“How’s this?” Garrett walks down the narrow corridor on the second floor of the Hanged Man for what feels like the hundredth time that evening. Some time ago, after maybe a little more alcohol than wise, it had seemed like a good idea to ask Marian to teach him her hip sway. Garrett isn’t sure why anymore. It’s by now obvious that he clearly lacks something.
“You’re still only moving your hips,” Isabela hollers. She had followed them upstairs and watched for a while. But now she is mostly engaged in distracting Marian. Rather successfully, Garrett thinks, noticing how his sister’s clothes have gotten more disheveled, how his sister’s arm is low around Isabela’s waist, how Isabela is basically hanging from her neck.
“I thought I was supposed to sway my hips to sway my hips,” Garrett protests on his way back.
“Nonono,” Marian laughs, either because of him or because of the way Isabela is pressing her lips against her neck. “You have to sway with your whole body. Shoulders. Legs. Everything.”
Garrett stops in front of them and crosses his arms. “This isn’t working.”
“Aw, no, c’mon,” Isabela giggles, reaching out with the hand not currently somewhere behind Marian to pet his beard. “You’re almost there.”
“One more try, brother dearest.” Marian’s pleading really needs some work. For one, she should lose the wide grin. “Don’t force it so hard.”
“Don’t force it,” Garrett grumbles to himself as he turns and walks back down the corridor. He’s too concentrated to not fall over his own feet again to notice the steps coming up.
When he turns, Varric is standing next to Marian and Isabela, looking at him as if he were… there had something, some metaphor left to describe something Varric wouldn’t think possible still. He should probably ask him later.
“Maker’s breath, Hawke,” Varric says and it’s not clear whom of the siblings he means.
“He’s amazing, isn’t he,” Marian giggles, her face buried into Isabela’s hair. Garrett guesses that he’ll only have to endure this a couple of minutes more until they decide that Isabela’s room is much more fun than him.
“Just now you said I was doing it wrong,” Garrett complains when he’s back with them. Just because of Varric’s still incredulous expression, he’d walked to them still swaying his hips.
Varric shakes his head to clear it. “This explains a lot.”
Garrett raises an eyebrow. “Which lot?”
“You know. A lot.” Varric waves his hand.
Isabela and Marian are snickering at each other. Apparently, they got his joke.
Garrett scowls. “Not really.”
Marian detaches herself from Isabela just enough for her to peer down into the taproom. There’s a glint of mischief in her eyes when she looks back at her brother. “Tell you what,” she says, smirking. “You go down there, get us four a pint each and we’ll call it a night.”
Isabela, who’s also very unsubtly snuck a look at the taproom, smirks. “Ooooh, good idea.”
Garrett’s sure it isn’t.
He nods anyway.
“Don’t forget to show off your new skill,” Isabela calls after him.
Varric rubs his eyes when he’s finally managed to look away. “I sense a good explanation for this.” It isn’t a question. He knows Marian well enough. He also knows Isabela. There’s more than just a laugh at Garrett’s expense behind this. “Well?”
“I’m a good sister and a bad niece,” Marian says solemnly. Or as solemnly as one can who just put her hand under Isabela’s skirt. It’s almost on eye level for Varric. They could at least try.
Understanding dawns for Varric. “Oh,” he says. He scratches his chest while he thinks about what to say next. “You know, I had all of this already planned out so nicely. So romantic.” He sighs. “Why, Hawke, why must you make reality so hard to believe all the time?”
“Being won in a bar brawl isn’t romantic then?” Marian sighs. “Varric, literature has lied to me all my life.”
They watch from the top of the stairs as Garrett leans against the bar to order their pints, an almost perfect imitation of his sister when she’s trying to flirt her way out of paying for something more than she wants to.
Again, Varric shakes his head. “One day, Hawke, one day, either of you will cause this whole place to burn to the ground.”
“You’ve been saying that for years now and look how singed these walls are.” Marian trails her hand down the wall behind her and then looks at her hand. “I think that’s old blood, not sooth.”
Garrett’s on his way back now, swaying a little less, probably because he’s too afraid to spill their drinks. It’s still impressive and Marian says so. “It took me weeks of practice. Are we sure this was our idea alone?”
Isabela squints at him for a moment. “Good question. Maybe he’s just a natural. Maybe it’s some dainty mage thing.”
“Dainty mage?” Marian laughs and even Varric can’t hide his snort. “My brother? Garrett?”
She’s still laughing when said brother reaches the top of the stairs. “What?” He scowls.
Marian is leaning against Isabela to not fall over, yet somehow manages to wave a hand dismissively. “Nothing. Just something Isabela said.”
“Really now,” Garrett sighs. “Am I really still that terrible? When I walked past Anders inhaled half of whatever it was he’s drinking and Fenris looked at me like he was about to throw something. Even Merrill laughed! ...why aren’t they upstairs with us, by the way?”
“Oh.” Marian and Isabela exchange a look that Garrett usually files under disturbing and does his best not to ask about. “Because…” Marian starts and Isabela goes on, “We asked Merrill to come.” “And now that we know she’s here…” Marian continues, her smirk widening so much Garrett really, really doesn’t want to know what his sister has going on with anyone anymore.
“Can you go back and tell her to come up to my room?” Isabela finishes, her voice a purr.
Varric takes a tankard out of one of Garrett’s unresisting hands. “I think this is my cue to leave,” he murmurs, stealing off toward his own room.
“I can’t go back down there,” Garrett protests. He hands out the other two tankards and takes a big gulp from the one remaining in his hand. “Do people always stare at you like this?”
Marian grins broadly. “Only most of the time.”
“Why?” Garrett groans.
Again, Marian and Isabela exchange a look. “Because it distracts people?” they offer. “A distracted man is a purseless man.”
“Rogues,” Garrett murmurs.
“Listen, Garrett, sweet thing,” Isabela purrs, sliding up to him so she can press her body against his arm. “My bed is a bit big for two. And if you don’t go down there and bring Merrill up, we’ll just have to take you instead.”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Marian snorts.
“Why, yes,” Isabela smirks. “Wouldn’t be my first time with twins, of course, but the first time with one of each sex.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Garrett ensures her as he takes his strategic retreat back down the stairs. It’s not that Isabela isn’t fun. It’s just the combination of her and his sister that’s making him uncomfortable. Probably by their design.
Time to throw Merrill to the wolves, he thinks as he walks up to her. He’s back to his normal stride, too embarrassed to try to imitate his sister ever again. Or at least not until he’s really, really drunk. “Uhm,” he says, unsure how to tell Merrill of all people that Isabela wants her for a threesome. Probably. “Isabela and Marian…” he starts, but is interrupted by a delighted squeal.
“Oh they’re already upstairs and waiting, aren’t they?” Merrill asks, pushing her tankard back and jumping to her feet. “They said they wanted to show me something new and interesting tonight, you know?” And with that, she skips away.
Not for the first time, Garrett has to wonder how much the two women have taught Merrill already and if the innocent act is by now nothing more than that. An act. Thanks to them he knows more about lesbian sex than he’d ever wanted to and he’d even asked them to stop. There was no realistic chance Merrill could be that slow on the uptake.
He notices that he’s still being stared at. Fenris’ mouth is a thin line, his brows furrowed. He’s rolling the tankard in his hand as if he’s not yet figured out whether to drink himself into a stupor or just throw the thing at the nearest target. He looks at Garrett as if he’d make a very suitable target. But instead, he just sighs. “Tell me: Why do you always have to make such a spectacle of yourself?”
“It was my sister’s idea,” Garrett sighs, sinking into a seat at the table. “Or Isabela’s. I don’t exactly remember it anymore.”
“Ah,” is all Fenris has to say to that. “For a moment I’d thought I’d walked into the Blooming Rose by accident.”
Garrett hides his face in his hands. “That bad, huh? Why is it that those things always stop seeming like good ideas the moment I’m more than ten steps away from my sister.”
“It wasn’t that bad,” Anders assures him, mostly talking to his mug. Garrett has already noticed that he won’t look at him. “But next time, you could just scream that you’re needy and available. That’d be quicker and easier.”
“I’m not…!” Garrett stops. “Is that how my sister looks when she walks like that?”
Anders looks up, not at him but at Fenris and they exchange a look.
“No,” Fenris drawls. “No, when she does it there’s a… certain hint there. Of dagger.”
“Dagger?” Garrett echoes.
“The promise of finding a dagger in your smalls if you touch instead of just look,” Anders elaborates.
Fenris nods in agreement. “You, on the other hand, were…”
“Begging to be touched?” Garrett guesses. Well, if they don’t want to even imagine that, that’d at least explain their moods.
Another exchange of looks. “Yes.”
“Great,” Garrett says dryly.
“So that wasn’t your intention?” Anders asks. “Good to know.”
“Not really, no.”
“What was the intention, then?” Fenris’ voice is close to a growl. He’s leaning into Garrett’s space now. Anders looks up at them for a brief moment, then away.
Garrett’s heart is torn between beating faster because of the way Fenris has put a hand on his thigh, or if it should give a pang because Anders clearly wasn’t having any of this. He takes a deep breath. Sleazy honesty works for Marian most of the time, why not for him, once, too. “Eh, same message, but not for the whole taproom and only directed at the ones present?” Damn, Marian would have been able to purr the sentence, not stammer it out somehow.
For a moment, both men stare at him. Then, Anders starts to shake. “Oh, so polyamory runs in the family with you, then?” he laughs.
“What?” Garrett asks, just as Fenris says, “I can share if you can, mage.”
“Oh, I can, most definitely,” Anders smirks. “Warden stamina and all that.”
“What?” Garrett repeats, even though it’s starting to dawn on him.
“Did it really never occur to you,” Fenris sighs. “That your sister might have the right idea about not choosing? Because it has to us. Briefly.”
“We wouldn’t mind,” Anders assures Garrett, glancing at Fenris for a moment who just rolls his eyes. “Well, we’d be civil about it. For a start.”
“I didn’t hit my head when I feel earlier, did I?” Garrett’s throat feels dry. He’s fairly certain this is happening. “This isn’t a desire demon playing games with me?”
“No,” Fenris says curtly.
“We take this as a yes, then?” Anders puts a hand on Garrett’s other thigh and leans in, much the same as Fenris has.
Throat too dry to say anything all of a sudden, Garrett just nods.