[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 310
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Fenris ♂, Varania ♀, Artemis Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Awkward family time
Notes: Fenris decides there’s a part of the past he needs to face. He turns to his sister for help.
Varania twisted the ends of her belt nervously, as she came up to the house. The idea of her brother having not only escaped his fate, but become a southern nobleman was still so bizarre to her. But, he and the Hawkes had been very kind, all the same — mostly the Hawkes, really. Leto — Fenris — was still quite displeased with her. Not that she could blame him. She had tried to have him killed. But, all the same, he’d rescued her children and brought them to her. He hadn’t used his influence to have her run out of the city. She’d misjudged him badly — he wasn’t an animal, at all.
But, he’d sent for her, this time. Something about her memories. She knew he didn’t remember much before his last escape, and she had some suspicions about why, but she remembered everything, until he’d been kept and she’d been freed. There were many years between where her memories stopped and his began, but if he wanted her to tell him stories, she’d do it. She owed him at least this.
She knocked, and after a moment, the door was answered by Orana, who smiled to see her.
"Come in, Messere! Your brother is waiting for you in the lounge." Orana stepped back and looked Varania up and down. "You’re looking much better. Kirkwall agrees with you. It’s so good to see another one of us doing well!"
Varania offered her a smile, weak as it was. ‘One of us’. She supposed they had their own little community here now, former Tevinter slaves, free in the City of Chains. She wasn’t sure she appreciated the irony. "Thank you, Orana. You, too, are looking well."
Ducking past Orana, Varania found Fenris sitting in a high-backed chair, a book balanced on one knee. "Hello…" She closed her teeth around the name ‘Leto’. The man in front of her was no more Leto than she was. "…Fenris."
Fenris finished the sentence he was reading before looking up at her. "Varania," he acknowledged, tipping his head. "Sit. Please." His tone was coolly polite, but nowhere near as frigid as she had been expecting. "I… appreciate you coming here." Fenris marked his place and set the book down on the end table, only to discover that he didn’t know what to do with his hands now they were empty. "This is rather difficult for me."
One of his ears twitched, and he tried to hide it by fussing with his hair. "Matercula’s ears were like that, you know," Varania said, sinking to sit on the couch. "Expressive. We could always tell she was angry with us when they stuck straight out and shook." She chuckled.
"My ears do not vibrate," Fenris protested futilely. But, his mother’s had, too? Maybe there was something left of her, after all. "You… look like her, don’t you? I remember the red and the brown, but… she’s just a smear of colour."
"I did, yes. You remember her at all?" Varania asked, as Orana returned with a tray of tea and sandwiches.
"Only that. Like it’s there, but … underwater?" Actually, it reminded him of the space between this world and the Fade. Looking out from inside that odd little pocket. Seeing the other side of things in the corners of his eyes, and just pushing them aside. He often thought he’d go mad if he didn’t keep his eyes on the things he knew were real.
"Just keep looking. She’ll come back to you. She’s our mother. She’s there… She… died, you know. We were free, but she died of her freedom." Varania tried not to sound angry, but she’d been angry about that for so long.
"I didn’t know. I didn’t know I had a family. I didn’t know he didn’t make me from the earth itself. There was nothing left." Fenris tried to ignore the twitching of his ears, pouring tea, instead, for both of them. "Did you know he was our father? I… have contacts. They brought me this." He pulled the page out of the small stack of paper under the book, offering it to her. "My father, anyway. I didn’t ask about you, but it seemed likely. You take after our mother, but with magic. I…" He didn’t finish the sentence, raising the teacup to his lips, instead, with a shaking hand.
The teacup was warm in Varania’s hands but not warm enough to ward off the chill that ran through her. "Your…? Are you certain?" She’d had suspicions, of course, the way Danarius used to eye their mother, and such a thing wasn’t unheard of, but… The very thought turned her stomach sour. They both left the sandwiches untouched for now.
"Regrettably, yes," Fenris said. "But… I have enough memories of him. It’s everything else I’m trying to fit back together."
"I suppose that makes sense. I know I wouldn’t want my memories of family to be only of… him." And that was all Fenris had, wasn’t it? Except now he had new memories of family that included a sister who had betrayed him and nearly gotten him and his husband killed. "What would you like to know?"
"I have… some news clippings. A few pages of betting results. There were rumours I did not win your freedom fairly." It took an enormous amount of concentration to set the cup down in the saucer. "You said… I had magic."
"You did." Varania shrugged, holding her own teacup closer. "It wasn’t obvious, but it was there. I watched you fight in the tournaments. Everyone suspected, but if you had magic, why would you still be a slave? Sometimes, it was like you couldn’t be harmed. You’d come away with bruises, where another man might have lost an arm. Never fought with a shield." She stared down into the swirling dregs in her cup. "They said it was talent, that you were just that strong and fast. That you understood the angles. That it was all quicker than the eye, and it just looked like magic. But, later — once I was free… There’s a school of magic that’s mostly shields. It manifests like that. It’s called—"
"Arcane," Fenris finished, looking up. His face was blank, confusion, horror, and disgust chasing each other around the inside of his head. Like Cormac. And wasn’t that something. What did Artemis like? Arcane mages, apparently. But, Anders, he supposed. And Theron. He could feel better about that, but it was difficult.
"Yes!" Varania sounded surprised. "Is that something your husband—"
"His brother." And what was he going to do with that, he wondered. "From what I understand, that magic is the only reason he hasn’t been killed yet."
"Once, I would have said the same of you," Varania pointed out. "But… it’s different, now. I can’t quite describe it. Something in the air around you. You don’t have your shields any more."
Fenris flexed his fingers, staring down at lyrium lines he knew so well. Too well. "No, I don’t," he agreed. "I… I don’t know how that happened. The lyrium, perhaps? It gives me other abilities that have been confused with magic in the past." He remembered Cullen staring at him, face ghost-pale, one finger extended in an accusation: mage. Fenris had been so insulted then, but the Captain had been closer to the truth than he realised. "Then again, I wouldn’t know how to summon a shield even if I could."
Fenris flexed his fingers again, tried to remember what Cormac did when he cast, how he cast, but the spells and the gestures all bled together in his memory.
"Oh, I couldn’t either," Varania admitted. "Shields were never my speciality, alas."
Great. That was just great. Fenris sighed and heaved himself to his feet, bones heavy with reluctance, as he forced himself to the door and called out, "Amatus? I require your assistance!" Maybe it would be that simple. Maybe Artemis would know. He was a mage; Cormac was his brother. He would know, wouldn’t he? "It is a question on the subject of magic!"
Orana gave him an odd look, as she passed, heading for the kitchen.
"I’m sure he’ll have some idea," Fenris reassured himself and his sister. "A family of mages. He must."
"But, would you not ask his brother?" Varania asked, bemused, finally reaching for a sandwich — butter and jam.
"I try to avoid asking Cormac for things," Fenris muttered, leaning on the doorframe, as he waited.
"Is he truly so terrible? That’s the dark one, right? He seemed so kind!"
"We have some differences of opinion." Fenris waved off the question. "He is not bad. We are complicated." Which might have been the nicest thing he’d ever said about Cormac, really.
The stairs creaked under Artemis’s feet. "Yes, my elfy sex-god? What sort of magical ‘assistance’ do you n— oh. Hello, Varania."
Varania hid her snicker behind her teacup. No one commented on the way Fenris’s ears were vibrating.
Fenris cleared his throat. "Not that kind of magical assistance, Amatus," he drawled. "At least not while we have company."
"Right. Uh. What other kind of magic, then? I assume you’re not looking for mage-floors." Artemis looked down at his feet. "Though, now that I think about it, these floors could use a bit of a shine…"
"Arcane magic," Fenris said before Artie could wax the floors out of existence again. "Especially shields, which I might need if you redo the floors."
Artemis squinted at Fenris. "That’s… that’s really more Cormac’s thing. Cormac’s speciality, actually. You know that. What are you looking for, exactly?"
"My… sister tells me it was once mine, as well." A sour look curdled Fenris’s face as he considered it. "I want to know if it’s still there. If it’s still possible. If there’s anything else Danarius lied to me about, when it came to myself." The lyrium lit along his arms, and he didn’t stop it, letting the glow spread through his skin, until he seemed only half there. "Did he steal it from me, or did he hide it from me? It’s much too late to ask him."
Varania shifted uncomfortably. "How does it work?" she asked, trying to ignore the change in the weight of the air in the room. "You are… piercing the Veil? With lyrium? Oh, Fenris, this is not wise."
"The blood is mine alone," Fenris replied, with a grim smile, knowing exactly what thought she’d had. "I have already made the acquaintance of one of the first… magisters to make that mistake, if his ramblings were to be believed. Whatever he was trying to do, I doubt it was that. Ask Anders. I have little head for the theory of it."
"Fen." Artemis’s voice was as soft as his touch, fingers brushing the blue glow where Fenris’s arm both was and wasn’t. The whole of Kirkwall knew Fenris’s feelings on magic, and yet here he was, wanting to use it. Or wanting to see if he could use it. "If what you want is to try casting Arcane spells, I’m afraid I’m rather useless. Except for the part where I can go get my brother, the magical bear."
From Fenris’s pained look, Artie could tell he had been trying to avoid that. Artemis offered him a soft smile and kissed his cheek.
"I’ll poke my head in at the estate and see if he’s around. I’ll just be a minute. Try not to miss me too terribly."
"The magical bear," Fenris echoed, once Artemis had gone. "A great, hairy, loafish, oaf." His hand reached up for the medallion hung around his neck. "Who, admittedly, has proven rather good at turning magisters into attractive jewellery."
"Did he make that for you?" Varania asked, after a moment.
"No. Not really." Fenris sat again, opening the clasp and handing the necklace to his sister. "The eye used to be Danarius."
"This is— this is a very nice replica!" Varania studied the medallion, looking for a maker’s mark. "Like the Conductor of Silence wore, when the Old Gods still ruled! Where did he get this?"
"Off the high priest of Dumat," Fenris drawled.
"Dragon cult?" Varania asked, holding it up to the light and studying the lines.
"Not according to him. Called himself ‘Corypheus’. Asked if we served in the temple of Dumat. Claimed to have walked the Black City." Fenris shook his head. "I don’t know. But, he seemed to believe himself. And this… We took this from his remains. He may have been one of the last priests of Dumat. But, I do not know if I believe the story, and I do not know if I believe he is that one, even if it is so."
"His… remains?" Varania eyed Fenris, wondering what to do with this story. "One of the other Hawkes, Carver, mentioned something about burning two magisters, when I first met him. Since I was there for at least half of that, I didn’t doubt him, but… a priest of Dumat? Being part of this Hawke family really is rather complicated, isn’t it?"
"You don’t know the half of it," Fenris said with a pained look. But then, it seemed his family had its own… complications as well. He took the medallion back from Varania and turned it over in his hand.