Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 40
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Aveline ♀, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂, Serendipity ⚧
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D0)
Warnings: Drinking, partying, Anders’s mouth, Fenris’s fist
Notes: Another party! More excessive drunkenness! Cullen doesn’t spend it in a coat closet!
Everyone who was anyone was there — the Viscount and his son, the Knight-Captain, half the Orlesian court (as far as Anders could tell), ranking members of the Dwarven Merchants’ Guild, the Prince of Starkhaven. Over in the corner, Anton poured wine for Serendipity. Anders had never imagined a party larger and more full of people he wanted nothing to do with than the last one at the Hawke Estate. Or, well, there was that fuckawful event at Chateau Haine, but they all tried not to think about that. It was less a party and more an all-out assault on Orlais, if some of what the duke had said was true.
Carver lurked by one of the endless tables of finger-food, chatting with Isabela and Merrill, and from the look of them, Izzy was telling dirty stories again. Varric chatted up the de Launcet daughters, delighted to have yet another audience for terrible tales about the Hawkes, and more than happy to keep them both away from Cormac. Fenris lurked by the doorway, having brought his own drink, this time, and he passed it to Aveline, as she entered.
"Trust me. You want some."
She arched an eyebrow at him as she took the proffered drink. "That bad, huh?" she asked.
Fenris grunted something that conveyed his annoyance far more than a ‘yes’ could have. He wasn’t even sure why he’d bothered coming here. A mage party in a mage house. This mage house, with that mage. There wasn’t enough alcohol in the world to justify this.
Aveline followed his stare to Artemis, who was — surprise — lurking by the wine again. She shook her head, returning Fenris’s drink. "I’m going to go say hello to Cormac before Anders has his tongue down his throat again," she said, leaving Fenris to his broody drinking and broody staring.
Fucking Anders… Fenris seethed quietly.
"Aveline! Darling! Come, let me introduce you to Comte Pierre of Halamshiral. Your lordship, I present Aveline Vallen, Captain of the Kirkwall Guard, and personal friend. There are few I would be prouder to have at my back." Cormac smiled broadly and offered Aveline a glass of wine that had magically appeared in his hand.
"The real shame is that I’m usually in front of you," Aveline teased, bowing. "A pleasure, your lordship. I can only ask that you forgive Kirkwall for Cormac."
The Comte laughed. "It is only true friends who will speak so. The pleasure is mine, Captain."
Anders made his way to where Cullen picked nervously at a plate of olives. "You’re not looking too thrilled, Ser Cullen."
"What? I— Oh. No, I… I just like olives." Cullen glanced around the room again.
"Anton left you to your own devices?" Anders helped himself to the olives, which seemed to have been pickled in garlic. "These are good."
"Anton said he was going to introduce me to his best friend, and then he disappeared."
Cullen’s nerves were so bad that Anders’s stomach started to flip, just watching him. "He’s good at that. Disappearing, I mean. But, his best friend? You’ll love her. She’s wonderfully funny and smart. I don’t think anyone could dislike Serendipity."
"You really weren’t there for the demons?" Cullen asked, voicing the question that had been nagging at him every time he’d seen Anders in passing, since that day.
"I was there for enough other demons, just not those demons." Anders loaded up on olives, so he’d say less. "Hear about the rage demon in the cellar? Was my cat. Anyone tells you demons only take mages, they’re lying. And if they’re lying, they want something."
"I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you around all the olive. Did you just say your cat?" Cullen fumbled an olive and it landed in some poor Orlesian woman’s cleavage. He blushed terribly and stared at Anders’s hands.
"Aaand that," said Anton, sidling up next to them with an arm around Serendipity’s waist, "is my… is Cullen. This is Cullen."
Anders choked out a laugh through a mouth full of olives. "I bet if you ask her nicely, she’ll let you have it back," he said. Cullen defied logic by blushing even harder.
"I… er… yes." Cullen turned to Serendipity, wiping his hands on a kerchief before extending it to her. "Y-you must be Serendipity. It’s a lovely. Er. I mean, it’s a pleasure. You look lovely."
"Oh, honey, the pleasure is all mine." Smirking, Serendipity gave Cullen her hand, and he bowed his head, somehow looking even more flustered. "Anton told me you were adorable. I’m glad to see he wasn’t exaggerating about that."
"A-adorable," Cullen repeated, finally remembering to let go of her hand. "Ah. Well. If fumbling olives and scandalising Orlesians at the same time is adorable, then… then yes."
Anders watched this display and continued to stuff his face with olives. Maker, the man was just as endearingly hopeless as Artie. Speaking of which, where had Artie ended up, in this sea of silk and feathers?
Pouring a fistful of olives into a wine glass that he emptied down his throat for that purpose, Anders set out across the room, checking corners and the spaces behind things. He wondered if maybe he shouldn’t have brought one of the kittens up, but that would have drawn even more attention than the Warden robes. He could feel the eyes following him, all the terrible, pointless curiosity. He supposed there was a time he’d have used that to get laid, probably repeatedly and in rapid succession, but with two Hawkes and Justice… He wasn’t sure even Warden stamina would carry him through much more.
Finally, he spotted Artemis, by the wine table on the other side of the room. He turned on the charm, totally unnecessarily, more for the eyes than really for Artie, and slunk up to the nervous mage, smiling like he had a terrible plan. Which he did. At least one. Probably six or eight. "Olive?" he asked, holding out the glass. "Blowjob behind the ice sculpture?"
Artemis choked out a nervous laugh. "Yes, please," he said, fishing an olive out of Anders’s glass and popping it into his mouth. He made a face. "Was there wine in this glass before? There was wine in this glass. Thought the olive tasted wine-y."
Anders raised an eyebrow. "Is… that a bad thing?"
"No, I… just." Artemis gave up and stuffed his face with olives in rapid succession. "I’m rambling," he said, after pausing to swallow. "I do that. When I’m nervous. And I get nervous when there’s people. And messes. And wine in my olives."
Anders scarfed the last olive before Artemis could. "How much have we had to drink?" he asked.
Artie’s fingers tap-tapped against his own wine glass. "Not enough," he said. "I keep thinking of the last party, and I… shouldn’t."
"Bullshit. You should. You should, and I’ll help you do it." Anders laughed. "We’ll be the scandal of the season, if you like. Or, maybe we’ll just end up downstairs, again. But, in bed, this time, instead of on the floor. And you get first choice on who comes with us, if anyone does. But, first? First I should get us something a little more effective than this Orlesian sweetened pisswater."
If he was going downstairs anyway, maybe he should get one of the kittens… but drunk and with kittens didn’t sound like the best idea. Drunk fucking and kittens sounded even worse, given how many times Ser Nibbles had managed to climb up on the bed and bite him on the ass. ‘Lord Assbiter’, Cormac had started calling him. "Whiskey?"
"Maker, yes," Artemis sighed, giving Anders a look that was half relief, half affection.
"Those are words I suspect you’ll be saying quite a bit, later," Anders said, winking at Artemis, who ducked his head and snorted, before slinking away, swishing his hips perhaps more than necessary to keep Artie smiling.
Anders passed Fenris on his way to the wine cellar, unsurprised to find the elf glaring at him and almost amused to find that glare ten degrees colder than usual. "What’s the matter, Broody?" he couldn’t resist saying as he opened the cellar door. "Not as much fun as the last party? You could always join me in the cellar…"
Fenris answered with his fist, and Anders didn’t even pretend he could have gotten out of the way. Not at this distance. Anders’s teeth rattled as that fist connected with his jaw, but he just laughed and grabbed the doorframe, to keep himself from tumbling down the stairs.
"You’ve got it bad." Anders shook his head. "Does he even know?"
"In answer to your first question, you. You are what’s the matter." Mages, he didn’t say. Not here, not now. Not if he still cared about Artemis, at all. "And the rest is none of your concern."
Fenris stormed off in the direction of some other corner to occupy. He was carrying his own bottle. He didn’t have to lurk in any particular place. That balcony looked nice.
Anders returned to Artemis’s side, minutes later, with a bottle of whiskey and the beginnings of a wicked bruise. He didn’t bother to heal it, just to bother Fenris. Fenris who would drive himself mad trying to figure out why the healer didn’t heal.
"It’s the good stuff. If we put it in the wine glasses, no one will ever notice," Anders said, putting the bottle in Artemis’s hand.
"Thanks," said Artemis, who took the bottle distractedly. "Um. What happened to your eye?"
"A door punched me," Anders replied cheerfully, holding his and Artemis’s glass while the other mage poured. He laughed at Artemis’s arch expression. "Don’t worry about it. I suspect it pissed the door off more than me."
"Yes," said Artemis slowly, "I hear the doors in this house are particularly aggressive." Especially the elf-shaped ones, he decided, looking up in time to see Fenris’s retreating back.
Thank the Maker for whiskey.
Fenris was considering approaching the cellar for more drinkables, when he heard the soft footsteps approaching. He’d been watching Artemis and the abomination get progressively more intoxicated, though he was pretty sure the abomination was a lot less drunk. Demons. Magic. But, the footsteps resolved into a figure wearing a dress that was nearly a confection, layers of frothy frills in grey and pink, so huge he didn’t have to turn his head to be aware of it.
"Mooning alone? It’s very dramatic, you know. Brooding on balconies is a real ladykiller." Her voice was much deeper than Fenris expected, and he looked at her, finally. An elf, and a rather attractive one.
"I am not brooding. Why does everyone think I’m brooding?" Fenris complained, and nevermind that he had, in fact, been brooding, this time. It was the principle of the thing.
"Oh, sweetie, it’s because you are brooding. You’ve just been doing it so long you can’t tell any more." Serendipity leaned over the balcony rail, to see where Fenris had been looking. "Oh… trouble in love, is it? Which one, the Hawke or his brother’s lover?"
Fenris scoffed at the very idea he could be brooding over Anders. Anders, who currently had an armful of his mage.
He wanted to tell her it was none of her business. But he also really wanted to say his name. "Artemis," he said, half like it was a curse, half like… he wasn’t going to think about that half. That half could fuck itself in the ear.
Serendipity hummed as she watched the pair of mages hanging off each other. "He is cute, in a fidgety sort of way. Bet it’s easy to make him blush."
Fenris grumbled under his breath and tried to shake out the last drops from his bottle, catching them on his tongue. That was not something he was going to think about. Not while he was still half sober. Ish.
"So, why is it that you’re up here, with me, not that I’m complaining about the company of a handsome elf with intriguing tattoos, while he’s down there fidgeting and drinking with the most desperately cheerful Grey Warden the Marches have ever seen?" Serendipity offered a bottle that must have come from somewhere in the ocean of ruffles. "Cordial of Bitter Orange?"
Fenris set the bottle he was holding on the balcony rail and took the fresh one from her. Not his preference, but he didn’t have to climb three flights of stairs for it. "Thank you. You are too kind."
He suddenly realised they hadn’t been introduced, which now that he noticed, was going to bother him. It wasn’t usually a concern; he had no need for the names of strangers. But, he was drunk enough that he couldn’t do without a handle. Opening the bottle, he asked, "Who are you? I was not expecting to be beset by cordial fairies, tonight."
"Cordial fairies! Oh, I like that! Anton will be so amused." Serendipity offered her hand, this time. "Call me Serendipity, everyone does, unless they’re Anton."
He bowed over her hand in that fashion he’d picked up watching the Orlesians. "Fenris."
"Such a charmer!" Batting her eyelashes, Serendipity pressed her free hand to her cheek. "But, you still haven’t told me what you’re doing brooding, up here, while that sweet young thing rearranges the wine."
"It is…" Fenris searched for words as he looked down at the irksome pair. "It is complicated," he decided. He took a drink. Sweeter than he’d like, but it would do.
"Says the broody elf, broodingly."
Fenris shot her a flat look. It wasn’t a glare. He didn’t glare at people who gave him drinks. Generally. Usually. Sometimes.
Serendipity looked less than impressed. "Honey, I doubt it’s more complicated than anything I’ve seen."
"And you’ve seen a lot, have you?"
"Enough to make your ears curl." Serendipity’s grin was wicked, and Fenris believed her. "So try me."
The problem, Fenris realised, was that he didn’t know how to answer her question to himself. It was all tangled up in knots, this… whatever this was. He was tangled up in knots. And a mage had done that. "Mages," he hissed.
"Compulsion?" Serendipity asked, rustling her skirts again. "I have something for that. In my line of work, you understand… Can never be too sure."
Fenris looked ill. No, he knew compulsions. He’d been subject to them often enough. The problem wasn’t actually magic, it was just mages. "No, I don’t think—" He took the charm, anyway, when she held it out, but nothing changed, and he looked at once relieved and disappointed. "No, it’s not."
The charm disappeared back into Serendipity’s gown. "So, start with the simple parts. Do you want his body? It’s a nice one."
Somehow, Fenris didn’t look any less ill as he thought about how that body had felt, wrapped around him. "Yes, but—"
"No buts, unless it’s his butt, and that is a fine bottom, from what I can tell. I heard stories that his dad’s was even nicer, but I wouldn’t know. That was before my time." Serendipity flashed a divinely wicked smile and went on. "Do you want him by your side? Would you look after him? Would you hold his hair back when he puts up the extraordinary amount of liquor I’ve watched him put down, tonight?"
"What did I just say about buts? Or are we talking about his, now?"
Fenris didn’t want to talk about his. That didn’t stop him from staring at it. "Fine," he sighed.
"And what about him? Is he interested in you? He would be blind not to be."
Fenris didn’t have such a ready answer for that. He took another long drink so that he wouldn’t have to answer for a minute. "He… was, I believe." Past tense. Before that mess with the house. Before the abomination scooped him up. Before… before Fenris realised how badly he wanted him.
"Was? You believe? Haven’t you even talked about this with him? Did you just surrender before you even got started?" Serendipity gasped and put on her very best shocked face.
"It… no. It was … complicated." Fenris sighed.
"And you’re explaining it to me in simple words. So, what happened? You asked him out to dinner and he said he would but he already had a fine piece of Warden to keep him up all night?"
"What? No! … No. We… twice. And it was good. And…" Fenris sighed again and took a very large drink followed by another. "He bought me a house."
Serendipity whistled. "Where I’m from, we call that interested."
"I thought he was trying to buy me. I—" He gestured futilely, before deciding on the answer that wasn’t an answer. "I’m told I was from Seheron."
"I thought I recognised that pattern on your face. Poor thing. Does he know that?" Serendipity pinched his wrist and caught the bottle, before taking a quick drink and passing it back, as if nothing had happened.
Fenris growled and looked a little wild as the feeling bled back into his fingers. And then he realised he was still holding the bottle. Or holding it again. What a peculiar woman this was. "You’ve seen this before?"
"Not in quite that colour, but the pattern’s familiar enough. There’s a line of magisters that’s been using those lines for three hundred years. I’ve got it in a book, I think. Someone had it sent to me as a threat, but I found it made wonderful toilet reading." Serendipity laughed, covering her face with her fan, as she did. As the fan fell, she asked again. "Does he know?"
"Does he know that I was… yes. He knows." And he should have known better, a part of Fenris insisted still. It was a part of him he didn’t want to listen to any more. "I… was upset. I said things, and he left." He still remembered the look on Artemis’s face.
"‘Things’, hmm?" Serendipity sighed. Fenris pursed his lips. "Is that how you two left it? ‘Things’ up in the air?"
"It’s not… I…" Fenris ran a hand through his hair, squeezing at the ends. "I went to see him a few days ago. I wanted to apologise, but…"
"But?" Serendipity prompted.
"Oh, now you want to hear my ‘but’?"
"Well, I’d much rather see it, but sure." She smiled, fan moving idly in front of her face. "So did you? Apologise?"
Fenris wouldn’t say that he squirmed, but Serendipity would. Down went another long drink. "…no," he finally mumbled.
"Oh, you said something very unapologetic, didn’t you?"
Damn this woman and her intuition. "I… might have said rude things about the Warden," he admitted. "And I may have hit him — not the Warden — with an angry cat."
"You went to apologise, and you hit him with an angry cat?" Serendipity looked entirely too amused. "I’m very interested in the transition between these two things."
"It was … them." Fenris gestured and took another drink. The bottle was emptying rapidly, and the drunker he got, the more he rambled. "I didn’t know. Well, I knew, but I didn’t know. That Warden, Anders, is a shit-mouthed joker. I thought he was just trying to rile me. Which he did. But, I wasn’t expecting to find out it was true, and certainly not so… viscerally. I might have taken it better with less … fluids."
"Just fluids, or…?" Serendipity fluttered her fan at Anton, down below.
"No! No. Just… fluids. Stains." He thought again of Artemis lounging on that stained sofa, and it pissed him off all over again. Artemis. Lounging. On stains.
"I heard the Warden’s doing the other brother, though. Are you sure whose stains those even were?" Serendipity shrugged. "And even if he is, even if they are, you still haven’t managed to apologise."
"I… he…" Artemis hadn’t denied it, and Fenris knew him. Stains would bother him. He would avoid them if they weren’t… Ugh, he didn’t want to think about this. "No. No, I did not apologise." And Fenris was only just realising that. "And now he’ll barely look at me, and when he does, it’s… not the same."
Down below, Anders murmured something into Artemis’s ear that made him choke on a laugh and lean drunkenly against the abomination.
"You’re going to grind that glass into sand if you squeeze any harder," said Serendipity. Fenris blinked and looked down to his knuckles white around the neck of the bottle. He forced himself to loosen his grip.
"He shouldn’t be…" Fenris growled. "Not with him. Anyone but him."
"Anyone?" Serendipity raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure about that?"
A terrible thought occurred to Fenris. "Anyone except his older brother."
Which hadn’t been where Serendipity was going with that, at all. "You don’t think he would, do you?"
"Have you met Cormac?" Fenris drawled.
"Thank you!" Serendipity smiled brightly. "I have so very many bad things to ask Anton. I knew there was more to this family than even I was hearing, and I am hearing an awful lot."
Fenris handed back the bottle. "Then you probably need the rest of this. They’re all mad. Especially her." He pointed at Bethany.
"It’s always the cute ones." Serendipity grinned behind her fan. "But, really, it should be you, shouldn’t it? So, let’s just watch, for a while, and you can practise on me. Just keep saying it over and over, until you can do it without throwing any angry cats, and then wait until you can get him alone, and just… throw yourself on his mercy. He won’t be kind, at first, I expect. You did throw a cat at him. But, be sincere, and maybe he’ll come around."