[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 104
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Anders ♂, Aveline ♀, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S2 V0 D1)
Warnings: Unfortunate implications, heart-fondling, ANTON STOP PEEING ON THINGS
Notes: Aveline gets her toenails painted. Artemis avoids getting squished by a golem, for all the wrong reasons.
Back out in the garden, it turned out, giving Sigrun and Aveline and impromptu tour.
"So you’re telling me," said Sigrun, "that all the flowers in here mean ‘bone me’?" That set the dwarf into another gale of laughter. "You’re making it up!"
"I am not!" Anders insisted through a laugh of his own. He gestured them closer to a few plants. "Like here, look. This one is coriander." He pointed out a cluster of white petals. "Which means ‘lust’. And then over here these orange roses…"
"Not to mention the lime tree," Aveline said. "Even I know that one."
"The… lime tree…" Sigrun squinted across the garden and then up at Aveline.
"Look, just ask Nate, if you don’t believe us," Anders said, with a huff, crossing his arms and looking away, in mock offence. "It’s a noble thing. He’ll know."
"I don’t think Nate and plants really get along," Sigrun snickered. "I mean, not after Velanna—"
"Was that Velanna? Was it? Augh! He kept blaming me! Rashvine in his sheets, nettle in his boots, purple spots all over his face…" Anders laughed and shook his head. "I guess I was the obvious choice. I did keep all those things on hand, but for making potions, not … torturing idiot noblemen in the midst of personal crises. I had other tools for that."
"I know. We all know. I think most of Amaranthine knows." Sigrun leaned on a statue, cackling madly. "It’s why I got you that thing. So he’d shut up!"
"A ball gag might have been more effective." Anders shrugged and looked around the garden. "I think … I think I’m growing everything she used for that, right here. Andraste’s ass, I’m lucky he didn’t come with you. He’d have been sure it was me, after this."
"How long did it take him to get those spots off?" Sigrun cackled.
"Did this Warden have a habit of not washing?" Aveline asked, confused at what had been used to make the spots in question.
"Oh no, he washed," Anders told her. "He was a bit fussy about it, actually. But no, see, these berries stained. Velanna didn’t mess around."
"You don’t know the half of it," Sigrun said. "She was an artist with those berries. You know how her nails always looked ridiculously perfect? Berry-stained."
"Now you’re lying," Aveline huffed. "You can’t stain nails with berries. It would wipe off!"
"She always told me they were stained with the blood of her enemies," Anders said. "Meaning humans, really." Anders tilted his head and took a moment to consider this. "I actually kind of believed her. But the berries. That makes more sense, though a part of me is disappointed."
"You would… rather she paint her nails with human blood?" Sigrun asked, nose scrunching.
"Seems about as plausible as berries," Aveline said.
Sigrun straightened, tilted her chin up. "Do you want me to prove it? I’ll prove it. We’ve got the berries right here."
"Well, I can’t walk around with my nails half-stained! I’m the captain of the guard!" Aveline protested.
"You do have toenails," Anders pointed out. "It would work just as well, but nobody would see them."
Donnic would see them, Aveline thought, but that was something she wasn’t going to discuss with Anders. "Fine. Prove it. With my toenails." Aveline tipped her chin up in a challenge.
Minutes later, they sat around one of the tables closer to the house. A small dish, nicked from under some food item and rinsed of its sauce, sat in front of Anders, and he crushed berries in it, with a small rock. Sigrun convinced some grass heads into a shape they’d hold fluid without getting it on everything.
"This would be easier with a brush," Anders muttered, choking as Aveline dropped her heels into his lap, unexpectedly.
"Oh, don’t worry about it, Anders. You’re a miracle worker," Sigrun reassured him. "After that time when Oghren—"
"No! No stories about Oghren that have me in them. I don’t want to remember any of those. Do you know how much whiskey I put into not remembering those?" Anders shook his head. "Especially if they involve miracles. I’m sure it’s a miracle I didn’t drown in a sea of dwarven beer vomit."
"It’s a miracle we all didn’t," Sigrun replied, her smile managing to look both cheery and disgusted. "Just thank Solona that he didn’t come to this."
Anders was assailed with the mental image of Oghren in a corset and had to take a moment to recover. "I will send her a fruit basket for just that reason."
He muttered at Aveline to hold her feet still as he set to work on her nails, moving painstakingly slowly. Over by the lime trees, the goat brayed to let them know he was hungry, and the sound startled Anders enough to make him twitch. He cursed at the smear of berry juice across his fingertips.
"That’s a goat," said Sigrun, looking over at Goatilda’s pen.
"Two of the Hawkes are getting married," Aveline explained. "There should be two goats, but Anton’s too cheap to buy his own, so he borrowed his brother’s."
"Anton… the Anton throwing this party?" Sigrun blinked in disbelief, looking from the goat to the house. "He doesn’t seem particularly cheap."
"It’s just because he’s throwing a party. He never parties cheaply. But, gifts?" Aveline sighed and leaned back in her chair, covering her face with both hands. "If he gives you a gift, he probably stole it. Not because he can’t afford one, but just because he’s like that."
Anders shrugged at Sigrun. "You know, when Fenris first sent that goat, nobody thought it was him. Cormac thought it was me, pranking him. Getting back at him for some … pointed floral commentary."
"Wait, wait. So, the goat is for getting married, and you thought he got you one for a joke? Who does that?" Sigrun stared for a few seconds and then started laughing. "It’s really just you, isn’t it? All the unbelievably weird things happen to you. And Nate. Nate happened to you."
"Nate is unbelievably weird, and don’t believe any evidence to the contrary. I assure you it’s all fabricated with the intent of sprucing up the family name. He’s gloriously deranged." Anders rubbed his eye with the back of his wrist, and uttered a sharp laugh. "And in answer to the first question, you really need to meet Cormac. I think I have a type."
"A type?" Aveline drawled. "Are you saying there’s someone out there like Cormac? Maker preserve us."
"I don’t think there’s anyone out there quite like Cormac," Anders said, grinning over her toes. "He is already more than Thedas can handle. But there are some… similarities between him and Nate."
Anders sat back to admire his handiwork so far. Not as neat as Velanna but not terrible. There was a bit of a spillover on the third toe of her left foot, but hopefully Aveline wouldn’t notice.
"And suddenly, I don’t want to know," Sigrun said. "Nope."
"Well, there are differences, too. He’s not afraid of spiders, for one." The corner of Anders’s mouth twitched, as he tried to clean up after their spontaneous pedicure party, without spilling berry juice on anything important. "But, I think he might actually be louder, if you can imagine that."
Aveline studied her feet. "They’re purple. It looks like I got hit in the foot with a mallet." She licked her thumb and tried to rub off the colour, but as promised, it stayed put.
"Lalala, I can’t hear you, Anders!" Sigrun leaned over for a better look at Aveline’s toes. "It does not. If you got hit with a mallet, the edges wouldn’t be so clean. Your whole toes would be purple."
"Would you like us to prove that too?" Anders asked, earning him a punch in the arm. "Rude! I stained my fingers purple for you!"
"No, you stained your fingers purple to prove a point," Aveline said. "You’ll forgive me if I don’t feel sorry for you."
"We could always do your toenails, too," Sigrun said, comforting Anders with a pat on the back. "Steal a few more berries."
Anders looked down at his feet. "No," he sighed. "Then I suspect they would end up looking like a mallet hit them."
Sigrun exchanged a look with Aveline. "Is he insulting your technique or mine?"
"I don’t know," Aveline answered, "but either way I think we should get a few more of those berries." Grinning, Aveline and Sigrun plucked a few. Aveline brandished one as though readying to throw.
"Oh no," Anders said, shaking his head hard enough to make Purrcy squeak. "Ladies. No. Put the berries down!"
Back inside, a quiet conversation continued, behind a ficus. "I can’t stay back here all night! It’s my party! I have to get out there and be seen!"
"There is a golem on the other side of this tree, and I don’t know about you, but if I were that golem, I might still have a grudge over the events of some years past." Cullen shifted from foot to foot and peered out between the leaves.
"I was six! There’s no way it’s going to connect my face, then, with my face, now. You, on the other hand… You were a little older, weren’t you?" Anton gazed thoughtfully at Cullen.
"I didn’t leave town until I was thirteen!" Cullen hissed, eyes wide.
"And given that you still look sixteen, when you panic like that, I can see where that might be a little close for comfort." Anton laughed and leaned in to kiss Cullen.
From the other side of the leaves came the sound of throat-clearing. "Anton, if you’re going to get it on with your boyfriend, in the middle of a party, can you at least do it in a closet? Those leaves just don’t hide as much as you think they do."
"Bethany?!" Anton jumped and leaned out from around the plant. "Shh! There’s a —" He stopped talking and looked up, and up, and up. "That’s a golem."
"It is most astute," said the golem. Those four words held more sass than all the Hawkes put together. "I did not even need to hold up my ‘I’m a golem’ sign."
Anton would tease Cullen for the high-pitched whimper he made if he weren’t so terrified himself. At least the good captain was still partly hidden by the ficus.
Shale squinted at Anton, a hum rumbling in her chest. "Have we met it before? It looks strangely familiar."
"No!" Anton said a bit too quickly. He tried to smooth over his panic with what he hoped was a charming smile. "No, I do not believe I’ve had the pleasure. Meeting you would certainly be… memorable."
"Why does it look like it’s about to pee itself?" Shale’s eyes narrowed even further only to pop wide. "You." The one word came out in a growl like gravel on rock.
"Me?" Anton squeaked.
"There were two things I despised, more than any other things, those thirty years I stood in the square: pigeons and small boys, and for much the same reason. I knew its name sounded familiar! It peed on my foot!" Shale loomed, leaning forward just a bit, over Bethany.
"It doesn’t— I mean, I don’t… Did I? Where would that have happened, exactly? I don’t recall having seen you in the Deep Roads, and that’s the only place I’ve ever seen a golem. Most of them didn’t stop to chat, I’m afraid." Anton shrugged and smiled with as much confusion as he could muster.
"Honnleath." Shale’s eyes narrowed further.
"Nonsense. There were no golems in Honnleath! I think I’d have noticed!" Anton’s smile faltered, and Bethany snickered behind her fan.
"Shale tells me she was a statue, in the centre of the town. Got to hear everyone’s dirty secrets, but the pigeons were a dreadful problem." Bethany’s eyes sparkled over her fan. "I don’t remember, of course. I was just a baby. Did you pee on the golem, Anton? He does that, you know, pees on stone things that shouldn’t be peed on. You should have seen the Altar of Dumat."
That was it. Anton was going to kill his sister, provided he survived long enough to do so. "That was different," he said. "I was making a statement. A statement regarding archdemons and Old Gods."
"And what was its statement when it peed on my foot?" Shale asked, looming over Anton. "That it wanted to be squished? That can be arranged." Shale moved her hands as though cracking her knuckles, except the sound was stone grinding on sound.
"I… wasn’t aiming for your foot. Not exactly." And shit, he’d just confessed, hadn’t he? "I was just trying to rile up my brother who used to like to hide out under you. He used to sit between your legs. Why don’t you ask him what that was about? Or Cormac. He was the one who used to climb all over you. They’re right over there, in fact!"
Anton pointed in his brothers’ direction. Shale glanced over, and Anton took advantage of her momentary distraction to dart into the crowd, snatching Cullen by the wrist and pulling him along. Cormac had shields. His brothers would be fine.
Cormac turned his head in time to see Anton and Cullen make a break for the garden. And then there was a golem heading toward him. "Artie? I think we’ve been noticed. I think Anton ratted us out."
Fenris considered the situation and then yanked on Artemis’s chain. "Down. On your knees. Whatever this is, your brother and I will take responsibility for it."
"How is that an improvement?" Cormac demanded, the strain in his voice completely unlike the relaxed and easy set of his shoulders. "That is a golem. You just changed which one of you gets stepped on, first."
"I had meant to introduce myself to this golem. Perhaps I can use this as further bonding material. What exactly did the two of you do, anyway?" Fenris looked like he might not believe the original story.
"Nothing!" Cormac insisted. "Well, except Anton. Anton peed on it. But, we didn’t!"
"No peeing," Artemis agreed, on his knees as instructed. He had no idea if having his face at crotch level was really going to help, but he didn’t exactly mind being there. "Just… well. Antics. We were kids." Artemis frantically combed through his memories, hoping to the Maker that he hadn’t done anything particularly mortifying to or near that statue.
The crowd parted for Shale, and the golem paused to loom over the three of them. Artie was glad his face wasn’t at her crotch’s height. Artemis gulped and looked up at his brother.
"Ah, two more familiar squishy flesh-creatures," said Shale. "All we need are the pigeons, and we’ll have a Honnleath reunion."
Shale spat the word ‘pigeons’ the way Fenris spat the word ‘mages’.
"I never thought I’d see the day!" Cormac looked up, amazed, and hoping he’d picked the right answer. "That really is you, isn’t it? I used to pretend I could see as far as Redcliffe from your shoulders!" Hero worship was usually a good start, when you didn’t want to get squished, he’d noticed. "And you’ve crossed all of Ferelden, to see my brother again? We were only there for a few months! It’s so kind of you to remember us! Just… wow! How did you know? We were all so young, then!"
Fenris’s eyebrow arced up, but he let Cormac keep talking. If the idiot mage wanted to engage in pointless flattery, Fenris wasn’t going to interrupt.
"Oh, of course, I’m Cormac." He held out his hand, half expecting to have all his fingers crushed, and wondered where Anders had gotten to.
"It expects fond memories?" Shale rumbled, still firmly in looming mode, as she towered over the three of them.
"You were the best friend we had in that place! Even if you didn’t talk. Or move, really. But, you didn’t throw rocks at my little brother, and that was the important part!" Cormac grinned, still working on that dazzled look. "And you were just so big and tall and awesome. We never knew you were a real golem. That’s just… well, I don’t know about him, but that’s my wildest dream come true."
Artemis caught on and tried to make his wide-eyed terror look like wide-eyed wonder.
"It used to put its foot in my face," Shale told Cormac. "And shout. Such a loud, screeching little voice." She looked Cormac over and considered. "But at least it scared away the pigeons. For that reason alone, you will remain unsquished." Her gaze slid to Artemis. "Now as for you…"
Artemis tried to make himself as small as possible, his smile wide and terrified. "Have I mentioned that’s a lovely corset? Because that’s a lovely corset. Very sparkly. Very… um. Yes." Fenris tensed, ready to step between them if need be.
"It made me quiver all over," Shale interrupted his babbling. "I rather enjoyed that. Can it still do that?"
"Oh, shit," Cormac breathed. "That was you, Artie… I didn’t even think…"
Fenris looked back and forth between the brothers, waiting for some explanation. Quivering… golem…? And then his eyes widened and he shot a horrified look down to where Artemis knelt at his feet. Earthquakes?
Anton and Cullen crept by, behind Shale, heading for the table with the cordial. For all that Cullen did not want to be quite that drunk, ever again, he at least wanted to face his impending demise at the foot of a golem with a little more courage than he could manage, under the circumstances. Liquid courage would have to do. Maker. Who would ever have imagined this?
"You used to tell me the statue purred when you sat under it, and I thought you were just making it up. You weren’t… it was before. Obviously." Cormac stroked his beard and gazed contemplatively down at his brother. "I wonder if dad would have noticed, sooner, if we’d told him."
"I’m rather glad he didn’t," Artemis said, perhaps a bit more harshly than he’d meant to. Honnleath, sitting under that statue… they were the last memories he had from before he knew he had magic, from before he was afraid of what he could do. That statue had hummed softly against his skin and soothed him when he was a child.
Artie fiddled with the skirts in his lap, smoothing out the creases. "Uh." He looked up, up at the golem. "Technically? Yes. I could. I think."
Shale smiled as much as a golem could smile, and somehow that just made her more terrifying. "Then you shall remain unsquished as well. For the moment."
Part of the conversation reached Cullen, and it took a little bit to sink in, since he was much too focused on the rapidly-approaching table with the cordial. He poured himself a glass, and then had a strange thought. "I thought Cormac was the mage in your family," he said to Anton. "I must be hearing things. I’m sure there was something about Artemis making statues quiver."
"Drink more. You’ll feel better," Anton assured him. "I’m just glad the golem hasn’t squished any of us, yet."
"I’ll drink to that." Cullen tapped his glass against Anton’s and poured it all down his throat, before pouring himself another. And that was another strange and uncomfortable thought… quivering… statues? His eyes darted to the garden wall, all window, and the statue that had long since been replaced. That… had been Anton, hadn’t it?
And suddenly Cullen decided he’d had enough cordial. He set down his glass on the table and let Anton tug him away again.