Chapter 1: Making Friends
Dorian was certain that the big Qunari who had accompanied the Herald was going to approach him at some point. He was the ‘Vint, the intruder, the outsider. Whatever the little inner group had come across prior to meeting him, they had gotten close enough that he could feel the distance. The Herald was trying, bless her, to get closer to him, though he couldn’t for the life of him figure out why. Dorian knew that he was an outsider to the Inquisition and would remain so for his, likely short, arrangement with them. He tried not to let the distance upset him. It did, regardless, but he tried to pretend it didn’t. He had been an outsider enough with his own people. Honestly, it shouldn’t have even bothered him at all, all things considered.
Still, it hurt not to have friends. Or family.
The Herald, or Ellana as she insisted (see: threatened) he call her, was flirting with him unabashedly. He felt a little uncomfortable with flirting back, but something about the twinkle in her eyes told him she knew it didn’t mean anything. He said something utterly outrageous, sending her into a giggle fit and spotted not the Qunari, but his second-in-command, lingering on the steps behind the Herald (Ellana! He was going to need to practice.)
As soon as she left, making her way up to the Chantry, the second-in-command approached Dorian, cautiously.
“You’re a ‘Vint.” The accent was what gave him away. Dorian would recognize another Tevene accent anywhere.
“As are you.” Dorian nodded.
“Not a magister, though.” He was practically glaring daggers.
“What a coincidence, neither am I.” He would have thought another from Tevinter would know the difference between a mage from Tevinter and a magister, but alas not.
“You’re an Altus. Same difference.”
“Close, but even Soporati know the difference between an Altus and a magister.” Dorian knew insulting the other man wasn’t the smartest decision, but all the suspicion was starting to get at him. He’d have to suck it up and learn to deal with it better. He’d be under intense suspicion as long as he was with the Inquisition.
“Why are you here?”
“Looking at that dreadful thing has given me quite the headache. I’d like to remove the eyesore from the picturesque skyline.” Sass had always been his go-to, especially when under scrutiny. It got him into trouble with his parents often enough.
Oddly enough, the other ‘Vint actually smiled at that.
“Are you gonna be a problem for the Chief?”
It took Dorian a moment to connect “the Chief” with the massive Qunari looming at the front gates.
“I would ideally like to avoid him at all possible.” He replied honestly. “The last thing I need is to recreate the silly war between us.” His words felt hollow when his brain slowly put together that the ‘Vint before him was the Qunari’s second-in-command. Obviously, he didn’t have a problem with all ‘Vints, otherwise they wouldn’t work so closely together.
“The Chief’ll come talk to you on his own time.” The man interrupted Dorian’s thoughts. Good thing, too, because Dorian was seriously considering slapping himself with how stupid he was. “He’ll want to keep the air clear, make sure our employment stays steady.”
“I’ll do nothing to jeopardize the Chargers’ employment with the Inquisition. Frankly, it’s none of my business.” Dorian found himself being frightfully honest within the Inquisition. It was partially a defense mechanism from being suspected of everything and anything, but he also found it a bit freeing. Growing up in Tevinter had forced him into the Game way too quickly. Well, the Tevinter version of the Game, which was way less back-stabby and way more blood magic-y than the Orlesian variety. (Maker, he was spending too much time with the Herald if he was starting to think like she talked.) He liked being able to just say his thoughts without worry to political ramifications.
“Good.” The other ‘Vint nodded and held out his hand. “Cremisius Aclassi, call me Krem. I’m the Chief’s lieutenant.”
“Dorian Pavus. I’m no one.” Dorian took the hand with sweaty palms. Only the two of them knew how serious and trusting a handshake was. Dorian was a little awe-struck that the other ‘Vint would offer such trust with so little information.
“Pavus isn’t a ‘no one’ name.” Krem pointed out, showcasing that he was familiar with the noble families in Tevinter. Many Soporati didn’t care enough, living their lives in their own little bubble and trying to survive.
“It is when you’ve been disowned.” Dorian took his hand back, trying not to be giddy by the fact that the only other person from Tevinter was trusting him. It was weird. There was no reason for Krem to trust him in the slightest. Especially not when they came from two so drastically different classes.
“In that case, welcome to the land of misfits.” Krem replied, wryly. “Don’t do anything creepy here and I won’t cut your head off.”
Dorian could tell that “creepy” was shorthand for “blood magic-y”. He didn’t have a chance to respond though, because Krem walked away.
Two days later, Krem had regularly been talking to Dorian, for reasons Dorian couldn’t fathom. He would have guessed that the lieutenant would stay as far from him as humanly possible, yet it seemed the ‘Vint was willingly seeking out his company. They always parted with a friendly reminder that Krem was watching him and would totally kill him if he did something stupid.
The Herald caught the threat once, and not-so-subtly glowered at Krem until he left. Dorian had to explain that it was actually nice to be threatened so blatantly. He was used to the backstabbing corners of Tevinter and the Game. Honesty was refreshing.
“Well, if someone does something or says something, let me know.” She turned her glower to one of the soldiers eyeing how close they were standing. Her fingers tightened on the handle of one of her knives and the soldier looked away quickly. “I won’t have infighting.”
“Of course, my dear Herald.” Dorian grinned and let the woman swat at him with a growling reminder to “call me Ellana, damn it!” He wasn’t certain that even the Herald of Andraste could stop the others from their prejudices and suspicions.
Dorian was part of the party to rescue the Inquisition forces from the Fallow Mire (a ghastly, but entirely appropriately-named place in Ferelden). Though he was constantly being watched while at the base at Haven, he hadn’t expected such vitriol from the soldiers he helped rescue. Which, honestly, he should have. But spending time with the Herald and Krem had made him feel a little less like an outsider. Big mistake.
They had defeated the Avaar, big thanks to the Iron Bull (the big Qunari even had a name it seemed) for distracting that brute. Dorian was on notice to heal any of the soldiers who were wounded. Not that he was great at healing, but enough time on his own and traveling with a fighting party made him brush up and learn some new skills. As soon as the Herald (Ellana; he’d figure this out eventually) had the door open, she stepped inside to get a good look at the soldiers.
“Dorian, his leg.” She pointed as her eyes ran over the group. Dorian knelt next to the man, who flinched and tried to scramble away from him. Shock slapped Dorian before he remembered what he was. A Tevinter mage far, far from home. Not that Tevinter was really home anymore. Not with what had happened.
“Just need a bandage, milady.” The soldier refused to even look at him.
“Nonsense.” The Herald stood over Dorian’s shoulder. “You can’t even put weight on that leg. Let him heal you and we can get out of here.”
“I can walk!” The soldier defended.
“I can help him.” Another soldier piped up, sliding between the injured man and Dorian protectively. The Herald put a hand on Dorian’s shoulder, her eyes narrowing.
“We don’t have another healer here. If that injury gets infected before we get back to Haven, you’re going to lose that leg. And you’re willing to just throw it away because you hate Dorian? For no reason?” Her voice was calm, but everyone could tell the Herald was pissed.
“It’s all right.” Dorian said quietly, getting to his feet and backing away from the injured man.
“It’s not all right.” She gritted her teeth for a moment before taking a deep breath. “Let’s get out of here.” She kept her hand on Dorian’s arm, fingers tight against his forearm. They led the group from the stronghold silently. “I’m so sorry, Dorian.”
“It’s not personal.” Dorian murmured to her. “It’s just that I’m a ‘Vint. Old prejudices die hard.”
“It is personal.” Lavellan argued. “You are more than just where you’re born. We have a Qunari spy who commands less distrust than you.”
“Can’t argue with that, Boss.” The Iron Bull’s voice was soft, but it still made Dorian jump. “But ‘Vints got blood magic. All I’ve got is horns and a big fucking axe.”
“Not all ‘Vints do blood magic. And some mages from the rest of the world do perform blood magic.” Lavellan snapped. “Tevinter doesn’t have exclusive rights to atrocities in the world!”
Dorian felt his gut clench at her adamant defense of his country. No matter its faults, he still loved Tevinter. He wished it could be as good as it pretended it was.
“Lavellan…” Dorian spoke quietly to try to calm her down. “We can discuss this later. Let’s just get back to the camp first, yes?”
The elf huffed and dropped her hand from his arm, stomping ahead to try to calm her anger. When people insulted her and distrusted her, she could keep her head all day and all night. But the instant someone even thought something against one of her own, Lavellan turned into a mother dragon. Dorian was surprised that he had become one of her own in the short time he had known her. He hadn’t expected such loyalty ever, much less so fast.
“You saved her life.” The Iron Bull was still behind him. Dorian jumped again and gave the Qunari an irritated glance. “Boss takes that personally. Don’t abuse that.”
“Maker knows I couldn’t even if I tried.” Dorian rolled his eyes hard. “She’s too smart for that.”
The Iron Bull huffed out a grunt of agreement. They didn’t speak again until they were back in Haven.
Chapter 2: Making Enemies
Dorian had managed, with the persuasion of coin, to get a bottle of wine from the tavern. Not that he’d drink it in there, with so many eyes and so much suspicion and distrust it was choking the air, but he’d still gotten a bottle. He had a little cot in the building Adan had claimed as his workshop (and only because he assisted Adan regularly in his potion-brewing) and it was the only place that could be considered private for him. Adan hated people lurking in his space, and everyone knew it. As such, people rarely intruded on Dorian in the building. Adan would’ve chased them out with a wooden spoon had they even lingered in the doorway too long.
Dorian didn’t have any goblets or glasses, so he drank straight from the bottle. Just a sip here or there, helping to relax him. Also to make the bottle last longer. He didn’t think it wise to try to beg alcohol off the bartender regularly. He didn’t think he’d get poisoned, but he also didn’t want to get on anyone’s bad side. And Maker knew people were territorial about their drinking.
“Got a lot of nerve invading our camp, ‘Vint.” Dorian glanced up from his intense staring contest with his cot to see five men standing in the doorway. A quick glance told him Adan (and his only form of protection) was not there. Something must have called him away, as the man was a notorious workaholic. Dorian suspected the five men before him probably had something to do with it.
“I was invited here, by the illustrious Herald of Andraste, herself. I have invaded nothing.” Dorian knew, as soon as the words were out of his mouth that nothing short of groveling and begging and promising to leave that very instant would have calmed the situation down. And maybe not even that. The leader of the little gang was wearing iron gauntlets. Dorian felt them quite clearly when the punch landed on his temple. Two more hits to his chest and he was on the floor, blinking heavily through the gash pouring blood down his face and trying to restart his brain.
He couldn’t fight back. Nobody would believe that he didn’t start it if his attackers had any injury on them whatsoever. He couldn’t talk his way out of it. They were dead set on beating him before they even entered the building. He couldn’t escape. There were five of them and probably more watched the exits, making sure he couldn’t get away. He had to just protect whatever of him he could and try to survive. He couldn’t use his magic to do it either. Any magic at all and they’d cry foul. If they didn’t beat him to death, he’d have to figure out a new place to put his cot. Somewhere safer, preferably.
A loud crash interrupted the boots attempting to kick at his gut. He had curled up in a ball enough such that they weren’t breaking his ribs, but it still hurt like fuck. Dorian didn’t bother looking up, just curled up tighter on himself, trying to protect as much as himself as possible.
“Hey, ‘Vint.” The Iron Bull’s voice was so out of place that Dorian peered around his arms with the one eye not blinded with blood. He caught sight of the five soldiers groaning in misery on the ground behind the massive Qunari. Then his gaze focused on the Iron Bull’s large hand, fingers stretched out in an offering for help. Well, most of the fingers. Two of the digits were missing a piece. Strange that Dorian would focus on that. His head was ringing. Maybe it was the concussion raging in his skull.
“Hey.” The Iron Bull was blurry past his fingers, but Dorian could hear the concern. He blinked hard and took the hand tightly. As soon as the Qunari started pulling him upright, Dorian felt every bruise on his torso. He wheezed out a breath of pain and doubled-over.
“Shit. Sorry.” The Iron Bull helped him all the way to his feet and tilted his head a bit, glancing over Dorian’s wounds. Dorian couldn’t make out the expression on the Qunari’s face. He wasn’t able to focus that much. “Dorian?”
“Fine.” Even Dorian could tell his voice was slurred.
“Come on, ‘Vint. Let’s get you fixed up.” The Iron Bull kicked one of the soldiers aside and offered an arm to keep Dorian upright. Dorian was actually disappointed that he had been relegated back to “’Vint’” when his name sounded so nice coming from the Iron Bull’s deep, rich timbre. He shook his head and regretted that decision immediately when his vision swam and his body swayed. He toppled into the Iron Bull’s chest. It was a fairly nice chest. Loads of scars, but big and broad and made of pure muscle. Dorian liked it.
“Don’t need fixing.” He muttered. Did his legs work? He’d have to check.
“Try again.” The Iron Bull didn’t sound amused in the slightest. Maybe he was mad at Dorian? Everyone seemed to be mad at Dorian. “I’m not mad at you, Dorian.”
His name sounded nice in that gravelly rough voice.
“’m fine.” Dorian insisted. “Just need a minute to…” He lost his train of thought as the Iron Bull helped him hobble from the building.
Dorian looked at the big grey chest next to him for a long moment before turning around and vomiting all over the snow bank outside the front door.
Dorian coughed and gagged for a few moments, waiting to make sure his stomach decided to stop roiling before he straightened. His ribs and gut ached and he couldn’t think straight.
“All right, let’s get you taken care of.” The Iron Bull swept Dorian into his arms with a gentleness Dorian didn’t expect, though he did protest being carried about. “It’s late; no one will notice.” It took about three steps for Dorian to give in and let his body relax in the Qunari’s arms. He was too tired and too much in pain to care much of propriety at the moment. He shut his eyes, trying to block out the pain.
When he next came to, he was lying on a cot, he was naked from the waist up (which meant he was freezing from the waist up), and he was in a tent with Krem and one of the other Chargers, though Dorian hadn’t met them so he didn’t know the man’s name. Dorian could see the massive silhouette of the Iron Bull looming outside the tent entrance behind Krem. His head was still pounding, but the pain in his torso had dulled to an ache.
“What…?” His voice sounded awful, but at least he wasn’t slurring anymore. He thought about sitting up, but the other man put a hand on his shoulder to keep him still.
“You’re safe, ‘Vint.” Krem promised. “Stitches here is taking good care of you. You’ll have to drink some of his nasty-ass potions, though.”
“They’re poultices.” Stitches corrected automatically, like it was an old, familiar argument.
“What?” Dorian was trying to think straight, but he kept coming up with how goddamned cold it was in Ferelden.
“What do you remember?” Krem asked, patiently, while Stitches bustled around Dorian on the cot.
“I had the shit kicked out of me.” Dorian said. “The Iron Bull showed up. Now, I’m here.”
“The Chief saw the idiots headed your way, figured they were up to some bullshit. He brought you back here. Stitches can’t heal everything, but at least you didn’t break anything.”
“Concussion, bruised ribs, bruises all over the torso, cut and bruise on the left temple, bruised on the forearms.” Stitches intoned, almost under his breath. “You’re lucky it’s mostly bruises. Poultices heal those real quick.”
“They don’t heal concussions.” Dorian pointed out.
“You’ve still got yours.” Stitches replied.
“That would explain why my skull is trying to crack open.” Dorian groaned and shut his eyes.
“Can’t you heal yourself?” Krem asked.
“Can.” Dorian replied. “But need to focus. Hard to focus with a concussion.”
“Try.” The Iron Bull’s voice made Dorian shiver in a way that was entirely inappropriate given the circumstances.
“Bossy.” Dorian muttered under his breath, mostly to remind himself that the man was a Qunari spy who was probably already compiling a report on how the weakling Tevinter Altus got beat up because he couldn’t fight back against the soldiers. It didn’t help, just made him feel more awful.
Half an hour, a couple of disgusting poultices, and some healing magic later, Dorian was starting to feel semi-human again. He was still semi-bruised, but the cut on his head had sealed and was now merely another bruise. The Iron Bull hadn’t moved from his position outside the tent, though he stepped aside to let Stitches out. And Krem was still sitting by Dorian’s side, obediently handing over the clothes and pieces of Dorian’s chest armor one bit at a time. It was too damn cold in Ferelden to go without clothing.
“Why?” He asked the other ‘Vint softly. Krem hummed a question in response. “Why did you help me? Why do you even care?”
“The Chief.” Krem shrugged as if that were all the answer in the world. Dorian snorted and settled on the cot.
“I am the embodiment of everything that ever hurt you in your life. Why would you ever help me?” Krem hadn’t told Dorian his story, they weren’t friendly enough for that, but Dorian was no fool. Krem was a Soporati that much was obvious, and probably was in the army. He was too good a fighter for anything else. If he was in a mercenary band traveling in Orlais and Ferelden, he was a deserter. That was more than enough to tell Dorian than Tevinter hadn’t been kind to the mercenary.
Krem took a moment to ponder his answer. He glanced at the big, lurking shadow of his leader behind him and sighed. When he turned back, he met Dorian’s gaze without a hint of emotion.
“The Chief told me to find out what kind of ‘Vint you were.” He admitted. Dorian thought as much. “’m not Ben-Hassrath, but I can read other ‘Vints pretty well. You’re not like the other magisters I’ve met.”
Dorian almost rolled his eyes. One day, he’d get it through people’s thick skulls that he was not a magister.
“Sorry, Altus.” Krem corrected.
“What if I’m just playing the long game? Luring you into a false sense of security by not acting like other ‘Vints?” Dorian couldn’t help the sarcasm in his tone. He’d heard it too much.
“Nah.” Krem actually smiled. Dorian was very confused. “You’re a ball of mush.”
Dorian wasn’t sure if he should be offended or not. Being a ball of mush was apparently what was giving him allies, but it didn’t seem particularly masculine or heroic to be a ball of mush.
“Pardon me, I’m a bit confused.” Dorian blinked carefully.
“You’re not like other ‘Vints.” Krem repeated, calmly. “You care. I’ve seen it. Plus, you like being able to be blunt and honest. Saw it the first time we talked. You’re not a spy. You wouldn’t be good at it.”
Dorian was certain he was supposed to be offended, but he couldn’t find the energy to care.
“So, you talk to me because I’d be a bad spy?”
“I talk to you to gather information for the Chief.”
“And you say I’m a bad spy. Aren’t you not supposed to tell your mission to others?”
“Tell that to the Chief. He told the Herald straight away what he was doing.”
“Look,” Krem waited until he had Dorian’s focus, “We’ve talked enough and been honest with each other enough that you should know: the Chargers like you.”
“Why?” Dorian had no idea where that had come from. He’d gone out of his way to avoid the Chargers (well, except Krem) to stay away from the Iron Bull.
“Because you’re funny and you care and you’ve healed each of us at least once at this point.”
Dorian didn’t remember that bit.
“Point is: we like you well enough. You should spend more time with the others.”
“And maybe we’ll all be braiding each other’s hair by next week.” Dorian muttered.
“Maybe. But I think Dalish is the only one with hair long enough and she’d probably stab you before you could try.” Krem shrugged.
The Iron Bull cleared his throat and Krem’s spine straightened.
“The Chief wants a word.” He got up and left the tent. The Iron Bull somehow managed to fit within the tent, though Dorian wasn’t really sure how. Even with magic, he figured it was a lost cause fitting a being that large in a tent this small. Nevertheless, the Iron Bull fit his entire frame (and horns!) within the fabric walls. Dorian noticed Krem’s shadow stay close to the tent. He felt a little better about having the closest person to a real friend he had nearby. (Though Lavellan would punch him if she wasn’t considered one of his friends.)
“You should stay with the Chargers.” The Iron Bull spoke without preamble.
“Pardon?” Dorian wasn’t sure his brain was right. Sure, he healed the concussion, but conversations were getting weird.
“The Chargers like you, like Krem said. No one comes and messes around our camp either. You’ll be safer here.”
Succinct and true. But still, Dorian was hesitant to accept. Something was fishy here. The Qunari spy shouldn’t have been inviting him in without cause or suspicion. Maybe his orders were to befriend him?
“And we should tell the Herald.”
“No.” Dorian rejected that outright. “Absolutely not.”
“Well, Cullen at the very least.” The Iron Bull insisted. “He’s got to keep order in his ranks.”
“Look, tattling to the teacher is all well and good when the stakes are an extra dessert at supper. This is my life we’re speaking of.” Dorian shook his head. Mistake. His head still ached from the concussion. “They would have killed me tonight. I can’t chance pissing them off like that.”
The Qunari considered that, his eye eerily focused on Dorian.
“If there are no repercussions, they’ll try again.” He pointed out.
“They had their heads bashed together by a Qunari.” Dorian retorted.
“Which isn’t so much a repercussion as it is me allying myself with you. Now, they’ll know to bring more people to fight off both of us.”
“Yes, but me even having allies could dissuade them.”
“Or it could get them more fired up.”
“What? I’m brainwashing people now?”
“They already think you’ve enchanted the Herald.”
Dorian sighed and rolled his eyes. People, he decided, were stupid.
“I don’t want to escalate the situation.” He said, softly. “And I don’t want to put anybody in their crosshairs. It’s me they want.”
“Too late.” The Iron Bull crossed his massive arms. It distracted Dorian’s frazzled mind. Nobody’s biceps should be that defined. “I’ve already put myself in the middle of this. And, frankly, the Chargers wouldn’t let me stand alone even if I wanted to.”
“Damn right!” Krem added.
“Okay.” Dorian gave in with a sigh. He could tell a losing battle when he saw one. And, it would be nice not having to fend for himself by himself. Though, he was certain he wouldn’t be making friends with anyone, no matter what Krem insisted. “I’ll stay here with the Chargers. But let’s not go to Cullen just yet. Maybe things will calm down now that they’ve got it out of their system.”
“Or maybe now that they’ve scented your blood they’ll be even worse.”
“You know, I used to think I was pessimistic.” Dorian rolled his eyes.
“Get some rest.” The Iron Bull shifted, like he was about to leave. Not that he could stand. “I won’t tell Cullen. For now.”
“And the Chargers?” Dorian couldn’t help but ask. He didn’t much trust the spy, which he felt was a valid reason not to trust somebody.
“I couldn’t stop their yapping even if I wanted to.”
With a chuckle, the Iron Bull left the tent.
“This tent is in the middle of the Chargers tents.” Krem poked his head back inside. “It’s a spare we had, so it’s yours now.”
“Why are you being so nice? You’re mercenaries.” Dorian asked.
“We were all bullied and thrown away like trash at one point.” Krem shrugged. “’Sides, Chief said you were buddy-buddy with the Herald. If she likes you and we protect you, she’ll like us, too.”
Dorian couldn’t really find fault with that logic.
Chapter 3: Yeah, He's Hot
Dorian knew his attackers by sight the next morning. He was sitting by himself at the fire, stirring whatever gloppy substance was determined to be breakfast. He figured he should probably eat it but was busy working up the courage to even put it in his mouth.
“Sparkler!” Varric settled down on the log next to him with his own bowl of mysterious slop.
“You do know that no one else is going to see that nickname as harmless, hm?” Dorian asked. Varric seemed to be the only one who bought his story, aside from Leliana and Lavellan (though Lavellan liked to see the best in people and Leliana probably had stalked his entire life out). As such, Varric was one of the few who didn’t seem to mind being near him. Dorian wouldn’t call them friends, but Varric was at least friendly. Dorian made the effort to be friendly back.
“I don’t know; the kids love it.” Varric shot him a smirk and stirred his bowl thoughtfully. “Say, what’s going on with all the glaring?”
“Hmm?” Dorian followed Varric’s eye line to a cadre of bruised men. They glowered at him like they could kill him with their thoughts. “Ah, yes. Ardent admirers of mine. They’re fascinated with Tevinter fashion.”
“Looks more like they’re trying to learn Qunari fashion.” Varric suggested.
“They do seem rather poorly dressed.” Dorian agreed.
The group seemed to come to a consensus and started walking across the yard towards Dorian with purpose. Shit.
“Now, this food looks horrible!” Krem plopped on the log on Dorian’s other side. Grim grunted in agreement as he settled on the neighboring log. Dorian abruptly found himself surrounded by Bull’s Chargers. The men all froze. With identical snarls, they returned to their side of the yard, grumbling the whole while.
“Sure about that ‘leaving you alone’ thing?” Dorian jumped at the Iron Bull’s deep voice resonating behind him.
“Of course.” He gave the Qunari an irritated glance. Nothing that big should be that quiet.
“Mm hm.” The Iron Bull crossed his arms and watched the men carefully, blatantly ignoring his crew and the food.
Which was how Dorian ended up eating all his meals for the next fortnight: surrounded by the Chargers with the Iron Bull lurking at his back, a scowl on his face, and murder in his eye. It was weird. Somehow, Dorian had become part of the group. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with that knowledge. But when Dalish came to him to speak in private about her “arrows” and “how to sharpen them better”, Dorian realized that he’d been informally adopted into Bull’s Chargers.
Not that they managed to keep all the harassment away. No matter how much they tried, even the Chargers couldn’t be with Dorian all day, every day. The men kept their distance, though. He was mostly just pelted with rocks and ice balls when he walked around. A cut here or a bruise there and they were satisfied for a short while. Luckily, he was never hit with food, though that was because the Inquisition barely had enough food as it was, much less enough to get rotten. Only once did the group attempt to corner Dorian. The leader managed to get one punch in before the Iron Bull walked around the corner. His mere presence backed them off, much to Dorian’s relief.
Still, the Iron Bull kept his distance, even when his Chargers didn’t. It wouldn’t do to admit it, but Dorian noticed. And tried not to say anything. He didn’t really succeed. Lavellan took both he and the Iron Bull (along with Sera, oddly enough) to the Storm Coast not a day after Rocky tried to convince Dorian to help test out his newest explosive. Dorian was following along behind their fearless Herald, blatantly avoiding looking at the sea (because getting seasick on a boat was one thing; being seasick on land would be quite too much, honestly), when his stupid mouth ran away from him (as it was want to do).
“I hope it doesn’t bother you to travel alongside a ‘Vint, Iron Bull.”
The damn Qunari didn’t even react to Dorian speaking.
“That what you are?” The Iron Bull replied lightly. “You people all kinda look the same to me.”
Dorian thought about being offended for a moment, but decided it was probably a compliment in a roundabout, weird, Qunari way.
“I’m also a mage.” He pointed out. “Would you prefer me bound and leashed?”
“I’d buy you dinner first.”
It took him a full second to realize what he had said and how the Iron Bull had interpreted it. He felt himself flush (for the first time in a long time) and deliberately turned his mind away from the gutter.
“Hopefully before you sewed my mouth shut.”
“Depends on how much you keep yapping.” The Iron Bull shot a smirk over his shoulder to let Dorian know he was kidding. Dorian rolled his eyes in response, making sure the Qunari could see the movement. His smirk widened and he turned back away from Dorian, showing off the rippling muscles of his back.
Dorian could tell, based on the eye, the brace, and the missing fingers, that the Iron Bull was well-seasoned. Even before he had witnessed the man fight, it was obvious just in his build. He was large, and it was easy to think he was bulky, but the more Dorian looked (and he couldn’t help it, he was only human, for Andraste’s sake!), the more he realized that the Iron Bull was anything but. The definition in his form was deceptive. One would think he would be slow based on size alone, but Dorian had seen more than once how quick the Iron Bull was. There was a hidden elegance to how he was built. Like a stronghold. Large, sturdy, and resilient, but still somehow… beautiful.
Dorian had always been attracted to muscles, and he knew it. The Iron Bull was built precisely the way Dorian would have imagined an ideal lover. Which meant he was dangerous. Not that it kept Dorian from looking. The Iron Bull’s back was a treasure trove of scars etching his bulk into proper form. All he wanted to do was taste every line he could see (and all the ones he couldn’t). Luckily, since the Iron Bull didn’t have eyes in the back of his head, Dorian could get away with looking. So, he looked his fill. It helped keep his mind off the roiling waters nearby. (And that was his excuse if he got caught.)
When they traveled, they had their own tiny tents in their packs, but they never really needed them. Lavellan was really good at navigating and knew how to get them back to the main camp before nightfall without fail. The downside to being part of the rest of the camp was that they shared tents. So, Dorian had the unfortunate (he was such a bad liar) luck of sharing with the Iron Bull. Mainly because no one wanted to share with a Qunari or a ‘Vint. The problem came when they went to sleep and Dorian got to stare at the specimen before him. He tried not to (not very hard), but never succeeded.
“Go to sleep, ‘Vint.” The Iron Bull muttered. Dorian jumped and rolled over, his face burning. He couldn’t help but glance over his shoulder. The Iron Bull had a smug smile on his lips, though his eye was still shut. Ass.
The next day, Dorian had to prod again, to find out why the Iron Bull was so cold when his Chargers weren’t.
“Nothing at all, Bull?” He asked, following along up the steep, mountainous slope. “No problem having a ‘Vint behind you?” He was lagging a bit behind, from the rocky terrain and the fact that it was too damn cold and he wasn’t particularly used to hauling himself all over a ravine.
“Hope you like the view.” Dorian blinked at the grey hand in his view. The Iron Bull had stopped long enough to offer him a hand up the next boulder. And he looked pretty damn attractive in that position, damn him. He had a light smirk and a tiny sheen of sweat that, for some obscene reason, just made Dorian want to lick him all over. Yes, Dorian enjoyed the view very much.
Dorian felt his cheeks start to burn and tried to shove it back by reminding himself that his people had been at war with the Qunari for centuries. Nothing like realism to ruin a crush. Not that it was a crush, since he just though the Iron Bull was attractive and that’s where any sort of feelings ended, thank you very much.
“You can’t deny you enjoy butchering my people.” Dorian decided to ignore the Iron Bull’s comment entirely. Though, he did take the proffered hand. The Iron Bull hauled him up the boulder like he weighed nothing.
“Hey, butchering implies I’m gonna eat ‘em.” He pointed out. “Most ‘Vints are just gristle and fat in a red wine marinade.”
“Well, that much is true.” Dorian agreed with a little head tilt. It was only then that he realized that the Iron Bull hadn’t let go of his hand. And Dorian hadn’t stepped away yet. Dorian blinked up at the Qunari, fighting his blush with all his power.
“Guys!” Lavellan called from ahead of them. “I found a thing!”
“Is it glowing?” Dorian was distracted from the Iron Bull’s proximity by the idea that the Herald would do something silly like touch a glowing thing. (She claimed she only did it once, but once was more than enough for Dorian.)
“Don’t touch it!” He hurried up the slope to find out what Lavellan had found. Luckily, she hadn’t touched it (yet), but it definitely was glowing.
Chapter 4: Closing the Breach
It only took another fortnight before Lavellan felt confident enough to attempt closing the Breach. Dorian himself wasn’t particularly confident, though he never told Lavellan that. She had enough on her mind. She came by to speak with him daily. Sometimes they spoke of magic and the Breach and Dorian’s own Tevinter Imperium, and other times they discussed inane things like their favorite way to eat hare, what their favorite drinking song was, or who was more attractive in the Inquisition. (Lavellan had money on Cullen being the most classically attractive, but Solas having the mystique. She managed to coax out from Dorian that he found the Iron Bull inexplicably attractive, though he was sure to add Cullen to his list, because even if it would never happen in a million years, the man was still pretty to look at.)
As they spoke of the Breach, they got together with Solas and Vivienne to determine the best way to approach trying to close the damn thing. They agreed on Solas being the voice telling the other mages what to do, with Vivienne getting everyone in the right position, and Dorian helping funnel support to Lavellan. They planned it out so much that by the time they trekked everyone up the mountain, it all seemed rather boring.
It hurt, channeling all that power towards Lavellan. Dorian wasn’t sure how she was handling it, considering he could only hear his blood pounding in his ears, but he hoped she was okay. She was the only person with any sort of power who seemed to care about him. And, frankly, she was persistent enough that he genuinely cared about her, too.
It seemed far too soon for the amount of power required that the rift before them, and the Breach itself, were sealed away. Or maybe it had taken forever and Dorian lost track of time due to the sheer immense power he had to handle. Or maybe the rift itself messed with time. He wasn’t even sure anymore. But when the green light faded and the dust cleared, all he could see was Lavellan, face-down in the dirt.
No thought crossed Dorian’s mind at the sight; he just knew he had to get to her right fucking now. He wasn’t sure how he moved, considering his legs felt like jelly after all that power and he wasn’t really in true control of his faculties, but he was by her side before anyone else. He took a moment to take stock of Lavellan before rolling her over. He touched her wrist and found her pulse, fluttering and weak.
A cadre of swear words filled his mind. She accidentally tapped into her life force. She was going to die if he didn’t give her some more power. He was running on fumes, but he still had enough to keep her alive until someone could pass over a lyrium potion. Well, hopefully. His hands were shaking, almost violently, but he couldn’t help it. He settled her head and shoulders on his lap and held his hand over her chest. He shut his eyes and prayed to Andraste that she would be safe. Please don’t let her die.
The cold touch of metal to his neck made him freeze. He didn’t stop channeling power to her (he wouldn’t dare), but he opened his eyes. One of his tormentors looked almost rabid with his sword to Dorian’s neck. His eyes were wide and his teeth were bared and a small line of spit ran down his chin.
“Hands off the Herald!” He hissed, nostrils flaring.
“I’m keeping her alive, you daft moron.” Dorian snarled right back. He was sick and tired of them in the first place, but they would have to drag his cold, dead corpse away from Lavellan before he stopped trying to take care of her.
“You’re killing her!”
The soldier raised his sword with a furious yell and somehow an axe inserted itself between Dorian and the strike. The metal clanged together loudly, making Dorian’s ears ring. Dorian looked up to the Iron Bull staring down the soldier with total and utter focus. Dorian had never seen the Iron Bull look so fixated on something. Usually, he had a big grin on his face while he cut his way through their enemies. Not this… focus. (It was somehow a little arousing, which made Dorian want to slap himself.)
Everything seemed to pause.
“Soldier!” Cullen’s voice rang out in sharp reprimand, shattering the moment. “Explain yourself!”
“The ‘Vint is trying to kill the Herald of Andraste!” The man backed away from the Iron Bull, eyes wide.
“The ‘Vint’, as you say, is saving her life.” Vivienne spoke up. Somehow, she managed to not sound exhausted, though Dorian wasn’t sure how. If he was practically passed out, she couldn’t be much better. He glanced back and saw the army of mages on the walls in various states of barely holding it together. Some had passed out, lying prone in the dirt, others were leaning on their staves to keep themselves upright, and some were sitting on the ground, trying to breathe through the exertion.
Vivienne sauntered up to him, lyrium potion in hand, like she was on an afternoon stroll through the gardens. It was actually irritating how perfect her poise was. Keeping her eyes firmly on the soldier, she bent down and offered the rim of the bottle to Dorian’s lips. He took a gulp of the noxious potion (seriously, how had no one come up with a better tasting lyrium potion by now?!) and felt energy fill his chest. He was still weary and limp, but he had the power to keep Lavellan alive now. Which was really the only thing that mattered.
“That strike could have hit the Herald.” Cullen approached the soldier warily, knowing full-well the man was a smidge from cracking entirely. “Did you consider that, in attempting to kill Dorian, you could have hurt her?”
The look on the man’s face told Dorian he had not, in fact, considered that.
“I… I never… He’s actually killing her!”
“Dorian would never hurt her, you moronic ingrate.” Vivienne sniffed haughtily.
“They travel the wilderness together and he heals her on a near daily basis when they’re out.” Leliana appeared out of fucking nowhere, her voice calm and firm. “If he had wanted to kill her, an accident in the wilderness is much easier to explain away.”
“Plus, he’s my friend.”
Everyone jumped at the sound of her voice. Lavellan sat up, gingerly, and glanced at Dorian.
“I overdid it, didn’t I?” She looked almost sheepish though the fatigue on her features.
“Just a bit.” Dorian sighed in relief, letting go of his magic in favor of trying to keep his head from splitting open. She was alive and conscious. Everything would be fine.
“Sorry.” She gave him a small grimace and then carefully got to her feet. Dorian watched with bated breath. There was no way she should have had the energy to stand and walk on her own. Sheer stubbornness, he decided, was how she survived. Dumb luck and stubbornness. It was the only explanation that made any sort of sense. She looked at the soldier, eyes narrowed.
“Soldier, what is your name?” She asked, voice calm and strong.
“Whitley, my lady Herald.” The man swallowed tightly. “Conrad Whitley.”
“Conrad Whitley, you tried to kill my friend.”
His eyes, if possible, got even wider.
“Fortunately for you, the Inquisition needs every man it can get.” Dorian could tell that she was pissed. “However, you have proven to be untrustworthy with weapons. If you so easily attack another member of the Inquisition, how can I be certain you will follow orders when dealing with outsiders? You’ll be relegated to manual labor and you are banned from being anywhere near the armory. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, my lady Herald.” Conrad Whitley dropped his sword into the dirt and fell to his knees.
“And if anyone,” Her voice carried through the makeshift amphitheater, “Tries to harm any member of the Inquisition ever again, this is your one warning: I will not tolerate infighting, I will not tolerate targeting of my friends, and I will not be forgiving.”
She looked around to make sure everyone was paying attention.
“Dorian has saved my life many times over. He has proven himself a valuable member of the Inquisition. He has proven his loyalty above and beyond most of you. Every member of my inner circle has done the same. You target them, and you’re targeting the Herald of Andraste. We are working to save the world and you want to have petty squabbling and infighting? How can we save everyone if we don’t work together? Orlais, Ferelden, the Free Marches, the Tevinter Imperium, Rivain, the Anderfels, Antiva, Maker, even Par Vollen. We’re saving the world. Not just the people we like the best. So, get on board with that or get the fuck out of the Inquisition.”
She nodded at Cullen, who had a couple other soldiers drag Conrad Whitley away from her.
“Now, we just closed the Breach! I say we party!”
A cheer rose up, loud from the soldiers, weary from the mages, but all in agreement. Dorian blinked up at Ellana, brain trying to figure out how the fuck she managed to berate everyone’s intolerance and also get them excited about throwing a party all in one lecture. She was magic. That had to be it. Maybe she was the Herald of Andraste.
Soldiers helped carry and cart the unconscious and barely conscious mages back down the forsaken mountain and Vivienne and Leliana helped hold Ellana upright. Dorian wasn’t quite sure how to make his legs work, so continued to just sit on the frozen ground. (Why was everything in the south so fucking cold?!)
“Dorian.” Ellana’s voice made him focus. He looked up at her. She was blurry. He blinked a couple of times to make her come into focus. His head was in agony. “Is this the first time?”
What? Dorian was very confused.
“No.” The Iron Bull spoke for the first time.
Ellana gritted her teeth and bent down, only staying on her feet thanks to Leliana and Vivienne. She slapped Dorian across the face. The pain and shock of it snapped his brain into gear.
“Ow.” He muttered. Ellana straightened and wobbled. Cullen appeared at her back, taking over for Vivienne.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Ellana demanded.
“Because I didn’t want them to escalate.” Dorian sighed. “I thought if I went running to you, they’d think I was weak, so target me again, or they’d be even more mad for me getting them in trouble, so they’d get worse.”
“They got worse anyway.” The Iron Bull was so not helping.
“You knew, too?” Ellana narrowed her gaze at the Qunari. He nodded and bent down, allowing her to slap him, as well. “Tell me everything.” She demanded. “And don’t lie to me.” Dorian briefly explained the situation from start to finish, with the Iron Bull helpfully including extraneous details like how many bruises he got and how many rocks were thrown.
“I wish you would have told us.” Cullen shook his head with a sigh.
“You didn’t have to tell me.” Ellana corrected. “But you needed to tell Cullen.”
Dorian blinked at her. She was mad but also… sad. Upset. He had been hurt under her watch and she didn’t know. She didn’t protect him. Dorian felt like an idiot. He wanted her to slap him again.
“If there’s dissention in the ranks, it festers.” Cullen explained. “We can’t work together, fight together, if there isn’t camaraderie. If some of the group want to hurt all outsiders and the rest don’t, they’ll never work together. Not in the way they should. Besides, I’m in charge of protecting the members of the Inquisition. All the members of the Inquisition. That includes from other members of the Inquisition. I’m so sorry I failed you, Dorian. It won’t happen again.”
“It was my fault as well. I should have been keeping better tabs on our own people.” Leliana nodded in agreement.
Now, Dorian felt like trash. He’d upset his friend and he’d upset the Commander and he’d upset the Spymaster. He was such a wreck. He should leave while he still had the chance.
“If anyone even looks at you funny again, tell us.” Ellana demanded. “Or I’ll come and beat you up myself.”
“It won’t happen again.” Dorian agreed, softly.
“Damn right it won’t.” The Iron Bull agreed. Ellana’s eyes flickered up to the Qunari. Some unspoken communication happened there that Dorian had to admit he was a little envious of. Then, she nodded and leaned back. Her head dipped for a moment and her blinking was taking longer and longer.
“Get her back to Haven.” Dorian told Cullen. “She needs rest.”
“Bossy.” Ellana complained softly, but her lips were quirked in a smile.
“I’ll not have you dying on me when I’ve worked so hard to keep you alive.” His haughty tone was pure bravado; Dorian was pretty sure he could barely stand up at this point.
“Aye, aye, Cap’n Tightpants, sir.”
“That’s Mr. Captain Tightpants to you, young lady.” Dorian couldn’t help the tease. He was just so relieved that she didn’t hate him and that the Breach was closed and everyone was walking away unharmed. Well, physically unharmed.
Cullen lifted Ellana into his arms with ease. Dorian spotted the flush on her cheeks, but he wasn’t sure the Commander noticed. He grinned at her over Cullen’s shoulder. She stuck her tongue out and relaxed in his grip. Leliana nodded at Dorian and the Iron Bull and disappeared from whence she came. Dorian didn’t know how she managed to do that and he cared for his life too much to ask.
“Come on, Dorian.” The Iron Bull bent down and hoisted Dorian in his arms. Dorian felt a little too close to Ellana at the moment. He glanced at the Commander’s retreating back and saw the brilliant smirk from his friend. He sighed.
“You don’t have to carry me.” Dorian informed the Iron Bull, though he figured (rightfully) that it was a fruitless protest.
“That was a fuckton of magic being thrown around. Not to mention you keeping the Boss alive.” The Iron Bull replied lightly.
“What’s your point?”
“Shut up and let me do this.”
Dorian decided to actually heed the Qunari and shut up.
Chapter 5: Loyalty
Of course, it felt like divine providence when, right in the middle of the festivities, and Ellana had finally woken up from her nap, and Dorian was being pestered mercilessly by Krem and Stitches (with Dalish laughing her ass off and Skinner egging everyone on), and all insanity broke loose.
Dorian was one of the few chosen to go with Ellana to provide an avalanche that allowed the Inquisition forces to escape. (Lucky him.) So was Bull. There wasn’t much time for talking, but Dorian couldn’t help but chuckle to himself at the excitement on Bull’s face when the massive crystalline red templar came over the ridge.
“I call it!” He shouted. “My kill!”
“Go at it!” Ellana was busy with the trebuchet. Dorian was helping keep things off her and trying not to get stabbed in the process. Cassandra was probably the only one who didn’t seem particularly concerned when a rogue tried to stab her in the back. Somehow, she could deflect any attempt at damage without any issues. Dorian had no idea how she did it.
Shit happened, as it was want to do and then the Inquisition, led by a Somehow Not Frozen in The Middle of an Avalanche Lavellan and her Handy Dandy Knows Too Much Solas advisor, made their way to Skyhold. Skyhold was beautiful in the same way the Iron Bull was. (And Dorian needed to stop thinking of the Qunari as attractive because it was never happening.) And Skyhold was an absolute disaster. It was falling to pieces, it was dusty and filled to the brim was various animals, and it felt, oddly enough, like the closest thing to home Dorian had encountered in the south.
Dorian, along with several of the mages, decided the library (sparse as it was), was the best place for them to stay out of the way of the soldiers and also deep within their own comfort level. Dorian picked his spot because it overlooked the gate, the stables, and, if he craned his neck a bit, the sparring yard. Everyone in the inner circle found their own nook or cranny to make their own, though Dorian was particularly pleased with his little niche.
Ellana became the Inquisitor (took them long enough) and considered punching Cassandra out (not that it would have worked) for thrusting the responsibility on her. She valiantly pretended like everything was going according to plan, but it was painfully obvious to everyone watching that being the Inquisitor was not on her list of things to accomplish in her life. Dorian figured that, if nothing else, that was a prime reason to make her the Inquisitor. Lack of ambition kept people in power honest and merciful. The world needed a bit more of that, in Dorian’s not-so-humble opinion.
The Chargers all agreed with Dorian. The tavern was the first thing in the fortress to be renovated (for obvious reasons) and the Chargers used the building as their unofficial meeting place. Dorian had a spot reserved between Dalish and Grim every night. He wasn’t a Charger, but their persistence and loyalty in keeping him safe at Haven left an impact. Even Bull seemed to notice it, because he was starting to flirt with Dorian in the completely unsubtle and brash way that was entirely Qunari in nature.
It was aggravating because Dorian was certain that Bull was only doing it to tease him because he knew Dorian found him attractive. So, Dorian decided to ignore it. Which apparently was a sign for Bull to continue, because the man just wouldn’t stop. Dorian knew he was attracted to the Qunari, but he also had enough self-discipline (shut up, he totally did) to ignore it. Well, mostly. He didn’t act on it, which in his mind was good enough. Luckily, the benefit of the Iron Bull blatantly flirting was that he was in close proximity to Dorian to do it. That meant that the people who were still a little pissy about Conrad Whitley (who had yet to come off trench-digging duty), tended to avoid him. If Dorian wasn’t in his little niche in the library (that he stole a comfy chair for), he was with the Chargers in Herald’s Rest. If he wasn’t there, he was holed up in the room allocated to him, fit snugly between Krem’s and Varric’s rooms. If he was traveling between those places, Bull was flirting outrageously with him.
His one respite from the flirting was his regular chess matches with Cullen. They tried to get together at least once a week. Dorian won as often as Cullen did (though Cullen would never admit it in the light of day), but Dorian mostly enjoyed Cullen’s company. He knew the man was straight as an arrow and head over heels for Ellana, but Dorian was happy to consider Cullen a legitimate friend. Not as close as the Chargers or Ellana herself, but still…
It was strange. The more Dorian thought about it, the more he realized that he genuinely liked and cared for many of the members of the Inquisition. Even Sera, for all her insanity, was entertaining and brilliant in her own way. And, she was fiercely loyal. When she found out what had happened with Conrad Whitley, she pranked him and his friends mercilessly until Ellana had to tell her to stop. Dorian had rather enjoyed the pranking while it lasted, though.
It became rather apparent the longer they were at Skyhold that Ellana considered him her best friend. Or, at least, her bestest of friends. (Yes, those were her exact words.) Dorian wasn’t sure what to do with that sort of information. She trusted him implicitly, and Dorian found it hard not to trust her in return. Maker’s breath, he was pretty sure if he wasn’t gay or if Ellana had been male that he would’ve fallen in love with her. She was so generous and kind and gentle for all her ferocity. He’d do anything for her.
Including, it seemed, going to the Storm Coast in order to secure an alliance with his country’s sworn enemies. Bull had worked hard on getting the Qunari to agree to even attempting an alliance, so Ellana only brought the people she trust most to help get things moving. Dorian steadfastly ignored the elf Bull was friendly with, not only because he was a bit jealous of how relaxed Bull seemed to be with the man, but also because he really didn’t want to be noticed and tested again. Dorian did his damndest to fight and ensure the survival of the dreadnought (something he was sure would exile him from Tevinter should it ever come to light) when things went sideways.
There was an argument, and Dorian kept himself far from it. It wasn’t his place. But he couldn’t help but overhear that even the Ben-Hassrath, the people Bull had been part of nearly his whole life, were doubting him. It was heartbreaking to even think that the closest thing Bull had to a family were turning their backs on him. The horn blasted and Dorian jerked in shock. He stared at Bull’s back, knowing he looked a fool with his jaw hanging and his eyes wide. Bull gave up his original family to save his new one.
Honestly, it shouldn’t have been a shock. It was hard staying emotionally attached to people you rarely saw or spoke to. The Chargers had been with Bull for years and had been at his side no matter what the crazy jobs they got themselves into. But still, the idea of the Iron Bull giving up the Qun was just so… Dorian couldn’t even contemplate it. The Qun was everything to Bull. It was his mission, his way of life. How was he going to survive this?
And yet, Dorian was glad, despite knowing what sort of pain Bull had to be going through. He hadn’t wanted to see his friends die. He might have done something drastic, though Ellana would have killed him if he had.
Dorian kept a close eye on Bull when they got back to Skyhold. He didn’t want the man to do something stupid or extreme. He spoke with Ellana (not doing himself any favors in her matchmaking ideas) about Bull, almost on repeat. He was worried for his friend. It was hard losing everything you thought was important. Dorian would know. But Ellana kept him grounded, kept reminding him of the family he had made. The assassination attempt, the one Dorian witnessed from his perch in the library (and made his heart stop, even as he tried to figure out how fast he could get a fireball over to the battlements), only seemed to make Bull feel more secure in his decision. Even Ellana noticed, because she stopped being worried and concerned with Dorian and started trying to get him to flirt outrageously with the Qunari.
Bull, for his part, took everything in stride. Once he claimed the Chargers as his new Qun, he settled down and started flirting with Dorian in earnest. Which meant Dorian had his face permanently flushed whenever he spent any sort of time with the Chargers. He considered not spending quite so much time with them, but the one night he tried to stay away from Herald’s Rest, Skinner and Grim found him in the library and dragged him to the tavern. Literally.
A month later, Dorian received a letter.
He found himself going to Redcliffe, her in tow, to figure out what his family wanted. Of course, since they were in the Hinterlands, she decided to bring along Bull and Varric, just in case. She always brought Bull with her when she brought Dorian. It was her way of trying to get them together, though it drove Dorian mad. Not that Dorian had much place to talk; he was also pretty blatant in his attempts to get Ellana to sleep with Cullen or Solas (just pick one, woman!).
She made Bull and Varric wait outside while she followed him into the tavern. It took him precisely three seconds to realize that the meeting was a trap and it was actually his father standing before him. And, the longer he looked at the man who raised him, the more infuriated he felt. Heated words kept spewing from him, to the point where he turned some of them on his own beloved Ellana. (He felt guilty for that and probably would carry that guilt to his grave.)
“This display is uncalled for.” His father interrupted whatever was happening (Dorian was too pissed to really pay much attention, unfortunately). That meant Dorian’s ire was pointed back towards his father.
“No, it is called for.” He snapped. “You called for it by luring me here.”
“This is not what I wanted.” Halward Pavus had always been a figure of strength and fortitude in Dorian’s life. Now, all he saw was a sad, lonely man.
“I’m never what you wanted, Father, or had you forgotten?” The words were ice on Dorian’s tongue. He almost, almost, felt bad for saying it, but then he remembered what his father had done. What the illustrious Halward Pavus had stooped to, all because his son was gay. Ellana piped up, trying to ease the tension and gather more information. Dorian didn’t know how to calm himself down. This was his first chance to actually confront his father and demand answers!
“He taught me to hate blood magic. ‘The resort of the weak mind.’ Those are his words.” Dorian turned back to Ellana, trying not to see the pure, unadulterated guilt on his father’s face. “But what was the first thing you did when your previous heir refused to play pretend for the rest of his life?” But he had to say it. He had to let the man know what agony Dorian had been put through. He spun around, looking his father in the eye in the way he had never been able to when he was a child and Halward Pavus was up on a pedestal.
“You tried to change me!” The heartbreak was evident in his voice. Dorian was barely holding it together anymore. His father, the great Halward Pavus, actually flinched at his words. Good. Maybe he would finally understand how hard such a betrayal was.
“I only wanted what was best for you!” He defended himself weakly.
“You wanted the best for you! For your fucking legacy! Anything for that!”
Dorian couldn’t keep looking at his father. He could hardly keep himself standing anymore. The rage had fled, leaving only the unmistakable and horrendous emptiness of betrayal in his chest. He used the nearby table to keep himself upright. He focused on the wood grain, trying to keep his furious tears at bay. Ellana touched his shoulder gently.
“Don’t leave it like this, Dorian.” She implored, softly. “You’ll never forgive yourself.”
And she was right, damn her. Dorian looked at her large, gentle eyes and almost broke right then and there. His best friend, the one who stood by his side throughout all their struggles, the one who had stood up to all the people of the Inquisition for him, the one who was desperately trying to set him up to make him happy… She was trying to ease his pain. Damn her good heart.
“Tell me why you came.” Dorian pushed off the table roughly, trying to keep his father from seeing his sadness, his weakness.
“If I knew I would drive you to the Inquisition…”
“You didn’t.” He interrupted. “I joined the Inquisition because it’s the right thing to do.” Dorian turned away as he spoke. The conversation would go nowhere, he could tell. “Once I had a father who would have known that.”
He had to get out. He couldn’t look at the guilt and sadness on his father’s face. How fucking dare he?! Dorian was the one who had been stabbed in the back and yet his father was the one looking pitiful?! Dorian almost made it to the door when his father’s soft voice made him hesitate.
“Once I had a son who trusted me. A trust I betrayed.”
Dorian turned around in pure astonishment.
“I only wanted to talk to him. To hear his voice again. To ask him to forgive me.”
Halward Pavus didn’t admit mistakes. Halward Pavus didn’t make mistakes. And yet, here he was, begging for forgiveness for the biggest mistake of his life. Incredulous, Dorian looked at Ellana, who gave him an encouraging smile and nodded at his father. Maybe, just maybe… Steeling himself for the hardest conversation of his life, and vowing to get Ellana the greatest gift of all time for helping him through this, Dorian walked back to his father. Maybe…
When Dorian stepped outside, he felt lighter somehow, and yet heavier at the same time. Talking with his father… it was almost like looking into a mirror and yet speaking with a total stranger. He never expected such a reaction. He never expected Halward Pavus to admit he was wrong.
“Dorian!” Ellana was beside him in an instant. “How are you?”
“I’m… not sure.” Dorian shook his head. “I need to think on things. Perhaps we can talk later?”
“When we get back, we can talk.” She agreed.
Bull waited all of five minutes before he decided to break the silence.
“That staff’s in pretty good shape, Dorian.”
Dorian felt his back stiffen, waiting for the punchline. He wasn’t particularly in the mood for Bull’s flirting. Especially when flirting with men was the primary reason for the rift between his father and him.
“Do you spend a lot of time polishing it?”
Honestly, the joke was sort of funny, thought Dorian would never admit it (especially to Bull). And, somehow, it lightened Dorian’s mood. He wasn’t sure what had happened or how Bull accomplished it, but he actually felt better, despite the horrible innuendo. Dorian groaned, loudly and overdramatically, knowing it was the reaction Bull expected. He glanced over his shoulder and Bull was watching him with that intent focus, his face entirely too solemn for the fact that he had just been joking around. Dorian shot him a small smile and Bull’s face lit up in a massive grin.
So he knew Dorian wasn’t in the best mood.
Dorian was briefly concerned that Bull had heard (through Dorian’s shouting), at least part of the conversation with his father, but then he remembered how protective Bull was of him. Maker’s breath, he was practically one of the Chargers now. Bull wouldn’t do anything to abuse the knowledge he had gleaned. And, frankly, Dorian was getting tired to hiding from his shameful past. And, if the recent conversation with his father was anything to go by, Dorian figured that maybe, there was a small chance that he’d might be able to be part of the Pavus family again. He wasn’t sure how he’d manage to survive in Tevinter, what with all the new notions and ideas and morals floating around his head (thanks, Ellana!), but having his family back would be a rare gift.
Dorian still wasn’t prepared to forgive his father for the nigh unforgivable, but he was glad that they were talking again. He didn’t realize how much he missed his father until he didn’t have him anymore.
“Watch where you’re pointing that thing!” Bull had saved him from a raider who had somehow gotten way too close to Dorian when he’d not been paying attention. His father had been on his mind and he’d lost track of the fight. No one said anything, but Dorian felt guilty for leaving them hanging like an idiot. So, he snapped at the first thing he could take offense to.
“Dirty.” Bull smirked.
“Vishante kaffas!” Dorian swore, more irritated at himself than Bull. “I meant your weapon!”
Bull’s smirk widened and Dorian rolled his eyes so hard he thought they’d roll right out of his skull. He had not meant to suggest anything to Bull, but apparently he was just failing all of the place today.
Ellana got sick and tired of Dorian’s shit, so started leading them back to camp. Not that it stopped Bull’s ridiculous flirtations. In the tent, the one Dorian hated more than anything else because of the forced proximity to Bull’s scent, Bull sobered up pretty spectacularly. Dorian was surprised the Qunari didn’t get whiplash from how fast he could change his moods.
“You doing all right, Dorian?” He asked, gently. “I know family stuff can be rough.”
“What would you know about it?” Dorian snapped. “True Qunari don’t have families.”
Instantly, he felt bad. Bull had never been anything but polite to Dorian (albeit with some insults and vague threats, but honestly that felt more like home than the plain niceness of Ellana) and Dorian was being rude. Especially with everything that had happened with the Qunari.
“Finding out you don’t fit in with the people who raised you?” Bull’s voice was still gentle. Dorian had no idea how he managed to keep himself calm in the wake of Dorian’s big, fat mouth. “Having to walk away from everything you grew up with, knowing you’ve disappointed the ones who loved you?” Dorian felt his face flush in shame. “I might know a bit.” Dorian would never be able to look Bull in the eye again. He was such a moron. “Takes a tough man to do it, too. So good on you, you big old fop.”
“Yay.” Dorian replied blandly. He hated himself profoundly in that moment. “Good on me.”
Bull watched him carefully for several long moments. Dorian wanted to cry. He felt like such a fool. And he was letting his own emotional bullshit harm his friendships. He should slap himself for being so stupid. He sighed deeply and shut his eyes, trying to block out everything.
“Sorry.” He murmured. “That was insensitive.”
“Yeah, everyone’s got to snap once in a while.” Bull was still calm and relaxed. “Just as long as you do it verbally and don’t start getting all ‘Vint-y on everyone, we’re all good.”
“Getting all ‘Vint-y?” Dorian couldn’t help the small smile. It was such a Bull thing to say.
“You know, blood magic, cursing everyone, trying to take over the world…”
“I know Corypheus was one of mine, but I’m pretty certain my family, at least, isn’t related.”
“How can you tell?”
Dorian opened his eyes to see Bull’s smirk.
“Have you seen what he wears? I’m not sure it’s possible for him to have wooed a woman enough to have children for him.”
“Don’t worry, Dorian.” Every time Bull said his name, Dorian felt shivers crawl up his spine. It shouldn’t have been arousing. It really shouldn’t have been. It was just his name, Maker’s breath, and yet Bull’s timbre made Dorian want to do unspeakable things to the Qunari.
Chapter 6: Games
Dorian steadfastly ignored his own wants with all the stubbornness he was learning from Ellana. He threw himself headlong into his research on the Anchor, the Breach, Corypheus… He still spared time to spend with the Chargers and his chess matches with Cullen, but he would not destroy the friendship he had forged with Bull just because he found the man hot. Ellana still dragged the two of them along, to the Hissing Wastes, which frankly were obnoxiously boring, and the Exalted Plains, which involved a lot of undead unfortunately, and the Emerald Graves, which had a dragon. Bull eyed the thing with a bright grin, though Ellana kept them firmly away from the dragon’s stomping grounds. (“But, Boss!”; “We’ll have fun when we’re done working!”)
And yet Dorian couldn’t keep his eyes off the Qunari. It was like suddenly the forbidden was less forbidden and easier to accept. A Qunari and a Tevinter Altus was impossible. A Tal-Vasoth was a different story entirely. Not that Dorian minded what was acceptable (he had been gay in Tevinter, after all), but somehow he was finding it harder to remind himself to stay away, to not look.
“Quite the stink-eye you’ve got going, Dorian.” Bull interrupted one of Dorian’s brief fantasies of having those biceps hold him down. He felt his ears burn in embarrassment at being caught. He had to save face, especially in front of Ellana and Solas.
“You stand there, flexing your muscles, huffing like some beast of burden with no thought save conquest.” He complained, valiantly attempting to salvage his honor.
“That’s right. These big muscled hands could tear those robes off while you struggled, helpless in my grip.” Bull’s voice turned dark and sensual and it was all Dorian could do not to moan. “I’d pin you down, and as you gripped my horns; I. Would. Conquer. You.”
Dorian had never been more thankful for his choice in attire than that moment. Hiding an erection wasn’t one of the reasons he chose his particular clothes, but Maker’s breath was it helping him now. It was like Bull knew what he’d been fantasizing about. Dorian could feel Ellana’s and Solas’ eyes on him, and couldn’t help the blush.
“Uh. What?” His mouth was dry and his voice was higher pitched than it should have been.
“Oh. Is that not where we’re going?” Bull’s voice returned to its normal, gentle teasing and Dorian almost whimpered at the sudden lack of sensuality. Fuck, he was hard and fuck yes, he wanted what Bull was offering. But he couldn’t. Not in front of Ellana and Solas. And especially not because he didn’t want to fuck up what he had with the Chargers.
“No. It was very much not.” Dorian insisted. He caught the smug smirk on Bull’s face and ignored it. He caught the grin and thumbs up from Ellana and ignored that to. He blatantly didn’t look at Solas, trying not to learn what the elf thought of the flirtations between him and Bull.
Back in Skyhold, Dorian knew instantly that one of his three companions had been talking, because suddenly people everywhere were whispering about him. And it had nothing to do with him being a Tevinter mage anymore. Maker’s breath, if it had been something so mundane, Dorian probably would have enjoyed it. But no, people were whispering about him and Bull. Specifically, him and Bull fucking. Which was certainly not happening. And, frankly, Dorian felt like if the rumor was happening, he should actually be reaping the benefits of said rumor.
But every night with the Chargers convinced him to stay away. Krem was the first person to befriend him. If things with Bull went to shit (which was probably going to happen), then Krem would be put in the unenviable position of being between his boss and his friend. Dorian couldn’t do that to him. Dorian couldn’t do that to any of the Chargers.
Their next chess match, Cullen was far too polite to say anything. Dorian could tell that the man knew the rumor, though. Cullen was many things, brilliant, attractive, strong, but he didn’t have any form of a poker face. He couldn’t keep knowledge from his face if he tried. Just like when Dorian made an apparently critical error in his strategy and Cullen smirked. Dorian wasn’t really paying attention to the game, because he spotted Ellana eavesdropping on their conversation. He was going to get her back (because he was pretty fucking certain it was her who spread the rumor).
“Gloat all you like. I have this one.” Cullen promised.
“Are you sassing me, Commander?” Dorian teased. “I didn’t know you had it in you.”
“Why do I even…” Cullen’s whole body jerked as he spotted Ellana. “Inquisitor.” He started to get to his feet in that adorably chivalrous way. Dorian smirked and took advantage of it.
“Leaving, are you? Does this mean I win?”
Cullen glowered at him and settled back in his seat.
“Are you two playing nice?” Ellana grinned.
“I’m always nice.” Dorian was a bit smug, but he had a plan. And it involved forcing Cullen to spend time with Ellana in an informal context. “You need to come to terms with my inevitable victory. You’ll feel much better.” He knew within a couple of seconds, he was going to lose horribly, but that was part of the plan. Plus, if he did it right, either Cullen or Ellana might actually make a move!
“Really?” Cullen was smug and smirking and it was a good look on him. If Dorian weren’t so hung up on Bull and Cullen weren’t straight, he might even be interested. He could still look. And he was certain Ellana was looking in that moment. “Because I just won. And I feel fine.”
“Don’t get smug.” Dorian pretended to huff. “There will be no living with you.” He got up from his chair and started to leave, listening avidly.
“I should return to my duties as well…” Cullen trailed off at the dark look Dorian sent him over Ellana’s shoulder. Dorian pointed at the board and then at Ellana, glowering mightily at the Commander. “Unless you would care for a game?” He finished lamely. Ellana glanced over her shoulder at Dorian, who had already started walking away again.
“Prepare the board, Commander.”
Dorian grinned to himself as he meandered through the gardens to a nice spot where he could spy on the love birds. They were both decidedly and disgustingly polite. Not once did either one of them manage to even touch the other in their entire game. Dorian was appalled. At the very least, though, he caught a few small smiles from Cullen directed straight at Ellana while Ellana beamed brilliantly back. They were so cute it actually was a bit sickening. He went and hid in the library, waiting for Ellana to come chew him out. There was no way she missed the fact that he had been manipulating the situation.
“You are absolutely my favorite person!” Ellana threw herself at him, grinning like an idiot. Dorian laughed at her exuberance and hugged her tightly.
“When’s the wedding?” He teased.
“Shut it.” She nudged his ribs with her elbow. “He said he wants to spend time with me!”
“He’s enamored with you.” Dorian rolled his eyes. “He’s been wanting to ‘spend time’ with you for months!”
“Dorian!” She nudged him again, harder this time. “I meant literally. Like playing chess and talking and stuff.”
“Oh.” Dorian mock-frowned. “Well, that is decidedly less fun.”
Dorian allowed the elf to settle into his comfy chair and swoon over Cullen and his hair and his smile for the rest of the afternoon. Dorian prompted her when she fell into silence, blatantly appreciating the commander’s beauty. Ellana laughed through the afternoon and Dorian just had to forgive her for interfering in his romantic life (or lack thereof).
Bull, for his part, didn’t acknowledge the rumors at all. Not that it helped much, considering the Chargers took full advantage of teasing them both. And the rumors didn’t stop him from flirting outrageously with Dorian every chance he got (“You ever want to explore that, my door’s always open” and “Stoke those fires, big guy” and “You’re sexy when you’re threatening me with bodily harm, you know that” and, Dorian’s personal favorite because apparently he was ranking these things now “Fuck, your ass is fantastic!”)
Dorian was starting to fully believe that the Chargers had placed wagers on if and when he and Bull had sex. He wasn’t sure who had wagered what, but there was about a fortnight in the midst of everything when each Charger tried to talk Bull up to Dorian. When a full week passed after their meddling, they all seemed a bit depressed. Dorian assumed the wager picked up again, because they all abruptly got very excited about talking about Bull to Dorian again. As such, Dorian spent more and more time hiding from them in the library. Consequently, Ellana also spent an inordinate amount of time in the library.
Frankly, it was a little absurd how well Dorian and Ellana got along and if Cullen or Bull were any less self-assured, they’d be depressed by how much time Dorian and Ellana spent together. There was actually a week-long stretch where Dorian and Ellana spent a grand total of two hours and five minutes away from each other (all of the privy moments). And, throughout that whole week, they didn’t get tired of each other once.
They were having a healthy debate about the pros and cons of Orleasian pastries versus the sweets the Free Marches had come up with when Varric came around the corner into Dorian’s little nook. (For an author, he sure didn’t spend much time with actual books.)
“There you are!” He grinned as he spotted Ellana. “I’ve been looking all over for you. You’re just in time. We almost had to start without you.”
“What exactly were you starting without me, now?” Ellana blinked from her position upside down on the chair. Dorian didn’t know how she did it, but she always got into the weirdest positions when left in a chair long enough. (Josephine learned never to let Ellana sit in judgment for too long.)
Varric merely beckoned, looking at both Ellana and Dorian, so Dorian followed dutifully to Herald’s Rest. He was surprised to see Ellana’s entire inner circle (well, not Vivienne or Leliana) settled around one big table, a deck of cards splayed out in front of Josephine and a tankard in front of every chair.
“I found ‘em, Ruffles!” Varric announced. “Deal ‘em in!”
“I do hope I recall the rules.” Josephine chuckled. “It’s been ages since I’ve played a game of Wicked Grace.” Dorian grinned and settled in one of the remaining chairs. Luckily, he was as far from Bull as he could possibly be. With alcohol and Wicked Grace involved, Dorian was certain he would do something stupid if left to his own devices around the Qunari.
“Grab a seat. We’re ready to start.” Varric decided, settling down next to Dorian.
“Are we playing cards or what?” Bull demanded, impatiently. Obediently, Josephine shuffled and started dealing cards.
“Are three drakes better than a pair of swords?” Cassandra asked the table at large. “I can never remember.”
“Seeker, remember how I said, ‘don’t show anyone your hand’? That rule includes announcing it to the table.” Varric was holding back laughter as he spoke.
“There’s a crown on his head, but a sword, too. His head didn’t want either.” Cole muttered, loudly enough for everyone to hear. Dorian felt profound fondness for Cole. All he wanted was to help people. It was refreshing to have such honesty around. And it kept him honest, because Cole would just blurt out whatever anybody was thinking anyway. In retrospect, playing a card game with Cole seemed like an unfair advantage for him.
“Don’t talk to the face cards, kid.” Varric smiled, obviously as fond of the kid as Dorian was.
“You seem to have enough people.” Cullen announced, a bit bitterly. “I have a thousand things to do.”
Well. Dorian couldn’t let the good commander leave. Not when he and Ellana had finally done more than just pine in each other’s directions.
“Losing money can be both relaxing and habit forming.” He piped up. “Give it a try.”
“Curly, if any man in history ever need a hobby, it’s you.” Varric shot Dorian a wink, knowing full-well what he was attempting to do. Josephine interrupted whatever excuse Cullen was going to come up with, a faint smile on her features. Dorian bit back a grin. It seemed he had co-conspirators in his endeavors. Lovely.
“Dealer starts.” She looked at her hand carefully. “Ooh… I… Believe… I’ll start at… three coppers!” Dorian almost dropped his head onto the table. Seriously?! “Do you think that’s too daring?” He looked around at the rest of the table, helplessly. It was hopeless. He was playing with ingrates. “Maybe I’ll make it one… No! Boldness! Three it is!” Maker’s breath, Dorian was going to let Cullen walk away from this madness.
“Seriously?” Bull sounded as irritated as Dorian felt. “Who starts at three coppers? Silver, or go home.” Dorian almost laughed. He caught the tiny smirk on Bull’s face as the Qunari glanced at him. Oh, that shit. He was flirting from across the damn table. In front of everyone!
“Sounds good.” Blackwall continued like Bull said nothing. “I’m in.”
“Bolder the better, right?” Dorian shot a smile to Josephine, letting her know he was glad she was trying to help get Cullen and Ellana together. He tried not to show his irritation, though. “I’m in.”
“Me, too.” Varric nodded at Ellana. “Well? Are you in?”
“Just remember I’m still new to this game.” Ellana pointed out. Dorian spent the better part of two months teaching her how to play Wicked Grace and she had far surpassed his own abilities in that short of time. She found it funny to play up her Dalish heritage and pretend like she was all innocent and unknowing and naïve. Truth be told, Dorian found it funny, too, but he knew better than to underestimate her.
“Don’t worry, you’ll pick it up in no time.” Varric promised.
“So shiny…” Dorian couldn’t tell if that was a stray thought from somebody or if Cole was genuinely interested in the sovereign in his hand.
It only took two rounds of ale and one game of Wicked Grace to get Cullen talking. By that time, Dorian recognized the group effort everyone was making to get him to loosen up enough to flirt with Ellana, you stupid twat! It was getting unbearable. Dorian was starting to think the man was hopeless.
“The poor recruit ran out into the dining hall in nothing but his knickers.” Cullen was struggling to hold in his laughter. To be fair, the story was quite humorous, and Ellana seemed taken by it. Which was why no one had bothered trying to redirect the commander. “And this… profound silence fell over the hall as seventy mages and thirty templars all turned to stare at once. Then a slow round of applause began.” Dorian had to give credit where it was due: Cullen could tell a story. “And spread until every soul was on their feet. A standing ovation.”
“What did he do?” Josephine was a little tipsy at this point and barely holding her giggles to herself.
“Saluted. Turned on his heel. And marched out like he was in full armor.” Cullen grinned widely as he got the whole table sniggering. Several of them (Dorian included), piped up through the laughter, adding to the hilarity.
“That’s how you know it’s true.” Varric decided, interrupting the childish giggling. “I could never put that in a book. Too unlikely.”
“I’ve got one for you.” Ellana suggested with a grin. “The clan decided to camp near this ruined fortress. Right on the edge of the Tirashan. Dark as the bottom of a well. The Keeper swore up and down it was safe, but some of the hunters started hearing noises in the middle of the night.”
It took another game and two more rounds for Ellana to finish her story. To be fair, she kept getting interrupted by giggles and comments from the peanut gallery. Dorian, for his part, was starting to feel pleasantly tipsy and not quite so irritated by the fact that Josephine was doing stupidly well for someone who decided to start with three coppers.
“They ran out of there, fast as you think, bare arses shining in the moonlight. The whole way back to their village.”
“Not bad!” Varric laughed. “You don’t mind if I steal that one, do you?”
“You ought to tell stories more often.” Blackwall decided. For a man of his stature, he was a surprising lightweight, Dorian thought.
“I like the part with the rabbit. There should be more rabbits in stories.” Cole decided.
“That was scandalous.” Josephine informed the group at large. “It would ruin the Inquisition if anyone found out. Tell it again!” She nudged Ellana with a bright smile.
“I think it’s our professional storyteller’s turn to tell one.” Ellana nodded at Varric, barely even glancing at her cards.
“I think I can manage that.” Varric grinned. And then he took his sweet time telling another tale. He managed to keep it down to only one game and one round, but it was a near thing. “And then Hawke looks up and says, ‘Looks like the Duke… had fallen from grace’.” Cullen was probably on the wrong side of drunk, because he could barely keep his laughter down. The next round of drinks was bought by Cullen, who flushed pink at Ellana’s appreciative smile.
Two games and three rounds later, and Josephine had won. Again. Dorian was wondering if she was cheating.
“Deal again.” Cullen demanded, leaning on the table. The man was competitive to a fault. A far cry from the man who insisted he was too busy to play the game in the first place. “I’ve figured out your tells, Lady Ambassador.” Dorian shot a surprised look at Varric, who shrugged in response. Apparently, things were going to get more interesting.
“Commander!” Josephine leaned on the table, too. “Everyone knows a lady has no tells.”
“Then let’s see if your good fortune lasts one more hand.” Cullen dared.
“I’m not losing any more coin to Josephine,” Ellana chuckled, “But I have got to see this.”
It took two games for Josephine to take everything Cullen had. Including his clothes. Cullen sat, sullenly stewing in his frustration at not beating Josephine even once.
“Don’t say a word, dwarf.” Cullen muttered.
“I trust to warn you, Curly.” Varric laughed.
“Never bet against an Antivan, Commander.” Josephine pointed out, wryly.
“I’m leaving.” Cassandra got to her feet. “I don’t want to witness our commander’s walk of shame back to the barracks.”
“Well, I do!” Dorian piped up with a grin. Ellana bit back a smile and Bull coughed into his drink. Bull focused on Dorian while everyone ribbed Cullen lightly, a small smirk on his lips. Dorian didn’t know why, but that look was intoxicating. Even more so than the too many drinks Dorian had imbibed. It was almost too much. Dorian took a deep breath and joined the rest of the inner circle in granting Cullen a modicum of privacy to flee to the barracks. He got to his feet and started the long walk back to his room.
Chapter 7: A Praiseworthy Endeavor
Bull was walking sex, and Dorian well-knew it. It drove him absolutely insane. It had been almost seven months that they had been in the Inquisition together. And Bull had been tormenting Dorian’s libido nearly the whole time. It wasn’t fair for the man to be that attractive and hilarious and brilliant. Bull liked to pretend he was all brawn and no brain, but Dorian had seen otherwise. He was sharp, focused, and observant. He could tell if any of his Chargers had sneezed in the last week at a glance. And somehow, the intelligence and wit was what really sealed the deal for Dorian.
Not that he was going to do anything about it. Maker no.
“Fun night.” Bull’s voice made Dorian leap out of his skin.
“Fasta vass! Could you make some noise? Wear a bell, perhaps?”
“And miss out on watching that ass jump?” Bull grinned.
“No one would miss you, I promise.” Dorian muttered, feeling a bit self-conscious about his ass. He never considered it as a strong feature before Bull. Most people were attracted to his title or his magic or how well-groomed he was (and occasionally how fashionable he was). Bull might well have been the first person to find his ass something to admire. Still, he should probably abuse that knowledge. If Bull liked his ass, then he should adjust his clothing to accentuate that feature. It would probably come in handy.
Bull chuckled darkly in response. Dorian hated that chuckle. Specifically, he hated his body’s needy reaction to that chuckle.
“What are you doing?” Dorian asked, crossing his arms. He wasn’t trying to seem like a petulant child, but he was not in the mood for Bull’s brand of flirting at the moment. It was too much bark and too little bite. Bull was in Dorian’s direct line of sight the entire night and every drink made it harder for him to not just jump across the table and throw himself at the Qunari.
“Watching that ass jump.” Bull was smug. Dorian hated it.
“Well. Stop.” Dorian’s head was pleasantly swimming from the alcohol, so his wit had abandoned him. That was his excuse.
“Do you want me to?”
The solemnity in his tone made Dorian blink for a few seconds. His brain struggled to follow the line of thought. When he finally mentally caught up, he felt a flush burn his cheeks.
“I… no.” He muttered.
“Good.” Bull smiled. “I’d hate for all this flirting to go to waste.”
Dorian didn’t know what to say. Part of him thought the flirting was a joke, a lark that the Qunari was doing for fun. Part of him preened at the attention, enjoying the flirting for the harmless fun it was. He steadfastly ignored the tiny part in the back of his mind that wanted it to be real. It wasn’t even just bland curiosity anymore. He genuinely liked Bull, which was part of the reason he tried adamantly to keep his hands to himself. He had too much experience with screwing up relationships when he actually liked the other person. Not that Ellana or the Chargers or even Cullen let him get away with his own personal brand of demolishing friendships, but Dorian knew how needy he was. It wasn’t fair to put someone else on the receiving end of that. He could handle himself, no problem. He’d been handling himself for a long time, thank you very much.
“Not wasted.” Dorian muttered, hating the slight slur of his tongue. He hadn’t meant to drink so damn much. His head was pleasantly swimmy and his focus was shot. He kept getting distracted by the scars that crisscrossed along Bull’s biceps.
“You’re actually pretty cute when you’re drunk.” Bull chuckled.
“Not.” Dorian shook his head, trying to clear the fog in his brain. “Just… tipsy.”
“Sure.” Bull’s hand helped Dorian from tipping over. Which wasn’t particularly helpful, because it gave Dorian too much proximity to those biceps. He breathed through his mouth, trying not to smell the delicious Qunari before him. It didn’t work. (Not that Dorian was complaining.) “You gotta stop doing that, ‘Vint, or I won’t be able to help myself.”
“Do what?” Dorian asked.
“Smelling me and swooning.” Bull’s voice was rough. Dorian blinked his eyes open, having not even realized he had shut them.
“Pardon me, I do not swoon.” He sniffed, haughtily. Which was really a problem, because that just got Bull’s scent in his nose.
“Then explain that whole ‘taking a deep breath and then falling against me’ thing you just did.”
Dorian didn’t even realize his side was pressed against Bull. It was like he was just supposed to be there. He fought the instinct that told him just to snuggle in and accept his fate. He pulled himself upright and deliberately stepped away from the Qunari. He was a bit too drunk to decipher the look on Bull’s face.
“You pulled me against you, like a brute.” Dorian tried to excuse his wanton behavior. Bull looked more amused than anything else. He leaned closer to Dorian with a smug smirk.
“Isn’t that what you want? Just to feel my heat, surrounding you and trapping you and making you scream?”
There was no witness this time. No one to play off the innuendo for. Dorian felt lost. Yes, it was what he wanted. More than anything else at the moment. It was all he had been able to think about every time he so much as glanced at the Qunari. But he couldn’t admit it. He was glad for the drinking he had been doing, because it marvelously hid his burning blush.
“I have no idea what you’re referring to.” His voice, however, came out high and squeaky and more juvenile than he wanted.
“Don’t you, Dorian?”
Dorian shivered. It wasn’t the first time Bull had used that low, rough timbre to his advantage (usually to bother Dorian, which worked every time), but it was the first time he had that indomitable focus. His eye was utterly fixated on Dorian’s face and reactions, ensuring that, above everything else, Dorian wanted what was going on. Fuck, did Dorian want it.
“I expect I shall regret this when I’m sober.” Dorian decided. “But I am, apparently, out of fucks to give.” With that, he pressed up on his toes, grabbed Bull’s armor-strap-thing (he had never quite figured out what it’s purpose actually was considering it did little, if anything, to protect Bull in battle), and yanked the Qunari down into a bruising kiss. For a couple brief seconds, Dorian’s alcohol-addled mind forgot that to enjoy a kiss, he actually had to do something instead of just shoving two sets of lips together. Bull, for his part, didn’t seem to be similarly impaired. He tilted his head to slant their lips together in a better angle. His tongue swept forward, tasting Dorian’s lower lip, making him weak in the knees. Or maybe that was the alcohol…
Bull pulled back slightly, enough to make Dorian lean into his chest to try to maintain contact. His eye searched Dorian’s face for something. Dorian couldn’t quite focus enough to figure it out. His head was still spinning from that kiss.
“You sure about this, ‘Vint?”
“I’ve been admiring you for ages and now you want to know if I’m sure?” Dorian asked, affronted. Bull grinned.
“Just makin’ sure.”
“I’m not a child.” Dorian was probably pouting, though he wouldn’t admit it.
“Alcohol makes people do weird shit.”
“Does that mean ‘no’?” Okay, Dorian was definitely pouting. Bull ran his thumb over Dorian’s lower lip, telling him the pout didn’t go unnoticed. And the damnable Qunari was smirking.
“Oh, you’re definitely riding the Bull tonight.”
Dorian couldn’t tell if the heat in his cheeks was from the alcohol or the blush. Bull dragged him into another breathtaking kiss and he melted. Which he’d never admit on pain of death. Blankly, he followed Bull up way too many stairs and behind a door. It took him a second to realize he was not only in Bull’s room, which was never something he had ever experienced before, but there was also no roof.
“You don’t have a roof…” Dorian didn’t miss the pie lurking under the bed (thanks to the array of lamps, imparting a soft glow around the room), nor the axe seated neatly into the bedframe, but somehow the roof was a sticking point for him.
“Nah. There’s enough for the Inquisition to fix that’s more important.” Bull shrugged. “I don’t mind.”
“It’s freezing!” Dorian complained, looking at the damage to see how much actual repairing was necessary. Not that he could tell. He could tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Tevinter and magic, but practical things like building a tower reminded him to be humble. Well, sometimes.
“I can fix that.”
Bull somehow got behind Dorian, and the dark promise in his voice made all the hairs on the back of Dorian’s neck stand on end in the best possible way. He shivered against the sound.
“How, pray tell, can you fix me being cold if it starts snowing on your bed?”
“I’ll just have to be on top so it snows on my back instead.”
Dorian nearly moaned. This flirting was getting torturous.
“What if I’d rather be on top?” He dared, somehow managing to get the words out without stuttering or squeaking.
“We could try that.” Bull allowed, his chest nearly pressed to Dorian’s back. His warmth was a sharp contrast to the chill in the night air. “But that’s not what you want.”
“And what do I want?” Dorian’s voice softened to a near whisper. He was losing ground on his ability to cognitively do anything fairly quickly.
“You want to be taken.” Bull’s voice was liquid sex, wrapping around every pore of Dorian’s body. “You want to find out if every sordid Tevinter rumor you’ve ever heard is true. You want to be owned. You want me to do it. You want to be filled to the brim of hot, heretical Qunari cock.”
Dorian’s throat closed up, rendering him mute. The fire raged in his blood. He didn’t think he had ever been more aroused in his life.
“Is that what you want, Dorian?” Bull’s lips touched the shell of Dorian’s ear. Dorian whimpered at both the question and the touch. He felt Bull’s lips quirk into a smile, but couldn’t find any spot of pride to care.
“Yes.” He managed to find a murmur of a voice.
“Good. Now, strip.” Bull ordered. Dorian’s spine jerked in a brief reaction to the authority, but his fingers obediently found the straps and buckles. His mind was filled with the sensation of Bull’s heat, the heady and spicy aroma of Bull’s scent, the burning desire thudding loudly in his own veins… He was intoxicated on his arousal. His fingers fumbled on the buckles, but eventually won the battle, stripping layer after layer from his body. The cold night air made goosebumps flare out over his skin and his nipples harden. When he finally stood naked (with Bull still lurking at his back), he was amazed that the chill did nothing to dampen his erection.
“Fuck.” Bull murmured, his breath hot against Dorian’s neck. “You’re beautiful.”
The compliment made Dorian preen, just a bit. He liked being admired, but he felt so good when Bull praised him. Dorian felt his body tremble in anticipation. He had never had such subtle foreplay. Mostly, it was kissing and touching until everyone was hard and enjoying themselves before getting to the main bit. Never before had he been talked to readiness.
“Get on the bed.”
Dorian climbed into the middle of the bed without a word, flopping onto his back unceremoniously.
Dorian almost moaned at the approval. Somehow, the praise was neither patronizing nor infantilizing. It simply was. And Dorian wanted more. He finally (finally!) got to see the Iron Bull. The Qunari had apparently been disrobing at the same time, though Dorian couldn’t recall how or when, because Bull was completely nude. Dorian was only human, so his gaze promptly fell to the massive tool between the thick, tree-trunk thighs. It wasn’t the biggest thing Dorian had ever tested his limits on, but it was up there. He felt his mouth go dry as a desperate, needy sound filled his throat.
“Shh, we’ll get there.” Bull finally allowed himself to touch Dorian. His hand started up at Dorian’s shoulder and firmly followed Dorian’s chest down to his thigh. Dorian felt his muscles tense as he held his body in check. He tried not to lunge off the bed. He was aroused, not desperate. Not yet.
“I do wish you’d hurry up.” Dorian’s irritation with how slow Bull was moving helped him find his voice.
“Yes, that mouth.” Bull leaned over and kissed Dorian, tongue and lips silencing whatever protest Dorian had. “Wouldn’t do to have you be silent. Though, might have to gag you once, just to see how pretty you’d beg with your body.”
Dorian’s body vibrated with excitement at the idea and he felt his dick twitch in response. Bull noticed, because he was grinning.
“You promised me dinner before that.” Dorian pointed out, primly.
“And I will buy you dinner before I tie you up, gag you, and fuck you until you’re nothing more than a barely conscious, drooling mess of a ‘Vint.”
Dorian almost forgot his wit for a moment.
“Well, that’s one way to take your enemy out.”
“I doubt it’ll be as much fun on any ‘Vint but you.”
Dorian would have responded, but Bull’s hand gripped his erection. He had never had issues being vocal in bed before. His focus was entirely on the hot hand on his cock.
“Yeah, figured this would be the way to get you to shut up.” Bull sounded amused, which frankly, was not what he should have been sounding like, all things considered. Dorian’s pride prickled, but Bull ran his thumb over the slit and Dorian briefly forgot why he was irritated.
“If you moved any slower, Ellana would have killed Corypheus already.” He grumbled.
“Do me a favor and don’t mention any other ‘Vint in bed.” Bull chuckled.
“I wouldn’t have to if you did something!”
Dorian wasn’t expecting the Qunari to settle between his thighs and start sucking his cock. A couple of coarse swears erupted from his chest and when exactly had Bull captured his hands, preventing him from grabbing anything and keeping his hips perfectly still even as the wet heat of Bull’s mouth made him lose any sense of sanity he had left. He didn’t know where Bull had learned whatever the fuck he was doing, but Dorian would never badmouth Bull’s oral skills ever on pain of death. He wasn’t even focused on anything else, just the feel and sensation of being completely immobile and pleasured. He didn’t realize he had even been speaking until a deep groan emerged from Bull’s chest.
“I knew you’d be hot in bed, but I didn’t account for you blaspheming all over the place.” Bull pulled his lips off Dorian’s cock.
“I beg your pardon?”
Why that was the first thing out of Dorian’s mouth, he didn’t know. It seemed a bit odd to be so formal when being sexually dominated by a Qunari.
“Speaking of Andraste and the Maker in that manner…” Bull tutted in mock-reproach. “I don’t think the Chantry would look highly on that type of speech.”
“Do me a favor and don’t talk about the Chantry in bed.”
Bull seemed to get over his amusement quickly, because he returned his focus to Dorian’s body. His large hands gripped Dorian’s thighs and brought them over his horns. Dorian flushed. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but he had no leverage whatsoever and his most tender bits were on full display for Bull’s prowling gaze. He’d had many a wild night, but they’d all been quick tumbles with the urgency to get off as quickly as possible preventing any sort of deep exploration that Bull seemed intent on. Dorian wasn’t sure if he was keen on this kind of sexual adventure.
“Fasta vass!” His back arched as a hot tongue firmly stroked over his hole. Bull’s hands ran over his thighs and lower stomach, gently easing the muscles there. Dorian’s fingers fisted the sheets desperately.
“Easy there, Dorian.” Bull’s voice was rough. Dorian couldn’t help the twitch at the sound of his name from the Qunari’s lips. “You act like you never been rimmed before.”
“I haven’t!” Dorian’s voice came out a petulant squeak.
“Seriously?” Bull looked over Dorian’s cock to eye his face. “Well, looks like I’m about to blow your mind.”
“I’d prefer if you’d blow my – vishante kaffas!”
Bull ignored any and all words being issued from Dorian’s mouth in favor of thoroughly exploring Dorian. His tongue was larger than any lover Dorian had ever had, so when it probed inside him, it was actually thicker than some of the fingers he’d had in his ass. Pleasure erupted up his spine. He was pretty sure he was still swearing (and Tevene had lots of curses), but couldn’t really focus on anything other than the tongue thrusting into him. He was shaking, nigh violently, and moaning at the sensations. Dorian was certain he was ruined for literally anyone else.
“Shh…” Bull stopped his torture when Dorian lost his words and fell into whimpers. “You’re doing so good, Dorian.” The praise seeped through the lust-filled haze of his mind. He felt his body tremble. His fingers hurt from gripping the sheets so hard. He willed his body to relax with Bull’s soothing approval. “You’re so beautiful like this. Hard and flushed and shaking all for me.”
“Bull…” Dorian wasn’t entirely coherent anymore.
“Just relax.” Bull pressed a surprisingly gentle kiss on Dorian’s thigh. He waited for Dorian’s muscles to stop trembling. “Good boy.”
“Okay, I’ll grant you that the rimming was mind-blowing.” Dorian allowed, somehow finding the wherewithal to speak.
“Of course it was.” That was Bull: humble to a fault.
“But that is not being ‘filled to the brim with a Qunari cock’.” Dorian couldn’t remember the exact words Bull had used, but his point was well-taken.
“We’re getting there, Dorian.” Bull laved his tongue against Dorian’s hole, shocking a needy yelp from his throat. “Patience.”
“I am an Altus from Tevinter.” Dorian reminded Bull. “I don’t do patience. I get what I want when I want.”
“Right now, you’re a desperate, needy mess, begging me for a quick fuck.” Bull helped Dorian’s legs off his horns and held his body over Dorian’s with a grin.
“What’s the problem, then?” Dorian asked, lifting his chin. Bull’s mouth sealed against his. Warmth spread throughout his chest and Bull’s tongue, previously intimately acquainted with Dorian’s ass, probed past his lips. Dorian’s hands reached up to grab the thick biceps above him. He felt scars under his fingertips and started tracing them. One of Bull’s hands slid down his torso and gripped his hip firmly. Dorian dug his fingernails into Bull’s grey skin, trying to get some leverage to get some damn friction.
“Say ‘please’.” Bull murmured at the corner of Dorian’s mouth. Dorian stiffened, his pride prickling yet again. Bull kept pressing open-mouthed kisses along his jaw and throat, distracting him with delightful shivers and goosebumps.
“Bull…” He was whining a bit. But just a bit.
“Say ‘please’.” Bull repeated. It wasn’t a request. It was an order. Only a fool would refuse that order. Dorian seemed to have become a fool, because he couldn’t get the word out. He didn’t really try, partially because he figured he could ask with his body instead of saying that stupid word aloud. He’d never had problems being polite before, but the order was still grating at him.
Dorian whimpered at the sound, his whole body thrumming with desire and want. Bull’s voice had dropped an octave from “sexy gravelly” tones all the way to “menacing warning” tones. It was a timbre that Dorian had only ever heard from Bull when he was about to kill somebody or something. That line, that danger, was what made Dorian obey. It was like he had been pushing for it, demanding that threat to keep him in line.
“Please, Bull!” The words were ripped from his throat.
The praise was so much better once Dorian toed the line. Bull didn’t seem upset or irritated or even angry at Dorian’s pushing. In fact, he seemed rather pleased, his smug smile capturing his whole face. Maybe Bull liked the pushback as much as Dorian did.
“Good boy.” Bull repeated. He stole a lingering kiss even as he reached across the bed for something. Dorian knew it was oil, because only an idiot didn’t use oil, but it took him a moment to figure it out. He was still hung up on the “good boy”.
The oil was cold, probably from the night air of Ferelden, because was Ferelden ever not freezing?! Dorian shivered as the liquid touched his bare skin. Bull’s hands, permanently hot, soothed the frigid goosebumps and pressed into his hole. Dorian couldn’t breathe and couldn’t decide if this was better or worse than the rimming. Bull’s fingers were much thicker, and they kept twisting and quirking, reaching deeper into Dorian than Bull’s tongue could go. A bright burst of pleasure erupted up his spine.
“Fasta vass!” He cried out, throwing his head back and squeezing his eyes shut. Bull’s fingers held still for a few agonizing seconds before touching that sacred spot again. Dorian whined in the back of his throat, bit his lip to try to keep himself from screaming. It wouldn’t do to be so desperate the first time. As if he hadn’t been desperate enough. He’d been wanting this since he met the Qunari.
“Bull, please…” His voice was wanton and breathy. Bull didn’t speak, but Dorian felt his breathing sharpen against him. He didn’t waste more time, just lined up and slowly pressed into Dorian’s heat. Dorian kept perfectly still, feeling the sweet pain of being filled completely. Bull was thick enough that he kept constant pressure on Dorian’s prostate. Dorian thought he was going to go mad.
“Fuck, you’re so beautiful.” Bull’s voice was soft, but the compliment lingered in Dorian’s ears. His brain helpfully supplied him with a myriad of witty remarks, but his tongue wouldn’t cooperate. He rolled his hips, trying to get Bull to move. Bull groaned, a low, harsh sound that made Dorian’s cock twitch. Bull grabbed both of Dorian’s wrists in one hand, pinning them above his head with ease. His thighs spread open, forcing Dorian’s legs to accommodate, preventing Dorian from gaining any sort of leverage against him. Bull kept his weight on the hand holding Dorian’s wrists, somehow not adding pressure to them, and gripped Dorian’s hip tightly with his other hand. Dorian found himself completely and utterly unable to move, just from the position Bull had him in. It was both terrifying and exhilarating.
“Please, Bull. Fuck me.” His voice was soft, nearly inaudible.
“As you wish.”
Bull pulled out slowly, withdrawing inch after precious inch, before slamming his hips into Dorian’s. Dorian screamed. His head was thrown back and Bull took full advantage, leaning down to lick and bite the soft skin. He kept up the ruthless pace, retreating slowly and then thrusting home aggressively, yanking cry after sobbing cry from Dorian’s throat. Dorian had enough time to draw in a shaky breath between each thrust.
He was trapped, surrounded and penetrated (literally) by Bull’s almost oppressive heat. He suck the cold night air into his lungs and it burned, a sharp contrast from the searing heat of Bull’s skin. He couldn’t think beyond the overbearing pleasure. He longed to move, to do something to assist in Bull’s endeavors, but physically couldn’t do anything. And he both adored and loathed it. He just wanted to touch and taste that dark skin, but at the same time, he was being dominated so thoroughly and fuck did he want it. Bull didn’t seem to have any sort of issue keeping himself in check, and he pulled back slightly to focus his gaze on Dorian’s face. Dorian had never been self-conscious about his face ever in his life. And the expressions he made during sex were no different. Bull seemed captivated by whatever he saw on Dorian’s face.
“Bull!” Dorian cried out the name, trying desperately to finish. He was so close. Bull pacified the need with a scorching kiss. He looked Dorian in the eyes, making sure he knew to focus.
“You want to cum, Dorian?” Dorian couldn’t speak, could only nod, biting his lower lip to keep from sobbing. Bull’s thrusting sped up, losing the slow, deliberate tease. Dorian could tell by the focus and smugness on Bull’s face that he wasn’t going to touch Dorian’s cock. He almost swore at Bull in frustration. But he knew the Qunari was bound, set, and determined to make him cum without touching him. Dorian struggled against Bull’s grip, fiercely trying to get any form of friction.
“Cum for me.” Bull’s lips touched the shell of Dorian’s ear, a little rough against the soft skin. Dorian felt his spine stiffen. “Cum. Now.” Bull’s voice was harsh and demanding and brooked no argument.
Dorian screamed, body bucking (as much as it could) within Bull’s forceful grip. Semen splattered across his stomach and chest, coating Bull’s expansive chest as well. All rational thought fled his mind as a tsunami of pleasure destroyed him. His orgasm lasted long enough that his balls started to ache. He collapsed on the bed, breath coming out in fast, staccato pants, and body shuddering in aftershocks. Bull never stopped what he was doing. The pressure on Dorian’s prostate was almost too much. He sobbed out a whimper at the overstimulation. Luckily, Bull didn’t take too much longer. He ducked his head and groaned, a long, low sound, his large cock pulsating inside Dorian. Bull’s breath hitched and his hips stuttered. Dorian jerked as Bull’s cock pressed rhythmically against that delicate bundle of nerves.
“Oh, fuck, you’re so beautiful.” Bull muttered, his whole body trembling in a way that was definitely inflating Dorian’s ego. He had been so preoccupied with his own pleasure that he completely forgot about Bull’s. But whatever he had done, Bull wasn’t nearly as disaffected as he pretended. Dorian let out a cry as Bull withdrew from his hypersensitive body. Bull released Dorian’s hands, slipped out from between his thighs, and rolled them over, pulling Dorian onto his chest. Dorian heard the heavy and strong thumping of Bull’s heartrate and the deep calming breaths he took.
“Good boy.” Bull murmured, his voice vibrating in his chest. “You’re incredible.” Bull had never been what Dorian would call a “talker” prior, but after having pinned him down and having his wicked way with him, Bull was just speaking nonstop. One hand trailed up and down the delicate line of Dorian’s spine while the other carded gently through his hair. Dorian felt his mind return from being scrambled, albeit slowly, as Bull spoke soft praises and caressed him carefully. Dorian took a deep breath, reveling in the deep, thick musk of sex and the heavy, spicy aroma of Bull. It was only then that Dorian noticed the sticky mess he had made all over both of them.
“This is disgusting.” Dorian pointed out, gesturing towards the splattered semen all over them. His mind still buzzed from the alcohol, but at least he wasn’t wanton with lust anymore. He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.
“Yeah.” Bull also seemed to just take note of the mess. “Let me get that.” Dorian rolled back to allow Bull the ability to get up. He reached under the bed (Dorian watched the muscles ripple in his back; he was sated, not blind) and retrieved a scrap of fabric. Bull wiped his skin clean before turning to look Dorian over. He just looked at the mage for so long that Dorian started to feel like a slab of meat.
“Might I clean up now?” He asked, primly.
“I like this look on you.” Bull didn’t respond. Dorian didn’t know how he was even capable anymore, but his blood boiled with pleasure at Bull’s words.
“Well, no matter how much anybody likes it, I won’t sleep like this.” Dorian decided.
“Sad.” Bull frowned, but his eye was lit up in mischief. “I’m considering just licking you clean.”
Dorian spluttered, unable to come up with any sort of comeback.
“You’re not seriously suggesting…”
“Oh, not yet.” Bull grinned. “I’m good, but I need more time, too.”
Dorian just blinked at him in confusion. If he wasn’t ready to go again, why did he want to do something so blatantly sexual?
“But I bet you’d enjoy it regardless.” Bull was grinning from ear to ear. Dorian almost rolled his eyes. He didn’t, because he was certain Bull would take it as a personal challenge and he was thoroughly fucked for the moment. He needed to rest and sleep off some of the alcohol.
“Give me that.” Dorian sat up and snagged the fabric from Bull’s fingers. He carefully wiped his skin clean and handed the scrap back. It was pretty much useless now that it had sopped up all that fluid.
“Made quite a mess there, Dorian.” Bull chucked the fabric into the corner. Dorian would have protested, but he was feeling nice and mellow and a low ache was starting to creep up on his lower back and ass. Bull slid back onto the bed and relaxed on his back.
“Forgive me, it’s been a while since my last release.” Dorian rolled his eyes. Bull looked at him, pensively.
“When was the last time?” He asked.
“I believe I was still in Tevinter.” Dorian thought back and couldn’t remember anything since then. Even Bull looming and flirting and being too damn attractive hadn’t broken that streak. And that was mostly because Ellana kept Dorian busy enough with research and traveling that he was usually too tired to do anything.
“No shit.” Bull looked suitably impressed. Dorian knew through the grapevine that Bull hadn’t had any trouble finding women to fuck. Dorian suspected that only half the rumors were true, but the number was still impressive. “You need to let loose more often. Otherwise, you’ll be tense and unfocused and I really don’t want a fireball in my back.”
“I never had a reason to before.” Dorian shrugged. “And everyone hated me, so letting myself be vulnerable like that wasn’t worth it.” He eyed the spot on Bull’s chest he’d been lying on previously and wondered if he could go back there. Not that he needed to go back there. Frankly, he should just gather up his clothes and trek back to his room, where there was an actual fireplace and a wash bin.
“C’mere.” Bull tugged gently on Dorian’s arm, settling Dorian back on his chest with a comfortable sigh. “I’m not done with you, yet.”
“You like it.” Bull was full of confidence. He wasn’t wrong, but Dorian wasn’t going to admit that he was right.
“What do you mean ‘done with me’?” Dorian asked. “What if I’m done with you?”
“Are you?” Bull looked at Dorian’s face, curiously. He didn’t seem upset or angry at the prospect of Dorian just up and walking away. It was both frustrating and appreciated. There wasn’t a connection between them. And there didn’t need to be. It could be totally casual, which would make the inevitable splitting of ways so much easier. Eventually, Corypheus would be defeated and the Inquisition would be no more. Dorian had already started thinking of plans to help his homeland and fix it. It would be long and difficult, but he was confident he could get them to change. He had no doubt in his mind that Bull also had plans for after Corypheus. And they did not include Dorian.
“Well…” Dorian tried to find some wit and found himself lacking. “Not really, no.”
“Then, settle down and rest.” Bull yawned. “When I wake up in a couple hours, we’re going to have some more fun.”
Dorian felt his throat dry up and his face burn.
“Until you tell me to stop.” Bull grinned. “Now, sleep, Dorian. You’ve got a long night ahead of you.”
Chapter 8: The Rest of the Night
It actually was Dorian who woke up a few hours later. He was bleary and barely conscious and aroused as all hell. His back was pressed firmly against Bull’s side and a blanket had materialized over them both. Bull was still on his back (probably due to the horns), but his bicep was pillowing Dorian’s head and his leg was tangled between Dorian’s. Dorian shifted so he could look at Bull. The Qunari, when asleep, looked so peaceful and relaxed. He didn’t have that constant potential for violence that he normally did. Dorian liked the look. He committed it to memory, since there was a distinct possibility of this never occurring again. He looked his fill of the Qunari, appreciating every scar. Out of curiosity more than anything else, he dipped his head and tasted the line running in a sharp slash across Bull’s bicep. There was a slight salty flavor, but didn’t really taste like anything. But the sensation of the scar tissue against his tongue made Dorian want to find a new scar and do it again.
So, he did.
Bull shifted in his sleep as Dorian tasted every scar he could reach without moving. His fingers ran along the scars as well. Hot fingers captured his in a gentle cage. Dorian looked at Bull, who blearily tried to focus his eye on Dorian.
“Not that this isn’t a great way to wake up, but what do you think you’re doing, Dorian?” Bull’s voice was gravelly at best. Sleep made it even rougher and deeper, startling Dorian with how arousing he found it.
“I told you I wasn’t done with you.” Dorian murmured, planting his hands so he could hover over Bull’s torso. Bull was looking at him, sleep clearing from his gaze with every passing moment.
“What are you up to?” Bull asked.
Dorian merely grinned and bent his head to run his tongue over the thick scar running across his chest. Bull groaned, deep in his chest, and making Dorian’s ego swell.
“Just a bit.” Bull agreed.
Dorian took his time exploring every single scar. He needed to taste them all. But all too soon, he found himself face-to-face with Bull’s massive cock. Desperate need to taste filled Dorian and he barely took a moment to prepare himself before he swallowed down a good chunk of Bull. Bull, for his part, swore and slid his thick fingers into Dorian’s hair. Dorian didn’t spend much more than a couple minutes testing out his, admittedly unpracticed, limits. At one point in his life, he would have been perfectly comfortable with the length and girth of Bull, but it had been nearly a year since his last tryst. Bull didn’t seem to mind, as he kept swearing and telling Dorian how good he was and how fucking hot it was to look down and see him taking so much between his pretty lips. Dorian hummed his appreciation and Bull groaned.
“Enough.” Bull demanded. He sat up and wrapped his hands around Dorian’s arms. Effortlessly, he pulled the mage from his task and onto his lap. “I’ll cum in your mouth later.”
“So impatient.” Dorian teased.
“Wait for it.” Bull warned. He dragged Dorian into a heavy kiss, his hands finding and kneading Dorian’s sore ass. “Think you can handle more?”
“Please, you’re not that big.” Dorian lied through his teeth. Yeah, Bull was that big. But, Dorian could definitely handle more. And the alcohol had long left his brain, so he wasn’t even impaired mentally anymore.
Bull chuckled and leaned back to grab the bottle of oil. Dorian stole the bottle and started preparing himself. Bull swore, eye totally and utterly focused on the sight of Dorian’s fingers being swallowed by his hole. Dorian felt his erection twitch at the pure lust and adoration on Bull’s face. Qunari spy he might have been, but he couldn’t school his face for shit.
“If you don’t hurry up, this’ll be over before it begins.” Bull murmured. Dorian twisted a bit, finding the awkward angle necessary for him to reach his own prostate. Pleasure burst in his gut and he arched his back, moaning unabashedly. He’d always been a bit of an exhibitionist, though he couldn’t remember the last time he convinced a partner to participate. Bull’s eye was so dilated that it looked black. Dorian grinned. Apparently, Bull was a voyeur. How appropriate.
“I dislike being rushed.” Dorian replied, archly.
“Too bad.” A half-second later, Bull was inside Dorian. His hands held tight to Dorian’s hips, controlling everything from the speed to the depth to the force. Dorian might have been on top, but he was by no means in charge. And he adored it.
“Ah, fuck!” Dorian grabbed onto Bull’s horns out of pure instinct. He didn’t miss the shit-eating grin on Bull’s face.
“Hold on tight, Dorian.” Bull ordered.
“Oh, please, that’s not even a good analogy.” Dorian’s voice turned into a squeak as Bull abruptly changed the tempo of his thrusts. Fast and hard and so much better than Dorian had ever experienced before. He swore again and dropped his head back.
“You’re still so tight.” Bull muttered, thrusting up as he pulled Dorian down. Dorian wasn’t sure where his voice went, so he just moaned in response. Bull’s cock was deeper than it had been earlier and the angle was a near-constant assault on his prostate. Dorian’s own cock was trapped between the two of them, rubbing against one stomach or another with every other thrust.
It didn’t take long for either one of them the second time. Bull produced a different scrap of fabric (where were these things coming from?!), cleaned them up, and pulled the blanket over Dorian, who had become boneless as he flopped across Bull’s chest.
Dorian was awoken a few hours later by straight heat tracing imaginary symbols on his back. He was face down on the bed and the blanket had gotten lost somewhere, so the cold night air was a sharp contrast to Bull’s fingers as they drew on his skin. It was threatening to melt him into a puddle. The ache in his lower back and ass hadn’t gotten significantly worse since the last time, so he felt pretty good.
“Scalding.” Dorian mumbled, sleepily. “How’re’y so hot? ‘S cold here.”
“Always been warm-blooded.” Bull’s voice was soft.
“Feels good.” Dorian snuggled his face into the pillow. Bull chuckled. His fingertips led the rest of his hands onto Dorian’s back. His palms ran along the smooth skin and Dorian moaned. Bull didn’t pause, but Dorian, even barely conscious, felt Bull’s cock twitch at his hip. He wasn’t hard, and neither was Dorian, but he was definitely taking note. Dorian sighed as Bull started actively massaging his back. Bull’s fingertips dug into muscles, painfully removing the knots, and his palms soothed the ache away, leaving only relaxation in their wake.
Dorian didn’t realize how lewd the noises he was making were until Bull groaned softly. He suddenly was aware of the erection at his hip. His own cock was happily taking notice of the attention. Bull’s hands eased a particularly stubborn knot from Dorian’s lower back and Dorian’s moan was a little less appreciation and a little more flirtation. Bull noticed the difference.
“Enjoying this, are you?”
“I didn’t know how talented your hands were.” Dorian replied, trying not to drool.
“I’m glad you like them.” Bull’s hands moved down to massage Dorian’s butt. He kept his fingers purely platonic, but that made it all the more erotic in Dorian’s mind.
“Bull…” Dorian wasn’t sure what he was going to say, but he needed. Bull seemed to understand the pleading, because his hands lost their professionalism. One hand disappeared for a few moments. Dorian hissed, arching his back, as the cold oil dripped down his spine. Bull’s hands followed the oil, warming it and rubbing it in. Whereas before the massage had been to help relax Dorian’s muscles, now it was purely sexual. Bull was actively trying to make Dorian a whimpering puddle of a human. And he was fairly successful at it, too.
Bull’s hands spread the oil across Dorian’s back and down his ass. Dorian was drooling all over the pillow, moaning and squirming under Bull’s touch. He felt like some sort of lust demon, delighting in all the sensual pleasure Bull was granting him. Bull’s breathing was sharp, and soft groans under his breath accompanied the whines that emerged from Dorian’s throat. Bull didn’t tease too much, sliding slick fingers into Dorian’s hole. The preparation took much longer this time, which Dorian thoroughly enjoyed. Bull took his time stretching Dorian wide, carefully and gently brushing past his prostate. He was riling Dorian up, but slowly and methodically.
“Ah, fuck me.” Dorian moaned, hands clenching the pillow under his head rhythmically.
“Soon.” Bull promised, voice husky. Dorian whimpered as Bull’s fingers retreated. Not soon enough (though it was probably only a few seconds), Bull pressed into Dorian. Unlike their other couplings, Bull kept his pace relaxed and almost gentle. His body sat flush against Dorian’s, wrapping him up in pure heat and pleasure. Bull slid one massive forearm under Dorian’s shoulders, pressing their bodies more firmly against each other. Dorian gasped for air. Bull hushed him softly. “It’s okay. Relax, Dorian. I’ve got you.”
The words filled Dorian with a lightness that he couldn’t explain. His chest tightened and tears pricked at his eyes. He was so, painfully aroused, and yet he was content to stay in that position, to let Bull ride him slowly to oblivion. He didn’t realize he had started begging until Bull touched his cheek, pulling him into an awkwardly-positioned kiss that somehow didn’t feel that awkward.
“Shhh. You’re so beautiful. I’ve got you. You’re so good to me. Just relax.”
It took Dorian a couple seconds to find the self-control and strength to ease down from the nigh-hysterical desperation, but when he did, he was praised with a low “good boy”. And that made all the effort totally worth it. Bull never stopped talking, praising and adoring every aspect of Dorian.
When Dorian’s orgasm hit him, it was a complete shock.
He had been so absorbed in the feel and sensation of Bull’s body filling him, surrounding him, he’d gotten so focused on the fond words being whispered in that deep, husky timbre, that he totally and completely missed the rising peak of his finish. Bull seemed similarly impaired, because not two seconds after Dorian finished, a startled, choking gasp was torn from Bull’s throat and his whole body shuddered. Dorian felt every pulse, every twitch of Bull’s cock and it felt amazing. He felt his eyes roll back as Bull swore softly in his ears, entire body trembling against Dorian’s.
Somehow, this orgasm hit Dorian harder and took more out of him than the last two. Perhaps it was the fact that it was his third of the night. Perhaps he was tired. Regardless, he was completely boneless and drooling all over the bed. Bull seem similarly affected. He shifted his arms so his full body weight wasn’t pressing down on Dorian, but seemed unwilling to move beyond that.
“Thought I was gonna have to buy you dinner before turnin’ you into a barely conscious, drooling mess of a ‘Vint.” Bull chuckled against Dorian’s shoulder. It took Dorian a couple moments to figure out how to speak.
“I’m perfectly awake, thank you very much.” His voice was hoarse, but the tone was all stuck-up Altus, as it should have been.
“Well, that’s good, ‘cause it looks like the sun’s up.” Bull replied, dryly. Dorian’s eyes popped open and saw that Bull had exaggerated a bit. There were faint tendrils of blue light creeping in through the windows and the massive hole in the roof. Dorian knew he didn’t have much time if he wanted to get back to his room to change. Some of the night guards would likely see him, but if he was careful, they wouldn’t know where he’d been and why.
“Time to go.” Dorian announced, though he was loathe to move.
“All right.” Bull rolled off Dorian, leaving him feeling oddly bereft. Dorian didn’t look at Bull as he rolled off the bed and started re-dressing quickly (after wiping himself off, of course). There were too many buckles on his clothes, Dorian decided. It looked amazing, but it wasn’t particularly efficient. He had never minded it before. Dorian realized, in the midst of tying his boots, that he had left his undergarments on the floor. He abruptly decided to just leave them. If Bull was amenable, he’d be back. How could he not? He’d had the best night of his life in the horrid room (and it was pretty offensive to the eyes). If Bull was interested, he’d hold onto them. If he wasn’t, he’d give them back. And Dorian would know if he was welcome.
Mind made up, Dorian finished tying his boots and straightened, finally looking at Bull. Bull watched him, no real emotion on his face, almost like he was watching the snow fall or the clouds move. He seemed unattached. Which was kind of what Dorian wanted. (Never mind the remains of his heart that had been shattered by his family that longed for more.) But no strings attached worked better for him. He appreciated Bull’s lack of emotional reaction.
“See ya around, Dorian.”
Dorian nodded politely as he crept out of the room into the pre-dawn light, ignoring the shiver up his spine from how Bull said his name.
Chapter 9: A Business Proposition
“So, Dorian, about last night…”
Dorian decided he was going to have to kill the Qunari. There was no other option. Ellana shot Dorian a look that told him she was so going to interrogate him when they got back to Skyhold. They were on a routine check-up in the Hinterlands and would probably be back at the stronghold by that night. Sera started making kissy faces and noises at him. Dorian sighed heavily.
“Discretion isn’t you thing, is it?” His voice was dry.
“Three times!” Bull claimed, triumphantly. Dorian had no idea the man was that proud of that fact. He hadn’t let on at all before Dorian left that morning. Ellana and Sera exchanged excited looks, grinning madly. “Also, do you want your silky underthings back, or did you leave those like a token?”
Dorian was regretting ever deciding to leave his undergarments. He couldn’t bring himself to regret the rest of the evening. He steadfastly ignored the frantic giggling and rude hand gestures the two female elves were making to focus on where he was planting his feet. They were on mountains and it was easy to lose their footing.
“Or… wait, did you “forget” them so you’d have an excuse to come back? You sly dog!” Bull’s exaggerated wink (was it really a “wink” when he only had one eye?) told Dorian that the Qunari was fucking with him and totally understood what Dorian had meant by leaving his clothes there. But he was going to make Dorian say it out loud. Which, Dorian thought was a bit mean. But, considering all the orders Bull had given him the previous night that were utterly fantastic, Dorian couldn’t really talk himself out of following this one. Especially because he wasn’t sure when Bull was going to draw the line between “stubborn” and “not worth it”.
“If you choose to leave your door unlocked like a savage, I may or may not come.” Dorian hissed, trying to be a bit more circumspect.
“Speak for yourself.” Bull teased with a bright grin.
Dorian huffed out an impatient breath and ignored him to shoot a dirty look at the twin mischievous grins from Sera and Ellana. He was going to kill Bull for this.
He managed to evade Ellana when they got back to Skyhold, but only just. She was a rogue, and a good one at that (once disappeared from all of Leliana’s spies for two days just to prove she could), so escaping her took all of Dorian’s skill. The fact that he escaped her by hiding in Bull’s room was another matter entirely. Not that he was alone, because Bull was definitely there. And Bull, instead of just going straight for the fun part of the evening, wanted to talk.
“So, listen, if we’re going to continue this…” Bull gestured between the two of them, searching for and subsequently not finding an appropriate word, “We need to get some things straightened out.”
“All right.” Dorian crossed his arms and leaned on the doorframe. His heart was pounding in nervousness, but Bull made it abundantly clear that yes, he would like to continue, so it made Dorian feel a bit better about the conversation.
“First, ground rules, just so everyone’s clear.” Bull’s face was solemn, like it had been the day he rescued Dorian from Conrad Whitley and his posse. “I will never hurt you without your permission. You will always be safe. If you’re ever uncomfortable, if you ever want me to stop, you say ‘katoh’ and it’s over. No questions asked.”
“No problems so far.” Dorian agreed.
“So, I’ve gathered a few things from last night.” Bull continued. “But is there anything you absolutely do not want any part of?”
“I’m not a glutton for pain.” Dorian was glad this was the topic of conversation. He could talk about his wants all day every day. “So, anything like choking, slapping, spanking, or straight pain like that is not something I’m interested in.”
Bull nodded, but seemed a bit relieved. Perhaps Dorian was reading too much into it, but the Qunari didn’t appear to like giving pain any more than Dorian liked receiving it.
“You like being helpless.” Bull pointed out. “So, being tied up is fine?”
Dorian nodded, though he flushed a bit. The conversation was making his pants a bit uncomfortable, the only problem with discussing his wants.
“Role playing, dirty talk, ropes, and anything of that nature is fine with me.” Dorian expanded a bit. “And exhibitionism or voyeurism is fine, too.”
“Thought you wanted to keep this private.” Bull pointed out.
“Well, you’ve already gone and ruined that.” Dorian retorted. “I don’t mean literally fucking in front of people. Either being watched by you or the threat of being caught fucking is what I mean.”
“Kinky.” Bull grinned. “Anything else strictly off limits? Blindfolds? You seemed to like the gag suggestion, too. And you definitely like being praised.”
“Everything else is fine.” Dorian tried in vain to not imagine being gagged or blindfolded by Bull. “Just no real violence. What about you? Anything I should know that you’re against?”
“Hey, I’m good.” Bull shook his head. “I am better than good. You, uh, don’t trouble yourself on that front. Ol’ Iron Bull is just fine.”
“There must be something I can do, especially if you’re doing so much for me…”
“Dorian.” Bull chuckled a bit. “Taking care of you is what does it for me. That’s why I’ll never cum before you. I like giving you pleasure.”
Dorian flushed bright red as his mind caught up with that. So, Bull wasn’t doing this for selfless motives. Well, if giving Dorian a prodigious number of orgasms was what made him happy, who was Dorian to deny him?
“So, what’s on the docket tonight?” Dorian asked.
“Well, I haven’t bought you dinner yet, but I can’t stop thinking about gagging that pretty mouth of yours.” Bull’s eyes focused on the way Dorian sucked in a gasp with a smug grin. “But if I’m gagging you, we need a different signal if it’s too much.”
“I can use my magic to shock you.” Dorian suggested.
“Not a great idea.” Bull shook his head. “You don’t have great control of your magic when you’re in the throes of an orgasm.”
“I beg your pardon?” Dorian had perfect control of his magic, thank you very much.
“Each time you came last night, you turned into a human sparkler.” Bull shrugged.
“I did not!” Dorian wanted to sink into the floor. He hadn’t lost control of his magic from anything since he was a teenager.
“Okay, tell that to my singed sheets.”
Dorian had no memory of this at all, but Bull held up his sheets, which quite obviously had tiny little scorched holes throughout the length of the cloth.
“I’ll replace those.” It seemed only fair.
“You kidding? That’s hot!” Bull waved the sheet like it was a flag, grinning massively.
“How about I kick you?” Dorian meant right at that moment, since Bull seemed likely to just drag the sheet around to show off to the Inquisition.
“Sure.” Bull was talking about the signal again. “But do it in a deliberate rhythm, so there’s no way it’s an accident.” Dorian walked across the room and punched Bull in the bicep twice in quick succession. He hesitated and then punched Bull again.
“Yup!” Bull’s hands quickly grabbed Dorian by the hips before he could make any move away. Not that Dorian was planning on getting away, but it was nice to be desired. “Now, about that gagging thing…”
Five minutes later, Dorian’s hands were tied to the bed with the ruined sheets, his mouth had a silk scarf shutting him up from all but the most base of noises, his legs were up on Bull’s shoulders, and his ass was stuffed with the Qunari’s cock. Bull took his sweet time pleasuring Dorian, ensuring that, had he not been gagged, he would have been screeching death threats at Bull. As it was, Dorian was sobbing for release long before Bull was finished with him. Bull edged him for a long time (well, it felt like a long time) before reaching down and using his calloused fingers to jerk Dorian off. Dorian screamed (as much as he could) and completely blacked out.
When he returned to consciousness, Bull was spooning him, his hands petting Dorian gently as he praised Dorian from his obedience to his face when he came to how he singed the sheets again. It took Dorian a few minutes to come back to reality.
“What?” His voice was hoarse and his throat was dry.
“Shh…” Bull kissed the back of his neck. “You’re so beautiful. Just relax. You’ve been so good to me.” Dorian wisely shut up and let Bull take care of him. Once Dorian was no longer shaking (he didn’t even realize he had been shaking), Bull got up and fetched him some water. Only a soft noise of protest from Dorian reminded Bull that yes, he was completely nude and no, it wasn’t advisable to go down to Herald’s Rest without any form of covering. By the time Bull returned, Dorian had snuggled underneath the blankets into a big mound of heat, trying to avoid any of his skin being touched by the night air.
“Drink.” Bull sat on the edge of the bed and held out the goblet. Dorian really didn’t want to move, but he felt like it would be incredibly childish to tell Bull so. So, he emerged from his cocoon of warm and obliging drained the goblet dry. Bull chucked the goblet to the floor (which was why the bartender only gave him wooden ones) and eyed Dorian carefully.
“That might’ve been a bit much.” He acknowledged. “We should go slower.”
“What are you talking about?” Dorian asked, voice muffled by the blanket he had up to his nose. “Everyone enjoyed themselves and I’m fine. Did I give the watchword?”
“You were gagged.” Bull pointed out.
“Did I kick you?”
“Your legs were on my shoulders.”
“Bull,” Dorian reluctantly sat up, glowering at the Qunari for making him leave the nice warmth behind, “I am a grown man and an accomplished mage. I have experienced many things in my life, but never once have I been forced into doing something I truly did not want to do. My parents, bless them, tried. If you think that fucking me into unconsciousness is something I didn’t want, then you need to remember who jumped whom.”
Bull tilted his head, watching Dorian with that indomitable focus again.
“Besides which, I’m pretty sure I made it abundantly clear that I enjoyed every second of it, even with the gag.” Dorian continued. “If you can’t handle this, then tell me so and we’ll move on.”
“Hey, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.” Bull shook his head. “I’ve never fucked someone to unconsciousness before. I thought I lost control there.”
Dorian opened his mouth to say something flippant, but he realized that Bull still hadn’t touched him since he left the bed. Granted, they’d only spent one night together, but Bull couldn’t keep his hands off Dorian the night before. He had skin-to-skin contact from the moment Dorian got into his bed until Dorian decided to get out. Dorian took a moment to re-examine the Qunari.
Bull sat stiffly on the bed. His pose was relaxed, but every muscle (and Dorian had them memorized) was flexed tightly. His gaze wasn’t even truly on Dorian, it was on the wall just behind him. And his hands were clenched into fists on his knees, like he was keeping them in check. Bull really was scared he had hurt Dorian. Dorian didn’t realize how much that mattered until that exact moment. Bull was his lover (and it was completely insane to even think of him like that, but Dorian secretly liked it) and he cared. Yeah, it was a fast-and-loose sort of deal they had going on, which, frankly, they hadn’t even really discussed what was going on or how long it would last, but Bull (and it freaked Dorian out to admit it) was his friend.
Dorian had few friends throughout the years. Prior to joining the Inquisition, it was primarily Felix. His peers (the other children of magisters) had all had the Game holding them back from ever becoming truly friendly. And then, leaving Tevinter had torn a massive scar between Dorian and anyone from his home country. Ellana had been his first real friend. Krem, his second. He recalled back to when Bull had been distant to him. Even then, Bull showed that he was concerned for Dorian’s safety. They had hardly ever exchanged words and Bull saved his life. Now, after months of travel together, and after Dorian had inadvertently befriended most of the Chargers, Dorian was realizing how much the Qunari cared.
He felt like a total idiot.
“Bull…” He wasn’t sure what to say. But Bull was about to end things for them, Dorian could see it in his face. Dorian could not let that happen. “I think you’re right in your assessment; we should go slower.”
Bull’s eye focused on Dorian’s face. “Didn’t expect you to agree with me, Dorian.”
“I don’t think you lost control.” Dorian shook his head. “And I don’t think you would ever hurt me unless I hurt you, first. I think you took care of me so thoroughly that my body decided to turn off. Take it as a badge of honor. You got the spoiled rotten Tevinter mage to cum so hard that he swooned.”
“Or I pushed you too far too fast and your body gave out.”
“Bull, you edged me for nearly half an hour there.” Dorian pointed out. “There was nothing fast about that.”
Bull shut his mouth tightly.
“Look, we haven’t discussed a few things about this arrangement. I’d like it if we solidified a few details.”
“Sounds fair.” Bull was doing his best to impersonate a stone wall.
“This…” Dorian gestured between the two of them, “Is monogamous. I don’t fuck anyone else and you don’t fuck anyone else.”
“Agreed.” Bull crossed his arms and nodded.
“This is also mutually-agreed upon. Just because one of us wants some, doesn’t mean the other is beholden to it.” Dorian continued. “I know that I can get very clingy and needy, so you be sure to tell me when you’re not feeling it.”
Bull cracked a smirk, the first expression on his face since he came back from Herald’s Rest.
“I doubt I’ll ever not be in the mood, but I agree. We both agree or nothing happens.”
“And, we trust each other.” Dorian finished. “We do it in battle on a near-daily basis. I trust you to keep our enemies away from me so I can do my work and you trust me not to hit you in the back with a spell. In this instance, we trust each other to know their limits. I know what I can handle and what I like. You need to trust that I know myself.”
“My only stipulation is that we communicate.” Bull replied, slowly. “If you feel like you’re getting to a limit, tell me. I don’t want any regrets from this. I’d rather know in the moment then find out later.”
“That goes both ways.” Dorian pointed out. “If I want something that you’re not comfortable with, you need to tell me.”
Dorian didn’t know why, but he felt the need to swear an oath or sign a contract or shake hands or something. It felt less like a fuck-buddy arrangement and more like a business proposition.
“Good, now get over here. It’s fucking freezing.”
Bull laughed, a genuine chuckle that made the corner of his eye crinkle in amusement, and obliged Dorian.
Chapter 10: Now Everyone Knows
Dorian slept in long enough that any sort of attempt to sneak to his room would inevitably end up in people noticing. Though, to be perfectly fair, Bull had well-advertised their… whatever it was. It was frustrating. It was obvious Bull wasn’t afraid or ashamed of sleeping with another man. Unfortunately, Dorian had been raised to such things. Tevinter was a terribly prudish country, all things considered. One could take their slaves to the market with them, but if the slave misbehaved, they couldn’t be punished in public. They would become pariahs for that sort of behavior. But, on the other hand, there were dens of pure sin scattered throughout the country where just about anything was allowed. Dorian had only been to one a handful of times. Enough to learn how things worked, but not enough to cause any sort of mark on his family name. (Well, except for that one time, but Alexius helped him out of that one, preventing permanent damage to the Pavus name.)
The point was: Dorian had never been allowed to have a true relationship, much less let it be broadcasted everywhere. Though, he and Bull weren’t in a relationship. It was an agreed partnership. When they needed to get laid, they’d go to each other. Simple. Straightforward. And not at all susceptible to getting screwed up by emotional ties. (Sarcasm, as much as he needed it, didn’t really make Dorian feel better about it.) Bull was watching him buckle the horrendous number of belts, patiently. He was already dressed, but considering the atrocious garments Bull considered clothing, Dorian figured it was faster and easier to dress for him. Bull snagged Dorian by one of the belts on his waist and pulled him against his chest, where he stole a slow, messy, highly arousing kiss.
Dorian hated that he was so easy (except he kind of didn’t).
“I think Boss is takin’ us out to the Emerald Graves tomorrow.” Bull remembered abruptly.
“Then we’re leaving at the crack of dawn.” Dorian sighed. He thought about whining about it, but he’d always been an early riser (present day excepted). “I should probably sleep in my own bed tonight, then.”
“Might be for the best.” Bull agreed.
Dorian let Bull leave the room first. He waited nearly half an hour before emerging and heading for the library, going for a casual look as he strolled along. He went through Cullen’s office, firstly because he liked the Commander, and secondly because it was way faster to get to the library that way. Cullen himself wasn’t in the office, but a couple soldiers were obviously waiting for him to return so they could give him reports. Dorian didn’t envy Cullen’s job.
It took Ellana precisely ten seconds to corner him in his little nook.
“What is going on between you and Iron Bull, exactly?” She asked, though the laughter in her eyes told him she was more than a little aware. He detested rhetorical questions when they were directed at him. It made him feel like a small child. He sighed.
“If only there were a single discreet bone in that lummox.” He refocused on her attentive face. “Err… do you truly want to know? Is this official concern, or…?”
“I’m asking as your friend.” Ellana looked like she was about to punch him for insinuating otherwise. “How did I not know about this?”
Dorian didn’t think it wise to mention she was too busy making eyes at the Commander to notice him and Bull.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to know about this.” He admitted. “Just like I wouldn’t want anyone to know I fancy Ferelden beer.”
“Oh, the shame, Dorian.” Ellana laughed. But her grin didn’t last. She looked at him, expectantly.
“Well, it’s something.” His voice was soft, like if he said it out loud, it would break. “A whole lot of something. At first, it was an ill-considered night after drinking. Then there was a second time, and then… I don’t know what’s ‘going on’, to be honest.” Dorian huffed an ironic laugh at himself. “I suspect neither does the Bull. Now that I’ve said it out loud, my ancestors are officially turning over in their graves. Ah, well.”
He turned away, successfully signifying the end of the conversation. Ellana had always been good at picking up his cues. He was understandably surprised when he felt a pair of thin arms wrap around his middle. Ellana had always been touchy, which seemed to be a Dalish thing, because she did it to everybody. She had hugged Dorian many times in their friendship. Even before that as when they had survived the future, she had hugged him just after hugging her whole team. Maker knew Dorian needed that embrace. It was a harrowing experience and being able to get some care and kindness afterward helped him mentally handle the entire thing. Sure, he had gotten ugly looks from other people, but they didn’t know or understand what Ellana and Dorian had survived together.
“I’m glad for you.” Ellana said into his back. Her whole front was pressed to his back as she hugged him tightly. Dorian put his arms around hers, hugging her back as best he could. “You deserve some happiness.”
“We’re not getting married, Ell.” Dorian pointed out.
“That’s not the point, Dor.” She buried her forehead between his shoulders. “You need touch. Not just in a sexual way. You’re almost Dalish in how you need physical touch to keep you grounded and happy. I need it, too. I can see how hard it was for you, growing up, with this ever-present need that wasn’t being met.”
“I had a perfectly happy childhood.” Dorian corrected.
“But you weren’t complete.” Ellana’s words stabbed right into Dorian’s heart. “And I know this thing with Bull is light and casual and whatever, but if he helps complete you, even for a little while, that’s something worth celebrating.”
Dorian never hated and adored someone as much as he did in that moment. She was right, bless her. But, she was right, damn her. Dorian was needy and clingy and desired touch, even platonic touch, far more than anyone he’d met from his home country. Maybe that was why he latched onto Bull so hard. Bull granted him the touch he craved without any reservations, embarrassment, or shame. It almost seemed like Bull liked it as much as Dorian did.
“Ah! Excuse me.” Cullen’s voice was a bit high-pitched and a little unsteady. Both Dorian and Ellana turned their heads towards him. Cullen was bright red and trying to figure out the fastest way out of the situation. Which, he was in the only room in the entire keep that had more doors than the main hall. Easy escape.
“Hey, Cullen.” Ellana didn’t let go of Dorian, but he could feel her bright smile aimed directly at the Commander. Whatever was going on between the two of them, it wasn’t officially anything. At least, not yet. Dorian was beginning to suspect that it wouldn’t be too much longer before either one of them snapped. They hadn’t even kissed yet. It was starting to get irritating. Though, Dorian did have a leg up on the betting pool for when they’d finally get together since the enamored elf came to him to talk about Cullen every single day.
“Didn’t mean to interrupt.” Cullen started inching to the side.
“You’re not interrupting.” Dorian grinned. “Please, join us.”
“J-join…?” Cullen’s brain struggled with that for a long moment. “Uh…”
“Dor…” Ellana poked Dorian in the side in admonishment and finally detached herself from Dorian’s back. Dorian slung one arm around her shoulders, mostly to mess with Cullen.
“Conversation?” Dorian prompted Cullen. “You sought out this little nook for a reason, I assume. Did you need something from me? Or is it our lovely Inquisitor who demands your attention?”
Yeah, he was shameless. But, he was only a couple days away from losing the bet entirely. He needed to get them moving.
“Uh… actually… I was uh…” Cullen’s brain had shut down momentarily. Abruptly, he seemed to come back to himself. He held up the box that contained his chess set, deliberately looking at the air above Dorian’s shoulder. Like he couldn’t make eye contact.
“Sorry, I am in the middle of some research at the moment.” Dorian said, mock-dejectedly. “However, I don’t think Ellana is busy at the moment.” He intentionally looked down at the elf, whose ears had flushed pink.
“She doesn’t have to if–”
Dorian dropped his arm from her shoulders to plant his palm in the small of her back and shoving her unceremoniously forward. Cullen dropped the chess set to catch Ellana as she stumbled into his chest.
“Oh!” Ellana gasped and turned back to glower at Dorian, who wasn’t there anymore. Dorian, as soon as he shoved Ellana, slipped out of his nook and rushed down the stairs. Yeah, he was being manipulative, but he didn’t care. He wandered past Solas, who didn’t even glance up from his scrolls. “Dorian!” Solas looked up to where Ellana was leaning over the balcony.
“Please don’t…” Solas muttered. Dorian ran out of the room, knowing that Ellana sometimes jumped off the balcony (how she didn’t injure herself, no one knew), and could catch him easily. Varric was scribbling something down as Dorian hurried past. Probably some more of that trash he called literature. (Cassandra made Dorian read every single book in that silly series she adored, so Dorian knew exactly how bad they were.)
Dorian entered Herald’s Rest and felt like a bit of an idiot. He had just left Bull’s room not ten minutes prior. So, he forced himself to ignore Bull’s looming presence in the corner (which just made Dorian want to do unspeakable things to him) and sat down beside Krem.
“Have you asked her, yet?” Dorian asked, by way of greeting. Krem jumped, startled and glowered at him.
“Have you stopped meddling in other people’s affairs?” Krem snapped, flushing a bit.
“Silly man, it’s in their best interests for me to meddle.” Dorian smiled.
“No.” Krem muttered, under his breath. “I haven’t asked her, yet.”
“Better get a move on.” Dorian shrugged. “At this rate, the Commander will get laid before you do.”
“Speaking of getting laid…” Krem turned a smug smirk on Dorian and Dorian instantly regretted the topic he chose. “How’ve you been sleepin’?”
“Just fine, thank you.” Dorian sniffed, primly avoiding looking over at Bull.
“That’s great.” Krem was still grinning, damn him. “Boss has been pretty chipper.”
“I believe that he is always ‘chipper’.”
“Not when he’s pining, he’s not.”
“I don’t pine!” Bull shouted from across the mostly empty tavern.
“This is a private conversation!” Dorian snapped, as Krem laughed.
“Then stop having it so damn loud!”
Dorian steadfastly ignored Bull and focused on Krem.
“I believe you were about to make a horribly transparent and probably offensive allusion to me having sex with the Iron Bull.” Dorian sighed, rolling his eyes. “And if you deign to utilize said allusion, I will have no choice but to start talking to Scout Harding.”
Krem glowered at him.
“I won’t talk about you.” Dorian promised. “Just make horrible allusions to you.”
“I’m just glad that you two have finally stopped dancing around each other.” Krem replied, primly.
“Ah. You won the bet.”
Dorian spent the rest of the morning with Krem and the Chargers. Bull kept his distance, which was a bit odd, all things considered. But he was probably just trying to give Dorian space. Dorian should have been appreciating it. Instead, when he curled up on his bed in his own room, all he felt was disappointment deep in his chest. He argued with himself about it for a long time, but no amount of logic made him feel better. Damn, he was so needy. It was only the second day of… whatever it was he had with Bull, and Dorian was already getting clingy. He was going to push Bull away if he didn’t calm himself down.
Dorian didn’t get much sleep that night.
Chapter 11: The Inner Circle
“So Bull, you and Dorian?”
Dorian groaned and tried to walk faster, to catch up with Ellana and blatantly ignore the conversation behind him. The Emerald Graves were as luscious and verdant as ever and Dorian hated every inch of it. Especially when Varric was deliberately taunting Dorian. (And no matter how much he’d pretend he was just being concerned for his friends, Dorian knew it was directed straight to him.)
“Mm-hmm.” Bull hummed in agreement. Dorian hated that the pair couldn’t have a quiet conversation if their lives depended on it.
“Two worlds tearing them apart, Tevinter and Qunari, with only love to keep them together.” Varric was rather quick off the mark with that one. Dorian assumed that he and Bull were about to be the subjects of an entirely new romance serial by the dwarf. He wasn’t sure if he was embarrassed or flattered. (No, he was definitely embarrassed, especially since he knew how well the dwarf wrote.) But, he couldn’t think of a way of discouraging Varric without letting him know how much it mortified him because that would just make the prospect too irresistible. The dwarf was utterly shameless.
“I don’t see how this is even remotely your business, Varric.” Dorian snapped over his shoulder. He mentally slapped himself. That wouldn’t raise any red flags, nooo… Dorian had just painted a big target on the subject, just begging Varric to fire at will.
“Could you make it sound angrier?” Bull asked, successfully intervening between Dorian and Varric. “Love is a bit soft.”
Ugh. Why was Dorian attracted to him again?
“Please stop helping the dwarf.” Dorian sighed. Ellana was definitely eavesdropping, as she was grinning like a proper idiot at their words.
“How about passion?” Varric, too, was ignoring Dorian.
“Yeah, that’s better. Love is all starlight and gentle blushes. Passion leaves your fingers sore from clawing the sheets.”
The sad part was that Bull was completely and utterly correct in his sentiment as Dorian’s fingers were sore from clawing the sheets.
“You could at least have the courtesy to use the bedposts.” He pointed out.
“Hey, don’t top from the bottom.” Bull admonished lightly, grinning as he did so. Varric laughed at the sour look Dorian shot them both.
“Passion it is, then.”
After a monstrous number of wolves later, Dorian was making his way through the group, healing as necessary. Ellana was covered in blood, but none of it was hers (which was just typical, all things considered). Varric sported minor scratches here and there where one wolf got too close, but they took little effort to heal. The Iron Bull, on the other hand, had decided to just let the swarm come at him while Varric, Dorian, and Ellana picked the wolves off him one at a time. As such, his back was clawed up something fierce and there were definite bite marks in his forearms. His pants were ripped, too, but not enough to make him indecent, just enough to bare more of that irresistible skin. (And Dorian needed to not think that way when he was trying to heal, because it shot his concentration.)
“You’re such an idiot.” Dorian muttered, kneeling next to where Bull was settled on the ground. He got started healing, working his way up Bull’s body.
“What? It kept everyone else safe.” Bull shrugged.
“We could’ve devised a strategy that didn’t include being chewed on by wolves.” Dorian pointed out, healing a particularly nasty bite mark on Bull’s calf.
“Eh.” Bull shrugged, noncommittally.
“Ugh.” Dorian made his disgust well-known with that one sound.
“Relax, Dorian.” Bull grinned. “I’ve had worse.”
“That’s not the point, and you know it!” Dorian’s voice turned into a squeak on the last word when a cheeky hand crept up the back of his thigh, gripping his ass boldly. He glowered at Bull, who looked utterly unrepentant.
“What?” Bull’s voice drifted lower in timbre and volume. “You don’t like it?”
“That’s not the point.” Dorian gritted out, feeling his face burn bright red. The hand stubbornly did not let go of Dorian’s ass, and when Dorian needed to heal that hand, Bull’s other hand took up the job of fondling Dorian. (And Dorian hated that he liked it.) Neither Varric nor Ellana said anything as they made their way back to camp, so Dorian was hopeful that they didn’t see.
In the tent, Bull made it abundantly clear that it didn’t matter where they were at, he was completely willing and able to give them both orgasms. It took all of Dorian’s willpower to stay quiet, especially when Bull kept saying all the dirty and perverted things he wanted to do to Dorian in a husky whisper. Dorian adored the feeling of Bull surrounding him, caging him away from the rest of the world. When they finally passed out, they were covered in sweat and Dorian was draped over Bull like a human blanket. Dorian couldn’t remember being more content.
The next day was Sera’s turn to start questioning them about their relationship. She started the entire experience by laughing. Dorian couldn’t help but ask, as she was laughing while looking between him and Bull and leaning on him. (She wasn’t Dalish, but for all that she neglected personal space, she might as well have been.)
“Something particularly funny?” As soon as he spoke, he regretted those words. Asking Sera anything was a gamble.
“You.” She snickered. “And Bull.”
“I-I’m glad it amuses you, but what I get from my affairs is my affair.” Dorian got out, haughtily. She usually got upset with his tone and would switch subjects to complain about his “rich, uppity-ness gold-shitting”. It was a great diversionary tactic when it worked.
“I know what you get.” Somehow, Dorian didn’t expect the leer, though by all rights, he should have. “It’s like falling through a tree into custard.”
Even Bull turned to look at Sera like she was insane at that. She continued, ignoring all the odd looks.
“Too high! Wham! Too fast! Wham! Leaves! Wham! Splat!”
Somehow, Dorian’s brain managed to make sense of the dilapidated analogy.
“I’m not sure which is worse,” He muttered, “The mockery or the accuracy.”
“Eh, depends how much rest the trees had.” Bull decided with a shrug. He slung his arm over Dorian’s shoulders and pried him away from Sera. Ellana waggled her eyebrows at Dorian with a smirk. Dorian stuck his tongue out at her, which felt so incredibly like Sera that he was starting to wonder if he was adopting some of her mannerisms. (Sweet Maker, he hoped not. He’d rather not start taking on the characteristics of any of his companions, thank you very much.)
Weirdly enough, that night Bull and Dorian didn’t have sex, though by all rights they could have. Instead, they talked. Dorian learned about Bull’s experiences on Seheron (which, he already knew, but from Ellana and Krem not from Bull himself) and Bull got to hear the full, unadulterated story of what Dorian’s father had tried to do. It was surprisingly tender, and it made Dorian feel warm and comfortable and absolutely terrified at the same time. He didn’t stop himself from snuggling into Bull’s side that night, though.
They were heading back to Skyhold when Cassandra decided to voice her opinion, and, unfortunately for her, Dorian was getting irritated by the commentary from their companions, so he wasn’t as polite as he normally would have been.
“So, Bull, about Dorian…”
“Yes, it’s true.” Bull didn’t even hesitate and the surety and ease in his voice made Dorian’s gut clench. He wasn’t supposed to be feeling things for the Qunari, but Bull was so calm and confident. It made Dorian feel wanted, which wasn’t a sensation he was used to. He was so confused by everything and the night before that he snapped out before he could reign himself in.
“By all means, let us discuss this together.”
“If…” Cassandra glanced at Dorian warily. She, at least, caught that the subject wasn’t one Dorian was comfortable with. “You’re both pleased…”
“I’m happy, he’s happy, everyone’s happy.” Dorian replied, shortly.
“Oh… you’re happy…” Bull sounded so pleased that he was “just learning” that Dorian was happy that it made Dorian roll his eyes. He sighed and bit back a smile. Bull was just so over the top. It meshed so well with Dorian. Cassandra laughed, looking between the two of them. Dorian glanced over to see Bull with a bright grin on his features. It made his heart stutter.
Vivienne caught up with Dorian as they caught sight of Skyhold. She was perfectly pleasant, which he hadn’t much expected from an Orlesian (though Ellana didn’t understand how civil they were), but he would never again trust her opinion on wine. There was wine, and then there was the swill that she insisted was wine. Still, they had always been cordial.
“I received a letter the other day, Dorian.” Vivienne began, calmly.
“Truly?” Dorian didn’t know why her correspondence was suddenly his business. “It’s nice to know you have friends.”
“It was from an acquaintance in Tevinter, expressing his shock at the disturbing rumors about your... relationship with the Iron Bull.”
Dorian’s heart sank into his gut. He hadn’t thought about that. The Inquisition was big enough with enough of the world’s focus that any rumor would be spread far and wide. Chances were, the rumor was from back before he and Bull slept together, when Bull was insistent on flirting non-stop.
“Rumors you were only too happy to verify, I assume.” Dorian’s voice wasn’t cold, not precisely, but it wasn’t nearly as warm as it had been moments before. Bull was walking farther ahead, playing some sort of chess match with Solas, but it was like he knew, because he glanced back at Dorian anyway.
“I informed him the only ‘disturbing’ thing in evidence was his penmanship.” Vivienne replied lightly. Dorian’s brain faltered. He hadn’t expected that reaction at all.
“Oh.” He had lost his wit. “Thank you.”
“I am not so quick to judge, darling.” Vivienne said, gently. “See that you give me no reason to feel otherwise.” She sauntered off to walk with Ellana, leaving Dorian feeling like an idiot. Vivienne had made it abundantly clear that she was an ally. She might have been a master of The Game, but she had never stabbed anyone in the back (as far as Dorian knew, which could just be naïve of him). Still, it was nice to know that she was supporting him in his efforts to be a bit more circumspect.
Thinking about it, Dorian realized that everyone had been pretty supportive of… whatever he had with Bull. It was… weird. Endearing, yes, but quite odd. Tevinter didn’t approve of non-heteronormative individuals, hence why both Dorian and Krem had escaped from their homes. But Dorian fully believed he could change his homeland. He had to, else his whole life was for naught. Still, the other members of the Inquisition were prying into his life because they cared.
Dorian hadn’t been cared for since he was an angry, drunk teenager and had to be babysat by Alexius. And even then, it wasn’t as peers. Alexius was his mentor, always a step above, in a completely different tier of respect. In the Inquisition, he was equals with everyone (except Ellana, but don’t tell her that because she’d get irritated about her position and how she didn’t feel like she was worthy of that kind of attention and respect). So, when Vivienne and Cassandra and Sera and Varric all made it abundantly clear that they really did not care that Dorian and Bull were lovers, Dorian wasn’t quite sure how to handle it.
He had been through quite a bit of emotional shock over the past couple of days. It was hard enough for him to handle being someone’s lover (a title which still made him twist uncomfortably), much less the blatant acceptance with no loss of respect from his compatriots. As such, Dorian settled in his room that night, snuggling into his bed and trying to turn his brain off as it (un)helpfully reminded him that Bull was much better at keeping him warm than the wool blanket.
Chapter 12: Being Owned
Dorian’s life shifted for the absurd not a handful days after their return from the Emerald Graves. (Yes, he’d been sleeping with Bull those several nights.) He was playing a game of Wicked Grace with the Chargers (Bull was lurking in his corner, watching over them and not engaging), when Scout Harding threw open the door to Herald’s Rest, red-faced.
“It’s happening!” She yelled.
Instantly, everyone got to their feet. Dorian wasn’t the first out of the tavern, but he was right behind Krem. The large group congregated at the nearby wall, craning their necks. Harding pointed at two figures standing close together atop the battlements and everyone shut up, squinting to make out what was happening. Immediately, Dorian knew what was happening. The two figures were interrupted by a third individual and the onlookers groaned. Their irritation was swiftly dispersed when the third person was dismissed. The larger figure turned around and took the other in his arms. As soon as the two heads touched each other, the audience started cheering.
“Finally.” Dorian sighed, in relief. One, because he totally won that bet. And two, because Ellana’s pining was starting to irritate him. Not to mention, she would be happier and a Happy Inquisitor was the best thing for everyone involved, really.
The two figures parted for a moment, but only for a moment. As they continued kissing, the crowd went from cheering that it finally happened to leering and making crude comments. Which, was pretty normal, all things considered. Cullen pulled back from Ellana again and glanced around. Everyone ducked behind the wall, shutting up immediately. Dorian felt like a teenager sneaking around, and started snickering at how absurd everything was.
“Shut it.” Krem hissed, but he was also grinning.
“Get back inside before they notice!” Harding snapped at the group. Krem was the first to start herding the mass of soldiers, mercenaries, and scouts back into Herald’s Rest. Dorian lingered behind. He had to get back to his nook in the library before Ellana stopped making out with the Commander because there was no doubt in his mind that she’d come to him first to tell him all about it!
“Took ‘em long enough.” Bull nodded in approval at the pair on the battlements. Dorian jumped. How he hadn’t noticed the Qunari, he didn’t know anymore.
“She’ll be along shortly.”
Impulsively (and it had nothing to do with Dorian getting sick and tired of Bull being stand-offish around other people now that they were suddenly lovers when irritating flirting was totally fine when they weren’t), Dorian stood up on his tiptoes and pressed a kiss to Bull’s jaw. Bull’s lips quirked into a small smile. Dorian’s gut fluttered as he smiled back.
“If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a hysterically happy elf to handle.” He tilted his chin up to the battlements.
“Go ahead.” Bull tugged Dorian close for a moment to kiss his temple before releasing him as swiftly. Bull went back into Herald’s Rest and Dorian tried to figure out what had just changed. Whatever had just happened felt significant. But nothing had happened. And nothing had been said. Dorian shook his head and went back to his nook, trying to focus on Ellana. It was easier than thinking about his own issues.
When Ellana came running (yes, running) into the library, Dorian couldn’t help the smirk.
“I hear somebody has a thing for strapping young templars.”
Ellana’s ears turned bright red, but she was grinning like a maniac.
“Maybe a little.”
“A lot.” Dorian corrected.
“How’d you know?” Ellana asked. “It only just happened…”
“I have my ways, darling.” Dorian shooed her into the chair and settled on the windowsill. “Now, tell me all about it. You’ve been pining and I need to know details!”
“Oh, he’s so adorable it’s almost painful!” Ellana started talking, a waterfall of sound that she couldn’t have kept to herself if she tried. “He was shy and sweet and it was really cute and then a scout interrupted him with some report from Leliana and then he got really impatient and forgot about being self-conscious and he got so confident and forceful and it was really good, Dor!”
Dorian laughed and relaxed on his perch, teasing and letting her giggle over Cullen. It lifted his spirits, seeing how completely enamored she was over him. And it was so obvious he was even worse than she was. When Ellana finally left his company (after talking his ear off, eating dinner with him and talking more), Dorian made his way to his room automatically. When his door swung shut behind him, he belatedly realized where he was at. He had been looking forward to spending some more time with the Qunari, but he was distracted by Ellana’s happy glow. It was a shame, really. He took his time readying himself for bed and pretending like he wasn’t upset for not being with Bull. It was far too late to go hunt the Qunari down. He’d just have to suck it up. It wasn’t Bull’s fault Dorian’s brain went on autopilot.
Dorian was half-naked, wearing only a pair of loose trousers to sleep in, when there was a heavy knock at his door. Dorian froze, heart thudding loudly in his chest. There was no way it was Bull. Their whole relationship was one of want. When they wanted sex, they had it with each other. Dorian had always been the one going to Bull. Because he was needy. Bull had more self-control. He didn’t need Dorian.
Dorian opened the door, hyperventilating just a little.
Bull was looming on the other side of the door.
Dorian almost shut the door, out of pure shock.
“You mind havin’ some company tonight?” Bull asked. He looked completely calm and relaxed and like there was nothing Dorian could say that would upset him. Dorian realized in that moment that Bull was asking permission to spend the night together. Bull was asking. Dorian would be an utter moron to turn that down. He cleared his throat nervously and stepped back, holding the door wide for Bull to enter the room.
“Not at all, come in, please.” Dorian felt underdressed, which was just absurd, considering Bull was only wearing his pants (because shirts were just asking for trouble with his horns), so they were at the same level of nakedness. Plus, knowing what they were about to do made the notion of being underdressed all the more ridiculous.
“Nice place.” Bull looked almost too big for the space.
“It has a ceiling.” Dorian agreed, though he privately thought that perhaps the lack of ceiling would have helped make Bull look less massive.
“Shame.” Bull shook his head. “What’s my excuse for using you as a blanket now?”
“My window sticks open.” Dorian blurted out, lying blatantly. Bull looked at the window, pointedly, which was quite obviously shut. Dorian threw a ball of energy, destroying the window before his brain could even catch up. “Nasty draft, too.”
“Hmm… looks like it’ll be a chilly night.”
“Let me see what I can do about that.” Bull pulled Dorian into his arms, his skin burning Dorian’s with his heat. Dorian kissed Bull, hard and a little desperate. He’d been so sure he’d blown his chance this evening. And Bull was here in his room (which should have been a warning flag that things were changing). Dorian ran his hands over the muscles and scars, shuddering under Bull’s possessive touch. Bull’s palms pressed into Dorian’s back, forcing their chests together.
“I figured out why you always wear those damn buckles.” Bull decided, tilting his head to nibble at Dorian’s neck and ear.
“W-why?” Dorian was panting like a damn mabari.
“Because if you showed any more of this skin,” Bull’s hand were firm as they roamed Dorian’s bare torso, “People would be jumping you left and right.”
The compliment would’ve made Dorian preen under normal circumstances, but his ego had been shoved to the side in favor of his libido.
“Too bad for them.” He murmured, stealing Bull’s lips and tongue clumsily.
“Why ‘too bad’?” Bull asked. Dorian wasn’t paying much attention to the conversation.
“I’ve been called for already.” Dorian felt Bull’s hands still and whined under his breath. Dorian started kissing his way down Bull’s body, wanting to touch and taste the hard length of his erection. It was driving him mad, just feeling it press into his stomach. He needed more.
Bull swore as Dorian tugged his pants down to his ankles, exposing him. Dorian didn’t hesitate, just started licking and sucking as much as he could. Big hands buried into his hair, tugging the locks with just enough force to take control of Dorian’s movements.
“I like you on your knees for me.” Bull said. “You’re a good cocksucker, you know that? Didn’t think you could handle me, but you do. Good boy.” Dorian didn’t think he could get any more aroused, but then Bull started talking and he felt his cock twitch and start to leak. Bull only let Dorian suck a few more times before he hauled Dorian up onto his hips. Bull stepped backwards until he sat on the bed with a thump.
“I’m concerned that I’m getting unduly attached to being praised.” Dorian informed his lover, settling himself on Bull’s lap. He kept forgetting how big Bull was, as a person. His thighs naturally pushed Dorian’s legs wide apart. It was both humbling and arousing.
“Not like I can spoil you.” Bull pointed out as Dorian fumbled with shimmying out of his trousers. “You’re already there.”
“Still, it wouldn’t do to have it become a weakness.” Dorian argued. Bull chuckled and helped him with his pants. Dorian bit back a moan of pleasure as his erection rubbed against Bull’s.
“Enjoyment is not a weakness.” Bull disagreed. “For example, I enjoy looking at you. You’re beautiful walking around Skyhold. You’re even more stunning when you’re falling apart, begging me for more even as you cum on my dick.”
Dorian shifted against Bull’s body as his cock jerked.
“I also enjoy those whimpering, panting moans that you make when you’re so close to finishing. Or, even better, the desperate, needy whines you make when I’m splitting you in half. Fuck, you just love getting filled to the brim, don’t you?”
“I-I… That’s not…” Dorian lost any and all ability to be coherent.
“You want this, don’t you, Dorian?”
Dorian’s name on Bull’s lips was an aphrodisiac. Dorian didn’t know he could get more aroused than he was.
“You want me to tell you how beautiful you look while listening to you beg me for more. You want me to conquer you and tell you how good you are for taking everything I give you.”
It wasn’t just a statement. Bull was deliberately asking for confirmation. Dirty talk was his way of teasing out what Dorian wanted from their bedroom adventures. Most of the time, Bull knew without Dorian’s input (though he always asked to make sure). Dorian guessed his spy background was what gave him the leg up. Dorian would also never complain about his spy background ever again.
“I…” Dorian’s legs were trembling. His mind struggled to make sense of what exactly he wanted. He wanted so many things and choosing just one (especially when his experiences with Bull had opened up a world of possibilities) was nigh impossible. He wanted it all. And at the same time, he just wanted an orgasm, plain and simple.
“Tell me, Dorian.” Bull’s voice was a deep command. “Tell me what you want.”
Bull had asked Dorian a myriad of times in the short span they had been lovers what Dorian wanted. And Dorian had answered in a variety of ways (from “gag me” to “tie me up” to “I want to cum on your face” with many answers in between). Tonight, he was feeling a bit different.
“I want you to fuck me however you want.” Dorian’s tone wasn’t a question, but he was asking permission all the same. “I want you to own me. I don’t want to have any choice and I don’t want to make decisions.” Dorian was well-aware of the irony.
“Can do.” Bull nodded solemnly, like he was accepting a mission from Ellana or swearing a vow. “You’re mine now, do you understand?” Dorian blinked at the sudden change in tone. All at once, Bull was a bit more intense, a bit more aggressive. And Dorian adored it. Bull took Dorian’s chin in his hand and made Dorian look him in the eye. “Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir.” The reply was automatic. They hadn’t done this before. Dorian was shaking in anticipation.
“Good boy.” Bull reached down to pull Dorian’s trousers all the way off. Dorian didn’t ask, as he figured being surprised would be more enjoyable for him. Bull stole another scorching kiss from Dorian as he began tying the fabric around Dorian’s wrists and arms. A few moments later, Dorian’s arms were trapped against his back. The cloth was tight enough to prevent him from moving, but loose enough to not cause chafing or bruising. He’d been tied up by Bull a handful of times at this point, and he was still amazed at the pure skill the man had with ropes and cloth.
“Nervous?” Bull’s gaze roamed over Dorian, making silent decisions as to what he was planning. For his part, Dorian was trapped. His arms were tied up, his legs were spread wide, and he couldn’t stop himself from rocking his hips forward, silently begging for more.
“I’m never nervous.” Dorian replied, tightly.
“Don’t lie to me.” Bull ordered, his hands gripping Dorian’s hips to still the rocking movements.
“Y-yes.” Dorian flushed.
“You’re nervous…?” Bull trailed off, narrowing his gaze at Dorian.
“I’m nervous, sir.” Dorian corrected.
The praise filled Dorian’s gut with pleasure, as it always did. It shouldn’t have, not anymore (not with Bull saying “good boy” to every little thing Dorian did during sex), but it still had Dorian hooked.
“You’re going to ride me, Dorian.” Bull told him. “And you won’t cum until I tell you to.”
“Yes, sir.” The words were coming from Dorian’s lips with a sense of ease and delight. Dorian enjoyed every moment he’d shared with his lover, but being told what to do… it reminded him of their first night together but to an even greater extreme.
“Relax.” Bull ordered. Where he had gotten oil from, Dorian had no idea, because the fingers probing at his hole were slick and Bull hadn’t moved from his position on the bed. Dorian obediently forced his muscles to unwind. Bull then started talking and it was all Dorian could do to follow Bull’s order to not cum.
“Fuck, you’re so tight.” Bull hissed, twisting and crooking his fingers inside Dorian. “Can’t wait to feel you wrapped around my cock. You’re going to take it so good, Dorian.” Dorian whimpered, arching his back and wriggling as best he could in the confines of his position. “You like this, don’t you? You like being helpless in my grip, my fingers stretching you wide, listening to me tell you exactly how I’m going to fuck you so hard you’ll forget your own name. Isn’t that right, Dorian?”
“Oh, fuck.” Dorian muttered, hearing Bull’s words, but not comprehending the question. “Yes, sir.” The words weren’t even on purpose anymore, but it seemed like the best answer.
“I’m going to split you in half with my cock.” Bull promised, nibbling on Dorian’s ear. “You’re going to ride me. And, right when you think you can’t take anymore, you’re going to beg me to let you cum. But, I won’t let you. No, you won’t get to cum until I’m done with you. And, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Yes, sir, I want it.” Dorian didn’t know what he was agreeing to anymore, but Maker, did he want it. Bull didn’t wait, just slicked his erection up and pressed inside Dorian, drawing a long moan from the man’s lips. Once Dorian was fully seated on Bull’s cock, Bull took his hands off Dorian’s hips.
“Fuck yourself on me.” Bull ordered. Dorian’s thighs were trembling as he lifted himself up and dropped himself back down on the massive length. He started shaking, his breathing coming in nigh-hysterical pants, as he struggled to maintain any form of rhythm while he bounced up and down. Bull swore softly, watching Dorian avidly. He couldn’t seem to decide which was more fascinating to watch: Dorian’s face, or the image of his own cock being swallowed up by Dorian’s ass. It didn’t matter much to Dorian, because he was losing all sense of reality and time, just riding Bull like his life depended on it.
“Oh, please.” Dorian murmured. He wasn’t even sure what he was asking for. “Please, please, please, please…” Bull’s hands came up to stroke gently at Dorian’s thighs.
“Please, what, Dorian?”
“Ah, fuck. Please, Bull, sir.” Dorian corrected himself. “Ah, sir, I need to cum.”
“No.” One of Bull’s hands wrapped around the base of Dorian’s cock, tight and immovable. Dorian yelled in shock and irritated desperation. “You’re not going to cum, yet.”
“Fuck, please, sir! I need it, I need to cum, fuck, please let me cum!” Dorian begged.
“No.” Bull jerked his hips up, breaking Dorian’s rhythm, and startling a yelp from him. “I’m not done, yet.”
Something in the back of Dorian’s mind reminded him of a crucial statement Bull had made previously (“I’ll never cum before you”). To Dorian’s ears, it was a challenge. Determination to finish Bull first helped ease him off the cliff. He was going to make the Qunari finish first. And it was his own, silent goal. Bull couldn’t know or he’d ruin it.
“Good boy.” Bull moaned, long and low, when Dorian started riding in earnest, ignoring the burning in his thighs. He had a mission now. He was going to win. He clenched all the muscles he had onto the girth of Bull, yanking a curse from his throat. Bull’s hands found Dorian’s hips and his fingers dug in, silently warning him. Dorian chose to play the idiot, and clenched again.
“What are you up to, Dorian?”
Dorian didn’t answer, though Bull’s grip on his hips was impacting his ability to ride Bull. One of Bull’s hands reached up, pulling Dorian’s hair enough to make him tilt his head back. Dorian stilled, waiting to see what Bull would do.
“Did I say to stop?”
“No, sir.” Dorian started rocking forward again.
“What are you up to, Dorian?” Bull tugged a bit on Dorian’s hair, just a tiny reprimand that was more pressure than anything else. “Answer me.”
“I just want to pleasure you, sir.” The answer was torn from Dorian’s throat before he could try to moderate his response. Bull eyed Dorian carefully. A slow, smug smirk covered his features.
“You’re trying to get me to cum first, aren’t you?”
Dorian shook his head.
“Don’t lie to me, Dorian.”
Dorian bit his lip, trying to focus on the examination and the stretch of his ass and the scalding rod of heat pressing into his prostate every time he shifted at all. He was failing miserably and it was the interrogation (arguably the most important part) that he was losing.
“I want to help you cum, sir.” Dorian whimpered at a particularly brutal thrust from Bull, who was taking an extreme amount of pleasure in occasionally thrusting up into Dorian, mostly to throw him off his stride (it worked very well).
“Don’t worry about me, sweetheart.” Bull pulled Dorian’s face to his, demanding total submission with only his lips and tongue. Dorian melted into the kiss, letting Bull take his fill. Bull’s hands gripped Dorian’s thighs and hoisted him off Bull’s cock. Dorian whined at the abrupt emptiness and wriggled in his bonds. Before he could do much more complaining, though, Bull deposited him on the bed, face pressed into the mattress and knees planted wide apart, sticking his ass up. Bull shoved back into Dorian, all the way to the hilt. Dorian screamed. Bull’s fingers dug into the hollow of Dorian’s hips, holding him perfectly still with minimal effort.
“Yes.” The word hissed from Dorian’s lips without any effort.
“No cumming.” Bull reminded him before he started riding Dorian’s ass with all the wild, animalistic power that only he was capable of. Dorian knew he was talking, and Bull was responding, but he couldn’t for his life tell you what had been said. All he could do was feel. Feel the firm grip of Bull’s fingers on his hips, feel the hard length ramming into him with enough force to make him feel like he was literally going to split in half, feel the helplessness of being totally unable to move within the bonds Bull on him…
“I-I’m gonna cum!” He realized he was mere seconds from finishing and knew he had to warn Bull. If he didn’t obey the direct order… Dorian was sure if he was going to enjoy or loath the consequences of that. Bull immediately froze, giving Dorian nothing to work with. Dorian cried out pathetically, desperate to finish.
“Not yet.” Bull told him, voice dark. “You don’t get to finish until I say. Breathe through it. Calm down. I’m not done with you.”
Dorian complied, but hated it. He just wanted to finish already!
“That’s right. Good boy.” Bull ran soothing hands along Dorian’s shoulders, easing some of the strain from him. “Relax for me. Good.”
“P-please, sir.” Dorian wasn’t begging. Not yet. But he was close.
“Shhh…” Bull pulled Dorian upright, wrapping one hand around Dorian’s chest to let his fingers wrap around Dorian’s neck. He wasn’t putting pressure there, not choking (since that was explicitly something Dorian wasn’t a fan of), but more like a collar. Bull’s fingers were a heavy weight, but they felt possessive more than aggressive. Dorian adored the sensation. (And maybe discovered a new appreciation for some other kinks he hadn’t explored yet.) Bull’s other arm pressed across Dorian’s lower abdomen, keeping their hips pressed close together.
Dorian could only breathlessly cry out with every thrust. He dropped his head back onto Bull’s shoulder and arched his back, trying to maintain that position. Bull started fucking Dorian in earnest again, licking, nibbling, and sucking on the bronzed skin of Dorian’s neck.
“Oh, please, please, please, sir!” Dorian felt his orgasm building in his balls yet again. He wasn’t sure he could keep himself in check anymore. Bull was too good and felt too good.
“Do you want to cum, sweetheart?” Bull asked, voice dark with promise.
“Yes, sir!” Dorian cried out. “Please let me cum!”
“You’ve been very good so far.” Bull considered, slowly, even as his hips drove Dorian mad. “But I don’t want to let you go yet. You’re so beautiful like this: a drooling, begging mess. I just want to keep fucking you until you lose your mind.”
“Sir, I need to cum!” Dorian couldn’t appreciate Bull’s words. Only one thing mattered anymore. “Please. Fuck. Let me cum, sir.”
“All right.” Bull agreed, finally. “You may cum.”
Dorian didn’t comprehend the words at all.
“Cum now, Dorian.”
Dorian wailed and felt every muscle in his body jerk uncontrollably as he shot rope after rope of semen all over his blankets.
“Good boy.” Bull murmured, his own hips stuttering. His cock throbbed in Dorian’s ass, twitching desperately as he filled Dorian with his thick, milky goo. Dorian moaned at the sensation and collapsed back on Bull, utterly boneless and sated.
Bull took a moment to redirect blood flow from his crotch to his head before starting to clean up. Dorian was given a glass of water, but only after Bull cut the trousers off Dorian. He gratefully drank before passing the rest of the beverage back to his lover. Bull stripped the messy blanket from the bed, replacing it with the spare Dorian kept in his chest (Ferelden was fucking cold, all right?!) How Bull knew it was there, Dorian didn’t know, but considering he could barely move at all, he was thankful Bull wasn’t similarly impaired.
“Fuck.” Dorian decided, waiting impatiently for Bull to finish up his post-coital chores. He wanted to snuggle the Qunari in gratitude. Dorian himself didn’t even realize how much he liked and needed what had happened until it happened.
“How very eloquent.” Bull teased, dropping onto the bed and taking more than his fair share. Dorian’s bed was smaller than Bull’s, so they had to squish together much more. Truthfully, Dorian liked his bed better for that exact reason.
“I thought you were going to be my human blanket.” Dorian changed the subject, knowing roughly ten people were eavesdropping and knew precisely what the lovers said to each other. He couldn’t bring himself to care, because all he wanted was his lover.
“No, you’re going to be mine.” Bull decided, pulling Dorian flush against his body. Dorian ignored the little shiver of hearing Bull claim him. “Yes, I think you’ll do.”
“Gonna buy me?” Dorian badgered.
“Don’t need to; I own you already.”
Dorian couldn’t find fault with that logic. He, rightfully so, gave up on conversation and consciousness. He was getting the best sleep of his life when he slept with Bull. And he didn’t ever want to stop.
Chapter 13: Out of the Fade...
“Greetings, Dorian... It is Dorian, isn't it? For a moment, I mistook you for your father.”
The words echoed through Dorian’s mind on repeat. A month later, they had successfully figured out what was going on with the Grey Wardens, saved their order, fell headfirst into the Fade, fought off a Nightmare demon (and lost a good man in the process), and made it out alive. The experience was disorienting enough that the Inquisition spared a few carriages to get Ellana and her inner circle back to Skyhold with all due haste. It might have been the Commander freaking out over just hearing of Ellana disappearing into the Fade, but it didn’t much matter why (Dorian was mostly grateful that he wouldn’t have to sleep in a tent after that harrowing experience). Dorian was packed into a carriage with Ellana and Varric and Hawke before he could really come to grips with what had happened. Hawke was in a bad spot. Warden Stroud had been a personal friend and he had to witness the man’s death. Dorian didn’t even want to empathize with the man. He had enough of his own personal demons to contend with to add someone else’s to his load.
Varric spoke quietly with the Champion of Kirkwall while Ellana curled up in a ball, leaning against Dorian. Dorian wrapped an arm around her shoulders, hugging her tightly. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for both of them. The carriage only stopped briefly for them to empty their bladders and switch horses. Dorian caught glances of Bull here and there, but it wasn’t enough. Still, the Qunari was large enough that he couldn’t fit with more than one other person in a carriage with him. And Cole insisted on travelling with him, leaving no space for Dorian to make sure his lover was all right. Because he needed to know. But, Ellana needed him, too.
“Does it hurt?” He asked, softly, glancing down at her hand.
“Pretty much always.” She confessed. He guessed as much.
“Would you like me to…?” Dorian wasn’t even sure if magic could help keep the pain away.
“It doesn’t work.” She told him.
“Ell…” Dorian sighed and kissed her hair. “You should’ve told me.”
“I’m telling you now.”
“Are you all right?” He asked.
“Yeah.” She nodded, clenching her hand into a fist and tucking it under her arm. “I’m probably going to have nightmares about this, but I’m okay. Are you?”
“I’ve experienced the Fade many times.” Dorian brushed her question off. “I’m a mage.”
“Never physically though.”
Dorian should have known better than to try to pull one over on her.
“I expect sleep won’t be a comfort for a little while for all of us.” Dorian admitted. “That’s what demons do: ruin sleep for everyone.”
“Are you okay?” Ellana tilted her head as she looked him over. She could read him almost better than Bull could. Her eyes narrowed at him. “It’s not the demon, is it?”
“The demon was horrible.” Dorian deflected.
“Dor…” She turned to face him fully. “It’s Bull, isn’t it?”
Dorian couldn’t lie to her, even if he wanted to. She knew him too well.
“I…” He swallowed past the lump in his throat and tried to ignore the burning sensation in his nose. He shook his head, violently. “It’s just casual between us.” He sat up straight and nodded, decisively. “I just needed a reminder. I’m fine.”
“It’s not casual.” Ellana argued. Dorian blinked at her. “Oh, come on, Dor. You really think you two are just fuck-buddies?”
“Is this really the best place for this conversation?” Dorian asked through gritted teeth.
“By all means, continue.” Ellana and Dorian looked over at Varric and Hawke, who looked more amused than anything else.
“If anyone were to see you two and not know you, they’d think you were together.” Hawke pointed out. Dorian realized that Ellana was practically on his lap.
“So what?” Ellana shrugged. “We all know Dorian and Bull are together.”
“And you and Cullen.” Dorian added, delighting in the pink color that flushed across her face.
“Varric, do you think what Bull and Dorian have is a casual fling?” Ellana asked. Dorian spluttered and poked her in the side. She squeaked, but otherwise ignored him.
“Sparkler and Tiny?” Varric laughed. “That’s a romance for the ages if I ever saw one.”
“I’ve only met you in passing,” Hawke directed his words to Dorian directly, “And I can tell you that he adores you. That’s no casual fling.”
Dorian flushed deeply. He didn’t know what to say. Yeah, he’d been admiring Bull forever (it was getting close to ten months, now) and they’d actually become friends of all things, and lovers, too, but more? Dorian felt like he was just asking for too much. They couldn’t be together long-term. It just wasn’t feasible. And when he went back home… The rumors alone would be problematic at best, never mind the reality. They couldn’t be together, not if Dorian wanted to go home.
Those facts shattered Dorian’s heart into sharp shards that stabbed him.
“Don’t go there, Dor.” Ellana turned back to him, grabbing his chin to make him look at her. “We don’t even know that we’ll survive Corypheus. Don’t borrow trouble; we have enough.” How she knew where his thoughts went, Dorian didn’t know. He didn’t know if he’d ever know how she knew him so well, but he wasn’t going to complain about it. She was his best friend.
“We definitely are in plenty of trouble.” Dorian agreed, trying to lighten the mood and get the attention off him. “What will our dear Commander do when he finds out that you haven’t eaten since before the fight?”
“You haven’t eaten?!” Hawke stared while Varric started digging around in his pack.
“Traitor.” Ellana muttered to Dorian. “This conversation isn’t over.”
“Eat!” Varric somehow had an entire loaf of bread and a large hunk of halla jerky in his pack. Dorian didn’t ask.
Sure enough, Cullen’s first act was to throw the carriage door open and drag Ellana into a powerful hug. He buried his face in her hair and shut his eyes, breathing deeply. Honestly, it was so cute that it almost made Dorian vomit. He ignored the shards of his heart reminding him that he’d never get that. It just wasn’t in the cards for him. It wasn’t fair, but life usually wasn’t.
Dorian looked for Bull, but the Chargers swarmed him, stealing his attention. Krem looked around and spotted Dorian. He waved Dorian forward, but Dorian just shook his head. It was a Chargers reunion. Besides, he needed to go do some research. He needed to know what happened, make sure it never happened to him again, and keep his mind off the uncomfortable realizations that carriage ride had given him.
“Are you all right?” Krem had escaped the Chargers to walk up to Dorian. “Can’t imagine what you went through.”
“I’m fine.” Dorian smiled, tightly. “I’m a mage. I’ve been through the Harrowing and spent plenty of time in the Fade. The others are worse off.”
Krem had half-turned to go back to Bull and the Chargers when he heard Dorian was all right, but froze, mid-move. He refocused on Dorian, firmly settling facing him.
“Why didn’t you ride with Boss?” Krem asked.
“Cole wanted to.” Dorian shrugged. “He must’ve heard something that made him feel like he needed to be with Bull.”
“So, why didn’t the three of you ride together?” Krem asked, like it was obvious.
“Have you seen Bull? He’s massive. There wasn’t room.” Dorian shook his head. “And Ellana needed me.”
“So, you two haven’t spoken?” Krem frowned and glanced back at the Chargers, who were trying to herd Bull back to the tavern.
“What would we have to speak about?” Dorian asked, feigning ignorance. Krem swore loudly, in Tevene. Dorian blinked at him. He’d never heard the mercenary swear for no reason before.
“Boss didn’t talk to you at all?!”
“About what?” Dorian asked.
Krem’s only answer was another curse in Tevene.
“Are you going to be in the library?” Krem asked.
“Non sequitur.” Dorian muttered. “Yes, I’ve got research to do.”
“You haven’t slept in like three days and you’re going to do research?” Krem rolled his eyes. “Why am I not surprised? Look, I’ve gotta talk to the Boss. He’ll be by to see you later.”
“He doesn’t have to…” Dorian trailed off at the glower.
“He will talk to you.” Krem declared. “Look, go do your research or whatever. We’ll catch up. I’ve got a moron to yell at.”
Krem turned on his heel and stormed off, after the Chargers. Dorian had no idea what was going on, but followed Krem’s instructions anyway. He couldn’t sleep, no matter how long it had been since he’d slept last (thanks, Nightmare demon). So, he did the next best thing: he buried himself in books. Not literally, since he hadn’t done that since he was prepubescent (no matter how stupid the books were), though part of him wanted to do something as silly and illogical and childish. Maybe it would make him feel better. He considered the Malefica Imperio before him. If there was anything that deserved to be the seat of a book throne, just so it could only encounter butts all day, it would be that book.
He looked out his window at the tavern. It was like nothing had happened. No one was running around, nothing was on fire… The world hadn’t suddenly collapsed or imploded just based on a few people wandering through the Fade. Frankly, it shouldn’t have been surprising, given that Corypheus and his like had done it centuries prior, but still, it felt like an earth-shattering discovery and here was the world… not shattered.
Dorian stretched out a little bit, looking at the training yard. Bull was there with Cassandra. It wasn’t an unusual sight (not that Dorian had been blatantly ogling his lover from his window every time he trained for weeks prior to them even becoming lovers), but it was a little off. Bull was standing like he was preparing to be tackled to the ground. And he had no weapon. Why didn’t he have a weapon? Cassandra twisted forward and hit Bull in the gut with the stick. Dorian felt his jaw drop. What the fuck was going on?! But Bull said something and Cassandra hit him again. Whatever it was, Bull was instigating it. Ellana walked up and Bull must’ve said something, because Cassandra reared back and slammed the stick into Bull, knocking him over. She passed the stick to Ellana and walked off. Apparently, Bull was being a bit bitchy, because he got to his feet and Ellana started hitting him with the stick. Dorian shut his eyes and shook his head. He couldn’t watch whatever weird thing his lover was doing. Watching him fight was one thing, watching him get beat up was something else entirely. He went back to his books, trying to lose himself the way Bull seemed to be able to.
A couple hours later, Dorian felt a heavy gaze on him as the little hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He didn’t have to look to know Bull was quietly climbing the stairs behind him. The other mages in the library silenced at his approach. The Qunari wasn’t a common sight for them. Dorian sighed. They wouldn’t get a private conversation here. He glanced over at Fiona, to see her inching her way out of the room, pulling one of the Tranquil with her. Ah, so Bull was now intimidating people. Well, at least their conversation would be reasonably private. (When his nook was directly below where Leliana worked, he assumed nothing was private there.)
“There’s remarkably little here on early Tevinter history.” Dorian started babbling, mostly out of nerves. He wanted to make sure Bull was okay, yes, but he also was not prepared for this conversation. He needed more time. “All these ‘gifts’ to the Inquisition, and the best they can do is the Malefica Imperio? Trite propaganda. But if you want twenty volumes on whether Divine Galatea took a shit on Sunday, this is evidently the place to find it.”
“Dorian…” Bull’s voice was soft and tender and Dorian hated how it turned his insides to jelly.
“Did I see something by Genitivi here?” Dorian deliberately ignored Bull. “I could have sworn…”
“Dorian.” Bull was close, too close. Dorian could feel the heat emanating from his chest. It wasn’t fair, really, for Dorian to be so close to falling apart completely and Bull was so calm. But that was Bull, wasn’t it? Nothing bothered him. Dorian almost envied that ability.
“When we fell into the chasm, into the Fade…” Somehow, like always, Bull got Dorian talking. He hadn’t even done anything and Dorian was just opening up, like an idiot. He shut his eyes against the emotions, trying desperately to stay calm and not cry like a baby. “I thought you were done for. I don’t know if I can forgive you for that moment.”
This was deep. Way deeper than they had agreed to be. Dorian braced himself for the inevitable. Bull was starting to learn how Dorian was incapable of keeping sex and emotion separate and he’d end things and then Dorian would be alone again. Maybe it was better this way. Dorian wouldn’t have to deal with the agony of losing someone he cared for. The Fade convinced him, for a second, that he had lost Bull. Dorian couldn’t survive that pain a second time.
“I thought I’d lost you.” Dorian couldn’t seem to stop his mouth. He turned to Bull, feeling the slight tinges of the anger and frustration he’d been holding inside. He didn’t manage to keep it from his voice. “You sent me ahead and then didn’t follow. For just a moment, I was certain you wouldn’t.”
Ellana had been the one to order them to leave the Fade. But Bull… Bull had shoved Dorian forward, telling him to get out first. Bull had been the last, aside from Ellana and Hawke, to exit the Fade. And it hurt Dorian more than he could say, because in that moment, when he didn’t think Bull would follow him, he thought his heart had been ripped from his chest.
“I thought: ‘This is it. This is where I finally lose him forever’.” Dorian kept his tears back, but just barely. He focused on Bull, who somehow looked… sad? His brain couldn’t comprehend that, so it shut down for a moment. Bull experienced emotions, Dorian knew he did, but even with all the Qunari mess that happened, Bull hadn’t been sad before. Frustrated, lost, upset, and confused, yes, but not sad.
“Are you… all right?” Frustration and anger fled as concern took over. It had been bothering him since he was packed in a carriage away from Bull, but it was starting to become overbearing, just looking at his lover.
“No, I’m not.” Bull confessed, so softly it was almost inaudible. Dorian froze at the admission.
“Well, come on then.” Dorian grabbed Bull’s hand and started walking to his room. Mainly because it was closer but also because there was an easy way to get from the library to Dorian’s room without running across any nosy members of the Inquisition, which Dorian used to his advantage time and time again. Bull followed along sedately, and that bothered Dorian to no end. That wasn’t the Iron Bull. The Nightmare demon must’ve really fucked him up. Once they were safely behind the door, Dorian considered his room. The bed was probably his best bet. He shoved Bull into sitting on the edge of the bed and grabbed his chair to sit across from him.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Dorian asked. It wasn’t really a question. Dorian was going to get an answer from his lover whether he wanted to or not.
“No.” Bull shook his head.
“Are you going to talk about it?”
“Qunari don’t talk.” Bull sighed. He still wasn’t looking Dorian in the eye. “I’ve… I did a training exercise. Probably do it again tomorrow. It… helps.”
“Training?” Dorian blinked. “That’s what you call Cassandra beating you with a stick?”
“Yeah.” Bull waved that away. “The Nightmare demon was… big.”
“Quite the understatement.”
“But that’s not my problem.” Bull shook his head again. “That training exercise helps with control. It’s been helping me with the whole Fade… demon… crap.”
“What’s your problem then?” Dorian asked.
“You outlined it pretty well just a minute ago.” Bull finally met Dorian’s gaze. Dorian’s stomach dropped to his feet.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I thought I’d lost you, kadan.” Bull’s hands clenched into fists, like he wanted to touch Dorian, but couldn’t bring himself to. Dorian shook his head, chuckling dryly.
“How did it come to this?” He asked. “I thought we were supposed to keep things casual.”
“I don’t know that we ever could.” Bull laughed quietly. “You’ve been attracted to me since we met and I’ve been attracted to you just as long.”
“Not since we met!” Dorian disagreed. “I’m not easy.”
“It took me seven months to get into your pants, kadan.” Bull reminded him. “I know.”
“Why was Krem so mad at you earlier?” Dorian asked, mind flitting around with his nerves. “He seemed upset that we hadn’t talked.”
“We talked about how you and I weren’t being casual anymore and he helped me put things into perspective.”
“He hit me until I admitted how I felt and then demanded that I go tell you.” Bull shrugged, pulling a laugh from Dorian.
“Speaking of that, what have you been calling me?” He asked.
“And ‘kadan’ means…?”
“I’ll tell you later.”
“What?” Dorian frowned at Bull. “You don’t get to give me a pet name and not tell me what it means.”
“Watch me.” Bull grinned.
“Argh!” Dorian threw his hands up in frustration. “You would throw some Qunlat at me and not tell me what it means and know that there’s no one else who could help me figure it out or corroborate what you’ve said even makes any sense, you infuriating man!”
“Dorian.” Bull stole Dorian’s focus instantly. “It means ‘my heart’.”
Chapter 14: ...Into the Winter Palace
Dorian felt like melting into a puddle of mush at Bull’s words. He knew it wasn’t a joke. Bull wouldn’t joke about this. And the way he was staring at Dorian told him how serious he was. Dorian lost his voice completely. He wouldn’t have known what to say even if he could find it.
“I know we were supposed to be casual,” Bull continued, slowly, “But it’s been almost three months and after what happened… I don’t want to die without you knowing someone cares for you.”
“You’re not going to die.”
Dorian wanted to slap himself. He said it before he could use his brain.
“No, I’m not.” Bull agreed, smiling lightly. “But it was a very real possibility just yesterday.”
Dorian tried to come up with some sort of response that would be appropriate and came up blank.
“You impossible lummox!” He blurted out. “You’ve been acting totally indifferent towards me! And you’ve been avoiding being near me around Skyhold!”
“We agreed on casual.” Bull shrugged. “I was trying to stay casual. I’m a former Ben-Hassrath, kadan. I can fake indifference. And, you wanted us to be private. I was trying to do what you wanted.”
Dorian would never admit it on pain of a torturous death that he was falling a bit in love with Bull every time he said “kadan”. He had a feeling if Bull knew, he’d totally abuse that knowledge. And, the worst part was, Dorian wasn’t sure Bull would be entirely wrong in that.
“You’re telling me that you’ve been trying to do what you thought I wanted?” Dorian shook his head, trying to make sense of the situation. Bull had never looked like anything Dorian said could hurt him. Frankly, this was one of the rare times Dorian had seen Bull anything close to vulnerable.
“You told me you wanted this to be private.” Bull pointed out.
“You told everyone already!” Dorian argued. “How were we supposed to be private after that?!”
“Admittedly, not my finest moment.” Bull agreed. “But you’re so beautiful, I just wanted to brag for a moment.”
Dorian did not feel his heart skip a beat. (He completely did.)
“I don’t get nervous, kadan.” Bull continued. “Anxiety isn’t part of the Qun. But… I don’t want you to say ‘no’. Ever. Every time I’ve come to you instead of you coming to me, I actually felt nervous. I don’t like it.”
Dorian might’ve fallen a bit more in love with that declaration.
“We agreed on communicating openly and clearly.” Bull added. “So, this is it: I care about you, kadan. There’s no one else who could be my heart but you.”
“You do realize that we’re already together, don’t you?” Dorian pointed out. “There’s no need to woo me any harder.”
Bull chuckled and shook his head.
“I care about you, too, you insufferable idiot.” Dorian huffed out. “I don’t get teary-eyed and choked up for just anyone, you know. But, I think for my own sanity, we should re-negotiate our rules.”
“But not like this.” Dorian got up and pushed Bull back onto his bed and then clambered onto the remaining space to snuggle up to his Qunari. Bull let out a sigh of pure contentment. Dorian didn’t even realize how much Bull had been holding back in the effort to stay casual and neutral. He couldn’t let Bull go back to that. It would hurt both of them. And, Dorian was not a fan of pain, as Bull well knew. “Like this.”
“I assume you want me to stop being stand-offish.” Bull’s arm wrapped around Dorian’s shoulders, comfortably. Dorian hummed in agreement. “And to stop pretending like this is casual.”
“I would like it if we didn’t sneak around anymore.” Dorian added. “Everyone knows already. What happens behind closed doors need not be told to anyone, but…” His brain caught up to what he was saying. He was actively courting disaster with Bull. There were already rumors in Tevinter. If he were suddenly to engage in a legitimate relationship with a Qunari, he’d be throwing away his entire future.
He recalled the discomfort of having Bull stay away from him. Of Bull sitting on the opposite side of the table during Wicked Grace or when the Chargers were drinking together. He didn’t much care for that. Everyone knew already. Fuck what his countrymen thought. As long as he never acknowledged the rumors, people would just chalk it up to him being eccentric. Honestly, they already thought of him that way.
“I don’t want to treat this like a dirty secret.” Dorian continued. “It’s not fair to either of us and it’s disrespectful to how we feel about each other.”
“Agreed.” Bull’s voice made his chest vibrate under Dorian’s ear. “But I reserve the right to fuck you in places other than our bedrooms.”
Dorian forgot what the conversation was about for a moment while he pictured a variety of locations that would worked perfectly for what Bull was thinking.
Dorian shut his eyes and breathed in the deep, musky scent of his lover. He was ridiculously comfortable in this position and he felt… safe. He felt like he could sleep, even with the memories of the Nightmare demon lurking in the back of his mind.
“What do you think of the war table?”
Dorian did not succeed in talking Bull out of fucking on the war table (though, to be perfectly fair, he didn’t try all that hard). The excitement inherent in being so easily caught by any number of people proved to be too much a lure for either of them. Bull liked Dorian’s reactions in that room so much that he found a way to get them alone at the war table every single day for nearly a fortnight. Dorian couldn’t find the energy to walk, much less complain about Bull’s machinations. If the former spy wanted to use his powers to fuck, who was Dorian to deny him?
Then, they had to attend the festivities at the Winter Palace.
Josephine held several etiquette lessons for the entire inner circle to help them navigate Orlesian manners without getting into the finer details of The Game. Vivienne and Leliana helped. Dorian was the only non-Orlesian member of the inner circle to not need any assistance in managing his manners. Bull, too, did pretty well. Sera was so bad at it that Ellana seriously considered leaving her at Skyhold. But they weren’t sure what they were in for, so everyone was on deck for the event.
Then Josephine pulled out their uniforms for the ball. They were gaudy, brightly colored, and Dorian loathed them entirely. Josephine and Vivienne had worked tirelessly to find a uniform that would work on every unique member of the inner circle, though, and Dorian valued his life so he didn’t dare to even think his criticisms too loudly. Still, they were tailored appropriately, and it was totally worth it to see Bull fully dressed (for once). It helped solidify the opinion in Dorian’s mind that his Qunari need never wear a shirt for any reason.
Entering the Winter Palace had been an event in and of itself. The whispers from the other nobility told the story that people were still struggling to take the Inquisition seriously and that Ellana (for all the good she did in the world) was not what Orlais wanted from an Inquisitor. She was an elf, after all, and Dalish. (Dorian couldn’t figure out which was more offensive to their delicate sensibilities.) Bull was avoided for being Qunari, though Dorian was certain curiosity would get the better of them by the end of the night. Dorian was similarly ignored, though not to the same extent. Honestly, only the humans were accepted at face value (and that was mostly because they were pretty humans, which Dorian took a bit of offense to, since he was obviously the prettiest of the humans in the Inquisition), which felt so very much like home that Dorian wondered if he’d accidentally wandered into a Tevinter ball instead of an Orlesian one.
Still, once the wine started flowing, it didn’t take took terribly long for people to feel more comfortable around him and start trying to talk to him. Some of them wanted good gossip on the Inquisition and Ellana herself, some of them wanted to know more about Tevinter, and some of them were trying to eke out his pedigree (likely to see if he was worthy of a marriage). Luckily, the latter wasn’t as common, so Dorian didn’t have to deal with it much. Cullen, on the other hand, was being swarmed. But, it was so funny to watch him flush, so Dorian refrained from helping Cullen escape his predicament.
But then, Bull started getting attention. And not in the “my, how exotic, an actual Qunari!” way and more of the “do you think he’s proportional everywhere?” way. And Dorian hated it. He and Bull had already agreed to keep their relationship under wraps during the ball, just to avoid harming the Inquisition’s reputation. (Ellana had pulled them both aside and threatened to stab them should they even think that she cared about the Inquisition’s reputation over their relationship, but Cullen had managed to calm her down. Mostly.) Dorian knew Bull could hear every word, as his hearing was better than a human’s, though not as good as an elf’s. And still, Bull stood there, looking like a particularly imposing bodyguard for Ellana, blatantly ignoring the whispers.
Dorian, due to his ability to blend in and be polite, was left in the main hall while Ellana went hunting for clues with Sera, Cole, and Varric, since the rogues were sneakier than everyone else and could get into secured areas without being spotted. Plus, Sera and Cole had both gotten dangerously close to upsetting a couple nobles, so Ellana needed to get them out of the situation. Still, Bull’s presence was met with unsavory comments and sleazy looks. For how prudish they were with Ellana for being Dalish, they were pretty sexually interested in Bull for being Qunari.
Dorian loathed every second.
“You could shut them down, you know.” Dorian hissed, moving to stand beside Bull.
“And miss watching you get all jealous?” Bull chuckled under his breath in the way that Dorian knew from experience was purely erotic pleasure, rather than just straight amusement. “Not a chance, kadan.”
Dorian knew that he should berate Bull for using the nickname where there were people quite obviously eavesdropping, but… He couldn’t shut down Bull for that. Firstly, Dorian genuinely didn’t want Bull to stop, but, more importantly, Dorian didn’t want to start the precedent that the nickname wasn’t sacred. It was a word that Bull never said ever, except to Dorian, and Dorian understood fully how precious that was. If he even complained about “kadan” once, it was once too many. He never wanted Bull to think he didn’t adore and appreciate it.
“Behave yourself.” Dorian muttered and went to go rescue Cullen from a couple of particularly ardent admirers. Flirting and teasing was all in good fun, but inappropriate touching was crossing the line.
Ellana returned in time to dance with Duchess Florianne, who apparently had been waiting anxiously (if her ability to jump on the Inquisitor at the most inopportune time was any indication). Ellana danced with her, and utterly amazed the crowd, instantly making them reassess their initial reactions to her (either that or they just decided to ignore her Dalish heritage). Dorian didn’t know what was being said, but her reputation went up every moment she was on the dance floor. When the dance was over, Ellana carefully made her way (avoiding every other possible dance partner) over to her advisors. Dorian assumed he’d find out what was going on when she needed him.
Still, it felt a little odd when she took Blackwall, Solas, and Cole instead. Dorian was used to being part of her adventures. He knew he’d learn the story from her as soon as they got back to Skyhold, but that was different from being a literal part of the journey. So, he had to wait, still hearing the vexing gossip about his lover. It took all his strength not to do something drastic just to get them to shut up! Bull didn’t even seem to notice. (Dorian knew better because his Qunari noticed everything.) It was aggravating watching him have no reaction whatsoever. Luckily (for his admirers and Dorian’s sanity), everyone was still too afraid of him to try groping him. Or even asking him to dance.
Dorian couldn’t bring himself to watch any longer, so he escaped to the gardens. Unfortunately, the whispers followed him there. It felt so close to home that he thought his mother would materialize out of the crowd any moment. Still, the hushed conversations around him weren’t about Bull and wondering about his sexual preferences and were instead about Tevinter and the rumors of their society. Frankly, Dorian was quite entertained by hearing the silly, ignorant things Orlesians made up about his home country. So, he lingered there while he was able to, trying to forget about all the ugly and disturbing things strangers wanted to do to his lover.
It was only an hour later when Ellana had uncovered the assassination plot, killed Duchess Florianne, reconciled a pair of lovers, and gotten a man executed. Dorian was one of the first lining up to make sure she was left well-enough alone. Cullen went to check on her and Dorian peeked on them. After a few quiet words, Cullen pulled Ellana into a dance. It was sickeningly sweet. He hated every moment watching. (That was such a lie.)
“Pay up, Buttercup.” Varric muttered. Dorian glanced over his shoulder to see the rest of the inner circle watching the lovers dance. Sera stuck her tongue out at Varric as she passed him a couple sovereigns.
“All right, let’s leave the lovebirds alone.” Vivienne decided, shooing them away from the balcony doors. Dorian thought about arguing with her, but a large hand touched the small of his back and led him away. The missing finger joints betrayed the owner as his Qunari, so Dorian didn’t worry too terribly much.
“She’s fine, kadan.” Bull murmured, taking him to a nearby, different balcony. “How’re you doin’?”
“It’s…” Dorian took a deep breath and leaned on the balcony, not actually seeing the view for all its supposed splendor. “It’s been a long day.”
“You’ve had your panties all bunched up since we set foot inside the palace.” Bull noted, leaning against the balcony right next to him. His warmth permeated the space. “Was it the rumors?”
“You know very well that it was.” Dorian sniffed haughtily. “But it doesn’t matter, because we’re trying not to scandalize the Orlesian nobility. What would they think seeing a barbaric Qunari and an evil magister together? They might actually forget their silly Game for a split second.”
“Ya know, ‘Vints play the Game, too.” Bull pointed out.
“Yes, and I haven’t missed it at all.” Dorian said. He sighed and shut his eyes. It didn’t matter. It didn’t. Because Bull was his now, damn it all, and he was Bull’s kadan, for Andraste’s sake! Nobody could ever take that away. No pretty woman or attractive man or whatever could take that away.
“Come on.” Bull pulled Dorian away from the balcony in a firm, but gentle manner. “The music’s finally got enough of a beat to dance to.”
“What are you doing?” Dorian asked, even as Bull positioned their hands in the appropriate places.
“Dancing.” Bull shrugged and started leading. Dorian wasn’t used to following, but he kept up (his tutelage had been thorough enough that he could fake any dance he didn’t know with relative ease). Slowly, he relaxed into the familiar motions. Bull leaned his head down a bit to murmur into Dorian’s hair. “I like that you got jealous, kadan.”
“I’m not jealous.” Dorian argued. Bull chuckled.
“You looked like you were going to set people on fire.”
“Well, if they didn’t dress so horrendously…”
“I am mostly certainly not!”
“There’s nobody else I want.” Dorian shut up at the somber tone in Bull’s voice. He tilted his head back to meet his Qunari’s gaze. “We agreed to be open. You’re my kadan. No sparkly dress or fancy mask can change that.”
“They were talking about you like you were a piece of meat!”
“Let ‘em.” Bull shrugged again. “The only opinions I care about are yours, my Chargers’, and Ellana’s. In that order. Nobody else matters and nothing else can get in the way.”
“I don’t want anyone else to look at you like you’re… less.” Dorian wasn’t explaining himself quite right, but Bull understood. (Somehow, Dorian just knew that he understood.) Dorian was trapped by his pounding heart, Bull’s warm hands, and that fierce gaze.
“I’m sorry you had to hear that, kadan.” Bull kept them dancing, which was starting to take an inordinate amount of brainpower to actually accomplish (and Dorian wasn’t even leading). “This is a part of my life that I’ve had a long time to get used to. It’ll take some time for you, too.”
“I hate that this has become normal for you.” Dorian shook his head. “That’s not right.”
“No, but I have enough to deal with without trying to alter people’s perceptions of me.” Bull shrugged yet again. Dorian was starting to get irritated with the blasé attitude. “I’m much more interested in your perceptions. How exactly is jealousy going to affect you?”
“I’m fine.” If Bull was cracking jokes, then he was fine, too. Dorian rolled his eyes and thought about stopping their dance. But, he liked dancing and dancing with his Qunari was warm and comfortable.
“I think you’re hot while you’re jealous.” Bull continued, like Dorian hadn’t spoken. “I can just imagine how responsive you’d be to every little thing I’d do. Fuck, it’d be so hot, kadan.”
Dorian knew that Bull deflected with sex whenever he was done discussing a subject, but he was more irritated that it actually worked (even while Dorian knew he was being manipulated) on an absurdly frequent basis.
“I thought I was always hot.”
“You are. But you jealous is like a magic trick to get you to power bottom.”
“We’re not fucking in the Winter Palace, amatus.” Dorian chuckled, shaking his head. Bull completely stopped in the midst of dancing. Dorian blinked up at him, confused. Why had he stopped so abruptly? Nothing had even happened. That reaction wasn’t appropriate for what Dorian had said.
“Amatus?” Bull asked, softly.
Dorian couldn’t take it back even if he wanted to (which he most assuredly didn’t).
“Amatus.” Dorian agreed. He stood up on his toes to steal a quick kiss. Well, it was meant to be a quick kiss, but Bull took advantage of that and wrapped his arms around Dorian’s middle, hauling him up and into a massive bear hug.
“Why are you thanking me?” Dorian asked. “It’s not uncalled for, what with you knowing me better than anyone else alive. I care for you very much, you intolerable man. I can call you ‘amatus’ if I want.”
“Only for you, amatus.”
Chapter 15: In the Library?!
The journey from Halamshiral back to Skyhold was quick and painless. Well, mostly painless. Bull was intent on being as obnoxious as possible, meaning he was stealing touches and kisses every moment he was able to (considering he was a former spy, it was quite a lot). Dorian refused to admit that he enjoyed every second of it, instead pretending like it bothered him.
Given the blatant lack of reactions from the other members of the Inquisition and the fact that Bull kept doing it, Dorian assumed that he wasn’t doing a very good job.
They got back to Skyhold and Ellana decided to take time off. Meaning she ordered every member of the inner circle to relax for a couple of days while they all recuperated from the drama and intrigue of Orlesian politics. Josephine and Leliana were the only ones who completely ignored that order (probably because they liked the Game and it was a little disturbing how good they were at it). Cullen took the order quite seriously as he hauled Ellana over his shoulder and disappeared with her into her rooms. Granted, the only witnesses to said event were Josephine, Leliana, Dorian, Bull, and Varric, but that was beside the point. When Cullen decided to be aggressive, it was pretty hot. Unfortunately for Ellana, he was usually tucked behind his wall of polite manners.
It took Bull approximately two hours before he abandoned the Chargers and Herald’s Rest to come find Dorian.
“You didn’t tell me that ‘amatus’ is a big deal.” Bull just leapt straight into conversation. Dorian wasn’t expecting him, so he jumped in surprise at Bull’s words.
“What?” Dorian tried to focus on Bull and what he had said, rather than the words on the page in front of him.
“I talked to Krem.” Bull added, a bit unhelpfully, since Dorian still wasn’t quite aware of what they were discussing. Bull took his arm and drew him into the nook between the bookshelves that had become Dorian’s home away from home. Dorian’s brain finally caught up with everything that had been said. He flushed as Bull blocked his only exit (unless he wanted to use the window), crossing his arms and looking stern. Frankly, it wasn’t all that fair, considering he had started with the pet names and Qunari didn’t just do pet names, so “kadan” was special and important.
“You call me ‘kadan’.” Dorian pointed out.
“You said ‘amatus’ and I thought it was what it sounds like. I’ve heard it in passing before, but just assumed it was a term of endearment.”
“It is a term of endearment.”
“One reserved for marriage.”
“Unmarried couples use it all the time.” Dorian was just turning redder and redder with every word. Curse Krem and the fact that he was Tevinter.
“Kadan.” Bull’s tone was no-nonsense.
“It’s a term of endearment, used exclusively by couples who intend to stay together for the rest of their lives.” Dorian sighed, looking down at Bull’s feet. He couldn’t meet his Qunari’s gaze. “I was under the impression that ‘kadan’ has similar connotations.”
“‘Kadan’ is the only term of endearment Qunari have.” Bull explained, softly. “If I had a best friend who I trusted more than anyone else in the world, they’d be kadan. The Hero of Ferelden was kadan to one of our sten, who returned to the Arishok and got her kadan status for all Qunari.”
“The Hero of Ferelden is dead.”
“She’s still kadan. It can’t be taken back by anything.” Bull shook his head. “You ‘Vints have other terms of endearment for lovers and the like.”
“We do.” Dorian acknowledged. “But you don’t have another kadan.”
Bull shut up for a moment.
“We could die any day, kadan.” He said, softly. “If we don’t…”
“I am too much a pariah in my own country, much less in the rest of Thedas, to ever have another relationship.” Dorian swallowed tightly. No matter what happened to him or to Bull or to their relationship, he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he’d never have this again. He was just too much, too needy, for anyone else to handle. He was pretty certain that once Corypheus was defeated that he and Bull wouldn’t last anyway. He had to go back to Tevinter and Bull could not go with him. They were just doomed. But Dorian had already committed to Bull. Even if they wouldn’t last, he’d keep Bull in the shattered remains of his heart until the end of his days.
“Besides, we could die any day, like you’ve so succinctly reminded me.” Dorian worked up the courage to look at Bull’s face. “Chances are one of us will die and then both terms of endearment will be accurate.”
Bull looked so sad that it bothered Dorian. He wasn’t sure what to do or say to ease that worry line from between his brows.
“Why do you think you’ll never have another relationship?” Bull asked, voice tight.
“Bull, I’m… I know myself quite well.” Dorian sniffed, trying for haughty and ending up with pathetic. “I am quite needy and self-centered and, as you just learned, jealous. I am also gay, which might be normalized here in the south, but in Tevinter is just not done. It might be possible for me to find someone willing to take my worst qualities on, but in my experience, my neediness drives people away.”
“You’re not needy.” Bull disagreed. “I’ve met needy people and you’re not one of them.”
“I’m basically Dalish at this point.” Dorian argued, fighting back the tears. Of course, Bull wouldn’t understand. The one person who knew him intimately didn’t understand this. And this was important.
“And Dalish crave touch because it’s comforting to them.” Bull shrugged. “Touch is an integral part of survival. If Qunari want to torture prisoners, they starve them of touch first, before anything else. It isolates you and makes you sensitive. You don’t need touch just because you want it, you need touch because you’ve been touch-starved your whole life.”
“Look, this is why you’re my amatus.” Dorian sighed, not liking the direction of the discussion or that Bull seemed to be winning it. “Because to you, my desire for touch is normal and expected. I’m not likely to find another person to agree with that assessment.”
“And I don’t want to.” Dorian continued before he could lose his nerve. “I don’t want another amatus. I don’t want to have to go and find someone else to put up with me. So, do me a favor, and don’t let Corypheus kill you.”
Bull regarded Dorian for a long moment, trying to decide if the fight was worth it anymore. Evidently not, because he stepped forward, crowding Dorian against the window, and took his face into his massive hands. Dorian never felt more vulnerable than in that moment, and that included when he had to face his father back in Redcliffe. (Maker, was that only a few months prior? It felt like eternity.)
“You’re not needy, kadan.” Bull said, decisively, as if that was the end of the argument and that would stop Dorian from believing it. “But if you’re going to insist that you are, I’m going to have to do something about it.”
“Do?” Dorian blinked. “Do what?”
“I’m going to have to fuck you silly until you realize that I’m the needy one here.”
Dorian totally missed the first part of what Bull said.
“Why do you think I spent so long pretending to be casual? It gives me pleasure to give you pleasure and when I can’t do that, I start getting grumpy.”
“I don’t think you know how to be grumpy.”
“Say ‘katoh’. See how grumpy I can get.”
They both knew that the only reason that word would leave Dorian’s mouth would be if Bull genuinely did something he didn’t like. And, considering all their honest conversations, it wasn’t particularly likely.
“I do not believe you.” Dorian said, instead. Bull grinned.
“Well, guess I got something to prove to you, kadan.”
“You won’t be able to convince me, amatus.”
And then, then Bull leaned down and kissed Dorian. It was gentle and comforting and made Dorian melt. If Bull hadn’t been holding him upright, Dorian was pretty certain he’d have swooned like a maid with the vapors. As it was, Dorian knew that Bull knew he was maddeningly good at kissing. His hands came up to grope blindly at the leather straps on his Qunari’s chest. Bull’s lips and tongue shut Dorian’s mind off completely.
“Know what I want to do, kadan?” Bull murmured against Dorian’s mouth. Dorian’s brain caught up real quick.
“No, we’re not going to–” Bull kissed Dorian. “–in the library!”
“No, we’re not.” Bull kissed him again. Dorian relaxed just a bit. “I am going to fuck you in the library.”
“Bull!” Dorian’s yelp was muffled as Bull’s mouth covered his again.
“Do you want us to get caught, kadan?” Bull’s voice was a gentle admonishment in Dorian’s ear. “‘Cause if you keep carrying on, people are going to notice.”
“This is a horrible decision.” Dorian mumbled, heat flooding him.
“Mm hmm.” Bull agreed, hands sliding down Dorian’s body. Dorian shivered in Bull’s grip.
“We really shouldn’t…” Dorian breathed, getting light-headed as blood rushed down.
“Mm hmm.” Bull tilted his head and started nibbling on Dorian’s neck. Dorian gasped and arched into Bull’s body.
“Someone will see…” Bull pulled back a bit to reassess Dorian’s flushed features for a long moment. Quickly, he spun Dorian around, making the man gasp again in surprise. Bull pressed Dorian’s chest into the wall and touched his lips to the sensitive spot behind Dorian’s ear. Dorian moaned deep in his chest, clamping his lips shut to try to keep the noise from escaping.
“Do I have to gag you, kadan?” Bull’s voice was deep and husky and it drew a whimper from Dorian’s throat. Luckily, Bull seemed to have anticipated that reaction, and his long fingers covered Dorian’s mouth before the sound could leak. Dorian felt Bull’s large body trap him against the wall, the hard muscle its own wall at his back. He tried to keep his breathing calm, but was rapidly losing that battle. It was one thing to do it on the war table, where there was a door between them and anyone else. Also, Bull scouted the place to make sure there was no urgency to use the room. This was fucking in the stacks of the library! There were no doors between them and anyone else. There were people literally a few feet away, not to mention Leliana and all her spies one floor above them. Plus, the alcove was connected to an atrium. If sound would carry anywhere, it’d be there.
But none of that seemed to matter to Dorian’s cock, as he was harder than he could ever remember being and felt like a desperate, wanton whore, begging for Bull’s touch.
“Shh…” Bull hushed him gently. Dorian realized he’d been whining softly. “Relax, kadan.” Dorian struggled for a moment, but was finally able to let his boy relax against Bull’s. “Good boy.” The praise almost ruined Dorian all over again. Warm pleasure slid up his spine.
“Hurry up, amatus.” Dorian mumbled. He didn’t have the self-control to stay calm long.
Bull took his words to heart and started working on getting Dorian’s pants off. Or maybe just down. Dorian wasn’t exactly helping or paying attention. His brain was hyper-focused on the sounds of the other mages rustling through books and shelves. What if someone needed a book from this area? Dorian could only imagine the sight they’d see. And he could imagine it quite well, actually. And that was pretty much a problem for Dorian’s self-control, because the mental image was too good.
Bull did something because it wasn’t even a minute before Dorian felt the chill of the air on his bare ass. Bull didn’t completely divest him of clothes, but with his pants around his thighs, Dorian wasn’t going anywhere fast. Dorian instinctively pushed his butt back against Bull, drawing a soft swear from his Qunari. Bull must’ve had some oil hidden on his person somewhere because Dorian bit back a yelp of surprise from the cold liquid. Bull’s fingers quickly warmed it and started preparing him. Bull’s other hand covered Dorian’s mouth again (which felt a bit unfair, as Dorian was managing his sounds by himself just fine). When Bull’s fingers started probing and twisting and curling inside him, Dorian realized how intelligent that move was. (He never considered how loud he could get with just fingers.)
“Shh, kadan. I’ve got you.” Bull’s words were supposed to be soothing, but the hitches in his breath told Dorian how affected he was by the situation. Dorian could hardly concentrate on the amazing stretch of his ass around Bull’s cock because he was too focused on the sounds of the library. Papers rustled and books clunked shut and tomes thudded onto the tables nearby and still Bull was pressing forward, filling him inch by precious inch. Dorian whimpered and shut his eyes. Unfortunately, that made listening to all the ambient noise around them all the easier.
“Fuck, you’re so tight.” Bull breathed, so quietly that even the proximity made it difficult to hear him. Dorian breathed hard against Bull’s fingers, trying to keep himself calm and still. “You’ve always been so tight. I thought that after a while you’d loosen up a bit, but you’re still like a fuckin’ cock ring on me.” Bull’s words melted all the self-control Dorian had (which wasn’t much). Dorian whined into Bull’s hand and pushed his hips backwards, trying to get his Qunari to move already!
“You’re so fuckin’ hot, kadan.” Bull continued, voice tight in response to Dorian’s movements. Bull’s hand grabbed Dorian’s hip, holding him still. “Gonna fuck you so hard you can’t walk straight.” Dorian felt his breathing hitch at Bull’s words. (Bull rightfully interpreted said hitch as “do it already!”) Bull didn’t go straight to thrusting fast and hard, though. Instead, he went for a deep grinding motion. His hips by no means truly separated from Dorian’s as he ground his cock into Dorian’s ass. The pressure on Dorian’s prostate never went away and his own cock strained uncomfortably against the front of his pants. (They might’ve been pulled off his ass, but they were still buckled securely in front.)
And all the while, Bull just told Dorian all the dirty things he adored about his kadan.
“You take me so good. Just spread wide open and let me in. Fuck, you’re so fuckin’ gorgeous.” Bull transitioned pretty quickly into the situation at hand, which just made the teasing of fabric against Dorian’s cock straight agony. “So many people in here, kadan. Any one of them could walk by and see you, split in half by my thick, hard cock. Or maybe they’ll hear your first. You’ve got all these little, desperate noises that make me want to hold you down and make you scream instead. I betcha they can hear you, right now. Somebody must know I’m fucking you raw right now.”
Dorian, for his part, was trying frantically to keep his noises down. He felt his heart stutter with every sound that happened nearby.
“Fuck, you’re taking me so well. Bet this audience all wants to fuck you, too. If I saw you getting demolished against a wall, I’d be so hard, it’d hurt. Just thinkin’ about it makes me hard. I just need to show everyone how beautiful and responsive you are to me. Every word I say makes you twitch and squirm for more. Do you want more, kadan?”
Dorian nodded, eyes tearing up a bit at the overwhelming sensation of Bull grinding slowly into his ass.
“Kadan, do you want more?” Bull’s let his fingers droop off Dorian’s chin.
“Yes, amatus.” Dorian murmured, breathing heavily.
Bull didn’t wait. His grinding, while pleasurable, was not helping either one of them to true completion. He pulled himself nearly all the way out and then slammed in to the hilt. Dorian bit his lip even as Bull’s hand came back to muffle his sounds. Bull’s arm wrapped around Dorian’s hips, preventing him from being smashed into the wall. The slick sound of flesh hitting flesh echoed in Dorian’s ears so loud that he swore they’d get caught. (And he kind of wanted to…)
“You like this, don’t you, kadan?” Bull continued, like nothing had changed. Based on the fact that no one had come looking, Dorian guessed that their noises weren’t as loud as he thought. “You like the fact that I’m fucking you into a wall not five feet from a bunch of people. People who at any point could walk by and see that you are mine.”
Dorian panted into the palm of Bull’s hand, desperately trying to quell the sounds Bull was forcing from his chest.
“You want to be owned. And you want the entire Inquisition to know who owns you.” Bull voice was starting to lose that strict control. “Because you belong to me. You’re not going anywhere, ‘cause I won’t let you. You’re gonna have to get used to that. I’m not letting you go. You’re mine, kadan.”
Dorian was going to cum any second. Bull’s words were too much on top of all the pleasure of being filled. His breathing was starting to stutter.
“Who do you belong to?” Bull asked, voice hard. His fingers shifted just a bit to let Dorian speak.
“You.” Dorian barely got the word out without screaming. Somehow, it came out croaked and hoarse.
“Fuck yeah, you do.” Bull seemed inordinately pleased, because his hips started jerking. Dorian turned his head to press his mouth into Bull’s wrist, gasping and moaning through the orgasm that slammed into him. Bull swore under his breath and ground his hips into Dorian’s, his thick cock pulsating as he finished. Dorian whimpered at the sensation, as he always did. Bull was big enough that the twitching and pulsing of his orgasm stimulated Dorian’s prostate.
Bull didn’t move for several long moments, breathing heavily into the back of Dorian’s neck. Dorian tried to catch his breath as the realization of what just happened dawned on him. He flushed a dark red and buried his face in Bull’s arm. Maybe if he hid, no one would know it was him behind Bull’s girth. Who was he kidding? Everyone knew this area was his space. They’d know exactly who Bull was fucking.
“Fuck, kadan.” Bull breathed. He pulled back just enough to let Dorian off the wall. Not that Dorian had much energy to stand anymore. He pressed his palms into the rock before him, trying to keep from swaying. He belatedly realized he should dress himself. Before he could work up the energy to move, Bull’s hands started doing it for him. Not that it was comfortable. What with his trousers covered in semen with even more leaking from his ass, Dorian was going to have to change if he wanted to be even remotely comfortable.
“That was a bit of an understatement.” Dorian muttered, turning around once his clothes were secured in place. Bull still stood close to him. It took Dorian a moment to realize that he was protecting him from being seen by anyone else. Their recent sexual escapades said that Bull didn’t care who saw what, but Dorian was starting to question that. He obviously liked what they were doing, and the danger inherent in it (plus, he didn’t give a shit about people seeing him), but he was protecting Dorian’s self-interest. Which, if Dorian weren’t a bit of an exhibitionist, would be really sweet. Considering his reputation was already in tatters, though (and Bull knew about Dorian’s fetish), it didn’t make much sense for Bull to be so defensive.
Unless Bull was jealous.
Which didn’t make any sense at all, except it made perfect sense. When it came to Bull himself, he was fine with anyone seeing anything for whatever reason because he just didn’t care. When it came to his people (and Dorian was certainly one his people), Bull would do anything to take care of them. When it came to Dorian, Bull didn’t mind talking about their relationship (because he saw it as bragging, more than anything else), but he did everything in his power to keep others from being literal witnesses to it.
“You okay, kadan?” Bull asked, touching Dorian’s jaw with his knuckles.
Dorian smiled. His lover, his Qunari, was possessive of him. And it warmed the little cockles of Dorian’s heart to know that. He couldn’t ever talk to Bull about it, because he’d deny it and get all huffy about it, but it was an amazing feeling. Someone wanted him. It was such a sharp contrast from how he’d been raised that it made a big lump sit right in the middle of his throat.
“Right as rain.” Dorian shifted uncomfortably. “Though I’m going to need a new set of pants if I plan on doing anything for the rest of the day.”
“Now, that’s just not true.” Bull grinned.
“How so?” Dorian blinked at his Qunari.
“Boss gave everyone the day off. What you should be doing is taking me back to your room so I can get you properly naked.”
“Your room is farther away from everything.” Dorian pointed out. He always felt awkward when Bull made him scream in his rooms. They were in the main hall and there were other quarters on either side of his. Bull’s room was all on its lonesome, allowing Dorian to be as loud as he wanted without tormenting his poor neighbors.
“Your room is closer.” Bull added.
“Your bed is bigger.”
“If we go to my room, at some point we’ll have to leave it.” Bull was ignoring Dorian’s arguments entirely. “Now, it won’t be for two days, since my plan is to fuck you until you realize that I’m way needier than you, but that’s beside the point.”
“What is the point, pray tell?”
“The point is: where are you going to get clean clothes?”
Dorian narrowed his gaze at Bull, not liking the point that had just been made.
“I’ll change clothes and meet you in your room.”
“Why do that, when I can just follow you to your room and we get started there?”
“You need clean clothes, too!”
“I have no shame.” Bull reminded him. “Besides, my pants aren’t covered in cum.”
“I don’t want to irritate my neighbors…”
“We’ll be quiet.” Bull shrugged. “No problem.”
Dorian was going to argue some more, but Bull hoisted him up and tossed him over his shoulder (a la Cullen). He whistled a bright, happy tune as he carried Dorian from the library to his quarters. Dorian protested (only out of a sense of obligation), but didn’t fight Bull. For one, it was a losing battle, and for another, it was far more comfortable to be carried than to have to walk in cum-covered pants.
Chapter 16: Doom Upon Corypheus
“What do you mean you ‘found an ancient elven well and decided that drinking from it would be a good option’?!” Dorian snapped.
“Well, I didn’t drink from it.” Ellana pointed out, calmly.
“Yes, but you let our ally drink from an ancient elven well with Maker knows how many enchantments or spells were on it.” Dorian ran his hands through his hair. “We could have studied the thing first!”
“Well, Morrigan says she’s got this, so I’m just letting her do her thing.” Ellana shrugged. “She doesn’t seem that bad.”
“I’m just curious as to what the others said to convince you that drinking from an ancient elven well was a good decision.”
“Well, Solas was pretty upset that a human would dare to drink from it, but he was also very insistent that I do not drink from it either.”
“And why didn’t you listen to him?” Dorian threw his hands up. “Ancient elven stuff is his area of expertise!”
“It…” Ellana shook her head. “I just knew that the knowledge from the well would help us. But, I wasn’t stupid enough to do it myself!”
“I thought we had gotten over your insane habit of finding shiny magical things and touching them.” Dorian sighed.
“It’ll be fine, Dor.” Ellana waved his concern away. “Besides, she’s with the Inquisition now. If she does something treasonous, we’ll just fight her off, too.”
Dorian groaned and shoved his face into his hands. Ellana, while lovely and his best friend in the world, was so stupidly optimistic that it hurt, sometimes. (Never mind that the universe just went her way all the time. If there was one thing Ellana had over every living thing, it was her ability to survive anything. Her luck was impossible.)
“Well, what did it do to her?” Dorian asked.
“She says she now knows everything.” Ellana shrugged. “So it’s an omniscient ancient elven well.”
Dorian groaned, more emphatically this time since Ellana didn’t seem to get it.
“Calm down, Dor.” Ellana grinned. “It’ll be fine.”
Fortunately for her (curse her stupid luck), everything was fine.
Yeah, they found out that Morrigan’s mother was actually carrying an aspect of Mythal (which try explaining to literally any of the Andrastians that the elven gods were real) and now Morrigan was beholden to her mother. But, on the bright side, Morrigan knew how to turn into a dragon after meeting with her mother, so fighting Corypheus and his archdemon-dragon-pet was looking a little more realistic.
Corypheus, though, was getting impatient, and had returned to Haven to try to destroy the world. Again. And on top of all that, he had taunted Ellana into fighting him. Which frankly, was just a stupid decision. Unfortunately, the majority of their forces were still on their way back from the Arbor Wilds, so having any sort of assistance wasn’t happening. Corypheus probably did it on purpose. Not that Ellana minded, as she was more of a “do-it-herself” kind of person anyway. She grabbed Dorian, Cassandra, and Bull to lead the charge back to Haven.
“This is a trap.” Cassandra suggested.
“Corypheus is too prideful for a trap.” Ellana pointed out.
“Yeah, but he’s been losing to us at every turn.” Bull reminded her. “He’s gettin’ desperate.”
“Not that desperate.” Dorian had to agree with Ellana. “It’s only a trap insomuch as blatantly taunting and daring the Inquisition to stop him from destroying the world is.”
“Look, if it’s a trap, I just spot it, and we avoid or disarm it.” Ellana shrugged. “No problem.”
“Ten sovereigns says it’s a trap.” Bull muttered.
“I’ll take that bet.” Dorian declared. “Every time I’ve bet against our dear Inquisitor, I’ve lost horribly.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t bet at all.” Cassandra grumbled.
“You’re on, kadan.” Bull shot him a quick grin.
The fight was long and brutal and Corypheus was desperate by the end of it. Ellana, though, was way better than anyone had anticipated and managed to reseal the Breach, open a rift inside Corypheus, and keep everyone alive. Well, mostly.
Bull had gotten a few nasty-looking gashes from the dragon, Dorian had gotten a few burns from some of Corypheus’ spells, and that didn’t account for any of the other members of the inner circle who had been protecting their flank and rear from demons (Cassandra was the only one uninjured because she had some mystical ability preventing her from taking damage). Ellana was up on top of the tower somewhere. They had been separated, but Dorian was able to witness the fireworks of what she had done. Dorian couldn’t think about the possibility of Ellana not surviving what happened. It was too much for his tired and frazzled mind. He ignored everything else to focus on healing Bull’s gashes.
“Do me a favor and don’t let me see you get thrown across a parapet by a dragon ever again.” Dorian murmured. He was pretty certain his heart had legitimately stopped when that happened. He froze, like a total idiot, and just watched it happen in slow-motion, almost like he was underwater. Bull had taken a moment to check to make sure he could move, before getting up and running headlong at the dragon again. But in that split second, when he wasn’t moving, Dorian thought Bull had gotten killed. It was almost worse than what happened in the Fade, because Dorian saw Bull not moving.
“Sorry, kadan.” Bull took Dorian’s shaking hands in his own. “Don’t overdo it; they look worse than they are.”
“I’m not.” Dorian argued, though his magic was running on empty. How Bull knew that, Dorian didn’t know. “And I’m healing them; they’re definitely as bad as they look.”
“Have a potion then.” Bull insisted. Dorian sighed and obliged his Qunari, unwilling to let him know how much he legitimately needed the foul-tasting concoction. It took a few more minutes for him to take care of Bull’s gashes and his own burns, which were also worse than they looked. He looked over to see Vivienne helping out with the rest of the injuries. Luckily, no one else seemed to have any major wounds, as she was handling it easily. Where was Solas? He should have been helping her. Bull gingerly got to his feet and helped Dorian up.
“Inquisitor? Are you alive?” Cassandra led them to the bottom of the stairs. Dorian stopped breathing, waiting helplessly to hear that Ellana had survived. Right when he thought he had lost her, Ellana started walking down the stairs, an air of total exhaustion about her. It was not fair how much the woman had to go through, but she didn’t seem injured and didn’t look like she was going to pass out either, so Dorian took it as the win it was. He remembered to breathe again when his head started to feel light.
“Then it’s over? How lovely.” Dorian could always trust Vivienne to understate everything.
“And you survive.” Cassandra had a legitimate smile on her face. Dorian wasn’t sure he wasn’t imagining things in his fatigue anymore. “Thank the Maker.”
“And the sky is healed, healthy… whole.” Cole looked up to the aurora in the sky, a permanent fixture to glorify Ellana’s accomplishments. “There’s just that left to remember.”
“Looks that way.” Ellana agreed. Her grin lit up the night.
“What do we do now?” Cassandra asked. Dorian almost hit her. That was a stupid question if he ever heard one.
“We go back to Skyhold.” Ellana decided. She finished walking down the stairs. Dorian was the first to pull her into a hug, but that was because he nearly elbowed Cassandra aside to get to her. It took some time before the group was ready to get moving, what with the injuries, the relief of their success, and just taking a moment to breathe. Dorian asked Ellana about where Solas was and got only a shrug as an answer.
Someone sent word back to the Skyhold, because the entirety of the Inquisition forces still at Skyhold had banded together to cheer them on as they entered the gates. Dorian walked several paces behind Ellana, letting her grab as much of the glory as she could. He felt Bull’s gaze on his ass the whole time. Someone must have warned Cullen to be polite, because all he did was hug Ellana for a few long moments before letting her go accept the jubilation from the gathered crowd.
It didn’t take two days for Josephine to get a feast planned and prepared to celebrate.
It took significantly less time to pass the alcohol around.
Dorian knew Bull was deliberately avoiding getting drunk, as the last time he got drunk (after killing the high dragon), he had passed out on the floor before even making it to the bed. Dorian, for his part, let him sleep there and took the bed for himself. But since then, Bull tried not to get drunk. He claimed it was so that he never missed another opportunity to fuck Dorian silly. (Dorian couldn’t find fault with either the logic or the reason.) Still, Dorian enjoyed a few drinks, helping relax him from the fight they had just left behind.
It was odd. Suddenly, now that they’d succeeded, it was like the whole world had opened up to them. The Inquisition was now a major force to be reckoned with. They had successfully taken down an ancient Tevinter darkspawn and his pet archdemon with minimal casualties. (Technically, actually killing Corypheus and his dragon didn’t net any casualties, but Dorian was counting the entire experience since the beginning of the Inquisition.) But, with the major threat gone, was there even a reason to stay in the Inquisition? Dorian had that pipe dream of trying to change and fix his home country for the better.
He glanced across the room to see Bull laughed with Krem.
Maybe he could stay with the Inquisition a bit longer. With Solas gone off somewhere, it wouldn’t do to leave Vivienne as the only mage in Ellana’s inner circle. She'd insist on some truly horrendous clothing. (Dorian was protecting Ellana’s interests and not basing the decision on his own wants, really.)
“Hey, Dor.” Ellana snuck up on him while he was pondering Bull’s biceps. (Again.)
“I was passing through the hall this morning, and a serving girl saw me and squealed.” Dorian informed her, mock-accusingly. “Actually squealed. Dropped her laundry and everything. Such a mess.” Ellana was grinning already, which was the entire point. “She was completely breathless. ‘You were at the battle with the Evil One, weren’t you?’ I didn’t even get a chance to answer. She hugged me.” He scoffed. “Hugged me. This is your influence.”
“Admit it. You’re having a ball.” Ellana laughed. Dorian chuckled.
“I don’t trust the camaraderie. All these people smiling, buying me drinks… it’s unnatural.” He kept his tone light to know that he was joking. If she even got the hint that he was being abused again, he was certain he’d be the first to get in trouble for not telling her. “Mind you, I can’t say I hate the notion of being ‘the good Tevinter’.”
Ellana hugged him around the middle, interrupting his train of thought for a moment. He hugged her back, careful not to let his beer slosh onto her.
“‘I suppose you can’t all be evil bastards.’ The blacksmith said that, and he spat when we first met.” Dorian continued. He noticed the gazes from Cullen and Bull and found neither of them to be envious, jealous, or embarrassed. Dorian wasn’t certain if it was from them being used to the affection between the friends or if they were that secure in their respective relationships. Either way, it was nice to not be judged for being touchy-feely. “I hope my father hears. He will shit his smallclothes from shock, I swear.”
“You’re an example of how noble Tevinter could be.” Ellana pointed out.
“For southerners, maybe.” Dorian disagreed. “Back home they’ll be rolling their eyes behind their fans. Meanwhile, they’ll conveniently forget the bastards who wanted Corypheus ruling us all.”
Ellana stepped back and smiled at him. She looked like she was about to leave, flitting off to the next person to talk to.
“I’ve decided…” Dorian cleared his throat, keeping her attention for the moment. “To stay with the Inquisition. For now.”
“Would that have anything to do with Iron Bull?” Ellana gave him a knowing look.
Curse her and her knowledge.
“It might.” He sniffed, trying to not seem so besotted. His reputation was already in tatters without being lovesick for his Qunari. “You know how it is.” Cullen was still eyeing her from across the room. “Plus, what would you do without me?”
“How will I ever know unless you go?” Ellana pointed out.
“Oh, clever.” Dorian grinned. “See? I keep your wits sharp.”
Ellana left him, laughing the whole while. Dorian watched her make her rounds around the room before trying to sneak off to her room. She was followed closely by Cullen. He mock-gagged into his drink.
“They’re cute together.” Bull’s voice made him choke on his beer.
“What? Oh, yes. They are.” Dorian cleared his throat. Bull dropped his arm on Dorian’s shoulders, lightly. It was both a claim and a comfort. Dorian couldn’t bring himself to argue with it.
“How ya doin’, kadan?” Bull asked, still watching the door Cullen and Ellana had disappeared through.
“I’m doing fine, amatus.” Dorian relaxed in Bull’s grip. “I wasn’t the one thrown across a parapet.”
“I wasn’t the one set on fire.” Bull reminded him. He hesitated for a long moment. “I heard you’re staying with the Inquisition.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” Dorian asked. “I’ve got nothing for me at home. I’ve got plans to go back and try to fix my homeland eventually. But with all the crazy things we’ve seen, I’m going to wait until it quiets down here before I go anywhere. With Ellana’s luck, we’ll be fighting a giant, darkspawn nug this time next week.” Bull laughed and tightened his arm on Dorian’s shoulders. He took a moment to place a gentle kiss on Dorian’s temple (which perhaps melted him just a bit, but Dorian would not confirm or deny such suppositions).
“I can think of all sorts of things to occupy our time until a giant, darkspawn nug attacks.” Bull murmured.
“Well, if Cullen’s getting laid, we’re already behind.” Dorian said.
Bull led Dorian to, and subsequently fucked him silly on, the war table. They’d already pretty thoroughly abused that poor table in all sorts of unfortunate ways with all sorts of body parts all over Thedas. This time was more of the same: rough, fast, and hard. It was desperation that drove them towards completion, along with the relief of finally having some time off.
Chapter 17: Old Faces
“Hey, hey, hey, kadan.”
“Awww, but kadan…”
“Whining does not become you, amatus.”
Dorian sighed and looked up from his book.
“You’re sick, therefore, I will not fuck you, because I don’t want to get sick. And, frankly, my darling amatus, you don’t have the energy to have sex.”
Four months after Corypheus, Bull was laid up in his bed, pouting. His eyes were watery and his nose runny and he was not at all attractive to anyone but Dorian. Which should have been a sign, all things considered. Bull had gotten a nasty cold from their last adventure in the Fallow Mire and had since become the worst sick person to ever exist. He kept insisting that he was fine and that there was no need to fuss and it’s just a cough, kadan. Until Blackwall found him nearly unconscious and delirious with fever on the battlements. Ellana ordered Bull bedrest. And then Cole caught him trying to sneak out of his room. So, Dorian was appointed Bull’s nanny, to make sure the great idiot didn’t try anything else.
“No buts.” Dorian interrupted. “You’re going to rest and drink some water and if you can’t do that, then I will get a sleeping draught and pour it down your throat.”
“Kinky.” Bull coughed in the middle of the word, ruining whatever effect he was going for.
“Amatus.” Dorian gave him a warning look.
“Kadan, I’m bored!” Bull whined. “Let me do something!”
“Shall we play chess?”
“We’ve play twelve times already!”
“You could read a book.”
“I’ve read two!”
“How about a nap?”
“I’m not tired!”
“Drink some water.”
“I don’t want to!” Bull started coughed, a wet, hacking sound that Dorian could almost feel, it was so bad. Dorian pointed to the water goblet and glared at his Qunari until he obediently drank.
“If you continue to act like a child, I shall have no choice but to treat you like one.”
“Gonna spank me?” Bull leered lecherously. Well, he tried for lecherous, but the red, runny nose and the red, watery eyes ruined it.
“Children don’t get kinky.” Dorian pointed out. “So, no. But I’ll put you in a barrier that blocks sound so I don’t have to listen to your whining anymore.”
Bull pouted so loudly that Dorian couldn’t refocus on his book.
“Can’t we have a little sex?” Bull asked.
“How about a blowjob?”
“A rim job? You really like those!”
“Please, kadan. I’m dying here!”
“Look, I’ll give you a blowjob and then you’re going to sleep.” Dorian gave up. They both knew he was going to, but at least he held out for a little while. Bull could be pig-headed when he wanted to be and had proven over and over again that he was far more stubborn than Dorian.
“Fuck yeah.” Bull grinned. “You’re the best, kadan.”
“I know.” Dorian sighed and put his book to the side. Bull settled back on the bed, looking inordinately pleased with himself. Dorian was unsurprised to find Bull naked and hard underneath the blanket. “You’re insatiable.”
“Nah, I can be sated.” Bull disagreed. “But you’re just so fuckable that I have to keep going.”
“Ugh.” Dorian pretended his ears weren’t burning. After nearly a year together, he thought that maybe, he wouldn’t get so self-conscious by Bull’s praise. (He was wrong.)
Bull took an embarrassingly short time to finish, spilling in the back of Dorian’s throat with a hoarse shout. Dorian wiped his drool from his chin and tucked Bull back into the blankets. Bull was already half-lidded and falling asleep. Dorian tried to go back to his chair and his book, but Bull snagged his hand, sleepily.
“I’m not going anywhere, amatus.” Dorian promised.
“Here.” Bull demanded, patting the bed next to him. Dorian sighed and settled next to his Qunari. Bull shifted a bit and carefully arranged his head on Dorian’s lap. One horn stuck up straight in the air while the other dropped off the side of the bed. It was the only way Bull could sleep on his side. Dorian tangled his fingers with Bull’s and started scratching lightly at the base of his horns. Bull moaned and his whole body relaxed. Dorian had spent many a night scratching and massaging the thick skin around the base of his horns, easing the itch for his lover. And Bull never let Dorian go a day without reminding him of how much he appreciated the help.
It was so disgustingly domestic. (Dorian adored it.)
Two months later, Bull had gotten it into his head that he should take Dorian on a date. Dorian knew all about it and fought it at every turn. Firstly, just because the Inquisition was popular and well-known and whatnot, it didn’t mean they could just get away with going on a date! Secondly, Bull wanted to go to Val Royeaux, which Dorian thought was just asking for trouble. Thirdly, Bull got his way, because Bull always got his way. He never lost his manipulative edge from being a spy. Instead, he steered that energy towards getting what he wanted from Dorian. Dorian found it simultaneously irritating and arousing. (Which, honestly, was his usual reaction to any and all things Bull-related.)
“Take a couple guards.” Cullen ordered, not even looking up from his paperwork.
Honestly, Dorian assumed that Ellana would mellow Cullen out, but it seemed that he reserved his mellow for her and her alone. And, Dorian assumed Cullen would try to talk them out of it.
“What do we need guards for?” Bull complained. “It’s a date.”
Cullen sighed and looked up from his stack of papers.
“Because you are both high-ranking members of the Inquisition and it would be improper for you two to go out into a major city, like Val Royeaux, without guards. Not to mention, Dorian is our Tevinter ambassador. If we didn’t send a guard with him, we’d be mocked by our allies and might get into trouble with Tevinter.”
“When did you turn into Josephine?” He asked.
“When she gave me the same spiel when I tried to take Ellana to Val Royeaux for a date.” Cullen sighed and went back to his paperwork. Dorian valiantly kept his laughter in until they left the office. Bull was not so subtle.
“Take a couple guards!” Cullen yelled after them.
“I still think this date is a silly idea.” Dorian declared.
“So you keep telling me.” Bull didn’t seem concerned at all. He snagged a few guards on duty and dragged Dorian to Val Royeaux. Dorian tried to ignore their presence, but it felt weird to be sitting at a restaurant with them lurking near the table. They were stared at, which Dorian knew was coming, but no one said anything, which surprised him. While homophobia wasn’t rampant in Orlais, it was still weird to see Tevinter and Qunari together at all, much less on a date.
“This drink is crap.” Bull decided.
“It’s Orlesian.” Dorian said, by way of explanation.
“We’ll get a real drink back at Skyhold.” Bull suggested.
“Well, we’re here in Val Royeaux.” Dorian pointed out. “Was there anything else you wanted to do?”
“We’re on a date, kadan.” Bull rolled his eyes. “It’s for both of us.”
“Fine.” Dorian sighed. “I’d like to go shopping. My clothes are running dreadfully thin, no thanks to all the extra washing they have to go through.”
Bull grinned, not in the least ashamed.
The market was, as always, lively and bustling, but people gave them a wide berth, thanks in part to the guards at their back, but also thanks to Bull’s size. Being Qunari occasionally had perks. Many shops were too small for Bull to even enter, so Dorian avoided those for the most part. By the end of the day, Dorian had bought far too many clothes for Bull’s taste (“Why would you buy clothes, when I just want to tear them off you?”), until, of course, Dorian reminded Bull that he didn’t like sharing (“You want everyone else to see me naked?”). The point was well-taken and Bull stopped complaining about carrying around Dorian’s purchases.
“Wait.” Bull stopped in front of a shop. “I want to go in here.”
“All right.” Dorian moved to go inside when Bull held up a hand.
“I’ll be right back.”
“I want to get you a surprise, and if you come with me, it’s not much of a surprise, is it, kadan?” Bull grinned.
“All right, fine.” Dorian sighed and crossed his arms. “But hurry it up, amatus. I’m getting hungry.”
“Be right back.” Bull’s fingers touched the inside of Dorian’s wrist in a gentle squeeze. Dorian’s heart fluttered, as it always did when Bull did that. It was their public version of a kiss. Dorian was pretty private when it came to the world knowing what he and Bull did, but Bull was very affectionate. It took a few outings to figure out the slight motion. It was enough for Bull to be happy but small enough that it didn’t offend Dorian. Dorian would never admit, on pain of death, that he adored the small touch almost more than actually getting kissed by Bull.
“What have we here? A Tevinter whore.”
Dorian sighed and turned to the voice. There was a young man, standing in front of a small group of other young men, all of whom looked like they were getting poisoned on too much testosterone. The guard standing behind Dorian stiffened and stepped forward. Dorian ignored him and looked over the intruders.
“You’re not supposed to answer rhetorical questions. That’s why they’re rhetorical.” Dorian replied, coldly.
“Where’s your Qunari master?” The man sneered.
“You watched him walk into that shop not a minute ago.” Dorian pointed out. “And you waited until he left before accosting me, so I don’t think you want me calling him back out here. Frankly, you should just stop with the whole question bit, as you seem pretty inexperienced with them.”
The man’s face turned red and he snarled at Dorian.
“You’re not welcome here, ‘Vint.”
“Considering I walked straight through the gates and have been here all day, I’d say you’re misinformed on that particular front.”
The man stepped forward, hands clenched into fists. Dorian was considering his options (set the man on fire, ignore the physical threat, step back into the shop to get Bull, or just let the man punch him) when the guard stepped between the two of them, hand gripping his sword.
“Walk away.” The guard ordered.
“Who are you?!” The man scoffed.
“That’s the Inquisition.” One of his cadre muttered.
“We should get out of here.” Another suggested.
“Shut up!” The de facto leader snapped.
“This man is under the protection of the Inquisition.” The guard said, calmly. “Stand down and walk away.”
The man sized up the guard and Dorian and realized that he had the superior numbers (two against seven weren’t great odds when one of the two was a mage). He pulled out a knife, making his band all grab their own weapons. The guard drew his sword.
“My lord ambassador, please step inside the shop.” The guard asked, not seeming to care that then he would be one against seven. It was idiotic, considering Dorian could take care of the majority of the group before the guard could even do anything, but it was that stupid nobility that made the Inquisition what it was. Dorian ignored the request and instead summoned two fireballs into his hands. The group of men froze at the sight. It wasn’t even that impressive, but they obviously had limited contact with mages, else they wouldn’t have been so surprised by the fire.
“Now, let’s all calm down for a moment.” Dorian kept his voice low and soothing. He wasn’t raring for a fight, but he wasn’t going to just let them attack him or the guard. If he could stall them long enough for Bull to leave the shop, perhaps they’d avoid the fight altogether.
“You started this!” The man lunged forward.
The guard snapped his shield up, bashing the man in the face and knocking him back. The group forgot about their weapons in favor of gaping at the guard incredulously.
“Stand down.” The guard repeated. The man had blood streaming down his face. He snarled wordlessly and stumbled to his feet. With a small bit of will, Dorian lit the guard’s sword on fire. The guard didn’t even flinch.
“C’mon.” One of the posse grabbed at the leader. The leader tried to shake him off.
“No, I’m not letting that abomination walk around our city!”
“The only abomination here is your manners.” Dorian replied, primly. “This is not a fight you can win. Walk away.”
The cadre of men dragged their leader away as he screamed profanities at Dorian.
“Thank you for your assistance.” Dorian nodded at the guard, releasing his hold on his magic and dousing the flames on the sword and in his hands.
“It’s my job, my lord.”
Dorian froze as the guard turned to face him. Somehow, with all the blatant ignoring Dorian had been doing, he had finally looked the guard in the face.
“Conrad Whitley?” Dorian felt his jaw drop and promptly closed it, trying to belie his shock.
“Aye, my lord.” Sure enough, the face of the man who, so long ago, tormented and nearly beat Dorian to death, was under the helmet. Dorian had never forgotten those features, but instead of anger or righteous fury (as they were the last time Dorian had seen him), Conrad’s face was pulled into shame and something similar to wry amusement. He was protecting Dorian. Dorian wasn’t sure how to react. Obviously, he had earned enough trust back to be allowed to be an active member of the Inquisition. But Dorian hadn’t known.
“When did you get out of trench-digging duty?” Dorian couldn’t help but ask.
“I wasn’t repositioned and given permission to be a guard until recently.” Conrad admitted. “The Inquisitor had been keeping close tabs on me. Whatever she saw granted m the honor of being able to serve the Inquisition to the best of my ability.”
It was so politically correct, Dorian wanted to slap him. But, they were in the heart of Val Royeaux. It was the best answer he’d get.
“What’s goin’ on?” Bull emerged from the shop, the other guard on his heels (how they both fit inside, Dorian wasn’t sure).
“There were some upstarts trying to start trouble with my lord ambassador, but they were swayed into leaving with little fight.” Conrad reported, dutifully.
“Kadan…” Bull looked at Dorian, voice a light, chiding tone. It meant nothing to anyone else, but it was the exact tone Bull used when Dorian was deliberately pushing the line during sex. Dorian’s brain couldn’t help but make the leap straight to sex. Bull’s heavy gaze told him that he knew exactly where Dorian went.
“It’s taken care of, amatus.” Dorian tried to focus. “They didn’t even get close to me, thanks to Conrad, here.”
“Good.” Bull didn’t seem surprised to see Conrad standing there, but frankly, he was probably keeping tabs on the man as long as Ellana had been and had known exactly who had been sent as their guards. “Nobody hurt?”
“Well…” Dorian shrugged. “I wouldn’t say that. Conrad’s shield has some blood on it. That poor shield didn’t deserve having to deal with that man’s face.”
The two guards chuckled, as did Bull, but he was still hyper-focused on Dorian.
“Still hungry?” Bull asked.
“Indeed.” Dorian handed Bull back all the bags of his shopping. “And if you don’t feed me soon, I shall get very cross.”
“All right.” Bull grinned. It was a mask. Something was bothering him about what had happened outside the shop, but Dorian couldn’t put a finger on what it was. “Let’s go feed you. But if they got shit beer again, I’m gonna threaten to flip a table.”
“You could actually flip a table.” Dorian suggested lightly.
“Nah. They’d have to only have wine to earn that.”
They settled in a quiet corner of the restaurant, with their guards at a table nearby. Close enough to see them, but far enough away that they couldn’t eavesdrop. Dorian leaned across the table.
“What’s wrong, amatus?”
“Nothing.” Bull put on his amused face. “Why do you think something’s wrong?”
“Don’t lie to me.”
Bull hid his surprise, but only just. Dorian sighed and shook his head.
“You like to tell me how you know me better than I even know myself.”
“Then you know how intelligent I am.”
“Then you know that I’ve learned you as well, amatus.”
Bull fell silent.
“You can read me like a book.” Dorian continued. “I can read you, as well. Now, stop playing dumb with me and tell me what’s going on? We agreed on open communication and honesty, correct?”
Bull shook his head with a sigh.
“Part of me wants to complain that you didn’t bother to get me to help with the situation.” He explained slowly. He held up a hand when Dorian was going to interrupt. “I know, I know. You’re a big boy who can handle himself. That’s not the point, kadan. That reaction is a me thing and I’m workin’ on it. But the other part of me is concerned about you being out there, with all those people who hated you for being Tevinter with him.”
Dorian took a long moment to process those words and try to formulate his own.
“I didn’t know it was him.” He admitted. “I wasn’t paying attention and nobody told me he had gotten promoted from trench-digging to guardsman. I didn’t know until after. He protected me, amatus. They were saying some things that were disturbingly similar to what he had said and he didn’t even flinch. He stayed calm and focused and professional.”
“I knew he had gotten out.” Bull confessed. “Boss has been having him closely monitored forever. Cullen was doing it himself, actually. But Cullen said that he changed and he’s better now. I brought him with us because I wanted to check for myself. I didn’t expect a literal mob. I wouldn’t have brought him if I had thought that you’d be unsafe here. I figured: it’s Val Royeaux, we can handle anything here.”
“I wish someone would have told me he was out.” He shook his head. “After all, he did try to kill me on multiple occasions.”
“We were all watching him.” Bull pointed out. “He’d never been assigned anywhere near you until today.”
“We?” Dorian asked. “How many people knew he was out and didn’t tell me?”
“Me. Boss. Cullen. Leliana. Josephine. The Chargers. Cassandra.” Bull listed off.
“Great.” Dorian smiled ruefully. “So, everyone knew and didn’t tell me.”
Bull reached across the table and took Dorian’s hands in his. Dorian wanted to snatch them back. He thought that he had become friends with everyone. No one told him. No one even hinted it. He breathed through the lump in his chest, holding the tears of frustration back.
“I’m sorry, kadan.” Bull spoke softly. “I didn’t want to upset you.”
“You’ve upset me more by not telling me that the man who tried to kill me had gotten permission to have weapons again.”
“He’ll never hurt you again, kadan.” It was both a threat and a promise and Dorian hated how it kind of made him feel a bit better.
“It’s just a shock.” Dorian tried to shove his emotions to the side. “He protected me. I didn’t think people could change.”
“Digging trenches is good for that.” Bull joked. Dorian gave him a dark look.
“I… need time, amatus.” Dorian sighed. “Can we go home?”
“Of course, kadan.”
Dorian pretended he couldn't see the look of concern on his Qunari's face.
Chapter 18: Explanations
When they got back to Skyhold, Bull escorted Dorian back to his room (as he was carrying all of Dorian’s shopping). He dropped a quick kiss on Dorian’s temple with the promise to give him space and time and then left. Dorian adored that man. Which made everything all the more difficult.
He wasn’t left alone for five minutes before Ellana breezed into his room. She didn’t knock (she never knocked), and had seen Dorian and Bull fuck on enough occasions that it didn’t even faze her. She was probably the least shy person in existence. She shut the door behind her and stopped. Dorian looked at her, hoping she would start. He really didn’t want to fight with his best friend, but he was just so furious that he couldn’t imagine anything she could say to make things right between them. She said nothing, just leaning her back against the door and waiting.
“He tried to kill me, Ell.” Dorian started, trying to remain calm. “At the very least, I thought we were friendly enough for me to have earned a bit of forewarning where he is concerned.”
Ellana didn’t respond. Her silence angered him further.
“How dare you?!” He snapped, losing all pretense for a rational conversation. “He tried to kill me, Ellana! I was scared to sleep for weeks, thinking he and his posse would sneak in and smother me while I slept! And you just didn’t tell me that he was free to not only run around Skyhold, but to be a guard! To carry weapons! He could have killed me today! I didn’t even know he was there! And Cullen demanded that I take him with me! Bull told me that everyone knew, but me! What the fuck, Ell?!”
Ellana still stood, silently at the door. She didn’t have any form of reaction to his words. Dorian wanted to shake her, get some form of reaction from her. Something, anything, to show that she cared.
“Do you want me to have him killed?”
Shock slapped the rage from Dorian in an instant.
“Conrad Whitley tried to kill you on multiple occasions.” Ellana said, face completely serious. “Would you like me to have him executed for that?”
The question came from out of nowhere and it stalled Dorian’s fury into confusion.
“I wasn’t the Inquisitor when that happened, so I couldn’t sentence him, but if I could have, I would have cut his head off myself. When I was finally Inquisitor, we lost too many people at Haven and needed the manpower desperately. Now, I have the power and we don’t need him. Do you want him to die?” Ellana still didn’t move from her position, but her tone told Dorian that she would, without hesitation, kill the man for his past transgressions.
Dorian didn’t like the conversation when it started and he liked it even less when Ellana was being so damn… Ellana.
“He… I…” Dorian shook his head, trying to focus. Nothing about this argument was going the way he had expected.
Ellana waited, silently. He hated her for it.
“No.” The answer, when it finally came to him, shocked him. “He… protected me today. And not just against some assassins or a bear or something, but bigots. The exact people that he was over a year ago. I don’t… Maybe people can change.”
Ellana tilted her head in acknowledgement.
“I’ll take your opinions into consideration while I decide if he’s to be punished.”
“Punished?” Dorian was not following.
“Conrad Whitley was sentenced to stay as far from you and the armory as humanly possible. He was told he’d be digging trenches until he died. After long and careful consideration, Cullen thought that he could be of use to us in better ways. I agreed to let him have a probationary period where he was allowed to train with the other soldiers, but only with wooden weapons. That decision was made the day before yesterday. I was going to talk to you about it to get your opinion before I made the decision, but you’ve been busy, and then today you went on your date and I didn’t want to ruin the mood.”
Everything she said made perfect sense, and yet nothing made sense at all. Dorian started to feel the sharp edges of guilt burn in his gut. Ellana had never betrayed him before. She wouldn’t have done anything to harm him. And, she was right when she said he wasn’t available. Bull had, in a romantic fit, decided to keep Dorian naked and in his bed for two days straight before their date.
“Yesterday, he trained with wooden weapons with the soldiers. He did very well and showed remarkable restraint. Cullen thinks his time in the trenches cooled his head and helped him keep a calm demeanor. Today, there was a misstep. The wife of one of the guards on duty was having a baby, early, it seems. Nobody was prepared for it. The superior called on Whitley to fill in for the day. He had seen Whitley’s performance the day before and thought that he’d do well in the position.”
Dorian wasn’t even sure what to say anymore.
“It was a profound fuckup and the superior is currently getting his ass reamed by Cullen for daring to make that assertion when we have plenty of other people who haven’t tried to kill members of the Inquisition available.” Ellana sighed. “Whitley was following orders. When Bull went to go get guards for your date, he saw Whitley there and decided to test him.”
“Why?” Dorian’s mouth was dry and his gut felt like it was filled with acid.
“Because Bull doesn’t trust anyone with your safety.” Ellana rolled her eyes. “He wanted to test Conrad himself, but didn’t want to postpone your date, so he tried to do both at once.”
It was so Bull that it had to be the truth.
“I was going to come see you to discuss this with you when you got back, because I feel like it’s important to have you involved. We have plenty of postings far from Skyhold. If Whitley did well in his probation, I was planning on sending him to one of them.”
“But…” Dorian struggled to come to terms with what had gone on.
“I was entertaining Ferelden diplomats all day today, else I would have been watching the soldiers train and would have noticed Whitley’s absence. Cullen was with me, as he understands Ferelden customs better than I do.” Ellana explained. “I swear to you, if I had been aware, I never would have let this happen.”
“But… Bull said everyone knew…” Dorian shook his head, trying to reconcile the aborted conversation he had with his lover alongside the in-depth details Ellana was providing him.
“I’m pretty sure decisions can’t be made in secret in Skyhold.” Ellana rolled her eyes. “I think everyone else became aware of the decision to put Whitley on probation, but what happened today was completely unexpected.”
“You’re telling me.” Dorian muttered.
“Look, Dor.” Ellana looked him in the eye, trying to show her sincerity. “I heard his report.” The fact that she knew everything that had happened so soon after they got back to Skyhold told Dorian she was micromanaging the situation. It made him feel a bit better. She was his best friend. She wouldn’t let anything happen to him on her watch. If Bull didn’t trust anyone with Dorian’s safety, Ellana was a million times worse. She was like a mother bear with her cubs.
“And he was confronted with every ugly thing he had ever felt for you and said to you. He defended you, didn’t instigate the violence, but stopped it swiftly.” Ellana crossed her arms. “He did exactly what we want our guards to do. And he did while having to confront the worst thing he had ever done in his life. I really do think he’s changed. And he was sobbing when he was giving his report.”
“Conrad Whitley was crying while giving his report to Cullen.” Ellana continued. “He said that he always regretted what he did to you, but when it was thrown back in his face today, it hit him exactly what it meant to be you on a daily basis. And you were willingly staying in a place that would kill you as soon as look at you. He has a lot of respect for you.”
“Sure, he does.” Dorian scoffed.
“He said he wanted to apologize, but felt like it was too little too late and that if you had moved on, he didn’t want to dredge it up for you.”
Dorian tried to reconcile the new Conrad Whitley with the memories and nightmares of the man tormenting him and couldn’t do it.
“Look, he’s really changed. It’s been over a year since that… bullshit.” Ellana sighed. “If you want him dead for it, I won’t even hesitate. Otherwise, I’m going to send him to one of our remote outposts so long as he shows real promise in his probationary period with Cullen. And that way he won’t be a danger to you.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to keep him here so you can keep an eye on him?” Dorian asked, humorlessly.
“I’ve got the greatest spymaster in existence on my payroll.” Ellana gave him a knowing look. “Do you really think I’d just let the guy who tried to kill you run around without keeping a close eye on him?”
“He’s getting to do something, but he’s being watched. It will be a long time before he earns enough trust to be on his own. It might never happen.”
“That seems like a waste of resources.” Dorian muttered.
“We have our spies in every outpost.” Ellana shrugged. “It’s not even allocating a new spy for him. It’s just adding a job to the spy already there.”
She really had thought of everything. It was irritating in its thoroughness.
“Fine.” Dorian huffed and sat on his bed. He wanted to be mad, but she had obviously done way more thinking about this than he had. And she was trying to keep him safe at the cost of the Inquisition. He couldn’t stay mad at her for that.
“Let him go do his… whatever.” Dorian sighed. “I don’t care anymore.”
“Now, that’s just a lie.” Ellana sat on the bed next to him and hugged him. “Are you mad at me?”
“No.” Dorian shook his head. “Not anymore. I think you have a magical ability to avoid having people mad at you.”
“Now, that’s just not true.” Ellana chuckled. “How many enemies does the Inquisition have just because I’m a sassy-pants?”
“Touché.” Dorian wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug.
“Are you mad at Bull?”
“I don’t know.”
And he truly didn’t.
“He cares about you.”
“I know that.”
“No,” Ellana looked him in the eye, “I mean, he loves you, Dor.”
Dorian’s heart stopped.
“Don’t be absurd.” His lips were numb. “We care for each other, sure, but that’s all.”
“You’ve already lied to me once this conversation.” Ellana pointed out. “This is the second time. Do it again and I’ll throw a book at your head.”
“That’s not…” Dorian couldn’t even find words anymore. “We’ve never…”
“You call him ‘amatus’ and you think the notion of loving him is far-fetched?” Ellana asked, incredulously. “Dor, you’re a brilliant mage and you’re a wonderful person, but when it comes to emotions, you’re a total moron.”
“He can’t love me.” Dorian argued. “I’m…”
“Amazing? Wonderful? Caring? Brilliant? Funny?”
Dorian gave her a dark look.
“I know you think you’re clingy, but honestly, you and Bull have been together for a year. If he thought you were too clingy, he wouldn’t have stayed. He calls you ‘kadan’ for fuck’s sake!” Ellana shoved Dorian gently. “You think you’re clingy? Bull thinks you’re adorable. He adores the fact that you like to cuddle him at any given opportunity. He loves that you crave touch, because he needs it just as much as you. You think that you’ve been touch-starved? I know he’s told you his experiences in Seheron. You two are the same. He loves you more than he loves anything else.”
Dorian swallowed tightly. He did not want to be listening to this, but he kind of did at the same time. It was somehow different when Ellana said it. Bull could have said it and Dorian would have brushed it off. But Ellana wasn’t in the situation. She didn’t gain anything from saying this (though she’d been all for their relationship since long before the relationship even happened).
“And you love him.” She continued. “I know you do. You took care of him when he was sick. Don’t try the line that I made you do it, because we all know you demanded to be the one to take care of him.” Dorian flushed at the memory of that conversation. “He knows you better than anyone else. Even me. And you deserve to love and be loved, Dorian. I don’t care what bullshit you heard in Tevinter.”
The tears leaked unbidden from his eyes. Ellana hugged him tightly.
“Nothing’s changed, Dorian.” She murmured. “You two have been in love for a long time. Just because you have a word for it now, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been there.”
“I really, really hate you, you know that?” Dorian blubbered out like an idiot.
“I know.” Ellana kissed his cheek. “And I accept my fate as second fiddle in your life. Now, stop crying and go make up with your Qunari. Where is he anyway? He should be here helping you through this Conrad crap, not me.”
“He’s giving me space.”
“Okay, now that’s love.” Ellana pointed out. “He’s giving you space because you asked for it. He sure as shit didn’t want to give you space.”
“Why do you say that?”
“The man would fuck you in the middle of the courtyard if he could get away with it.” Ellana noted, dryly. “He’d rather be around you and touching you than literally anything else in the world. He did not want to give you space.”
Dorian took a moment to deal with that mental image.
“Now, because he promised you space, he will not come to see you. You have to go to him.” Ellana stood up and pulled Dorian to his feet. “He’s probably freaking out that he screwed up and you hate him. Go see your man.”
“I hate you.” Dorian decided, as she shoved him from the room.
“I know!” Ellana called back cheerfully, going off to do whatever it was she did in her spare time (get involved in other people’s affairs and distract Cullen incessantly). That left Dorian alone to make his way slowly to Herald’s Rest. He walked in and was surprised to see that Bull’s standard seat was empty. He wandered over to Krem, who was making eyes at Maryden. His crush on Scout Harding had lasted all of a few moments, because Maryden’s voice had stolen his attention. And Maryden wasn’t always running off to the far outposts of the Inquisition every other week like Scout Harding was. Dorian hadn’t seen Krem actually speak to Maryden, but he kept lurking, making eyes at her.
“Have you talked to her, yet?” Dorian asked. Krem started and almost fell off the back of the chair. Why he insisted on sitting on the back of the chair instead of in the chair, Dorian had no idea.
“None of your business.” Krem’s cheekbones turned bright pink.
“You had been trying to manipulate Bull and me for weeks.” Dorian reminded him. “It’s completely my business. Besides, the Inquisition is just an excuse for everyone to get involved in everyone else’s business.”
Krem muttered something unflattering in Tevene under his breath.
“Shouldn’t you be making eyes at him?” Krem asked.
“I would, but he’s not here. So you get me instead.”
“Oh, right. Boss said he was meeting with the Commander for something.” Krem recalled. “What happened on your date? Boss came back pretty upset.”
“Upset?” Dorian couldn’t recall Bull getting upset.
“Well, it’s the thing he was doing back before you both admitted you love each other.” Krem waved the thought away. “He gets this… pissy attitude about everything. Got upset that we didn’t have a training session today, even though he told us to take the day off. Got some of that Qunari drink in him before the Commander called him away.”
“He drank that after we killed a high dragon.” Dorian pointed out. “He uses it for celebration.”
“Or for when he’s upset.” Krem added. “Trust me: he drank it a bunch after you lot walked through the Fade. He stopped drinking it much at all since you called him ‘amatus’.”
“Yeah, thanks for that, by the way.” Dorian flushed. “It’s not that big of a deal. We’re not in Tevinter, you know.”
“Thank the Maker for that.” Krem shook his head. “And it is that big of a deal, ya moron. You’re an Altus. Calling anyone ‘amatus’ is meaningful. If it were me, a Sorporati, you could maybe argue that it’s something light, but it’s you. And ‘amatus’ is meaningful. You know it, I know it, so stop pretending it’s nothing. ‘Sides, that was months ago.”
“Yes, but we haven’t discussed it, yet.” Dorian said. “And you got me into trouble with him.”
“You can’t get in trouble with Boss.” Krem rolled his eyes. “He adores everything there is about you.”
“That’s the second time today someone has said that.” Dorian mumbled, blushing like a madman. He hated how much he liked hearing it.
“That’s because it’s true.”
“It doesn’t matter if he’s just going to do things because he thinks he knows better.”
Krem stopped eyeing Maryden over Dorian’s shoulder and focused entirely on him for a long moment.
“Boss always thinks he knows best. He doesn’t, but he thinks he does.” Krem offered, carefully. “He doesn’t know how to trust others, period, much less with their own lives. We’ve been with the Inquisition nearly since it started and he still doesn’t trust the Inquisitor.”
“He trusts Ellana.” Dorian argued. She was the one to convince him to give up the Qun entirely. Bull wouldn’t have done that for just anybody.
“Not with her own life.” Krem shook his head. “Boss doesn’t trust the Chargers with our lives.”
“He lets you go off on missions by yourselves all the time.” Dorian pointed out.
“He’s got no choice. He knows that we’re too independent to be mothered all the time, so he has to give us space. You’re different.”
“How am I different?” Dorian scoffed. “I’ve saved his life multiple times. I’ve never been seriously injured in all our ridiculous adventures. I’ve never even been sick, which is more than I can say for the big baby.”
“He loves you.” Krem shrugged, like the answer was obvious. “Yeah, he cares about us Chargers, and the Inquisitor, too, but you’re… you’re his amatus.”
Dorian didn’t have any response for that. So, he wisely shut up.
“Look, Boss won’t say it first.” Krem sighed. “He thinks you’re always one step away from ending everything.”
Krem waved Dorian’s outburst away.
“It’s not you, it’s him. He’s insecure, though he hides it well. Since you’ve called him ‘amatus’ and he knows what it means and how significant it is, he’s kind of relaxed a bit. But, he’s still worried one day he’s just going to screw up and you’ll leave.”
“He’s such an idiot.” Dorian sighed, rubbing his temples. “I’m mad at him, but I’m not going to leave him.”
“The whole Whitley thing is a load of shit.” Krem agreed. “I thought you knew. ‘Til Boss came in and started drinking. Stitches overheard Cullen yelling at someone. He put it together and told the rest of us. We don’t care what happens, we won’t let him hurt you again.”
“I don’t even know what I’m going to say to him.” Dorian admitted.
“Be honest.” Krem advised. “Boss would rather know everything than have you dance around it thinking you’re going to hurt his feelings.”
“Hurt whose feelings?”
Krem and Dorian jumped in surprised at the low timbre of Bull’s voice.
“Oh, look at that, Rocky needs me for something.” Krem’s voice was pitched high as he tried to make a clean escape. Dorian wondered if the man would ever be able to lie.
“Has he talked to her yet?” Bull asked, watching his lieutenant hurry from the tavern.
“If he doesn’t hurry up, he’s going to miss his chance.”
“Maybe not.” Dorian disagreed. “Maybe a long courtship is what they need.”
“Like seven months?” Bull’s voice was light, like he was cracking a joke, but his face was so serious, it looked like it was made of stone.
“If you’re amenable, I’d like to talk.” Dorian said, politely. “I’ve gotten some more information and I’ve thought about things.”
“Sure.” Bull led Dorian up to his room, his entire form tense. He shut the door and Dorian noticed his hands were clenched into fists. The Qunari, his Qunari, was scared, Dorian realized. He thought that Dorian was going to end their relationship. Even the notion of ending things made Dorian sick to his stomach. There was no way he could do it, no matter what Bull said or did. Bull was his amatus, and that was a title that didn’t go away just because of a misunderstanding or a fight. Dorian was keeping him, damn it all. So, Bull could stop with the self-pity and thinking that things we’re going to work out, because that was a crock of bullshit.
Chapter 19: Confessions
“I’m not ending things, you daft idiot.” Dorian snapped.
“Okay.” Bull agreed, amiably. He didn’t relax at all, though. It was frustrating. Dorian just wanted to be mad at his Qunari. And instead, he looked like a kicked puppy and Dorian couldn’t stay mad at him.
“Why, pray tell, would I call you my amatus, something we have clearly defined at not ending ever, if you think I’m going to end this at a moment’s notice?” Dorian pointed out.
“It’s just a word.” Bull shrugged, trying for casual and failing miserably. Well, there was Dorian’s anger.
“How dare you?!” Dorian shoved his finger viciously into Bull’s chest. “Amatus is not ‘just a word’, you insensitive ass! We talked about this! I would never accuse you calling me ‘kadan’ as ‘just a word’. It’s not just a word! It’s everything. If you truly think that ‘amatus’ is just a word, then maybe you should go talk to Krem again, since you’re obviously not believing what I have to say. Fuck, crack open a fucking book and do some research on it! Amatus is more than…” Dorian voice cracked and he stopped. Angry tears fell down his features. He swiped at them, irritably. He swallowed tightly and tried to reign in his self-righteous fury. This was not why he was upset with Bull and it was distracting him from the main point.
“I love you, you fucking ass.” Dorian couldn’t even look at Bull, he was so mad. “And if you think that every little misstep or mistake one of us makes is going to end things, then you’re more of an idiot than I thought.”
Dorian wanted to just punch something. He wanted to get away. He wanted to just stew in his frustration and let Bull know he fucked up. Because the Conrad Whitley thing could be debated and forgiven eventually. Accusing Dorian of just using ‘amatus’ with no real meaning was nigh-unforgivable.
“What did you say?” Bull’s voice was quiet, softer than Dorian had ever heard it.
“I said you’re a fucking ass and an idiot.” Dorian snapped.
“Dorian, what did you say?” Bull asked, a little desperate, a little frustrated, and all demanding.
“I said I love you.” Dorian looked up, meeting Bull’s gaze. “This isn’t some fling; I don’t think it’s ever been just a fling. You’re my amatus. You’re stuck with me until one of us dies and then you’re still stuck with me. You don’t get to get out of this by screwing up or upsetting me or whatever. You’ve upset me in multiple ways today, but we can work past them. If you think it’s unforgivable and things should end, that’s on you. But know that I will never have someone else for me. I only get one amatus. You’re it. So, stop feeling sorry for yourself and help me fix this.”
Dorian was crumpled into a bone-crushing hug not two seconds after he stopped talking.
“I’m sorry, kadan.” Bull murmured in Dorian’s ear. He sounded broken in a way Dorian had never heard before. He felt something wet drip against his neck and realized his lover was crying.
“Damn right, you’re sorry.” Dorian hugged him as much as he could. “You don’t get to accuse me of not committing, Mr. Never Been In A Committed Relationship Ever.”
“The Qun doesn’t allow for such interpersonal relationships.” Bull reminded him. “And your only other relationship was fucked up.”
“True enough.” Dorian felt his chest release. There was tightness, a constriction that had been choking him since Bull shut the door. And it finally relaxed. “But at least I’ve had one.”
“I’ve got one now.” Bull said, pressing a kiss to Dorian’s neck. Dorian shivered at the contact. Bull put him down and took his face in his hands. They just stared at each other for several long minutes. Then Bull leaned down and kissed Dorian. It was gentle yet desperate, as Bull tried to convey every little apology he possibly could into it. Dorian almost melted.
“Amatus, you’re an idiot.”
Bull wrapped his arms around Dorian and carried him to the massive chair before the fire (the one that Dorian spent ages saving up for and hunting down the perfect carpenter who then had issues figuring out that Dorian was not lying about the dimensions). Bull settled in the chair with Dorian in his lap. He seemed convinced that Dorian would literally disappear if they stopped touching, so he kept Dorian close. The fire wasn’t lit and it was a bit chilly, so Dorian threw a fireball at the kindling. Bull carefully wiped away the wet tracks on Dorian’s face, hands tender and loving.
“I didn’t mean to accuse you of just saying ‘amatus’.” Bull spoke softly. “It was a fucked up thing to say and I didn’t and don’t mean it. I’m sorry, kadan.”
“Don’t do it again.” Dorian settled himself against Bull’s chest, listening to the heavy and strong heartbeat. It relaxed him, as it always did. “Not unless you want a fireball to the face.”
“Never again.” Bull’s voice was so solemn that Dorian just knew that no matter what happened to the two of them, Bull would never try to invalidate ‘amatus’ ever again.
“Now, that we’ve settled that,” Dorian stole one of Bull’s hands to lace their fingers together, “Shall we discuss the other reason you’ve upset me today?”
“I wanted to keep an eye on him and make sure Cullen and Boss weren’t making a mistake.” Bull explained. He sucked in a deep breath and sighed. “If I had known something would happen in Val Royeaux, I never would have brought him with us.”
“You didn’t tell me.” Dorian reminded him. He was so exhausted from his ire not moments ago that he couldn’t even find the energy to summon any more anger. “You knew that the man who tried to kill me was supposed to be guarding me and you didn’t tell me. What if something had happened while you were in the shop? I didn’t even know he was there until after everything happened. If I had put any faith into his job of keeping me safe and he wasn’t trustworthy, he could have killed me.”
“I know.” Bull murmured, kissing Dorian’s temple. “It was a mistake on my part. It won’t happen again.”
“You might be a spy, but you don’t know best.” Dorian met Bull’s gaze, solemnly. “You don’t get to decide what I deserve to know. You don’t get to make decisions for me. I’m not a child. We’re partners. That means equal.”
“Agreed.” Bull touched their forehead together, which was way more meaningful to him than Dorian first realized. (He had since learned that it was the closest thing to a sign of affection that Qunari were allowed.) “Partners and equals. I don’t know what I can do to make it up to you, kadan. What can I do to fix things?”
“Don’t do it again.” Dorian kissed the tips of the fingers that were missing a joint. Bull shivered. Dorian knew from lots of experience how sensitive those fingers were. (He might have deliberately used that information in public to get some… fun reactions from his Qunari.) “And stop thinking I’m going to leave you. You’re more likely to leave me than the other way around.”
“Not happening.” Bull made it a solemn vow. It made Dorian’s heart stutter.
“Then it looks like we’re stuck together.” Dorian idly traced his thumb along a scar on the back of Bull’s hand. “For the rest of our lives. No more insecurities, okay?”
“I’ll do my best.” Bull promised. “If it happens again, I’ll tell you.”
“Damn straight. Open and honest communication, right?”
“Right.” Bull kissed Dorian’s temple again. “I’m sorry, kadan.”
“I know, amatus.” Dorian pulled Bull down into a soothing kiss. Bull’s hand (the one not tangled with Dorian’s) rubbed gentle circles on Dorian’s lower back. Dorian shifted on Bull’s lap, trying to keep their lips attached. Bull made a small noise in his chest. It ignited a fire in Dorian’s chest. He made an answering noise and the kiss turned from gentle and reassuring to passionate and scorching.
“Kadan…” Bull pulled back, trying to keep things calm.
“Amatus.” Dorian shifted to where he was straddling Bull. He grabbed Bull’s face in his hands and pressed their foreheads together. Bull took a deep, shuddering breath. Dorian wiped the tears from his lover’s face and kissed him, long and slow and desperate.
“Thought you were mad at me.”
“So, fix it.”
“As you wish, kadan.”
Bull’s hands slid up Dorian’s thighs to his lower back, slipping underneath the myriad of belts to get to skin. His calloused fingers rubbed little circles on Dorian’s lower back, drawing a gasp from his throat. Dorian kept hold of Bull’s face, kissing him over and over. They didn’t move for a long time, just kissing and touching and letting the rest of the world fall away.
Eventually, though, Dorian got a bit impatient (as he was wont to do). His hands slipped from the stubble-covered jaw down to the leather straps. He had a lot of experience getting that harness off, so it took very little time. Bull, on the other hand, seemed content to slowly maneuver the belts and straps from Dorian’s body. Dorian bit Bull’s lip to get him to hurry up. Bull grumbled lightly in his throat and stole Dorian’s clever fingers, which were inching lower and lower to get into Bull’s pants. Bull laced their fingers together and took hold of Dorian’s attention with just his lips and tongue. Dorian couldn’t help but rock his hips forward, a silent plea for more.
Bull was stubborn and had plenty of self-control, though. Their fingers locked together, their lips and tongues clashing, and the tiny little rocking motion of Dorian’s hips was all that happened for several more long minutes. It was like Bull was deliberately taking things slow and gentle, which somehow, was exactly what Dorian wanted. They’d fucked all sorts of different ways: fast, slow, hard, rough, tied up, in various places around Thedas and Skyhold… But they hadn’t explored this… tenderness.
Finally, Bull released Dorian’s hands to remove the ridiculous number of belts around Dorian. Bull complained constantly about how much a pain in the ass it was to get Dorian naked, but his fingers made quick work of them. It wasn’t long before Dorian was bare-chested with his pants hanging low off his hips, his whole body pressed against Bull’s. Bull’s fingers explored the expanse of skin on Dorian’s back. Dorian moaned into Bull’s mouth. Bull’s arms wrapped around Dorian and he got to his feet, gingerly.
“Shit, your ankle…” Dorian lost focus.
“It’s fine, kadan.” Bull settled them both on the bed.
“It’s not.” Dorian slithered down the bed to get to said ankle. He tugged Bull’s boots off before helping get those ridiculous pants from his lover’s form (not that removing said pants was necessary for dealing with the old injury). He wanted to pay attention to Bull’s erection, but frankly, his ankle was more concerning. Dorian tried to help ease the pain from the old wound as often as he could. He rested his hands on either side of Bull’s ankle. A small touch of magic and heat emanated from his palms, seeping into the tissue and muscle and bone. Bull groaned a long note of pleasure. Dorian pressed a kiss to the joint and looked up at his lover.
Bull’s gaze was so tender, so gentle, that Dorian almost cried again. How he became such a sap, he wasn’t even sure, but Bull was just ruining his ability to pretend he didn’t feel emotions. He kissed Bull’s ankle again, a silent moment of gratitude for all the care Bull showed him, before crawling back up the bed. Bull rolled over, trapping Dorian beneath him with a fond smile. Dorian opened his mouth to make some witty comment, but Bull stole his lips. Dorian’s hands found Bull’s jaw again. Bull helped strip Dorian’s pants and boots off in short, sure motions, kissing whatever bit of skin his mouth was closest to.
“Amatus…” Dorian was groaning, but he wasn’t even sure what he was asking for anymore. This… whatever it was they were doing, it wasn’t their normal routine at all. They’d never been this… relaxed and gentle and affectionate. Yes, they cared about each other, but this was different… more. It was destroying any and all ability Dorian might have had to pretend he wasn’t madly in love with his Qunari.
“Shhh.” Bull’s kiss was enough to calm the edge. Dorian relaxed on the bed, touching and being touched in return. Bull’s erection pressed into his hip while his own erection was trapped against Bull’s thigh. But the need, the lust, was secondary to the desire, the passion. Dorian didn’t know how long they stayed there, just letting their hands relearn and explore each other. He adored every second of it. He discovered new places on his Qunari’s body. Bull’s ears were far more sensitive than most other places (something to utilize later) and his nipples were basically useless. Dorian, on the other hand, learned that his nipples were a live wire to his arousal. Bull was ticklish around his lower abdomen, right above his erection, and Dorian wasn’t ticklish anywhere on his torso. Bull had a scar that ran from his collarbone down to the bottom of his sternum and touching it with his tongue was the fastest way for Dorian to elicit a moan from his lover. Dorian, however, was quite vocal and it was absurdly easy to get noises out of him.
Dorian was aroused and desperate for more, but it was a muted desperation. He longed for more, but was so content with what was happening that he didn’t bother to fight to move on. Bull seemed to be of the same mind, because he didn’t seem willing to separate his body from Dorian’s long enough to get the oil. Eventually, though, the need became too much. Bull slicked his fingers up and Dorian spread his legs in anticipation.
“Fuck, kadan.” Bull murmured.
“What?” Dorian’s chest was heaving with desire.
“Do ya gotta do that?” Bull asked, gesturing at Dorian’s spread legs.
“It’s easier access.”
“It’s fuckin’…” Bull couldn’t find the right word and decided to kiss Dorian instead. It spoke of his arousal and desperation. Dorian loved every second. Bull’s fingers were slow to prepare him, following the tempo of their foreplay. And Bull kept kissing Dorian, keeping the harsh edge of lust at bay. Bull drew Dorian into the fond, affectionate desire with three fingers and his tongue. One of Dorian’s hands held tight to the back of Bull’s neck while the other searching blindly for the pot of oil. He spilled a bit, but managed to coat his hand. He reached down and found Bull’s hard length and stroked firmly. He wasn’t trying to tease or even get Bull off, but was trying to slick him up. Bull’s hips jerked at the touch, but otherwise, Bull had no reaction. He was intently focused on ensuring Dorian was thoroughly prepared.
Dorian rocked his hips forward and arched his back, trying to get more. He needed to be filled with Bull with a hunger he’d never felt before. Bull got the message and shifted between Dorian’s legs. Dorian hooked his knees on Bull’s hips. Bull guided himself into Dorian, pressing forward slowly, but firmly. Once Bull’s hips met Dorian’s, Bull froze, breathing heavily. Dorian wrapped his arms around Bull’s neck, clinging to him for dear life. Bull slipped his arms around Dorian, locking them together in a tight embrace. Dorian tilted his head so his lips could slot against Bull’s.
Bull’s hips rocked forward, putting intense pressure on Dorian’s prostate. Dorian whimpered into Bull’s mouth. Due to their position, Bull couldn’t properly pull out, but it didn’t really matter. The small, short thrusts he could manage were enough to satisfy Dorian’s lust. Dorian moaned and gasped for air while Bull stole kiss after kiss from Dorian’s lips. At some point, Bull’s face ended up in Dorian’s neck while Dorian’s head was thrown back. That was when Dorian finally heard it. Bull had always been talkative, no matter what their sexual adventures entailed. His voice was a catalyst for Dorian’s desire and Bull knew it well. But something had changed, because the only thing out of his mouth was a soft vow.
Bull didn’t seem to have the brain power for more than that. He kept saying it over and over again, swearing himself to Dorian with every repetition. Dorian didn’t think it was possible for him to feel anything more, but tears welled up at the pure love he felt from Bull.
“Amatus…” Dorian breathed. “I love you.”
Bull’s voice cracked and a whimper interrupted his mantra. Dorian said it again. Bull’s hips stuttered in their rhythm. It became a call and response.
“I love you.”
The words lost their meaning, but at the same time, meant more than anything else they had ever said to each other. Every iteration was more meaningful, more emotional, more. Dorian choked out a desperate “amatus” and tears ran from his eyes as his orgasm crashed over him, surprising him with its intensity. He’d been fucked thoroughly for the past year and yet every previous orgasm paled in comparison to the depth of pleasure he got from their lovemaking. Bull let out a soft sob when his own orgasm hit, not moments later. His entire body trembled against Dorian’s.
Neither one of them moved until the sweat cooled on their skin. Bull detangled his limbs from Dorian’s and pulled back far enough to look Dorian in the eyes. Dorian knew, without a doubt, that Bull felt the same thing he had, the same connection, the same love. It was both terrifying and astonishing at the same time. Bull touched their foreheads together for a long moment before pressing a gentle kiss to Dorian’s lips. Bull lazily cleaned up before dropping down on the bed. Dorian took the opportunity to entangle their limbs again, wrapping himself neatly around his Qunari.
“That one I’m willing to try again.” Dorian mumbled, sleepily. Bull huffed out a laugh, his fingers trailing aimlessly up and down Dorian’s spine.
“That’s gonna have to be one of the occasional ones.” Bull replied. “It’s too intense for every night.”
“Mm-hmm.” Dorian hummed his agreement.
“You’re forgiven.” Dorian lifted his head to steal a quick kiss before snuggling back down on his Qunari pillow. “G’night, amatus.”
“Good night, kadan.”
Every night they slept together, Dorian was able to fully relax. It was one of those things he was never going to tell Bull. But this time, he felt safe and loved in a way he’d never felt in his entire life. He wasn’t really tired, but the emotional toll of lovemaking kept him from remaining conscious for very long. When he finally slept, he was dragged into the dark, dreamless sleep that allowed for true rest.
Chapter 20: Too Much To Drink
“I’m trying to figure out where this conversation started from and it’s just all a blur.” Dorian might’ve been slurring, but he couldn’t really tell.
“Well, if you blur into demons, I’m gonna shoot you in the face.” Sera decided, swaying on her stool.
“If I blur into demons, I wouldn’t hold it against you.” Dorian decided.
“What are you two up to?” Bull’s warm presence at Dorian back made him smile. He leaned against his Qunari and tilted his head back. Bull kissed him obligingly and chuckled. “Ah, drinks and insults again.”
“S’fun when he’s not being all uppity and gold-shitting.” Sera was dangerously close to falling off her stool. Maybe she was getting dizzy.
“Is the room spinning for you?” Dorian asked.
“Jus’ a lil’.”
“Ha! Not for me yet!”
“Another drink!” Sera yelled in the direction of the bartender.
“Let’s not.” Bull interrupted. “Boss wants to see you, Sera.”
“Wha?” Sera was so not focused. Dorian snickered into his mug, which was unfortunately empty. And Bull wouldn’t let him have any more.
“Ellana. The Inquisitor.” Bull said slowly. “She’s looking for you. Go find her.”
“Piss!” Sera jumped off the stool with a surprising amount of grace and nearly face-planted into the dirt. Bull caught her from actually falling. She shoved back from him. “I can do it myself!”
“Sure thing.” Bull was amused. Dorian liked it when Bull was amused. It was adorable. A-dora-ble. A-Dori-Bull!
“We’re adoribull.” Dorian informed his lover.
“Sure, we are.” Bull was hiding a smile, Dorian could see it.
“Noooo…” Dorian tried to get Bull to follow him. “A-dori-bull.”
“Yep, you’re adorable.” Bull agreed. “Come on.”
“Noooo…” Dorian whined, letting Bull pull him to his feet. “You don’t understand, it’s clever. I’m clever.”
“Yes, you are.” Bull escorted Dorian to the staircase, probably to take him back to his room. It was a pretty nice room. But he still had no roof. It was very cold sometimes.
“No, amatus…” Dorian whined, looking at the stairs. “I don’t want to do stairs.”
“Not a problem, kadan.” Bull’s forearms tucked under Dorian’s shoulders and knees and hauled him into his arms.
“But I’m not done yet.” Dorian looked around. Now, the room was spinning. “Where’s Sera? I’ve got to insult her haircut…”
“She’s gone to see Ellana.” Bull replied, patiently. He carried Dorian up the stairs without any effort.
“Do you even know how bad her haircut is?” Dorian asked. “It’s like… kaffas.” Dorian lost his train of thought, instead focusing on trying to keep the room in one place. With Bull moving up the staircases, it wasn’t particularly easy. “Why isn’t the room sitting still?”
“Just give it a moment, kadan.” Bull kept walking. “The room will settle down.”
“Why’d I drink so much?” Dorian complained. “Sera makes me drink too much.”
“Sera makes everyone drink too much.” Bull agreed amiably.
“Why are you babying me?” Dorian narrowed his eyes at Bull’s face. It helped keep him from getting dizzy. “I’m just drunk, not incompetent.”
“Because, kadan, you were starting to loudly proclaim your appreciation for my dick in front of the entire tavern.”
Dorian shut up, trying to keep all those words in the right order in his mind. It took him a moment to figure out what the words meant.
“I did not!”
“You started explaining to Sera that the best part of having a Qunari lover was the fact that there was literally no way for my dick to not hit your prostate.” Bull sounded like he was quoting Dorian verbatim. It wasn’t fair. Dorian was drunk. He couldn’t keep up with Bull when he was impaired. Nothing about this was fair. “Life’s not fair, kadan.”
Now, Bull was reading Dorian’s thoughts.
“No, you’re speaking out loud.”
Dorian glowered suspiciously at his lover.
“Is Cole around?”
“No, Krem took him out when you and Sera started comparing sex with women to sex with men.”
“Oh, no!” Dorian tried to look over Bull’s shoulder to see the little nook that was Cole’s own. “Did I scar him? He’s so innocent!”
“You didn’t scar him. Krem got him out before you got too crude.” Bull kicked a door shut and Dorian realized he was in Bull’s room. Wonderful. He liked Bull’s room. It was very… Bull. It had gathered a pile of books next to the bed from all the nights Dorian spent there. Bull took Dorian and settled in his chair, holding Dorian close.
“I think I should give up my room.” Dorian decided, laying his head on Bull’s chest.
“After over a year of spending almost every night together, now you think we should share rooms?” Bull asked, a little amused. It wasn’t very nice to be making fun of someone who was intoxicated.
“Frankly, I would do better decorating than what you’ve got going on.” Dorian waved at the room at large.
“Most of your stuff is already here.”
“But not my bookshelves, ‘cause those books should not be piled on the floor.”
“I’ll get your bookshelves up here tomorrow.” Bull chuckled.
“You spoil me.” Dorian shut his eyes, focusing on the rhythmic beat of Bull’s heart.
“You were already spoiled by the time I got to you, kadan.” Bull pressed a kiss to Dorian’s head.
“You like spoiling me.”
“Aren’t I usually?”
“When you’re drunk, yes.”
“Rude.” Dorian leaned his head back to get another kiss from his Qunari. “I’m only tipsy.”
“You were loudly and proudly informing the entirety of the Inquisition how you won ‘Best Lover in Thedas because just look at who fucks me every night’ while using rude hand gestures to indicate me and my girth.” Bull informed Dorian.
Dorian took a long moment to process those words. He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be embarrassed or not.
“Is that why you made Sera go ‘way?” Dorian asked. “We were having fun.”
“Yes, kadan.” Bull’s hands were rubbing hot circles on Dorian’s exposed shoulder. “I was trying to save you from yourself. Though, I liked hearing how you really feel about me.”
“I’ve never lied to you!” Dorian was definitely slurring now.
“No, but losing the filter was good for my self-esteem.”
“You already have self-esteem.”
“Yeah, but now I have bragging rights that you’ve backed up.”
“I’m not drunk enough for this.” Dorian sat up and looked around, trying to spot if Bull had any alcohol hiding in the room.
“No, you’re not getting any more, kadan.”
“But, amatus…” Dorian was whining, but he didn’t care.
“Relax.” Bull said, soothingly. “I’ll get you some more when you wake up.”
“M’not sleepy.” Dorian flopped back against Bull’s chest. “You’re comfy.”
“You’re always sleepy when you’re drunk, kadan.” Bull chuckled. “Just relax. I’ve got you.”
Dorian complained a bit more, but Bull ignored him, just rubbing soothing circles onto his skin. Eventually, though, the alcohol did pull him into unconsciousness. That wasn’t the problem. Even the hangover wasn’t the problem.
The problem was that Dorian remembered everything.
Every lewd comment or suggestion he made to Herald’s Rest at large about his relationship with Bull (“I love him, do you know that? He’s so hot, isn’t he?”) to every absurd place they’d fucked (“Leliana is still mad that we upset the crows with all the screaming Bull was making me do.”) to the nearly poetic adoration of Bull’s physique (“His cock is bigger than my arm. It’s fucking fantastic!”). Dorian remembered every single word. And he knew those words were going to haunt him for the rest of his life.
He was still snuggled into a warm ball on Bull’s lap in the massive chair. Bull was yawning a jaw-cracking yawn and blinking sleep from his eye. Dorian figured it was too much to hope for his lover to not say anything. He couldn’t leave it alone even if he wanted to.
“Morning, kadan.” Bull noticed Dorian was awake.
“It’s morning already?” Dorian’s voice was thick with the syrupy lining of alcohol. He cleared his throat.
“You slept hard.” Bull kissed Dorian’s head. “But if you wanna sleep any more, we’ve gotta move to the bed.”
“Sorry.” Dorian winced, sliding off Bull’s lap and stretching gingerly. “You should’ve put us in bed.”
“Nah.” Bull took the opportunity to stretch himself. “You wouldn’t let me go.”
Dorian flushed, though he had no idea why. He’d done way more embarrassing things with Bull.
“It was cute.” Bull grinned. “But I’m gonna need a pick-me-up or something if I’m gonna be able to walk today. This chair is awesome, kadan, but not the best place to sleep.”
“Get on the bed.” Dorian ordered, trying desperately to forget everything he had said and done the night before. He wasn’t succeeding in the slightest. Bull grinned.
“I’m going to give you a massage, idiot.” Dorian rolled his eyes.
“Kinky…” Bull tentatively got out of the chair and flopped face down onto the bed.
“You’re insatiable, amatus.” Dorian shook his head fondly.
“This is true.” Bull agreed, voice muffled by the pillow. “Because I’m needy. And you’re not.”
Dorian rolled his eyes again. Bull had spent the better part of his time since that fateful fuck in the library (and no, they hadn’t done it again, as much as they both enjoyed it) trying to convince Dorian that he was, in fact, needier than Dorian. So far, Bull had yet to attempt anything Dorian wasn’t interested in, or even ask for sex when Dorian wasn’t in the mood. So, Dorian considered it a tie.
“We both know that’s a lie.” Dorian said, putting his hands on Bull’s ankle and letting the magic flow through his palms. Bull groaned into his pillow. Dorian took his time moving his hands over Bull’s body, letting his magic seep deep into the tissue of his back. Bull melted into a puddle of a Qunari, moaning the whole while. Dorian had to straddle Bull’s thighs to get a good position to get to the entirety of Bull’s back. Bull could actually give a legitimate massage, but Dorian was learning the technique while using his magic to intensify the sensations.
“Kadaaaaannn…” Bull groaned, completely boneless.
“Feel better, amatus?” Dorian was a bit smug, as he usually was when he was able to pleasure Bull. Bull groaned wordlessly in response. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.” Bull planted one hand on the bed and rolled over, grunting with the effort of moving. Dorian fell onto the bed and laughed. Bull shifted so he could get a good look at Dorian. He grinned, eye crinkling happily.
Dorian loved that look. Bull was more open with his emotions, so his smiles were a dime a dozen. Or so Dorian had originally thought. After careful examination (also known as obsession, because Dorian had a problem), Dorian discovered there were six distinct different smiles that his Qunari had. One was the Unamused Smirk. It was the one that Bull used when he wasn’t entertained in the slightest and was actually probably pissed about the situation. The second was the Amused Smirk. It was when Bull felt clever or that he had gotten the better of someone. The third was the Big Grin. It happened when Bull genuinely thought whatever had happened was funny. The fourth was the Fake Smile. Whenever Bull had to put on public appearances and be approachable, that smile came out. The fifth was the Genuine Smile. It occurred when Bull was just feeling happy. The sixth, and last, smile, was the one Dorian didn’t have a name for. He had only ever seen that smile when he and Bull were alone. The look was reserved for when Dorian had laughed or smiled first. Dorian wasn’t sure if it was Bull being amused by Dorian’s delight or if it was something deeper, more meaningful.
And it wasn’t like he could ask, because Bull would just say or do something ridiculous to change the subject. Still, it was Dorian’s favorite look on his Qunari.
“You’re adorable when you’re all smug.” Bull informed him.
“I am distractingly attractive.” Dorian sniffed, haughtily. “I’m not adorable.”
“That’s not what you said last night.”
Bull’s face widened into the Big Grin as Dorian flushed.
“I’m not sure what was said last night. I will never drink with Sera again.”
“You’re such a liar, kadan.” Bull stole a lingering kiss. “And a bad one at that.”
“I refuse to acknowledge that last night even happened.” Dorian cleared his throat.
“You can live in denial all you want.” Bull chuckled. “But I am so bragging about it.”
“You are not!”
“I promised you I’d not reveal any information about our relationship.” Bull kept stealing little kisses here and there and it was distracting. “But now that you’ve revealed things, I can freely go bragging about those things.”
“I didn’t reveal anything!”
“We both know that’s not true, kadan.” Bull chuckled.
Dorian brought his hands up to hide his face from the amused and knowing look from his lover.
“I was drunk. None of it counts.” He mumbled. Bull pulled his hands down to seal their mouths together in a long, lingering kiss.
“Don’t worry.” Bull touched his chin. “No one cares.”
“That somehow fails to make me feel better.” Dorian complained.
“Well, the only people who would dare tease you about it either weren’t there or are in this room.”
“Somehow I don’t think it missed Ellana’s notice what was said, even if she wasn’t there.” Dorian sighed.
“Well, if you want to avoid the entire Inquisition, I can think of several things that would occupy your time for a few days.” Bull was leering, which just succeeded in making Dorian laugh.
“I’m trying to decide if it would be better to face the music now or later.”
“Later.” Bull decided. “Definitely later.”
“You’re just saying that because you want some.”
“I want you to have some of this ‘amazing Qunari cock that was sent by Andraste herself to pleasure’ you.” Bull corrected. Dorian flushed.
“I didn’t say that!” He argued.
“Yes, you did.” Bull laughed. “Followed up by an extremely detailed description of said cock.”
“Why did you let me do that?” Dorian whined, less blaming and more just general complaining.
“I tried to get you to shut up three times.” Bull shook his head. He was wearing his Genuine Smile. It made Dorian want to smile back. “But you kept getting louder every time I tried to step in. Finally, I figured if I got rid of Sera, you’d pay enough attention to me for me to get you out of there.”
“Only about five minutes.”
“Fasta vass, I’m an idiot.”
“You’re fine, kadan.” If Bull kept kissing him, Dorian would seriously consider the “hiding in the room for a few days” plan. “Sera said way worse than you. And she was louder.”
“What could be worse than describing, in detail, how much I enjoy getting fucked on the war table?” Dorian groaned.
“Trust me.” Bull widened his eye. “It was worse.”
“What did she say?” Dorian had to know, now.
“No. If you don’t want people talking about you, you shouldn’t go around talking about others.” Bull tsked lightly.
“I’m a Tevinter mage in a relationship with a former Ben-Hassrath Qunari.” Dorian rolled his eyes. “Everyone talks about me no matter what I do. What did Sera say?”
“Let’s just say it was inappropriate.”
“You impossible man.”
Bull kissed him again, which was just not playing fair at all.
Not that it mattered, since Krem came knocking, reminding Bull about the training session he and Cullen had planned with the Chargers and the Inquisition soldiers.
“Stay right here.” Bull insisted, running his hands over Dorian in all the right ways, which was irritating since he was leaving. “I’ll be back.”
“I can’t stay here all day.” Dorian complained, arching into Bull’s touch. Bull trailed his lips down Dorian’s neck.
“Yes, you can.” He murmured. Dorian swallowed and tried not to get aroused.
“I’ve got… things…”
“If you stay here, I promise, I’ll make it worth your while.”
And Dorian’s mind went to all sorts of inappropriate places, which was exactly what Bull intended.
“If you leave me like this…” Dorian growled.
“I’ve got a great idea for later.” Bull was still letting his lips trailed over Dorian’s collarbone and neck and to that sensitive spot behind his ear… “But you have to stay here to get it.”
“I hate you.” Dorian breathed out.
“I know.” Bull’s lips smiled against Dorian’s skin. Bull pulled back and Dorian glowered at him.
“What happens if I don’t stay here?” He asked, watching Bull readjust his clothes and make sure he had everything he needed.
“You don’t like pain, but there are all sorts of non-painful punishments I can dish out, kadan.”
Okay, so Dorian’s mind went back into the gutter and based on Bull’s smirk, he knew it.
“What am I supposed to do all day?” Dorian whined as Bull made his way to the door.
“I’m sure you’ll think of something.” Bull grinned, opening the door on Krem’s bright red features. “You’re clever.”
“Later.” Bull pulled the door shut behind him with a smirk.
Dorian collapsed on the bed, hard and wanting and irritated.
“I hate that man.” He said to the room at large. It was a blatant lie, but it made him feel better.
Chapter 21: Bad News
It took three straight months of planning and negotiations and Ellana had finally decided that the Inquisition was prepared for the Exalted Council. Dorian scoffed at the name. It was as sanctimonious as only the Chantry could be. Dorian might have been Andrastian (though the knowledge that the elven gods existed was just… weird), but he hated how self-righteous people who claimed to be religious were. The Chantry was as bad as Tevinter in some ways, though they’d never listen to that logic, no matter how rational it was.
Ellana had been dealing with all sorts of stupid people who thought they could get in with the Inquisition either to spy for the Exalted Council or because they wanted to curry favor before the entire Inquisition was dissolved. Dorian tried to help her maintain her demeanor, even with all the idiotic things that were being said. No one knew what the Exalted Council was going to do, but Ellana had strong guesses.
“I always wondered how the Inquisition was so successful with how… distasteful your allies are.” The Orlesian man was a moron. Ellana was settled calmly in her seat, face blank as she listened to him prattle on. Most of the inner circle were lingering there. They had been instrumental in helping Ellana with the planning and negotiations.
“I apologize, for I’m afraid I don’t understand your meaning.” Ellana replied, politely. The man didn’t even hesitate, which was just showcasing how stupid he was.
“The Inquisition has allied itself with the Tevinter Imperium and the Qunari.” He continued. “It’s no wonder the Exalted Council wishes to dissolve your powers with such questionable tastes in friends.”
“I must apologize again.” Ellana’s face remained blank. Dorian could tell she was furious. “For I believe there’s been a misunderstanding here. The Inquisition has no such alliance with the Tevinter Imperium. In fact, the Inquisition has been instrumental in routing a particularly violent faction of Tevinter from Orlais and Ferelden. There was an attempt at an alliance with the Qunari, but that failed because the terms were not agreeable to the Inquisition. So, when you say I have them as allies, I have no idea what you mean.”
“I mean the Qunari and the magister right there.” The man snapped, impatiently, gesturing to Dorian and Bull.
“Well, you must be mistaken.” Ellana smiled at him. “The Iron Bull is a Tal-Vashoth mercenary, no longer part of the Qun, and the leader of Bull’s Chargers; I’m sure you’ve heard of them. And Dorian Pavus is not a magister. A mage, yes, but he denounced his role in the Magisterium. Do you also have a distaste for Dalish? I have not spent any significant time with any Dalish tribe in nearly three years. What about dwarves? Varric Tethras is one of the deshyrs of the Dwarven Merchant Guild. I would not make an enemy of him, no matter your… distaste of dwarves.”
“You mock me.” The man scowled.
“I do, indeed.” Ellana’s face lost the smile, remaining blank. “You have been misinformed, ser, if you think the Inquisition has made allies with the Tevinter Imperium or the Qunari. If I were able to make both groups my allies, then I would somehow have the ability to end the centuries-long war between them.”
“You have come to the Inquisition, offering your services to assist in the Exalted Council that is to occur in the near future.” Ellana interrupted. “And you managed to walk in and insult the individuals who saved my life on multiple occasions, the same individuals who helped save the world, who are also my personal friends. And you did this to try to prove… what exactly? That you’re better than my current allies?”
The man opened and closed his mouth several times as he struggled to find the appropriate words to speak.
“No, ser, I will not be accepting you into the Inquisition. Regardless of the future of this institution, I would not be accepting you in our ranks. You have shown a disturbingly large amount of disrespect for not only the Inquisition itself but also the members of the Inquisition. Given the frequency with which we interact with and encounter people from a variety of places and cultures, I cannot have any disrespect in my ranks.”
He kept opening and closing his mouth like a fish out of water.
“You are welcome to refresh yourself here. We have plenty of comfortable rooms which I’m sure you will find amendable to your… delicate sensibilities. We have an abundance of hot food, so you won’t have to go anywhere hungry. When you are rested enough, I have several mounts that you might borrow to help you get home. If there’s anything else you might need during your brief stay here at Skyhold, do not hesitate to ask Lady Montilyet. That is, assuming speaking with an Antivan doesn’t offend you.”
“Inquisitor!” The man finally found his voice. “You have no right to insult me!”
“On the contrary,” Ellana stood up, signaling the end of the conversation, “You’ve insulted me, my Inquisition, and my friends. I have every right to insult you.”
Ellana left her throne (which she hated calling it, but no one had a better name for it) and passed the man by, completely ignoring his protests. Dorian watched her get almost all the way out of the hall before the man lost it.
Ellana froze, mid-step. She turned to acknowledge the red-faced and furious man trying to push past the guards. She made a small hand motion and the guards released him to storm up to her.
“Now, listen here, you little bitch–”
“No.” Ellana’s calm demeanor was just upsetting him more. “You listen here, you little bitch.” He jerked back like he had been slapped. “When I’m up there, in that seat of judgment, I am the Inquisitor. I cannot speak for myself. I speak on behalf of the respect and trust of the entirety of the Inquisition’s forces. If you approach me here, now, know that I am merely Ellana. And Ellana is not polite or restrained.”
“I don’t care what your excuses are! You can’t just dismiss me out of hand because of some fucking foreigners!”
“I don’t know if you’ve forgotten,” Ellana replied dryly, “But we’re technically in Ferelden right now. You’re a foreigner here, too.”
“Do you even know who I am?!” He grabbed her arm tightly. The entire room froze. The guards only managed to not move by the calming hand Ellana held up. It was a near thing though, as every person in proximity to the moron was ready to tackle him to the ground.
“I’m going to give you this warning once: if you do not release me, you will regret it. Let go.”
“You can’t tell me what to do, fucking knife-ear whore!” The man snarled.
“Guardsman Stefan, you have heard my verbal warning, correct?” Ellana asked, ignoring the man holding her arm to look at the head of her personal guard at Skyhold. (Cullen wanted it himself, but Ellana convinced him that he had enough on his plate to be doing something as simple and silly as guarding her.)
“I heard, my lady Inquisitor.” Stefan was built like a human bear and was just as intimidating. Still, he stayed back from the grapple, but only because Ellana hadn’t given him permission to come closer.
“I’m not afraid of you. Your precious little Inquisition is going to crumble down and then you’ll be nothing.”
“The Inquisition and Skyhold can be dismantled brick by brick and I’ll still be more than you.” Ellana turned fierce eyes on the man. “I might be only a knife-ear, but at least I’m not a misogynistic, racist pig who can’t convince someone in power to like him enough to let him join a failing group. How you managed to convince the empress that you were important enough to send my way is a mystery to us all.”
The man flushed bright red.
“Ah, so Empress Celene didn’t send you, like you said.” Ellana chuckled. “What a shame. I was rather hoping you’d pull out the empress card so I could slap that down, too. I gave Celene her throne. She’s indebted to me, and she well knows it. So, I won’t face any repercussions for this.”
“For… what?” The man blinked.
“If you’ll look down for a moment,” Ellana smiled, “You’ll notice I have a knife buried in your balls.”
He noticed, because he instantly released his grip on her arm.
“That’s what I thought.” Ellana was completely unamused. “You come into my house, you insult my family, and you spit on my generosity in allowing you a place to stay, food to eat, and mounts to get home again. Now, you have one opportunity, and one opportunity only, to convince me that you don’t need to be singing soprano for the rest of your miserable life.”
The man spluttered, trying to find words, much less ones that made any coherent sense.
“Never mind.” Ellana stepped back and sheathed her knife. “You’re not worth the effort of cleaning your blood from the floor. Guardsmen!” Ellana gestured towards the man, who was promptly grabbed by three different guards. “Find him a nice comfy place to cool down in our dungeon.”
“What?!” The man struggled in their grip. “You can’t do this!”
“You just assaulted the Inquisitor in her main hall in front of a hundred witnesses.” Josephine spoke, for the first time. She, too, was calm. “You’ve quite severely harmed your own reputation beyond repair. We might not have the clout we had before, but the noble families of Thedas still honor our judgment. Be grateful the Inquisitor isn’t having you killed for your insolence, ser.”
The man was dragged from the hall and the room let out a sigh of relief.
“Ell, you’re absolutely batshit.” Dorian informed her, walking up to see if she was all right.
“He was insulting you.” Ellana shrugged. “I didn’t stand it from my own soldiers, why would I stand it from some Orlesian idiot?”
“Because I’m not that important.” Dorian argued. “Insults to me can be ignored for the benefit of the Inquisition.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.” Ellana smiled at him. “The Inquisition is stronger than any other country in Thedas, and every other country knows it. That’s why they want the Exalted Council so badly. They want to either destroy what we have or make us their servants.”
“Are they going to succeed, milady?” The crowd was still listening, and someone had thrown their voice into the conversation. Ellana glanced around, but focused back on Dorian.
“They don’t realize that our strength is in our diversity. We have people from all over the world, from all different cultures and races and backgrounds, and we are strong because of that. We became united for the purpose of saving the world and we succeeded. Nobody can take that away from us. We are all connected in this. And no Exalted Council can destroy that.”
Dorian couldn’t help the small smile.
“What are we going to do, milady?” Someone else asked.
“We are going to live on our own terms.” Ellana announced. “My inner circle has been working tirelessly with me to ensure that no member of the Inquisition will be abandoned, no matter what the Exalted Council decides.”
People whispered and muttered to each other, responding positively to Ellana’s declaration.
“Now, get back to work!” Ellana waved all the eavesdroppers away. She turned back to Dorian. “Dor, you’re the Tevinter Imperium’s ambassador to the Inquisition. I cannot allow anyone to insult you from a purely political perspective.”
“You’re not political.” Dorian reminded her.
“Okay, I didn’t do it for that.” Ellana rolled her eyes, already more expressive than she was when dealing with the Orlesian idiot. “I did it because you’re my family, and I don’t let people insult my family. So, shut up.”
“Yes, milady.” Dorian grinned. Ellana punched him lightly and then hugged him tightly.
“We’re going to make it through this bullshit.” She promised him. “If I have to go back into the Fade to do it.”
“Please don’t.” Dorian eyed the way she flexed her hand. She’d been struggling with the Anchor more and more as time went on. She never said anything, but Dorian could see how much it hurt her. “I’d have to go in the help you and I’d like to not have a repeat of Adamant Fortress.”
“Oh, fine.” Ellana took the teasing with a grin. Dorian couldn’t imagine what she was going through. “What do you have for me?”
“Well, I’ve managed to coerce a few stubborn circles to accept everyone I hadn’t gotten a placement for before. So, all the mages are taken care of.” Dorian looked over the list he had brought to her. “And it’s to the specifications you gave me. Several of the mages we have are pretty sensitive to circles, but Fiona has been talking about trying to start a College of Magi to try to push for reforms within the circles themselves, so I think everyone should be, at the very least, taken care of, if not happy.”
“Good.” Ellana looked over the list, carefully. “With all this Exalted Council crap, we won’t be able to keep them from circles anymore, but they should be allowed the opportunity to stand up for their beliefs.”
“Believe it or not, a few mages showed significant interest in Tevinter as a different option.” Dorian shrugged. “I made a few inquiries and gotten a few positions, but the majority all want to stay together. It took some brow-beating and Vivienne’s assistance to manage that.”
“Yeah, no circle wants to have a mass of mages who tried to revolt.” Ellana agreed. “But as long as everyone has a place to live and survive after this…”
“It’s taken care of.” Dorian nodded. “Finally.”
“Well, everyone else was easier.” Ellana shrugged. “Templars and soldiers and servants can go anywhere.”
“True enough.” Dorian looked her over again, taking in her clenched jaw. “Is there anything I can do to…?” He gestured wordlessly at her arm. Ellana shook her head with a tight smile.
“It’s fine, Dor.”
“It’ll be fine.” Ellana corrected. “Better?”
“As long as you’re sure…”
“I’m sure.” She took a deep breath. “Only a couple weeks until the Exalted Council.”
“We’re prepared.” Dorian assured her.
“Well, we have no choice.” Ellana chuckled humorlessly. “Either the Inquisition will be dissolved or we’ll have so much oversight we won’t be the Inquisition anymore.”
“Don’t worry, Ell.” Dorian smiled at her. “After all, a certain templar commander has been awfully secretive about what he’s gotten for you.”
“Wait.” Ellana froze. “He’s gotten something for me? What is it? Why?”
“I have only guesses.” Dorian was a bit smug, but he didn’t care. “And I’m sure the commander would be quite put out if I verbalized any of them.”
“Dorian!” Ellana whined. Well, at least she was smiling again. She’d been running the Inquisition for nearly three years and never lost her sense of humor, but the knowledge that she was responsible for all of her followers had taken its toll on her in recent months. Not even Cullen could help pull her out of her solemnity.
“I’ve said too much.” Dorian sighed melodramatically. “I do hope I haven’t ruined Cullen’s surprise.”
“Dorian! What did he get?!”
“Why don’t you ask him?” Dorian grinned.
“Fine!” Ellana turned on her heel and ran off, looking for her lover. Dorian chuckled.
“Ambassador Pavus?” Dorian turned to acknowledge the messenger. He was quite obviously from Tevinter just based on his clothes alone. He also stood stiffly, like he didn’t feel like he belonged in the room. Which, to be perfectly fair, he didn’t.
“Yes?” Dorian quirked an eyebrow at him.
“I have a message from the Magisterium for you, my lord ambassador.”
Dorian’s blood went cold.
He accepted the sealed letter from the messenger, blankly.
“Will you be requiring a response?” Dorian asked. Somehow, his voice didn’t sound like he was frozen or terrified.
“No, my lord ambassador.” The messenger bowed his head. “I shall be returning to Minrathous immediately.”
“Thank you.” Dorian said, politely. The messenger bowed again and disappeared from Dorian’s sight. Dorian just looked at the seal on the letter. He couldn’t move. The throng of people in the main hall moved around him, not noticing him at all.
“Kadan, are you all right?” Bull’s voice pulled Dorian’s vision from the wax seal. “What’s that?”
“That’s the seal of the Archon of the Magisterium.” Dorian’s voice sounded bland. “Something’s happened.” Bull put an arm around Dorian’s shoulders and eased him from the main hall, trying to get him some privacy. Dorian didn’t realize he had been taken up to his little nook in the library until Bull settled him in his chair.
“Do you want me to read it, kadan?” Bull asked, softly. Dorian shook his head. He didn’t make a move to open the letter, though. Bull’s warm hands touched his cold ones, halting his trembling. Dorian took a deep breath and broke the seal, trying to ignore the sense of foreboding that filled him. The message was short and to the point.
“My father is dead.”
“I’m still his heir.”
Dorian looked up at Bull, finally meeting his gaze.
“I’m a magister now.”
Chapter 22: We Need To Talk
“What do you mean ‘you’re leaving’?”
Dorian was crying. Over the death of his father (he didn’t even know he still felt things for the man), over the ending of the closest thing to home he’d ever had, over the fact that there was only one option left to him and it meant ripping his heart apart. He had gotten a second missive from one of his friends still in Tevinter, explaining the entire situation leading to his father’s death, and Dorian realized he didn’t really have a choice. He had to go home.
“I mean,” Dorian was trying not to fight with Bull, “My father was assassinated. He kept me as his heir to his seat to the Magisterium. I have inherited that seat and am now a magister. Magisters have responsibilities in Tevinter. There are meetings and votes and politics. I have to go to Minrathous to formally be seated. Then I have to go settle my father’s estate in Qarinus.”
“Okay.” Bull took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He had helped Dorian back to their room to keep others from seeing the heartbreak Dorian was going through. It was there when Dorian told Bull that he had to leave. “How long will that take?”
Dorian felt his heart break all over again.
“Amatus, I am a magister now.” He tried to swallow past the lump in his throat. “I have to stay in Tevinter most of the time.”
Bull nodded slowly, eye unfocused and brow furrowed as he took in that information.
“So, what should we do about me?” He asked. “I can’t hide that I’m Qunari, even if I didn’t have horns.”
Dorian’s brain caught up with the implications and the shattered remains of his heart stuttered to a stop.
“No, you can’t come with me.” Dorian was begging and he felt utterly pathetic.
“I’m not letting you walk into that viper pit alone.” Bull frowned, looking at Dorian sharply. “I know exactly what horrors wait you there.”
“I won’t be able to keep you safe, amatus.” Dorian shook his head.
“This isn’t about me, kadan.” Bull stepped forward and touched Dorian’s face. “Tevinter tried to destroy you. You can’t go back there alone. I won’t let you.”
“There’s no other option.” Dorian shook his head. “I still have friends in Minrathous. I won’t be alone.”
“What about us?” Bull asked. His face contorted in pain for a moment before he schooled his features. Dorian hated that Bull felt like he had to hide himself. He felt like an ass.
“I can travel to Orlais every few months or so.” Dorian’s voice was thick.
“You’re leaving this.” Bull’s chest heaved with some unnamed emotion. He took a few unsteady steps back from Dorian.
“I have to go back.” Dorian tried to explain, trying to see through his tears.
“You told me you would never leave me.” Bull’s voice sounded angry. Dorian flinched like he had been hit.
“I might be physically separated from you, amatus.” Dorian swore. “But I will never leave you.”
“Kadan, you’re telling me that you’re walking away from everything to go back to a place that tried to destroy you in every possible way and that I can’t go with you?!”
“It’s too dangerous, amatus.” Dorian was so exhausted from the argument and his head throbbed, but this was one thing he couldn’t give in on. He would not put Bull in danger. He couldn’t.
“I am a Tal-Vashoth mercenary.” Bull reminded him. “My life is danger.”
“Not this kind of danger.” Dorian argued. “No magister could get away with hosting a Qunari in Minrathous, not even one who was well-respected and liked, which I’m not.”
“What about as a slave?” Bull suggested. “I’m a former spy. Pretending is my life.”
“Is that what you want?” Dorian snapped. “To be seen as less than and treated like trash while we’re in Tevinter? If anything improper were to happen around you, I’d be forced to punish you just to save face. I can’t do it, amatus. You might be able to handle that, but I certainly can’t. You’re my amatus. How am I supposed to do that to you?”
“If we want to be together and you want to be in Tevinter, that’s our only option, kadan.” Bull pointed out.
“As you’re so fond of telling me, I’m a horrible liar.” Dorian reminded him. “There’s no way I’d be able to convince anyone that you’re anything less than my amatus. And people will know. You’ll be targeted by every idiot who wants to take a shot at me. And, considering my father was murdered for some of the shit I’m trying to accomplish, there’ll be no shortage of people trying to kill you to get to me.”
“All the more reason for me to be there with you!” Bull argued. “I’m a former spy. I know exactly how assassinations go down! I can help you, kadan.”
“Amatus, I can’t keep you safe in Tevinter.” Dorian couldn’t stop the frustrated tears from leaking as his throat closed up. “And I can’t watch you die.” His voice broke on the last word.
“I don’t need to be kept safe.” Bull argued, though his voice was a bit gentler. “Why do you even want to go back there? Everything about that place tried to destroy who you are.”
“Because there are others. Other people who have to suffer the way I did. Because my country can be fixed. Because someone murdered my father for daring to think and act outside the lines and if I don’t do anything, they’ll win.”
“You would rather go back to that… mess, back to the Game, which I know you hate, than stay with me?” Bull’s voice was starting to crack. Dorian kept crying, trying to fight past the tears.
“I’m not a mercenary.” Dorian pointed out. “I’m not a Charger. And, how would that work? You’d hold my safety over anyone else and over whatever job you had. That’s not good business. You’re the Iron Bull, leading Bull’s Chargers, the best mercenary band in southern Thedas. Who am I? I’m… a magister. Who else am I?”
“You’re my kadan.” Bull took Dorian’s face in his hands. “You’re Dorian Pavus. You’re so gentle and kind and thoughtful and your country is going to destroy you. It already tried once. It almost succeeded. Don’t give it a second chance.”
“I don’t have a choice.” Dorian murmured.
“Yes, you do.”
“If I don’t go, Tevinter will always be as corrupt and horrible as it is now.” Dorian shook his head. “I can fix it. I know I can.”
“I’m never alone anymore.” Dorian pulled Bull’s head down to press their foreheads together. “No matter where I am, you’re always with me.”
“Remember when we were in the Fade and I told you to get out first?” Bull whispered. Dorian hummed in acknowledgment. “You said that you didn’t know if you could forgive me for that.”
“Back at’cha, kadan.”
“I know.” Dorian took a deep shuddering breath. He had to continue before he lost his nerve. “If you want to… end this…”
“Don’t go there.”
“Please, just tell me.” Dorian finished, pulling back to look at Bull’s face. “I won’t hold it against you. I just… need to know.”
“You’re my kadan.” Bull replied, gruffly. “That can’t be taken back. We agreed: we’re stuck with each other until we die.”
“If you need to have… someone else,” The words were poison on Dorian’s tongue, “I… understand that need.”
“Okay, we need to be perfectly clear on some things right fucking now.” Bull looked into Dorian’s eyes, solemnly. “If this is what you feel like you have to do, fine. I hate that you won’t let me come with you, but I get it. But we’re stuck together, kadan. And the first thing we agreed on was that we’re monogamous. I don’t care how far away you go, I’m not fucking around.”
Dorian almost burst into tears again. It wasn’t fair how perfect Bull was. He breathed deeply and touched their foreheads together again.
“I have something for you, amatus.” He muttered.
“Were you waiting to see if I’d leave you before giving it to me?” Bull teased lightly, but it fell a bit flat.
“I’ve had it for a while now.” Dorian admitted. “I don’t know why I haven’t given it to you by now.”
Bull stole another kiss which felt far too much like coming home. Dorian managed to wrest himself from Bull’s grasp (not an easy feat on the best of days and even worse when they just had a fight) and dug through one of the dressers Bull had brought up when he moved in. When he turned around, Bull was leaning on his chair, watching him patiently. The sight was so pleasant that Dorian just wanted to watch him for a while.
“Sorry.” Dorian shook his head and handed over the half of a dragon’s tooth. Bull’s entire form completely froze, staring at the unoffending necklace like it was going to explode. His eye flickered to Dorian’s hands, where the other half of the tooth sat. He didn’t say anything though. And it was driving Dorian mad. “It’s not a big surprise, amatus. I mean, we’ve been together nearly two years.”
“Yeah, but…” Bull finally looked at him. “How’d you know?”
“How’d he know?”
“No idea.” Dorian shrugged. “Frankly, I wasn’t sure if he was even accurate, but I figured he couldn’t be too far off.”
“How long have you had this?” Bull asked.
“Remember the Highland Ravager?”
“In Emprise du Lion.” Bull nodded. “That was a while ago, kadan.”
“Hence why I’ve been holding onto it for so long.” Dorian pointed out. “We had hardly been together long enough to justify such a gift.”
“So, why’d you keep the tooth?”
Bull grinned as Dorian faltered.
“You’ve been in love with me a long time, kadan.”
“Oh, shut up.” Dorian felt himself flush, which was just ridiculous, considering how long he’d been with Bull (at this point, he just assumed he lost all sense of shame).
“I’m still upset about this whole returning to Tevinter thing.” Bull pointed out, clasping the necklace around his neck. Dorian couldn’t figure out what to pay attention to: his pride and joy at having Bull wear that damn tooth or the hurt and frustration at Bull’s words. “But we’ll figure it out.”
“We will.” Bull took Dorian’s half of the tooth and secured it around his neck with a small smile. “After all, you’ve just tied us together in the only way the Qunari know how.”
“Are you saying we’re Qunari married?”
“Qunari don’t have marriage.” Bull reminded him. “But this is the closest thing to it.”
“Yes, we’re Qunari married.”
Bull laughed and pulled Dorian into a scorching kiss that left him breathless.
“We’re going to survive this.” Bull promised. “Even if I have to go into Tevinter and drag you home myself.”
“I’ll be home.” Dorian pointed out. “Tevinter is where I was born and raised.”
“Home is where the heart is.” Bull reminded him. “So, if I’m not there, it’s not home.”
Dorian couldn’t help the exasperated and fond smile.
“Since we’re Qunari married now, and you’re leaving soon, we should probably have a honeymoon.” Bull said thoughtfully.
“We can’t go anywhere, amatus.” Dorian rolled his eyes. “We’ve got the Exalted Council and–”
“I mean the sex part, kadan.”
“We’ve got things to do right now.” Dorian argued. “I’ve got to get things settled so I can return to Tevinter and I have to send a message to my mother. Not least of which is I have to get my hands on some sending crystals, which is not easy to do, and that’s going to take some time, because if we’re going to be separated, I sure as shit am not doing it without any form of communication with you, besides which–”
Bull really shouldn’t have been as persuasive with his kisses as he was.
It was hours later, when both of them were deliciously naked and sprawled in a sweaty heap over the bed, that Dorian realized he’d been manipulated again.
“You’re impossible.” He informed his lover with a contented sigh.
“You love it.” Bull chuckled.
“That’s entirely beside the point.” Dorian complained. “I have things to do.”
“And those things involves you, me, and our cocks, with a few orifices thrown in there.”
“You don’t think we’ve done enough with our cocks and orifices?”
Dorian lifted his head to look at Bull, judging how serious he was. (He was completely serious.)
“Hey, kadan, what’s a sending crystal?”
Dorian tried to figure out the non sequitur and just got a headache.
“A sending crystal is this stone, it looks like a ruby, and it can be used to communicate with a matching stone instantly.” Dorian explained. “If you’re in Val Royeaux and I’m in Minrathous, we will be able to have a conversation with the sending crystals like we’re in the same room.”
“Wait, seriously?” Bull blinked. “No magic, right?”
“I’m not entirely sure the origins of said crystals, though I assume, based on my country’s uncanny ability to pilfer ideas and artifacts from elves, it’s probably an elven relic. Yes, it’s a magical artifact, but it doesn’t require any form of magic to use.”
“So, I just talk to the stone and you answer?” Bull looked both intrigued by the possibility and also unconvinced that it was actually a thing. “Why isn’t this everywhere?”
“Because there’s only a handful of pairs of them that anyone has ever found.” Dorian sighed. “They have a sigil inscribed on them to show which crystals go together. And they’re not well-advertised. Most sending crystals that have been found don’t have a matching pair. You have to have a lot of influence or power to be able to get a matching pair.”
“So, how are we going to get them?” Bull asked.
“Well, my father has one.” Dorian paused. “Had one. It’ll be in his personal effects. My mother will send it to me without question, since I’m the new head of our house. So, I only have to find the match.”
“Where do we look?”
Dorian looked over Bull for a long moment.
“I’m not sure.” He admitted. “I’ll have to do some research on the sigil on the one my father has. Plus, I’m not entirely sure how the stones themselves work, so I have to figure that out, as well.”
“Well, I’m pretty big and threatening. Let me know who I need to persuade to give us the matching pair.”
“People won’t just give up a sending crystal!”
“They will if I’m there.”
“I’m big and have an even bigger axe. People give me what I want.”
“And you say I’m spoiled.”
“I never said I wasn’t.” Bull grinned, his hands running down Dorian’s body to reach interesting places. “You spoil me, kadan.”
“I thought you were spoiling me.”
“Who said we can’t do both?”
“You’re not tired yet?” Dorian chuckled at the roaming hands.
“I’m not going to have you every single time I feel like it anymore.” Bull shrugged. “I gotta get it while I can.”
Bull was very persuasive when he wanted to be.