[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 256
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Varania ♀, Merrill ♀, Carver Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Dick jokes, mentions of children
Notes: Varania tells Merrill her story. Merrill talks about Carver’s … ‘swording’. Carver is less than enthused.
"I don’t know how I’m going to get them back. This was all for them, and now I can’t even go home. How am I supposed to get them back, now that Danarius is dead?" Varania clutched her tea cup in both hands. "He said he’d sell them as slaves, if I didn’t help him. That I’d be his apprentice, if I did. So I did, but now… now he failed. He has nothing to offer, and he still has my children."
"We’ll get them back. We’ll find a way." Merrill patted Varania’s wrist. "Varric will know what to do. Carver will help us. You’re not in Tevinter any more, and even there, you were free. You have friends, you have means, all you need is a good plan, and your brother’s friends are very good at plans."
"My brother never wants to see me again. And he’s not wrong. I betrayed him. I betrayed my brother to save my children. No one should have to make that choice, but I did it. They told me he was savage, that he was dangerous and wild. They told me that someone else would have to be writing for him, because he couldn’t read. They told me he wasn’t even a man, any more, that Danarius had turned him into a monster, before he slipped the leash, and that he was completely unsafe to be allowed to roam across Thedas, with no keeper. That he needed to be back in the Imperium, where he could be contained and used as he was meant to be." Varania looked torn. "I thought whatever had been done to him, he’d become an animal, or worse. But, the letters kept coming, and I couldn’t imagine they were true. I wanted them to be. I wanted to believe he was finally safe and out and — that he had gotten the life he tried to buy for me. But, I thought it was a trap. I thought another Magister was setting up Danarius, and I came prepared to help him spring that trap, in the hope that once it was proven that this wasn’t my brother, he’d give back my children, and we could go home."
Merrill continued to pat Varania’s arm, green eyes large and sympathetic, and wished she knew a faster way to help this woman. "I’m sure you did what you had to do," she said. "But… the children. Does Fenris know?"
Varania shook her head, ears drooping in a way that reminded Merrill of her brother. "I wanted to tell him about them," she said. "I almost did, so many times, but I was afraid."
"So he doesn’t even know they exist?" Merrill asked.
Varania shook her head again, knuckles white where she clutched her tea cup. "No. They’re not his problem."
"He’s their uncle!" Merrill protested. "Of course they are!"
"Knock, knock? Who’s whose uncle?"
Merrill jumped, finally noticing Carver in her doorway. She didn’t know how she’d missed him, the way he filled the doorframe in his plate. "Carver!" she chirped, breaking into a smile, a smile that faded when she got a closer look at his face. "Fen’Harel’s boots, Carver, what happened to your face?"
"Oh. Uh." Carver’s hand flit over his bruised nose and the black eye that accompanied it. He drew himself up, puffing out his chest. "It was an amazing battle. You should have seen it. The others weren’t nearly so lucky."
"Others?" Merrill asked, trading a look with Varania. "Carver, were you picking fights with the other templars, again?"
"What? No, no. Nothing like that. I, uh… I was at the Hanged Man, getting a drink, on my way over, and a fight broke out. Had to go straighten out a few drunkards." Carver nodded, with all the certainty he didn’t actually have. "Busted a few heads and tossed them out in the street. Just… turned around into a fist, at some point."
"Turned around into a fist? Is that what they call it in the Marches?" Varania asked, smile hidden behind her tea cup. "In Tevinter, we call that getting punched in the face."
"I just don’t understand how words work, in Common, sometimes," Merrill sighed. "I’m pretty sure he means he got punched in the face, though."
"It was still bold and daring! There were at least four other guys! It was a lucky shot!" Carver insisted.
"Sometimes I feel like he’s not very good at fistfights," Merrill said to Varania, eyes lingering on Carver. "But, his swording is the very best. He’s definitely the best sworder in all of Kirkwall."
The tea cup didn’t quite hide Varania’s smirk at that. "Swording? We have a term for that in Tevinter as well." She winked at Merrill.
Carver tugged at one red ear. "Wait. Tevinter. You’re… damn, I can’t remember your name. Fenris’s sister. Didn’t you crash my brother’s wedding?"
Varania grimaced, frowning down into her tea again. "It’s… not crashing if you’re invited," she reminded him, tracing a finger around the rim of her cup.
"Right," said Carver. "Let me rephrase that. Weren’t you the one who helped a magister crash my brother’s wedding?"
Merrill gave Carver a pleading look, one that he clearly missed.
"Yes, that was me," said Varania. "Carver, was it?"
"Yeah, the Hawke who got knocked on the head, outside. How the Blight they got around me…" He shook his head and glared. "What are you still doing in Kirkwall?"
"My master is dead. Where else would I be?" Varania asked, pointedly.
"You’re… kind of an uncle, Carver," Merrill said with a smile. "At least, I think that’s how family works in the city… Your brother is married to her brother, and she has two children!"
"Back in Qarinus," Varania clarified. "Actually, for all I know, they’re in Minrathous, by now, and sold."
"Wait, what?" Carver looked completely confused at how the conversation had looped back around to uncles. "Sold?"
"I was to become Danarius’s apprentice, if I helped him. If I didn’t, he was going to sell my children as slaves. I’m not here to hurt my brother. I’m here to save the rest of my family," Varania explained again.
"Wait, does Fenris know this?" Carver asked, struck by how far this was from the story he knew from that day.
"I tried to tell him, at the wedding, but… It was too late. He wouldn’t listen." Varania sipped her tea, in an attempt to stop her hands from shaking. "Before that, I couldn’t be sure he was really him, that it wasn’t some sort of trap."
"Does anything ever go right in this family?" Carver roared, in frustration, hands pressed to his face. "No. Of course not. Hello, Varania. Welcome to the family. I’m so sorry. My life advice to everyone? Don’t be a Hawke."
Merrill caught the extra edge. "What’s happened? Something else happened, didn’t it? Are your brothers all right?" She didn’t ask about Bethany, not because Bethany mattered any less, but because Bethany had always seemed to be the most competent of all the Hawkes, and she was sure the woman would never find any trouble she couldn’t get herself out of.
Carver groaned, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands, forgetting for a moment about his black eye. He winced, pulling his hand away. "They’re all right," he said. "Mostly. Anton is apoplectic."
"Anton?" Merrill asked, brows knit in concern. "Oh. Oh, is Cullen all right?" Carver’s expression was her answer. Merrill wished she had made more tea. "What happened?"
"Meredith happened," Carver sighed. He pulled up a stool to the table and slumped into it, plate clanking as he moved. "He’s locked up in the Gallows, and I’m not even sure why. Something to do with how he handled the complaints against Aveline? So no, he’s not all right. Not at the moment."
"Oh dear," Merrill murmured. "Being a Hawke is rather complicated, isn’t it?"
"Let’s see, we’ve been locked in the Deep Roads, melted two magisters, our mother was turned into a zombie, dad was a blood mage working for the Wardens, two of my brothers have an ambiguously brotherly love for each other, one of them screams like he’s being stabbed every time he gets laid, my sister is the absolute definition of why mages are feared, and now my brother-in-law is locked up without his lyrium for doing his job. And somewhere in there, there were some darkspawn, some dragons, and some possessed dwarves," Carver raved. "Oh, and that time the Qunari tried to take over the city, and we had to stop them. Fuck this family. Fuck this city. I want to go back to Lothering, but I can’t, because everyone I knew is dead."
"I do hope someone’s writing all that down," Varania said, between sips of tea. "It sounds like a story for the ages. You fought Qunari? In Qarinus, we see them, sometimes. Raiders. We’re too close to Seheron, and they keep trying, every now and again."
"Yes, we fought Qunari," Carver groaned, dropping his head onto his arms. "Bunch of them shipwrecked here, looking for a book. One of my brothers said something to piss them off or… something. I’m not sure exactly what happened. All I know is that the city was on fire." He looked up, resting his chin on his arms, and shook his head. "Why, why is there so much fire whenever my family is involved?"
Varania remembered Danarius, remembered his screams and the pillar of flame. "So that sort of thing happens all the time, then?" She had to wonder how her brother had gotten caught up in this family. She almost envied him, that he had this family to watch his back, this family that worried about each other over this.
"The scenery bursting into flames? Oh, yeah. Tuesdays in Kirkwall. Demons, blood magic, shit catching fire." Carver rolled his eyes. "Well, nobody’s letting me near Cullen’s problem. All afraid I’ll end up in the next cell over. Like Anton won’t, or something. You want me to help you with the kids, I can probably do something. Don’t know what, but… If you need somebody stabbed, I’m right here. And I guess I can make mages useless, too."
"That’s true?" Varania looked astonished. "I heard stories on the boat, that the templars were different outside the Imperium, but… you can really do that? You can kill the magic?"
"Not… kill. Less mages in the family, if I could do that. But, I can make it stop working for a little while." Carver shrugged. "It’s what templars are for. What do you mean they don’t do that in Tevinter?" He paused. "Oh. Right. Magisters. Yeah, I don’t figure they’d have much use for people who can just shut them down, even if it’s only for a few seconds."
Varania sat back in her chair, reassessing. "Then perhaps you could help," she said, wary in a way that said she was afraid to be hopeful. If she could see her babies again… "If you can cut them off from their magic, even just for a little while… Would you do that?"
"Of course," Carver said, shrugging as though that should be obvious. "You’re part of this messed-up family now, whether you want to be or not." He pretended not to notice the way Varania’s eyes filled with tears. "But, well. Fenris needs to know."
Varania started to protest, but Carver shook his head.
"He has a right to be pissed at you — he does — but he deserves more credit than that." Or so Carver hoped.
"I— I didn’t manage to bring it with me to the wedding, but…" Varania reached into the bag that sat beside her chair, eventually wrestling a book out of it. "I brought a gift, just in case he was real. Just in case it wasn’t a trap, and my brother wasn’t the beast he was said to be." She smiled weakly, pushing the book across the table. "Whatever else happens, he should have this."
"What is it?" Carver asked, sliding it toward himself and opening the cover. He didn’t recognise the title, but it appeared to be written by a Chantry scholar, to judge by the name and titles of the author.
"It’s a translation of a book written by one of Andraste’s companions. The text isn’t quite forbidden, in Tevinter, but it’s… not considered proper reading. Shartan was a slave, until he brought on the rebellion that Andraste took advantage of, in her assault on Tevinter. Not a popular story, obviously, but it seemed fitting, somehow, if what he wrote to me was true."
Carver’s eyebrows rose. "Very fitting, I think," he said. "I’ll make sure he gets it." He couldn’t guarantee Fenris would accept it after everything, but if not, he could give it to Artemis and let him coax Fenris into it. Assuming he didn’t walk into Artie’s fist again.
"Thank you," said Varania. She smiled tiredly.
"See?" said Merrill, beaming. "He’s more than just a good sworder."
"Merrill, you can’t just … talk to people about my swording!" The unbruised side of Carver’s face flushed. "I’m going to— just— I’m going back to the market, to buy a pie? Would you like some pie? You’re getting some pie." He stood up, still holding the book, and then put it back down, platemail creaking as he awkwardly made his way back to the door and out.
"Actually, I meant his sword," Merrill said, with a mischievous smile, making sword-swinging gestures. "But, now we’ll have pie!"