[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 93
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Aveline ♀, Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: M (L3 N3 S3 V0 D1)
Warnings: Cormac is not okay, the internet is for porn, AVELINE NO, should I say it with flowers or should I say it with nails
Notes: A pleasure cruise. A not so pleasurable spot of delivering flowers.
"I used to live by a river, you know." It was the first thing Anders had said in hours. He and Cormac had left Kirkwall aboard a merchant ship, in the dead of night, and changed for a pleasure barge, at the mouth of the tributary that emptied into the bay, a little to the west of the city.
"Did you?" Cormac asked, reaching out to pour Anders another glass of the sweet, flowery drink they’d acquired a carafe of. "Tell me about it? We lived on a river, sometimes, too. Never long, though."
"All I remember is that the river was never enough," Anders said, swallowing some more of the drink, as the glass slowly cooled in his hand. "We were in the wettest place for days in any direction, but it was barely enough to keep the barley growing. It ran slow and thick, most of the year, until the floods came, and then the people who’d built too close would get swept away — their houses, their chickens, it would all go down the river. Every year, people would come out from the city, to try their hand at rural life. And you could never tell them anything, either. Don’t build there, you’ll get killed. They’d call us stupid for not taking advantage of the land closer to the water. And we’d just wait. And the river would always take them."
Cormac squinted at him. "On the floodplain. People were trying to live on the floodplain of a river that came up every year? Who…? Why would you…?"
"And people say Fereldans are stupid," Anders laughed, leaning back on the lounge, as he watched the sky above them. "I think it’s some combination of faith, pride, and desperation. No one was right, everyone was poor, and if you didn’t die of the weather or starvation, you’d die of the law." He looked wistful. "I still wanted to go home. It was better than the tower. I know I’m lying to myself, when I say that. It was a different kind of bad. It was more honest. It was the kind you could pack up and leave, like my brother did. He was older than me, like you’re older than Carver. Just cut and ran, finally. He was headed for Ansburg. I don’t know where he ended up. I was gone before any letters came. Two sons in one year — I hope my mother’s all right."
"You want to go see? We can get off before the boat turns around and catch something heading the rest of the way up to the Minanter. Take that as far as Nevarra, pick up the Imperial Highway…" Cormac squeezed a lime into his drink.
"No. I’m not done, yet. I can’t go home, until I have something to show for it. I can’t be just older, angrier, tireder." Anders looked tired, then — more tired than he’d looked in a while, like the work had finally caught up with him, once he stopped. "When we know if we can go back to Kirkwall, I’ll make a choice."
"Don’t wait too long."
Anders reached across the table between them and took Cormac’s hand, without a word. ‘Too long’. Cormac’s parents were both dead, Anders remembered.
They sat like that, for a few minutes, watching the trees along the edge of the river, looking up at the sky.
"You want to go back down and traumatise the rest of the passengers a bit?" Cormac asked, squeezing Anders’s hand.
"Let’s not. We’re supposed to be forgettable, remember?" Anders poured himself another glass.
"I… yeah, of course. You’re right." Cormac looked away, down the line of chairs and tables and lounges bolted to the deck, light cloth rippling overhead to keep the worst of the sun off.
Anders bit off a sharp laugh. "Cormac. Look at me."
"What?" Cormac swigged his drink and tried not to look quite as lost as he felt. He needed to be home. He needed to be taking care of the family — but Anton was doing that, for now. The time had finally come, and Anton had to look out for him. And more than anything, Cormac just wanted to be able to stop thinking about that.
"I just meant let’s not traumatise the entire boat. Not let’s not go to bed. Because yes, let’s go to bed." Anders rubbed his thumb across Cormac’s knuckles.
They took the drinks with them, as they descended to the tiny cabin, below, with the table that was notched for the glasses. The bed was too small, really, and Anders had slept the night before — what little of it had been left, by that point — wrapped around Cormac, with his legs stuck off the corner of the bed. Nothing was ever made for people his height.
As Anders picked at the sash of the Tevinter robes he wore — there was finally an occasion to wear them, now that he was once again on the run and pretending to be someone else — Cormac swatted his hands away and backed him into the door, nipping at his neck, kissing under his chin.
"Let me," Cormac breathed, against Anders’s neck. "If you’re not going to make me scream, let me take you apart. Let me make your knees weak. Let me worship you with my hands and my mouth until we’re gods in each other’s arms, praying each to the other. Let me please you until you forget everything but my name."
Anders looked down, eyes wild with surprise and desire and fought to find words for a few moments, before his head fell back against the door with a hollow thunk, a breathy laugh slipping out between his lips. "Yes."
Cormac’s hands were quick, and the layers fell away, easily. "I want you," he breathed, hands wandering across Anders’s freshly bared skin. "I’ve wanted you so much, for so long, that I’ve forgotten what it’s like not to ache for you, every second of the day."
Anders swallowed hard and hauled Cormac against him, looking into those bright blue eyes, like there was something more to find, like the answer to everything in life might be there. And then he bumped the bridge of his nose against Cormac’s forehead, with a shaky laugh. "What are you practising for Artie? Do I need to get a bucket for all this sap? Can I use it to sweeten my drink?"
"Don’t do this to me, Anders. Not now. I just walked away from my entire family, and I took you with me. I just left everything in my little brother’s hands, because he’s boning the templar who made me." Cormac tipped his head down and buried his face against the scars on Anders’s chest. "Just let me run my mouth, so I don’t have to think about it."
Anders was strangely still for a long moment, breathing slow and shallow, heart rate falling. Finally, he pinched Cormac’s ass, sharply. "Well, peon, go on. Worship me like the god of sex I am."
There was a long, hollow pause, and then Cormac laughed so hard he sat down, sliding down Anders’s body as he cackled. "You— I can’t— Come down here. The bed’s too damn small, anyway."
Aveline signaled at Corff. No sooner had she put down her empty tankard than Edwina had appeared at her elbow, sliding another full one in its place. It was one of the benefits to being a regular, she found. That she was drinking with a Hawke who tipped obscenely well when he was drunk didn’t hurt.
"I told you a goat was the way to go," Aveline said, nodding sagely at the couple across from her. Her words were starting to get that lazy, slurred quality that said she was reaching past ‘buzzed’ into ‘drunk’. "I don’t think I got the chance to congratulate you, by the way. Congratulations!"
Artemis thought it best not to tell her that the goat had eaten half the garden. Fenris raised his tankard in a salute.
"To your future happiness," Aveline said, raising her tankard in turn.
"To goats," Artemis added, raising his.
A few more minutes and half a drink, and Aveline finally got to the point. Or at least as close to the point as she was going to get without a lot of back-patting and swearing to secrecy. "I know I’ve helped you both, and it’s wonderful that you’re so happy together. But, there’s something … I need a favour I can really only trust to you. I know, you think I should ask Anton, but Anton would make a joke of it. It should be a small matter… but, I worry…"
"You’re having trouble?" Fenris asked. "Not slavers on the coast, this time, I take it?"
"No, I… Artemis, I need you to give something to guardsman Donnic, in the barracks. He’s not to know it’s from me." Aveline wrung her hands and stared into her beer.
Artemis squinted at her over his drink. "Well, that’s awfully secretive," he said. "Is there something going on I should know about? Are you in some sort of trouble?"
"No! No, it’s nothing like that." Aveline’s chair creaked as she shifted. "Will you please just do this for me?"
Artemis exchanged a look with Fenris, his finger tapping the side of his tankard. It wasn’t like Aveline to be so furtive. "Very well," he said warily. "What exactly am I bringing him?"
"I, er… I already regret doing this. I don’t want to make it worse by exposing any unnecessary facts." Aveline looked away, finishing her drink.
Fenris found himself sympathizing. He’d looked like that — wait. "I don’t think you’d be able to hide it, if it’s a goat," he said, the corner of his mouth tipping up.
"Goat? No. No goats. Not— no." Aveline shook her head. "I, er… It’s a — Well, it’s flowers. But, in copper. So they’ll last. It’s a copper relief of marigolds."
"Marigolds? I haven’t seen those in our house." Fenris looked a little surprised. He’d expected something a little more obvious when she’d said flowers. Maybe actual flowers, even.
"That’s because Cormac wouldn’t send me those," Artemis said, his face twisting. Marigolds? Why marigolds?
"Your brother sends you flowers?" Aveline asked.
"It’s… yes, but as a joke." Aveline’s blank look said she didn’t get the joke. "Never mind. Anyway, why marigolds? Do you hate the man?"
Aveline sputtered. "What? No! I… always thought they were pretty. Is that a bad idea? Should I go with the goat instead?"
"Aveline, are you already in a relationship with the man? And if so, why would you not want him to know this gift was from you? Really, more to the point, even if you’re not, why would not telling him it’s you help?" Fenris found himself completely confused by human traditions, once again. Not that he really had a grasp of elven tradition, either, but he was in a city full of humans, and every one of them was weird, including the one he meant to marry. But, that was an endearing kind of weird, really.
"What? No! I’m just … trying to see if he’s interested. At all. In anyone." Aveline smiled a little too brightly. "It’s an excellent plan, really! If he’s got someone else, he’ll assume the gift was from them. If he doesn’t, he’ll start asking around. Either way, I’ll know!"
"You could try asking…" Fenris pointed out, weakly. Weird. All of them.
"What? No!" This was becoming a theme. "If I ask, I completely undermine myself — as a suitor and as his captain! Discovery before action! You’re my spies, but with less spying and more delivering. I must know the lay of the land before I go charging in!"
Artemis wiped a hand over his face. Maker. And to think he’d once to gone to her for relationship advice. Then again, her advice so far had ended in a corset and a goat, so he wasn’t sure what he expected. "Anton would be better at this," he said, "but I can see why you didn’t ask him. He’d never let you hear the end of it." Artie paused to take a long drink. "How about just regular flowers? And… not marigolds?"
Aveline’s shoulders sagged. "What’s wrong with marigolds?" she asked.
"Nobleman," he reminded her, pointing at himself. "I know the language of flowers. Marigolds are, uh… Well, generally they mean something bad."
"Oh." Wesley had known they were her favourite flowers and used to get them for her on their anniversary. Aveline wondered what that meant. "Then… what flowers would you recommend?"
Artemis chewed his lip as he considered. "Celandine, perhaps. Or maybe crocus. Oh! With jonquil." He grinned and added, "And if you’re feeling frisky, you could throw in a lime blossom."
"I don’t know what any of those flowers look like," Aveline sighed.
"That’s why Kirkwall has a florist," Fenris pointed out. "It doesn’t matter if you know, as long as you can spell the names. And pay for them, I suppose." He’d learnt the names of a few flowers, and he was saving that for some special occasion. Artemis’s face when he realised he’d gotten flowers from someone other than his brother would be priceless.
"But, will they be pretty? I don’t want to send him ugly flowers, just because they mean something nice!" Aveline picked up a drink, with no mind to whose it was, and drank quite a bit of it.
"Lime blossom is very pretty," Fenris said, before wondering if that was something that said much more than he meant to. "Lovely little yellow flowers in clusters. But, er, as Artemis says … ‘frisky’."
Artie smirked into his drink. It had been a while since he’d sent his brother flowers, now that he thought about it… "Perhaps we should save the lime blossoms for later," he said. "Certainly before any goats come into the equation, but not just yet. And of course they’re pretty. All flowers are pretty. Crocuses are especially lovely, in my opinion." He shrugged. "The florist is used to odd requests from me. I’m sure I could get a bouquet for your Donnic."
Aveline nodded, taking a deep breath. "Flowers. Very well. That’s simple enough. And you’ll deliver them so you can tell me his reaction?"
Fenris looked a little less than entirely pleased with the idea, but he so rarely did. Besides which, he was convinced this was all some unusual human bonding ritual, and Aveline was fucking it up, anyway. Which made him wonder how the goat had worked so well for him. Perhaps she was only incompetent in her own relationships. He’d heard of people like that. He’d seen an apprentice make that sort of mistake — didn’t live much longer, but Fenris assumed Kirkwall was a bit more forgiving. It would have to be, with the amount of fools and drunkards.
Donnic was folding his laundry when one of the Hawkes walked in. He recognised the man from that hideous ambush the brothers had rescued him from. "Serah Hawke! It’s been some time. You’re here in Hightown, now, right? The captain mentioned a change in your fortunes. I see your uncle now and then on my patrols, but we don’t talk."
"I wouldn’t talk to him either," Artemis said with a nervous smile. He hid the flowers from Aveline behind his back for the moment. "No ill effects from that ambush, I hope?"
Donnic shrugged, folding a set of trousers over his arm. "They got me pretty good, I’ll admit, but they fared worse, so I can’t complain."
"Oh, I’m sure you can complain a little," Artie teased. Donnic’s polite smile turned to one of confusion as he finally noticed the awkward way Artemis was holding himself. "Anyway, I was told to give you something. I suspect you’ll enjoy it." He hoped. Honestly, he had no idea.
Artemis brought the bouquet out from behind his back and presented it to Donnic with a beaming smile.
Donnic stared. After a bit, he blinked, and then kept staring, lips pursed and eyes wide with confusion. ‘Told to give you something’, at least that meant this wasn’t a direct flirtation, not that Serah Hawke wasn’t a handsome man, but men weren’t really his thing. "Told… to give this to me? Flowers? Is there some meaning to this that I should know? Other than the obvious — that someone thought I was worth the cost of a bouquet. Is this thanks for something?"
He took the flowers and studied them, looking for a card or some sort of indication of who had sent them. "How did you end up delivering flowers? Seems a bit of a low calling for a hero like yourself."
"Hero, am I?" Artemis said, even as he floundered for an answer. "I like the sound of that. In any case, I was sworn to secrecy I’m afraid. I was rather hoping you’d know what to do with them."
"Ah. I see." Donnic turned the flowers over in his hand, and the silence that followed was awkward. "Right. Thank you, Serah Hawke. I think. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to…" He gestured at his laundry.
"Of course. Right. Enjoy the flowers."
Well. That had been pointless. But, Aveline’s office was only a few doors down the hall.
She was elbows-deep in paperwork, cursing a variety of people and their gods, as she scrawled notes and crammed reports into drawers. Captain of the guard had sounded great on paper, but that had been before she met the paper involved. A shadow fell across her desk and she looked up. "Artie! Did you—" Her voice dropped to nearly a whisper. "What did he say? How did he react?"
"With great confusion, that’s how he reacted," Artemis sighed, fingers twisting in his hair. Aveline’s face fell. "Well, on the bright side, at least we know he wasn’t expecting flowers from anyone. There is no flower-giving person in his life, which means there’s a vacancy you could fill."
"I should have gone with the copper," Aveline sighed. "Maybe the marigolds would have been appropriate after all."
"You could always try some sexy underwear."
Aveline’s eyes nearly crossed. "Get out of my office." She pointed to the door. "And Artemis? Thank you."