Mother."

"You're mother was very proud of you. You had no way of knowing that DuPris was telling the truth. There was nothing more you could have done."

"I could have looked for her during the day! If I had been a few hours sooner he wouldn't have killed her."

"It's over now. Don't blame yourself." He held her tightly.

"I can't protect anyone."

"You don't have to."


"No. Stop. You are only hurting yourself." He pulled back from her and looked into her eyes. "Please, stop. You are hurting someone I care about." He kissed her gently on the lips and then on the forehead.

His gentle words made her pause. There was nothing she could do about the past but it was so hard to let go of her mistakes. Fenris was right – torturing herself over the past would gain her nothing. She suddenly felt exhausted. Her tears had dried up and she was light-headed. She yawned.

"You should sleep. Let me help you." Fenris stood up and helped her to stand. She was wobbly on her feet, but Fenris kept her from falling. He undressed her gently and put her to bed. "Sleep. I will watch over you."