[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 162
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Cullen ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Cormac has a terrible idea, Anton suggests the lawn furniture
Notes: Cormac has questions he can’t ask Anders. He realises he can get at least some of the answers from Cullen, instead.
Cullen arrived at the estate to find someone else already waiting outside the door, balancing a bouquet of flowers in the crook of one arm as he knocked. It reminded Cullen of the first few times he’d knocked on that door himself, palms sweaty, fingers fidgeting with the orchids in his arms, and he wondered whom the flowers were for. Bethany, perhaps? She and that Starkhaven gentleman had been getting on for quite a while now.
"Oh! Hello," Cullen greeted the delivery boy. It had been a while since he’d gotten Anton orchids. He should fix that.
Half a face appeared around the colourful bouquet. "Good day, messere," the boy said, words half-muffled by petals. It was only then that Cullen got a good look at the bouquet and the obscene amount of lime blossoms.
Bodhan opened the door, and Cullen blurted, "They’re not from me," as his cheeks turned a mottled red. "And hopefully not for Bethany. Are they for Bethany?"
"Ah," said Bodhan, spotting the flowers. "For Messere Cormac, I suspect. I’ll take those." The delivery boy relinquished the flowers, barely sparing the blushing captain a glance as he disappeared back down the street.
"What’s for me?" Cormac called out from the library, appearing in the doorway after a few moments. He looked haggard, like he hadn’t shaved in a couple of days, and either hadn’t been sleeping or had been sleeping poorly. Dark circles could be seen under his eyes, which was quite impressive given the usual cast of his skin, and his hair seemed fuller, somehow. A palm-sized lump of grey and gold stone appeared in his hand, and he kept squeezing and turning it, as he lingered at the library door.
"Flowers, messere," Bodhan said, displaying the bouquet. "I’ll put them in water."
Cormac blinked at the flowers and nearly choked on his tongue. "Put them in Artie’s room," he said finally, shaking his head, and Bodhan nodded.
"I’ll fetch Messere Anton for you," Bodhan assured Cullen, as he made his way further into the house.
"Anders sending you flowers now?" Cullen asked, assuming it to be the case.
Cormac pressed the heel of his hand against the corner of his eyesocket, a swirl of magic circling the other hand, as he clutched at the stone. "Anders … isn’t speaking to me, right now. They’re from my brother."
Cullen couldn’t keep the words from falling out of his mouth. "Ambitious lust!? Which brother would — Anton. It’s Anton, isn’t it." He sighed, shaking his head.
"Not that you’re wrong about the motivation, but you’re wrong about the brother. Artie’s a real asshole, when he puts his mind to it." Cormac laughed. That was his story, and he was sticking to it. "Ambitious lust. Yeah, at this rate, it’s pretty ambitious." He sighed and gestured at the cellar door.
Anton poked his head in the door. "Cullen, I heard you say my name and the word ‘lust’ from down the hall," he teased. "I’d ask if I’m about to have an eventful afternoon, but I just saw the flowers." The teasing grin became a grimace as he glanced at Cormac. "You and Artie aren’t starting that again, are you? We have enough inappropriate flowers out in the garden without you bringing the bawdy blossoms inside."
"They’ve… done this before?" Cullen asked, looking back and forth between the brothers. He thought of Branson and vowed to never send him lime blossoms. "This is a thing they do?"
"Yes," Anton sighed, walking into the room to press a kiss to Cullen’s cheek. "It looked like a forest in here a few months ago." In a loud whisper, he added, "Cormac doesn’t know how many bouquets I fed to the goat."
"Please. Feed my flowers to the goat. Saves on Artie coming over and complaining about the dried petals on everything," Cormac groaned, before calling up the hall. "Bodhan? Send back eglantine and bellflower!"
Cullen reeled, looking surprised. "Is it that bad?"
"Worse." The swirl of magic around Cormac’s hand grew brighter. "I fucked up."
"Obviously, if he’s not talking to you," Cullen pointed out. That was one of those things he was pretty sure about. He wasn’t very good at relationships, not having been in any that weren’t with Anton, but he was extremely certain that ‘not talking to you’ was one of those things that indicated you fucked up pretty seriously. "What did you—"
"Exactly what he told me to," Cormac said, with a bleak shrug. He studied the stone in his hand. It had been black, when he started, but he could see it lightening, bands of translucency starting in the stone, and he wondered what would happen if he just kept squeezing it. He wondered how tight Crushing Prison could actually squeeze. "Don’t ask. It’s nothing political."
Cullen wanted to ask anyway. Political or not, Cormac was part of his family now, which was a thought he was still getting used to, but Anton shook his head. Anton was making that ‘I don’t want to know so please let me stay in denial’ look, a look Cullen had come to expect in most of their interactions with Cormac.
"Is he all right?" Cullen asked anyway. "Are you all right?" He wasn’t asking as a templar, even though his stare kept darting down to the stone in Cormac’s hand and the twists of magic he could sense there. "Because if there are going to be any drunk Hawkes wandering the city, I think Kirkwall as a whole needs to be warned."
Anton smirked. "I think Kirkwall has learned to read the warning signs," he replied.
"I’m not drinking," Cormac muttered, sounding like the thought had already been well-considered. "I’m sitting in the library, playing with this rock Bethy gave me. If I cast Crushing Prison on it, when I get annoyed, I don’t punch myself in the face. Unlike Carver, I can actually do that and expect to hit me."
Cullen nodded. He usually smacked his head on his desk, but he knew that feeling. Still, to have a mage — even one he was related to, now — admit to using such a terribly deadly spell so casually. But, then, Cormac still wasn’t hurting anyone with it. He had access to deadly magic, and he was sitting in his library, squeezing a rock, and trying not to punch himself in the head. And he’d seen Cormac get upset, before, but the only other time was in the middle of combat, and his brother was dying, so killing things had actually been an appropriate response. Once again, the apostate surprised him.
"Can I see it? It looks like an interesting stone. What kind is it?" he asked leaning sideways a bit, to take a better look.
"I don’t actually know," Cormac said, with a shrug, magic fading as he held the stone out in his palm. "I don’t know the names for a lot of rocks, but it used to be black. The more I squeeze it, the prettier it gets."
In the light, it almost seemed to glow. "That’s amazing," Cullen murmured, reaching as though to touch the stone for a moment before pulling his hand back. The rock was still charged with magic, and he knew better than to meddle with such things. "Just squeezing it? That’s all you’re doing?" He thought of the illusions at his wedding, the way the chairs and tables had seemed to glitter with gold, but knew this wasn’t an illusion. More and more, Cullen found himself in awe of what mages could accomplish.
"That… looks quite a bit shinier than the last time I saw it," Anton said, showing none of Cullen’s hesitation as he plucked the stone from Cormac’s hand, twisting it in the light. "Don’t show Izzy. You know her weakness for shiny things. She might try to steal it."
"Just squeezing it. No illusions, nothing weird." Cormac laughed and shook his head. "Pressure changes everything, I guess."
And there was an observation that gave Cullen pause. There was a terrible truth in it, and he wondered how different he would be if— but there was no use thinking on that, too long.
"And I’m not letting Izzy near it. Not this one. I thought maybe I’d… I don’t know, wear it or something. If she wants one, maybe I’ll make her one, but I have no idea if this is something that would work twice. I don’t know if it needs to be the same kind of rock, or how long it would take, if I were trying to do it on purpose." Cormac’s eyes settled on Cullen, and a thought darted through his head. The one other person who knew Anders almost as well as he did, if for very different reasons… "Anton? I need to borrow your husband, for a minute. I can’t promise not to break him, but I can promise not to turn him into a shiny rock."
"Borrow?" Cullen repeated, looking uneasy. "Why am I being borrowed?" After that incident with the cordial, Cullen made it a habit not to be alone with either of Anton’s older brothers. Or to drink cordial.
Anton patted Cullen’s shoulder reassuringly, but that just made Cullen’s frown deepen. "You had a falling out with Anders, and now you’re borrowing other people’s husbands?" Anton said, dramatically laying a hand on his chest. "Really, Cormac, what would the neighbours think?" He nudged Cullen towards his brother anyway as he spoke. "But yes, you may borrow him, as long as you’re gentle with him."
"And here I thought you’d fight harder for me," Cullen replied wryly. "What can I do for you, Cormac?"
"Talk to me about Kinloch Hold," Cormac said, eyes uncertain. "I need to know some things. I don’t know if you know them, but… It’s not like I can ask Anders, right now."
"Creepy mage shit!" Anton declared, kissing Cullen’s cheek. "In that case, I’m going to go make supper. Do you want me to leave you some, Cormac?"
Cormac’s stomach answered for him, before he could open his mouth, and he glanced down, looking betrayed. "Apparently, I do. Why are you cooking? Don’t we pay people for that?"
"That’s my husband. Why wouldn’t I be cooking?" Anton grinned and sneaked a hand out to squeeze Cullen’s bottom, resulting in a twitch and a squeak from the templar. "I’ve got to remind him I’m good for something besides lovely afternoons in the garden…"
"Don’t tell me. I’ve seen your garden extras. I paid for them. I don’t need to think about that too much." Waving his hands in front of his face, as if to chase off the idea, Cormac shook his head.
"You know, you should probably be making more use of that garden, if Anders isn’t talking to you. Just clean up after yourself, because I don’t want to," Anton suggested.
Cormac shook his head again. "Thanks, but no. Not… no. But, thanks." The garden would remind him of Anders, since the only times he’d really made use of it, Anders had been with him.
Cullen was a bit relieved to hear that. It was mortifying enough knowing his mother had walked through those gardens. Brother or not, he didn’t need to think of Cormac using those… amenities. Not if he planned to use them in the future.
"Very well," said Anton, stepping towards the door. "I’ll dinner. You’ll discuss." He winked at Cullen before disappearing around the corner