[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 111
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Aveline ♀, Fenris ♂, Isabela ♀, Merrill ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Isabela has opinions, don’t pour pee on people Fenris, ass-pirates and swording jokes
Notes: Isabela has a problem, and Anton’s determined to solve it, even if it means invoking Aveline’s displeasure.
A lovely afternoon, and Anton had spent a good part of it under Cullen’s desk. It had started as a bit of a joke that got a bit out of hand, and then there really hadn’t been a convenient way out, once those other templars came in with their weekly report about apostates down by the docks. So, he’d just kept going, while Cullen tried his very best not to give him away. Kicked him a couple of times, too, which was completely worth it. A lovely afternoon.
At least until he got into the house. The sound of voices reached him as soon as he opened the door. Aveline and Isabela arguing about something. Bethany leaned in the hallway leading into the main hall, eating from a bowl of spice drops.
"My bets are on Aveline, if only for the armour," Bethany said, offering the bowl to Anton.
"Don’t underestimate the rogue. That armour’s very, very slow." Anton grinned and actually started listening.
"This is important," Aveline said, cheeks flushed from arguing. "Don’t interrupt with your selfish prattle!"
"Get off your high horse," Isabela snapped. "I have problems, too!"
Anton took a few spice drops, popping them into his mouth one at a time.
Aveline scoffed, getting into Isabela’s face. "‘What drink should I order?’ and ‘Who’s the father?'"
Isabela’s face twisted in a snarl. "Oh, you little…" She raised a hand, and Anton decided it was time to intervene. He distracted Izzy by bouncing a spice drop off her head.
"Ladies, please!" he said. "If there’s going to be a proper fight, how about we move this somewhere else? Preferably somewhere with better seating?"
"Anton, the Arishok is sheltering two fugitives who have ‘converted’ to the Qun," Aveline began, and Anton could hear the quote marks around ‘converted’. "He must be convinced to release them. He’s already feared, because of Petrice. If people think he can just ignore the law… I need your help so this doesn’t get out of hand."
Anton opened his mouth to suggest perhaps Artemis or Bethany — not that he couldn’t do politics, but in his line of work, maintaining too open an association with the guard wasn’t particularly profitable — but Isabela cut him off.
"I’m going to die!" she announced.
Anton held up his hands. "I heard ‘Arishok’ and ‘die’. What’s the problem? You probably don’t really want me, Aveline. It just wouldn’t look good, this time."
"Remember the relic?" Isabela asked, speaking quickly. "The one Castillon is going to kill me over? A man called Wall-Eyed Sam has it. If you help me get it, Castillon won’t kill me. Please."
"I’m trying to keep the entire city from rioting against the Qunari!" Aveline sounded annoyed, frustrated.
Anton pointed to Bethany. "Take Bethy with you, Aveline. Stop and get Artie. I’d suggest Fenris, but if I’m dealing with this thing for Isabela, I need a sword at my back. I’m really not the one you want, right now. They’re the polite ones. They’re the ones who can afford to be seen upholding the law."
"I’m just going to ignore all the implications of that, and very politely not arrest you right here and now, Anton." Aveline was furious and looked like she might take that back at any second.
"Thank you. I’d hate to see what would become of us both, after that." Anton bowed and gestured to his sister again, turning to look at her. "Negotiating with the Qunari. You in?"
"And here I thought there’d be nothing to do, while I waited for those books to come in!" Bethany smiled and patted Aveline’s shoulder, as she headed past, toward the stairs. "Let me just change into something more suitable for political manoeuvring."
"I’ll wait for you in the library," Aveline replied, her glare pinning Anton in place. She left the room, her shoulders a stiff line under her armour.
"Thank you," Isabela said, sounding relieved but her eyes still just this side of too wide.
"I take it you already have a plan?" Anton asked. This was Isabela, after all. She always had an escape route.
"Sam is planning to sell the book tonight," she answered, nodding. "The exchange is happening in a Lowtown foundry."
Anton managed not to wince at that. The Foundry District. He hadn’t been there since Mum had…
"Right. Best get Broody and… how about Daisy?" Probably a dangerous combination, but no more dangerous than pairing Broody with any of their resident ‘sparklefingers’.
"Oh, Merrill’s always fun! Almost as fun as your sister, now that Carver’s away, most of the time." Isabela wiggled her fingers and smiled.
"Izzy, no. Don’t… Cormac’s bad enough. I don’t need to hear about Bethy from you." Anton shook his head and glanced around. "Two questions. Do I have time for a sandwich? And how’d you finally find out about the thing?"
"Yes to the sandwich, but only if you make one for me." Isabela grinned and draped her arm around his shoulders, walking with him to the kitchen. "And this poor, unassuming idiot has been in touch with all his black market contacts. It didn’t take me long to hear that he was selling what I wanted."
"Do you know who the buyers are?" Anton asked. "I’m assuming you didn’t bother to make an offer…"
"An offer! Now why would I do that?" Isabela grinned and hiked herself up onto one of the countertops, to watch Anton make food. "The buyers are Tevinter mages. I don’t think they’ll take kindly to us interrupting. But, we’re bringing Broody, and if there’s one thing he’s good at it’s killing Tevinter mages."
"And this Sam… Martin’s man Sam? The scrounger? Rustles tables at the Hanged Man?" Anton asked, piling things onto slabs of bread.
"Aye, that’s the one." Isabela nodded. "Ooh, more peppers on mine."
Anton looked amused as he loaded one sandwich down with peppers. "And we’re sure this is the right artefact, this time?"
"I’ve had my ear to the ground for a while. There was a description of the book. It’s the right one." Isabela nodded and snagged a spare slice of leftover roast.
"Book? Thought you didn’t know what it was. Playing your cards close again, I see. Must be some posh book, for all that." Anton laughed and handed a plate to Isabela.
"Well, I know it’s a book, but it’s in a foreign language. Didn’t look like Orlesian, so it’s all Tevene to me." Isabela shrugged and took a bite of the sandwich. "Mmmf. Still regret letting you win. Could have done with a decent cook." She held up a finger until she finished chewing. "But, really, why’s it important what the thing is? If I give it to Castillon, he won’t kill me."
"Fair enough," Anton said, shrugging as he took a bit of his sandwich. He knew better than to be insulted. People like Isabela, like him, never showed their whole hand, even to the people closest to them. Especially to the people closest to them. "Maker knows you’re more entertaining than any book."
Isabela smirked around her next bite. "That’s what I keep trying to tell Bethy," she said, words distorted by meat and bread.
"Oh, ew, see? No. We just talked about this, Izzy. Keep it up, and I’m taking away your sandwich privileges."
Isabela made a disapproving sound in the back of her throat and angled her sandwich away, in case Anton made a grab for it. "It was a perfectly innocent statement," she sniffed.
"There is nothing innocent about you or your statements."
Izzy stuck out her tongue and took a mammoth bite of her sandwich. Anton smirked, and they chewed in companionable silence.
"So," he asked, "how do you think he got the name ‘Wall-Eyed Sam’, anyway?"
"Probably because of his amazing peripheral vision. You don’t play cards with him, do you?" Isabela laughed and slid down off the counter. "Let’s go get Broody, before he wanders off to do something more interesting, like yell at the wine merchants again. You know he actually caught a guy passing off a recent Antivan vintage as something rare and Orlesian, the other week? I thought he was going to rip the merchant apart. And here I thought he just guzzled swill…"
"Nah, that’s you, Izzy. You’re the swill-guzzler around here. Has money not changed your tastes at all?" Anton teased, counting knives as he headed for the front door.
"Sure it has! But, only when I’m sober enough to appreciate what I’m drinking. After that, it’s back to swill." Isabela whipped the door open, and gestured out. "It’s a sound money-management strategy."
Isabela still teased Anton when he insisted they stop at the bakery, because Fenris would need to be bribed. He suspected they could do it without the bribe, but the few silver spent on tarts meant it would be an easier task. Isabela bought herself something ridiculous and probably made of marchpane, eating the little fruit-shaped pastries, as they crossed Hightown.
"I think this is supposed to be a peach," she said, holding one up. "But, maybe it’s an offering meant in praise of the Hawke ass."
Anton looked disturbed for as long as it took him to open his mouth, and then it passed. "Izzy, that’s horrific. There is not ass-pastry. There will not be ass-pastry."
Isabela burst into a bawdy song about bawds’ bottoms, and it continued right up to Fenris’s door. Anton knocked.
Orana opened the door, stare lingering on a still-singing Isabela before turning to Anton. "Ah. Messere Anton," she said. "If you’re looking for your brother, he’s—" She noticed the box of pastries in his hand, and her expression smoothed over in realisation. "Ah. Apple tarts?"
Before Anton could answer, the window above their heads snapped open, and a familiar head of white hair and twitching ears leaned out to glare at them. "Isabela," Fenris called down, "if you don’t stop singing on my doorstep, I will empty the chamberpot on your head."
"Please don’t," Anton called back, craning his head back.
"Why?" Fenris said. "Because you don’t want to get pee on you? You’re one to talk!"
Orana still stood awkwardly in the doorway, but with the door angled so that she could close it in the case of a chamberpot-related emergency.
"Because it would be a waste of apple tarts!" Anton insisted. "See?" He held up the box of pastries and smiled sweetly.
"You have come to my door with a singing pirate and a box of tarts. Since Artemis has already gone to see the Arishok without you, I will assume this is not Qunari-related," Fenris deduced. "What, exactly, do you want with me?"
"Adventure! A compelling story! Rescuing a lovely maiden from a dreadful villain!" Anton pressed his free hand over his heart. "And you get to stab some Tevinter mages."
Fenris turned this over in his head, for a few seconds, looking one way and then the other, contemplatively. "I’ll be down in five minutes and all dozen tarts had better be in that box."
"By your will!" Anton called out, but the window had already slammed shut.
A few minutes later, they were heading for the bridge, Fenris with his mouth full of tart, the box in one hand. "So, what, exactly, are we doing? You said something about stabbing Tevinter mages?"
"It’s a long story. The short version is they’re trying to buy something that was stolen from me, and I need it to save my life," Isabela explained.
Fenris eyed her, sideways, as he pulled another tart out of the box, without opening it. "Stole it from you. After you stole it from someone else, I presume?"
"Well, of course!" Isabela laughed and yanked a sliver of apple out of the tart, while Fenris chewed his first bite of it. "It’s not like anything I came to rightly would cause that kind of a stir!"
Fenris heaved a sigh through his nose, mouth still full of tart. He waited until he’d swallowed his bite before asking, "Am I allowed to know what this stolen stolen object is?"
Isabela reached for a tart, but Fenris held the box away, a growl starting in his throat. "Just some book," she said.
"A book." Fenris arched an eyebrow at her. "You, Captain Isabela, Queen of the Seas, risking your life for a book? Will wonders never cease."
"Technically the book is risking my life," she huffed. "But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you won’t share your tarts."
They took a turn, passing the Hanged Man, and Fenris realised they were heading for the Alienage, which distracted him long enough for Isabela to snag a tart. "Why are we going this way?" Fenris asked, cutting a look to Anton.
"We need a mage," Anton replied.
"We don’t need a blood mage," Fenris growled, left ear twitching. "We have other mages. I am marrying one of those other mages. Why do we need this mage?"
"Would you prefer Anders?" Anton shot back, shrugging.
"I might," Fenris growled. "At least Anders can heal. What about Cormac?" And that was almost as absurd as agreeing to Anders, but at least Cormac wasn’t a blood mage.
Isabela blinked, turning her head to look Fenris up and down. "Well, well… That’s an unexpected turn. Has Artie convinced you of the pleasures of sparklefingered mages, in the bedroom? Have you been introduced to the talents of another mage?"
Fenris’s ears twitched. "I have enough mages in my bedroom, with just Artemis."
"Cormac and Anders are busy, anyway," Anton pointed out. "Something about a ship hitting a reef, up the coast a bit. They went tearing out at some unholy dark hour. The shouting up and down the stairs woke me."
"Your… brother has gone out as a healer?" Fenris looked completely confused at that idea.
Anton shrugged again. "No matter what Anders has to say about it, Cormac’s not completely useless. I’d have a lot more scars, if he were."
Isabela darted ahead to knock at Merrill’s door. "Come out, come out, my daisy of the Dales! We’ve got adventure!"
After a minute, Merrill poked her head around the door. "Adventure? What sort of adventure? The kind where I need my staff or the kind where someone ends up with underwear on their head?"
"The first one," Fenris said, glaring at Isabela before she could say something. He crossed his arms. "I hope."
"The first one," Anton agreed. "At least to start."
"Oh, Anton!" Merrill waved at him, bouncing on the balls of her feet. "You just missed your brother. Have you seen him in his templar armour? He looks so handsome in his templar armour!"
"I bet he looks better out of his templar armour," Isabela purred. "And it sounds like you’ve been having the second kind of adventure already!"
"Izzy. No." Anton’s face twisted in a grimace. "What I said earlier about Bethany? That applies to Carver as well."
"You are just no fun any more, Anton!" Isabela sighed, reaching out to pinch Anton’s bottom. He stepped aside in such a way that Fenris ended up where he had been.
"What!?" Fenris had been too busy glaring at the elves and muttering about blood magic, to notice what was happening, until it was too late. "Kindly remove your fingers from my ass, pirate."
"You don’t have an ass-pirate, Fenris," Anton laughed. "Unless you’re complaining that someone else is groping Izzy. Izzy’s definitely an ass-pirate. Pirates asses all the time."
"There’s been an awful lot of plundering booty, in my recent past," Isabela agreed, "and I’d be happy to add your pillowy posterior to my list."
"No. There will be no plundering of my booty," Fenris grumbled, ears jutting asymmetrically, as he slapped Isabela’s hand away.
Merrill, meanwhile, had found her staff and packed a bag with potions and useful things. "Oh!" she said, noticing Isabela’s hand, as it darted away from Fenris. "Fenris, are you letting people touch you, now? I’ve thought for a long time you’d be better for a few hugs from your friends." She wrapped her arms around him, for a quick squeeze, patting him on the back, as she let go. "It’s so good to see you getting more comfortable with us!"
Fenris held his shoulders rigid, arms pressed to his sides for a few seconds after the hug ended. "Hug me again, blood mage, and there will be more touching," Fenris grit out. "The kind where my hand is wrapped around one of your vital organs."
"Oh, never mind Ser Grumpy-pants, Daisy," Isabela said, wrapping an arm around Merrill’s shoulders. "Threats are how he shows affection! Plus, you can hug me whenever you like."
"After what I saw at the party with you and Artie," Anton said, face looking pained again, "I’m not so sure that was a threat."
"It was a threat!" Fenris insisted, eyes a touch wide. "Definitely a threat!" He shoved a tart whole into his mouth to keep himself from sputtering. His cheeks bulged ridiculously as he tried to chew.
"Right," Anton sighed. "Foundry District? Before our resident sworder chokes on pastry?"
"Is he very good at swording?" Merrill asked, with a sly look at Isabela. "I might have to ask Artie."
"Too late!" Isabela declared, as Fenris coughed into his hand, trying not to spit pastry into the street.
"Foundry," Fenris croaked. "Going."