[ Master Post ]
Title: Adventures in Cuisine Via Hawke: That’s Not How Food Works (2/6)
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Leandra Amell ♀, Gamlen ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: G- (L1 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Leandra’s A+ mothering, who let Artie near the stove
Notes: No, Artie, you can’t cook. Stop trying, for the good of all Thedas.
Anton slung an arm across Artemis’s shoulders, grin already firmly plastered on. "Artie, my favourite brother… You know that elf you’re—" He caught the start of a glare and didn’t finish the sentence. "The one with the big sword. You know what I need more of, up the coast? A big sword. Preferably one that isn’t attached to our whiny little brother."
"Andraste’s tits, Anton, I can hear you!" Carver complained from the far side of the room. "Take that back before I come over there and knock it down your throat right along with your teeth."
"You stand a better chance of hitting Cormac," Anton scoffed, before returning his attention to his older brother. "Do you know that elf of yours doesn’t like chocolate? Who doesn’t like chocolate? I even got him those nice Orlesian ones. But, I bet you know what he likes, don’t you… I need some more sword for a raid on a bandit camp, this weekend. Bribe him with something nice for me. I’ll pay for it."
"Er…" Artemis picked the dirt from under his nails. What did Fenris like? Killing things…throwing wine at walls… "Why don’t you just ask him? That’s how I got him to go to Sundermount that one time."
"Yes, and that’s also how he met Cormac and Anders. Really, Artie? You introduced the mage-cranky elf to those two and expected him to want to go on more outings with us? Besides, there’s a difference between you asking and me asking." He squeezed Artemis’s shoulders, earning a flat look from his older brother. "Please?"
"Fine," Artie muttered. He didn’t say that if he knew how to bribe Fenris, he would have done it already."How hard can it be?"
Artemis figured he couldn’t go wrong with bread pudding. He’d watched Anton make it enough times that he knew the steps and knew that they were easy steps. It wasn’t until he started cooking, his attention divided between the food and his guest, that he realised this had been a mistake.
Cormac passed through the kitchen on his way out the back door. "I’m going to go see Anders. Don’t burn down the kitchen while I’m out. Mum would be so pissed at both of us, and she’s pissed enough at me for one day."
Fenris’s ears twitched as the door closed."I assume your brother is joking about the kitchen. You haven’t lit it aflame, before, have you?" he asked, pouring himself another glass of what passed for wine, in Lowtown. He’d put worse things in his mouth, sometimes even intentionally.
All the same, he found it charming that a mage was willing to cook for him. He’d rather assumed mages didn’t cook,and just relied on servants, but he’d also never met a poor mage, before the Hawkes. Slums, he’d noticed, were much the same, no matter where one went, and the only difference in this hovel compared to countless others was the high concentration of mages — and apparently, no one to see to their needs. The idea was intriguing.
"Uh, this kitchen?" Artie answered distractedly as he concentrated on the milk, pouring slowly, slowly,so as to get the exact right amount. "No. Technically."
"Technically?" Fenris asked, eyebrow quirking. He pulled out a stool to sit on, still keeping within range of the door. He wasn’t surprised when the stool wobbled under him.
"Nothing was on fire that wasn’t supposed to be," Artemis explained. "It was the smoke that was misbehaving." He frowned down at the soggy mixture. "Was that enough milk? Should I add more? I think I’ll add more."
Fenris couldn’t answer that as he didn’t know what Artie was making, but he was starting to get used to the mage muttering to himself from time to time.
Artemis added more milk anyway,chewing his lip and looking less than confident in this decision. Fenris scooted closer to the window in case of another instance of smoke misbehaving.Artie muttered to himself as he went on to the next ingredient, still working painfully slowly.
"Is this some Fereldan delicacy?"Fenris asked, in an attempt to figure out what he was about to put in his mouth. So far, from the ingredients he’d seen, it didn’t look like it had anything particularly offensive in it, whatever it was.
"Artie, your mother says to close up the stove, before you smoke out Lowtown." Gamlen leaned in from the other room. "Now, I don’t know what kind of thing you’re making, but it looks like a pudding, from here, and I hope you can’t fuck up a pudding.That’s not a talent you want to have. I know Leandra’s a little rough on you kids, so I’m just going to take it on faith that you’re not going to burn down my house, making a pudding." He paused and glanced at Fenris missing the ears, with the way the elf was leaning against the window frame. "You look like a nice girl. Be careful with this one. He’s a little jumpy and weird. But,maybe you’re into that. Girls these days…"
Gamlen wandered back out of the kitchen and Fenris stared after him. "I will presume that is your uncle,and that he is drunk."
"If I pretended I didn’t know him, would you believe me?" Artemis asked with a weak smile, ears burning red.
"Well, there isn’t much of a family resemblance," Fenris offered.
"Except for the drinking,"Artemis sighed. "That’s a family trait." He turned back to the food,following Gamlen’s instructions on the stove before throwing some more things into the mixture. He was highly aware of Fenris watching him, and he wanted to impress him, he really did, but so far this looked nothing like the bread pudding Anton usually made. "Damn."
"Something the matter?"Fenris asked.
"Um. No. Nothing the matter." It would probably look fine once it was cooked. It would certainly be less… soggy. He considered calling for Leandra and making sad faces at her until she fixed it, but that would defeat the purpose. This pudding was supposed to be from him.
"Right. We’ll just… let it cook a bit, shall we?" Artemis said, his smile more manic than friendly.And now he didn’t know what to do with his hands.
Fenris found himself more and more certain of his initial assumption — that mages couldn’t cook — but this mage had cleaned so thoroughly and profoundly that he’d been willing to give this a try. But, the mage looked a great deal more nervous than Fenris tended to associate with a successful venture of any kind.
He conversed awkwardly with Artemis,for some time, aborted conversations ending in the two of them staring at anything but each other. As he looked back to attempt another round, the pot caught his eye, large milky bubbles heaving the edge of the lid up. "Er,is that… It’s bubbling over. Does that mean it’s done?"
"It’s—? Andraste’s ass!"
Fenris knew from experience that not all mages were graceful, but he’d never seen one flail quite like this before.Artemis flitted around the stove, almost burning his hand on the pot before remembering to not touch it with his bare hands. His attempts to salvage the meal were accompanied by a muttered mantra of "shit, shit, fuck,damn".
Fenris saw defeat in the drooping line of Artie’s shoulders. He cleared his throat. "Problem?"
Artemis opened and closed his mouth a few times, never quite meeting Fenris’s eyes. "One moment." He walked to the doorway Gamlen had disappeared into and whined, "Mum!"
The door of the room Gamlen and Leandra shared banged open, and Leandra stalked out, wrapped in a heavy housecoat that looked nearly as old as she was. "Maker, Artemis, what have I said a hundred times about the stove?" She pushed past him into the kitchen, without so much as a glance at Fenris. "Couldn’t you get one of your brothers to cook for you? Where’s Cormac? Don’t tell me Cormac went out and didn’t leave you supper!"
Fenris watched the storm of a woman poke at the contents of the pan, with a long spoon. He had the sense, at least,to remain quiet, lest he attract her eye.
"What is this? Is this a pudding?The top’s raw and the bottom’s burnt! How do you do these things, Artemis? Do you just not think?" Leandra sounded utterly exasperated — as if this had not only happened before, but happened fairly regularly, at some point."How did you manage to ruin a pudding? You are twenty-six years old, and I think your brother’s dog could cook a better meal! Where’s your brother? Or your other brother? One of the ones who can at least cook a pudding!"
Artemis flinched, his stare cutting down to a stain on the counter, which he tried to pick at with his thumb. He looked more resigned than hurt, shoulders slumping but expression going blank. "Mum, we have company," he said softly. "Can you tell me how stupid I am later, please?"
Leandra stilled in the middle of poking at the poor excuse for a pudding. She stared up at Artemis before looking over her shoulder and finally seeing the elf lurking by the window. Fenris waved at her uncomfortably.
Leandra wheeled back around, throwing her arms across her chest. "Artemis Hawke!" she hissed through her teeth. "Do you have a brain? Because sometimes I wonder. I am not dressed for company! You could warned me!"
"Yes, yes, we’ve established I’m an idiot," Artemis muttered tiredly. "But is the pudding salvageable?"
"I wouldn’t feed it to the dog," Leandra declared poking at it a bit more. "But, if you put a bit more bread into it, and do not put it over the fire again, it might be food enough for you and Cormac, after a few minutes. He should eat your cooking, if he’s going to go out and leave you to cook for yourself."
To Fenris, who had mostly been living on jerky and hard rolls, the idea of it didn’t seem that terrible, even if it was a little burnt on the bottom. Perhaps not something he’d cook for himself — well, no. Exactly the sort of thing he’d cook for himself, which was why he ate jerky and hard rolls. At least the mage didn’t seem to be any worse at cooking than he was. It was a bit of a relief, though, to discover that mages couldn’t cook, after all.
"And if you expect to eat, tonight, it will be this. We can’t afford to have you ruining food! What even possessed you to try to cook?" Leandra demanded, looking no less furious but much more confused. "Was bread and milk not enough? You had to cook them?"
Artemis should have known better than to try cooking here. Or to try cooking. His entire face and neck heated with embarrassment as she scolded him. "I…" He cleared his throat. "I wanted to introduce my friend to some Fereldan cuisine."
Leandra’s expression turned absolutely thunderous.
"He’s from Tevinter, you see," Artie rambled as her lips pursed. "Probably never had bread pudding. Right, Fenris? You’ve never had bread pudding before, have you?"
Fenris was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to, at this rate. "No," he said, eyes wide as he looked back and forth between the two.
"See?" Artie offered his mum another weak smile, suddenly wishing that Cormac hadn’t gone out.
"That’s still not pudding," Leandra snarled, taking a cup of milk and a roll for herself. "And we can’t afford to be feeding your little friends, Artemis. Is that how you’re paying for your elves now? We can’t afford for you to be paying for them. We can’t afford anything, any more. We have nothing, since your father died! Nothing!"
She stormed out of the room, clearly on the verge of tears, and Fenris watched her go, unwilling to look away from the kitchen doorway, for a few moments afterward, half expecting her to return.
"Perhaps we should go to the Hanged Man," Fenris suggested, as delicately as he could manage. "I have silver enough for beer and stew, at least, and if it isn’t enough, there’s still wine in my cellar. I certainly need a drink after that." He didn’t much care about the pudding, one way or the other. He just wanted to get out, and it seemed rude not to take Artemis with him, after what he’d just seen.
"I… er…" Artie gave the sad almost-pudding another poke. He wondered if that would be worse, leaving the ruined pudding and wasting all that food and effort, but, Maker, stew sounded good. Leaving sounded better. "I need a drink too," he decided. "Or drinks, plural. Multiple drinks."
For once, he left the mess behind for someone else to clean up.