Commission for cypheroftyr.
Rockstar Fenris and Violinist Anders.
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This was their moment.
After months of practice and a year of bickering collaboration, the concert with Anders went on. Mostly because of Hawke, of course. She kept telling them to stop being such babies and let the music speak for itself. She was right. She was always right. Fenris hadn’t wanted to sing, and then he hadn’t wanted to write lyrics, and when he agreed to both the result was their first chart-topper. They changed their name from Hawke & the Companions to just the Companions, so people could stop calling Fenris Hawke.
"It’s fine," Hawke said, "This was never about being famous."
She said the same thing when she squared off with Mr. Shok from the record company and won. “This was never about money.”
Apparently that’s the hook she used to cadge Anders, a friend of hers since she moved into Kirkwall those many years ago. “He’s really good at the long-suffering artist thing,” she said with a grin over their weekly takeout and brainstorm session, reaching for some glazed chicken with her chopsticks. “Apparently he hasn’t had a real job since he left the symphony in a fit of passion. His place is almost as big a dump as your old place was. He’s really big on mage awareness, so he dedicates all this time and every space coin he has to these charities.”
"You know," Fenris grumbled, "How I feel about mages."
"I know we’re the biggest damned thing in Thedas since Andraste, and we have to keep innovating when everyone expects us to get boring or fail," Hawke said, mouth pressed into a no-nonsense line. "And I know that I’m the leader of this band, and I made the call. He’s an amazing musician, and there’s enough money out there for all of our causes."
Hawke was usually the smiling, joking around type. That’s why when she got serious - or when she busted out a few intense rhymes during the bridge of a song instead of a bass solo - people were always surprised. When she got serious, nothing could stand in her way. She’d won the argument about letting her girlfriend Merill tour with them, and she’d win this argument too. But that didn’t mean Fenris had to like it.
Anders didn’t like it either. Their rivalry became the stuff of tabloid legends, though Isabela seemed to delight in attempting to draw attention from their fights by always being sighted with someone new on her arm. Their contempt seemed to tap into a new well of creativity, and Fenris wrote some of his most beautiful, heart-rending yet resentful lyrics yet. The vocals he laid down were chilling. He had everything to be proud of, and Anders’s stuff worked well too. They established long ago they would never even be in the studio at the same time together. Which is why Fenris objected strongly to rehearsing with him.
"He’s just a guest musician," Fenris growled the first time Anders showed up with his violin. He looked patently out of place in his neo-boho ‘I so obviously tried to make this outfit looked like I got it out of the dumpster but actually it’s from Urban Outfitters’ gear, with the rest of the band in ripped jeans and tight T-shirts. Hawke was on the phone with her mother again, probably trying to troubleshoot something stupid her uncle did. "Why is he here?"
"Hawke asked me to be here," Anders said with a curl of his lip, "Or did you not know? You’re the only one with a problem with mages in the band, and I’m really appealing to the mage demographic."
"That’s not the only reason Hawke risked pissing Fenris off," said Varric from the doorway. "For once in your life, you had to be early, huh blondie? You’ve interfered with my whole manager thing showing up before I had a chance to smooth things over."
"Something tells me that Fenris doesn’t do much smoothing," Anders scoffed.
"No, he’s more of the rough-and-tumble type," Isabela couldn’t help but interject, caressing and then slapping the curve of her guitar as if it were a lover’s shapely buttock.
"We do not," Aveline said from behind her drum-kit with her band-mother voice, "have time for this."
But Fenris and Anders made time. Anders passive-aggressively tweeted ‘not naming names’ complaints about Fenris during practice. Fenris went on a popular talk show to call Anders a hipster and a wannabe who only talked about mages to make himself feel important and to divert attention from the role of mages in Tevinter slavery. Anders responded in a volley of vehement tweets calling Fenris a hypocrite and hostile as a rabid dog. And it went on from there. Many rehearsals exploded in loud arguments that ended with Varric or Hawke threatening to knock their heads together.
Fenris loathed Anders. His single-mindedness toward his message, the way he always cherry-picked the things he heard other people say and the manipulative way he conducted his politics.
But he was an amazing musician. Fenris came to grudgingly respect that, and even admit that having Anders play with them added an element of - dare he say it - magic - to their sound. While Fenris drew upon all of his anger and loneliness to sing, Anders seemed almost serene. He all but seemed to glow with a dreamy light, even at his most furious. They would be a sight to behold in concert, so long as they managed not to full-out brawl in the green room.
The concert was one of their biggest yet. They would be broadcasting live to arenas and theaters all over Thedas. Hawke had been explicit in her wishes that everyone should be able to hear them, which is why the arena was equally as filled with elvhen fans and Fereldans as it was nobles from Kirkwall who could afford new T-shirts and box tickets. Varric worked on getting priority seating for dwarves, too, in spite of their reputations for getting drunk and rowdy.
Fenris liked drunk and rowdy, actually. He was far from the touchy-feely type, but he missed stage diving. A former slave being lifted high above everyone’s heads, and the rich nobles and dangerous mages paying for the privilege to do so.
These arenas were an entirely different experience. This wasn’t just rowdiness, sharing a beat and a feeling and getting sweaty under the lights. Hawke had made herself unpopular with the Chantry for her ‘bigger than Andraste’ quips, but listening to the crowd chant and stomp for them, scream their names, Fenris had to agree. It wasn’t blasphemous. This was like a religious experience.
"I’ve never played a crowd like this before," Fenris heard Anders murmur from behind him. They were on the edge of the stage, just out of sight behind the curtain.
"Not exactly a symphony crowd, eh?"
"…I can handle it," Anders said, expression darkening.
And he could.
Music was the only magic Fenris could ever accept. That was one of the first lessons Hawke taught him. ABC, then piano keys.
When he sang, it was like nothing else in the world existed or mattered. In the delirium and glitter of the lights, Fenris heard something as sweet as a nightingale, threading through the his phrases and lifting his voice to new places.
Anders and his violin.
He was beautiful under the spotlight, even in that goofy bow tie, the too-formal get up he insisted on wearing to the rock show. In that half-second gap between the end of their first encore song and the tsunami of applause, Fenris looked at him and fell totally in love.
Not with Anders and his stubble and his politics and his stupid bow tie, but with the beauty he could only express with his instrument. With the poetic elegance that every word he spoke seemed to try to erase.
Hawke wrote Merill dozens of love songs, though the Companions no longer played them very much. “Words are rubbish,” she often told Fenris when she was in her cups, “If everyone could just be the person they are when they’re singing or playing, the world wouldn’t be such a mess. Words get in the way.”
Later, Fenris would simply say he was caught up in the moment, the adrenalin rush, the intense camaraderie of a huge, diverse crowd brought together by a single love. He would not exactly be lying.
He looked over at Anders who was smiling only a little. He looked ready to cry.
He thought about how he once got blackout drunk at an after-show party and reportedly, Anders insisted on being the one to take him back personally, to make sure he didn’t choke on his vomit and die.
Words get in the way.
It came as easily as sliding his hand down the mic stand. He put his hand on Anders’s neck, pulled him closer and kissed him.
The din of the audience was overwhelming, but what bowled him over was the silent truth of Anders kissing him back. It was their moment. The kiss was as fragile and momentary as a soap bubble, though it left a lingering giddiness when it burst and they pulled away at the same moment.
The fans would debate for years what they said to one another just moments after that. Anders was shocked, both of them were smiling.
"If there weren’t billions of witnesses," Anders said through a smile of clenched teeth, "I’d probably punch you on the jaw. In fact I might kill you."
Fenris smirked. “Just shut up and play.”
So they did.