[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 245
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Anders ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Maudlin drunkenness, reasonable concerns, difficult questions
Notes: Anton is, sadly, not done, however done he might wish to be right now. Fortunately, he has bottles to empty and companions to distress.
Anton went to the Hanged Man, first. It didn’t require effort. It was between him and anywhere else he could have wanted to go. Anders stayed for a couple of drinks, before Justice got the better of him, and Anton was left to himself. Varric already had a game going, upstairs, and he couldn’t face the idea of that many people right now. Isabela … Maker only knew where she’d gotten to, at this hour. It was just him, at a somewhat grimy table in the back, with far too many drinks in him.
But, Anton decided it wasn’t enough. Not nearly enough. It wasn’t going to be enough until he couldn’t remember the last two days at all. What was the world coming to? Was Anders right? Was this all the Circle’s fault? Or was this just some innate failure of mage-kind? But, then, his father had lived a full life with no demons in it, as far as he knew. After what had happened with Sebastian’s friend, he suspected it would have been extremely obvious if his father had been consorting with demons. The worst his house had was his older brothers, who were more like twins than his actual twin younger siblings.
Artemis, he decided. He’d go to his older brother and pour his heart out and hopefully pour some more brandy into its place.
How Anton managed to wobble all the way to Hightown, he had no idea. But it was a good thing he and his siblings had helped clean up the streets or even his status as King of the Ass-Bandits wouldn’t have protected him.
Anton didn’t so much stop in front of Artie’s door as fall against it, fist pounding against the wood. "Artie!" he called. "Artie, I need booze!"
The door opened, and Anton managed to catch himself before falling onto the entryway rug. "You are not Artie," he told Fenris, who held open the door, a bemused look on his face.
"And neither are you, and yet…" Fenris gestured vaguely at Anton. "I’m starting to see the family resemblance." Sighing, Fenris pulled Anton inside, muttering something about the ‘Champion of Kirkwall’.
Orana hovered at the edge of the hall, surprised Fenris had gotten to the door before her. She took in the blood stains on Anton’s clothes. "Messeres, are you—? Should I send for Messere Anders?"
"Anders is busy," Anton slurred. "Left me in the Hanged Man, to go finish his Manifesto. Finish." He scoffed. "He’s never going to finish it. There’s too much wrong."
Fenris caught Orana’s eye and tipped his chin toward the stairs. "I didn’t realise you were such a critic of his writing," he drawled, wrapping an arm around Anton’s waist, to support him, as Orana went to get Artemis. "Let’s go sit in the lounge, and you can expound upon how terrible it is."
"It’s not his writing that’s wrong," Anton insisted, as he staggered along with Fenris. "It’s everything. There’s too much shit — shit on piles of shit — to fit in one volume." He laughed a little too loudly, hand clenching on Fenris’s shoulder.
Fenris wasn’t sure how to handle this. He could throw alcohol at the issue — whatever the issue was — like Anton wanted, but it seemed like Anton had had enough. He set Anton down on the couch and took the chair next to him, leaving the other spot on the couch for Artemis.
"Did something happen?" Fenris asked. He couldn’t recall ever seeing Anton like this.
Anton scoffed. "Somethings. Somethings happened. Two nights in a row. Maker’s ball sac."
Artemis shuffled into the room, a bathrobe thrown on over his pyjama pants and one hand rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He looked his brother over, eyebrows creeping towards his hairline. "Orana, would you mind fetching us some water?" he asked. He would worry about whatever stains Anton was leaving on his couch later.
"That is the wrong liquid," Anton pointed out, watching woefully as Orana disappeared.
"Why are we drinking so much?" Artemis asked conversationally as he sat next to his brother. "Did I miss a birthday? A funeral?"
"Demons," Anton sighed. "I’m worried about you."
"I can assure you my husband is not possessed by demons and that I would not stand for it if any were to try," Fenris said, squinting curiously at Anton. "Your brother had two exceptionally bad days, everything is wrong with the world, and Anders left him in the Hanged Man to go work on his manifesto," he explained to Artemis. "I am still not sure what any of these things have to do with each other, but I sincerely hope he’s not here because Anders wouldn’t take him to bed."
"I don’t need magic that close to my junk," Anton grumbled. "The Knight-Commander is my problem."
"The Knight-Commander has a talent for making herself everyone’s problem," Fenris pointed out.
"She threatened Cormac. Sit down, Artemis. I’m handling it." Anton rubbed his face. "She wanted me to collect some escaped mages. I told her where she could stuff it. She strongly implied what she’d do to Cormac if I didn’t. Found two of them. Both blood mages. Both working with demons. Not even together, like it’s a cult or anything." Anton sighed. "Worried about you. Not nearly drunk enough."
Artemis forced himself to sit back. Force shoving Meredith off of the Gallows was not a viable option, no matter how much he enjoyed thinking about it. "You’re worried about me?" He rubbed his forehead. "Giving in to demons? You know that’s not going to happen." Still, Artemis thought of that time in the Fade, the sloth demon’s words he hadn’t quite managed to keep out of his head.
"No? Can you promise that?" Anton looked at him unwaveringly. Or as unwaveringly as he could with that much alcohol inside of him. "You wouldn’t make a deal to keep Fenris safe? Or Cormac?"
Artemis wasn’t so quick to answer that time. He fidgeted with the hem of his sleeve, smoothing out a crease with his thumb.
"These were good people, you know," Anton went on. "Evelina just wanted to take care of her damned kids. And you? You’re a good person. What am I supposed to do if you turn into that?"
Artemis looked at Anton sadly. "That’s not going to happen," he said again, squeezing Anton’s shoulder. He was beginning to agree with Anton on the ‘not drunk enough’ assessment.
"It will not be your brother," Fenris agreed, looking away, as Orana returned with the water. "He has been tempted. You were not there, but I was. From what I understand of the matter, it would not be wrong to say that both he and Cormac have been Harrowed, without the assistance of the Circle."
Anton had always wondered if Anders had been joking about that. The idea that mages would intentionally be subjected to demons, just to see if they would give in seemed dangerously stupid, but then, when Anders talked, almost everything about the Circle seemed dangerously stupid. "How can you be so sure?"
"Neither of them gave in. Again and again, and neither of them gave in." Fenris cleared his throat and poured a glass of water for Anton. "Your brothers prevented the Ass-Pirate and I from making some terrible mistakes, in that place. I would fear for the continued well-being of any demon who made an attempt upon a Hawke, if I were the sort to be concerned with the well-being of demons. And if one of your brothers falls, the place you belong is behind me, because I will not stand for it." He glanced at Artemis, fondly. "I will not let them keep you, Amatus."
Artemis smiled softly back. That eased a fear he didn’t know he had. Fenris would protect his family from him, if it came to that. As for Cormac… he wasn’t going to think about what it would take to tempt him.
"Drink that," he told Anton, pointing at the water. "I’ll be right back. I don’t know about Fenris, but I’m much too sober to be sitting next to you while you’re this drunk. I’m going to fetch some wine." Artemis squeezed Fenris’s shoulder as he passed.
Anton saluted him with his glass of water before taking a sip. "One more day of this," he muttered.
"Of drinking?" Fenris asked archly. "That seems excessive, even for a Hawke."
"Of this mage-stuff." Anton gestured vaguely with one hand. "Three mages escaped. I’ve found two. That’s two-thirds of the mages I need to find."
"And at least two-thirds of them were blood mages?" Fenris asked, though he looked anything but surprised. "If the last third is too, will you be drinking yourself into a stupor?"
"The chances are good," Anton replied with a shrug as Artemis returned with a bottle.
Anton once again found himself with second thoughts on his own wisdom. The preceding days were still mostly clear in his head, along with fragments of memory from what happened after the drinking began. He thought he might have gotten drunk enough to flirt with Fenris, the night before. He sincerely hoped that was Fenris, otherwise this was going to be whole other kinds of awkward. Just one more day. One more mage.
"You wake," Fenris noticed, looking up from his book. "Did you want to eat, before we go after this last mage?"
Anton’s stomach lurched at the idea of food. "Breakfast is overrated. What do you mean ‘we’?"
"Obviously, I mean that you will not be going after this last mage, alone. My husband would be very upset if I let you be eaten by a demon, because you were too hungover to dodge." A hint of a smile touched the corner of Fenris’s mouth.
"My husband wouldn’t be thrilled, either," Anton conceded. "But, Anders is coming with me. Can’t do Circle mage things without Anders." It was the most sense he was able to make on the subject within the first few minutes after opening his eyes. And maybe Anders could help with the headache. Maker.
Fenris eyed Anton over his book, marking his place before setting it aside. "And he’ll be in much better condition after last night, will he?" he drawled. "Very well. We shall stop to get Anders. Fetch the mage before catching the mage."
Anton sat up, moving as though his whole body creaked. Rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands, he sifted through fuzzy thoughts for the name of the last mage. Right. "De Launcet." He huffed. "One of the de Launcets. Maybe we should bring Cormac instead and see if Babette is still interested in his manly charms."
"I don’t need to think about Cormac’s ‘manly charms’, not this early in the morning." Fenris stood and stretched. "Come. Let’s get this over with."
Anton whined and made a point of dragging his feet as Fenris ushered him out the door.
Anders, as it turned out, was not only in much better condition, but elbows-deep in patients, when Anton and Fenris arrived. He helped a young man up, shook his hand, and finally looked up. "Give me an hour? Part of a wall slid in. I’ve got six more people who were hit with falling debris, but it doesn’t look like anything serious."
"Is there anything I should be doing?" Anton asked, thinking of the accusations Evelina had levelled at him.
"Put in to the Merchants’ Guild for a structural engineer?" Anders suggested, shrugging as he closed a gash on a girl’s leg. "Maybe run up and get Cormac? He doesn’t want us going out without him, this time — as if he has any choice in the matter." He shook his head, thinking of the conversation he’d had with Cormac, the night before, when Justice finally let him up from the Manifesto. Something about not charging headlong into demons without backup. Not that Anders thought he needed backup, where demons were concerned — that was what Justice was for — but it was still sweet.
By the time he’d worked his way through his patients, Anton was back, this time with less of a hangover and more of Cormac, who looked grim in that way only Cormac could — with tight hands and a lazy smile.
"Anton tells me we’re looking for one of the de Launcets. Just what we need! I hope the brother is less horrifying than the sisters, but they’re all Orlesian, so I’m not holding my breath," Cormac joked, sliding a hand up the back of Anders’s neck and dragging him down into a kiss. "You got up early. Can’t be going for so long without sleep, pretty thing. It’ll kill you."
"I slept last week," Anders said with a wave of his hand, "but I’ll take that under consideration." He went to grab his staff and a few potions.
"So," Anton said around a yawn. "De Launcets. Visit their place, see if they know anything? They may be Orlesian, but I don’t know if they have the brains to hide something like this, if they know where Emile is."
They went to Hightown by means of the cellar, and Anton offered Sandal and Bodhan a wave on his way out. "Mind the goat for me, will you?" he asked Sandal.
Sandal grinned and nodded, and Anton was less than reassured.