[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 281
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Varania ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Small children, sibling rivalry, a discussion of corsetry
Notes: Varania is reunited with her elflets. Cormac is there to make everything comedic and horrifying.
Orana opened the door to Merrill and a red-haired elf she recognised as Fenris’s sister. Varania looked haggard, her cheeks hollow and eyes shadowed, and Orana smiled and ushered them both inside. "I will fetch Messeres Fenris and Artemis," Orana said as Merrill guided Varania into the lounge.
Varania sat for all of two seconds before getting up to pace, hands twisting in her skirts.
Fenris came in first, uncertain of how to handle the situation. "Your children. We… may have found them," he said, not bothering with a greeting.
"Where are they?" Varania’s entire body tensed as she turned toward him. "Where are my children?"
"They are playing in the yard. Artemis has gone to get them." And Fenris hoped that worked out — Artemis had seemed as clueless as he was, and the lack of a language in common wouldn’t help. But, Cormac and Bodhan were out there. Surely one of them could help. The children seemed to like them. "Why didn’t you tell me?"
"Tell you what, Leto? That I had children, but they were being held hostage for your return to Danarius? That I’d been promised an apprenticeship if I helped, but that my children would be sold as slaves, if I didn’t?" Varania jabbed a finger into her brother’s chest. "I didn’t know you were you, at all! And even if you were, I didn’t know who was reading what I sent to you! If I warned you — if I warned you…"
"Maybe not in your letters, but what about when you were in my house?" Fenris hadn’t planned on having this argument, not now, but the wound was still raw. "When you saw that it was me and you had the opportunity to tell me something, anything—?"
"Fenris." Artemis cut him off, and Fenris turned to see him in the doorway, brows raised. ‘Not in front of the kids’, that look said, and Fenris closed his mouth with an audible clack.
"Mama!" yelled Paulla before Fenris even saw her. She ducked around Artemis’s legs and ran straight towards Varania. Spurius toddled after her.
Varania let out a sob of relief, dropping to her knees and pulling her children tight into her arms. Paulla rattled off a flurry of Tevene against Varania’s shoulder while Varania shook, eyes screwed shut against her tears. "Vos amo," she murmured against Spurius’s hair. I love you both.
"Enchamment," Spurius mumbled against her dress.
"Enchantment?" Varania asked, looking up at her brother in confusion.
Fenris rubbed a hand over his eyes and stared off into the corner of the room, for a moment, somewhat embarrassed. Which, he assured himself, was ridiculous. There were far worse words they could have picked up, here, particularly from Cormac. "You haven’t met Sandal," he settled for, after a moment.
"Enchantment?" Cormac asked, from the doorway, having only heard the mention of Sandal, as he wrapped his arms around Artemis’s waist and stepped into the room before putting his brother down and not letting go. "Oh, yeah, Sandal’s great! But, that’s the only word he can say, the poor kid. Says it when he’s happy, says it when he’s sad. Really taught me to pay attention." He knew he had no business in the room. Artemis either, most likely, but the two of them would probably be more effective than Merrill, if anything went wrong.
"You have children?" Varania asked Cormac, surprised.
"What? No. I raised two kids that weren’t mine, and that was enough. And this one wiped snot on me all the time. Don’t listen to him when he says he didn’t. He’s lying." Cormac raised one hand and tapped on Artie’s chest, the other arm still wrapped around his waist.
Artemis cleared his throat awkwardly. "He means when I was a child," he said. "I don’t just… walk around wiping snot on him, no matter how much he annoys me. Not that I ever did, even as a kid." He tried to give Cormac a narrowed look but couldn’t quite twist that way.
"So that… answers my question then," Fenris said, changing the subject. "They are your children." His niece and nephew. He still hadn’t quite wrapped his head or his heart around that, but at least he’d gotten them here safely, however unintentionally.
"That they are," said Varania coolly as she wiped her cheeks. She still looked wrung out and tired, but some of the lines around her eyes had eased. "Thank you," she said. She struggled to say the words but clearly meant them.
Fenris nodded in acknowledgement. One foot scratched the other as he tried a few times to find the right words. "What will you do now?" he asked.
"I don’t know. There is no place for us here, but I can hardly return to Qarinus. The apprenticeship is gone, if it ever existed." Varania glared at Fenris as Paulla climbed into Merrill’s lap and poked at her vallaslin, curiously. "You ruined our lives, Leto. You wanted us free, but what was freedom, in that place? Now, here I am in the south, and what is freedom in this place? At least at home I had magic. I’ve seen what happens, here. Merrill’s warned me. Nowhere is safe."
"I thought…" Fenris looked helplessly at his sister, trying to justify something he had no memory of. "I don’t know what I thought. I have no memory of any of it. Blame Leto all you want, but Leto is dead. Danarius killed him."
"I know a place where your magic may be welcome," Merrill volunteered, after a few moments of silence. "I have friends in a nearby Dalish clan. They’ve been very good about taking in elves fleeing the city life. And there’s always a shortage of magic."
"Then why aren’t you with them?" Varania asked, looking over her shoulder.
"The Keeper and I had a disagreement about an ancient artefact." Merrill’s eyes slid off Varania’s face. "But, they’re good people. They’d be happy to help, if you have skills to offer."
"What skills do you have, other than your magic?" Cormac asked, resting his chin on Artie’s shoulder. "My brother and I are noblemen, our other brother’s a hero. If there’s something you want to be doing, we can probably find you a good place to do it, somewhere in town. We’ve got some influence, and I’d be willing to throw it around if you stop trying to get Fenris dragged back to Minrathous. Your brother’s kind of married to my brother, and I’ve got a serious investment in my brother’s happiness." It wasn’t really that he had any investment in Varania, but he’d gotten attached to the kids, and whatever their mother might be like, he thought they deserved the opportunity to grow up under better circumstances than Fenris had.
Varania straightened, lifting her head high. "Back in Qarinus, I worked for a tailor," she said. "I can sew. In fact, I can sew very well." There was a fierce pride behind her eyes as she said this.
Artemis looked at Cormac out of the corner of his eye. "I’m sure we could find someone interested in a Tevinter seamstress," he said. "Fran, for instance." He cleared his throat and pretended not to notice the scandalised look that crossed over Fenris’s face.
"Oh, I love Fran’s!" Merrill said, eyes lighting up. "Her designs are lovely."
Fenris grabbed hold of one of his ears to keep it from twitching. Fran’s designs certainly were… lovely, but he wasn’t sure he wanted his sister associated with them. At least not when he still liked to shop there on occasion. For Artemis.
Varania wore the guarded look of someone afraid to hope. "Fran?" She looked between her brother, Merrill, and the Hawkes. "Is she a dressmaker?"
"Er… I don’t know that I would say dresses," Fenris managed, intently observing his toes as they curled nervously against the floor.
"She specialises in more intimate apparel," Cormac supplied. "Very tasteful. I’ve worn her work. In fact, all of us have. My brother — other brother — throws some genuinely wild parties. Merrill looked just like a flower and the Knight-Captain looked like he was waiting for the Maker to strike him dead, but he still looked good. Not something I thought I’d ever say about a templar."
"Templars… as in the people who imprison mages?" Varania looked completely confused at the idea. "A templar in ‘intimate apparel’ at a party thrown by your family?"
"Corsets." Fenris held his hands up, defensively. "It was a party at which corsets were required. Not… Orlesian negligee or the like. Very tasteful. Strong lines. Cullen looked every bit a man of his rank in it."
"You were there?" Varania struggled to hold back a smile, as she looked up at Fenris, eyes wide. "Leto! You wore a corset!? He didn’t. Tell me he didn’t. I can’t imagine…" She looked around the room for some confirmation of her suspicions.
Artemis tried — and failed — to bite back a smile of his own. "Oh, he did," he said as Fenris groaned, hiding his eyes behind his hand. "And it suited him too. All leather and spikes. I’m sure we still have it somewhere upstairs…"
"No," said Fenris. "We are not showing — no. Yes, I wore a corset. Yes, I looked quite good in it. Fran has excellent taste." He couldn’t quite keep his ears from vibrating. At least the others had the presence of mind not to mention Artemis’s attire… or at least the leash and collar his Amatus had been so fond of. Fenris didn’t need his sister jumping to erroneous conclusions.
"It was a memorable party," Artie assured Varania, who smirked at Fenris behind her hand.
Fenris’s ears vibrated harder as he looked from one Hawke to the other. He knew exactly what made that party ‘memorable’, and it wasn’t just the attire.
"I think Fran needs another assistant," Merrill pointed out, as Spurius tried to climb into her lap to sit next to his sister. "I heard her telling Aveline she had a month-long wait on new orders. She’s become very popular, since that party."
"If you like, I’m sure my brother and I could go put in a good word for you. I know she has no qualms about working with elves, and sadly, that’s always one of those things that counts." Cormac grinned over Artemis’s shoulder. "Besides which, I’m looking for an excuse to go down there, again. Thought I might pick up something dainty for Izzy, though if she’s out to a month, maybe I should get something from Gytha’s instead."
"Thank you," Varania said, finally standing, stepping closer to her brother. "And I’m sorry, Leto. I didn’t know what else to do. You remember — Do you remember what it was like? It was never about you or me — not really — it was about them. I had to protect them."
"I don’t remember," Fenris admitted, "but I do understand." He reached down to tweak one of Spurius’s ears just to make his face scrunch. "I am… sorry it had to happen this way, but I am glad to have gotten to know them, at least a little. They both adore you, you know." He didn’t quite meet his sister’s eyes as he said this, didn’t quite see the guilt that crossed her face. He also didn’t quite say what he thought of the names his sister had given them.
"I am glad too," Varania said softly. Turning to her children, who were still trying to climb all over Merrill, she stretched out her hands. "Venite, mi carissimi. Let’s go home."