Power in Stories

“There's power in stories, though. That's all history is: the best tales. The ones that last. Might as well be mine.” – Varric Tethras

Sordid Fragments, Chapter 5 – Varric

Out of all the things he’d seen in his life – and he’d seen some pretty weird shit thanks to Hawke – what had been going on for the past few weeks might be the strangest. Well, one of the strangest.

Varric leaned back in his chair, cracking his knuckles as he sat his quill aside to let his ink dry for a minute. This also, of course, allowed him to observe the pair that were tucked one of the Singing Maiden’s corners near the side door.

Curly and Swears sat there, their chairs tucked close together and a pair of bottles between them alongside two heavy looking mugs. It wasn’t an overt closeness but more the simple fact that that was the only position that they could both sit with their backs entirely to the wall. She was telling some sort of obviously interesting story, her hands ever moving in vague gestures to illustrate whatever she was talking about. And he was sitting there with an amused smile on his face, his eyes never straying from her.

Varric was tempted to call the expression smitten but he’d never pair such a thing with Kirkwall’s former Knight-Captain. Not the man who told Hawke to her face that mages weren’t people once upon a time.

Though, since getting dragged bodily out of Kirkwall, he’d started reassessing the man. Curly was honestly a good sort – he’d never turned in Hawke, after all, and he’d had to have known she was a mage that first time they met – but he’d never been a friend. Not to Varric anyway. Hawke called him an acquaintance purely on the fact that he was one of the few templars in the Gallows who would actually talk to her.

Though him and Swears? That straight-laced, toe the line unless it absolutely needs crossing templar actually being interested in the rough-and-tumble elf who’d come falling out of a rift? She seemed to be everything Curly wasn’t: rude, a little brash, unashamedly filthy minded (just from the few jokes she’d told so far), and cussed like she was getting paid coin for it.

It sounded more like something he’d come up with for a story.

And yet, there they were, tucked together like they were thick as thieves.

He’d had that conversation with Curly a little while back but he had more been reaching than actually talking about something concrete. Mostly because he had just so happened to catch the two of them sitting on those barrels in the hours after his loss at Wicked Grace. So maybe he hadn’t been talking out or his ass after all.

For once.

“…and then bam!” Swears crowed loudly as she slapped her hand on top of the table. “Trap.”

“No,” Curly said with a laugh, shaking his head, “he didn’t really walk into that.”

“Like he was taking a stroll through a fucking park!”

“That’s mad!”

That brought a bright laugh out of the elf and she shrugged before picking up her cup, saying airily, “That’s my folks.”

At that Varric perked up a little, tilting his head to hear them a little better. Her folks? She hadn’t said one word about having anyone else while he’d been around. Now that was interesting.

Did Curly know something about their foul-mouthed little Herald that no one else did?

Had Swears actually told him something about herself? Things she mostly kept from the rest of them?

Varric had never pictured the former templar being anyone’s confidant but, then again, he’d never imagined him sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with a woman like her. Or maybe not any woman at all given how Curly had blushed years ago when they’d come across him in the Rose while on the hunt for wayward recruits.

Idly tapping his fingers against his chin, he picked up his quill again and started to turn back to his writing. Just before he dipped his quill in the ink, however, he caught Swears’ voice.

“Fuck. We’ve run dry. Another?”

“Maker, I shouldn’t.”

Lifting his eyes, he found Swears leaning her elbows on the table. She had her fingers laced together with her chin resting on them, her eyelashes fluttering.

“It’s not like you didn’t already put your men away.”

Curly grimaced before he laughed, lifting a hand to rub the back of his neck. “Maker’s breath, why does it sound dirty when you say it like that?” he asked.

“Maybe I meant it to sound dirty,” replied Swears, fluttering her eyelashes again. Then she stopped being jokingly flirty and said, “Come the fuck on, Cullen. I’m heading out into the Hinterlands with Varric, Chuckles, and the Seeker in two days. Not to mention getting dragged into some shit or another before we leave but no more fun. Give me one more night?”

There was silence for a moment then Curly dropped his voice a few octaves as he murmured, “You are a terrible influence.”

“I’m a fucking amazing influence.”

That made an awkward little bray of a laugh explode out of the man and Varric smothered a chuckle with his hand as Curly  said, “Fine, fine. But only one more, dear thief.”

As Swears cheered and leapt up from the table, Varric arched his eyebrows.  Dear thief was it? That laid another level of interesting over this relationship of theirs.

He finally finished dipping his quill and went back to writing, using it as cover to watch them one last time while they weren’t watching each other.

Curly watched her walk across the tavern and if that wasn’t the look of a man who might just want something he couldn’t have, Varric would eat his…well, shit. He didn’t have a beard, so that line didn’t really work. The man quickly looked down, his eyes focused on his folded hands on top of the table as his cheek flushed brightly, when Swears turned briefly back towards him.

When he did, Varric turned his attention towards her. Her face was flushed from drink but that wasn’t what he was paying attention to. No, Swears had this look in her eyes that was shockingly similar to Curly’s. It had a hint of lust in it and something else that he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

Well then.

Maybe they were two of a kind after all.

Watching as they tucked themselves back into their corner, Curly laughing as Swears insisted she was fucking fine to pour their drinks before he plucked the bottle out of her hands, Varric smiled.

Swears seemed like a good kid for all of her rough-and-tumble nature and he hadn’t been kidding when he said she reminded him of Hawke from those first years. And Curly…Maker, if any man deserved a bit of a break from utter bullshit, it was him. How he’d put up with Meredith without going mad himself was still a question Varric was trying to figure out.

“Guess we’ll see how it’ll work out,” he muttered to himself with a smile, shaking his head as he finally turned back to his writing. He’d do what he could to keep the two of them on this maybe path they’d gotten on.

He really was a sucker for a good love story.

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