[ Master Post ]
Title: Assing it Up – Chapter 20
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Carver Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Sibling rivalry
Notes: "My older brother married murderous demon bait," or the trials of Carver Hawke.
"However," Artie went on, "Cullen is Knight-Commander, and there are some precautions he has to take. He’s likely pissing off the Chantry as it is. The last thing he needs, the last thing Kirkwall needs, is for it to get back to the wrong person that there’s a blood mage living here that Cullen knows about and did nothing about. And, frankly, it’s not his fault that Merrill chose to pursue blood magic."
"And it’s not dad’s fault you throw people into trees! I have no idea what fault even matters, here." Carver moved his elbow as Orana set a bowl of soup beside him. "Thanks."
"Messere is advised to avoid pounding the table until after the soup course. Messere getting thrown into trees could be his own fault." Orana winked and moved around the table to serve Fenris and Artemis.
"I …" Carver cleared his throat. "Of course." He had no idea why, but Orana always had that effect on him. Fumbling with his napkin, he tried to find the rest of the point he’d been making. "So, you think she should do it? You think she should submit to someone else’s blood magic, using her blood, because she does magic with her own blood?"
Fenris’s lips tensed and Orana patted his shoulder. "I do. And I think you need to keep track of it. And if the time comes that you have to go, take it. Let them feel safe, but don’t forget you can still protect yourself and her."
"I’m going to have to agree with my brilliant and gorgeous husband, here," Artemis said. "If something goes wrong and you need to get her phylactery, I will help you. I’ll also help you destroy it, if that’s what it comes down to. But in the meantime, it’s Cullen. I trust him, far more than I’ve trusted any other templar."
Carver cleared his throat and spread his hands.
"I stand by what I said," Artie teased.
"Ass," Carver grumbled, taking a roll from the basket Orana set on the table. After taking a bite, he tore off a piece and threw it at Artie.
"Carver Hawke, I will throw you through that wall!"
"He will," Fenris assured Carver. "Don’t tempt him."
"He won’t. He only did that shit to Cormac, because of the shields," Carver scoffed. "He’ll throw me through that open doorway."
"I’ll throw you through that open doorway into another wall," Artie replied, his soup spoon pointed at Carver. "I wouldn’t throw you through into a wall without warning you. And now you have been warned."
"Double ass. That’s great, of two brothers left in Kirkwall, I’ve got Lord Dog and Lord Ass," Carver huffed, washing a bit of bread down with a swig of wine.
"Lord Ass, hmm?" Fenris purred, eyeing Artemis. "Perhaps, but in so many ways I shouldn’t share with that lord’s younger brother."
Carver froze and then lobbed the rest of the roll at Fenris’s head. "Oh, that’s gross! Don’t talk about my brother like that! Oh, come on!"
Fenris opened his mouth, took a long look at Carver, and changed the subject. "Demons, then. It’s not about Merrill, blood magic, or even mages. Look around you, Carver. How many people has Kirkwall seen possessed, commanded, overtaken by them? Cullen will tell you Merrill’s not the only one to be concerned about. I’ll tell you the same thing."
"I’m not that worried about demons. These ancient powerful things the magisters summoned just don’t hold up to a few spells and a couple of swords." Carver shrugged, starting on his soup. "We’ve killed demons before. Cullen just got taken by surprise, I think. Poor bastard. Really fucked him up, too."
"You were prepared to face those ‘ancient powerful things’, and you had a small army with you," Artemis pointed out. "It’s when you’re not prepared and when you’re not worried that you have to be careful. Most demons? They’re not interested in a fight. They’re not going to come charging at you, claws drawn. They wear you down with words and thoughts and hit you where you’re weakest. You saw what happened to Marethari. She cared about Merrill, and the demon twisted that into fear. The demon didn’t get to her because she was weak. It got to her because she had something — in this case, someone — to lose."
It was safer, he thought, to use Marethari as an example. He could still see Fenris, that day in the Fade, sword drawn and eyes looking through him. He could still see Cormac beating Fenris into a pulp.
"I’m just going to…" Artie stole a long sip from Fenris’s wine glass before setting it down. "Thank you."
"Carver, sit on both your hands," Fenris said, as Orana poured him more wine.
"What?" Carver blinked at Fenris in confusion.
"Do it. If you’re going to come across the table, I want it to take you that extra second." The corner of Fenris’s mouth tilted up. "Also, take a long look at your brother, who is still alive, and will probably throw you into a wall, if you do it."
"I don’t…" Carver looked around, but tucked his hands under his thighs. "You’re going to tell me something I don’t want to know."
"I am. I’m going to tell you I know what I’m talking about, because I met a demon. I met a demon that convinced me I could destroy the magisterium, and all I had to do was kill your brother. Except it wasn’t him, any mo—"
"You what?" Carver shouted, leaping to his feet, hands keeping him off balance for just long enough for Orana to pull the bowl of soup out from in front of him, before he bumped into the table.
"Sit down, Carver," Artemis warned, one hand already up with a spell at his fingertips. "I’m alive, aren’t I? Alive and married to him. But if it makes you feel better, Cormac beat the absolute snot out of him." Artie smiled to hide how sick that memory still made him. "It’s not Fen’s fault. The demon just… knew where to hit him."
"It’s a little my fault," Fenris said to his soup, "but I would not envy anyone faced with that on a regular basis."
Under the table, Artemis squeezed Fenris’s knee, his other hand still held up in a warning. He hoped Carver got the important part of that conversation, but his brother was still glaring murder at his husband.
"So, for all your certainty, I might not be so flippant, if I were you. I might also respect Cormac a bit more. They tempted him, too, and I understand he didn’t give in. Neither did Artemis. Neither, frankly, did Anders, but that’s a bit of a special case, in which one might say he’d already given in." Fenris cleared his throat and took another bite of soup. "But, Isabela and I were … less prepared than we thought. It’s worth being aware that they’re not gentle, and they’ll offer you things you’ve always wanted and never dreamed you could have. Changes to the whole world. And they don’t just speak to you. The strong ones get inside your mind, play with what you believe. You can say you’d never trust a demon, but do you trust yourself? When do you stop? Can you make yourself doubt long enough to see what’s real? Because I couldn’t. I still don’t know if I can, if it happened again."
"That’s great. My older brother married some murderous demon-bait." Carver huffed.
"Two of your brothers. Don’t forget Cullen." Fenris’s smile was hollow. "It’s Kirkwall. They come for everyone, here. Don’t be so sure you know better. Look where that got me."
"Don’t tempt fate, Carver, is all we’re saying. A bit of humility on the subject of demons is generally wise. Merrill is a part of our family too, and I don’t want to see anything happen to either of you." With a pleading look, Artemis finally let go of his spell and bent over his soup again.
Orana waited until Carver sat back in his chair before setting the soup in front of him again. "Does Messere plan to stay in his chair?" she asked politely.
"I… yeah," Carver grumbled. "For the moment."
"If Messere changes his mind before the main course, please let me know."