Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 11
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Fenris ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Serendipity ⚧, Leandra Amell ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D0)
Warnings: Artemis is not screwed in straight, Cormac is not okay, decaying corpses, dead slavers, sewers, dick jokes
Notes: The cleaning of the cellar begins. You knew this was coming.
Anton let himself in to the house, late, carrying a bag from the one shop that stayed open all night, and trailing his closest friend, who was still dressed from a day at the Blooming Rose, what looked like miles of silks and taffeta hanging from her. Serendipity giggled, quietly, at the care Anton took closing the door, and he waved at her to keep it down.
Too late. "Anton? Are you bringing prostitutes into the house again?" Leandra called out, pulling on her dressing gown as she stepped out of her room, onto the landing.
"She’s my friend, mother." Anton looked like this conversation was the last thing he wanted to have, now or ever.
"Good evening, Lady Amell," Serendipity offered almost demurely, curtsying as if she were at some grand Orlesian ball. "I promise not to debauch your son, this evening, and certainly not here. If I were going to do any such thing, it would have been before I left work." She paused. "Sorry, Anton, but you’re just not that cute."
"Only you, Dips." Anton chucked her under the chin and looked up at his mum, holding up the bag. "Cakes and wine. Varric’s got a new book out, and I promised her we’d get it as soon as it was out, and read it together. I got the first copy unloaded from the crate, and I spent all evening sitting at the Rose, just waiting for her. And flashing the book. Had a man offer me two sovereigns for it, just so he wouldn’t have to walk down the road for it, but knowing how Varric’s books go, I told him to go get his own, if there were any left."
"It’s a very small book club, my lady." Serendipity smiled and tapped her fan against her chin. "If you catch up with the series, you can join us for the next one. Varric’s tales are just excellently outrageous. I can’t stop reading."
Leandra looked torn. "Well. I—" She huffed and turned on her heel. "Thank you for the invitation, but I must decline. I’m going to bed. Don’t wake your sister, Anton."
It was their fault the cellar had ended up trashed, and in more ways and on more occasions than just that thing with the wine. There had been, after all, the matter of removing the previous occupants of the house. But, none of them had ventured down so far, since. There had been no real need to go beyond the carved stone vaults, into the less finished rooms and tunnels beyond. But, after weeks of cleaning, all that remained was beyond that heavy iron door. And Artemis insisted they open the thing.
"Let us go in first," Cormac suggested. "We’ll make it less terrible for you."
Less terrible was the best one could promise, once Artemis got himself into a state, and after this many years, Cormac knew it.
"Fenris? Why don’t you help him … wash the door?" Anders suggested, remembering the rest of what lay below. He’d come through with the brothers, when they’d taken the place back, and he wasn’t sure they’d hauled out the remains of the slave camp that had been beyond the door.
The stink was awful, like rotting meat, and Anders pressed a sleeve to his face. "Ugh," he groaned. They’d definitely missed a few corpses, and it would take forever to get that smell out. His eyes watered. "Does Fenris’s mansion smell like this?" he asked Cormac. "With all those bodies? Or has Artemis spruced up the place since the last time I saw it?"
"We can still hear you, mage," Fenris growled from the other side of the door. Anders noted he didn’t say anything about the corpses or the state of his mansion.
Artemis was conspicuously silent on the subject of cleaning, especially on cleaning Fenris’s home, which he had begged to do on more occasions than Anders cared to count. The sound of vigorous scrubbing told him Artemis was definitely in hearing range.
Cormac hauled the under-layer of his robe up over the bottom of his face, holding it with one hand as he examined the extraordinary amount of death before them. "How bad would it be if we just burned it all?"
"Oh. Don’t." Anders shook his head. "That’s not an improvement. That’s just burning rotten meat."
"And then Artemis will want to wash the soot off of everything, and it’ll still stink." Cormac sighed and started looking for an effective way to remove the body parts from his cellar. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know why Anders knew what burning rotten meat smelt like. There were no answers that weren’t going to make him want to set someone, probably still living someones, on fire.
"You could freeze them," Anders suggested. "They’d be less drippy."
"Genius." Cormac held his breath and lifted his head, robe sliding back down as he pressed a kiss to Anders’s cheek. "And once we get them out, we fumigate."
Fenris frowned. He didn’t like the sound of the conversation floating back to him through the door. He certainly didn’t want to know how the abomination knew so much about disposing of corpses. Either way, he suspected all this moving of dead bodies would result in another headache for Aveline. At long as she aimed her shouting at Cormac’s ears, Fenris could not care less. Simpler just to leave the bodies and pretend they weren’t there. Maybe give them names when he was drunk. Oh wait, that’s what he did.
Next to him, Artemis was scrubbing the door hard enough to strip the metal. He moved with an almost possessed amount of concentration. Since that night at the party, they’d made eye-contact all of twice, and Fenris wondered if this was what it felt like when he squeezed someone’s heart.
"You are quiet," he said. Because had to say something, and he wasn’t even going to try scrubbing as hard as Artemis.
Scrub, scrub, scrub. "Am I?" Barely a response, and still no eye-contact. There was that invisible hand, still squeezing.
Anders found some crates among the wreckage that were still mostly intact, and he dragged them back to where Cormac was freezing corpse goo. "If we throw these into the actual sewer, I don’t think anyone will notice the stench," he pointed out.
"An actual sewer. The only thing that smells worse than my basement." Cormac punctuated the sentence by lobbing a frosted chunk of torso into a crate.
"I found something else you’ll want to freeze, while I was looking for boxes. There’s … chamber pots." Anders did not look at all pleased with this discovery. "I think I’m going to start hauling things out, while you pack them up. Let me know when you want a breath of Darktown air, and I’ll trade you."
Chamber pots. There would be. Cormac waved Anders off and kept loading frozen filth into the crates. There had been slaves kept down here for Maker only knew how many years, and he supposed he was lucky no one had bothered to dig a latrine. Of course, it would probably take a dwarven contingent to dig a latrine here. Much less trouble and probably less stench to haul the buckets every few days.
Someone had been keeping slaves in his house. In his house. If he hadn’t already killed them, he’d kill them. If he could kill them twice, he’d do it. In. His. House. Slaves. The loading of crates became significantly louder as he slammed frozen body parts together and kicked metal furniture he didn’t want to think too much about.
Anders kicked a full crate in front of him, smiling through his sleeve at the sounds behind him, the sounds of a pissy Cormac taking his pissiness out on the world around him. Anders didn’t want to think about what he’d do if he found slavers squatting in his house. Not that he had a house to squat in, per se, but he had a place. A corner of a place. In which no slavers would be squatting, thank you.
Anders glanced in the direction of the Dysfunctional Duo as he headed downstairs with his crate of frozen slaver-bits. It was convenient, this stairway. Led almost right to his doorstep, which certainly made getting laid much easier. It was their very own secret passageway to Bootytown.
Fenris was starting to wonder if he’d be better off moving dead bodies. In fact… "Do you want me to take that? Where is it going?"
"Sewer. Right next to you, on the other side. Just drop it in and listen for the splash." Anders went back in for another crate, listening to the sounds of destruction continue from ahead of him.
That wasn’t just frost. That was force, or something very much like it. Anders came around the corner to find Cormac amid a heap of twisted metal that compacted further as he watched.
"Not in my house," Cormac insisted, lashing out again and crushing a cage into a brick of iron. "Not in my Maker-damned house!"
Fenris stopped behind Anders, watching Cormac with interest. He could still make out what some things had been, before Cormac had started, but not finished, crushing them. This was why he’d been told to wait outside, he gathered. The mages had wanted to shield him from what had gone on here — and this mage was just about as offended as he, himself, was with the whole thing. In that moment, he found a new appreciation for magic, watching Cormac wreak destruction on the implements of enslavement in this final room of the cellar. Horrifically dangerous, yes. But, beautiful.
Artemis finally stopped scrubbing long enough to listen. He didn’t often hear his brother like this, and a part of him felt like he was intruding just by being there to witness it. He looked up at Fenris, at the unfriendly smile on his face, and he forgot for a moment that they weren’t doing eye-contact. He cleared his throat and affected a crooked smile. "Well, that’s one way to clean," he said.
Fenris blinked at him, the words surprising a chuckle out of him. Artemis smiled at him again, sheepishly, and he bent back over his task. The invisible hand on his heart unclenched just a little.
"Cormac," Anders murmured, walking slowly back into the room. "They’re dead, as they deserved. Thanks to you, I might add."
"They’re not fucking dead enough!" Cormac laid ice across the remaining crates full of body parts. "Why can’t I kill them more?"
Anders took his shaking hands and just held them. "Come outside and have a potion, before you pass out. You’ll kill yourself, if you keep on like that."
"Shit," Cormac sighed, staring at the floor between them. "Shit."
"That’s the box Fenris just took out," Anders joked, wrapping an arm around Cormac’s shoulders and leading him out. "How about we stop for lunch? You’re always on my case that I don’t eat, so let’s eat."
Anders shot a questioning look at Artemis, as they passed. What was he supposed to do with this? He knew the answer as a healer, but… this was Cormac, and the fallout was going to be more than just ‘eat something, have a potion, and go have a few drinks’. He hoped Artemis had dealt with his brother like this, before.
Artemis caught the helpless look on Anders’s face. He twisted the rag in his hand for a moment before dropping it with a curse and following his fellow mages, no more certain of how to handle this than Anders.
"Look at us Hawke brothers, trashing cellars one room at a time," he quipped, because making inappropriate jokes was the Hawke thing to do. Expression softening, he slung an arm around Cormac on the other side, arm crossing over Anders’s. "There are plenty of other slavers out there, waiting to be made just as dead, you know. Think of all the terrible things you can do to them."
Fenris listened and tried not to smile.
"Fenris. You, me, and the Wounded Coast, tomorrow night? I want to go hunting." The smile that crossed Cormac’s face was not pretty. It might be said to border on deranged, and it was a smile Anders recognised instantly. He’d worn it, enough times.
"I suspect we will require more than just you and I," Fenris pointed out, "but, yes. I will go with you."
"You need a healer," Anders volunteered, nudging Cormac until the man sat down on the rail just past the door. "You want to tell me what that was?"
"Exactly what it looked like," Cormac deadpanned, and then sighed. "I was born in this house. Mum and dad weren’t even married, yet. Mind you, they got married before Artemis — and that’s when we left. It wasn’t safe for a mage’s family, in Kirkwall, even then. Dad used to say that mum and I were the last good things to come out of Kirkwall, and everything after us was shite — of course he counted Artie as having come out of Highever, so that was all right. But, we come back, and everyone’s dead except mum’s asshole brother — that’s going to be Carver, you know — and we’ve lost everything. More than everything, because there are people selling elves out of my Maker-damned cellar. My cellar. Mine. I’m the Maker-damned heir, and that is my cellar, and there should not be Maker-damned slavers selling elves in my fucking cellar!"
Cormac took a moment to catch his breath, and Fenris covered his mouth to hide a smile.
"Anyway, I killed them all. You were there for that. We killed them all. And now, they’re still stinking up my cellar, being inconveniently dead and bloated."
"Cormac?" Anders tapped under Cormac’s chin with one finger, until he looked up. "I’m not sure there’s such a thing as conveniently dead and bloated."
"All night, every night, for as long as you’ll have me!" Anders grinned.