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Last night a little dancer came dancin' to my door
Last night a little angel came pumping on the floor
He said, come on baby, I got a license for love
And if it expires, pray help from above
Because... 

 

 

Inquisitor Victor Trevelyan sinks inside the bathtub and sighs. 

It has been a very long morning for a wide variety of different reasons, but now, dunked in the wet tepidness, the only thing he can think of is yesterday night.

Yes, the echo of tedious noblemen bothering him over his breakfast still lingers in his ears — 'Lord Inquisitor, may I invite you to my Summer Mansion? You must be tired of this cold, merciless weather...', he would accept more fondly to be slaughtered by a demon, mind him — and the deep ache in his bones reminds him he has spent the last two hours before lunch training with Ser, but what really pervades his thoughts is the mage buried between ancient books up in Skyhold's first floor, mage to whom he still has to pay a visit to, and presumably won’t be able to until late evening.

He emerges from the water for a second, grabs a tiny bottle and pours a generous amount of liquid soap between his hands. It faintly smells of sandalwood — some Navarran fancy shit Josie has purchased for him without his permission — and it suddenly makes him remember that time in the Hinterlands when Dorian told him about his visit to the Capital as a child.

A small, stubborn version of his friend clutching at his father’s coat and pleading — no, wait, Dorian doesn’t plead, Dorian commands — so a small, commanding version of his friend dragging his father by the coat among ancient tombs creeps up in his head, and he can’t stop himself from smiling fondly at the image.

Suddenly, a way more adult version of the Tevinter replaces the younger one, and Victor feels the feathery touch of regret poisoning his skin like a delicate disease. A strange, unpleasant shiver runs down his lower back and he grimaces, fully aware he can do nothing, now, to fix the situation.

He really shouldn’t have complicated things.

 

...In the midnight hour he cried, more, more, more
With a rebel yell he cried, more, more, more!

 

“I was an ass earlier, at the merchant’s. It’s my specialty. I apologize, and thank you.”

Eyes filled with gratitude lower for a second and full, perfectly shaped lips mold in a curve torn between joy and regret. The grey gaze is unbearably tender, almost vulnerable under the thick black eyelashes, and Victor can’t stop himself, not this time, not anymore. He needs to wipe away that sadness from his face. He has to, the world will crumble under his feet if he doesn’t.

He takes a step closer, looks at the other man, tilts his head a bit, then waits for a second, an interminably long second where Dorian could shove him off, step aside, walk away, do something to reject him, anything. He doesn’t, though, no, he stands there like a damn statue, still and waiting, perfect and close enough to cloud Trevelyan’s thoughts. The Inquisitor takes his chance, then. He leans in, puts a hand on the man’s hip and kisses him. It’s brief and almost too chaste for his tastes and, Maker, now he wants more. 

Sadly, Victor’s brain kicks back in exactly when it shouldn’t, and he immediately backs off. Trevelyan takes a tiny step back, turns his head and closes his eyes, all while cursing himself in any language he knows: he can’t let himself go, not now, not with a sword pending over their heads, not when there is so much at stake and every fight could be the last. His shoulders’ muscles spasm involuntarily, tension, misery and tiredness taking over his self-composure. Maker, happiness feels almost too close when that incredible, amazing, smart man is only a couple of inches away from him. How would it be to dispel the invisible wall and break free from any kind of restraint? How would it be to let his worries sink in some dark recess of his mind, bury them there and not let them resurface ever again? Dangerous.That’s what freedom would feel like if he had it. 

 

In the midnight hour, babe, more, more, more
With a rebel yell, more, more, more!

 

Dangerous.

Dangerous, for someone could use their bond against the Inquisition. Dangerous for Dorian, who could be threatened, kidnapped, used as a bargaining chip, tortured, Maker forbid killed if someone discovered his personal involvement with the Inquisitor. Dangerous, for it could end poorly between them, and a very valid, powerful ally could flee away from the Inquisition, from him, along with the better half of his heart. Dangerous, for he could lose a dear friend, one of the dearest he's ever had. Victor has no intention to put his life at risk, but he wants, he needs to make him realize how worthy of love he is, since the mage seems completely unable to understand it by himself.

Trevelyan washes his shoulders with unsteady hands, the myriad of casualties sucker-punching his self-confidence into a mess of pain and frustration. 

 

He don't like slavery, he won't sit and beg
But, when I'm tired and lonely he sees me to bed...

 

What he hasn’t foreseen is the strength with which a pair of hands grabs at the lapel of his leather coat, makes him turn, drags him closer and presses their mouths together for a second time. What he certainly hasn't foreseen is the urgency with which he gets kissed again. The mage melts in his hands like wax, and he feels victorious, light-headed like he has just killed a bear barehanded or claimed an undiscovered land after years of strenuous sailing. His worries die on the other man's lips, along with any ability to think straight. No kind of self-control could curb him now.

“Took you long enough,” breathes Dorian against him, voice barely above a whisper. Victor tightens the grip on his side, shoves a hand in his hair and deepens the kiss. Shit, that man is pure fire. He reacts with soft moans at any touch, whines when the Inquisitor bites his lower lip, seems to be willing to give himself wholly and without restraint, it’s maddening — Oh come on, Trevelyan hasn’t had an erection from kissing since his mid-twenties, it really has to happen again now?

Well, in his defense it's not like the poor man has had the time to get laid recently, with Corypheus licking his ass and an Archdemon banging on his door.

 

What set you free and brought you to me, babe
What sets you free, I need you here by me,
Because...

 

He’s faintly sweating as soon as the memories pop up again, and it’s not because the water is too hot. Dorian fits perfectly in his arms, it's like he was made for it. It's like they were made for it. Maker save him, the 'Vint is exactly the kind of man he could die for: clever, funny, sharp as a razor, a little shorter than him — but, honestly, who isn’t? —, in excellent shape and pretty beyond words. 

Pretty. Seriously now?

 

...In the midnight hour he cried, more, more, more
With a rebel yell he cried, more, more, more!

 

He's wanted to taste him for so long he would prefer to suffocate rather than stop, now. When the mage rocks his hips against him, Trevelyan groans and promptly reacts by pushing him into the nearest wall. They hit a shelf in the process, scattering a handful of tomes on the ground, and, thank the Maker, it's too late for anyone to be around. Victor traps Dorian between his chest and the solid stones, shoves a knee between his thighs and lays a hand on his neck. The Tevinter raises a leg and entwines it around the warrior’s hip, pressing forward, hissing and throwing his head back when Victor’s fingers possessively squeeze it. 

Holy shit, he’s hard too.  

Victor separates their mouths for a second, bends over, grabs Dorian’s other leg and hooks his forearms under both the other's tights. In front of him, a long, elegant tanned neck pops up from the chestnut-colored robe's collar: sinking his teeth in the mage's skin feels more like an imperative need than a desire, at this point.

“Maker, Victor, I swear, if you don’t fuck me right now I’m gonna set you on fire.”

“Like I’m not already,” The warrior bites Dorian's lobe and lightly sucks on it. His voice is nothing more than a rough rumble soaked with desire.

“Venhedis—” short, perfectly trimmed nails stick into Victor’s scalp, almost drawing blood, and he's about to start unlacing the mage's armor when, suddenly, they both halt.

Noise. Steps. Someone's approaching.

Trevelyan manages to put the man down just before a pair of boots reach the top of the stairs.

“Lord Inquisitor?" A courier, bloody Fade. "Your Worship, Lady Cassandra has required your presence in the War Room at once, there are developments on the Venatori case. She said she’s sorry to disturb you this late, but it is a matter of foremost importance.”

“Are you sure it can’t wait until tomorrow?” Growls the other. If the young elf in front of them has noticed how they’re both slightly panting, red-cheeked and with ruffled hair, he doesn’t show. “It’s two o’clock. In the morning.” Victor stresses the last word.

“Your Worship, I’m sorry but it’s not my place to determine if—”

“You’ve heard him,” Dorian closes his eyes for a second and sighs. "Go, Lord Inquisitor, your people need you."

Is it just him, or is there a hint of sarcasm?  Trevelyan flinches, exasperated. 

“Can we talk, later?” He asks.

“Of course.”

 

In the midnight hour, babe, more, more, more
With a rebel yell, more, more, more!

 

Damn. Fuck.

While a long string of obscenities crosses his mind, Trevelyan holds his breath and slips under the warm water. He opens his eyes, stares at the ceiling from the bottom of the tub and thinks. Dorian. He shouldn't have, he really shouldn't have, but Maker, he would lie if he said it hasn't been one of the most amazing almost-fucks in his life, and it's not like he's a youngster— ...Ehm.

No, there are no wrinkles on his face.

No, shut up, there’s definitely no grey in his hair. 

Not a chance. Bullshit.

Yes, fine, maybe there are grey strands among the black locks, he concedes to his hypercritical side as he raises his head from under the water. Maybe. But no, absolutely not, there are definitely no wrinkles. Okay, just a couple. Just an another, but no less problematic, matter: Dorian is almost ten years younger than him. Ten years younger, Maker's breath, and Trevelyan likes it. He loves it despite any better judgment. 

He feels a pervert.

 

Thirty, thirty-nine, thirty, thirty-nine, thirty…

 

He keeps repeating the numbers in his head, hoping it will feel less awkward or wrong the more he swirls them on his tongue. It doesn’t.

Shit, shit, shit. 

If he had had any common sense he wouldn’t have kissed him. He should have already known better back then, he should have foreseen how completely horrible the situation would have turned.

No, let’s be honest, it’s not the kiss that is going to complicate things per se, it’s what he feels that is going to make a mess of it. No doubt on that.

He likes Dorian. He loves him. Deeply.

Words often fail him. Sometimes he blankly stares at his surroundings for entire minutes, mouth slightly agape like some sort of semi-blind, frustrated land-fish looking for any sort of clue about what to do with himself, confused and borderline anxious for the lack of answers to his questions.

When has it started? What has changed? Why doesn't he mind having to look after Dorian throughout any of his particularly sour, and not entirely rare, hangovers anymore? When has he started not giving a shit about accompanying him to the privy and watching him puke the remnants of his dinner — along with half of the wine he's had during the night — inside, and partly outside, the toilet? When has he started to notice the way he leans towards a tome while reading? And, by the Void, when has he started thinking he would give an arm to be allowed to curl around him the same way he curls around his books and never let him go?

He has been drawing him, lately. Drawing him. He hasn’t took a pencil in his hands in years and, amidst all the possible sensible reasons to resume his long abandoned pastime, he’s finally done it just to get those hunting eyes out of his mind. The first time it has happened, it was during one lonly sleepless night, one of those when his left hand threatened to make him crazy with pain and apparently nothing could distract him from pacing back and forth in his room like a caged animal tormented by an invisible jailor.

At some point — it must have been almost dawn, he remembers seeing the first rays of sun creeping up from behind the mountains — he had thought about Dorian. Not only Dorian, but about going in Dorian’s room, waking him up and asking him if he'd mind keeping him company, wondering if there was a slim chance the mage would have really wanted to help him averting his mind from the buzzing ache in his arm. He had almost been on his way down to the door, fully dressed, cloak lazily hanging over his shoulders, when he had abruptly stopped on the last step of the stairs and had stalked back to his own bed. What was he thinking of? It wasn’t even morning yet. He would have just been of bother.

In a sparkle of pain-fueled insanity, then, he had scrambled over his desk to grab a piece of paper, plus the inseparable pipe — not Solas' one, his own tobacco pipe, the one Nessy has personally handcrafted for him decades ago — and something to write with. After having opened all the windows and having lit the aforementioned pipe, he had sat on the floor to try to resume his with-all-chance-lost talent. Predictably, with poor success.
He started from the eyes, trying to remember the exact shape, the size, the slightly smeared line of black kohl that never fails to give Dorian an indescribably charming and unapologetically endearing dangerous edge. Then, the nose. The mustaches. He had gone on for the whole night.

One of those drawings it's still on his desk, he realizes when he leaves the tub, cold water dripping from his hair and fingers cramped like prunes. He wraps himself up in a warm towel and re-examines his latest art attempt: definitely nothing special, but the resemblance is there. He finds himself wondering with a hint of despair when has he started to like what he has always described, if worn by anyone else, as the most pretentious and least flattering beard cut a man could ever get.

Mouth. Neck. Ears. The beauty mark on his cheek. Hair. Shoulders. 

Hands.

 

How can everything about him look so... Perfect, to me? 

 

Since the first time he’s noticed it, the way those long dark fingers wipe blood away from their owner's cheeks after a fight burns in Victor's memory like lava, and, after the night before, the desire to feel those same finger scratching again against his neck is almost too much to bear. 

 

You’re behaving like a lovelorn teenager.

 

Shit shit shit shit.

They need to talk.

 

...He lives in his own heaven
Collects it to go from the seven eleven...

 


*         *         *

 

Well he's out all night to collect a fare
Just so long, just so long, it don't mess up his hair!

 

It’s half past nine, the sky is getting dark. Victor’s been out for the last six hours, he's tired, his face tingles and his legs hurt. 

He enters the hall with a knot in his throat, barely noticing Varric and Cassandra in a corner. They're arguing, probably, and he hasn’t — nor wants to have — the time for it.

Not now, he thinks while walking past the leeches parked in the hall — cough cough, he meant the nobles and dignitaries on official visit to the Inquisition — and heads for the Rotunda. Enters it, greets Solas with a nod and he's finally, after a whole afternoon of overthinking and anxiety, finally about to put his feet on the first step of the stairs when the elf calls out for him.

“Lethallin,” his deep voice sounds troubled, which is unusual for the always stoic, collected man. Victor internally sighs, turns on his heels and crafts a calm, reassuring smile as he walks towards him. There’s not a chance in the world he’s going to turn down a good friend in need, not even if he's tired and has better things to do. It will only take a moment, right? It always does.

"Something wrong with your tea?" He asks as soon as he sees the disgusted expression above the steaming mug.

"It's tea. I detest the stuff. But I need to shake dreams from my mind. I may also need a favor."

"You just have to ask."

They have got along pretty well from the very start, he and Solas. Victor understanding Elven had awaken the mage's interest, and soon they had both noticed how extraordinarily compatible they were. Early enough they had started spending nights together with drinks, games — at which Solas always won, bloody bastard — and a certain improper recreational use of Blood Lotus. Staring at the big, threatening rift above Haven while getting drunk and high with a friend had made the whole situation a little less intimidating, almost approachable even. It had been a most welcomed balm for his fear of not being capable, strong, dependable enough. At some point Varric had joined their meetings, bringing along a lyre he couldn't play — but Victor more or less knew how to — and words of comfort. Victor's apartment in Haven had started hosting their small parties every night available and, as soon as he had made clear he would have joined the Inquisition, Dorian had been invited to tag along with no second thought. A brilliant, dashing, funny alcoholic like him left out from the Inner Inner Circle? No way.

Victor still remembers Solas' shocked expression when he told him the whole story surrounding his knowledge of the Elven language. 

 

I walked the ward with you, babe
A thousand miles with you
I dried your tears of pain, babe
A million times for you...

 

“How comes a human knows Elvish, lethallin?” asks Solas, eyes widened. He and Victor are sat at the table in Trevelyan’s house in Haven, chessboard between them, both completely focused on a newly begun match the warrior is almost certain he will lose. Varric is resting on the sofa with an oversized beer mug between his hands, and Dorian, comfortably crumpled on the carpet among a pile of cushions and blankets, is smoking Blood Lotus while absentmindedly reading a book on ancient Elven culture, courtesy of the apostate with pointed ears who’s currently speaking.

”I just realized I’ve never asked you, forgive me if I’m nosy,” continues said mage.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with elves, that’s the reason. I needed to understand the language, and luckily there was someone willing to teach me,”  Victor beats his eyelids a couple of times, trying not to lose focus. Memories of Nessy screaming at him because he has mispronounced a vowel resurface, totally uncalled for and positively painful. Nostalgia is a bloody thing, and he can’t, nor really wants to, avoid it. He likes how Elven sounds on his tongue, he has memories of people and places related to it and he is deeply fond of them both. It’s just one of those nights: bits of the life he used to live have come hunting him, and he can only surrender to the evidence that he's a nostalgic middle-aged asshole who might never go back to what his existence used to be. Being high sometimes helps, sometimes not. Tonight, it does not.

“Why did you need to know it?”

“It’s a long story,” the Herald slumps his shoulder, not really willing to explain. Thinking about it, he is actually quite surprised the questions haven't come sooner. 

“We’ve nothing to do right now,” insists the elf after taking a sip from his glass. He offers the warrior the bottle filled with the hard spirit he's drinking, which faintly smells of juniper and myrtle, is strong like a Giant’s punch, bitter as wounded pride and luring like a mermaid — Victor has discovered its finer qualities mere weeks ago at the expanse of his own tongue. He still remembers the massive hangover and isn't keen on repeating the experience, therefore he wisely declines the offer to pour himself a shot, then moves a Pawn on the chessboard, which gets captured by Solas' Queen right away. Damn him.

Varric is handpicking Nightingale’s Eyes on the lyre, completely out of tune, and Dorian keeps absentmindedly smoking dried Blood Lotus from the oblong red pipe Solas has dug out from his backpack for the occasion. The Altus' face it's so emotionless it would seem he's not even listening, but probably he’s just stoned.

“Come on, Claws, don't be shy...” Varric half sings at him, smiling encouragingly, accompanying the words with an horribly played cheerish tune. Oh, yes, Claws, because it seems like he has got himself tattooed with a full set of bear scars on his face, more or less. He has never got along with bears. Ever.

“Stop murdering that poor thing, man,” Victor points in the direction of the lyre with a disapproving scowl. “I’ve… Let’s say, helped build a shelter for Elves in the Free Marches,” he starts explaining.

“A shelter?” Solas' thin brows furrow. Dorian stares at the Herald with unintelligible eyes, until he raises his brows, stands up and hands him the pipe. Victor tries to silently ask him what's wrong with a concerned face, but obtains no answer.

“Ah, yes. At first, it was a mage-only safe house hosting all the children expelled from their Clans," the Herald takes a deep drag, “then it became a safe space for all the outcast mages we managed to save from the grasp of the circles. Did you know Elven Clans kick out mage children in excess?” The elf tilts his head, listening carefully. "I don't know why it used to happen that often in the lands around Ostwick, but it did. There has been a time when we found new children every couple of weeks.”

“Wait, what does it mean? Abandoned children?” Dorian raises his brows and blinks a couple of times, as if trying to stay focused.

“Apparently there is a maximum number of mages a Dalish clan can have, so the surplus must leave, no matter their age.”

“It’s barbaric!”

“Especially when they’re in danger of being enslaved and brought to Tevinter.”

“Well— Point taken.” He shakes his head and sits back in his cushions’ nest. He almost looks like a cat. A drunken cat, but still. 

“Did you do it all by yourself?” It’s Varric turn to start with the questions. 

“No, no. Of course not. How could I teach them to use magic safely, when I don’t know anything about it myself?”

“Wise,” comments Solas, a faint smile over his lips. 

“I and a friend of mine, a mage elf, did it. Together. Well, actually she did most of the work, I only took at the shelter who I found, and provided my family’s money when needed. I’ve bought a small piece of land in the forest for them,” fuck, he misses them, he really does. “The houses are built all around a lake, there’s even a waterfall. It’s truly a beautiful place.”

“And were your parents fine with their precious founds being used to help knife-ears?” Solas is something between impressed and incredulous. 

"What can I say? My family is full of liberals. My mother took care of the youngest ones personally, for a time... You know, when they were too little to be raised within the group or their health conditions were too poor,” he ponders over what he's about to say for a second, then adds, "My father has never been around enough to have the right to complain, not even if he wanted to."
“What happens when they grow up?” The dwarf is sitting up in full attention now.

“Some of them leave, some others stay. Who stays,  helps Nessy with the new children. It has become a small but stable community by now...”

“Nessy?” Dorian asks all of a sudden, way too much interested for it to be casual.

“Nesithara Lavellan. Nessy is… Well, the nickname I gave her. She’s the mage I was telling you about. Very talented, the most compassionate soul I’ve ever met and truly a remarkable woman,” Victor smiles fondly.

“What brought you to invest yourself in such a thing? I mean, it’s not common for a human to help the Dalish, nor for a non-mage to help mages.” Solas gestures him to share the pipe, which Victor gladly does. Maybe if the elf gets high enough, he will manage to win at least one chess round, since he’s lost the last sev— ...He’s lost them all, let’s be honest.

“I was in the woods, hunting with my younger brother, Maxwell — who, on a side note, is a way better hunter than I am — and we heard screaming. Long story short, there was this little girl perched on a branch, whom had two wolves waiting for her under her feet. We managed to kill those creatures, and, consequently, to rescue the child. She must have been something around six or seven years old at the time, couldn’t control her magic and didn’t speak a single word of common. I got a bit carried away and... Sort of adopted her, actually. Nessy helped me pick up the language to communicate with her,” Trevelyan clears his throat, “I had a lot of free time back then, you see...” he tries to drink from his cup, finding out it’s empty. “...I had just run away from my templar training and lacked new hobbies.” 

"You... run away from the Templars?” asks Dorian, not sure if he has heard correctly.

“Too much control, too little booze. Not the place for me, at least not when I was twenty.”

“Judging by your present behavior, it still isn't the place for you,” the mage winks at him and stretches an arm to hand him the bottle of wine he has been trying to finish on his own for the last half hour.

“My, my. What a sharp tongue,” mocks him the other, standing up to grab the Orlesian white with much gratitude.

“I’m happy you didn’t succumb to a boring destiny of silk tunics and mage-scowling, Victor,” the man smiles wickedly. “Armors and blood suit you better.”

“I have to admit, I always thought leather stained deep red looked fine on me.”

“Get a room, you two,” states Varric with an amused scowl.

Trevelyan doesn’t miss a beat, “I’d gladly do that, but I’m afraid this is the only one in here,” he turns his head towards the Tevinter. “Unless you want to fuck inside the toilet, maybe? What do you say? Wouldn’t be the first time for me.” Solas, halfway trough ending his glass of liquor, spits the remnants of it on the chessboard in front of him. 

“What about the courtyard? I’m positive it smells better.”

“Works for me.”

“Then, by all means, lead the way.” Dorian stands up and winks at the Freemarcher, takes the bottle from his hands, his mantle from the chair and heads for the door, waiting for him with a grin.

“Mind if I borrow this?” the warrior steals the red pipe from the elf’s hands and heads out, followed by two pairs of shocked eyes and a drunk fire mage.

As soon as the door closes behind the two and the cold night’s air hits them, they start laughing.

“Maker, that was exhilarating!” Dorian smiles while drinking profusely from the dark bottle between his hands. Victor follows the snowflakes falling from above and notices how some of them get stuck in the dark hair of the man in front of him. That deep black must be soft to the touch.

“What’s wrong?”

“I… Nothing.” He feels rather dizzy.

“You seem distracted?” One white dot has just laid above the dark mark on his left cheek. Maker, Trevelyan is wasted and Dorian is truly a beautiful man. This isn’t going anywhere good.

“Hm. I’m distracted by a friend who doesn’t share his booze,” he tries. Apparently, he succeeds: the Tevinter widens his big, warm eyes — Trevelyan, dude, get a grip — and laugh a crystalline laugh, stretching the skin over his cheekbones.

Dorian's skin must be soft. It's of a delicious chocolate shade that makes Trevelyan wonder how it tastes like, and it's no lesser alluring than the raven black hair in which he would pay an ungodly amount of money to slid his finger into one day or another.

Okay, where did that come from?

“Who, me? Perish the thought." Dorian winks, “Here, indulge yourself.”

 

 

I'd sell my soul for you, babe
For money to burn for you
I'd give you all, and have none, babe
Justa, justa, justa, justa to have you here by me!

 

 

Turns out Solas is more than vaguely worried: he’s straight up troubled and angered. He explains the Inquisitor a friend of his is in need of help, then asks for his support. He shares the details, specifies this fellow of his is a Spirit, puts a mark on the map with unusually unsteady hands and thanks him.

On his way to the library, Victor meets one of Leliana’s couriers. He takes the opportunity to organize the party accompanying him to the Exalted Plains, fully knowing the first they start with the rescue mission, the better it will be for the poor Spirit. 

Solas will be coming, of course, then Cole and, hm- he ponders over it for a moment. No, Bull is out of the question, he’s too scared of magic to tag along this time. Sera is likely to have a heart attack the second she realizes who they're trying to save, seeing how well she gets along with Cole, so no Sera either. He can't bring Varric, another rogue would be useless since he has already picked the assassin. What about Blackwall? He needs another tank, he can't be the only frontline warrior on the team. His choice falls on Cassandra in the end, hoping she won’t turn too weary among all the Spirits and demons and mages. He instructs the young woman in front of him to ask his chosen party to be ready for mission briefing in an hour and to be prepared to leave tomorrow morning by the first rays of sun. The recruit nods and runs away as soon as she receives the orders, and the Inquisitor is finally free to head to the nook of his favorite rebel archivist.

“Dorian?” he calls out as soon as he sees his back. He’s half bent over his desk, reading.

“Inquisitor! Such a pleasure,” the man turns towards him with an unintelligible expression. 

“A word?” Victor feels vaguely nervous. Oh, please, he’s managed to throw a mountain over an Archdemon’s head, how comes he’s not able to do something as easy as this?

“I’m, like you say down south, all ears.” 

“It should be best to talk in private about this, Dorian.”

“Ah, yes. Of course. Do you think you have the time, right now?” Still that strange, distant smile that Victor isn’t able to place.

“Shit,” he hisses as soon as he remembers he’s just set up a meeting. The mage must have heard him on the stairs. What was he thinking of? It will take hours to define the rescue operation's details: which roads to take, what equipment to bring, weapons, potions, attack strategies... Damn, tiredness is playing tricks on him.

“You’re such a well-educated, elegant man, Victor,” the mage chuckles. “Don’t worry, we’ll talk later.”

“I was hoping we could talk now, actually,” he gets closer, bare centimeters away from his face, and slightly narrows his eyes.

“With all these prying eyes?” Dorian arches one brow and holds his gaze. The Inquisitor looks around and sighs, scrubs his cheeks with one hand and surrenders to the evidence that no, they definitely can’t talk about last night right now. Why has he set up a meeting at ten PM? Imbecile.

“Have you been to your quarters, recently?” tries to distract him the 'Vint. Suddenly, there’s the shadow of a grin over his lips. Why the question?

“Not since after lunch,” Victor’s brows lift, perplexed.

“Do, when you have time. There is—…” Dorian pauses for a second, pondering on what to say next, “—something there that might interest you,” he puts an odd emphasis on something, as if he's is not sure of the word he's just used. “I still have to thank you for the amulet, you know.”

“I— Wait, there’s no need for that,” he sighs. “Shit, I was really hoping we could talk about—… You know.”

“No rest for the wicked, as Cullen always says. We’ll talk, be sure of it. When you'll have time,” Dorian dismisses him with a reassuring nod.

 

*         *         *

 

He tries to search for Dorian after the meeting, but the library is empty and the tavern is closed. Uncharacteristically early for the mage to retire in his room, but Trevelyan must bow to the evidence that his friend is nowhere to be found. He will try again tomorrow after coming back from the Exalted Plains, maybe. He takes out a pencil and his journal, tears a blank page from it an writes a note. 

 

Forgive me, it took me even longer than expected. We have decided to postpone our leaving for tomorrow at lunchtime, we're all too tired to leave in the morning. If you want, we can meet after breakfast. Come looking for me whenever you want, you know I'm a morning person.  

I really, really need to talk to you. Alone. 

V.

 

He leaves the folded piece of paper inside the book laying on the mage's armchair, well aware of Dorian's habit to read even over his breakfast. Victor heads to his own room, then, desperate for a bed and a pillow. 

And, maybe, a drag from Solas’ pipe before laying down. 

 

*         *         *

 

“Do, when you have time. There’s something there that might interest you.”

 

 He remembers what Dorian has said as soon as he walks through the door. A present doesn’t feel necessary at all, but he can figure out why someone as stubborn and proud as his friend would want to give him something in return for the amulet. He’s almost certain Dorian's gift choice is going to fall on some mysterious bottle with an intelligible label: he can already see the mage shoving some dangerous liquor — that any existing guide strongly suggests not to drink — under his nose, while in the meantime handing him the cork and throwing him a look that only seems to say, let's see if this one kills us, shall we?

Shit, the man has really gotten under his skin.

He checks the room and no, there is nothing noticeably different in there. Not on the bed, not on the couch — where still lays, utterly neglected due to the lack of time, the book he has started almost two months ago —, nor on his desk among all the abandoned reports he still has to sign for Cullen.

He starts inspecting the library, half expecting a brand new tome with a ribbon on top to catch his eyes, when suddenly the door downstairs opens, then quickly closes behind someone with a loud thud. Hurried steps on the stairs follow.

Please please please please, don’t let it be another formal dinner invitation from Orlais' dignitaries.

The second door opens, other steps. 

Please.

He turns.

It’s Dorian.

“Thank the Maker you’re not Josie!” Victor exhales with unconcealed relief, “If you’ve come here to see how your present has overjoyed me, though, I must disappoint you. I still have to find it,” the smirk on his mouth fades as soon as he notices the rather serious expression on the other man’s face.

“You couldn’t. It’s just arrived.”

“I, uh, excuse me?”

“You see, It’s all very nice, this flirting business. I am, however, not a nice man,” the Inquisitor scoffs. Not a nice man in which parallel universe?

“So, here’s my proposal,” the mage continues, failing to notice — or, maybe, purposefully ignoring — the skeptical look he receives. “We dispense with the chitchat and move to something more primal. It will set tongues wagging, of course. Not that they aren’t already wagging,” he gets closer, circles behind him and leans in, tiptoeing a bit to reach Victor’s left ear. “I suppose it really depends. How bad the inquisitor wants to be?”

Something in the warrior’s chest tightens; it seems like a written script, a well-constructed performance. This kind of prefabricated Dorian is someone he has not seen in a while, definitely not since they have arrived in Skyhold. Why now? It sounds fake. it sounds like the Dorian he has met in Redcliffe, the one that seemed to speak as if he was waiting for an applause. 

“Slow down,” the Inquisitor turns and looks at him in the eyes. The other man instinctively takes a step back, as if to protect himself from some kind of physical threat. There’s a second of impasse, then the truth hits Victor, full force. “Is this the sort of payment you were thinking of? Sex? As a gift? You think it's appropriate?"

“You shoving me against the nearest wall as soon as I apologized for my not-entirely-nice behavior was very appropriate if you ask me. I thought it would have escalated from there, sooner or later. I usually prefer sooner than later, so here I am.”

“You thought I would have accepted it? This?”

Dorian seems taken aback at that. He leans against the desk and crosses his arms, probably not expecting such an answer at all. Defensive pose, not good.

“What I meant was… Did you seriously think paying me back with sex would have been fine with me?” Victor tries to explain, then takes the chair from under the desk, sits down and turns towards him. “Really?”

“I didn’t—” the mage throws his head back, mildly exasperated.

“Dorian.”

“Listen, if you’re not interested, just say it. I’m a big boy, I can take it,” Dorian is turning full bitter-evil-Tevinter-mage mode. Knowing him as Trevelyan does, this is not a promising sign. Not at all. He must explain himself quickly before things turn unpleasantly embarrassing.

“Ok. Yesterday night has happened— …Well, what’s happened. We haven't been able to talk since then, which was definitely not the plan," Victor pinches the bridge of his nose, not sure if he's more annoyed or embarrassed by the whole matter, “and I am sorry for that, because it is entirely my fault." He straightens on the chair and raises a brow, vaguely irritated. "A few hours ago you've said you wanted to repay me for the amulet. You've suggested me to go back to my quarters because, apparently, I would have found a gift for me there, something you wanted to show me your gratitude with — totally unnecessary, I already told you, but you never listen — and then it turns out you're offering sex," the Inquisitor grimaces, “do you want to know how it sounds from here? It sounds something like, Hey, thank you for the pretty necklace. let me blow you."

"I thought it was what you wanted,” hisses the other.

"it is something I’ve been wanting for quite a long time, yes, I guess it’s not a secret anymore. I never wanted it the way you’re offering me, though. How can you consider physical closeness some sort of transaction?”

“Andraste take me, am I speaking with a virgin?”

“Definitely not at my first time, nor without experience—”

“That’s a relief.”

“But you dismissing us as just some kind of primal act makes me sick,” ok, now he’s getting angry.

“Is there an us?”

“Is there not?” Dorian’s mouth snaps shut, “Because I thought there was. Friendship, trust, affection. Yesterday was only the tip of the iceberg for me. Did it erase everything for you? Does desire swallow anything else for you?” Victor’s voice softens, “Maker’s breath, you are my closest advisor, my closest friend. I like you. I respect you. I feel safe when you're the one watching my back, which, honestly, is rather rare."

“I never thought you felt this way about me,” the Tevinter lowers his head.

"And why would I have spent so much time in your company? Why would I have invited you to the tavern almost every free night to play Wicked Grace and get drunk? What did you think?”

“I— Sex.”

“That’s not very eloquent.”

“I thought. You wanted. Sex.” Dorian nitpicks every word with short hisses that do nothing to hide his peeve.

“I want it. Most people want it.”

“Then why didn’t you—”

“Because I don’t want you like this. Because I would feel the same even if I couldn't have you at all. Because, even if I had not a single chance with you, it would change nothing, I would still like you a lot. Too much, according to someone,” Victor smiles, and the other’s breath stutters as if he has just received a hook in his guts.

“I don’t understand,” says Dorian. The warrior doesn’t reply.

Whole seconds pass without a word shared; they stare at each other until Victor beats his eyelids a couple of times and turns towards one of the desk’s closets. He produces the tobacco pipe from the lowest one and starts to prepare it, carefully, in complete silence, while Dorian observes him from his half-sat position against the desk; when he notices the pipe it’s ready, he absentmindedly lights it with a flick of his fingers, as he always does, forgetting for a moment they are arguing. A nod of gratitude and a happy smile are his rewards for the thoughtful gesture, and he mirrors the grin before he can catch himself. He should be mad, damn the Maker.

“You want me, but you don’t want me like this,” he half asks, half asserts bluntly after a while, a shade of uncertainty coloring his voice with sadness and wonder. “Explain,” he adds while he watches the other man inhaling deeply, then exhaling, pensive.

“Of course I want you,” the words come out accompanied by the soft clattering of teeth against wood, “How could I not?” A wink. “But I—” he sighs, “I want more from you. I want something else. You value yourself too little,” he vaguely waves the stem in his direction, accusatory, then taps the mouthpiece on his chin a couple of times like he’s facing some sort of riddle he can’t untangle.

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

“You’re not a piece of meat, you’re a person. A person with feelings. Do you want to make me happy?” Victor shakes his head and smiles, like he’s suggesting an extraordinarily obvious answer to an equally simple question, "spend some time with me,” if the smirk is anything to go by, the offer hides a challenge.

“Just that?” Dorian looks at him in shock.

“Keep me company, I enjoy yours,” the warrior explains rather calmly.

“Like we don’t keep each other company enough, during our lovely demon-hunting afternoon strolls within the depths of some makerforsaken rusty dungeon. Or— Or at the tavern.”

“I didn’t mean it like that, and you know it. For fuck’s sake, are you playing the hard to get?”

“I am hard to get.”

“Said the man who was literally throwing himself at me just ten minutes ago.”

“Asshole.”

“I’m asking you out. Properly. ‘Cause I’m a gentleman, you see?”

“Well, I am not a nice man,” Dorian painstakingly skates over the I’m asking you out part.

“Oh, please, drop the act. I know your soft side it’s there, I’ve seen it. Where’s the Dorian who said, you have to fight for what you have in your heart? I know it’s there, somewhere, under all those layers of cutthroat remarks. Did you think I had forgotten it?”

“No. Actually, yes. I mean… I had—” He stutters, embarrassed.

“You were vulnerable and didn't think before speaking,” provides Victor with a shit-eating grin plastered on his face, “I’m not saying it was a bad thing, mind me. On the contrary, it felt good.”

"Care to elaborate?"

"You trusted me enough to lower your defenses, handsome," Dorian actually chokes on his breath at the compliment. "I like that you feel safe to rely on me as much as I feel safe to relay on you." The Altus has never been one to take blunt flatteries easily: sincere, honest displays of affection have always left him unsettled and embarrassed, mostly because in Tevinter allusive and disguised have always been the most important guidelines for his sexual lifestyle. Sadly, he still hasn’t managed to adjust to the new, freer parameters.

“Just to see where this is going, what have you in mind?” He manages to inquire after the extremely understandable moment of bewilderment he goes through. Anything to change the subject. He doesn’t need a lecture, and he doesn’t need it now. Moreover, the Inquisitor telling him he wants more than a one night stand in that raspy voice of his should be declared straight up illegal. To hide his confusion, he crosses his arms and sharply props himself up from the desk with a hassled snort. He walks towards the center of the room, far enough to evade the inquisitive gaze, and puts all his dedication into looking everywhere but Victor's face. Hopefully, he will appear crossed and annoyed instead of staggered and mildly curious.

Victor has just had an idea. A brilliant one, truth be told. Something he has been thinking of for quite some time and has just realized this is the perfect moment for.

He leaves his place at the desk and chases Dorian, stands in front of him and towers him with all his height and muscles and broad shoulders. The Inquisitor looks at him with an intense stare, like his whole life depends from the answer to his oncoming offer. His playful smile is making the 'Vint weak at the knees, though, and he knows it. Apparently, the bastard is starting to like to get him worked up.

“Be my date at the Winter Palace.”

“I— What?”

“Be my date at the ball,” he repeats, candidly.

“Oh Maker, it’s finally happening. The inquisitor is going insane.”

“I’m serious.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Dorian turns away and lowers his head.

“There’s nothing absurd in it.”

“Yes— Yes there is,” at the skeptic expression Victor throws at him, Dorian scoffs. “You won’t even have the time for it. We have to prevent the Empress’ murder, remember?”

“I can always find time for you,” syrupy, but effective: the mage is speechless. “Dorian,” Victor insists, then gently squeezes his shoulder, “Dorian. This is not a joke. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, I just never found the right moment to ask. You must start to give yourself more importance, because I already do. And I will find a way to show you, like it or not.”

“I give myself great importance, mind you,” Dorian hides his embarrassment by moving aside and sitting on the couch. His hands shake so much he has to shove them between his thighs to hide it. 

He feels utterly pathetic. And rather flimsy.

“Just in words,” the warrior is relentless in his accusations, “I learned long ago that you rarely say what you think when you’re talking about yourself. A shield of overconfidence against your insecurities: it's more common than what you’d think, and perfectly understandable if we consider your personal history.” He smiles reassuringly, “at any rate, it is definitely nothing to be ashamed of,” the short look he throws at Dorian leaves no room for doubt: yes, I saw your hands. Calm down, it’s all right.

“Don’t analyze me like I’m sort of alchemy experiment gone wrong, thank you,” snaps the other, still without daring to lift his head. His eyes seem to have found something irresistibly fascinating in the cracks of the floor under his feet, while his mind is bewildered on the fact that no one has ever managed to unsettle him this bad before, actually bad enough he feels the unfamiliar itching of tears threatening to fall down his cheeks. He he hasn’t cried since — Since when, exactly? Since when his father tried to use blood magic on him? Or was it during his first night away from Tevinter, in that shitty rathole disguised as a tavern? He doesn’t remember, nor he cares. What he knows is that he doesn’t want this mind-scavenging Victor is trying to perform on him, not at all. Why can’t that bastard — handsome, wicked, clever, generous bastard — just shut the fuck up? And fuck him, maybe? He could use it, right now, to take his mind off things he shouldn't be thinking of. Typical of him.

“Here we are again. Someone tries to get under your skin, and you get all abashed and defensive. It’s adorable, really, but it does you no good.”

Dorian lifts his head and stares back at him, indignation obvious on his features. As soon as he lays his eyes on the Inquisitor, though, he involuntarily gets lost at admiring the many scars running over his neck and face. For a moment, he perfectly understands why other warriors find him terrifying on the battlefield: the feeble torches’ light reverberates on him, making the deep cut crossing his right eye look almost black and undeniably threatening. Then he focuses on the gentle, warm light-blue gaze that counterbalances the harshness of his features, and the intense ache to touch those old cuts becomes almost unbearable.

“What if someone did the same to you?” Dorian asks, exasperated, pushing those distracting thoughts of hugging-him-until-that-sorrow-passes-away aside. He stands on his feet again, nervous, anger rising up in a numbed daze that leaves his thoughts unfocused and blurred. He circles around Victor, a vain attempt at being menacing, and feels his arms tingling with anxiety. What Trevelyan does it’s really not fair. He has no right to lecture him.

How does he dare to force Dorian to open up to him?

 

At least he’s not forcing you on the bedsheets, right?

  

The Altus ignores the nasty voice in the back if his head and focuses on the man in front of him.

“Did what?” Victor sincerely, naively frowns a little, and it’s almost too adorable. Almost. His willpower is a little stronger, luckily, and he manages not to give in. Oh, but he would like to. Kaffas.

“What if someone tried to break you the same way you do with others?” The mage’s face goes back to be a contorted mask of anger and wounded pride, “how would it feel?” Well, not right, not right at all. That’s how it would feel. Fuck him and his mind games.

“Please, feel free to do likewise.” Victor narrows his eyes and stays perfectly still, as if preparing to take a punch. The only perceptible movement is when he resumes his pipe, takes a deep drag and dilates his nostrils to expel a white cloud of thick licorice-scented smoke. He looks at Dorian with a mixture of anticipation and challenge, waiting. 

The mage grits his teeth and closes his fists, throws him a glance that would have killed a lesser man and breathes in to calm down. Victor should defend himself, should scream at him that he’s the damn Inquisitor and no one should dare to address him in such despicable manners, but he does not. 

Maker, it doesn’t feel fair if he behaves like he’s ready to give in.

“You… You think you can save everyone, don’t you?” Dorian paces around him, gathering all the will and bravery he has to keep talking in spite of the lack of hair in his lungs. “You think you know everything, you think you can achieve everything with that clever tongue of yours and that sword you whirl in front of your enemies like a madman,” no matter how hard he tries, he feels increasingly short of breath and light-headed with every word that leaves his mouth, “well, breaking news, the world managed to survive before your arrival, and it will still be fine after your departure,” he knows he’s hurting him on purpose, he knows he’s not even making sense, but he can’t stop. He needs it. For some obscure reason, he really does.

Honestly, Dorian expects to be interrupted as soon as he stops to catch his breath, but he's not, so the mage keeps speaking the moment his lungs are filled again. He wouldn’t be able to hold back even if he wanted to, now. “You are allowed to fail, to be mortal, to—... You don’t even know if you’ve been chosen! Maybe that mark upon your hand is just a mere coincidence!” His vehement attempts at spitting hurtful words are somewhat turning effectively harmful for Victor as soon as the warrior sees the tears threatening to fall from the mage’s eyes. He’s never seen Dorian in such a state, but he knows how his friend reacts when cornered: with a counterstrike so powerful it could kill a wyvern in a heartbeat and himself with the recoil.

He feels horrible for having hurt him.

Cretin!” The mage insists. “Can’t you see that we’re here, watching you risk your life every day for— for— Maker! Yes, go on, try to save us all! Everyone will be grateful, no doubt. It's not hard to show appreciation for a dead martyr, is it?” Dorian’s fists glow, underlining his rage, “Do you want a marble statue? Bloodstone? Onyx maybe?" He taps an overly warm index against the Inquisitor’s chest, then  takes a step back while spreading his arms. "You think you're going to survive this, aren't you? Oh, sorry. Of courseYes, I’m the inquisitor, I can do everything I put my fucking mind into. Your Worship can't succumb! The Herald of Andraste is invincible! He can’t die, He doesn’t need to eat, he doesn’t need to sleep, he doesn’t need to drink, he doesn’t even need to fucking breathe! You don’t care about your friends. If you did, you would take care of yourself! Selfless bastard!” Slip of the tongue, really, he meant self-centered, “If you die— If you die— Vishnante kaffas! Have you ever thought how it would be for us if you died? For me, if you died?” Maybe it wasn’t a slip of the tongue, after all. “You should leave, find a quiet place where no one can find you and hide there, safe! You don’t have to help me! You don’t have to help anyone!” He stops, panting. He watches his own hands, lowers them slowly. “No one knows how to pay you back for all the things you do, for every time you put your life on the line to save other people. And now you also put your mind into solving this trivial, futile problems?" He touches the amulet hidden under his armor. "You decide to spend your precious, little time to retrieve a piece of metal that its rightful owner was idiot enough to sell? Out of his own will?”

“You had no choice.”

“Stop that!” Dorian gestures at him with his arm, furious. “Stop that! What can I give you back? I don’t know what to do! It's not for the amulet itself, it's for what the gesture means to me! What can I do?" Doran growls, rattled, "no, don't answer. It will be another cheesy idea suggested more for my happiness than yours."

"You would have enjoyed it, then? Spending time together? As more than friends?" Victor smiles, and it's so heartwarming, coming from him, Dorian is sure he's gonna puke. Or swoon like the damn lovesick fool he is. 

"Maker's breath, stop! Stop being this gentle, stop seeing more. More in people, more in me. We don’t deserve it, I don’t deserve it. I never meant for this conversation to happen, I was just trying to... To—!” The glow surrounding the mage's palms finally disappears. Victor’s eyes manage to linger over him for just a second more before a wave of sorrow crashes them down on the floor.

“So, you were doing it only for me.”

"What are you talking about?"

"You're not interested in anything more, are you?"

“Of course there is interest from my part. There has been for months, now. Maker, there was since I met you in Redcliffe, probably, but you have needed bloody ages to make your mind up.”

“I didn’t want to put you in danger.”

“Danger?”

“A relationship with me would have put a target on your head,” Victor explains, emotionless.

“A target on my head. Are you serious? Don't you think I already have one?”

“It would have been worse.”

“Worse than what? Worse than seeing you suffer in silence because you never let me get close enough to share your pain? I’m tired of standing on the edge, not knowing what to do. Venhedis, I had to stumble on you by accident to know the Anchor hurts like shit.”

“I'm sorry, I didn’t want anyone to know,” Victor looks at his glowing hand, “I don’t like to complain. I hate the spotlights, I hate to be at the center of attention.”

“You must get used to it, Inquisitor. You are the chosen one, remember?” Dorian smiles dryly, “why do you put yourself through all this if you don’t like it?" He pauses, then glances at him. "Don't you like it? Not at all? When people call you your Worship?”

Trevelyan snorts, “I’m not much of a believer, let alone in the twisted mechanisms of the Chantry," his voice sounds tired, all of a sudden, tired and burdened with a gigantic, unsurmountable weight. "I know I’m not the saint everyone seems to think I am. I just love it when I can make a difference in someone else’s life, it makes me feel special. Important. That’s why I accept this theatrics,” a moment of silence. “I wanted to help you, just that. I didn’t want anything back. Helping people gives a meaning to this,” he raises his greenish palm. “You see, sometimes the idea of cutting my whole arm off to stop the pain starts to become appealing. Very appealing. But then I remember it can actually save lives, and the thought passes away." 

“This world doesn't deserve you,” Dorian shudders, “I don't. No one does. Why me? There’s plenty of people out there.”

“Because I care for you. Because I relate to you in a way I can't describe. I can only imagine how it has been, far from your country, without friends, money, a place to call home… It pains me when I think about it, I feel your sufferings as my own,” Victor shakes his head and frowns. “You never deserved anything like that to happen to you, and I never thought I would have made things worse when I tried to... Fix what went wrong,” no tears, but the misery in his voice is palpable. “Forgive me for all this mess. I shouldn’t have.”

“Forgive you?” Dorian feels terrible. He has nothing to forgive him for. 

“I never intended to unsettle you, really,” a pause, long.

“What guilt have you to wipe away from your conscience?” 

“What?” 

“You must have done something terrible in your life. No one has the Hero’s Syndrome for nothing, Victor.”

“Oh, well, I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’ve been a fucking privileged for my whole existence without having done anything to deserve it," bursts out the Inquisitor. "Don't you ever feel it? The burden of privilege? I didn’t accomplish a single thing that mattered for way too much time, considering how many chances I've been granted with. I could have done so much, saved so many. It’s only fair I try my best now when I still can amend.”

“You’re—” Dorian sights, “What about all the elves you saved? It was way before the Inquisition!”

“I just did the bare minimum, everyone in my situation would have done the same. I could have saved more. I could still save more, with all the power I've gathered recently, but I’m not!”

“You’re trying to prevent this world from falling apart, what more could you possibly do for them at the moment? For everyone?”

Something. I could send Cullen’s troops to the borders to slaughter the traders.”

“What you do it’s never enough, is it?”

“Define enough, please.”

“You’re unbelievable.”

Dorian leans towards Victor, takes the pipe from his hand and throws it on the carpet behind his back. After a moment, he’s kissing the Inquisitor with all the strength he has, hands clasped tightly on his neck and bodies pressed against each other like a silent prayer. Victor answers him slowly, eyes shut and arms frozen on his sides. The Tevinter pulls away, looks at him in the eyes. That stare, it petrifies him. He feels right in front of a bomb on the verge of exploding, and he suddenly realizes he won’t make it, no, no matter how fast he runs he won’t be able to avoid the blast. 

“I’m sorry,” he says, “I shouldn’t have—” the rest of the sentence is silenced in the form of another kiss. Tentative, almost scared. Dorian tangles his hands in the other man’s hair, encouraging, eager, and pushes him down on the couch. Victor drags him along by the sleeve and the mage sit on his lap, one leg on each side. Strong fingers hold Dorian’s right hip, while the other hand, the glowing, buzzing one that makes him involuntarily shiver at the smallest touch — must be the veil interacting with his magic, for sure — moves from his arm to his neck, dragging him further down, crashing their lips together again.

The kiss that follows, oh— That kiss is pure fire. Fucking finally

Dorian happily swallows the shreds, drinks the pain and the anger, engulfs the blast, lets the bomb explode. He would gladly melt inside that impossibly strong heat if he could, and he starts to think he’s going to when Victor moves his lips on his jaw, then on his neck, grazing his teeth up and down the whole length of it a few times before giving an actual bite that elicits a shudder and a muffled noise.

“You taste delicious,” Trevelyan’s voice is nothing more than a husky whisper against his skin, and there is something desperate in it, an ache the mage knows all too well. Dorian answers to that pain with a roll of his hips and a growl that sounds almost feral. The foreign fingers' grip on his side tightens, and it's like the Anchor is jolting electricity directly in his bones. They cling to each other's bodies as if they’re salvation in the middle of a storm, a shelter from a dangerous threat. That frenzy of bites and breaths and lips and tongues feels both a drug and a medication, tastes both sharp and fragile, resemble the poisoned kiss of a snake, whose venom could kill or save depending on the amount. Dorian is sure Victor's going to drive him mad with desire one day or another. 

Clever fingers caress the mage’s sleeve with feathery touches, almost unbearably delicate. After unfastening the first strap on his wrist, Trevelyan’s lips move there for a second, and with every clasp he manages to open, the warrior leaves a trace of kisses on the inside of his arm. He’s growing impatient, though. His hands shake a little, he wants him, he eyes Dorian like he is the only thing in the world worth seeing, it’s almost too much too soon. 

No one has ever loved him like that befo—

 

Don’t get ahead of yourself, Pavus.

Don’t mistake lust for love.

 

“I should tie you somewhere one day or the other, seen how much you fancy those things,” Victor half laughs, half growls at the belts and buckles, nearly tearing down an extremely tricking one that links Dorian's sleeve to his left shoulder pad. The mage's eyes snap shut, trying and, this time, failing to suppress the totally uncalled for — and, honestly, quite unsurprising — wave of paranoia that’s threatening to choke him, menacing to drag him down to the bottom of that ocean of despair he’s been attempting so desperately to drain in the last few months.

The thud of his leather sleeve on the floor should thrill him, but it’s not.

 

He won’t want you after.

He won’t. Like everyone else.

He won’t.

He was lying all along.

Go, let him use your body.

Like you did with everyone else.

 

“You are unnerving sometimes — and perfect — And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” Victor swaps their positions with unbelievable ease, lays him on the pillows and tops him, one knee between his thighs, “look at me, Dorian.”

No answer.

“Dorian,” he repeats, more softly. Still no answer. “What’s going on?” the Tevinter shakes his head weakly.

 

Go on.

 

“Dorian, talk to me,” again, the only answer he gets is a faint shake of the head. 

 

I know you won’t want me after.

I’m used to it.

 

“Dorian, I’m sorry,” the knee retreats a little, and both hands shift slightly over his body, touch drifting from sex-driven to soothing, from dominating to comforting.

 

Ignore me. 

Use me. 

Don't let me think.

Please, I don’t want to think.

 

“You know…” The Inquisitor’s voice is still deep and husked with lust, but there is profound affection mixed with it, “whenever I look at you I can’t help wondering how did you manage to stay true to yourself for all this years, after what has happened to you,” Victor cups his right cheek with a gentleness that’s almost unsettling in its intensity. “I don’t know what I’d do without you,” he slides a thumb over Dorian’s mole, wiping away a traitorous tear escaped from his eyelids.

Seconds, minutes, hours seem to pass in complete silence. For all Dorian knows, it could be years. Ages. He doesn’t dare to open his eyes.

 

Why can’t I enjoy this?

Why is it happening now, out of all times?

With this man, among all?

 

“You really are a flower in the desert,” Victor mumbles at some point like he’s lost in his thoughts, still with his face bare centimeters away from the mage’s lips. He's holding himself up with his arms, and keeping balance with one foot on the floor and the right knee propped on the sofa, “when I first read that letter I was jealous, you know?” Dorian’s left brow arches, but his eyes still remain closed, the proximity making him feel strange and vulnerable.

“I thought Maevaris was a man's name,” Victor sighs, “It’s the suffix is that tricked me, I hadn’t read the letter carefully,” he explains. Then, like he’s sensing the Tevinter’s discomfort, he slips one hand behind his neck and the other down his lower back. He gently pulls him up, like he’s handling a porcelain doll, and makes him rest with his back leaned on the armrest. He sits too, at an acceptable distance, and Dorian finally opens his eyes.

“Jealous?” He can’t hide the satisfaction, no matter how shaken he is. No one has ever really been jealous of him; possessive, maybe, but as much as you would be of a pretty jewel you don’t want to loose even though it’s not valuable enough to be worth of an insurance. Quite frankly, it feels like a damn pleasant novelty.

“Maker’s breath, yes,” Victor narrows his eyes. “Take good care of him, he’s an orchid in the desert. Must be freezing to death down south blah blah blah. Shit, even Leliana noticed how pissed I was, enough pissed in fact she felt compelled to point out — rather casually, of course — who I thought was a man was actually a woman, and therefore no threat. For all I knew, Maevaris could have been an old lover of yours,” he looks away, “That’s when I started to realize…”

“What?”

“I had got it bad. None at my age can grow that possessive over a person they've met only a bunch of months before. It’s unnatural. I’m not a kid anymore.”

“Oh, come on. You speak like you’re going to die in a couple of years.”

“Dorian, I’m forty.”

“You’re not forty, you’re thirty-nine.”

“Uncharacteristically generous of you, Pavus,” he chuckles. “Well, it’s still almost ten years older than you. The point is, I care about you. I do. And if the only way to prove it is not going any further tonight… Or any time soon, for the matter… No big deal, really. I told you, there are things you can give me that I want much more than sex.”

“How did you—” the mage stares at him in shock, “I am not this easy to read, am I?”

“Wait— you didn’t…?”

“What?”

“You spoke out loud. Ignore me, use me. You won’t want me after,” Victor flatly recites. “I’m no mind reader, I just have hears. Honestly? It almost offends me you'd think I’m some kind of monster that would discard you like—”

“I don’t— Maker’s breath, of course I don’t!” Dorian averts his eyes. He swears, these are the weirdest kind of preliminaries he’s ever done in his entire life.

“Yes, you do. You said it literally five minutes ago,” a gentle finger under his chin turns his head, forcing him back to stare at those azure-whitish eyes. How can ice be so warm though, Dorian will never understand. Nevertheless, he shudders as if he could physically feel the snow over his skin.

“You can’t possibly be stupid enough to take my fears as rational, lucid thinking— Oh.” the Vint’s mouth snaps shut, his eyes widen. Then, after a couple of moments of recovery, blurts out, “clever, Trevelyan.”

“I did nothing,” the smirk says otherwise.

“Asshole. Maker knows how I hate you sometimes,” the fondness in his words it's palpable, despite what he's just said. Dorian half-grins, cat-like, and closes the distance between them: his latent paranoia's disappeared, along with the dreadful voice inside his head. Those are his fears, not his reality; the reality’s that the man he loves likes well, Victor reciprocates his feelings in all the ways he could have hoped for. He very much wants to put his hands all over the Inquisitor’s muscled chest and broad shoulders, right now.

Trevelyan kisses him briefly before pulling away and staring at him dead serious; he suddenly grins like he’s glad, happy and proud of himself all at once, then plants both hands on the Vint’s face to hold him still. 

 

Who dares, wins.

 

“I love you,” he exhales.

 

And that is when the world falters, crumbles to pieces in Dorian’s mind. 

You’re crazy, — his lips trembles so bad his only option is to kiss the shivers away — Why? — Victor kisses him back, one hand in his hair and an arm around his waist, — you don’t really mean it, — Dorian grabs tightly of Victor’s shoulders, shit, he really can’t stop his hands from shaking uncontrollably, — I do, — he hides his face in the crock of the other man’s neck, but no, no matter what he does he can’t cease the tremors running down his spine, — no, you don't, you don't, you can’t! — A hand strokes his neck, — it's this what I've been trying to talk you about, — they stare at each other, — festis bei umo canavarum, — Victor hugs him protectively, — What for?Unluckily the Inquisitor understands Tevene, — I thought you wanted to back out,  — he feels so safe, Maker, it’s too much, — I would never, — a kiss is planted on his temple — When you didn’t come to me right away after… — The smell of leather and licorice fills his nostrils, it’s soothing, — …The kiss, I thought you had decided you were not interested. — No more thinking, no more talking, that scent is like a numbing drug, — I love you, — Victor repeats those unbelievable words and Dorian’s head is at peace, clouded, intoxicated, — me too. — He answers.

Suddenly, the clothes are too many, way too many between their bodies. 

Skin. He needs more skin.

Now.

 

The next moves are a confused blur of unfastening and pulling and tearing cloth apart. The way Victor reverently stares at his half-naked body it’s one of the most obscene flatteries he’s received in all his life, maybe the most obscene flattery he’s received in all his life. 

Dorian revels in it. He stretches under him, exaggeratedly flinches his muscles at every touch, smiles seductively behind his long lashes. He puts on a show, and a good one too. His big grey eyes, almost completely black with lust, seem dark embers ready to swallow everything they lay their gaze on.

Seduction comes to him as easy as casting a basic fire spell: his lover’s stare lights up in flames and crawls over him like a famished hound in front of a banquet. Before he can think of anything witty to say, though, Dorian feels a hot mouth against his hardening cock — when did his trousers end on the floor, anyway? — And loses any ability to form a coherent sentence. 

He’s losing control on the situation all over again, and the breathtaking novelty is that, for the first time in his life, he’s liking it. More than what he thought possible. More than what should be wise.

“Don’t you dare to hold back a single noise. I want the whole fucking Skyhold to hear you,” Victor growls.

“Wouldn’t it be quite inappr— kaffas!” the last letters get lost in a high-pitched moan. Trevelyan has just lifted his hips and is now licking him from the tip of his cock up to his ass. His tongue is slow but firm, pressing him in all the right ways, and another small whine can’t help escaping from the mage’s lips when he feels the subtle presence of teeth against the soft skin of his balls. When the tongue reaches his hole and circles around it a couple of times, he’s sure he’s going to come here and there. Like Victor is sensing it, he slows down, grabs his cock — now fully and almost painfully hard — and grips it at the base, thumb and index joined to form a ring.

 

Ah, the old trick to prevent the fun from ending too soon.

Glad you kno—

 

“—Fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck! Victonh—!” hisses the man when the tongue resumes its previous pace, circling around his hole with studied motions and then dipping inside, the pressure on his dick not diminishing in the slightest, preventing his release. The free thumb circles in the opposite direction of his tongue, adding friction to his already tormented arse, and the pleasure is building up fast, but not strong enough. It’s like tides restrained, growing without being allowed to crash on the rocks, it’s torture and bliss, it’s liquid fire, he’s sure he's going to combust if it keeps building up like this—

Maker if he’s liking this kind of control over his body.

“I need a free hand for a moment here. Think you can hold yourself together if I let go of this lovely cock of yours for a while?” The cold breath against his skin steals Dorian a shiver. He nods, not trusting his voice. The ministrations to his ass resume and the mage inhales deeply, trying to concentrate, while his fingers scrape on the fabric of a pillow with little spasms of uncontrollable arousal. Eyes closed, he hears Victor’s free hand reaching for the drawer next to the couch, senses him opening a vial soon after, and how he manages to do everything with his face buried between his thighs it’s beyond him. If the liquid inside the flask is what he thinks it is, he’s going to be a deeply devoted believer from today on — and oh, okay, apparently he will have to pray Andraste way more often starting from tomorrow, since it actually is what he has hoped for. A slick, lubricated index definitively confirms his newfound obligation towards the Chantry, and Dorian mentally braces himself as Victor parts his asscheeks to slip the coated finger in, slowly. 

Oh so slowly. 

Torturously slowly.

“Fuck, you’re tight.” Light blue eyes meet steel grey’s one for a second, implications of that sentence rising goosebumps on them both. Victor bites Dorian’s inner tight, and the man can only let all the wails he was trying to restrain for the love of decency finally spill from his parted lips. He wouldn't be able to hold them anymore, not even if fucking Corypheus in person asked him pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top to. He almost sobs with pleasure when the finger starts thrusting out and all the way back in with fluid motions, and he screams — much to Victor’s satisfaction — when the tip of it finds his prostate, poking gently, experimenting different kind of pressures. The digit’s rippling rhythm changes when a second finger comes helping the first, lightly scissoring him open with circular motions while still stroking on that delicious bundle of nerves inside him. Dorian's hips buck back and forth of their own accord, urging Trevelyan to take action — a barely dignified mix of feeble encouragement and pleading request. 

He needs more. More pressure, more pushing, more filling.

A third finger joins, further lubricant is added. Dorian feels his skin prickling with unknown energy, desire and frustration making goosebumps rise on his forearms and his muscles contracting in an overload of sensations. Victor grins wickedly and leans against him, pins the mage’s wrists over his head with one hand and uses both his knees to keep the other’s legs fully opened. The contact between their bodies feels thoroughly needed, but it’s not quite enough for the ‘Vint to be satisfied. The mage nuzzles his face in the warrior’s neck and sighs, surrendering to that overwhelming invisible force attraversing him from part to part.

Aa soon as he stops trying to counteract that energy, all the candles in the room light up with flames way too much oversized and unnatural for their wicks; a crystal laugh — serene, amused — rises from Victor’s throat.

“That’s a first. Lovely,” he chuckles, and if Dorian wasn’t so aroused and overwhelmed, he would have slapped him in the face for the audacity of his mouth.

“Let’s see if I can make you burn the whole room down to ashes.” The Inquisitor’s voice from lighthearted suddenly turns rasp, demonic, commanding. Victor lets Dorian’s wrists go and curls around him, gently biting his neck and left shoulder while sliding his free hand down until it reaches the back of his waist. Three fingers start to move in and out of the mage, pushing, stroking, stretching. While a thumb caresses his perineum externally, his prostate is assaulted mercilessly from the inside by the others, and Dorian is lost, utterly gone. He screams, comes. It’s long, longer than he ever though an orgasm could last; the carpet catches on fire, the torches almost set the curtains on fire, the candles melt on the floor, his limbs are on fire, his brain is on fire and kaffas how is it possible it’s lasting this long? He watches his lover’s face, a glowing devilish grin spread all over his handsome features, and the pleasure is so much he would want to cry. After interminable seconds of gasping for air and lungs burning, he finally manages to cry — again — with broken laments. The pleasure doesn’t fade that way either, it grows even stronger instead, like he’s coming all over again, and then again, and again. His back arches, his legs shake, desperate palms try to find something to hold onto, an arm, a shoulder, the pillows, anything. He’s drowning, his head spins, he wants to surrender, he wants to fight back, to let go, to make it stop, no, don’t stop, don’t stop— Almighty Maker!

His vision goes white, then black.

He breathes in again all of a sudden, but he's not sure if he's thankful for it or not. The fingers slow down, then leave him after a final, soft thug. In a heartbeat, a lubricated cock replaces them, fast enough not to make him mourn the loss of friction, but not enough to hurt. The mage feels the man over him shuddering while laying perfectly still, inside just little past the rim of muscle, in an attempt to give him time to accommodate. He’s refraining his own urges, the gentleman. 

Dorian doesn’t want that, though. Oh no, he does not.

“Take me. And stop holding back... You're not the only one who wants more.” The mage anchors his legs to the other man’s hips and pushes down; a shock of pure lust reaches his cock — he’s still aroused, he’s still hard, how? — when he hears Victor inhaling deeply and shuddering above him. The dull ache he feels at the intrusion is strangely welcomed, as if it somehow counterbalanced the overwhelming pleasure of moments before, not by much, just enough to give him time to recover a shred of mental sanity. Lucidity doesn’t last, anyway. It vanishes, engulfed by pleasure, as soon as Victor grips the top of the backrest with one hand and starts pushing in and out with his pelvis, slowly at first, then faster, stronger, brutal.

The sound of meat against meat and flesh over flesh is almost indecent. Dorian's scent is so good the Inquisitor can’t help himself, he lowers his head and licks some dribbles of sweat away, he wipes the salty drops from his neck, collects them on his tongue and leaves a scratch of teeth everywhere his lips pass.

He breathes him, bites him, shudders at the broken Tevene the other is whispering like a forbidden mantra, kisses any inch of flash he manages to reach and chokes within the heat surrounding his cock.

He’s at a loss for words, he, who has always been the clever tongue — the man in front of him is too perfect for words though, too delicate, like glass disguised as steel, and he doesn't know what to say or how to say it. All he knows is that he wants to shield him, not to break him, so he slows down again. Dorian's nails scrape his back, and the Inquisitor lets his hands wander on the side of his lover's thighs, lifts them, admires how fascinatingly beautiful their different skin complexions look like one over the other. Every noise he elicits it's like a hidden treasure, every wail a secret discovered, every shudder a demonstration of trust. He suddenly realizes he can just stare, breathe, taste, feel, hear — perceive him, rather than describe him. Oh, only the Maker knows how close he is now, with Dorian in his arms just as he always pictured him, moaning his name and tugging at his hair in a desperate display of helplessness and arousal.

“Please—… Victor, please. Ahn— Faster. Damn you!”

“Look at me.” when Dorian opens his eyes, blown wide with pleasure, glassy and unfocused, the Freemarcher finally obliges him, boosts the pace again and wraps a hand around his cock. The carpet is still on fire and the torches shine dangerously close to the cloth of the draperies, but Victor doesn’t give a shit. No, the whole Thedas can burn down in flames for all he cares. If it keeps Dorian under him like this, wild and unbound, then no, he really doesn’t give a fuck.

With a last cry, the mage comes in long white stripes, clenches around the inquisitor’s cock and spills his seed on his chest. The tight grip around his length pushes Trevelyan over the edge too — he buries himself deep, chasing up the thrill until it almost turns into pain.

 

The fire on the carpet, torches and candles dies slowly, as if unconsciously retrieved by the hands of its master, and they both collapse on the sofa next to each other. The Inquisitor’s panting hard and the mage’s head is spinning so much it’s making difficult for him to focus on his surroundings, both exhausted enough not to talk for a while. 

“Is everything fine?” asks Victor after a couple of minutes.

“You’ll be the death of me,” Dorian laughs, breathless, “What happened?” He pulls himself up and sits more comfortably on the couch.

“You got excited and magic went wild.”

“Not that. I—” he chuckles, “…Ah, well, sorry for the carpet.”

“Don’t worry, it was a present from a Roieux’s merchant. I hated it.”

“So, what was that?”

“Care to elaborate?”

“I thought I had come four, five times when you... Used your hands. But I haven't, have I?”

“No, you have. Dry orgasm. Never heard about it? No one ever did that to you?”

“I would remember if someone did—” he generically points at one of Victor’s arms, “well, something more than just preparing me for penetration. Trust me, I would remember. Clear as day.”

“Barbaric lovers you’ve had.”

“Luckily I have you now.”

“Luckily you’ll have me for as long as you desire.”

“The things you say.” Dorian side-glances at him. Maker, Victor’s sexy. In a flinch of toned abs, the pale, chiseled torso half rises from the couch and props up towards him.

“Still coming with me at the ball, are you?” He asks, bare centimeters away from his face, all solemn stare and proper Inquisitor voice like it’s something vital for the survival of the World.

“I— …Were you serious?” The Freemarcher arches a brow. “Ok, ok. Fine. Yes. I mean—” Dorian lifts his hands in mock-surrender, then tries to craft a sexy grin, which unfortunately mutinies itself in an awkward joyful smile that makes him way too self-conscious. “Of course I’ll come. Ah-hm.”

“Good.” The other nods and his features relax sensibly. He lays down again, this time with his head on Dorian’s legs and his knees lazily resting over the padded arm on the opposite side of the couch. It’s intimate and casual at the same time, and the mage can’t blame his hands for feeling the need to venture into the warrior’s dark hair. Trevelyan hums happily and closes his eyes in return, perfectly fine with the display of affection. Okay, Dorian very much like this kind of more too. He loves it to the bone, even though he feels his throat bursting with warm, fizzy sparks, and the sensation of a void finally filled makes him almost want to cry again. He breathes in a couple of times, slowly, reminding himself nothing is going to change as soon as he steps out of that door. It sounds almost inconceivable, but Victor has reiterated it with every touch and smile and kiss in the last few hours, so he might as well give him credit and trust his word.

 

“Can you dance?” Trevelyan asks after a while of blissful, post-orgasmic silence.

“Come again?”

“You’ll dance with me, won’t you?”

“Why don’t we fuck in front of the whole southern upper class, while we’re at it?”

“Sounds tempting.”

“Don’t you even dare to—”

“We’ll have a room there. Everyone will know we’re together if you come. Take it or leave it.”

“We’re going to stay the night?” Careless, cocky Dorian Pavus has probably fled out of the window at some point during the night, letting his place to this, this—

 

This is not like me, kaffas.

What’s happening?

 

“Yes. What were you listening to, when Josie briefed us?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were planning to bewilder the whole Empress’s Court by showing up with another man.”

 

I hadn't even imagined you would have wanted to take me, to begin with.

 

“Why not? I love scandal and I love you. When am I going to have the chance to combine both again?”

“You just need to walk next to me in public."

"Dorian, please. I care about this."

"Fine, fine. I’ll come. I’ll dance. Whatever. Just stop with the cheesy remarks, you’re making me—”

“—Blush?”

“Not a chance.”

“You know I can see it, right?”

Dorian scoffs, “I Hope the wine will be worth the trouble, since the company promises to be hideous.”

 

Yes, this sounds definitely more like me.

 

“I’m sure I can change your mind.”

“You can try.”

“Oh, I will.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because...
In the midnight hour he cried, more, more, more!
With a rebel yell he cried, more, more, more!
In the midnight hour, babe, more, more, more!
With a rebel yell he cried, more, more, more!