[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 148
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cullen ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Mia ♀, Cullen’s Mum ♀, Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Isabela ♀, Merrill ♀, Bethany Hawke ♀, Sebastian ♂, Carver Hawke ♂, Serendipity ⚧
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Bad ideas, worse ideas, horse jokes, Anders pretends he’s fine
Notes: Sisters and bad ideas. Anders wishes Cullen wasn’t so okay with this proposition.
After the ceremony, the true celebration began. With a glass of wine dangling from her fingertips, Serendipity threaded an arm through Anton’s. "So how’s it feel to be a married man?" she asked, head canted to the side.
Anton hummed and furrowed his brow, pretending to consider this. "Much the same, except there’s suddenly an air of respectability around me. I’m not sure what to do with it!"
Serendipity chuckled into her wine. "Don’t worry. I doubt that will last! And I think you countered that quite nicely with your… dashing entrance. Sebastian still looks like he sniffed something funny."
Anton glanced past Serendipity, where Sebastian and Bethany were arm in arm, discussing the flowers. Looking more closely at the flowers didn’t help Sebastian’s sour look. He almost felt bad for the man, surrounded as he was by Hawke revelry.
"Keeping my spot warm?" Cullen teased Serendipity, returning with drinks for him and Anton. "Here you are, husband," he said as he passed over the glass of wine, just to taste the word on his lips. Husband.
"It’s my spot now!" Serendipity declared, with a laugh. "Take the other side. He still has an arm free."
Anton laughed and held out his arm to Cullen. "As long as you keep it above the elbow, I can still drink and walk both of you through the gardens."
Cullen tucked his hand around Anton’s arm and then realised where they were. "Wha— The gardens. The— no. Anton, no."
Serendipity giggled and smiled across her wine at Cullen. "I see you’ve met the gardens, then! I couldn’t imagine Anton keeping them a secret from you. But, oh, isn’t that your mother?" She gestured with the glass to where Cullen’s mother was walking with a nobleman. "Isn’t that your mother and Seneschal Bran?"
Horror seized Cullen’s features as he followed the line of Serendipity’s arm with his eyes. "Anton! Do something! That is my mother! That is my mother walking into your… garden of perversions with the seneschal!"
"What are you worried about?" Anton asked. "It’s all very subtle. It’s some nice fountains and private seating. She’ll never know the difference, certainly not if she’s walking with Bran!"
"I’ll know the difference!" Cullen squeaked. "That’s my mum, and she’ll be sitting on…! Maker." There were too many things she end up sitting on, and he wasn’t sure which was worse. He was caught between wanting to follow to make sure his mother didn’t find anything… untoward… and wanting to just pretend this wasn’t happening.
"Have some wine," said Serendipity sweetly, gesturing at his glass with hers. "It will make you feel better."
Cullen didn’t need to be told twice.
Back closer to the house, Merrill munched on some grapes and poked Isabela’s arm, trying to get her attention.
"Why is Cullen’s brother staring at you like that?" Merrill asked, covering her mouth with her hand.
‘Like that’, Isabela decided, meant ‘like he was going to wet himself’. She grinned at him, waved, and watched his face pale. "Because, Kitten," she purred, "the Rutherfords don’t like my coathanger."
"Well, it’s quite large and not very attractive, as far as coathooks go. I don’t see that it’s a reason to look at someone quite like that, though. Do people really get that upset about coathooks? Is that a Fereldan thing?" Merrill knew perfectly well what Isabela was referring to, but she’d missed some of the finer points, like the uses it was put to when it wasn’t holding coats. "I like it. It doesn’t ding up the back of the neck on my coats."
"Not everyone’s as forgiving as you are, Kitten, when it comes to the use of horses in décor." Isabela noticed she was holding an empty glass. "Looks like it’s time to investigate the bar, again! Have you tried the strawberry cordial? It reminded me of you."
"Oh, no, I haven’t. I’ve been drinking the wine." Merrill looked contemplatively at her handful of grapes. "Wine and grapes. That’s a lot of grape, isn’t it. Maybe I should try some strawberry, as well."
"There’s my girl!" Isabela hooked her arm through Merrill’s and led her back toward one of the tables of food and drink.
"Have you seen Carver? I turned around, and he was gone. There’s just so many spots that are hard to see, and then the house… Do you know I got lost in the house? I was trying to find the drawing room, and I found myself in a pantry, instead. Bodhan had to help me back out. I don’t understand why it’s so big. It’s nearly a town!" Merrill shook her head. "But, I lost Carver somewhere out here…"
"Oh, I’m sure he’s around here somewhere," Isabela said, shrugging one shoulder. "Just keep in sight of Cormac. I’m sure Carver will end up punching him at some point tonight."
"Why?" Merrill asked, eyes round. "Has Cormac done something?"
"Cormac’s always doing something — or someone — which is why I’m sure Carver will end up punching him eventually."
Isabela grinned and poured for them both, trading Merrill’s wine glass for one of cordial.
"Leave the bottle open, Izzy!" Bethany said as she approached, a glass in either hand and Mia at her shoulder. Both girls were red-faced from laughter, and Mia bit her tongue to keep from breaking into more giggles. "We’re trading embarrassing Cullen stories, and I thought cordial seemed appropriate." Her grin was wicked, the kind that said she knew something Izzy didn’t, and Isabela gladly poured two more drinks.
"Cullen, married," Mia sighed, curling a hand around her refilled glass. "I thought he was dead, you know. For years. But he’s not only not dead, he’s married. My brother, married and not dead. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it."
"I still can’t believe my brother proposed." Bethany shook her head. "Anton’s the roguish sort. A finger in everyone’s pie, and he’ll lick them clean when he’s done—"
"I can tell you that’s the absolute truth," Isabela said, nodding as she swigged cordial and then topped the glass off with rum. "And it’s not the only thing he’ll lick, either."
"I know more than enough about Cormac. I do not need the fine details of another brother’s sex life, Izzy," Bethany groaned. "But, we never thought Anton would marry. Of course, we also never expected he’d end up involved with a templar, either."
"Isn’t one of your other brothers a templar, though?" Mia asked, sipping her drink. "This is very good, by the way."
"That’s Carver," Merrill supplied, still looking around. "He’s… somewhere. He was here, earlier. But, that was later. Anton was already engaged, before Carver joined the Order, and now I never get to see him, because he’s too busy washing chamberpots."
Mia blinked at Merrill over her cordial and glanced at Bethany for confirmation. "‘Washing chamberpots’?" she echoed. "Is that a euphemism?"
"I… is it?" Merrill asked, eyes wide.
"No, no," Bethany said, cutting in before Isabela could make that worse. "I believe there is actual washing of chamberpots. He’s put on latrine duty every time he mouths off." She rolled her eyes.
"And where is he now?" Mia asked, looking about. She recognised Anton’s other brothers over by the goat, even if she didn’t remember their names, but she didn’t spot any other Hawkes. "He’s not cleaning chamberpots right now, is he?"
"Ask Cullen," Isabela suggested. "He’s Carver’s superior, and it is his wedding."
"Honestly," Bethany said, picking up the bottle of cordial and topping off everyone’s glasses, "I was expecting him to get huffy and leave when Anton swung in from the balcony." She swung her glass of cordial down through the air to illustrate.
Mia hid a snorting laugh behind her hand. "That was amazing."
"You’ll fit right in, around here," Isabela assured her. "Most of the Hawkes thought that was amazing. And then there’s Carver. Is his swording really that good, Kitten? Because he seems like a compulsively boring guy. I almost got him to have fun, once, but it was right after we almost died."
"Oh, I know, you think I’d be better off with a mage. You and your sparklefinger obsession. Still…" Merrill smiled slyly. "I’m pretty sure he’s the best sworder in Kirkwall. And he fixed most of what was broken in the Alienage, before he decided he wanted to be a templar. It’s almost like the rest of Lowtown, now, but with less broken windows. He’s good at things. He’s just not very good at parties. It’s sad. I like parties."
"You poor dear." Mia reached out and patted Merrill’s shoulder. "It’s a good thing you’ve got friends who like parties, then, isn’t it?"
"Nobody parties like we party," Isabela assured them both, grinning across her glass at Bethany. "Do we need more sparkle? I think we need more sparkle."
"Don’t we need a mage for that?" Bethany asked, eyebrows arching up. Not everyone knew about her, and she wasn’t going to give anyone the impression they needed to take a closer look, if she could help it.
"Isn’t that why we invited Anders?" Isabela asked without missing a beat.
Mia’s eyebrows shot up, and she made a sound around her drink. "You mean you have a mage here?" she asked. "At a templar’s wedding?"
"Warden mage," Bethany told her. "Out of templar jurisdiction. He’s a family friend."
"And he’s more friendly with some members of the family than with others," Isabela added, winking at Merrill, who giggled. "Hey, Anders!" Izzy shouted, spotting his blond head over by the mini quiches. He turned, scanning the crowd until he spotted Isabela flailing an arm in the air. He looked over his shoulder as though searching for an escape route and stuffed a quiche in his mouth as he headed over. His brows knit in a question, and Izzy said, "We were just discussing how… friendly you are with the Hawke family."
Anders darted a look at Mia and stopped chewing, making a choked sound in the back of his throat.
"I think we’re hogging the drink table," Merrill said, noting the way they’d gathered around it.
"Good," said Isabela, "then I can guard the rum!"
"I think you can just as easily guard the rum over there," Mia said, pointing to a more open section of garden. "The rum is portable."
"If barely potable," Anders added, squinting at the bottle. "Is that from the Hanged Man?"
"I have had enough drinks to make it a fine rum, Sparklefingers. That’s really the key. Drink to excess, and then drink the rest." Isabela laughed and swiped the bottle, gesturing with it toward the open area just below the patio. "We think this event needs a little more sparkle and shine. Old man Amell had the very best parties, and he had mages at least once. Or, that’s what I’ve heard, anyway."
"You just want me to start sparkling up the place? In the middle of a bunch of templars?" Anders looked shocked and somewhat disbelieving. "Because that’s the best idea I’ve heard all week! Oh, yes, parade your least ignorable, completely illegal talents in front of the people who want to lock you up for them!"
"You’re a Warden, Anders. You’re even dressed like one. You know Anton’s not going to let anyone think it for more than a few seconds. We’ll just say you’re a special part of the evening’s entertainments. Which I’m sure you are anyway." Isabela grinned and pinched Anders’s hip. "Come on, nothing’s going to happen to you! And everyone will be so impressed."
"Maybe we should ask Cullen, first," Merrill ventured. "It is his wedding. He is a templar, and a very important one."
"Oh! Yes, let’s!" Bethany chirped, bouncing on the balls of her feet. "Anton would love it!" She grabbed Anders by the hand and tugged him away from the table and towards the newly-weds. Anders cast a desperate look at the women around him, except that desperate wasn’t quite the word. Terrified. The look he cast them was terrified.
"Look out," Anton said to Cullen, jutting his chin at the group. "A swarm approaches!"
"You’re not going to swing up onto another balcony, are you?" Cullen asked with a pained laugh. He kept watching the entrance to the hedge maze, waiting for his mother to reappear.
"Too far away for a balcony. A tree, though…"
"So, Knight-Captain," Isabela said by way of greeting, "Anders has a question for you."
"No," Anders said. "No, I do not. I have no questions. Absolutely none."
"Sure you do," Bethany sweetly encouraged him, patting his hand in hers. "You have my question. Or Izzy’s question, really. But I shall borrow it back and ask it myself. Cullen, darling brother, may our resident Warden entertain the crowd?"
"‘Entertain’?" Anton’s eyebrows migrated upward. "Did he lose a bet? She’s not making you strip, is she, Anders?"
"Andraste’s flaming knickerweasels! No! There will be no stripping! Nobody wants to see me strip, except your brother. Brothers. And they have lousy taste." Anders shuddered and rubbed his arm. "They want me to do impressive, but harmless, magic. Rainbows and purple static. Worst thing you’ll get from it is a damp tingle. I’m still not doing it in a room full of templars."
Cullen watched Anders squirm. Here was a mage who was, by his very rank and circumstance, not subject to the Order’s usual rules, and still, he was, by the look of it, completely terrified of performing magic where he might be seen. That wasn’t why he’d joined the Order, Cullen reminded himself. Every time he spent more than a few minutes with Anders, he was reminded of how far the implementation had come from the intent.
"Promise you’re not going to trap me in a bubble and feed me to demons, and you’ve got a deal," Cullen joked, smile not quite making it to his eyes. He knew Anders would hear what he meant.
"I’m not going to hurt anyone," Anders muttered. "I didn’t become a healer to do harm. And it’s still a terrible idea."
"No, it’s a marvellous idea!" Isabela insisted. "You should know. You’re familiar with my actual terrible ideas." She nudged Anders’s hip with hers, brows lifting.
"I am, but those ideas make this one no less terrible. Just a different kind of terrible." Anders folded his arms across his chest, trying to look stern, like he wouldn’t be budged, but the women around him weren’t fooled.
"I have to admit," Mia said in a soft voice, "I’m rather curious. I’ve seen very little magic. The Hero of Ferelden used it while she was defending Honnleath, and it was… well, it was terrifying, but it was remarkable."
Bethany hid her smile behind her drink, and Anders let his arms drop back to his sides. That had piqued Justice’s interest. This was a chance to share magic safely, to show at least a few in the crowd that magic could be beautiful, could be helpful, and that it was more than just something to be feared. "Maker’s balls," he muttered. "Fine."
Isabela cheered and clapped her hands, or tried to, considering one hand was busy holding her drink. Shaking his head, Anders headed for the open area below the patio, the ladies close at his heels.
"Guess it’s a good thing Meredith declined our invitation," Anton said, and Cullen laughed weakly.