[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 133
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Fenris and Anders may not be killing each other but it doesn’t mean they have to like it
Notes: The beginning of an educational experience.
Anders’s hand paused, quill stilling mid-word, at the sound of footsteps on the stairs. Footsteps that weren’t Cormac’s but were still familiar, familiar enough that he stopped reaching for his staff.
"Hello, hello!" called out Artemis as he appeared in the doorway, spiky elf in tow. "Hard at work, Sparklefingers?"
Anders raised an eyebrow at the sight of a basket in Artie’s hand. "You didn’t bring me another cat, did you?"
Artemis blinked, folding back the basket’s lid as though he needed to check. "What? Oh. No. Just food this time, courtesy of Orana. Sandwiches, cabbage salad. Tarts. Have you had her tarts? Her tarts are amazing."
"It’s a distinctly Hawke thing, I suspect," Fenris said, "showing up at the door with food."
"Better than showing up with flowers," Anders pointed out, grinning when Fenris’s ear twitched at the reminder.
"Flowers," Fenris grumbled. "Yet another language I neither speak nor read, except a few words, and the back garden contains all of them."
"And you’ve already experienced the reason for that, as I recall!" Anders noted, cheerfully, wiping off his hands before he got up to accept the basket.
Fenris’s spine stiffened as he looked away. "I am not here for a repeat."
"Of course not! You’re here to bribe me with cabbage and tarts!" Anders grinned broadly and started unpacking the basket onto a shelf. "Why are you bribing me? And Artie, I know you know this, but don’t let your brother eat pickled cabbage. We all regret it."
Artemis’s face screwed up in a grimace. "I lived with him for how long?" he said. "This is not news to me. Though now he’s less likely to get away with blaming it on the dog."
Fenris was grateful there was only one Hawke in his house. "And we are not… bribing you. I do not need to bribe you, as we have already agreed to a reasonable exchange."
"Really?" Anders asked through a mouthful of sandwich already. "Because this?" He gestured at the sandwich and the rest of the basket’s former contents. "This looks like bribery to me."
"And to me, it looks like food," Fenris huffed, snatching up another sandwich before the mages ate them all. He picked at bits of lettuce and ham that stuck out past the edge of the bread. "But… I am here about what we discussed the other night. About Tevene."
Artemis nodded through his own bite of food, pausing to chew and swallow before adding, "Cormac has a more extensive collection of books in Tevene, so I thought it best you two do it here? The teaching, that is. Though you’re welcome to do other things too." He smiled at the withering look Fenris gave him, shoving a bit of ham into his mouth. "What?"
"But, Cormac can’t read Tevene…" Anders looked confused for a few moments, before it sank in. "Oh. Of course. They’re Tevinter guides to elven life and culture, aren’t they? That would make more sense. He’s had me translate some things for him, from time to time, but I didn’t realise his collection was quite that extensive."
"I recognised the writing on some books in the library, as well. I do not know if those are the books you mean, but I do know they exist," Fenris added. "And I strongly doubt there will be ‘other things’ going on. He is just not as beautiful as you are, Amatus. As well as several other things I have no intention of mentioning unless I am able to pay off saying them with this… bribe we have nothing to request for."
"He fears the flagpole," Anders said to Artemis, with a wink, while Fenris had his mouth full of sandwich.
A few stifled coughs later, Fenris managed a reply. "The flagpole? I do not fear the flagpole. It disgusts me. There’s a difference, you know."
"Strangely, I’m less of a fan of it than you might imagine," Anders sighed. Nothing but trouble, really. There were so very few people it actually fit in, and even fewer who enjoyed it.
Artemis fought not to choke on his own sandwich, face red with the effort. There were so many things he could say that Fenris would kill him for. Like that he was a fan of the flagpole or that Fenris did fear the ‘jade wand of ass-destruction’. "Well, we all know that Cormac is a fan," Artie said instead. "Or so he has proclaimed to the world on many occasions."
"I do not need the reminder," Fenris muttered, grimacing. A distinctly feline squeak came from the vicinity of Fenris’s feet, and he looked down to find Lord Assbiter trying to use his leg as a playground again. "Cat, no. Mage, detach your cat from my leg."
Anders snorted and shoved the rest of his sandwich in his mouth, cheeks bulging like a chipmunk’s, as he bent to extract the cat in question.
"Looks like Assbiter’s put on some weight," Artemis said, tilting his head to look at the squeaking cat still clinging to Fenris’s leg. "Been biting too many asses?"
"Less ‘too many’ and more ‘the same one too many times’. Go ask your brother how his pants fit," Anders joked, cheeks still stuffed full of sandwich, extracting a sliver of ham from another sandwich and dangling it over the cat.
"Books. Perhaps one of you should retrieve some books. I am not here to admire Hawke asses, nor your revolting flagpole." Fenris brought the conversation back around to safer ground. Of course, given that these were Cormac’s books, it was possible that no ground would be safe.
"I’ll just… Maybe we should do this in the library?" Anders suggested. "The lighting’s better upstairs. I just have to feed the cats." He put Assbiter back on the floor and reached for a bag of dried fish. "Purrcy! Supper!"
Upstairs, the lighting was better, and Fenris was distracted from talk of flagpoles by walls of books. There was a time not so long ago where they would have daunted him, each book and tome and slip of parchment like a lockbox with secrets he couldn’t get to. But now the shapes along each binding had meaning, and those secrets were his for the taking. He recognised a few Tevene characters and pulled these books off their shelves, piling them on the nearest couch.
Anders watched him, reining in his amusement, and picked up the book at the top of the pile. "Well," he said, looking it over. "At the very least, you will be well-versed in elven history by the end of this. Or at least elven history according to the Imperium."
Artemis rolled his eyes. "Of course," he said. "Good to see Serah Ass-face’s interest in elven culture hasn’t waned." Anders threw him a wry look, and Artie held up one finger. "Don’t say it. I’m one to talk about ‘elven culture’, I know." He paused to cough. "But… where is my brother anyway?"
"Oh, he’s out wreaking havoc on the docks, with Izzy, I think. Something about cargo that shouldn’t be coming in to the port, which I honestly suspect is one of two things, and neither of them is going to end well without assistance. It’s definitely not Antivan party favours, this time." Anders laughed and flipped through a couple of books, before settling on an illustrated volume about tattooing. Maybe it would give them both some insight.
"Ritual tattooing?" he said, offering the book to Fenris. "Might be a good place to start. We’ve both got a vested interest in the subject, even if mine’s a little less direct."
Fenris growled and glared, before it sunk in what Anders probably meant. "You mean to figure out what he did to me, don’t you. I don’t know if I trust another mage with that knowledge. I don’t even have that knowledge."
"Which is why it’s a perfect thing to learn about. You should know. Whether or not you want any of us to do anything about it, you should still know." Anders shrugged and sat next to the pile on the couch, tapping the low table in front of them.
"You know this won’t have the answers." Fenris said, sitting far to the other side of the couch and spreading the book on the table, between them.
"Begin at the beginning, then figure out the advanced stuff." Anders grinned. Even Justice couldn’t object to this pursuit, however much the spirit wanted to continue working for mage freedom, this was also freedom.
"Shame," Artemis sighed, plucking a book from the shelf for himself. "I was hoping to bother Cormac while you two were otherwise occupied."
"‘Bother’," Fenris said, thumbing the book open to the first page and peering at Artemis out of the corner of his eye. "Right."
"That’s one verb for it," Anders agreed. "Though I could think of a few others closer to the mark. Some in Tevene—"
"Yes, yes, you two are hilarious," Artemis drawled, ears reddening. He flapped one hand at them and headed for the doorway. "All right, boys, have fun. I’ll be down the hall, within shouting distance in case anyone ends up disembowelled."
"And by ‘down the hall’, you mean ‘cleaning Cormac’s room again’, don’t you," Anders said, skimming over the first page. He knew from experience that Cormac’s room was shouting distance from here.
"Don’t judge me, Sparklefingers!" Artemis called over his shoulders before disappearing around the corner.
"He’s only going to be tidying until he gets to that drawer, and then we’re going to be hearing him," Anders muttered, laying a finger on the page. "First word is ‘denotare’."
Fenris flinched at the pronunciation, and immediately said the word correctly. "You are close, with that one."