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Something in the Shadows

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“Have you ever thought of getting an undercut?” Cassidy Hawke was caressing the elf’s white hair, unable to sleep “I think you would look very cute”

Fenris opened up his eyes slowly, just enough to look at the man laying by his side on the bed, and smiled in the corner of his lips. It was already late at night and both were still a little tipsy from the several glasses of wine they had earlier in that evening, so the elf felt like he could allow himself to be a little vulnerable. He felt weirdly safe around the mage, but was not willing to give it much thought at that moment.

“It is already cold enough here, I don’t need to expose my neck to the wind” he replied while getting out of the bed and looking for his clothes on the floor.

“If you come back here I can warm you up a little bit more” Cassidy watched with a silly smile on his face as his lover got dressed.

Fenris chuckled, turning around on his feet to throw some cotton pants on the other’s face, ordering him to put it on.

 “No? Are you sure?” laughed the man while sitting up on the bed.

“Just do it before I leave you in this old ass mansion all by yourself"

“You say as if I was scared of this place or something” Cassidy rolled his eyes, tying his long hair on a traditional bun and putting his pants and socks on, but before he could reach for his shirt, a sudden loud noise came from outside the room, making the mage shiver “What was that?”

Fenris was already staring at the door, frowning and reaching blindly for his sword by the bed “I don’t know. It came from downstairs, sounded like a door slamming”.

“I’m sure it was just the wind... Right?”

“I wouldn’t be so sure” he sounded cold and angry “Not in this mansion. Not with Danarius out there”

“Do you wanna go check it out?” whispered the mage after approaching his companion’s back.

“Yes” he replied in the same low voice, eyes still fixed on the wooden door “Just put on your shirt first, for the Maker’s love”

**

Fenris was holding firmly the door knob in one hand while the other squeezed the grip of his sword “Are you ready?” he whispered. Cassidy was right behind him - way too close, in fact, but not willing to admit his fear - and just nodded. The elf opened up the door slowly, trying to not make much noise from the old hinges. They stepped out of the main suite, paying attention to all corners and noises, Fenris leading the way towards the double staircases on the main hall of the mansion, dark and still. There was not a single soul around.

Another loud sound was heard from the first floor, this time like iron sticks falling down to the stone flooring. Startled, Fenris hid his body against the hallway wall and pushed Cassidy back to do the same. He waited for the sound to vanish and listened to the darkness around them. When everything was safely quiet again, he moved his head to the side in order to look at the stairs and to the main hall. The fireplace was lit and the iron pokers were scattered on the floor. Fenris frowned, still hiding and holding Cassidy’s chest against the wall.

“What is it?” whispered Cass in a trembling voice “Can you see anything?”

“Quiet” hissed the elf. He stepped away from the wall and held his sword with both hands, moving like a shadow towards the hall. Cassidy followed him carefully, looking around at every corner. He could feel his heart beating faster as he walked down the stairs, holding his staff firmly in his hands in a grip that would otherwise hurt his palms if it was not for his fear of the unknown. “Can you feel anything different? Like magic?”

Cassidy tried not to sound scared, but his trembling voice gave him away. “No, I-” he was interrupted by a thin, sharp sound coming from the other side of the main hall. A door was being slowly opened in the way for the kitchen and dining room, producing the most horrifying sound a hinge could ever do. There was nothing touching the door, not even the wind. The mage felt the hairs on his nape rising as he was struck by a sudden feeling of panic. “We should go, Fenris”

“Yes. We should” the elf’s voice was deadly serious and his eyes were feral. He moved towards the door to the dining room, ignoring the whispered protests of his companion. At first inspection, the door seemed fine, just like every other on the mansion. It was just a huge wooden door, wide and heavy, but going through it did not feel that normal. The dining room was pitch black and the air felt dense to walk in, as if the atmosphere was thicker. “Can you give me some light?” he whispered.

The mage nodded quietly and produced a small flame on his hand, just enough to let them see the dining table in the center of the room, as well as broken furniture spread all over it. White sheets were covering the wooden pieces from the dust, emanating a creepy aura to the old mansion. Cassidy leaned down to the elf from behind, approaching his face to the other’s ears “Can you see anything?” he asked in a low voice, making Fenris shiver.

“No, just a bunch of junk” he whispered back, still scanning the room like a hunting lynx. “There’s no one here. We must have-” he stopped talking at once when he saw something moving in the right corner of the room, under a chair. Fenris held Cassidy’s wrist and pushed it just slightly to the side, directing the flame to where he was staring. Cass followed his movements with his eyes, looking for what could have caught the other’s attention. They stood still in that position, silent as they could be. The chair was positioned beside a slatted window with purple curtains that fell on its arms, dusty and dirty. Something seemed to move again, almost imperceptible in the dim light. Both men doubted they saw anything, thinking it was probably the moving light of the mage’s flame tricking their minds. Cassidy’s heart was racing in fear and his mouth seemed very dry, but he could not look elsewhere. He wondered if Fenris was feeling the same.

The fabric on the chair moved again. The men squint their eyes to try to focus better on that, Fenris raising an eyebrow in suspicion, and just before they could hold their breaths, a white small figure popped out of the fabrics on the chair in a hush, making its way to the the kitchen doors on the other side of the room. Cassidy let out a single long scream, putting out the fire in his hand by instinct and holding on to the elven body in front of him. Although he did not scream, Fenris compressed his body against Cassidy’s, leaning on his shoulders with one arm and pointing his sword towards the kitchen doors with the other, a little shaky.

"What was that!?" asked the mage.

"How am I supposed to know?" Fenris snapped back, only realizing a moment later that he was still pressing his body against the man. He cleared his throat and let go of him before continuing "It seemed like fog, but it is hard to see anything in here"

"We should go back to the Hanged Man and find the others. Perhaps Varric will let us stay the night" he lit up the flame on his hand again.

"Or we could go on, kill whatever is it and then go back to bed" the elf said as if it was just so simple, already heading to the direction the creature went, sword in both hands. Cassidy had little choice but to follow, always right behind him.

The sudden cold air hushed through their bodies once they stepped into the kitchen, not as dark as the dining room. Once again, nothing seemed to move and Fenris was getting angry. "Ok, enough!" he snapped, screaming into the shadows "Who is it? Danarius, I will murder you with my bare hands!"

"I don't think it is him, Fenris" there was caution in the mage's voice. He spoke in a low tone, looking for anything in the room.

"Who, then? Your other mage friend?" the word sounded sharp between the clenched teeth, refering to the Warden healer.

"I don't think it is a mage at all" his voice did not change to the provoking "not even a demon or the fade"

Fenris complexion translated confusion more than anger. He wouldn't rest until he was safe, but he couldn't make sure of it if he doesn't knew what he was after. Then, another sound. This time it was a high pitched laughter coming from the gardens behind the mansion, a door stood open on the other side of the room showing the way out and leaking moonlight into the kitchen.

"Let's get this over with at once" he sounded certain, but looked at Cassidy with unusual worry "But Cass... Stay close. And aware."

Hawke tried to contain a silly smile. He called me Cass, he thought and only nodded twice. Both headed to the gardens.

Right in front of the tall bushes, stood a chest that otherwise should not be there, but that night had already a lot of unexpected situations. It was made of cheap wood, painted in a clumsy fashion of blacks, grays and reds, and did not seem very heavy, much less locked. Something moved inside it and Cassidy felt his blood pumping faster in his veins.

"Should I make the honors?" his voice cracked despite his efforts to sound chill.

Fenris almost chuckled. "No, you keep guard behind me". He approached the box and kneeled to the ground, placing his long fingers on top of it, about to open the lid. Slowly, more for caution than fear, he moved it and looked inside the box. "What the-"

Behind him, Cassidy screamed as something heavy jumped on top of him. Every thread of hair in Fenris body rose up to the sound of despair coming from the mage, but as he turned around on his feet, ready to help his lover, the scream had turn into… laughter?

It took a moment for Fenris to realize what was  going on. On top of Cassidy, laid his sister, tickling the soul out of the mage's body. He laughed in panic, trying to push her off him, but Devon had always been stronger than him. Wide eyed, Fenris did not know what to do. His only instinct would be to fight the attacking figure, but even that was held up in his confusion.

"Devon! Devon please!" begged Cassidy against the grass "You maniac, stop!"

A second set of laughter creeped out of the shadows of the garden and a pirate captain came out of it. Isabela was almost out of air, red cheeked from the several pints of all kinds of alcohol she had earlier. Devon's face was just the same. "I can't believe it worked out so well!" she said. From the box behind the elf, a small figure popped out, covered in white sheets with holes cut on it. "You did great, Ser Pounce-a-lot the Second"

A cat? thought the elf Was it him in the dining room? Fenris wanted to punch Isabela on the face, but before he could move, Cassidy was already free from his twin's torture session.

"That was not funny!" cried the mage, catching his breath again "I should have murdered you in the womb!". He couldn't help but to laugh a little, too.

"Fenris? Are you all right?" asked Isabela, wiping a tear off her face.

"I am going to kill you second" echoed his voice, already not so dead serious as before "and I will have her head first" he pointed his chin to Devon, who was curling in the grass, trying to contain her laughter.

"What are you even doing here?" Cassidy took off the grass from his clothes.

"Well" smiled Isabela "We were having a few drinks and felt the urge to mess with you guys. Also we found this cat, so maybe you'll do the honors to give it to Anders, Cass?"

The black cat was trying to take off the piece of sheet that covered his whole body except by his eyes, ears and tail. "That was so mean of you, Devon" Cassidy said as he helped the cat. He pet the fur between the tiny ears.

"The cat is fine" replied his twin, finally getting to her feet. She approached Isabela and rested an arm around her shoulders, but tried to not look too drunk.

"You had your fun, now get out" said the elf.

"Don't be so mad, Fenris" returned Isabela "I brought you wine"

Fenris' eyes squinted, considering the offer and eventually grabbing the bottle from the rogue's hands.

"Also," started Devon. Cassidy had already made friends with the cat and picked him up. "We're going to crash here for the night. I'm so very tired to walk home. Thanks for the hospitality. Goodnight, boys!" She laughed, going back to the mansion and leading Isabela to follow before Fenris could make any proper objections.

Cassidy was by his side, talking to the cat in his arms with a silly, high pitched voice. The elf rolled his eyes at the scene, but smiled in the corner of his lips. "We can hand him to Anders tomorrow. But he will not sleep on the bed with us. Come on, let's go inside"