Chapter: Two Brothers
Being in the Wardens made Carver wistful about the times he spent hanging around with his brother, even if it was it in his shadows for the majority of his life. The constant vigilance at the Keep in Ansburg, accompanied by the myriad of companions often poking fun at him initially before the final acceptance of his Joining, wore him out so much that it often left him blissfully passed out on his small cot. Until his immediate Commander, Nathaniel Howe, gave him a much bigger bed to accommodate his larger form. As time passed, however, he found himself often sharing a bed with his Commander. The Wardens were indiscriminate in their bed partners. Some had an accord for just using each other for sex while others formed a much deeper bond, one of love and sentiment and all that rubbish.
His own cousin, Calvin Amell, had such a bond with a blonde warrior, the rumored Prince of Ferelden. Alistair was the name. Often times, in between the blood and the misery of Warden life, he would catch glimpses of tender moments shared between the two. The way they gazed at each other after each battle and around mealtimes as well.
When the pair had to leave for a secret mission, one which only Nathaniel knew about, Calvin had caught sight of him and took him aside for a good talk.
"I hear that my doppelganger is wrecking havoc in Kirkwall, along with Anders."
The Warden-Commander acted so like his brother that Carver had to take a few moments to convince himself that this dark-haired mage wasn't his brother. The only thing that helped him differentiate between the two tongue-in-cheek mages was the hair colour. No one could miss his brother's shock of fiery hair. Other than that, the two mages shared the same nose, the same eyes and cheekbones. The emerald eyes sparkled with laughter and Carver couldn't see any of the terrible pain that may have been lurking behind the mirth. So like his brother.
"I also heard that you and Nate have become quite close. Good for the both of you."
"For him maybe. Bossing me around and such."
Maker, he had never learned how to watch what he says to other people. He received a disapproving scowl from Calvin and Carver gulped, knowing that complaining about the Warden-Commander's 3IC was probably not a wise move.
"Nathaniel Howe is a good man but he is also vulnerable to matters of the Heart. Do not toy with him in that way if this is one-sided."
At that time, Carver couldn't come up with a smart reply to that stern command. He merely nodded and the Warden-Commander smiled at him before handing him two small trinkets.
These are for you both. In times of great need, call and help shall come.
Carver was still befuddled by the cryptic remark and he took off his gauntlet to fish out the trinkets that was safely tucked away by his heart. They were both remarkable works of art, with intricate designs along the band. One ring bore a gem of deep sapphire while its counterpart bore a single emerald. How typical of a noble mage to choose gems that match the colour of the eyes.
It was thus easy to discern which ring was his and he placed the sapphire ring on his finger. A soft humm emanated from the ring and Carver felt a soothing sensation wash over him, as if the ring was providing him a shield of calm and protection from the harsh elements of Thedas.
"Carver? You alright?"
Ethan's question made his eyes snap open and Carver, slightly shocked at how easily his brother sneaked upon him, didn't answer for a second or two.
"Come on, brother. I know you're just that ecstatic to see me too but at least say something," Ethan jested but his eyes held genuine concern and already, his hands glowed with healing magic.
"Oooh is that what I think it is?" Ethan pointed at the sparkling sapphire gem and Carver blushed heavily while pulling his hand away from his brother's. The damage was done, however, and Ethan grinned mischeiviously before asking that dreaded question, "so, you and that man with a hooked nose together finally?"
"His name's Nate."
"Right, sure. Seeing as how you're not denying it, I'm happy for you two." Ethan's grin turned even wider and Carver groaned, knowing that his brother would constantly be asking questions about their bond or whatever it was. Just as Ethan let go of his hand and began to turn away from him, Carver remembered the ring that rightfully belonged to his brother and halted him with a hand on the shoulder.
"Here, our illustrious cousin of ours wanted you to have this," He said and he gave the ring to Ethan.
"Really? You met Calvin Amell?" Ethan's shock showed in his emerald eyes, the way they sparkled with delight and joy in the sun's rays.
"Yes, now just put on the damn ring and let's go. Your mage is looking at me funny."
Ethan's head turned and, just like what Carver said, Anders gave him a questioning glance before then being reassured by whatever Ethan was giving him.
"Good to know we're back to normal, ehh?" Ethan joked and he gave his brother a warm, tender smile before heading out to walk at the blonde mage's side.
The party was a drab, in Carver's honest opinion. He had never liked nobles and, unlike Ethan's natural talent in blending in with his peers, regardless of origins and lifestyle, Carver could never seem to find the right words to make the crowd laugh or cry. Instead, his audience would always cry or rant at him in anger before leaving his side. In fact, never did Carver miss his Warden family more than now. Surrounding by gaudy decorations and fake interest in himself as well as the blonde mage standing at his side, Carver grew bored of the festivities very quickly and began to wish that something exciting would happen. Unfortunately, he should have never known that wishes were always granted in ways not expected or desired by the wisher.
As it were, he had lost sight of both his brother and that strange elf they were helping. The absence of his brother was keenly felt when he saw them disappear with that young lord and Carver's eyes narrowed when they didn't return from the room they had entered a few seconds later. He was just about to investigate when he was suddenly accosted by another red-head.
"Carver, is it not? You are the Champion's brother."
"Uhh, yes," Carver replied and he tried to think up of ways to get past the redhead and follow in his brother's footsteps.
"I heard that you've joined the Wardens. How is it?"
"Look, lady," Carver got fed up with all the formalities and decided to be direct with the young lady.
"Leliana is the name and I know many things of you and you brother. I am sure you would be delighted to know that I know your cousin, Calvin."
"How? How do you know that?" His curiosity piqued by the red-head's intimate knowledge of their family history. His hand itched for the greatsword on his back only to remember in time that he had to set aside his weapon before being allowed into the party. Weapons were not permitted but, thanks to Ethan's magic, it was cleverly hidden from view. However, once he touched it, the weapon would show itself.
"Yes, he is a wonderful man, yes?"
"How should I know? I only heard stories about the man," Carver said, lying right through his teeth.
"Ah, mostly of him being ten feet tall and shooting lightning bolts? He is a powerful mage and a kind man."
"Err...I guess so."
Leliana laughed gently and she took his arm in hers. Carver could tell, just through the strong grip in her hand, that she was not to be underestimated in a battle of steel and will.
"Your brother will be fine, where ever he is."
Carver had no choice but to go with her and he had a feeling that she was actually helping him.
Before he knew it, the party ended and Leliana had disappeared, leaving him and Anders to their own devices. They had found themselves in one of the Duke's own guest rooms when a commotion rose up from the hall. Soldiers hurried down the long walkway and he was just about to tell the mage to gear up when the mage was already at the door, a staff in his hand. His hand glowed green and a brilliant green sigil of paralysis appeared at the doorway.
As soon as the sigil appeared, the door slammed open and one of the Duke's own guards charged in, shouting that he had found the Champion's cohorts. Before he could rush in with his greatsword, the poor guard became paralyzed and Carver, seeing as how his brother must have done something wrong here, quickly cut down the man.
More men spilled into the tiny room they were in and Carver easily dispatched them all. Once it was said and done, he donned on the rest of his armor and Anders looked very impressed. Pfftt. He wasn't here to impress his brother's lover. He was only here at his brother's behest.
"Ethan wasn't joking when he said that you can kill twenty men in one swing."
"No, he wasn't." Carver's voice was a little harsher than he intended but that's just how he was. Years of being bitter and resentful of his family's way of life couldn't be easily washed away by the new Warden life. However, he had finally found his purpose in life and it felt good.
"Let's go and see what sort of trouble my brother and that woman got into." Carver said and he lead the way, with Anders close beside him.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the guards that hindered their journey. It was the winding hallways and confusing walls that got them lost until finally they overhead a guard saying something about a pair of assassins rotting in prison like they deserved.
Anders had that worried look on his face and Carver wondered if that's how Nate must be looking right now. Worried and fraught with the need to find him in the darkness of their missions. The Commander's face, despite the stoic reputation of the man, was very expressive when it was just the two of them. Those hardened eyes would soften in their throes of passion and hands often gripped his shoulders in sheer desperation for release whenever he would take the man into his mouth. Other times, there would be a wolfish grin as the rogue would have something kinky up his sleeve. When Anders brought up his fantasy of his, being chained and rescued later on, Carver couldn't help but feel aroused at the memory of himself being chained and deliciously teased to climax.
But those feelings of passion and lust had no place in his thoughts right now as his brother was in danger and Carver strove to rescue him.
The rescue was not needed when they stumbled upon the other two laughing and talking, as if being imprisoned by a crazy Duke was just a daily thing in their life.
It was Anders who first expressed his concern for Ethan's health and his brother, instead of brushing aside his worries with the usual joke about his invincibility, cupped Anders' cheek for a brief second before pulling his hand away. Apparently, much has changed in the three years of his departure. Carver truly thought that no one could tame the wild and often reckless brother of his.
Tallis, for her part, blushed slightly before walking out ahead of them, apparently scouting out the area so as to avoid them walking into an ambush.
"C'me on, lovebirds. We have to move before the Duke decides to execute all of us." He had to say something to move the pair forward in their journey.
Nobles were so cocky and arrogant that they often forget their mortality in the midst of their schemes. Duke Prosper was the idle nobleman of such ignoble characteristics and Carver was glad to rid the world of his kind.
The battle was hard and drawn-out far longer than it should have. His own stamina, despite it having grown due to extensive training and experience fighting darkspawn, felt used up and he was almost at the end of his endurance when the wyvern, for some strange reason, targeted his brother.
He watched in horror as the giant lizard reared its head back and then consequently spit out its green saliva at Ethan. His brother, too busy fighting off a guard, looked up in time to see the green goo splatter all over his coat. The venom is poisonous and doesn't need to be ingested to kill.
The hunter's voice nagged Carver at the back of his mind and he charged at the wyvern, trying to distract the thing from attacking Ethan. Unfortunately, it was too late and the creature had already begun its charge.
A great firestorm rained down on the charging monstrosity but it didn't lessen nor detract the wyvern from its path. Carver readied his body for a quick charge, an improved Scythe, and hoped to the Maker that Ethan would move out of the way if he couldn't make it in time.
Thank goodness that, while his brother may make inane comments, Ethan was very intelligent in matters of tactics and magic. Thus, with relief in his heart, Carver saw how quickly his brother sidestepped, ducking underneath one of Duke Prosper's medium-length daggers.
The wyvern missed its target but couldn't veer away from its path. With a horrifying screech, the large reptilian creature fell over the cliff's edge, with its rider hanging on to the edge for dear life.
"Empress Celene will have your head for this! She'll come for you! I swear it!" The Duke hissed angrily, still refusing to acknowledge his defeat. Carver and Anders stared at each other, unsure of what to do with a man who just tried to kill them.
"I have a feeling that even she condones such distasteful attempt in killing the Champion of Kirkwall." Ethan said in his usual sarcastic way, but Carver saw how dangerous his brother looked behind the mask of levity and sarcasm. Maybe Anders was the gentler one of the two. As if reading his mind, Anders glanced briefly at him before following after his younger brother.
The Duke was still hanging on by his fingers and Carver had a hunch that the Duke, were he to pull himself over the ledge, would attempt to finish them off. Thus, Carver pulled out his sword, a gift from his lover, to cut off the Duke's head.
He watched, with impassive eyes, as the Duke's headless body fell hard unto the rocks that lined the steep cliff. Good riddance.
Thank the creators that's over with!
Ethan truly detested nobility and all the baggage that came with it. He now understood why his mother left Kirkwall in the first place, with his father leading her away from the gray drab of noble life. Sure, his mother would have been more well off with her family but at the cost of her happiness. In all honesty, despite their rise in status in the coastal city, his mother looked more happy in Lothering than in his new estate.
His heart clenched at the thought of his mother and father finally being together at last. He can almost hear his mother chide on him for his silliness while his father would root him on, to the good of all mages.
The orange-haired eldest son of the Hawkes had never wanted to be mired in the troubles of others but his heart wouldn't have it. Thus, he dedicated all of his life helping others, with and without his magic, a blessing in his personal opinions.
He despised the idea that magic was a curse, a belief too commonly embraced by the populace of Thedas. The only ones who could possibly outdo the Chantry in their treatment of mages were the Qunari and Ethan shuddered at the image of his Anders being chained and bound like that.
He had apparently stumbled over something and someone had caught his elbow in a steady grip. Startled at the physical contact, he quickly glanced up to see who it was and what he saw took his breath away.
No, his father was dead. He saw his father slain by the templar sword himself and in his grief, he had rained down a terrifying storm unto their heads. Whatever had happened afterwards, he couldn't remember. Only the pale, gasping visage of that proud face. Never think your magic is a curse, my son...it is a blessing...
"...shit...I think he's hallucinating..." his father said to him and Ethan emitted a pained moan as he was laid to rest on the soft, grassy knoll. Where were they? By the village? Surely father knew better than to leave behind the safety of their home.
"Father...where..." His body felt heavy and the world around him spun in sickening circles. He closed his eyes and that made the spinning sensation even worse. He opened his eyes and this time, it was Carver looking down at him with a worried frown etched on that face. Despite what Carver thinks of their father, he was the one who looked more like him than Ethan himself. However, the resemblance stopped there.
"...antidote...damn it...he's fading fast..." Carver shouted angrily but it sounded as if it was coming from a long distance. "...stay awake...Ethan!"
Where was Anders? Had he fallen? He needed to find his love. Ethan fought to stay awake and he struggled to get up, only to find himself caught in a tight grip. Carver was holding him down, but why?
But the mage did not come to him and Ethan feared the worst. Was Anders gone? Had this merry trip been a dream after all and he would wake up to find himself alone in the Amell estate?
Rest, son. It is all you can do.
That voice! Ethan feebly turned his head round to look for the owner of that familiar voice.
It's alright...we will guard your dreams, our son.
A wave of calm overcame him and, against his will, Ethan's world darkened.
"What is the first rule of magic, Ethan?"
"To protect those who can't protect themselves."
"Good. What is the second rule?"
"See the first rule?" It was a half-assed answer. Instead of a reprimand from his father though, he received a soft chuckle and a shake of the head.
"Yes, son. There is no second rule."
The tall, prominent figure stood well above him but Ethan loved his father, more than he loved himself in fact. Fear held no place in his heart and Ethan giggled as Malcolm lifted him in the air before being brought tight to his chest.
"Remember, son. No matter how hard times are, we are always with you."
Ethan gasped and his eyes snapped open. He found himself laying not on the hard ground but on his large and comfortable bed. Blankets were gathered around his lower torso and legs, rumpled and sweaty.
Was it all a dream? How long had he lain here?
A quiet whimper caught his attention and he glanced over to the side of his bed, his body too heavy to move just yet to confirm that his faithful Mabari was indeed sitting on the floor, at his bedside. Kain looked up at him and tilted his head in question.
The sound of a door opening drew his eyes away from his Mabari to the person walking into his room and Ethan felt so relieved to see Anders strolling in, a small trap held between his hands. The taller mage gifted him such a beloved smile that it made his heart lift at the sight.
"Love, you're awake," Anders said in a tender voice. The healer set the tray down on a small bedside table and he sat down on the small space on Ethan's bed. A slender hand cupped his cheek and Ethan couldn't help but let out a hapless moan when healing magic seeped into his cheek. By the Maker, it shouldn't be thought of as a sexual action but Ander's healing always made him feel light-headed and aroused.
"What happened? How did I get here?"
"You don't remember?" Anders gave him a puzzled frown and Ethan sat up, wincing in pain as he did so.
"Not really. Just battling that ugly pet of the Duke and him falling from grace." Ethan never gave up joking, even when heavily injured. Well, that near-death incident with the Arishok was the exception. He had won, fallen unconscious immediately at Meredith's feet, and then slept for a few days.
The fiery mage would have continued joking but two things stopped his would-be rant – pain and Anders' very worried look of concern.
"Sweetheart, you very nearly died this time. When you collapsed virtually in Carver's arms and started hallucinating, I knew we had little time in giving you that antidote."
"What? I don't hallucinate. And besides, hallucinating is the final stage of that wyvern's poison...ohh,"
The realization of just how close he was to passing into the Fade, permanently so, dawned on Ethan. No wonder Anders was so worried about him.
Anders rubbed his cheek, healing magic still absorbing into his skin. Already he left better. He now saw one Anders instead of three, although the thought of a threesome with another Anders certainly wouldn't be entirely disagreeable with Ethan.
"Tallis remembered where she could find the herbs in time for me to concoct something for you," Anders continued and he started spoon-feeding his convalescing lover.
"What happened to her? Is she still with us?"
The blonde mage let out a snort of disapproval at that and Ethan remembered his wild flirtations with the elfin Tal-vashoth member. No wonder Anders looked so happy to see her gone now.
"You know me, darling," Ethan said in a serious tone. "I may be the flirtatious lover but you are the one who will forever hold my heart and my soul."
It was quite a profound statement coming from the roguish mage and Anders kissed him hard before suddenly pulling back and then apologizing for hurting him in the process. All the healer got was a wolfish grin and Ethan pulled him closer to kiss him again, a passionate one that conveyed everything Ethan was feeling to his lover.
"Are you sure, love?" Anders murmured, his breath washing over his own lips. It smelled of mint and chamomile. Anders was always so hygienic, despite having lived in Darktown for several years ago, and Ethan felt very dirty compared to him.
"I dunno. I don't exactly smell too wonderful..." Ethan let out a nervous laugh but his eyes averted from Anders' inquisitive gaze.
"Actually, I sort of took the liberty in washing your body. It has been several days and the body heals better when it's clean and washed."
"And you didn't wake me? Such a shame!" Ethan cried out indignantly before gasping in pleasure as Anders' hand cupped him through the satin pants. He moaned when a single finger trailed along the underside of his burgeoning erection.
"Yes...a shame..." Anders whispered in his ear before sharply nipping that enticing earlobe and receiving another low moan. By the Maker, the man in his arms was just too good for him to keep but he will keep him close, for as long as he lives. He's a good man and no one will take him from us, neither demon or man. Justice became quiet then, as if content in letting Anders be in control again.
He will have to take this slow, seeing as how Ethan tried valiantly to hide his winces every time he moved. Yes, slow, tender lovemaking and Anders started it by gently kissing along the side of his lover's jaw, all the way down to the belly button. He stopped short of reaching the hard member, despite it having grown turgid and standing proud next to his cheek. Hands threaded through his hair quite urgently, as if Ethan was begging him to taking him in. No, he much rather hear him say 'please' or 'more.' It was much more enticing that way.
Thus, he completely ignored the straining flesh and nibbled on the inside of a silky thigh. A heartfelt groan was heard and Anders looked up, only to find misty eyes gazing back at them. Love shone from those dazed orbs and it weakened his resolve to make his lover wait for it. Anders sucked on the glans, relishing in the tiny whimper he got for his action. The whimper became a breathless gasp of his name as Anders happily swallowed him in, his tongue delicately serving as a soft pillow for his member to rest on. Fingers clawed on his shoulders, grasping desperately at the feather paldrons. The light, gray dappled feathers loosened and fell from his coat, until they winded up on the bed, on his lover's thighs. Ethan's breath hitched when a single feather rested on his flushed organ and Anders smirked slyly at his lover's response. He stored away the view and the idea for a later time. Right now, all the rebel mage wanted was to please his lover, to drive him to the heights of ecstasy and then sew him back together in the aftermath.
Ethan groaned at the sudden loss of warmth between his legs and he reached for Anders when the blonde kissed him, passionately. Where did this come from? This passion, this fervent lust that took his lover by the storm.
He was about to ask Anders if he was alright when the mage undressed before him. Pale hands undid the fittings and buckles of his coat and breeches until Anders bared himself to his eyes.
Despite having lived together for six years, the vision of Anders' slender body in its all naked glory still left him breathless and in awe. Anders' body, honed by years of fighting and being on the run, was slender and lean, with broad shoulders and strong chest that all tapered down to a slim waist. Light red hairs trailed down from his chest to the rigid organ that stood proud and tall between his legs. The younger mage espied a layer of liquid covering the tip and his mouth watered at the alluring sight.
His heart leapt into his throat, rendering him speechless, when Anders took himself in his hand and stroked it. Damn tease!
Anders smirked at him and, just when Ethan was about to reach for his own neglected erection, the older mage reached out and gently held it against the silken sheets, near his head.
"I love you, Ethan," Anders whispered so softly, so tenderly in his ear, "and my world will darken should you leave me."
"Anders-" another kiss interrupted him and Ethan submitted to Ander's will as he let out a heartfelt moan.
As both men lost themselves in each other, neither noticed the emerald ring glowing ephemerally for a few seconds before softly reverting back to normal.
It took a while but eventually the lone Grey Warden made his way back to Ansburg Keep. The memories of the happy times, albeit brief, with his brother and friends, lessened the weight of his duties that awaited him.
As he walked to the entrance and being given a cursory nod of permission to enter, Carver couldn't help but smile at how, despite all the hardships he and his brother endured, it would be all right in the end. As long as they each had that someone to guide them and to pull them away from the wrong path, the Hawke brothers would be just fine.
"The Warden-Commander would like to see you, Carver," a high-pitched voice spoke out to him and the young man looked up, only to see a young man clad in the heaviest plate armor. It saddened at how young the speaker was. The slight red blush of youth upon the man's cheeks as well as the innocence that somehow lingered behind those bright blue eyes told Carver that this person couldn't be older than twenty or so.
"Thank you, Bran," was all Carver said and he gave the lad a small smile of approval before heading off into the direction of the main office.
It was closed and he just had half a thought to burst in when he heard another voice, softer and very familiar, speaking to the Warden-Commander.
"...the mission went well?"
"Yes, but we've to be away for some time," another man murmured in low tones, as if not wanting to be overheard.
"Both of you? How in the Black City am I supposed to take charge? You've been Warden-Commander a lot longer than I!"
The other man's voice was husky and even now stirred something deep within Carver's loins.
"You'll be fine, Nate; you're not like your father and it's why I put you in charge in Amaranthine first before here."
"Amaranthine was normal. This place just feels wrong."
"Alistair and I need to find someone before it's too late and that someone is no longer here in the Free Marches. They both move very quickly, for centuries' old men."
"You don't mean..."
A pause and Carver found himself leaning against the door, wanting to hear more of this mystery. Unfortunately, the door wasn't locked in place and it gave way to Carver's significant weight of muscles and heavy armor.
He fell forward, unto his knees, and quickly stood up, abashed and ashamed of himself for rudely interrupting a covert meeting between the two highest ranking officers of all of the Wardens in the eastern part of Thedas.
Calvin, for his part, did not look happy at all for the interruption. However, the disapproving scowl was immediately replaced by an intrigued expression and then a wide smile. The sudden changes in the mage's mannerisms confounded Carver and he wondered how Nathan could deal with this guy every day.
"Ah yes," Calvin said and he offered Carver a hand up. The mage did not wince or even used two hands to lift Carver off the ground. "I take it Orlais was as grand as the stories tell it?"
The jest was clear in the mage's voice and Carver couldn't help but scoff in reply, a second-nature response to the joking mannerisms of his brother.
"Well, perhaps I should leave you two alone, hmm? Especially considering how lonely Nathan's been," the mage snickered and he disappeared into thin air, just in time to allow a knife fly through him and into the door behind Carver.
"I swear," Nathan groused, fingers rubbing the side of his temple, "he shows up only to make jokes at my expense."
"Only because he knows how well you take it," Carver snorted and then the warrior blushed at what he just said.
The remark caused the rogue to snap his head up and regard him coolly.
"And just how well do you think I can take it, Carver?" Nathan crowded him until his back hit the door, the combined weight of the two men forcing it closed. The door clicked and Carver was about to ask if the door was locked this time when Nathan leaned down and pressed his lips against his.
A few moments were spent just sharing each other's breaths and Carver found himself virtually breathless when Nathan pulled away, a wolfish gin etching that proud Howe face.
"I think the question for you," Nathan continued saying as he skillfully unbuckled Carver's armor until the pieces fell to the ground with an audible thud, "is how well will you be able to walk after I'm done with you?"
Three candlelights later, both men lay strewn across each other on the large bed, one of the many privileges of being the Warden- Commander and his lover. Carver placed his head on the warm chest and he let out a pleased 'hmm' sound at the fingers threading through his sweaty locks.
"I don't think I can move," Carver groused and laughter rumbled deep within that broad chest before a hand lifted his chin up.
"That was the whole point, wasn't it?" Nathan whispered and he gifted Carver a small smile. The sight of it warmed Carver's heart and, despite his exhaustion, all the warrior wanted to do was to make love to this man who had stolen his heart. In peace, Vigilance, Carver thought as he closed his eyes and kissed his lover. And Love.
A/N: Just a little chappie to pass the time while I try to finish up WOH and TLA. Comment if you like (or don't) and the next few chappies will be to finally answer the few requests I've received earlier.