Dorian just didn’t understand what could have caused the way Maxwell had recently been shying away or playing coy when he attempted to flirt with him as they usually did. Dorian had no idea what he could have done to upset him, but perhaps he hadn’t done anything at all. Perhaps this was just the end and Max had simply grown bored of whatever lark he had been playing at. Maybe the taboo of the situation -The Herald of Andraste and The Evil Magister, such a scandal - had finally worn off and with it, Max’s amusement. Dorian had never really been worth the risk of the great Inquisitor’s reputation had he? So it was only natural that now that the Inquisition was gaining popularity and scrutiny that it’s leader would be looking into insuring it’s continued look of prestige and respectability – something Max wouldn’t be able to maintain if their little trysts were discovered and made public.
It could never have lasted. Even with Max’s sweet, whispered words, part of Dorian had known that – part of him had heard them for the lies they were. Pretty, of course, but lies nonetheless. Even though he had tried to shove that voice of reason away and began to hope beyond hope that he had finally found… but it didn’t matter. No. Now it was just a waiting game until the inevitable fallout Dorian could see coming with all the certainty of a barreling Archdeamon.
Yet, Maxwell seemed content to let the awkwardness simply hang around both of their necks, weighing them down. It irritated Dorian more than he could stand. So Dorian started to become more and more lavishly seductive and over-the-top every time they spoke to one another, just to be spiteful. Each day Max showed every sign of growing more agitated, but always seemed to conveniently remember some previous engagement he needed to urgently attend to before he reached the breaking point, stomping away red-faced. It was cowardice, plain and simple and it was driving him mad.
But then that little voice of reason had to come back and been an annoying, pretentious twat again, telling Dorian that perhaps Maxwell wasn’t the only one being a coward. Because the longer Dorian let this drag on, the longer Dorian wouldn’t have to be alone and wouldn’t have to admit that he had given away his heart, only to have it crushed again. The thought was like a bucket of cold water, putting out all the heat of his petty bravado. And though house Pavus had always stood for pride, Dorian had long ago decided to stand for something more important than that – he had chosen to stand for truth.
And he would have it tonight, whether Maxwell wanted to admit it or not. Dorian was done pretending.
Somehow, standing for truth found Dorian sneaking about the corridors of Skyhold after dark like a criminal. It was a juxtaposition that had him thinking to turn back every step he took, until he found himself standing before the Inquisitor’s quarters. He was still sorely tempted to retreat with his tail between his legs. Still, he knew he deserved answers.
Squaring his shoulders, Dorian sent a quick flick of fire through the door’s lock with minimal effort and threw open the door, sauntering in like he owned the room, with his head held high.
What he saw wasn’t what he was expecting. Then again, he was sure most people wouldn’t expect to see the Holy Herald of Andraste fisting his cock, with two of his own fingers up is arse, eyes clamped shut and muttering filthy things to himself in Tevene. Dorian took a moment to wonder why he was speaking Tevene, before wondering where he had heard such raunchy turn-of-phrases. Then he became more distracted by the fact that Max was only minimally unclothed and that that somehow added to the wonderful debauchment of what he was viewing – Max’s breeches were tugged about halfway down his shins, but otherwise, he was still dressed.
Dorian knew that he should have made himself known by now, but he had become mesmerized. The fact that Maxwell hadn’t reacted to his coming in, just proved how far into his own world he was. He was about to reach out for his lover, when a particular string of words brought him up short.
“Amatus… consobrino… te adoro.”
And well… that wasn’t what he was expecting to hear either. “What?” The word of confusion was out of his own mouth before he could think to censure himself.
Max’s eyes flew open wide, a look of instant horror overtaking him as he saw Dorian. He yelped, pulling his hands from himself and scrambling to jerk his pants back up. He sat up like a shot, face a molted red in mortification. "What the fuck are you doing in my room?!"
"I..." Dorain felt a little light-headed. He took in a quick breath to steady himself. "I came to tell you that we need to talk."
The look Max gave him at that was deadpan, clearly showing what he thought of the dubious sentence. "I don't... I don't have anything to say." His shoulders slumped and he suddenly seemed to find the far wall extremely interesting. "Whatever you have to say, just say it."
A flare of anger shot through Dorian, until he noticed that Maxwell's hands were shaking. Max seemed to notice it as well and moved to clench his hands into the sheets, suddenly sneering at the wallpaper like it had personally offended him. "Is... is this-" Dorain flicked his wrist in a general motion, talking slowly, haltingly. "What has been pulling you away?" He licked his own lips in apprehension. "I thought you wanted to... separate."
"No!" The reaction was visceral, Max grabbing his wrist and holding on like a drowning man. Now that he was looking into Dorian's eyes, Dorian could see some of his own confusion and fear mirrored there. "Please! I'm sorry! I'll stop! Don't leave me! I'll never do it again! I promise!"
"Never do what?" Whatever platitude Max was going to say next halted on a hiss of breath, his mouth clicking shut audibly, as Dorian made the all-encompassing gesture again, with his free arm. "Because I'm not entirely sure what this is."
The hold on Dorian's arm snapped away so fast, it was as if Maxwell had been struck. Both of Max's hands flew to cover his own face, a small reedy noise escaping between the cracks of his fingers. Shame was roiling off of Max in waves so heavy it almost bowled Dorian over.
The silence in the room stretched on for several minutes and where normally Dorian's fight-or-flight instinct would have had him rambling sarcastic quips by now, he instead felt rooted to the spot, unable to talk pass the sudden lump in his throat.
When Maxwell finally did speak, still hiding behind his own hands, his voice was so shattered Dorian felt the tears that been prickling behind his eyes for weeks now well to the surface. "Do you remember when you said it? That we are..." He stopped, obviously unable to force the next word out.
Dorian sat on the edge of the bed and placed a hand on Maxwell's shoulder - he felt the flinch it earned him before he saw part of the tension melt out of his lover's shoulders. "Cousins?" He supplied gently. And suddenly the tension was back under his hand twofold.
Dorian waited a moment before realizing that no other information was forthcoming. He sighed in exasperation and tried to recall what exactly had been said on the matter. "I told you we were distantly related. You joked that it might make flirting awkward and I said it depended what side of the family you were- oh." The realization struck though him like a lightning blot.
"Indeed." The word sounded almost too loud and sure in the all of a sudden quiet room. Slowly Max's hands slid from his face, showing a shoddily crafted mask of neutrality, his eyes trained on Dorian's with something like a challenge. "My mother and father were cousins too, you know. It's the Trevelyan tradition, has been for ages - it's in the blood they say." If the self-deprecating smirk were anything to go by, he found the last part to be some kind of dark, morbid joke. "You see, maintaining control of a city-state like Ostwick can be difficult business if you don't know who has your back. The Free Marches don't have a central government, so everyone's always trying to rock the boat for power or attempting to subtlety sabotage their neighbors. My father instilled in all of us from an early age that if any of his children were to marry, the people we chose had to be connected to us, they would have to be safe, preferably lucrative options and if they were actually our blood relations and therefore able to keep our assets in the family entirely, then all the better."
Of course Dorian had heard of such off-branch noble houses participating in such things, but it had always been something not quite real, as he had never actually seen it first-hand. In Tevinter, interbreeding was solely for outlier families to maintain wealth or power, which were both things the Pavus family and most of the other prosperous inhabitants of Minrathous, the jeweled capital, had in spades. Dorian was pulled out of his own thoughts, as Max started up again.
"It was just normal for us and it never bothered me, the certainty I had as a child that I would be paired with someone I had probably grown up with. But as I became more aware of the world, as I did more traveling, I learned that it wasn't so normal. In fact, it was seen as something to be looked down upon in other places. I think it was then that somewhere along the line it became muddled for me. I'm... it became something more to me than it should have. It became an obsession." Abruptly, the flow of words stopped, as if by admitting his perceived failing Maxwell had finally been able to reign in all the emotions that were pouring out and re-dam the tide. "So, take it as you will." The challenge was back in his eyes, but this time much stronger and fierce, almost determined not to back down.
The silence stretched on for what felt like an eternity as Dorain tried to mentally compile and examine all that he had been told and how it effected him. Eventually it seemed too much pressure for Maxwell after all, as he rose from the bed and retreated to the balcony. It took several more minutes before Dorian got up and joined him. He leaned onto the railing with his forearms in an unintentional copy of what Maxwell was doing. "So I... make you feel safe, do I?" He finally asked his tone light.
For an instant Maxwell's face was a flash of a million different emotions, before it settled into amused exasperation. "I just told you that I've been regularly beating-off to the thought of us being related and that's the part you latched on to?"
"Regularly?" Dorian drawled, raising his eyebrow, a sultry smirk spreading across his face. "Yes, I suppose you must have been. I've been feeling slighted at how little you've wanted to tumble with me lately." Then he crowed a laugh of understanding. "Oh! Is that where you kept running off to, with all your 'important business'?"
"Dorian!" Max groused halfheartedly, the flush to his cheeks giving him away.
Dorian was still chuckling as he bumped their shoulders together playfully. "So why were you speaking Tevene, hmm?"
"I was... imagining it was you saying those things to me." The sentence hung in the air, not heavily, but like soft wind, even though that had been spoken with a strong level of uncertainty.
Dorian turned to him, pulling him close, gathering as much of Maxwell into his arms as could fit, wrapping him up. "You could have just asked." He lifted his hand to rub his thumb affectionately over the side of his lover's jaw.
The hopeful shine in Max's eyes left Dorian aching. "Really?" He asked almost breathlessly.
"Yes, amatus." He whispered softly, love saturating the words. Then he jerked his partner forward, pressing their bodies as close as possible, causing Max to gasp, as Dorian grasped his face, a feral grin taking the place of his soft smile. "What's family for, after all?" As Maxwell began to make a sound of surprise and pleasure, Dorian sealed their lips together.