[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 344
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Bethany Hawke ♀, Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Anders ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Drunkenness, delusions, Artie no
Notes: Artemis is very, very drunk. Fenris makes a decision about the nature of reality.
Cormac and Bethany found Artie in the road in much the same state as they’d found Fenris, complete with an open bottle in his hand. He stopped walking when he saw them and pointed at Bethany with his free hand. "You," he said. "Just the person I was looking for."
"It’s nice to see you too, Artie," Bethany replied, resting a hand on her hip.
"I need to resurrect a mage," Artemis said, over-enunciating his words to make sure they’d be heard past numb lips. "One in stone form. Tiny stone form."
"Danarius?" Bethany asked, brows furrowing in confusion. "Why?"
"So I can kill him better." There was determination and banked fury in Artie’s red eyes, even if he looked unsteady on his feet.
"I don’t think he’s going to get any more dead than he is, no matter how many times you kill him," Cormac pointed out, slipping an arm around his brother’s waist. "Why don’t you come back to the house with us? Tell us what happened?"
"We’ve found Fenris," Bethany told him. "He’s very drunk and very confused. Anders is with him. Did something happen between the two of you? He wouldn’t tell us anything."
"I think it’s more that he couldn’t tell us anything. He was too drunk to make any sense. But, he did mention Danarius, and in the present tense." Cormac sounded a bit concerned. "Are there demons? Is there something wrong with the stone? I didn’t know — I swear. I thought it would be all right."
"No, no. No demons. I think. I’m assuming." Artemis’s eyes widened as he considered that possibility. He didn’t think this had anything to do with the amulet, but… Fenris hadn’t been making much sense for him either. "I think it’s… I think I knocked loose a memory. A kind of memory I never thought…" His throat closed off, free hand twisting and pulling at his hair. "Which is why I need to re-kill Danarius. Or smack something evil into a tree. Something evil shouldn’t be hard to find in Kirkwall. The tree, though… Less easy. Oh! The alienage!"
Artemis turned to stumble in Lowtown’s direction, but Bethany grabbed his hand and tried to tug him back. Artie let her. "Artie. Artie, no. I don’t think the elves would appreciate that. Let’s go back inside and check on your husband. We can fight evil when you’re sober."
"Fen." Artie’s whole body sagged with the name. Anders was looking after him, she’d said. Anders would know what to do better than he did, and at least he knew Fenris was safe. He could still see the look in Fenris’s eyes, could still feel where Fenris’s feet had shoved against him. "I was doing so well, you know," he muttered, taking another long drink before handing the bottle to Bethany for safe-keeping. Months. It had been months since he’d touched the stuff.
Artemis leaned against Cormac, resting his head on his brother’s shoulder. He closed his eyes, soothed by his brother’s smell.
Cormac put his arms around his brother, just holding him in the middle of the road, for a moment. "Are you all right? Did he hurt you?" Weak healing dribbled from the tips of his fingers.
Artemis blinked up at him, surprised by the question. "No, no. He… just wanted to get away from me." Which did hurt, but not in the way Cormac was asking.
"You remember that one time, with Anders?" Cormac asked, quietly, hefting Artemis onto his hip, and taking a few steps back toward the house. He settled Artie a little better, and then tried again, Bethany giving him an amused look, as they went on. "Fenris doesn’t have Justice looking after him. Well, I guess he does, now, but he had to come looking. What were you guys doing? More dabbling in the arcane arts?"
It was the first thing that sprung to mind, really. Fenris had always been so outraged by magic and mages, and then to discover that he had once had some of the same talents… Cormac was sure that Fenris was still trying to wrap his mind around that — and that the process was going to involve finding some fairly uncomfortable things.
Artemis clutched tight to Cormac’s robes. The world was taking longer than it should to right himself, and he groaned, leaning his head against his brother’s. "Not unless ‘arcane arts’ is a euphemism," he said with less humour than the words implied. "It’s… Fenris wanted to try something. It ended worse than expected." He wasn’t sure it was his place to say, not even to his brother.
Bethany held the door open for her brothers, and Bodhan greeted them, a tray of tea and sandwiches in hand as he walked past. "Messeres Fenris and Anders are still in the lounge," he told them.
"Both still alive?" Bethany asked archly.
"I heard no yelling, so I believe so, Messere."
"Terrible ends to the euphemistic ‘arcane arts’ seems to be a theme in this family," Cormac joked, wondering what would have set Fenris off like that, after everything he’d watched the elf do to his brother. Unless… nah, neither of them would be stupid enough to even propose that kind of thing the other way around. Although that… that would probably do this. Fenris collared again, kneeling to a mage — except Artie wasn’t into that. Not from that side, anyway. That was a ridiculous thought, and he knew it. "What about you, Bethy? You made Chantry Boy cry in bed, yet?"
"That would involve being in a bed with him, which he would be quick to assure you is not happening. Of course, I suppose that’s going to change, once we go back to Starkhaven." Bethany smirked at her brother. "What did you think I had Isabela around for?"
"I try not to think too much about you and Izzy, to be honest." Cormac shook his head. "It upsets my gentle manly sensibilities to consider that I’m sharing with my little sister."
"And yet, you’ll share Anders with your little brother," she reminded him.
"Artie’s seven years older than you," Cormac pointed out. "It’s different."
They met Anders as he was coming out of the lounge, and he didn’t so much as blink at the entwined pair of brothers. "I see you’ve found the second half of Messeres Fartemis," he said, looking Artemis over, healing springing to his fingertips, just in case. "Artie, are you all right?"
The warm touch of Anders’s magic washed over Artie, and he hummed in the back of his throat. "He already did the glowy fingers," Artie mumbled, gesturing vaguely at his brother. "M’fine. Is Fenris…?"
"If the rest of that sentence is ‘slightly less drunk’, then yes. But you look drunk enough for the both of you." Anders bit off the sardonic ‘what a surprise’.
Cormac heard it in Anders’s tone. "Did I ever tell you how drunk I got, that time you locked yourself in your room for a week? Because I think I set a world record."
"You might’ve mentioned it." Anders looked away. "He’s a little worried about you. Having been a similar kind of stupid, I’m a little worried about you. But, he’s… He’s come to no harm. I’m pretty sure he’ll be all right. Do you want to consider being less drunk, before you see him? I’m dead sober, and he confused me a few times."
Anders didn’t mention he’d heard the whole story — not just what had happened that night, but everything it brought back. Danarius, Hadriana… And he wondered if he hadn’t been better for remembering almost everything, as much as he’d always envied Fenris’s mostly empty memory. At least none of it could sneak up on him. He knew what was there, he knew what he was fighting. On the other hand, Fenris had been fighting to remember, so maybe this was what came of it.
"Less drunk would be good," Artie agreed, eyes closed. He didn’t want Fenris to see him like this, not now. Nudging Cormac, he let himself down, still holding onto his brother when the floor wobbled under him.
Before Anders could ask — and she could tell he was about to — Bethany sighed and said, "You will need another of those potions, I imagine. I’ll fetch one."
Anders smiled gratefully at her, but she’d already disappeared.
"Did he tell you what happened?" Artemis asked Anders, hand twisting at Cormac’s robes, threatening to stretch the cloth.
Anders shrugged. "Some. Enough." He took Artie’s face in both his hands. "You didn’t do it. It’s not you. You were just there for it, really. So, calm down, Artie. You didn’t do anything wrong, and he loves you so much I nearly threw up just listening to him go on."
It was true, but not for the obvious reasons. When Fenris had started trying to explain all the reasons he hoped Artemis was real, all Anders had been able to think of was Karl — those rough lips, that stupid beard, and the feeling in his hand as the knife had slid into Karl’s chest. And his lasting regret he hadn’t gotten one last kiss. He blinked a couple of times to clear his eyes and kissed Artie’s forehead. "You’re lucky. He’s lucky. It’s going to be all right."
Cormac reached up and tucked a loose wisp of hair behind Anders’s ear, concern crossing his face just long enough for Anders to see it, and then fading back into the warm smile he’d almost managed to hold since he’d determined Artie was little worse than drunk.
When Bethany reappeared, Artie drank the potion she handed him without question, and Anders helped him wobble in the direction of the nearest chamberpot. "Fond memories," Artemis teased, earning him a cringing laugh from Anders, while Bethany arced her eyebrows in a look that said she didn’t want to know.
Artemis looked clearer-eyed but no less wrung out by the time he poked his head into the lounge doorway, holding his breath and hoping Fenris wouldn’t cringe away from him this time. The elf sat on the couch, his feet finally on the floor, and stared down at the sandwich in his hand as though trying to ascertain its existence as well.
"Fen?" Artie asked softly, almost afraid to disrupt his concentration.
"Artemis—" Fenris looked up, suddenly, eyes confused and embarrassed. There were so many things he didn’t want to say, so many wrong things to say. "I’m sorry," he settled on. "I lost myself. Can I…" he trailed off. That wasn’t the question for right now, however much he wanted it to be. "Are you —?" He gave up, gazing mournfully up at Artemis, sandwich forgotten in his hand.
"Don’t. Don’t apologise, love." Artemis stepped into the room, stopping himself at the last minute before stepping into Fenris’s space. Fenris hadn’t wanted to be touched, before, and Artemis wanted to respect that, despite how badly he wanted to fold his elf into his arms. "Don’t worry about me." He twisted his hands before gesturing at the seat next to Fenris. "Can I…?" Maybe eventually one of them would finish asking a question.
Fenris nodded, cramming the rest of the sandwich into his mouth, not to start another sentence he wouldn’t finish. Anders had said he needed to eat. He busied himself licking the radish sauce off his fingers and trying to wash down the sandwich with tea, the bread melting into sticky lumps in his cheeks as he tried to work his way through it, and to think of something intelligent to follow with.
Artemis sat next to Fenris, still carefully not touching him, hands smoothing over the wrinkles in his clothes instead. He tried to think of something intelligent to say too, but he found himself watching the way Fenris’s cheeks bulged out as he chewed, like an awkward, elfy chipmunk. A snicker caught in his throat before he could change the sound to a cough.
A few more gulps of tea, and Fenris managed to swallow the sandwich, at last. He wiped his hands on his trousers, lacking anything more reasonable — Anders was a damned mountain savage, after all, and one couldn’t really expect him to have remembered a napkin — and grabbed Artemis, one hand curled in his shirt, the other on the back of his neck.
"I adore you. Please don’t leave me." Fenris choked out, before pulling Artemis into a kiss.
It was like a dam breaking, the way Artemis kissed back, hands coming up to cradle his elf’s face, before wrapping around his shoulders and pulling him close. "I wouldn’t leave you, you bloody fool," he murmured against Fenris’s lips. He rested his forehead against Fenris’s. "Even if you did just wipe your hands on your pants." He gave Fenris a watery, if relieved, smile, and kissed him again, softly, sweetly. He’d been worried Fenris would never want to touch him again after that. "I love you. I’m sorry." He wasn’t sure what, specifically, he was apologising for, but the words spilled out.
"No, there’s nothing for you to be sorry for. Blame Danarius for ruining this for us. Even with his death, it seems I am not yet free." Fenris pulled Artemis onto his lap, and leaned back against the couch, looking up at this beautiful mage — his beautiful mage. "You are… not angry with me?" he asked, but kept talking anyway, as if he couldn’t stop the words. "I couldn’t tell what was real any more. I couldn’t tell, and I had to get out. I thought I needed to know. But… I realised it doesn’t matter, because I want to believe in you, in this, even in this gods-forsaken fish-stinking city, because this is where you are. I don’t care if you’re just a delusion, although I’d really rather think you’re not, because you’re the best thing to ever come into my life, and I love you. I love our life together. And if it turns out that none of this is real, I hope I die not knowing."
"You love me enough to put up with the fish stink?" Artie joked, eyes brimming. "That’s devotion." He held Fenris’s face in his hands, thumbs tracing the sharp bend of cheekbone. The words ‘amo te’ stuck in his throat. He didn’t dare speak Tevene, not right now. "I’m real, love. I wish I knew how to prove that to you." He kissed Fenris’s forehead, felt the lines of tension there smooth away under the touch. "But I’m not going anywhere."