Chapter 1: heavy parchment, gold wax seal, small parcel attached
In black ink on paper that smells of Dorian's perfume, a poor fold in the middle before it was folded properly for its envelope:
To The Iron Bull,
I know we have means of communicating, where I tell you what my day has brought me and you in kind, but then there are times like now that I sit in the most dull Magisterium session and my mind wanders to you. An inevitable thing, really; you're on my mind often.
I'm sitting here and all I can think about is how I regret that you never wore perfume. Nothing here smells of you, and I could never have imagined that I would feel a keen longing to be downwind of you. Your stink used to cling to the sheets, to my clothes, my skin, and I miss it.
The closest I’ve gotten to the smell of you is when I was wandering one of the Minrathous museums in a morose mood after a previous session. There is a preserved and ostentatiously mounted dragon wing, and as I stood in front of the gilded, jewel-encrusted monstrosity, I thought of the ramparts in the Exhalted Plains, and that demon wearing a dead mage for a vessel. An arcane horror, trying to take us to pieces. I remember we were exhausted, and I remember how you smelled when you obliterated said demon.
Now I know you said that your training is similar but not identical to how Reavers train, but when I stood by that dragon wing I smelled you. If you were here I’m sure we would again be up all night discussing theory about Qunari and dragons, Kossith and all that possibility – in between all the fucking, of course. We'd argue about blood magic, too, of course – whatever you do is certainly not a mundane talent, we both know it. But I don't mean to rehash that, I only mean to say that standing there I missed the smell of you. I thoughts about the way I can hear your blood singing in your veins when the fight is upon us, and how that terrified me once. It has always awed me, and I can't pretend the fear wasn't interlaced with my erotic fascination, but I could never have imagined that I would smell blood and hear your bones creak and feel reassured.
Then in the same colour ink but written on a different surface, the letters flowing easier:
Minrathous smells of dawn lotus everywhere you go now. The city has new fountains on every corner, and it's fashionable to have a bowl with dawn lotus floating in it in every shop front in the city. I am drowning in the smell, even here at my quarters. I miss the smell of the sea, would you believe. Qarinus has such fine air, and refreshing breezes. Here in the capital the air is heavy and thick, made worse with the stink of bloody dawn lotus.
All I want is to press my nose into your skin and inhale you.
I think of those nights when we shared a tent and you smelt of our day's fighting. You undressed me, careful with my armour and careless with my underthings, and we fucked in the lingering high of the after-battle. How many times must we have done that? Almost every night when we were in that oasis, where the nights were balmy and we had fresh waterskins whenever we wanted. I want it so desperately now, to have the smell of you clinging to me, to breathe the heavy air of a shared tent into my lungs as we fuck, instead of this wretched floral stink.
Even after our passions are tempered, I want the smell of you at some hours past dawn, pungent with the sweat of sleep, warm and rich at the crook of your armpit. My love, I even miss your breath in the morning. Did you ever notice, for all my protests, I'd kiss you before you could rinse? Strange now that I wake and miss your stale breath – disgusting, really, but I am in love. It's rather disgusting all round.
With a modicum of affection,
In a package that accompanies the letter: a safely wrapped vial of Dorian's favourite scent.
Chapter 2: rolled parchment, battered leather case, red wax seal
The Iron Bull has never written to a lover before.
In blue ink on thick paper neatly torn from a ledger:
Going to be a while until you get this. We're heading out in the country on a job, we're not going to be anywhere a letter's going to survive for a couple of weeks. Gives me a bit of time to come up with something good for you. I've never written letters like this before, something that's not business.
You didn't mention the letter heading my way, so I'm guessing that's a game we're playing. Sure was a nice surprise to get it, and the gift too. If the boys have noticed my tent smells of your perfume all of a sudden, they haven't said anything. I keep waking up in the morning and for a minute I think you're in the tent with me. No good reason to stay in bed and be late for training without you there – Krem used to give me shit for it. But I love that I get to watch you wake up, before you remember you hate being awake before noon.
Didn't realise before that I was getting to see something special. You before the world sees you. When I get up now, everyone's already made themselves up enough to face the day. Me too – brace, eyepatch. Got to used to being naked with you. Knowing you. I've never had any fraternization rules for my boys, so I see the shacking up that's going on. I feel it deep when I see them, that I'm not with you. I'm not lonely, and you shouldn't worry about me.
But maybe we could
I just mean
There's smeared ink blots around where he's crossed words out and dabbed away spillage. The letter continues in his neat handwriting:
Thought writing about my feelings would be easier. We're guarding an estate from raids, and the place makes wine that we're not allowed to drink. It's Orlesian, so you'd probably hate it – or at least you'd complaint about it as you drank it. We're supplied with casks, and the boys know better than to help themselves, but there's not much else to do around here. In the day we keep watch, at night we guard the parties this countess throws. Keep seeing empty rooms and hidden corners and thinking about how often we'd have snuck off to fuck if you were here. Makes me think of Halamshiral, and all the sneaking off we did there. Not the first time as much, except that time in the rose garden when you set a trellis smouldering. But when we met there again we made up for it.
That first night was amazing, in that room full of the really bad taxidermy. Remember how loud we were, and how your moans echoed around the room. Good thing the music from the ballroom covered it all. I still think about you moaning my name with the sound of violins in the background, kadan. I miss when I can see you say my name. I can feel your breath and see the way you're saying it like it's holy. I miss the way you feel in my hand and against my body.
When I see you again I’m going to pin you down and show you exactly how much I’ve missed you. I’m going to hold you down fuck you slowly, until you're a begging mess. And I’m going to make you wait, but you know I’ll always give you what you need in the end. Think about that when you get this letter, and when you think about how long until we next meet.
The Iron Bull
The letter is signed with three x's for kisses, and a slightly wonky heart shape.