[ Master Post ]
Title: Assing it Up – Chapter 26
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Varania ♀, Fenris ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Theron Mahariel ♂, Paivel ♂, Varric ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Halla jokes
Notes: Further celebration. Theron tells a secret. Fenris tells tales.
"Hey, there, Broody and Fruity," Varric called out as he came up around them, a drink in either hand. "You both look like you could use a drink after that! I know I do. You lost me two gold, Broody!"
"Fruity?" Artie repeated as Varric handed them each a drink. "Hey, Edwina, while you’re taking drink orders…"
"Only if you plan on tipping me, Slutty Halla."
Artie’s jaw dropped open while Theron choked on his ale.
"Well, as Theron says, you’re fluffy and horny. It’s not entirely inappropriate," Fenris teased, before turning to Varric. "I’d best not see that in any of your books, Varric, or it’s going to be dwarf-tossing night. That is my husband you’re talking to like that."
"And yet, you agree with me. Slutty Halla." Varric smirked up at Fenris.
"I married him. I go to bed with him every night. I get to make jokes like that." Fenris leaned heavily on Artemis, suddenly. "And if it weren’t for this old, grievous injury troubling me again, I might be sleeping on the couch, with the cats." It was impossible to tell if he was joking, but the faint sparkle in the corner of his eye suggested he might be.
"How are the furry terrorbeasts?" Varric asked after a moment’s pause.
"Furry. Terrible." Fenris shrugged and sipped his beer. "One of them is like a little Anders, always yelling in the middle of the night and knocking over anything precarious it can reach. The other pretends to be cuddly, and then attaches itself in some nearly unremovable way and starts chewing on things — hair, clothes, fingers — as it makes a soothing rumbling noise. I expect it is trying to put me at ease while it conquers the space I am trying to occupy."
Artie stole a sip from Fenris’s drink, which he found more difficult than usual, the way Fenris was gripping the mug as though afraid it would slip out of his hands too. "Honestly, the second cat reminds me a bit of Fenris," he said, shrugging one shoulder. "And speaking of, don’t listen to my husband. He might end up on the couch if he keeps up the halla jokes, but the cats are staying with me." The way his eyes scrinched at the corners said he was mostly joking.
"Then you’ll be the one waking up with cat claws in your feet, Amatus."
"Not if I wake him up in other ways first," Theron suggested. "Which I get to do tonight, since I won the duel. And it’s my birthday."
"And because whatever you’re planning for tonight will put him to sleep?" Fenris drawled.
"Well, it will certainly tire him out."
"And that’s my cue to leave the conversation," Varric said cheerfully, saluting them with one hand before inserting his charming self into Merrill’s conversation with Natia instead.
"Really, Fenris," Theron said, quietly and far more seriously than any words Fenris had ever heard from him, "what in Andruil’s name was that? Do you need to sit down? Do we need to send off to one of those places with lots of shem mages for a new healer?"
"Meredith," Fenris said shaking his head, dismissively. "She barely scratched me, but she split one of the lyrium lines. It’s only been a few months. Sometimes I get a little numb. I’m sure it just needs a little more time." He laughed, a little more certain than he felt. "This is the longest I’ve ever gone without a healer, but Anders was sure I’d be fine. Everything just takes so long, without a healer, and nobody really knows how Danarius made this work… It’s only been a few months. Come a year, you’ll never know I’d been hit."
"Never been without a healer?" Theron looked amazed. "I thought you were a slave!"
"I was an extremely valuable piece of property, in an empire of mages. My— that is, Danarius would never have stood for that kind of damage to his investment." A smile played at the corners of Fenris’s mouth. "The single most expensive suicide, since the assault on the Golden City, I’d think."
"Creators, his face, at the last…" Theron laughed. "If you’re sure you’re all right…?"
"I’m sure." Fenris nodded. "So, explain again why we didn’t know it was your birthday? I’m not sure I caught the full string of fumbling excuses, the first time."
"Ah. That." Fenris made note of the lack of eye-contact and then the glance Theron threw Merrill’s way. Eventually Theron shrugged, smiling weakly as he leaned in to whisper. "That’s because it’s not really my birthday. That’s not for a few weeks yet. Just… don’t say anything to Merrill? I don’t want to embarrass her. Not after she got me cake and lacy smalls."
"Oh." Artie blinked. "Well, then I don’t feel so bad for not knowing about it. Why did she think today was your birthday?"
"Because it was Tamlen’s." Theron’s smile didn’t falter, but it didn’t reach his eyes either. "She probably just mixed up the days. You know how Tamlen and I were. We were practically brothers. A bit like you and Cormac, really."
Fenris managed not to react to that beyond pressing his lips together, while Artemis calmly took another, longer drink from Fenris’s cup.
"But, you know, I see no better way to celebrate the fucker’s birthday than to pretend it’s mine and then get punched in the face with a sword!"
"While everyone makes halla jokes about me," Artie grumbled.
"You know the halla jokes were his fault, right? Those are definitely part of a proper celebration." Theron laughed, eyes still unusually still. "I need another drink. Do you need another drink? I think these drinks need more fruit in them."
"As long as you’re not dipping your fruits in my drink, Fruity," Fenris teased.
"I wonder if we can pour enough drink into you to get a smile, Broody," Theron shot back. "More drink!" he cried, stepping away from the two at an angle that left Fenris a clear view of where Paivel was feeding cake to Varania. "I need ale with which to ply my pretty shemlen who is not a halla, Fen’Harel fuck you all twice before breakfast!"
Fenris’s eyes lit on his sister’s smiling face. She did seem happy, but that elf was old enough to be their father — even if he could be absolutely sure their father hadn’t been an elf. Well, his father, anyway. He realised he’d always assumed they’d had the same father, but Varania’s features seemed so much more … elf-like, especially surrounded by other elves, like this. Either way, Paivel was probably twice her age, and the man sitting on her other side, joking with Paivel across her, didn’t seem much younger. Fenris found himself displeased. Less because that was his sister — he’d be just as unhappy if Varania had been a brother, he realised — and more because … Oh. Contorted faces flashed through his memory. It wasn’t about her, at all.
With a small sound of distress, he grabbed onto Artemis’s shoulder and squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for the world to right itself.
"Fen?" And then Artemis’s arm was around his waist again, and even when Fenris rested his weight on his mage, they didn’t teeter. "Come on, let’s go sit down." Artemis’s voice was calm but his eyes were wide with worry.
"I’m fine," Fenris said, still unconvincingly, face still tight with pain.
"Well, then you can be fine, over here. Sitting." Artie led Fenris to one of the logs by the fire and gently set him down, sitting next to him. Fenris cradled his head in his hands. The images, the memories, had stopped their assault, but they left behind an ache in his temples. Artemis rubbed his back in soothing circles, and Fenris could feel the weight of his stare.
"Is this all from the wound?" Artie asked softly. "Is Theron right, should we get a healer?" Artemis missed his brother everyday, but moments like this reminded him just how much he missed Anders too. They’d relied on him for so much and hadn’t realised it.
"No," Fenris muttered, quietly. "Sometimes I wonder if Anders wasn’t right — if not knowing wasn’t better. Not like I can stop halfway, though. I’ve never been good at doing anything halfway." He finished his drink. "Why don’t you convince Theron to bring me another drink? People are staring. Let them stare at him, instead."
"Maybe I could convince him to put on his lacy panties and give us a striptease. That would get people staring." Artie’s smile was thin, and he pressed a kiss to Fenris’s forehead. "I wish we had killed him sooner. Years sooner. Before he ever touched you sooner. I can’t fix that, but I can get you that drink."
"Amatus, if he’d been killed so soon, where would I be? I’d certainly never have met you, would I? I’m not going to thank him. I won’t be grateful. But, I can’t see much wrong with where I’ve ended up." With his stronger hand, Fenris pulled his husband in for a long, slow kiss. "And now they’re definitely staring."
"I could crawl into your lap and give them a real reason to stare," Artemis replied with a look that said he was only half joking. "My sappy fool." He brushed Fenris’s hair back from his face, careful not to touch the bruising skin along his cheek. He pressed in for another kiss, shorter but no less affectionate, before rising to his feet. "Stay here. I’ll see about that drink."
Looking across the fire, Fenris noticed his sister’s eyes on him, as she whispered something to Paivel, and then the older elf was looking, too. And gesturing. Waving him over, actually. Groaning, Fenris spilled easily to his feet and made his way around the fire without tripping on anyone else’s feet.
"Your sister tells me you are a hero, with a hero’s tales to tell," Paivel said, patting the space beside him in invitation. "We have stories of Shartan, but few other Tevinter elves have made it into our legends. I’d like to hear your stories from you — not half-told versions from Varania or Theron. I would like to add your name to our history."
"I am no hero," Fenris insisted, taking the seat to avoid Artemis putting him in it. "I did what I needed to do, to survive. I tried and failed to protect my family, once, because I didn’t understand the stakes. The second time, I did not fail. There is no heroism in that. Any farmer could do that, and I’ve met several who did, and only half of them are named Hawke."
"You rose from slavery to become a nobleman in a shemlen city, hunted demons, slew slavers along the coast, and fought hand-to-hand with something not even seen in legends," Paivel reminded him. "You’re a hero, Fenris. Your story is more exciting than when Lindiranae fought the Silver Knight. You have multiple victories over many injustices, and those stories should be passed on."
Still, Fenris scoffed at the title, one ear sticking out at an angle. "I’m… not entirely sure I would want my story told," he drawled. Then, mostly joking, he added, "And you do not need to flatter me just because you are seeing my sister."
Varania scowled, but Paivel laughed. "I admit that is part of it, but I am genuinely interested in your story and how you came to be here, as you are. Would you mind indulging a Dalish fool?"
Fenris glanced around, finally spotting Theron giving Natia a piggyback ride on the other side of the camp. "I have become rather adept at indulging Dalish fools, particularly that one. You should be no challenge. Still, I am no story-teller. You might be better served by Varric’s version of events, in the end."
Artemis returned with a drink for each of them in either hand, pleased to see Fenris talking so easily with Paivel and his sister. "I come bearing alcohol," he said, sitting next to his husband and handing him his drink. "Are we telling stories? I love stories."
"Tell this man some flattering story about me, Amatus," Fenris encouraged, taking a long sip of his drink. "I’d tell one, but it wouldn’t be flattering, and it would all end in blood. Or it would be the one where I almost killed you. Or the other one where I almost killed you." His eyes lit on Paivel. "I’m terrible at this ‘hero’ thing. I can think of at least two times I’ve nearly murdered my own husband, by mistake."
"No hero is without faults," Paivel offered, sympathetically. "War started in the Dales when an archer killed a shemlen woman running to greet her elven lover. Not a villain, but a fool."
"Then I am a fool with a hero’s stories, instead of a fool with a villain’s stories." A short laugh slipped out of Fenris. "That other fool is Anders."
"Then tell me your idiot decisions that were met with praise." The corner of Paivel’s mouth turned up.
"Oh, tell him about Danarius and the wedding, Fenris!" Varania pleaded, smile a little too wide. "Or about Hadriana. Goodness, tell me about Hadriana."
"How about the varterral? That’s … legendary and remarkably stupid, and it happened right here on Sundermount." Fenris’s fingers tightened on his cup, as he shot Varania a dreadful look.
"Which time?" Artie drawled. "It blurs a bit now. Oh, but I do remember you promising to tear off one of its legs for me that first time. Just so its limbs would be an even number. So romantic." Artemis rested his chin on his palm and batted his eyelashes at Fenris.
"And I nearly got myself trampled for the effort," Fenris huffed. "Mages. Never fight a varterral when you’re the only non-mage in a group. Better yet, never fight a varterral."
"And now you’re sounding less romantic," Artie teased, patting his knee. "Oh! I know a good story! Varania, Paivel, how much do you know about the Fereldan dowry tradition surrounding goats?"
Paivel and Varania exchanged a look.
Fenris groaned. "I said a flattering story, Amatus."
"Dowry…?" Varania squinted at her brother. "Did you propose with a goat?"
"A bit," Artemis answered, nodding, before Fenris could speak in his own defence. "More specifically, he sent a goat in lace with three sheaves of wheat to my mother. All very traditional. She ate all Anton’s socks. The… goat, that is. Not my mother."
Varania snickered behind her hand. "Please tell me that story."
"No. Not that story," Fenris insisted, ears twitching and starting to vibrate.
Varania threw up her hands, exasperated, while Paivel calmly sipped his drink. "Well, tell us a story. Could you tell us how you met?"
Artemis and Fenris took twin sips of their beer, eyes meeting before looking away. "That would be one of the stories where I almost killed him," Fenris answered.
Artemis smiled into a drink as though he considered it a fond memory. "Of all the times I almost died, that was, quite possibly, my favourite."
Fenris groaned. "Get Anton to tell you the story about the goat. I understand it was much more exciting from the Hawke perspective. How about I tell you a wolf story?" he asked, after a moment’s thought. "I have read of your trickster god, and while I am often straightforward in my dealings, battering oneself against the walls of Minrathous so rarely ends well."
Paivel leaned back, squinting toward something at the edge of the camp. "The old wolf is looking away, little wolf. Tell me your story."
"It began after Danarius was dead. A magister, you understand — not a man who can simply disappear without a trace. And while the Magisterium is frequently glad to lose some of its more … unusual members, this loss, in particular would come straight back to my door, and hunting me would be a sport. Also, he’d left no heirs we knew of. Surely one of his apprentices would have taken his estate, but why permit it?" Fenris smiled subtly, rinsing his mouth with beer. "I went to Varric, whose cousin is a magister."
"The dwarf? I thought dwarves couldn’t do magic?" Paivel interrupted.
"They can’t, but they can marry it. Perhaps it’s more correct to say his cousin married a magister, but the magister accepts him as part of the family. I needed only a small favour." The smile widened. "To this revolutionary, we sent a letter — to ensure it would be appropriately delivered — demanding that the estate be sent south to Kirkwall, so that Danarius could set up house, while his hunt continued. Sealed with his own kit, of course. We’d found it in his goods, when we emptied his room."
"Is that how you found them?" Varania asked, after a moment.
"Months later, they arrived on the first ship from Minrathous. Tens of kitchen and linen slaves and several rooms of furnishings. Varric handled the furnishings, and we introduced the elves to Kirkwall. If I’m not mistaken, several of them joined your clan." Fenris sipped his beer, looking terribly smug. "Varric’s cousin, of course, has been overjoyed at the mayhem that followed, in Minrathous, when the magister’s research was packed up and shipped to … ‘him’, removing it from Tevinter, entirely, and potentially removing it from the reach of the Archives, if anything happened to Danarius in his new home. And that is how I tricked the city of Minrathous into gifting me with dozens of elves and a whole estate’s worth of furniture and books."
Paivel chuckled and stretched his legs out in front of the fire, shaking his head in amazement. "‘Little Wolf’, indeed," he said. "Clever as well as strong, like every great hero."
"Fortunate is, perhaps, a better word," Fenris said with a one-shouldered shrug. "I am still not a hero, but I do have my moments." Fenris’s smile was wolfish too as he paused to take a sip of his drink.
Drink dangling from her fingertips, Varania watched him, contemplative. "I like that story. Tell us another."
Fenris shot her a flat look, but the corner of his lips turned up. "Were you always this pushy?"
"When I could get away with it." Varania gave him her own unsettling grin, and with that look, from that angle, Artie could see the resemblance. "Tell us another. Or perhaps it’s your husband’s turn?"
"Oh!" Artie perked up. "Can I tell them about your first mage-floors adventures?"
"That would be unwise," Fenris said, calm but for the way his ears continued to twitch, "since I would be forced to retaliate with an even more embarrassing story about you."
Artemis considered calling his bluff, but he doubted that actually was a bluff. And Artie tended to embarrass himself on a more regular basis than Fenris, making that a war he was likely to lose.
"Spoilsport. I’m getting more cake. And just for that, I’m not sharing."