Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 64
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Cullen ♂, Carver Hawke ♂, Merrill ♀, Leandra Amell ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Being the heir sucks, Anders in drag, Carver don’t argue with your mother, Cormac don’t let Anders argue with your mother, no one is drunk enough for this
Notes: Another fantastic party. Anders plays even less nice than usual. Carver picks a memorable fight.
"Cormac," Leandra sighed. "I know your father and I weren’t the best examples, but please don’t make the same mistake I did. You’re my heir. You’re my first son. Will you please just consider one of the de Launcet girls? I’m not trying to interfere in your relationship —"
"It’s not a relationship. And no." Cormac poured himself a cup of tea and kept walking, heading for the cellar stairs.
"If it’s not a relationship, then maybe you should be looking for a wife!" Leandra called after him. The only response was the sound of the cellar door slamming.
Downstairs, Anders was ink-stained and half-dressed, picking through his wardrobe. "I know we have that party at the de Launcets’ next week. I just… I’m so tired of showing up in uniform. I left the Wardens. It just feels weird to keep showing up in Warden robes. Somebody’s going to catch that, eventually."
"Well, as much as I might appreciate it, you can’t show up naked." Cormac wrapped himself around Anders’s back and put the cup of tea in his hand.
"Well, I could, but I don’t think that’s quite the impression you want me to make." Anders laughed and tossed a green Tevinter robe onto the bed.
"Mum wants me to find a wife. What the fuck am I going to do with a wife? I wonder if she’d shut up if I married Isabela. I wonder if Izzy would do that for me." Cormac sighed.
"Marrying a pirate queen to shut your mother up. That’s a first. If you do it, tell Varric, first. I’m sure he’ll want to be there for the whole story." Anders paused. "Isn’t this an Orlesian-style ball?"
"What are you thinking?" Cormac stepped back as Anders turned to face him.
Anders looked down at himself. "I’m thinking I need to talk to Aveline about a corset and a very patient dressmaker."
A man in tight pants and a black mask announced the arrival of Messere Cormac Hawke. And Anders as Cormac’s ‘guest’ on his arm. Heels clicked on marble floors as they swept into the room, blue fabric sweeping about Anders’s feet. He’d practised this, walking without tripping over himself, kicking his feet up before each step to make sure he didn’t step on his dress. And, Maker, what a dress it was. Fran had outdone herself. He knew that before coming here, but the looks in the de Launcet girls’ eyes as he passed confirmed it.
An ornate black bodice fit snugly over Anders’s torso, showing off his trim waist and branching out into feathered shoulders. Peacock feathers, because he looked fabulous in blue. The feathers around his collar were a bit tickly, but they reminded him to keep his head back at a sufficiently snooty angle. Under a matching peacock mask, Anders had even shaved for the occasion.
Said peacock mask was a bit over the top — literally — and he’d accidentally smacked Cormac in the face with it twice already, but it made quite a statement.
Cormac was considerably less ornate, in his blue-black coat, the gold trim and deep red accents bringing out the warm tones of his skin. He cut a fine figure, even if he was going to need help getting out of these pants, later. He wondered how Fenris managed it, all the time. Really, he missed his robes, which didn’t … squeeze and pinch.
Still, Anders looked amazing, if a bit amazonian. One didn’t show up to a party with a six and a half foot tall individual decorated with half a peacock and expect to be subtle, though. The eyes were on them, no matter where they stood, as they worked their way across the room. Finally, Fifi cornered them by the wine.
"Oh! Cormac! Who is this lovely giantess? Wherever did you find such a … woman?" It was all in the tone and the pauses. However much Fifi might be smiling and cooing, the delivery and the way her nearly taloned hands clutched at Cormac’s arm told the rest of the story.
"She’s Anders," Cormac replied, with a grin. "You know how big those mountain savages get. And this one is particularly savage, aren’t you, darling?"
"Oh, terribly savage," Anders agreed, feathers flopping as he nodded. "I hunted down the wild peacock and plucked all his feathers myself. It is a rite of passage among my people."
"Oh my," gasped Fifi with an uncomfortable smile, fluttering a fan in front of her face. She squinted up at his masked face. "Is this the same Anders we met at Château Haine? You look so different without your… well. Whatever that was you were wearing." Her smile was gratingly sweet.
Anders met her smile with one of his own. "Oh, have we met? I can’t say I remember."
Cormac’s grin remained immovable. Fifi had cornered them for hours at Château Haine. "What can I say, Fifi? I have a type — big, bold, and beautiful. Mostly big. Very, very big." He ran a hand up Anders’s back and smiled lecherously up at the edge of the ridiculously large mask. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite short enough to duck under the last few feathers — they were about eyebrow height, and eye height if Anders wasn’t standing straight.
"Oh, yes." Anders flipped open his fan. "He does like big." The mask hid what would have been a predatory grin.
"Do tell your father my mother says hello," Cormac said. "Assuming she hasn’t already caught up with him. Just think! You could have been my sister, in another world."
The horrified look behind Fifi’s fan was particularly satisfying. Anders gave her a charming wave as he steered Cormac off in another direction. Right into another Hawke.
"Scandalising the Orlesians already?" asked Anton, grin charming under his own black and gold mask. It was a simple thing that molded to the top half of his face, not at all like the feathery monstrosity on Anders. "You’ve barely been here five minutes. I’d say I’m impressed, but I’d expect no less, really."
Next to him, Cullen fidgeted with his wine glass, staring at Anders while desperately trying not to look like he was staring at Anders. "That is a, uh… lovely gown," he said.
"Of course it is. I know a very good dressmaker. Well, Aveline knows a very good dressmaker. Corsetiere, actually. Still, isn’t it fantastic?" Anders twirled, mostly gracefully, swirling the lighter top layers of the skirt out and fluttering his fan near his face, somehow without catching it in the feathers on the mask. "I don’t feel quite so … cramped and official in this. You must know how it is, Ser Cullen — all that platemail and the layers of drape."
Cullen fixed his eyes on the floor. "Drape. Yes. It’s er… Your Warden uniform always looked so much lighter weight than my armour."
Anders winked at Anton and hooked a finger under Cullen’s chin, tipping his head up. "That’s because it is lighter. Leather and rings. You might consider letting Anton get you something less clattery to wear to the next event. No one could possibly blame you, as long as it conveys your stature and … associations."
Cullen laughed nervously, glancing at Anton. "I’d certainly be in favour of something less ‘clattery’," he said. "Or heavy. Bit hard to dance in platemail, you know. I don’t think I have the figure to pull off a gown half as well as you do, however."
"Darling, few do," Anders quipped. But he leaned in and added, "But really, it’s all in the corsetry. With the right material and boning, you can have any figure you want. Fran can work wonders. I can give you her address if you like…"
Cullen sputtered and turned a delightful shade of red. "T-That’s… that’s quite all right," he stammered. "I don’t… that is… Wine. I need more wine." Anders had never seen a templar retreat from him quite so quickly, which was saying something.
"Sorry about your boyfriend, Anton," Cormac apologised, with as little actual apology as possible.
"Are you kidding? That was amazing." Anton turned to watch Cullen go for the wine. "And I do need to get him in something less … full plate. I mean, sure, there’s swooning, but there’s not nearly as much swooning as there could be. I’m a good looking guy, he’s a good looking guy. But, that plate just does not show off his best assets."
"His best assets are nothing compared to ours, o brother mine." Cormac tilted his glass toward Anton, who met it with his own.
"Yeah, I’ll drink to that." Anton grinned lazily and finished his drink.
"I always make passes at men with Hawke asses," Anders added, from behind his fan.
"I’d say that’s because you have impeccable taste," Anton replied, "but you’re with Cormac, so…"
Anders snorted and was about to say something when a third Hawke sidled over. "Anton," said Artemis, fingers tapping on a mostly empty wine glass, "your templar is hogging the alcohol."
Fenris lurked at his shoulder like a disgruntled elf shadow. He eyed Anders up and down, eyebrow arching.
"Well, we’re not at home, Artie. It’s probably best you don’t get as drunk as Fenris would like you to be." Anton laughed.
Cormac hid a smile behind the feathers on Anders’s shoulder. "Yes, let’s not get so drunk that you start kissing me in front of the de Launcets. Although, the look on Fifi’s face might almost be worth it."
There was a muffled sound from behind Anders’s mask that might have been a barely contained laugh. "It’s not worth it. Kirkwall might never recover."
"I might never recover," Fenris pointed out, tugging at the edge of his mask, which had started to slip down. These stupid things were designed for human ear-heights, and clearly no one had imagined an elf might try to put one on. The straps were all in stupid places.
Artemis made a choked sound in the back of his throat, grateful that his mask hid the worst of his blushing, even if the green fabric made the red of his ears stand out more. "Maker," he groaned, a hand over his eyes. "It’s words like that like that make me want to drink."
He peeked at Anton through his fingers, but his little brother looked more long-suffering than surprised. Sweet Andraste. Had he seen that kiss? Had everyone seen that?
Fenris cleared his throat. "That said, I believe drunk Cullen is equally dangerous, if memory serves."
"Dangerous or entertaining?" Anders asked.
"I’m voting for entertaining, myself." Cormac relieved Anders of his glass, which was, unsurprisingly, still full. "Manhood. Meat-pole. You’re lucky Varric wasn’t there for that."
"Varric writing trashy Orlesian serials? Oooh. I don’t know about that. Man’s got a way with words, but… those words? Might be a little much, even for him." Anton shook his head and took the full glass out of Cormac’s hand, stealing a sip.
"I suspect we should be grateful he was drunk," Fenris admitted. "I would hate to see what would have come of that, had he been sober enough to recognise Artemis’s … other talents."
Artemis downed the rest of his wine in one gulp. His memory of that night was still hazy at best, but he remembered the sound of the statue crumbling. He still couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that he’d slept with a templar, let alone Anton’s templar. And somehow Fenris had seen all that and still wanted him back. His elf was a lunatic.
"Well, to be fair," said Anders with a shrug, "if he hadn’t been drunk, I doubt it would have happened. Which would have been a shame, since we would have missed out on some first class entertainment!"
"I need more wine," Artie mumbled.
"No, you don’t," Fenris said, taking the empty glass from his mage’s hand. He met Artemis’s pleading eyes with a flat look of his own.
Cormac’s eyes focused on something past Artemis’s shoulder. "What the fuck…?"
"Is that Carver? Is that Carver … shouting at your mother?" Anders blinked, following Cormac’s eyes.
"Yes, mother, I do have a girlfriend. The same one I’ve had for the last three and a half years, and this is exactly why I haven’t brought her home!" Carver’s mask hid the anger on his face, but his voice made up for it, entire.
"Carver, please, it’s your mum. She just doesn’t know any better." Merrill tugged at his arm, rather accustomed to being ill-regarded by humans who weren’t her friends, and sometimes, even by them.
Leandra lifted another glass of something fruity from the tray of a passing servant. "She is an elf, Carver. I don’t mind you enjoying yourself, but you cannot marry an elf."
"And you couldn’t marry a mage," Carver shot back.
"Marry?" Anders mouthed to Cormac. Well. This party had just gotten interesting.
"Carver," said Leandra, expression tight, pained. "I loved your father. I always will. I do not regret my life with him for one moment, but it was a hard life. Always on the run, always worrying. I don’t want that kind of a life for you."
"Well, it’s too bad you don’t have a say in the matter," Carver snapped. Merrill’s hand on his arm squeezed.
"Ma vhenan, you’re making a scene," Merrill murmured, eyes wide.
"She doesn’t want that kind of life for me, either," Cormac muttered to Anders. "Pity I’m already in the same boat dad was in. Real no-win situation, there. What’s your take?"
"Blood magic. Demons." Anders snatched his glass back from Anton and took a sip. "I thought I knew what I was doing when I was twenty-three, too. You see how well that worked out for me."
"I did know what I was doing, when I was his age. Same thing I’m doing now, except with more… farmers’ daughters and less of you. But, for a guy who can fall in love? Who am I to tell him not to? Damned if I’m not going to tell him to watch for the demon, though." Cormac shook his head. "That’s really it, you know? That’s my entire problem."
"I’m not too big on the blood magic thing, either, but… yeah. She’s a nice girl, aside from the demon." Shrugging, Anders took another sip. "The more you nag, the worse he’s going to be about it. Trust me. I’d know."
"Did you just compare yourself to my baby brother?" Cormac demanded. "You— I — If you didn’t look so good in that dress, you’d be sleeping in your own bed, tonight."
"I’m sleeping in my own bed anyway. They can’t hear you upstairs, from there." Anders laughed.
"I beg to differ," Anton said with a pained look.
Artemis nodded. "I’m surprised we can’t hear him back at our place," he said.
"That’s — I — how is that even possible?" Anders sputtered.
Anton smirked. "Because he hits octaves only dogs can hear?"
"Poor Mintaka," Artemis added.
"You are all simply envious of my superior lung volume and this fantastic man who makes the very best use of all the air that can be forced out of me."
"By forcing things into you," Anton grumbled. "Wait, are you telling me you’re full of hot air? Because that’s what I’m hearing."
"It’s not the only hot thing he’s full of." Anders grinned wickedly. "And, you know, Anton… offer’s still open if you want to get in on that exchanging air for other hot things."
"Thanks, but I’ve got all the hot knob I can handle, right now." Anton glanced around, looking for Cullen. Platemail. Shouldn’t be hard to — Oh, shit, was that Babbette? Well, Cullen could probably extract himself from one Orlesian noblewoman’s clutches. At the least, it would be fun to watch him try.
Babbette was giggling and wiping a bit of imagined dirt off of Cullen’s breastplate. Cullen threw Anton a desperate look, eyes wide like a frightened deer’s, and Anton waved cheerfully. The man had faced demons and blood mages, and Anton had never seen him look so out of his depth.
"Your templar’s rattling again," Anders pointed out, and Anton hummed.
Artemis nudged Cormac with his elbow, nodding in the direction of Carver, who was storming out of the hall with Merrill in tow. "Guess that didn’t end well," he said, noting the distraught twist of their mother’s features. "Here I thought she’d be happy at the prospect of grandchildren." He didn’t linger on the fact that she’d been just as disapproving of his relationship with an elf.
"At this rate, she’s going to have no grandkids who aren’t mages, between Bethy and Merrill." Cormac tipped his head to the side, considering it. "Shit, I think she was really holding out hope for Carver to find a nice guardswoman or something. You know she’s still trying to set me up with Fifi. She couldn’t bear the thought of marrying Guillame, and she’s trying to set me up with his daughter."
"Maybe you should do it," Anders looked speculative. "It’d be an amazing power grab. The de Launcets are still actual Orlesian nobility."
"They sent their son to the Circle. How about no." Cormac’s mask didn’t cover enough of his face to hide that grimace. "How about if she never breathes near me again, it’ll be too soon."
"I suspect Cormac would scandalise the in-laws in a matter of hours, anyway," Anton cut in. "He’d end up starting a war with Orlais."
"Maker, let’s hope Kirkwall would win that war," Artemis said with mock horror. "My Orlesian is terrible, and their pants are much too tight."
"From the way Fenris is looking at your ass, I’d say the pants are just tight enough," Anders said with a grin. Fenris immediately pulled his eyes away from Artie’s ass and threw a glare at Anders instead.
"Hours? You underestimate me. Minutes. At most." Cormac laughed. "Full-scale war, armies marching, wyverns flying — eight minutes, tops."
Anton snatched the wine from Anders again, that being the only glass with anything still in it. "Wyverns. Let us never again speak of wyverns."
"No, instead let us speak of the fact that there are five of us hovering around a single glass of wine, because no one wants to walk past your mother, to get more." Anders groaned and adjusted his mask. "Fine. That will be me. I am going to go over there and get us some more wine."
Anders crossed the room, three sets of eyes watching him and one watching anything but him. And then there was a hand on his arm. "Have we met? It’s so very good to see my son in the company of a well-dressed woman."
Anders peeked at Leandra through his mask’s eyeholes. He considered lying, for a moment, and speaking in his best approximation of a woman’s voice — a talent he had honed by now for reasons he didn’t want to get into — just to see how long he could keep it up. He also considered smiling politely and diving for the wine, but Justice did not approve.
"I suspect we have met," Anders said, hooking a thumb under the bottom of his mask and pushing it back to rest on his forehead. He offered her his most demure smile. "I’m afraid your son’s ‘company’ is as deplorable as always."
"You— What— Anders?" Leandra looked utterly scandalised, at least in posture. The mask and the fan hid her face.
"You didn’t think he’d found someone else this tall so quickly, did you?" Anders tugged the mask back down before too many people got a clear look at his face. "I hear you’ve been trying to set him up with Fifi, but I just don’t think the de Launcets are his type. I mean, Emile? What would they do with another mage in the family?"
"They don’t have to know!" Leandra insisted. "It isn’t like all of Kirkwall knows every mage. He’s been good and quiet with it."
"It’s the only thing he’s been quiet with," Anders scoffed, before realising that probably wasn’t the thing to say to Cormac’s mother. "Still… It would be like cutting off his arm. A mage isn’t meant to live without magic."
"And yet, I don’t see you making the obvious argument — that you want to keep him for yourself." Leandra’s voice was sharp.
"I — that’s —" A nervous laugh punched out of Anders. He was grateful the mask hid most of his face. "Leandra, what I want does not matter, one way or the other. We’re talking about your son, and what he wants. And, really, that’s the problem, isn’t it? We’re talking about what he wants, instead of you asking him directly."
Not that that was particularly easy. Anders couldn’t pry a straight answer out of that man with a pair of tongs. But he supposed he was the last person who should complain about that.
"Anders, I…" Leandra looked past him at her eldest son, eyes wistful. "I just want him to be happy."
"Then you need to listen to him when he tells you what’s going to make him unhappy. I might say the same about Carver, too." Anders shrugged, eyes drifting toward the wine, hopefully. "Telling him he can’t have what he wants, when he’s already got it, isn’t going to work. And, really, Merrill’s a nice girl. She’s done some things I wouldn’t do, Carver among them, but she really believes she can make the world a better place. She’s trying. And really, if she’s making Carver smile, what’s it to us?"
"To you? Nothing. But, that’s my son. The son of a noble family. He can’t have a serious relationship with an elf." Leandra was insistent about that.
"Three of your children are apostates, because you married one. An elf is not really going to do much more to the family name," Anders drawled, quite finished being as polite as he’d managed, thus far. "On top of that, she’s the First of a Dalish tribe. That’s… She’s basically a Dalish Sebastian. She’s really very politically important, insofar as the Dalish do politics. She’s in Kirkwall doing research, and if she’s right, she’ll be the Keeper of her tribe, one day. She’s a damned princess. An actual magical elven princess, who wants to marry your youngest son. It doesn’t get much more happy bedtime story than that." It wasn’t quite true. There were still demons and blood magic involved, and he got the impression Merrill had been invited not to come home, but principally, it was accurate.
Under the edge of her mask, Leandra’s jaw muscles fluttered. She was gritting her teeth against what she really wanted to say. Not here. Not in polite company. Not where she would make a scene. She drew in a breath, and her hand was gentle when she laid it on Anders’s arm. "I know you care about Cormac," she said. "About all of them. And I appreciate that. I do. But it is up to me now to do what is best for the family. Thank you for the chat, Anders. That’s a lovely dress."
As Leandra turned away, a proud set to her shoulders, Cullen sidled up into her space. He handed Anders a glass of wine. "Quick," he said. "Drink this and talk to me before Babbette comes back. Also, you looked like you could use it."
"Bless you, Ser Cullen." The wine went down Anders’s throat before Justice could object. "That woman… Is this what the nobility is like? Are they all like this? I look around and I’m just … I can’t even be angry. I’m just disappointed. Maybe the tower changed how I think about elves. Maybe it changed how I think about mages. But, good gracious Andraste, I just can’t comprehend what goes through these people’s heads, some days."
He patted Cullen’s arm, steering him toward the wine. Anders had come this way for several glasses of it, after all. "What was Babbette prattling about, this time? Or has she just not realised you and Anton are a thing? I think those sisters struggle with the idea."
Cullen sighed as though he held the weight of the world on his shoulders. He held the glasses for Anders as he poured the wine. "Mostly?" he said. "She seemed adamant that I admire her shoes. Which were very nice, I suppose. For shoes. Quite a bit more… sparkly than I would wear but…" He shrugged. "Beyond that, there was quite of unnecessary touching. I didn’t realise clinging to someone’s shoulder was a necessary part of showing off one’s shoes."
"Oh is it?" Anders said, smirking. "Is that why you haven’t complimented mine? Here." Anders draped himself over Cullen’s shoulder and slid out one foot until he was showing a scandalous amount of ankle. "What do you think of my shoes, Ser Cullen?" He batted his eyelashes, though the mask ruined the effect.
"They’re… er." Cullen cleared his throat, face going that mottled shade of red again. "They’re nice. Anders. Nice shoes."
"Of course they are. Cormac wouldn’t let me come out in anything less. Trust me, I tried…" Anders picked up two glasses in each hand, from where they’d been setting them on the table. "That’s four, and if you get the last two, that should be all of us. They sent me for wine. Or maybe I sent myself for wine. I’m not sure, at this point, but there was not nearly enough wine, and your boyfriend kept helping himself to mine."
"Oh. I… er… He … does that." Well, Anton did that to Cullen, but Cullen hadn’t really given any thought to how that would apply to anyone else.
"I know he does that. He does it when we’re playing Wicked Grace, too. Keeps switching his empties out with Fenris or Cormac. One of these days, that’s not going to end well, for him, and I’m hoping it’s Cormac who notices, because at least that’ll be funny instead of bloody. He doesn’t usually go for mine, but I’m usually drinking tea, which probably has something to do with it."
Looking up at the three brothers and Fenris, Cullen noticed Anders didn’t say anything about Artie. Then it occurred to him that Artie probably drank his wine too fast for even Anton’s hands to keep up.
And speaking of Anton’s hands, Cullen had to pull the wine glasses away sharply to avoid them, narrowing his eyes in reply to Anton’s pout. "Who said this was for you?" he said, fake scowl pulling away at the edges. "Maybe it’s for Babbette."
Anton tutted and wound himself around Cullen, plucking one glass from his hand from behind. "We both know this one’s for me," he purred in Cullen’s ear. "But you’re welcome to give the other one to Babbette. Shall I call her over?"
Anton grinned at the look of terror on Cullen’s face.