Complete antidote to my last fiction, haha. This little bit of silly takes place long before the previous post when Kirkwall sat in the eye of the storm. Hawke and his companions enjoy the peace, unaware that - between them - it is they who will bring about its end.
Just a bit of stupid fun, but bitter sweet if you know what's to come ^_^
"Okay so - stop me if you've heard this one."
It's late, probably very late, in the Hanged Man. Cortland Hawke looks absently around the room, as if the time might just leap from the boarded walls and make itself known.
Heaving another draught from his tankard, the newly-dubbed 'Champion of Kirkwall' gives up any pretence of caring what time it is anyway and lets his head rest on his arms, his gaze moving toward the party's resident healer. Anders is holding court, having seemingly nominated himself as entertainer for the latter part of the evening in the absence of Varric. Considering how rarely the blonde mage lets himself so much as smile these days, no one is about to stop him. He is currently stood on his chair, swaying ever so slightly as he excitedly waves his arms to garner as much attention as he possibly can from the small and rapidly depleting group; depleting not through any desire to leave the cozy inn, but through the gradual state of unconsciousness working its way around the table. Varric at least had a room to escape to; one that Cortland couldn't help but notice Norah follow him to, the sly dog.
Hawke grins lazily at Aveline, the latest to fall prey to the Hanged Man's fowl but potent brew. Her lips murmur something like "Do it to me, big D" as her cheek rolls a little on the sticky table surface, causing Hawke to snort with laughter in a very unchampion-like way before giving in to Anders's beckons.
"So," the Mage begins his opus with a flourish "an apostate, an abomination and a grey warden walk into a bar. And the barman says..." at this juncture he holds out a hand and closes his eyes in a mock regal expression "Pause for effect." Then the amber eyes open again, refocus and twinkle as he throws out the punchline with panache. "
The barman says 'Hello, Anders'!".
Anders throws out his hands in a wobbly tadaa gesture, and grins eagerly at his audience, awaiting the expected applause.
There's an awkward silence as those still able to speak wonder if they should. Their healer had been in uncharacteristically high spirits all evening, but no one could quite discern whether the joke now was made in pure jest or with some bitterness. It was, after all, accurate. A pout works its way onto the apostate's face as he stumbles to get down from the table. "Well, I thought it was quite clever."
Hawke lets out a breath as Merrill giggles and offers a hand to help Anders back down to his chair.
"Well I thought that was very clever. The way you made it sound like three people, when really it's
well, it's just you, isn't it."
Anders doffs his tankard and throws her a wink as he lounges gregariously back into his chair, booted feet on the table in front of him. "That's the general gist, yes." He sips his drink as confidence returns "You know, I do have the stamina of three men, I've been told."
While the comment gets nothing but a slightly confused expression from Merrill, who's clearly out of her depth here, Isabella can't help but bite at the obvious bait.
"Oh, is that so? Says the man who can't stand straight after a bit of healing magic."
"Listen, sister", the blonde leans one arm on the table in an attempt to look nonchalant "You should have known me before
all this." He waves an arm at life in general. "I'll have you know, I was ireshista..iressishtab
The pirate's eyes widen with delight at this new Anders, old Anders, whichever he is. "Sweetheart, you intrigue me."
The mage leans both arms on the table now, leaning conspiratorially in towards Isabella. Hawke catches Merrill's eye and they share a grin before Anders continues, eyes squinting as if to add levity to his tale. "Well, the Hero of Ferelden just couldn't keep her hands off of me."
Isabella raises one eyebrow. It speaks a dozen words. Words that cause the apostate to add hastily "At least, she wouldn't have been able to, if she hadn't you know been married to King Alistair. Who, let's be honest, is pretty ireshist
nice himself. Andraste's knickers, even I wouldn't fall for me if I was with him every night
" Just as it seems his own reminiscent babbling has utterly destroyed any line of argument he had intended on making, Anders shakes himself and finishes with a level gaze at Isabella "So, yeah. Hot stuff. Right here."
It's too much for Isabella, who splutters out a laugh, which only grows as the mage's face falls and Merrill pats him on the shoulder. Cortland watches the scene play out and smiles broadly. This is the first time he's seen Anders truly being
well, Anders. Maybe the alcohol has dampened Justice's hold on the man, but whatever the reasons, he's enjoying the change and can't help his mind pondering on exactly what it would have been like to know the apostate before his life became such a seemingly dark place.
In the pause, Hawke's eyes dance tipsily around the table, taking in his companions. That Isabella is still going strong is no big surprise. The woman bleeds alcohol. She's probably downed twice as much as he has himself and all she has to show for it is a slight blush to her cheeks. Anders had let on enough about his life before Justice for them to assume he could knock them back when he wanted to. The man is drunk, but he's a fun drunk, as they're discovering. Merrill is a surprise.
He'd had her pegged as one of the first to fall. But, then again, he'd also assumed that Sebastian would be one of the last, and look how wrong he'd been on that count. As if to affirm the statement, the slumped Prince next to Isabella chooses that moment to let out a contented sigh in his sleep, causing all present to lean in and listen, just in case the chantry boy should give away anything, well, un-chantry-like. It's the third time they've gone through the routine since he passed out an hour ago. When no further sound is forthcoming, Isabella sinks back in her chair with a grunt.
"Well, balls. I could have sworn he'd be a talker. We'll get him yet. You wait, when I'm properly drunk, I'll offer some encouragement." She raises a hand and wiggles her fingers as she cocks an eyebrow in Sebastian's direction. To think that he was out for the count before even Carver. Ridiculous as it is given their new life, Hawke can't help but feel a little smug as his gaze reaches his little brother's sleeping face, chin resting on his chest. It would have been just embarrassing to pass out before Carver.
Their laughter is interrupted momentarily by a throaty groan, as Fenris lifts his head from the table where it's been for the past fifteen minutes. A line of drool connects his lips to the wooden surface as his lidded eyes try to take in their surroundings and this sends Merrill over the edge as she creases with laughter. The Tevinter elf frowns suspiciously, shakes his head and sits up, a clawed hand mussing white hair.
Isabella leans forward across the table at him, full and swelling breasts resting conspicuously on the wooden surface as no doubt intended "You were indeed. And you make just the sweetest little sleep face. All pouty lips and fluttering lashes." She dips a finger into her tankard and then sucks the mead from it slowly as she locks her eyes to those of the elf. Her efforts are rewarded when Fenris sits bolt upright in his chair with an expression of absolute embarrassment. With a chuckle, she sits back, job done, and idly tangles her fingers into Sebastian's hair "You're just too easy."
Anders and Merrill exchange amused glances and snicker into their tankards as Fenris scowls a little, before allowing his face to soften into an amused smile.
Hawke wants to bottle this moment. This night. Just this. The group of people he has come to call friends is an eclectic one, he knows. There are just too many differences, too many conflicts for them to remain together indefinitely; he knows this. But right here and right now, they are friends.
As if he can read Hawke's mind, Anders suddenly springs to his feet without warning, steadying himself with one hand on his chair back as the other thrusts a tankard out in front of him. He then slams the tankard down on the table with enough force to wake Aveline, Sebastian and Carver with a start. Blurry eyed, they blink in the low light of the Hanged Man and are variously back-slapped and shoulder-clapped by their more lucid companions. The warden mage waits until it seems everyone is aware of their surroundings and then gives a pointed cough. As the group look to him, Anders raises the tankard once more and his voice rings out clearly:
"Misfits, renegades, fugitives and and outcasts, I'd like you to join me in a toast. A toast, to the new Champion of Kirkwall."
"To the Champion of Kirkwall" comes the chorus.
Hawke's eyes glisten just a little as he adds "And to you, friends of the Champion"
There's a pause as eyes meet and glances are shared. Then the chorus picks up again,
"Friends of the Champion."