Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 65
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Anders ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Isabela ♀, Aveline ♀, Varric ♂
Rating: E (L2 N4 S4 V0 D1)
Warnings: Drunken shenanigans, don’t bet that, oh my god Artemis, the internet is for porn
Notes: A game of Wicked Grace goes horribly wrong, for Artemis. Fenris takes advantage of this turn of events, until Artemis turns the tables on him.
"Come on, Artemis. It’s been three weeks. Isabela’s making sad faces at me. Have you ever seen Isabela make a sad face? I bet you haven’t. She only makes them about you. And sometimes about Sebastian, but we all try not to be looking when that happens. And that’s less about cards." Cormac thought about it for a few seconds. "Actually, it might not be entirely about cards with you, either. I hear she’s still trying to get her Hawke count up. Still, though. Cards. You can take me for another twelve silver, making those damned faces at me over the table, when no one’s looking. Distracting little shit."
He didn’t put his foot on the coffee table. He didn’t even put his glass on the table. This was his brother’s house, and however terrible Cormac might have been while they were sharing space, the door to Artemis’s house was the line, and that shit did not cross it. Doubly so, if he wanted his brother and Ser Broods A Lot to come back to the tavern and play cards, this week.
Artie sighed, picking at an imaginary bit of dirt on the table. He wasn’t used to having company over, even if his brother hardly counted as company. But really, a place like this should have company. Shouldn’t it? Big kitchen. Great cook. Plenty of seating.
"It’s… has it been that long?" Artemis said. Maker, he hadn’t realised. Excuses had just piled up, each one as flimsy as the next. He shook his head. Might as well stop making excuses. "Andraste’s bosom, I feel like I’d need to get drunk just to go to the Hanged Man, at this point, Cormac. And we both know how I am when I’m drunk."
It occurred to him that Cormac knew a little too well, and he coughed into his fist, looking away.
"You can do drunk. Fenris and I will be there. You know we won’t let you do anything you’ll regret too terribly in the morning. What’s the worst case, really? You end up playing two or three hands and making out with Fenris all night. Isabela might — well, no, she will. Absolutely. She’ll start shouting suggestions, between rounds. But, that’s not so bad. You should hear her heckle me and Anders. You have heard her heckle me and Anders. And that, I guarantee is worse, because she knows more than enough about both of us to actually be dangerous."
Cormac applied his best wheedling face, big sad eyes and all. "Come on, Artie. We miss you. it’s like you’ve just sucked up into your own ass, since you moved in here. I know we’re not as awesomely tidy as you like, but… We’re your friends. Shit, I’m your brother! You don’t even come to see me, since you moved out. Mum’s just having kittens about that, too. So, I don’t know, maybe come out and play cards? At least visit Mum. I know she doesn’t approve. She doesn’t approve of anything. Welcome to the club. But, yeah. Grace night’s tomorrow. I don’t want to be staring at the empty seat."
Artemis rolled his eyes, but his lips pulled up in a smile. "No need to be so melodramatic, Cormac," he said, finally sitting back and relaxing. "Of course you miss me. I’m amazing." He nudged Cormac’s foot with his. "How about a compromise?" he suggested. "Why don’t we have Wicked Grace night here? Not everyone’s seen it yet, post-corpse, and if anyone passes out on the floor, they can spend the night there. They’ll likely regret it in the morning for reasons I will not elucidate, but the option is always there." At least his floors were clean.
"You are amazing." Cormac smiled into his drink. "Here? You really think that’s a good idea? Not that I don’t love what you’ve done with the place, because I do. Which is… I’m just… Isabela. You saw what she did to the stairs at my place. I’m pretty sure she was trying to explain something to Fenris, which really makes me wonder what you guys have been getting up to. And speaking of Fenris, can you convince him not to spontaneously combust if Anders shows up in his house?"
Artie cringed at the thought of Isabela. Doing that. To his staircase. "I’ll make sure Izzy knows that she will have to clean up any mess she makes, and not in the fun way. In fact, I’ll make sure she’s wearing as much clothing as possible while she’s doing it. Itchy wool sweaters that go down to her knees." That image would make any stair-carving worth it. "As for Anders, he has already shown up in our house. Solely in a healer capacity, mind you, and Fenris was already bleeding at the time, so…" Artemis shrugged. He wasn’t sure if that counted. "Worst case, I will… find a way to distract him." He offered Cormac a devilish smile.
Oh, this had ‘bad idea’ written all over it.
"Oh, sure, you’ll distract him here, but you won’t let him distract you at the Hanged Man," Cormac teased. "Worst case, I’ve got shields. Worst worst case, you’ve got… those other shields. Oh, Maker, what I wouldn’t give to see that." He cackled quietly. "So, I’ll go put the word out that we’re here, this week? I don’t think we’ll lose anyone, with the opportunity to see Kirkwall’s most astonishing secret. That being the spotless interior, here, given the last time most of them saw it, it was covered in corpses and other questionable detritus. I mean, Anders was living in Darktown, but… I know I’ve said it before, but I’m still amazed you didn’t just burn the place to the ground and start over."
"I almost did, once or twice," Artemis muttered, rubbing at the bridge of his nose. "Maker. You only saw a room or two. The whole place was a disaster. The only thing approaching clean was Fenris’s bed and — ah, well." He cleared his throat. It hadn’t stayed clean for long. Because of … crumbs. Yes.
"And that’s mine." Fenris spread his cards on the table and swept the pot toward him. "You seem distracted, tonight, Artemis. You’re out an awful lot of coin, and you don’t seem to be taking it back from your brothers, this time."
"Yeah, that’s because I keep losing it to you, and Anton fucking cheats," Cormac muttered, one hand on his cards and the other one under the table. He was sitting next to Anders. No one was going to ask.
"Cheating? Me? Why, dear brother, how could you even suggest such a thing!" Anton looked scandalised, at least until Cormac’s hand reappeared with two cards in it. "You fucker!"
Cormac tossed the cards on the table. "Cheating. You should stop keeping the cards in the same place you did when you were ten. I know where that is, by now."
Another hand disappeared under the table, this one Isabela’s. Anton jumped. "That is not where I keep my cards, Izzy," he said with a smirk.
"No?" Izzy purred. "Right. It’s where you keep your loaded dice." He laughed, and she blew him a kiss, both hands back above the table.
Artie gnawed at the nails of one hand, attention caught between his terrible cards and the spill of wine by Varric’s elbow. And the dust he’d missed on that shelf over there. Maker. "I really don’t want to know the kind of rolls you’re making with my little brother’s dice, Izzy," he said distractedly, rearranging the cards so they made a nicer pattern. Too bad a nicer pattern didn’t make his hand any less shitty.
"You’re going to have to start betting more interesting things, soon, Artie," Varric teased from the far end of the table.
"I vote he bets his smalls," Anders threw in with a wicked grin and Aveline choked on her drink.
"Can we please not be discussing my brothers’ nether regions at the card table?" Cormac pleaded. "Neither Anton’s… dice nor Artie’s smalls. Please? There are things a man just doesn’t need to become aware of." Nevermind that he was already extremely aware of Artie’s smalls and Artie’s … everything else. He could at least pretend. He looked across the table at Artemis and hid a sly smile behind his cards.
Artemis caught that look over his own cards and fought not to squirm in his seat. Wine. Yes. There was wine in front of him. Drink that and ignore Cormac. But don’t drink too much of that or… Maker.
"I am not betting my smalls," he said, voice perhaps a bit strained. "Besides, they’re still not your colour, Anders."
Fenris made a disgruntled sound into his cup and narrowed a look at him that Artie met with a sweet smile. That only made his eyes narrow further.
"Fenris," Artemis wheedled, changing tack, "Fenris, my darling, most handsome elf to have ever —"
"No," Fenris cut him off, turning blithely back to his cards. "I am not bailing you out, Artemis."
"No. Find something else to wager. Though if you touch the nice silverware, Orana might cry."
"But, if he loses it to you, it’s still in the house, isn’t it?" Varric pointed out. "On the other hand, if he loses it to me, you’re both shit out of luck. And silverware. I could do with some posh forks."
"I still think he should bet his smalls. I think this should be strip Grace." Isabela grinned down the table from where she sat at Anton’s elbow.
"I think you’re just looking for an excuse to take off your clothes in public." Aveline looked substantially less than amused with this idea.
Isabela grinned even wider. "What makes you think I need an excuse?" she asked, dealing the next hand.
"Can we please not put my brother’s underthings on the table? Either of my brothers? I’d be worried about mine, but I’m not wearing any, thank you Anders." Cormac laughed and picked up his cards.
Artemis wiped a hand over his face. "And thank you, Cormac, for that information," he drawled. "Can’t we wager Aveline’s smalls?"
"Excuse me?" Aveline said, voice and expression chilly.
"Sorry, kid," said Varric, who was enjoying this far too much, "you can’t wager someone else’s smalls."
Artie swore under his breath. Maker. That dust. On that shelf. He placed his cards face-down and got up to grab a duster. "Just… whatever," he said, shuffling the books around to clean between them. "I’ll do whatever you want. In a non-sexual manner." He glared at Isabela. "And within reason." How one defined ‘within reason’ was up in the air. He was hoping he’d let him define what was ‘within reason’.
Cormac considered folding right then and there. Not that his hand was bad, but if he won this one… there would be no end of shit, for both of them. On the other hand, probably better to keep himself in the running, with what he was holding. Less chance of Isabela taking unfair advantage of the one Hawke sibling who was completely uninterested. Artie had specified ‘non-sexual’, but… Izzy. Still dangerous.
"You’re real sure he’s going to win this hand, aren’t you, kid?" Varric looked over his cards with no small amount of … it was difficult to tell if that was respect or just shock.
"If I win this one, he’s cleaning the ink off of my… everything. I don’t think I have anything left that doesn’t have fingerprints on it." Anders managed to look slightly enthused, even if he had been losing. He was even further in the hole than Artemis, but he was betting out of Cormac’s pocket. Strangely, he didn’t feel as bad about that as he probably should have, but Cormac just wasn’t that attached to his coin.
"If I win this one—" Isabela started, but Aveline cut her off.
"He said ‘non-sexual’. Even if you win, you still lose."
Artemis kept dusting. If he kept dusting, he could pretend they weren’t discussing how to take advantage of this behind his back. Well. Behind his back in the literal sense, since he had to have his back to the table to clean these books.
Fenris leisurely rearranged his cards, his face a mask of calm as he eyed Artemis and tried to think about what he would do. With Artie’s stipulation, all the obvious choices were off the table, and Fenris found himself wishing he had more creativity. He was sure he’d think of something.
The rest of the table placed their bets — all of the monetary sort — and Varric called Artemis back to the table.
The hand proceeded in the usual manner, with a great lot of swearing, slapping, and fingers in the discard pile, until Anders drew the Angel of Death. "Right. We’re done. Anton, push up your damn sleeves, before you even reach for those cards."
"Seconded. Izzy, push up Anton’s sleeves for him, would you?" Cormac chimed in.
"And do I hold her sleeves?" Anton demanded.
"She hasn’t got sleeves. I haven’t figured out where she’s stashing cards yet." Anders shrugged.
"Not all magic comes from mages!" Isabela winked and pulled up Anton’s sleeves. A card fell out of one cuff, onto the floor.
"And this is why you don’t play cards with your brothers," Varric pointed out. "At some point, they figure out all your shit, and then they tell everyone else at the table. Because, hey, what are brothers for, right?"
"I’m not actually related," Anders reminded him.
"Brothers-in-law, fine." Varric shrugged.
Cormac blinked. "How drunk did we get last weekend?"
"Not that drunk," Anders assured him with a nervous laugh. "I hope."
Artemis chewed at his lip. No matter how many times he rearranged his final hand, it got no better. Maker. No matches. How had that even happened? He was even wearing the lucky underwear he’d worn the last two times he’d won. Maybe the suggestion of betting them had negated their lucky properties.
Fenris sidled over to peer at Artie’s hand. "Well, that doesn’t look too promising." He gave Artemis a wolfish grin.
Artemis laughed nervously, looking around the table for help. In the end, he laid out his cards and shrugged. "Be gentle with me," he said.
"Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I need another drink!" Isabela got up to get another bottle of wine from the sideboard. As she leaned over to refill Artemis’s glass, she whispered into Fenris’s ear. "Orlesian maid outfit. Thank me later. Tell me all about it, too."
Aveline laughed. "I can’t wait to see what passes for ‘reasonable’ from Brooding Stabbypants, over there."
"Oh, because pummelling people to death with your shield is so much more civilised. Excuse me." Fenris rolled his eyes, and struggled with the opportunity he’d been given.
"You could always dress him up as an Orlesian maid while he does that tidying thing he always does," Varric suggested.
That was two votes for this… ‘Orlesian maid’ thing. Fenris couldn’t say he’d paid much attention to the servants at any of the events involving Orlesians. Elves, mostly, he thought.
Cormac caught his eye, from across the table, with a flick of eyes and a slim smile. Cormac apparently also agreed with this idea, so it couldn’t be too horrible. Still… he had no idea what Orlesian maids wore. Well, if he said it, someone would tell him where to get such an outfit. Probably. It was one of many things that could be said, but someone — one of them — would probably tell him. "I think that’s a wonderful idea, Varric."
"What?" Artemis sputtered. He shook his head vigorously. "No. No, it is not a wonderful idea, Varric. I — you — what?"
"Oh Maker." Anders was stifling his laughter behind his palm. "That’s so much better than betting his smalls!"
Artemis shot him a baleful look, ears burning red. Fenris had no idea what to expect, but if the reactions he was getting were anything to go by, it had been the right choice.
"Fenris," Artemis pleaded, "if this is because of the floors, you must know I am deeply, terribly sorry about that."
"On the contrary, Artemis," Fenris rumbled. "The floors look lovely. As will you, in an Orlesian maid’s outfit." He wondered if Fran had anything like that. If not, he had a feeling she knew someone who would, from what Artie had told him.
Artemis looked at his brothers desperately.
Anton took the wine bottle from Isabela and drank straight from it. "I’m sure you’ll be gorgeous. Maker knows, I am, and you and I aren’t so different, I don’t think. Not all thick and hairy, like Cormac."
"Hey, fuck you. I have nice shoulders." Cormac tossed a card at Anton’s smug face. "Not that I’d look good in an Orlesian maid’s outfit, though. And how the fuck do you know—"
"Serendipity. I don’t want to talk about it." Anton took another long swig. "You’ll be fine, Artie. It’s just like robes, but shorter and fluffier."
"And every time you bend over, that delicious Hawke ass will be on display for your deliciously broody elf. I know you said non-sexual, but Maker, he’s going to have trouble with those trousers." Isabela laughed gleefully and snatched the bottle back from Anton, now also drinking from it.
Artemis dropped his face into his hand. "Thank you, Izzy," he said, voice muffled by his palm. "Really."
"I’m a giver," Isabela said sweetly.
Fenris was liking his choice more and more.
Fenris liked his choice even more once he actually saw it. Artemis, naked, was a truly breathtaking sight, but Artemis in this… confection of frills and lace, it was like adding spice to cider — making a good thing even better. Well, aside from the part where Artemis was still making wet cat faces at him. Had been through the entire process of buying the thing and putting it on.
"I don’t understand your objection." Fenris stepped behind Artemis, pulling him around to face the mirror. "Your legs are … very beautiful." He was sure there were more appropriate words for that, but he wasn’t sure which of those words were appropriate to say at times like this. Long, lean, strong, firm… He’d always appreciated Artemis’s legs — any sane man would — but something about the skirt just made them look… more. There was no difference, but it was all the difference in the world. Isabela may have had a point about his trousers.
Artemis glared at Fenris through the mirror. The wet cat face hit straight on. "You don’t understand my objection?" Artie drawled. "Really? Does that mean I can look forward to you wearing this later?"
"I… don’t have your legs," Fenris said diplomatically. "I also would never have made such a bet."
"Really?" Artemis went on, expression turning devious. "You don’t think the frills would show off your assets? You should show some leg more often, you know. Those tattoos show them off so nicely, and offset by those frills?"
"It is not happening, mage," Fenris said.
"You know, Isabela keeps asking me how far those tattoos go. I would really love to tell her how your bum glows in the dark."
"Mage," Fenris growled.
"Or perhaps I should mention something else that glows in the dark?"
"Who would ever believe I would be in my right mind after such a thing? Surely it couldn’t be true. Of all the places to put lyrium, and with such… bloody and unpleasant methods. Even Isabela wouldn’t believe you." Fenris smiled unpleasantly around Artemis’s shoulder. "Even if it is true."
The smile softened, as he met Artemis’s eyes in the mirror, hands smoothing over the waist of that sleek, black dress. "But, this is what you bet yourself into. Do be more cautious in the future. Imagine what would have happened had Isabela won that round. You’d be tidying the Hanged Man or worse. But, here you are, at home, tidying the same things you always do, but with your legs gloriously displayed for me, and only me. And I do appreciate the view."
Artemis huffed, but his lips twitched up in a smile. "Do us a favour, Fenris," he said, turning to look at the real thing instead of the reflection, "and next time you want that? Let me do it naked. Please." He swatted Fenris on the nose with the feather duster, grinning when the elf’s nose wrinkled and he sneezed.
It wasn’t until he was halfway down the stairs that Artemis remembered that Orana was on duty today. She froze in the kitchen doorway, a heavy dish balanced in her hands. "…good morning, Messere," she squeaked, staring down at his legs, then back up at him.
Artemis sucked his lips between his teeth and shook his head. "I’ll be honest with you, Orana," he said. "If I keep drinking as much as I plan to after this, this probably isn’t the worst thing you’ll see me do."
"What will Messere be drinking?" Orana asked, looking anywhere except directly at Artemis. From the bottom of the stairs, that skirt was much too short. "I should — Glasses. I should get down the right glasses."
Fenris appeared at the top of the stairs, wearing what appeared to be Artemis’s pyjama pants, rolled up at the cuffs, and a dressing gown. Isabela had likely been right about the trousers and he was not going to suffer such discomfort nor suffer it obviously in his own home. His home. His mage. He was beginning to like having things. He smiled down at Orana. "Rum. I believe the occasion calls for rum punch, if you would, once you’ve finished serving breakfast. I fully intend to make the most of the morning."
"Yes, Messere. Rum punch." Orana turned around, heading back into the kitchen, to serve breakfast in the dining room, rather than bringing it up to them in bed. Such unusual men, her new masters. Employers. Them. They were strange, even and perhaps especially by Tevinter standards, but she rather liked them, even if she thought Messere Fenris was acting out by getting ‘his mage’ dressed up in such tiny things. Barely even clothing.
As Orana scuttled away, Artemis threw Fenris a look over his shoulder that promised vengeance. Fenris replied with a smile that said it was worth it. Heaving a sigh, Artie descended the last few steps, veering into the dining room to start straightening in there, and Fenris followed, taking his usual chair and sitting back to watch, balancing the chair on its back two feet. Artemis moved stiffly, keeping his knees close together as he arched up on tiptoes to reach the highest shelf. Fenris watched the play of ruffles against the back of Artemis’s thighs.
"You missed a spot," Fenris said when Artie moved on to the next shelf.
Artie swore under his breath. "I am going to turn you into elf paste in a minute."
There was a knock on the door, and Fenris got to it first, still not quite accustomed to the idea of other people answering the door for him. He found a woman standing on the doorstep holding what appeared to be a bunch of flowers. Orana entered the hall, behind him, and stood back to make sure nothing went wrong. Fenris, she’d learnt, was not always the best with unexpected visitors.
"Ah! If you’ll just sign for these, Messere, I’ll let you get on with giving them to your lovely wife!" The woman at the door gestured to Orana, seeming completely unperturbed that there might be elves living in Hightown, which immediately convinced Fenris she wasn’t from around here.
"Wife!? No, no… that’s… that’s not… no. That’s my cook." Fenris looked utterly terrified, for a moment.
"I’m the wife!" Artemis exclaimed, wheeling about in his short, frilly skirt, which spun up as he moved, and stomping over to the door. His brows knit as he thought that over. "Wait. Hold on. No. That’s not —"
"O-oh!" stammered the flower-wielding woman. She looked Artemis up and down, eyes wide and unblinking as they took in his outfit and long legs. "I… apologise. I guess these are for you then?"
Artemis snatched the flowers away from her, wishing the bouquet were large enough to hide him altogether. "I suppose they… yes. Thank you." The woman smiled awkwardly, eyes still bugging, and bowed her head as she stepped back from the door. Artemis was halfway through closing the door when he stopped and pulled it open again to shout to her in the street, "Boyfriend! That was the word! I’m his boyfriend! Not wife! Maker." This last was muttered under his breath as he finally shut the door.
"Who sent flowers to you?" Fenris asked, looking confused and possibly offended. He’d assumed they were actually for Orana, wife or not, but for Artemis? No. They had better not be from the abomination. On the other hand, Anders didn’t seem like the flowers type. In all the years they’d been together, he’d never heard of him giving Cormac flowers. But, the more important point… "And did you just propose to me?"
Orana approached carefully, not sure if standing too close to either of them was the safest idea, right this moment. "Messere Artemis? Do you want me to put them in water? They should be cut and put in water before they start to wilt."
Artemis looked back and forth between the two elves, eyes wide. They weren’t from Fenris? Were they even for him, then? "I… uh…" Artie avoided Fenris’s second question for the moment by looking at the flowers and searching for a card. He found none. "What in the…?"
And then Artemis looked at the flowers. The large, red petals of fresh hibiscus dominated the bouquet, next to a sprig of narcissus, a dried yellow rose, and budding acacia. Any nobleman or woman could read the language of flowers, and Artemis knew exactly what that meant.
‘I love you. You’re beautiful. I’m not sorry.’
"Cormac," Artemis said, the name sounding like a curse. He handed the flowers over to Orana with a polite smile and ran a hand over his face to hide how brightly his cheeks were burning.
Fenris watched him expectantly, if guardedly, his ears twitching asymmetrically. Artemis coughed into his fist and looked at those ears instead of green eyes. "That is… not exactly a proposal, no," he said, "because if—" when "—I propose to you, it won’t be while dressed like this."
"I… good. I would hope for a bit more, er —" Fenris gestured vaguely. Clothes? Propriety? But, those thoughts just made him look more closely at Artemis, and … Yes, pyjamas had been an excellent idea. "I assume your brother is apologising for his role in getting you in to this frilled confection? I cannot imagine what else he would be sending flowers for, today, and I am certain Aveline went straight to him or Anton as soon as she left us. The timing is no coincidence. And, I admit, I would not have agreed to it without his blessing."
"Ah. The… dress. Right." Artemis wished he were still holding the flowers so that he would have something to fidget with. Of course Cormac had meant the outfit. Not — of course. Maker. He’d just been standing in the front doorway wearing this, hadn’t he? "Well, that was thoroughly humiliating. Fenris, do I really have to keep wearing this?" He tugged the back of the dress lower over his rump, for Orana’s sake as well as his peace of mind.
"You could wear it for me, upstairs," Fenris purred, eyes lingering on the curves of leg and chest the dress displayed. "And nothing else with it. We could do away with the cleaning portion of the morning. But, oh! You did say nothing sexual, didn’t you…" He traced one finger down Artemis’s long neck. "So, I think perhaps you’re stuck in it for a while. No one said you couldn’t have rum punch with your potatoes and ham, if you think that would help." Fenris was strongly hoping it would help lift the non-sexual restriction, the longer he watched Artemis prance around in that thing.
Artemis bent to nip at the finger leaving a trail of sensation down his skin. "Or," he said, matching Fenris’s seductive tone, "you could just tear this off me and then the non-sexual clause will no longer apply." This outfit was ridiculous, but he found he was minding it a little less after seeing the hunger in Fenris’s eyes. He would stop minding it altogether if it ended up in a crumpled heap on the floor. Upstairs. No need to scar poor Orana further.
"Must I? I confess, the thought of you in it…" Fenris stalled for a moment, eyes even wider, mouth dry. "The thought of you in it, folded over the footboard, making those sweet sounds of desire… I would happily tear it off of you shortly thereafter. But, would you… let me…?"
His face was ashen, and the tips of his ears red and twitching. Isabela had been right. He was terrible at this. Completely, inexcusably terrible. But, there had to be a balance between what he wanted to do, what he wanted to say, and the fact that Orana was probably still close enough to hear him.
Artemis traced the tip of one twitching ear with his finger, trying not to look smug. "My, my," he purred. "You’re already in a state just picturing it, aren’t you?" Not that Artie was faring much better after Fenris’s request, a fact this accursed piece of clothing did nothing to hide, even under the flimsy apron. "But rules are rules, Fenris, and I am a man of honour." He affected a look of mock offence, even as he started to slink back towards the stairs. "I cannot do anything sexual that you request. You’ll have to think more creatively."
With a parting smirk, Artemis headed back up the stairs, swishing his hips a bit more than necessary.
Fenris followed Artemis up the stairs. No requests? More creativity? He grabbed Artemis by one arm, once they’d made it to the bedroom, and slung him over the side of the bed, arm bent behind him. He’d let go, if asked, but perhaps this was what Artemis had in mind. "And if I stop asking?" Fenris purred, ripping those ridiculous smalls off of Artemis’s shapely bottom. The starch seemed to make the dress hold itself out of his way. "If I just take what I want?" Still a question. Thinking too hard about what he was doing gave him chills, but if it was what Artemis meant for him to do, he’d learn to like it. Kicking Artemis’s ankles apart, he stepped between them, pulling his mage’s hips back with his free hand.
Artemis grinned against the sheets, arching back so that his ass brushed the front of Fenris’s — well, his — pyjamas. "Well, then I guess that wouldn’t count, would it?" Artemis said, a bit breathless. His heart pounded against his ribs, knob painfully hard at Fenris’s voice at his ear, at the show of strength in those coiled muscles. Fenris could tear him apart in an instant if he wanted to, Artie knew, and in that moment, Artemis would have let him.
That sounded like acceptance, at least. Fenris leaned over — Maker, why was this bed so big? — and carefully grabbed the oil from the nightstand, without letting go of Artemis’s arm. He struggled to figure out how to apply it one-handed, and then pulled the cork out with his teeth and took a deep breath before slipping the narrow neck of the bottle into Artemis’s terribly inviting ass. He tilted the bottle and hoped for the best.
Artemis let out a high-pitched squeak, toes clawing into the rug. Maker, that was cold! He clawed at the sheets to keep himself from swatting the hand and bottle away. "Fenris," he choked, "what are you—? What?"
"I didn’t want to hurt you? Oil— I … One hand." Fenris looked exactly as panicked as he was at that moment, still holding the cork in his teeth, and quickly pulled back the bottle with a horrifying slurping-popping sound, as he tried to angle it not to spill on the floor. He corked the bottle and tossed it onto the bed. "Do you want me to stop? Did I do something wrong?"
Oil was spilling out of Artemis. It took a moment for it to register what Fenris had just done, and then Artemis turned his face into the sheets to muffle his snorting laughter. "Well," he said, gasping for breath, "I did tell you to think creatively, didn’t I?" He reached back with the hand not pinned and patted at whatever of Fenris he could reach. "You’re fine. It’s fine. And somehow, this damnable outfit is still fine."
"This damnable outfit displays you very well," Fenris growled, shoving down the pyjama pants and stepping out of them. There was definitely something to be said for looser clothing, when he meant to stay indoors. Perhaps he would invest in his own, at some point. He stepped back, for a moment, to enjoy the view — a halo of starched ruffles around that incredible ass, and those long, tightly-muscled legs. This mage, his mage, was quite beautiful at any angle. And that was the word — beautiful. Not handsome or any of the other words one tended to use to describe a good-looking man, but beautiful. He could only assume the magic had kept him from seeing that, before their drunken escapades in the Deep Roads.
"Tell me what you want," he purred stepping forward again and lining himself up. "Beg me for it." He slammed in, all at once.
The shove of Fenris’s hips hitched Artemis up the bed, startling a choked shout of him. "Fen," he breathed, free hand twisting in the sheets, feet braced against the rug. "I want… I want you. Take me. Hard. Rough. Just… use me." Maker. Maybe he’d keep this ridiculous, frilly thing if it inspired this kind of reaction. He continued to beg, short two or three words phrases all he could handle just then. "Keep talking. Take me. Please."
"Use you? You want me to please myself with your body?" Fenris rolled his hips, grinding in deep and hard. "That’s a dangerous offer, mage. One never knows just how creative I might get…" Unfortunately, Fenris wasn’t nearly as creative as that sentence implied, and his last attempt at creativity had ended… less well than intended. Still, he dipped his fingers through layers of muscle and organ, taking a tight grip on Artemis’s hip, as he pounded in, hard and fast. "I thought it was just your brother who liked it rough. Tell me, how far shall I go? And tell me quickly, because, oh, Artemis…" He sucked in a sharp breath. Artemis in this frilly confection, literally begging to be taken hard and rough? This was not going to last. He was not going to last.
"Oh, fuck, Fenris—" Each pound of Fenris’s hips knocked the breath out of Artemis, wringing desperate sounds from the back of his throat. His knob rubbed against the inside of the frilly skirt, fabric just this side of too rough, but he didn’t care, not with Fenris pounding him like this, not with lyrium-lined fingers holding him by his bones.
Fenris had asked a question, hadn’t he? It was hard to think past the sparks behind his eyelids. "Fuck, Fenris," he groaned, "give me everything. Take me. Come on." It was unfair, the effect this man — this elf — had on him.
"Mine," Fenris growled. "You are mine, mage. All of you. You belong to me." As long as Artie let it go on, of course, but … so far, so good. He slammed in harder, adjusting his stance for a better angle, as he phased out the tips of his fingers on the other hand and rubbed at the vertebrae under where he had Artemis’s wrist pinned. "You let me touch you like this. You let me put my hands where no one else can reach. I might have killed you like this, once, but now—" The words cut off in a desperate groan, and Fenris’s hips stuttered. "Now, you beg to have me inside you, and I want—" Again he cut himself off, panting. "Love you. Love this. Venhedis — Artemis!"
Artemis writhed under and around Fenris, stoppering whimpers and shouts behind grit teeth. Fenris’s fingers scraped over the nerves in his spine, making Artemis arch and buck under him. "Oh, Maker!" he choked. "Fen!" Fenris’s thrusts were shaking the bed so hard that Artemis didn’t notice when it started to rattle on its own, didn’t notice the other furniture in the room clattering against the walls. Pleasure sparked up his spine, his world narrowing to Fenris’s knob and Fenris’s fingertips as his vision flashed white and he spilled into white ruffles and starched fabric.
It wasn’t until Artemis clamped down around him that Fenris felt his knees go weak, as he shot out into his mage. His breath left him, too, in a hot rush. It felt like the force of his life had slammed six inches out of his body, in that moment, and he almost sank to the floor, falling forward onto Artemis’s back, instead. "I’m tearing this thing off you, now. It itches." He rubbed his face against a patch of bared skin along the low back of the dress. "That what you wanted?"
"For you to tear the dress off? Oh yes." Artemis hummed, sinking into the mattress as best he could at this awkward angle, eyes drifting closed. He slipped his arm out from between them and flexed the shoulder, stretching the fingers to get the feeling back. He shifted under Fenris and winced at the brush of fabric against his knob. "Oh. Ow. More than itches. Yes, tear this off, please."
Fenris staggered back to his feet, grabbing for the dagger that had been stuck in that nightstand as long as he’d had the house. For some reason he’d never let Artemis get rid of it, and it had come in handy from time to time. Like right now. He slipped the blade into the back of the dress, sideways, and then turned it and pulled toward him, splitting the fabric. The tearing came easy, after that. One more cut opened the skirt, and he spread the fabric across the bed.
"Have I hurt you?" he asked, stepping back to give Artemis room to get off the remains of the dress.
Artie stood as best as his noodly legs would let him, still wincing. "Not you," he sighed, glaring down at the ruined and stained tatters of the dress. "The fabric. Chafes." He wondered how awkward it would be to ask for some healing from Anders. He sure as fuck wasn’t going to ask Cormac. He waved aside Fenris’s concern and slid an arm around his elf’s waist. "I’ve survived trees," he said. "Just… do we have a healing potion handy?"
"I will go — I will put pants on and then I will go ask Orana." Fenris handed himself the pyjama pants with his toes and pulled them on. "You… that was what you wanted?" He needed to be sure. He’d already asked, more than once, but… somewhere in the back of his head, it still felt strange and wrong. But, if Artemis told him this was right, that this was what he liked, Fenris thought he could quiet that sick feeling. It had been good, in the moment. Strange, but mostly good. The way that sense of complete power ran through him, ringing through his bones, but… where was the line, where that was concerned? When did he become the monster? He didn’t know, but if Artemis liked it, he was probably still on the right side of the line, wherever it was. He’d learn, eventually.
Artemis was about to brush aside the question again, but he stepped back to look at Fenris, to truly look, and saw the worry there. He remembered what Fenris had said about Hadriana, about Danarius, and it hit him like a splash of cold water that maybe he had pushed too far.
Artie cupped Fenris’s cheek, thumb smoothing over a fine cheekbone. "I love you," he said, making sure Fenris’s eyes were meeting his, "and I trust you. And if that hadn’t been what I wanted, I would have force pushed you through a wall." His smile was light, teasing, but his tone was nothing less than serious. "But what about you? Was that… too much?" There were some things Fenris didn’t talk about, some things Artemis didn’t dare ask, but he found himself wondering what kind of mistreatment Fenris had suffered at the magisters’ hands.
"I am not the one in need of a healing potion," Fenris pointed out, wrapping his arms around Artemis and pressing a kiss against his shoulder. "I adore you, mage. If you tell me this pleases you, I will trust you. I… I am ill-accustomed to —" He gestured vaguely with one hand. "So many things. But, you have given me this, and I will learn. I had no idea so much was missing in my life, before you…" He choked off a laugh. "Before you grabbed my ass."
"Oh, Maker," Artemis laughed, pressing his cheek to Fenris’s. "I’m glad at least one good thing came out of my drunken… brazenness." Yes. That was the word he was going to use. He turned his head to kiss the cheek touching his and took a moment to marvel at where they were. "I wanted you from the moment I laid eyes on you, you know," he said against a pointed ear. "You sauntered into the Alienage in a whirl of violence, and I was absolutely smitten."
And then he’d watched Fenris’s lip curl when the elf realised he was a mage. Doomed, he’d thought. Anything between them would be doomed and disastrous and likely end with Artie’s organs on the wrong side of his skin.
"At the time? No. That was not the time. I didn’t want, then. I didn’t know how to want, then. But, you showed me, and now I don’t think I will ever let go. Unless you want me to. For longer than it takes to bring you a healing potion." Fenris shifted from foot to foot. "Fasta vass! Sit down and let me get that!"
As Artemis sat at the edge of the bed and watched Fenris scamper from the room, he wondered what Fenris meant by ‘didn’t know how to want’. It was a worrisome line of thinking as he considered their times together, how Fenris had been so endearingly ignorant — innocent — in so many areas.
"Oh Maker," he murmured for the umpteenth time that morning.
Fenris returned with the potion, the bowl of rum punch, and the platter of breakfast they’d forgotten downstairs. "Artemis? Table. Please." There was still a knife stuck in it, and he didn’t want to spill anything. Still, he’d been balancing sincerely stupid piles of poorly balanced crap for mages for years, so he could probably do this. "Wait. I think…"
Punchbowl, first, since it was the only thing in that hand. Then hand the potion to Artemis. Then take the knife and put down the platter. The table really wasn’t big enough for this, but as long as they were done … doing that, they probably wouldn’t knock anything over. "I thought you might enjoy your rum punch and eggs."
"You spoil me," Artemis said, admiring Fenris’s balancing act before dishing out rum punch for each of them. Carefully. Knowing them, Artemis would manage to knock the thing over within seconds of Fenris setting it down. "This from the elf who knocked me down the stairs. Though perhaps I shouldn’t remind you of the waxed floors while you have a knife in your hand." As it was, the bedsheets had reverted to their usual linen, although a finer threadcount than before. Artie saved the Orlesian bedsheets just to threaten Fenris with them from time to time.