[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 146
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cullen ♂, Branson ♂, Fenris ♂, Isabela ♀, Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Jethann ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D1)
Warnings: Threats of impending doom for all, jokes about pee, ANTON NO, Isabela… maybe?
Notes: Observations on brothers and brotherhood.
A pained groan drifted up from the floor, and Cullen told his brother to quit whining. Fenris didn’t so much as give him a second glance as he walked back to collect his mage.
"My apologies," he said with a grim smile and a look that said he wasn’t sorry in the least.
"You went easy on him," Artemis said, pulling Fenris to him while still half in Jethann’s arms. "I would have… pushed him through a wall." He smiled tightly and glanced at the nearest collection of templars.
Anton finally settled back down in Isabela’s lap. The dancer stood awkwardly on the table, watching the proceedings, the way blood dripped down Branson’s chin as he sat up dazedly. Anton caught his eye and shrugged. "Well, now it’s a party!" he said, earning a cheer from Isabela. The dancer smirked and went back to business.
"Yes, Amatus, but the room is full of templars." A small smile crept across Fenris’s face. "I don’t think all of them know, and you shouldn’t be tempting them." Especially not after some of the things Anders had said, upstairs. If that was what it meant to be a mage, outside of the Imperium, perhaps there was something wrong with the system after all. Not with what the system claimed to be, he was still sure, but with what it actually was. In a lot of ways, things hadn’t been that different for him — at least that he could remember — but he’d been spared that.
There was still concern in the set of his shoulders, as he wrapped an arm around Artemis, cramming a hand between his waist and Jethann. "Enough elven culture for you?" he asked, tilting his chin up at the dancer.
On the balcony, Anders and Cormac reappeared, looking down over the party as if debating whether to return. Anders looked a bit chagrined, one arm around Cormac, the other hand picking at one of the studs on his coat — a strangely sober-looking remorse, but he was the healer. Cormac, beside him, looked far too calm, less actually relaxed than loose, in the same way he held his glaive, in combat. He nuzzled Anders’s neck, whispering in his ear, but Anders’s eyes had already lit upon Branson, the healer’s demeanour shifting instantly, as he gestured frustratedly in that direction.
"Five minutes," Anders huffed. "I’m away five minutes, and there’s someone already bleeding on the floor!" And, all right, it had been more than five minutes and Cormac didn’t need to point it out. His point remained.
Anders clomped down the stairs, still holding Cormac’s waist with one hand and the railing with the other. Back down into a room full of templars. "Do I want to know what happened?" he asked Cullen when they drew near, fingers already glowing with magic. He felt the weight of stares on his back and wondered if every templar in the room was watching. They couldn’t be, but…
"That elf happened," Branson spat, gesturing at Fenris.
"His loud mouth happened," Cullen corrected, and Branson shot him a withering look.
"Ah," said Anders. "Fenris and loud mouths tend not to mix well. As a loudmouth myself, I’m something of an expert." He bent to examine Branson’s split lip. The skin knitted, healed over. "You’ll live, I suspect."
"Unless he says something stupid again," Cullen muttered. "And then Anton has my permission to pee on his grave."
Cormac slapped Fenris on the back. "Brothers, right? Enough to make you glad you don’t have one, I’m sure."
Fenris staggered forward from the unexpected impact. "Do it again, and your family will be short a brother." He reflected on the fact that Anders had once referred to him as a brother… but that was before things got… Still, it was only once. He had no intention of doing that again. On the other hand, he had no intention of doing that in the first place. "And I am about to have brothers. Your brothers, in fact. Or have I misunderstood some finer point of family and weddings?"
"No, that’s pretty accurate. I am, in fact, about to be your brother." Cormac nodded, paying no attention at all to the dancer on the table. "Anton, too. He’s the one you have to worry about."
"He cheats poorly at Wicked Grace. I have few concerns about Anton." Fenris chuckled and squeezed Artemis’s hip. "As long as I don’t end up related to the a—" He reconsidered that sentence, in light of the templars. "— to Anders, I’m sure we’ll all survive the experience."
"Don’t want to be related to a Warden?" Cormac teased.
"Not that Warden, no."
"We’re technically already related to a Warden," Artemis reminded him. "But not that Warden."
"And we’re all very grateful," Fenris muttered.
Cullen half manhandled Branson to his feet and back into his chair. Branson glared and sulked but reached for his beer. He was still far more interested in eyeing Isabela than in watching the dancer.
And speaking of, Artemis wasn’t sure how he’d ended up with an elf under each arm and another on the table, but he wasn’t complaining. He nuzzled Fenris’s cheek and nipped the shell of his ear. He’d assumed the hand on his ass was Fenris’s, but the smirk on Jethann’s face said otherwise.
Anders wound himself around Cormac again. "Taking notes for their bachelor party?" he asked, chin on Cormac’s shoulder.
"I might be." Cormac grinned. "You know how interested I am in my little brother’s happiness. And you know how much he enjoys elven culture."
"Culture. Yes." Anders rested his chin on the top of Cormac’s head. "You were always a bit more for the mythology, weren’t you?"
"I’d make a joke about cultural expressions, but I’d like to keep all my teeth."
"So, it is possible to teach sense to a mage!" Fenris rocked back on his heels, hand clutched to his chest, in mock amazement, as he stared, wide-eyed, at Cormac.
"Some mages. Some of the time." Cormac winked and prodded Fenris just above the hip.
Cullen tried to get back the air of revelry he’d been feeling, before Branson had opened his mouth. Had he really been gone so many years, that his own brother had turned into this? He couldn’t recall that kind of bigotry in their house, growing up, but there also hadn’t been many elves around Honnleath — at least not elves that lived in or near the town. And then he remembered what Mia had said about the Teryn, and wondered if that wasn’t what had set Branson off. Gwaren hadn’t been hit hard, by the Blight, so it would likely have been full of refugees, like the Marches. And from all of them, first a mage and then a foreign elf had taken power.
"So, Bran," he started, trying to take some of the edge off the night, "what about you? Still making the city girls swoon?"
Branson scoffed, the sound echoing oddly inside his tankard. "Very funny," he muttered.
Cullen arched an eyebrow. "Is swooning not the word? Fawning? Are they fawning over you instead?" Cullen grinned, nudged Bran with his elbow. "Mia told me you were a hit with the ladies in Redcliffe!"
"She — what?" Branson sputtered. He swore, a blush making his face ruddy, splashing over his cheeks in the same pattern Cullen’s did. "I mean… sure. Yeah. The ladies love me." He puffed out his chest and offered Isabela a wink, but Cullen didn’t buy it for a second. "They can’t get enough of me, actually!"
Cullen gave his brother a knowing look. "You’re hopeless, aren’t you?" he sighed.
Branson deflated, shoulders slumping. "No! Of course not! I’m…" He pretended to watch the dancer, finishing his beer. "I’m going to get another drink." He got up, half stumbling over his chair, and wobbled over to the bar.
Cullen caught Anton’s eye across the table, between the dancer’s legs, and shrugged. Anton shrugged back, twisted to whisper something to Isabela and vacated her lap, rounding the table to keep Bran’s seat warm. He turned the chair sideways, propping his feet in Cullen’s lap.
"Not too sure Bran will be thrilled you took his seat," Cullen said, one hand kneading Anton’s thigh through his trousers.
Anton smirked. "Well, then he can have mine." He tilted his head at Isabela.
Cullen shook his head. "No."
"Well, maybe I’ll just have to get myself a better seat, then." Anton smiled slyly. "Can’t enjoy the show without a good seat." He moved like he might get up, but Cullen’s hands were quicker, and Anton blinked with surprise as he landed in his templar’s lap. "Or, yes, I could always just take the best seat in the house. The very best."
"Nothing but the best for you, Lord Dog. Just don’t show your appreciation by lifting your leg on the fine furniture." Cullen pinched Anton’s hip, smiling placidly up at the dancer, as the rogue squirmed in his lap.
"When have I ever—!?" Anton sounded thoroughly shocked.
"You haven’t, yet, but given your history of … appreciating things, I thought it best to warn against the idea," Cullen joked, laugh barely held back by a smile that tugged hard on one side of his face.
"I think you’ll find that’s more likely to convey my lack of appreciation," Anton countered. "Otherwise, Shale might have been less offended."
"No, I think Shale would still be offended," Cullen said, arms wrapped tight around Anton. "Pee is pee, even if you pee with good intentions."
"I only ever pee with the best of intentions."
Cullen stifled a chuckle against Anton’s shoulder. "You know," he said, "I think Branson needs a girl. It might make him less surly. But apparently blond, stuttering, and verbal flailing are all Rutherford traits." Cullen still had no idea how he’d ended up with Anton. He could ask the Maker himself and likely get a shrug in response. "But that girl is not going to be Isabela," he was quick to add.
Anton barked a laugh. "She would eat him alive," he said, grinning. "Especially after that display earlier."
"Exactly. I promised Mia I’d send him back in one piece. Or at the very least two pieces glued together."
"You know, the best glue is said to be made of horse parts. So, she’d probably have that covered." Anton looked contemplative, tapping his chin and winking at Isabela from across the table.
Cullen turned a vibrant red. "You can’t be serious. You — that’s still my brother!"
"I’m thinking we can just stand back and let him walk right into it. He’ll be my brother, too, in the morning, and what kind of brother would I be, if I didn’t let him go gallivanting, full-force, into Izzy? I did Carver the very same favour, and look how he turned out!" Anton laughed and pinched the tip of Cullen’s nose.
"You’re lucky I haven’t drowned your little brother in a bucket of his own piss, at this point," Cullen muttered. "I’m not sure you want to be using him as an example."
"Yes, but it’s an improvement," Anton pointed out. "At least he pretends to listen to you."
Cullen opened his mouth to argue, only to think better of it. "So you’re saying I should warn Bran off Isabela, while letting him go off with her, so that when she traumatises him later, he’ll be more likely to listen to my advice in the future?"
Anton sipped at Cullen’s drink, expression innocent. "Why you think I would imply something so devious is beyond me," Anton sniffed.
"Oh, maybe because you exude deviousness?" Cullen pressed a kiss behind Anton’s ear. "I can’t believe I’m saying this, but that’s not a terrible idea."
Another dancer took the stage, a female elf, this time, as the last dancer descended amid cheers and applause.
Branson stumbled back into his seat, drink sloshing over the edge of his tankard, spilling over his hand. "Huh. Another knife-ear," he muttered.
Cullen grit his teeth. "Tell Isabela to unleash the horse," he whispered in Anton’s ear.