[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 335
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Sebastian ♂, Varric ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀
Rating: M (L2 N2 S3 V0 D1)
Warnings: A reading of some Page Six in all its spicy glory, vaguely founded accusations of hot Hawke-on-Hawke action
Notes: Sebastian realises what he’s been hearing and runs to Bethany, who is not nearly as offended as he expects. (The ‘Page Six’ in this chapter is Brother Mine by Mevima.)
‘All that existed was silence. Then the Voice of the Maker rang out, the first Word, and His Word became all that might be: dream and idea, hope and fear, endless possibilities.’
But, this voice, so achingly debauched, so very much not the Maker’s, but nearly as giving, slid over him like cheap velvet, almost soft, but just stiff enough to call attention to itself — like a sash of cheap velvet, winding around him, serpentine, sliding over his skin. The words were meaningless, mostly, just a vehicle for that sound, and he lost track of them more than once, only to be pulled back by a phrase, here or there — ‘undeniably hard’, ‘forbidden lust’. A story of a man passionately snogging his own brother in front of an audience, and all Sebastian could think was how he’d missed out on an awful lot of snogging, being sent to the Chantry as early as all that. But, here, now, those words bounced off the inside of his skin, quick, sharp sensations, like a tingle that had passed as soon as he noticed it. He could imagine the story as it was being told, but not with one of his brothers. Instead, his mind filled in the only man he’d ever found attractive — Bethany’s brother, Artemis, who looked so much like her. Artemis whimpering against his lips, panting at his touch.
No, this was absurd. The Chant. He was reciting the Chant. The Chant, which was pure and untainted, and would give his mind something to focus on, other than this story, other than that voice.
‘I have heard the sound, a song in the stillness, the echo of Your voice, calling creation to wake from its slumber.’
And that was not helping at all. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he could hear Isabela mocking him: ‘Have you named it "creation", then? Not wholly inaccurate, if a little arrogant.‘ And after he’d ragged Carver about treating the Chant like a Page Six story, just the other week, here he was, in the same position, if less intentionally, and with an actual Page Six story in the background. He wondered if he could blame Carver, for his sudden perversion, but that would be too easy. No influence would take hold without some nature to catch upon, and in the condition he was in, he was sure things could catch on his… ‘nature’.
"My head fell back against the wall as he kneaded the front of my trousers, gripping my length hard," the voice read, from across the room, and Sebastian could see it, Bethany’s pretty older brother surrendering to him like that. Which was disgusting. Of course. And not something he wanted. At all. Ever. Even if the heavy throb against his thigh seemed to say otherwise. The thought of Artemis bucking into his hand shouldn’t have been appealing at all, and he rubbed his palm against the edge of the table, trying to wipe away the sensation that clung to it, like a taunting ghost.
"I clung, riding his hand toward my release, every movement sizzling my nerves, because this was him, this was my brother touching me, oh, Corwin…!"
Sebastian’s eyes sharpened, then, as he snapped out of his dreamy arguments with himself about Artemis’s… finer features. That face still in his mind, he finally noticed the names of the brothers in the story… And he knew two brothers with similar names who spent a lot of time in the Hanged Man — or, more time than he did, anyway — and one of them was Artemis. This— someone had written — and someone was reading it — and — Bethany! He had to warn Bethany, before she found out some other way! He leapt up, without pushing back his chair, slamming both knees into the table and knocking himself back into his seat.
As he collected himself to try again, the story finished, that demon voice finally letting go of his mind, and the crowd parted to let Edwina through with a fresh mug for the storyteller. He was right. He had known that voice, if not well. That was Varric. And Sebastian was leaving. Immediately. He gathered his papers and held them low and before himself, in both hands, as he slunk out. He had to tell Bethany about this — well, about her brothers, anyway. He would probably keep the rest to himself.
Bethany looked up as Bodhan entered the study. "Messere Sebastian to see you. He looks upset about something."
Shaking her head, Bethany stood and wiped her hands on the rag hanging from the handle of her desk drawer. "I’ll meet him in the sitting room. Bring tea?"
She assumed it was something about the Grand Cleric again — or perhaps he’d discovered something even more irregular than anticipated, in the Chantry ledgers. Or he’d noticed an elf’s ankles in the marketplace. One could never be quite certain, with Sebastian.
Minutes later, Bethany found Sebastian pacing a hole in the sitting room carpet, a copy of that week’s Gazette crumpled in his hand. It had just come out, that afternoon, and as a subscriber, she’d gotten hers just after that. But, she’d never known Sebastian to read the thing. Perhaps this was part of his ‘mingling with the poor’.
"Sit, before you go through the floor," she said, smiling at him, fan still hanging loosely from the strap around her wrist.
"But— this—!" Sebastian gestured wildly with the Gazette. "It’s obscene!"
"Oh, have you been reading Page Six?" Bethany asked, stepping around Sebastian to pull out the chair behind him. "Yes, pumpkin. It’s always obscene. That’s the purpose of Page Six."
"The—?" Sebastian’s brain took a moment to catch up with that. Always obscene, implying Bethany was… intimately familiar with this filth. He shook his head. "It can’t possibly always be as obscene as this," he sniffed. "It’s…! I can’t believe…!"
"Finish a sentence, love," Bethany coaxed, rubbing his back consolingly. The muscles under her hand were bunched and tense.
"It’s…!" Sebastian closed his eyes, took a deep, measured breath, and when finally he spoke next, it was without so much sputtering. "The story, this week, involves incestuous relations between brothers."
Bethany didn’t even blink. "It’s just fiction, darling," she said. "It’s not hurting anyone."
"But it’s — it’s based on real people! It is libellous and filthy and—!"
"And you don’t have to read it." Bethany smiled patiently, hand trailing down to squeeze his arm.
"No, Bethany, you don’t understand! It’s…" Another deep, measured breath. "It’s not just any brothers. It’s your brothers!" He looked at her, concerned, and waited for a shocked reaction that never came.
"My brothers?" she echoed innocently. "But, Sebastian, I have no brothers named ‘Archie’ and ‘Corwin’."
That drew Sebastian up short. He sat back to look askance at her. "You’ve already read it."
"It may have passed over my desk earlier, yes."
"It’s still obviously them! If a bit… Orlesian in style." Sebastian tried to smooth the paper in his hands as Bodhan brought in the tea.
"If it’s Orlesian in style, the brother you want is Anton, and I hardly think he’s the sort for… that!" Bethany chuckled and accepted a cup from Bodhan.
"Oh, Messere Anton’s got a great collection of those Orlesian novels. He loaned me a series of them once, about this lady Chevalier, looking for her love." Bodhan nodded. "Good story, if a little racy for me. But, I think he puts on the style when he goes out to play cards with them. The Orlesians, not their novels."
"And you’re almost always here, aren’t you, Bodhan?" Bethany smiled sweetly, sipping her tea.
"Yes, messere." Bodhan nodded and righted the cup in Sebastian’s hand, that was about to spill into the man’s lap. "Beg pardon, Brother. You were about to wear it."
Sebastian glanced down in surprise and nodded his thanks, distractedly.
"And you don’t think anyone would have cause to think Anton was engaging in racy Orlesian particulars with, say, Carver, would you?" Bethany’s smile lost none of its charm.
"I think anyone who thought as much would need a good lot of bed rest. Why, is someone saying it?" Bodhan looked like it was the most outrageous thing he’d ever heard.
"Sebastian seems to think this week’s Page Six is about my brothers! Imagine!" Bethany laughed and then brought herself up short. "On second thought, don’t. What a terrible idea."
"I… don’t think it’s about Anton," Sebastian said, still looking wild-eyed even after a few sips of tea. "And I think you know exactly which brothers Page Six is implying. The other two." An image of Carver and Anton in an amorous embrace tried to take root in his thoughts, but… no. It sat like an ill-fitting tunic. But Cormac and Artemis —
No. Best not to think of Artemis just then. Not after his embarrassment in the Hanged Man, and not with his infinitely more attractive sister sitting right in front of him.
"Another terrible idea," Bethany said, hiding her smile behind a sip of tea. "But writers occasionally have terrible ideas. And then there is Varric, who is full of them."
And that was another reminder Sebastian did not need. Varric. Bad ideas.
"That’s the Gazette for you," Bodhan agreed with a solemn nod. "Bad ideas someone wrote down and decided to share with Kirkwall."
"I am beginning to understand Meredith’s wrath over the publication," Sebastian grumbled. And then another terrible thought occurred to him. "Have your brothers seen this yet?"
"I haven’t heard any shouting, so if they have, they certainly haven’t come to the conclusions that you have." Bethany smiled behind her teacup. "So, tell me, how have your meanderings among the poor been going? Anything of interest?"
"So many things… I don’t know if any of it’s true, but there seems to be so very much wrong below the stairs." Sebastian shook his head and began to explain his findings to Bethany and Bodhan, whom Bethany pushed out a seat for.