Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 35
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Fenris ♂, Tallis ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S1 V0 D1)
Warnings: Anders gets mistaken for a prostitute, Fenris makes a bad situation worse
Notes: Fenris finally finds a use for Anders, then celebrates his victory with Tallis, while Artemis looks on in dismay.
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 35
Cleaner and less covered in wyvern guts, they descended into the courtyard at last, looking for familiar faces. Anton was the first to spot someone they knew. Or someone he knew, at least. He grabbed a glass of wine as he walked past an elf carrying a tray and strutted over to the far edge of those acres of fine silk he’d been admiring, just the week before.
"Dips! I didn’t know you’d be here!" He took Serendipity’s hand and bent over it.
"Didn’t I tell you I had an event coming up? I’m sure I said I’d be out of town." She laughed. "I heard you weren’t coming! Something about your brothers being uninterested in stumbling around the woods after a dangerous beast."
"Funny thing that. I convinced them the wyvern wasn’t the only dangerous beast worth stumbling after, and here we are." Anton grinned and turned his attention, at last, to the man Serendipity was with. "Ah! Fancy running into you here, Seneschal!"
Seneschal Bran cleared his throat awkwardly, throwing a quizzical glance between the two. "Yes. Hello, Serah Anton," he said. "Tell me, have you tried the olives? I hear they’re delightfully horrifying."
Across the courtyard, Cormac was at the mercies of the de Launcet family, and Anders watched and sipped his wine, wondering if he should intervene.
"Have you met my daughters, Fifi and Babbette?" Dulci de Launcet was saying, all but pushing her daughters Cormac’s way and blocking any exit he might try to make. "Aren’t they both lovely? And both eligible, can you imagine?"
Babbette sniffed and muttered something to Fifi about turnips.
Cormac smiled at Lady de Launcet. "And I’m sure you’ll find them both wonderful husbands," he said, sliding an arm around Anders’s waist, as he turned his attention to Babette. "Turnips, dear girl? In my family, we much prefer parsnips."
Anders did his very best impression of an impolite smile. Thus far, he’d managed to convince most of the party that he only spoke Ander, but it didn’t take an actual understanding of the language to tell what this Orlesian matriarch was planning. Her body language said it all. And wasn’t that a thing, de Launcet… This was the woman who’d ended up marrying the man Leandra had been promised to, and here she was wooing Leandra’s son for her own daughters. Apparently, the Amells were a terribly popular flavour, in Orlais.
He tipped his head down the extra couple of inches, eyes still on the ladies before them, as he whispered something guttural and utterly filthy in Cormac’s ear. He didn’t expect Cormac to understand, aside from the tone, but there was a slim chance one of these lovely ladies was multi-lingual, and — ah! Yes. There was the blush.
Messing with Orlesians was, he thought, fast becoming his favourite pastime. Favourite pastime involving clothes, anyway.
Off to the side, Fenris nursed his own drink, hip cocked against the base of a marble statue as he kept an eye on the Hawke brothers. An empty wine glass waved in front of his face, making his eyes cross.
"Elf! Fetch me another!" The words and wine glass belonged to another Orlesian oaf. Fenris said nothing, merely sipped his wine while staring this man down. "I said…" sputtered the Orlesian. Stare. "Erm." Stare. "I’ll just… fetch it myself."
Fenris smirked around his glass as the nobleman retreated.
"You too, huh?" Tallis said, sidling up to him.
"I’m used to it."
Tallis stood next to him and surveyed the party, letting Fenris glare off anyone else who mistook them for the help. She nudged him with her elbow, drawing his attention. "Is he all right?" she asked, indicating the third Hawke brother with a jut of her chin.
Artemis stayed close to the refreshments table, fidgeting with the glasses until they made symmetrical formations. Fenris sighed and kept his mind determinedly blank. "He’s always like that."
"So, I’ve found a way into the château. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s locked, so we’re going to need to get the key." Tallis grinned. "And that’s why I’m coming to you."
"Do I need to kill someone?" Fenris finished his drink, and the corner of his mouth tipped up. "It might be an improvement on the current circumstances. Just a little murder. For the good of Orlais."
"Haaa, no." Tallis glanced around at the milling crowd of aristocrats and officials. "Well, probably not. I hope not."
"Then why are you coming to me with it?"
"Because you’re the other elf on this expedition. Look at them. They don’t see us, unless they want something. Not really. We’re almost invisible. So, yes, I want you to be my right hand, because no one will be looking. It’s pretty likely I’ll be able to pull this off, but… just watch my back, in case, right?"
"Very well. You would like the invisible elven bodyguard to be an invisible elven bodyguard. I accept." Fenris left his glass on the base of the statue. "What would you have me do?"
"Well, we’re going to pretend we work here, and we’re going to go ask that guard if he has a key, because we need to fetch a particular vintage for some snooty cheese-eater."
"Better the cheese than the ham," Fenris remarked. "It’s from the Anderfels, and it tastes of despair." Which explained so very much, he thought.
Fenris was used to being a shadow, a mage’s shadow generally, but this was little different. There was quite a bit of standing involved in being a shadow, standing and being invisible, like now, with Tallis’s voice filtering out to him through a closed door.
"Any luck?" he asked when she reappeared.
"Not with him," she said. "Apparently the guard ‘forgot’ that he’d given the key to a servant."
A guard who’d locked himself out of the castle. Orlesians. "I suppose we’ll have to find this servant," Fenris said with a shrug. He really hoped he got to kill someone before this party was over.
"Right," sighed Tallis, scratching her head. "Shouldn’t be too hard. How many servants can there be?"
Enough to make this annoying, as Fenris found out.
They finally ended at the girl with the ham that tasted of despair. She seemed like she might almost be attractive, out of the presence of that ham and all of these Orlesians. Fenris muttered something uncomplimentary, under his breath, in Tevene, about the entire situation, as Tallis disappeared into some unlocked alcove with the girl.
He tried not to listen. He did. And then he wondered how audible Artemis really was, despite his eternal efforts to keep it down. And then he wondered how audible he, himself, was, and wasn’t that an unpleasant thought. Best not to think about that. Or Artemis. Stupid mage and his stupid sexy mage ass. Domineering little blighter in nug’s clothing. He huffed to himself as Tallis reappeared at his shoulder, putting her hair back up.
"Nope. She gave it to Lord Cyril. What is with these Orlesians and locking themselves out?" Tallis’s eyes travelled over Fenris’s extremely tight clothing. "Hope we didn’t disturb you too much…"
Fenris looked entirely murderous as he avoided adjusting his extremely uncomfortable pants. If he kept finding himself in situations like this, he might have to reconsider his attire, at least a little bit. Maybe he just needed a codpiece. On the other hand, maybe that would just make things worse. He didn’t imagine Isabela would ever let him live it down.
"So," he said through grit teeth, "Lord Cyril."
"Lord Cyril," Tallis agreed, smoothing out her sleeves before tracking down her new prey. If this didn’t work, Fenris was going to pull out his sword and start hacking his way into the castle.
Fenris didn’t have to wait as long outside the door, this time, which was for the best, considering he could see Artemis from where he was standing this time. Damnable, distracting mage.
Tallis looked ready to breathe fire.
"Let me guess," Fenris sighed, "he gave it to his mistress."
"No, he definitely has it," Tallis said. "I, er… I just don’t think I’m type."
"An elf?" Fenris suggested. Tallis gave him a speculative look he didn’t like one bit.
"Or a woman," she said, voice leading into an unspoken question.
"Cormac," he decided. "This is exactly the sort of thing we should leave to Cormac, which would solve both the elf problem and the woman problem. Saves time."
"Do you think? I might have chosen Artemis. Look at that fidgety blushing thing. It’s adorable. I could just pinch his cheeks." Tallis grinned appreciatively.
"No. We are not involving Artemis. I doubt he has the constitution for this." And Fenris would probably go back and cut off Lord Cyril’s head and other appendages, afterward. Venhedis, he didn’t even like the mage. What did he care? Still… "Cormac is the better choice. He’s much less particular. Verging on trashy, even. I would say Anton, as his skills are consummate, but I do not think we could extract him from that clutch without drawing far more attention than necessary."
Anton was, in fact, surrounded by noble ladies and just enough gentlemen to keep things interested. He seemed to be regaling the group with some mad story of his adventures. His… probably slightly more legal than usual adventures.
"What about Anders?" Tallis asked. "Everyone already thinks he’s a prostitute."
The entire idea warmed Fenris’s heart. "Yes, let’s. Anders would be perfect for this."
They crossed the courtyard to where Cormac and Anders were trying to hide from the de Launcet sisters, behind a bit of topiary. "Cormac, I need to borrow your abomination and his spicy shimmy."
Cormac guffawed and Anders choked on his wine.
"Just don’t break him. I’m not done with that," Cormac choked out, horror and amazement warring on his face.
Anders looked more confused than willing when they dragged him away. "He means that, you know," Anders said. "Granted, it would take a lot to break me, and I’d love to see how you would —"
"Stop talking," Fenris growled, rubbing at his forehead. He let Tallis explain the situation with Cyril while he took up his role as shadow again, leaning in the shade of another sculpture and wishing he still had his wine.
"And I was hand-picked for this?" Anders was saying, lips quirked in a smug smile. "Fair enough."
He made for the door to the parlour, pausing to run a hand through his hair and straighten his collar.
"Go on, Anders," Fenris said, "be the prostitute you were born to be."
Anders cheerfully answered with one finger tossed over his shoulder. This time it was Tallis waiting with him. She leaned back against the wall, arms folded and mirroring his posture. There was an encouraging chuckle from the other side of the door.
"So desperate ham, huh?" Tallis said.
"Woeful," Fenris concurred.
When Anders reappeared, it was with mussed hair, a smug smile, and a key looped around one finger.
Tallis grinned broadly and swiped the key. "I knew you’d be the right choice! You looked like just his kind of man."
"He liked my accent." Anders laughed. "It’s totally fake. I haven’t sounded anything but Fereldan since I was sixteen."
"You say that like you’re sooooo oooold." Tallis poked Anders between the ribs and the mage squirmed. "What’s that, five years ago?"
Anders wiggled his eyebrows. "It’s a lot more than five, but I’ve got my secrets to staying young and beautiful."
"Consorting with demons," Fenris muttered.
"No, no. Consorting with Justice makes me less fun at parties, not more fun." Anders shimmied and tossed his hair. "I should get back before Cormac thinks I’ve abandoned him to Fifi. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!"
"I wouldn’t do half the things you would do," Fenris called after him.
"But, the other half is the sexy half, and mmm, so good," Anders shot back, not even turning around, and Fenris growled. He glared at the mage’s back long enough to see him wrap an arm around a waist that wasn’t Cormac’s. He looked up to see Artemis standing next to his older brother and smiling at Anders around a slice of that ham from the Anderfels.
Despair, it tasted like, supposedly. And Fenris knew just what despair tasted like.
"All right there?" Tallis asked, laying a hand on his arm, her fingers brushing the bare skin at his bicep.
"Mm. Fine," he said.
"Really? That’s your fine face?"
"It’s my victory face," Fenris said, pulling his stare away and turning a smile on Tallis. Tallis, who was quite lovely too, he insisted. "We’ve finally gotten that key without killing anyone, as tempting as it was."
"Time for a little victory celebration, maybe, before we go engage in some other light-fingered arts?" Tallis smiled back temptingly. "Maybe get a little of what Lord Cyril was missing?"
"A man disinterested in women or in elves is missing easily half the fun," Fenris conceded.
"Only half? What about the dwarves?" Tallis laughed, stroking Fenris’s arm around the edge of the opening in his sleeve. "And what about the Qunari?"
"Isabela has assured me I would regret both dwarves and Qunari. Why would I do a thing, when I can count on her to do it for me and have all my regrets for me, as well." Fenris watched the tips of Tallis’s fingers, before reaching out to trace a finger along her neck. "But, I do not expect to regret this."
And he didn’t, even with Artemis’s eyes boring into his back.
Tallis smiled and looked up at him through red lashes. "Victory dance, it is," she decided. She took Fenris’s clawed hand in hers, fingers sliding over metal, and pulled him away from the door and around the corner. Looking about them surreptitiously, she grinned and tugged him around a wall of hedge, just out of sight, and Fenris let the momentum pull him into her, pressing her back against the leaves.
Her lips were softer than Artemis’s, he discovered, and she tasted like — "Been eating the desperate ham, I see," he murmured against her lips.
Tallis chuckled. "Do I taste of despair, too?"
"You taste of… something." Fenris wasn’t sure what, but he was determined to find out.