[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 201
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Fenris ♂, Anders ♂, Gytha ♀, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Aveline ♀
Rating: M (L2 N3 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: A dildo shop, some pantslessness, dick jokes, bitchy jabs between old friends
Notes: Bawdy ballads, bad ideas, and Anton attempting to make peace with Aveline.
Almost an hour later, the screen pulled back and Gytha gazed confusedly at the two men singing angrily at each other in a foreign language. "I suppose that’s one way of passing the time," she said, stepping in with a large, flat metal tool.
Fenris nearly swallowed his tongue. There were words he didn’t say, in public, and most of them had been in that song, in some form. Anders, however, finished the verse.
"Do you know every bawdy ballad in Tevinter?" Anders asked, standing up and getting out of Gytha’s way.
"Clearly not, since every one I can think of, you already know," Fenris muttered. He felt a firm shove and then another, and then the squeak of metal, before his knob was again exposed to air.
Gytha stood up, holding the halves of the mould. "Looks good. No bubbles. I can cast something with this, easy, and then I’ll carve from the casting. Stone’s rough, but not if you’ve got a good dwarven lathe. I’ll see what I can do about getting my hands on enough lyrium to make this happen. I’m sure the Merchants’ Guild is going to give me a hard time, but…"
"It’s a very large, very specialised rune!" Anders declared, as Fenris twisted himself around like a cat and dropped off the table.
"I’m a very large, very specialised rune," Fenris pointed out, peeling off the wax that had stuck to the strap, before he unhooked it and reached for his trousers.
"Seriously?" Gytha took a closer look. "What do you do? Er, what are you for? I mean… I’ve never seen that one before."
"I make sock puppets," Fenris answered dryly, tugging on his pants.
At Gytha’s puzzled look, Anders added, "And he also gives evasive answers. Neither of those skills come from the lyrium, however. I think."
"In short, I am a weapon," Fenris answered. He stretched his arms to the sides and over his head, shifting until he felt his back pop. "A weapon who can wield a weapon."
Gytha chuffed. "Yeah, I know, I’m about to make a copy of it."
"That wasn’t quite what I… but yes, that too."
"Mage, no. We have been over this. It is unsafe and unreasonable." Fenris took Artemis’s face in his hands, looking up into those big, blue eyes he had such trouble saying no to, and said it again. "I am afraid I will hurt you. I am afraid even Anders may not be able to fix it. So, no, I will not repeat your brother’s idiot full-body Fade stunt."
Every week, or so, since that night by the docks, Artie had found some way to bring up the idea, and every time, Fenris had turned him down. This time, it was before breakfast, even. Perhaps his mage had thought he might get a different answer, if Fenris was too tired to think it through, but he’d already come to the conclusion that this was a terrible idea, and no amount of questioning it was going to improve it.
"You say that like we don’t do something unsafe and unreasonable on a daily basis," Artemis coaxed, cupping his hands over Fenris’s. "Just once? You have so much more control than Cormac does. And you’re sober. And I’m sober."
And, yes, Fenris was probably right, but Artemis hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it. The way Cormac had felt inside of him, a part of him, two separate hearts pounding in his chest…
"Mage, I said no."
Artemis pouted but nodded. "All right. I’ll stop asking." He turned his head to kiss Fenris’s palm, and Fenris was relieved he didn’t have to keep saying no. "Perhaps we can entertain ourselves some other way before breakfast?"
The thing about Anton was that he just sort of … appeared. One moment there was an empty office. The next moment, it was an office that contained Anton Hawke. And this was something Aveline had forgotten in the years she’d been avoiding speaking to the man. She was still avoiding arresting the man, certainly, but … it wasn’t like it used to be. He was someone else. She thought she might be, too.
But, none of that changed the fact that he was standing in front of her desk, where he hadn’t been, but a moment previous, holding a flowery-looking shield. It looked, she thought, startlingly like an iris. Something clattered in the back of her head, but it had been so long since anyone had brought it up, that it just slipped by.
"Come to turn yourself in, for the good of Kirkwall?" she asked, looking up at him, utterly unamused with whatever it was he thought he was doing.
"If I were doing that, it would not be for the good of Kirkwall. I like to think it would be to the detriment of Kirkwall, but that’s a point we’ll never agree on." Anton held out the shield. "I saw something that made me think of you, so I got it for you."
Aveline was on her feet, in an instant, eyes blazing, but Anton just kept talking.
"I paid for it and everything. Might have haggled a little, but this was absolutely legally acquired. I wouldn’t bring you something that wasn’t." His eyebrows raised. "I know better."
"And I know better than to trust a word that comes out of your mouth," she said. Arms folded, Aveline stared down at the shield but didn’t take it. "And why, exactly, did it make you think of me? Because you need a shield to walk into my office now?"
"Should I have brought you a more literal olive branch?" Anton sighed, setting the shield down on her desk. "It reminded me of you because legend has it that it belonged to Ser Aveline, the original Ser Aveline, and I thought it should belong to the younger, still living Aveline." He shrugged. "That and it’s a nice shield."
Still glaring at him, Aveline finally picked up the shield, her expression stonily neutral as she inspected it. Well. That explained why the style had looked familiar. "I was someone, once. Someone else. And since I’ve come to Kirkwall, you and your family talked me into a lot of things. Some of them I didn’t agree with then, and I still don’t, now. Some of them, I was surprised when I came to agree with. And you, Anton… you pushed too hard, too far. But, that’s just how you are, isn’t it?"
"You, much like everyone here, keep mistaking me for an actual nobleman. I’m a gamesman like any other, if one with a purpose." Anton shrugged and leaned on the edge of the desk. "This city is wrong, Aveline. You know it and I know it. It’s why you joined the guard, isn’t it? To protect those with nothing else going for them?"
"And you… what? You’re a thief. You’re a liar and a cheat. And now, you’re the ‘Champion of Kirkwall’." Aveline’s chin tucked in as she overplayed the last words. "And you started a war that got the Viscount killed!"
"I did not start the war. I was there to stop the war, and I failed," Anton insisted. "And the Viscount was … a levelling influence, but hardly the man of political virtue he’s made out to be. Value, yes, but not virtue. I liked him, all the same, and I didn’t want him dead. I didn’t want anyone dead, Aveline, that’s the point." He paused. "And I mostly steal from Orlesian nobles, anyway. And it’s not really stealing. They wager and they lose. Everyone cheats. I just do it better."
"Not everybody," Aveline said. The shield clattered back onto the desk. "And you’re not just a ‘gamesman’ anymore, Anton. You’re the Champion. And that may not mean much to you, but it means something to this city. Without a viscount, you represent this city to its people."
"Which says an awful lot about the state of the city, doesn’t it?" Anton asked, knowing the joke would fall flat even as he made it. "If it makes you feel better, I don’t think I’m any more fit to be Champion of Kirkwall than anyone else. That’s just the hand I was dealt." Though technically, he supposed he cheated that too. Just not for his benefit.
Aveline rubbed at the bridge of her nose, at the corners of her eyes. "I don’t want to keep having this argument, Anton," she said, sounding every bit as tired as she looked. "And it’s a nice shield, but it’s not mine. Who is this Ser Aveline to me other than a wish my father made?" She shook her head and picked up the shield again, holding it out to Anton.
"So, stop having the argument. Do what you do. Let me do what I do. Between us, we can still drag this city back up. We need a viscount. You know that and I know that. That’s something we can agree on. That’s something we don’t have to fight about." Anton made no move to take the shield. "And it bloody well is your shield. It’s got your name on it and everything. I know no other Ser Aveline in all the Marches." He folded his arms over his chest.
"I’m not actually a ‘Ser’, you know," Aveline protested.
"Might as well be. More knightly honour in your left pinky than the whole of the Templar Order, who are, in fact, all the ‘Ser’ this town has, right now." Anton shrugged and stepped back. "You were my friend, once, Aveline. I miss you. Keep the stupid shield. It’s a very nice shield and I paid quite a lot for it. And if you want to be sure that’s the truth, go ask after Larkin, in Lowtown. He found a cache of Orlesian armour, in Darktown, left over from the occupation. It’s a very nice, very old shield, and it’s got your name on it. Made in Orlais, and waited all this time for you to come pick it up."
Aveline harrumphed, but Anton could see her wavering, could read it in the softening of the lines around her eyes. She set the shield down again, sighing as though greatly put-upon, and Anton tried not to smile. "Only you would get me something so bloody Orlesian," she muttered.
"Could be worse," Anton said, shrugging one shoulder. "It could have been the helmet of Ser Aveline, complete with plumes and moustachioed mask."
"I would have thrown it at your head."
"I would have let you."
For a moment, it was like they had settled back into old rhythms, and the glare Aveline shot him was almost warm. It made him miss her all the more. And now, he decided, it was time to make a tactical retreat while the cards were still in his favour. "So I hear I’ll see you at the wedding?" Anton asked.
"I told your brother I would be there. Whether you will see me is another matter," Aveline replied, huffing in annoyance, as she realised she’d have to put the shield somewhere, before she could get back to work. When she looked up, Anton was gone.