[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 149
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cullen ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Isabela ♀, Merrill ♀, Bethany Hawke ♀, Anders ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Mia ♀, Cormac Hawke ♂,
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Magic at a templar party, threats of doom
Notes: A demonstration of magic. A demonstration of power. A demonstration of cheesy romance-novel sensibilities.
"May I have your attention, please!" Isabela strutted out in front of Anders, gesturing broadly. She knew how to start a show — between the assortment of brothels she liked to visit and Zevran’s unending stories of Antiva, she’d picked up a few things. "We have a very special bit of entertainment, tonight, for this long-awaited event! By the Knight-Captain’s own command, we bring you Mage-Warden Anders, and his astonishing magics! Never fear! The worst you’ll get is rained on. Come closer! Get the good seats before they’re all gone!" Isabela paced and spun, as the patter went on, one hand always pointed back toward Anders who looked more and more ill as this went on. "Witness the glamour of his glittering hands! See magic serve man as it is meant to!"
Merrill and Bethany led Anders forward, Bethany whispering the whole time. "Just do something harmless, Anders. Sparks and rainbows. Merrill and I will bring out the exciting stuff."
"No," Anders hissed, shooting a look at Bethany. "No exciting stuff."
"Do have some faith. I’m an illusionist, and she makes flowers. We can avoid setting anyone on fire," Bethany scoffed, waving aside his objections. "We just need it all to look like you’re doing it, because they will come after us."
"An illusionist? Illusion!? You specialise in entropy!" Anders did not look impressed, but he managed to keep his voice down.
"Please. I’m a woman of many talents." Bethany batted her eyelashes before she and Merrill stood back and to the side, leaving Anders the lone centre of attention. Anders turned to the crowd and squared his shoulders, slapping on his best approximation of a cocky smile and hoping no one could see the sweat beading along his forehead.
In the crowd, Artie turned to Cormac, eyes wide. "Magic?" he hissed. "He’s going to use magic? In front of all these templars?" He knew Anders was safe so long as he wore his Warden armour, but the thought still made his skin itch. "Maker. I need to… clean." If everything was clean, Anders would be safe. He went to the buffet tables and started straightening wine bottles and clearing away crumbs. Fenris exchanged a look with Cormac and went to soothe his mage.
In front of the crowd, Anders’s hands started to glow, and all the excited murmuring hushed. Sparks danced at the tips of his fingers, and he held up his hands, passing sparks between them, lightning arcing from one hand to another, like a miniature rainstorm. He saw movement out of the corner of his eye, felt the dirt shift under his foot. A twisting vine sprouted from the earth beside him, and then another. Anders kept smiling, kept pretending this was him and only him, even as he watched the templars in the crowd, waited for them to reach for the swords at their backs.
Slowly, the chairs began to change, as if the rain were washing them clean, and they shone as if they were made of solid gold. The illusion reached far enough that most of the inhabited part of the garden could see it. Bethany played the perfect ‘lovely assistant’, pretending surprise and urging the audience to show their appreciation, even as she wove a spell that seemed to change their clothing to bold, Antivan styles. Anyone looking closely at themselves could see it wasn’t real, as it didn’t show their actual skin, in places their real clothing covered, but just an illusion of skin that roughly matched their overall tone. But, no one looked too closely at themselves, as they were far too busy observing everyone else.
Sounds of amazement rippled through the crowd, as the vines climbed up the chairs, bursting into very real flowers in white, pink, and purple, along the backs and legs of the chairs. Some vines ran between the feet of those standing and flowered there, as well. Anders spread his hands, and the three of them seemed to stand amid a light-purple storm, crackling electricity dancing between the mages and the outer edge of the bubble. Bethany nudged Merrill, and the two of them stepped out, in opposite directions, cupping their hands toward each other, as a rainbow spread between them, courtesy of Bethany, the arc growing larger with every step taken.
The garden filled with colour and light, and the crowd cheered and applauded. Isabela put her fingers to her lips and let out an impressive whistle.
"That really is beautiful," Cullen murmured, humbled. For so long, when he thought of magic, he’d thought of that little boy in Honnleath, of Artemis and the fear in his eyes, thought of Kinloch Hold, of blood and demons. But this magic was gentle, beautiful, and he hoped to the Maker that his fellow templars saw what he saw.
Cullen peered into the crowd and found the other templars clustered together, with the exception of Carver, who was likely off with his family somewhere. Some of the greener recruits had started to applaud, only to stop when they saw the older templars’ stony expressions. Cullen’s heart sank, and he looked away.
Anders took his bows, his smile more relieved than forced, and Isabela led another round of cheering from the crowd. Bethany and Merrill pulled Anders down to kiss his cheeks, before they darted back into the crowd, laughing. The illusions faded, but the flowers remained, and a decent number of people had picked some, marvelling at the fact they were real. Anders headed back down the centre of the garden, toward where Cormac still waited, under the lime tree, grinning and clapping like a fool. A fond smile crept across Anders’s face, at least until a templar grabbed his arm.
"Where do you think you’re going, apostate?"
The smile vanished, and Anders’s shoulders dropped, loosely, as he turned, suddenly pale and much less amused. "Who do you think you’re calling an apostate, Ser Halfwit? Take your hands off my armour, before you get greasy fingerprints on the griffons." Every time, Anders went in mouth-first, and every time, that just made it worse. He’d never been one to go down easily, though.
Two other templars stepped up, to either side of him. "Trouble, Lieutenant?" one of them asked.
"This apostate thinks he can do whatever he likes," the Lieutenant marvelled. "Imagine that! Mages running wild across Thedas, doing whatever their perverted, little, black hearts desired!"
"Well, ah, Lieutenant… he is a Grey Warden." One of the templars shrugged. "He’s not really our problem."
"He’s our problem when he starts showing off in public, and making himself our problem," the Lieutenant insisted.
"The only problem I see here, Lieutenant," Cullen boomed, pushing his way through the crowd, "is you." He missed the comforting weight of his armour, of his sword at his back, but he needed neither to face down his men. "Mage-Warden Anders served under Solona Amell, the Hero of Ferelden, and he is a personal friend, here by my invitation. Stand down, Lieutenant."
Anton stood at Cullen’s side, his glare just as fierce, and they provided a united front as Knight-Captain and Champion of Kirkwall. The two junior templars wavered, exchanging nervous looks.
"Captain," the Lieutenant insisted, "the Knight-Commander would not approve—"
"The Knight-Commander would not approve of you disobeying a direct order, Ser," Cullen snapped, and the Lieutenant’s mouth closed with an audible click. "We’re supposed to guard mages, not harass them. Now let go of the Warden, and get out of my sight."
"Please do," Anton added when the Lieutenant looked ready to protest. "My husband and I are dressed rather finely, and I’d hate to crease our nice clothing or ruin it with bloodstains."
The Lieutenant finally let go of Anders and backed away. Anders clucked and made a show of examining his sleeve where the templar had grabbed him. "See?" he sighed. "Greasy fingerprints. Artie would despair." The templar shot him a withering look before storming out of the garden.
Cullen turned to the junior templars, who quailed under his stare. "We have no trouble with the Warden, Captain," one hurried to say, and his friend nodded. "None at all."
"Good," Cullen grated out through his teeth.
During the scuffle, Cormac had appeared behind the templars, a half-cast spell at his fingertips. It would have been both saner and more satisfying to engage them without magic, but he’d left his glaive inside, not expecting this to turn into a battleground. Although, it was his brother’s wedding, so maybe he should have expected it. Now, he slid his arms around Anders, putting himself between the Warden and the templars.
"You know I wouldn’t have let it happen, don’t you?" he breathed against Anders’s collar. "I could see Cullen coming over, from behind you, and I figured it was better to let him handle it. I shouldn’t have to kill someone, at a time like this. It would really ruin the mood. But, I would have."
"And to think, even the great Cormac Hawke fails to be immune to the sappiness of this fine occasion. Don’t get any on me. I’ve already got greasy templar fingerprints." Still, Anders held Cormac just a little too tightly, as he watched Cullen shoo the templars away.
"Sorry about that," Anton said, rubbing his face with one hand. "I didn’t expect they’d try something like that here, in front of him. Good show, though. How much of that was my sister?"
"Sorry, Anton," Anders sniffed. "I’m a performer, and that’s a trade secret you’re asking for."
Anton smirked down at his feet then up at Anders. "So most of it, then."
"Most of it," Anders admitted. "I made the sparks, and Merrill made the flowers."
"I had no idea any of you could do that," Cullen said, his awed voice a stark contrast to the bark it’d been with his men. "That was… truly astounding. Thank you, Anders. Though I… suspect my sisters are a bit entranced, so to speak." He glanced over his shoulder to see Rosalie and Mia with their heads together, peering at Anders, only to look away and act like they hadn’t been staring when they saw Cullen shaking his head at them.
Cullen cleared his throat. "I hope it goes without saying that you will not…"
"No, no," Anders assured him with a breathless laugh. "I’ve been warned off sisters altogether, it seems." Anders grinned against Cormac’s ear.
"Is all well?" asked a new voice. Anders peered over Cormac’s head to see Fenris sidle up to them. The elf frowned at the embracing mages, then at the newly-weds. "I’m afraid I was… too occupied to offer my assistance, but I see that no mages or templars are dead, so I assume my assistance was not needed."
"We didn’t kill anybody, Broody. Thanks for keeping Artie out of it." Cormac turned his head to look at Fenris. "I mean that. I’m not just being a dick."
"Someone needed to do it. I am the obvious choice. I can only imagine the lasting blight on the family name, if you were to have attempted to solve the problem." Fenris cleared his throat and looked back toward the table Artie was still tidying, now accompanied by Bethany, who kept putting things on the table behind him, and Merrill, who seemed to be telling another story. When he’d left them, she was talking about what a foolish and useless child Mahariel had been.
"The lasting blight? Isn’t that a bit much? At worst, he’d have shaved off my beard, in a panic," Cormac joked, with a wry glance in Artie’s direction.
"Maker. Has he done that?" Anton asked.
"Just the once. It’s a good thing I’ve got a bit from Dad, or I’d never have been able to grow a beard again, after that. You’re lucky you’re an elf, Broody." Cormac shook his head.
Fenris hummed. "Indeed, I do not envy you your fluffiness," he said wryly, "though being an elf has not spared me from his mage-floors." His ear twitched just thinking about it.
Anders stifled a laugh against Cormac’s hair. "Fluffiness," he repeated. "He makes you sound like a long-haired cat." He scratched beneath Cormac’s chin, just under his beard.
"If I were a cat, you would complain when I bite your ass," Cormac pointed out. "I have proof of this. But, then, we’re talking about the guy who thinks we’re magical bears, so…" He shrugged, a hint of a smile on his lips.
"Thank you for that," Anton drawled. He and Fenris wore matching pained expressions. "It’s my wedding day. Can we maybe limit the amount of terrible images?"
"Speaking of terrible images," Cullen said, face draining of colour as he glanced back at the hedge maze. "Has my mum come out of the maze yet?"
Cullen had vanished from the festivities, at some point late in the evening. Anton expected it might have been the fact he just couldn’t look his mother in the eye, after the garden tour she took with the Seneschal — and Anton was going to have a word with Bran about that. Anton may have been better at cards, but Bran had an amazing talent for manufactured scandal.
Still, for Cullen to have ducked out without a word, it must have been serious. Or so Anton thought, until he found the note on his bed. ‘Wait for me on the docks,’ it said. Nothing else. No further explanation. Well. Anton had been the one to arrange most of the actual wedding celebrations, so perhaps Cullen had taken it upon himself to arrange for some other festivities. Although if it was a pleasure cruise through the valley, Anton might take a page from Carver and punch Cormac.
Anton let Bodhan know where he was off to and why, and the dwarf offered profuse and effusive congratulations on his freshly-wed state.
Anton knew the docks well enough to traverse them at night, and the docks knew him well enough not to mess with him, though that lesson had been learned the hard way.
The Qunari Compound was deserted, closed off. Anton didn’t spare it a glance as he passed, but that eyesore of a statue that had been dedicated to him was harder to ignore. He rolled his eyes at the stone version of ‘him’, at the clunky armour he’d never be caught dead wearing and the firelit sword he wouldn’t even try lifting. But the firelight caught the edges of a shadow, a darkened figure lurking just out of the corner of his eye. Anton slipped a hand into his fine clothing, slipping around the hilt of a dagger, the one he’d worn to his wedding.
A figure slipped out of the shadows, and Anton recognised the outfit before he even made out Cullen’s face. "My, my," he purred, as Cullen swaggered toward him, "has some dread pirate taken an interest in my dainty noble ass?"
Cullen wrapped his arm around Anton’s waist, pulling the rogue up along his thigh. "I’ve heard that’s a very piratical interest, plundering dainty noble booty," he replied with a grin that couldn’t hide the blush that bloomed on his cheeks as he tried not to stumble over any of the words. This was, in fact, ridiculous.
"Well, my booty has been plundered quite thoroughly, by dread pirates, in the past. Have you come to claim what’s left and take it for your own, you dashing swain of the seas?" Anton couldn’t keep the grin off his own face, but he managed to hold off the laugh a while longer, amusement still plain in every word, even as he struggled to sound flighty and breathless.
"I have come to do so, yes," murmured Cullen, quietly intense. He struggled to keep the laughter from bubbling up his chest. "To whisk you away to my chambers and ravish you until my plundering is the only plundering you remember."
Anton fanned his face with his hand. "Oh, how dreadfully wicked!" he said, voice shaking with suppressed laughter.
"Oh," Cullen purred, swinging Anton up and into his arms, "I haven’t even begun to be wicked yet, my darling."
Anton threw his arms around Cullen’s neck, snickering against his shoulder as the ‘pirate’ carried him off into the night.