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Dorian stakes his claim on the nook in the library that gets the sun. He drags a chair to it when no one is looking, a table a little later. Makes it as much like home—the home he remembers from his childhood—as possible. It's almost perfect, save for the squawking of Leliana's birds and the slight draft through the casement and the constant slight drone of soldiers below and—well. It has a window. And the chair is comfortable. And the books, the books mostly make up for the detractors.

He makes his space there, travels regularly from his room, to his chair, to a spot at the Herald's Rest. He makes eye contact with the Bull, frowns and looks away when the Bull winks and flexes his chest. Can't help but remember the way he spoke of conquering in the Western Approach, deep voice rumbling like thunder across the sands, rubbing Dorian's skin raw. He hadn't been able to look away from those big hands then, the way they'd wrapped around the handle of his axe or reached out to stop the Inquisitor's slide down a cliff.

Dorian drinks his beer, feels it warm him from the inside out. Refuses to think of the pursuit of forbidden things. Heads to his room—where the fire is kept stoked—alone.

In Skyhold, this is his routine. Room and nook and tavern, room and nook and tavern. Some nights he is joined by Varric at his table, some nights Sera, some nights the Bull. Some nights Cole even creeps down to sit beside him, his eyes watchful. He is, really, rarely alone. There are cards and drinking and lewd jokes, stories no one should believe. Questions from Cole that make him feel too young and too old, and Bull's eyes on him across the table, surprisingly sharp for the amount of alcohol he's consumed.

When the rest are gone, they don't talk, not any more than they already do. But the Bull's hand—his large, rough hand—finds its way to Dorian's thigh and Dorian's entire body thrums, a string plucked as though he is an instrument being tuned. The Bull grins at him, and Dorian flushes, blames the beer and the nights and the way he feels raw in the face of finding a home. He shakes himself, but follows the Bull when he gestures to the door, calls good night to his men. Dorian follows him to his room, heart racing, prick stirring.

Perhaps he has been waiting to be conquered.

The Iron Bull is always larger up close than Dorian remembers, his mind trying to make the sheer size of him make sense by narrowing him down. When he crowds Dorian against the door, there's no way for Dorian to escape it. The Bull is enormous; his shoulders make Dorian weak in the knees. He smells like leather and wood, metal and sweat. He gives off heat like an oven, and when he touches Dorian, Dorian feels something within him ignite until it's a blur of sensation: the wet heat of mouths, the rough tug on fastenings and ties; the rub of callouses and a clever tongue; the sound of the Bull's voice—a commander's voice—reaching in, reaching deep, breaking Dorian apart with the sound of his name.

There had been no bindings that night, the Bull explaining later they had both been too inebriated for that particular first. He'd tied Dorian in knots in other ways, though, left him shaking and spent. Told him he could leave whenever he was ready. Dorian had nodded, half-asleep, basking in the feel of the Bull's palm against the small of his back.

Had left in the early morning light, the chill at its sharpest, the Bull asleep.

Room, nook, tavern.

Room.

He can hear Skyhold breathing around him, creaking and growing and filling with life. The stones are cold beneath his palms, the fire crackles in the grate. If he pulls his chair close and stretches his feet toward it, he can almost ward off the persistent chill. He smells wood and stone and dust, the ages settling around him.

Nook.

For a library, it’s remarkably loud: Leliana's birds screeching above him, Solas muttering below. Mother Giselle tutting when she passes. (He resists the urge to stick his tongue out at her behind his book, but only barely.) He cracks the window beside him, for the clarity the mountain air brings, the way it clears his head. He breathes deep, smells paper and leather and stone, always stone. The familiarity of academia grounds him.

Tavern.

Loud and boisterous, music playing. Cards and laughter and lewd jokes. The Bull roaring about dragons and fire and some redhead he met years ago who could do things with their tongue that—well, you wouldn't believe him. There's a comfort, here, in the light and the noise and the beer, and when the Bull beckons him over, Dorian goes. He sits close. Smells leather and sweat and skin, remembers their night together. Wouldn't mind showing off his own tricks with his tongue.

They don't talk about the way he left, the Bull doesn't mention it when they're alone. Only backs Dorian up against his door again, the wood hard against his back, the Bull hard against his front. One hand wraps around both of Dorian's wrists easily, pins them above his head until he feels stretched, open. Caught.

He minds it less than he thought, shivers when the Bull says his name, deep, resonating in the space between them. Swallowing hard, he meets the Bull's gaze. Licks his lips. His clothes feel too tight, his skin too—

"Bull," he says, his own voice gone rough. He sounds, already, embarrassingly desperate.

But the Bull doesn't tease. Doesn't raise an eyebrow or pull away or laugh at the naked look Dorian knows must be on his face. He presses forward, kisses Dorian deep, lips and teeth and tongue. Leaves him breathless. Talks to him—all monitored tones, all control—about safe words and rules.

Dorian takes it all in, nodding his agreement. Licking his lips again—the Bull follows the movement, his eye gone hot and dark—he offers his own. The Bull nods, agrees. Proceeds.

They grab at each other, push and pull and bite and bruise. They swear and goad, laugh and groan. The Bull's never been with a mage before, and Dorian is skilled in his own way, shows him what he's been missing. The Bull groans and arches, muscles flexing. Gives Dorian an inch before he flips them, pins him down, binds his wrists and spreads his thighs. Big hands on Dorian's ass and Dorian is hungry for it, aching. His cock leaks on the sheets below and he swears in Tevene, the Bull's laugh rumbling through him like thunder. He was afraid of storms as a boy; he's ready to weather this one.

The Bull spreads him open, knows just how to apply his lips, when to apply his tongue. He plays Dorian like an instrument, tuning him, listening to him sing, finding the right notes and chords until Dorian's muscles are taut and humming, until Dorian is pushing back against him mindlessly, wanting—badly—so much more.

He comes—hard—one of the Bull's big hands wrapped around his cock, Bull's tongue thrusting deep. His own fingers tear at the sheets, the fastenings around his wrists tight enough to feel but not enough to hurt.

He almost gives himself a headache.

Time is lost after that. He remembers slight pain, a pleasurable stretch, gentle rocking that increased faster, harder, faster. The Bull's hands on his hips, his shoulders, his neck. His chest pressed to Dorian's back as he whispers things that should never be repeated in Dorian's ear. He is hot, encompassing, enveloping.

Almost overwhelming.

Dorian swears, mutters, yells many things in the Bull's room, but not the safe word, not that. The Bull reads him like one of the books Dorian surrounds himself with, easily, skimming some passages while going back to read others over and over and over...

He's not sure how many times he comes that night. At least twice. Possibly three times. He doesn't want to leave the confines of the Bull's bed where it is warm and smells of both of them. The Bull shifts and Dorian rocks, feels adrift upon a sea that—for once—does not make him feel unbearably small.

"Stop moving," he says, not opening his eyes. "I'll get sea-sick."

The Bull laughs, the sound rumbling, rolling through Dorian. "You didn't complain when I moved earlier."

Dorian blushes, refuses to acknowledge it or the comment. Instead he huffs and burrows deeper into the bed clothes.

He wakes in the early morning hours, the sky still dark. The Bull snores softly beside him, his big body giving off heat, so much heat. Dorian's heart does...something. He forces himself up, swings himself out of the bed. Shivers in the cooler air of the Bull's room. Dressing in the dark, he finds himself hesitating when he can't immediately find his smallclothes, decides to leave them. Perhaps, later...

They're with the Inquisitor when the Bull mentions it. She's bent over some black lotus in the Exalted Plains, her hair shining in the sun. Dorian's trying to enjoy it—the blue sky, the warmth—but flies buzz at his ears and the stench of smoke lingers in the air. He's felt the Bull's eyes on him as they journey, when not engaged in combat (and, sometimes, even then). He's felt his eyes, known he was being watched, looked himself only when he knew that gaze was elsewhere. He can still feel the Bull's hands on his skin, the Bull's fingers and mouth taking him apart.

"So, Dorian," he says, "about last night."

Dorian sighs, pretends his stomach hasn't dropped to his feet, that his heart isn't racing. He isn't...ashamed, exactly, but he doesn't...He doesn't know what he and the Bull are doing, if they're doing anything. He enjoys the sex and, judging by the enthusiastic way the Bull says, "Three times!" (ah, so it was three, not two) and the way he's pressed Dorian to various surfaces, so does the Bull. But that doesn't mean...anything. In Tevinter, this is all it would be. Sex and bodily gratification.

But Dorian can't stop watching the Bull. Can't deny, though he tries, that his pulse jumps when he falls to one knee in battle, that something like relief floods Dorian when the Bull pushes himself back up.

Varric is flat out staring at them. The Inquisitor is practicing her side-eye.

Dorian huffs and decides to ignore them all. Decides that he will not be returning to the Bull's quarters when they are back in Skyhold, thank you very much.

Denies the way his pulse races when the Bull steadies his stumbling feet after a skirmish, his big hand hot and enveloping on Dorian's shoulder.

He heads to his quarters as soon as they're back. It's dark already and he's tired, his feet aching. He lights the fire and waits for it to burn the chill away. Decides he needs a book and heads to his nook, runs his fingers over the spines, remembers the Bull's fingers running over his own. From the window, he can see the tavern, the lights glowing their welcome. Above, there's a light burning in the Bull's quarters.

He isn't going to go, as much as he's tempted. He isn't. The Bull is loud and lewd and annoying. He enjoys fighting dragons, so he's clearly deranged.

But he's also...he's also...Maker, help him, the Bull looks at Dorian like he knows him, touches him like he's certain of the kind of man Dorian is. He makes Dorian feel like things can't be all bad with the Bull at his back. He leaves Dorian breathless and confused and happ—

Dorian knocks on the Bull's door, three times. The Bull's voice calls out, and when Dorian swings the door open, the Bull's mouth curves into a smile, his eye dark and warm. "Dorian," he says, and Dorian shivers. Steps over the threshold.

Closing the door behind him, he slides the bolt home.