Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 48
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Aveline ♀
Rating: G- (L1 N1 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Drunken adventures in shopping for exciting underwear
Notes: Artie asks Aveline for help with his relationship difficulties. She advises strongly in favour of new underwear. Exciting underwear.
Artemis just hoped no one was looking. At all. Ever. He’d come to Aveline for some advice about what to do about Fenris. Aveline had been married, so he thought she’d have some clue about how to handle those little differences of opinion that could make or break a relationship. They’d gone to the Hanged Man, mostly so neither of them would have to have this conversation sober.
"Well, you’ve already moved in with him, haven’t you?" Aveline asked, pouring another drink for each of them. "In that case, you just have to be irresistibly sexy. He’ll understand. If he wants you enough, he’ll overlook a little bit of magic. You just have to make sure it’s enough."
She gestured forcefully, with the bottle. These poor boys, married in all but name, and still not getting around to the good stuff. Well, she wasn’t very good at dating, but she’d had that married thing down to an art. Wesley had handled most of the dating part.
"Enough?" Artie slurred, gesturing with the hand not holding his rum. "How do you measure that? Is there a sexy scale I was unaware of?" His brow furrowed as he considered this. "On a scale from ‘chantry sister’ to ‘Antivan pole-dancer’, where am I? No, don’t answer that." He suspected the answer would change depending on the amount of alcohol in front of him anyway. "So, just… what? What do I do?"
Artemis’s chin thunked onto the table, and he looked up at Aveline with big, desperate eyes.
Aveline took a long drink and considered. "It’s about what you’ve got on. Not what everyone sees you wearing, but what they don’t see you wearing. What he’ll see you wearing. You need better underwear."
She paused, holding up her hand, while she found the rest of the words. "I don’t doubt that you have perfectly appropriate smalls, for a nobleman, but you need something more compelling. Something with some wow. You want him to look at you like you’re something from a dream."
Artemis sat back to frown at his crotch. He was wearing his good smalls today. No holes, minimal stains. But he knew that wasn’t good enough. "Hmm." A dream? Oh yes, he could picture the look on Fenris’s face, expressive eyes wide and reverent, ears twitching the way they did when he wanted to touch but was holding himself back. Oh, yes. That sounded lovely.
Artemis took another drink to cool himself down after that image. "All right," he said, licking his lips. "But I’m… not really a connoisseur of undergarments. In fact, I’m not really a fan of them in general. I like them best when they’re crumpled on someone else’s floor." Artie snorted, giggling into his hand. "Did I just say that aloud? I said that aloud."
"I know the perfect place, right here in Lowtown. The owner just has an eye for it. She could make a hurlock look like a pretty princess, and you’ve got the cutest cheeks already." Aveline reached out and pinched one, affectionately, almost like an older sister. "Isabela introduced me to the shop, and don’t you go spreading that around. She just wanted my opinion on something she shouldn’t be wearing in public, not that it’ll stop her for a second."
Aveline hauled herself to her feet, leaving a few coins on the table, and held a hand out to Artemis. "Come on. I’ll take you up to Frannie’s and we’ll get you something special. You’ll be nailing your dreamy elf in no time." Not that she was sure why anyone would want to be nailing Fenris, but he seemed to make Artemis happy.
Artemis squinted at the window display, unsure if he was too drunk to be seeing right or not drunk enough to be processing this. Granted, he was in an eternal state of either ‘too drunk’ or ‘not drunk enough’, but he could always blame Cormac for that. But this? This was all Aveline.
In the window, against the backdrop of a red velvet curtain, stood a dress form arrayed with… well, something lacy. Artemis was having a hard time getting his vision to focus. And were those… garters? "Aveline?" he said — whined, really — as he turned back to her. "This isn’t… when you said nice undergarments…"
"Shh, come on. Trust me." Aveline took Artemis’s elbow and pulled him into the shop. A bell jingled as the door opened, announcing their arrival.
"Aveline!" Fran remembered everyone’s name — everyone who was anyone, anyway. "How good to see you again! Are you here for something for yourself, or is this for your friend?"
"For my friend, but not Isabela. For this friend. Artemis, this is Fran. She’ll make you look amazing. She’s… very good at that." Aveline looked away and swallowed, with an awkward smile.
"Mint? Maybe a key lime?" Fran studied Artemis, with a warm smile and a professional eye. "Do you like green? You look like you should like green."
Green? Fenris’s eyes were green, and Artemis liked Fenris’s eyes. "Yes, um. Green is… nice," he said, eyes bugging at he looked around him. He was standing next to a table full of all manner of stockings and smalls made of barely enough material to qualify as clothes. He swallowed. "I like green."
Fran didn’t react to his stammering and staring. She merely continued to smile and asked for his measurements. "I think I have just the thing for you," she said when she was done. "Come with me."
‘Just the thing’ turned out to be simple and sleek, a straight-topped overbust corset that curved low around the hips and down between them. It was a pale mint, with black trim, boned for shape, but not for tight-lacing. Fran turned up a pair of knickers in the same green, and rather than stockings, a set of ribbons and clips that seemed designed to start under the heel and wind across and around the legs to the top of the thigh, where they could be attached by tying them to the fasteners that hung on little straps from the hips of the corset. The cut of the thing strongly suggested it hadn’t been designed with a woman in mind.
"Oh, sweet Maker," Artemis squeaked. He couldn’t process more than those four syllables for while as he stared at the corset in Fran’s hand. He was blushing hot enough to burn holes in his skin, a fact he tried to hid behind his hands. "I am so not drunk enough for this," he said, voice muffled by his palms.
Next to him, Aveline smiled gleefully. "Oh, look at the colour!" she crooned. She took the corset from Fran and held it up to his hands and face. "It looks marvellous against your skin, Artie. We’ll take it!"
Artemis peeked at her through his fingers. Definitely not drunk enough.
"I think that’s the right size, but he should probably try it on, to be sure," Fran pointed out, gesturing to some little, mirrored nooks, in the back, each with its own curtain. "Don’t mind the laces in back. That’s so it can be adjusted if it doesn’t fit right on the first try. All you have to do is just wrap it around you and pull these little hooks together." Fran demonstrated. "Click and slide."
She gently patted Artemis on the back, nudging him toward the dressing rooms. "I know that looks a little intimidating, but once you see yourself in it, you’ll understand. Just let me know if it needs to be retied for you."
Artemis stared back and forth between the two women and knew he wasn’t going to get out of there without at least trying the thing on. "Oh, Maker," he sighed. "Why not." He could always blame it on alcohol in the morning, right next to all those other things he blamed on alcohol. No one would be surprised.
Artie might not have felt drunk enough for all this, but luckily he was sober enough to manage the hooks on his own. The corset was snug but not tight, fitted perfectly against his waist. He paused before fumbling with the ribbons to look at himself in the mirror.
"Hmm." He tilted his head to the side. "Green is my colour."
And the ribbons, it turned out, showed off his legs rather nicely.
"He’s not screaming. I don’t hear any sounds of panic. I think that’s a good sign." Aveline laughed and eyed another display piece, hanging nearby. "Oh, that’s nice. Can you do that one in my size, and in… Oh, that brown you talked me into, last time. That does look good."
"Serena?" Fran called out, and an elven girl appeared, with a piece of chalk in one hand and several pins between her lips. "Can we do a forty nine in the auburn bereskarn, in Aveline’s size?"
"Mmhm!" Serena pulled the pins out of her mouth. "I was wondering when she was going to order one."
"You! You planned this!" Aveline accused, sputtering.
"Of course we did, my dear. I know what you like!" Fran laughed.
"Well, assuming he hasn’t had heart failure, what do we owe you?" Aveline reached for her coinpurse. She could spot Artemis his first corset, just like Isabela had bought hers.
While the ladies were discussing price, Artemis sucked in a breath and drew back the curtain. It took him a while to get the ribbons symmetrically placed, a feat made herculean by the amount of rum he’d already had. "Tada," he said drily, gesturing at his scantily-clad body.
Fran clapped her hands in delight. "Oh, it looks gorgeous on you!" she said. "The colour, the shape! It shows off that lovely silhouette of yours."
Aveline’s grin split her face, and she nodded at Fran.
Artemis shook his head with a nervous laugh. "If this ends up in one of Varric’s books, I’m moving to Antiva."
"If it ends up in one of Varric’s books, it won’t be because I told him," Aveline reassured him. "I already paid for it. Pull your clothes on, and let’s go find your elf."