[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 280
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Small children, brotherly love, lots of drool, Artemis is not happy with this situation
Notes: Little elfy drool-beasts. One amused Hawke. One distressed Hawke. Fenris making spooked cat faces.
Fenris was grateful to Cormac, although he’d never admit it. The sound of five little elves screaming gleefully drifted up from the back yard, and he was so glad he didn’t have to deal with any of them. Yet. It had been decided that the children would stay with him and Artemis, until Varric’s house was clean enough to be safe for them, which was likely to take a few weeks.
At first, he hadn’t been concerned. They spoke Tevene, he spoke Tevene. All he would have to do is make sure they had food and somewhere to sleep. Except it hadn’t been that simple at all. They shrieked and knocked things over. They pushed each other and cried. They climbed all over him. Eventually, Artemis had sent for his brother, and Cormac had shown up with Bodhan and Sandal in tow.
Cormac had sung utterly stupid songs, and let the children climb all over him, interspersed with the occasional, ‘Hey, Artie, do you remember when we used to…’ while Bodhan tried to explain to Fenris the basics of keeping children entertained. Fenris was totally lost, but the children seemed to like Sandal, all of them chasing each other around the yard, shouting, ‘Enchantment!’ He wondered if the children even understood what the word meant.
Fenris hadn’t meant to avoid his maybe-niece and maybe-nephew, but if he was honest with himself, he had been. It was easier to put it off, to go back to pretending like his past didn’t exist, but he knew that was the coward’s way of dealing with things.
Fenris called them over while the other children laughed and played with Cormac in the yard. "Venite huc," he said. Come here.
The children looked up at him from where they’d been pulling up fistfuls of grass, and Fenris cringed on his husband’s behalf.
"Enchantment?" the girl chirped as she bounded up to him, and Fenris didn’t quite hide his smile at that. Her brother joined them.
"Sure," said Fenris. "Enchantment." It occurred to him that he didn’t even know their names, and he tried to hide his embarrassment. Tugging at one ear, Fenris squatted in front of them, so that he was looking up at instead of down at them. Two matching sets of green eyes watched him. "Habetisne nominia?" he asked. Do you have names? Where slaves were concerned, he had learned it was best not to assume they did, at least not at this young age.
"Nomen mihi Paulla est," the girl said, proudly, pausing for a moment before she pointed at her brother. "Ei Spurius est."
The boy waved, shyly, from behind his sister’s arm.
Fenris tried to keep the horror off his face. ‘Little’ and ‘Bastard’? If these were his sister’s children, they were going to have some words. But, then, they were elves, and even as the children of a free woman, they’d apparently ended up as slaves. "Fenris est," he said, nodding to the kids.
"Lineas in tibi facie habes," Paulla pointed out, gesturing to Fenris’s face.
"Habeo," he agreed. He did, in fact, have lines on his face. Perhaps not as many as Merrill, but he was sure the rest of his body more than made up for that. "Qui parentes vobis sunt?"
"Mater nobis mater est! Bellissima in omnibus Qarini est! Capillos rufos longos bellissimos habet et quoque magicam! Crescam et SICUT EA ERO!" Paulla declared, hands on her hips, chin tipped up.
She really did look like Varania, Fenris decided. He glanced to the side, blinking helplessly at Artemis. "Amatus, I don’t… How do…? They cannot name their mother, but she sounds like my sister. I am increasingly certain they are hers."
In the background, Cormac hung from the branch of a tree with one arm, feet propped against the trunk, as one of the other children climbed his free arm and the other two cheered. He seemed to be singing about a Dalish hero who hunted Orlesians. Sandal bounced from foot to foot, clapping along, and Bodhan stood back to watch, smiling proudly.
Artemis twisted his fingers in his hair, smiling helplessly down at the red-haired children. "What did she say, exactly? All I got out of that was ‘mother’ and ‘have’."
Fenris sighed. "That her mother is beautiful, has long red hair and magic. And that she wants to grow up to be like her." And that should not have twisted at his heart. It shouldn’t have. This sweet-faced child adored Varania — he was assuming Varania — the woman who had betrayed him and nearly gotten him and his husband killed. "Do you think it’s her? Is there still a chance there isn’t?"
Artemis folded his arms across his chest and shrugged uncomfortably. "Oh, sure," he said drily but not unkindly. "I’m sure there are plenty of elven women in Qarinus connected to Danarius who have long red hair, magic, and two children about this age." He reached out to squeeze Fenris’s arm, taking Fenris’s hand in his. "It’s her, Fenris," he said. "The only way to be completely certain now is to bring her to them or them to her."
Fenris ducked his head, screwed his eyes shut. "I don’t know if I want to see her, Amatus."
Spurius watched the two of them with large green eyes, first two fingers of one hand in his mouth, his other hand clutched in his sister’s.
"You don’t have to if you don’t want to," Artemis said. "Cormac and I could take them to the Alienage."
"I’d rather they didn’t see that." Fenris paused. "That’s foolish, isn’t it? With all they must have seen to get here…"
Spurius reached out with his damp and drooly hand and tugged at the bottom of Artemis’s trousers. He said nothing, but smiled somewhat gooily up at the round-eared man towering over them.
"Hello," Artie said, looking down at Spurius with a strained smile. Drool. There was drool on his trousers. He patted Spurius’s head and fought the urge to pull away. To Fenris, he said, "It’s not foolish. It’s sweet."
Sighing, Fenris stood, with a last smile at the children. "I’ll have Orana send for Merrill, then. Merrill will know where to find her. Shall I bring you a change of … I don’t suppose that would help. Shall I bring you a long apron, while I’m inside? Why am I asking foolish questions. Of course I should." He kissed Artemis’s cheek and made his way back into the house.
Cormac crossed the lawn, one little elf sitting on his shoulder and another sitting on his hip. The last was playing a hand-clapping game with Sandal that Bodhan said had something to do with patterns in lyrium folding for runecrafting. Exactly the sort of thing suited for wild elven children, Cormac figured. He eyed the elflet currently holding on to his brother’s trousers, and then spotted the pained look. "What, did he wipe snot on you? You used to do that to me. You used to blow your nose in the tail of my robes." Cormac laughed.
"I did not," Artie sniffed, giving Cormac a scandalised look. "I was a clean child with impeccable manners. A delight to all who knew me." Spurius tugged at his pant-leg and gurgled something up at him. Artemis’s smile softened into something less strained. The little bastard was, at the very least, extremely cute.
"You absolutely did!" Cormac protested, as the elf on his shoulder started pulling at his hair and … he hoped that was plaiting it and not tying it in knots. "You blew your nose in my robes and wiped slobber all over my face! Several times a day! You didn’t get all tidy and petulant until you were a little older. You had a name, before you started crying because you weren’t clean. Anton had a name before you started crying because I wasn’t clean."
The elf at his hip had started a conversation in Tevene, with Paulla, and he set the boy down beside her, so he could finish dealing with his own brother, who clearly had some delusions about their youth.
"I think you are confusing me with Anton," Artemis insisted, lifting his chin. Spurius pulled at his pant-leg again and, haltingly, Artie picked him up under the armpits and rested the boy on his hip the way Cormac had carried the other child. Spurius stuffed his fingers in his mouth again, and Artemis tried not to grimace.
"Enchamment," said the boy around his fingers.
"Enchantment to you too," Artemis sighed. He angled Spurius towards Cormac. "Now wipe your enchanted drool on Uncle Cormac."
"That. Exactly that. You used to do exactly that — suck on your fingers and wipe them on my face," Cormac insisted, as the girl on his shoulder pulled his hair again. "And I do not have you confused with Anton. Anton used to eat his boogers. You’d just wipe them on me. And he didn’t drool on me; he peed on me. Constantly. I think he made a sport of it for a while."
Spurius grabbed at Cormac, and Cormac caught the boy’s hand in his own, and then wiped his fingers off on Artemis’s cheek. "Just like that."
There was a strangled sound caught behind Artie’s teeth. Face scrunched, shoulders rigid, Artemis set Spurius back down in the grass. Which looked like it had been pulled up in tufts, now that he was looking at it. "I hate you," Artie grumbled at Cormac, grabbing his brother’s sleeve and using it to wipe off his cheek. He could still feel the ghost of drool on his skin. "I am never having kids."
"Of course you’re not," Cormac laughed, as the girl on his shoulder climbed over to sit behind his neck, drumming her heels against his chest as she continued to do … something to his hair. "As Anders has pointed out, even at the height of the Imperium, nobody was having assbabies." He paused, gaze softening, as he watched Artemis struggle with the lingering sensation of drool — a feeling he knew well. "Hey, you know I love you, right?"
"And yet, you’re still an asshole," Artie huffed. It occurred to him that they probably shouldn’t be using that kind of language around children, but it wasn’t like they knew any Common, anyway. He tried to scowl at his brother but ended up smirking instead. "But yeah, I do." He tugged at Cormac’s beard and pressed a kiss to his cheek. "And I appreciate you proving it by baby-sitting while I go inside and pretend like there isn’t drool on all of my furniture."
"There isn’t drool on your furniture, Artie. That’s why the automatic drooling machines are all outside." Cormac grinned and got up on his toes to bump his forehead against Artie’s. "I assume his sister’s on the way? Let me know when she gets here, so I can make sure small and smaller, over here, are presentable, and not, say, damp, muddy, or hanging from the trees like Nevarran sloths."