The front door to the estate opened and Spider burst inside, excited and barking. Andrew Hawke laughed and shook his head as the Mabari dashed off to find Sandal.
“Morning, Bodahn,” he greeted the dwarf as he set his keys in the bowl by the door.
“Good morning indeed, Serah,” Bodahn smiled warmly. “You're out and about bright and early!”
“Aveline wanted Spider to drill with some new recruits at dawn, and then we ran into Merrill and Sebastian and had all had a nice walk by the docks.” Hawke smiled. “Are Mother and Anders up yet?”
Bodahn nodded. “Oh yes, Messere. Lady Leandra went to the Chantry for a morning service and planned on having lunch with her brother. And Anders, I believe Orana brought him coffee and breakfast in the library just a short time ago. He’s looking into some of the chantry law books, I believe. Something about section 14 of that manifesto of his, I think he said.”
Hawke smiled fondly. “He’s been stuck on that part for a couple days now. I’ll head right on in and see if I can help any. Could you have Orana bring me a tray?”
“Right away,” Bodahn nodded. “The post arrived just before you did, by the way. I left the letters on your desk.”
Hawke glanced at the pile and sighed. “Did anything look important?”
“The one on top of the pile has the Grey Warden seal on it, but I didn't notice anything else. Sandal was having a bit of an experiment, I’m afraid, and I got distracted.”
Hawke bit his lip. Wardens could mean any number of things: his cousin James was the hero of Ferelden and Anders’ former Commander, Carver hadn't sent a letter in a while, and then there was the whole...thing with that prison…
“I better see to that then. And if he’s in Manifesto mode, Anders isn't leaving for the clinic for another hour or so.” Andrew ran a hand through his dark curls and headed to the desk.
The Warden letter was from his brother and addressed to Mother, so he set that aside and leafed through the rest of the stack. An invitation to a party at the Delauncets’, a promissory note from Hubert’s accountant regarding the mines profit, another letter from that scam artist claiming to be a lost Starkhaven Prince who needed help regaining his throne but couldn't afford the fee and would reward Hawke with his weight in gold if only he'd cover the administrative fees--he balled that one up and threw it right into the fire; Sebastian had been devastated when he saw the last one trying to profit off his family's death, a note from Lady Elegant about a shipment of potions he’d ordered, something from that shop in Darktown, a letter from Jean Luc reminding him and Anders to have the focusing crystals on their...ahem “decorative walking sticks” looked at for flaws, and...what in the world?
Hawke stared at the last envelope for a long moment trying to make sense of it. It had a seal from the Viscount’s office and Senechal Bran’s unmistakable writing across the front. He got plenty enough of those letters to recognize it as official. It was the addressee that puzzled him.
Eventually, he held up the letter like it was going to bite him and stalked into the library. “Anders, Sweetheart?”
“Oh, welcome back, Love! I trust Aveline didn't wear you or the dog down too much?” Anders greeted him cheerfully without looking up from his book. “Have you ever read this one? It’s incredibly fascinating! According to Sister Merryweather, a Chantry scholar from the Storm Age, there is an old Chantry law that guarantees--what’s this?” Anders blinked at the envelope Hawke deposited right over his book and mess of papers.
“I was hoping you could tell me,” Hawke raised an eyebrow. “Seeing as it’s addressed to “Her Ladyship C. M. Kasselmann-Hawke”. And I don't actually think I know who that is.”
“Oh, oh! Ohhhh…” Anders offered a sheepish grin. “It's a bit of a funny story, actually. But, ah, you are acquainted with Her Ladyship.” He looked down at his lap where his cat, a long and soft cinnamon spotted tabby with large ears and a fine ribbon collar with a bell lay curled up and purring loudly.
“So Lady C. M. Kasselmann-Hawke is really…”
“Lady Cuddle Mittens, yes.” Anders said fondly. “I hyphenated our surnames so she’d feel properly loved and part of the family, despite her new social standing.”
“Of course,” Hawke reached down and gave the cat a gentle ear scratch. “That doesn't explain why Bran is sending her letters, or addressing them the same way he addresses Mother, Sweetheart.” He pressed a kiss to Anders’ cheek.
“Ah, that’s the story part,” Anders chuckled. “The short version is that technically she has the same rank as you and your mother.”
“Anders, Sweetheart, I love her and I know you love her very much, but just because you put “Lady” in her name, doesn't make her actual nobility to anyone but us,” Hawke said gently.
“It upset her, and to say nothing of Justice who felt it was unjust to lie to her about how important she is, that her name wasn't a real and proper title.” Anders said with a pout. “And I had a very good night at cards that night you had that awkward date with Aveline's boyfriend. So...Varric made some arrangements and used my winnings to buy her some land.”
Hawke narrowed his eyes. “How much did you win that night?”
Anders laughed. “It wasn't really all that much. I think Lirene pitched in too. It was enough to buy the clinic space outright from the Coterie and a couple square feet of land in various spots around Kirkwall.” He sighed dramatically. “As yet she remains unimpressed by her domain.”
“You weren't kidding? She really has a title and land and everything?”
“She does.” Anders confirmed delightedly. “I think Varric has this whole elaborate backstory for her as your cousin on your father's side. You’d have to ask him about it. But as a noblewoman who owns several properties, she has the legal right to petition the viscount. So...Lady Cuddle Mittens may have sent a missive requesting better ventilation for Dark Town so the people there have less problems with the chokedamp. Possibly. ”
“Well, it seems she's off to quite an industrious start in the nobility, especially considering she hasn't possibly been a noble more than...a month and a week or so?” Hawke smiled at his lover and the cat with lopsided affection.
“She's a kind and considerate Lady who loathes suffering and likes seeing her Papa happy,” Anders said. He did indeed sound happy. Lady Cuddle Mittens opened her eyes and trilled at Hawke, to agree with her favorite person, one could only assume.
“May I ask what the Viscount thinks the C. M stands for, Sweetheart?”
“Constance Marian,” Anders said promptly. “Marian was apparently your father's mother's name, did you know?” He tickled the cat under her chin. “Not quite as perfect a name as her real one, is it Lady Cuddle Mittens? But it serves it's purpose, yes it does.” Anders cooed at the cat and then looked up at Hawke apologetically. “I should have mentioned it sooner, I know, but I half thought Varric was pulling my leg until he showed up with the deed to the clinic. I didn't expect anything back from the Viscount, but apparently a cat gets better results than a mage. Less “losing” letters, I expect.”
“Don't take it personal, Anders. Bran hardly ever answers me either. Unless he wants something, the squirrelly little jerk.” Hawke rolled his eyes and put a comforting hand on his lover’s shoulder. “In the future though, let me know about any cousins, human or feline, I should probably know about in case anyone should ask, yeah? I know I have a reputation for being a little scatter-brained, but I ought to know my own family at least as well as Bran does.”
Anders put his hand over Hawke's. “I’ll be more careful going forward. I just got a little enthusiastic, I think. Mages don't typically own property legally. And now… well technically it's her land but you wouldn't kick the clinic out, would you, Pretty Miss?”
“She knows who gives her fish and cream,” Hawke said, amused. “And who pulls string and toys for her.” Lady Cuddle Mittens yawned and blinked lazily at Hawke. “See?”
“Seems she also knows who buys her fish and cream and string too,” Anders smiled softly.
“It’s the least I can do for my Ladyship cousin,” Hawke grinned. After a moment, he started tracing little circles on Anders’s neck. “So, are you technically her vassel now? Do I need to ask Lady Kasselmann-Hawke permission to kiss you?”
Anders laughed. “She's my landlady, not my mother, Andrew, my Love. You have my express permission to kiss me pretty much whenever you want.”
“Good,” Hawke nodded and leaned in, careful not to disturb the cat, and proceeded to give Anders a long, tender kiss. Minutes or hours or ages later, he pulled away so they could both catch their breath.
Anders’s eyes fluttered open and Hawke's heart fluttered in time with them. Anders was beautiful all the time, if you asked Hawke, what with his lovely, honey-golden eyes and the freckles dusting his sexy nose, but when he was content and relaxed and had kiss swollen lips...he was literally breathtaking.
“I love you,” he whispered huskily. “Maker, Anders, I love you.”
“I love you too,” Anders breathed back as he raised his hand to cup Hawke's cheek.
Between them, Lady Cuddle Mittens mewed loudly and both men burst out laughing. Hawke leaned down and pressed a quick kiss between the cats ears. “And of course we both love you too, very much, your Ladyship.”