If she were only ill Anders could have dealt well enough with the situation. He did, after all, run a clinic helping the sickest, dirtiest, and most hopeless people in Kirkwall. It was the delirium that promised to drive him mad.
At first she'd only talked to her father, something Anders had found fascinating. She had loved Malcolm Hawke, trusted and been devoted to him, and the man had escaped from the Circle here in Kirkwall, lived as a mercenary traveling Thedas, and then settled down with the love of his life to raise three amazing children, one of them a mage that he'd trained to be a strong and independent as he'd been. Anders rather wished he'd had a chance to meet the man.
But last night her delusions, her feverish imagination, had turned to a different subject: Anders himself. She had somehow gotten the idea that they had been involved for some time. Whether it was a wish or the fact of his presence, sponging cool water over her forehead and limbs and doing what little he could for her he did not know. And, worse, it could be that she knew.
He could hardly leave her, but what she was saying! Before she'd lapsed back into a fitful sleep she'd asked him to come back to bed with a frisky little smile he'd never before seen that promised precisely what he'd wanted so long. But how could he take advantage of a sick woman like that?
When he'd refused, Hawke had...she'd...Maker, she'd kissed him. The fever made her mouth unbearably hot and her hands felt like flames on his face. It was all he could do to pull away, to resist her. Thankfully she'd slid back into half-consciousness before he could do anything they'd both regret. But she mumbled in her sleep, suggestive little fragments, and in brief moments of wakefulness she kept calling him “darling”.
Anders began to think his head would explode. The shift she wore clung to her body, drenched with sweat, and she kicked off any blankets with which he tried to cover her. He continued his tender ministrations but every slow stroke of the damp cloth over her heated flesh tempted him more. Finally he set the basin aside and sat quietly holding her hand in his lap, dozing.
He woke with a start some hours later and realized that she must have been sleeping more deeply not to have disturbed his troubled dreams. A hand to her forehead verified that the fever had broken. As he pulled his fingers away, relieved, her eyes opened. “Anders,” she said, her voice rusty with disuse and thick with her cold, “how long have you been here?”
“Oh, a couple of days,” he answered offhandedly. “Someone had to keep an eye on that fever.”
“Two days! I don't remember anything. Was I a terrible bother?”
“Of course not, Hawke. You did have a nice talk with your father...”
She laughed. “I was delirious?” Anders nodded, remember the feel of her burning lips. “I didn't say anything embarrassing, did I?”
Heat bloomed in his face. He could never tell her the things she'd said to him, never invite such involvement with the likes of him, but she noticed him coloring even in the dim light of dawn filtering through the window. “Was it that bad?” she asked. “Andraste's rear end, what did I do?”
He shook his head. “Nothing, Hawke, nothing.” He smiled sadly, knowing he'd dream of the previous night on his pallet, alone. “I think I'm just coming down with something.”