Mercutio “Tre” Trevelyan was an insufferable early-riser, so it was unusual for Dorian to wake up before him. Even following nights where Dorian had properly debauched him, Tre would wake at dawn, dress himself, and quickly kiss a half-asleep Dorian before heading downstairs to start his day as the Inquisitor.
This morning was different, though. For one, they were lying on furs on the ground in a tent, and not in Mercutio’s deliciously comfortable Orlesian-imported bed. For another (probably more significant) reason: in just a few hours they would be marching on the demon-infested Adamant fortress, possibly to their deaths. This would be the first large-scale battle for the Inquisition since Haven, and although the situation was drastically different in that this time they were prepared, it was difficult not to dwell on how many of their number were slaughtered during that first attack. And Mercutio... how many hours had Dorian spent thinking he was dead? How many hours had Dorian felt like someone had driven a javelin through his chest? And that was before his feelings had fully developed. Losing Mercutio as a friend was difficult enough, but if Dorian lost him now...
Dorian and Mercutio didn’t speak of their fears directly when they entered their tent for the night, but the weight of the coming battle was heavy between them. They didn’t usually make a habit of having sex at camp -- Inquisition resources were so tight that normally they were lucky if they got their own tent, and even when they did, they were in such close quarters with their companions that it felt borderline exibitionist. But there was no question that night that they had needed each other.
It was sex unlike Dorian had ever experienced before. There was an intensity that radiated between them, rendering their movements slow and deliberate. They clung to each other, the heat building, and Dorian had felt more horribly and desperately aware than ever before of everything he had gained, and everything he now had to lose.
It was a miracle he had slept at all.
Dorian turned on his side and appreciated this rare view of Mercutio asleep in the morning glow. It was dawn, as far as Dorian could tell from the dim light seeping through the canvas walls. They would be marching on Adamant that evening, so hopefully Cullen would let their leader rest for at least a little while longer before pulling him off to further strategize. Mercutio was asleep on his stomach (his favorite way to sleep, Dorian knew), his head pillowed on his arms, face turned toward Dorian, his full lips somewhat parted.
He was so beautiful that Dorian ached .
And he suddenly had the desire to do something he hadn’t done in a long time.
Dorian reached for his pack, careful not to disturb Mercutio awake, and ruffled around until he found what he was looking for. He settled himself at the edge of the furs, lit a small candle, and placed a book in his lap. He laid a piece of parchment on the book and let his quill hover over the surface, just a moment’s hesitation.
Then Dorian began to draw.
Dorian couldn’t remember the last thing he drew, and he hadn’t been inspired to sketch anything since that first big fight with his father -- after Dorian had learned the lengths his father was willing to go to make his son more palatable to society. Dorian had felt cut off from creativity for quite some time, but the sight of Mercutio sleeping naked on his stomach in the soft light, their blanket not quite covering the curve of his ass -- well, how could Dorian not be inspired by that sight?
Dorian felt a certain kind of peace come over him as the quill scratched away at the parchment. He had forgotten the kind of meditative state drawing could put him in. He felt some of the dread at the thought of the upcoming battle start to ebb away. In fact, Dorian lost track of time altogether, and was surprised when -- one of the times he glanced up to make sure he was getting the details just right -- he saw Mercutio was awake and watching him through half-lidded eyes, a lazy smile creeping across his face.
“What’re you doing?” Mercutio asked sleepily.
Dorian had paused for only the briefest of moments.
“Hush, I’m almost done,” said Dorian. “And close your eyes again, I’ve always been shit at getting pupils right.”
Mercutio laughed softly, but obeyed, closing his eyes once more.
“I didn’t know you could draw,” said Mercutio softly.
“You still don’t, you haven't seen this yet,” said Dorian dryly. “Now stop moving.”
Dorian refocused on finishing the details of the picture. It wasn’t bad, actually, if a little abstract. A few more touches, a little more shading -- if only he’d had some charcoal...
“Dorian,” said Mercutio.
“Hmm?” said Dorian, distracted, eyes trained on the parchment.
“I’m in love with you.”
The quill scratched across the parchment, leaving an unintended mark near Mercutio’s feet. Dorian froze, eyes wide, looking up at Mercutio -- Mercutio , who had never said those words to him before, but who said them now as if he were stating the simplest fact. Mercutio’s eyes were open once more, and he was gazing at Dorian softly with a mixture of serene joy and pained desire. It took Dorian a moment to realize that he should say something, should do something -- instead he was frozen, staring back with his mouth partially open.
Dorian’s brain couldn’t catch up to the magnitude of Mercutio’s words, but he felt their effect in his body. His stomach flipped, ached, filled with longing. Dorian wanted to set the parchment aside, grab Mercutio, and kiss him with all the passion that he was so terrible at putting into words. Dorian wanted to erase all space between them--
But before Dorian could put this plan into action, a young soldier threw open the flap of the tent, bathing them in harsh light.
Everything was still for a moment. The young soldier stared open-mouthed at the scene in front of him. His eyes traveled quickly from the Inquisitor (who had quickly snatched the blankets to cover himself), to Dorian (who was still very much naked -- and sitting cross-legged, no less, with a drawing of the ass-bare Inquisitor in his lap). Dorian went to move the drawing out of sight, then realized it was the only thing covering him. There was a moment of intense awkwardness before the soldier finally averted his eyes (though he did not close the tent flap).
“Inquis -- I’m sorry! Sorry! I’ll just -- sorry! Um -- a report for you. Sir.”
The soldier held out the rolled parchment, his face still turned away and eyes screwed shut. Mercutio clung the blanket to himself as he kneeled and delicately took the parchment from the soldier.
“Right. Um. Inquisitor,” the soldier bowed, his eyes still tightly shut, then closed the tent flap quickly. They could hear his footfalls as he ran away, and the loud crash as he tripped and ran into someone.
“Well,” said Mercutio after a brief silence, “that man certainly knows how to ruin a moment.”
Mercutio tossed the blanket aside and began searching around for his clothing.
“Mercutio,” said Dorian, setting the drawing aside.
“Don’t say anything,” said Mercutio gently. He was turned away from Dorian as he dressed. “Take time to think, if you need it. And if you don’t -- still, don’t say anything yet. Wait for another good moment.”
Dorian didn’t like the sadness in Mercutio’s tone, but he also didn’t know how to go about assuaging it. He felt shaken, rooted to the spot, entirely unsure of what to do. Dorian was full of a confusing and overwhelming mixture of emotions that, instead of flowing out of him, had decided to turn to stone in his gut, rendering him immobile.
Tre, now fully dressed, turned back to Dorian.
“It’s okay,” he said softly, a not-quite-sincere smile playing at his lips -- a smile that he had put in place for Dorian’s comfort, because even when Tre was hurting, he was still thinking about Dorian’s happiness. Dorian felt a lump in his throat as Tre cupped his face and kissed him softly before slipping out of the tent and into his role as Inquisitor.
It wasn’t okay. Dorian had let the gossamer strings of a delicate and precious moment slip through his fingers -- a moment they may never get back...
This scene plays in Dorian’s head, again and again, as he stares at the rift for an eternity.
His robes are torn, there’s a large gash across his shoulder, but he doesn’t feel the pain; he can see soldiers fighting straggling demons out of the corner of his eye, but he doesn’t care. He’s just staring at the rift.
There’s a firm pressure on his arm and he realizes it’s Cassandra holding onto him, as if readying herself to restrain him. But Dorian doesn’t move. He only stares. Fragments of memories flash in his mind’s eye:
Being awoken with a kiss after he had fallen asleep in Mercutio’s quarters, waiting for him to return for the night.
Sneaking into the depths of the woods of the Emerald Graves, pressed against a tree, gasping into the bark.
“You aren’t that much older than me, are you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Is that why you grew the mustache? How young do you look without it? Are you younger than me ?”
“Are you saying you want me to shave it?”
“DON’T YOU DARE!”
Dancing under the stars at the Winter Palace. Mercutio’s smile pressed against his neck.
Lying on their bed, naked in the moonlight.
“You should be sleeping. You don’t sleep enough.”
“Spending time with you like this is my favorite part of any day. It’s better than any dream I could be having asleep.”
A figure appears, stumbling from the rift, and Dorian feels his whole body tense as he realizes it’s Hawke. Cassandra’s grip tightens on his arm -- for his sake or for hers, he doesn’t know. With every second there is an lifetime, and Dorian feels ready to snap, to break in half, to burn away until nothing is left --
When Mercutio finally emerges, closing the rift behind him with a clasp of his fist, Dorian’s knees give out. Cassandra steadies Dorian as he leans against the ramparts, gripping his hair with both of his hands and tucking his chin into his chest. He realizes he hadn’t been breathing, and now his breath is loud in his own ears, making the rest of the world distorted. He hears Mercutio’s voice as if from very far away. Stroud dead. The Wardens joining the Inquisition.
Dorian doesn’t hear as much as feel Mercutio approach. Dorian releases his grip on his hair and takes Mercutio in his arms. Mercutio all but collapses against him, the last of his leadership bravado dissolving away, breathing with shaking gasps into the hollow of Dorian’s neck. He’s vulnerable right now, more vulnerable than Dorian has ever seen him -- and Dorian feels the fullness that comes with knowing that he is needed by someone.
“Cassandra,” Dorian says, his voice rough.
“Solas and I will debrief Cullen,” says Cassandra. “Go.”
Dorian gently shifts Mercutio so that they’re standing side by side, pulling Mercutio’s arm across his shoulders, wrapping an arm around Mercutio’s waist. They hobble together through the rubble, to where soldiers are setting up tents and a medical station. Dorian is starting to notice the searing pain in his shoulder, but he ignores it as he gingerly steers Mercutio through the flap of the nearest tent. They lay entwined, foreheads pressed together, Dorian caressing Mercutio’s arm, his back, his neck.
“I’m so tired, Dorian,” Mercutio finally says, he voice breaking. “But I -- I don’t want to go back --”
Dorian hushes him softly, pulling their bodies even closer together.
“It’s alright,” he whispers. “It will be alright. You’re safe. I’m here.”
Dorian won’t promise that Mercutio won’t have nightmares. He won’t lie to him. But Dorian will stay with him, will hold him closely, will watch over him as he sleeps, thanking the Maker for every rise and fall of his chest.
It isn’t until they’re back at Skyhold that Dorian tells Mercutio how scared he had been at the thought of losing him. Dorian tries to cover up his vulnerability with a histrionic, annoyed monologue at the lack of adequate books on Tevinter history in the library, but Mercutio sees through him (as he always does).
“Come to bed,” Mercutio whispers against the back of Dorian’s neck.
“It’s barely passed midday,” Dorian says, although his eyes have fluttered closed at the feel of Mercutio’s breath.
“I don’t care.”
Dorian intertwines their fingers and they walk together down the stairs, ignoring the onlookers as they cross the hall to Mercutio’s quarters.
It isn’t full of fire like their first time. They move slowly, even more slowly than they had in the tent before Adamant. There’s passion between them, but it’s so soft and tender that Dorian can think of only one word to properly describe it...a word that he’s felt building inside of him for weeks, too afraid to give it a name, as if the power of it would shatter him. Dorian feels consumed by the man beneath him, so enraptured, so, so…
“I love you,” he gasps into Mercutio’s ear, and Mercutio is undone. Dorian follows not long after, and they melt into each other, breathless.
“You never showed me that drawing,” Mercutio says after a time.
Dorian laughs softly and promises to show him later. For now, Dorian just wants to lie in the afternoon light with Mercutio in his arms, basking in a perfect moment.