The Inquisitor stared at her throne. Her boots were there, freshly polished, looking beautiful and pristine like she hadn’t worn them tromping through the Fallow Mire just the other day. She blinked. Tipped her head to one side.
“Something wrong, Inquisitor?” Cullen asked.
She pointed at her boots. “I lost those last night.”
He lifted one brow. “How did you lose them if they’re right here?”
“They weren’t in my room. I took them off and set them aside because I needed to clean them. Vivienne yelled at me about spreading mud everywhere and not taking care of my gear. So I was going to clean them. But when I got up this morning, they were gone. I had Harritt and Dagna make me a new pair.” She pointed at the boots she was wearing. “But now my old boots are here. On my throne. Mud free.” She tipped her head to the other side, baffled and a little disturbed.
Cullen chuckled. “Perhaps Cole thought to help you.”
So she went to Cole, boots in hand. “Did you do this?” she asked, thrusting the boots at him.
Cole stared at her from under his enormous hat. Vivienne was right, they really needed to take him shopping for better hats and possibly get him a haircut and maybe convince him to get some sun in the Western Approach. “The smiths do that,” he said slowly, wandering, turning away from her and her boots. “Shaping, sharpening, smoothing.”
The Inquisitor sighed. “So you didn’t clean my boots?”
“It likes you,” was all Cole said, and nothing she said got anything more from him.
Her dreams that night were fevered, filled with shadows and heated touches. Invisible hands stroked her, caressed her, made her body burn for more, and mouths lingered on her neck, her breasts, the hollow of her hips. Fingers dipped between her legs, making her arch and cry out, and she woke in the middle of the night covered in sweat and gasping, unfulfilled.
In the darkness, she clutched her sheets in her hands and sucked in labored breaths, wondering if she should go to Cullen or Bull or even Solas. Eventually, when her breathing slowed and reason returned, she curled up alone, but she pulled her blankets over her head, unable to shake the feeling someone was watching her. It wasn’t a malevolent sense, but it was discomfiting.
The sensation didn’t go away in the following weeks. The dreams grew more intense, so much so that she sometimes woke to orgasms that had her back arched and her toes curled in her sheets. When she didn’t wake coming, her fingers delved between her splayed legs, sliding into her slick heat until she brought herself over that trembling edge. And still the feeling of being watched lingered.
Three days before they were due to leave for Orlais, her dress uniform went missing. She ran through the halls of Skyhold, desperately searching for it in every nook and cranny and supply closet until Josephine grabbed her by the shoulders. “What is going on?” she demanded.
“Skyhold ate my dress uniform,” the Inquisitor replied, deadly serious, meaning every word.
Solas, standing nearby, straightened. “Skyhold is a building, Inquisitor. A very old, very powerful, very magical building, but a building nonetheless.”
The Inquisitor pressed her lips into a thin line. “It. Ate. My. Uniform.”
“You have simply misplaced it,” Josie said, tone placating. “Or perhaps Cole is trying to help?”
A scowl crossed the Inquisitor’s face. “After I accosted him about the boots—”
“What happened with your boots?” Solas asked.
She ignored him. “—he’s been staying out of my space.” Her brow furrowed. “I think I hurt his feelings. Josie, remind me to do something nice for Cole the next time I’m out doing things.”
“I will add it to my list,” Josie deadpanned. “Now about your uniform.”
The Inquisitor balked, paled, and felt dread slam into her stomach like a druffalo. Or maybe like one of those Venatori with a tower shield. She’d gotten shield bashed by one the other day and her left shoulder still wasn’t quite right. “It’s gone. Skyhold ate it.”
Josie dropped her hands with a sigh. “We will find you another one,” she said, and she hurried off with a harried expression.
As the Inquisitor stood in the hallway, nibbling her thumbnail, deep in thought, Solas slipped up to her. “I can assure you, Inquisitor, Skyhold could not have eaten your uniform,” he said.
She shot him a venomous look. “The ancient, magical, elven fortress that’s borderline sentient can’t clean my boots and eat my uniform?” She sighed, then, and shrugged. “I guess it’s not a complete loss. I really hated that uniform anyway. Of course we have to wear it, we’re going as the Inquisition, but I was hoping for a dress.”
“A dress?” he asked, surprised. “I did not take you for a woman who enjoyed such trappings.”
With a dreamy sigh, the Inquisitor smiled. “Fitted through the chest and torso,” she said, smoothing her hands over her waist, ignoring the strangled sound Solas made. “The bodice covered in intricate, delicate embroidery. Silver thread on green velvet. A scandalously low décolletage made somewhat more decent with lace. And Thedas’s fullest skirt, done with seed pearls and ribbons and even more lace. So many fripperies and fineries that all of Orlais would be jealous.” She sighed again.
And two hours later, she found that dress on her bed. She blinked at it, not sure if she ought to be horrified or not, before snatching it in her hands and running through the keep. “Solas!” she shrieked, brandishing the dress overhead like a weapon. “Solas, you son of a bitch, I’m going to string you up by your ears and peel your skin off your body!”
Varric, standing in the great hall with Blackwall and Iron Bull, called out to her. “Isn’t it a bit early to be threatening bodily harm, Inquisitor?”
She skidded to a halt in front of them, shook out the dress, and held it out for them to see. It was just as she’d described it, but somehow even more beautiful. And she knew it would fit her like a glove if she took the time to try it on. Which she hadn’t. Because Skyhold had eaten her dress uniform and vomited up a dress and she was pretty sure if she put the damn thing on she’d get possessed or something. “Look at this,” she hissed.
“Nice neckline,” Bull said, giving her a lascivious and inviting grin.
The look she gave him could have rusted iron and spoiled silverite.
“It’s very lovely, Inquisitor,” Blackwall said, far more diplomatic. “Are you wearing it to the ball in Orlais?”
She made a strangled noise in the back of her throat.
“And here I thought we were all going in matching uniforms,” Varric drawled. “Lucky you, getting something different.”
Another strangled sound escaped her.
“You were about to skin Solas alive?” Varric prompted.
Clutching the dress to her chest, she glared at them all. “I’m going to rip off his head and feed it to him.”
“Now that’s an interesting idea…” Bull said, a thoughtful expression on his face. “If completely impossible.”
“I will make it possible,” she snarled, spinning on her heel and all but smacking into Solas’s chest.
“You were threatening bodily harm, Inquisitor?” he asked, giving her that smug, know-it-all bastard look of his. That one he wore whenever he was talking about the Fade and elves. Insufferable, sexy, know it all jackass. “What can I do for you?”
She took a step back and held up the dress. “It threw up a dress. Skyhold threw up a dress.”
Solas regarded the gown for a long, silent moment with an expression of intense curiosity. Of course he would find this curious instead of downright disturbing. “It’s a lovely dress.”
The Inquisitor dragged one hand down her face wondering what she’d done over the course of her Blighted life to deserve this. “Skyhold threw it up. It was waiting for me on my bed.”
Behind her, Varric snickered. “Maybe Red just took pity on you,” he said, “and got you something nicer than what the rest of us get to wear.”
“Who am I taking pity on?”
The Inquisitor whirled on Leliana and thrust the dress at her. “Did you do this?” she demanded. “For the love of all that is good in the world, please tell me you did this.”
Leliana took the dress by the waist, spreading it out, and positively cooed. “I haven’t seen craftsmanship so fine in years,” she purred, stroking one hand over the velvet bodice. “Look how tiny and perfect these stitches are.” Her hands slipped down the skirt and she gasped with delight. “And there are even pockets for hiding daggers! Inquisitor, where did you get this?”
The Inquisitor fixed Varric with a look of death that would have given even Corypheus a moment’s pause. Bull had the good sense to shuffle slowly backwards, muttering excuses before fleeing. Blackwall followed a moment later with much less grace.
“It is a nice dress,” Varric groused.
“A dress that a Blighted keep threw up on my bed!” the Inquisitor exclaimed. She spun about, jabbing a finger into Solas’s chest. “You! We are going into the Fade to find whatever psychotic spirit is doing this and putting an end to it.”
Solas let out a long suffering sigh. “It doesn’t work quite like that, Inquisitor. Such a journey would be—”
“So help me, Solas, if you don’t do the Fade walking thing with me right now I will rip open a Fade rift the size of a high dragon right on top of your face.”
“Perhaps I can manage something,” he said quickly.
Somewhat appeased, the Inquisitor tugged the dress out of Leliana’s hands. “But I was admiring it!” Leliana protested.
“I need it back in case it’s possessed,” the Inquisitor said. “Because then I’m going to burn it.”
“That’s a bit overwrought, Inquisitor, don’t you—” Solas broke off when she leveled that iron-rusting look on him. “As you will, of course,” he said slowly, holding up his hands in a placating gesture.
The Inquisitor wasn’t placated. Not by a long shot. But she was willing to work with him as he prepared them for their journey into the Fade, which included an herbal tea. “To help you relax,” he said.
“I am relaxed,” she spat, and as she said it, she felt a vicious twinge in her damaged shoulder. The repercussions of moving with too much tension. Solas looked at her without expression, and she met his gaze with a flat look of her own. “Give me the damn tea.”
He gave her the damn tea. They both drank a cup, sitting in barely comfortable chairs in the Inquisitor’s bedroom. She was fairly certain this wasn’t going to work for all Solas seemed to know everything about the Fade. As she slouched in her chair, waiting for the potion to take effect, she reflected on that. His knowing things about the Fade, that is. “You know too much,” she slurred, blinking rapidly, fighting the sudden and heavy pull of sleep.
“Are you planning to kill me, Inquisitor?” he asked, tone deceptively mild.
“Maybe,” she said, and then her eyes closed.
She found herself in the gardens, standing beside Solas. She was wearing the Blighted dress. He was wearing a harlequin costume.
“Well this is different,” she said, grabbing the dress by the neckline and trying to hoist it higher. As it was, the lacy bits barely covered her nipples. Her breasts were small, but the way the dress fit lifted and plumped them she was fairly certain if she bent over, her tits would go everywhere. Convenient for Orlais, maybe, but definitely not for the Fade.
She glanced at Solas. He was staring at her face. Fixedly. There was a faint, red flush on his cheeks. He cleared his throat and turned away.
“Are my tits too much for you?” she asked blithely.
“They’re very…” He coughed. “Present.”
“Well, thanks for not looking too much,” she muttered, trying to stuff them further into the dress and failing miserably. Not that she particularly minded his looking. She didn’t mind any of them looking, really, not when the rest of the world thought of her as the holy Herald of Andraste. It was nice for a man to stare at her tits with want in his eyes.
Kind of like how the exceptionally naked man striding toward them was staring at her.
“Uh,” she said, lifting her hand and pointing.
Solas stepped forward, a look of concern on his face. “You are Tarasyl’an Te’las,” he said, and then he started speaking a string of elvish the Inquisitor couldn’t hope to understand. It seemed like Solas was the only elf in Thedas who had mastery of their language.
And wasn’t that just bizarre. She filed it under Things To Deal With When Awake And Slightly Less Disturbed By Everything Happening In My Life.
So while Solas talked the spirit creature’s ears off, she studied it. Unabashedly male (bless him for his magnificent nudity), he was tall, lithe but defined with lines of muscle. His hair shimmered in the sunlight, some incomprehensible color, and it fell down his back in waves. The Inquisitor had the sudden desire to card her fingers through those locks, to cling to them while he pinned her to a wall, a bed, the ground, and thrust into her. She’d nibble on his delicately pointed ears, suck them into her mouth as he rode her, and—
Well, that line of thought was ridiculous. He was a spirit. She knew better than to fuck a spirit.
He glanced at her, his eyes iridescent and scintillating, and she took a step back. A feral, hungry grin flashed across his face but instead of frightening her it left her wet. Trembling. “The dress suits,” he said, speaking right over Solas. He took a step toward her, and the garden dissolved. They were, quite suddenly, standing in her bedroom. Except it wasn’t her bedroom at all.
The whole place glittered, but not in a tacky, everything-is-diamonds way. It was like starlight had been worked into the very stones. Sunlight poured through stain glass windows, painting vibrant pictures across the glimmering walls. The Inquisitor sucked in a breath as she turned, slowly, taking the whole sight in. It was mind-bogglingly beautiful, defying words – not that she was very good with words, that was all Josephine, making her sound smart and clever.
Then she realized Solas was gone. “Where’d Solas go?” she asked as she turned back to the spirit creature. That was when she realized the dress was different, too.
She glanced down at herself and went completely still. If the walls were made of starlight, she was wearing the moon. The fabric, soft and sumptuous, wrapped her body in such a way that it covered everything and yet remained entirely scandalous. In places, it was nearly translucent. Light rippled across it, warm and comforting.
The Inquisitor looked at the spirit, blinking rapidly. “Um,” she finally said, gesturing vaguely to the whole of everything around them. “Do you have a name?”
“Skyhold,” he said, striding toward her. If she was wearing the moon, he wore the sun. The fabric was rich and red and she swore arcs of fire lined the hems.
She took a step back, not because she was scared but because that’s what she did when people walked toward her. She stepped back and to the side and then they passed her by and she put a dagger in their back. So much easier than flinging around fireballs. So much more prudent, too. Everyone always saw the fireball coming. No one expected a knife in the kidney.
But when she turned, so did he, and then he was dragging her against him and all she could think was He’s hung like a battlenug.
“Um,” she said aloud, again, stupidly. So close to him, she was able to see the absolute perfection of his face in perfect clarity. “Did you make that face yourself or were you born with it?”
“I made it for you.” He paused. “That disturbs you?”
It probably should have disturbed her. A lot. On a fundamental level. Instead, she was oddly charmed. “Why?”
“Because I like you. I was lonely, but then you came and brought life back. I want you to stay, so I want you to like me.” He gave her a broad, charming smile. “I made a face that you would like.”
She pursed her lips. “You’ve been giving me the fever dreams.”
The brightness of his face became dark, a passionate storm of desire flickering in those unfathomable, iridescent eyes. “You’re beautiful when you come,” he said, voice thick and rough. “Muscles straining, taut with pleasure, body arching and aching.” She shivered at the words, as he drew her closer, as his hands parted the folds of her dress until fabric pooled at her feet and she was left in a heavy gold necklace and nothing else. His finger hooked in the necklace, traveling along it, and he drew her flush against him. “I want to taste you.”
Shivering, she slid her hands over his chest, trying to push his clothes off the same way he’d removed hers. She couldn’t, though, couldn’t fathom the intricate magic that wreathed him in fire. Giving up, she twined her arms around his neck. “You already have,” she breathed, her voice just as husky as his. “Nightly.”
“Just in dreams. You’re here now.” He pulled her arms from around his neck and went to his knees, nuzzling the juncture of her thighs.
She should have felt vulnerable, naked as she was while he still wore all his clothes. Instead, with him kneeling at her feet, reverence in his eyes, she felt power. Power over an ancient, monolithic keep that contained untold mysteries. And the spirit that possessed it wanted her.
Fucking him was a terrible idea. Which was precisely why she took a few steps back, until her back touched a pillar, pulling him with her. She leaned against the pillar, draping her leg over his shoulder.
He met her gaze, his eyes positively smoldering with lust. And then, gaze still on hers, he leaned forward and touched his tongue between her legs.
She swore and he laughed, and then his tongue was pressing into her, laving her, licking her, lapping up every drop of arousal he coaxed out of her. If there was ever a creature devoted to her pleasure, it was this one. He left no part of her cunt untasted, and with every stroke of his tongue little sounds of delight came from him. Those noises made heat flare in her belly, made her hot and desperate.
He added a finger, sliding it deep inside her. She let out a gasp, eyes going wide as he curled it against her muscles, rubbing the pad of his finger over a spot inside her that had her seeing stars. Literal stars, not just the shimmering walls all around them.
Trembling, she threaded her fingers in his hair. The sane part of her mind (which she thought was also a rather stupid part) wanted her to pull him off her. She should run, find Solas, and get out of the Fade. The not so sane part of her mind, the part she was much more inclined to agree with, pointed out she hadn’t gotten laid in years and the spirit was doing a much better job than any of her other lovers ever had.
She was going to be damned for this. Whatever waited for her after death, it was going to be punishment for letting a spirit have its wicked way with her in the Fade. And she didn’t even care.
Gasping, she arched into his mouth, rocking her hips against his face as he lashed her clit with his tongue, brutally intense in his efforts to pleasure her. She felt him humming against her, a slight vibration that, combined with his finger inside her, pushed her, at last, over the edge. She came with a cry, her fingers clutching at that beautiful, silken hair of his.
Somehow, they ended up in the bed. Her back hit the sheets, and she had the irrational thought that the sheets felt like clouds, and then he fell over her. His skin seared her with heat, blazing like the sun but not burning, and he was inside her in a second. His cock was big enough that it was almost too much. But it didn’t hurt, it just filled, and she was gasping, coming again, drowning in the pleasure of his touch.
He fucked her for what felt like hours but was probably only seconds. The Fade was strange, its paths twisted, and she couldn’t rightly comprehend half of the things he did to her. At one point, he stroked her hair and she thought his fingers passed into her skull to probe her brain. The result was blinding pleasure so great she thought she would burst.
With his hands on her hips, clutching her with bruising strength, he filled her, slaked his need on her body, slaked her need. Every time she thought it might be nice for him to touch her, kiss her, lick her, he was there and performing that act. Half of her wondered if she hadn’t conjured him, if this wasn’t another fever dream born of loneliness and sexual desperation.
When he finally came, he filled her to overflowing with his seed. If spirits even had seed. She didn’t care, really, except that the flood of heat and the ecstasy on his face was so overwhelmingly beautiful she had to kiss him. He tasted like fire and the wind on a summer day, of solid earth and reassurance.
She woke on the floor, gasping, with Solas staring at her.
“That,” he said, “should not have happened.”
She dragged a hand down her face. Through her hair. Sucked in a sharp breath. She’d gone from naked with a spirit balls deep in her to clothed and on the hard, uncomfortable floor of her room. “The part where he kicked you out of the Fade or the part where he—” She broke off. Peered at him. “Let’s pretend this didn’t happen. Let’s pretend you don’t know this about me.”
He gave her a long, considering look. “As long as the spirit of this place doesn’t trouble you or cause us harm,” he said slowly.
“Oh, no, I wouldn’t call it trouble at all.” She sank onto the floor, not bothered by the hardness of it at all. Limp, boneless, she smiled stupidly at the ceiling. “I’m just going to lay here for a while. You tell everyone we figured it out. Everything is fine.”
He hesitated before leaving her, but leave her he did.
She poured herself another generous helping of that herbal tea and passed out on her bed. Skyhold was waiting for her in her dreams.
The rest of her companions, bless them, never asked why she never lost her socks. They didn’t wonder how there was always a glass of exorbitantly expensive wine within her reach. They didn’t question the fact that she could open a door that should have lead to a closet only to find the gardens on the other side. They were good people, her companions.
She supposed, when she got letters inquiring after her many adventures from friends and family, that it would be easier to tell them she’d tripped and fallen onto either Solas or Cullen’s dick. But in the end, she preferred shagging Skyhold. The fringe benefits were mighty nice, too.