[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 105
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S2 V0 D1)
Warnings: Heart-fondling, subtle dehumanising/rehumanising
Notes: Conversations on lyrium crafting. Cormac is surprisingly neither pale nor whiny.
"Your name is Shale?" Fenris asked the golem, relaxing now that the mages weren’t in danger of being squished.
"Well, it isn’t ‘golem’ despite what most of its kind seem to think."
Fenris wasn’t sure how he felt about being called ‘it’, but he could understand Shale’s bitterness. "I am Fenris," he said. He ducked his head cordially instead of offering his hand. He’d rather not have his bones crushed, and he didn’t have Cormac’s shields. "Do you — that is, I would like to offer you a drink, but…"
"I do not drink. I can, however, eat the wine glasses and spit out the shards, if you want to make the Orlesians squeal."
"As tempting as that is, I suspect our host might disapprove." Fenris cocked his head in acknowledgement of the entirely amusing offer. It wasn’t actually Anton he was worried about. Artemis might implode.
"Our host peed on my foot. I am not certain I require its approval," Shale pointed out, studying Fenris. "What are you?"
Fenris blinked and pointed to his ear. "An elf…?"
"I was unaware that elves were made of lyrium. Are you truly an elf, or are you a construct? Golems may have come a long way, but I thought the art to have been lost…" Squinting, Shale leaned down to get a closer look. "If it is alive, how is it not mad from the lyrium? That is quite a bit, even if there is no more than I can see, but I suspect there is."
"It is presumptuous to assume I am not mad," Fenris pointed out. "And I am not a golem. I am an elf. I live and breathe, and several other things that support this assumption. As to whether I am a construct, that may depend on your definition. I am certainly not as I was born, or at least that’s what I’m told."
"It was crafted then, too?" Shale said, her stone face in Fenris’s. "For what purpose, I wonder? Not for battle. It seems much too squishy for that, still."
Fenris’s lips quirked in an unhappy smile. "I was ‘crafted’ for much the same reason as you, I suspect," he said. "And I far less ‘squishy’ than I look." He stepped into the Fade, body glowing a ghostly blue and turning translucent.
"So it is a glowy elf," Shale said, though she sounded intrigued. "And what does the glowing do?"
Fenris’s hand hovered over Artemis’s back, and his mage looked up and nodded. Fenris sank his hand into Artie’s ribs, and Artie sucked in a breath.
Deeper into the crowd, Cullen was glad he’d put down his drink or he would have dropped it. He grabbed Anton’s arm. "Anton, your brother… Fenris… I think the elf is a mage, and I think Artemis…"
"What? No. Fenris isn’t a mage. Fenris hates mages." Anton turned around. That was very definitely Fenris’s hand thrust into Artemis’s back. He almost moved. Really. Almost. But, Cormac was right there, and didn’t seem to be concerned. "I have no idea what’s going on, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. But, look to the left. Cormac doesn’t look upset by this, at all. I know you don’t know my brothers like I know my brothers, but if there were something wrong, Cormac would be in the middle of murdering an elf."
"That is still magic!" Cullen hissed, debating whether he had any authority, dressed as he was.
"No, it’s lyrium crafting," Anton corrected, wrapping an arm around Cullen. "He used to belong to a magister. Something something, depraved experiments, so now he’s a living arcane rune. Sandal gets a kick out of him. I don’t really get it, but it’s not magic. Well, no more magic than you."
"Than me? But, I’m not—" Cullen looked confused for a moment.
"Templar? Lyrium? Yeah, you are." Anton kissed him on the cheek.
Cullen suddenly wondered if that was something he could do — whatever it was. Probably not, but what other uses did the lyrium have, that simply hadn’t been discovered or maybe disclosed? He was under no illusions about the distribution of information, being a captain. So many things he probably should have shared with his men, but couldn’t, on orders from above. But, this? This was really kind of uncomfortable.
"Yeah… I guess I am…" Cullen’s eyes lingered on the glowing elf.
Cormac glanced toward Anton, finally noticing his brother, and just made a pained face and an obscene gesture in that direction. Well. That answered that question, in all the ways Anton didn’t want it answered, sadly.
"Oh that is special," Shale all but purred, bending to better see where elf and mage melded. "Usually when I want to reach through a fleshling there’s quite a bit more blood and crunching involved. What’s its hand doing now?"
Fenris’s fingertips were gentle as they traced the shape of Artemis’s heart. Beneath him, his mage’s breath grew ragged, eyes fluttering shut. "Touching his heart," Fenris answered. "I could tear it out, if I wished." Fenris darted a glance at Cormac, hoping the older mage understood that he wouldn’t. Artemis didn’t even flinch, and Fenris wondered what he’d done to earn that kind of trust.
"Fen," Artie breathed. His hands bunched in the fabric across his thighs, fabric that did little to hide his reaction to these proceedings. "If… if you keep that up, Shale’s funbits are going to start quivering, and we’re attracting a crowd."
"Your brother looks like he’s in pain," Cullen said, hands opening and closing into fists, unsure if he should stop this, if he could stop this.
"I don’t think that’s pain," Anton replied, looking a bit pained himself.
Fenris slid his hand out gently, and Artemis shuddered, a whimper caught in his throat. Fenris stepped back out of the Fade, solid fingers carding through his mage’s hair. The Orlesians went back to tittering amongst themselves, turning back now and then to glance at the strange tableau.
Cullen was caught in that strange space between flushing and all the colour draining from his face in horror. Somehow, he managed to maintain something not far off his usual shade, as he watched the… whatever was going on, over there. "He… does seem to have survived it," he observed, completely uncomfortable with the entire situation. This wasn’t covered by all his years of training. There were mages and not-mages, and when mages did dangerous things, it was his business to make it stop. But, this… And the idea that it wasn’t a problem, that Artemis had been… And he was marrying into this family. Maker. What had he done? What was he doing?
He let himself be dragged into another kiss, Anton’s hands wandering over his skin. These weren’t second thoughts. They were more like fifth thoughts. Eighth thoughts. And still, he kept coming to the same conclusion — that Anton was worth all of this.
Cormac grinned at the golem and shrugged. "My brother’s into some unusual things. This one’s… maybe not the weirdest. You’ll have to forgive his sudden… ah, circumstance."
Artemis glared up at his brother, his cheeks still flushed. "You’re one to talk," he said. He was aware of all the eyes on him and of the display he was making, had made. That was rather mortifying, and he wasn’t sure if that made his ‘circumstance’ better or worse. "I need a drink," he decided, though he made no move to stand just yet.
Shale made a noise that sounded more resigned than disgusted, as if she were less surprised than she ought to be. "I doubt it would be making such faces if it were my hand in its chest."
Artemis’s eyes widened in horror at the very thought. That did make his ‘circumstance’ better. "Please don’t."
"Yes, don’t. I would be extremely upset by that, and so would the glowy elf. And then we’d end up upsetting the Orlesians, and it would just degenerate into a riot. Honestly, Kirkwall has enough troubles without rioting in Hightown." Cormac laughed and reached out to stroke his brother’s hair, tugging absently at the tips.
Anders returned from the garden, with Sigrun on his shoulders, cuddling Purrcy. "I’m telling you, I can see Amaranthine from here!" Sigrun laughed, pointing out toward the garden.
"I am not that tall," Anders insisted. "And Amaranthine is that way." He pointed toward one of the walls of the house.
"It is correct. It is quite small. Like all squishy creatures," Shale remarked, watching them.
"Well, if it isn’t my gorgeous magical unicorn!" Cormac grabbed one of Anders’s hands and kissed his fingers. "Mountain savage, meet savage mountain."
"The ‘savage mountain’ has a name, puny fleshling."
"Shale, isn’t it?" Anders said, smiling charmingly and holding out a purple-stained hand. "Solona mentioned you. More than mentioned, really. She seemed quite fond of you." ‘Fond of’ from Solona meant ‘amused by’, but somehow he didn’t think Shale would appreciate that wording.
Shale wrapped a hand around Anders’s, and Anders braced himself, only to find her touch gentler than expected. Only minor bruising then, and that would blend well with his berry-stained skin.
"And which flesh creature is it?" she asked. "Never mind. Do not bother answering. I won’t bother remembering its name. Why does it have a furry flesh creature on its head?" She squinted at Purrcy.
"Now, that’s no way to talk about Sigrun!" Anders said.
"What?" Sigrun squinted at Shale and clutched Purrcy to her chest. "Don’t talk about Purrcival like that! He’s a kitty!" She held Purrcy out, for examination. "Anders always has a kitty. I think he’s secretly mastered a new school of magic. He’s a cat mage."
Cormac started laughing, and it didn’t look like he was quite sure how to stop. He rested one hand on Artemis’s head, for balance. "Don’t mind yourself about the cat mage’s name. He doesn’t have a name."
"Hey!" Anders protested.
"Well, you don’t!" Cormac shrugged. "You have a series of descriptors, ranging from the general to the extremely specific, and I’m pretty sure not one of them is an actual name — or not a personal name, anyway."
"That’s—" Anders looked profoundly annoyed, and then stopped. "A fair point, actually. He’s right. I don’t have a name. Not any more."
Fenris glanced at Anders, completely confused. Didn’t have a — Oh. Right. That really wasn’t a name, in Common, was it? How odd.
Artie arced an eyebrow at the brother leaning on his head but didn’t swat his hand away or try to get up.
Shale hummed and stared narrowly down at the cat wriggling in Sigrun’s hands. Purrcy sniffed the air between them, little nose twitching, somehow still purring. She wriggled one massive finger in front of Purrcy, and the cat whacked at it with one paw. "Fuzzy flesh creature," Shale decided with a huff.
Anders grinned up at the golem and at the little white paw he could just see from this angle. He almost asked why Artie was on his knees but decided better of it. It was probably something he didn’t want to know, if the leash still in Fenris’s hand was anything to go by.
"I don’t have a drink!" Sigrun noticed, putting Purrcy back on Anders’s head. "Anders, why don’t I have a drink?"
"Are you doing impressions of Nate, now?" Anders asked, poking Sigrun in the knee. "Because that’s not quite whiny enough."
"I’m not quite winey enough! I need more wine!" Sigrun dug in her heels. "Hup! Go! … Horse noises… Whatever it is you people say to make them go…"
"… This is because Cormac called me a magical unicorn, isn’t it," Anders drawled, looking entirely less than impressed.
"Wait, that’s Cormac?" Sigrun was suddenly much more interested in the company. "Well, hello! I was expecting something paler and angstier! Maybe whiny and in denial!" She held out her hand. "You can call me Sigrun."
Cormac reached up and shook her hand. "Have you been telling stories about me, again, Anders? I can only hope they’re as unflattering as the ones I’m about to tell about you…"
"That depends on your definition of ‘flattering’," Anders replied with a nervous laugh. "Your definition is, I suspect, different from most. And I doubt you could tell Sigrun anything that would surprise her."
"You can tell me anyway," she said. "I have some great stories myself, and we can compare. Some about Justice too."
Anders winced. "Yes, well, those stories are less fun, I suspect."
"A different kind of fun," Sigrun said, bending forward to grin down at him. Purrcy squeaked. "Well come on, Cormac! You, me, drinks, embarrassing Anders. Let’s go!"
Cormac grinned. "These are a few of my favourite things! Come on, I think I see Varric. He’s got a few more good ones, I bet, and — Oh, have you heard the one about the week he spent in a brothel in Denerim? If not, I’ll find Isabela."
Anders groaned, but still followed Cormac into the crowd — really, it was either follow Cormac, or have Sigrun run off to hear stories without him there to object to the ridiculous parts. Even with Isabela, he doubted much would be untrue, but he had to make some protests at the bits that shouldn’t have been true.
They vanished into the crowd, with Cormac still chattering about the more blatantly bizarre things Anders had done. There were stories he wouldn’t tell, and some he’d tell a little differently than they happened, and he hoped Anders knew that. He was pretty sure there was nothing that couldn’t be turned on him, too.