damalur: (Default)
no, use my SPACE name! ([personal profile] damalur) wrote2015-08-16 11:50 am

the dragon's retirement (dragon age, hawke/varric)

Title: The Dragon's Retirement
Characters: Hawke/Varric, Dorian/Bull, Cassandra/Inquisitor
Wordcount: 3k
Notes: Written as a treat for my pinch hitters & gift givers in Hightown Funk 2015. Set in the same universe as Greatly Approved.
Summary: Stop! Wait a minute!



Hawke was in Skyhold's yard when Varric found her. These days, the mere sight of him evoked in her a unilateral delight; to be frank, Hawke found it a touch disconcerting. She had considered investing in a blindfold.

"Hawke," said Varric. His gaze wandered over the Chargers, the Bull, the Seeker, their collected equipment, and the manic smile on Hawke's face before finally landing on the book Dorian was holding: The Magician's Guyde to Dragon Organs for Pleasure & Profite. "Going somewhere?"

"Varric," said Hawke. "Varric. Do I look like the sort of idiot who would rush off to fight an enormous, monstrous, fire-breathing, awe-inspiring"—she was losing her line of thought—"gorgeous... ly... terrifying"—shit—"beast?"

"Yes. You look like exactly that sort of idiot," Varric said.

"Krem spotted it!" said the Bull. "Just east of here. Krem said it was a—WHAT DID YOU SAY THE DRAGON WAS, KREM?"

"Ferelden Frostback, chief!" Krem called back.

"Right, a Ferelden Frostback." The Bull chuckled to himself. "Not every day you see one of those." He looked approximately as eager as Hawke herself felt. (A dragon! She'd always known the Bull was good people.)

"Ah," Varric said. "I see you've found some like-minded idiots." Hawke thought that was rather rich, considering they had been Varric's idiots first. "No offense," he added to the Iron Bull.

"None taken," the Bull said graciously, and scratched at his prominent belly.

"You have to live a little, Varric," Hawke said. "Dragons! Adventure! Dragons!"

"Huh," he said. "Maybe you're right, Champion. Now that you mention it"—there was a gleam in his eye, the kind of gleam Hawke only saw when someone complimented either his writing or his chest hair—"now that you mention it, I have been trying to think of a good hook for a novel. Maybe I'll come along, take some notes, give you a little backup."

Hawke tilted her head at what she had been assured was a flattering angle. "I do look awfully dashing when I'm fighting a dragon," she agreed.

At that moment, Dorian decided to insert himself into the conversation by snapping his book shut with a flourish that managed to look crisp rather than needy. "Listen, now," he said. "Have any of you really thought through the ramifications of this? It's hardly sporting to leave a new lover behind while you all sally off to get yourselves killed."

"Whoa there, Sparkler," Varric said. "I just agreed to go along—"

Dorian rolled his eyes. "I'm not talking about you," he said. "I'm talking about me."

In unison, the eyes of the party turned to the Iron Bull, who was still scratching at his belly with an air as contemplative as any philosopher. "What?" he said. "I told you I'd bring you back a gizzard."

"If you're going to be gone for nearly a week, I want a gizzard and a heart. Maybe two gizzards," said Dorian. "And put on a shirt."

"I don't understand why you're always telling me to get dressed," said the Bull, although Hawke thought that was unlikely; the Bull was perceptive enough to know that Dorian felt the need to fling the occasional insult to maintain the illusion of distance but had apparently decided that was a small price to pay for Dorian's company. Maker save them all from mouthy, emotionally stunted mages. (She'd always known Dorian was good people.)

"You cannot have the dragon's heart," Cassandra said. "I have already promised it to the Inquisitor."

"Pardon me," said Dorian. "I can't have heard that correctly. If you think the Inquisitor deserves some sort of special treatment simply because she is the leader of this… all right, frankly impressive operation… madam, I have to tell you that she cannot have the organ of her choosing."

"The heart's a muscle, actually," interjected the Bull.

"It's obvious what's going on here," said Varric. "Seeker, are you trying to woo someone? Someone in particular, maybe?"

"No," said Cassandra stiffly. "We should be leaving, don't you think? Yes. A dragon will not wait around forever to be slain."

"Look at them, Varric," said Hawke, who in past weeks had discovered that in addition to being the best card sharp south of the Anderfels, she was also incredibly emotionally astute. She shook her head in baleful grief at the sorry state of the Inquisition. "Look at them all. Why, if they only realized that a relationship is like a contract—"

"Champion," said Varric, "yesterday you told me I should write your brother to tell him you were dead because you thought his reaction would be, and I quote, 'funny.'"

"Don't we all have a deeply-seated desire to attend our own funeral, though?" said Hawke. "It's human folly. And anyway, I didn't make you go through with it. It wouldn't be fair to make Carver weep, at least when I'm not around to see it." She was joking about Carver—really, she loved the little bastard like he was her own brother.

"Sometimes I'm sorry I know you," said Varric.

"No, you aren't," said Hawke.

"No, I'm not," Varric agreed.

-

It was an exaggeration on Dorian's part to say that the party of dragon-hunters would be gone for nearly a week. The dragon's last known roost had been no more than a day and a half's journey away, particularly since it was late summer and most of the roads through the Frostbacks were clear. They set up camp for the night on a plateau overlooking the rocky lands between the foothills of the mountains and Lake Calenhad. Quite a lot of druffalo in the region, Hawke couldn't help but notice.

She took her dinner with Cassandra while they discussed the similarities between being Champion of Kirkwall and Hero of Orlais respectively. "A city's one thing," said Hawke, "but I can't imagine owning an entire country."

Cassandra narrowed her eyes; despite their flourishing friendship, she still seemed slightly massively unsure about Hawke's sense of humor. "You're joking, surely," she said.

"Am I?" said Hawke. "That doesn't sound like me. Varric! Varric, come here." He was standing stock still and had been for some time as he looked over the sheaf of notes in his hands. "Tell the Seeker that I am dour individual who would never make fun of her."

"That doesn't sound like you, Hawke," he said absently, his attention clearly still on his papers, but he came over and sat on the log beside her anyway. Hawke wasn't sure how he was able to see; it was nearly dark, and he was too vain to wear his spectacles in front of other people. Hawke thought his vanity was ridiculous. She liked the spectacles.

She set her plate aside and hooked her chin over Varric's shoulder. "What are you working on?"

"I'm trying to break into the romance market again," said Varric.

Cassandra let out a noise of interest and then coughed to cover it. On the other side of the fire, the conversation between the Bull's Chargers suddenly quieted, as though the entire troop were eavesdropping and not even bothering to hide it.

"Oh?" said Hawke. She could afford to be nonchalant when she was the only person in the entire world who could get Varric Tethras to tell her stories on demand. Meanwhile, the interested silence from the rest of the group thickened.

"Yeah," he said. "I had an idea about a time-travelling soldier who falls in love with a smith, but the odds are good that'll be too weird for my editor. There's another one I started about a qunari who ends up with a mage from Tevinter; I've got plenty of inspiring source material, provided Sparkler doesn't find out what I'm up to, but it needs a lot more work."

Krem and Dalish both roared with laughter. The Bull kept eating his stew, but he had a small, satisfied smile pulling at the corner of his wide mouth.

"Oh, here we go." Varric shuffled his notes and smirked at whatever he'd found. "This one's about a shapeshifter who falls in love with a pirate. Pirates have been big for the past couple of years. No idea why."

"Pirates are rather charming," said Hawke, mostly out of loyalty to Isabela. "And they don't wear pants, which you have to admit is an attractive wardrobe choice."

"You know, Hawke," Varric said, "believe it or not, most pirates actually do wear pants. Anyway, I'm trying to come up with a plot I can stretch into another serial. That's where the real profit is."

"Have you considered—" Cassandra said, and then she bit back the rest of her question.

Varric sighed and put one of his arms around Hawke's waist. She propped her elbow against his shoulder and rested her head on her arm, only partially paying attention to what he was saying. In her opinion, if there was one genre Varric should break into, it was smut. If he wrote about sex half as well as he performed the act itself, he'd be the best-selling purveyor of erotica between the Boeric Ocean and the Sundered Sea. On the other hand, Hawke had heard that dwarven smut was a niche market. What a shame.

"No, Seeker, go on," Varric was saying. "Let's hear it."

"A sequel, perhaps," said Cassandra. "Something that follows on one of your more critically-acclaimed novels." She sounded like she was about to brim over with eagerness.

"This is about The Magpie, isn't it," said Varric.

"Of course it is about The Magpie!" Cassandra flung her plate to the side in a fit of passionate expression. "You must realize that what your readers truly want is a resolution to the story of Knight and Dagger! What are their feelings? Why did they not—not—"

"Fuck?" said the Bull.

Cassandra flushed. "Kiss," she said. "You should have allowed them at least one token of affection, dwarf!"

Varric's shoulder shifted under Hawke's head. "I don't know, Seeker," he said, and his voice was a pleasant rumble that warmed Hawke's entire body. "I'm not sure that book had enough substance to support a sequel. Anyway, I already told you that Knight's in love with Song. It's right there in the text."

"Knight is in love with Dagger," said Cassandra, furious, "and if you refuse to concede the point, I… I will simply have to write my own version and distribute it myself."

"What? You can't do that. That's plagiarism, for one thing," said Varric, "and for another, if you ever want another installment in Swords and Shields, I suggest you do your best to stay on the author's good side."

"It would not be plagiarism," said Cassandra. "It would be a tribute. I wouldn't make any money from the endeavor."

"How is it a tribute when you're changing everything about the source material?" Varric shot back.

"The source material is wrong!" countered Cassandra. "Should your readers be punished because you refuse to see good sense?"

"I can't have this conversation," Varric said. "Look, you want to write your 'friend-fiction' or whatever, fine. Just don't sell it, and for Andraste's sake, don't show me."

"I'd read it," said the Bull. Hawke privately agreed, although she kept her mouth shut while Varric was present. The next morning, though, she tracked down Cassandra and made a few suggestions for positions that Knight and Dagger might want to try. The Seeker protested that it wasn't going to be 'that kind' of story, but really, in Hawke's opinion, if it wasn't going to be 'that kind' of story, what was the point?

-

Meanwhile: the dragon.

"Oh, the dragon?" said the first farmer they located. "Yeah, lives in a cave on the other side of that druffalo pasture. Listen, you wouldn't be that lot from the Inquisition, would you?"

"Yes," said Cassandra.

"No," said Varric.

"Only one dragon?" said the Bull, who must have been thinking of his promise to bring Dorian two dragon gizzards.

"Just the one," the farmer confirmed. She was a tall, rangy sort with a craggy face; something about her suggested she was the kind of person who took livestock very seriously. "Go have a look if you like, but don't bother the druffalo."

"No promises," said Krem, "but we'll do our best, won't we, chief?"

"We always do, Krem of the crop," said the Bull. "Right. This way?"

They started off in the direction of the dragon's cave. "I can't believe we're doing this for fun," said Varric. "How is this fun? Shit, watch out for manure—"

"We," said Hawke, "are doing this as a public service. That poor woman was terrorized, Varric. Imagine how she feels, knowing that any minute a dragon could swoop down and burn her home to the ground with one enormous blast of fire."

"She didn't look particularly terrorized," Varric pointed out.

"She's probably just very good at hiding it," said Hawke.

On the other side of the pasture was a grove of trees at the base of a tall cliff. There was indeed what might have been a cave cut into the cliffside, but it was difficult to tell past the bulk of the dragon that was napping in the clearing. Its enormous horned head was curled against its belly, and one of its mottled yellow wings was twitching as it slept.

"Well," said Varric, "we're in the spot."

"What a masterpiece," breathed the Bull.

"Oh, she is magnificent," Hawke agreed. She'd never seen a larger high dragon before, and certainly not one with horns as impressive as this beauty of a Frostback had. Although—now that she looked more closely, she detected a certain droop to the dragon's skin. The striation along its tail was darker than Hawke would have expected, too. They had apparently discovered a dragon of considerable age.

"Dibs," she said.

"Say what?" said the Iron Bull. "You can't have the dragon to yourself—"

"I get first crack, though," she said. "Come on, Bull. Give me a chance at it, and then you can join in yourself after a count of, oh, let's say two hundred—"

"Ten," countered the Bull.

"Fifty," said Hawke.

"Thirty," said the Bull.

"Deal," Hawke said. She readied her staff. Cassandra, Varric, and the Chargers arrayed themselves amongst the trees, ready to intervene if necessary. The dragon snuffled and curled a little more tightly in on itself.

Hawke charged.

"Is this wise?" she heard Cassandra ask.

"Shit, Seeker, Hawke can take on a dragon by herself any day of the week. Don't believe me?" Varric said. "Just watch. Five silvers says I'm right."

"I'll take that bet," Krem said, and then Hawke was upon the dragon.

She was only an arm's length from it when it woke up, and it immediately recoiled in shock. "Incoming!" Hawke shouted. The dragon reared up and breathed a gout of fire over Hawke's head. Hawke breathed fire right back. Oh, this was already shaping up to be a battle for the storybooks.

But then someone shouted, "Stop!" and the farmer from before inserted herself between the dragon and Hawke. "What the hell are you doing!"

"I'm fighting this dragon," said Hawke. "Sorry, was that not clear?"

"Why the hell are you attacking her?" said the farmer. "Andraste's bosom—it's not like she's done anything to you."

"Wait," Varric called from across the clearing (unlike Cassandra and the Bull, he had not approached the dragon, who was now crouched behind the farmer). "Are you telling us you don't want this dragon dead?"

"Of course I don't want her dead!" said the farmer, who sort of looked like a darker-skinned Aveline, although it might have been the stern expression on her face that brought the comparison to Hawke's mind. "After I went to all that trouble of clearing out the cave for her to sleep in—"

"You have a pet dragon," Hawke realized. Oh, this really was incredible. Maybe the farmer had baby dragons to give away? Did dragons get along with mabari?

"She's not a pet," said the farmer. "She's old, and she needed a place to stay. Does me a favor, really—she eats all the bears and wolves that go after my druffalo, and I keep morons like you off her back. You Inquisition soldiers are always going after dragons without considering the impact on the local ecosystem."

"You're telling me," called Varric, who had neither come closer nor lowered his crossbow, "that this is a bear-eating dragon?"

"Right!" the farmer called back.

There was a pause, and then Varric said, "That's it. I'm out of here." With that, he returned Bianca to the harness on his back and vanished into the treeline. Cassandra jerked her head like she was trying to clear it, returned her sword to its sheath, and followed. The Iron Bull, meanwhile, had his head tipped back and his mouth open while he contemplated the Frostback, who had now lowered herself to the ground so she could scratch one of her horns against a rock.

"Too weird for me, chief," said Krem, and then he and the rest of the Chargers retreated, too.

Hawke turned back to the farmer, enthusiasm in no way dampened, and asked, "Can I pet your dragon?"

-

Some time later, after they'd returned to Skyhold and the tale of the retired dragon had been related to everyone who could cram into the Herald's Rest, Hawke opened the door to Varric's quarters and found her erstwhile narrator already there, scratching away at a piece of paper. She crossed the room and settled herself on the arm of his chair, and after a few more lines he set down his quill and looked up at her.

"How's the story going?" Hawke asked.

"You know," said Varric, "I think this is one for the ages."