[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 311
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Fenris ♂, Varania ♀, Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Awkward family time gets more awkward
Notes: The sound of magic, and a desire to pursue the improbable.
The front door swung open, and a pair of Hawkes swooped in. "I found him!" Artemis called out cheerfully, an arm around Cormac’s shoulders, as though Fenris couldn’t tell from Cormac’s presence. "Brother dear, you remember Fenris’s sister dear."
Varania smiled timidly up at him. "Hello."
"Charmed, of course." Cormac bowed, before turning to Fenris. "What’s this about you wanting to learn magic from me? I’m sure there’s something wrong with that sentence if not that entire sentiment."
"My f…" Could he even say ‘father’? "The man—" This was ridiculous. "Danarius was a mage, and there are signs I may once have been one, too," Fenris choked out.
"Arcane," Varania provided.
"Shields," Fenris finished the thought.
It all took a moment to sink in. "Is that why the two of you don’t look alike? And here I thought it was just because he looks like he’s been raised from the dead."
"Hey, hey, take it easy." Cormac paused, studying Fenris. "Shields, huh? Then I bet the magic used to speak to you. Not real words, but… Arcane magic’s like having a mabari. It’ll protect you, but it’ll also drool all over you and fart loudly in the middle of the night. It’s got its own opinions, and it’ll make them known. My father used to tell me to talk to it, so it would know me better. So it would obey what I told it, instead of what I wanted."
The thought sank into Fenris’s mind, trailing cold horror as it passed. "Magic … has opinions? Are you sure that’s not a demon?"
"Demons are different. Justice can explain it better than I can, but the Fade is a living thing, in some ways. You know that. You have to know that." Cormac looked around for a seat, and finding one, dropped himself into it, absently pulling Artemis into his lap. "And arcane magic is said to come from the ‘deepest wells of the Fade’."
"So, I have gone from … speaking with the Fade to… summoning it?" Fenris didn’t look quite thrilled with that idea.
"That much lyrium, and you a mage?" Cormac squinted and tipped his head. "Anders should be here in an hour or so. He’s just finishing up some things in the clinic, but… there’s some things done in the Circle that I don’t really understand, because Anders doesn’t talk about it, but from what he’s said, using lyrium to go into the Fade is something people do. Mages do."
Fenris was starting to look ill. Artemis knew that look. That was a look that said he was considering a night of heavy drinking after this, and Artie couldn’t blame him. Not really. Artemis nudged Cormac and slipped off of his lap, moving to perch on the arm of Fenris’s chair instead. He tweaked one of Fenris’s ears and slipped a hand into his hair. Fenris leaned into the touch.
"The magic… it no longer speaks to you?" Artemis asked.
"If it does, it’s speaking a foreign language that I can’t understand," Fenris said with more of an edge to his voice than he’d meant. "Or so softly that I can’t hear."
Artie smiled wryly. "I wonder what that’s like, sometimes," he said. "Force magic is… well, it’s less of a mabari and more of an ogre. It muscles its way in whatever direction it wants. There’s a wall there? Nope, not any more. Impossible to ignore unless you’re drunk off your ass."
Varania listened to them in bemusement and sipped her tea. "The question is, then," she said, "whether you want to hear the magic again, Fenris. Regardless of whether or not you can."
Fenris stared down into his tea, watching the dregs as they swirled and wishing they could answer that for him.
"I can’t promise you anything," Cormac said, as the silence dragged on. "I can’t promise that hearing it is better, that not hearing it is better, that I can even help you hear it, if that’s what you mean to do. But, you say the word, and I’ll try. You take good care of my brother. It’s the least I can do."
"Your brother takes very good care of me," Fenris retorted, absently. It was true, he thought, and very much not the way these things usually went. There was a mage looking after him.
"You both seem very happy together, even if you don’t smile," Varania noted. "You used to smile. And laugh."
"He still smiles and laughs," Cormac assured her. "It just takes a few pints and a couple potshots at the healer."
"There is not enough wine in the house, today," Fenris sighed, looking up at Cormac. "Show me. Show me what you know."
Cormac’s shield blinked out, as he stood, his whole appearance shifting very slightly, as that constant tinge to the air around him faded. "Give me your hand," he said, kneeling by Fenris’s feet.
Uncertainty crept across Fenris’s face as he put his hand in Cormac’s.
"I’ll show you the shield. Use the lyrium if you want. Touch it. Feel the way the world ripples when it starts." Cormac raised the shield as slowly as he was able, letting it rise into being under Fenris’s fingers.
Fenris could feel the change, the lyrium in his hand flickering where Cormac touched, prickling as though with electricity. Fenris traced the shield’s edge with his fingertips, examining the texture, the way the lyrium in his skin… ‘stung’ wasn’t the word. Sang, perhaps. Ached. Still, Fenris tried to find something familiar in the way the magic sat on his skin, but the only memories it brought back involved mage hands that weren’t his own.
Fenris shrugged and tried not to let his frustration show. "I don’t know what I’m looking for," he said, still without pulling his hand away.
Artie squeezed his shoulder. "Give it a moment," he said. "I know you want answers, but we have to find the right questions first."
"What do you see? What do you hear?" Cormac asked, sounding for all the world like Anders, in another moment much like this one.
"A very sad song," Fenris replied. "I’m not even sure that’s right."
"Justice talks about the song of the lyrium — you’ve heard him talk about it. He says it doesn’t sing like that, in the Fade. Something about the touch of a static place. Something that changes by rules and not by will, that makes the song ring out so it can be heard." Cormac didn’t quite get it. There were quite a lot of things he didn’t quite get, but he tried. "So, you hear it, too?"
"No. I don’t hear it." Fenris shook his head, trying to find the words. "I feel it. Like sitting on a drum. Perhaps it makes a sound, but I know it because it crawls up my arm. It follows the lyrium."
"Let’s do something stupid and dangerous," Cormac suggested, a hint of a smile touching his lips. "Artie, don’t touch." He took his hand away from Fenris’s, and concentrated on the tips of his fingers, calling the fade to him, as that indigo glow washed through the room. "Do what you do, and then take my hand."
Varania set her tea down on a side table and scooted closer. She could feel the charge in the air.
Fenris gave Cormac a measuring look. "That does sound incredibly stupid and dangerous," he said. "I’d rather not end up losing a hand because of this. I am rather fond of my hands. As is Artemis, judging from the sounds I’ve wrung from him."
Artie coughed into his fist, ears and cheeks turning pink. "Not in front of your sister, Fen. Though you’re not wrong."
Fenris looked more smug than abashed. "But… stupid and dangerous is the sort of thing we do, isn’t it?" He cracked the knuckles of one hand before the lyrium lit in bright strips up his fingers. His hand glowed blue, and he slipped his hand into Cormac’s.