[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 313
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Fenris ♂, Varania ♀, Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Awkward family time, minor injuries, vomit mentions
Notes: More speculation, and very few conclusions.
Varania sat in the corner of the couch, wrapped tightly around herself, just watching. What the south lacked in magical teaching, it seemed to make up in determination. That had been terrifying, even without the sights, sounds, and sensations the two of them had been talking about. But, one question still nagged at her — more, now that Cormac had called the magic ‘wrong’. What had Danarius done? Obviously her brother wasn’t Tranquil — from what she understood, that took more than just magic out of someone, and if nothing else, he was much too angry to be Tranquil. "Fenris? Are you well?"
Fenris still had his hands over his ears, eyes clenched tightly shut and his breathing heavy. Since Anders was seeing to Cormac, Artie knelt in front of Fenris. "Hey. Fen." He touched Fenris’s knees, letting his elf know he was there, and then reached up, gently taking Fenris’s hands in his. He was surprised by how hot the brands felt against his skin but said nothing. "Did you hear her, love? Are you well?"
Slowly, Fenris uncurled, eyes blinking open and shoulders unhunching. He looked down at Artemis’s face, which was solid and real and not distorted by Fade light. The song was gone, but his ears still rang with it.
"I am… confused," Fenris said at last, "but yes, I am well." He pulled one hand away from Artie to rub at his forehead where his headache still twinged.
"Anders, do you have another potion?" Artie asked, his thumb rubbing circles into the back of Fenris’s hand.
Returning, Anders handed Fenris a potion with one hand and slid a bucket under Cormac with the other. "You two are insane," Anders said, kneeling next to Cormac.
"Agreed," Varania muttered, her eyes still a little too wide. "So does that…" She took a breath. "If he can still hear the magic, can he learn to use it again?"
Cormac shook his head and regretted it more than the last time he tried to sit up. "It knows him. I don’t know what that’s good for. There’s something wrong with it. With the lyrium, I think." He fumbled with the potion, spitting the cork across the floor before he tried to figure out how to drink it without sitting up. "Searing is not normal."
"That is, unquestionably, a lyrium burn," Anders confirmed. "That shouldn’t even be possible. Alternately, you should have lost your mind. One or the other. But, this? I have never seen this. I haven’t even seen this in books. I have… some of … his books, and I haven’t even seen this in there. Obviously, I need to go find the volumes that might actually have that. Or something. I can’t imagine this would have passed unremarked. The man did unspeakable things, but the documentation is top-notch. The problem, of course, being that I don’t understand at least half of the theory involved in a lot of it."
"So, Danarius replaced his magic with something else?" Varania asked, sounding even more confused.
Cormac finally rolled over and poured the potion into his mouth, only a bit of it dribbling down his cheek as he swallowed. "I don’t think that’s what he meant to do. I’d be willing to bet it was supposed to be some kind of augmentation, given what it’s doing, now. But, it’s not."
"And that would go with what we found in that book we borrowed from Serendipity." Anders nodded to himself. "But, why isn’t it working? And why is it doing this?"
Artemis brushed Fenris’s hair back from his face, felt how clammy his skin was, in sharp contrast to his burning tattoos. "You know, there are times like these when I wish we hadn’t killed Danarius so quickly. I would very much love to beat the tar out of him right now."
A weak smile pulled at Fenris’s lips. "Isn’t that what you and your brother did?" he asked. "Almost literally?" He tugged at the chain around his neck, trusting Artemis to know what he meant without pulling out the medallion itself.
"Yes, well, I’d like to do it again." Still clutching Fenris’s hand, Artie twisted to look over his shoulder at Cormac. He could only reach the top of Cormac’s head from here, so he tugged gently at a lock of Cormac’s hair. "Hey. Are you all right?"
"Urgh," Cormac pronounced, and then after a moment’s contemplation, "I’ve done worse. No ogres. No rushing rivers. No actual boats."
"You’ve been on a boat with him, haven’t you?" Anders asked Artemis. "Was he like that all the way to Kirkwall? I’ve never seen anyone spend quite that much time retching into the sea."
"Not a conversation you’re having right now, unless you want me retching onto the rug, too," Cormac shot back, sounding a good bit quicker and clearer than he had. "He wanted the lyrium back so he could try again, didn’t he?"
"Probably," Anders admitted. "This wasn’t the first attempt. Just the most successful. I can safely say I’ve never wanted to light anyone’s balls on fire quite as much as I did after picking through those books."
"Well, you already lit him on fire," Artie assured him. "That, I assume, included his balls. So. Dreams can come true." He looked down at the hand in his, at the lyrium lines that were only just starting to cool. He tried not to think about how painful getting those lines must have been, tried not to think about how much pain Fenris would still be in if not for the runed cuffs he wore. Thinking about that would end up making the room shake and not in the fun way. "But this… this can’t be healthy. This much lyrium in your body, affecting the flow of magic around you, causing you pain." Artie trailed off. This was the sort of thing he worried about in the middle of the night. Staring into the dark, his fears sometimes seemed larger, taller, like shadows stretched and distorted by the sun.
Losing Fenris. Losing Cormac. Artemis didn’t know if he could survive either one.
"I am still here, Amatus," Fenris told him softly. "That will not change."
"He’s much too stubborn for that," Anders huffed, earning him a flat look from the elf. "What? That’s worked in your favour, for the most part. It’s why you’re still alive." But as he spoke, silently he agreed with Artie. He had no idea how Fenris had survived this long.
"How long do templars live?" Fenris asked, in a sudden moment of clarity. "How long has the Knight-Commander been with the Order?" Of course the Knight-Commander was already mad, but she seemed to still be alive.
"You can’t measure your life in templars," Anders said, shaking his head. "There’s more in you right now than a templar would take in a lifetime. Several templars worth of lyrium, even. And yet, you’re not mad — if you are, it’s subtle — and you’re not crippled, and you’re not dead. I don’t know why you’re alive at all, but I’d like to think you’re going to stay that way, if only because even this is impossible. If you’re going to do impossible, might as well go all the way."
"Impossible, all the way, every morning before breakfast," Cormac laughed, intently studying the ceiling. "No. Don’t. I’m joking. This might not kill you, but that would."
"Cormac, shut up!" Anders groaned, shoving Cormac’s shoulder with his foot. "Please don’t take him seriously," he said to Varania.
Varania gave them both a bemused look. "I keep getting that advice, especially regarding this family," she said. "Which I suppose I am obliquely part of now. In a way." She eyed Fenris nervously, as though expecting, waiting, for him to tell her that she had lost the right to call him or his husband ‘family’.
The admonition never came.
"I’ll keep looking into this, Fenris," Anders told him, bringing them back to the topic at hand. "I’ll keep going over his writings. But, in the end, you are unique, and I don’t think even Danarius fully understood what he’d done with you. We might not get any answers."
Fenris looked down at Artemis, who wasn’t quite looking at him, whose grip was suddenly a bit tighter than it had been before. "Well," he murmured. "I am what I am. I’m alive and reasonably sane at the moment, and that is enough for now." For him, it was. And if something happened to him, his mage had Cormac.