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Rescue Me

Chapter Text

Several months had passed, the Inquisition was nearly at its conclusion after Corypheus had been found, rather he had come to them in Skyhold.

Things had been blessedly quiet, the rebuilding of the lands devastated by Corypheus had begun, but the ever present rift in the sky had been closed, taking with it the sense of impending doom and urgency.

Dorian should have known the quiet times weren’t going to last forever.

It had started simple enough with a letter, one delivered straight to Dorian Pavus’ hands. Dorian had recognized his family seal, and had taken himself off to his favorite corner of the keep and had settled himself down to read it.

He hadn’t heard from his family since his father had left to return to Minrathous, but it hadn't surprised him that with the threat over, his father would write to him now.

Dorian read the letter written in his mother’s hand, then reread it, then read it yet again, his eyes taking in every word, absorbing them as if by the time he was done they would say something different.

But no… There was no mistake.

Dorian’s lip curled under his mustache, and a cry of anger escaped him, along with freezing ice, blasting outwards from him to encase the bookshelves on either side of him in crystal, the ice spreading out. He could hear the startled gasps of mages, but he didn’t care, the words his mother had written appearing over and over in his mind’s eye.

Your father is dead. You need to come home.

Bull looked up, surprised Dorian hadn’t appeared for their planned outing away from Skyhold, since the mage was always early. “Something must have happened, this isn’t like him.” he headed up to the second floor landing, and skidded right into a bookcase when he hit the ice covered floor. “Son of a bitch...what happened?”

“Leave me, Bull,” came Dorian’s warning reply from his place in his chair. He had his head buried in his hands, his dark hair peeking through his fingers.

“We can’t get him to talk to us,” one of the mages who stood just out of the range of ice muttered to Bull.

Bull waved them off and carefully made his way over to where his lover had curled away from them. “Talk to me, you know I’m not going to leave you to suffer. What happened?” he asked quietly as he knelt before his lover.

One of Dorian’s hand’s dropped and picked up a crumpled piece of parchment from his lap. “My mother had written to inform me that my father has died and I need to return home to take up the reins of Magister.”

“I’m sorry, do you want to get out of here?” Bull offered as he picked up the letter, sure Dorian might want it later.

Dorian lifted his head and touched Bull’s cheek, his thumb scraping lightly over the thick stubble along his jaw. “Tavern? I need a stiff drink right now.”

“Sure, just get rid of the ice so we don’t make it a really short trip.” Bull pressed a kiss to the mage’s forehead as he rose. “I wish I could do more for you.”

Dorian wanted badly for Bull to be able to as well, but he instead waved his hand and the ice receded.

“Let’s go. I’ll explain what she… what she said on the way.” He rose to his feet and headed towards the stairs.

"Tell me when you're ready kadan," Bull replied quietly

“I’m an only child,” Dorian began, “you know that. I’m the only heir to my family’s legacy, which I never… I thought my father would live forever, Bull. I never thought…”

He snapped his mouth shut as they came out to the main hall and passed by Varric.

Once they had passed the dwarven rogue, Bull took Dorian's hand as they headed for the Tavern. "Will you go? Shall I come with you if you do?"

“She found a woman for me,” Dorian said. He didn’t look at Bull, but squeezed his hand tightly as he spoke. He could feel the warm, late morning sun on his face, but his mind was elsewhere.

“With my father dead, the family’s enemies will be moving in quickly, seeing the House as vulnerable. She says she has made an advantageous match for me, to help solidify our position as a House to be reckoned with. I need to do my duty to her and the rest of my family by keeping them safe and secure in their position in society. Also, she added that the slaves would suffer, because no one treats a slave better than House Pavus. Let’s just ignore that it’s aborhant that we own slaves at all.”

He couldn’t look at Bull, couldn’t even half believe the words coming out of his own mouth. By saying them aloud, he was making it reality, a conjuring he couldn't take back.

"I see..." was all Bull could reply with, unsure how to respond to his lover’s news. He frowned but didn't let the swears that came to mind fly free. It wasn't the place for it.

Once they were in the tavern and seated, he glanced at Dorian then the rest of the Chargers before he asked what the other man's plans were.

Dorian swallowed audibly. “I need to go back--alone.” He accepted the tankard of ale when it was handed to him and stared down in its foamy depths.

"No, not alone. Even if it's to say goodbye, I won't let you make that trip by yourself Dorian." Bull replied as he ignored his drink on favor of staring at the mage as if he'd lost his mind.

“I’ve made the trip before, and she sent guards to escort me back. They are awaiting me in Redcliffe.” Dorian took a long sip of his ale before he continued on.

“I won’t be gone long. Either I’ll find a way to hand off the title to one of my cousins, or I’ll make sure they understand that I won’t be doing as they wish. If they want me to be Magister Pavus, then they will not dictate to me.”

Bull glared but didn't push the subject. He didn't want to fight in public or push Dorian while he was still new in his grief. He just muttered about not liking it but didn't force it. He'd save that for when he they were alone.

“My father always thought I’d ruin the family. I just hope they do what’s best and allow me to pass on the damned title.” Dorian took a longer drink of his ale. He slammed the tankard down in a way that would have made any Ferelden proud before he buried his face in his hands.

“Maker… My father’s gone. Cassandra once told me that I should not wish for his death, and I think she was right.”

"What do you need? I'm not much for words, but I can listen." Bull was at a loss for what could help Dorian but he'd stick by the mage as long as he'd let him.

Dorian raised his head. “I’m not leaving you. No matter what, this won’t part us.” It was if he was reassuring himself more than Bull. “I need to know you’ll be here to come back to.”

"I'd rather you let me come with you, even as a guard." Bullet slip before he could catch himself

“No,” Dorian said sharply. “I don’t know what has happened since I left, but I do know Minrathous. If anyone finds out that you’re my lover, you’ll become a target. I won’t put you in harm’s way.”

"You say that like I can't defend myself." Bull replied but dropped any further protest at Dorian's expression.

"Fine, but I don't have to like it, and I'm going to worry the whole time. "

“You can defend yourself,” Dorian assured. “But if anything were to go wrong, it would be my fault. This way you’ll be safe, and they will have less leverage against me. I’d do anything they asked of me if it meant you wouldn’t be harmed.”

The Kossith just rolled his eye and grumbled a bit more but didn't keep the argument going. "Whatever you need kadan, whatever you need."

Dorian leaned his head against Bull’s shoulder and closed his eyes. He didn’t speak of his fears and worries, they went without saying and wouldn’t change his resolve.

“I love you,” he said instead.

"Love you, you big fop," Bull replied with a kiss to the mage’s temple.

 

**

Dorian had been gone for almost two months. Two months without any word, without any knowledge of how he was faring in Minrathous. Leliana was able to find only a little bit from her contacts, but their reports were scarce and filled with rumors.

Dorian had taken his father’s seat in the Senate.

Dorian had married.

Dorian hadn’t been seen outside of his family villa.

There was no corroboration on any of those rumors, and Leliana had been firm in telling Bull as much.

Three more weeks passed before Bull finally got a letter dropped in front of him by Krem, along with a flagon full of drink in case it was bad news. “Want me to sit with you Chief?”

“Yeah...just in case...I uh, I need to punch something.” Bull said as he opened the thick envelope of cream coloured parchment, dark green lettering in Dorian’s neat hand covered almost every bit of the letter.

“Came in a moment ago. The messenger was a bit shifty, not Tevinter. Said I owed him a lot of coin. I paid him because I recognized the seal. Figured it was worth the price.” Krem sat down next to Bull and watched him scan the letter.

Bull scanned the letter, then reread it again for the things that the mage had said, albeit in words that they’d worked out over the months for signs they were in trouble. He read it through one more time then swore loudly. “He’s in trouble, I knew he shouldn’t have fucking gone alone.”

“Then we go after him.” Krem shrugged. “Should I get the boys now or do you want to wait until the morning?” It was as simple as that for Krem.

“Get the boys together, I’ll tell Lis and we leave by sundown.” Bull snarled as he snatched up the letter and headed towards the war room.

Krem finished his ale and got to his feet. He was going to have his work cut out for him to make sure Bull didn’t charge into Minrathous half cocked.

**

It took them weeks to reach Minrathous, but it was still far quicker with Bull’s relentless hurry to reach the city. No one bothered them as they rode along the great road to the capital, at least until they reached the massive gates of the city. The guards had stopped the Chargers and it had taken a few words from Krem and Bull flashing the Pavus amulet before they had been allowed inside.

“Security is a bit tighter than I remember,” Krem muttered once they had cleared the gates.

“Just remember that when we are ready to bug out of here.” Bull murmured. “This place makes me want to grab him and run for the hills.”

“Haven’t been here for years.” Krem eyed the unchanging city, the squat homes of those without magic, and the soaring towers in the distance of those that had power. “Hasn’t changed much.”

“Hopefully we can get to his place without too many questions coming up. You have to take lead on this Krem since I didn’t pick up much Tevene over the years.” Bull replied as he watched for anyone who seemed too interested in their movements.

“At least not the kind of Tevene that would get you anything more than a hard fuck,” Krem said dryly.

“Most of the villas are farther in the city.”

“Not in the mood for it Krem, really not the time.” Bull hissed.

Krem shrugged and urged his horse on, navigating through the streets as if he’d been gone only days and not years.

Bull followed along, attention divided between their path, finding Dorian and plotting an escape. His attention was brought back by Krem calling his name as they approached an inn on the outskirts.

“We should stay here for the time being,” he said as he dismounted. “That way we can see what’s going on with our mage. Once we’re settled, you and I will go to his villa.”

“Yeah, get us rooms and then we can scope out his place.” Bull answered.

“I’ll be back. Don’t venture into the wealthy district ahead,” Krem warned. “They won’t take kindly to qunari and elves wandering about.” He disappeared into the inn.

“Lovely homeland you have here, kadan.” Bull muttered as he waited for Krem to return.

He didn’t have to wait long. Krem returned and handed the rest of the Chargers keys. “Third floor, we have the whole thing to ourselves. Remember, keep your ears open, your eyes sharp, and your mouths shut. Orlesians like to think they know how to play games, but the way Magisters do it…”

He and Bull watched half of the Chargers head to the stables with their horses, while the other half disappeared into the inn with their gear.

“Don’t care right now, let’s get to the villa.” Bull said harshly.

“It’ll be this way.” Krem mounted his horse and led the way up the street and into where the magisters had their villas. The closer a villa was to the Archon’s Spire in the center of the city, was usually an indication on either how powerful their House was, or just how old the family name was. Sometimes it was both.

They rode deeper into the city, past stone faced guards and templars who watched them unblinking. Krem took lead, keeping his eyes straight ahead and looking neither left or right, as if he belonged and had important business, that it was best not to stop them.

And in a way they did.

When they came to the front gates of the villa of the House of Pavus, Krem was more than ready to get inside and get off the streets. But the gates were closed and locked, and guards were posted on either side of the finely wrought metal.

“Magisters don’t close their gate like this unless they expect trouble,” Krem muttered to Bull. Leaving their gates open means they aren’t afraid and don’t need to be.”

He pulled up short in front of the guards.

“You can take lead, this is your turf Krem, and they already don’t like me, regardless of the truth. Do what you need to get us in the door, I’ll follow you.” Bull said as he took in the villa,the guards, all of it gave truth to his lover’s missive.

“We’re here to speak with Magister Dorian Pavus,” Krem said in polite Tevene.

“A lot of people want to speak to Magister Pavus,” said one of the guards, finally confirming that Dorian had taken the title. “But we have orders to let no one through.”

“This is The Iron Bull,” Krem said as evenly as possible.

“Proof?” asked the other guard.

“The amulet, Chief,” Krem muttered in Trade.

Bull pulled the amulet out to show the guards, his gaze hard as he waited for them to acknowledge his tie to Dorian. “Satisfied?” he finally asked.

“I’ll tell master Aclassi that you are here,” acknowledged the guard. He turned and unlocked the gate, slipping inside.

“What did he say?” Krem breathed.

“I believe he said Aclassi.” Bull replied.

“The asshole did it, didn’t he?” His eyes widened when the guard returned, someone in tow.

“Father?” Krem rasped.

The older man gazed up at Krem through eyes slowly filling with tears. “Not here in the street. come inside, both of you quickly.”

Bull had to force Krem to move ahead of him and into the foyer of the villa. He glanced around, worried when he still hadn’t seen his lover. “Ser Aclassi, where is Magister Pavus?”
“In his study. Thank the Maker you’ve come.” He led them through the richly appointed villa.

“It’s one of the few places his mother won’t enter and he can have some privacy.”

“Father,” Krem whispered. “How…”

“Later, Cremisius,” he said. “I… There’s so much to tell you.”

Elven servants stared at them in wide eyed wonder as they walked through the villa. Krem couldn’t help notice that the armbands and collars of slavery were absent.

“Can we speak freely once we are in his rooms?” Bull asked quietly.

“You can,” he answered quietly. “His study and his private chambers have been warded, and I lead the searches every morning and evening myself in order to make sure nothing has been added or tampered with.

They stopped in front of a set of dark wooden doors decorated with the twisting serpent and flower of House Pavus and inlaid with gold. Krem’s father knocked and opened them after they heard a muttered ‘enter’.

Bull forced himself not to knock Krem over as he entered, and found Dorian changed from when he’d last seen him. “Kadan.” he whispered

Dorian rose to his feet from behind his massive desk. He skirted around it, his rich robes trailing behind him, flashing gold and silver threads against the black velvet. His hair was much longer than it had been when Bull had seen him last. The sides and back of his head were shaved close to his scalp, while the rest of the dark mass was piled loosely in an artfully messy topknot.

“Bull…” Dorian breathed, filling the word with all of his happiness.

“Kadan.” Bull whispered as he strode across the room and hugged Dorian to him, relief flooded him as he held his lover. “I told you I should have come with you.” Bull murmured.

“Yes, I’m a fool,” Dorian mumbled against Bull’s chest. “But I’m glad you’re here now.” He pushed up on his toes to match Bull’s height as much as he could, taking his lover’s lips in a deep kiss.

Bull moaned softly as he nearly lifted Dorian up and onto his desk. “Fuck I’ve missed you.”

Krem cleared his throat. “Reunions later?”

“Um, yeah sorry Krem.” Bull put his lover down and turned to face the elder Aclassi. “Good to meet you, I’m Iron Bull and you, somehow know Dorian already.”

“Dorian found me in Minrathous and paid an obscene amount to not only buy me, but to have me freed. I work for him now as his personal secretary.”

“It wasn’t an ‘obscene’ amount,” Dorian sniffed. “Besides, you know who all the best tailors in Minrathous are, and who will cheat me.” He wouldn’t look at Krem or Bull.

“Thank you,” Krem said gruffly.

“Yeah, thanks. Now is there anywhere we can actually talk about your letter?” Bull said with a nod at the door then windows, unsure if they were being watched even in the study.

“Just a moment.” Dorian walked to the door and pulled out a long golden chain from under his robes. at the end was a silver key which he stuck in the lock of the door. He twisted it once and magic surged in the room, sparking across the door, windows, and walls.

“There,” he said. “I don’t want to even think about what they would have to do in order to get past this ward. Powerful, ancient magic. Probably scavenged off of the Elvhen. It was mouldering in the family vault of all places.”

“They?” Krem asked.

“Oh, yes, you wouldn’t know. The Venatori. They aren’t happy with me for my part in helping Lis destroy their dreams of world chaos and domination. Which in retrospect, I should have known was going to happen when I came back to Minrathous of all places. They’ve been trying to kill me for over a month now. Sent in Crows at first which was an insult to my abilities, or they just spent money on cheap assassins, bottom rung Antivan Crows.” Dorian frowned. “Which is also an insulting thought.”

“So what do we do now?” Bull asked as he took a chair next to Dorian so he could take his lover’s hand.

“Well I was hoping you could help with that. Seeing as I don’t wish to die, and I also don’t wish for my House to be wiped out in political maneuverings, I’ve been trapped inside my own damned villa with my mother, who is blaming me for the whole ordeal. Frankly, I’m not sure what to do.”

“Well, shit.” Bull muttered as he pondered what they could do. “The Chargers are here too, but we can’t just wipe out your enemies and hope to make a run for the border. Krem’s in danger here, Void I could be if someone decides to take a run at me for old Qunari sins. What are your options other than us escorting you and senior Krem de la Krem out under armed escort?”

“Make a run? how many times must I tell you that a Pavus doesn’t run? No, I came back to see what a mess my country was in, and decided to take up my father’s title and seat. I mean to change things, Bull, and I have the power to do it. The people of tevinter need to know about the Venatori. They need to fully see the corruption that everyone knows is under the surface, but no one wants to talk about. We find the Venatori here, and we stop them.”

“Dammit, Dorian, stuff your pride for once and be sensible. You can run this time.” Bull replied.

“No… I can’t. My mother wasn’t exaggerating for once when she told me the House needed me to take control. I have cousins, aunts, uncles, that need me to be here as a strong presence. The Venatori are going to destroy us as assuredly as Corypheus and his kind tried to do. I can’t leave my family to that, to all the slaves that I’ve freed since I’ve been here.”

“Thirty,” Krem’s father said quietly. “Thirty slaves.”

“Then what do we do? We can’t just relocate everyone here until we wipe out every Venatori across Tevinter.” Bull said tiredly.

“No, but we can cut off the head of the snake. Or several heads in this instance. What we saw in the South were the underlings. The true Venatori are the wealthy Magisters who wouldn’t dare set foot out of Minrathous when they could send someone else to do their work. They are who I mean to stop. Before they kill me preferably.”

“Vishante Keffar.” Bull replied then arched his eyebrows at the surprised looks on Krem and his father’s face. “What, he says it often enough.”

“It means bullshit or more, you shit on my tongue. And unfortunately, I’m not. I have the coin now to pay the Chargers.”

“We’d do it without coin,” Krem said firmly.

“Can we at least figure out a plan before someone comes along to pester Magister Pavus in his study or make sure his guests aren’t doing something to him?” Bull said with a glance to Dorian then to his lieutenant.

“The plan is for the Bull’s Chargers to become the personal bodyguards of Magister Dorian Pavus so I can move through Minrathous easier. I need to know who exactly is trying to kill me, but I’m not foolish enough to do it on my own.” Dorian crossed his arms over his chest.

“Plus, if I’m being honest, I could really use the support right now. There’s only been one person I trust in all of Minrathous, and it’s…”

“Made you paranoid,” Krem’s father said softly.

“Exactly so,” Dorian acknowledged. “Being with the Inquisition had me forgetting just how on edge I had lived my life. I used to spin conspiracy theories for Lisbeth, telling her all the ways people thought I was using her and how I could if, I was of a mind. Now I’m seeing why she always looked at me as if I was insane. Minrathous will do that to a man.”

“Well we’re here now and we’re not letting the Venatori get you. I’ll be damned if they even get close enough to land a spell on you.” Bull vowed.

“Thank you.” Some of the tension in Dorian’s shoulders eased. “I barely trust my guards, but I’m paying them well enough so I have their loyalty for the moment.”

“Effective now, I’m your personal guard as far as they know. You imported men you can trust rather than these snakes. You are going to be seen, and show that they are not going to have you ka---, Dorian. You keep hiding in here, they’ve won, do you understand me?” Bull asked.

“Oh, I understand all too well. It’s why I’m so glad to see you, for several reasons.” Dorian ran his hand over the shaved sides and back of his hair.

“Good, then we start a plan to get you seen, Krem, you’re lead on this because no one will take me seriously here, much as I hate it. Also, you know this place and the language. Far as anyone outside of us is concerned, I’m just the dumb oxman Magister Pavus has brought on to protect him.” Bull started to pace as he considered all the angles, the ways they could resolve things without anyone else getting killed.

“No one can know you’re my lover or what you mean to me,” Dorian said darkly. “If anyone finds out…” he stopped and took a calming breath. “First I’ll show you around the villa and explain the precautions we’ve taken so far. Then I’ll… I’ll introduce you to mother.” He said the last with some pain.

“Yeah I know, I fucking hate it, but I get it.” Bull said with a grimace. “This is going to be rough.”

“Don’t worry Chief, we’ll figure this out. No one will bat an eye if you remain at his side every hour, not if you are a hired sword.” Krem assured him.

Dorian got to his feet and smoothed down his robes. “Then let’s get started. One more thing, my mother considers herself progressive in her thinking, but in Minrathous that means little. I apologize in advance for any offense she might give.”

“Like I’ve never heard the insults that can come my way. I won’t like it but I’ll deal with it to keep you safe.” Bull stood at attention, fully in the role of hired guard, faithful until the coin runs out. “Lead on serah, we’re at your service.”

“Later we’ll talk about how hot I find you right now with you like this,” Dorian said before his grin fell away. He took out his magically charged key and walked to the door.

“Those services cost extra, Magister.” Bull said as he followed behind and had to keep from swatting his lover on the ass.

“Keep it together Chief, we have no idea who’s watching him. Leave that for later, and if you make it sound like he paid extra for those services, then so be it.” Krem cautioned.

“I’ve always maintained that Orlais has nothing on Minrathous when it comes to grand games. They might plat to the death at times, but we play with souls.”

The tour took far longer than Dorian had thought it would. He hadn’t had the privilege of showing his childhood home to anyone who hadn’t been there before, and he was beginning to realize just how large it was, with it’s several gardens, three bathing pools, and stable, just to name a few. Byt the time they were finished going over everything and Bull and Krem had quizzed him on possible blind spots and alternate ways in and out of the villa, the sun had sunk below the horizon.

“So there’s a few spots that you should have a constant rotation of guards on, other areas that should be closed off until things cool off and make sure all servants, and household staff are known to you and your mother. Else it will be too easy for someone to slip into your villa and get out.” Bull muttered as he sat making notes about the security of the place.

“Vincenius will see it done. He’s the only one I’ve trusted in this damned city,” Dorian said with a nod towards Krem’s father. They stopped in front of a set of large double doors.

“I wish I could say the same about my mother,” he muttered when he raised his hand to knock.

“The second we get out of here, I’m getting drunk.” Bull swore.

“And without me?” Dorian whispered. “Shocking. I’ve had to stay horribly sober for weeks.”

The door opened and a serving girl peeked out. “Mistress isn’t up to seeing you this evening, master.”

Dorian rolled his eyes. “How many times do I have to tell you, that I’m not your master anymore. I pay you to put up with her, and I pay you well.”

“She said for you to come see her tomorrow during the noon meal, master,” she replied, as if she hadn’t heard Dorian.

He sighed. “So much respect I get my from own mother and employee. Fine then, tomorrow it is.”
The door practically shut in his face and Dorian cursed under his breath. He turned from the doors and strode down the hall, back to his study.

Bull waited until they were behind in closed doors before he questioned his lover. “So, care to explain that?”

“That?” Dorian paced the room. “That was my mother trying to put me in my place. She hasn't forgiven me yet for refusing to marry the woman she had picked out for me, nor that I had refused to come home with my father when he had come to Redcliffe to fetch me. She’s angry that she’s locked up in the villa, unable to see a soul, or hold her head up when she could venture out because she has a paid servant now for a maid, not a slave girl bred for the purpose. I’m bringing down the family name each day.

“Oh, she thought it was fine at first, and we got along, but where she could stand to see some of our slaves freed, I’ve freed all of them and it’s an embarrassment. she cares more for what others might think that anything else. doesn’t matter if she approves secretly. She’s a walking contradiction and she’s been driving me mad.”

“Great, just great. Is she going to get in our way?” Bull asked.

“Depends, if she’s as concerned with appearances as Dorian says, she could be a problem.” Krem threw in before Dorian could answer.

“Remember when I said she was progressive, but only as far as Minrathous will allow. She won’t be a problem in so far as undermining us, but she will let you know loudly just how inconvenienced she is, and what will the others think? She’ll thank you, Bull, for protecting us, while she’ll mention that you’re civilized for your kind and how wonderful it is.” Dorian shuddered.

“I love her dearly, but she will drive one to madness.”

“I’m really fucking civilized, thank you very much.” Bull quipped.

Dorian snorted in laughter. “Says you.” he exhaled slowly. “Where are the rest of the Chargers? I can put everyone up here if you need.

“At an inn, we can go get them in the morning, and you will be seen going to fetch your latest additions to your household. Tonight is the last night you’ll spend locked up in here as if you fear the world.” Krem replied.

“Fear is such a strong word,” Dorian said lightly. “I more prefer being cautious.”

“It’s been fear,” Vincenius said. “But rightly so.”

“It took weeks to get the Antivan Crow off the walls and rugs,” Dorian sighed.

“Fear, that’s right. Now let’s get dinner and then we get settled for the night. We talk after dinner, alright?” Bull said low enough for just Dorian to hear.

Dorian nodded and Vincenius left to fetch them a meal.

Chapter Text

Dorian turned the magical key in the lock to his chamber door and the wards shimmered over every surface. “There,” he said, stowing the key away in his dresser. “We should be safe for the night from being overheard or any other nasty surprises.”

He walked over to a sideboard and poured himself a glass of wine. “Want some?” he asked Bull.

Dorian’s chambers were actually several rooms with connecting doors. He had a sitting room, a bathing chamber, and his bedroom along with a small room that served as a wardrobe.

Dinner had been quiet, none of them wanting to say anything lest they be overheard, and when Krem had left to reconnect with his father Bull and Dorian had all but ran to Dorian’s chambers so they could speak without fear.

“Was Solas a righteous asshole? Yes I want some wine.” Bull said as he relaxed finally.

“Always,” Dorian said as he poured the wine. “But how so in this instance?”

“Turn of phrase kadan, just a turn of phrase is all. I’m tired, glad to see you, not so glad to see what a mess you’re in.” Bull took his glass with a grin.

Dorian laughed. “Just like saying, ‘Does a Magister do blood magic or the Divine shit in the woods’.”

“Yeah, damn I missed you.” Bull said quietly as he motioned for Dorian to come to him. “Can I at least hold you?”

Dorian set his glass down delicately. “Of course.” He gave Bull a sly smile.

Bull held Dorian close to him, relieved to have his mage in his arms again, whole if not fully alright. “I was so fucking worried.”

“I’m sorry,” Dorian muttered. “I should have listened to you, but to be fair, if you had been here earlier it would have been messy. It took weeks to get out of the damned engagement.”

“I’d have stood with you, but I’m here now. Let’s just get your shit together and stop people trying to kill you.” Bull said softly. “I guess there’s no chance for fun huh?”

Dorian pulled back and raised his hands to his top knot. He unwound the silk cord that held the mass together and let his dark curls fall around his face to his shoulders. He brushed some of the strands off his face and raised an eyebrow.

“And here I paid good money to a hairdresser for my hair to be magically grown for you.” He clucked his tongue. “Minrathous does have problems, but it also has its perks.”

“Damn...I knew you’d look good with long hair.” Bull carded his fingers through the dark tresses, a pleased rumble at how good it felt running like silk.

“Short hair is all the rage in Minrathous, but I’m finding that if I’m going to be making people talk, I might as well look good while doing it.” Dorian caught Bull’s hand in his own and pressed a kiss to his palm.

“I want to wrap that around my hands and drag you to bed, make you set those hideous drapes on fire.” Bull growled in his ear.

“Hideous?” Dorian asked archly. “Those are fighting words in Minrathous. Now you better follow through.”

“Won’t they hear us? I don’t want to endanger you kadan. Much as I hate to say it, I can hold out if it’s for the best.” Bull whispered harshly.

“No one can hear a thing in here. Lovely thing about being able to do almost whatever magic I feel like without concern of what the former templar commander might make of it. It’s been liberating to have that freedom again.” He reached up and tugged on Bull’s horns.

“Now it’s been months so enough talk. I’ve been a very good boy, and I deserve a reward for waiting for you.”

“Strip...now.” Bull said with a filthy smile. “You know how hard it is to not try to nail every other redhead I saw while you were off doing fuck knows what? I’ve been good too and I’m going to make you really glad I came to your rescue.”

“We’re both bad men. You know we made no promises to each other to not stray while apart. I’ve told you before that you’ve ruined me for all men.” Dorian began to undo the ties to his expensive robes, letting each layer fall to pool at his feet.

“It was a near thing, man’s hand can only last for so long kadan.” Bull stepped back enough to strip faster than he’d done in a long time. “Can you still ride the bull? Take it all?”

Dorian toed off his flimsy, silk slippers. “i don’t know. I might need to be taught how to take it right.”

“You knew how before you left, you been out of practice? Truly alone and not even teaching yourself while trapped here?” Bull tipped Dorian’s head up to claim his mouth, wrap his hands in the long tresses and make sure the mage remembered his touch.

“I took the dragonbone with me… I made sure each and every time that lovely, thick phallus entered me that I thought of you. It got me closer to the Maker than anything else.” Dorian pulled his head slightly to the side, lightly pulling against Bull’s hold on his hair.

“Tell me about it when I’m balls deep in you, tell me how you called for me as you used that instead of riding me like you should have.” Bull moaned as he tugged harder and moved Dorian to his back.

“Sure we won’t get caught? I really won’t stop once we get going.”

“The Maker himself could show up and no one would hear it,” Dorian assured him, his breath leaving him in pants.

“That’s all I needed to hear.” Bull moved down and took his lover down in one movement, a low moan escaped as he licked and sucked Dorian’s cock as if he’d never get to taste him again.

Dorian’s mouth fell open in surprise and a strangled cry came from deep within his chest. His hand scrambled over Bull, finally settling on his horns for something solid to hold onto.

Bull sucked until he felt Dorian’s tugging on his horns for him to slow down or push him over the edge, he only stopped to catch his breath and give his lover a wicked grin. “Alright there? Want more?”

Dorian’s words came out in incomprehensible gasps. He nodded his head sharply, pulling Bull back to where he’d been.

“Greedy, I like that.” Bull went back to what he was doing, a pleased hum escaping him as he tried to get Dorian to tip over for the first time that night.

It didn’t take Dorian long. The cry that escaped him was guttural when he came, his hips bucking against Bull’s mouth.

The kossith warrior swallowed all that Dorian gave him with a content sigh. He finally pulled back and rested his head on the mage’s thigh with an indulgent look. “Better?”

Dorian tried several times to form words, and finally gave up to just nod instead. “Thank you,” he finally croaked.

“Any time, once you can get up, I wouldn’t mind you actually taking me for a ride.

Dorian hooked his leg over Bull’s shoulder and rubbed the heel against his lover’s back. He sighed in contentment, closing his eyes on a smile.

“Missed you.”

“I missed you too, kadan.” Bull let his fingers card through the mage’s hair, his voice a low rumble against Dorian’s throat. “So glad you I found you alive.”

“It’ll take a lot more than death to get rid of me,” Dorian huffed in mock indignation. “You have no idea how glad I am that you’re here.” He nudged Bull over on his back with his foot. “Maybe I should show you…”

“Yeah, you should. I’m gonna hate this farce of being your stupid, hired ox man thug but it’s needed to keep you and yours safe.” Bull rolled over and let his nails trail down Dorian’s back and ass while he drank in the sight of his mage.

Dorian arched his back into Bull’s touch. He grazed his fingers down Bull’s jaw, feeling the slight roughness of dark hair. “I don’t want you to think that we’re hiding because of you. I would never… Not anymore. A qunari lover might end up being one of the least shocking things I do before I’m done, I just don’t wish you hurt.”

“Tal-Vashoth, not part of the Qun, not for a while.” Bull reminded him gently as he dug his fingers into Dorian’s ass, fingers pressing in hard enough to make the mage squirm. “Won’t they think you’ve been converted or something if you did admit to sleeping with me? Or would they chalk it up to you being another eccentric magister?” Bull asked quietly

“The distinction means as much to the average Tevinter as the difference between a Magister and Altus does to a Southerner. And I frankly don’t know what they would do. It all depends on my position in society at the time, and my influence. If I’m out of favor then I would probably be brought forward on charges of possible treason for colluding with a Qunari. If I’m in favor, then I could fuck you on the table in the middle of a dinner party with the Archon and the Black Divine in attendance and no one would say a word.”

Dorian rocked slightly against Bull, grinding down on him.

“Well let’s get you in favor, so we can scandalize these fucking snobs around here.” Bull moaned as he felt Dorian’s cock slide against his. “You know how much I’ve missed you? Missed how dirty you get for me?”

“And I missed your taste,” Dorian groaned. He reached behind him and swiped a thumb over the leaking tip of Bull’s cock. He brought his slick thumb to his mouth and ran it across his bottom lip, leaving a lewd sheen behind.

“Either ride me, or suck me...I’m trying not to throw you on the floor and have my way as it is. You’re tempting me Dorian, so fucking tempting like that.” Bull moaned with a roll of his hips so his lover could feel just how his little show had affected him.

“Maybe I want you to do that,” Dorian taunted. “Maybe I want to see you lose control because you want me just that badly.” Dorian rocked against Bull, his body undulating in one long, sinuous line.

“Sneaky little fuck.” Bull growled before he grabbed Dorian by the hair and flipped them over. “Before I get rough, give me the ok. I don’t want to hurt you and have to explain it, or make things worse.”

Dorian curled his fingers around one of Bull’s horns and yanked his head down sharply. “If you don’t, then you’re going to have to be the one worried about explaining things.”

“Was hoping you’d say that.” With a growl, Bull tugged Dorian’s head back so he could bite him low enough to mark but not show beyond his neckline. He spread his lover’s thighs with his own so he could remind his mage what he’d been missing out on for the last few months.

“Gonna make you lose control and set everything on fire. Where’s the oil?” Bull asked as he bucked against Dorian again.

“Give me your hand,” Dorian panted. They usually liked to use the oil that Dorian made himself out of elfroot, but there were times when the mage just couldn’t wait.

The warrior held his hand out and grinned as he felt his palm fill with slick, before he coated two fingers to work into the mage. “You took our toy, left me with just my two hands, gonna make you pay for that.” Bull panted.

“But it has me good and ready for you,” Dorian moaned. He spread his legs wide, opening himself for Bull and whatever he wanted to give to him, tilting his ass up for more.

“What if I needed an extra little something? Bad mage, leaving me wanting all this time.” Bull panted as he paused to add more slick and a third finger. “Beg me...I wanna hear it.”

“Make me,” Dorian gasped. Bull wasn’t a small man, and Dorian already felt full of him from just his fingers, the stretch leaving his cock twitching in excitement between them.

Bull curved his fingers just a bit as he sped up his thrusts, gaze locked to Dorian as he waited for the mage to cave and ask for his cock.

Dorian’s head thrashed from side to side, his teeth gritted against the words. Bull knew his body well enough by now to hold Dorian on the edge of need and never give in.

“Asshole,” Dorian hissed. “Are you going to make me take it? Take all of it?”

“Yeah, once you ask me nicely. Calling me an asshole won’t get you all this cock, pounding you, making your eyes roll in your head as you call for mercy.” Bull kept his hand going, all while he waited for the mage to give it up.

Dorian’s eyes slid shut and his mouth fell open on a low moan. “Shit… Yes. Please fuck me. fuck me damnit!”

“Finally, thought I’d wind up just using my hand stubborn as you are.” Bull pulled his fingers away, slicked himself up and eased into Dorian, mindful of how long it had been since he’d taken his lover.

“So...much better.” he moaned with each stroke.

Bent almost in half, Dorian held onto Bull’s shoulders, his body writhing as much as it could into the relentless pounding. “Missed this,” he rasped. “Missed this.”

“Me too...so, damned good.” Bull whined as he took Dorian hard as he could, not caring for how loud the bed creaked under them.

Dorian felt his control slipping, and he was dimly aware that he should be worried at how often this happened with Bull. But the thick, hard shaft rutting into him, along with the feel of Bull’s teeth against his throat, had him crying out, his climax slamming into and then out of him, turning him inside out. Lightning arced off of him, striking a wine bottle and shattering glass.

Bull followed suit, his own cries long and loud in his lovers ear. He slowed with each jerk of his hips until he stilled over Dorian. “Sorry if I got carried away, just ...goddamn it’s been months.”

Dorian laughed, his voice rough. “No, no. Don’t ever be sorry for that.”

“Good, cause I plan to do that again later. Assuming we ever move again.” Bull rasped as he pulled back and let Dorian stretch out.

Dorian closed his eyes in contentment. “The bed is a mess and my sheets are ruined, but I don’t seem to want to move right now.”

“Will your servants talk?” Bull asked lazily as he forced himself up and off the bed, he was sticky and uncomfortable.

“Maybe? I would like to think that they’re loyal, but right now I have no idea just how much. some of them had been family slaves my whole life.” Dorian rolled over on his back and threw his forearms over his eyes. “Maker… I used to think that because I personally didn’t own them that I didn’t own any slaves. It’s been humbling to come back home with fresh eyes.”

“We’ve told you that already, now maybe you’ll get it.” Bull said gently as he returned to wash Dorian up, help him roll over to get the messy top sheet off so he could lie down. “How fucked will we be if we’re found out?”

“In this house or in Minrathous? They’re different questions, and I have no real answers, only guesses for both.” Dorian finished tucking in the sheet to straighten it on his side of the bed and crawled back in.

“Both, be blunt. If I need to look out for Crows or magisters or even your own household, I need to know, Dorian. I didn’t come all this way for you to wind up dead over a small detail we overlooked.” Bull replied as he tugged the mage to his chest so he could rediscover the feel of him.

With a wave of his hand, Dorian snuffed all of the candles in the room, the only light in the fireplace.

“Blunt? Templars come knocking on my door, or more, they break it down and storm the villa. My mother will be taken, and so will I. I’ll be put up for a sham of a trial, given to me only for appearances. If I’m lucky, I’ll be thrown into the arena where I’ll live only as long as I please the crowds, but more than likely I will be killed within my first day. You will be killed, and the Chargers hunted down. My assets will be seized, and my servants enslaved once more. Any of my cousins, aunts, uncles, will either flee Minrathous for the countryside and live in shame at the scandal, or they too will be killed.

“That’s if they accuse me of treason with a Qunari, which considering how badly the Venatori want me dead, I wouldn’t doubt.”

Dorian lifted his eyes up. “Shall I go on?”

“No, I got it. Fuck we’re in deep. What about Krem? Is he gonna be alright?” Bull asked.

“Krem is resourceful. he also knows this city. if anything happens to me, you listen to him. Promise me, Bull.” Dorian pushed himself up on his elbow.

“I will, but I don’t want it to ever come to that.” Bull leaned in and kissed Dorian slowly.

“You and I both,” Dorian muttered against his lips.

**
Dorian’s mother had stopped taking her meals in the dining hall weeks ago, so it was with some surprise on Dorian’s part when she swept into the room during the morning meal, her maid in tow.

She was a formidable looking woman, and one could easily see where Dorian got his good looks from. Her salt and pepper hair was piled artfully on her head, while her trailing gown was of deepest black.

Dorian immediately rose to his feet. “Mother…”

“Madame Pavus.” Bull inclined his head as he took her in, kept his expression neutral as he remained at attention near Dorian’s seat.

“Bull,” Dorian said once his mother had taken her seat and he had sat as well. “This is my mother, Livilla of the Pavus. Mother this is--”

“I know who he is. Just as I know who the gentleman next to you is. Cremisius Aclassi and The Iron Bull. Did you think that he could ride into the city showing off our family amulet and I wouldn’t find out?”

“No offense was meant, Madame Pavus, We wish only to keep you and Dorian safe.” Bull said with a nod to Krem.

“We meant no disrespect,” Krem added.

“None was given, but my son thinks me ignorant of what goes on in this city and my own house. And no matter his title and who owns it on parchment, this is my house.” she accepted a bowl full of fruit from her main and began to eat.

“Wards are all well and good, but when someone who had been rumored to be my son’s lover comes to this city with the House amulet, then proceeded to stay the night locked in my son’s chamber, it doesn’t take much to put all of the pieces together, that rumor is indeed fact.”

“I…”

“Hush, Dorian,” she said sternly. “No excuses or lies. I’ll find out the truth anyway.”

Bull glanced to Dorian, then Krem but wasn’t sure what he could say to dissuade her from putting the truth together. “Ma’am...we…”

She raised her hand to cut him off. “I said don’t lie.”

“We’re sleeping together and I love him,” Dorian answered flatly.

She eyed Bull. “Really now…”

“Really, I wouldn’t traveled all this way for someone I did not care for Madame Pavus. He has my heart as surely as I have his.” Bull replied.

“That’s all well and good, but you being here is a danger to him and to this House. You better make sure that you truly want to be with him and care for him, or else anything that our enemies could do to you would pale in comparison to the sorts of demons I would have truck with in order to destroy you.”

“Mother!” Dorian exclaimed.

She delicately wiped at her lips with her napkin. “I’m only stating facts, dear. If you could, i would tell you to ask your father what I did to him when I found out about the reason you left Minrathous for the Inquisition. Bull might be different from other qunari, he might not be Void bent on killing us all, but he’s still one, and he’s still a man. Two marks against the both of you.” She raised an eyebrow at her son. “I told you that you should have married the woman I had picked out for you. her family would have added to our power, and you could have weathered any storm and scandal that your love for The Iron Bull might engender.”

“I wasn’t going to live a lie, Mother,” he said sharply.

“So you have said. But you either live a lie hiding in a marriage, but your family is safe, or you live a lie hiding in this house while we are all in danger.”

“We’re going to make sure the danger is eliminated ma’am. In fact we are going to be sure Dorian is seen gathering his newly acquired guards.” Bull replied as he nudged Dorian subtly to get him calmed.

She rose to her feet and turned to sweep out of the room. “Just make sure that my son’s need to be ‘one of the good ones’ doesn’t blind him to the fact that we are in Minrathous and the rules are neither fair, nor rules, to those in power. My husband had been an idealist once too, and now he’s dead. I would not see my son follow him.”

“We’ll watch out for him,” Krem promised.

“I’ll give my life to be sure that doesn’t happen.” Bull said a tad sharply

“Good day then, gentlemen.” She inclined her head and left, her maid trailing behind her.

Dorian dropped his head on the table and groaned.

“She cares, in her own odd way she cares for you, Dorian. Don’t throw that away, remember not everyone has that.” Bull said softly before he slipped in next to his lover for breakfast.

“Oh, I know she loves me,” Dorian mumbled. “But Andraste’s tits she’s a terrifying woman when she needs to be. she came from a smaller House and she was the one who arranged for her marriage to my father. When it comes to society and schemes, I learned from the best.”

He raised his head and sighed. “Still, that went better than I thought it would.”

“What did you expect?” Bull asked skeptically.

Krem just shook his head at them all, and sent a quick prayer that nothing had gone wrong with the Chargers since they left them.

“Anything from throwing you out to throwing us all out,” Dorian said. “You never know with her and our relationship has been a bit strained since I returned. She doesn’t like the changes I’ve made, or how quickly I’ve done it. She thinks that I’m not being careful enough.”

“How soon can we get your shit together and head back to Skyhold?” Bull asked.

Krem just raised an eyebrow at the Chief, surprised he sounded so weary already.

Dorian gave Bull a pained look. “Not for a long time. But it’ll take even longer if we don’t get started. I’ll go get dressed for the day and then we can all be seen fetching my guards.”

“You are dressed, what are you talking about?” Bull complained.

Dorian glanced down at what he was wearing. It looked similar to the clothes he’d worn in Skyhold, but without the small pieces of armor. “This? Not for walking around in Minrathous, not for a Magister.”

Krem rolled his eyes. “Go and change. we’ll be waiting.”

“Maker preserve us, we’ll be here when you’re done preening.” Bull groused.

Dorian got to his feet and trailed his fingers along Bull’s horns as he passed. “Quit pouting. We’re in a deeper game than most in Orlais can play, so I have to do my part.”

“Yeah, yeah. Do I need to be outfitted in some poncy armor while we’re at it?” Bull snarked.

Dorian waved his finger at Bull. “Now, now. I know you’re cranky because you hate shit like this, but after the glorious night we had last night, I think you should try to be a little happier.” He winked at Bull and started towards the door.

“i don’t want to know,” Krem sighed.

“Well all this pomp and bullshit can kill that buzz.” Bull groused as he shook his head no at Krem. “Come on Krem-de-la-Krem, we have work to do.”

“Right, Chief! it was nice to not hear the both of you last night. I could get used to that.”

**
Dorian met them in the entrance hall an hour later. His hair was freshly washed and oiled, cascading around his shoulders. He had on a an outfit made of fine, black and red cloth, gold threads like veins were shot through. His breeches were tucked into a pair of boots, polished to a shine, that laced up to his knees. He had his staff with him on his back, but it wasn’t like any other Bull had seen him with before. Made from dark, highly polished wood, the top was inlaid with gems and crystals that formed an image of twin snakes curling around a flower, the sign of House Pavus.

“Goddamn, you need to wear that more often.” Bull said when he saw Dorian.

“Wipe the drool Chief and let’s get going.” Krem cautioned.

“If this plan works, I’ll have the chance to,” Dorian told him. “Now stop looking at me like you want me bent over the nearest table and let’s give them a show.”

“Can’t we do both?” Bull said, entirely distracted by his lover.

“Chief, focus please?” Krem reminded them both.

“Well now,” Dorian mused. “I’m a bit depressed I didn’t run off to the South with half my wardrobe. I could have had you in my bed a lot sooner.” He sauntered past Bull and out the door, heading to the front gate.

“Behave Chief, once we leave this hall we have to be on point.” Krem reminded Bull.

“Ser, yes ser, Krem!” the kossith teased until he was outside and all business the moment he hit the cobblestone pavement leading out of the Villa.

The moment they were outside the gate and on the street, Dorian completely ignored Krem and Bull. He acted as if he were strolling on his own, instead of being trailed by two guards.

Bull and Krem said nothing as they followed behind Dorian, both fell into their roles easily, silent sentinels as they observed every magister, altus and soporati that glanced their way even as they pretended not to.

Dorian had chosen not to ride, but to walk to the inn where the rest of the Chargers were, his every step telling all who saw him that he wasn’t in a hurry to get there, and he didn’t care if an assassin was around the next corner.

Well, as much as he could with two guards behind him.

Bull hated the slow pace but knew it was an affectation. He said nothing even as they entered the inn and waited for Krem to lead them up to the Chargers rooms.

They gathered all of the Chargers in a single room on the floor they had rented, and Dorian was the first to speak, his voice pitched almost too low to hear.

“I’m sorry for the way I may or may not act in the coming few days,” he said. His back was pressed against the wall, the room cramped with so many people. “Just follow along for right now and we’ll explain soon.”

“You heard him, people,” Krem said. “Get your gear and meet us outside in ten minutes. Magister Pavus is our boss now.”

There were a few grumbles from the assorted men and women but nothing that made it past the room once they were ready to go. Bull stuck with Dorian while Krem got everyone together to head back to the Villa.

Dorian studiously examined his nails while he and Bull waited in front of the inn. Horses and gear had to be gathered, and the inn paid.

Of course that’s when someone finally decided to acknowledge Dorian with more than stares. A man about Dorian’s age wandered over to him. His clothes were just as fine as the other mage’s, but his hair was considerably shorter, cut close to his scalp.

“Dorian? I thought that was you,” he said with a grin that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“Philo,” Dorian greeted without raising his eyes from his nails. “How’s your lovely wife?”

Philo’s face flushed and for a moment he looked furious before his expression smoothed over.

“She’s fine, Fellaria is well, she is expecting soon as a matter of fact.” Philo bragged.

“Is she? That must have been hard for her to finally be expecting, what with her husband’s… needs.” Dorian glanced up and looked faintly bored.

Bull struggled with not laughing out loud at their exchange, the way the Altus looked like he wanted to strike Dorian for his nerve sobered him up.

“My needs, I’ve idea of what you speak, Magister Pavus. We are very happy together, unlike the shame you’ve brought on your house, or so we hear.” Philo grinned deviously

“Funny thing about shame,” Dorian said idly. “It’s amazing when people hide together in the dark, what things are said or done to each other that they wouldn’t want another to find out. But I’m curious as to what shame you would be referring to.”

“You’ve shirked your duty, refused a very advantageous match for your line and freed your slaves. You’ll never get anywhere like that, Dorian.” Philo stared at the other mage, aware of the stares and whispers around them, the Qunari watchdog at the magister’s back.

Dorian covered his mouth and widened his eyes in shock. “Have I? You seem to have forgotten about joining the Inquisition, but no, freeing my slaves and refusing the match was the last straw for Dorian Pavus. there’s no hope for him now.”

“Your sarcasm does you no credit, Magister Pavus.” Philo remarked.

“No? Then let me be blunt, Altus Philo. I am curious as to why you are approaching me now when you know that I have been here for months. I have to think it was because you wanted a piece of gossip. You and I were friends once, Philo.”

“I thought to congratulate you on no longer cowering in your estate Pavus, but I see my presence is unwanted, nor does our past hold any weight with you. Good day my lord magister, far be it from me to keep you from your errands.” Philo sketched a bow towards Dorian, his eyes dark with malice.

“Ah!” Dorian returned the bow. “Then let me apologize for my assumptions. As you can see, cowering has made me not fit for company, and I was in the South for a long time, you know how it can be there. I do hope you will give your wife my best. I would dearly love to chat with her some time.”

“She’s in a delicate way now, Magister Pavus. I’ll pass on your greetings. If you will excuse me.” Philo sniffed as he snapped his fingers so his slave would follow.

“When did you shag him?” Bull whispered low enough for just DOrian to hear.

“Philo? A few years ago.” Dorian thought about it a moment. “A bit before I left for the south now that I think on it. It was a regular thing between us for a while. I was foolish in thinking we had something, and then he tells me he’s getting married. That man likes to suck cock too much so it was a bit of a shock at the time.”

He turned to stare at the entrance to the inn. “I’m afraid I… spread myself around for a number of years. There’s too many men like me in the elite of Minrathous, or at least, there’s enough to were willing to try for pleasure’s sake. I took what i could for a long time.”

“I have to remember that, so I don’t snap the next little weasel in half that talks to you like that, ser.” Bull tacked on in case they had eavesdroppers.

“Might I suggest we retire to the Villa, Magister Pavus? Then you should make an appearance at the Senate this afternoon so others remember your name and status.” Krem said as he herded the Chargers along, eager to be back.

Dorian nodded sharply and turned to walk back down the street. He had miscalculated with Philo, but he also hadn’t lied when he had said he had been away for some time. It had been him less cautious, more prone to react. If he wanted him and his family to survive this, and to stop the Venatori, he needed to learn how to master himself again.

Bull followed behind Krem, his expression blank as a guards should be until they arrived at the Pavus estate, where he could let himself relax, just a fraction.

Dorian didn’t let some of the tension that had been building up out until he had stormed into the villa, pulling his staff from its strap on his back.

“So, how many vipers are going to come slithering out now that you’ve shown your face again?” Krem asked as he helped his father assign Chargers to their quarters and getting himself settled in a better space.

“One already has,” Dorian said, his lips curling in disgust. “Maker preserve me. I knew that Minrathous was bad, but until I’d left and come back. The South has ruined me, you know. Completely ruined me. Men like Philo crawl over the corpse of what Tevinter was and the backs of their slaves. They’re no better than Corypheus, content to live in the past and what was, instead of seeing that we’re dying and moving onto to what could be.”

“Yeah we saw the one, but how many more will try to strangle you? Your house sigil has a snake, be the one to wrap around them first, be the one to terrify them with your venom, or are you not a Magister?” Krem asked Dorian as he crowded the mage.

Dorian’s eyebrows drew down sharply. “You’re right. You’re turning me on right now, and you’re right.”

“I’m not getting between you and the Chief, besides I like not getting the business end of his sword up my arse. I’ll get the Chargers roomed and assigned, and meet you all in the dining room in an hour. Then we pay the Senate a visit, me, you and Bull.” Krem waved them off as he fell in with his father, deep in discussion about assignments and rooms.

“Damn, this side of Krem is frightening. Besides, he’s not interested in you kadan. He knows I’d shank him if he tried.”

Dorian sighed in disappointment. “Straightness is wasted on him. Ah well.” He went and sat down on a marble bench to one side of the room.

“I’m afraid, Bull,” he admitted.

“Dunno if it’s comforting, but so am I. And I dunno which way Krem swings, but he won’t even think of hitting on you, not if he wants to keep breathing.” Bull said as he stood right by Dorian, just in case anyone came in.

“Don’t let me go too far, Bull. Promise me that. There’s not much anyone can do to stop me unlike in Skyhold.”

“I won’t, you’ve got my word. Come one, let’s get something to eat before we have to go back into the vipers nest.” Bull sounded tired and it was only midday.

“Tonight I’ll let you help me get out of my clothes that you seem to like so much,” Dorian whispered while they made their way to the dining hall.

“Sounds like a plan, but for now, let’s get everyone together, figure out how we can ferret out the Venatori and get the fuck out of Minrathous for good.”

Dorian froze and slowly turned towards Bull. “Not for good… Not me.”

“What do you mean?” Bull asked warily.

“I can’t leave for good. The Venatori aren’t the only problem in my country. I mean to do something about it. I have the money now to do it.”

Bull stopped in his tracks and stared at Dorian for a long moment. “But…”

Dorian looked horrified. “I thought… I thought you knew. Bull, I was going to come back and change things. I…”

“I didn’t think you’d want to stay for good. You know ...we….” Bull faltered as the reality of Dorian’s words sunk in. “I thought you were just going to refuse your arranged marriage, give up your title and come home.”

“i was,” Dorian said. “But I had to take it and now it’s my responsibility. It would have gone to a cousin that hasn’t stepped foot in Minrathous in over a decade. He would have ran the family into the ground.”

Dorian crossed his arms over his chest. “It seems I feel more about my House surviving and prospering than I thought I did. But if that’s all this was, then I could just turn over the day to day care of the House to my mother, Maker knows she’d love that. But it isn’t anymore. Minrathous can’t wait three, four, or ten years for me to come back and do something. It needs me now.”

“I see...I think I need to see Krem, find something to hit, excuse me.” Bull felt himself tremble as he considered Dorian’s words, the truth of them and how much he hated himself for being selfish and wanting the mage back in his bed at Skyhold.

Dorian nodded. “Come speak to me when you are ready. I… In all the chaos recently, I didn’t think that you hadn’t realized this. I’m sorry. It’s something we should have spoken of together. We should go to the Senate tomorrow instead. Today might not be the day for it anymore.”

Bull just gave him a lingering, sad look before he headed off to find Krem. He couldn’t express his hurt the way he normally would, so he’d have to settle for a long talk with his lieutenant over drinks that night.

Chapter Text

Krem fell on his ass for the third time that afternoon. He pushed himself up from the dirt in the enclosed practice yard and came at Bull again.

“You get soft between Skyhold and this dump? Again and act like you know what that shield is for.” Bull snarled

“Why am I always the one to suffer if you aren’t in a good mood?” Krem asked the sky before he came at Bull again, his practice sword raised high.

“Less lip, more shield work.” Bull hissed before he charged forward.

Krem lifted his shield and barely held on when Bull crashed into him. His feet skidded back in the dirt, but he was able to hold his ground this time.

“Better, maybe you’ll manage to shove me off next time.” Bull pivoted and charged once more.

“Right, I’m done with this.” Krem turned on his heel, sidestepping Bull when he rushed by and whacking his practice sword on Bull’s backside.

“What was that for?” Bull griped as he rubbed at his ass.

“I thought I could knock some sense into ya,” Krem said with a grin. “Seeing how your head was stuck in your ass.”

“Not funny Krem,” Bull snapped as he sheathed his weapon.

“I don’t know, I thought it was apt myself.” Krem sheathed his weapon and walked over to the water fountain.

“Look, I’m not sure how to deal with him wanting to stay. I thought... I thought.” Bull trailed off as he stared into the fountain, unsure if he could find the words for what was on his mind.

“He’s a wild card in your ordered life,” Krem finished. “You tell us what to do, for a while the Ben-Hassrath told you what to do, then the Inquisition. Your Magister doesn’t fit neatly into the order that you think you need to make sense of the world.”

He shrugged. “At least he fit for a short time after Corypheus and before he came back here. He was one of the Chargers then.”

“Its not that, Krem, and he’s still a Charger. Horns up for life.” Bull muttered before he drank.

“Then what is it?” Krem asked. He held a cup under the fountain and filed it with cool water. He didn’t want to think about what kind of spells were making the water the perfect chilly temperature, he was just going to enjoy it.

“I love him and I didn’t think he’d want to stay here, and I can’t stay here with him. I don’t ...my heart hurts Krem.” Bull whispered.

“Why?” Krem asked. “One place is as good as another for the Chargers.”

“What? You’d want to stay here, for good?” Bull asked in shock.

“Why not?” Krem asked. “We’re mercenaries, Chief, we go where the gold takes us. It’d be nice to have a home base to return to. Kinda got a bit used to it at Skyhold.”

“You’ve got your dad here, I can see why you’d stay. But what about the others? They might not want to.” Bull waivered a tiny bit of hope flared at the idea of remaining with Dorian.

“I’ll ask ‘em.” Krem took a gulp of his water. “But all of this is only if everything turns out like your magister wants it to. Venatori and going against a system in place for thousands of years? I’m betting on all of us having to run with Dorian, his mother, and my father in tow.”

“Fuck, why is nothing ever easy?” Bull said tiredly as he finally drank and let the water run over his head. “‘l’ll talk to him, see if he’d even want us to stay.”

“You’re serious?” Krem shook his head. “Because he would really say no to that. I saw how he looked when we showed up. I doubt he’d tell you to go.”

“Just...I can’t assume, Krem. I didn’t think he’d want to stay here either.” Bull offered. “I’ll see you later.”

Krem raised his hand in a wave. “See ya, Chief. I’ll go and ask the boys what they think.”

Bull waved back, then steeled himself for the conversation with his lover. He found Dorian in the study but not locked away, not like before. “Hey, got a few minutes for me?” he asked as he leaned in the doorway.

“Come in,”: Dorian urged. He got up and went to the door, magically sealing it with his key.

“So...about this whole staying in Tevinter thing,” Bull hedged.

“Yes?” Dorian kept his expression as deceptively blank as he could. He wasn’t going to push or guilt Bull into anything.”

“I talked it over with Krem, and if you want the Chargers...me, to stay we will.” Bull fidgeted with the amulet around his neck, then caught up to the fact he wasn’t sure if the Chargers would be alright with remaining. “Well, Krem’s checking with the boys, but I’ll stick around if you want me.”

Dorian’s face broke out in a wide grin. “If I want you? Of course I want you. I… I need you.”

“I wasn’t sure, look feelings are difficult. And I wasn’t sure if you wanted me around, since we can’t be too open here. I’m afraid of losing you if someone finds out about us, or worse.” Bull admitted finally.

“Feelings are difficult,” Dorian agreed. “And so is hiding. We worry about the Venatori first, then we can be as open as we wish.”

“Alright, sorry to be so stupid, kadan.” Bull pulled Dorian into a hug and sighed in relief. “Should probably write Lisbeth so she doesn’t worry too much, or can be ready to move out.”

“Don’t tell her too much. Just inform her that there’s a Venatori presence and we’ll take care of it. It’s too dangerous here for her to get it in her mind to come and help.”

Dorian closed his eyes and slipped his arms around Bull’s back, feeling the scars and dense muscles. “Amatus…” he breathed.

“Kadan…” Bull replied quietly. “Never thought we’d end up like this.”

“Me either, but I’m glad we did.” Dorian took a small step back. “Who knew that a drunken fuck could have led to this?”

“Not anyone I bet. Got any free time before you have to go be Magister Pavus again?” Bull asked

“For you? Always.”

**
The trip to the Senate had gone better than expected. No one had said much to Dorian’s face, and he even had had some of his father’s old friends come up and talk to him. For a moment, Dorian almost had forgotten about the Venatori in the ranks of the Senate and how precarious his position was.

But speaking to a few old Magisters weren’t enough to stop the whispers that started the moment Dorian entered a ballroom a few evenings later, Bull and Krem walking unobtrusively behind him. An exotic bodyguard or two wasn’t unheard of at a Magister’s ball, they were seen as something one ought to have in order to make as much of an impression as possible. Danarius had known the power of such a statement, of being able to say that you were the owner of a dangerous being that did your bidding. But Bull and Krem weren’t his slaves, and Dorian had to keep a slightly bored smile plastered on his face when he saw the first of the whispers go around the large ballroom.

Dressed in dark red and black, his clothes were as rich as they were frivolous, the tails of his coat draped elegantly to his knees.

He snatched a glass of wine from a passing slave and didn’t even bother to hide the spell he did to check it for poison and other substances. Maker knew it was a matter of rote at a Magister’s party.

Bull remained an impassive shadow at Dorian’s back. his gaze swept the room, every simpering Altus and Magister that came up to them taken in with a critical eye. He simply let his hand stray to the handle of his claymore if anyone got a bit too close or refused to leave their company. He knew better than to speak unless Dorian addressed him, as did Krem.

They were there to search for Venatori, and so Dorian had to speak to everyone that came his way. He guessed it was better than being a complete social pariah, but he ended up trading barbed words with a few people before they slunk away, while he got little to no information out of others.

“Maker…” Dorian muttered to Bull and Krem. They had moved away to the side of the ballroom, and Dorian leaned against the wall with a delightful mosaic of the destruction of Arlathan. “I used to think these things were fun to go to. Now I’m just annoyed. What have all of you done to me?”

“Nothing you didn’t want, Magister Pavus. Let us know when you need to depart this soiree.” Krem answered while Bull looked the part of the hired, bored guard.

“I have to admit, I am shocked,” came a voice to Dorian’s right.

He glanced over and sighed. “Altus Philo. How lovely to see you again.” The look of eternal ennui was almost perfect on Dorian’s face, but his eyes narrowed slightly when the Altus approached.

Bull stood a bit straighter as he measured up the Altus, sure he was going to be a problem.

“I would say the same for you,” Philo answered, and malicious gleam in his eyes, “but I’m shocked that you have come, what with all that has been said of you lately.”

Dorian knew he shouldn’t rise to the bait, but he did anyway, his curiosity getting the better of him. “Oh? And what is being said? Did I wear last season’s fashions? Do I need to find a new tailor?”

“You know very well,” Philo said, his delighted grin never slipping. “Sleeping with him and bringing him here to flaunt him in front of everyone.”

Dorian’s breath froze in his lungs, his skin crawling with apprehension. “I beg your pardon?”

Krem stepped up next to Dorian, his gaze hard as he looked over the Altus. “Is this man bothering, Magister Pavus? Do I need to remove him from your presence?”

Bull didn’t move, didn’t breathe too hard lest he knock the other man halfway across the crowded hall.

“No… No I want to know what he’s talking about,” Dorian said without taking his eyes off of Philo.

“Sleeping with a man is one thing, Dorian,” Philo said, leaving off his title. “The shame of that could be forgotten, forgiven if you still did your duty, but you couldn’t even do that much, could you? No… Then the man that you have chosen has to be an oxman.” His lips curled in disgust. “The girl your mother wanted you to marry is probably thanking all the Old Gods and the new that she was spared this humiliation and your deviancy.”

Dorian could hear how the room had gone silent around them, could feel every eye on their exchange, cataloging for telling tales later.

Philo leaned in close and muttered in a stage whisper, his voice dripping with pleased scorn. “They’re animals and it’s practicully beastality.”

It took everything in Dorian’s power to keep his magic from breaking free in that moment.

“That’s a serious accusation, Altus Philo. My employer is a Magister, and you are forgetting your place.” Bull said in a low, tight voice. He kept his hands clenched tight behind his back so he didn’t throttle the man before them.

“His place seems to be under you. I don’t forget mine,” Philo snapped.

Krem edged closer to Bull, more concerned over how his friend might react.

To his credit, Bull didn’t whip his weapon out and take the man’s head off. “His place is the Magisterium, and based on the way you accuse him; you have clearly forgotten your place, ser Altus.” Bull said.

Something occurred to Dorian and his mask slipped. “When they told you to come and accuse me of this publicly, did they tell you of the danger you’d be in?” he asked Philo quietly. “Or are you really that beneath them that they don’t care?”

Philo looked faintly startled. “I don’t... “

“You aren’t a fool, Philo, or at least, I never took you to be this thick. Look at him. Look at the man you are antagonizing with your words. All that’s keeping him from pulling your head off your shoulders is my word, and his incredible will to keep his temper in check. But it’s fraying by the second I would wager. So either they told you to come and do this, and you were assured that this would go off smoothly, my humiliation complete and your social victory over me solidified, or you had the misfortune to have a brain that thought that this was a good idea all on its own.

“Which is it, Altus?”

Philo’s skin turned grey and then flushed red. He leaned closer to Dorian and hissed in his ear. “The Venatori will not stop. This is only the beginning.”

“Is it?” Dorian murmured. “And here I thought that exiling me from society was the worst they could come up with.”

“Would you like me to remove this filth from your presence, Magister?” Krem asked as he shifted, sure a fight was about to kickoff.

“No.” Dorian drained the last of his wine and gave the empty glass to a nearby slave. “I’m bored and wish to go home.” He turned his back on Philo and every single person who had watched the exchange and headed towards the door.

Bull followed to let Krem bring up the rear, every step he took out of the hall, one that made his resolve to beat the shit out of some practice dummies grow.

Dorian walked straight to their carriage that had been waiting out front and got inside. He waited until the carriage door had been shut behind Bull and Krem, and the curtains drawn before he finally gave into his rage. The magical light from inside the carriage gave Dorian’s face a slightly sinister cast.

“You know he won’t let it go, and the rumor mill just got fed for days with that exit.” Bull said tightly.

“Better than one of us killing him in the ballroom,” Dorian sniffed. “Damn… of all the underhanded things to do.”

“I’ll kill him, just not in public.” Bull muttered under his breath.

“Oh, no…” Dorian drawled. “I want his death to be very public indeed.”

“While you’re both plotting his demise, I think you should be thinking about what this means,” Krem sighed.

“It means either he’ll keep this up anytime Dorian is seen in public or he’ll have to get silenced so others know not to trifle with you. Problem is, where did he get the idea? It’s not like ...we’ve given people reason to assume.” Bull murmured as he glanced out of the window.

“And that’s what I mean. How did he know?” Krem drummed his fingers on his knee.

“The Venatori told him, but how did they know,” Dorian answered.

“Time to see if any servants have gone missing, or if anyone is surprised to see the master of the house return. Krem, perhaps your father can be of use in ferreting out any leaks in House Pavus?” Bull said as he checked the street for anything out of the ordinary.

“As soon as we return,” Krem nodded.

“Damn, damn, damn,” Dorian muttered. “The gall of them.”

“Either way, I won’t rest easy until we unravel this.” Bull said, tense as could be as they traveled back to the estate.

The rest of the journey was spent in angry silence, each one of them lost in their own thoughts. Dorian was actually startled when they reached the villa, he had been replying each word of the argument over and over in his mind.

He waited for Krem and Bull to climb out of the carriage first before he followed after them. He stalked into the villa and headed straight for his chambers.

“Want me to come with , or go with the Acclasi’s, Magister Pavus?” Bull asked.

Dorian jerked his hand in a motion to follow. He didn’t trust himself to speak yet.

“Krem, I’ll check in on you later.” Bull followed Dorian in, and watched as the mage stalked around the room like a caged mabari.

Dorian waved his hand and the door slammed shut behind him. He yanked out the chain that held his magical key from his clothes and marched over to the door to lock it. His hands shook while he waited for the spell to take effect and ward the room.

“So, what do we do now?” Bull asked as he waited for Dorian to explode or react to their unsuccessful outing.

“I’m going to challenge him, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go to his fucking villa the first thing in the morning and drag his ass out in the street and have him face me.” Dorian’s hands clenched and unclenched at his sides.

“What good will that do? Won’t it also give credibility to his claims if you rush out to prove yourself?” Bull asked warily

“It’ll make me feel better to rip him apart,” Dorian snapped. He abruptly sighed and scrubbed at his face, some of his anger deflating. “Sorry. I shouldn’t take this out on you.”

“Don’t worry about it. Besides, I wanted to snap him in half like a twig myself.” Bull replied

“How about you take half, I take the other half, and we pull him like a wishbone. Whoever gets the larger half gets to finish him off?” Dorian made his way over to the sideboard to pour himself a drink.

“Sure, sound like a plan” Bull said quietly

“He has to die.” Dorian gulped down half of his drink and relished the smooth burn as it slid down his throat. “I’ll challenge him in the morning. He can’t refuse me, especially after the scene we made.”

“Then Krem and I will go with you.” Bull offered. “Rather not miss the fun.”

“No,” Dorian said firmly. “I don’t want either one of you to get hurt. Magical fights like this can sometimes get out of control.” He poured another drink and handed it to Bull.

“My honor was impugned as well, Dorian.” Bull reminded him.

A muscle in Dorian’s jaw twitched. “No.”

“Dorian Pavus, don’t do this. Not tonight, not after that scene.” Bull warned.

“That poor excuse of a mage had the balls to come after you and I like that, insult our honor, all because he’s the lapdog of the venatori. They expect me to either kill him or cower. well I refuse to fucking cower, Bull. He dies tomorrow and damn the consequences.”

“Don’t go alone then, let me come with you. I dont’ want to sit here waiting to hear what happened.” Bull pleaded.

It was hard for Dorian to explain all his reasons to someone who knew of Tevinter, but hadn’t been a part of it. he squeezed his eyes shut. “If you’re there then he’ll use you to get to me. A perfect bystander to threaten.”

“Like I’d let him threaten me and get away with it?” Bull sighed and threw his hands up. “Fine, do what you want, Dorian.”

Dorian opened his eyes. “I just… I didn’t want you to get dragged into it like this. I’ve been foolish to think it would be otherwise.”

Guilt and anger warred within him. To let a slight like what had happened at the party go unanswered would put Dorian in a precarious position. He’d be deemed as weak, and if there was one thing one never wanted to be seen as in Minrathous, it was weak. Still, this was a trap. No matter which way Dorian turned it would end badly. He could ignore the accusations, even if he could ignore the insults that had come with them, but he would one day be found out and then called a liar for hiding his lover. He could challenge Philo, but the ramifications of fighting, and maybe killing an Altus, even for a Magister would affect him, Bull, the Chargers, and his family. Dorian didn’t have the clout to challenge Philo unscathed, win or lose.

Either way, the Venatori had cornered Dorian, and he hated being cornered, outmaneuvered by a group who would see Tevinter burn before being dragged into the modern age.

“They’ve tapped us,” Dorian said aloud. “Nice and neat, and we walked into it.”

“Then we waltz right into their parlor and step all over there. You know it’s too late for any of us not to be involved. The question is what is the next move? Think of it like that game you play with Cullen, he’s got you down to a few pieces, do you attack, evade or defend?” Bull asked.

“I…” Dorian’s eyebrows drew down sharply. “When I play Cullen, I win when i do something he doesn’t expect me to. He backs me in a corner, and I make a play that he didn’t think was even an option I…”

He held up a finger as an idea began to form. “Something the Venatori won’t see coming, but will resolve both of our honors… something dangerous and outlandish…”

“You have that look in your eye, what are you up to, kadan?” Bull asked worriedly

“Something that will put you in a lot of danger,” Dorian said, slightly distracted as he spoke. “In fact, it will put you in the sort of danger I was just moments ago hoping to avoid.” Still, a slow smile began to creep over Dorian’s lips.

“Go on, colour me intrigued yet concerned.” Bull finally made his way to one of the overstuffed chairs in the bedchamber, its plushness gave him no comfort.

“The arena,” Dorian announced as if that explained everything.

“The...arena?” Bull tilted his head at his magister, unsure what that meant.

“We want our honor back and for Philo to answer for his insults. I could challenge him yes, but it wasn’t just me he insulted. We send someone to challenge his champion in the arena. You against whoever he chooses. It’ll be a public showing. The masses love the fights, and those that win gain a following. They wanted to hurt us the the court of public opinion, but the Venatori have forgotten that it’s not just the elite that matter in this city. They are who we need to impress, not the Senate.”

“Will it be to the death? Or do you get to set the terms of agreement?” Bull asked.

“The fights are rarely to the death, and the deaths that occur happen because it was the nature of the fight. I…” Dorian swore under his breath. “You’re right this might be too risky,” he muttered agreeing with something Bull hadn’t even said.

“No, it’s not. I just wanted to know if I had to fight to win or win to live. Set it up and I’ll take his champion apart at the seams.” Bull gave him a toothy, devious grin as he pondered how quickly he could take out Philo’s fighter.

“This will be dangerous,” Dorian said. “But if you win… It’ll be seen as something more than just two mages fighting in the streets of Minrathous over remarks at a party. The people will love you, Bull.”

Dorian glanced away. “Am I being too mercenary in wanting to to do this? I’m back here a few months and already I’m using my lover to gain favor. How is this different than you standing by my side during a duel with Philo except for me being up in the stands?”

Dorian knew he was talking himself out of it, doing what he always did and what had prevented him from rising too far in Minrathous. Using someone else left a bad taste in his mouth, but he couldn’t deny it just might work and get them out of the mess they were in.

“Too mercenary would be sending us to wipe out Philo without so much a by-your-leave. This is playing the game, by using what is available. I’m happy to do this, especially if it means I get to defend our honor.” Bull watched Dorian closely, enough that he swore he could hear the mage thinking.

“You know how to fight, Bull. I’ve seen it many times. If you were anyone else I wouldn’t have even suggested it.” Dorian nodded sharply. “All right. But you’ll have to allow me to buy you the best weapons and armor in Minrathous for you. There’s a chance the Venatori might see this as a way to kill you and take you away from me. We’re not going to give them that chance.”

“Very well, can’t say no to a good blade and better gear.” The kossith fighter got up and tugged Dorian to him. “They aren’t gonna take you from me, you have to believe that.”

“I try,” Dorian murmured. “The Maker knows I try to believe it.”

“Believe it, for me and until you can’t doubt any longer. Come on, let’s check in with Krem and call it a night. All this bullshit has me worn out.” Bull kissed him on the forehead and sighed.

“This is the Maker paying me back for you putting up with all my intrigue. Now I get to watch you do your thing with bashing skulls.” Dorian slipped his fingers through Bull’s and tugged him towards the door.

“You enjoy me working then? If I have to make the streets run red with Venatori blood to keep us safe, I’ll start bashing skulls right now.” Bull grinned as he felt Dorian’s fingers tight in his.

Dorian put the back of his hand against his forehead and pretended to faint back into Bull. “Oh, my strong kossith.”

“Yeah, yours and not anyone else's.” Bull caught him with a huff. “Haven’t lost your flair for the dramatic I see.”

“Never,” Dorian said when he straightened. He didn’t bother to let go of Bull’s hand. Why hide it anymore?

“Should we worry or you don’t care anymore?” Bull asked with a small smile.

“No. It’s not his accusations that hurt and angered me, it was the fact he called you an animal and made it out as if the two of us were something I should be ashamed of. Fuck him. He’ll be made to answer for that and i refuse to cower anymore.”

“I’ve been called worse, not that it excuses it but you know people think of Kossith as animals, or worse around Tevinter. Tal-Vashoth are exotic, something to titter over if you bed one. I was Ben-Hassrath for a long, long time Dorian, I know what people think of my...them.” Bull shrugged and nudged his lover forward.

“Well we’re going to shut them all up,” Dorian said firmly.

“Oooh, I like it when you’re aggressive.” Bull grinned as he followed Dorian out towards the main hall and where Krem was with his father.

“We’ve gone through half the house, Chief,” Krem reported. “So far we’ve come up with nothing.”

“Your mother was relying on word of mouth passed from person to person in order to get gossip from other villas and into this one,” Krem’s father reported. “But we don’t think that’s how the Venatori found out.”

“Keep looking, but I’m beginning to think that it wasn’t from this house that they found out about Bull,” Dorian said grimly.

“Then how in the Void did they find out?” Bull asked in exasperation.

“Where have we not hidden ourselves?” Dorian asked darkly. “Where in Thedas have you and I been together, open with each other and others?”

“Skyhold...shit.” Bull sighed as he paced around restlessly and tried to figure out who could have given them away to the Venatori.

“It makes sense.” Dorian tracked Bull as he paced. “We’ve been careful here. But Skyhold was another story.”

“That would mean the Venatori has a spy there,” Krem said in alarm.

“Son of a bitch, we need to get word to Lisbeth. Even with Corypheus gone, they could still do her harm.” Bull replied.

“I’ll see that it goes out tonight,” Krem said. “I’ll send two of the Chargers to make sure it’s safe and gets into the right hands.”

“Good, good. I’ll try to reach out to my old contacts that still acknowledge me.” Bull said.

“And I’ll see if I can find out anything from some old acquaintances of mine,” Dorian groaned.

“Vishante Keffar, what else is going to go wrong today?” the warrior paced as he considered who he could contact.

“It’s getting late. Maybe we should call it a night and talk again in the morning,” Dorian said gently.

“Yeah, makes sense. I need to figure out who I can contact anyway and how to get to them.” Bull admitted.

“You might want to ask your mother to look into it as well,” Krem suggested. He held up his hands in surrender when Dorian leveled a glare at him. “She does seem to have her connections with all the latest gossip.”

“Krem’s right, suck it up because we can use all the help we can get in making sure the Venatori don’t dig any deeper into House Pavus or Skyhold.” Bull glared right back at his lover, unafraid to give as good as he got.

“Ugh… Why did I ask you two to come here?” Dorian said in disgust. “You’re so reasonable. Fine. I’ll talk to her tomorrow.”

“Good, now I don’t have to harangue you the rest of the night. Come on, we all could use some sleep.” Bull herded everyone off towards their rooms with a silent plea towards whatever might be listening that they could come out on the better side of things.

Chapter Text

Dorian found Krem and Bull in the dining hall the next morning. He had woken up early and been locked in his mother’s room with her for over an hour. He looked slightly alarmed and frazzled, and sat down in an empty chair across from Krem, reaching for the tea.

“Went well?” Krem asked.

“That woman is a menace,” Dorian blurted out.

“So you come by it honestly then?” Bull quipped.

“And don’t you forget it,” Dorian sighed. ‘She gave me an earful for not challenging Philo right then and there and taking him out in the gardens to show him what a Pavus is made of. She said that it’s too late now, and unfortunately for us, our plan is the only sound one left.”

“She’s ruthless, she’d love Leliana I bet,” Bull replied sarcastically.

“She’d tear Leliana apart,” Dorian said dryly. “She said she’d put out feelers to find out if anyone knows anything about a spy in Skyhold. At least when it comes to the elite--whether someone has been gone from the city for months now under suspicious circumstances.”

“I’d pay good coin to see that happen, for my own education of course,” replied the kossith fighter.

Dorian snorted into his tea in amusement. “I’ll draft the challenge after breakfast and have it sent to Philo.”

“Excellent, breakfast sounds like a wonderful idea.” Bull nudged Dorian towards breakfast

Dorian reluctantly ate, his mind already working on their next step and a few steps ahead of that.

“Come on, stop looking like you sucked a lemon for breakfast.”

“It feels good to have a plan, and even though I suggested it, I’m still apprehensive.” Dorian poked at his eggs. “When he accepts, we need to find out as soon as possible who his champion will be.”

“Good, so I can find out sooner who I will take down in the arena and destroy.” Bull sounded far too excited about the prospect of showing Philo up.

“One thing at a time, Chief,” Krem murmured. He got up. “I’ll go and finish preparations on sending two of the boys back to Skyhold.”

“Don’t take this from me, besides I need a little bit of fun while we’re here. It’ll be fun to take their champion apart.” Bull grinned at his lieutenant, glad for a chance to show off.

“More like you want Dorian to see you fight,” Krem said knowingly.

“Well it can’t hurt, I am a whole lotta man to observe.” Bull winked at Krem before he helped himself to another serving.

Krem only rolled his eyes in reply and left the dining hall.

Dorian refilled his tea cup and took it with him when he got to his feet. “I’m off to write a strongly worded, and vaguely insulting, challenge.”

“I’ll find you later, I need to get in some practice if I’m going to defend your honor. We should likely head out to get armor and a weapon once you’re done.” Bull grabbed a scone as he headed off towards the yard, eager to bash in some practice dummies

Dorian watched him go with some concern. He wanted Bull to be more serious about what was happening, but on the other hand, when Bull was too serious before a fight, Dorian knew to worry. He understood his lover enough to know that Bull would be all business when the time came. He had watched Bull take down dragons and red templars. Dorian just had to make sure that any playing field that Bull was on was level. To do that, he would first have to find out who Philo’s champion was.

**

Bull worked out some of his stress on the training dummies it the back area of the villa, his mind on how much he would enjoy taking down Philo’s champion, and by extension the Altus.

It’s where Dorian found him several hours later. He leaned against a finely carved pillar and watched his lover as he moved through his attacks. Bull wasn’t the sort of fighter who relied solely on his size and strength to overpower someone. He knew how to move as well, how to take a hit, and could think several steps ahead of his opponent.

Bull knew Dorian was there but he didn’t change his routine, even to acknowledge his lover. He had to be in top condition and ready to take on Philo’s champion.

Dorian moved to sit down on a nearby, marble bench. he silently watched Bull, unwilling to interrupt him. His eyes tracked the smooth interplay of muscles on Bull, and how each movement transferred smoothly from his body into his weapon.

“I want to carve you out of marble,” Dorian finally said.

“Do it as a gift after I destroy Philo. I’ll take his head for what he said about us,” Bull answered as he finished off his last move, his weapon landed on the packed dirt with a soft thump and a puff of dust.

“I didn’t say which part I wanted to carve,” Dorian said slyly.

“Filthy, I do love that about you,” Bull replied with a wink. “Any news on who I’ll be facing?”

“Not yet, my mother is looking into it.” Dorian crossed his legs at the knee. “She said she’d get back to me within an hour. Philo has accepted the challenge, because he had no choice. All that’s left besides finding the name of his champion and getting you new gear, is setting the date for the fight. That’s Philo’s choice, but he has two weeks to do it or he forfeits.

“Then we should likely go look into armor and arms soon. Is there time to go today?” Bull asked as he sluiced water over himself to cool off.

“You just want to fondle new great axes,” Dorian accused with a laugh.

“That’s not all I want to fondle,” Bull murmured.

“Fighting always does this to you.” Dorian got to his feet. “Let me go and change, then we’ll be seen buying new things for you to maim people with.”

“Then fondling after?” Bull asked hopefully with a leer. “You like it when I get like this, don’t deny it.”

“Oh, I’m not denying it,” Dorian said archly. “I’ll be done in a few minutes, but you know that really means an hour.” He wiggled his fingers in a wave goodbye and strode back inside the villa to get ready.

“Poncy little fop, but he’s my fop.” Bull went in so he could get cleaned up and presentable, after all it wouldn’t do to make the rumors worse.

**
Dorian was once again dressed to the nines and then some. He had his family, jewel encrusted staff on his back and was dressed in red and green velvet, his knee high boots polished to a shine. His long hair was pulled up in a knot on his head. All in all he looked every inch the bored, rich magister.

He met Bull in the entrance hall and sketched a bow as he entered.

“You look like a Satanalia tree, is all that really necessary just to get armor?” Bull asked as he looked over the magister, slightly bothered with all the opulence on display.

Dorian straightened and rolled his eyes. “Well I could always go alone and pick things out for you if you don’t wish to be seen with me,” he sniffed.

“Don’t be like that, you’re just kind of...bright is all.” Bull tried to appease his lover but could tell that he didn’t make it any better. “Let’s just go?”

Dorian snorted in derision. “Says the man in the striped pants. But I still love you.” He gave Bull a wink and walked out to the courtyard, heading to the gates..

“Yeah yeah. I’ll get you for that later, tender little mage.” Bull teased as they headed off to the smith.

As before, once they crossed through the gate, Dorian acted as if Bull wasn’t even there. Publicly acknowledging him as his lover or not, Bull was still in his hire, he was still Dorian’s guard.

Bull fell into his role easily enough, every bit the guard in it only for the coin and prestige of working for House Pavus. He only showed a bit of his usual self once they were in the weapon shop.

Dorian had taken him one of the best weapon shops in the city. He wanted someone who was a well known craftsman, instead of a shop that bought and sold weapons from others. Granted, those shops had some of the best weapons and armor that came from around the world and the Imperium, but Dorian wanted something special, custom made for Bull.

The warrior paid his employer no mind as he checked the weapons on hand, in case any suited his needs. He didn’t touch any but he did mentally catalog a few for later.

“Bull,” Dorian beckoned him over to where he had been talking with the smith. “This is Crispus.”

“Pleased to meet you, ser.” Bull nodded respectfully and waited for Dorian to lead things.

The smith nodded at Bull, eying him carefully. “Bet you could swing a mean hammer or ax,” he said without preamble.

“It’s been known to happen,” he replied smoothly, his gaze over a point of the smith’s shoulder.

“Yeah? You like that monster you currently have?” Crispus made his way around Bull, his eyes scanning the kossith’s weapon.

“Yes, this has taken many an enemies heads over the years. So something like this would be good, sharp, so I can kill in one, hard blow,” Bull replied as he remained still under the man’s scrutiny

“Do you like the balance?” the smith asked.

“Yes, easy to swing, swap hands with it.” Bull answered.

“Like the edge on it?” Crispus’ hand reached up, but stopped just short of touching it. “Looks like you’ve kept it in good shape, but from what I can see, it wasn’t designed to do much more than hack. I could give ya a weapon that could lop off heads with a single strike.”

“That would be perfect, why waste energy on smashing someone to pieces when you can get one clean hit in and be done.”

“Exactly. It’ll be a work of art. Let me take some measurements and we can talk some more about the specifics.” Crispus rubbed his hands together in glee. “It’ll be a masterpiece.”

“Excellent, I’ll be sure to make every swing count and every death an homage to your craftsmanship serah.” Bull gave him a toothy grin as he let his weapon be taken for the excited smith’s notes.

“Spare no expense,” Dorian told him.

Crispus set the heavy weapon down on his work table and began to take measurements. “We’ll make a deal, he starts winning the arena and tells people I’m the one he bought weapons and arms from, then you don’t owe me a thing. He loses, and you pay me.”

“I’ll be sure you get your money’s worth, serah Crispus,” Bull said with a sly look to his employer.

“This is The Iron Bull,” Dorian said. “He won’t lose.”

“I know who he is,” Crispus muttered. “Not many one-eyed kossith in the company of a Pavus in Minrathous. words travels fast. Wouldn’t be making this deal if I thought he couldn’t win.

“Chargers took my brother once. He was working for the Crimson March at the time. You know how it is, two merc factions clashing and all, being paid by some nobles. Chargers took my brother when the March lost the fight. Treated him right, let him go for a meager sum. Haven’t forgotten that.”

Crispus leaned over a wooden board and began scribbling numbers with a piece of charcoal.

“Your brother was a good man, polite, didn’t cause problems and was glad to be let loose. We wouldn’t turn away anyone who was interested for the right reasons, if he’s looking for a new band...” Bull replied

“I’ll be sure to tell him. Maker knows you left an impression.”

When Crispus was finished examining Bull’s current weapon, he gave it back to him, jotted down some information about metals, and the next thing Dorian knew they were back out in the street with Crispus’ promises they would hear from him within the week. While the weapon wouldn’t be finished by then, Bull would be required to come in and make sure everything that had been made was weighted and balanced properly for him.

“Armor next boss?” Bull asked, once again the bored guard, almost put out by all the bother with new weapons and armor.

“Right next door. It’s Crispus’ brother by the way.” Dorian grinned as he pushed open the door.

“You are going to enjoy this aren’t you?” Bull murmured.

“Why yes I am,” Dorian muttered with a sly grin.

“Let’s get this over with then,” Bull said in resignation.

The man who looked up from behind his forge when the door opened had a twisting scar on one side of his face that barely moved when his lips broke out in a wide grin.

“It is true! I had heard you were in Minrathous.” His short cropped hair was nothing but a shadow on his scalp and Dorian could see smaller scars across the surface when he came out from around the forge with his hand outstretched towards Bull.

Bull took his hand and gave him a smile. “Yeah, here for a while. Magister Pavus hired the Chargers on for a bit.”

“So I’ve heard, so I’ve heard.” He gave Dorian a bow. “Magister Pavus. I’m smith Albin. You are very welcome to my shop, especially in the company of such a great man.”

Dorian gave Bull a sly grin before he returned Albin’s bow. “Thank you. We’re here to get Bull some armor. He’s going to be entering the arena, and needs to be outfitted accordingly.”

“Something easy to move in, but strong would be good. Silverite or Paragon’s Luster would be good.”

“Do you still fight the way you do since I last saw you all those years ago?” Albin asked. He walked slowly around Bull, his eyes appraising in the same way his brother’s had.

“Yeah, I’ve refined my techniques some but still pretty hit hard, hit fast, hit often,” Bull replied as he glance over at some of the armors on display.

“Your back, sides, and belly are left open when you swing,” Albin commented. “Your weapons take longer than others to complete a strike, even though you’ve always been a fast fucker for your size.”

Behind Bull, Dorian snorted in barely smothered laughter.

“We need to give you something you can still move your arms freely in, but will give you the protection you need,” Albin continued on, oblivious to Dorian’s amusement.

“So kind of an armored vest? Or something more like the harness I usually wear?” Bull asked as he refused to take Dorian’s bait.

“Combination of the two,” Albin mused. “A harness made of the metal, with leather covering the spaces between. It should give you the freedom of movement, but give you protection as well.”

“Excellent, it will give them something to fear when they see me.” Bull risked a glance at Dorian before he gave Albin his attention.

“What leather do you suggest?” Dorian asked. “I know where to get my hands on some dragon scales and webbing.”

Albin sputtered. “You have dragon scales?”

“Don’t you?” Bull asked

“I will send what I have around later today,” Dorian told Albin. “I know how much Bull loves anythingdragon, and if it will help then it’s yours.” He kept his expression perfectly bland, but inside he was howling with laughter.

“Dragons are majestic creatures, Magister Pavus, worthy of our respect and admiration,” Bull replied with a telling glance at the mage.

Dorian cleared his throat behind his fist. “Yes of course. Truly beautiful.”

Oblivious to the byplay, Albin went to fetch what he needed to take some measurements.

Bull let himself be moved around, tugged to and fro all so he could have custom gear befitting the champion of House Pavus. “How long do you think it will take?”

“A couple of weeks at the very least, that’s if I can get my apprentices to get the void out of the taverns and into the smithy,” Albin muttered. “You’re now my number one priority. You treated me right, and now I’m going to make sure that you have the best in the arena.”

He glanced up from where he was scribbling down numbers. “Why are you fighting anyway? Noble shit?”

“We’re in Minrathous,” Dorian said dryly. “It’s always noble shit.”

“Definitely noble shit, it’s most of our jobs. If the nobles acted right, half the merc bands would need new jobs,” Bull quipped.

“And I wouldn’t be making good money outfitting those mercs and personal soldiers,” Albin laughed.

His smile dropped away. “Heard you have some trouble with a few of those nobles, Magister Pavus.” He kept his eyes on his numbers scratching away with a piece of charcoal.

“Did you now?” Dorian said lightly.

Bull wandered around the shop, just within earshot of them but not obvious enough to seem as if he was eavesdropping.

“Heard that you pissed some of them off and they’ve got it out for you bad.” Albin carefully put his charcoal down. “Word is you’re not the only one.”

“Everyone has enemies in Minrathous,” Dorian said carefully.

“All too true. But the same certain set? Makes a man wonder if there’s even more fracturing than usual among the magisters. Makes common folk start to whisper to each other that things are finally starting to fall apart. Old ways and new ways. I’ve gotta say that most of us don’t do well under the old ways. You might want to find someone who’s noble and wouldn’t do well under the old ways too.”

Dorian frowned. “What are you... “ His eyes slowly widened. “Oh… Of course.” He inclined his head. “Well if you have no further need of us, then we shall take our leave.”

“I’ll need The Iron Bull to come back in three days,” Albin said, following through with the smooth change in subject.

“See you in three days, be careful Albin, winds kind of foul these days yeah?” Bull replied as they headed off towards the villa.

Dorian was silent during the walk back. His steps were distracted, and more than once he almost ran straight into someone, muttering an absent apology. When they reached the villa, he stopped suddenly in the entrance hall, his lips set in grim lines.

“What’s the problem? Or should this wait until we’re in the study?” Bull asked warily

“In the study,” Dorian muttered. “No one can overheard this.” He turned and led the way.

The warrior followed behind his lover, concerned over the change since returning. He waited until he room had been warded and silenced before he asked what was wrong.

“We might have a possible ally,” Dorian began as he went to the sideboard. “That’s what Albin was trying to tell me. The Venatori are going after other magisters, other dissenters.”

“So time to rally support, use your mother for her connections?”

“No… This is my connection. At least the person that Albin was speaking of. I’ll tell my mother to keep an ear to the ground for any others, but…” Dorian contemplated the decanters of wine before he walked away from them to sit at his desk.

“So what’s our next move? Just wait for Philo’s response?” Bull asked.

“And gather what allies we can. I’m starting to think that Albin and his brother are helping you for more than just friendship on their part. Albin might not have known the venatori by name, but obviously the common people of Minrathous know something is happening with the elite. The arena might have been a better idea than I thought. If they can see us, see you, standing up to the Venatori and their kind…”

Dorian ran his thumb over his mustache. There was a part of him that wanted to let Bull just take him away, to run back to Skyhold and bury his head in the sand. But the deeper he looked, the more he could see just how much the city, and Tevinter, needed to change.

“Magisters like the Venatori rule by fear. I think the people might be tired of that fear.”

“Then we give them hope for something better, first step is destroying Philo publicly, then we drive them further apart. I like this idea.” Bull grinned.

Dorian shared his grin. “So do I. But if we do this, it’ll be more than uncovering the Venatori. we might be talking revolution, Bull.”

“Well, you did say your parents wanted you to be Archon, so make it happen,” Bull said with no irony, no sense he was teasing.

Dorian threw back his head and laughed. “Me? Are you joking? The Senate would never elect me as Archon.”

“Why not? especially if you win over enough magisters with clout and if you officially rid the land of the Venatori, saving the Magisterium the work? They’d owe you big time.”

“I…” Dorian shook his head and held up his hand. “No… No, now you’re making me think that this is something that should happen. One thing at a time.”

“It should happen, you said it yourself. This could turn to a revolution, Dorian, and you would do your House proud,” the kossith grinned as he watched the mage.

“Maker… And prove several generations of careful breeding in the House of Pavus in order to produce an Archon correct? Scandalous! You tempt me, Bull. But you always do that.” Still, once the idea had been planted, Dorian could help but explore it further.

“The things I could do. Oh, I’d be a target, but would it really be anymore than I am now?” he said more to himself. “I could drag Tevinter into the modern age.”

“If that’s all I gotta do to tempt you, I’m slipping.”

“i’ve always been easy where you’re concerned,” Dorian said with a grin. “I wouldn’t have come back in the first place to make things right if it wasn’t for you. You were the one who gave me the idea. You make me a better person, Bull.”

The warrior shrugged and looked slightly uncomfortable at the praise. “Nah, I just got you to open your eyes. It was there all along.”

“Just like you did for Krem? For any of the other Chargers? Admit it, Bull, you have this affect on people.” Dorian reached up and touched Bull’s cheek, feeling the dark stubble scrape his palm.

“You’re being ridiculous, come on let’s get some dinner. I’m starved,” Bull replied.

“Such a soft and gooey center for such a hard exterior,” Dorian teased. His smile dropped. “Would you please bring me something. I have a letter to write. The man that Albin hinted at, I think I know who it is and need to arrange a meeting.”

“Of course, I’ll be back in a bit.” Bull gave him a lingering kiss before he slipped away to the kitchens.

Chapter Text

It was almost a week later before Dorian was able to arrange a meeting with the other magister that the Venatori had targeted. In that time he and Bull had become busy, with Bull practicing, and getting fitted for his new weapons and armor, and Dorian writing carefully worded letters to try and feel out any contacts that still saw him with goodwill, even if it was only a little bit.

Bull and Dorian waited in Dorian’s study for the magister. He had wanted to come to Dorian, instead of Dorian coming to him, incase Dorian was seen. It didn’t matter that Dorian had insisted that he had just as much of a chance of being spotted coming to the Pavus villa.

The sun had set hours ago, and most of the villa was already asleep in bed except for the guards, Dorian, and Bull.

Dorian couldn’t seem to stop pacing as they waited, glancing every so often at a finely made water clock on the mantel.

“How much longer do we need to wait for your guest, Magister Pavus?” Bull asked as he tried to remain in character.

“Not too much long--” he was cut off when Krem rapped sharply on the door and opened it, ushering a short, cloak wrapped figure inside.

“I’ll be waiting on the other side to make sure no one tries anything,” Krem said before shutting the door again, leaving the figure alone.

Bull took his place at Dorian’s side, a silent sentinel as he made himself unobtrusive as possible as they spoke.

“Magister Pavus,” the hooded figure said in crisp Tevene. “I have to say that I was surprised when I got your note. although when I thought about it, I really shouldn’t have been. I hear you have been having some troubles as of late.”

“My troubles might be your troubles,” Dorian said lightly. “At least, that’s what I’ve been led to believe, Sirad.”

“Maybe,” Sirad said, his face shrouded in darkness under the hood. “But you’ll excuse me if I don’t think you and I are having the exact same problem, even if the source is the same.”

Bull shifted slightly but made no other noise. He knew that if he moved too suddenly, their visitor might take that as a threat. Instead he stared ahead and feigned indifference.

“Besides,” Sirad gestured towards Bull, “it seems the rumors of your Qunari guard are true. He goes everywhere with you. Is it also true what they say about the two of you? I’ve heard you’ve challenged Philo because of it.”

“All true,” Dorian said bluntly. “And I challenged Philo because he’s a pompous prick.”

“I can’t argue with that,” Sirad laughed.

“So I take it, I can stop standing here like a statue?” Bull inquired.

“Dorian always did have interesting tastes in friends,” Sirad said. “But if he trusts you, then I will as well.”

“I trust him with my life, as he does with his. Pleased to meet you…?”

Sirad pushed his hood back and lifted his face. Pointed elven ears could be seen through long, dark hair.

“This is a first, an elven magister?” Bull said in surprise.

“Sirad of the House Virtus.” Sirad’s lips twitched in an amused smile. “One of the few elven houses in Minrathous.

“Albin told me that someone who would not do well under the old ways might be having the same problem we are. Sirad was the first person I thought of.”

“My ancestors were probably slaves from Arlathan, but we like to pretend otherwise. That we were Tevinter allies and never slaves.” Sirad shrugged.

“Pleased to meet you, The Iron Bull, late of Seheron, and the Inquisition.” Bull nodded to the elven mage with a smile. Things might not be so bad if they could rally others to their side.

“Seheron?” Sirad gave Dorian a sly look. “Dorian seems to meet a lot of his friends in Seheron.”

Dorian groaned and buried his face in his hands. “Why am I thinking this might have been a mistake.”

“So he has, makes me wonder what he got up to before he joined the Inquisition.” Bull looked over the elf then his magister lover with a devious expression.

Dorian held up his finger. “This is going to stop right now.”

“But I know such wonderful stories, Dori.” Sirad walked over to a side table to pour himself a drinking without asking.

He turned, drink in hand, his jovial expression gone. “Such as why you chose to contact me now, and why it was such a surprise for me.”

“Stop what? I have done nothing wrong for you to get so cranky.” Bull slipped past the two men to get his own drink.

“I…” Dorian sputtered. Whether it was in response to Sirad or to Bull, not even he knew.

“I’m owed a few explanations,” Sirad said firmly. “You give me that, and I’ll tell you everything I know about the Venatori.”

That got Dorian’s mouth to start working. “So you do know about them.”

Sirad laughed bitterly. “Know about them? They’re trying to ruin my House, just as they are trying to ruin yours. I want them stopped, but I can’t pretend that I don’t think I’m owed some answers first.”

“Dorian...what is he talking about?” asked Bull as he finished one drink and went for another.

Sirad answered for him. “Dorian Pavus, a man who I thought was my friend, decided beyond pretending we weren’t sleeping together, he was going to ignore me in public as well. Then, he cut off all communication with me. next thing I knew, he had left Tevinter entirely and disappeared somewhere in the South.

“I was good enough to fuck, but not good enough to acknowledge.”

“He had a good reason to disappear, and head South, but that’s his story to tell not mine.” Bull went for the door, unsure if Dorian would want him present for what they they had to say.

“I told you about Alexius,” Dorian said tightly. “I told you some of what he was doing.”

“You told me you and he were working on some theoretical magic. Something about time travel. You know that’s not my area of expertise,” Sirad shot back.

“Alexius was working with the Venatori. I found out and followed him when he left Tevinter. I couldn’t… I had to get in his good graces, let him think I was one of them long enough to get close.”

“And do what?” Sirad asked. “To kill him? Is that why you pretended to not know me? Is it because I’m a--”

“Yes!” Dorian shouted. “Yes, because you’re an elf. Do you think they would have let me get even a fraction of a step closer to them if they had known that? Who you are, your magic, I never cared about those things.”

“Everyone knows,” Sirad whispered. “My name has become tainted because they know what I can do. I’m one step away from enslavement.”

“Then help me stop them,” Dorian pleaded.

“Dorian...do you want me to leave, this sounds like something you two need to work out without me here.” Bull offered, uncomfortable but willing to stay if his lover needed him.

“Stay,” Dorian begged in a whisper.

“I’m sorry,” Dorian said to Sirad. “I’m sorry for what I did and how I treated you.”

Sirad finally took a sip of his drink. “I would have understood if you had told me what you were up to. Maker, you fled to the Inquisition, Dorian. I would have gone with you. I’m no longer safe here.”

Bull sat once more, his gaze flitted between the two mages before he settled on his lover. “What do we do now?”

“Thats up to Sirad,” Dorian said quietly.

Sirad downed the rest of his drink and carefully set the glass down. “I’ll tell you everything i know. But in return, I want to be there when you take them down.”

“That sounds reasonable, and something I can’t be surprised at. Do you need to stay somewhere once it gets out that you are aligned with House Pavus?” Bull nudged a drink over to Dorian who had paled and looked as if he was about to flee the room and his past.

Sirad hesitated, and that was enough for Dorian. “Stay,” he said. “We can protect you here.”

“If only you had offered that a year ago,” Sirad murmured. “They killed my parents. An accident it was said, but I know the truth. I’m the last of my line.”

“A year ago we were still in Orlais. I’ll have Ser Aclassi get a room ready for you.” Bull gave Dorian’s shoulder a squeeze as he went by.

“Do you really think you can stop them, Dorian?” Sirad said quietly.

“It’s either that or lay still while they murder us,” Dorian answered.

**

Bull normally reveled in the fight, but he paced like a caged mabari in Dorian’s chambers. He knew that him being nervous wouldn't help put the mage’s mind at ease but he was nervous. A lot rode on his success, and it had hit him all at once.

Dorian casually watched Bull, a drink in hand. “Is this how you always are a night before a fight? Usually you’re more excited than this.” It was two months after the challenge had been excepted. Philo had set the date just shy of his deadline. They had spent the time preparing for the fight and scrambling to find out who his champion was, but so far they had found nothing. It grated on Dorian that he felt they were going in blind.

With getting Bull’s new armor and weapons ready, ensuring that the fight would go with minimal interference with those that wanted to see Dorian and Bull fail, plus conferring with Sirad on making a detailed list on what the two of them knew of the Venatori, Dorian was glad that at least one part of their plan was going to be decided one way or another tomorrow.

“Not all the time, I’m just worried kadan. So much rides on this fight. I can’t fuck up, I cannot fail. Just, I’m nervous is all. I’m excited, I want to put those Venatori bastards down and piss on their ashes, but it just kind of hit me all at once.” Bull stopped next to Dorian and sat next to him. “I love you, you fop.”

“I love you too, you big idiot, but I won’t hear anything more from you if you’re going to be telling me last minute declarations because now you’re worried. You are The Iron Bull. You won’t lose this,” Dorian said firmly. Whether it was to convince Bull or himself, he didn’t know.

“Trust me, I’m not saying it as some last minute, just in case thing. I’m just...it hit me ok? Give me this one, be with me so I can go in there with your taste on my lips, your touch on my skin to keep me going and remind me what’s at stake kadan.” Bull pressed a gentle kiss to Dorian’s cheek.

“You want a reminder of what you’re going to be fighting for?” Dorian asked softly. He slowly got to his feet and started to undo the buckles on his clothes.

“Yeah, so that when I take out Philo’s lapdog? I know you’ll be waiting for me tomorrow night. that we can tell the Venatori to get the fuck out of Minrathous and that I can be yours publicly. A Pavus doesn't run remember?” Bull undressed quickly before he got on the bed and waited for Dorian to join him.

Dorian knew at that moment that Bull was frightened. Maybe not for his own life, never that, but more that was scared of letting Dorian down about something that was so important to the mage.

He walked over to the bed and crawled over the sheets, making his way over to Bull to straddle him. He braced his hands on his lover’s chest, feeling the raised flesh of puckered scars that dotted Bull’s skin.

“Thank you,” he said with all sincerity. “Thank you for doing this.”

“Can’t let our honor be impugned now can I?”

“It’s more than that. You’re risking your life for this, because you know what it means to me. You could have let me run off and dualed Philo, played right into their hands.” Dorian leaned down and kissed Bull gently on the lips, a soft kiss that quietly told him his thanks.

The slow build of the kiss became a natural extension of themselves, a coordinated press and release of lips, the glide of tongue against tongue, and even the gentle nip of teeth. at one point, Dorian realized that the two of them hadn’t spoken in some time, at least not with words, they said all they needed to with gentle caresses from hands calloused by staff or blade, with panted breaths. For a brief heartbeat, Dorian knew that Bull had meant what he had said about wanting to memorize every moment, every touch, scent, and flavor of him. It frightened the mage, even as it thrilled him.

So Dorian returned each caress, each kiss, filled his senses with him. Because as much as Bull needed to have Dorian imprinted on him, Dorian needed it as well. How Bull groaned in pleasure when Dorian’s lips wrapped around his cock, the way Bull’s flavor dripped on his tongue in excitement. Dorian dragged out each moan, glorying in the fact that he could do that to Bull, that Bull was his as much as Dorian belonged to his lover in a mutual owning of bodies and hearts.

When Bull’s cock became impossibly hard just under soft skin, Dorian reluctantly pulled away, despite Bull’s groan of protest.

“All of you,” Dorian rasped, his throat as raw as his emotions when he spoke for the first time since he and Bull had kissed.

Oiled fingers that were almost too thick, but not what Dorian needed pressing inside him. Dorian’s lips on Bull’s throat, gasping against his skin while he was opened, his body trembling with anticipation for what was to come, needing that final connection. and when it finally came, with Bull’s large hands spanning his hips, Dorian easing down, his thighs spread wide, mouth open on a moan of pleasure, Dorian felt his heart lurch.

Seated to the hilt, stuffed full of his lover, Dorian cupped Bull’s face in his hands, leaning down to return to that kiss that had started it all. His ass clenched tightly around the cock inside him, reveling in it. He was rewarded with a growl of pleasure, and a primal thrill raced through Dorian at the sound of it.

Their eyes locked when Dorian began to move, something that Dorian had never been able to manage for long with another lover. There had always been a self consciousness at displaying too much vulnerability to people who he trusted with his body, but not with his heart. But with Bull, he trusted him completely and bared all.

A million words that he wanted to say to Bull flitted in and out of his mind until all that Dorian was left with was that intense stare filled with such heat that Dorian began to move faster, his body undulating like water.

Bull’s hands squeezed his hips tightly, and Dorian saw how his lover fought to hold his orgasm at bay.

“Maker, I love you,” Dorian rasped out before he came, a low groan leaving him in a rush as the pleasure pulsed over him. He was dimly aware of Bull throwing his head back, his horns tearing into fabric. His world had narrowed down to the seemingly endless ecstasy as his orgasm went on and on, and the feel of Bull pulsing inside him.

“I...love you too, kadan.” Bull rasped as he felt Dorian clenching down on him.

Dorian half laid down, half collapsed on top of Bull, gasping for breath. He turned his head slightly and pressed his lips to the amulet he had given Bull.

“We’re gonna be just fine. I’ll wipe the ring with whoever Philo sends and we’ll celebrate like kings.” Bull pressed another gentle kiss to Dorian as he tried to calm himself.

“Sirad said he wanted to cast some spells on you for extra insurance,” Dorian muttered sleepily.

“Anything to have an edge, let’s get you cleaned up before we sleep.” Bull murmured.

Dorian mumbled a protest against Bull’s chest. “Let’s not move just yet.”

“Alright, don’t complain about the mess later.” Bull said sleepily.

**

The arena of Minrathous was a culmination of slave labor, magic, and dwarven architecture. It was set in the commercial district of the city, a large structure that could house half of Minrathous, rich and poor in its stands. Six levels rose up high, while three levels that held the fighters were below.

The best seats in the arena were held by the Archon and those in his favor. But the next best seats were for the elite whose fighters were contending that day. That’s where Dorian and Sirad sat, with Krem behind them acting as guard. Dorian was glad for a life of hiding what was on his face, and kept a bland expression, even while apprehension thrummed through his veins.

“You’re sure you cast the spells correctly,” Dorian muttered to Sirad.

“Of course I’m sure,” Sirad sighed. “I know how to heal, Dorian. It’s yet another thing to damn me in Minrathous. Blood mages have no love for healers. His smaller wounds will seal themselves for a time, and he won’t flag easily.”

Dorian glanced to his side where Philo sat alone.

“Seems the Venatori don’t want to publicly support him,” Dorian whispered.

“This is a gamble for them,” Sirad answered. “If he wins, then they will ally publicly with him. If he doesn’t, then they can distance themselves.”

“And you're sure the Archon is part of the Venatori?” Dorian asked quietly.

Sirad’s lips twisted in a bitter smile. “Oh, I’m certain.”

Bull remained still as he awaited the announcement to enter the field. He had worked out his nerves and he was all about the fight, the honor. He also knew except for a nod to his patron he couldn’t think about or look at Dorian during the fight. It was all or nothing and he had to focus.

Dorian could barely hear the announcement of the fight, the fighters, their patrons, and the terms. His whole being was focused on the field and watching Bull step out, his new armor shimmering with dragon scales, his war hammer already in his hands.

But when he saw Bull’s opponent, Dorian almost rose to his feet in sudden fear. It was only because of Sirad’s hand on his arm that he stayed where he was.

“No,” Dorian breathed.

A large golem had stepped out, lumbering towards the center of the arena.

“Andraste’s tits, where did he get a golem?” Dorian jerked his head towards Philo who was watching Dorian’s expression gleefully.

“The Venatori have connections you never will,” Philo said. “Remember this lesson.”

Bull didn’t flinch, didn’t let them see him react to the golem in front of him. He wouldn’t back down nor would he run like a coward. Even a golem had weak points, nothing was invulnerable.

The Archon wasn’t there, Dorian thought it was because he couldn’t be seen anywhere near this fight if what Sirad had said about him being part of the Venatori was true. Instead, one of his advisors was in his box. He was the one who stood and signaled the start of the fight.
“Magister Gallus,” Sirad whispered. “And before you ask, yes his name is on our list.”

“Of course it is.” Dorian’s eyes were riveted on Bull as he and the golem moved to meet. “Gallus was always a little toady.”

Bull gave a slight bow to the golem, and braced for it to rush him. He had an advantage of speed and good arms and armor. The problem was the golem could go for as long as someone had its rod.

The golem abruptly stopped. It speared its hands into the hard packed dirt beneath them, jerking hard. Earth and stone gave way and the golem lifted the mass above its head before flinging it towards Bull.

“No matter how many spells I’ve cast on him, he will tire before the golem,” Sirad said quietly.

“I know,” Dorian hissed under his breath. “We have to find who has the damned control rod and destroy it.”

“They’ll say you cheated,” Sirad warned.

“They can try. But no matter what Bull is, he isn’t a mindless creature. This isn’t a fight of champions.”

“What do I need to look for?” Krem asked. He had squatted down behind them to speak quietly in their ears. “As much as the chief might like spending his time showing off and pounding on living stone, he can’t last forever.”

Bull dodged the boulder easily, his war hammer’s edge bright in the sun as he advanced on his opponent. He meant to take the golem down at the knees, and failing that, he’d aim for it’s neck.

“It could look like a lot of things, but it will always be in the shape of a rod. You need to find out who has it,” Dorian said.

“We’ll do the rest,” Sirad added.

Dorian’s hand clenched into a fist when Bull’s hammer slammed into the golem. The creature skidded back, raising a cloud of dust, but didn’t go down.

“You got it, I’ll just take a long stroll to fetch you and your party a drink, shall I?” Krem said softly before he took off towards the other side of the arena.

Bull grunted at the impact but he didn’t slow down as he counter-swung in an attempt to get the golems legs from under it.

At that moment, Dorian wanted nothing more than to stand up and raise every single corpse and spirit that had died in the arena. He could have an army at his beck and call, one he would use to hunt down the Venatori.

“Don’t,” Sirad said evenly. “I know that look. You’d summon the dead, they’d summon demons, and the streets would run red with the blood of the innocent.”

“I won’t let them win this,” Dorian gritted out. “And neither will Bull.”

Below them, Bull had finally gotten the golem to its knees. But the thing slammed its fists into the ground, shaking the earth. all around them the crowd roared, but it was impossible to tell who they were cheering for.

Krem strolled past the area where Philo was, glad for the distraction of everyone stomping and cheering. He caught sight of something in the Altus’ hands, held tight; but a hard nudge while he carried drinks could be used to get the rod away. He went past quickly with a plan in mind.

The gleam in Philo’s eyes was avid, the small rod in his hands burned with power, and each successful blow that the golem landed put him and his House one step closer to greatness. Dorian’s pet had managed to get in several good strikes with his hammer, the metal sparking off of stone, sending chips from both flying.

The Venatori had been right, there hadn’t been a champion other than the golem who could have taken the ox-man. All in all, Dorian had only himself to blame. If he had picked a human or an elf, Philo would never had been able to use the golem. As it was, Dorian’s chosen champion of a creature, only gave Philo the opportunity to use another creature in reply.

Bull snarled as the golem got in a good hit that nearly cracked one of his horns,and it made him see red. He used his rage, let it burn hot as he pivoted, rolled his shoulders and struck the golem hard as he could in the head. He laughed when he heard the snap of more rock and roared as a crack appeared in the creatures.

Krem slipped through the crowd like a fish through water until suddenly he tripped and nearly dropped the heavy goblets on Philo’s head. He begged the Altus’ pardon as he continued to feign clumsiness to knock into the man. He was rewarded when he heard the clink of heavy crystal and felt the rod roll under his boot.

“Pardon serah, I am but a clumsy oaf among the crowd. Forgive me.” Krem muttered as he slipped the rod into his belt pouches and gathered the fallen goblets.

The golem was sent flying across the arena to crash hard into the earth. The crowd roared its approval, and Dorian got to his feet, uncaring of how it looked. He watched as Bull stalked towards the golem urged on by the crowd and the thrill of the fight.

Across the way, Philo was cursing at Krem. “Damned soporati,” he hissed.

“Forgive me serah, I meant no offense.” Krem kowtowed once more before he backed away from Philo, grinning once he was well away from the Altus and towards the area where the Chargers stood. He couldn't be seen behind Dorian once Philo realized his control for the golem was gone.

Bull laughed even as blood dripped from a fresh cut on his face, his eye dark with fury as he rushed the golem to give it a final strike with everything he had left. If he didn’t take it out, then he’d fail and that wasn’t an option.

It wasn’t until Krem had left, disappearing back into the crowd that Philo realized what had happened. “The rod,” he gasped in horror.

“If he wins, I’m going to have to run,” Dorian said to himself, more to break some of the tension that had taken over his body. He’d seen that look in Bull’s eye during a battle before, and it usually meant Dorian being taken out behind the nearest tree.

“What?” Sirad asked.

“You don’t want to know,” Dorian answered, his voice distracted.

Bull laughed as he felt the impact from the golem going down after his last blow. He stepped back, weapon at the ready to fight, if it got up. When the creature remained still, he raised his warhammer towards Dorian and saluted.

“Your champion is defeated, Altus Philo. You have lost.” Bull snarled after he spat out more blood.

Krem had made himself scarce so he could not be tied to Dorian or Sirad at all, especially if Philo put two and two together. he let Dalish know where he could be found before he slipped away through the crowds.

The arena erupted in cheers, the people screaming for Bull since he had given them a good fight. Dorian bowed towards Bull to show them that he wasn’t just a hired or kept champion, but someone more.

For his part, Philo immediately stood and hurried away from his seat. He knew he wouldn’t have long before the Venatori came for him because of his failure.

Dorian watched him go. “Let’s just hope his wife heeded my mother and has already left the city.” That had been the only snag in their plan, what would happen to Philo’s wife if they were successful.

“Your mother can be very persuasive,” Sirad said.”

Bull waited until he saw Dorian heading out of the stands before he gave one final bow and headed into the lower levels to meet him. He didn’t know what happened with the golem, but he wasn’t going to look a gift like that in the mouth. He hurt everywhere and if he didn’t know better, he’d swear a couple things were broken.

He had just leaned back against a cool stone wall when he heard his lover and Sirad. “If I find that squirrely fucker I’m pinning him to the ground with my horns.”

“Krem took care of it,” Dorian said as he hurried over. “Maker… I never want to go through that again.”

Sirad began to heal Bull without asking, mending his wounds, knitting together his broken bones.

“You? I feel like everything hurts, I didn’t feel this bad after taking on high dragons with Lis.” Bull muttered

“You were impressive,” Sirad said lightly.

“Very impressive,” Dorian agreed.

“Damn straight I was, but if anyone pulls that shit again, I’m taking their head first.” Bull said with a groan as Sirad finished healing him. “We should have had you at Skyhold, we barely had anyone who could heal for shit.”

Krem stuck his head in when he heard the others voices, his gaze soft as he saw Bull. “That was bracing.”

“You do good work, Krem,” Dorian told him. “But you should head back to the villa as soon as possible. The sooner we get that rod behind locked doors, the better.”

“We should question it,” Sirad suggested. “Philo did all but say the Venatori gave it to him. With the rod, it would have to speak to us.”

“Is it even still functioning?” Dorian asked. “And I think Bull needs to get back home.”
“Home sounds good, and a hot bath. But we should get it to the villa. Claim it as the victor.” Bull said wearily.

“I’ll arrange it from home, see you there. I’ll make sure a bath is waiting. Good going Chief.” Krem said as he headed out, taking the longish way back.

“There,” Sirad said and took a step back. “That should help. You just need some re--” He snapped his mouth shut when Bull suddenly yanked Dorian to him and crushed their lips together in a brutal kiss.

“Be glad I’m too sore to throw you down right here. After my bath though...I hope you got enough rest kadan, you’re going to need it.” Bull growled as he reluctantly pulled away and straightened himself so they could leave as victors.

‘Ah…” Sirad said dryly. “That’s why you mentioned running after Bull won.”

Dorian sighed in exasperation. “Come, let’s go and greet your adoring public, Bull.”

Chapter Text

Dorian slowly circled the still golem that had been delivered just an hour ago to the entrance hall. He held the control rod in his hand, while he smoothed his mustache down over and over with his other.

“Granted, I have seen very few golems in my life, and none in such good condition, but this one seems very old. Yet look at well preserved it is. Its owners must have made sure that it was in working order.”

“It’s a living thing, Dorian,” sirad muttered. “At least I think it is.”

“Is it?” Dorian mused and stopped in front of it. He tilted his head to the side, considering. “I knew an elf who liked to talk about how spirits were creatures capable of thought and feeling beyond their purpose. He was not amused when I talked about how spirits could be used to do marvelous things in Tevinter.”

“He has a point. This idea that spirits and golems are individuals and what are done to them is no more than slavery has been bandied about for centuries. I’ve personally read several papers on the subject and--”

Dorian waved his hand. “And you’re right. With the things I’ve seen when it comes to spirits, I could do no less than think a golem as having individuality, wants, and needs as well. When I returned to Minrathous, I sent the spirits we had been using in the villa back to the Fade. The idea of having one heat my bath had become appalling.”

Bull walked in counter to Dorian as he considered the golem. “Whatever it was, it packs a hell of a punch. Are you going to wake it up?” he asked warily once he’d sat down next to Krem.

“They’re too busy discussing what a life really is and whether or not it has one to wake it up,” Krem said a bit irritably.

“I’ve never spoken to a golem before,” Dorian said defensively. He tapped his finger on his chin. “But you’re right. Enough waffling. We need to figure out the control word.”

“Control word? You don’t just wave the rod thing at it and say golem walk or something?” Bull asked in confusion.

Sirad and Dorian gave each other a startled look.

“You don’t think…” Sirad said slowly.

“Only one way to know,” Dorian shrugged. “Philo isn’t the smartest and most gifted mage. They would have had it be something he could easily remember.”

He stood in front of the golem and lifted the rod. “Wake up,” he said in Tevene.

The golem’s eyes snapped open.

“Well I’ll be damned.” Bull and Krem said a they watched the golem look around the room.

“This… This is not where I am supposed to be,” the golem said in Trade.

Dorian tightened his hand on the rod. “And just where are you supposed to be?”

“But this is Tevinter,” the golem said, ignoring Dorian’s question. “And I can’t tell if you are one of the ones who took me. You squishy things look alike.”

“Who took you? Where is it that you belong?” Bull asked as he reached for his weapon, just in case.

“I wonder if it means wherever the Venatori grabbed it from.” Krem said

“Humans took me. The ones who think they know power.” The golem turned its head towards Bull. “But you I remember. You’re squishy, but less so. Why were we fighting?”

“The humans who took you pitted us against each other. If I wasn’t a kossith, they wouldn’t have set you on me. You gave a good fight, I’m still feeling it.” Bull replied.

“Next time I will crush you,” the golem said matter of factly. “Unless you crush me first, which is unlikely.”

“We think a group of magisters called the venatori took you. They gave you to one of their own and he used you in the arena for a fight,” Dorian explained. He ran his fingers through the shaved sides of his head.

“Do you know what the Inquisition is?” It was all Dorian had to try and gain the golem’s trust.

“I know what it is. They fixed the hole in the sky.”

“Where were you before the Venatori took you? What is it you were doing and where were you headed?” Bull asked.

Krem just watched the stone creature with suspicion. He’d seen enough weird shit tailing along with the Chief and the Inquisitor, but a golem was whole new thing.

“If you say you are with the Inquisition, then my information can only help, but if you are lying, then you will find out no more than you already know,” the golem finally said.

“My name is Shale. I was in the Deep Roads following information that human mages were working with dwarves to make new golems.”

“On your own?” Dorian asked.

“No.”

“More golems? But...they have to know how golems are made?” Bull said.

“The Venatori likely don’t give a toss chief. Life holds no worth to them if it brings them power. Look at how they baited you against Shale, is it?” Krem said as he watched the two mages and his boss tiptoe around the creature.

“Let’s be blunt,” Dorian said darkly. “Anyone not human, mage, or can trace their ancestry to the fall of Arlathan are less than. What’s killing a few dwarves, or trapping their very being, to them?”

“We’re talking about a group of some of the darkest blood mages in Tevinter,” Sirad added. “And that’s saying a lot.”

“Fine, we have Shale talking to us. But what do we do with this? Those already in with the Venatori are likely making worse deals around Minrathous. Even with Philo out of your way, more will come.” Bull said.

“And they’ll keep coming,” Dorian said between gritted teeth. “And coming, and coming. Blood magic and corruption are a taint that is has been allowed to spread for far too long.” He turned to face the others. “Because who do we tell? Any other place in the world there would be someone to tell, some authority. But in Minrathous, it is the authority condoning this.”

“Then we change the authority,” Sirad said simply.

“Sounds like a familiar conversation, right kadan?” Bull queried

“I’ll talk to you about it later,” Dorian told Sirad when he looked at him in confusion.

“You said you weren’t alone. Who was with you?” Dorian asked Shale.

“I think I need a break from all this talking, I’ll be back with refreshments. It will give you time to question your guest.” Bull said with a wink.

“Wait for me Chief, I’ll give you a hand.” Krem took the chance to escape the creature and the discussion of magic. He’d had enough of it to last him a lifetime.

**
They never got a chance to come back. Dorian and Sirad met them in the hall, both with stricken looks.

“I put Shale back to sleep for now,” Dorian said. He plucked his drink from Bull’s hand and downed half of it in one swallow.

“You look ready to fall down, what happened while we were gone?” Bull asked as he herded them all towards Dorian’s study.

“Shale said she wasn’t alone,” dorian murmured.

“The Hero of Ferelden had been with her,” Sirad added.

Dorian sat down heavily behind his desk. He buried his face in his hands. “With Fenris and Hawke.”

“What were they doing with them?” Krem asked wearily.

“Do we even want to know is the question?” was Bull’s follow up.

“I think we do,” Dorian said when he lifted his head. “If there’s even a remote chance that the Venatori still has them…”

“Do… Do you know the Champion of Kirkwall or the Hero of Ferelden?” Sirad asked.

“We know Hawke,” Dorian answered flatly.

“To capture two such men, though,” Sirad said in a daze. “I knew we were in deep, Dorian, but Maker…”

“I can’t imagine Fenris went willingly. If he yet lives.” Bull pondered.

Dread made Dorian’s face pale. “That’s what I’m worried about. Fenris would rather die than be taken by magisters, let alone let Hawke be taken by them.” He couldn’t think about it, couldn’t think that one or both of them were dead.

“If he lives, he’ll be a formidable enemy to the Venatori. If he doesn’t live, then Hawke will tear them apart piece by piece.” Krem replied.

“We have to find them,” Dorian repeated.

“Shale told us approximately where to find where she last remembers seeing them.” Sirad hesitated. “In the Deep Roads.”

“Then we saddle up the Chargers, and go find them. It’s early enough, we can set out after lunch.” Bull said as he rose to make a list of what they would need.

“No!” Dorian suddenly said. “Maker, Bull, this is the Deep Roads. We need to know what we’re walking into first.”

“Darkspawn,” Sirad said. “Lots of them.”

Bull turned and stared at him in surprise. “You loved Fenris once, well the boy he was. How dare you let him die there, or better yet you could save him and Hawke. You are no coward Pavus, do not let this stop you.”

Dorian slammed his fist into his desk. “I’m no coward! But just the thought of going down there with… with…”

“Darkspawn,” Sirad said again.

“With what we’ve done to the world right in my face.” He winced and looked at his hand, rubbing at it gently with the other. “Sorry…”

“I do believe I said you are not a coward, and hurting yourself won’t help. Get your shit together Pavus, get Shale ready and we leave after lunch. We have a chance to help and you will have to deal with this. Call it a bought lesson as a friend liked to say.” Bull said gently, he loved Dorian but he wasn’t going to let him back out of a chance to do right by his countrymen.

Dorian scowled. “Why do you have to be so damned noble? It’s really unbecoming at times.” He went to the door and paused.

“Give me an hour to gather what I’ll need.”

“Maker,” Sirad breathed. “Are we really going to go down there?”

“You like it when I’m damned noble, now stop whining and get ready.” Bull said before he nodded at Krem to follow.

**
Dorian had never been to the Deep Roads before, not really. Oh, he’d been in ruins where Darkspawn had come up a bit too close to the surface, but never really down in the dark of the Deep Roads.

It had taken them a day to find the entrance outside of Minrathous, leaving behind most of the Chargers in order to protect the villa so no one would take advantage of the fact that they had left the city.

Dorian and Sirad had cast light spells, balls of condensed brightness hovered over the tips of their staves, bobbing as they walked farther and farther into the darkness.

“Lovely place the Deep Roads,” Dorian mused, his voice sounding louder than it was in the closeness of the passageway. “Why did the dwarves ever leave it?”

“Because it’s the Deep Roads probably.” Bull said as he trailed behind Dorian and Krem. “Question is, what will we find once we get to them?”

“Them alive and well,” Dorian said firmly. “All three of them. We can’t let the Venatori kill either the Champion of Kirkwall, or the Hero of ferelden. Can you imagine the chaos that would cause? Ferelden takes a lot of pride in that the warden who stopped the last Blight was born and raised there. Hawke is a polarizing figure, enough that Lis needed him for the Inquisition.”

He didn’t mention Fenris and how important he was, Bull knew it anyway.

Krem and Bull had agreed to keep an eye on Dorian in case he broke while they made their way through the tunnels. The magister was on edge and it wouldn’t take much to shove him off.

“Remember,” Sirad said quietly, “Don’t let any Darkspawn get any blood in you. It only takes a drop of tainted blood in a thin cut for you to be corrupted.”

“That’s if we find any,” Dorian murmured.

“Buck up, if we’re lucky we’ll find them and get out quickly. But I just jinxed us didn’t I?” Bull muttered.

“Don’t call trouble Chief, it’s bad enough being down here without drawing weird shit to us.” Krem added.

Shale lumbered ahead of them. “This is why those of you with soft flesh shouldn’t be down here. A darkspawn cannot corrupt me.”

“Well then, let’s just grow admittedly beautiful crystals in our skin and then we’ll be set,” Dorian said a bit too lightly.

“Or not… I think I’ve had enough of red crystals growing out of people to last me a lifetime.”

“Let’s just get down there and find out what’s what. I don't want to be down here longer than I have to.” Bull answered

Dorian looked over at Bull sharply. “Will you be all right here?” he asked quietly.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Once we’re out I’ll drink and fuck my way back to normal.” Bull muttered.

“And one of those things involve me,” Dorian said with a laugh. “Or Sirad. He did ask me about what it was like with you the other day.”

Sirad choked on a cough behind them.

“He could find out, if we live and if you aren’t the jealous type.” Bull whispered in his ear before he straightened and headed down the path slightly ahead of them.

Sirad grabbed Dorian by the arm. “What are you getting me into?” he hissed in Dorian’s ear.

“Something I hope you’ll want and thank me for later,” Dorian grinned.

Krem rolled his eyes and herded the mages between him and Bull. “Eyes on the road gentlemen, we’re pretty deep in and I’d rather not get the Blight on top of all the other shit we need to do.”

It was always hard to judge time in the Deep Roads, but they passed by lava pools, tight caverns filled with glowing lyrium, and then finally, came upon a dwarven ruin.

“This is it,” Shale rumbled. “Just up ahead. It was the last place I remember clearly before you woke me up.”

“Well, time to see what’s made a home down here. Hopefully we’ll just find these two assholes in a cage and irritated.” Bull said as he pulled his weapon.

Krem waited until the mages were ahead of him before he brandished his maul. “Let’s do this Chief, I’d like to be home for dinner.”

They abruptly came to what had once been the courtyard of the ancient dwarven outpost. In the center were several large bonfires, still burning brightly. Crates and chests were stacked in neat piles next to crumbling stone pillars, while off to the side was an altar still sticky with blood.

Dorian’s skin crawled to see it. He spat on the ground. “Damned Venatori.”

“But where are they?” Sirad asked quietly.

Before Bull could reply, there was a low, dark laugh from a cage off to the left. “You’ve gotten good at tempting me demon, but I know that Pavus doesn’t know we’re here. Try someone else.” Fenris’ voice was rough, his eyes flickered between their usual bright green and a sickening blood red as he peered out at the group.

Dorian sucked in a sharp breath and took an involuntary step back, his mind rejecting what he was hearing. “No…” His staff clattered to the floor from lax fingers and he rushed over to the darkened corner with the cage.

The closer he got, the more his mind tried to grasp the sight before him. Fenris in a partially obscured cage, red lyrium clinging to the bars like vines--clinging to Fenris.

A strangled sound escaped Dorian and he stopped just short of the cage. “Maker have mercy,” he rasped. “What did they do to you?” He already knew the answer, and as soon as he uttered the words, he wanted to snatch them back, to prevent Fenris from answering and making this horror any more real.

“I wouldn’t bend to their whims...so they used Hawke. Used an image of you, of us as boys. I won’t break demon. Go on then, taunt me, get it done for the day so I can sleep, if the song doesn’t make me rage again.” Fenris said haughtily.

“It’s...they, they’ve kept him in that cage and it’s getting to him. Look at his brands.” Krem said in horror.

“I’m not a demon,” Dorian choked. “We found Shale and she told us where she last saw you. We’re here to rescue you and the others.” He didn’t know what he could do or say to get Fenris to believe him. His mind refused to work properly, filled with how Fenris’ lyrium markings had turned crimson and what it meant for the elf.

The warrior laughed at them, his expression feral as he turned away from the mage. “You aren’t even trying anymore. Come back when you can do better.”

“We have to get him out of there and find Hawke. We’ll worry about the rest later.” Bull said as he approached the cell.

“Let me pick the lock, move Chief.” Krem muttered as he pulled out his tools.

“We’re going to get you out of here and find Hawke and the Hero of Ferelden. Shale said he came with you two,” Dorian said as he stepped back. Action was good, action meant they were doing something about what was happening to Fenris.

Krem got the lock undone with little fuss, but the occupant didn’t seem interested in their efforts.

“Fenris, come on, we need to get you out of here.” Bull insisted.

“I’m no fool, I’m not going to wander out with some figment of my imagination. It’s bad enough I’m stuck doing their bidding to keep Hawke safe, but whatever test this is, consider it a failure.” Fenris snapped as he stared at them all as if they were mad, not him.

“Leto.” Dorian reached inside for him, heedless of the danger. “We have to go so we can find Hawke and the Hero. Please. I don’t beg, but I am now.”

The elf tilted his head at what seemed to be Dorian. “They haven’t called me Leto before, this is a new trick.” he stared at the mage for a long time before he moved forward to glare at the other man, tried to divine his intent before he nodded and left the cage. “If you are really him, you’ll know I want my weapon.”

“One of the chests,” Sirad guessed and hurried off to search them.

Dorian wanted to embrace Fenris, but even at the best of times he knew that the elf wouldn’t let him touch him. Now with the added danger of the red lyrium, it was impossible.

“Do you know where they’re keeping Hawke and the Grey Warden?” he asked instead.

“Further in, they made sure to pass me so they could remind Hawke of what he’d lose if I didn’t...if he didn’t comply.” the warrior said bitterly as he watched Sirad and Krem work on a chest before it opened to them. “There she is…” he almost purred as he grabbed his weapon and checked it over. “Starmetal, Silverite and more rune work than a sword of mercy. She’s like a part of me.” he said softly as he sheathed it.

“Comply?” Dorian asked. “What are they having him do?”

“They won’t tell me, I’m just an elf remember?” Fenris replied as he glanced at Dorian with little interest in the mage or the rest of them. “I just want him back and to leave this Void of their making.”

“I can agree to that.” Bull said as he headed down the path Fenris had indicated. He repressed a shudder at the unnatural lilt to the elf’s voice.

Dorian and the others followed behind, but it was Fenris who caught up with Bull first. dorian thought it was because he wanted to be the first one to draw blood.

“Will they be able to control you? Through the lyrium?” Krem asked as he caught up.

That was an excellent question, and one Dorian silently kicked himself for not thinking of first. “They might be able to,” he said with a glance at Fenris for verification.

“Probably, if that happens, Hawke knows what to do, the question is will he be able to do what’s needed?” Fenris replied before he looked ahead to the path and the door he could just make out.

“It won’t come to that,” Dorian said firmly. He tapped his staff on the ground and a light sphere appeared over the tip.

Sirad matched Dorian’s strides. He leaned over to hiss in his ear. “You didn’t tell me it was this Fenris.”

“How many elves named Fenris do I know?” Dorian whispered back.

“One, and he can hear you. I might be corrupted by this damned red poison, but I can hear just fine. Talk to me, not of me mages.” Fenris snarled as he went, hand already near the hilt of his weapon.

“Easy, let’s not do the Venatori’s work for them and take each other out before we even find Hawke.” Bull cautioned.

“This is completely not the time for this conversation, Fenris.” Dorian’s eyes darted from Sirad to the other elf. “After we have everyone and we’re back at my villa.”

“All of you shut up, we’ve got work to do.” Fenris said as he unsheathed his sword.

“Let us all hope that we make it out of this in one piece.” Krem muttered as he looked to Bull then Dorian.

“Shall I knock gentlemen?” Bull asked as they stopped in front of the door.

“Please do,” Dorian said with an artful wave of his hand. “I do so love the entrances you make.”

Bull nodded before he knocked the door off its hinges and into the room where Hawke was in the middle of a discussion between himself and three Venatori.

“Bull?” was all he got out before Fenris lit up like a Chantry nave and went to work.

The fight was embarrassingly short, mostly in thanks to Fenris’ ferocity and rage. Dorian could almost have felt bad for the Venatori--almost.

The chamber they had come upon had once been the great hall of whatever dwarven noble had been in charge. it still had crumbling pillars and statues, enough that had it made it hazardous to fight. that hadn’t bothered fenris, whose markings had flashed blue and red, moving so quickly around the chamber that Dorian hadn’t been sure the elf had been there until a Venatori would go down screaming in terror.

Hawke had barely gotten a chance to get into the fight before his lover had destroyed them. “Love?” he whispered as he went over to the elf that was covered in blood from everyone but him.

“Let us...we should go. Before I can’t, before I pass out.” Fenris huffed as the rush of battle began to wear off.

“Agreed, where is the Warden?” Bull asked.

Shale lumbered over to Hawke. “I’m strangely glad that you are still alive. But the horned one is correct. Where is the warden?”

“She should be through that door and in a cell, they swapped us out when not forcing our hand to plan things against you, Pavus, or the Inquisition still.” Hawke said distracted by the way Fenris seemed to sag against him.

“Maybe you two should stay here?” Bull offered.

“No, not a chance.” Fenris and Hawke said in tandem.

“Let’s go get her,” Dorian said as he headed towards the door. He paused and whirled back around. “Wait… she?”

“Not important right now!” Sirad said and pushed past Dorian to the door.

“Later Dorian, once we’re safely back at the villa.” Bull said before he crashed into it and right into a startled Venatori soldier.

“This one is on mine.” Hawke snarled before he sent chain lightning through the mage and through him.

Dorian rifled through the dead venatori’s clothes until he came up with the keys to the door behind him. He rushed over and unlocked it, throwing the door open.

“Oh…” Dorian said with no small amount of shock.

A dwarven woman in rags, with matted blonde hair, was chained to one side of the empty chamber. She glanced up, her grey eyes spotting Dorian’s Tevinter robes and her lips pulled back into a snarl.

“Come for more pain?” she asked in Tevene.

“Peace, they are here to get us out.” Fenris replied to her.

“Hold still, let me freeze that manacle so Bull or Krem can break it.” Hawke said as he knelt to work.

“Are they all dead? Or did you leave any for me?” She turned her head away when Hawke froze the chains and Bull shattered them with a heavy fist.

She got to her feet and looked up at Hawke, rage in her eyes. “Where’s my daggers?”

“In the chest, let me get them...not sure there are any left, but that doesn’t mean we won’t find any between here and the exit.” Hawke said as he gathered up her gear.

She didn’t bother sheathing the wicked looking daggers that Hawke had found in a chest outside in the hall. She held them both in tight fisted grips as she marched out of her cell.

“Shale,” she acknowledged as she walked by the golem. She knew that Shale wouldn’t want the huge show of gladness and affection Sereda wanted to give her.

“Warden,” Shale returned.

“Hawke...I might need your help,” Fenris whispered as he walked slowly next to his lover.

“Do I need to carry you, love?” Invictus asked.

“Fenris?” Dorian asked, worry leaking into his voice. He remembered what had happened to those in the future after they had been tainted by the red lyrium. “We’ll find a way to fix this.”

“No fixing things this time, just get me out of here. I won’t die in their hands.” Fenris mumbled as he held on to Hawke for support.

“Bull take his sword, if we come across any more Venatori, I think Sereda will tear them to shreds.” Hawke scooped the elf into his arms once the kossith warrior had his weapon.

The group hurried out into the ruined courtyard and made a dash for the tunnel back into the rest of the Deep Roads. Sereda slipped into the shadows and every so often they would come upon the fresh corpse of a Venatori, their throats slit and their eyes wide with shock, even in death.

Hawke did what he could as they went, but his mind was on his lover, and how he had gone still in his arms. The elf still drew breath but it was a near thing.

“It won't be too long now, Dorian, can you give us some Haste?” Bull asked.

“Maybe casting on the lyrium covered elf is a bad idea Chief?” Krem huffed as he slowed for a moment to catch his breath.

“It’s still going to be hours before we get back to Minrathous,” Dorian said in frustration. “we might not have any choice.”

“Do it, won’t be the first time…” Fenris mumbled before he turned closer to Vic’s chest.

“Fuck it, we need to get back sooner than later.” Bull said as he hefted his weapon and Fenris’

“Go on then,. the sooner I see the back end of the Deep the better.” Krem added in.

Dorian whirled his staff over his head and power shot out of him in a blast. The world around them seemed to slow down as their every action was abruptly faster.

“Let’s go!” Dorian yelled.

Chapter Text

Hawke had never been happier to see a city in his life than when he spotted the gates to the Pavus estate. He felt like he was going to collapse the second they were behind closed doors.

Bull had taken over carrying Fenris for the last leg of their escape and even he flagged as they entered the back of the place.

Krem fell into the first seat he saw, and tried to catch his breath.

For their part, Dorian and Sirad went to go and see about the magical defenses of the estate, warding everything and locking the villa down tightly. If any Venatori made the mistake of trying to force their way in, they’d be in for a nasty surprise.

Krem and Bull had cleared off a table in the dining hall and fenris was on it with Hawke carefully undoing the elf’s armor.

“Love, can you hear us? Please don’t leave me yet, please.” Invictus begged as he freed the elven warrior from his armor, and had to hold back gasps at the way Fenris’ markings flickered between red, blue and a dull purple-gray where the corruption overlapped.

“Move out of the way!” Sirad cried. He wasn’t by nature someone who asserted himself, but he did now, shoving people aside to get to Fenris.

“What are you doing?” Hawke asked as he moved in front of the elven mage. “Hurt him and I’ll take your head before you hit the ground.”

Bull and Krem sat up in case more fighting kicked off, but both men hoped that Hawke didn’t let his temper get the better of him.

“I’m a healer,” Sirad said more calm than he felt. “I also know his markings and how they will react. Let me help him.”

Dorian moved towards Sirad in case things started to turn ugly.

Hawke moved out of the way, but kept his eye on Sirad in case the elven mage pulled anything. “Hurt him and you will learn all new ways to suffer.”

“Easy Hawke, let him work.” Bull cautioned

“Dorian, I’ll need your help.” Sirad’s eyes scanned Fenris and tracked just where the corruption was. “I know you were looking into red lyrium and it’s affects when you were with the Inquisition.”

“Had to,” Dorian shrugged. “A magister was using the foul stuff, I saw it as my duty to figure out how to counteract it.”

“And?” Sirad asked. “Were you able to?”

Dorian’s lips pressed into a thin line. “No…”

Fenris had passed out again by the time Hawke had disrobed him and Sirad had gotten to work.

Hawke paced restlessly so he could let the elven mage heal but he found his gaze drawn to them no matter where he went in the room.

For several tense moments, Sirad worked on Fenris, his brow furrowed in concentration. He only spoke to ask Dorian in a low voice in Tevene a few questions before he would lapse into silence once more.

Bull and Krem split their attention between watching Hawke, Fenris and Sirad with little mind paid to Dorian. Bull knew if Fenris didn’t make it, the Venatori would be the least of their concerns.

Sirad eventually opened his eyes and leaned heavily against the table, his skin ashen. “Maker… That stuff is foul. Why would anyone create such stuff?”

“Because they’re mad,” Dorian answered simply.

“I’ve slowed the process, but it will take some time to get rid of it completely. His lyrium markings are making it difficult.”

“What does that mean?” Hawke asked irritably

“Champion, he’s trying to help you, don’t get too excited.” Krem warned.

“Fuck you, Fenris’ life is on the line, I have a right to ask.” Hawke snapped back.

“It means that if what Dorian says is true and that red lyrium is corrupted with the blight, something I have never healed before successfully mind you, then this will be a lot harder to get out of his system than a simple poison.” Sirad rubbed at his eyes. “He’s stable for now.”

"Does that mean we can breathe for now?" Hawke asked tiredly

“For the moment,” Sirad said softly. “But I have to warn you, you might need to prepare for the worse.”

"No, don't even say that," Invictus snapped.

“Being the one to cure the Blight is any researcher’s dream,” Sirad said quietly. “But so far no one has been able to do it.”

“That’s because Grey Wardens keep their secrets close,” Sereda said from the doorway. She’d bathed and changed into clean clothes, the sleeves and legs of the breeches rolled up.

"He doesn't have the damn blight." Hawke replied as he sat with his lover.

"He's got a form of corruption that's for damn sure. "Bull said

Dorian pointed at Fenris. “For all intents and purposes, he does. Red lyrium is lyrium tainted with the blight. It’s a living, breathing material, and now it’s infected Fenris.”

"Then does he have to join the Wardens?" Hawke asked in fear.

“I don’t know,” Sirad said honestly. “I swear to you we will do our damnedest to fix this.”

Fenris gasped as he tried to open his eyes and sit up. "Too late for me, just don't let... Them get me." He wheezed.

"No one is going to get you love, rest now.” Invictus said as he gently laid the warrior back down.

Dorian took Sirad by the arm and led him to the door. “My father took pride in how extensive our library was. Let’s start there. With your knowledge of healing, and with the research I’d done on red lyrium, we have to be able to come up with something.” Without a backwards glance to Bull they left the room.

"I'll get a room set up for you." Krem's said with a brief squeeze to Bull's shoulder as he went by.

"I'll stay with you, if you don't mind, " Bull offered

“Shale and I will stay with Fenris and Hawke,” Sereda said. She eyed the elf with no small amount of sadness.

"As you wish Warden." Bull headed out to find Krem and make himself useful.

Hawke paid none of them any mind as he worried over his lover.

**
Dorian felt as if all the moisture in his eyes had dried out hours ago. He squinted down at the tome in front of him, the ancient tevene swirling in his mind. he didn’t know when the last time he slept was, and had been vaguely aware of someone having come into the library to place a plate of food at his elbow. He had long experience with what happened when he went without food, so he had made himself eat quickly.

Sirad had gone to try something with Fenris and Dorian found he missed the faint rustle of his friend turning pages in a book next to him.

Bull stuck his head in and smiled when he saw his lover deep in study. “Did you eat kadan?”

Dorian grunted an assent and picked up his quill, scribbling down notes without looking up from the tome.

“Dori, look at me when I ask you something so I know you heard me yeah?” Bull asked as he came over to get his mage’s full attention with the nickname he knew the other man didn’t care for.

Dorian glanced up sharply and scowled. “Dori? Really? Am I five, Bull?”

“Made you look, though,” the kossith said before he leaned in for a brief kiss.

Dorian rolled his eyes even as he returned the kiss. “You’re lucky you’re hot,” he muttered.

“I’m lucky yeah, and yours so that makes us both lucky. What’s got you so deep in that book anyway? Where did Sirad go, thought you two were trying to solve all the worlds problems in one day.” Bull said as he reluctantly pulled back.

“Sirad had an idea.” Dorian leaned back in his chair wearily. “It’s… It’s insane. But I can’t for the life of me see my way to talking him or I out of it.”

“Talk to me, we deal in insane ideas for lunch.” Bull urged him to share their ideas

“Sirad said that red lyrium being nothing more than blue lyrium that has been corrupted with the Blight makes all the difference. He thinks that if he treats it like any other poison of a living organism, he can pull it from Fenris and his markings.”

Dorian sighed. “All well and good, yes? The problem is when Sirad pulls poison from someone, it has to go somewhere. He can either get the body to absorb it and burn it off faster, or send it somewhere else where it can be contained. But this is the taint we’re talking about. It cannot be contained. Only slowed like with what the Grey Wardens do with their Joining. There is no having the body burn it off. There is no safe place to store it, and I refuse to send it to someone else. It might outright kill another person. Sereda isn’t an option, who knows what adding more poison into her system would do? Would it speed up her own corruption?”

“Why don’t you use regular blue lyrium? It can be destroyed or something afterward. We broke up plenty of it while traveling with Lis. That way no one else is corrupted, and it’s Minrathous I’m sure you can get plenty of it here.” Bull suggested.

“I…” Dorian shot to his feet, knocking his chair over to clatter on the floor. He reached up and pulled Bull’s head down by the horns, giving him a bruising kiss.

“You are a genius!” Dorian crowed.

“Well I am more than a sex god, Dorian.” Bull grinned as he watched his lover zip around the room to jot down notes and grab a sheaf of parchment along with his quill.

“That you are,” Dorian said with a wide grin. “I wouldn’t be so in love with you if you were just a handsome face with a nice body.” He pushed a pile of scrolls of his desk and began to write, his quill scratching against the parchment.

“So, should I see about getting a chunk of lyrium or is there some stored in the Pavus vault?” Bull replied as he fought not to snatch Dorian up and kiss him stupid.

“You’re joking?” Dorian looked up. “I’m a magister and my family is wealthy. Of course we have lyrium in the vault. Go and bring the largest chunk you can find to the room we put Fenris and Hawke in, Sirad should still be there.”

“Ser, yes ser!” Bull replied before he headed off to do Dorian’s bidding.

Dorian laughed, feeling more in control than he had since finding Fenris.

**
“Everyone knows their roles?” Dorian asked. He sat on the floor of the ritual chamber in the Pavus villa. as with all things tevinter and their noble houses, the ritual chamber was decorated with ancient runes inlaid with gold and jewels. Old magic from several generations of Pavus’ were seeped into the stones.

They had laid Fenris out in the center of a ritual circle Dorian had marked on the floor with something he and Sirad had decided not to mention to the others. This was Tevinter, and the rules of magic and what was right didn’t matter as long as they got results.

And they were all very desperate.

Sirad, Hawke, and Dorian sat on the outside of the circle, while the others stood at the edges of the room to watch and offer support if needed. The ritual was simple. Sirad would pull the taint from Fenris and his lyrium markings. Then Hawke would facilitate moving the poison into the blue lyrium. It would be up to Dorian to weave time magic, using some of the experimental spells he had created with Alexius to hold the red lyrium in stasis.

Bull and Krem stood outside the circle, both men wary of what was being done before them but they knew it had to be done.

Hawke nodded sharply before he gave another glance to his lover.

“Are you sure you don’t wish to be tied down?” Sirad asked Fenris in Tevene. “This will be painful, I’m sorry.”

“I’d rather not break half my bones thrashing. If it gets bad...you may put me to sleep.” Fenris rasped.

Sirad took a deep breath to center himself. “Then let’s begin.” He raised a hand and held it out towards Fenris. He didn’t send a questing tendril of magic, there was no need for it. Instead, he pushed his magic right into Fenris, starting with the obvious signs of corruption. Sirad gasped when he encountered it, almost recoiling in disgust. To touch the taint magicly was to dip a hand into death and rot.

Though Fenris has been warned of the pain, nothing prepared him for the agony that lit through him. He heard the screaming that echoed back to him, even as he wondered where that noise had come from.

Hawke flinched but remained ready to do his part, though he wanted to snatch Fenris away and coddle him.

Sirad was meticulous in pulling every trace of the taint from Fenris. He wanted to drop the spell and run, bathe to get the touch of the taint off of his metaphorical skin. But he held on, moving through every cell, through every bit of lyrium in Fenris’ body. Slowly the taint began to bleed away from Fenris, his color returning to normal. His screams eventually died out, not because it was any less painful, but because dorian had put him to sleep, unable to bear it anymore.

Hawke’s hands trembled as he held the lyrium as the corruption bled into it. He was glad for the dragonhide gloves he wore not just for the protection but that they hid the shaking. He was relieved that Fenris was asleep, but the elf’s screams would haunt him.

With Sirad and Hawke concentrating on their assigned parts, Dorian readied himself for what he would have to do. He unrolled a small cloth and set his instruments out in order of when he would need them. It gave him something to do instead of waiting with his stomach rolling in anticipation. He refused for this to not work, no matter what the cost. He and other magisters had taken too much from Fenris already.

Hawke watched as Sirad worked and he hoped that they would be done soon, else he would lose his own nerve and flee the scene.

Bull and Krem were on edge, both of them hoped that the ritual was over with sooner than later.

Sirad checked and checked again to make sure he got every bit of the taint. He left no part of Fenris untouched, and he was thankful the other elf was asleep. If he knew how Sirad had such an intimate knowledge of Fenris and how his markings were inlaid into his skin, Sirad knew there would be no place in this world or the next he’d be able to hide.

“Now,” he rasped to Hawke. His hands shook from the strain.

Invictus gestured as he’d been shown to pull the last of the corruption into the blue chunk of lyrium he held, his expression tense as he watched how the crystal pulsed under his fingers between red, then blue and occasionally purple. “Dorian, any time now.”

Dorian knew himself to be a hypocrite, but he told himself at least he knew it.

They didn’t know if outright destroying what was rapidly becoming red lyrium would release the taint or not. They didn't know if they had created a seed and if left unchecked it would grow. So that only left putting it into stasis until they could figure out what to do with it.

Which meant Dorian had to do some magic that might not be socially or morally acceptable in the South.

He had once told Lis that in tevinter, a small bit of blood was nothing. The problem was that one would invariably require more and more. Still, he knew no other way to get the kind of power he needed.

Just a few drops, he told himself. Nothing you haven’t done before.

But with the others looking on, Dorian suddenly knew just how it would look. To Sirad, magic such as this meant nothing as long as it got the job done. But to the others…

But Fenris’ life was at stake and he snatched up a small, bone pin. He poked it in quick succession into the tips of every finger on his left hand. He dropped the pin on the cloth in front of him and held out his hand towards Hawke. Blood trickled down his fingers in thin lines.

“Now!” Dorian rasped. “Give it to me now!”

Hawke handed it over as if the lyrium was going to burn through the gloves he wore. “Hurry up… this feels so wrong.” Vic gasped.

Pain immediately shot up Dorian’s arm and he bit back a cry of agony. He started to chant in a low, measured tone. His eyes rolled into his head as the power rose in the room, becoming almost stifling.

Hawke shook his hands to get rid of the wrongness he felt as he watched Dorian complete the ritual. He didn’t know whether to be terrified or grateful.

Bull forced himself to remain where he was even as he wanted to run over to Dorian slap the lyrium away.

Using what he had discovered in an old Tevinter villa in the Western Approach with Lis one day, and the theories he and Alexius used to bandy about, Dorian dropped his free hand onto an upright bed of bone needles that had been laying on the cloth waiting for him. He didn’t feel the pain of several pinpricks, but he did feel the world lurch when he placed his hand on top of the pulsing lyrium.

Blood ran down in thin rivulets over the newly formed red lyrium, connecting to the blood that had already been pooling in his other hand. A circuit was completed, and everything froze around him.

At least, it seemed that way to Dorian. To the others in the room, Dorian was the one who was frozen in stasis. His chest didn’t move, his eyes didn’t blink.

Dorian glanced from one person to another. Later he knew he would examine every little bit of what it felt like to suddenly be frozen in time, to move too slowly for others to perceive it. He was suddenly glad that Lisbeth had taken the staff from the villa they had found almost a year ago. By removing that ancient staff, they had released several ancient Tevinter and a horde of demons from an eternal prison. It had shown Dorian that he and Alexius had been right in thinking that the magisters of old had been closer than previously thought to time magic.

Hawke sat next to Fenris as he watched Dorian slow with the magic he’d cast.

It took Dorian a full hour to pry his fingers free from the red lyrium. For him it was moments, but for the others, much longer. When he was finally free of it, the world snapped back into place. Noises and movement seemed too much for his senses and he flinched against it.

“Give me the box!” Dorian shouted a bit too loudly. After being in silence for so long, He felt he had to shout in order to be heard.

Hawke handed it to him with a grimace as he nearly got his fingers pinched with how fast Dorian had snatched it from him.

Dorian used the spell lined and warded box to scoop the frozen red lyrium up and then slammed the lid shut.

For a moment the three mages looked at each other, as if they couldn’t believe that it had worked.

Fenris groaned softly but didn’t wake up. Hawke brushed the elf’s hair away from his face, glad his markings once more glowed a unnatural soft blue.

“Thank you, thank you so much.” Invictus whispered.

Bull came to the edge of the circle but didn’t cross, since he wasn’t sure if it was safe. He wanted to go to his lover to be sure Dorian was actually alright.

Dorian stared down at his hands and the way the blood had dried on his skin. he looked up at Bull. “How long?” he croaked.

“Over an hour...can I cross the line?” Bull queried.

Krem came over to the other side so he could help Sirad and be on hand in case Hawke needed or wanted help.

“Yes,” Dorian rasped. He felt drained, the spell having taken everything out of him and the other mages. He glanced over at Hawke.

“Hawke, you need rest, and so does Fenris.” His voice was still raw.

Bull scooped up Dorian and carried him towards the door while Hawke gently lifted up Fenris and followed the kossith warrior down the hall.

Sereda had been waiting for them in the hall, guarding the door in case anyone wanted to disrupt the ritual. Dorian gave her a weak nod as they passed her by, and a relieved grin broke out on her face.

“Don’t be angry with me,” Dorian whispered into Bull’s ear weakly.

“Not angry, I’m not some Chantry hand wringer that’s going to get my smalls in a knot over what needed to be done.” Bull assured him.

“This is one of many, many reasons why I love you,” Dorian mumbled against Bull’s neck.

“Come on, you need a bath and dinner, kadan.” Bull replied.

Dorian glanced down at one of his hands and they made their way through the villa and towards Dorian’s chambers.

“Do not tell Fenris what I have done,” Dorian said quietly. “You understand that there are some things that must be done, but Fenris might not see it that way.”

The relief that Dorian felt at knowing that Bull’s faith had not been shaken by his use of blood magic was almost physical in nature. But Bull was not like other men, and understood the power of using what one had at their disposal.

“Regardless of that fact you helped save his life, he won't care about that. I wouldn’t blame him either. Just need to be sure no one else lets it slip. But worry about that later.” Bull admonished him.

Dorian staggered a bit when Bull set him down in the middle of his bathing chamber. He looked down at himself and frowned. “Maker… I’m a mess. How long have I been running around looking like this?”

“A couple hours, come on, let me get you out of those robes and into a hot bath.” Bull herded him towards the marble and brass opulent thing in his bathing chamber.

Dorian stripped out of his clothes. He had been wearing them ever since they’d come back from the Deep Roads and undid his top knot. He had just enough magic left in him to heat the water in the large tub before he sank down gratefully into it.

The kossith simply helped him get clean, nothing more than gentle scrubbing and soft words of thanks for what he’d done to save his fellow fighter. “You did good, even though you might feel like shit now.” Bull said softly.

“I can’t decide what I feel,” Dorian replied honestly. “What I did… That’s too much power for anyone to have.” He bent his head down and let Bull clean his hair, the ends railing in the water.

“Have dinner, sleep on it and we can talk about it in the morning. You scared a few years off me when you froze like that, Dorian.” Bull admitted with a slight hitch to his voice.

Dorian reached behind him to grab a hold of Bull’s hand, squeezing it tightly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was going to do that and it scared me a little bit too.”

“Don’t apologize for something you had no control over. Just don’t do it again. If you’re clean, let’s get you out of here and fed.” Bull said softly.

Dorian glanced back at Bull. There were things left unfinished and unsaid between them, but he was afraid of angering his lover. Not that he was afraid of Bull’s anger or Bull himself, but that he didn’t want to poke at a still open wound.

He rose to his feet with Bull’s help and together they got Dorian dried and in a dressing gown.

Bull was quiet as he got a quick wash in and changed into something that wasn’t armor and more comfortable. “You want to go down to the dining room or eat in here?” he asked tiredly

“Here,” Dorian answered. “Then I need to sleep for several days.”

“I’ll be right next to you. Haven’t felt this tired since the fight against what’s his face.” Bull muttered.

“Corypheus?” Dorian said with a bark of laughter.

“Yeah, that asshole.” Bull said before he flopped down to the bed and sighed.

“Only you could forget the name of someone like Corypheus after he’s dead. I bet you could name every dragon you’ve killed, how old they were, where they were, and the color of every scale.” Dorian disrobed and crawled into bed with Bull.

“You bet I can, fuck that old magister bastard. I forget his name because it doesn’t deserve to be remembered.” Bull murmured

Dorian settled in next to Bull and closed his eyes, his head pillowed on his lover’s chest. “That’s because you’re a good man,” Dorian yawned.

“I’m alright, guess you’re too tired for dinner?” Bull asked as he carded his fingers through Dorian’s unbound hair, his mind racing all over the place.

“Much…” Dorian closed his eyes. “Sorry…”

“Don’t apologize, I’m not inclined to move either. Let’s sleep it off, food can come later.” Bull yawned before he nuzzled against his mage.

Dorian would deny it to his dying day, but he was already asleep and let out a loud snore in reply.

**
No one emerged until the following evening at the evening meal. Dorian still felt weak, but most of his strength had returned. he had even taken more care than usual with his appearance.

Bull had opted for a soft tunic and leather pants, and hovered nearby Dorian as they sat down .
When he and Bull entered the dining hall, they found the others already there and seated. Dorian took his place at the head of the table and Bull sat next to him.

The room was silent as they were served their meals. No one spoke until the last servant had closed the door to the dining hall behind them.

“Well,” Dorian said lightly while sipping his wine. “It’s lovely to see everyone has decided to venture out of their rooms.”

Sirad kept his head down and studiously ate his food, while Sereda tapped her fingers on her wine glass in a rhythm only she seemed to know.

Fenris muttered something that could have been thanks or go fuck yourself magister, Hawke wasn’t sure. He’d noticed the other elf but held his tongue until he could speak with him sans audience.

Hawke just kept quiet but he made sure to brush his hand against his warrior’s often as he could get away with.

Dorian sighed and methodically ate his meal. “Would any of you mind telling me what exactly you were doing before the venatori captured you?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Several things,” Sereda said. “I had gotten word that the venatori were trying to create golems, something that the dwarves of Thedas had an interest in stopping. Since I didn’t like the idea of something my people make becoming a tool of the Venatori, I decided to look into it.”

“So now that we have you all back, and Shale do you think they will slither back in a hole for a bit or actually come back harder at us?” Bull asked.

She exchanged a look with Hawke. “Come back harder,” she said flatly. “The things I heard them say.” Her eyes narrowed in anger. “They made the mistake of not only speaking freely in front of us, but leaving us alive. If they’d been smart they would have killed us when they first captured us. Now we’re just angry.”

“Considering how Hawke and Fenris get when angry, I think the venatori will be short lived.” Bull said.

Krem poured himself coffee as he pondered what their next move could be.

“They hate you,” she told Dorian. “You are a traitor to Tevinter. You sleep with a non-human. They don’t just want to kill you and Bull, they want you to suffer.”

“And this is news?” Dorian quipped.

“I did my suffering in the ring thanks. Besides, with Shale defeated publicly it will be harder to get some to ally openly with the Venatori. Unless they try to drum up bullshit charges on you Dorian.” Bull said tiredly.

“They’ll accuse you of misuse of magic, send templars soon.” Fenris said with a glance to his host before he went back to his meal.

“They can try,” Dorian answered. “Now that I’ve seen what a templar int he south can do, I’m less worried about what they will do to me if they come, and more what they will do to the villa and those that live here.”

“Don’t discount them,” Sirad said quietly. “A sword can hurt you just as much as a Tranquil iron.”

“Assuming I let anyone get close enough to use a sword on him.” Bull snapped.

“You’re not Tranquil yet, Sirad, maybe you can advise your friend on staying out of templar clutches.” Fenris quipped.

Sirad glanced up sharply. “I…”

“We should pool our knowledge on the Venatori,” Dorian said in a change of subject. He wanted to avoid any real conversation between Sirad and Fenris for as long as possible.

“I’ll share what I can but on my own time.” Fenris said tiredly.

“Take your time,” Dorian assured him.

“Time we might not have,” Sereda pointed out. “Anything you would be willing to share with us would be a great help. I thought I knew the scope of the Venatori, but now…”

“Corypheus was only the excuse.” Dorian speared a piece of carrot with his fork. “They will find a new evil to back, and this cycle will repeat. The trope of the evil, grasping magister is one for a reason.”

“We’re going to change that,” Sirad added.

“And change thousands of years of the perception of the Imperium?” Sereda asked.

“If I have to,” Dorian said flatly.

"I'll not hurry if asked sweetly Warden. If you'll excuse us, I'd rather spend time with Hawke than some in present company."

At a cough from Hawke, the elven fighter did turn and give Dorian a slight bow. "I am told I have you to thank for saving me along with Hawke and... him. Your work is appreciated."

“I’m just relieved we were able to do something,” Dorian said. “I mean that, Fenris. You deserved more than to be another pawn of power hungry magisters.”

“Much more,” Sirad agreed.

Dorian winced and tried to change the subject yet again. “I hope your rooms are to your liking.”

"They're fine." Fenris reached for Hawke’s hand surprised when his lover remained seated

"I'd like to finish dinner love, please? "

Dorian schooled his features to hide his shock at whatever Hawke seemed to be up to.

"As you wish, amatus ," Fenris resumed his seat and drank instead of arguing.

Dorian’s bland expression vanished and he raised an eyebrow. In the short time he had known this Fenris, no one was able to calm him down the way that Hawke was.

"Something to say, Pavus?" Hawke asked

“It must be magic…” Dorian said with a small laugh. “You’re the only person Fenris will calm down for when he’s upset. It’s because he loves you.”

“It's a spell only Invictus could weave on my heart. " Fenris said with a squeeze to his lover’s hand, and a glare at Dorian

“I’m glad,” Sirad said. “I’m glad that you are happy.”

Dorian didn’t even bother fighting the urge to bury his face in his hands.

The warrior glanced at the elven mage, but held his words clenched behind his teeth.

He'd told Hawke everything about his past and how he remembered the elven magister.Fenris had promised he'd leave anything he had to say for when he could get time alone. But it was difficult not to snap

“You do remember me, don’t you?” Sirad said without inflection.

“Sirad, don’t,” Dorian warned.

"Of course I do, every damned minute of your work for my master." Fenris drained his cup as he glanced over to his host.

“Not now,” Dorian pleaded. “For either one of you, please.”

“I…” Sirad glanced away. “I apologize, Dorian.”

"I will leave this for later, only because I promised Vic. I'll see you later, I need some air." Fenris left without a word.

Hawke groaned as he rose to follow the warrior. "Good job, Sirad."

“I’m sorry,” Sirad whispered, stricken. “I…”

“It’s okay,” Dorian muttered. “This wasn’t going to turn out well no matter what.”

“”What’s going on?” Sereda asked.

“Sirad and Fenris have met before,” Dorian explained vaguely.

“There’s more to it, but it’s not the time or place. We’re all still too raw, kadan.” Bull said.

“I don’t fancy trying to keep the peace around here either. Just let it go for now, all of you. I'm off to find my father, have some quiet time.” Krem said as he fiddled with his wine glass.

Dorian held up his hands. “I tried to prevent any of that from happening. Don’t blame me for it.”

“He remembered Sirad so not much to do except keep them apart as much as we can.” Bull replied.

“Exactly,” Dorian agreed.

“No…” Sirad stood. “I should leave and go back to my own villa. You’ve been kind by extending protection to me, but I think it’s time for me to go.”

“Don’t be foolish,” Dorian countered. “The Venatori will take you before the evening was out.”

“Stay right here, that’s not a request Sirad” Krem said as he paused. “We didn’t do all of this to let you walk right out and into a trap.”

“Then I need to speak with him,” Sirad insisted. “None of you can expect to keep the two of us apart. It won’t work.”

“I don’t know about this.” Dorian rubbed at his eyes.

“Give him time to cool off, he’ll take your head off if you approach him now.” Bull cautioned.

“Maybe I deserve it,” Sirad began.

“Don’t.” Dorian jabbed a finger at Sirad. “Don’t start on that. we’ve been through this before. You tried to help him.”

“Did I?” Sirad asked softly.

“Get some more sleep,” Dorian advised. “And approach him in the morning.”

“And don’t go alone, that would be a bad, bad idea.” Krem said as a parting shot.

Bull scrubbed a hand over his face and sighed. “I think we all need to go the fuck to sleep.”

“Agreed.” Dorian got to his feet and headed towards the doorway. “Tomorrow, we begin our work again.”

**
Bull didn’t want to go with the elven mage but he’d promised Dorian that he would. He had no idea what kind of trap he was falling into, but his word was his bond. The kossith warrior knocked, and half hoped he would find the mage gone about his business.

Sirad opened the door to his chamber and stepped out in the hall. “Thank you for coming with me,” he said softly. “I know that you don’t want to get involved with this.”

“No, but I promised Dorian and I don’t want to clean up anyone’s vital organs before lunch. Come on.” Bull replied as he let Sirad lead them to the upper level room where Hawke and Fenris had sequestered themselves since the previous night.

“Still… You have my thanks for whatever that’s worth.” Sirad stopped in front of Fenris’ door, took a deep breath, and then knocked.

Fenris yanked the door open, his expression darkened further when he saw Sirad. “Haven’t you done enough to me, why do you persist?”

“Because I never got a chance to tell you just how sorry I am for what was done to you,” Sirad said.

“As if I’d believe you, why can’t all of you leave me be? Or was my thanks for the rescue insufficient, my lord?” Fenris’ voice was brittle, his gauntlets dug into the wood of the doorframe as he fought not to punch Sirad.

“He’s just come to talk with you, he didn’t have to try Fenris. Can you listen at least?” Bull asked him.

“Please,” Sirad begged. “Just a moment of your time.”

“A moment, and I reserve the right to pitch you back in the hall.” Fenris said as he let them enter, and shook his head at Hawke to let him handle it.

**
Sirad took the offered glass of wine without looking up at Dorian. He had his face buried in one hand and he was slumped in a chair by the fire in Dorian’s chambers.

“He listened,” Dorian insisted. “He needs time to process what you told him. Maker knows I’ve been where you are before. Neither one of us meant any harm, but we still managed to hurt him.”

Sirad lifted his head. “But that’s where you’re wrong, Dorian. My uncle Danarius was the one who did this to him. I’m the one who helped. I brought him back to life time and time again using my magic. He would beg me to kill him and I wouldn’t do it.”

“You’re uncle was threatening your family, Sirad,” Dorian shot back. “You had little choice.”

“I still see him in my dreams, bloody and in agony, pleading with me to let him die.” Sirad took a long drink of his wine. “There is no atoning for it. I should let him kill me.”

“No one is going to let that happen. He’s not a mindless killer Sirad and I doubt he’d want to just kill you out of hand. If he did, you probably wouldn’t have survived once he woke up from your work.” Bull cautioned as he joined them.

“It’s your guilt talking,” Dorian added. “Give him time.”

Sirad drained the rest of his glass and held it out for more. “Ever since my uncle died, I’ve been trying to piece together exactly what he did to Fenris and why. It’s what led me to the Venatori in the first place. I stuck my nose in where it didn’t belong, and they didn’t take too kindly to it.”

“Well they’ve managed to fail in keeping them, and we put Philo in his place, and out of favor with them. They’ll survive, as long as we let them. Just give Fenris time, I mean you dropped a lot on him. Some things he didn’t seem to recall either.” Bull said as he refilled Dorian’s wine glass and topped his off before filling Sirad’s again.

Sirad eyed his glass, holding it up to the light. “I’m going to get drunk if I keep this up.”

“And that would be so horrible,” Dorian said with an arch smile.

“You’ve earned it, just don’t go wandering off to chat up Fenris or Hawke once you get there. I’m not that fast if he gets it in his head to take your heart.” Bull cautioned.

“I maybe foolish at times, but even I can see that they would murder me before I even got another word out. I will keep my distance from them both,” Sirad promised.

“Later on this evening we all are going to gather and pool our knowledge of the Venatori. Maybe there’s a puzzle that individually we have the pieces for, but together we can see the whole picture.” Dorian shrugged.

Sirad set his glass down on the table. “Then I won’t drink anymore so i can have my wits about me tonight.”

“Spoilsport,” Dorian snorted. “You can be fun when you’re drunk.”

“Do tell? I’ve yet to hear stories about you two from Dorian, he’s keeping you all to himself.” Bull said with a leer.

“Oh Maker,” Sirad groaned.

“Sirad is so innocent looking, isn’t he?” Dorian asked with a wide grin. “But get him in bed and another side of him comes out.”

“Please stop,” Sirad pleaded.

“Oh really? Please share kadan, I mean he is so appealing, and the way he blushes.” Bull rumbled, but remained where he was in case the elven mage wasn’t in the mood to play.

“And don’t let him fool you. He knows it too,” Dorian teased. “He would wear us both out, Bull, make no mistake.”

Sirad’s face had turned red, but he didn’t try to stop either one of them from talking, his eyes taking on a strange gleam.

“I doubt he could wear me out, you perhaps, but not me.” Bull scoffed, affronted at the idea that the slight elf could put him out of commission.

“Oh, Bull… You are so wrong,” Dorian laughed.

Sirad glanced from one man to the other. “Just how appealing am I?” he asked Bull softly.

“Very, so different from my hard, stubborn magister. You draw me to you, even as I wonder what Dorian would do if I let my want be known.” Bull glanced to his lover, then to mage, sure a shift had happened, but unclear on where they would end up by the time they were done.

“Even after hearing everything I told Fenris?” Sirad countered.

“I’m not Fenris and as Dorian can tell you, I’m not gonna judge you on that kind of shit. You want to play and if Dorian says ok, I’m up for it. You say no, he says no, we stop and go on with our day.” Bull said.

Sirad turned to Dorian with an incredulous look. “Is he always this blunt?”

“I know,” Dorian sighed. “Terribly annoying at first, but I grew to love it. You should have heard the things he said to me when he wanted to sleep with me. all bluntness and no game. It was refreshing actually.”

Sirad slowly turned his gaze back to Bull. “I can see the appeal… “

“I am a whole lot of man, as he can attest to.” Bull grinned as he went over to Dorian, and tilted his face up so he could gage where his lover was with his flirting. “You ok with this? Really? I need to know before I fuck things up with us.”

“We made no promises to stay true to each other when we were apart, but we did anyway. If I didn’t want this then I wouldn’t have even mentioned anything from the start.”

“Just making sure, don’t want to lose you over something like this.” Bull kissed Dorian softly before he turned to grin at Sirad.

“You heard him, the question is are you alright with this?”

A wicked smile crossed over Sirad’s lips, one that transformed his features into something less innocent. ‘No… The question is are you ready?”

“Don’t try to intimidate me, Dori can tell you I’m not easy to wear out.” Bull grinned as he leaned over to hook his fingers into Sirad’s collar so he could start off with a kiss

As their lips met, Dorian came up behind Bull and stood on his toes, whispering into his lover’s ear. “That trick you like so much… The one where I use magic… Who do you think taught me that? I’m no healer mage that knows every in and out of the body.”

“Shiiit, this is gonna be a long night after all” Bull moaned once he’d stepped back. “Let’s take this to your room.”

Sirad led the way out of Dorian’s sitting area to his friend’s bedchamber. He moved fluidly, his body language changing as he dropped a trail of his clothes behind him, revealing smooth skin and the edges of a large tattoo on his back.

“Nice ink, who did it?” Bull asked as he shed his own clothing while he glanced back to catch Dorian staring at them with a filthy expression.

The tattoo was of a large tree, it’s branches swirling out across his back and shoulder blades. “An Antivan I found near the docks,” Sirad answered.

“That’s new,” Dorian observed, his fingers methodically undoing his own clothes.

“We were last together over a year ago.” Sirad crawled into the large bed, showing off the way his ass moved as he did. “Things change.”

“And some things stay the same, thank the Maker,” Dorian murmured.

“It’s gorgeous, thank that Antivan when you see him again.” Bull murmured as he leaned over to kiss the top of the branches.

Sirad arched his back into the touch of Bull’s lips. He pushed his hair off to one side, the long mass trailing on the bed.

Dorian spread his hands along the expanse of Bull’s back, reaching around to trailing his fingers over his scarred chest.

“So what do you want from us? Who do you want to fuck? Or get fucked by?” Bull asked between soft kisses and licking the dark inked paths along the elf’s back.

Sirad reached behind him, his fingers wrapping around the massive erection between Bull’s legs. He rolled his hips back and slotted Bull’s cock between his ass cheeks.

“This… I want this in anyway you want to give it to me.”

“Yeah...what about Dori?” Bull rumbled as he rolled against Sirad.

“Dori won’t be doing anything,” he heard from behind him. “Dorian on the other hand, wants what Sirad does. Which one will you give it to first?”

Sirad all but purred. “We can share it, Dorian.” His thumb smoothed over the head of Bull’s cock, spreading a droplet of wetness.

“There’s enough of me to go around, no need to fight over the Bull.” the kossith grinned as he rolled over and let them both stare at him,

Dorian pressed a kiss to one of bull’s knees, while Sirad kissed the other. They both moved as one up the kossith, trailing light bites and soothing kisses up his legs. When they met at the base of Bull’s shaft, their lips met, with the thick cock between them. tongues slipped over and around the hard flesh, the mages pushing between their lips to taste, their long hair sweeping over the tops of Bull’s thighs.

“Shit...shit, that’s gonna drive me wild.” Bull caressed Dorian’s head gently,and let his other hand trail through the elven mages dark hair.

They made their way up Bull’s shaft, their fingers reaching between his legs to caress and cradle his heavy balls. Sirad’s eyes rolled shut on a groan, while Dorian kept his eyes on Bull, watching his lover’s expression up the length of his body.

When they reached the tip, Dorian slipped back down to mouth at the base, tracing each thick vein with his tongue, while Sirad opened his mouth wide, taking the first few inches between his lips.

Sirad arched his back, and spread his legs, his erection leaking freely onto the sheets while his mouth was stretched. His tongue lashed against the smooth, broad head, collecting any drops of arousal that Bull was willing to give him.

Dorian crawled up and whispered filthy things in his lovers ear as he watched Sirad take him down as much as he could. “He looks so good with your cock in his mouth Amatus. All that in his grasp, can’t wait to see how he looks impaled on you.”

Dorian scratched along Bull’s chest, following the hills and valleys of dense muscle. “You should see how he moves when he rides someone. It’s like water. he becomes all need, and right now he needs your cock badly. No one will ever want it as much as he does in this moment. He wants to have it all, to feel it full inside him, to choke on it until he can’t breath.”

Dorian curled his fingers over Bull’s hand on Sirad’s head. “Watch…” Together they pushed Sirad’s head down, forcing the elf to take more down his throat. Sirad let out a muffled groan of pleasure, his body shaking. His hand went between his legs to grasp the base of his shaft to prevent his oncoming orgasm, pinching it tight.

Bull moaned and tightened his fingers in Sirad’s hair as he took Dorian’s hand in his and squeezed. “Fuck, fuck...the two of you are gonna do me in.”

“One word and he’ll come for you,” Dorian whispered into Bull’s ear. “Tell him how good he is. Tell him how you want to see what he looks like when he comes. Tell him how you want to see just how badly he wants this, wants you. Give him permission and he’ll do it without being touched.”

“Maker,” Sirad rasped when Bull and Dorian let him up enough to breath.

“Not yet, I want him to come while he’s full of me, maybe make you fuck him after...see if he can suck you while full of my cock.” Bull gasped.

Sirad pressed his forehead to Bull’s hip. “Stop… Need to come.”

“He gets excited so easily,” Dorian murmured. “Especially when it’s because of a nice, thick, cock.” He rolled over and opened his bedside drawer, pulling out a bottle of oil.

“When we say you can, not before.” Bull replied as he tugged on the thick black hair to pull Sirad up and at an angle where Dorian could reach him while he kissed their bedmate. “Get him ready.”

Sirad whimpered against Bull’s lips at the first touch of Dorian’s slick fingers. That whimper turned into a moan of frustration when he realized that dorian was being very careful not to touch that spot deep inside him.

It seemed to take forever, and by the time that Sirad was ready, he was shaking from his need. His mouth parted on a grateful groan when Dorian helped him to slowly sink down on Bull’s slick cock.

The first breach had Sirad raising his arms up and hooking them around Dorian’s neck, leaning his head back to kiss his magister friend. With each inch that Dorian helped him take, Sirad’s cock dribbled down his shaft more and more.

“Not going to last,” Sirad gritted out. “So full.”

“If he can take all that and not come the second I’m fully inside Dorian, you can take it for us. Right Sirad?”

“Please,” Sirad begged. What little inhibition he had left was gone. Another inch and Sirad’s stomach contracted, the muscles tightening.

“Remember the time you and I found an obliging man at the docks, Sirad?” Dorian whispered, his voice like silk.

“Stop,” Sirad pleaded. “More.”

“You took both of us at the same time. Two cocks in your ass and you were coming and coming.”

Another inch and Sirad’s cock flexed. Dorian slipped a hand around Sirad’s chest to help support him, grabbing at the base of his cock tightly.

“Not yet…” he chided.

“Two at once… fuck, I wanna do that, later. Right now he needs to ride me.” Bull gasped.

“You… You’re big enough… big enough to be two,” Sirad gasped out.

“You’re doing so well,” Dorian praised. “All of that cock inside you already. You still have more to go. Do you want more, Sirad? Do you want more of Bull’s thick cock inside you?”

The sound that came out of Sirad’s mouth was almost inhuman. At that moment, he hated that Dorian knew exactly what to say and what to do in order to drive him almost to madness. but when he took more, seated finally to the hilt, Sirad found he didn’t care.

“So ...damned tight. Fuck, kadan, he’s so hot, and…” Bull moaned as he arched back and bucked his hips against the elven mage.

And that was it. Sirad’s body went rigid and he came, his cock jerking against him, spilling over himself and Bull. His eyes rolled shut and a strangled sound of pure pleasure escaped him while his body shook.

Bull jerked in surprise as he felt Sirad clamp on him, “Goddamn kadan, you weren’t kidding.”

Sirad sagged against Dorian. He turned his face and their lips met in a languid kiss.

“More…” Sirad said breathless. “Again…”

He closed his eyes and magic surged on his fingers. He trailed them down his body. With a sharp cry of desire, his cock began to harden.

“Careful,” Dorian warned. “Don’t overdo this, Sirad. I know you.”

“Hey, this is supposed to be fun. No one gets hurt. Look at me Sirad, do you want more? Are you alright to go on?” Bull asked, serious as if he wasn’t balls deep in another while Dorian watched.

“Fine,” Sirad said, his mouth kiss swollen and slack.

“Take a break after this,” Dorian told him.

Sirad nodded and began to move. With the edge taken off his body moved to please himself, but more to please Bull.

“Kadan…” Bull moaned softly as he reached for Dorian.

Dorian stretched out next to Bull and took his lips in a deep kiss. His eyes glanced down Bull’s body to where he and Sirad were joined, watching the way his lover sank into the elf over and over.

“Fuck...I can’t take much more, he’s so tight, Dorian…” Bull’s eye shut as he whispered against his lover’s lips and tried to control his orgasm, hold out just a little longer so he could enjoy it much as he could while he filled the elven mage.

“Give him what he wants,” Dorian urged. “Give us both what we want.”

Sirad raked his nails over Bull’s chest, catching on a tight nipple. “Come on,” he rasped. “Come on. I want to feel it.”

 

Bull groaned as he let go, a hiss and a prayer as he filled Sirad with his come, and felt the other man shift slightly, even moving his hips in a slow circle counter to Bull’s spasming.

“That’s it,” Sirad groaned. “Give it all to me.” He gripped his cock in a tight fist and worked it slowly, even as he worked Bull.

“I’m ...giving it all, fuck Sirad, fuck..so tight, I can’t ...I ... ‘ Bull gasped as he felt another, slighter orgasm edging through him. “How...gonna come ...more, Maker..” Bull whined as he took Dorian’s mouth in another kiss

“Let it all out,” Dorian soothed. “Just let it all out.”

Sirad’s mouth fell open on a silent cry and his cock jumped in his fist, spilling over his fingers and adding to the mess he had already made.

Bull moaned as he jerked under Sirad once more, one hand wrapped with Dorian’s as he fell back, and tried to catch his breath. “Goddamn…”

“I tried to warn you.” Dorian laughed softly.

“Yeah, yeah, just help him off me so we can get cleaned up and then your turn to ride.” Bull groused with no heat to his words.

“No,” Sirad croaked. carefully he pulled himself away from Bull and crawled over to Dorian. Without preamble, he took the other mage’s cock down to the root.

Dorian gasped into Bull’s mouth, his fingers tangling in Sirad’s hair.

“Damn, he’s thirsty.” Bull said as he watched the elf take his lover down with a hint of a smile.

“Fuck he looks good like that too. Do you want to fuck him kadan?” Bull whispered.

“Yes, please,” Dorian groaned. It had been a long time, but Sirad remembered just how Dorian liked it. The elf plied his tongue just so, moving over the head in wet strokes.

“Fuck...yeah, take him, he’s good and ready for you kadan. Let me give you two the bed.” Bull slipped away so Dorian could do as he wished with their new playmate.

Steering Sirad by the hair, Dorian pulled him up so he was on his hands and knees. He knelt behind the elf and lined himself up.

“Maker, you’re a mess, Sirad,” Dorian hissed behind him. There was something about being dirty that drove Sirad’s desire. “Do you like that Bull made you this way? Do you still feel it inside you?”

It wasn’t just the act of getting dirty, but the voicing it as well. Dorian had kept up a steady stream of talk because he knew just what it did to the elf.

Bull took a quick pull straight from the wine bottle near their bed, his gaze riveted to both men as Dorian took Sirad, and whispered filthy things that made him want to slide behind his lover and take him as he got reaquainted with his fellow magister.

Dorian took his time with Sirad, making every thrust count. He ground into the other man, pushing him down into the sheets, drawing out the inevitable no matter how much his body wanted him to do otherwise.

Sirad clawed at the sheets, words spilling from his lips in Tevene, begging for more, for Dorian to have mercy and to move faster.

“Damn…” Bull whispered as he watched them come together, his hand wandered down to stroke himself as he hardened again. “Fuck they look good together.”

“Give him what he needs,” Dorian told Sirad, his voice rough.

Sirad managed to open his eyes enough to glance at Bull. He groaned and inched a hand over to the kossith. Magic ignited, giving Bull some much needed stamina.

“Shit… shit, Dorian… want you, can … can I?” Bull moaned.

Dorian paused. “Yes, please.” He leaned down and nipped at Sirad’s ear while he waited for Bull to get himself cleaned up and to get Dorian ready.

The kossith washed as quickly as he could before he joined them on the bed, fingers almost trembling with want as he grabbed the oil.

At the first touch of Bull’s fingers, Dorian’s cock twitched in excitement. Sirad groaned at the feeling, and he clenched around Dorian’s cock.

Dorian panted against Sirad’s shoulder as he tried to force himself to relax. But his body was too wound up, too ready to snap.

“Please,” Dorian moaned.

“Anything you want kadan.” Bull whispered in his ear as he worked his fingers into his lover. “Relax, or I won’t be able to have you.”

“Now,” Dorian said between gritted teeth. “I need it now.”

Beneath him, Sirad let out a frustrated whimper.

“Impatient..” Bull nipped his lover’s ear as he eased into Dorian, all the while whispering filthy things he wanted to do with him, like fuck him stupid over the dining room table, all while Sirad watched, or let them fuck but not come until he said so.

Dorian’s body shook and didn’t stop until Bull was seated as deep as he could go. He rested his forehead between Sirad’s shoulder blades, his hands clenched tightly on the elf’s hips.

“Move Dorian, goddamn you’re tight too...gonna fuck you both, make you come for me.” Bull growled as he tugged at his lover's hair until it fell from the bun it was piled in.

Dorian thrust into Sirad, the elf moaning in appreciation. When he pulled back, he impaled himself on Bull. It was an awkward rhythm, but when they fell into it, nothing else mattered but the give and take, pushing each one further and further into their desire.

“Fill him...fill him then I’ll do … the… same.” Bull panted as he tried to hold off until Dorian had found his pleasure.

Within a few more strokes, that’s exactly what Dorian did. His hands spasmed on Sirad’s hips, his nails digging into his skin as he came, the arousal that had been building up from the first moment he had begun flirting with Sirad finally released.

He was dimly aware of Sirad crying out in pleasure under him, the elf’s hips bucking against his hands.

“Good...boy.” Bull purred in Dorian’s ear before he started to fill his lover with his own come. “My good...good, mage.”

Dorian moaned in contentment, his ass clenching down on Bull to wring every last drop of his orgasm from him.

“So dirty… both of you, so fucking dirty, I love it.” Bull moaned

“Don’t forget it either,” Dorian said with a low laugh.

Sirad reached behind him to trail his fingers first along Dorian’s hip, then as much as he could reach of Bull’s.

“As much as I have loved this,” he began, “I think you two need to move.”

Bull reluctantly pulled back and off the bed, his legs wobbled as he headed towards the basin to clean up again. He was sore, and tired, and doubt had crept into his mind once the buzz had started to wear off

Both Dorian and Sirad had flopped over to their backs as they tried to catch their breaths. Dorian closed his eyes with a languid smile on his lips.

The kossith just grinned as he washed them both off, and took his time even when Dorian flinched at the cooling cloth against his skin. “You alright? Both of you?”

“Fine,” Sirad slurred. He was already curled up to one side of the bed and half asleep.

“I’m fine,” Dorian assured him. He sat up and pressed a gentle kiss to Bull’s lips. “Thank you.”

“Good, glad you’re alright. Get him up so I can pull this top sheet.” Bull nudged at their companion with one hand while he tugged at the top sheet.

Dorian’s eyes sharpened slightly, but he let it go for now. Bull was acting a bit held back for what they had just done, and it didn’t ring completely true to the mage. He helped Sirad get to his feet and they joined Bull in changing the sheets before they all fell back into it, Bull in the center and the two mages curled up on either side of him.

Bull pressed a gentle kiss to Dorian’s shoulder, and snuggled against Sirad just a bit before he felt himself drift off into an uneasy rest. The nagging doubt in the back of his mind followed him into slumber, and well into the next day.

**
When Dorian finally managed to corner Bull, it was the day they were supposed to meet and finally share what each one knew about the Venatori. They had been putting it off for various reasons, and Dorian had set a firm time for dinner later that evening.

Fenris, Sereda, and Hawke had need more time to rest and heal, and Dorian had decided to wait a little longer until they were ready. But time wasn’t on their side and they needed answers.

But there was something that Dorian had been putting off and he found Bull in the courtyard taking apart a practice dummy.

Chapter Text

Dorian watched the way his lover swung his great weapon in a seamless arc, how Bull’s shoulders and upper arms bunched and flexed smoothly. Dorian licked lips suddenly gone dry.

“I definitely need to watch you do this more often,” he said idly. “I’m always… impressed when I do.”

Bull grinned as he finished his movement, and let the axe stop in front of him. “You are always impressed when I show off. What brings you here?”

“Someone has to be impressed when you show off. Maker knows Krem won’t be.” Dorian studiously straightened the sleeves on his richly embroidered robes.

“Something is bothering you,” he said bluntly. “It’s different from… It’s different from the grief I know you still feel.”

“What makes you say that? I thought we had a good time with Sirad, even woke up to you having your own fun. I’m fine, kadan.” Bull shrugged off Dorian’s concern, unsure if he could talk about the voice in the back of his head calling him a liar.

Dorian let out a long, drawn out sigh. “Really? We’re going to play this game? I didn’t think you would ever be in denial about something enough to not be honest with me, especially when it comes to bringing another into our bed. I need that honesty now, Bull. I need to know that I didn’t screw things up by starting all of this.”

Bull rubbed at the bridge of his nose for a moment before he turned to Dorian. “It’s not your screw up Dorian. I just...I just worry that you might be upset that I had a good time with him. Or…” the warrior hesitated as he glanced up towards the clouds as if words would fall to him and make him sound less pathetic once he gave voice to the thoughts in his head.

“I worry you might want to be with him, that you’d rather another magister than someone you could get killed for being with. He’s an elf but he’s still a mage, and you have history.” Bull glanced down, worried that his lover would think him foolish.

“Let’s be honest, Bull, I have a history with every gay, bi, or curious mage in the city. I could have gotten killed for being with any single one of them at any point over the years. It would have been simple enough to condemn me socially and then the next step would have been a visit from the templars.

“And for further honesty, you’re the one who does it for me. I love Sirad, but you--you horned idiot--you are it for me. I told you that you have ruined me for all other men.”

“Sorry, I just feel stupid. I mean, it’s not like I’m some child that doesn’t know how these things go. I guess, I guess I just worry that I might not be enough...or too much for you some days.” Bull said as he glanced at Dorian.

Dorian’s lips spread in an amused grin. “No one else can handle me, and you are too much for me in all the right ways.”

“I’m being serious...it’s hard being here, Void it was hard back in Skyhold sometimes. You think I don’t hear the things people say? I just wonder sometimes if I’m bad for you, especially here where letting it be known we’re together could get you dragged off by soldiers, sorry Templars.” Bull sighed and scrubbed at his face tiredly.

“Sorry, I’m just being ridiculous. I don’t wanna tarnish our good time with my stupidity. Let’s go in and have lunch then we can plan for your next move. It’ll give me a chance to check on Hawke and Fenris anyway.”

Dorian grabbed Bull by the upper arm to stop him. “Wait… You think that you are bad for me? I…” He shook his head. No one had ever told him that before. In the past, he had been blamed for being a bad influence, of being the one who would bring down disaster.

“You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, Bull. I will never regret us. You have made me want to become a better person, to be the person you see me as.”

“Yeah, I feel dumb about this now that I’ve actually said it. Can we just pretend I said nothing and go on with our day? Please kadan?” Bull asked softly as he finally stared into Dorian’s eyes, gratified to see that his lover wasn’t bothered by what he’d said.

“What? And ignore how much of a fluffy marshmallow you are? Never! It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one out of the two of us with fears and doubts.” He took Bull’s hand in his own and squeezed lightly.

“I’m not a fluffy marshmallow.” Bull grumbled even as he squeezed Dorian’s hand in return.

“Oh, shush, you are. Resign yourself to your fate.” Dorian pulled Bull over to the weapon’s rack.

“Now go and get cleaned up. we have a meeting to attend soon.”

“A meeting? With who and for what?” Bull asked as he got his weapon and let Dorian tug him along.

“To see if we can finally piece together what the venatori think they are up to,” Dorian explained.

“Now we just have to hope everyone will be forthcoming.”

**
While not the most tense dinner Dorian had ever been to, this one still ranked up there as one thick with tension.

Sirad had gone back to being his silent self, Sereda eyed them all while carefully eating, her suspicious nature showing, Hawke and Fenris would occasionally whisper in each other’s ears, while Dorian tried to get some sort of conversation going, and Shale stood silently to one side of the dining hall.

Bull for his part watch them all in exasperation.

“This is going to get us nowhere if we can’t seem to trust each other,” Bull grumbled.

“We need to lay all of our cards on the table,” Dorian added, setting his fork down gently on his plate. “No warden secrets. No suspicious nature. No old grudges. These are the things that the Venatori will use to slaughter us all, tools of mistrust and secrecy.”

“There are some things I can’t talk about,” Sereda said quietly. “There are some things that I can’t ever explain. All of you will have to understand that.”

“Not unless it puts our lives in danger,” Dorian warned her. He narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Just how deep are the Grey wardens in all of this? There are only a few of you left and what happened when--”

She held up her hand in a silent bid for him to stop. “Please… I know what they did. I’m looking to stop it from ever happening again. With so few of us left in Thedas, do any of you have any idea what will happen if a Blight breaks to the surface? I saw what it was like in Ferelden with only three Grey Wardens. We almost lost everything. I swore it would never happen again and then the damned Inquisition... “

She inhaled a calming breath. “Those of us that are left see it as our duty to repair the damage that was done by the order.”

“You weren't in the Deep Roads looking to stop the Venatori from making golems, were you?” Sirad asked shrewdly.

“No,” she answered. “I wasn’t. Not completely. We did hear about it, and Shale and I originally went into the Deep Roads to investigate and stop them if it was true, but that wasn’t the only reason.”

“I’m so sorry,” she told Hawke and Fenris. “I kept things from both of you.”

Fenris’ lips curled in a mocking smile. “Of course you did. Of course you risked our lives, the life of my lover, in order to further your own ends. Of course you--”

He was cut off when Hawke placed a hand on his leg and tightly squeezed his thigh. “Tell us it was for a good reason,” he said evenly.

“How well do you know the story of the Golden City?” she asked.

“What the Chantry teaches?” Dorian asked. “And then which Chantry? We know enough.”

“Then you know there were seven magisters who broke into the Golden City. Corypheus, if his story is true, was but one of them.” She sat back in her chair and watched each of their faces in turn.

“The Venatori are looking for others,” Sirad said in a choked gasp.

“One in particular,” she acknowledged. “Corypheus wasn’t the only one that the Grey Wardens knew of.”

Dorian shot to his feet. His mouth worked a few times before he was able to form his thoughts enough into something resembling speech. “There are few things in this world and the next that a magister would see as the pinnacle of power--the ability to shape space and time to their whim, and a chance to succeed where the ancient Magisters had failed.”

“And if they find one?” Hawke asked.

“Then they will rally behind him as they did Corypheus,” Dorian answered. “They will prop him up as a symbol of what we once were and everything we could be again. Nevermind that we were hated by all of Thedas. Nevermind that we were conquerors that destroyed and stole. Nevermind we broke the world and we keep doing it!”

Dorian knew he was getting hysterical, but he couldn’t stop himself. No matter which way he turned, his countrymen were determined to destroy Tevinter, to bring it to the sort of ruin that they would never recover from. Dorian knew Tevinter history was filled with evil, but he loved the good in his culture, the people that lived, and worked, and loved in Tevinter and had nothing to do with the evil around them..

“They’ll destroy everything,” he hissed.

“Dorian,” Sirad began.

“No!” Dorian began to speak in rapid Tevene. “You know they will, Sirad. They’ll destroy it all. My House will be gone, as will the Houses of everyone who doesn’t fall into what they think should be true Tevinter. You will be enslaved if you aren’t killed. If they aren’t stopped they will wage a campaign terror on the South, try to reconquer what we once had. How well do you think that will go with our constant war with the Qunari? We will be destroyed. There will be another Exalted March, and this time they will not give up at the gates of Minrathous, they will not give up because the Juggernauts are…”

He shot a sharp look at Shale and slipped back into Trade. “The Juggernauts… If the Venatori were looking to make golems, they might have been looking for a way to make more of the Juggernauts.”

“That’s exactly what they were trying to do,” Sereda admitted. “The Juggernauts are the largest golems in Thedas. They have guarded the walls of Minrathous for centuries.”

“Think what several of them could do,” Shale added. “All of you so squishy, and the Juggernauts are as tall as most towers.”

Dorian could almost feel the moment when everything seemed to crash down on him--the Venatori’s social and political campaign to destroy him and his House, Sirad’s fight against them, the red lyrium, what they had done to Fenris, Hawke, and Sereda, the ancient magister they were looking for, the golems and what it might mean. Dorian sat back down heavily in his chair and buried his face in his hands.

He felt a large hand on his back, rubbing in small circles.

“As long as I draw breath, I will fight them, Pavus. I owe you, much as it pains me to admit it but you have my sword. As long as Hawke will stand with me.” Fenris said quietly as he glanced around the room.

“You don’t get to have all the fun love. Besides we have plenty of blood to shed for the months we were held. I will go down fighting as long as you are there with me.” Invictus added.

Dorian glanced up. “You don’t owe me anything, Fenris. You never will.”

“You and Sirad saved me from the corruption, I owe you my life. Besides, I am of Tevinter and they will not destroy what I’ve fought for. The freedom I’ve earned in blood and hate will not be squandered for their delusions. Take my help dammit.” Fenris snapped.

“Well, when you put it that way,” Dorian said with a small smile.

“Good, then it’s settled. So the question is what to do now?” Hawke said with a squeeze to his lover’s hand under the table.

“We calm down, and in the morning start fresh after some sleep. I think Dorian probably needs to recover from that revelation. I could use some rest, I don’t know about the rest of you.” BUll added

“The one they are looking for was last seen in Ferelden,” Sereda said. “I was looking for him when Shale came to me about the golems. There have been signs he has made his way to tevinter, but I don’t know anything beyond that. I don’t think the Venatori have him yet, and make no mistake, he won’t work with them.”

“How can you be so sure?” Dorian asked.

“I know him. He won’t work with them.”

Dorian’s lips pressed into a thin line. “Then we’ll have more to talk about tomorrow.”

“What do you mean won’t work with them?” Fenris asked.

“His goals and their goals won’t align,” she answered. “If they want him, they will have to first catch him, and then capture him.”

“He’s an architect, and they want to destroy,” Shale added.

“We can discuss it further tomorrow, or if you all want to stay up and go in circles feel free. I for one am exhausted.” Bull said as he slipped his hand over Dorian’s knee and squeezed gently.

“I won’t argue with leaving off until tomorrow but I am not yet ready to retire. I would ...speak with you Dorian if you do not mind.” Fenris asked

Dorian’s eyebrows rose slightly, but he nodded his head. He gave Bull a kiss and murmured that he’d meet him in bed soon.

“I will be fine, amatus. Why don’t you relax and I’ll join you in our room soon.” Fenris whispered into Hawke’s ear.

“As you wish, be safe.” Invictus said with a wary glance at the other mage.

Sereda got up from the table and pulled on Sirad’s arm. “Come on. I’m curious about you. Shale and I would love to get to know you better.”

“We would?” Shale rumbled as they led Sirad away from the room.

Bull glanced at Hawke, then over to the sideboard. “Drink before we go off to worry if they are going to kill each other?”

“Why not, maybe you can tell me how you wound up here.” Hawke got up to pour them drinks and settle in before the fire.

Dorian watched them go off to the other side of the room. He fought the urge to smooth down his mustache, and nervous tic that usually gave him away.

“Come, I do not wish to speak with Hawke and your lover hanging on our every word or wondering if my temper will get the better of me. If you would lead on to a quiet room, I would appreciate it.” Fenris nodded at the door closest to them.

“My study,” Dorian said. He got to his feet and led the way with one last glance at Bull.

Fenris waited until the door was shut and Dorian had taken a seat before he spoke. “So...why did you help save me and what has Sirad told you of our conversation? I am ill at ease having him here, but I know he...means something to you.” the elven fighter said as he traced his name slowly on the top of the desk, more in an effort to avoid looking at the mage.

“Are you seriously asking me why I saved you?” Dorian asked incredulously. “I wasn’t going to let you die, Fenris.”

“Yes, I am and I would thank you not to scoff. You have no reason to show me mercy, or even want to after all that transpired in Skyhold. We left you and the others to deal with Corypheus and look what good we did.” Fenris replied

“Do you think I would hold that against you? It wasn’t your fight, and you and Hawke were still helping the fight it seems. It wasn’t showing you mercy, but saving someone I care about.”

“I have no good reason to trust magisters, or mages or you. Other than the shared past we have. Even that was tainted by what was done to me by Danarius and what I’ve gone through. I cannot trust what others will do Pavus, else I’d have been dead long ago.” the elven fighter fidgeted as he took his drink, uncomfortable with how much he’d revealed.

“So you think I have another motive for helping you, that Sirad does too,” Dorian said.

“Of course, magisters have never given me help for free. What else should I expect of them? Especially an elven magister, one that wounded me...hurt me.” Fenris finished on a whisper.

“I cannot answer for Sirad, he has his own motives for the things he does, but I can say that he helped you because he wanted to atone. I helped you because I care about you and what happens to you.”

Fenris shrugged and stared into his glass as he considered Dorian’s words. “I meant no offense, but I find it hard to believe. The evidence is before my eyes but still it is hard to accept that there is a magister that will not use me for his own good.”

“If it makes you feel better, just think that I did it for my own vanity. It would be true enough in most situations. I thought I could help you, and to not would make me look bad.” Dorian’s smile dropped. “You have every right to be suspicious of us, but we are your friends.”

“I don’t know how to be friends with anyone. I … I should get to Hawke,” Fenris faltered as he looked at Dorian. “I...thank you, regardless of your motive you did not have to help me. I am relieved to be free of the corruption.”

Dorian wanted to tell him that he did have to help him, and that he would always do so, but he knew that Fenris wasn’t ready to really hear it just yet.

“You’re welcome,” was what he said instead.

“I’ll see you later then, thank you for hearing me out.” Fenris replied before he left to find Hawke and have a long talk.

Dorian sighed and his head dropped back on his chair. He stared blankly up at the ceiling, slowly tracing the edges of a mosaic depicting the conquering of Arlathan.

**

Bull had been introspective and quiet as he considered what their time with Sirad and letting him into their bed meant. He shook it off as he headed off to the smithy to catch up and let him know what else was needed for House Pavus.

Crispus’ eyes widened in shock when he saw Bull enter. He gave him a wide, nervous grin. “Bull. What brings you here?”

“Nothing bad, relax. I just wanted to check in with you after the fight. You seem worried.” Bull glanced around, sure something was off about the smith.

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Crispus insisted a little too quickly. “I…” He glanced down at his hands, his brow furrowed in thought. He breathed in a slow breath through his nose and looked back up, his face grim.

“Run, they’ve been waiting for you,” was all he said.

“I’ll get that order back to Magister Pavus right now, thanks.” Bull replied before he turned and attempted to flee.

The front door burst open, wood splintering. The backdoor to the smithy itself also crashed open, Qunari swarming into the shop.

“I’m sorry!” Crispus shouted as he went to hide behind a crate. “They have my brother!”

Bull turned in a circle and spat when he realized he was surrounded. “You tracked me here for what? I was turned out, named Tal-Vashoth for not getting my men killed.”

“You are Tal-Vashoth, and you are part of a deal. It is our duty to hunt you down,” said one of the Qunari.

“Took you long enough if that’s the case.” Bull snarled as he tried to think of a way out of his predicament.

“You have made a spectacle of yourself. You drew attention to what you are. We have come to put an end to it.”

“Enough talk!” cried another one with great horns. “He is ours!”

“Shut up, come at me if you dare.” Bull snarled as he put his guard up against the last Qunari that had shouted at him

They rushed at him en masse, one of the only ways that they could take a warrior of Bull’s experience down. Crowd him in a small space like the shop, then overwhelm him with odds. It became quickly apparent that they weren’t there to kill him--they were there to take him in alive.

Bull roared as he felt as arm close around his neck to cut off air. He thrashed against the other kossith’s hold until his eye rolled closed and he wheezed swears until he was still.

When his body was eased to the floor, one of the Qunari spat on him. Crispus used the opportunity to slip out the broken door to the smithy, his heart hammering in his chest. He couldn’t let them kill his brother, but he couldn’t let them take Bull too. He burst out into the street and ran towards the Pavus villa.

**

Hawke and Fenris both started in alarm at the pounding on the villa door. Fenris drew his weapon as Hawke went to answer.

Invictus held a spell at the ready, just in case. He opened the doors to find a bedraggled man who looked about to fall over. “Who are you?”

“Smith Crispus,” he wheezed. “I need to see Magister Pavus. It’s an emergency.”

“Stay here, I’ll get him.” Hawke nodded over to his lover with a terse grin. “Watch him while I fetch Dorian?”

“Of course, don’t be long.” Fenris replied.

Both Dorian and Sirad were in Dorian’s study going over their notes on the ritual they had performed for Fenris. Dorian had felt so close to cracking the riddle of time and he had wanted to get Sirad’s opinion on it. Not that he would ever do it again, it was too dangerous, but his inquisitive mind wouldn’t let it go.

They both glanced up when Hawke walked in.

“There’s a Crispus here to see you Dorian, looks like he ran here and said it’s an emergency.” Hawke finished just in time to dodge the other mages hurried exit.

“Bull was headed to his shop,” Dorian called back. The two mages skidded to a halt when they came to the entrance hall.

“What happened?” dorian asked as he approached Crispus. The older man was seated on a bench, his hands on his knees and his face stricken.

“I’m so sorry,” he said in Tevene. “They said they’d kill my brother if I didn’t help them.”

Dorian felt his heart seize in his chest. “Who? What happened?” he rasped.

“Qunari. They waited for Bull to show up in the shop. They ambushed him.”

Ice erupted on Dorian’s hands as his usual iron control over his powers slipped. Everything seemed to suddenly tip on its side.

“Is he alive?” he choked out.

“I don’t know,” Crispus replied, burying his face in his hands.

“Hawke, go with Dorian, take Acclasi. I will find some of my contacts and meet you back here.” Fenris replied as he glanced at all of them. “Move it! They won’t take long to get him back to Seheron or to one of the re-education camps.”

“I’ll go and speak with your mother, Dorian,” Sirad offered. “Between the two of us, we can find out if any of the nobles knew that this was happening.”

Dorian gave them all a weak nod before turning on his heels and striding to his room. He was going to need his staff and he required a moment to calm himself down. As he grabbed the Pavus staff, he wrapped bands of steel and dragonbone around his heart. Maker help those that had taken Bull. If he was dead, well… There was no mercy that the Maker could give then.

Fenris had found Cremisius’ father so they could send out missives to those the fighter knew and could help.

Hawke had grabbed his gear and waited anxiously in the foyer for Dorian, worried for the look he’d seen on the other mage’s face. He knew that look, had known it too often when Fenris had gone haring off on his own to do things and took too long to return home.

Dorian marched back into the entrance hall, his face slowly smoothing away from fury, to cold distain. Krem was behind him, no less angry, and no less cold.

“Crispus,” Dorian said when he walked by the smith, “You need to stay here. You’ll be protected.” He swept by without waiting for an answer and out to the front gate.

Hawke didn’t ask, just cast haste on them all to get them to the smith faster and hopefully alleviate Dorian’s worry.

But seeing the smithy didn’t alleviate his worries. The front room of the shop was a mess of broken furniture, doors, and splintered wood littered on the floor.

But there was little blood, and Dorian had to remind himself that it was something. If they wanted him dead they’d have just slit his throat and left him to rot.

Dorian scanned the room, making a slow circuit around it.

“Chief gave ‘em a fight,” Krem said softly.

“Question is, where are they and why didn’t they kill him? I didn’t think Qunari took prisoners.” Hawke murmured

“They do if they want to reeducate them,” Dorian said in a choked whisper. “They do if they think he was worth salvaging.”

Dorian withdrew a short dagger that had sat in his belt and gripped it tightly. “We need to know what direction they took him,” he said more to himself.

“What are you about to do?” Hawke asked in a low hiss.

“Get us some answers,” Dorian replied. He set the blade’s edge to his palm and jerked it back, slicing his flesh open neatly.

“Dorian,” Krem muttered, taking a step back.

“Blood magic isn’t the way, you’ll go down a dark path that way. Believe me, I saw it go bad in Kirkwall.” Hawke cautioned.

“Just enough so I can find him,” Dorian insisted. “Damn it, Invictus, what wouldn’t you do in order to find Fenris?”

“No more after this,” Krem said firmly. “First the ritual and now--”

“Just so I can find him,” Dorian repeated.

“He’d murder me if I resorted to blood magic, you know that.” Hawke snapped.

“Then it’s a good thing Bull is my lover then.” Dorian squeezed his hand into a fist and let the blood drip to the floor.

“Last act of a desperate man,” Dorian said to himself before opening himself up to the power.

“He might kill you too if we tell him what you’ve done.” Hawke replied.

“At least he’ll be alive to it,” Dorian answered, his voice full of the power his blood had given him. It was almost too heady, and he had to pull back enough to remember what it was he had been about to do.

“Find,” Dorian said in Tevene. The blood from his hand flew from him, droplets spreading out in a macabre cloud. The droplets froze, hanging in the room as if waiting.

“Find,” Dorian said again through gritted teeth. The droplets quivered as if they were going to do as commanded before falling to the floor in a fine shower.

“It didn’t work,” Krem breathed. “What does that--”

“it should have worked!” Dorian turned and slammed his fist into a nearby crate. “There’s something blocking me.”

“If they had a Saarebas with them, perhaps they cast a spell to mask their tracks?” Hawke offered.

“We’re in Minrathous, and you’re a mage,” Krem added. “It would have been stupid not to come with some sort of way to counter that.”

“Then we need to do this the old fashion way,” Dorian said. “We need to go to the docks. If they’re going to try and get Bull out of the city, that would be their best chance.”

His hand stung and he pulled out a clean handkerchief to wrap around it to staunch the blood.

“Care for some healing?” Hawke offered as he let a green glow envelop his hand

Fear shot through Dorian and he shook his head. “I’ll be fine. We need to get going, I’ve wasted enough of our time here.” He swept out of the shop to the street.

“We need to make sure he doesn't do this again,” Krem whispered to Hawke. “If he won’t take a simple healing…”

“He’s afraid, and likely worried how much it will hurt if I heal. Or worse, he plans to do it again and doesn’t want healing magic to interfere.” Invictus whispered back.

“The chief will kill me if we allow it to go too far. Once or twice is one thing.” They hurried to catch up with Dorian who was striding quickly down the street and towards the docks of Minrathous.

It was a long walk, and Dorian used the time to make plans. If they were about to board a ship what he would do, if they had already set sail, if they weren’t at the docks and had left another way. In the end he couldn’t come up with any plan other than ‘kill them for daring to take Bull’. it fit so nicely in any and all of the situations he could come up with.

The Venatori and their machinations seemed so small compared to the thought of losing Bull. what did Dorian care if the world was torn apart by greedy men when one for the few people that loved Dorian was gone? It was a selfish thought, but he found that in his anger selfish, cold thoughts were all he could manage.

Hawke exchanged wary glances with krem as they hurried behind Dorian, worried that the magister was about to get himself killed, or worse if Bull had been killed or taken off by the Qunari.

Dorian knew the angry, cold expression on his face, coupled with his magister robes was the reason why people on the street scurried to get out of his way. No one wanted to be a in a magister’s line of sight when they were in a bad mood. The law didn’t care if they decided to take their anger out on some hapless, powerless, citizen.

When they reached the docks, Dorian scanned the waterline and the ships there. He suddenly realize dhe had no clue who to ask or where to go. Panic set in and he turned to Krem and Hawke.

“Tavern,” Krem said, accurately interpreting his look. “If someone knows something, they’ll be there.”

“Come on, let’s use the rage he’s projecting to get answers.” Hawke said as he fell in next to Dorian, magic at the ready to help keep people in line.

It was the middle of the afternoon and the docks were busy. at one point, the docks of Minrathous had been the heart of the Imperium, where goods from all over Thedas and the conquered territories had come through. Although the Imperium was just a ghost of what it once was, the docks were still crowded.

Dorian followed Krem, weaving through the sailors and merchants. They came to a rickety old building with badly patched stone and a sign that swung over it’s door of a wooden qunari in mid-dance.

“The Dancing Qunari,” Dorian muttered to himself. “How very Tevinter.”

When Krem pushed open the door and let them inside, Dorian felt every eye in the room on them, or more specifically him. A magister had walked into their midst, and the working class of Minrathous were automatically on their guard.

Hawke sighed but didn’t let his annoyance show. He had some noble lineage but he felt more at ease with the men and women that had turned to glare at them. “Krem, I think this might be more your speed than mine or his.”

“Then you two mages don’t say a word and follow my lead,” Krem said with a grin. “I think this place might be beneath you both and maybe you should act as if it is.”

Dorian caught on immediately and lifted his chin, wrinkling his nose slightly.

Krem walked to the bar and leaned against it, motioning the barkeep over.

Hawke refrained from rolling his eyes and followed DOrian’s lead as he watched Krem take point.

The barkeep had taken his time to get to Krem, and when he spoke to him, he kept his eyes on Dorian and hawke.

“Can I help ya?” he asked.

Krem glanced back over his shoulder at the two mages before turning to the barkeeper and leaning in. “Look, I’ll cut to the chase. Those two I came in with, they’re looking for some people. You can make my life and your’s a lot easier if you give me what I need to know. Can’t be good for business to have them standing there looking like a nug crawled up their asses, and I can get them off my back if I can find them the information they're looking for.”

“Yeah?” the barkeep said, moving to eye Krem. “And why should I care to help ya? Come barging in here with a magister. Don’t think I can’t throw the three of ya out just because they’ve got some magic and noble titles.”

“Because someone took something very important from that magister, and he would reward anyone with verifiable information,” Krem answered.

“Oh, so that’s the way of it?” The barkeep rubbed at his chin. “What’re you looking for?”

“Qunari,” Krem said flatly.

“A one-eyed Qunari, that I will pay handsomely for information leading to his whereabouts.” Dorian threw in quietly.

“Haven’t seen ‘em. Only one-eyed Qunari I know is an arena champion.” He narrowed his eyes at Dorian. “And you look familiar…”

“So you haven’t seen him,” Krem said, cutting him off.

“some Qunari came through the docks a few weeks back. Knew they weren’t some of the kind that separate to form their own kind. They stuck together, seemed to know the docks and the city pretty well.” He tapped on the bar. “if ya wanna know where they stayed, ya gotta give me a little incentive in return.”

Dorian dug into a pouch at his waist and slapped his hand down on the bar. slowly he moved his fingers away to reveal several gold coins.

The barkeep slipped them off the scarred wood and into his own money pouch before any coveting eyes could see the glinting metal.

“Upstairs,” he said. “Already rented out the rooms to someone else, though.”

“Thank you for the information.” Hawke said as if he were already bored with the whole thing.

Dorian made to move to the stairs when someone grabbed his robes. He whirled around and look to see a short, hooded figure.

“You and Hawke just can’t help but make a scene,” Sereda said and partially pushed her hood back. “And you won’t find what you need up there, I’ve already looked.”

“Wha--” Dorian began.

“Not here,” she hissed. “Back to the villa and quickly.”

Invictus arched an eyebrow at her but didn’t argue, he just nodded to Dorian and Krem before he led them out.

Sereda waited until they were well away from the docks before speaking.

“The barkeep was telling you the truth, but he was also going to sell you three out. He’d get rewarded twice, once from you, and once from the Venatori. Sirad told me what had happened and I came to the docks first. I’ve already been in the room and there’s nothing there.”

“Bull,” dorian started.

“Is still in the city I think. several Qunari would have to wait in order to leave without being seen. If they didn’t leave by the docks yet, then it means they are still here.”

She glanced up. “Besides, you have some visitors. I saw them heading to the villa as I left.”

“Shit, Fenris is good but he’s still one man. Let’s go.” Hawke snarled as he picked up his pace.

“I was under the impression they were friends,” Sereda shrugged. “But to be fair, I didn’t speak to them.”

“Friends?” Dorian asked.

“I won’t mention it on the streets,” she muttered back.

“Oh, you meant...I thought you meant something else. He did ask your steward to reach out to people.” Hawke amended.

“And I did send some people to where they are to check up on a possible spy at Skyhold,” Krem added.

Dorian quickened his pace. If the Inquisitor and others had come to Minrathous… He hadn’t wanted them in the city. It was dangerous enough as it was, and if Lisbeth were here she might be pulled into the crossfire.

Hawke spared a worried glance at Krem as he picked up his pace and followed the magister into his foyer.

A very crowded one.

Dorian felt a mixture of relief to see his friends when he needed them most, and fear that they had come in equal parts. He was able to get more more than a simple ‘hello’ out of his mouth before Lisbeth swept him up in a huge hug.

“Dorian! I’d missed you so much!” she cried.

“Lovely to see you, Lis,” Dorian wheezed.

“Varric?” Hawke said in surprise before he gave the dwarven rogue a brief hug.

“Who else can keep you and Broody out of trouble or at least make it ten times more interesting and profitable?” quipped Varric.

“I’ve got a name, how many times must I remind you, dwarf?” Fenris grumbled, only to be reminded of another's presence behind him.

“I’m sure you remember Zevran, late of the Antivan Crows.”

“I would hope he remembers me, yes? I would like to think I am unforgettable.” An elf with golden hair gave them all a graceful bow.

Dorian held up his hands. “Wait, wait! When did all of you come here and why? You do realize this is Minrathous and the Inquisition isn’t looked upon kindly here?”

Lisbeth released him and stepped back. “We had to. Thanks to the information you sent, Cullen was able to find out who the spies were among us. We knew we had to come and help you. the Venatori are planning something big, Dorian.”

She gave him a winsome smile. “I like your hair. It suits you.”

Dorian rolled his eyes and sighed. “Flattery will get you everywhere with me and you know it.”

Sereda cut right to the chase. She lowered the hood on her cloak and undid the clasp. “The Iron Bull was taken a few hours ago by Qunari. We don’t think they have left the city yet.”

A shocked silence fell over the room.

Fenris nodded at the blond elf next to him. “I knew Zevran wasn’t far away so I called in a favor to get his help. He’s a Master at his craft, and can help track down Bull.”

“Unless we need a lock picked, then I’ll do it.” Varric said with a wry grin.

“Let’s see if you have such jokes the next time you need someone’s throat slit instead of pummeling them with arrows, ser Tethras.” Zevran gave him two fingered salute even as his eyes sparkled with mischief.

“Old home week is well and all, but can we figure out our next move to get Bull back, hopefully all in one piece?” Hawke asked.

“Yes, that would be ideal, as I believe Lieutenant Acclasi would not want to deliver that news to the Chargers or see what unholy wrath Dorian would unleash should the unthinkable happen.” Cullen threw in as he made his way next to Lisbeth.

“Tell us everything you know,” Lis insisted. “We’ll help you find Bull, Dorian.”

Dorian told them what little they knew. That Crispus had been forced to help trap Bull and that there hadn’t been much blood at the shop. That the spell that Dorian had done had failed, and they had tracked the Qunari as far as the docks.

Dorian glossed over what spell he had used, and Sereda took over to tell them what she had learned.

“Qunari are easy to spot in Minrathous, so they do remember them docking a few weeks ago,” she said. “But they haven’t been seen for days now.”

“There are many ways in and out of the city, yes?” Zevran added.

“Yes, parts of Minrathous are like a rabbit's warren, but the Qunari are not exactly welcome here. So the fact they got around without many remembering them means either some are sympathetic to them; or someone has come into a windfall.” Fenris replied.

“Between all of us, I’m sure we can track them down. It’s not going to be easy to get a boat and a gaggle of them out of Minrathous without a payoff to someone.” Varric added.

“They also have a mage blocking us. I don’t know if it’s one of theirs, or one of ours.” Dorian began to pace the room. He had shoved his injured hand into the sleeve of his robe.

“They would have left his body, if his death was all they wanted,” Zevran assured him. “He is alive.”

“I’ll go back out and keep looking,” Sereda offered. She hadn’t introduced herself to the others.

“Wait,” Zevran called. He looked hurt.

Fenris glanced at Hawke and gave his lover a brief shake of his head to indicate that he should leave it alone.

Krem had gotten them a light lunch and tea sent to the dining room while everyone had gone around.

“Sereda, don’t go alone please.” Fenris called after her.

She hadn’t seen Zevran in years, even though the two of them had kept in touch. She paused at the door and turned back around. “You’re right. We can figure out who will go during lunch.”

“Thank you, after what we’ve endured I wish you to remain safe.” Fenris glanced at Zevran before he headed off towards the dining hall.

Hawke fell in with him quickly, along with the others that had come to help Dorian.

“So what did happen to you two after you left Skyhold?” Varric asked as they took seats and gratefully sunk into their meal

Dorian kept his injured hand under the table as he ate, listening to the conversation around him with only half an ear.

“No one saw us coming into the city,” Lisbeth whispered to Dorian. “We met Zevran on the way and he got us past the gates.”

Hawke and Fenris traded off bits of their story as they filled Varric in. The dwarf made various faces at the tale but didn’t move to jot it down. Some things didn’t need to be fodder for a bards tongue.

Hawke said nothing about the way Dorian hid his injury, he just hoped that no one noticed it and questioned the other mage. He knew his lover and Cullen would be less than pleased with blood magic, no matter the reason.

Cullen said nothing but he did note the way Dorian favored one hand as he ate, especially the way he seemed to hide it out of sight.

“The Hero of Ferelden, the Champion of Kirkwall, and the Inquisitor all in one room,” Cullen finally said. “The Venatori should be frightened.”

“We need to keep quiet about that as long as possible,” Dorian murmured. “This villa is already a target. If they knew the three of you were in one place…”

“Let them try,” Sereda said with a shrug. “We slit their throats and call it a day.”

Zevran laughed. “Ah… I am glad to see you have not changed, yes?”

“I will laugh as I take their heads, you know this Dorian.” Fenris grinned with that reapers smile of his the one that made friends and enemies reconsider pissing him off.

“I’ve already said where Fenris goes, I go. Bull has done us no lasting wrong, and you all did save us.” Hawke shrugged

Dorian set his fork down with his food barely touched. “Bull once told me what the Qunari are like to those that they capture,” he said quietly. “We have to find him.”

Suddenly sitting at the table and not actively looking for Bull was too much. “Bull wouldn’t be eating a meal. He’d be looking for me.”

“Then you, Varric, Cremesius and Hawke take one route. I’ll go with Sereda and Zevran. Cullen, you and Lisbeth stay here, research with Ser Aclassi to figure out possible escape routes from Minrathous. We’ll convene here after the seventh evening bell unless someone gets lucky and finds him.” Fenris didn’t wait for anyone to argue, he just nodded to Vic before he went for his weapon.

“I--” Lis began to protest.

“We’ll stay here,” Cullen confirmed. “It’s still dangerous to be seen.”

Dorian shot to his feet and went to the door.

Chapter Text

It took them a week to find Bull. Everyday that went by Dorian became colder, more determined. He was short with everyone, lashing out with biting words, his sarcasm razor sharp.

They eventually were able to find Bull thanks to a combined effort of Fenris and Zevran. Between the two of them, they had discovered that Bull was being held by the Qunari in a magister’s villa. The implications of it had astounded Dorian--a magister working with the Qunari could only mean the Venatori had helped them get into the city and were biding their time to sneak them back out.

They had snuck into the villa in the dead of night, Cullen at their head to dispel anything they might come across. The mages they did find were made short work of. Like Dorian at skyhold, Magisters who rarely left Tevinter never came across a templar that had actual power at their disposal. Although Cullen’s power wasn’t what it once was without lyrium, the shock had been enough to easily defeat any mages they came across.

For their part, Dorian and Sirad had made sure to be heavily cloaked. Although the owner of the villa couldn’t denounce either one as having broken into his home in order to retrieve Bull, neither wanted to give the Venatori any ammunition.

Or at least, that had been the plan until they had finally located Bull.

He had been unconscious locked in chains in the deepest part of the villa. One of his horns had been snapped, and his arm was at an awkward angle that spoke of being broken. Dorian had taken one look at his lover, assured himself that he was still alive before turning on his heels to find someone, anyone, he could take his rage out on.

Their rescue attempt went from stealth, to outright magical carnage. Dorian had known as he had killed the last of the Qunari that there was going to be a price to pay for what he had done, but he hadn’t been able to bring himself to care.

The trip back to the Pavus villa had been fraught with slipping in and out between streets to avoid being seen while several of them had carried Bull’s heavy weight between them.

It wasn’t until Bull was safely put in Dorian’s bed with Sirad hovering over him to assess the damage that Dorian was able to breathe again.

Fenris had kept back as he oversaw Dorian tending to Bull, his expression neutral as he waited for the mage to finally stop pacing before he spoke.

“He’s safe with you once more, stop roaming like a mabari.” said the elven fighter as he tracked Dorian’s pacing as if he’d been ignored.
“I should have burned the place to the ground,” Dorian said sharply. “They’ve gone too far, as if they hadn’t already.”

Sirad closed his eyes and placed a hand on Bull’s snapped horn. Magic rose, and his eyebrows furrowed in concentration.

“Do not take your frustration out on me, Pavus. I will get you something to eat, all of you. It’s preferable to watching you wear a path in the floor.” Fenris retorted.

“Yes, sorry.” Dorian stopped moving and closed his eyes. “Without you I never would have found him so quickly. I owe you so much, Fenris, and I’m being unkind.”

“You’re worn thin, you’ve barely eaten or slept and I know you’ve used unsavory means to find your lover. It’s draining in many ways. I shall return shortly.” Fenris glanced at Dorian’s hands before he slipped out to get them all something to eat.

Dorian glance down at his hands as well.

“He’s right,” Sirad said softly from Bull’s side. “Too much blood magic, Dorian. You won’t even let us heal you. You’re afraid of the pain it might cause and prove just how far you’ve gone.”

“No more,” Dorian swore. “I have Bull back now.”

Sirad glanced at him out of the corner of his eyes and fell silent.

“You don’t believe me,” Dorian accused.

“What I believe is that I have heard many a magister say the same sort of thing. Deep down, you know I’m right.” Sirad sat back and rubbed at his neck. “There. I’ve healed anything I could find. He needs a lot of rest, good food, and water.”

“Thank you,” Dorian whispered.

Bull coughed weakly and barely opened his eye to see Dorian and Sirad by him. “Finally got to me...hallucinating you kadan.” he rattled before closing his eye again.

“No, no I’m here.” Dorian hurried over to the bedside and knelt down next to it. He took Bull’s large hand in his own, pressing his lips to his palm.

“Can’t be..I’m in the Void, said I’d die before I let em’ get you.” Bull rasped as he tried to find peace in the quiet of his mind, what was left of it.

Dorian sat up and cupped Bull’s face in his hands. “No… No, no, no. Bull? Bull, do you know where you are?” Panic began to set in.

“Move,” Sirad said gently, but firmly. “Go get, Hawke.”

Dorian stumbled to his feet and ran out of the room.

Hawke nearly dropped his drink when Dorian came running into the room and nearly hit the wall

“I don’t need a heart attack on top of the injuries I already have Dorian.”

“Bull’s awake, but doesn’t know where he is. He thinks he’s in the Void. Sirad needs your help,” Dorian panted.

“Take a breath before you fall down, and then take me to your room.” Invictus grabbed his staff and was nearly jerked off his feet by the other mage. He had to run to keep up with Dorian and almost fell into the bed when he was nudged forward. “Stop, I’m here what can I do to help?”

“Dorian, sit down!” Sirad snapped. “and keep quiet. Maker… He’s delirious, and thinks this isn’t real. You… might have some experience with someone who has been held, and doesn’t think the rescue has happened.”

“Unfortunately, I do have experience with this sort of thing.” Hawke didn’t look to Fenris as he sat next to Bull and began to speak quietly, slowly to him to reassure him all was well.

Fenris watched, intrigued by what Hawke did and said to bring Bull back to them. He’d been on the receiving end of such things many times before and it was unnerving to see it happen to the kossith warrior.

“Dorian, do you have something he gave you? Something he knows you’d never part with?” Hawke asked quietly.

Dorian reached into his robes and pulled out a leather cord. A half of a dragon’s tooth dangled from the end, the top dipped in gold with small jewels sparking on it. Dorian had been wearing it close to his heart since Bull had been taken.

“Here.” He slipped it over his head and held it out.

“Thanks” Hawke took it and pressed it gently into Bull’s hand. He didn’t count on the warrior grabbing him and holding him down faster than he could backpedal.

“Where is he? Why do you have this? Dorian wouldn’t part with it any more than I’d give up his house crest. What did you do to him?” Bull hissed as he held Hawke down with his good arm.

Dorian shot to his feet and rushed over tot he bed. He took Bull’s face in his hands and jerked it to the side in order to force his lover to look at him.

“Look at me,” Dorian said. “Look at me. You have it in your hand. It’s real. I’m real. Do you remember when we first had a real conversation between us? I got drunk and I was feeling sorry for myself. I thought the man I loved would remember too much of what I had done to him. I thought he would hate me for it. You listened to me. You listened to me, talked me through it, and then took me back to your chambers and fucked me until I couldn’t see straight.

“You saw right through all my shit to the real Dorian Pavus, and I am not going to let you sink down into whatever mire they put you in.” He was uncaring that Hawke and Fenris were hearing about any of this. Bull was all that mattered, almost all that had ever mattered to Dorian.

“You ruined me for other men, and you have to take some responsibility for that.”

“Ka...kadan?” Bull stuttered before he pulled his lover to him and held him close. “You’re real, you’re here? I’m...I’m not in the Void?” he asked, voice shaky and uncertain.

Hawke got over to his lover and caught his breath. “I should… know better than to be in reach of someone that could snap me in half. Maker, I don’t want to have him angry at me for real.”

Fenris handed him a drink and rubbed his hand down Invictus’ spine to soothe him. “You’ve done well.”

“Then it’s a good thing that Dorian wasn’t the one who had been taken,” Sirad said quietly. “Dorian might have been frightening at the villa, but Bull would tear apart Minrathous.”

“I’m here,” Dorian assured him, pressing light kisses to his lips. “I’m real.” It tore at his heart to hear the fear in Bull’s voice.

“Alone, I need to be alone with you. I need...you, please kadan. I don’t want them to see me like this.” Bull whispered even as he began to shake.

Dorian glanced back over his shoulder. “Thank you all, but please, I need to be alone with him.” He would give Bull what dignity he could.

Sirad nodded in understanding and moved to the door.

Fenris ushered Hawke out and pulled the door closed, he’d been rattled by the lightning fast reflexes but he though Vic needed him as well. He was quiet as they crawled over the covers with Vic resting against his chest, while he carded his fingers through his lover’s short, thick hair.
“You’re quiet Vic, what’s wrong? Well besides the obvious?”

“Just unnerving to see him like that, feel how deadly he is even when half out of his head. Now I realize how easily he could have killed you back at Skyhold. Or anyone if he got it in his head that we were the enemy. Just lie with me for a while love?” Invictus curled close to his warrior as he could.

Fenris continued to slowly scratch at Vic’s scalp as he let his mind wander aimlessly until he heard snoring from next to him. He didn’t move, just let his hand rest against the other man’s head while he let his eyes drift closed.

**
Dorian had gotten undressed and slipped into the bed. He kept the candles burning, wanting Bull to see exactly where he was and who he was with.

“I’m so sorry it took so long to find you,” Dorian whispered against Bull’s neck. “I’m so sorry.”

“Glad you found me, I thought ...I thought they’d got me. The pain from it all kadan.” Bull’s voice faltered and he leaned his forehead against Dorian’s. “I’d have died to keep you safe, I thought I had.”

Dorian clutched at Bull. “What did they... “ He closed his eyes. “When you’re ready to talk about it.”

“Not now, I just… I need you with me for a while, “ Bull pressed a kiss to Dorian’s forehead before he laid back and stared at his lover. “When I’m better, I’m taking them to pieces. All of them. Venatori, Qunari, every fucking single one until the streets are red.”

Dorian laid a bandaged covered hand on Bull’s chest, right over his heart. “The ones who took you are already dead. I made sure of it personally.”

“That’s not enough. I need more Dorian. I want to split heads and take names later. I will have my vengeance.” Bull snarled.

“And I’ll make sure you get it,” Dorian promised.

“Good, but first more sleep. I feel like a pack of brontos ran me down.” Bull murmured as he tried to get comfortable with Dorian wrapped around him.

“I’ll be with you while you sleep,” Dorian promised. “I’m not going anywhere. You’re home, Bull.”

“Thank you.” Bull closed his eye eventually, but didn’t let go of Dorian, even once he fell asleep.

Dorian stayed awake for sometime, his eyes slipping between his bandaged hand and Bull’s sleeping face. He knew he needed to try and let Sirad or Hawke heal him, especially before Bull found out what he had done. But he couldn’t make himself get up or go to sleep just yet. He needed to watch Bull as long as possible, to make sure that he wasn’t going anywhere
either.

Chapter Text

Bull woke up, unsure where he was until he felt Dorian pressed against his side, the mage’s breath warm against his skin. He reached for the other man’s hand and frowned when he felt the bandages around his palm.

Dorian slipped his leg between Bull’s thighs, rubbing his face almost like a cat against his chest.

“What happened to you? Why didn’t you let them heal this Dori?” Bull rasped as he gently turned his lovers hand so he could check him over.

Dorian carefully schooled his face. He pulled his hand away carefully and used it to cover his mouth as he yawned. “I hadn’t had a chance to do it. I’ll have Sirad heal me after breakfast.”

He crawled up Bull and kissed him lightly. “How are you feeling?”

“Bullshit, don’t try to lie to me. It’s my name remember? Why didn’t you heal this? I can read you like a book Dorian.” Bull scowled but didn’t yank at his lovers hand like he wanted.

“It’s not important now,” Dorian said. “You need to relax and recover, Bull. You were gone for over a week.”

“A week in which you could have healed this. Even if you’d waited until I woke up, you could have seen to it. Dorian, don’t lie to me, please. I came close to dying, and I don’t want this between us. Please kadan.” Bull held Dorian’s gaze as he tried to get his lover to confide in him.

“I won’t be mad, I know if you did what I think, it was to find me. I know you, and that you wouldn’t normally give in unless it was life and death.” Bull added quietly.

“There was a magister working with the Qunari that took you. He was blocking me, preventing me from finding you. I kept thinking if only I had more power I could break through whatever he used to disguise the trail.” Dorian held up his palms for Bull to see, a tinge of blood still stained the bandages.

“But this isn’t important right now, you are.”

“I’ll be fine, lets get you healed up and then I need breakfast. Feeling like I could eat a bronto right now.” Bull kissed him slow and easy to remind himself that he was there and safe once more.

“Do you want to eat here?” Dorian asked. He returned the kiss and gave Bull a smile. But inside he was in fear. He didn’t want Bull to see him try to get healed. What if it confirmed his worst thoughts?

“Sure, I’m not quite ready for company but I don’t want them freaking out on you either.” Bull sounded tired as he flopped back and sighed. He knew he needed more than what Dorian could do for him but he wasn’t ready to talk about it.

“Then don’t push yourself. I’ll have breakfast sent in and join you after I am healed.” Dorian slipped out of the bed and padded naked to the wardrobe.

“You just want to avoid the question. You win for now kadan, only because I am exhausted and can’t be bothered to leave bed.” Bull turned over and watched Dorian dress, hungry for the sight of his lover naked.

Dorian shot Bull a glance over his shoulder. “I can feel your eyes on me…” He gave Bull a wink and pulled on his breeches.

“I’ll do more than look at you when I feel better.” Bull promised.

Dorian could feel it between them, the wall that had been erected. Fear drove them both now, fear at what Dorian might be becoming, and what had happened to Bull. Dorian ached for his lover. Bull already was in pain because of being banished from the Qun, but to have those same people then hurt him the way they had. Dorian didn’t even know exactly what had happened, but the fear in Bull’s eyes when he had awoken had been enough.

Still, Dorian gave Bull a wicked smile before pulling his robes over his head.

“Hurry back, maybe once I’ve had some food in me, I’ll be able to show you how much I appreciate the rescue.” Bull leered at him even as he noted how Dorian seemed subdued.

“I hope that’s a promise,” Dorian said archly. He turned and left in search of food and Hawke.

“Oh but it is kadan, oh but it is.” Bull replied with a wink.

**
Dorian had food sent to the room first before he found Hawke.

Invictus opened his eyes at the soft sound of steps, relieved to find it was only Dorian. “How is he?”
The gardens at the Pavus villa were something of pride for Dorian’s mother. Invictus had laid back on a marble bench next to a large fountain.

Dorian’s slippered feet were quiet on the smooth walkway. He held out his hands. “I need you to try and heal me.”

“I can heal you, the question is how much will it hurt?” Hawke said as he sat up and took the other mage’s hands in his. He unwrapped the bandages to inspect the wounds, a frown marred his features as he worked.

“Going to answer how Bull is doing, or too nervous about being healed?” Invictus asked quietly

“Better physically,” Dorian murmured.

“But not so good in the head? Maybe Fenris can talk with him, they respect each other and he’s better suited for it than any of us.” Hawke replied as he let the soft green of a healing spell envelop his hand. “This will hurt, just don’t scream too loud else your guards think I am hurting you; or worse Bull.”

“Bull can't know if this hurts badly,” Dorian pleaded. “After he’s dealt with what happened to him, then I’ll tell him, but not now.”

Dorian inhaled a slow, steadying breath and nodded to show he was ready.

“Very well.” Invictus closed his eyes and began to work on Dorian’s injuries, his concentration nearly faltered at the first muffled scream that the other mage held in.

Dorian’s body shook with the agony that ripped through him, but he forced himself to remain on his feet. Deep guttural cries were pulled from between his clenched teeth. it felt as if the skin was being flayed from his body, and acid had been poured in his veins. His eyes rolled back in his head and blackness started to creep around the edges of his vision. He clung to that, to the idea that he refused to collapse or pass out.

Hawke went as fast as he could, but healing someone who’d been using so much blood magic was a delicate process. He frowned as he felt Dorian’s hands shake between his but he didn’t stop until all the marks had faded to nothing but faint scars that you could only see if you looked closely.

“There, all done. I suggest you sit down before you fall down.” Vic nudged at the other mage to make him take a seat.

Dorian sat down heavily onto the bench. He closed his eyes and clutched his head between his hands, his elbows on his knees while he tried to get a grip on the spinning world.

“Puke if you have too, I’ll get some tea along with willowbark for you to chew on. I’ll be right back.” Hawke hurried off to get something for Dorian before he collapsed either from pain or nausea. He came back to find the other mage had rolled to his side and seemed ready to pass out.

“Never again,” Dorian groaned. “Never…” But even as he said it, the niggling doubts crept into his mind.

“Make sure you keep your word on that. Come on, let’s get you up and something into you before you go back to your love.” Hawke helped him and even helped him sip the strong tea with crushed mint leaves.

Dorian held onto Hawke’s arm holding him still. “I know blood magic is wrong, that it can do great evil, but have you ever thought of the good it could do?”

“No, because he’s seen too much of it go wrong, as have I Pavus.” Fenris remarked as he joined them.

“You are going to give me a fright one day, I swear you took stealth lessons from Zevran.” Hawke muttered.

The elven fighter merely arched a dark brow as he joined them. “I take it Bull is well?”

“As can be expected,” Dorian answered. He would talk with Hawke more later on an idea that had come to him a few days before, and he hadn;’t been able to let go of it, no matter how mad it seemed.

“I was hoping that maybe you could speak to him. He’s… not wanting to face what happened.”

“I could, but I will give him a couple more days. He’s barely returned to you and no matter my intent, it could go wrong if I come to him before he is ready. Make the offer, and I will come by in two days time. Or if he is ready to leave the confines of your chambers, he is welcome to seek me out.” Fenris offered as he leaned over to nick a warm honey cake from Hawke’s plate.

Dorian nodded. “I should get back to him.” He got unsteadily to his feet.

“Thank you, Hawke. I know we haven’t always gotten along, but I couldn’t go to Sirad with this either. His healing is intense in its power.”

“You helped to save us the least I can do is heal you. I just don’t want to have to do it again. Do you need help getting back to your room?” Hawke offered.

Fenris snuck another cake off Vic’s plate and simply glared at his lover’s protest. “You know I have a sweet tooth, and there’s no chocolate to be found around here.”

“Tell Krem’s father that you wish for some chocolate and he’ll provide it,” Dorian said with a tired wave of his hand.

He took a few steps and paused. “I’ll be alright. If Bull sees I needed help I won’t hear the end of it. I would… I would like to speak with you later when you have time, Hawke. Alone preferably.”

“Very well, we’ll see you both at dinner. I could do with more sun and more cakes to replace the ones that a certain elf has stolen from me.” Vic teased before he pulled Fenris into his lap to kiss him.

“Vic! What’s gotten into you?” Fenris squawked as he tried to wriggle free. He still wasn’t entirely comfortable with affection in public, especially not while they remained in Minrathous.

“You act as if we’d not seen you two mooning at each other for years in Kirkwall.” Cullen chuckled as he entered the yard to see Fenris and Hawke being far more playful than he’d witnessed before.

“You can’t talk, considering how…” whatever Hawke was going to say was cut off by a gauntleted hand over his mouth.

Dorian shook his head. “And I thought Bull and I were disgusting.” He slowly made his way out of the garden.

**

Bull sat up when he heard the door open, pleased that it was Dorian instead of a servant checking in on him yet again. “Kadan, you look tired, and bothered. What’s wrong?”
Dorian held up is hands. “I’m all healed now. back to my pristine and perfect self.” He sat down at the table and dug into his breakfast that was now slightly cold.

“You also look like you went a couple rounds with Fenris then Hawke. What’s wrong?” Bull was worried about the way Dorian seemed to be turned in on himself since his return.

“It was a little bit painful,” he admitted, downplaying a bit. “Just a little shaken up. Did you eat? Sirad was adamant that you eat and rest.”

“Yeah, ate enough for two of us so I had another tray sent up. Why don’t you warm it up instead of scarfing down cold food?” Bull joined him at the table, hand at rest on Dorian’s thigh while the other man ate.

Dorian laughed lightly. “I’m so tired I didn’t even think about it.” He touched the side of his plate, and at first, nothing happened. Then a light steam began to rise off his food.

“Need anything else? Maybe a massage if you don’t just fall asleep first?” Bull leaned over and kissed him gently with a whispered reminder of how much he loves his fop.

Dorian set his fork down carefully. “I know what you’re doing, Bull. You think if you worry about me, then you can stave off confronting what happened to you.”

“Yep got me in one. But I’m not ready for that yet, just let me take care of you, worry about me later. Please?” Bull kissed him again, hopeful Dorian would drop it.

“And there’s nothing to take care of,” Dorian insisted. “Bull, you were gone for over a week. I thought you might be dead or out of my reach, taken to a re-education camp.” He could feel the panic rising up again.

“I wasn’t the one taken, you were. I wasn’t the one who was beaten by my own kind for Maker knows what reason.” Dorian snapped his mouth shut and looked away.

“Tell me when you’re ready. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”

Bull tipped his lovers face towards him and gave him a sad smile. “I know you were worried, I know you probably want to make it better, but trust me that it’s gonna take a while. I’m not ok, you know it, I know it. Just gimme time to deal with it, in my own way Dori.”

Dorian nodded. “Don’t call me by that childish name,” he muttered more out of habit than with any real heat.

“I screwed up, Bull. I… I went too far and now the power I touched won’t leave me. I keep thinking about the things I could do with it, the lives I could change for the better. But what right do I have to decide for other people how to make their lives better?

“That’s when I realize that this is exactly what my father went through, the very thing I was so angry with him for. He did it because he didn’t understand, but he loved me. It’s…” Dorian held up his finger and then slowly lowered it again. “It’s been an eye opening week for me.”

“I could call you something worse, besides I like it, something just for us kadan. You can give me a nickname if you want. I’m just glad I’m here to call you childish names.” Bull said as he wrapped his arm around his lover and pulled him close.

“Thought I was gonna die there, but I didn’t. You saved me and I’m so grateful to still be alive you have no idea. I ...look, I just want a couple more days to be with you, just you.” Bull kept kissing Dorian to reassure himself it was real, that he really held the mage in his arms.

“Then no talk of what we both went through for a few more days. agreed?” Dorian said. He rested his head against Bull’s chest, turning enough to press his ear against his lover’s heart.

“Deal. I’ll go out for dinner but aside from you and maybe Krem I just want some quiet time, alright?” Bull squeezed Dorian close, his throat tight but he didn’t cave to the feelings that wanted to overwhelm him. There was plenty of time for that later, much, later.

Chapter Text

Bull had managed to hide from everyone for three days before Fenris sought him out. He’d just let Dorian get out of bed when a couple of sharp raps made him glare at the door.

“Well it’s not Krem, he would have just come in and not knocked like that.” Bull said as he sat up and reluctantly pulled on pants.

When Bull opened the door it was to see an expressionless Fenris on the other side. “May I speak with you?” he asked without preamble.

Bull seemed surprised by the elf’s presence but didn’t argue it. He should have known it was coming. “I suppose, depends on what you want.”

“You know why I’m here,” Fenris said, an eyebrow arching slightly. “You and I have something in common--we’ve both been held against our will and come out feeling as if the world around us isn’t real.”

“You don’t hem and haw, I’ll give you that.” Bull said tiredly before he turned to his lover. “You and I will speak later, kadan.” He tugged on a clean shirt and nodded to the elf. “Where you want to do this?”

“Wherever you will be comfortable. I do not think that either of us will like this conversation very much, but I know from experience that it must be done, and I owe the two of you too much to pretend it doesn’t.”

“In here then, do you mind, Dorian?” Bull asked.

Dorian, who had tried to remain unobtrusive, winced slightly. “Me? Why not at all! Let me just get out of your hair and away from my probable death for orchestrating this.”

Heedless of Fenris, he walked over to his wardrobe in nothing but his smalls and pulled out a pair of breeches and a set of robes. He snatched up freshly shined boots from the floor and managed to edge by Bull, his arms full.

Bull watched him hurry out, attention distracted for a moment by the other man’s rather attractive backside as it went by. He turned to Fenris and sighed, not pleased that his lover had set it up, but he knew it couldn’t be avoided. “So...how did he talk you into this?”

“As I said, he didn’t have to. I owe him and he asked. And there has been something weighing on my mind that I felt you should know.” Fenris walked into the room when Bull stepped back to let him inside.

“The means by which I think Dorian tracked me?” Bull replied bluntly

Fenris waited with his hands behind his back for Bull to take a seat and offer one to the elf. He sat down and steepled his fingers together. “There are certain things I cannot mention, but I feel that you should know them regardless. Dorian Pavus is the sort of man who feels he can handle certain things, even if he knows better. A man like that when scared for someone he loves, might be tempted to try something he know he shouldn’t. He might make others swear to not tell the extent. He might do it over and over until the repairing of the damage done cause him so much pain he almost blacked out. It was enough that he’s the sort of man who wouldn’t go to a friend who is a healer, because he might fear the sort of agony it would cause, so he went to a mage who was not, but did have small healing skills.”

Fenris sat back. “That’s the sort of man that Dorian Pavus is. One I owe a lot to, so all that I have said was just talk on my part, just a casual mentioning of his character and not outright telling you anything.”

“I thank you for the enlightenment and comment on his character. I’m sure he’d be surprised by the praise hidden in your words.” Bull gave him a smile before he nudged a carafe of wine towards his fellow warrior and he hoped, friend.

“So with that out of the way, why don’t you join me in wine and get whatever is on your mind out. You look uncomfortable enough for both of us.”

Fenris glanced away, his bangs falling over his eyes. “These conversations never come easy to me. But I also hate dancing around a subject.”

He poured himself a glass of wine and raised it to Bull in a toast. “To going through a dark place in the Void and coming out on the other side.”

The kossith fighter returned the toast with a sad look. “So you hate dancing around words, I hate bullshit and this isn’t gonna be fun for either of us. Just speak freely, I would have you as a friend and I’d prefer we can be blunt with each other.” Bull said before he tossed back half his glass.

“I haven’t very many people in this world that I call a friend. Hawke is the only person that I trust, but there are days when even that is hard for me. Trust can get a person killed. But I am trying.”

“I know that feeling, especially after...I was declared Tal-Vashoth.” Bull replied quietly

“So I have heard,” Fenris answered in Bull’s language. “But what is Tal-Vashoth? Is it what the Qun tell you that it is, kossith that are nothing more than their primal self without the guiding hand of the Qun, or does it just really mean that you are free to forge your own path in this life?”

“I...I do not know. All my life I was guided, driven by the demands of the Qun until shortly after you arrived at Skyhold. Dorian for all that he loves me, does not understand the grief I carry.” Bull replied in Qunlat without thinking.

“He can’t. It has nothing to do with being kossith or not, and everything to do with Dorian never having been a part of a whole other than the Inquisition. Being part of a whole like that is more than just friends and family, it’s a direction in life, it’s knowing that if you stumble, someone will be there to have an answer for you. When you lose that, you feel as if you’re free falling, tumbling off into darkness.”

Fenris took a sip of his wine. “I think this is why so many Tal-Vashoth become primal. Much easier to go on instinct. Some direction, even a wrong one, is better than none. For my part, when I lost the only center I had ever known in my life, I went back to my old master. I walked onto his ship. I knelt before him, and I gave myself up to whatever he wished, because I had lost my sense of knowing.”

“Even if I’d gone back to Seheron, they would likely have killed me as an example rather than try to re-educate me. They sent assassins to Skyhold, pathetic as their attempt was. I think of it sometimes, just getting up and going back to them. Then I realize I might as well slit my throat and be done with it, should I give in to the urge.” Bull sighed as he poured more wine.

“What did you do? How did you finally escape Danarius? What made you break that chain and leave?” Bull had a suspicion thanks to the Ben-Hassrath reports he’d read but didn’t want to outright ask and break their slowly growing camaraderie..

“I left because I saw a chance and finally was able to get far enough away. As to when I broke the chains… It’s a daily struggle, but Hawke has made it easier. He’s patient with me in a way that he is not patient with anyone else. I had to realize that I was still owned by Danarius.” He tapped his temple. “In here I was owned. You need to ask yourself just what the Qun means to you. Is it a way of life? Is it a people? Is it both? Why does no longer being a part of the people mean you cannot be Qun in everything else that matters?”

Bull glanced down at his wine glass and sighed once more. He knew the elven warrior was right, but he didn’t want to deal with it. “It is both, and its neither. It’s so deep in my blood, it’s hard to let go of it even now. I’m happy with Dorian, happier than I’ve known in ages. Yet, there’s a deep grief in me over what I’ve been taken from. Would it surprise you to know, in a way I was almost relieved to be taken? To know maybe I was still useful?”

“To know that the choice had been taken out of your hands? Tell me, did you always, deep down in your heart, think that one day they would come for you? I knew Danarius would one day come for me, it was inevitable. What you struggle with is that you did not truly wish to leave the Qun, but I wanted to leave Danarius. What you struggle with, is you know, even deeper down, down where you will not admit it, that you would have one day ended up this way. You knew it the moment you started the Chargers and let yourself become a whole with another group.”

“Until I chose the Chargers over the Qun, I’d not considered it. I figured that the assassin’s they sent to Skyhold were the end of it. Considering what’s happened, I guess I was wrong.” Bull scrubbed at his face and grunted. “So what now? I’m not ok from being taken for a week, fuck I still can’t sleep without Dorian practically glued to me and not for long.”

“What did they do to you?” Fenris asked bluntly.

“Some of the drug they use to re-educate, beatings, broke my horn, then my arm. The rest of it was in my head. I didn’t know where I was, who I was by the fourth day. I think I even pleaded to die before you got to me.” Bull admitted in slow, broken Qunlat and Trade.

“They started to re-educate you in Minrathous?” Fenris said in some surprise.

“Make me compliant enough to do what they wanted, which was..was..” Bull stopped to collect himself before he went on. “They wanted me to kill Dorian. Prove I was an animal and likely let me be dragged off and executed for murdering a magister.” Bull shuddered as he covered his face, emotions too much as he admitted what they’d tried to get him to do.

“The Qun do not deal with Magisters. That they did in regard to you is unsettling. They wouldn't have cared for Dorian, and we did find you in a Magister’s villa.” Fenris fiddled with the stem of his glass in thought.

“You’re afraid that what they did might have worked, that one day you will snap and kill him, aren’t you?”

“Of course I am, I’m not...I keep thinking I have killed him.” Bull didn't raise his face, he just stared down at the floor instead of the elf before him.

“When it comes to control, there is no difference between the Qun and the Magisters. The ones I was with long ago? They were Fog Warriors. I escaped into the jungle sof Seheron, they took me in, fed me, gave me purpose, taught me. Until Danarius showed up and ordered me to kill them all.”

Fenris didn’t flinch from the ugly truth. “I was so afraid of what I might do to Hawke that I kept pushing him away. Even after Danarius was dead at my feet, I was afraid. But I am no coward, and neither are you. We survive, because of them. we survive because we want to. Tell Dorian what you have told me. Ask him if he thinks the risk is worth it. Hawke told me he thought it was, and I had no choice but to believe him, and trust that he knows his heart and didn’t think I was a danger.”

“He’ll try to fix me, or coddle me. I want neither, or worse he’ll see through my bullshit and I’ll be the one begging for him to make it better. Fuck, why didn’t they just kill me?” Bull snapped.

“He might, but he might not either. Dorian Pavus doesn’t know what you are going through, so how can you know what he would or wouldn’t do?’ Fenris asked. “Maker… Both of you so stubborn.”

“My name is Iron Bull.” the fighter huffed in a pathetic attempt at humor. “Fine..I’ll talk to him. Maker you both are impossible.”

Fenris barked out a laugh. He raised his glass. “To idiot mage lovers.”

“To idiot mage lovers, and good friends who won’t let you wallow in the dark.” Bull tapped his glass against Fenris’ and gave a slight smile.

“Friends… I guess we are,” Fenris mused, a small smile on his lips.

“Glad to hear it, I need more friends in this Maker forsaken place.” Bull finished his drink and glanced at the water clock over the mantle. “Guess I should get this over with, talk to Dorian and see what happens?”

“Good luck with that,” Fenris said with a wry smile. “For all that Dorian is proving himself to be different from other Magisters, he still has their silver tongue. Do not let him hedge.”

He drained the last of his wine and got to his feet. “Speaking of silver tongues… I have an Antivan elf to get reacquainted with. He has been avoiding Hawke and I to tease us.”

He gave Bull a short bow and moved to the door.

“Huh, didn’t figure you were the sharing type. Enjoy and don’t worry about breaking the bed, I haven’t managed it yet.” Bull waved him off with a wicked grin.

“I have learned with Zevran Arainai that everyone is the sharing type.”

**
If men like Zevran didn’t want to be found, even if someone were in the same room as them, they wouldn’t be. So Fenris knew he had been correct in thinking that Zevran wanted to be when he found the other elf sitting in the villa garden, cleaning his nails with a wicked looking dagger.

“Do you ever worry you will forget and do that with a poison dagger?” Fenris asked lightly.

Zevran’s lips twitched in a small smile, but he didn’t look up. “That would be an embarrassing way to go, yes? If it does happen, please lie and tell people I died with a smile on my face trying to please every man and woman in the great brothel ship of Rivain.”

“Trying would mean you failed,” Fenris pointed out. He stopped in front of the other elf, looking down at the top of his golden head.

The movements of the dagger paused. “And that would be even more embarrassing. I would rather death by cleaning nails than that, no?”

“I’m tired of the chase, Zevran,” Fenris said bluntly.

Zevran let out an exasperated sigh and put his dagger away. He tilted his head back to meet Fenris’ eyes. “The chase is half the fun, yes? Will they or won’t they? Who will go to whom first? The rising tension…”

Fenris’ lips quirked up in amusement. “Do I have to help Hawke track you across the Free Marches and save you from Crows again? That worked last time. And will they or won’t they was never in question.”

“Well at least we can pretend, yes?” Zevran sniffed.

“Or we could go to my chambers and wait for Invictus to return, naked and already in bed.”

Zevran tapped his finger on his chin, pretending to consider. “I do believe I like your idea better, yes?”

“Yes,” Fenris grinned and held out his hand.

**
Bull paced like a caged mabari while he waited Dorian’s return. He’ nearly jumped when the door to their room opened.

Dorian looked tired when he entered the room. He had a cup of hot tea in his hand and he sat down at the table to one side of the room. He eyed the empty wine glasses hat Bull and Fenris had left.

“Good conversation?” he asked softly. “I’m sorry for interfering, but I thought he might be a good person to talk to.” He blew on the cup in his hand and took a sip of the tea.

“Yeah, it was fine.” Bull tapped on the table nervously, unsure if he wanted to talk but knew he had to. “So...I, fuck this is hard but I gotta just tell you.”

Dorian looked faintly alarmed. “I’m not going to like this, am I? Please tell me you’re okay.”

“So far from ok Dori.” Bull muttered as he scrubbed a hand over his head, and winced as he touched the horn that had been healed, though he could still feel where it had been snapped, bleeding and jagged in his mind.

“So they fucking broke my mind, made me beg to die. But there’s more, I don’t know.. I don’t know if you want to hear it.” Bull rasped.

Dorian curled his hands around his cup. “Tell me,” he whispered. Fear gripped him, but he knew he needed to hear anything that Bull wanted to tell him, just as Bull needed to do the telling of it.

“They...wanted me to kill you. They had me so fucking twisted, and I knew if I did it, then I’d be left as a sacrifice to the Magisterium. Convenient to get rid of both of us in one fell swoop. It’s why I thought I had gone beyond help when I saw you.”

Dorian licked suddenly dry lips. “That’s why you didn’t think any of it was real.”

“I’d hoped it wasn’t. If I’d come around and found that I’d killed you, they might as well have done me in on the spot. I was so gone Dori, so far gone. I thought, I thought sometimes I was back in Skyhold, or that you had been captured too. They fucking ...I’m not safe anymore, what if I wake up under their influence and hurt you?” Bull wiped at his face and tried to compose himself but he was too deep into his hurt.

Dorian didn’t correct Bull as he usually would on his nickname. right now, that nickname was what Dorian needed to hear. “Tell me what they did. Write down everything you can remember, or think you remember. Give it to me.”

He leaned forward. “Do you trust me?”

“Of course, problem is I don’t trust me anymore.” Bull whispered.

“Will you trust me if I discover what they did to you and how, and tell you that without a doubt, that I know if you will or will not hurt me one day? Because I swear to you, Bull, I will find out for you. I won’t have you suffering in uncertainty.” Bull might think they had broken him, but Dorian’s heart was breaking now. Bull was usually so sure of himself. To see him so uncertain and doubtful crushed Dorian. But Bull needed him to be strong, to be the shoulder to lean on.

“Yeah, you know I would trust you with my life. Void knows I do now.” Bull replied.

“Then I will fetch quill and ink, and we’re going to go over and over what was done.” Dorian gave him a wry smile. “I’m a magister. If there is anything I know how to do, it’s pick apart mind altering rituals and brainwashing to find out how they tick. Ugly truth of Tevinter, but in our case, a good one.”

“Alright, I’ll hold off on more wine until we’re done. Oh, and when you see Fenris, thank him for me.” Bull leaned in and kissed Dorian on the cheek before he poured his own tea.

“I will. but I think he and Hawke will be busy for the rest of the day with Zevran.” Dorian got to his feet and went to a small desk.

“I’m not going to lie. I am a bit jealous. Can you imagine the three of them together? Divine…”

“Yes, but right now I’m more concerned with the state of my head meat than them fucking.” Bull replied tersely. He glanced at Dorian then to the floor with a sad look. “Sorry kadan, I guess I’m more messed up than I thought. I shouldn’t snap at you.”

Dorian waved his apology away. “Don’t be sorry. It was my poor attempt to lighten the mood. I’m glad that you and Fenris are getting along now, though. and I’m glad your talk was helpful.”

He brought back several quills, ink, and parchment.

“Still, it was not well done of me. Can you get snacks brought in? I think this will take a while.” Bull murmured as he took some of the supplies, and fell silent as he went to work.

“I’ll be right back then.” Dorian slipped out the room.

**
It wasn’t until a few days later that Hawke and Dorian had a chance to speak. Both mages had been so busy, that they had forgotten Dorian’s need to talk with Hawke.

It was Hawke that had remembered and had sought Dorian out in his study, finding the other mage amid a barrage of parchment, scrolls, and large tomes scattered around the room and cascading off his desk, half eaten plates of forgotten food placed in teetering piles.

Dorian glanced up, his eyes slightly glazed. “Hawke?”

“You’d said you wanted to talk to me a couple days ago but you’ve been holed up in your study for days. Did you still want to discuss something?” Invictus asked as he made his way over and made a space to sit amongst all the scrolls and books.

Dorian blinked and his eyes sharpened. “yes... “ he glanced up to make sure the door was shut before he straightened in his chair. He folded ink stained hands on his desk.

“What I have to say goes no further than this room. Not yet.”

“As you wish, besides who else would I tell? Cullen and Lisbeth probably have seen weirder shit than I have, Fenris is too busy playing around in the courtyard and doesn’t care about magic. So give it to me.” Hawke waved away an offer of drink, curiosity outweighing his desire for wine.

“What I did in order to put the red lyrium inside Fenris into stasis… Have you given any thought to the implications? I used some of Alexius’ time magic theory.” Dorian’s lips curled bitterly. “Or more.. mine and Alexius’ theory. Ever since then I can’t help but think about all the ways we could use it for good. Alexius thought too big and he had Corypheus whispering in his ear. I don’t want to rule the world or help someone else do it.”

Dorian’s eyes took on a slightly feverish glint.

“Slow down, explain exactly what you mean by all this. Are you suggesting some kind of stasis for the Venatori? Or what are you on about?” Vic asked, slightly confused by the conversation.

“I slowed down time to a stand still,” Dorian explained. “And I’m not thinking about the Venatori, but about Fenris and Bull. I think I can manipulate time enough for us to step through just as Lis and I did once. Imagine being able to go back and make it so Fenris was never used by Danarius, that he never got his markings. Imagine if I could prevent Bull from having to choose between the Chargers and the Qun.” As he spoke, the glint in his eyes deepened.

“No, do you hear yourself? You sound worse than the Venatori. Just go back far enough and make sure Andraste wasn’t murdered by Hessarian while you’re at it. Stop it Dorian, you are frightening me with all this talk of time magic.”

“No, that’s where Alexius went wrong. I don’t want to change the world, just one or two things. Just enough to make the lives of people we love happier. I know I can do it. Not all the spells I performed when Bullw as gone was in pursuit of finding him. I did a few experiments. I… Just in case we didn’t find Bull in time. I needed to know I could prevent that from happening.”

Dorian knew how he sounded, and he winced a little, a voice inside him telling him to stop. But he had become quite good at squashing that voice lately.
“Dorian no, just no. You sound like you are on the verge of doing something entirely terrible.” Vic whispered

“Not terrible,” Dorian insisted. “I…”

I sound insane, he thought to himself.

“You know exactly how you sound right now. No, I won’t even hear this. Drop it before you do something that cannot be fixed. Let’s go find our lovers, and maybe have dinner. You look like you haven’t slept in days.” Vic tried to coax him away from the journal he’d been working in.

He got Dorian out of the room and into the dining hall, thankfully without much protest. He silently hoped that Bull or the others could talk the other mage out of his mad plans.

Chapter Text

Fenris fidgeted as he stood with Hawke, Dorian and Bull as he addressed the Senate. Too many knew him as Danarius’ watchdog, too many knew him as a killer on a leash and that made him wonder how many thought Pavus had done the same to him.

He was ready to speak, though he knew few would hear him. They would only listen because a Magister vouched for him, tarnished as Dorian’s reputation was for dallying with an ox-man, he was still old blood in a place that valued ties to power more than idle gossip about another mage’s bedroom antics.

Hawke held back from holding Fenris’ hand as he listened to Dorian go on about the ways in which Tevinter was crumbling from within. He frowned as he noticed some of the others pointing at them and whispering behind fans, their gazes unkind or worse, full of avarice.

They had decided a month ago that their best bet was to keep putting themselves in the public eye, to hide in plain sight. Bull walked in the marketplace speaking with his fans, something that Dorian had joked would make his already large ego inflated even further. Dorian for his part, came to the Senate to speak almost every session. he spoke about what he wished for Tevinter. He told his fellow magisters of what he had seen in Corypheus and the Inquisition.

He told them the truth about Arlathan and that there was no going back to the days of glory when it had been nothing more than Tevinter feasting on the scraps left behind by others, and it was time for them to strengthen themselves from within, to stop clinging to ways that would see them decay.

Dorian knew what was said of him, that he was mad now and something had obviously happened to him when he went to the South. But he no longer cared about what was thought of him. His friends and family were in danger, and he would do whatever it took to keep them safe.

So he came to the Senate. he took his seat, and he made plans, speaking with any magister that would let them into their homes, making alliances using the Pavus name. Sirad and Dorian weren’t the only ones who were tired of Magisters like the Venatori pulling Tevinter down around their ears.

But Dorian didn’t know if it would be enough.

Sereda, Zevran, and Varric had been busy in the shadier side of Minrathous, using contacts to find the evidence they needed to prove the Venatori corruption, something that would seal their fate, something that the senate couldn’t ignore beyond blood magic.

Last night, they had finally found something.

Fenris went after Dorian, his tale one that made some magisters shout against him, others paled as he told them of the horrors done to him and by him for his old master. He refused to give power to the man by naming him, but he didn’t falter, didn’t waiver from the ugly truth that he laid before the assembled seat of power for Tevinter. Though his voice remained steady, he wanted to run, to hide and pretend that none of this was happening.

Instead he told them his tale, gazed at all of the men and women of the Senate to dare them to gainsay him. Even those that had screamed at him to stop lying, to stop dragging their friends reputation through the muck had fallen silent by the time he was done. He stepped back to his spot next to Hawke, and squeezed his hand, their hatred be damned for his comfort.

Sirad went next. He spoke of the long line of his House, how it was older than some of the Magisters in the Senate. He told them about having to flee his villa, and asked how many others had felt they might have to leave their homes because certain Magisters felt that conspiring to murder those they thought got in their way was a better system than anything the Senate could come up with.

“How are groups like the Venatori better at running Tevinter than this Senate?” he had asked. “They have done nothing but prove that they don’t care for our culture, our people, our country. They would see us all burn to return us to Tevinter that never was.”

The rumble of the Senate that had gone through the large room had been almost deafening.

Dorian had waited until the room had gone once again silent before he got to the climax.

He held up a sheaf of parchment. “I have in my hands proof of the Venatori corruption, of the corruption of certain magisters. Some of you may think that you are one of them, but I have a list of names that are set to be killed, murdered because they are no longer useful to the Venatori.”

He paused and looked around the room. “One of which, is the Archon himself.”

Bull clenched his fists instead of grabbing his weapon and charging like he wanted to. Instead he watched as shock rippled over the Senate floor. He glanced to Fenris and the others,ready for anything to happen.

And when it did, it happened quickly.

The doors to the Senate burst open and templars came pouring through the sound of their armor a death knell. Dorian kept his face impassive as he watched them ring the Senate floor, their swords drawn.

“Took them long enough,” Dorian drawled.

“Perfect, I needed to break in this sword with some mayhem.” Fenris rumbled as he drew his weapon and grinned at the idea of killing Venatori.

Hawke’s predatory grin matched his lovers as he drew his staff. “Oh, this will be fun.”

“No!” Dorian pleaded. “No blood on the Senate floor!”

There were calls of outrage from the other Magisters, some of them standing and demanding an explanation. Templars in the Senate were unheard of.

“We might not have a choice, Dorian,” Sirad whispered.

“It’s not like they aren’t used to blood pooling all over the polished marble Pavus. Besides, I’ve ached for this day for a long, long time and I will not be denied.” Fenris snarled.

“You knew this might not end cleanly for us, or them kadan.” Bull said as he watched their opponents try to ring them in an effort to keep them too close together to be effective.

“We cannot let anyone be caught in the crossfire,” Dorian said in a rush.

“We can’t let them take us either,” Sirad said.

“No one is being taken, and no one is dying today.” Bull snapped before he stepped forward to rush the first wave of Venatori that had started approaching.

Dorian would never forget the chaos that ensued, or the way the Senate floor ran red with blood, the screams of Magisters in his ears. It wasn’t just them that the Venatori and their templar pets were after, but any magister that had been on that list. The Venatori used the chaos to clean house of allies that were no longer useful, and troublesome Magisters like Dorian and Sirad.

Fenris lit up the dark marble floors as he rushed Venatori and templars alike to clear the way for the mages to fight. He laughed with each body that dropped before him like it was his name day and Saturnalia combined.

Hawke would have nightmares for the weeks that followed, partially from all the carnage, also from the visage of his lover covered in blood yet laughing as he continued to destroy any foolish enough to get in his way. The sound of Fenris’ voice rough and dark wouldn’t leave his mind no matter what.

Bull had no problems with the carnage, it was the never-ending waves of enemies that seemed to come from the walls like in Varric’s tales that drove him mad. “How many of these fuckers are there?” He asked in between clearing a swath of Templars and crushing Venatori.

“We need to get back to the villa!” Dorian shouted. He whirled his staff over his head and sent a wave of ice after a fleeing templar. “My mother and the others are there. They would have sent troops to take or kill them.”

“Do I get to kill more templars and Venatori?” Fenris snarled after he’d dropped another Templar.

“Love, you’re kind of terrifying right now.” Hawke gasped as he tried to catch his breath.

“Just wait...this is nothing.” Fenris gave him a smile that was more at home on a predator than the elf.

“Let’s go, they can clean up around here while we work.” Bull said as he flung gore off his weapon.

“We need to get out of here without hacking our way through men who are following orders,” Dorian said. The stench of blood was in the air, and the bone chilling screams wouldn’t leave his ears.

He looked at the carnage, at the blood dripping down the marble seats of the Senate. It was everything Dorian hadn’t wanted when the idea had first taken hold of coming back to tevinter and making it a better place.

Dorian put his staff on his back and withdrew his short dagger. He glanced up and met Sirad’s eyes, the elf opening his mouth to stop his friend before Dorian slashed his palm open.

“Dori...no.” Bull whispered before he felt the tug of power around them and soon they was the dizzying feeling of moving, but not and when he opened his eye, they were in the courtyard of the Pavus villa. Unfortunately, he had to pull Fenris off of his lover and hand him off to Hawke before the elven fighter took his rage out on the magister he’d come to call a friend.

“Dammit Dorian! You couldn’t just use Haste?!” Hawke yelled as he tried to keep Fenris from slipping out of his grasp.

“You’re just like the rest...give you a chance you’ll do blood magic too. I knew it!” Fenris railed as he tried to buck out of Hawke’s arms.

Dorian didn’t acknowledge any of them. He turned and ran into the villa in search of the others, blood dripping from his hand. If he felt any sort of satisfaction for having proved one of his theories on time magic right, he didn’t show it.

Sirad turned to face the others. “Not now… But if we’re still alive after this, we need to get him help.” He hurried after his friend.

“I’ll help him to the void.” Fenris snarled as he finally wriggled free and took off after Dorian.

“Fenris...dammit, no!” Hawke yelled as he took off too.

They came across Cullen and Lisbeth fighting off the last of the templars, while Varric picked off enemies from the balcony.

“Where’s his mother. Krem and his dad?” Bull asked as he skidded into the room.

“Zevran and Sereda are with them locked in Dorian’s mother’s room,” Lisbeth said. She pushed her hair off her face .

“What happened?” she asked. “They just suddenly pushed their way into the house.”

“Carnage and mayhem in the Senate, Venatori and Templars ambushed us there.” Bull gasped as he tried to take a breath. “Dorian ...he used temporal magic to get us here. Once this is over, gotta keep Fenris from killing him.”

“What did Sparkler do?” Varric asked as he joined them.

“Sliced his palm and used the resulting power of his own sacrifice to weave the Veil into a doorway, a little bit like what we think that lyrium might use to slip in an out of the Fade without damaging the Veil,” Sirad explained.

“I was Circle trained and I only got half of that,” Lisbeth muttered. “He’s going to start attracting demons if he keeps doing this.”

“He already has,” Sirad muttered. He didn’t explain any further as they ran to the chambers of Dorian’s mother.

“Shit...he needs an intervention.” Bull hissed as they slowed to a stop, his concern through the roof as he saw how Dorian pounded on the door in between dodging Fenris and Hawke trying to keep them apart.

“Fenris, now is so not the time for this. We’ll deal with him, just let him get to his mother.” Hawke pleaded.

The elf listened finally, only because of the hitch he caught in Invictus’ voice at the mention of saving Dorian’s mother. He finally relented if just for the sake of his his lover. “Amatus...I..”

“Later, just leave it for later.” Hawke whispered as he hugged Fenris to him.

Dorian slammed his fist on the door. “Mother! Mother, open up! Please. I can’t lose you too!”

“Bull, open the door,” Cullen shouted.

“Out of my way!” Bull shouted before he crashed through the door and found himself face to face with a very displeased woman.

Even though Bull was a good two feet taller than her, Livilla still managed to look down her nose at him. “Did it ever occur to any of you that we were busy?” she sniffed in Tevene. She had a bloody dagger in her hand and there were bodies of templars and Venatori on the floor.

“You are a treasure, madame,” Zevran said with a grin, sheathing his weapons. “You should have seen her, yes? They thought she would be so meek.”

“She’s of Tevinter, very few women here could be called meek, Zev.” Fenris said as he came over to check his other lover. “You are unharmed?”

“Madame Pavus, glad you’re safe. Dorian was in a...hurry to get to you.” Bull said as he took the chance to sit down and catch his breath.

“Dorian has never been a patient man,” she replied. She gingerly stepped over a body.

“I’m fine,” Zevran answered. “They came quickly and through the windows after we had already locked ourselves inside, yes? What has happened?”

“Minrathous is burning,” Dorian said in a broken whisper.

“The Venatori cannot win this, Dorian, you have to snap out of it and get it together,” Bull said as he waved Krem over. “Get this place fortified, I’ll keep him out of trouble, you and your dad get a headcount so we can see who was lost.”

Fenris had been maneuvered into a chair where Hawke had started to clean him up. He was quiet with the end of his adrenaline rush, the look in his eyes dulled instead of bright and ready for a fight.

“I’m on it, Chief,” Krem assured him and took off at a run.

Livilla took matters into her own hands when she walked over to Dorian, eyed his broken expression, and then slapped him across the face.

“He’s right. You are a Pavus. act like it. If the Venatori wish to take this city from us, then they will have to kill us all to do it first. I for one refuse to lay down and die like some mongrel. Even if the city is in ashes, we will endure, and we will rebuild, but they will not have it. It is our job to look out for the people of this city, and they are caught between two warring factions. Go out into the city and gather them, get them to fight with you.”

Dorian had placed a hand on his stinging cheek, but he had listened intently to every word.

“Damn, I thought my mother believed in tough love.” Hawke muttered as he wrung out a bloody cloth and went back to working on Fenris before he gave it up as a bad job. “You need a bath, Maker we all do. Then we go out and assess damage.”

“I want a nap but if I sleep I won’t move for days.” Fenris said as he grimaced as he looked at himself. “Can you get my armor ready and I’ll be as fast as I can.”

“I’ll get Dorian cleaned up and changed, and I could do with a wash myself. If we’re going to save Tevinter, might as well look good doing it.” Bull said with his own whiff of disdain.

“No,” Livilla said. “He needs to go out like this. To show the people exactly where he’s been and what he’s seen.”

“She’s right,” Sirad muttered. “Who will they believe? A magister in fresh clothes, or one splattered with the blood from the Senate?”

“Very well, I defer to your wisdom madame.” Bull nodded before he prodded Dorian to get moving.

“She’s right as disgusted as I feel right now, if we take this moment to breathe, it may well be our last.” He looked to his lovers with a grim smile. “Once more into the streets?”

Dorian grimaced at the feel of blood in his mustache. “Once more.”

**
Bull was exhausted as they made their way through the streets, he was even grateful for the stamina boost he felt cast on him from one of the mages in his group. He was gratified to see Livilla and Dorian fighting in tandem as they made their way to the Black Spire and the Archon. It was going to end one way or another that night.

Fenris and Hawke were frightening in how they worked together, with Zevran an efficient and deadly third point to their combination of magic and brute force.

They didn’t just fight their way to the Spire, they helped the people of Minrathous as they went. They stopped looting, put out fires, saved men, women, and children from overzealous venatori guards, or those that saw the chaos as a chance to what they wanted, no matter how nefarious.

With each person they saved, they gained a new member of their group, Dorian telling everyone he could why this was happening, and who was responsible. Their ranks swelled with every block, people picking up whatever they could to be used as a weapon.

Fenris smiled as they reached the gates, gratified to see templar and magister alike scramble out of their way as their group took out the opposition.

Bull joined him as they cleared a path of destruction into the Black Spire. Both warriors were determined to get to the Archon, no matter the cost.

They weren’t stopped when they entered the tower, or as they began to climb the great spiraling stairs inside. Dorian was moving on pure adrenaline now, seeing nothing but his goal ahead of him.

Bull stayed to left, Fenris to the right. Zevran and Varric kept stragglers off them with bolt and blade. Cullen had brought up the rear, Lisbeth taking out enemy mages with as much rage as she could muster. They all stopped when Dorian blasted the door open to confront the Archon himself.

Who was alone.

Dorian didn’t believe it at first. his eyes scanned the large throne room before landing on the Archon who sat on a raised dais. Dorian purposefully walked towards the man, his boots leaving trails of grime and blood on the highly polished onyx floor. Sconces lit with magical fire flickered from large columns on either side of the room.

“Dorian Pavus,” the Archon greeted. He stroked his long white beard slowly. “Are you happy with what you’ve wrought?”

“Are you?” Dorian countered. “They have left you--the ones you betrayed and the ones who you betrayed them to.”

Fenris snarled as he bounced from side to side, eager to shut the mage up for good. Hawke waited, just watched and let Dorian have his moment.

Bull watched with one hand on his weapon, slicked with blood and gore, the other ready to grab his lover out of harms way if needed.

“They were going to murder you,” Dorian continued on. “They were going to murder the Archon, the one who allowed them to gain so much power, the one who allowed them to get large enough to almost rip apart the world and has turned the streets of Minrathous red with blood.” As he spoke, Dorian’s Tevene became thicker and thicker in his anger.

“I did what I had to to return us to glory,” the Archon replied coolly.

“You did what you had to for your own glory!” Dorian snapped.

“Kill him, make Tevinter better.” Fenris said quietly as he stood at the ready. He glanced over to see a lone figure watching them. He’d seen her before when the Inquisition had faced off with the Venatori, heard tales of Calpernia, a slave freed by Corypheus and that had dared turn on him. He tipped his head slightly before he glanced at the battle of wills before him.

Hawke hadn’t moved, didn’t dare breathe too much as he watched their exchange. The rest of them waited to see how things would fall out at the end.

“No,” Dorian said slowly. “No… Not yet. he’s betrayed his people. He should be tried by his people. Every member of the Senate that participated in this should be tried by the people.”

“Then do what you will, but know he will kill you the second he thinks you are vulnerable.” Fenris cautioned.

Bull nodded to Calpernia, then drew his attention back to where the Archon had focused on Dorian and only on him. The fate of Tevinter was in their hands, he just hoped it would end with is lover whole and well.

Chapter Text

The Archon got his trial and was sentenced by the people, but not in the way Dorian had expected. The moment they had left the Spire with the Archon, the people who had come with them had descended on him and torn the Archon apart. It had been a horrifying sight, and one that Dorian would never forget.

It had taken them hours to try and restore order to the city, days to restore calm. Dorian didn’t sleep much during those days, and the hours seemed to have ran by in a blur.

He also had not been named Archon.

After the blood shed in the city, another magister had been elected Archon. The people might love Dorian and Bull, but Dorian Pavus was too controversial with the changes he wanted made. Instead, a magister who had once been a great friend to Dorian’s father, Halward had been elected. He in turn, had named Dorian to his inner council. One of the first things Dorian did was to push for Calpernia to be put in a position of power. Tevinter had treated her poorly, and her status as a former slave was something that gave her insight the new Archon would need.

She also knew secrets of the Venatori, things that would help to finish off the group.

Dorian stared down at the scroll in front of him, the letters blurring to dark blobs. He rubbed at his eyes and sat back in his chair. He’d been in his study for hours going over the scrolls they had found in the Archon’s private chambers.

Bull had come in while Dorian was pre-occupied, his attention so focused on the parchment rolls in front of him, the kossith was able to sneak up on him. “If I was a Venatori you’d be dead now kadan.” he rumbled right in the mages ear.

Dorian jerked upright in surprise, a sound of alarm escaping him. He turned his head and narrowed his eyes. “Oh, ha-ha,” he said dryly.

“Nothing laughable about it, you shouldn’t be that deep in something that you could get killed; even here.” Bull leaned in for a quick kiss before he settled in the chair across from his lover. “How is it going?

“Horrible,” Dorian said honestly. “Our former Archon was an idiot. He kept records of everything. Every deal he made with the Venatori, every interaction.” He sighed. “But now that I think on it, it might not have been so foolish. I think he might have been trying to protect himself in case they turned on him, which they invariably did.”

Dorian flicked at the scroll. “The experiments they were doing, Bull. They were grotesque.”

“Considering what was done to Fenris, why do you sound surprised?” Bull replied.

“Also disappointed and angry. Why, though?” Dorian asked. “Why should I be? I keep expecting some of us to be better than this, and I keep finding out that we aren’t.”

He gave Bull a small smile. “I do know exactly what they did to you now. You aren’t controlled anymore, Bull. They were never able to finish.”

“That’s a relief, thanks Dori.” Bull gave him a grateful smile, but his plan to pull his lover away from his work was interrupted by a knock. “Who is it?”

“Fenris, may I enter?”

“Come in,” Dorian called.

When Fenris opened the door Dorian swallowed heavily and lost his power of speech. The elf wore a long black leather coat, under which was black and red armor. One one sleeve he wore the sigil of House Pavus, on the other, the sigil of the Archon of tevinter. On Fenris’ back was an onyx Sword of Mercy inlaid with silverite runes in the hilt and along the shaft of the weapon.

Fenris looked deadly and handsome, a lethal combination and one that had Dorian staring.

“Put your tongue back in your mouth, Pavus.” Fenris smiled as he gave one slow twirl then sat across from Dorian. “I take it you approve of my dress uniform? I got a say in the design and I’m rather pleased with the results, I must say.”

“I… um…” Dorian cleared his throat, his usual smoothness gone. “You made wonderful choices.”

“You did, I like red on you, really suits you and doesn’t clash with your eyes.” Bull gave him an appreciative once over before he grinned at Dorian.

“If I am to be a sword for this new Archon and lead his forces, I wanted to look the part. Besides, it was hard enough getting away from Hawke and Zevran once they saw me in this.”

“I don't blame them,” Dorian said without thinking. Bull coughed into his fist and Dorian blinked. “I mean…”

“You need to get some rest, Pavus,” Bull said gently. “You’ve been at this for days now and you're making an art form of putting your foot in your mouth.”

Dorian grimaced. “That is so unlike me. I’m usually wittier than this.”

“Maybe you should put him to bed, he seems a bit worse for wear.” Fenris grinned as he stretched his legs out and let his heels land on Dorian’s desk with a loud clink from the metal backings hitting the dark wood.

“Why do the pretty ones always think they can get away with everything?” Dorian’s mustache twitched. “I mean I know why I always get away with everything, but why do the other handsome men?”

“I’m not pretty, thank you very much.” Fenris remarked as he checked his nails. “I actually had a reason for in coming here, not that your blatant ogling isn’t helping my ego.”

“Being made a general has certainly helped your confidence friend.” Bull remarked as he gave Fenris his own perusal.

“If that reason was to make me swallow my tongue, then you have succeeded,” Dorian said with a grin.

“You’re a riot, but Hawke wanted to meet and go over some things he’ll need if you are actually going to help him and take him into your House, Dorian. If we’re to remain here, he needs ties and your offer means a lot to him. The Amell and Hawke names mean next to nothing here.” Fenris scowled briefly as he spoke, he didn’t like the idea of being dependent on anyone but it was a necessity.

“I’m glad you’re both staying,” Dorian told him. “And I am a riot, it’s part of my charm.”

“Regardless, Hawke will be by later to see you if you will be free after dinner or perhaps, tomorrow would be better considering how exhausted you look.” Fenris got to his feet with a bow of his head. “Besides the sooner we can be in our own place, the more comfortable we’ll feel.”

“You don’t have to run off so soon. I ...enjoy your company Fenris.” Bull admitted.

“As I enjoy yours, but I am uneasy in a place with so many people milling about. And the villa is far from where I will be stationed, I do not wish to walk several miles in addition to my other running amok. We are grateful, do not think otherwise, either of you.”

“And we’re thankful for the both of you,” Dorian said with all sincerity. “I’m glad you are doing well, Fenris.”

“As am I. If I could drag Danarius before me to show how well, it would gratify me to no end. But that’s the past.” the elven fighter brushed his hands over his long coat and smiled wickedly. “Now to see if I can escape my lover’s clutches and get something done today.”

“Did Hawke speak to you about the project I was working on?” Dorian asked.

“Somewhat, he seemed concerned by it...to put it mildly.” Fenris’ tone changed as he stared at Dorian, how tired he seemed and how the other man’s demeanor changed at the mention of his ‘project’

“Ah…” Dorian nodded to himself. “Then we can talk about it another time.” He got to his feet and scrubbed at his face. “As for myself. I think I need some rest. Reading about dark rituals for days on end can mess with a man’s mind.”

“Dark rituals?” Fenris asked in surprise. “What else could you be researching?”

“Not me necessarily. I’ve been looking over the Archon’s papers. In the details of what the Venatori were trying to do, or at least, the experiments they had undertaken. They are… disturbing.”

Dorian hesitated and glanced at Bull. There were things he wasn’t sure if he should tell Fenris or not.

“Spill it, I can tell when a mage is hiding something. It’s what I’ll be getting paid for, so come clean Pavus.” Fenris glared between them both.

“They tried to make others like you,” Dorian said grimly. “They failed time and time again. slaves died…”

“Wh...what?” whispered Fenris as he paled. “More?”

“Maybe you should sit down.” Bull said before he took the elf’s weapon and steered him back onto a seat.

Dorian retook his seat as well. “More,” he acknowledged. “But they didn’t come close.” He knew the news was going to upset Fenris, and wished now he had waited for Hawke.

The elven fighter blinked a few times then abruptly stood up to go. “I need air, I will see you both later.” he rasped as he reached for his scabbard.

“Sure you should go?” Bull asked as he held on to the sword.

“I’ll walk you back to Hawke,” Dorian told him. “Just to make sure you get to him.”

“Yeah, ok.” Fenris said as he took his weapon and headed off without waiting for the other man.

“I’ll be in our rooms, take care of him.”

“I’m such an idiot,” Dorian murmured. He trailed a hand over Bull’s arm as he passed him and went chasing after Fenris.

The elf didn’t really stop for Dorian to catch up he just barreled through the hall with one thought to get to Hawke and then maybe collect himself before he needed to check in for duty. He wasn’t thinking clearly but he didn’t know what else to do.

“Fenris!” Dorian called after him, his robes flying behind him as he hurried after the elf.

“What? Can’t you see I’m in a hurry Pavus?” Fenris snarled as he kept going.

“I’m sorry, Fenris,” Dorian said when he finally caught up with the elf, attempting to match his strides. “I’m so sorry.”

“Save your sorry, leave me be.” the elven general snapped as he turned on the other man, his rage making his markings glow enough to show dimly under his armor.

“But I am sorry,” Dorian insisted. “We keep hurting you.”

“It doesn’t matter Pavus. Just...let me alone.” Fenris said as he entered the room, leaving Dorian alone in the hallway.

Dorian stared at the closed door, his brow furrowed in thought. He turned and strode purposefully back to his study.

**

Bull kept busy with all the changes around Pavus villa, and somehow managed to keep Dorian from working for days without sleep while he helped Krem and his father manage the extra people that had taken up residence since the Venatori skirmish.

Fenris had withdrawn from others company except Hawke and Zevran’s, which worried him. He knew something had happened but the elf wouldn’t talk and Dorian was too deep into his research to do more than mumble distractedly and wave him off.

That was until the day Dorian came barrelling into the dining hall, parchment gripped tightly in his hands, his eyes wild. He stopped behind Bull’s chair and his body started to shake.

“Sit down before you fall down kadan. You look like you’ve seen ten demons, and a templar to boot.” Bull said gently.

Dorian glanced up at Krem and Sirad, his mouth working a few times, but he didn’t move.

“I was wrong,” he croaked. “I was so wrong.”

“Wrong about what?” they both asked

“The Venatori… They managed to replicate Danarius’ work. There’s another like Fenris out there.” Dorian did sit down, almost missing the chair entirely.

“What?” Krem asked in surprise. “Do you know how much lyrium they used? I can tell just looking at him that he’s got a king’s ransom worth of the stuff in him.”
“How do you even know this? How would you know that Dori?” Bull queried as he made his lover sit down next to him.

Dorian shook the parchment in Bull’s face. “It’s all right here! The process they used, the failed experiments. The lives lost. But at the end they finally found someone who they were sure could withstand the ritual.”

Sirad shook his head slowly. “They would have needed a healer for that, someone who could make sure they didn’t--”

“They had one!” Dorian all but shouted. He knew he was becoming more frantic, but couldn’t stop himself. “They had one. They… They used a slave they were certain shared Fenris’ strong will and they had a healer present.”

“Who else could have his will?” Bull asked as he gently wrapped his arms around Dorian to calm him.

“Relax before you pop a vein, Pavus. You are red in the face and about to fall over.” Krem cautioned him.

“His sister,” Dorian said between clenched teeth. “They used his sister.”

“He’s got a sister?” Krem and Bull echoed in surprise. “He’s never mentioned a sister,” Bull added

“He… I don’t know if he even remembers her,” Dorian muttered. “They were close once.” He buried his face in his hands, pressing the parchment into his palms.

“Maker… When will it end?”

“Are you going to tell him?” Krem asked just as Fenris came into the room.

“Tell who what?” He stopped short of where Dorian was curled into himself. “I finally found him after hearing your father tell me of how he tear-assed through half the villa. I figured it would be worth looking into.”

Hawke was off dealing with the Vyrantium Circle on Dorian’s behalf, so Fenris had decided to drop in for a visit after an early patrol.

Dorian didn’t want to do it. he didn’t want to utter the words he knew would destroy Fenris. Not now, not with Hawke gone.

But he couldn’t lie to the elf either. Fenris deserved at least that much from him after all they had been through together. So he raised his head and looked at Fenris directly in the eyes.

“I was wrong. They made another like you.”

Fenris felt like he’d been punched in the chest as hard as possible. He thought he’d spoke but wasn’t sure the noises he heard had come from him. The undignified noise he’d heard was not one that he’d have sworn he couldn’t make. He felt like his vision dimmed for a moment before he made his way to the desk and held on so he wouldn’t crumble to the ground.

“H..how?” was all he managed.

Dorian licked lips suddenly gone dry before he spoke. “They found a healer, one who wasn’t as powerful as Sirad had been, but was powerful enough that they were able to keep her alive. They… They used your sister, Fenris. Do you remember her?”

Fenris hit the table, then the ground hard at the mention of his sibling. He’d remembered her after he let her go in Kirkwall. How he’d raged for days afterward and how he’d missed her despite what it would have meant to keep her in his life. He didn’t move when Bull tugged at him, nor did he speak except to say her name and no repeatedly.

“Dorian...he’s gone, why did you tell him?” Krem hissed as he tried to help Bull get their companion into a chair and sitting up.

“Because if there is one man you do not lie to about things that concern him, it’s Fenris,” Dorian hissed back.

Sirad had come around and was checking Fenris for any injuries from his fall.

“Hawke...get...I need Hawke.” Fenris mumbled as he tried to squirm away from Sirad.

“Let him check you over, you hit the ground pretty damned hard.” Krem admonished as he poured the elven fighter a stiff drink.

“I’ll send someone to fetch Hawke,” Dorian said. He rushed to the doorway and flagged down a passing servant, whispering to her quickly.

“Just a small bump,” Sirad assured Fenris while he probed gently at the base of his skull.

“Stop touching me.” hissed Fenris as he took the offered drink and curled into the chair.

“So what now? Do you even know where she could be? Or what happened with the end of the Venatori?” Bull asked.

“I don’t know,” Dorian said honestly. “I don’t know if she’s under their control. I don’t know if she escaped in the chaos. I don’t know if she’s still in the city.”

He knelt down next to Fenris. “We’ll find her, Fenris. I swear it.”

“I don’t care, just… I can’t care right now.” he mumbled around the rim of his glass. “Can’t...I can’t.” he repeated before he slammed his drink back and held out the tumbler for more.

Krem refilled the glass without hesitation.

“I’ve sent someone to fetch Hawke,” Dorian said instead. “He should be here within the hour.”

“Leave me alone, I want to be alone until Vic returns.” Fenris said as he curled further into the chair and sipped at his whiskey.

“Not until he gets here,” Dorian said firmly. He didn’t want Fenris to be alone, not now.

“Fucking mages, can’t even give me a shred of dignity when I’m at my worst.” Fenris sniped.

“He’s worried, we’re all worried about you. Don’t make this into a mage thing, when it’s not.” Bull said gently.

“Hawke will be here soon,” Dorian promised. He didn’t know what to do but to try and keep Fenris calm until Hawke arrived.

The elf didn’t pay them any mind, he just sipped his drink and stared off at nothing until the door opened and Hawke rushed in without knocking.

“What...happened? The messenger made it sound like life and death.” He gasped since he had used Haste to get back faster.

Dorian told him in a quiet voice, leaving nothing out. He stood and moved back to let Hawke get to his lover.

Invictus nodded at the door and then slipped to his knees before Fenris. “Amatus, what do you need?”

“Not...here. Home, I need our home.” he said shakily.

Dorian slipped his hand into Bull’s, his heart breaking for Fenris. He could fix this. He could fix it so Fenris didn’t have to have this pain.

“Thank you for sending for me, we’ll be in touch soon.” Invictus said as he helped his lover up and wrapped his arm around the elf’s waist.

“I’m sorry, you have things to do.” Fenris whispered as he was drawn to his feet.

Dorian was silent as Fenris was led away, his mouth in a tight line while his mind worked, coming to decisions he realized he had come to a long time ago.

“Nothing matters if you need me love. Come on, we’ll get settled and you can do whatever you need.” Vic said quietly.

Bull and Krem watched as they left, both men worried for what the news was going to do to their friend.

Dorian turned to Bull, his face hard. “You know what I have to do, don’t you?” he asked his lover.

“Do it and you’ll fuck things up, Dori. Don’t meddle, don’t fucking do it.” Bull glared at his mage as he thought of all the things that could go wrong.

“I can save her,” Dorian replied. “I can save her and prevent this from even happening to her. Anything that changes could only possibly be for the better.”

“You don’t know that, Dorian,” Sirad snapped.

Krem grabbed Dorian and snatched him so he held the mage a couple inches off the ground. “Do not fuck around with this, you cannot fix everything with magic. He won’t thank you for it.”

“Let go of me,” Dorian said evenly.

“He’s right, Dorian,” Sirad added. “Don’t. Just let this go. We can do more for her by finding her.”

“Not until you agree that this is a colossally stupid fucking idea.” Krem snarled.

“Hey, Krem, mind unhanding him? That’s my job to make him see reason.” Bull said from behind them.

“I am seeing reason,” Dorian growled. “It is all of you who are not.”

Krem let Dorian go with snarl and took up the chair that Fenris had vacated. Bull wasted no time in crowding his magister lover.

“Don’t fucking do it. You claim you care about him? Don’t cause him more pain by doing this. You could fuck up so much Dori, make it so we never met, that you never met him or joined the Inquisition. Just...don’t do this, I am begging you.” Bull asked.

“I can prevent them from ever getting to her. I won’t go farther than that, I swear it. I won’t even get near Fenris. Just her, Bull.”

“No, stop this. Do you even hear yourself? You also promised no more blood magic, please Dorian, you gave your word to me, kadan.” Bull leaned his forehead against Dorian’s and pleaded with him to stop.

Dorian inhaled slowly and closed his eyes. “I swear it.” But even as he said it, he knew that ti would be a struggle.

“Good, now let’s get cleaned up for dinner and leave them be for a couple days. If you have to interfere and I know you will, perhaps see if you can find out what happened to her, nothing else. Am I clear Dori?” Bull asked gently

‘And if I have no other choice? If we find out there is no other way to save her?” Dorian asked softly.

“Burn that bridge when you get to it. Come on Krem, I think we all could use a drink.” Bull ushered Dorian ahead of him and waited for his lieutenant to follow behind.

“I’m going to find my father, see what he can find out before serah Pavus asks.” Krem gave a brief bow then headed down the hall towards his fathers office.

**
It hadn’t taken as long as Dorian would have thought in order to find Varania. In a way, she found them, or more, she found Zevran. She had attacked him one night when he was following up on a clue of her whereabouts.

He had barely managed to escape with his life.

The assassin stumbled into the Pavus villa with a low groan as he found Dorian, Bull,Hawke and Fenris sitting in the parlor with after dinner

Dorian shot to his feet and rushed over to Zevran, catching the elf before he fell to the floor.

“I found her,” Zevran rasped. “But she was quick, yes? She got away from me.”

“Who did this to you? I’ll tear her to pieces.” Fenris snapped as he jumped up to fetch his medical kit.

Hawke glanced at Dorian then back to the elf in his arms. He’d kept quiet in case nothing came of seeking his lover’s sibling out.

“She tried to kill me,” Zevran said. He brought his hand away from his chest, and Dorian could see the large gash there. “Tried to take my heart. I think.. I think she’s frightened. She wouldn’t believe me when i told her I was a friend of her brother’s. She told me she had no brother.”

The leather case fell from Fenris’ hand as he heard Zevran. “Varania...you found her? Why were you looking for her? She’s...how did she try to take your heart? I...I...no, please tell me this is a nightmare.”

Vic scooped up the medical kit and passed it off to Krem before he got Fenris to sit down. “Love, come on don’t check out on us. Once Zev is healed he can explain everything.”

“Traced her to the docks, yes? She was alone, but people remembered seeing her, wandering from ship to ship every day looking for passage out of the city.” Zevran winced when Dorian began to tend to his wound.

“Vic...she’s alive. Maybe, I, I could?” Fenris whispered to his lover.

“If you want. But let us find her, she might go to ground if she knows you are here and seeking her out.” Hawke said.

“Or she might have followed me,” Zevran rasped. “She’s quick. Much quicker than you, Fenris. I can’t guarantee i wasn't followed, yes?”

“If she’s faster than me, she likely followed you, perhaps to finish what she started. Well, if she comes I will face her.” Fenris rose to gather himself and check on his other lover.

That’s when the window crashed open, sending shards of glittering glass flying. a women with a dingy brown cloak, and tangled red hair had leapt through the window. She landed with cat like grace on her hands and feet, her eyes narrowed in deadly anger.

Fenris lit up as he approached, his eyes dark and his posture easy despite the way his heart hammered in his chest at the prospect of seeing her. “Varania?”

“How do you know my name. Who are you people?” Her brands were alight in agitation. “I want to be left alone. Stop following me. Stop asking around for me.”

“You don’t remember do you? The ritual, it wiped your memories, like it did to me, didn’t it?” Fenris asked as he approached slowly, his brands lit up to show her they were the same.

“No one move, let him handle this.” Vic breathed.

She took a single step back, suspicion written on her face. “How did you know that? Why are you like me?”

“I...was first, you were changed later, the ritual to clear your mind was done on you as well. I didn’t believe I had a my sister, until you wrote back. You, you don’t remember me at all? Kirkwall or any of it?” Fenris sounded so unsure of himself it broke Invictus’ heart to hear him.

“Kirkwall…” she said more to herself than to anyone else. “I…” Her eyebrows drew down sharply as if in pain.

“We’re here to help you,” Dorian supplied.

The uncertainty in her face passed. “You’re one of them. One of the masters,” she hissed.

“Sit down and leave yourself out of this.” Fenris snapped before he turned back to her. “He is not a master, not to me or you. Please, let me help you, I am your brother and I remember what was taken from you. They will not interfere, I swear it.”

“You have no proof of what you say,” she said, but she was starting to sound uncertain.

“Do you doubt what you see before you Varania?” Fenris said before he held out his hands and spoke softly in Tevene. “Do you not remember how we played in the courtyard as children, when mother would do her work? How you hid behind her skirts? You told me that back in Kirkwall, please believe me.”

Everyone else watched them, unsure whether she would believe her sibling, or if she would turn on them. Zevran sat up slowly, and edged into Vic’s arms. Bull and Dorian stood together like statues, while Krem’s gaze went between the elven siblings and the others.

She frowned, her eyebrows furrowed sharply again as if in pain. “I… I remember that. Your name is… Leto.” She looked up, startled. “Why do I remember that?”

“Because you’re my sister, and I’ve got you back. I’ll make everything up to you Varania.” Fenris nearly tipped over as she went to him and wrapped her arms around him.

“Welcome home, sister.”