Dorian was less than thrilled at the news. His fists clenched, and the magical instruments in the room rattled in response to him.
If he would resist the blood magic, if he would resist the pressures of his family, if he would publicly flaunt his dalliances with men all over Minrathos, then he would have to marry a Soporati.
A Soporati! And not one of the wealthier families, no, they had found a tailor's daughter, and that was who he would marry, unless he would conform, family name be damned.
The Soporati are no better than slaves, no magic, no pride in their work, no urge to succeed, to push the limits further than others. Caecilia. Even the name was ridiculous.
His father slammed the door behind him, and Dorian almost gave in to the temptation to perform some blood magic of his own and destroy his father and mother. But no, he was better than they were. Instead he picked up his father's favourite staff grip and burnt it to cinders.
Caecilia. Preposterous. He would never love a woman, would never want a woman either. His father expected him to back down now he was faced with marrying a Soporati. Not a chance. Out of sheer spite, he would go through with this until his father backed down and gave up.
Two weeks later, he was sat with his fists clenched tightly into his robes at a neighbours Villa. It was all he could do to not set fire to every klinia in the room. The magister was one who believed in distributing clothing to the needy and poor for free. A worthy ideal, certainly. Caecilia's father was a tailor, so he had come to liaise with the magister, and provide his knowledge. Caecilia was sat on the opposing kline looking incredibly out of place. Her clothes were well made, not shabby but not the most expensive material. Her father had probably made it that very week. Her fists were clenched into the robes too, though her expression was not one of fear. Possibly rage, under the awkward demeanour. Interesting.
“Caecilia is very well educated, she can read and write common tongue, and some Tevene, and has a good mind for history. She takes great interest in military affairs, and poured through books regarding ancient Tevinter battles. She would have joined the military, but her mother was soft and couldn't bear the thought of her being injured like that.” Her father was saying, and Dorian noted how she squared her jaw and puffed up a little. He turned his eyes back to the girl after a moment longer of her father's rambling, and decided to address her directly, seeing as Caecilia hadn't spoken at all.
“So, Caecilia. You have an interest in military. Do you know the role of Soporati in the Battle of TE678?” He asked, hoping to slip her up by using the Tevinter numeric system, rather than the Chantry calender.
She cleared her throat, and narrowed her eyes as she leant forward on the recliner, lifting up her goblet of wine to take a sip.
“Yes. We did this to you Altus.” She replied, throwing the wine in his face after she swallowed.
Oh he liked her, yes indeed. After the initial splutter, and the room going silent, of course. Scandalous.
He laughed, throwing his head back as his hair dripped wine onto his robes and over the soft velvet cushions on his kline.
“Caecilia, you are ever so charming. I must say, I was not expecting that.” He grinned, sitting up from his own kline. Their fathers both looked ashen and shocked, Caecilia's less than his own, of course. “Father, this is the perfect match for me, thank you. I would like to speak to Caecilia alone, if you would excuse us.” His father was refusing to respond except for his impression of a Bronto with asthma. Caecilia stood, and marched toward the exit of the Atrium. He followed after, and took her arm, dragging her into the unnaturally lush peristylium once they were out of sight of their families.
“I would rather swallow Wyvern venom than marry you.” She hissed, and kicked him in the shin, before spitting on the too green grass. Luckily he was wearing armour there.
“Oh trust me darling, the feeling is entirely mutual. I do not enjoy the company of women, which is why I'm being forced to marry you. A punishment, forcing me to marry a Soporati girl. My father thinks I'll back down from this, but I won't. I am much more stubborn. Little does he know I would rather cause more scandal than do what he really wants.” Dorian explained, voice hushed.
She snorted brutishly, shaking her head. “My father wants money, mostly. That magister will run him out of business, and he knows it. If he can rub elbows with some Altus like you, then all the better for us. You don't like women? Good.” She crossed her arms, tilting her head back a little in the evening sun. In this light, her features were definitely more masculine, which was something or a plus for her. “If you want to cause scandal, then start by unpinning my hair.” She placed a calloused hand on his chest. “They're watching, so I'm going to push you behind the pillar to your left, and you're going to unpin my hair. They will assume something 'inappropriate' happened, which gives you your scandal for the week. I'll go along with it as long as you will. And don't call me Caecilia. I hate it.” She pushed him behind the archway, and he quickly removed the pins, tossing them on the floor.
“If you don't like Caecilia, then what do you want me to call you?” He asked dubiously. She paused for a moment, before a wry grin crossed her face.
“Krem. Call me Krem. For now, anyway, you pompous little Altus. If you want to go all the way with this, I won't complain. You don't like women, I don't want to get married to a man who wants me to be his pretty little wife. We can work this out.” She shook her thick dark hair out, and then ruffled it a little.
“Krem. Interesting name. I won't ask why Krem specifically, yet.” Dorian chuckled. Footsteps approached them, and Krem's face scrunched up.
“Kiss me.” She hissed. He really didn't want to, but clearly she didn't want to either, and they met in a rough kiss, mostly her pushing against him, hands tangled in his hair. Scandalous. He could hear his father gasp, and their neighbour mutter something before Krem broke away from the kiss, playing the part of the blushing maiden.
“Magister Pavus, I didn't know you were coming.” She gasped, a hand resting over her chest in surprise. She panted, for affect, and it was all he could do to not burst out laughing. He covered his mouth with his hand, pretending it was more a matter of dignity than humour. She was a good actor. “Dorian and I were just...Talking.” Her voice was airy and light, not the gruff one that she'd been using just moments ago. “He offered to give me money so I can buy much prettier fabrics, isn't that right?” She looked to him, eyes promising pain if he disagreed.
“Oh yes, we were going to go to the finest weavers in Minrathos. I know how much you and mother want me to like her, so we will be going in the next week. Perhaps we will pick up the bridal brocades while we are at it.” He agreed enthusiastically. She smiled and nodded.
“Yes, Dorian and I were thinking gold and blue for the colour scheme, since your family will be paying for the wedding.” She added, and he could see his father turning redder by the moment. He took her hand and smirked. Krem's smile was infectious.
His neighbour shook his hand eagerly after a moment. “Congratulations, Dorian, Caecilia. I am so glad that you two have finally found a match in one another.” He insisted.
His father burst a blood vessel.
A week later, they were indeed fabric shopping. Krem knew a great deal more than he did about these things, and she made sure to create another scandal by having them go without an escort into the city. Everyone recognised him, and made sure to offer the greatest deals on fabric, paying little heed to Krem, who had gone the extra step by wearing one of his robes. It suited her, they were of similar frames, her shoulders as broad and arms more muscular. She wore them as if it were entirely usual and a regular occurrence for her to be wearing them. The robes themselves were plain red silk, but even that would be extravagant for just a Soporati. She smirked, paying for excess fabric she certainly didn't need, telling each shop to send the bill to Magister Pavus. That name had weight, and she threw it around as if it were a ball. He loved it, because his father would be so angry. They were pushing it. He really loved it. It were as if Krem really weren't a girl, the way she walked when they were in an alleyway or alone, she held herself like a soldier might. Very masculine.
He noticed she would buy things that wouldn't be needed in a dress, or his robes. Little hook and eyes, or a quarter meter of various stretchy materials. Hm. Curious.
“You are most unlike anyone I have ever met.”
“That's because you live inside your gilded walls, princess.”
“Funny that you call me the princess, when you're marrying the future magister of house Pavus.”
“Doesn't make me a princess. Doesn't make me a lady.” She shrugged, carrying the vast varieties of fabric in her pack.
They lapsed into comfortable silence once more, until they reached the tailor's quarter, which was only a short distance from the weavers. Now she allowed her stance to become more cocksure, and bold, strutting as if she owned the place. Well, perhaps she did. He chuckled, shaking his head as he kept pace.
“Evening Cremisius!” Called one of the Soporati children, clearly elf-blooded based on the phrenology and eye size. Perhaps the mother had bred with an elf in order to have a mage child. What some people won't do. Now, Cremisius? That was interesting, because it wasn't Caecilia, but Krem responded to it faster than Caecilia.
“Alright Claudus?” She called out, voice gruff again. The child ran over, jumping and gripping her arm. She hoisted it up in the air, blowing a raspberry at it. “What's been going on while I've been gone?” She cocked her head.
“Your mama was shouting about something, wasn't paying no attention though. Who's he.” It asked, jerking its head at him.
“Claudus, this is Dorian. Dorian, this is Claudus. He's our neighbour's slave's brat.” Krem introduced them. “Dorian's a mage, we're going to get married.” She told him. Claudus blinked for a moment, letting go to drop on the floor.
“Why's you marrying some mage? I thought them Altus weren't allowed to marry other boys?” He asked, and Krem's face turned a little red.
Dorian had to say, that was not entirely a surprise to him. He knew that Krem was incredibly masculine, and very, very butch, but really this made perfect sense. Krem is actually a boy, hence why he hated the name Caecilia. His plan took on an extra step. Excellent. He'd never had the pleasure of actually meeting someone who the rigid societal rules were a hindrance, other than himself.
“Kaffas. Scram, Claudus.” Krem muttered.
“No, no. Didn't you know, child, I'm an important mage, so I will only marry someone imporant. Krem is-”
“Cremisius” The child interrupted.
“Cremisius is special. That's why I'm allowed to marry him.” Dorian finished. “And I wouldn't want to marry a girl anyway, they are boring and frightfully plain.”
Satisfied, Claudus ran off into the alley.
“You and I need to talk. After we put the fabric away, Cremisius.” Dorian was delighted. He always had preferred more masculine men to keep his company anyway.
Krem hurried into the house, depositing the fabric before standing rigid, fists clenched. “Dorian. I was going to tell you.” He started, but Dorian patted him on the back.
“Now now, there is no need to act as if I'm going to blast your head off and have your body fly over the city like those cows last month.” Dorian chuckled. “I'm glad I found out. I did say I liked men, did I not? You may not have the right parts, but I'm sure a little magic can correct areas. And potions, too.”
Krem blinked in surprise, seemingly lost for words.
“We're going to marry, and you're going to be a man as soon as the wedding is over. Until then we keep up the charade of Caecilia. We can begin moving into my private estate, just for the added shock. Get your things, we will bring the wedding forward right away. How does two weeks sound to you?”
“Two weeks? Maker's saggy balls, Dorian.”
“What can I say? This is new magic for me to work. Now, introduce yourself properly to me.” He smirked.
“Cremisius Aclassi, a pleasure to meet you. Soon to be Cremisius Pavus, though.” Krem replied cockily.
“I do like a man who knows that he's...A classy gentleman.” Dorian smirked. Krem punched him in the arm.
“I will kill you, pretty boy.”
“Oh I don't doubt it, husband-to-be.”
The wedding was a sordid affair, age old family feuds, general degeneracy befitting Orlais. Krem's gown was charming, though it was cut more similarly to his own clothing than a woman's tunic. It was a deep blue with swirls of gold woven into the fabric. Dashing, radiant, truly befitting the house Pavus.
He raised a hand, and the room went silent, the large garden space filled with guests that came to see this sham of a marriage. He was happily friends with Cremisius, a fondness between them that had developed thanks to the elf-blooded child outing him.
“Friends, honoured guests, family. I am so glad we all gathered here today for the wedding, because frankly I was bored of waiting. Krem and I know this will be a very fortuitous marriage. I would like to also announce that my Caecilia is changing names entirely. From Caecilia Aclassi to Cremisius Pavus. Revolutionary, truly.” Dorian smirked, and noticed how Krem's stance changed. “We will only accept Cremisius, anyone who says Caecilia is getting ignored.” Some of the Soporati exchanged glances, assuming it to be silly Altus nonsense, or those who knew Krem knew better. The Altus frowned, assuming it was Soporati nonsense. Ah the joys of backwards Tevinter, nobody knew anything about the other classes. Which was beneficial, really.
His father looked as if he'd swallowed a hive of blighted bees, but he'd pushed for it, and marriage was what he got. It reduced the family standing, and ensured no Archon would be born into their line possibly forever, but Dorian didn't care. He wanted ambitious magic, and to make a real difference. Archon or not. He would change things, starting with his new husband.
Krem was his ticket out of the expectations, and he was Krem's ticket to freedom.
Krem let him do the magic after a few months of convincing and insisting, and then his torso was truly flat without needing the chest bindings he'd been using for years. Not that his husband would allow him to do any further magic, because apparently that sort of thing was a step too far when it came to magic. Typical Soporati, not wanting to push the limits further. Krem worked on deepening his voice regularly, and no potion was required for that when he didn't want to be reliant on potions for that sort of thing. The only potion he touched was one to stop the bleeding that started after he started eating properly. Who would have thought that poor Soporati wouldn't have their monthlies due to lack of nutrition? The first time it'd happened, poor Krem shouted the house down, and locked himself away until Dorian found the right recipe and forced him to talk like a civilised member of Tevinter society, and then drink the brew. Apparently it tasted like Altus piss, not that Dorian had ever tasted his own.
Eventually Dorian began to forget that Cremisius had ever been Caecilia, only really thinking of it when he would ask for the potion to stop the bleeding. It stopped his fertility too, not that they were involved in any trysts of the sort. Dorian was attracted to him, just a little. Seeing him working out, fighting, training was absolutely fascinating. In a purely platonic way, of course. If the way the sweat dripped off of Krem was lewd, that was neither here nor there.
He found himself lounging in their shared bathroom one evening, and Krem came in without knocking. Not unusual, though Dorian was in the tub.
“Make space, moustache.” Krem grunted, stripping out of his shirt. Since moving to the smaller estate, Krem had taken up fixing things, and working out very regularly. It was clear for Dorian to see the thick muscle that had built up since then.
He smirked, tucking his knees up so that Krem could sit at the opposite end. Nudity around one another had become normal and natural, because of the fact that when Dorian had performed magic on Krem to remove those unnecessary lumps of fat, he'd accidentally scorched both of their clothes off due to a miscalculation. And there were the times that Dorian would end up so drunk that Krem had to change him out of his clothes for bed. Purely platonic, of course.
Krem climbed in after removing his underwear, sitting in the warm water. He wriggled for a moment, before resting his feet on either side of Dorian's hips.
“Warm the water up a little more, chief.” He murmured, head resting back against the marble.
“What did your last slave die of, exactly?”
“Mages are supposed to serve man. You're a mage, I'm a man. Serve me.” Krem replied, snorting and nudging his sides with a toe.
Honestly, that little shit.
“Fine, here I am, serving you as our beloved Andraste said we should live.” Dorian murmured, using a little magic to warm up the water around him.
“And we're living as Andraste would want us to live. Me and you, comfortable and in our marital home, enjoying this nice hot bath.” Krem hummed. Dorian stretched out after a moment, legs awkwardly tangling under Krem's. It was comfortable, even though they were both very naked and very exposed.
“I suppose you're right, carissimus Cremisius.” Dorian murmured. It felt very natural to refer to Krem as that, seeing as they were technically married, and he was definitely interested in the more masculine parts of Krem's body. He was definitely dear to him.
“I am always right, dulcissimus Dorian.” Krem snarked, knowing that it would elicit a snort from the mage. And it did.
“Good to see your Tevene is branching out further. Where did you find that word?”
“Tombstone. Don't know what it means, but it's probably something cutesy, right? I'm sure my mother called me it once.”
“It means sweet, or sweetest.” Dorian chuckled, arms resting on the sides of the tub.
“Well, you definitely are sweet. Maybe not the sweetest, because you get sour if the wine you like isn't here.”
“I have a refined taste.”
“Sure you do.”
Everything carried on, and it was normal. They flirted sometimes, they often bathed together, they'd take meals together, sometimes Krem would drink with him, and they'd lie in the same bed, talking for hours about anything and nothing.
Until the Qunari turned up.
The Iron Bull had come to kill them, alone. On hire from Dorian's father. Of course he had. How else would a great stinking Qunari reach the outer city of Minrathos undetected?
The Qunari had snuck in, and was ready to pounce Dorian.
Well, right up until Krem swung that enormous fucking hammer at him and Dorian knocked him out with a thunderbolt, tying him to a chair had been easy.
“You know, this wasn't what I had in mind when I took on this job. I was told I was due to kill some wife. Don't see any ladies around here, much to my dismay.” The Qunari had said, and Krem raised a brow.
“I do love your father, Dorian. Let's remember to include him on the payment for my monthly potions.” Krem commented, changing his stance a little.
“Ah, I see. You're Aqun-Athlok. Not seen one in 'Vinter before.” The Qunari seemed perfectly at ease. “You know, I think the eye you hit with that lightning will need removal. That's a good hammer arm you've got there, Aqun-Athlok. I could do with someone like you.”
“And what does that mean, anyway?” Krem asked, taking hold of one of the horns. Dorian knew he could probably shatter them with his hammer.
“It means you were born with the wrong bits for what your head is. Which clearly you are, because I was sent to kill you. But you're not what I was asked to kill, so I won't touch you. Or your pretty husband.” He tilted his head, gesturing to Dorian.
“He's pretty pretty, you're not wrong.” Krem chuckled.
“So you two are legitimate, huh?”
“What do you mean, Qunari?” Dorian leant forward, leaning on his staff.
“You can just call me The Iron Bull.”
“Well, the Iron Bull, what do you mean we're legitimate?”
“I was told that it was a sham marriage. I can see that you two are definitely in the love with each other.”
Dorian and Krem looked at one another, brows furrowed before Dorian gestured for Cremisius to follow him.
They stood in the hall, and they looked at one another.
“I...” Krem started, eyes downcast. “Yeah. He got me on that one, so what if I'm in love with you? We've been living together a year now. No shame in it. We can still be friends.”
Dorian was stunned, he'd not considered the attraction to be mutual. Well. Damn. “I can't say I was expecting that, but you do like to surprise me, don't you?” The mage snorted, rolling his eyes. “Shall we set free our guest then, since he's not going to kill us?” Krem suggested, hoping to change the subject.
“Well fine, amatus. Since you insist.” Dorian snorted, and Krem hurried back to where the Qunari was waiting.
Dorian took a moment, letting it sink in. Krem was in love with him. Unexpected.
When Dorian rounded the corner, the Qunari was already up, and there was a splatter of blood on the floor below.
“Dorian, come over and heal this eye, you scorched it pretty bad.” Krem called out to him, thumbs pressed around the socket, holding the skin open. “It looks like a nug nut.”
“Nice analogy. Disgusting though. Get this out of my head, vints.” He muttered.
“Alright chief. Hold on, you big baby.”
“I am not a big baby.”
“Sounds like something a big baby would say, Bull.”
Dorian snorted, pressing his thumb against the scorched eyeball, removing it entirely with a satisfying 'plunk'.
“That's going to leave an awesome scar, isn't it?” Bull asked, not even twitching at the pain. Unnerving.
“Probably, yeah.” Krem replied.
“You ever want a job, get your ass out of this dump, let me know.”
“I did have a brief stint in the military, trained to fight you Qunari bastards. Left because my sorry excuse of a mother said my father needed me, and then I ended up married to this pompous haircut.” Krem gestured to Dorian. “A job would be nice, there's only so much Minrathos I can take.” He glanced back at Dorian again, before sighing. “But this one needs me.”
Krem shook his head.
“Dorian, we both know its for the best. We need to leave Tevinter, both of us. This idiot's offered me a job. I'd take it. I respect that he won't kill me, and I won't kill him.”
Their parting was bitter, but not unhappy. Krem wanted to be free, and Dorian wanted to laze around and do his magic and be innovative.
They ended up at Haven together, somehow, someway. The Bull's chargers had been hired by the so called 'Herald of Andraste', and Dorian had gotten there through some magical nonsense which he would rather not get into. Bloody Venatori.
Dorian had realised, while they were parted, that he did love his Soporati with a fierce desire. He wasn't made up of his various parts, but on the whole he was unique. He was a man that had loved and lived with for the best part of a year. He'd done breakthrough magic on that tailor's son, and changed enough that nothing would restrict him again.
Yes, he loved Cremisius, and it took a Ben-Hassrath to point it out to him.
So the courtyard in Haven was where he saw Krem, Dorian drunk, Cremisius kremming. Dorian admired his husband's physique, and realised that this was really the first time that he thought romantically of Krem as his husband.
He was too drunk for this. Really.
He stumbled away, heading towards the terribly quaint inn, only to be accosted by a certain Qunari.
“You're running away. That's a good thing you've got going there, I wouldn't waste it by running away. He's good for you, you know. Go back there and tell him you missed him. He is your husband after all.”
Dorian huffed, and unwillingly skulked back to where he'd last seen Krem training. An elven mage was with him, her hair tied back and a staff shaped like a bow, going blow to blow with him. She stopped after a moment, seeing Dorian leaning against the wall watching him. She said something to his husband, and then pointed over his shoulder.
Krem looked up, and dropped his huge hammer. This one was shaped like a dragon skull. His face lit up, and the Sopor- no, no there were no castes out here. Mages were looked down upon, somehow. So Krem had the higher social standing this time. His husband ran over, and tackled him down.
“Amatus!” Krem cried out, braced over him.
“Cremisius Aclassi.” He replied, exasperated. “Amatus, please.”
“Cremisius Pavus, thank you very much.” Krem replied, and he smiled as if the sun were rising for the first time in a lifetime. They'd been apart for a year and a half, and Krem was still pushed on an energy surge from killing a few dragonlings by some wretched coast overlooking the sea to the free marches. And the fact he was seeing the object of his heart's desires for the first time in too long.
“That you are, Amatus.” Dorian replied, before finding Krem pressing a firm kiss to his lips. That wasn't a surprise.
“Dorian, magister from the house Pavus, I love you with all my maker damned heart, you stupid Altus.”
“I love you too, you stupid tailor's son. Now get off, it's so muddy.”
Krem climbed up, and lifted him over an armoured shoulder.
“Do you mind? This is awfully pointy.” Dorian whinged, only getting a chuckle in response. Dorian had been sleeping inside the Chantry, which was not where they were headed.
“I bunk with Bull, we share a tent and so do some of the others.” Krem explained, placing the mage down outside the plain white tent. “Get in there, dominus.” He teased, and Dorian rolled his eyes, climbing into the little tent.
“It smells of Qunari and Soporati in here. Is this what being a slave smells like?” He asked, getting a snort from Krem.
“Smells like home. Well, no. Not home. But something familiar.”
“So are you and the Iron Bull...?” Dorian left the question unfinished, not wanting to jump to any conclusions.
“Banging? In love? Married in order to fuck with our families? No. Qunari don't do love, or marriage. They have the concept of people changing your lives so much that you can never truly be apart, but other than that. Nope. I'm still married to you, aren't I?” Krem removed his armour, and he almost did a double take.
Those were real, huge muscles. Dorian wetted his lips nervously, stomach fluttering.
“Cremisius. We never properly spoke before you left.” Dorian started, only to be silenced by a grubby rough hand on his mouth.
“Amatus. You're my amatus, aren't you? I said I was in love with you, and I still mean it. You've got issues, so do I, but we've also got each other.”
“Good. Because I love you too, even if you are an awfully pushy little bastard.”
“At least I don't use blood magic to prove I'm not a bastard.”
Dorian laughed, and they kissed.