Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 78
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Carver Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Isabela ♀, Varric ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Demons, blood magic, suggestions of mind control, violence,
Notes: Dinner and most of a necessary conversation, as well as a completely unnecessary conversation.
"I will thank every god in existence, Anders, if you will heal me. I’ll explain everything, but healing, and then sleep, and then details." Cormac’s hands fluttered over Anders’s still mostly-dressed body, before one settled against his cheek. "Also, the entire family was watching that, which is a discussion you might want to have with your not-so-evil twin, later."
"Aw, they’re back to the squishy parts," Isabela huffed, elbowing Artemis. "You’re still into him, aren’t you?"
"Let us not discuss ‘into’ and my mage," Fenris growled, still not looking anywhere near where Cormac was slowly fading back into the world. That bothered him profoundly, really. He’d always supposed his power was unique — that had been the point of it, really — but if a mage could do the same, what purpose did his suffering serve?
"Or you could tell me all about you getting into your mage," Isabela teased. "That would be just as good. Does he really have the Hawke ass? Is it just as amazing as every other Hawke ass?"
"My ass is amazing," Artemis said as though that should be obvious, "but Fenris isn’t exactly in a position to, uh, compare Hawke asses." Anders was, but he figured saying that aloud would end in murder. "At least I hope not, unless there’s something he hasn’t been telling me."
"One Hawke is enough of an ass for anyone," Fenris said archly, earning a grin from Artie. Fenris was still feeling rattled, and Artemis looked like he was ready to bolt to his brother’s side at the first opportunity, but they were both used to burying their nerves.
Anders’s hands shook as they trailed over Cormac, flooding him with healing, with more healing probably than Cormac would have wanted. "Cormac, I’m so sorry," he was babbling. "I don’t know what happened. How could Justice…? He couldn’t… I thought… I…"
"Sorry, nothing. I know exactly what happened, and it’s not really your fault. Corypheus happened. You said it, yourself, not that I expect you to remember that. Corypheus happened, and then I did something outrageously stupid, and here we are. I’m not missing any of my beard, am I? If I have to shave it off and start over, I’m going to be so upset. Chest hair’s a loss, though. I can smell that. But, me? I’m fine, Anders. And you’re… not a scary ancient demon. So, I think we’re good. But, if I don’t get a nap, soon, I’m going to stop being able to feel my fingers. Too many demons, too fast."
"Can anyone hear what they’re talking about?" Varric asked. "I’m going to have to completely make up dialogue for this scene, aren’t I?"
Bethany returned from further down the path. "Oh, don’t worry, Varric! It’s Cormac. I have volumes of documentation you can choose from."
Varric grinned. "I might just take you up on that," he said. Then, over his shoulder, "Come on back, Junior! Everyone’s putting away their funbits."
"Say that again when the ‘funbits’ have been put away," Carver called back. "Past tense."
Anders sat back on his haunches, shaky fingers struggling with the laces to his trousers. "I really need to stay out of the Deep Roads," he said with a brittle laugh. He bit his tongue against more nervous rambling, more nonsense words to fill the silence and talk over Corypheus who was still there, if more distant. Justice was a confused jumble of glowy spirit in the back of his head. He shuffled around Cormac until he could rest Cormac’s head on his knees. "Just rest for a bit. The others can take care of any demons or darkspawn. Artie can cook us some more deepstalkers, if you’re feeling hungry."
"Bethy? Come here a minute. I need you to make our Warden unconscious," Cormac called out, curling up around Anders’s legs. "It’s nothing personal, sweet thing, but you need rest as much as I do, and if that … thing walks in dreams, I need to know you won’t be dreaming. The rest of us will probably be all right, but you… it seems to have latched on to you, because whatever Warden shit you’ve got going on." He paused. "Did you just suggest Artie should cook something? That’s… no. That’s not how food works. That’s not how my brother works."
Cormac reached out his hand and set a couple piles of deepstalker shit on fire. The magic came more slowly than it should have, and Anders twitched with each burst of flame. "Can’t let people get cold, because I’m too busy sleeping. ‘Sides, Anton actually can cook, but he’d need fire to do it."
The rambling stopped as Bethany towered over the two of them, and she laid the first sleep spell on Cormac. "He never shuts up, I swear. You going to let me do this, Anders? I don’t think I can manage it, unless you do. That spirit’s not in the habit of sleeping."
Anders ran his hand through Cormac’s hair, brushed back strands that had pulled free of its tie. Natural sleep in this place, with Corypheus’s voice in his ear, would be more dangerous than staying awake, but a magic, dreamless sleep… Justice was being unusually docile in the wake of what had just happened, and it was the sort of thing Anders would joke about if he weren’t so rattled himself. "Yes," he said, "all right." His nerves and magic were frayed about the edges, and he needed the sleep.
Carefully, Anders laid Cormac’s head back down, unclasping his feathery pauldrons to use as a makeshift pillow for them both, and scooted back down until he was lying curled around Cormac. Bethany waved her hand, and Anders’s eyes slid shut, body sagging.
Artemis came up next to Bethany, looking over the sleeping mages. "Let’s hope that helps," he said, shrugging. "I worry about what will happen when we come up against Corypheus. I have a feeling we’re going to need our healer."
"I will stab him in the fucking knee," Anton said, patting Artemis on the back. "I will stab him in the fucking knee, and then we’ll kill him. Did you want to eat? I’m pretty sure I can turn those lizard things into something edible. Might as well get that out of the way, if we’re stopped."
"I am not eating anything that looks like a leech," Carver protested.
"You’d be surprised, Junior. Those things are pretty good. Dwarves keep them for food, back in Orzammar — I’ve only had them on the surface, of course, but you can buy them from a couple places in the market. Good stuff," Varric rambled, loading Bianca and taking a look around. "I bet we can take down a few. Probably the only thing I’ve seen down here that I’d be willing to put in my mouth."
"Food might not be terrible," Artie said with a shrug. Maker knew how long they’d been down here. "Should at least have something for glowy and glowier when they wake up, just in case."
Anton nodded, pulling a dagger out of its hilt with a twirl. "All right, Varric. Izzy. Let’s go hunting."
"Try not to do anything stupid," Artemis called out to him. "Enough of my brothers have been punched today for their stupidity."
Anton didn’t turn around but acknowledged the words with a jaunty wave of his hand.
"Maker," Artie muttered, leaning his forehead against Fenris’s shoulder, only to think better of it when spiky armour poked him in the cheek. "This is so not how I thought today was going to go."
As it turned out, Varric hadn’t been joking about the deepstalkers. They were a little plain, given that they were unseasoned and roasted whole and un-skinned over shitfire, but they were definitely edible. Probably good with some pepper and thyme, Anton decided. Next time. Next time he went on a spontaneous venture into the Deep Roads, he’d take some seasonings.
Cormac woke first, slowly, taking in the warmth of the long, lean body beside him, and after a few moments, the smell of burning everything. Some of that, it filtered back to him, was himself. Maker-damned sonofabitchin’ wizards. He was allowed to complain. He was one.
"Do I smell food, under that stench of blazing shit, or is that just wishful thinking?" he asked, rubbing his eye, but not yet sitting up. Count the limbs. Check for any unexpected damage. He was in surprisingly good shape, all things considered, which was the way it should be. Anders was the best for a reason. Speaking of Anders…
"Wake up, sleeping beauty. Places to go, ancient demons to kill." Cormac shook Anders, gently.
Anders made a sleepy noise of complaint against Cormac’s shoulder, his grip on Cormac tightening, before he opened his eyes. There was a rock digging uncomfortably into his hip. They were sleeping on the ground. Why were they sleeping on the ground?
Then he remembered: darkspawn, demons, underground, Justice. Anders bolted upright, sucking in a breath. Another sleep spell twitched to Bethany’s fingers, just in case.
"Hey, whoa, relax," Artie said as soothingly as he could, kneeling beside the entangled pair. "It’s just us. Carver’s face isn’t a pretty thing to wake up to, I know, but here, I saved you two a drumstick!" He waved the haunch of meat in front of them enticingly.
"You are the best brother. I know, I know, stating the obvious again, but it’s so very true." Cormac twisted a strip of meat off the bone and folded it into his mouth. "I love you too, Anton!" He was guessing. Might well have been Varric’s doing, for all he knew.
"He’s the best brother?" Anton put his knuckles on his hips, trying to keep the lizard grease off his clothes. "I slave over a shitfire for hours for you, and he’s the best? I see how you mages are." He couldn’t keep a straight face for long, and the laughter rolled out of him as he crouched next to the fire. "There’s one more left. It’s almost done."
"I have the best family! My sister knocks me out and my brothers make me food. This is what you were missing, in the Circle, you know. Family outings into the Deep Roads, complete with face punching and samples of the local cuisine." Cormac kissed Anders behind the ear. "Everything, including my ass, is fine, Anders. Well, except the part where we still have to find this Corypheshithead and kick his ass. And I’m going to kick his ass. Soundly. Nobody does shit like that to my Warden."
Anders let out a shaky breath but smiled softly for Cormac. He could still hear Corypheus, in the back of his head, but the chatter going on around him helped relegate him to white noise. Bethany watched him and relaxed, letting the spell in her hand dissipate.
"I’ll have you know it was just one brother who made you food," Anton said, peering at the roasting lizard. "Carver sulked and Artemis served the food like a glorified tavern wench."
"Excuse you," Artie huffed. "If I were a tavern wench, there’d be alcohol too." He snagged another bite of meat from Fenris’s portion, settling back against his elf. "And no, I’m not dressing like a tavern wench later. Don’t get any ideas."
Fenris smirked, licking grease off of gauntlet-free fingers.
"Another mental image I did not need," Carver muttered, still sulking.
Isabela leaned over Artemis’s shoulder. "Oh, but I’d like to see that. You’d be so very pretty, and I can just imagine you showing those long legs. Which I think everyone except me has seen, and my envy knows no bounds."
Cormac kept picking apart the lizard haunch, feeding bits of meat to Anders. "Just so you know," he murmured, leaning closer, "I’d like to try that again, sometime. In a slightly less ‘fuck or die’ situation. That was intensely bizarre, and I feel like it could have been amazingly hot. You know, if you’re comfortable having threesomes with your not-so-evil twin."
"Tell him if he doesn’t, you’ll show him your boobs," Anton suggested to Isabela.
"Boobs do not motivate me one way or another," Artemis said primly, "even if they’re like Isabela’s, large enough to be used as floatation devices."
Varric chortled around a bite of meat. "So if the ship goes down, I should make a grab for Izzy’s buoys?"
Isabela smirked and pressed her ‘floatation devices’ against Artie’s arm. "You know, if you grab my buoys," she purred in his ear, "it won’t be a ship going down."
"That’s… sweet of you, Izzy," Artemis said, pulling his arm away from her and swinging around to sit in Fenris’s lap. "But you should know, I get seasick."
Anders half listened to all of this chatter, his attention on Cormac. "Seriously?" he murmured. "This is something you’d…?" He didn’t know how he felt about that. Besides terrified, that is. He definitely felt terrified. And a little violated, in the aftermath. With a nervous laugh, he added, "I think maybe Justice took your chestnut blossoms a little too seriously."
"I told you I did something stupid," Cormac muttered. "I wasn’t really talking about flowers. You were… you weren’t you, but I couldn’t hurt you. You know that. Didn’t stop Corypheus from taking advantage of your magic and Justice. I just wanted to keep you from getting to anyone else. Keep him from getting to anyone else, because they probably wouldn’t have the same compunctions about pounding the crap out of you. Shields only help so much, against magic. I wasn’t doing so hot."
Cormac took a deep breath, and kept his voice low. "Do you remember the book I was reading, when you found those flowers? A little something I liberated from the Gallows. Fancy stunts of the Arcane school. Apparently the ‘deepest wells of Fade power’ are good for more than just channelling. Justice got a little excited. I figured if I could keep him focused, the two of you could shake the influence. It was stupid. Still worked. Saving the world with the power of the Hawke ass, once again."
"That was stupid," Anders said with awe in his voice. "Incredibly stupid. Exactly the kind of stupid I expect from you, really, but… Maker, Cormac. Next time just punch me, will you? If something had happened to you, if Justice had…" Anders sucked in a ragged breath. He couldn’t think that way. It hadn’t happened, even if it could have. Like with that girl he’d — they’d — saved from Alrik. "The world needs your Hawke ass more than it needs my flagpole."
Justice didn’t quite agree with that. Not regarding the flagpole bit but regarding the overall sentiment. But, really, Justice didn’t get to have a say in the matter after behaving that way, even if Cormac was saying he wanted it to happen again.
"That’s just because you can’t count, sweet thing. There are multiple instances of the Hawke ass in this generation. Mine won’t be much of a loss. But you? You’re the best healer in the Marches. Possibly the best still living. My history’s not so hot, so I’m not going to speculate about the dead." Cormac nuzzled behind Anders’s ear. "You’ll save the world, one of these days. And I’m not going to punch you. If I ever punch you, check for demons. And make sure you’re not standing in front of Carver."
Staggering to his feet — three hours really wasn’t enough sleep, but it would keep him casting — Cormac held out a hand to Anders. "Come on, before they eat the last lizard thing, without us. We can eat while we walk. The sooner I end this nug-farming dreamsucker, the better I’m going to feel about all of this."