[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 279
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Merrill ♀, Orana ♀, Varric ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Former Tevinter slaves, dick jokes, beer
Notes: "Welcome to Kirkwall. I envy those of you who didn’t understand a word of that."
Washing his bread roll down with beer, Artie watched Cormac move about the room. "Ah, so you do know how to clean!" he exclaimed, pressing a hand to his chest and faking shock at what he was seeing. "All these years, and I never knew. What else have you been hiding from me, brother-dear?"
"Sometimes I wonder if I have any secrets left from you, you little shit," Cormac laughed. "You just going to flit about and look dainty with a dustrag, or are you going to help me shove this shit outside? I’ll put a barrier on the steps so you don’t break them, rolling stuff down."
"Is this what it was like?" Orana asked Fenris. "I hear people talk about what your house was like, before I came to it. Did they—" She cleared her throat. "— ‘throw shit down the stairs’ there, as well, or did Messere Artemis do all that by hand?"
Fenris tugged at one ear and smiled self-deprecatingly down at his feet. It had seemed like an age ago that their house looked like this, when he’d been used to the mess. "That was Artemis," he said. "He was… very particular about doing things a certain way. I helped, a bit, but mostly we stayed out of his way." Artemis had been hollow-eyed and exhausted those weeks. Skittish too — more so than usual — and Fenris remembered how difficult it had been between them for a while. "As I understand it, he still cleans Cormac’s room, back at the Hawke Estate."
Fenris watched in amusement as Artemis pushed around the debris, ‘accidentally’ knocking Cormac back a step or two and dropping the dustrag on his brother’s head. Orana giggled and shook her head.
"Have they always been like this?"
"As long as I’ve known them," Fenris replied with a shrug. He looked back at the other elves, saw them watching with wide eyes as the brothers threw around their magic.
Cormac snatched the rag. "Oh, is it my turn to flit about daintily, while you do the heavy lifting? Better be careful, Artie, I might get used to this," he teased, fluttering the rag and winking at Anders.
"This is not what I expected, when we were put on that ship," Troilus admitted, eyeing Cormac.
"Nobody expects the Hawkes." Anders laughed and shook his head, instantly regretting it. "Those kids over there — red hair, green eyes — do you know them? They look like someone I know, and I just can’t place who it is."
"I don’t know. They were supposed to be sold, when the master returned. I think he was holding them for a debt that never got paid. I suppose they got sent with the kitchen staff because they were being trained for scullery work. I don’t know their names. I don’t know if they have names." Troilus shrugged, eyes on the children, now. "I worked upstairs, in linens."
The children noticed their stares and huddled closer together, prompting Anders to look away. It still nagged at him, though, and he found himself sifting through his memories. It was something about the shape of their eyes and about their colouring, the rich red against porcelain skin. How many red-haired elves did he know?
….Merciful Andraste. Those better not be Tallis’s kids. He’d had enough dealings with Qunari to last him a lifetime. But, no, the eyes were wrong.
"I should ask them if they do," Anders murmured. "Have names, that is." His lips twisted in something that wasn’t quite a smile.
"They probably only speak Tevene," Troilus warned him. "Shall I ask them for you?"
It was tempting to say ‘yes’ just so he wouldn’t have to get up, but there was still something servile in the way Troilus asked. Anders shook his head with a smile. "I speak enough Tevene to exchange pleasantries," he said. "But let’s let them finish eating first."
Varric pulled up a stool in front of the elves and, tankard in one hand, began to tell a story. A familiar story about a family fleeing from Lothering. By the time Varric stood up on his stool to describe the mass and weight (and ugliness) of the ogre, his elfy audience was rapt.
"…and that was when Cormac puffed up his chest, looked the beast square in the eye, and said—"
"FIGHT ME, JIMMY!" Artemis shouted around the corner, in his best Cormac impersonation.
Cormac groaned, staring at the ceiling. "I promise you, I was not standing there like a puffed up pheasant. I charged it. There was running involved."
"Rolling," Varric scoffed. "Like a giant pudding, covered in —"
"The next word out of your mouth had better be buttercream!" Cormac jabbed a finger at Varric. "Ask Anders. I’m much better as a dessert!"
"Andraste’s flaming knickerweasels," Anders squeaked, resting his head against his knees. "I decline to comment on Cormac’s appropriateness as a dessert." Though, he thought for a thick slab of meat, Cormac would go terribly well with buttercream. Maybe he’d actually suggest it, once they got back to the house. Just not in front of all these elves. Especially not in front of Fenris.
"Really, Varric, he’s not that much like a pudding," Merrill protested, climbing over a few stone globes to poke at Cormac’s sides. "Maybe a meat pie. Isabela says he’s very meaty. Succulent and juicy, too."
Cormac’s face darkened and his eyes squeezed shut. "Varric? I want it known that I will kick you straight down the stairs from the keep if I ever hear you refer to me as a succulent meat pie. Or say a word about my juicy meat."
The back of Anders’s neck was a brilliant red as he cackled against his knees. Artie leaned against the wall, wheezing with laughter.
"Varric?" he said, wiping tears from his eyes. "Don’t listen to him. I will pay you if you do. A gold coin for every Cormac-as-a-meat-pie metaphor." He clapped a hand over Cormac’s mouth before his brother could protest or respond.
"Please don’t," Fenris said, lips curled in a grimace. He looked mournfully down at the apple in his hand. "To think I used to enjoy meat pie…"
Merrill shushed them all, refilling cups and returning them to their elven owners. "I want to hear the rest of the story! Go on, Varric. What happened after Cormac rolled after the ogre?"
Artemis raised his hand. "Oh! I know what happened!" He smiled sweetly at his brother and finally pulled his hand away from his mouth.
"Are you going to tell this part, or am I going to tell this part?" Cormac asked Varric, squinting at his brother, side-eyed.
"Oh, you go right ahead, Shouty. Let’s hear what you’ve got to say for yourself." Varric grinned broadly, patting Merrill’s arm, as she brought him another cup of beer.
"And, so, I shouted, ‘Fight me, Jimmy!’ and ran at the thing like I meant to do it massive harm. Which, let me be entirely honest, at that moment, I’m not sure I could have set fire to my brother’s ass, if he farted and I was holding a torch. But, I could still hold up my shields, and that was the important thing." Cormac braced himself, spreading his hands, heroically. "And the ogre swung back its mighty fist, and nailed me right in the face, and that’s the last thing I remember until I woke up covered in blood and mud, with a dragon shouting from the clifftop. Killer headache, too. I think I sprained my neck."
"And this is why you let me tell the story, Shouty. You sound less like a whiny little mushroom and more like a hero." Varric laughed. "He took the blow and distracted the beast long enough for the beautiful witch Bethany to seize its mind and turn it against the other darkspawn."
"I may object to that description of my sister," Cormac muttered, filling his cup again.
"Carver’s called her worse things," Artemis reminded him. "And at least Varric said ‘beautiful’ instead of ‘buxom’ this time."
"It’s called level of discourse, Nervy. There are children present."
"But I’ll tell you," Artie said, pointing his broom handle at Varric, "what it actually looked like. Bethany started casting her spell, but it would take time, so I made a gamble. I planted my feet, ready to pull the thing into the ground, when this maniac came charging in front of me screaming bloody murder." He hooked a thumb in Cormac’s direction. "Which was probably a good thing since his skull is thicker than mine, and the last time I tried that tactic, my insides ended up outside." He gave Cormac a look that was as much affectionate as sardonic. "He went down like a sack of potatoes."
"Why do we keep comparing Cormac to food?" Fenris asked no one.
"Clearly because I’m magically delicious," Cormac said, clapping Fenris on the back, as he passed, looking for more detritus to compress.
Artie’s pained expression said that he’d heard that, but he went on as if he hadn’t. "Anyway. Bethany finished the spell, and the ogre decided it would rather punch uglier things. Cormac was a bit of a mess after that, slurring his words like he was drunk. Oh, and yeah, there was a dragon…"
Varric waved him off. "No, no. That’s not how you introduce a dragon. This is why I’m the Hawke biographer. You are both terrible at storytelling."
Artie shrugged and moved into the next room to start clearing away the mess in there, keeping an ear on the conversation.
"Oh! You should ask Anton to tell the story," Merrill chimed in, bouncing on the balls of her feet. "He’s very good at it, especially when he gets to the dragon…" She smiled brightly at the other elves, who were all varying levels of amused, bemused, and confused.
"I hesitate to hear Anton say anything about dragons, after the things I’ve heard out of his room, lately." Cormac shook his head and kicked another ball of tattered curtains and broken pottery toward the door.
"Has he been making the best of that Page Six?" Varric asked, with a laugh.
"Do you know somebody got him some … artificial dragon accoutrements? From the sound of it, he and the Knight-Captain have been putting those to good use. Turns out I’m not the only screamer in the family, and I think my brother just discovered good sex." Cormac turned, holding up one finger. "Which I did not need to know. Ever. I have mostly moved into the cellar, since this started, for which the cats are grateful. At least Assbiter appreciates me."
Varric winced and held up his hands. "Please don’t tell me what you’re doing with Anders’s pussy. I know more than enough about what goes on behind closed doors in that house."
Anders staggered to his feet, winging the brass goblet at Varric’s head. "You take that back! There is nothing obscene going on that involves my cats!"
"You have a cat named Assbiter," Varric pointed out, drily. "Forgive my presumptions."
Fenris wiped a hand over his face and wished he was holding something stronger than beer. He turned to the elves clustered on the stairs. "Welcome to Kirkwall," he drawled, with a half-hearted flourish of his arm. "I envy those of you who didn’t understand a word of that."