[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 212
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Carver Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Cullen ♂, Gamlen ♂, Fenris ♂, Charade ♀, Merrill ♀, Sebastian ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: GAMLEN NO, casual racism and implied homophobia, Andraste’s mabari and theological questions about dog farts
Notes: Family dinners are always exciting, especially when the extended family’s invited
"So good of you to come, Uncle." Cormac’s smile was tight, but he tried to be polite to Gamlen. Still, those two years in Lowtown would take a long while longer to shake.
Before Gamlen could respond, the dog went running across the main hall, behind Cormac, and Bodhan’s eyes widened as he edged past, presumably to contain Mintaka. And then horror lit Gamlen’s face as he looked over Cormac’s shoulder.
"Enchantment!" Sandal shouted, and Cormac turned around to find the young dwarf sitting on Anders’s shoulders, holding on to the ridiculous antlered helm the Warden wore and pointing after Mintaka, as Anders jogged after the dog, laughing. Cormac recognised the helm, he thought, some silly thing the miners had found in the Bone Pit and sent down to him as a joke.
"A normal spring evening," Cormac said, with an unapologetic smile at Gamlen.
Gamlen shook his head, looking around the room. He hadn’t been in the house, since Leandra’s funeral, and the whole of it had been redone as Anton saw fit, between then and now. "My father—" he started, voice tight and sharp.
"Is dead," Cormac finished. "As are both my parents. Anton’s house, Anton’s décor, Anton’s parties. Come, save the in-laws from your daughter. The last I checked, she was making a move on Anton’s husband."
"Anton!" Cullen’s voice echoed out from deeper in the house. "That is the opposite of helping! Maker! How did you ever convince me to marry you?"
Gamlen rubbed his forehead, resigning himself to a long evening. He followed Cormac further into the house, almost tripping over the dog still circling his ankles. Flanked by Anton and Charade, the Knight-Captain looked up at him, eyes wide and pleading. Artemis was busy straightening the furniture while Bethany perched primly in a chair nearby. Carver looked like he could list nine other places he’d rather be.
Gamlen wondered how he’d put up with this for two years.
"Hello, Uncle!" Anton greeted, rising to his feet. He pressed a drink into Gamlen’s hand. "Glad you could make it. We were starting to wonder where you were."
"You know exactly where I was. Same place you spent two years letting your damn dog fart all over," Gamlen grumbled, knocking back half the drink, as soon as it was in his hand. He’d never quite had the patience for Leandra’s kids. Probably because there were so many of them, they weren’t his, and they were a bunch of ungrateful little nugshits. He eyed Carver for a long moment. "The two proper sons that mage gave your mother, and one becomes a templar and the other marries a templar. I knew somebody in this family would find sense, eventually."
"Don’t speak so soon, Uncle," Bethany called out. "Carver’s marrying an elf!"
"Ing. Will be. In the future," Carver pointed out, reaching across the table to help himself to a dumpling. "As opposed to Artemis, who already did." No one mentioned that Merrill was a mage, and Carver wondered if Cullen even knew. Probably not, and he preferred to keep it that way.
Merrill came back in from the garden, with Sebastian at her side. "Cormac, why don’t you tell Sebastian about Andraste? He seems to be confused, and I just don’t understand enough about the Chantry to get it all right."
"You want me to tell Chantry-boy about his own religion? I’m not even Andrastian!" Cormac shook his head. "Nope. Not getting into this. Where’s Anders?"
"He and Sandal were playing with the goat." Sebastian looked somewhat uncomfortable at the informality of the occasion, as he made his way over to Bethany. "And I assure you, I am extremely aware of the scholarship surrounding Andraste. She was an Alamarri warrior, not a mage, and she did not have a mabari."
"Blasphemy!" Anton declared, eyes sparkling. "Of course she had a mabari!"
"And did that mabari fart on her uncle too?" Gamlen muttered into his drink. "Or was her dog too holy for that?"
Bethany tugged at Sebastian’s sleeve until he sat in the chair he’d been hovering by, nudging a glass of wine towards him before he could start lecturing the table. "She didn’t have any mabari to fart on anyone, uncles or otherwise," he said before shutting himself up with a sip of his wine, sitting up almost painfully straight in his chair.
Fenris finally coaxed Artemis to sit down. "What do you mean she wasn’t a mage?" he asked, a hand to his chest in mock surprise. He twisted to address Cormac. "Cormac, have you been lying to me all this time?"
"I blame dad’s books, if I’m wrong, same as I always have. It all seemed like a grand coverup, to me, like with so many mages and their axes and their spears. Of course, if we’re talking about mages’ spears…" A wicked grin crossed Cormac’s face, as he slid into his seat.
"Which we’re not." Anders swept into the room, tugging off the antlered helm and hanging it on a wall sconce, before he dropped into the seat next to Cormac, sweat sticking wisps of his hair to his pink cheeks. "It’s hot, today. Have you noticed how hot it is, out there? Because it’s hot."
"The first person to take the bait gets my fist for an appetizer," Carver snarled across the table, and Anders stuck out his tongue.
"Now, now, haven’t you punched Cormac enough for one day?" Artemis asked. "Or punched his shields, anyway. That’s how you break knuckles, Carver."
"Indeed," Anton agreed, "and then who would clean all those toilets?"
Carver flashed him a rude gesture that just made Anton cackle.
"He has two hands," Fenris pointed out. "He could keep cleaning the toilets."
"I think Carver and myself would both rather he didn’t need to clean the toilets," Cullen cut in before Carver could. "And could we not talk about toilets at the dinner table?"
"Please," Sebastian muttered.
Cormac pointed at Anton, with his eyes on Cullen. "He’s my brother, but he’s your husband. I think you’ve got the leverage, here."
"That’s definitely an inappropriate use for your sword," Merrill chimed in, from the end of the table, hiding a smile behind a glass of wine. "You definitely don’t want to be prying things wit—"
"Merrill!" Carver looked horrified.
"So, I see you’ve moved that apostate into the house." Gamlen raised his voice just enough to be heard clearly all the way down the table. "Just desperate to repeat your mother’s mistakes, aren’t you?"
"Gamlen— Gamlen." Cormac leaned forward and looked down the table. "Did you forget I’m a mage? I’m also a man — although I guess the beard might not be that obvious of a clue for a gentleman of your tastes — so it’s not like I’m going to end up with a hand’s worth of hooligan children, either. I’d like to think I’ve learnt from mum’s mistakes! Also, he’s not an apostate. I’m the apostate."
"Can we please stop saying ‘apostate’ with the Knight-Captain at the table, before someone winds up in the Gallows?" Anders suggested, winking across the table at Cullen.
"My, isn’t the weather in Kirkwall lovely, today?" Cullen’s grin looked like a child had drawn it on with a hacksaw.
"For values of ‘lovely’ that include the stench bubbling up out of Darktown, from the heat, and the pitch melting between the cobblestones? Absolutely." Fenris lifted his glass and clinked it against Cullen’s. "Also, I’m sure your office stinks of dead fish, facing off the water, like it does."
"So does Anton, when he visits me by climbing in through the window," Cullen replied.
Anton shot him a horrified look. "Would you rather I come in through the sewers?"
"I’d rather you come in through the front door."
Anders smirked into his glass. "There’s a joke in there about back doors that Isabela would be sorry she missed."
Artemis changed the subject before Gamlen’s expression could turn any more sour. "So, Uncle," he said, turning in his seat, "I’m sorry you had to miss the wedding. Then again, you were probably better off. It was certainly a, er, memorable occasion."
Gamlen grunted something as Bodhan refilled his drink. "So I hear. You’re into elves, hm? Guess I don’t have to ask which one of you is the girl."
Artemis patted Fenris’s hand when his elf started to growl.
Bodhan cleared his throat and stood by politely until he had everyone’s attention. "Dinner will be right out, messeres. There was a minor problem with the soup, but it’s been sorted."
"My uncle has some difficulty comprehending the idea of same-sex partnerships, as he’s already proven once this evening by insinuating Anders might get me pregnant," Cormac pointed out. "I keep telling you, Gamlen, we’re all men."
"This is why you don’t do family dinners, isn’t it?" Anders asked, quietly.
"Oh, I don’t know." Merrill’s smile was enough to set half the table on the edges of their seats. "This seems just like family. I didn’t have one, but everyone else’s seemed about like this."
"Didn’t have a family?" Sebastian asked, squinting down the table as a bowl of soup clinked onto the plate in front of him. "Don’t you have an entire clan? Isn’t that your family?"
"Oh, no, it doesn’t quite work like that. That would be like saying your family is Starkhaven." Merrill laughed and patted Bodhan’s hand as he set down her bowl. "I’m the First — was the First — so the Keeper is all the family I have. My parents came from another clan, and when our clan lacked… an appropriate person to take the role, I was given to the Keeper."
"She’s adopted," Carver clarified, grabbing a roll and dipping it in his soup. "For political reasons."
"Oh!" Sebastian nodded like he finally understood. "We usually do that with marriages, not adoptions. Well, not … ‘we’. I suppose I’m not really a nobleman, any more."
"That’s why Mum and Dad adopted Carver," Artemis said, dipping his spoon into his soup, "though it hasn’t really panned out. We’re hoping to trade him in."
"Still not adopted," Carver said mildly, "and fuck you."
"Can we watch our language at the dinner table, please," Bethany mock scolded, pursing her lips the way their mother used to.
"Yeah, Carver," Anton said, leaning over the table to see his brother. "Watch your fucking language."
"And fuck you too," Carver cheerfully told him. He slurped noisily at his soup in a way that seemed to pain Sebastian.
"See?" said Artemis between sips of soup. "This is why we’re trading you in." Carver replied with a rude gesture, still slurping at his soup.
"Well, this is charming," Gamlen drawled, shaking his head. He wondered what his father would have to say about this. Or his mother.
"It’s just like suppers in the tower," Anders said, with something that might’ve been a smile. "Anton, you making book on who gets punched first?"
"Cormac gets punched first. That’s not even a proper wager." Anton shook his head.
Charade jabbed her spoon at Anton. "I’ve got twelve copper that says the next punch gets Carver."
"Put me down for a silver on Gamlen. Sorry, serah, but that mouth is going to catch up with you." Anders laughed very nearly cordially.
"There is nothing wrong with my mouth," Gamlen insisted, glaring around the table. "There’s just something wrong with this family. This isn’t the household my father would have wanted!"
"It’s the household our father wanted," Bethany pointed out. "As to what your father wanted, I suppose I could always call him and ask…"
"Please don’t!" Cullen looked pale at the very idea.
"That is… not how I’d like to meet our grandfather," Artemis replied, looking ill. "And you’re one to talk, Uncle." Artie shovelled more soup in his mouth before he could say anything else, but Gamlen looked every bit as annoyed as expected.
"And what’s that supposed to mean?" Gamlen huffed.
"Nothing. Delicious soup, isn’t it? Really very… soupy."
"He means," Anton said with a cheerful smile, "that you can’t complain about the household of a house you lost in a wager. To slavers."
"I haven’t had nearly enough wine to discuss this," Gamlen muttered.