[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 343
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Fenris ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Anders ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Drunkenness, delusions, Justice no
Notes: Fenris finds some assistance, at last, in exactly the place he was looking for it.
Fenris wasn’t sure how he made it across Hightown. Or when. He couldn’t feel his feet as he floated across cobblestones, couldn’t feel his hand as he knocked on a familiar door. By then, the bottle in his other hand was lighter than he remembered, and he paused to make it lighter still before knocking again.
"Good evening, Messere Fenris," said Bodhan. And when had that door opened?
The dwarf was rubbing the sleep from his eyes, so maybe ‘evening’ wasn’t quite the right word, but Bodhan didn’t look surprised to see the elf, drunk on the doorstep in the middle of the night.
"Mage," Fenris greeted in turn, swaying on his feet as he shuffled past Bodhan, into the estate. "I need to see the mage. Mage!" he shouted into the house.
A moment later, Bethany appeared at the top of the stairs, in a large, fluffy robe, her fan clutched in one hand. "Fenris? What are you doing here?" She made her way down the stairs. "Bodhan, is he hurt? He doesn’t look well." She considered taking a quick look inside his head, just to be sure he was all there, but this was Fenris, and that would not likely end well, if he noticed. "Is my brother all right?"
"Artemis," Fenris murmured, confused, as he looked at Bethany. "When did you get so fluffy?" Had he come home? No, no. That voice wasn’t right.
"Would you let Anders know we need him?" Bethany suggested to Bodhan, with a glance over Fenris’s shoulder.
"Anders! Mage. Yes." Fenris nodded and instantly regretted it. That was who he was looking for. Not this … almost Artemis that wasn’t. Was the one he’d left the real one? Was there a real one?
Bodhan nodded, brows knit in concern, and disappeared around the corner before Fenris even saw him move.
"Fenris," Bethany said, waiting until she had Fenris’s attention — as much of it as she was going to get — before saying, "why don’t we go into the lounge and sit down?" She motioned towards the lounge, reaching for Fenris’s elbow but not quite touching. Fenris jerked away anyway but managed to stumble in the right direction.
Fenris made it onto the couch without falling over, though he had to close his eyes and breathe after the change in elevation. Bethany saw the look and ducked out of the room to grab a bucket.
She met Cormac in the hall, Bodhan just behind him. "What—?"
"Bucket first, questions later. Go get one of those drunkard’s potions. You’ll need it." Bethany didn’t even slow, rushing back toward the lounge with one of the cleaning basins in her hands.
"Well, I suppose that’s why he wants Anders," Cormac muttered to Bodhan, turning back the way he’d come. Of course, if Fenris was that drunk, Cormac should probably stay clear of him. On the other hand, if Fenris was that drunk because something had happened to Artemis, it would take an act of Elgar’nan to keep Cormac out of the room. Potions. First, sober the elf. Then question the elf.
He put a hand on Bodhan’s shoulder. "I’ll get the potions. Go tell Bethy Anders will be a minute or six. He’s… I’ll need to extract him from his work." Which was why he’d come up, instead. If it wasn’t serious, Justice didn’t need to be disturbed. Cormac had been blotting fresh pages of the manifesto for hours, by the time Bodhan had come looking for Anders, and Anders… well, probably hadn’t even noticed Cormac had left any more than he’d noticed when Cormac showed up. Justice was working, and it would take a great deal to get their attention.
Back in the lounge, Bethany sat on the edge of the table, holding the bucket for Fenris, who eyed it as if it had done him some grave insult. When no vomit was immediately forthcoming, Bethany set the bucket between his feet instead and prayed he had the presence of mind to aim for it if he had to.
When Anders appeared in the doorway, she was nothing short of relieved… or she was, until he spoke, and she realised it wasn’t Anders at all.
"LYRIUM ELF," Justice boomed, "I HEAR THAT YOU ARE UNWELL."
Fenris jumped at the voice, ears pressing flat against his skull, and he scrambled up and onto the couch, a tense ball of drunk elf ready to spring for the door. Or in the door’s general direction, bottle of whiskey clutched like a weapon in one hand.
"I MEAN YOU NO HARM, LYRIUM ELF," Justice said, looking as much like a kicked puppy as a Fade spirit could. "THERE IS NO NEED TO BRANDISH BOTTLES OF ALCOHOL."
"None of this is real," Fenris hissed. "Spirits, demons, what has Danarius done this time?" It was the longest sentence he’d managed to string together since he’d arrived.
"Balls," Cormac sighed, leaning in the doorway. "Justice, I know you’re worried, but let Anders handle this. I’ll make it up to you, later." He tossed a potion to Bethany. "The whole thing, and then you should step out, because I promise you don’t want to see what comes next."
"I’ve already seen what comes next out of at least two of my brothers. One more, and an in-law at that, isn’t going to make that much of a difference," Bethany reminded her brother, holding the bottle out to Fenris. "Fenris? This should make you feel better. It’ll make you less dizzy."
Fenris definitely was dizzy. Was that really a spirit? How drunk had he gotten? Cautiously, he reached out and accepted the potion, sniffing the contents of the bottle. Whatever it was, it wasn’t orichalcum — he was sure of that much. If it made him less confused, maybe he’d be able to figure this out. Of course, if it made him less confused, would he fall into the right place? Would he be in the real world or the fake one? Which one was which? After a moment, he decided it didn’t matter — the world he wanted was the one in which he was a free man. If it wasn’t real, he hoped no one ever found a way to bring him back from it.
With that, he poured the potion down his throat, still eyeing the spirit-mage… thing suspiciously.
Justice’s blazing blue eyes turned inward, face still lined with confusion and concern as he debated with his other, less glowy half. Then Justice closed his eyes, and Anders opened them. Their body seemed diminished somehow, shoulders sagging, head dipping at a lower angle.
Fenris set the empty bottle down on the side-table, face twisted in a grimace. That taste… it was familiar. But from which world? When he looked up, that spirit-thing that had been both there and not-there was simply… not there. In its place stood a mage. Mage. The one he’d been looking for. Why had he been looking for a mage? Was this another trick?
"Where am I?" he asked, eyes narrowed in suspicion. He still perched on the couch, huddled in the corner. He shook his head. "No," he muttered to himself. "They will just lie."
"The Amell Estate," Anders replied, keeping his tone light. "Specifically the lounge, which is looking even more spotless than usual. I suspect Artie had been by recently." Eyes still on Fenris, Anders turned his head to address Cormac. "Where is Artie?"
"I don’t know," Cormac answered drily. "And I’ll feel a right fool sending a messenger to wake him, if he’s fine. Though, maybe I should. ‘Dear brother, we have your drunken husband, hope you’re all right.'"
"In bed," Fenris said, suddenly, eyes clearing and almost focusing, as he made an uncomfortable sound. "He was in bed."
"Bethy, come away. Let’s go check on Artie, hm?" Cormac righted himself, holding a hand out to his sister, and this time, she stood.
"It’s all right, Fenris. You’re just a little drunk." Bethany smiled at the elf on the sofa, before taking her brother’s hand. They pulled the door shut, as they left.
"Looks like Bethy already brought you a bucket," Anders remarked. "Do I need to hold it for you, or can you aim without my help?"
Fenris looked down at the bucket as though seeing it for the first time. "Aim?" he repeated vacantly.
"You’ll know what I mean in a minute," Anders told him wryly.
And in half that time, Fenris did, feeling a sudden and almost painful urgency in his bladder. Oh yes. He remembered this potion.
Anders thanked the Maker that Fenris had better aim than his husband. After making sure the elf wouldn’t fall over, Anders looked away demurely while he took care of his business. "Feel any better?"
"I feel… less drunk," Fenris answered without answering. He still looked hollow-eyed and ragged, and Anders remembered seeing that same look on Artemis’s face years ago. He hoped the circumstances weren’t related. "But that might be worse," Fenris added after a long pause.
"You want to tell me what happened?" Anders asked, sinking onto the other end of the couch, far enough away, he hoped, not to be threatening.
"No, but I suspect it’s why I came here, all the same." Fenris pulled his feet up, tucking himself into the corner of the couch, half facing Anders, but still not looking at him. "Do you remember when you asked if I was sure I wanted to remember?"
Anders nodded, pieces of his own life filling in the blanks in Fenris’s story, already. "You didn’t want to know, did you?"
"I did want to know. I do want to know. But, I finally understand the appeal of not knowing." Fenris rubbed his face. "Tell me where I am. I know what you’re going to say, but I need to hear you say it."
"The Amell Estate, in Kirkwall. You’re out of the Imperium, and you have been for years."
Fenris still looked as if he might become violently ill. "Where is my— Where is Danarius?"
"Hung around your neck. He’s dead." Anders paused, studying Fenris’s face. "What did you see? Are you concerned his remains are cursed or possessed?"
And that terrifying prospect was one Fenris hadn’t even considered. "Well, I wasn’t…" His eyebrow arced up, and his face ached at the motion. He was less drunk, but everything was sore.
"It’s really pretty unlikely. He didn’t come here expecting to die, and I’ve never heard of a demon possessing a rock. On the other hand, it’s Kirkwall, so maybe Bethy and I should check it for you, just to be sure." Perhaps not the most reassuring sentence, but better to be safe than sorry, here. "What did you see?" he asked, again.
Fenris ignored the question. "Where do I live?"
"In an estate on the other side of Hightown, with your husband. The Hawke Estate, since it’s technically his, even if he did buy it for you. And Orana. You have a cook, and she’s murder in a duel, with a pan. Did you teach her that? Where did she learn that? Maker, it’s been forever, and I still feel like my teeth are loose."
Orana. Fighting Anders with a skillet. That memory, real or illusory, made Fenris’s lips twitch in the ghost of a smile. "She’s been trying to teach me to cook," he said, as much to himself as to Anders. With the words came more familiar images, lovely ones, that wrapped like a band around his chest, making it hard to breathe. "She wanted to learn how to defend herself, and I… She always was good with a pan." The words came out shaky, squeezed through a tight throat, before Fenris closed his eyes and composed himself, expression smoothing over into something blank.
"I know better than to underestimate her now," Anders said. He looked at the bottle on the table. "Was that full when you started drinking?" he asked, careful to keep his tone neutrally curious.
"Yes." Fenris blinked. "I think so." He barely remembered reaching for it, but he remembered its weight before that first sip. "It felt full."
Which explained part of the raggedness, though Anders suspected that sick look would be there anyway.
"Tell me, does it matter if any of this is real?" Fenris asked, fingers reaching for the medallion around his neck, feeling the dragon there against his fingertips. "If I want to believe, is that enough?"
"I don’t know," Anders replied. "But, as far as I know, you, me, and the table? We’re all real. Kirkwall, too, to my lasting regret. Of course, that’s exactly what a hallucination would say, so it’s up to you if you want to take my word for it."
"I have no idea why I would imagine you," Fenris laughed, finally, examining the ridiculousness of the idea. "If this was some mad delusion meant to keep me happy, I’m sure I’d have married a beautiful woman and moved to some far corner of Thedas left untouched by magic. Dwarves. I’d have moved to Orzammar and become a mercenary. Married a dwarf. Had three beautiful dwarven children without a measure of magic in them." Fenris shook his head. "But, I came to Kirkwall and married a mage — married into his family of mages. I’m sitting in his brother’s estate, pouring out my heart to the friendliest abomination in Thedas, and I mean no offence by that."
Justice lit the corners of Anders’s eyes, all the same. "I have no idea why you would imagine me either. In fact, if I’m a figment of your imagination, I really wish you’d stop imagining me, or at least give me a better backstory. It’s getting a little painful," Anders joked.
Fenris’s smile was wan, but it stuck longer than the last one. "And Cormac… I do not know why I would imagine him, either. A pair of magical bears." It was absurd, all of it. So absurd that it had to be real, didn’t it?
"And why not? I imagine him doing loads of things," Anders said with a wicked smile. "But then, I am perhaps more into ‘magical bears’ than yourself."
"Indeed." Fenris preferred his mages mildly fluffy, but… Artemis. He could see the look on Artemis’s face, the confusion and fear in those blue eyes. And, if he was real, Fenris had just left him like that.
Anders saw the shift in Fenris, that haunted look creeping back. "What is it? Is the thought of Cormac that horrifying?" he teased gently.
"Artemis…" Fenris looked sick, moving to heave himself off the couch, but Anders’s hand landed on his shoulder.
"Sit. You don’t really want to do much running around, right now. Not until I get some tea and a few sandwiches into you," Anders said, firmly. "Cormac said he was going to go check on Artie. Do you want me to send a runner? That’s what I’ll do. I’ll have Cormac bring him back here, for you. But, you’re not as much better as you think you are, yet, and I won’t have you cramping up and falling over in the middle of Hightown, because you couldn’t take a minute to have a little something to eat and drink."
"I do not know if he will come, if you send for him," Fenris sighed, sinking back into the deep cushions of the sofa. "I made a poor choice, but I didn’t know what else to do."
"Is he hurt?" Anders asked, knowing that if it were so, Cormac would already be on his way back, carrying Artemis, if he had to.
"If he is, it’s only because I broke his heart. Again." Fenris leaned forward, putting his face in his hands, as he stared across the room, over the tips of his fingers.
"Seems to be a theme, with the two of you," Anders teased. "Look, stay here, and I’ll get you a sandwich and some tea. I’ll find out where Artie’s gone and how pissed he is. The two of you… you’ve been through a lot, together. I can’t believe he’d stay angry for more than a few days, no matter what you did." He paused. "Sandwiches, and then you can tell me what you did, while we wait for word."