[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 307
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Anders ♂, Cullen ♂, Orana ♀
Rating: T (L2 N1 S0 V1 D0)
Warnings: Friendly sparring, minor injuries, shirtless dudes
Notes: Some friendly sparring in the garden.
[ Master Post ]
Anton side-stepped Cullen’s blade, grin firmly in place. "Is that all you’ve got, Captain?" he asked, pausing to clean under his fingernails with the tip of one dagger. That same dagger knocked aside Cullen’s next thrust a heartbeat later.
"I’m trying to go easy on you," Cullen said. "Accidentally stabbing your husband is generally frowned upon in most circles."
"Ah, but intentionally stabbing him is fully expected," Anton replied with an exaggerated wink. As Cullen rolled his eyes, Anton darted in, slicing Cullen’s sleeve but not the skin beneath.
"I liked this shirt!" Cullen protested.
Anton shrugged. "It would look better sleeveless. Show off those rippling muscles."
Cullen responded by moving those ‘rippling muscles’, feinting one way before swinging his sword around to swat Anton’s bottom with the flat of the blade.
Bethany watched from the shade, blue skirts fanned out over the grass, and munched on the apple in her hand.
"Two silver says Anton wins," she told Orana, interrupting her in the middle of cooing at the goat.
"Hmm." Orana took a moment to watch the proceedings, idly petting Goatilda while the goat nosed at her hair, trying to decide if it was edible. Orana giggled and twisted her head away. "I will take that bet. Messere Cullen seems determined."
"Yeah, I don’t know, I’m putting in for Anton, here." Anders watched, as Anton danced away from Cullen’s blade, one dagger removing a belt-loop from Cullen’s trousers.
"Putting in what? You never have any coin." Bethany tossed an apple at Anders, from the basket beside her. "Eat something, before you die of standing around outside."
"I am not going to die of standing around outside," Anders argued, catching the apple and taking a bite, anyway. It wasn’t like he’d pass up food. "Your brothers and I spent three weeks marauding about the countryside and the Deep Roads. If that didn’t kill me, this isn’t going to. There are no darkspawn in your garden."
"Still haven’t answered the question," Bethany pointed out. "What are you betting?"
"My next duel. If I’m wrong, you can kick my ass. Assuming you have enough leg to reach it." Anders smirked. "No magic, just this." He twirled the staff one-handed, before spinning it back under his shoulder.
Before them, Anton leapt to the side, and Cullen spun around, the other way, hip-checking him back a few feet, still in mid-air. Anton, being Anton, still landed on his feet with a whoop, before lunging forward to slice away the laces for Cullen’s shirt, which fell open, baring most of his chest. "Look at that! Hiding that wall of rippling muscle from your dashing husband? What has this world come to?"
Cullen plucked at the tatters of his shirt. "Was this all just an elaborate way to get me naked?" he asked. "You know there are simpler ways. Like asking me to get naked." Cullen made a quick jab with his sword, which Anton diverted with one dagger, the other darting at Cullen’s face in a riposte.
"But where’s the fun in that?" Anton asked as Cullen dodged. He tilted his head and considered that a moment. "Well, yes, I suppose there is fun in that, too."
"Just do me a favour," Cullen said as they circled each other, "and don’t try to slice the laces on my pants the same way. If you miss, it could be devastating for us both." Anton eyed those laces speculatively, and the colour drained from Cullen’s face. "Anton. Anton, no, do not take that as a challenge."
"Looks to me like Cullen has more to lose," Orana said. She snickered against Goatilda’s neck when Anton pretended to make a stab in Cullen’s trouserly area, prompting a jump and a shriek from the usually dignified Captain.
"But desperation could make him sloppy," Bethany replied, unperturbed. Cullen let out a roar and ducked under Anton’s arm, barrelling him into a tree. "Oh my."
As Anton leapt back, Cullen turned, putting himself directly in the way, and his sword tipped up under Anton’s chin. "Now, what was that about… stabbing, husband?" he purred into Anton’s ear.
Anton swallowed hard. "Right now. In the house. All the stabbing you can handle." He slid his daggers back into the sheaths, and moved his hands back to pull Cullen to him, one hand on each ass cheek, rolling his hips.
"And you complain about me!" Cormac called down the garden, winging an apple at his brother.
"I am delightful and subtle!" Anton shouted back. "And handsome!"
"And not getting laid until I finish watching the next duel. Anders is up." Cullen finally moved the sword from Anton’s neck, bringing his other hand up to check for blood.
"You didn’t. I’d have let you know." Right in the thigh, probably.
Orana cheered, still leaning against Goatilda as she clapped. "Well done, Knight-Captain!" she said. "You just won me two silvers."
Bethany plucked the pair of coins out of her purse and pressed them into Orana’s palm. "I’ll make it four if you land a hit on Anders."
Anders shot Bethany an offended look, which she answered with a pleasant smile. "Well, Orana," he said. "Pick a weapon. Preferably a non-stabby one, just in case. The healer can’t help as much if he’s the one who’s been stabbed."
Orana straightened, scratching one more time behind Goatilda’s ear before dusting off her dress, plucking out a few strands of goat hair. "Weapon? I… hm." Bethany held up her staff in a silent offer, and Orana considered it before shaking her head. "No. No, thank you. I know just the thing. One moment. Let me ask Bodhan if he minds…"
"Bodhan?" Cullen repeated as she disappeared into the house. "What weapon does Bodhan have? She’s not going to use Sandal, is she? You know I can’t condone dwarf-tossing. Not unless it’s Varric."
Orana reappeared shortly after, her skirts clutched in one hand and a frying pan in the other. Anton didn’t quite choke back his laugh in time.
Anders eyed the heavy pan. That was going to take a lot of strength to keep wielding after the first few swings. He’d seen swords lighter than that thing. Simple enough, he decided. All he had to do was not get hit a few times, and she’d tire herself out. He stepped out away from where the rest of the group had gathered under the trees and rested the end of his staff on the ground, nodding.
Following him out, Orana tucked the sides of her skirt up, weighing the pan in one hand. She looked oddly confident, if still a bit shy.
After a moment, Cormac called out, "Go!" and the two began to circle each other, each waiting for the other to move. Finally, Anders lashed out, a swoop designed to distract the eye with the top of the staff, before the bottom came in for a trip. But, Orana cut the strike in half, closing the distance between them as the staff came around, the pan dropping into a backhand grip that she slammed along Anders’s forearm, before springing back.
Anders nearly fumbled his staff in shock. The next few strikes were all much more simple and direct, relying on his own reach and the length of the staff, but no matter how he came at her, Orana wasn’t quite where he thought she’d be. Neither darkspawn nor templars moved quite that quickly, but they also tended to come in close and hard, and stay there. It had taken him forever to learn to even stay standing with Sigrun, and he’d never actually beat her. Suddenly, he wished he’d stuck around for more of that.
The pan rang as it blocked Anders’s next blow, jarring the staff in his hands, and he side-stepped, trying to bring the butt of his staff up around Orana’s defences. But Orana beat him to it, and Anders ended up with a faceful of frying pan.
The next thing Anders knew, he was lying on the ground, staring up at the clouds and seeing stars. Somewhere past the stars was Orana’s face peering down at him, brows knit in concern. "Messere Anders?" she said, twisting the frying pan still in her hands. "I am sorry about that, messere. I didn’t mean to hit you quite so hard."
Anders reached up to prod at his chin, which throbbed under a numbing bruise. Blue light lit his fingers, and the bruise faded. Anders flexed his jaw, wincing at the phantom pain that lingered. "Ow."
"Sorry," Orana said. "Again."
Anders waved the word aside, the last few minutes finally descrambling. "That was… have you ever thought about joining the Wardens? The darkspawn could use a good smack upside the head with a frying pan."
"But, what would Messeres Fenris and Artemis eat, if I did that?" Orana joked, hesitantly offering Anders a hand up.
Anders shook his head, and surprisingly didn’t regret it, before using his staff to shove himself to his feet. "Well, I think that was a fairly clear win."
Anton whistled and clapped from the sidelines, as Goatilda nibbled at the toe of his boot. "That takes the prize! That is deserving of some grand reward!" He reached over and squeezed Cullen’s bottom. "You were right! This was one I wanted to watch!"
Of course, Cullen had been watching Anders, surprised to watch the mage fight so well without his magic. Obviously, the man had to have some combat skills, having been a Warden, but Cullen hadn’t expected him to know how to use the staff to do more than channel magic. The things a mage could do to darkspawn — well, really, that’s why the Circle Towers existed. But, even with Anders getting beaten, even with Anders having obviously tried not to hurt the girl, Cullen could make out the shape of how good he’d be in the field. "I do know what you like," he told Anton, still not looking away, even as Anders made his way back to the trees.
"My face!" Anders complained to Cormac.
"It’s still gorgeous, just like the rest of you." Cormac wrapped an arm around Anders’s waist.
Bethany handed over two more silver to Orana. Well worth the price. She would have paid far more than two silver to see that. "Orana, my dear," she said, squeezing Orana’s hand. "Would you mind hitting my eldest brother with the frying pan as well before he and Anders get too… graphic? And loud?"
"He’s the one who gets loud," Anders protested. "But we both do get graphic." Grinning, Anders reached around to pinch Cormac’s bottom.
"Never mind," said Bethany. "Hit them both with the frying pan."