[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 393
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cullen ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Bethany Hawke ♀, Sebastian ♂, Nathaniel Howe ♂, Zevran Arainai ♂
Rating: T (L2 N2 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Arguments in the bath, discussions in bed
Notes: Carver and Merrill talk about the future. Sebastian continues to make an ass of himself.
They were in bed, blankets piled up to Merrill’s chin and Carver wrapped around her side. Even the demons hadn’t tired her like this, and she drifted in and out of consciousness. Blood loss, Anders had said, but he wasn’t in any condition to do anything about it. She’d been sure of that, when she realised he couldn’t stand up, either. She didn’t quite understand human politics, even after all these years, but she got the idea, from listening to the conversations around her, that day, that the Chantry wasn’t doing what it was supposed to, so Anders and Cormac had knocked it down to make room for a new one. That didn’t seem quite right, somehow, since a building didn’t do much but keep the rain off, and the Chantry didn’t seem to have been leaking, but she was sure this was another case of one word meaning more than one thing, and it would make better sense after she slept.
Still, there was the matter of where she would fit in all of this. "Carver? If Cullen knows, does that mean I have to go to the tower, now?"
Carver pulled her tighter against him, and she hid her smile amidst the blankets, a worried smile.
"No," Carver assured her, and the conviction in his tone helped her breathe. "He’s… he’s changing policies, it seems. Regarding mages in general. The mages of Kirkwall are free to stay and go as they like, and that would… well, that would be a load of horseshit if he made you stay, especially since you’re Dalish." Which wasn’t as much of an argument now, if he were honest with himself. Not now that Merrill had been living in the Alienage for all these years.
"Even though I’m… even with the blood magic?" Merrill asked. She twisted just enough to look at Carver, at blue eyes that met hers before dropping to the side. "I know he saw. I know he knows. What does that mean for us?"
"Us?" Carver asked, brows knitting.
"Well, I know most people get their trousers in a knot whenever there’s blood magic, and templars most of all…"
"Panties," Carver corrected her with the face of someone trying not to laugh. "Panties in a knot. That’s the expression."
"Oh." Merrill blinked. "I don’t know if my panties are big enough to get tied into knots. But, oh, right. Templars don’t wear trousers, so I suppose that makes a bit of sense. Maybe it’s their skirts they get into knots?"
"You’re overthinking it again. It’s not supposed to make sense, it’s just supposed to sound uncomfortable." Carver finally did laugh, pressing a kiss to the top of Merrill’s head. "If Cullen’s right, and we don’t all end up fired, we’ve got a whole city to enjoy, and no more worries about someone taking you away."
"I wish we’d been soon enough for all the people who died, here," Merrill sighed, tucking her head under Carver’s chin again. "It’s getting cold again. We should see if anyone needs the windows fixed, before the next storm comes in from the sea."
"We should," Carver agreed, knowing that she meant he should spend weeks doing repairs in the Alienage. But, people liked them, and Merrill was considered something of an important person, in the community, even if she did spend all her time with him. And that had been an interesting discovery — that the elves had first reacted to him in much the way his mother had reacted to Merrill and Fenris. "Listen, I was going to ask Anton… Do you think with all the ‘recovery’ allotments that need to be made, we could get something done, down here?"
"But, we didn’t get any parts of the Chantry dropped on us, down here." Merrill’s brow bunched against Carver’s neck.
"I know, but the way the ground shook broke a few windows, for sure. I was going to ask Anton to drag it out of Bran, and see what we can get." Carver shifted, bringing a hand up to pet Merrill’s hair. "I know you used to live near some ruins, and some other ruins, and probably some ruins you haven’t told me about, but… were any of them elven ruins? What if we do something in an older style — I mean that stuff’s stood up for a thousand years, right? And we’ve got houses that fall over in twenty, here."
Everything about Merrill was soft, just then, when she looked at Carver, her eyes, her smile, the hand that reached up to tug the round shell of his ear. "That would be… well, that would be incredible, if we could do it," she said. "Do you think we could? Would the others let us? Oh, but think of what we could do! This place now, it’s so… grey and dry and — well, dry except for when it’s raining. Then you want the Alienage to be dry, and it isn’t. The Vhenadahl is lovely, but it’s… An elf needs more than that to breathe. You know how it is. I think. Do you?"
"A bit," Carver said with a soft chuckle. He kissed her forehead again, pleased to see that light in her eyes again, that need to fix, to change the world, after everything involving that damned mirror. "Scheming already, are we? I’ll see what I can do. We’ll see about making this place less grey and — well, we should probably keep it dry."
Sebastian was still sulking, behind a folding screen, in a suite at the Rose. He was up to his neck in bathwater, in a brothel, while some elven assassin tried to talk Howe into bed. Sebastian just couldn’t see the appeal. At all. In either of them. But, he was particularly angry with Howe, right that moment.
Still, Bethany was there, having come to check on him, after making sure her brothers and the abomination got home. To his confusion, she seemed mostly unsympathetic to his plight.
"I’m honestly surprised he didn’t heal you — or I would be, if he’d had the strength to sit up without help. You must understand that he would have," Bethany explained, from a chair on the other side of the screen. "You’re not the first person who’s tried to murder him and survived the experience. Why, Fenris would have had terrible scars, from his last attempt, if Anders hadn’t healed him after it."
"The man is insane! He’s a lunatic! That, right there, should be proof enough!" Sebastian sputtered a bit before he found another sentence. "And he’s an abomination! It goes against everything we stand for as decent and reasonable people!"
"And what, pray tell, do we stand for as ‘decent and reasonable’ people?" Bethany asked, cool and collected where Sebastian seethed. "Not, I hope, for the Annulment of the Circle and the murder of innocent mages?"
"That— no, of course not," Sebastian said, throwing the screen an indignant look that said he was hurt Bethany would even ask. "But you’re conflating two different issues. The mages — the Circle mages — had naught to do with Elthina’s murder. Even I’ll admit Meredith was over the line. But this mage, Anders, needs to be brought to justice. You must see that!"
"Anders and Justice are already intimately acquainted, pumpkin."
Sebastian grit his teeth. "You know what I mean."
A pause, and then, "You are asking for vengeance, not justice. If this were truly about Elthina, you would recognise that. Will it end at Anders? Just Anders?"
"Yes, just Anders," Sebastian said, letting his head rest against the back of the tub. "He took advantage of your brother’s trust, and I have to think that Cormac didn’t step into this with both eyes open."
"Do you truly think so little of my brother, or is this how you justify not pursuing his death with the same rancour you reserve for Anders, perhaps in deference to my desires?" Bethany’s words were smooth and calm, as if she were reading the Chant to children.
"Do you want me to hunt down your brother, as well? If you tell me he was of sound mind, that he did this intentionally — murdered the Grand Cleric of Kirkwall — I will do just that," Sebastian warned, a sloshing sound indicating that he’d sat up, suddenly.
"Murdered," Bethany scoffed. "Murdered, Sebastian? Really? Does a murderer try to save the people who might be harmed by a symbolic gesture of protest?"
That gave Sebastian pause. "Your brother sent you to the Chantry. He knew what was coming."
"He did," Bethany agreed, "and he tried to make sure that everyone in the building would be out of it. Everyone. Including Elthina."
"Then why didn’t you take her out? You… whatever you did, and you carried me out! Why didn’t you take her!"
Zevran eyed that side of the room in amusement and held out two silver coins to Nathaniel. "I’ll make odds on this."
"You are the single most immoral…" Nathaniel started, and then produced two coins of his own.
"I could only carry one of you, Sebastian, and you are much more valuable to me than she was," Bethany said, quietly. "After all, I am to marry you, am I not? You would not be my husband, if you were dead."
The pause that followed was pensive, punctuated with a sigh. "Forgive me," he said. "I ought not to blame you for any of this. You saved my life, a life only you and the Maker give meaning to, and I should be thanking you for that. All the same, a part of me wished I had been there, only so she needn’t have died alone."
Bethany didn’t have a ready response to that. For all that the Grand Cleric had meant nothing to Bethany, Sebastian had truly cared about her.
"I must make it right," Sebastian said, as much to himself as to Bethany. "I must return to Starkhaven and gather an army. I ask that you come with me."
"So that I can help you invade my home?" Bethany asked, her cadence never changing, but her tone turning a shade colder. "You are asking quite a lot of me, pumpkin."
Sebastian wished he’d waited to ask her until he was dressed and could see her face. Instead he flailed uselessly and stared at the screen, trying to read her expression through it. "Starkhaven can be your home," he said. "Will be your home."
"My family are native Marchers, for all that I am not, and we have held nobility and land in the City of Kirkwall, since the dawn of the modern era. I will not surrender ages of our blood and toils for this city, so that you can march on it for the sake of one man, who will have left it, before the end of the week." Bethany’s words were firm and strong, and they rang through the room with the force of a proclamation.
"And you went for Cousland," Zevran teased Nathaniel. "Don’t you wish you’d held out for an Amell?"
Nathaniel shot Zevran a disapproving look, but he swallowed hard, mouth dry. He’d heard stories, in the time he spent in Kirkwall, but this was the first time he’d seen Bethany do more than pretty politicking. If she was this firm in all her dealings, he’d want to rule beside her, himself. Not that he could rule anything, as a Warden, though Alistair had nearly put the lie to that. And this wasn’t something he should be thinking at all.