[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 247
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Meredith ♀, Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S1 V0 D0)
Warnings: Anders and Meredith in the same room, past trauma, an awful lot of shouting
Notes: Anton reports to the Knight-Commander. Fenris loses a bet he shouldn’t have made.
[ Master Post ]
Anders insisted on going with Anton, when he reported back to Meredith. At the least, Anton shouldn’t be alone for this, and Anders knew it. Still, no one had yet mentioned to Cormac that the Knight-Commander had made threats, and if Anders had his way, no one would. The last thing they needed was Cormac deciding he needed to make a statement on the subject, which would likely involve entirely non-magically taking Meredith’s head off. Not that it would be bad for Kirkwall, but Anders couldn’t imagine it would end well for Cormac, who was, at this very moment, once again availing himself of Isabela’s finer qualities. Anders had begun to consider letting the two of them talk him into the same — he had healed her, after all, and she wasn’t paying him for it, this time, although he might feel better about it if she were.
"Will you be able to find your own way out?" Anton asked, as they passed the door of Cullen’s office. "I was thinking I might make a stop, after we’re done here."
"An early lunch of sausage and cream?" Anders asked, with half a smile. "I can get myself out. I can get myself in, never mind out. I think we both have some familiarity with a certain means of entry."
"And I’m sure you don’t mean the window." Anton yanked his cuffs, exacting a sharp pop from each sleeve, before he opened the door to the Knight-Commander’s office.
Meredith turned away from the window at the sound of the door, and Anton wondered if she made a habit of staring broodily out into the courtyard.
"Knight-Commander," he greeted her cordially.
"I am led to believe that both Huon and Evelina are dead," was her greeting as Anders and Anton let themselves in. "Unfortunate, but necessary." She didn’t even both to pretend to be saddened by the news, and Anton grit his teeth. "It seems, however, that we have still heard nothing from Emile de Launcet." Meredith leaned over her desk and pierced Anton with her stare.
"Emile was killed," Anton answered her regretfully. "We found his body in a Lowtown alley, his pockets turned out. Three mages, and I failed to bring them back. I am sorry." And he was sorry, at least about Evelina and Huon.
Meredith continued to stare him, expressionless, as she pushed off from her desk to circle in front of it.
"Yet I have not seen the body?" she said. "No witnesses? Most curious." Meredith eyed him for a moment longer as Anton held his breath. "Regardless, your part in this is done."
"The blame for everything these mages did can be laid firmly at your feet." Two days of being hung over had done nothing for Anton’s politesse. "Look at the way you treat them. Is it any wonder they’re so desperate?"
"I have heard this argument often. ‘Maybe they are not corrupt.’ ‘Maybe they deserve leniency.’ ‘Maybe they can be saved.'" Meredith turned away and leaned on her desk, for a moment, providing an excellent view of the sword at her back. "There are maybes enough to fill half the graves in Kirkwall. I will not add more to the pile."
Anton opened his mouth, but Meredith cut him off. "Enough. I have not the patience to argue this with you further."
"And I have not the patience to sit back and watch you relentlessly abuse your charges, yet, here we are," Anders snapped, trying to keep a grip on Justice.
"Be very careful, mage. Your friendship with the Champion protects you only so much," Meredith replied, locking eyes with Anders as she stepped forward.
"Do you really want to explain that to Weisshaupt?" Anders asked, with a thin smile. "That’s Mage-Warden, to you."
Anton slipped between them. "Don’t piss off the Wardens, Commander. Anders, don’t ruin my marriage. Excuse us Ser Meredith. We have to go."
Anton took Anders by the arm and led him out before he started to look blue around the edges. The door shut behind them. "All right?" he asked Anders.
"Irritated," Anders replied. An understatement, to be sure, but he didn’t need to lecture Anton on mage rights or point out all the things that were wrong with that conversation. "Three mages dead on her watch, as far as she knows, and she doesn’t even bat an eye. They are not her ‘charges’, they are her prisoners!" The words slipped out of him anyway.
"I know," said Anton, grimly. "Believe me, I do." He started towards Cullen’s office, and Anders walked with him. "Are you still fine to leave on your own? You’re not glowing yet, but you look like you’re about to."
Anders waved aside his concern. "No, I’ll be fine. Justice knows now’s not the time."
This was an unusual situation. In fact, it was so unusual, Fenris was wholly certain it had never happened before. "Have you been taking lessons from Isabela?" he asked his husband, spreading his losing hand on the table. "What has she been asking in return?"
He struggled with the idea, first, that Artemis had beat him at diamondback. And then with the idea that he’d gotten so lazy with his wagers that he’d started betting ‘anything you want’. It wasn’t like he was going to lose — well, not until he did, clearly. The years in Tevinter had been good for something, at least, and the stark terror he felt never crossed his face, although one ear determinedly twitched in annoyance.
Artemis stared at Fenris’s hand, then his own. He wished he could claim he’d used some devious strategy or even some sleight of hand to win, but the truth was that it had been dumb luck.
"I won? Er, I mean. Yes. Of course I won. And I’m not telling you my secrets, Fen, whether you give me those puppy eyes or not."
Fenris muttered something about not having puppy eyes, and Artie reached over to tug his twitching ear. It occurred to Artemis that winning meant he won the bet, Fenris’s ‘anything you want’.
"And now what do I do with you, hmm?" Artemis asked, stroking a finger along Fenris’s jawline. "Too bad we still don’t have the Orlesian maid’s outfit." He wasn’t actually interested in seeing Fenris in it, but it was worth Fenris’s wide-eyed look.
"Anything you want," Fenris growled, the panic slowly setting in. He’d bet himself, his freedom, like a fool. On the other hand, this might not be quite as terrible as losing such a bet to anyone else in Thedas, considering the sorts of things he’d watched Artemis do to Cormac in similar situations. He was relatively sure Artemis wouldn’t hurt him, intentionally, but … mage. He was still justifiably afraid of the result of his stupidity, and he would not be making this mistake again, assuming he ever got the opportunity.
Artemis was stymied, but he didn’t let it show on his face. Cormac was usually good at this sort of thing. He knew how to come up with the worst ideas, especially when they involved different uses for Anders. Or different places, if Artie believed his stories. The most recent story involved the Chantry and a broom closet, and somehow the Grand Cleric hadn’t heard Cormac screaming for Anders’s knob.
But there was Cormac, giving Artie bad ideas even when he wasn’t around. Artemis bit his lip and considered his husband and his adorably twitchy ears. He grabbed up the bottle of whiskey. "Want to go for a walk?"
"A walk? To where? And what will we be doing, on this walk?" Fenris reluctantly stood, tension in every line of his body. His eyes stayed low, studying the cards. A walk involving a bottle of whiskey. This would either end surprisingly well or horribly in ways he didn’t much want to consider, and he wasn’t sure how much he liked the idea of Artemis getting that drunk in public, these days.
Artemis spotted the tension in his shoulders and curled a finger under Fenris’s chin, gently tilting his head up until their eyes met. He wasn’t used to that look in Fenris’s eyes, not any more. "It’s just me," Artie reminded him gently. "And you, serah, won’t be doing anything to me that you haven’t already done." He kissed Fenris sweetly. "But if you don’t want to…"
"Just you, hmm?" Fenris lifted an eyebrow, but didn’t quite manage to look up. "And where will I be repeating things I’ve already done to you, Messere Hawke?" His voice was a low, teasing drawl, and finally his eyes came up, wary, but amused. "I suspect this walk does not end in our bedroom. Is there anything you would like me to bring along for this venture?"
"Just your glorious bottom," Artemis replied. "As for where…" He bit his lip around a grin. "Not far. Still in Hightown. I’ll tell you if you guess." He wrapped one hand around Fenris’s and tugged him towards the door.
Fenris let himself be led, paying little mind until the steps. The steps of the Chantry. "This is the Chantry, Amatus. What—? Surely there are people here. I cannot imagine Sebastian would approve of this, if you are thinking what I expect you are."
"Sebastian would not approve of many of the things you and I do," Artemis replied before stealing another kiss. "And there’s no one here at this time of night. What’s the harm?" This was a terrible idea, and that was exactly why it was appealing.
"The only harm I foresee is the Granny Cleric catching you with your trousers around your ankles," Fenris laughed, far more amused at the idea than was wise. He had no idea what the punishment would be for defiling a Chantry, but he was fairly certain one of the two of them could talk their way out of whatever it was. Probably. At the very least he could punch someone, and then they could run. He pulled open the heavy door, which swung very easily, for its size.
Artemis slipped an arm around Fenris’s waist. "Then we’ll just have to not get caught," he purred, nuzzling Fenris’s ear before nibbling at the tip. He grinned when he felt his husband shiver and that ear twitch.