[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 102
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂, Isabela ♀, Varric ♂
Rating: T (L2 N1 S1 V0 D1)
Warnings: Corsetry, chest hair, knob jokes
Notes: Cullen is not entirely comfortable in this corset. The Hawkes, however, are undisturbed.
Buckles. Buckles shouldn't have been difficult, Cullen knew, but they were corset buckles, and his hands were shaking. This was just… He couldn't be doing this. It wasn't possible. Of all the things Anton had talked him into, this was definitely close to the top of the list for 'regrettable', and he wasn't even all the way into the thing, yet. It was just as Anton and Fran had decided — clean, straight lines, with something resembling the Chantry's sunburst, in the middle of his chest. Like some prostitute dressed as a sister. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, before he reached for another buckle. Which he couldn't close, because Anton's hand was in the way.
"Anton, I can't close that, with you groping my side," he complained, not even trying any more, arms hanging loose at his sides. Maybe if he dragged his feet enough, Anton would let him have a shirt. Or pants.
"So don't close it, just yet," Anton purred into Cullen's ear. "Just let me enjoy you for a little bit. Give me a kiss. You know I love it when you're half-dressed."
"I'm trying to get completely dressed, because people are going to start showing up in … less than an hour, definitely. Probably in the next few minutes!" Cullen reached behind him with both hands and grabbed Anton's ass. "So, please. Stop groping me, and help me get this thing on."
"Well, I wouldn't want you to end up completely dressed, when we head downstairs…" Anton tugged at the nearly floor-length, heavy skirt, with its gradient and its own half sunburst. "You're not wearing smalls, are you? Because wearing smalls would make it a great deal more difficult to drag you into a closet for a good time, and be back before anyone notices."
"Anton," Cullen scolded, and really that stern look was having the opposite effect on Anton. "I'm not going out there with just this one piece of fabric between the world and my… weaponry. I'm sure you can manoeuvre around a set of smalls. You've manoeuvred around buildings — and stairs — for less."
"For the same, you mean," Anton corrected. "Different location, same… activity."
Cullen huffed and tried not to smile at that. "Still. We're going to be stuck in this location unless you give me a hand. With the outfit. The outfit, Anton." He smacked the offending hand away, but Anton looked anything but remorseful. "Buckles. It'll be easier from your angle."
"Whatever you say, Captain," Anton said, leaning in to purr the words in Cullen's ear. The buckle Cullen had been fiddling with snapped closed.
The rest of the buckles closed with a bit more of Anton's hands wandering between each one and the next, and finally Anton pulled Cullen around to face the long mirror, mounted on the wall. He'd been the only one of his brothers vain enough to get a full-length.
"Look." Anton held Cullen's hands, for a moment, standing in front of him. "Just look at yourself," Anton breathed, pressing kisses to Cullen's knuckles, before he let go and stepped aside.
It was powerful, Cullen thought — would have been powerful on Meredith, maybe, but as his eyes rose far enough to take in his own face, he just couldn't keep looking. The flush raced out from his cheeks, to his hairline and down into the top of the corset. "It would be amazing on someone else," he insisted.
"Put on your sword, you'll feel better," Anton suggested.
"No, then I'll just feel like twice the fool. Anton, are you really sure about this? It's not…" Cullen gesticulated helplessly, unable to find the words he meant.
"Just tonight," Anton promised. "Just wear it for me, for one night. You'll get used to it. You're wearing more than a lot of people will be. You're wearing more than I am!"
"That's not really saying much," Cullen said, eyeing Anton's exposed chest longer than necessary. "But…" Cullen squeezed his eyes shut, shoulders heaving in a great sigh. They'd already bought the infernal thing, hadn't they? And he assumed it was just as much a pain to take off as to put on. Cullen opened his eyes again, saw the pleading slant of Anton's eyebrows. "For you, yes. All right."
Anton's grin threatened to split his face, and Cullen wasn't sure if that made the situation more or less unnerving.
Cullen held up one finger. "For a few hours," he said, again in that stern voice. "If I'm still uncomfortable after a few hours, I am changing." He looked at Anton like he meant it, like Anton couldn't talk him out of that too. They both knew better.
Anton clicked his teeth in front of that finger. "Yes, ser," he purred. "Shall we?"
Cullen sighed again, but gestured toward the door. He followed Anton out to the stairs, to the mostly-open hall below, now set with tables of wine and finger-foods. And… there were already people. People he knew. That was Varric. Yes, he knew Cormac and Isabela, but Cormac's opinion had a way of not properly mattering to much of anyone, except Anders, as far as he could tell, and Isabela would flirt with anything with two legs and a heartbeat. Varric, though… Varric was a writer. And the Merchant's Guild representative of House Tethras. Practically a proper noble, or at least as close as a dwarf was likely to come, on the surface. Not that the Hawkes weren't a noble family, but… They were the Hawkes. One expected a certain disregard for propriety and good sense, from the Hawkes, particularly his own Hawke, he'd noticed.
"I don't know how he intends to get that thing on, without help. Actually, I think I do know, and I'm doubly sad he won't let me help, now." Cormac laughed, pouring himself a drink. The heavy, articulated — Cullen thought it was a shawl, until it clinked, but that was actual gold and some sort of stone, draped over Cormac's shoulders and upper back. Probably his chest, too. It looked incredibly heavy, like the matching red and gold bracers. "He's behind me, isn't he…" Cormac muttered, as Isabela stared over his shoulder.
"He's not, but we are!" Anton gestured broadly, midway down the stairs, Cullen still following behind him.
Isabela all but squealed when she saw them. Cullen walked a little closer to Anton and fought the urge to hide behind him. Anton was a reasonable height, but certainly not tall or wide enough to block a corseted templar from view. "Well, look at you!" Izzy cooed, taking the opportunity to let her stare linger on each of them. It was an opportunity she often took, whenever she could. "Oh, Captain." She touched one of his bare arms. "Showing off your nice shoulders, I see."
Cullen fought the urge to duck his head and powered through the blushing. "Isabela," he said. "Showing off your nice…" His eyes were drawn to her cleavage, which was as well-displayed as ever. "…wit, I see." He realised that she was wearing the same style she usually did. He supposed that seemed about right.
"Oh, you know I'm always displaying my 'wit'," Isabela countered.
Cullen cleared his throat and sought out safer waters in the shape of Varric Tethras. Well. He hoped they were safer waters, anyway. They were certainly tightly-cinched, corseted waters. "Hello, Varric."
"Looking good, Curly. Wasn't sure Anton was going to get you dressed up, but here you are, and that is…" Varric shook his head and slipped a few coins to Isabela. "Wow. You've managed to maintain the dignity of your office, while wearing something that is very, very little like your usual platemail. I'm impressed. This is really your first time in a corset?"
"Probably also my last," Cullen grumbled, rubbing his arm, self-consciously.
"Nah, nah. It's a good look. Not something to do all the time, but in a room full of people in corsets? You'll command just as much respect as usual."
"And I will command twice as much respect, if only because I managed to dress myself," Anders remarked, coming into the room with a cat perched in the pewter crown that topped his blue and silver outfit. A Nevarran style, but more subtle than Cormac's choices. The top of his corset led up into a studded chestpiece and buckled collar, remarkably similar to Warden armour — not an inch of chest showed.
Isabela whistled. "I needed that surprise! Still think you could be showing a little more leg! What do you need greaves for, it's a party!"
"I need greaves, my dear Pirate Queen, because I don't want to gross out half the guests. You've seen my legs since I left Amaranthine, haven't you?" Anders had a terrible scar that wound up from his ankle to where a broodmother had almost removed his intestines. Normally, he'd brag about it, but he tended to keep it covered around people who might not be expecting it.
Staring. Cullen was staring. He really should not be staring, at least not at Anders. Anders was a mage. And a Warden. Those were mage-Warden legs he was ogling, if more demurely clad than Anton's. Maker. Cullen was used to that mage dressing himself in layers upon layers of cloth and feathers. The dress had been a hint, but he hadn't been prepared for this.
"Fran works wonders, doesn't she?" Anton said, and Cullen jumped. He turned to see Anton wearing that damnable smirk that said he knew exactly what the captain was thinking.
"I… yes. She's certainly… skilled. In her area. Her area being corsetry. Maker." He was red. He knew it. He could feel the heat rising off his cheeks.
Anders studied Cullen for a moment. "Does everyone have better shoulders than me, tonight? Andraste's tits afire, I knew I should have worn the feathers." He huffed and tried to hide behind Cormac, which might have worked, if he were a foot shorter.
"I like your shoulders just fine, Sparklefingers. You're looking a little narrow, since Denerim, but it doesn't look bad on you. Makes some parts of you that aren't your shoulders look even bigger." Isabela grinned and poured herself another glass of cordial.
"Yes, like my feet," Anders drawled, refusing to rise to the bait.
Cormac slipped a hand behind himself and clacked his fingers against the extremely solid, decorative plate that hung from the silver gryphon at Anders's hips. "I think Varric's got the best shoulders in the room, but he's also cheating, because he's a dwarf. Man's enough to make me feel wispy."
"The day you're wispy, Shouty, is the day I'm two feet taller." Varric shook his head and laughed.
"Oh, but Varric," Isabela said, "there's already plenty of you to go around." She draped her arms around his shoulders, chin resting on his head. She looked in the direction of the door, and her eyes bugged. "Oh ho, it looks like Broody's decided to join us." She patted Varric's shoulder and straightened again. "And so has Artemis. Oh my." Izzy grinned around her thumbnail.
"Hello," Fenris rumbled, giving an awkward wave from the doorway. He was dressed in a scanty echo of his usual armour, all spikes and leather and brooding stare. They were familiar, by now, with the shape of Fenris's legs, but not with the shape his waist was currently in.
"That… doesn't seem physically possible," Anders said, leaning in towards Cormac. "To be that tight, it looks… in fact physically painful." He was a bit envious, he had to admit. Then he saw the gold chain in Fenris's hand and what that chain was attached to and stopped talking altogether.
Artemis followed Fenris, giving his own awkward wave, his smile sheepish but also a little pleased. He was in a red Antivan number with flowing skirts and strappy sandals that went up his thighs. But everyone's attention went to the collar around his neck and the golden chain attached to it.
Cormac applauded. "Blessed art the Maker! You've found a way to let my brother get as drunk as he wants without making an ass of himself — or anything else involving asses, his or anyone else's — with half the party! And, may I say, you look smashing, Artie." His eyes lingered much too long on his brother, but this was, as far as anyone else knew, the first time he'd seen Artie in a corset. Well, as far as anyone who shouldn't know knew.
"The Maker had nothing to do with it, but you're welcome to thank Danarius, before I slit his throat." Fenris smiled in a way that made it difficult to tell if that was supposed to be humorous.
"A ma—" Anders stopped in the middle of the word and cleared his throat. "A marvellously ingenious idea, Fenris, even if I will be on the regretful side of the room." 'A mage on a leash,' he'd meant to say, 'what a politically-charged statement, for a frivolous event like this.' It would start a fight, he was sure, but fighting with Fenris was one of those things that made life more amusing. Just… not in front of the templar.
Isabela was busy circling the two, checking out the cut of Artie's skirt. "That is very nice. Fran make that for you? Now, I want one…"
Cormac glanced back at Anton, finally noticing something. "Is that the same pattern as mine?" He looked down at his own nearly floor-length black loincloth, with its red embroidery, and then back at Anton's four-panel skirt. "You're wearing the exact same thing, but in the full cut! I thought you were going for the flame-dyed short loincloth! Damn it, Anton!"
"I wanted my templar to be more comfortable wearing a little more than the rest of us, so I got something that shows a little less of my ass." Anton shrugged and wrapped an arm around Cullen, leading him closer to one of the tables, so he could get them both glasses of cordial. Cordial first, he thought, and then that Orlesian fruit wine, to keep the buzz. Cullen was not allowed to get as drunk as the last time he drank cordial, tonight.
Cullen wrapped his fingers around the glass pressed into his hand. Drink. Yes. That was a delightful idea. "Thank you," he told Anton absently before taking a drink. The party barely started, and already there was so much skin on display in the room. He could feel eyes looking him over, but in a curious — not ridiculing — way.
"You looked like you could use it." Anton saluted him with his own drink. "You should see how incredible you look from this angle. Or any angle, really."
"That's usually my line," Cullen said with a weak smile. "Except generally with a… great deal more stumbling and less charm."
Anton patted him on the back. "The stumbling is part of the charm, you know." He offered Cullen a wink and a smirk just to watch his cheeks flame red again.
Nearby, Artemis had an arm around Cormac's shoulders and an elbow on Varric's shoulder. He looked back and forth between the two of them. To Varric's quizzical look, he said, "Now we can know for sure. Who has the most… er, impressive chest hair. You or my brother?"
"He does." Cormac pointed to Varric.
"I do," Varric agreed.
"I'd argue that," Anders said, returning with a glass of something questionable, "but Cormac's been a little less fluffy, since he shaved his chest."
"You shaved your chest?" Varric looked completely scandalised.
"He started it!" Cormac pointed at Anders, outraged, and then his face softened. "No, I know. I knew it then, too. Some asshole magister started it, I just had to finish it. I couldn't walk around with only half my chest hair. It was ridiculous."
"Speaking of ridiculous, why'd you grow back the stupid beard?" Varric asked. "That's gotta give you more trouble than it's worth…"
"My beard is not stupid. It is a remarkably elegant beard, in a style popular across Thedas." Cormac sniffed and crossed his arms over his chest. "And it is worth every second of distraction."
"Because he looks sixteen without it," Anders threw in, laughingly dodging Cormac's attempts to pinch him.
"Artie, come here and look younger than me!" Cormac demanded, finally landing a sharp tweak on Anders's thigh.
Artemis tugged at Cormac's beard. "If by that you mean 'look prettier', I already have that handled." Pretty or not, Cormac was certainly something in that corset. Artemis found him attractive in anything — or nothing — but he never thought corsets could be Cormac's thing. This was a pleasant surprise, and Maker bless Fran for it.
A tug on the chain and a raised eyebrow from Fenris said he was starting to stare too long. Artie cleared his throat and extricated himself from brother and dwarf. "Well, then, my fine, furry friends," he said. "If you excuse me, Anton appears to be serving some lovely cordial over there. While I am over here. I will now go… over there." He pointed in that direction in case it wasn't already clear. Fenris followed, gold chain in hand.
"Cordial," Fenris remarked as approached the drink table. "Do you remember the last time you had cordial?"
Artemis thought for a moment, glass halfway to his lips. "No?"
Fenris gave him a meaningful look. "Exactly."