[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 222
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Anders ♂, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂, Isabela ♀, Merrill ♀, Varric ♂, Natia Brosca ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Mild newt-ity, an awful lot of drunken revelry
Notes: A conversation with Hubert. Also, the beginnings of a celebration!
They formed a make-shift parade on the way back to Kirkwall, followed by cheering, singing miners and carts full of dragon meat. They were all covered in filth, sweat, and blood, and they drew more than a few curious glances as they dragged the carts across cobbled streets. When Varric led the miners in a bawdy tune about a brothel that sounded suspiciously like the Rose, Cullen regretted his place at the head of this ‘parade’. He also regretted not having a helmet with him to hide his blush behind.
Hubert spotted them as they crossed the Hightown Square, disrupting a busy market day, and he threw his arms out wide, his puffy sleeves ruffling at the shoulders. "What in Andraste’s name…?"
"Ohh, that must be Hubert!" Natia chirped. "Is that Hubert?"
"Do you see anyone else here that disgustingly Orlesian?" Fenris drawled.
"So, a dragon attacked your mine. Again. Our mine. The mine you’re about to sell me your share of," Cormac started, exhausted and still covered in blood and other questionable dragon excretions. "A high dragon." He pointed down the train of mine carts that headed past him, down toward Lowtown. "That high dragon."
Hubert stared after the cheering and singing miners. "A high dragon. A high dragon? The mine—" Hubert shook his head. "I’m sorry. I cannot pay you for this. I sank all of my coin into that rotten mine…"
"That’s not what your accountant says," Bethany stage-whispered.
"So, pay me with the rest of the mine. Sign it over to me, and stop pouring your coin down a dragon-infested hole. It’s just that simple." Cormac smiled almost reassuringly.
"It’s done. It’s yours." Hubert shook his head. "I have other ventures to attend — things more profitable than throwing coin after dogs. The papers will be in your hand by the week’s end — sooner if this barbaric sinkhole still had a viscount and offices of trade."
"You’ve said it before witnesses, including a templar captain. I’ll expect the paperwork, or the dragon will become the least of your concerns." Cormac pulled a sliver of salted roast dragon out of a leather pouch at his hip and dropped it into his mouth, still smiling as he chewed. "I’ll even give you until the start of the new week."
"Up-jumped bloody dog-lords," Hubert muttered, shaking his head and turning back to where he was packing up his wares, clearly intent on leaving Kirkwall.
"Did you just use me to effect extortion?" Cullen asked, squinting at Cormac.
"Absolutely not. I used you as a potential legal witness, should I ever need to prove the mine and all its profits belong to me and my family." Cormac’s hand clanked against Cullen’s back. "Come on, let’s go to Lowtown. Let people see what kind of hero you are."
"Right," Cullen sighed. Luckily that would avoid the Gallows. He wasn’t sure he wanted to see the look on Meredith’s face.
As they walked away, Bethany flicked her fan in Hubert’s direction, before using it to shield her face from idle gazes. Hubert blinked and flicked his tongue. After a quick dart around the booth, he climbed up the stack of boxes and perched atop it, belly-down, as he watched the market move, eyes unblinking.
"What did you—?" Cormac glanced over his shoulder, as Cullen moved forward to answer some question of Natia’s about surface life.
"I turned him into a newt." Bethany smiled behind her fan. "He’ll get better."
"I need him to sign over the mine! He’d best get better!" Cormac hissed.
"Don’t be silly. It won’t last but ten minutes, and he’ll remember all of it, like some strange nightmare." An amused shine remained in Bethany’s eyes. "They’ll say it’s the stress getting to him. Of course he’s got to give up the mine and go back to Orlais, the poor boy, it’s driven him mad."
"I should be exceedingly glad you didn’t know how to do this, when we were younger, shouldn’t I?" Cormac sighed.
The parade of meat and singing miners ended at the Hanged Man, where parade became party. Corff and Edwina couldn’t quite pour the drinks fast enough, but the singing didn’t stop, filling the bar with a roar of noise that only sort of resembled singing.
Isabela stepped across tables and shoulders to meet Cormac at the bar. "Hey, there, mage-shoulders," she said, bumping Cormac’s hip with hers. "So nice of you to bring me a party. Is it somebody’s birthday?"
"No," Cullen said, leaning forward over the bar to see her. He’d been too polite to refuse any of the drinks offered to him, and he lost count how many that had been. "It’s somebody’s deathday. Some thing’s. Don’t tell Anton." He punctuated this request with a long gulp of beer, the mug almost missing his mouth.
Cormac slid an arm around Isabela’s waist and laid a sloppy kiss on her. "We killed a dragon. He killed a dragon. You should get some meat. I’ll freeze it for you, if you like."
"Well, as much as I want some of your meat, I like hot much better than frozen. That just sounds painful," Isabela joked, relieving Cormac of his tankard, to take a long swig.
Cormac clicked his teeth next to Isabela’s ear. "Just how I like it."
Anders stumbled in, with Merrill at his heels, bedecked in cats. He scanned the room in a panic, before spotting Cormac leaning against the bar, making quite a show of his intentions toward Isabela. Shoving his way through the crowd, Anders let Merrill apologise for them, until he towered over Cormac and Isabela. "Tell me the blood’s not yours," he demanded, running through the usual battery of spells for that sort of thing on Isabela.
"Most of it’s the dragon’s," Cormac promised, as Isabela nibbled at his jaw. "Can you take a look at my left arm? I might have done something a little dumb, and I want to make sure I put it back together right."
"And he brought you some meat," Isabela pointed out, grinning, finishing the thought when Anders’s eyes flicked down, like she knew they would. "That too, but look around. They’re smoking some of it out back. All of Lowtown’s going to be eating dragon for weeks."
"Ah, dragon. I hear it tastes like nug," Anders said, cocking his head to the side. He cast as he spoke, warm tendrils of magic smoothing down Cormac’s shoulder, righting all the little mistakes he’d made, untangling a scarring knot of muscle. Even though the wound had healed, Anders could guess how much damage had been done. As much as he hated those mines, he wished he’d been there. "Just how stupid was this stupid thing you did?" he sighed. "Aside from fighting a high dragon, which is a special kind of stupid, really, but the kind of stupid I expect from you."
"We’re alive," Cullen pointed out gravely, beer sloshing as he pointed with the hand holding his drink. "I’m sure that counts for something, stupidity aside." Edwina placed another drink in front of Cullen, courtesy of so-and-so at the other end of the bar, and Cullen blinked at it, brows knitting, before turning a confused look at the drink in his hand.
"All right there, Dragonslayer," Isabela laughed. She leaned over Cormac, pressing more of her bosom than necessary against his chest as she reached for Cullen’s newest drink. She stole a sip from it before passing it to Anders, who took it without drinking.
Merrill pried the drink out of Anders’s hand, helping herself to a hefty swig, as she climbed up on a stool and looked out across the bar. She scritched the cat on one of Anders’s shoulders and got bit for the trouble, tapping it on the nose with a tiny spark. "No, Ser Nibbles, I am not dragon meat," she said, hooking a piece with her staff, to offer it to the cat.
"He answers to Assbiter, now," Anders pointed out. "Please don’t drip dragon’s blood on me." There was a pause and then Anders’s eyes settled back on Cormac. "Tell me you—"
"Of course I did. I even poured out most of the potions you sent me out with. Dragon’s blood is worth much more. And it’s all heartsblood, too." Cormac smiled lazily over the top of his drink, still appreciating Isabela with his other hand.
Anders’s eyes lit up as he awkwardly threw his arms around Cormac. "You brought me heartsblood! That— that’s the sweetest thing!" He choked up a bit, but recovered quickly.
Cullen squinted at Cormac, like he might ask something, but settled for grumbling, "Hawkes."
"Hey, you’re one, too, now!" Cormac reminded him, as Varric wandered over, again.
"Do you see this girl?" Varric asked, cocking a thumb at where Natia sat by the fire, surrounded by shopkeepers’ sons, telling what appeared to be wild tales, from the gestures accompanying them. "Straight out of Orzammar, by way of the Deep Roads, and now she’s making the local boys swoon. There’s going to be angry parents pounding at the gates of the guild."
"Well, that’s because you have fantastic taste in friends," Anders said with a wry smile, leaning an elbow on Varric’s shoulder. "And I look forward to your version of events later. How the mighty Knight-Captain slew this great and terrifying beast!"
"Yes, and how the rest of us sat back and watched him do it," Fenris said, slipping out of the shadows to wave down Corff, pointing at his empty drink.
"Hey, Broody!" said Varric. "When’d you get here?"
Fenris blinked down at him, hooking a foot over the bottom rung of Cullen’s barstool. "I’ve been here," he said.
"Ah. Guess I assumed you’d slipped off to collect your prettier, more neurotic half," Varric said.
Fenris leaned back against the bar, arms spread wide, or as wide as he could in the crowded room. "I’m still covered in dragon filth. We’re all covered in dragon filth. I doubt he would even let me near the doorway in this state."
Luckily the smell of smoke and cooking meat covered the worst of the stench, but they really were disgusting.
"I shall bring him back some meat," Fenris said. Isabela opened her mouth, but bit her lip when Fenris held up a finger. "And yes, dragon meat too."
Isabela tugged at one of the rings on Anders’s coat. "Can I keep both you boys, tonight? And maybe Broody, too? I bet the three of you could show a lady some things."
Cormac laughed, before either of the others could object. "Izzy, we could show a lady some things, but you’re hardly a lady. I think you taught me some of my best tricks." He rubbed his cheek against Isabela’s. "Besides, the last thing Fenris wants is to see me naked."
"Pretty sure I’m not high on the list, either," Anders put in. "He’s not so big on naked mages. And I’m not stripping down for you, either, Izzy."
"Why not? You just cured anything I might have had, whether I had it or not, which I didn’t." Isabela grinned up at Anders, squishing Cormac’s face against her cleavage, to better see over his head. "I’d have been in to see you, if I did."
"One naked mage is enough, thank you," Fenris agreed, with a subtle glance at Anders. They still weren’t talking about that. Or the other that. Still, Isabela might be an enjoyable diversion, at some point other than this one, especially now that the lyrium was so much less painful. "And I should, at some point, get home to that mage, that I might cause him to become naked."
"I prefer my mages with clothes on," Cullen volunteered. "Nothing personal, Anders, but…" He shook his head. "I’ve seen more than enough of you to last me a lifetime."
"That’s fine. I prefer your pasty-white ass with pants on it." Anders laughed.
"You two—" Isabela started to ask, but they both cut her off.
"I like women," Cullen protested, and then after a moment, "and my husband."
"Your husband looks great in a dress," Cormac pointed out, when he stopped giggling long enough to breathe, face still pressed into Isabela’s breasts.
"So does mine," Fenris said with a wicked smile, one ear twitching up at the memory of Artie in that maid’s outfit. The one he’d had to tear off after, sadly. "I would suggest, perhaps, that this is a Hawke trait, but I would rather not see you in a dress."
"Better undressed than in a dress," Anders replied. Fenris’s face twisted as he tried to decide if he agreed. "Though that brings up an interesting thought about Carver…"
"Maker, no," Cullen groaned, resting his forehead on the rim of his tankard. "I did not need that image in my head."
"That’s going into my next story," Varric said with a toothy grin. "I can see it now: ‘The Templar and the Tempted’. The tale begins on the night of Ser Carver’s vigil…"
"No," Anders said. "One more word, and I swear the next time you need healing you’ll get a bolt of lightning up your ass instead."
"That’s … you might want to specify how much lightning, because that doesn’t quite sound like a threat from where I’m standing," Cormac laughed.
"He’s right," Isabela agreed. "That electricity trick is really something. Have you been teaching that to Cormac? I swear he gets better with it every time. Still not as good as you."
"No one will ever be as good as me, and you know it." Anders smiled unapologetically at Isabela.
"I don’t really care how much lightning it is. Lightning doesn’t go in my ass, because I am a sane and reasonable individual, unlike you lot." Varric reached between Fenris and Isabela to steal Cullen’s next drink.
"I think I’m with Varric on this one," Cullen decided. "You’ve shown me a lot about magic, but I just don’t see any circumstances in which lightning and my ass need to be acquainted."
"You should ask Carver about that," Merrill suggested, patting Cullen’s elbow. "He can tell you it’s a good idea."
"You and Carver?" Cullen asked Anders, horror flashing across his face.
"What? No! No, no. Absolutely no. The tally of Hawkes is two, and two is the tally of Hawkes. You beat me to Anton and the twins are off limits." Anders shook his head. "I’m pretty sure he’s known some other mages, over the years, though — and not the ones he’s related to."
Merrill frowned at the two of them, wondering for a moment why Cullen has assumed Anders… but she wisely kept her mouth shut behind her drink.