She'd wanted to kiss Cassandra right on the jagged scar on her left cheek almost since the moment they met. Almost, because Cassandra had accused her of destroying the conclave and murdering the Divine—and even Adaar tended not to meet those sorts of accusations with feelings of lust.
It was, honestly, very bad. She had to struggle to keep her eyes from flicking between that scar and Cassandra's lips whenever they spoke. The growing need to press her lips to the scar wasn't borne of sentimentality; Cassandra had likely gotten the wound doing something tremendously brave and heroic, and Adaar wouldn't dream of diminishing that victory by imagining Cassandra needed someone to kiss her old hurts.
The truth was that it was just attractive. The scar itself, and the way Cassandra paid it no mind—neither trying to hide it, nor wearing it like a badge.
And of course, as they came closer and closer to Corypheus, the chances of Adaar ever actually getting to kiss that scar (and all the others, too) diminished daily. Certainly, she hoped that they would all come out of this alive, but she was far too pragmatic to expect it. But in the interest of professionalism, she hadn't expressed anything more than friendship toward Cassandra, and Cassandra had only done the same in return.
“Inquisitor, might I have a word?” Cassandra called from her bedroom door. Adaar stood up from where she'd been leaning on the balcony railing and went inside, gesturing for Cassandra to come in and sit with her on the couch.
Cassandra fiddled with her hands a bit before starting. “I just wanted to thank you,” she said. “I didn't expect you to become such a dear friend, not after—everything. Even though I haven't always agreed with your decisions, you have proven to be the leader we needed, and I, well, I'm grateful.”
“This sounds like a goodbye,” Adaar replied.
Cassandra sighed. “It could be,” she said. “I hope it isn't, but. . . I must be realistic. And I know you are as well.”
Adaar's eyes were drawn to the tiny scar on Cassandra's left cheekbone, the one she'd gotten shortly after they met, and then to the bigger one, when Cassandra turned her head to look at her.
Adaar returned her eyes to Cassandra's. “I don't believe in your Maker,” she said, finally. "I don't know if I believe in any god at all. But I believe in the Inquisition. I believe that we can put an end to Corypheus once and for all. And if I die, I believe in the ability of everyone here to do what needs to be done."
Cassandra frowned, but said nothing.
Adaar groaned as she woke, recognizing the softness of her bed, the particular smell of her room at Skyhold.
It meant several things:
that she had survived Corypheus
that she had been knocked unconscious at some point, and
that someone had had to carry her dead weight all the way back to her bed.
She began mentally taking stock of her limbs—all present and accounted for, though most of her body felt as though she'd been thrown off a cliff.
Adaar opened her eyes, squinting against the bright morning leaking through the curtains. Dorian stood next to her bed, a book splayed open on the couch behind him, and his hair and moustache looking uncharacteristically disheveled.
“Please tell me I was seriously injured,” she rasped, “and didn't just pass out and hit my head.”
Dorian looked bewildered for a moment before bursting into laughter. “My dear friend, you looked terrible. The dragon alone did a number on you—it was all completely respectable injuries.” His expression became more serious. “In fact, initially we feared you wouldn't make it. You've been unconscious for several days.”
Adaar stopped examining a burn on her arm to look at him. “Well,” she said, “that would explain why I'm so bloody hungry.”
Dorian's customary smirk returned, though Adaar was still warmed by the brief show of concern. “I'm certain I can rustle something up. Or, better yet, find someone else to do it and take all the credit.” He made his way to the stairs, adding, “And I'm sure there are a few people who might like to see you.”
“Did everyone. . .” she began tentatively.
“Yes,” said Dorian kindly. “Everyone is alive and accounted for. Well,” he amended, “alive, at any rate.”
At Adaar's look of confusion, he sighed and said, “Solas disappeared.”
Adaar frowned. “I remember,” she said. “He was upset about the orb being destroyed, and he left.”
Dorian made a noise of acknowledgment. “Leliana already has her spies looking for him,” he said. “He'll turn up. But, right now, what is important is food. I'll be back momentarily.” He waved a hand at her and disappeared down the stairs.
Adaar managed to stay awake through the parade of what felt like the entirety of Skyhold, though by the end of it she was hard-pressed to keep her eyes open despite the fact that she had, essentially, slept for several days straight.
Her inner circle had come in first, bearing multiple plates of food because they “didn't know what she was in the mood for.” She shoveled food in her mouth as fast as her aching arms would let her, while everyone gathered around and briefed her on everything that had happened since Corypheus fell. Sera sat cross-legged at her feet and plucked at her blanket, while Cassandra and Josephine sat on either side of the bed like guard dogs. The others arranged themselves around the room, in chairs, on the edge of the bed, leaning against the wall.
After them, a steady stream of other well-wishers made their way through. Some she knew, like Harding and the rest of the Chargers, and many she didn't.
The praise they flung at her was overwhelming—suddenly her position as Inquisitor, Herald, even, was completely validated. Even those that had denied her until the very end had shown up to thank her in person.
She continued to receive guests for the next several days as she recuperated in bed, and by the time she felt well enough to get up and move about she was just about climbing the walls. Her friends had tried to keep her occupied, certainly—Cassandra read her books (and was convinced to read her a bit of Swords and Shields after they'd had a few drinks brought up), and Sera brought pencils and parchment to draw dirty pictures and write bawdy poems on. Varric told her stories, naturally, and Cole simply sat next to her and held her hand, occasionally offering his observations on being human.
There was still a not insignificant amount of lingering soreness in her body the night of the party. Josephine had offered—multiple times—to cancel the event entirely, citing the bruise-like circles under Adaar's eyes, and the way she still walked with a limp, and visibly favored her left side.
“Absolutely not,” Adaar had told her each time. “A party is exactly what we need.” It was true, even if Adaar was not particularly looking forward to making small talk with Orlesian nobles. But Josephine, she knew, had worked so hard to put it together—and she could tell just from the flush in Josie's face that she was enjoying planning something that wasn't war-related.
Adaar was fashionably late to the party, partly due to the slowness of her aching body, and partly due to Josephine's insistence that she must show up after everyone else had already arrived.
The noise from the main hall as she approached was subdued; there was music and conversation, but it didn't quite sound like a celebration. It sounded more like. . . an acknowledgment that something happened, and that it was over, and that everyone was grateful but still mourning.
She slid through the door, hoping to enter unnoticed, but Josephine spotted her instantly and announced to the room, “Inquisitor Adaar!”
The crowd rose to its feet and applauded. She could just make out Sera's whistling and The Iron Bull's roaring, and she smiled and waved a little uncomfortably, and the noise rose.
She was quickly enveloped in the throng of people, handed plates of food, and clapped on the back no less than ten times (though not by any of the Orlesians, of course—they preferred kissing her hand, or, if they were feeling more forward, her cheek).
Eventually she managed to find a seat next to Blackwall, whose gruff exterior and questionable history was enough to keep most of the nobles at bay, at least temporarily.
“Doing all right?” he asked, leaning over to speak quietly in her ear.
She heaved a tired sigh but smiled. “Yes, I think I am.”
“Good,” he replied, and returned to his food. “If at some point you want to get away from. . . this, you let me know and I'll make it happen.”
Adaar rested her hand on his arm. “Thank you,” she said, and, “I'm glad you're here.”
Blackwall furrowed his brow contemplatively. “You know,” he said after a moment, “I think I am, too.”
Over the next few hours, she recounted Corypheus's defeat no less than four times, endured three marriage proposals, and dodged countless questions regarding her political and religious leanings. Once the party began to wind down somewhat, she figured she could safely escape to her room lest she fall asleep in someone's cake, exhausted as she was.
She was still in her dress uniform, leaning on the balcony railing and looking out over the courtyard when she heard her bedroom door open. She listened to the heavy footsteps as they crossed her room and stopped next to her.
Cassandra leaned on the railing next to her, her expression unsure, like there were words just behind her teeth that she wasn't sure how to let out. Adaar stepped sideways just enough to bring their arms together and enjoyed the warmth that seeped through the fabric between them.
“I—” Cassandra began before closing her mouth again and sighing through her nose. “After Corypheus,” she started again, “when we thought you might not survive, I had time to realize some things.”
Adaar stayed silent, waiting.
Cassandra took a deep breath. “I pushed you away, when I knew you had feelings for me. I thought—” She made a noise of frustration. “I thought that it was what was best. I thought it would be a distraction, and I worried that if I let myself. . . have you, if you died, I couldn't be sure I would not fall apart.”
Adaar unfolded one hand from under her arm and slid it over to Cassandra's.
“I realized,” said Cassandra, “once I thought it was too late, what a fool I had been. Pretending I felt nothing more for you than friendship did not solve anything, and I could not bear the thought of you dying without knowing that I had lied to you.” Cassandra straightened and turned toward Adaar, twisting her fingers together. “I do not know if you still. . . feel things, for me, but I needed you to know.”
Adaar took a shaky breath and stood to face Cassandra. “Yes,” she said softly. “Just. . . yes.” She cupped the right side of Cassandra's face with a hand and gently tilted her face to the side, and pressed a kiss to the jagged scar on Cassandra's cheek, just as she'd always wanted to. Cassandra's eyes fluttered closed and her small sigh whispered across Adaar's face.
Adaar's mouth left the scar to press small kisses up Cassandra's cheekbone, over her eyelid, the tip of her nose, the jut of her chin, down the column of her throat. Cassandra's hands came up to rest on Adaar's chest, and she opened her eyes briefly before raising up on her toes to bring her lips to Adaar's.
Making a small pleased sound in her throat, Adaar kept her left hand on Cassandra's face while gently moving the other to Cassandra's neck.
Cassandra fisted her hands in the front of Adaar's shirt as she deepened the kiss. Adaar opened her mouth and Cassandra gently tugged on her lower lip before licking into Adaar's mouth. She pulled back to pepper smaller kisses to Adaar's lips. “Take me to bed,” she breathed.
Adaar kissed her fiercely, then, and couldn't restrain her smile; she was certain that was a line from a romance serial, and it was nothing short of absolutely endearing when coming from Cassandra's lips.
“As you wish,” she replied, slowly walking backwards with Cassandra still in her arms. Cassandra, meanwhile, pressed kisses to her throat and ran her hands down the front of Adaar's shirt, nimbly popping the buttons.
When the backs of her knees hit the edge of the bed, Adaar sat down, and Cassandra followed her down, straddling her hips. In this position they were nearly of a height, and Cassandra captured her lips again, kissing her almost desperately. Her rough, callused hands slid under Adaar's now-open shirt and slid it off her shoulders. Adaar lifted her arms from Cassandra's body to allow her to push it all the way off, leaving her in only a thin undershirt.
This close, the smell of Cassandra was heady. She smelled of clean sweat, and very faintly, of some kind of flower. Adaar chased the scent up her throat and behind her ear, and grinned as she imagined Cassandra very delicately dabbing on perfume.
Her fingers began to work on Cassandra's buttons as she tugged on an earlobe with her teeth. Cassandra made a needy noise and smacked Adaar's hands away from her shirt to take over the job herself. Adaar took advantage of this moment to pull her undershirt over her head, baring her small, unbound breasts to the air.
Once Cassandra had her jacket off, Adaar divested her of her breast band and leaned forward to take a nipple between her lips.
Cassandra moaned. “Please,” she said, running her fingers through Adaar's hair and down her horns.
“What do you want?” Adaar asked, her voice almost ragged, sitting up.
“Anything,” Cassandra said. “Everything. You.”
“You have me,” Adaar replied, tenderly brushing a thumb across Cassandra's flushed cheek.
Cassandra gave her a brief but fervent kiss before sitting back and gently shoving Adaar's shoulder. “Lie down,” she said, wryly. “You are still injured, after all.” Adaar complied, scooting further back on the bed and lying down. Cassandra followed her on her knees. “Turn over.”
Adaar did as she was asked, rolling over between Cassandra's parted legs until she was on her stomach. Cassandra lowered her body until she was resting just south of Adaar's still-clothed behind. Her hands roamed delicately over Adaar's back, pausing at each place Adaar knew a bruise still lay. Cassandra's lips followed her hands, and if anyone had asked her at that moment, she'd have sworn there was magic in Cassandra's fingers. Heat surged between her legs.
Cassandra's hands slowly applied more pressure, digging into Adaar's sore muscles, but carefully avoiding her scrapes and bruises. She pressed her fingers under her shoulder blades, and ran them down her arms and over her shoulders. Her fingers traveled down either side of her spine, pressing in just the right places before fluttering away when she reached the swell of her behind.
“Turn back over,” Cassandra said softly, getting to her knees again to give Adaar room to move.
Adaar rolled on to her back slowly, her muscles relaxed and warm and, for the moment, not even a little bit sore.
Cassandra settled back down and began the same process on Adaar's front. She cupped Adaar's breasts, circling her nipples with her thumbs and curling her fingers to gently knead them with her knuckles. Adaar arched into the touch as Cassandra worked her hands down her torso, and brought her own hands up to caress Cassandra's fuller breasts.
She gasped when Cassandra's hands began making their way lower, slipping down the front of her trousers, but not quite far enough to get where Adaar really wanted them.
When at last Cassandra's thumbs dipped low enough to brush over the coarse curls between her legs, Adaar's thrust her hips up, seeking more contact. Cassandra's eyes were dark, and a splotchy pink flush had spread from her face to her hips and beneath her trousers, and Adaar thought she had never seen anything so beautiful.
Adaar nearly cried out when Cassandra finally undid the fastenings on her trousers and tugged them off. Cassandra spared a moment to wiggle her own off so they were both bare, pressed against each other. Cassandra brushed her fingers through the hair between Adaar's legs, and Adaar moaned shakily, unable to decide if the sensation was too much or not enough.
“Come here and kiss me,” Adaar said breathlessly. Cassandra all but lunged for her mouth, as though she had only been waiting for permission. As her tongue entered Adaar's mouth, she slid a finger into Adaar's slick heat, thrusting it once, twice, before adding another. She curled her fingers within Adaar and Adaar arched into it. “More,” she said, moving her head to suck a mark on Cassandra's shoulder.
Cassandra complied, adding a third finger and thrusting them more deeply, pressing the pads of her fingers to Adaar's inner walls and circling her clit with her thumb until Adaar was making loud, needy noises and crying out, already on the edge. But just as she neared her climax, Cassandra withdrew her fingers. “Not yet,” said Cassandra, and Adaar groaned.
“You're killing me,” she said, chest heaving.
Cassandra just smiled and pressed a chaste kiss to Adaar's collarbone before sliding down the bed until her face was even with Adaar's hips. She nipped at Adaar's hipbones, and pressed open-mouthed kisses to the soft skin as she neared Adaar's core.
Adaar fought to keep her legs still, as what she really wanted to do was clench them together and hold Cassandra where she wanted her, but Cassandra, no doubt sensing Adaar's diminishing self control, finally brought her mouth down to the apex of her thighs and licked into her.
Adaar ran her fingers through Cassandra's hair and tried to keep her hips still, thought it became increasingly difficult as Cassandra's soft, hot mouth licked and sucked at her, and as her fingers slid back inside to form a counterpoint to the laving of her tongue.
“Cassandra,” groaned Adaar, “you—” she broke off with another moan, and lost her train of thought when Cassandra responded with a hum that seemed to reverberate through her.
Her climax hit all at once, surprising her into a shout as she arched off the bed. Cassandra followed the movement of her hips, licking at her until Adaar finally relaxed back into the bed.
She wiped her mouth as she sat up, eyes still dark. Adaar gestured for her to come closer and said between breaths, “Sit on my face.”
Cassandra's pupils, if possible, dilated even further and she took a ragged breath.
“Please,” said Adaar, and Cassandra didn't need telling twice. She positioned herself just over Adaar's face and carefully lowered her body until Adaar could spear her tongue into her.
Adaar sucked at her lips and nudged Cassandra's clit with her nose, spurred on by the muffled cries Cassandra was making above her, no doubt having stuck her hand in her mouth in a vain effort to keep quiet.
The slickness between Cassandra's legs slid over Adaar's chin and cheeks, and she could feel the trembling of Cassandra's thighs on either side of her head. It wouldn't take much more to bring her over the edge.
She sucked Cassandra's clit between her lips, and Cassandra began moaning almost nonstop, as though she simply couldn't stop. Adaar wormed a hand up between Cassandra's legs and thrust two fingers in as deep as she could manage from that angle, and Cassandra went silent as she came and her breath left her. She whined tremulously as she rode it out, grinding on Adaar's face.
When her orgasm subsided, Cassandra extricated herself and collapsed next to Adaar, who wiped the lingering moisture from her face and curled her sticky, sweaty body into Cassandra's.
Cassandra turned on to her side to face her, and they met each other's eyes. “I love you,” Cassandra whispered. “It is what I meant to tell you, earlier.”
Adaar kissed the scar on Cassandra's cheek, and then the corner of her mouth. “I love you, too,” she whispered, as though the fact that she loved Cassandra was a secret. “I love you, I love you.”