[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 224
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂, Varric ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: A comedy of dildoes
Notes: The Gazette is full of dragon stories, this week. Even Page Six.
The sound of the jar smacking onto the table jarred Solivitus out of his examination of the Weekly Gazette. "Well, well! If it’s not the Dragonslayer’s husband!" he greeted Anton.
"The Dragonslayer has been sleeping on the couch," Anton grumbled, still upset about the whole affair. Although Cullen hadn’t been sleeping on the couch — he hadn’t made it home for three days, sending an apologetic note, each time, via messenger, and Anton considered dropping in, since he was in the Gallows. "And I’m just as pissed at my brother for letting him do it. Actually, this whole thing is my brother’s fault, and I should have been there."
"Now, now, Stabby. There will be other dragons. This is the Dragon Age, isn’t it?" Varric patted Anton’s elbow.
"That’s not the point! The point is I said don’t kill the dragon! Maker’s balls, I wanted to put a saddle on it!" Anton complained, before pointing to the jar. "Anyway, that’s dragon parts, and given the way my brother packed it, I’m pretty sure that’s some kind of expensive and rare magical component. His fault. Mine now. And I’m bringing it to you. What’s it worth?"
"Hmm." Solivitus made a show of folding up his copy of the Gazette, before plucking up the jar. He twisted off the top, sniffed the contents, and poked at it with a dry quill. His eyes lit. "Oh, this must be the fire gland! The fire gland of a high dragon. Maker, I never thought I’d see the day." He grinned at Anton, eyes sparkling. "I admit, I was hoping you or one of your siblings would come to me with something when I saw that article. Thought it might have been exaggerating, you know."
"Nah, the Gazette’s good for honesty," Varric said. "Not that I read it much. A page or two over tea, maybe…"
"And I bet I know what page that is," Anton drawled. "So how much is the gland thingy worth?"
"It’s a remarkable specimen," Solivitus replied, still marvelling at the contents of the jar. He held up one finger. "I know exactly what to do with this. Wait here."
"Wait…? What do you mean ‘wait’?" Anton asked, brows knitting.
"The man says wait, we should probably wait," Varric said, with a shrug. "So, you stand here, and I’m going to step over there and get us some kebabs. I don’t know about you, but I started my day with a beer, and I can feel that idea becoming a bad one."
"As long as mine is lacking in dragon meat, thank you," Anton grumbled, leaning on the table and eyeing some more of the creepy magical shit. He wasn’t sure what it said about him that so much of his life involved magic and runes, but he was the Champion of Kirkwall, and that probably made it all the more practical.
Varric returned while Solivitus was still measuring, slicing, and … Frankly, Anton had no idea what the man was doing, but he’d pulled one of the Tranquil over from another table, to help him.
"Fish and veg," Varric said, handing over a stick, the bottom part of it wrapped in a crepe. "Dragon and tomato for me. Sorry, Stabby, but I’m eating the good stuff while it’s still cheap."
"That is my dragon you’re stuffing your face with," Anton complained, nibbling at a bit of fish.
"On the contrary, this is not your dragon, and that’s what you’re pissed about. It’s a really delicious one, though. I can see why the Nevarrans went to such extremes to hunt them." Varric was talking with his mouth full, like he really only did around people he knew — people who wouldn’t make it known that he did things like that.
"And I hope you choke on it," Anton said mildly. He took a bite of his kebab, and while it was good, it didn’t prompt him to make the obscene noises Varric was making around his.
Anton was just licking the last of the sauce from his fingers when Solivitus waved them over. "This turned out beautifully," Solivitus said, accidentally bumping into the stall with his excitement. "Something worthy of our Champion, I think." His eyes sparkled as he held up an amulet, sunlight catching on the chain. "Here. For you. I hope you can put it to good use."
Anton let the amulet drop into his palm. The talisman was curved, almost in the shape of a tooth, and it prickled along his skin in a way that reminded him of Bethany’s artefacts. Varric peered at it over Anton’s cupped fingers.
"That’s a nice piece," Varric said.
"What does it do?" Anton asked, hesitant to put it on without some hint. "I can tell it does something — I can feel it."
"Mage blood in your family, huh?" Solivitus noted, not really asking. "It should help with the dragons. You’ll be a little harder to set on fire, with that."
Between tables, the Tranquil was talking to a templar. "I don’t know. It is not my broadsheet."
Solivitus looked over his shoulder at the templar. "It’s a good one, this week!" he called out. "All about dragons and the Dragonslayer. Might want to give Page Six a pass, though." He shuddered. "Pretty sure the Champion’s got better taste than that. There’s an urchin running around here with a stack of them, if you’re looking to buy a copy. Or you can just take mine."
"Urchins," the templar sighed. "Always just these kids. The Knight-Commander’s looking for the publisher. She’s still pretty upset about that series about the Gallows, and that one Page Six nobody actually saw."
"It’s just some harmless gossip rag," Solivitus scoffed. "If she starts taking it seriously, people are going to start thinking there’s something to it!"
"You try telling her that!" The templar laughed and shook his head. "Thanks. I’ll see if I can find the kid, and see where he’s getting what to sell."
"She," Solivitus corrected.
"Thanks." The templar nodded and wandered out into the square, looking around.
Anton tilted his head to better read what he could of Solivitus’s Gazette. He hadn’t read this issue yet. "What was this about Page Six and the Champion?" he asked, thumb rubbing the amulet in his hand. Next to him, Varric ducked his head, but Anton could tell he was smirking. "Have you read it? It doesn’t feature Meredith or the ‘Staff of Violation’ again, does it?"
"No, no," Varric said, voice tight with amusement. "It’s… well, you could say it’s keeping with the theme."
Solivitus offered him an apologetic smile.
"Could I borrow that for a moment?" Anton asked. He slipped the amulet into his pocket as Solivitus handed over his copy.
"I wouldn’t read too much into it," Solivitus offered as Anton thumbed through the pages.
"I would!" Varric replied.
Anton found Page Six. He stared at the headline while Varric and Solivitus waited for a reaction. "‘Riding the Dragon’," Anton read. He skimmed the first few lines, eyes widening. "Andraste preserve me."
"I cannot believe this town!" Anton shouted, storming into the house, still clutching Solivitus’s copy of the Gazette. He stomped past Bodhan without a word, and Bethany stuck her head out of the library.
"It’s Kirkwall," Bethany reminded him. "What’s happened now?"
"This— this—!" Anton gestured with the Gazette. "You are absolutely forbidden to even look at Page Six, this week. I am going to find the publisher of this filth and poison them. Maybe I’ll set fire to the author, too."
"Oh, dear," Bethany sighed. "You’ve found this week’s Gazette."
"You’ve seen this?" Anton shrilled, face contorting in horror.
"Of course I did. Isabela and I had a great laugh about it!" Bethany lifted a hand to hide a smile, as she swallowed a giggle. "It’s really quite funny, once I got past the part where that’s my brother."
Anton looked increasingly irate, disbelieving, and betrayed, in brief flickers, for a few moments, as he sputtered, trying to find words. "I can’t deal with this," he said, finally, stomping off toward the stairs.
A few moments later, his voice echoed through the house. "I am going to kill that woman!"
Anton stormed back through the house, the Gazette still crumpled in one hand and an obscene-looking ridged dildo in the other. He muttered something about Isabela as he popped the front door open with his knee and slammed it behind him with his foot.
Artemis was topping off Cormac’s and Fenris’s drinks, still wiping tears of laughter from his eyes when Anton came storming in. The slam of the door was impressively loud from someone whose entrances were usually silent. Artie hurried to hide his copy of the Gazette under his couch’s cushions, only to realise mid-shove that he needn’t have bothered.
"Artie, you are my last sane sibling!" Anton said, one clenched fist shaking a crumpled-up copy of the Gazette and the other shaking… oh my.
"Anton," Artemis tried, "is that…?" His face was red from holding in his laughter, and he was determined not to make eye contact with Cormac. "Be careful where you point that, Anton. Fenris might get the wrong idea."
Clearing her throat self-consciously, Orana sidled into the room, clearing away the empty bottles. She barely even blinked at the third Hawke.
"…or Orana," Artemis added once she’d fled the room.
Cormac struggled not to choke on his drink, and drank to avoid commenting. He’d just been telling Artemis about choosing that one from Gytha’s stock — he’d known she made them, because the dragon was on the list of things he’d denied Isabela. Still, he had to wonder if someone had brought the stoneworker a dead drake to cast, or if she’d just taken a wild guess. Knowing Gytha, his bets were on the former, though.
"Have you seen Page Six? Because Bethany’s seen it! She— she thinks it’s funny!" Anton complained, tossing the Gazette onto the table. "And if you haven’t seen it, don’t! It’s horrifying! Dragons! And— and— And I am going to bludgeon Isabela with this thing!" He gesticulated pointedly with the dildo. "I guess she thinks it’s hilarious, too, according to Bethy, and this is just the punctuation for that sentiment!"
"They think it’s funny, because it is funny, Anton," Cormac pointed out. "Did we mention the dragon was female? It would have needed a dildo to do … any of that to you, really. That part about the first ridge was just breathtakingly bad. I almost blew tea out my nose."
A noise like hissing steam escaped Artemis before the laughter finally erupted from him. "A dragon with a dildo," he wheezed. "There’s a thought. Sweet Maker."
Anton finally caught sight of the paper sticking out from under the cushion. As that was a very untidy place for paper to be, Anton assumed Artie had only just shoved it there. "You read it too, didn’t you," he said, despairing for his lack of normal siblings. "Tell me you didn’t read it."
Artemis coughed into his fist, finally composing himself. "Well, technically," he said, straightening his drink on the table. "I didn’t read it. But Fenris gave a dramatic reading. You should hear him, some time. His… diction is really quite wonderful now."
"My… diction," Fenris drawled. "I’m sure."
Since Anton had noticed it anyway, Artemis pulled the Gazette out from under the cushion, smoothing it out next to him. He indicated the dildo in Anton’s hand with a tilt of his head. "I… well, I assume you haven’t tried it yet."
"No!" Anton blurted, holding the dildo in front of him like a dagger. "The only ‘trying’ I’m going to do is try to bludgeon a certain pirate to death with it!"
"I’d ask why you’re so sure it’s Isabela’s fault, but… well…" Cormac shrugged. It really was the most obvious conclusion. When there were weird dildoes, it was probably Isabela. "You should definitely show that to Cullen. I’m sure he’s seen Page Six, by now. Maybe the two of you can find a use for that thing."
"I have a use for it. It’s an off-hand weapon." Anton considered that Cullen really might have seen the Gazette. Oh, Maker. But, then, there was that story featuring the Arishok, and they were still getting use out of that, even if he had managed to lose the original text of it. He struggled to look disgusted, instead of contemplative, and found it wasn’t that difficult.
"Best be sure you do use it as a bludgeon," Fenris offered. "Knowing Isabela, I’m not certain she’d object to being stabbed with it."
"For the record, I objected to being stabbed with something remarkably similar." Cormac pointed to himself and took another drink. "So, if she doesn’t take exception, she has officially become more adventurous than I am."
"She’s slept with Tal-Vashoth," Anton pointed out. "I think she’s already more adventurous than you."
"That’s a matter of opportunity," Cormac replied over the rim of his glass.
"And that’s yet another thing I didn’t need to know about my brother!"
"Hey, you asked." Cormac looked entirely unapologetic.
"And I am unsurprised," Artemis said, toasting Cormac with his drink before talking a long draught. "I mean, with Anders, you’re already halfway —"
"Mage," Fenris groaned.
Anton was definitely having less difficulty looking disgusted now. "I take back what I said about you being the sane sibling," he said, pointing the dildo at Artemis in accusation.
"And I am still unsurprised." Artie held up the bottle they were in the process of demolishing. "Want a drink? You look like you could use one. You might feel better about your new friend after."
"I don’t want to feel better about my ‘new friend’," Anton said. "I don’t want my ‘new friend’."
Artemis gave the dildo in his hand a speculative look. "Well, if you don’t want it…"
"No." Fenris took the drink out of Artie’s hand and downed it himself.
"I don’t want it, either," Cormac volunteered. "Maybe you should go apply it to Izzy. Or Cullen. You know, he does have keys. I’d think that wasn’t Izzy at all, but then I remember your husband would spontaneously combust before even laying eyes on a dildo, never mind a shop full of them."
"I’d like to think he’s got a bit more fortitude than that," Anton grumbled.
"Oh? Have the two of you been getting into the toys, then?" Cormac asked, grinning as Anton looked pointedly at him. "Oh… Oh, ha, you think Artie doesn’t know. Who do you think told me? I know all about what’s in that cabinet. He cleans your room, remember?"
"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Anton declared, tipping his chin up and stripping his vest, to wrap it around the dildo he was still clutching. "Cullen is delightfully un-depraved. Fresh as the first flowers of spring."
"Yeah, if those flowers are lime," Cormac scoffed. "Unlike our brothers, I do still live with you. You’ve gotten him to make some noise, Anton. Maker, I’d ask what you were doing to the man, but I don’t want to know."
"Neither do I," Artemis said, grimacing. "I also didn’t particularly need to know about that cabinet. Which you’ll have to reorganise now that you have a new addition. Personally, I would put it next to the blue one with the—"
"La la, I don’t know what you’re talking about," Anton said, loudly. "I have nothing to organise. There is also no ‘new addition’. I am not keeping this." Not even Fenris looked convinced. "This is ridiculous." He turned on his heel and headed out the door, resuming his quest for someone sane.
The door of his office slammed open, and Cullen woke up blinking, still clutching a quill in one hand, a piece of paper stuck to his cheek. "Did I have a meeting?" were the first words out of his mouth, as he tried to pretend he hadn’t fallen asleep. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually slept, intentionally, and he tried to push that thought away, as he peeled the paper off his face, just in time to see a … statue of a tower slam down on his desk, making the stacks of paper jump. Anton’s hand. Anton’s hand holding a … what in the world even was that?
"Did you see Page Six?" Anton demanded, as Cullen stared owlishly at the dildo between them.
"Is that—?" A flush shot across Cullen’s cheeks. "Well, that seems… adventurous?" He rather hoped Anton didn’t mean to use it on him, in some deranged retaliation for the whole dragon-slaying thing.
"The adventurous part was leaving this for on my bed," Anton drawled.
"Should I assume Isabela?" Cullen asked. "It seems like… an Isabela sort of thing to do." He still had nightmares about that… bit of horse anatomy on her wall. And he knew he should stop staring at this bit of dragon anatomy, but he couldn’t help it. Did it really look like—? No. File that under ‘things he didn’t need to know’. "And did you just walk in here with that?"
"Well, I didn’t magically summon it," Anton said. "And now I’m really hoping that isn’t a spell that exists." If it did, his brothers probably knew it, and, again, that was not a thought he needed. He was having a lot of thoughts today that he did not need.
"I could ask. Almost every mage in Kirkwall is on the other side of the tower." And that was something Cullen regretted bringing up as soon as it left his mouth, although, to be fair, he had just woken up.
"Please don’t. I have brothers. I don’t need to — no." Anton shook his head. "Given your reaction, I take it you have seen this week’s Gazette."
"It may have crossed my desk…" Cullen gestured at the piles of paperwork, as a templar walked in, fresh from one of those patrols the Knight-Commander had them on, to judge by the damp and cranky look of him, and dropped another stack of reports onto one of the piles.
"Sorry, Captain," he apologised, without an ounce of sympathy, and made his way back out.
Cullen groaned and banged his head on the desk a few times. "I can’t keep doing this."
"Where’s Keran?" Anton asked, suddenly. "Don’t you usually keep him in shouting distance?"
"Why am I shouting for Keran?" Cullen asked, looking hazy.
"Because you’ve just taken an assistant, that’s why, and he’s going to read all of this shit, handle what he can, and summarise the rest for you. And you are going to come home and eat something and lie down." Anton didn’t look like he was going to take no for an answer.
"I don’t get an assistant, Anton. Meredith won’t have it. This — almost all of this — is for my eyes and hers, and she’s not actually reading any of it. She reads what I give her." Cullen shook his head. "I’m so far behind…"
"Because this isn’t work for one man, Cullen. It’s work for three," Anton pointed out. "Somebody has to help you, and if Keran can’t, Maker help me, I can try. I’ve seen enough things I shouldn’t already."
"I doubt Meredith would approve," Cullen said, wiping a hand over his face. Anton could hear the weakness in his voice, though, the wavering in his conviction, and pressed his advantage.
"Just for one night," Anton coaxed, resting his hip against the edge of the desk. "You’re no use to the Order if you keel over into your paperwork. No use to me either," he teased gently. "I won’t tell Meredith if you won’t."
"Vile tempter," Cullen growled, half-rising out of his chair to press his lips to Anton’s. He considered the new pile of paperwork… and the dildo still sitting next to it. "Perhaps one night," he said grudgingly. "And you can tell me just how, er, adventurous you plan on being."
Anton pointed at the dildo. "Not that adventurous."