[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 216
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Varric ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Ends justifying means, semi-legal redistribution of vital assets, family issues
Notes: Of magisters and Orlesians. A discussion of profits, with Varric.
"Varric… Varric, I am going to choke the life out of this Orlesian shitmangler. You’ve got to help me. I need a loan or something, but I have to get the mine away from him." Cormac smacked his head on the edge of the table a few more times, and Varric poured him another drink. "Ridiculous amounts of interest are acceptable. I’m already getting stiffed hideously on this deal, and at least if I’m paying it to the Merchants’ Guild, it’ll be gratitude in every copper."
"Come on, Shouty," Varric said, patting him on the arm, "get a hold of yourself. Ridiculous amounts of interest are never acceptable. Look, let’s rig an inspection, and see if we can’t squeeze the guy, first. Maybe if he thinks the mine’s getting shut down, he’ll try to get out with a profit, and you can rip it out from under him for cheap."
"Let me guess, you know a guy?" Cormac asked, patting the table until he found his drink and trying to figure out how to drink it without lifting his head.
"I always know a guy. In this case, I know the right guy — a guy who’s been meaning to get a look at that break into the Deep Roads you’ve got up there. I got a favour, if you grant access." Varric nodded and leaned back with his own drink in hand. "We’ll get you out of this. Or, we’ll get Hubert out of it, anyway."
Fenris appeared in the doorway, lingering hesitantly at the edge of the room. "Varric, I need your opinion. Am I interrupting?"
"Nah, nah, Shouty just needed my opinion, too. Have a seat. Have a drink. Tell Uncle Varric what’s on your mind." Varric kicked out a chair.
"I hope to Andraste it’s not about my brother, if you’re asking for Varric’s opinion," Cormac muttered, head still on the table.
"No. My sister, actually…" Fenris inched warily into the room and took the offered seat, looking more nervous than he had in years.
"All right. Your sister." Varric nodded before pausing, head tilting back. "You only have the one, right?"
"The one who led my — who led a magister to my door? On my wedding? Yes, I only have the one." Fenris clasped and unclasped his hands on the table, looking every bit like he should be holding a drink. "Fasta vass. How did you not kill your brother after he betrayed you?"
Varric was grateful to already be holding a drink. "Well, to begin with, there was a heavy metal door between us when it happened. Which was a smart move. I mean, it was an asshole move, but a smart one. You remember."
Fenris nodded. "And afterwards? When you saw him again?"
"Oh, I had every intention of punching the little shit back to Orzammar," Varric said. "But…" He squinted at Fenris across the table. "You didn’t see him, did you? If you had, you wouldn’t need to ask. Or you’d be asking for a different reason." He drained the rest of his drink in one draught. "Hold that thought. I’m gonna get us a round of drinks. Shouty, you want another?"
Cormac groaned and held up his thumb. "More beer. Less Orlesians."
"I’ll get a couple more pitchers," Varric decided, heading out.
"For the record, shutting one’s brother in the Deep Roads is not typical older brother behaviour. I mean, I shut a couple of my brothers in closets a few times, but… closets. Definitely above-ground and sans darkspawn." Cormac finally sat up and guzzled the drink he was still holding. "Which may explain how it is that Anton keeps ending up in closets, these days…"
"Let us not discuss Anton’s closet fetish," Fenris said, shaking his head. "And younger sisters? Do they bring angry magisters to one’s wedding?"
"Having never been married, I can’t speak to that, personally, but my younger sister didn’t bring any magisters to either of her brothers’ weddings. Having said that, though, my younger sister did put on a magical performance in front of a room full of templars and blamed it on my… favourite Warden. Or the time Artie and I got into it over dinner, and spent half an hour screaming on the floor, because she didn’t want to hear it. Sisters can be a little dangerous." Cormac shrugged. "But, it was still Anton who brought the templar into the house, and not Bethany."
"Well… she didn’t need to bring a magister to Artemis’s wedding," Fenris reminded him. "My sister already took care of that. I am certainly bringing my sword to any other weddings I am invited to, however. Particularly Hawke weddings." He ran a hand through his hair, brushing it back from his eyes.
Varric returned shortly after, balancing a pair of pitchers and a tankard for Fenris. "Drinks for everyone!" he said, pouring another round of drinks before slumping back into his chair. "Alcohol is a necessary part of discussing siblings. Especially siblings like yours. Double the alcohol if any Hawke siblings are involved." He tipped his drink at Cormac.
Cormac poured himself another drink. "Triple the alcohol, because we’re all fucking drunks, especially your husband." He pointed at Fenris.
"Yes, I am familiar with him," Fenris sighed. "Though he’s slightly less of a drunk than when I met him. Slightly."
Varric chuckled, leaning his chair back to prop his feet up on the table. Fenris half-expected Artemis to appear just to scold him for it. "But Bartrand. Ancestors. What that idol did to him… He locked me, us, in the Deep Roads, but I felt sorry for him."
Fenris harrumphed, toying with the handle of his tankard. "I have no reason to feel ‘sorry’ for Varania."
"She showed up with that waste of magic. Is that not reason enough?" Cormac asked, eyeing Fenris. "She’s still your sister. She’s still an elf. I don’t know enough about where you come from, but around here, that makes it a lot easier to get away with doing questionable things to someone, if they’re an elf."
"She did it to become a magister!" Fenris snapped, slamming his fist on the table and sloshing beer down the side of his tankard with the impact.
"What were her other options?" Cormac asked. "I’m just playing the other side of the table, because you’ve said you have no reason. I’m sure I can find one, if you want one."
"What does it matter what her other options were? She used me so she could become a magister! She tried to have me killed to further her career!" Fenris managed not to punch the table, again.
"It matters if her other options did not include a neutral outcome. Perhaps her death or yours, depending on whether she agreed to be used as bait. Perhaps she trusted you to save her and yourself — that’s what older brothers are for, isn’t it?" Cormac sipped at his beer.
"Then she could have warned me! Artemis and I talked to her in private before the wedding, and she…" Fenris ran out of words, at least polite ones, in this language.
Varric watched him over the rim of his tankard, waited until the worst of Fenris’s temper seemed to subside. "Not for nothing, Broody," he said, "but how long did it take for you to get out from under Danarius’s thumb? And how many more years did you spend in hiding? And you’re a warrior. You can reach into someone and rearrange their organs in a matter of seconds. I think you know just how hard it is to say ‘no’ to Danarius."
"I don’t need you both making excuses for her," Fenris said. "All she did was make excuses for herself." He shook his head. "I don’t know why I thought…" He cut himself off. He didn’t know why he thought he could have a family. "I shouldn’t have written to her in the first place."
"I beg to differ." Cormac finished his drink, holding up a finger of the other hand, as he swallowed for a few long moments, before pouring himself another. "It’s a good thing you wrote to her. She delivered Danarius to you on a platter, in a garden full of people who could defend you, who could help you make sure he’ll never come for you again. She brought him as a wedding gift, still alive, so you could watch him die. There’s really no question he’s gone, is there? No chance you think he’s getting back up from that?"
Cormac’s grin was frankly unsettling, savage in a way Fenris hadn’t seen in years, and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat, eyes never leaving the mage’s hands. "You believe she did me a favour?"
"Whether she intended to or not, the end result is the same. He’s dead. You win. And since he apparently died without an apprentice, I’m sure there’s mayhem in the city — or there will be, once someone realises what’s happened. Might be a while. There were no survivors." Cormac’s smile softened, even as his eyes grew sharper. "With a little bit of fortune and forgery, everything he had is yours. Or Artie’s. He does have a Tevinter name. And I mean everything, Fenris. A little bit of paperwork, and you could have his slaves transported, you gather?"
"The man’s got a point," Varric admitted, tapping his fingers thoughtfully on the edge of his tankard. "We don’t even need Artie. We just need something with Danarius’s signature on it. His seal. For all anyone knows, he’s still alive."
Fenris sat back in his chair, one finger tracing the rim of his cup as he considered the implications of that. He could picture how furious Danarius would have been at the very thought, and it brought a smile to his face. "There’s an idea," he murmured. "I’d ask how, exactly, we’d go about doing that, but I suspect I don’t want to know."
"I’ll take care of it," Varric said, waving his hand. "Always happy to help out a friend and piss off some Tevinters. I know —"
"— a guy?" Fenris drawled. "Yes, I imagine you would."
Varric winked at Fenris, clinking his tankard against the elf’s before taking another drink. "And while we’re on the subject of ‘pissed off’ and ‘Tevinter’… well, are you sure Varania’s your only family? Maybe you have some less murderous cousins, or something."
"I think I have my hands full with the family I already know about," Fenris muttered.
"What harm could it do?" Cormac asked. "It’s not like you have to tell them where you are. Besides, these would be the family that haven’t been an integral part of a trap for years." That gave him a moment’s pause. "That is an awful lot of years. I didn’t think Danarius to be so patient, from what you’d said, and the way he’d already sent half an army into the Marches after you at least once. Do you really think he waited for an invitation?"
"Who knows what goes on in the minds of madmen?" Fenris asked, waving the question aside. "He’s dead. It doesn’t matter, now."
"His books." Cormac pointed at Varric. "Get his books — personal ones most of all. I want his research."
"Are you going into living runecrafting, then?" Fenris growled.
"No, but if you’re the success, I want to know who the failures were. I want to know why they were failures. I want to know if they lived — any of them — even if it was just long enough for him to have them put to death. I want to know what he was trying to do, and what else he broke trying to do it. I suddenly have some concerns about the Veil in the vicinity of wherever he was working, if nothing else." Cormac shrugged and topped off his tankard again. "Something Anders said about the Blackmarsh…"
"Well, that sounds creepy," Varric said, nodding. "Blackmarsh. The kind of place where there are rats so big, even the demons won’t go there. I’m going to have to ask him if it’s as creepy as it sounds."
"Veil tears and an undead dragon, by which I mean yes. Yes, it is that creepy, and yes, you should ask him. It’d be an amazing story." Cormac grinned. "Of course, you’ll end up making half of it up, because Warden secrets, but still worth the effort."
Fenris sighed and reached for the pitcher only for Varric to get there first. Varric topped off Fenris’s drink and then his own. "You know," said Fenris, "there was a time when I would have heard all of those words and been concerned. But now, I’m less than surprised."
"Mages," Varric grunted in his best Fenris impression, tucking his chin against his chest and narrowing his eyes at Cormac.
"Yes, mages, and I do not sound like that. Stop smirking!"
"Sure you do!" Varric said. "So it’s settled then. We’ll separate an annoying Orlesian from his money and a dead Tevinter from his slaves. And possibly get Cormac some light reading." He grinned. "It’s going to be a busy week for me."
Fenris nodded, only to pause, brows furrowing. "What’s this about an Orlesian?"
Cormac groaned and slammed his head against the edge of the table again. "It’s just Hubert."