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Tarnished Silver

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The Warden-Commander was not as Varel had expected.

He arrived late at night, in the rain, wearing ill-fitting robes and casting with his bare hands. The Commander, who Varel had pictured the arrival of far differently, held no staff when he burst into the keep... instead, he cast his spells with bare hands and whacked inexpertly at enemies who drew too near with a one-handed axe, of all things. Not precisely the tale told by bards through-out the kingdom of the Warden's prowess.

And yet he made his way to the battlements, picking up stray fighters as he went. The drunkard Oghren fell into line in front of him with companionable ease, reminding Varel in a swirling moment of clarity that the dwarf had traveled with the Commander before. Fought at his side, in fact, against more darkspawn than had swarmed the keep... even down in the deep roads themselves.

So it had been that an elven mage without a staff, a drunken dwarf, an apostate who'd initially arrived at the keep in chains, and one confused knight had rescued Varel from the Withered.

And of the three of those who took their Joining, it was the one respectable one that had died of it. The world was a strange place indeed, sometimes.

Varel looked down at his desk, at the file of papers he had been given on the Warden-Commander. They were official notes from the Order, nothing more, meant to give the seneschal a feel for the new Arl. They did no such thing. Having read them a dozen times over, he found them worthless. The stories told here in Ferelden were more enlightening, and even they could not explain things to Varel's satisfaction.

Discontent, Varel got to his feet and left his rooms. He would go on brief rounds in the keep to center himself, acting for all the world like a common soldier for just a little while, at least. The Commander was essentially his commanding officer, and not being able to get his bearings on the man put Varel in a disoriented, slightly unpleasant place. He hardly needed to know every detail of the man's life, but knowing what to expect from him would have been a good start.

Entering one of the keep's smaller courtyards, Varel made a most undignified sound as something burst into flames not the length of his own body ahead of him. The seneschal ducked back through the doorway with his heart hammering in his throat, and drew the great-sword from his back without thought. Was it more darkspawn? Were they under attack? He didn't hear any fighting, or shouting. What if everyone outside was dead? Inhaling a lungful of air with which to shout the alarm if need-be, Varel peered carefully around the door frame.

Of all the people to encounter in the dead of night with his current train of thought...

"Seneschal," Tannusen Surana's voice always held this... velvety, purring quality to it, and this time was no exception. "Was that a squeak just now?" The mage held a staff -- ah-ha, a staff! -- in one hand, and his manner of dress was decidedly different from their previous encounter as well, the pale skin of the Commander's torso gleaming bare in the moonlight. He wore pants. Just pants. An Arl outside of his rooms half-undressed. A lesser seneschal would have been beside himself at the indignity; Varel took it in stride.

Varel opened his mouth... then closed it again, stepping out from behind the door frame and re-sheathing his great-sword. "Commander," he finally replied a moment later, eyes lingering on the tattoo in the center of Surana's chest, right over his heart. It was a large, sweeping design not unlike a stylized S of some sort, with a crescent beside it. Clearly there was some significance there, but it was lost on Varel. "You startled me."

"I could tell, yes," the Commander tipped his head a little to one side, the moonlight catching strands of his pale gold hair and silvering it. Knowing what he did about the taint and the Wardens, now, the spiderweb-imagery was almost as disturbing as it was... intriguing. "Is something wrong? That's an odd look you're giving me."

"Ah, we... haven't known each other long yet, Commander," Varel temporized, folding his hands behind his back as he often did. It kept his fingers still. "It was only the night prior to this one that you arrived, after all. I am still... adjusting."

"Mmn," Tannusen gave the staff in his hand a thoughtful, slow whirl, "to which part, I wonder? A Grey Warden in power? No? An elf? Ah -- that's even more rare. A mage? Now that," the Commander chuckled, low and quiet, "that may be a first in a very long time. Arl Eamon's son's magical talent was kept a secret in part because his mother wanted him to inherit someday, did you know that?"

"No," Varel cleared his throat, "It's none of that, Commander. I just -- when did you get that staff?"

"Earlier today when I went to Amaranthine," the Commander shrugged, and then smiled slyly, "or are you actually asking what happened to my last one?" Varel fought back a fidget at the pointed question, but was spared from answering as Surana continued, "I left it with a friend. I didn't figure I'd be fighting my way through a contingent of darkspawn to get inside the keep, after all."

It was a valid point. And it wasn't as though the Commander feared the usual dangers of travel enough to go armed on a journey from the capital to Vigil's Keep, if it wasn't convenient to do so. "And your robes?" The question slipped out before Varel could catch it, and now he did fidget, just a little, as Surana's sly little smile widened.

"I dislike robes," said the elf, and then in the very same tone, as though they were still discussing his clothing choices, "you're even more dashing in the moonlight than out of it, you know. I am impressed. It makes you look like some shining silver knight out of a legend, made solid in its light."

Varel felt his eyes widen a little, and he clenched his fingers together behind his back for a second to help hide his startlement. "I -- ah, I am very flattered, Commander. But you needn't bother."

"No? Are you sure?" Surana asked, and tipped his head to the side a little, again. Varel was suddenly reminded of a cat peering up at a bird on a branch. The image was only made stronger when the Warden stepped up to within arms-reach of him, his shorter elven stature making him tip his head up to look at Varel. He was tall for an elf, but there was still a difference there, all the same. The fact that his shoulders were nearly as broad as Varel's own was not lost on the seneschal; the Commander had a physique that would fit in well among the dedicated soldiers that the veteran warrior was the most comfortable around.

The Warden's voice cut into his thoughts once more, "You're giving me that look again. So... searching, seneschal. You need only ask if there's something you wish of me."

Struggling to find a response, Varel did not turn to watch as the Commander stepped past him and went inside. It wasn't until the mage's soft footfalls had padded ever-so-quietly around a far corner and out of hearing distance that Varel even realized he hadn't asked what the mage had been doing out here. He let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, and ran a gauntleted hand over his hair, looking down at the singed flagstones where the explosion had been.

He had the distinct feeling he was being... hunted.

- - - - -

The Commander left early in the morning and returned late in the evening, trailed by the Howe he had released and all but dripping the blood of the fallen from his ill-fitting robes. They would be irreparably stained, Varel guessed, watching as servants from the Keep swarmed the returning party. He cleared his throat when the Warden and his companions drew near, and slanted a glance at Nathanial Howe.

"Nathaniel wishes of his own free will to become a Grey Warden," the Commander informed him, "see to it, seneschal." The matter-of-fact order was a welcome development, and Varel went about making the preparations immediately even as Surana was shooed off to go wash up and change.

The joining went off without a hitch, and Varel resigned himself to having a Howe on the premises, after all. It was late before the ritual was over, and the Commander retired to his chambers for the night.

Still, Varel found himself pacing the halls once more, his armor clinking softly in the still night air, his footsteps drawn unconsciously to that small, moonlit courtyard. He wasn't sure what to think of his disappointment when he found it empty, and nearly jumped out of his own skin when a ghost of an almost-touch brushed the hair at the back of his head. "And so the silver knight returns," Surana purred from behind him.

Varel swallowed his heart back down into his chest and turned his head to look at the mage, who leaned sideways against the doorframe, arms folded. He was wearing more clothing this time, at least, although ill-fitting all the same. The pants were too large, belted close at his hips, and he'd donned a plain brown vest but no tunic. The vest was open, part of his tattoo visible above folded arms.

"I was under the impression you were a better-dressed man," Varel commented, before catching himself-- "Ah, your pardon, Commander. That was out of line--"

"The way I understand this arrangement is that it's only out of line if I say it is," Tannusen smiled a strange, crooked little smile. "And I haven't. You can speak your mind freely with me, seneschal." The Commander was... appropriately enough, apparently quite at ease with being in command, and the unspoken order to speak his mind hung between them.

"Giving orders suits you," Varel coughed lightly, and finally turned to face the Warden properly.

The crooked little smile widened, a little. "You should see me with a whip."

Varel's small cough turned into a much larger one as he swallowed a lungful of air wrong, and he felt his face color a little as the Commander stepped closer, much as he'd done the night previous. "Taking orders suits me, as well," Surana purred once the coughing had quieted, looking up at Varel with assessing blue eyes. The color was almost unnatural in the moonlight. "Particularly from handsome older men who wear plate armor."

"That hardly seems appropriate," Varel stammered, "you're the new Arl and--"

"I am offering to let you ram your cock inside me," Tannusen purred, mercilessly unabashed, "over and over until you burst. Or perhaps you would prefer if I bent you over, instead? I can do either. I'm very versatile." Varel felt his eyes widen and his face flush with heat, and the elf's eyes half-lidded, his gaze fixed up at Varel's. "You don't seem repulsed," he continued, "just... hesitant? A shame."

"I... but you... I..." Varel couldn't think straight, the elf was so blunt with his proposal, so lewd with his wording. The soldiers he'd been with in the past hadn't talked about it first, things had just sort of... happened, as they did, both parties going along with it without any real commentary. This, this was almost like foreplay and the mage hadn't even touched him. The effect he could have with simple words--!

"The offer stands, if you should decide to take me," the Commander added after a moment of Varel's shocked non-reply, "or take me up on it, however you prefer to play. I'll leave you to it for now." And, true to his words, the Warden turned and walked casually back inside, leaving Varel to gather up his scattered wits at his own pace.

What had just... had that just happened?

- - - - -

Mercifully, the Commander showed no sign of anything untoward the next day, and Varel was able to keep his composure firmly in check when the small troupe of Wardens came into the throne room on their way out of the keep. He called out a reminder that the nobles would be assembling to swear their fealty, received a wave over Surana's shoulder, and then... that was it. The four-man party left, off to chase after Eileen Bensley's kidnappers and Maker-knew-what else.

For all his peculiarities, it certainly wasn't difficult to set the Warden off after one good cause or another. Perhaps a little too easy, at that. Varel could already see a future of trying desperately to tie the Commander down long enough to--

That was the wrong imagery.

...He could already tell that getting political work done would take some careful herding of the new Arl. There, that was safe. Varel cleared his throat a little, bid the others in the room farewell until later, and took his leave.

It was early evening by the time the Commander returned, although in a state that Varel had hardly expected. There was shouting, and a maid's shriek from the throne room made Varel hurry his steps from his office, walking in on the Commander being carried in by both the apostate and the Howe, one arm held over each man's shoulders and his feet dragging on the floor. The dwarf stomped before them, clearing a path, bellowing at Woolsey to get out of the way, sodding woman! as she joined the growing crowd of those trying to immediately find out what had happened.

The idea that the Commander could be injured gravely enough to be carried back to the Vigil was a shocking one, and clearly no one was thinking straight. Varel took this in in a single moment, then stepped into the throne room proper and used his 'ordering' voice. "Clear a path!" Varel barked, "Let them through, quickly!"

He held the door open as the four Grey Wardens passed through it, clearly on the way to Surana's rooms, and then followed in their wake to make sure they made it there without further incident. The apostate and the Howe drug him in while Oghren held the door, but the dwarf stayed put in the hall after them, blocking Varel from following them in. "We need to keep people clear," he grumbled, then swore, "sodding nug-humping blood mages... I'm not drunk enough for this."

Varel blinked down at him. "You fought blood mages? Today?"

"Aye," Oghren wound up and spat, right there in the hall. Varel didn't envy the cleaning staff, that was for sure. "One thing you gotta learn quick around the Commander; there's always blood mages, and they always love his stupid ass." The dwarf's face showed clearly that there were memories flashing in his mind, and Varel watched him pull a wineskin from his belt and take a long, deep pull. "He's like prime roast nug set out in Dust Town. Turn your back for two seconds and whoosh! He's gone."

"Did you turn your back?" Varel found himself asking, brows knitting.

Oghren took a longer pull from his wineskin, "You take me for a sodding rookie?" he demanded, squinting up at Varel, "Eh? Do you?"

"Of course not," Varel folded his hands behind his back, trying to seem calm and unassuming. "The Grey Wardens do not take... ah, rookies."

"You're sodding right, they don't," the dwarf busied himself with the wineskin again, obviously on a determined track to getting drunk quickly. "And no. I didn't. I learned better during the blight. Me 'an the Commander, we go way back, you know." The words were starting to slur a little, and Varel unclasped his hands. Charming. "Waaaaay back. You shoulda-- you shoulda seen us back in the day." Another pull of the wineskin. "Darkspawn just tuck tail and run when we come o'er the hill! But blood mages..."

Oghren fell into a sullen silence, staring down at the wineskin in his hand. Varel was spared from further discussion by the door re-opening and the two other new Wardens stepping out. "He'll be fine," Anders said with a sigh, and Varel absently noticed Oghren relax a bit out of the corner of his eye. "They mostly just drained him, and the damn fool drank a stupid amount of lyrium to stay up in the fight."

"Watch your sodding mouth, sparkle-fingers," Oghren butted in, "You ain't half the healer he is and you know it."

"Well no," Anders rolled his eyes, "and I didn't stop a blight with my face. But he still drank too much. He should have let me heal him up."

"Pah!" the dwarf put the stopper back into the wineskin and tucked it back into his belt, "the Commander'll sleep it off. It's what I always do." And with that, he trundled off down the hall and away, even managing to do so in a mostly-straight line.

"We're supposed to send you in," Nathaniel broke into the conversation finally, looking Varel in the eye, "I'll watch the door and Anders will let Captain Garevel know what happened." The Howe opened the door and gestured for Varel to go inside. After a moment of hesitation, he did so.

"Yeah, yeah, going!" he heard Anders say out in the hall as the door was closed behind him.

Varel had been in the Arl's rooms only a handful of times, and never with the Commander in charge. The furniture had all been removed, leaving the front sitting room quite empty, and so the seneschal crossed it quickly and pushed open the door to the bedroom.

Here, too, everything had been hauled out, and the replacement bed the elf was currently laid out upon was far more austere than the original. There was no telling if this had been preference or convenience, with how little time the mage had been here as of yet. "Commander," he greeted hesitantly, watching as the Warden's eyes opened. He couldn't help but notice that Surana seemed disappointed, for a split second, although he couldn't guess as to why. Hadn't he requested that Varel come in?

"Seneschal," Tannusen sounded weary to his bones, "the rescue was a success."

"From the way I understand it, you very nearly needed rescuing yourself, Commander," Varel spoke before thinking better of it, "Ah--"

"No, it's true," the Commander chuckled weakly, a strange look on his face where he stared up and over at Varel. "Although that wasn't during the rescue. That was another fight. We cleaned out some fledgling bloodmages in Amaranthine for the Chantry and... they had friends on the road." The elf closed his eyes briefly, "Word goes out fast when a mage hunts other mages down in the street."

The seneschal considered how to respond. Why had the Commander of all people taken up a mage-hunting job from the Chantry? His own status as a mage aside, "A strange task for you to take on, harboring an apostate as you are, isn't it?" he asked, trying to put it at least somewhat delicately.

"I have the same rank right now that Duncan did when he conscripted me," the Warden opened his eyes again, though he looked up at the ceiling, "against my will, no less, and against Knight-Commander Greagoir's wishes. Anders is no more of an apostate now than I am; he's a Warden. He drank the blood. Even so," he admitted, "I've worked with apostates before. Proper ones. We had one with us during the blight, you know. But there's a huge difference between being an apostate and being a malificar. One does not really involve the other, half the Circle turned out to be Uldred's blood mages when--"

The Commander cut himself off with a visible shudder than ran through his entire body. His eyes briefly rolled back before closing, and Varel took a concerned step forward. And then another, as the trembling continued. "Warden-Commander?"

The mage's hand snapped out and grabbed the flared bit of plate over Varel's wrist, his grip surprisingly strong on the armor. Beyond his initial surprised jerk back, Varel held carefully still as those vivid blue eyes re-opened and fixed up onto his face. "I can't hold the mask any longer," Tannusen whispered, "Varel, if you have any interest in me sexually, I need a favor from you. Please," he cut off the seneschal when Varel opened his mouth to reply, "be honest about it. I won't be crushed if I'm not your type, but..." a harder shudder went through him, and his eyes glazed a little, "I'll have to ask you to send someone else in if not."

"What... what is the favor?" the seneschal's brow furrowed, "Do you need the herbalist? I know there is only so much healing magics can--"

"I need to submit," Tannusen's whisper cut straight through Varel's words.

"I... I don't understand, Commander." Varel admitted hesitantly, "Surely, now is not the time for--"

"I tell you this because the Wardens have deemed you so trustworthy," the elf's voice was utterly earnest, and his grip on that flared bit of armor tightened until his fingers were white. "I am a thrall. A blood thrall. Without a living Master. When I'm hit by strong enough blood magic, I... I..." Varel watched with strange fascination as Tannusen wet his lips, "you don't have to do much. Just take my throat. That would be enough."

It was a lot to take in, all at once like that, and Varel was silent as his mind whirled with the implications. The Commander -- the Arl of Amaranthine -- was a blood mage's thrall? Even if the mage who had held his leash was dead, that was such a huge weakness... and Varel was privy to it, now.

"Send in Nathaniel if you won't do it," Tannusen whispered, releasing Varel's arm, "I won't tell him that I'm a thrall, but I'll throw myself at him anyway. I don't even know if he likes men, but could he resist putting his father's killer in his place? I don't--"

It was Varel's turn to interrupt, for once. "Enough, Commander. Just... give me a moment, please." It was too much to make a snap decision on, and Varel turned away to clear his head, pacing the room like a cornered beast while the elf's gaze bore into him. "When... when did you become a thrall?" Perhaps if he asked enough questions, he would find his own answer.

"When I was a teenager," the sound of shifting on the bed was hard to ignore, but Varel did so carefully. "My Master claimed me... as his apprentice. And thrall. And toy." The final admission did make Varel look up, only to find that Surana had opened his ill-fitting robes, though his fingers mercifully left his belt and accompanying trousers alone. Still, the bulge beneath them was impossible to not notice, as was the light sheen of sweat over well-formed abs, firm pectorals... Maker, it wasn't fair. "He never meant me to live long. His toys never did. He... ah... talking about him makes it worse...! He..."

"He still owns you," Varel mused aloud as though to himself, "even in death." What a terrible truth, that the man who'd ended the blight didn't even hold the power over his own soul. And yet, he had ended the blight, even so.

"Yes," the Commander agreed breathlessly, and then, shuddering, "please..."

Varel didn't even realize he was moving nearer until he was standing right beside the bed, looking down at the elven mage. Surana's hair had come halfway out of its usual tie, and the seneschal reached with one gauntlet to loosen it the rest of the way, brushing against the tip of one pointed ear as he did so. He caught his breath when Surana leaned into the touch. "I've never... done such a thing with an elf," he found himself saying quietly, letting his hand linger.

Surana wordlessly turned his head and caught his gauntlet-encased fingers -- two of them -- between his lips. Eyes closing, the Commander shifted on the bed, sealing his lips over the metal plates and sucking visibly. A startled moan rasped into the room, and the mage leaned his head up, taking those armored fingers deep, all the way to the base of them, until Varel felt the heat of his mouth permeating through the metal.

Just imagining what that sucking heat would be like on him made Varel lean down to balance some of his weight on his other hand on the bed, slowly thrusting his armored fingers in and out... Maker preserve him, how was he ever supposed to resist this?

The answer was that he wasn't. There was no real reason to resist, was there? The new Arl was far from taking advantage of his rank, offering that blazing heat so wantonly... Varel withdrew his hand, the soft wet noise that came of the movement making his trousers far too constricting. "Do it," he rasped hoarsely, running his freed hand over the planes of Surana's stomach, the smooth metal leaving a trail of moisture.

The elf wasted no time; his hands immediately going to Varel's armor, pulling the plate in front up, and the chain-mail under it. There was no easy way to keep it out of the way, save to hold it, which he did with one hand while tearing at the ties to Varel's pants with the other, twisting on the bed to better the angle, lunging up to seal his mouth over the cloth even as he tried to open it. That heat-- Varel's knees nearly buckled, but he didn't reach to help with the ties. If the Warden wanted to play at subservience, then let him; Varel would simply concentrate on not... oh Maker, he was already leaking, just a little, he could feel it...

"Commander," Varel gasped out, finding himself on his elbows, heavy armored body inches from crushing Surana down onto the bed. It had been years since the last time another had touched him like this, and really... if he was going to be honest, it had never been like this. The mage ripped the ties to his trousers open finally, drawing him free with shaking fingers and running his tongue down his length-- Varel's hips gave a reflexive thrust forward, and he moaned down into the metal of his own bracer, right beside the Warden's hip.

"Don't call me that," Tannusen gasped out, "you're using me, this time. Call me that when I bend you over in the throne-room on some dark, quiet night after everyone else goes to bed." The image this conjured was vivid, and Varel's breath caught in his throat. How could a simple act like speech ruin his composure so? How could... he couldn't... he couldn't think about it anymore, not right now. The molten heat of Surana's tongue returned, stealing his sanity, and then his mouth engulfed him and Varel jerked forward before he could catch himself, thrusting down and forward into the elf.

The slick, molten heat was everything he'd thought it might be and more, and Surana pulled weakly at his armor when he stopped, half-in, urging him to thrust further. Varel felt the tip of himself push against the back of the blond's throat and he moved to pull back, hissing through his teeth at the vibration of Surana's soft, pleading noise. He wanted it. Take his throat, he'd said... Varel shuddered, and then thrust down, sheathing himself fully. There was no gagging, only soft, complacent movements of lips and tongue and the flexing of a throat and--

Maker forgive him, but he couldn't hold still, and couldn't bear to simply pull away now that he was inside. Instead, his hips rolled, thrusting as gently as he could manage, in and out, muffling his own breathy sounds against first his bracer and then the elf's hip as he realized the metal was doing nothing to quiet his noises. The hot muscle and sinew where thigh met body beneath his face strained and relaxed in turn, the play of it hidden under the cloth of the elf's trousers, as Surana strained to meet every roll downwards.

Inhaling deeply as his mind swam in blissful sensation, Varel turned his head and nuzzled against the bulge so close nearby, feeling the Warden give a startled jerk at the sudden contact. He stayed there, his stubble scratching lightly at the cloth of the elf's pants, breathing raggedly into concealed flesh as he rolled his hips. Varel was so close... he didn't dare try anything more with the Warden at just this moment, barely managing to rasp out a warning. If the elf didn't disengage now, he was going to...

If anything, the sucking sliding heat only grew more intense, and the message was clear. Varel muffled his cries into Surana's body as his hips jerked and bucked, hard enough to probably hurt the other man but he couldn't stop--!

And then, the world calmed. All that surrounded him was softly-swallowing heat, taking in the very last drops of him; milking him gently dry. Varel shuddered, barely managing to not crush the mage beneath his armored bulk, and pulled away only when he thought he could move without collapsing right onto him.

He instead collapsed to his knees on the floor, watching Surana gasp raggedly for breath, blue eyes glazed and unfocused. There was blood on his nose where Varel's armor had lightly cut it, but he seemed otherwise unharmed. Thoroughly disheveled, but unharmed. Varel leaned forward to put his forehead against the bed and catch his own breath, mind swimming in the afterglow of his first contact with another in years.

Absently, he reached beneath his armor to tuck himself back away before the woven metal could do anything... unfortunate to him. The rustling of fabric so near his bowed head made Varel look up, finding that the mage was pulling his robes back together again, doing up a button with slightly-shaking fingers. Varel reached up and put his armored hand over the Commander's, stilling the movement. "You don't really think I'm going to leave it at that, do you?" the human sounded a touch incredulous even to his own ears.

He didn't wait for the answer, already knowing it, and stripped his gauntlets off with the ease of many years of familiarity. Finally, his hands were free to feel, and he wasted no time in doing so, sliding a palm up and over the elf's toned stomach as he climbed onto the edge of the bed on his knees, mindful of the great-sword at his back even as he unfastened the button the Commander had managed to secure, letting the fabric spill open again, baring that exquisite skin to him.

Vivid blue eyes stared up at him, and the elf rasped a quiet, "You don't need to--" before trailing off into a surprised moan as Varel cupped a hand over the bulge in his pants, rubbing. "I didn't expect--"

"Yes, well, I don't leave my debts unpaid," Varel stated with utmost dignity, squeezing. The mage was, by the feel of him, just as well-endowed as any of the human men a younger Varel had fooled around with, back before he'd had rank enough for doing such things with his fellow soldiers to be... problematic.

He gripped and stroked through the cloth, gratified by the Warden's soft gasping breaths and the rolling of his hips. "Were that I was young enough to be hard again in time to do this properly," Varel mused, because no, he was not immune to the sight of the semi-bare, surprisingly-muscular elf writhing slowly on the bed beneath him. All the exotic allure of pointed ears and fine features; smooth, soft skin... combined with the solidness he appreciated in a man. No, not immune at all.

"You... ahhn, you would take me right here, if you could?" Tannusen squirmed, his hands gripping the bed-covers, "just climb on top of me and fuck me into the mattress with all your big heavy armor on?"

"I think that I would," Varel agreed, "were that I thought we would be left alone long enough--"

"Do it anyway," Surana gasped, arching up against his hand. "I can wait, I promise you. Tell Nathaniel we have much to... ah... discuss and that he can go, throw the lock..."

"I will lose my nerve if I pull away for even a moment," the human admitted as Surana shifted under his hands, slowly turning himself around so that he could put one leg on either side of Varel's knees, his boots on the very edge of the bed, lifting his hips invitingly for Varel to fit himself against. Which he did, and Tannusen ground against his armor through the cloth of his pants, the only thing protecting him from the chain-mail's links to either side of the hinged plate.

"Then don't pull away," the mage rasped, his voice still rough from the plundering of his throat. The continued reminder of what they'd already done had Varel bending low onto his elbows, rolling his hips in mimicry of what he'd like best to be doing right now, one hand sliding between them to give Surana something more forgiving than hard metal to ride up into.

And he did, shamelessly pushing himself against Varel's hand, his own coming up to grip at the back of Varel's neck, fingers sliding into his hair and pulling hard enough to make Varel gasp in something that wasn't quite pain. The seneschal ducked his head to nuzzle against the smooth column of Surana's throat, rolling his hips and his hand until the man beneath him finally could do little more than writhe and moan softly, his head thrown back to bare his skin and the hammering pulse beneath it.

Varel sealed his lips there, sucking hard at that soft, pale skin. Maker, if anyone had told him he would be doing this to the new Arl, he'd have laughed in their faces. But the taste... a little salty from the fine sheen of clean sweat from their exertions, a hint of the oil Varel used on his armor, and underlying that... Varel closed his eyes, sliding his fingers under Surana's belt to touch him directly. Magic. Was this what lyrium tasted like, or just magic-users themselves? It was like the bittersweet tang of a spell in the air, but in hot, smooth skin.

He broke the seal only reluctantly a moment later, "Take your belt off," he rasped against the elf's throat, his hand barely having room to slide down to touch him under the strap's confines. Surana scrambled to do as ordered, panting so hard under Varel that he wondered if it would be audible in the sitting-room, grateful that Nathaniel was a full room away from the bedchambers. And ah-- the belt came loose, and Varel plunged his hand in further, wrapping his fingers around the Warden and stroking.

"Varel," Tannusen gasped, hips rising off the bed entirely into his strokes, "I'm--"

"Go ahead," Varel smirked against the younger man's throat, and added, "Commander."

Having his own orders thrown back into his face seemed to be the last straw for the mage, and he tensed completely with a choked noise, thrusting hard and fast in the tight grip of Varel's fingers. Wet warmth slicked his wrist and hand in pulses, until Tannusen gave a final shudder and then relaxed beneath him, his grip on the back of Varel's neck loosening. The mage had no real nails to speak of, neatly-trimmed down as they were, and yet Varel was still sure he'd find cuts beneath his hair if he was to check.

It wasn't quite like having nail-marks up and down one's back from laying with a woman -- and without armor -- but the result on his ego was the same. Varel allowed himself a chuckle, and moved to pull away -- only to have his arm captured, his hand lifted...

Surana caught and held his gaze, and slowly, methodically licked Varel's wrist and hand clean of his own spend.

Maker, that had no right to be as hot as it was. Varel stared, and then started at the faint knock to the door, the one across the sitting-room. Tannusen gave one of his fingers a final lick and then let go, smiling tiredly. "Tell them we were having an argument, if you wish. You're flushed," he purred, moving with quick efficiency to re-close and re-button his own clothing and smooth down his hair. When Varel turned to go for the door, Surana held up his gauntlets and he took them.

He'd worry about it later if anyone noticed the lurid, mouth-sucked mark on the Warden-Commander's throat.