[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 150
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anders ♂, Fenris ♂, Serendipity ⚧, Madame Lusine ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Incidentally in a brothel
Notes: Fenris needs a favour from Anders.
Anders hadn’t even meant to have a day off, and this hadn’t been on the list of things he’d ever expected to be doing with his day off, but Fenris had shown up in the clinic with that look that Anders had come to recognise as Fenris avoiding talking about something that was very important, to him, but not broadly important. It wouldn’t be about Artie. It wouldn’t be a job. It would be something small and personal, and he’d ask, eventually.
The seemingly endless stream of patients finally began to wane, and Fenris set down the book he’d pulled from the shelves on the back wall, and approached, before anyone else could walk in. "You said something, before everything went sideways. I want to know if you still mean it. If not, I understand, and I’ll never bring it up again."
"You mean, before … the couch." Anders wasn’t going to say it, either.
"Yes. Before the couch. You said you wanted to help me learn what was done to me, so I could decide if I wanted to pursue undoing it." Fenris watched the young man shelving potions, but spoke softly, so only Anders could hear.
"You doubt me?" Anders almost managed to sound surprised, which he wasn’t. Of course Fenris doubted him. The only mage Fenris liked less was Danarius, and that put some disgusting thoughts in his head.
"Will you give me a reason not to?" Fenris finally looked up, pinning Anders with his gaze.
"Diya!" Anders called out to the man rolling bandages. "I’m cutting out early. I’ll dim the lamp on my way out. Maker willing, nothing will happen, while I’m gone, but if it does, send a message to Cormac. He’s better than nothing."
Diya waved his hand as if shooing Anders out. "You never rest. Go on. Have a good supper, while you’re out."
Anders turned back to Fenris. "Where are we going, and what are we doing?"
And that was how he found himself walking into the Blooming Rose, in the middle of the afternoon, with an elven warrior at his side.
"If I wanted to be surrounded by my patients, I would have stayed in the clinic," Anders sighed. He hadn’t been in the Rose since the bachelor party, a party only remembered in hazy fragments. Jethann waved at him from the lap of a bearded gentleman, and Anders offered a weak wave in reply.
Madame Lusine sat at the bar, adding a few numbers to her ledger, and Fenris came up beside her, clearing his throat to get her attention. "Excuse me. Madame Lusine?"
Lusine sat up primly and turned to him, looking him up and down. "How can I help you fine gentlemen?" she asked. "Anders, are you here for Jethann? He mentioned that he planned to… ah, visit you later this afternoon."
"What? Again?" Anders looked back at Jethann and the man he was using as a chair. "Andraste’s tits. Fine. I’ll… talk to him before he does anything stupid. Or anyone stupid. Or anyone, really. But, Fenris and I, we’re here to see Serendipity."
"Both of you?" Lusine asked, one eyebrow barely twitching.
"Yes," Fenris answered before Anders could stop him.
"You know that will cost extra."
"I… what?" Fenris sputtered as Anders squeaked out, "No, no!"
Fenris coughed into his fist and clarified, "No, we’re just here to talk to her."
"‘Talk’ to her." Madame Lusine did not sound impressed, or even convinced.
"I’m the healer," Anders pointed out, "and frankly you should be paying me every time I walk through that door. But, you don’t, because you’re cheap, and you know it matters more to me that people are well than that I get paid. And with what I have cleaned up in this place, I will never pay for the services, here." He leaned on the bar, towering over the madame. "All I need to know is if she’s otherwise occupied, and if you won’t tell me, I’ll have to ask Jethann."
Fenris recognised exactly how displeased Anders was, by how calm his face became, as he kept speaking. That, he’d noticed, was Anders keeping a grip on Justice — one of those things that happened exactly never, in combat situations, but did come up, from time to time, in discussions of Darktown or the alienage. The spirit did seem to have a strong sense of wrong — actual wrong, most of the time, as far as Fenris had noticed — and it rattled its cage at the suggestion that someone might be doing more harm than good.
"It’s still going to cost you two sovereigns," Lusine insisted.
Fenris slapped the coins onto the bar. "We have paid. We will see her. We are just here to borrow a book, and this had better be the best book in all of Thedas, for the price."
"Thank you for your patronage," Lusine said, voice and smile sickeningly sweet as she swept up the pair of coins. She pocketed them and bent back over her ledger, effectively dismissing them.
"Come," Fenris told Anders as he turned on his heel. "I’m sure Anton will just win those coins back at some point anyway."
"It’s not the coin," Anders muttered, following Fenris towards the stairs. "It’s the principle of the matter." He wavered at the foot of the stairs, pausing long enough to flick some general healing in Jethann’s direction. He’d do a more thorough job of it later, but right now he hoped it was enough. "I’m so glad Artie couldn’t afford him when they met."
Fenris chuffed, and then his smile froze. "Oh. That would have been…"
"Terrible? Yes. Among other things." Anders knocked on Serendipity’s door.
"It’s open!" Serendipity singsonged from within, and Anders pushed the door open to find her standing by the vanity, in a long dressing gown. "I thought that was your knock, Anders," she greeted him, grinning. "Do come in!"
"Hello! Nothing exciting, today. No outbreaks. Do I need to check you out, while I’m here?" Anders waved Fenris in and closed the door behind them.
"You can always check me out, healer," Serendipity teased, catching his eye in the mirror and winking. "Is that Fenris with you?"
"You remember my name." Fenris sounded amused.
"Of course, I remember your name. I hear it often enough from Anton." Serendipity smiled at him, still not looking away from the mirror. "Is he still buying you tarts, every time he wants you to stab someone?"
Fenris laughed. "I do not think I will ever tire of that arrangement. But, we are here for a reason. You… mentioned a book, when we met. Said you’d seen this before." He gestured at his face.
Serendipity tapped her chin and hummed. "Ah yes, that lovely token of appreciation from a… former client," she said. "I’d almost forgotten all about it! Well, as much as one ever forgets such a laughable threat. Now, let me see if I can find it…"
She turned to the bookcase against the back wall, humming to herself as she scanned the titles, a fingertip tapping each book as she read. "Here it is!" She dragged a tall, heavy book out from the bottom shelf and handed it off to Fenris. "I also have the first two books of the Hard in Hightown series, if you’re interested. It’s really quite riveting!"
"Er," Fenris mumbled, "I experience enough of Hightown outside of books. But thank you for the offer. And for the book. This book." He gestured with the tome Serendipity had given him. He recognised the shapes of Tevene letters, shapes that he could mostly read now.
Anders stepped forward. "I’m already here. Let me just set you right, before I go."
Serendipity stood and held out her arms, as if she were waiting for a tailor. "You know I’ll never turn you down."
"You know Lusine made us pay to come see you?" Anders complained, as he cast spell after spell, each for something a little different. Serendipity glowed in a flickering green and blue light, as the magic washed over her.
"Then let me get dressed, and I’ll come down with you. I’ll tell her it’s your fee." Serendipity laughed.
"You don’t have to—" Fenris started, but Serendipity cut him off.
"No, I do have to. I shouldn’t have to worry that the healer has to pay to work for us," she pointed out. "Anders should never be charged to see any of us, not least because he’s never here to actually enjoy us." Her eyes lingered on Anders. "That Hawke of yours must be something. All these years and you’re never in here but for your business."
"It’s your business that brings me business," Anders reminded her. "Who is Jethann seeing, lately? This is the third time in as many weeks!"
"Oh, it’s that Orlesian cheese merchant, again, I bet." Serendipity sighed. "He brings in so much money, but Jethann’s the only one who will dare, any more."
"Does this cheese merchant have a name?" Anders asked. "I would like to pay him a visit. You know, Warden business and all that." He smiled sweetly.
"Oh, I’m sure he has a name," Serendipity replied, brow furrowing, "and an Orlesian one at that, but you’d have to ask Madame Lusine or check her records. Jethann just refers to him as ‘Monsieur du Fromage’." She chuckled, and Fenris smiled indulgently, not knowing enough Orlesian to find that funny.
"I think I’d rather just ask Jethann," Anders sighed. He wasn’t going to ask Lusine for another favour anytime soon. "At any rate, get dressed. We’ll meet you downstairs, if you’re serious about talking to Lusine."
"Oh, I’m quite serious," Serendipity said with a dangerous before shooing the pair out of her room. Fenris clutched the heavy book under his arm, grip tight enough for his claws to leave indentations in the leather binding.
"While we wait," Anders said, peering over the balcony railing, "let’s go see an elf about his ‘culture’."