[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 203
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Carver Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Aveline ♀, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂, Isabela ♀, Merrill ♀, Sebastian ♂, Varric ♂, Jethann ♂, Theron Mahariel ♂, Kallian Tabris ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D1)
Warnings: Drunken toasts, alcohol-soluble heterosexuality, questionable elvish food, brotherly facepunching
Notes: Supper, toasts, stories about the past. Sebastian is never allowed to get that drunk again.
After a round of ‘swording’ and a glass of wine, Artie was much more relaxed by the time he and Fenris met everyone for dinner. They’d reserved a private room at the Rose, the room on the first floor with the long table and seating for everyone, and the kitchens served an array of Fereldan foods for the occasion, some of which Fenris poked at with a bemused look on his face.
With his belly full and a glass of wine in his hand, Fenris sat back, an arm around his mage, and listened to the absurd stories Varric was telling at the other end of the table. The table was long, but Varric was loud, so Fenris managed not to miss a word as Varric went into detail about how he’d met the Hawkes.
"I hope you all appreciate that that," Varric said, pointing down the table at Cormac, "was my first impression of the Hawke family, and yet somehow, I’m still associating with them all these years later."
"Proof of my eternal excellence!" Cormac declared, smacking a hand on the table, beside his plate.
"My first Hawke, too!" Anders chimed in, pouring more wine for Cormac. He was the only one at the table drinking tea, which was a bit surprising, considering Sebastian was with them. "He’s got his charms, even if he’s not that smashingly beautiful creature at the head of the table."
"And mine," Theron added, standing up with his glass in his hand. "The first time I met these two, it was the middle of night on some path through the woods. This great idiot, and his hilarious tattoos, and that smashingly beautiful creature, who I didn’t see until Assface got his fat head out of my way. I’ve said it before, Fenris, but you’re a very, very lucky man." He smiled sadly up the table at the two of them and raised his glass. "To Assface Hawke, who only makes his brother look better by comparison!"
"It’s because you’re looking at my face and not my ass, you point-eared barbarian!" Cormac laughed, tapping his glass to the left and right.
"Well, if we’re comparing Hawke asses," Isabela began, raising her glass as well.
"We’re not," Artie cut her off. "Nope." She grinned at him and winked before taking a drink, and everyone at the table followed suit with their glasses.
"I met Cormac first too," said Merrill as she was setting down her drink. "Didn’t even know he had a brother with him for the longest time, at least not until a tree fell on my aravel."
Artemis groaned, hiding his face behind his hand, and Fenris chuckled and pressed a kiss to his cheek.
"My fault, I’m afraid," Theron said with an unapologetic smile.
"Knocked over a tree?" asked Sebastian, head tilted. "What were you doing?"
Bethany made strangled sound around her drink.
"They got a little… ‘enthusiastic’," Cormac choked out, with a sidelong glance at Cullen, who appeared to be trying to hide behind his drink. "All right, all right, if it’s embarrassing my brother time, I’m next."
He patted Anders’s shoulder and stood up. "My brother was born on my nameday, when I was probably two. It was my first nameday. The whole ceremony and everything, and then he was born that night… Don’t look at me like that!" He pointed at Sebastian. "You were a nobleman, once. We were Fereldan peasants! That’s how it’s done if you’re a peasant! Ask Cullen, he knows!"
Cullen realised he hadn’t succeeded in hiding behind his wine, and took another drink, before nodding. "He’s right. Two or three before you get a name, because most children won’t live long enough to take it."
"But, my dad put the baby in my lap and told me he was my nameday gift, and I had to take good care of him. And I tried. Maker, did I try, and he was a trying little shit, right from the word go." Cormac grinned up the table at Artemis. "But, two years later, it was nearly my nameday again, and dad asked what I wanted, and I said I wanted to give him a name, because I was getting tired of him not having one. And dad said he’d let me, but mum reserved the right to veto anything I came up with."
"I’m just glad he didn’t let you name me!" Anton called down the table.
"Hey, you’re named after a mage, you know!" Cormac jabbed a finger at Anton, before he went on. "But, I knew dad had this book. I liked to read it when I had time. Didn’t understand a lot of it, because, you know, I was four and it was a scholarly history, if one written for a more general audience. But, there was a story about a magister who married a slave, and all of the Imperium was up in arms about it — or so the book would have you believe. But, the magister’s name was Artemis, and that was the kind of bravery I wanted for my little brother, so that’s the name I gave him." Cormac choked up a bit, and tried to hide it with a shaky laugh. "Mind you, the magister only survived the wedding by about three weeks, and I hope you live longer than your namesake, but hey, you’re the one who always said I’d grow up to be Andraste, and I’m not on fire, yet. Nor do I have boobs. Thank any god who’s listening."
Cormac held up his glass. "So, in the continuation of a story of magic and freedom, my very favourite brother is to be wed, tomorrow. And that is worth at least another three drinks!"
The party cheered and applauded, everyone’s cups a little emptier when they returned to the table. Before Cormac sat down, Artie rose up and pulled his brother into a hug. He’d only known parts of that story, known that Cormac had performed his naming ceremony but not that he had chosen the name and not how. "I’m glad you don’t have boobs too," Artie said in Cormac’s ear, voice thick. "You darling idiot."
"Your darling idiot. Always," Cormac whispered, kissing his brother’s cheek, before he sat.
Artemis returned to his seat, and Fenris’s arm settled back along his shoulders.
Orana rose next from her end of the table, clearing her throat primly to get everyone’s attention. "If I may," she asked, looking to the happy couple.
Fenris nodded while Artemis said, "Of course."
"My apologies," Orana said with a self-deprecating laugh. "I’m used to waiting on tables like this. In fact, for a moment, when Messere Fenris asked me to come tonight, I thought he meant he wanted me to cook for everyone." She grinned at the Dalish couple next to Fenris. "Try not to looks so relieved, Theron. I know your… opinions on Tevinter cuisine."
"I have no opinions," Theron sniffed, "other than the fact that it’s not much of a cuisine."
"Says the elf who brought pickled nuts into my kitchen," Orana teased. Theron put a hand to his chest as though struck while Kalli snorted a laugh. "But anyway. Messere Fenris assured me that I was invited as part of the family, and a greater honour I could not imagine. And yes, this is after meeting your family, Messere Artemis." She winked at Fenris. "I owe you two so much. You not only saved my life but gave me a better one." She raised her glass. "To Messeres Fartemis, the family I didn’t know I needed."
Cullen wasn’t really sure he had any business talking, but he supposed Artemis was his brother, now. He whispered something to Anton, who looked up and down the table, before nodding. Looking entirely unsure of himself, Cullen stood up. "Unlike most of you, Artemis was my first Hawke. We lived in a little town south of Redcliffe, then — all of us — my family and the Hawkes. I was young enough that I probably shouldn’t remember, but I watched him become a mage. I never saw anyone look that afraid, again, until I got to Kinloch Hold. I became a templar not only to protect the world from his power, but to protect him from it. To protect him from himself. But, here we are, twenty years later, and he’s done just fine without the Order." Cullen smiled awkwardly and raised his glass. "To a mage I’m proud to call my brother. May you always be so strong."
Artemis saluted Cullen with his glass before clinking it against Fenris’s. Next to rise was Bethany, but she turned to address Fenris. "You know, I’ve lived with Artie for most of my life, and I know how… interesting that can be." Fenris chuckled, and Artemis swatted his leg under the table. "We don’t even live on the same street anymore, and he still cleans my room."
"You’re welcome," Artie huffed.
"And that’s because my brother is a perfectionist," Bethany went on. "He doesn’t accept anything less than the best. Fenris, you make my brother so very happy, and that’s a difficult thing to do." She raised her glass, and the rest of the table followed suit. "But, Fenris? If you ever hurt him, I swear you’ll never sleep another night in your life." She smiled sweetly. "To my new brother!"
Fenris laughed weakly and drank more than a sip.
The speeches continued, on and off, through the next course. Eventually, almost everyone got in a remark about one or both of the couple — Isabela was disappointed she’d eternally be short one Hawke, Aveline still thought Fenris would make an excellent guardsman, Donnic was glad that Fenris won well and fairly but still had mercy, Evie remarked on their taste in flowers, Carver complained that he wasn’t adopted but that Artemis made him wish he was just a little less than Cormac, and so it went, until Sebastian and Varric were the last ones left.
After a last few bites of some Fereldan dish he hoped never to encounter again, Sebastian stumbled to his feet. Perhaps he wasn’t as used to the wine as he thought he should be. "Artemis, I just want you to know that when Cullen told me he was dating the ‘attractive’ Hawke, I assumed he meant you. Because we’d already violently est— established he didn’t mean Bethany, but you look so much like your sister. If I were ever going to betray both the Maker and your sister, it’d be for someone who looked like you."
Bethany choked on her wine, as one of the servants cleared the dishes to make room for dessert. "Nobody give him any more wine!" she cackled. "Sit down, Sebastian, you ass."
"Well he’s right, Bethy! You two do look like twins!" Cormac called across the table, before getting the attention of one of the servants and whispering something, with a gesture at Theron.
"Oh Maker," Artemis muttered, downing the rest of his wine while Fenris shook with laughter next to him. Sebastian teetered, slumping back into his seat at a tug from Bethany. Dessert distracted him a moment later.
Spoon halfway to her mouth, Kalli eyed the food the servants placed in front of her husband. "What in the Blight is that?" she asked. She poked at his whipped… something with her spoon, lip curled in distaste.
Theron was too distracted by the mug in front of him to answer. He sniffed at it, intrigued, and threw a questioning look at Cormac across the table.
"Lard pudding," Cormac clarified, with a grin. "It’s exactly what you think it is."
Theron’s eyes widened. "I haven’t had this since the last arlathvhen! Where did you learn to make this?"
"I picked it up from this Chasind family we stayed with, when I was young. The girl said they learned it from the elves." Cormac grinned and poured himself a glass of something thick and off-white, before passing the bottle across the table to Theron.
Anton groaned. "Oh, Maker, Cormac, no."
Theron poured some into his glass and swirled it. "This I don’t recognise at all."
"It’s blaand," Cormac told him. "it’s—"
"Gross," Anton finished.
"You drink blaand?" Cullen asked, face twisting in disgust. "Why?"
"It’s milk-wine," Cormac told Theron, "and I grew up in southern Ferelden, so you know why I drink it. Kind of surprised you don’t, Cullen. Lothering was really a little large for it."
"It’s from milk?" Kalli said, lip curling even more. "Ew."
"And here I thought you just drank the blaand as an excuse to visit Gantry," Artemis muttered. Theron offered him the bottle, which met with a "no" and an expression much like his wife’s.
Theron shrugged and set down the bottle in the middle of the table, where he and Cormac could both reach. He took an experimental sip of the blaand, tilting his head as it sat on his tongue. "Ooh." He grinned and went back for another sip. "Kalli, you need to try this."
"Not if you paid me," Kalli said, digging into her own dessert.
Cullen shook his head and sunk a spoon into his own much more recognisable fig pudding. "And that’s the mage I’m not happy to suddenly be related to," he muttered.
"Nobody’s happy to be related to Cormac, except maybe Artie. And even that’s questionable." Anton laughed and picked Anders’s pocket for a charcoal stick, scrawling something on one of the cloth napkins, before he wadded it up and threw it up the table at Artie. "That’ll probably help, though."
"I’m in a league of my own," Cormac drawled, raising his glass to Theron. "To the only other person at the table who recognises proper food!"
"What about me?" Merrill asked, from next to Carver. "Don’t I get some?"
Carver shot a horrified look up the table at Cullen. "If anybody asks, I’m related to your family."
Cormac waved to one of the servants, and pointed to Merrill. "Sorry, Merrill. I thought Carver might have ruined you with his barbarian tastes."
Artemis threw Anton a suspicious look and smoothed out the napkin, grimacing at the charcoal dust that came off on his fingers.
"Well, if he hasn’t ruined her with his swording…" Fenris muttered, tilting his head to see what Anton had written. His handwriting was a bit difficult to make out, but he could decipher a few words. "What’s this about a bull?"
Artemis glared at Anton over the napkin.
"It was a long time ago," Anton reminded him, sliding his chair back a few inches in case he needed to make a run for it.
Artie handed the napkin off to Cormac… or, rather, laid it out neatly in front of him. "Excuse me, but I need to kill one of my brothers," he said, getting to his feet.
"I didn’t say I did anything! I said Cormac didn’t!" Anton climbed into Cullen’s lap. "I’d never seen you that pissed, for that long, about anything! And he didn’t deserve it! And I’m not saying I did!"
"You know Gantry told me, right?" Cormac said, leaning back in his chair. "He found out from his brother, and it didn’t take much to put the rest together. In case you ever wondered exactly how it was that birds kept shitting in your drink for six months after that? That was me. Never underestimate your older brother’s ingenuity."
"Birds? What are you, now, some kind of bird-mage? Dad’s books didn’t say anything about bird mages!" Anton positioned himself carefully, so that no matter how Artie came at him, he’d have a direction to go. "And that was completely gross, by the way! Bird shit? In my drink? Every night? How did you even manage that?"
"Carefully." Cormac grinned.
Anders leaned forward and looked down the table, trying to catch Cullen’s eye, over Anton’s shoulder. "Cullen? Are we back in the tower? Because I’m sure I’ve heard this conversation before."
Cullen arched an eyebrow at Anders. "Why? How much bird shit did you drink?" He suddenly looked horrified. "How much bird shit did I drink?"
"Ask Surana," Anders replied, poking at his pudding. Cullen looked the opposite of reassured.
Artemis shook his head at Anton, not even bothering to reach for him. "Why don’t you save us both the trouble?" he said, beckoning his brother with the curl of a finger.
"Cullen," said Anton, eyes on Artie, "could you do me a favour and smite my brother?"
"I’m not getting in the middle of this," Cullen replied.
"You’re already in the middle of this," Anton told him. "Literally."
"Boys," sighed Bethany, "no smiting or force magicing at the table, if you please."
"I want to hear about this bull story," Isabela said.
"I don’t think either of you have told it to me, either," Anders noted, contemplatively, around a mouthful of pudding. He washed it down with a swig of Cormac’s blaand, amid a round of protests from Justice.
"In brief, there’s this stuff that’s used on cows to make them more attractive to the bulls, during a particular couple of weeks a year. And he whose magic tricks are limited to prestidigitation decided to pour some on my extremely nervous little brother. It is a very good thing I happened to be there, later that day." Cormac topped off his glass and glared down the table. "You deserved every mouthful of chickenshit you got for that, just so you know. Fifteen years later, and you still deserved it."
"I feel like you’re leaving out the exciting part of the story," Varric said, pouring himself a glass of brandy.
"I feel like if I leave it to your imagination, you’ll probably be something like correct."
"When was this?" Theron asked, looking between the brothers. "Was this later? I didn’t hear about this!"
"This was later, yes," Artemis said, still locked in a staring contest with Anton over Cullen’s head. "In Lothering. Though I didn’t know at the time that’s why the bull was after me. His… attentions were an oh-so-pleasant surprise."
"I still don’t get why you were so mad at Cormac," Anton said. He darted a glance at their older brother, and Artie looked at him too automatically. In that brief break of eye-contact, Anton bolted, slipping between chairs. Artie twisted his fingers, and Anton fell butt-first to the floor. Each time he tried to stand up, Artie twitched his fingers again, and he was drawn back to the floor as though magnetised. Artemis took Anton’s pudding, taking his time to eat it as Anton swore at the floor.
"I was mad at Cormac for other reasons," Artemis muttered around a mouthful of pudding.
"So what animal do you get when you cross a bull and a Hawke?" Aveline asked.
"Nothing pretty," replied Varric, "even if Artie is the mother."
"And for the record, he was mad at me because I was banging Gantry and he wanted a piece." Cormac laughed. It was … almost true, he thought, even if everyone would take it the other way. "Got himself a piece of Gantry and we made up by morning."
Anders opened his mouth, took one look at Carver, and shut himself up with more pudding. "I would like to remind you all that even at the height of the Imperium, nobody was having ass-babies, from bulls or otherwise." It was safer than a remark about how this seemed to be a habit, with the two of them, sharing lovers.
Sebastian banged his knees on the underside of the table, trying to get up. On the third try, he managed. "I need to get back to the Chantry, before the night Hours begin. It’s been lovely. Thank you for having me." Bulls? Ass-babies? Mages. He’d had more than enough of the company and the wine.
"Tell Jethann I’ve got a sovereign for him if he makes sure Chantry-boy gets home in one piece?" Cormac called across the room. "He can thank me later."
Artemis cleared his throat awkwardly and slunk back towards Fenris, taking Anton’s pudding with him. He stopped pinning his brother to the floor, but Anton had stopped trying to get up. He was currently lying on his back and admiring the ceiling.
"A bull, hm?" Fenris murmured, pulling his mage into his lap and pressing a kiss to his neck.
"It was a traumatic day for me," Artie huffed, smiling when he could feel Fenris’s chuckle rumble in his chest.
"Does it have to be Jethann?" Anders asked Cormac, stealing more of his blaand. "Honestly, him accompanying Sebastian just makes me more worried for Chantry-boy than if he’d gone alone."
"Oh, it should be Jethann, because he tells the best stories. We’ll get to hear all about this little trip across Hightown, all night." Cormac laughed.
"I thought you had some other plans for tonight…" Anders purred against Cormac’s ear, quietly, pinching Cormac’s thigh under the table.
"Not in front of the company, Anders. Even if some of them are involved." Cormac spoke without moving his lips, a habit he’d picked up after so many years in a house with Anton and Bethany.
"Gross!" Carver shouted down the table, lobbing a fairy cake at Cormac. "It’s not your wedding! You don’t get a pass!"
"Nobody fucking asked you, shem!" Kalli shouted back. "I like the view!"
Cormac shrugged at Cullen. "Brothers."