She let it slip that her unexpected engagement to Lord Adorno Ciel Otranto of Antiva, of the great noble house Otranto, a very old and established merchant family, could be ended with a duel; and the Lord Inquisitor Remy Y. G. V. Trevelyan of Ostwick- a damn fine noble family in his terribly biased opinion- thought it was a great idea. It was not only a matter of pride but a show of just how serious he was when it came to their relationship. It was also, maybe, a bit selfish on his part but the news of not being able to hold or touch Josephine in any intimate manner hurt his heart. Each time he passed her desk on the way to the War Room and didn't receive anything more than a polite smile caused said heart to break a little more. And it wasn't a secret how he felt about her. In fact, the inner circle knew that he was head-over-heels for Lady Montilyet because it was all he could talk about when the courting began. But when he heard that the engagement could be stopped by an intercession on his part he ran to Leliana as quickly as he could. It helped when the Inquisition's Spy Master was also a massive romantic.
"A fight for her hand?" she smiled knowingly. "You don't think that's just a little demeaning to her?"
"She doesn't have to know, now does she?" he winked. "Besides, I know she wants to deal with the engagement in her own way, which, let's be honest, could take us to the end of the world, and I don't think we have the time. I want to be with her now, not after our deaths have been met."
The Nightingale sighed and let her eyes close. "I have read stories that involved duels. They seemed so dangerous and also so very noble! There's something rather satisfying in seeing two people fight for love. Although I don't necessarily think it's a good idea for you, especially with the important status you have achieved."
Remy, she realized with some fear, was determined that he be the one to initiate the act and not have anyone else go in his stead. After a little light begging from the Inquisitor, and a promise that she would never tell anyone she saw him on his knees before her, she outfitted one of her crows with a small glass vial on its leg and carefully rolled the note into the cylinder. The crow was released at the north-facing window. Another smile graced her lips when she watched the Inquisitor wave good-bye to the bird.
"Don't worry, Remy," she consoled. "Beatrix is a smart crow. As intelligent as she is fast. The message will be received soon."
The Lord Trevelyan nodded and decided to pass a little of the time away in the hold's tavern. He was joined by the Iron Bull and a few of his Chargers because, according to Bull, no man in pain should ever drink alone.
"I'm not in pain," Remy grumbled against the lip of his tankard.
"Oh, sure; there may not be any physical pain," Bull clapped him roughly on the shoulder, causing a small spray of ale to fly from Remy's nose. The qunari ignore the sputtered coughing as he continued to speak. "The Tamrassans used to say 'Physical pain can be cured and the reminders come in the form of scars. But the pains of the heart often are never seen and sometimes can never be cured. That is the most dangerous kind of pain.'"
And with that he produced a tall bottle made of dark gray clay. There was no writing on the outside to suggest what lie within. Remy wiped his dripping nose on the edge of his sleeve and watched, with open caution, as Bull poured two small cups of the pungent-smelling, clear liquid.
"Here; drink this. In a few minutes you won't feel any bit of pain, physically or heart-wise."
It was a bad idea to smell the cup's contents. If his nose was already burning from the backwash of his ale it now felt scorched and crisped from the strange liquid's vapors.
"What is this?" Remy coughed and wiped the tears from his eyes.
Bull smiled wryly and picked up his cup. "Best to not ask. Just drink."
Tentatively, the Inquisitor took a sip and decided, immediately, that what his "friend" gave to him was the worst-tasting thing he had ever tried; far worse than quillback steak which was said to be a delicacy in Orlais. Orlesians, and now qunari, had very strange preferences.
"Ugh!" he swallowed with some effort. "This is terrible!"
Bull laughed and clinked his cup against Remy's before emptying it. "Yeah, it is. But after a few more drinks you won't be able to taste a thing, so it really isn't that bad!"
And it turned out to be true. Once he emptied his own cup, Remy lost all sense in his tongue. He also lost any bit of common sense. He momentarily forgot Josephine's request to not show his affections for her in the presence of, well, everyone, and thought that what Skyhold needed, deep in the heart of the night, was a romantic serenade. Bull and his second-in-command, Krem, who also drank from the mystery bottle, considered it a splendid idea!
Standing beneath Josephine's quarter's balcony, and accompanied by Bull on a single goat-skinned drum along with the tavern's minstrel who was more than happy to be a part of this scheme, the Inquisitor sang his drunken heart out to his lady. Several dogs decided that what the song needed was a few extra voices and added their howls to the lyrics.
The song woke many, as seen by candles illuminating the stained-glass windows, including Josephine. She tiptoed out onto the balcony and glanced down at the moon-lit courtyard to see Remy standing below, bellowing out the words to "My Love is a Wild Hart."
"Inquisitor!" she hissed down to him, eyes narrowed in disapproval. "Don't you think you should go sleep off your current state?"
The music stopped although Bull continued to thump his large fingers on the drum.
"My lady!" Remy hiccupped and bowed deeply which caused him to momentarily lose his balance. "Would you care to join me for a romantic shtroll around the gardensh? I think the prieshtly people are all ashleep."
Josephine sighed and shook her head. "I doubt they are now, my Lord. Might I suggest, once more, a good night's rest?"
"Lady Josephine, the beautiful flower to my, er, my dirt!" he proclaimed and slapped a hand over his heart.
Bull shook his head. "I don't think that sounds right, Boss," he mumbled.
Glassy-eyed, Remy blinked out of time and stared up at the big qunari. "Wha' should I shay?" he slurred.
"Something good, like how you want to sweep her off her feet and offer her a thousand pleasures in one night!"
"Good idear!" he nodded and turned once more toward the balcony. "Oh, Lady Josie-Posey, my sweetest flower! I wish to take off yer feet and offer you thousandsh of sex!"
"Real smooth, Boss," Bull nodded in approval.
Josephine, on the other hand, disappeared and didn't return.
"I don' think she'sh comin' back, Bull," the Inquisitor hiccupped again and stumbled back.
The serenade, which was reminded to him by many, mostly Varric who found the event utterly amusing and great fodder for a story, did the absolute opposite of its intent. Josephine barely uttered a word to him, and when she did they were terse and business-related only. As much as he apologized she showed no forgiveness. He attempted to leave small trinkets such as glass flowers for her hair, bracelets of gold so delicate the chain resembled strands of hair woven into intricate patterns, and bouquets of dawn lotus and roses. Nothing softened her heart.
Opportunity to finally prove himself came in the form of a representative for the Lord Otranto of Antiva. He was met by the Inquisitor outside Skyhold with aid from Leliana's agents. He was a tall man, dressed in fine leather armor and carried both the Antivan Kingdom flag and the Family Crest for the Otrantos.
"Lord Inquisitor Trevelyan?" the representative greeted.
"I am," Remy gave a polite half-bow.
"My Lord Otranto accepts your challenge and asks you meet him in Val Royeaux's main circle in one week's time where you shall face your fate."
"Very well. I will be there."
After a kind invitation to take sanctuary in the hold, which was declined, the representative descended the mountains and disappeared from view.
It would take almost a whole week to travel to Val Royeaux, Remy pondered, and immediately requested a small party to accompany him. However, when Josephine found out he was taking an impromptu trip, which he said was to procure a certain special dagger the Assassin's asked him to find -a bold-faced lie and she knew it- she demanded that she go along as well.
"Do you really want to be seen with me?" Remy asked as he ran a whetstone over one of his daggers. Bright red sparks flew off the metal from the corrupting rune fused in the metal. "A lady of high repute standing next to an unsophisticated Marcher noble rogue? Might as well be seen kissing a Mabari, right? That's what most Orlesians tend to think of me. And probably what you think of me now."
Josephine flinched and shot him an insulted glare.
"Is this about your drunken attempt to seduce me, even after you knew how sensitive our current situation is? Maker's Blood, Remy; we had visitors from the Orlesian Court! And you made an absolute ass of yourself! Do you know how many letters of apology I had to send to them?!"
"Oh, come on, Josie! Are Orlesians so far up their own backsides that they are immune to doing stupid shit? Actually, come to think of it, they would literally be covered in shit if that was possible-"
"My job as the Inquisitor's Ambassador is something I take very seriously! And when the Inquisitor, of all people, acts the fool, what am I supposed to do? So, if you're planning on doing something that may be seen as inappropriate, I want to be there in case I need to clarify anything," she leaned forward, her nose nearly touching his.
She was quite angry! Her eyes flashed like golden fire and her cheeks had flushed to a dark, comely shade of red. If she wasn't so irritated he would've kissed her. But he had pushed his limits and didn't want to lose her anymore than he already had.
"It's assassin business," he said firmly.
"It's also Inquisition business, which is currently my field of expertise. And if you don't let me come along," she poked a finger on his chest, which he puffed instinctively, "I'll tell Cassandra!"
The Cassandra Threat; it was one of Remy's greater weaknesses. To hear the Seeker's scoff in derision at any decision he made was like hearing nails raking across slate. It was akin to disappointing Andraste Herself! He had developed a great sense of respect for the woman but also feared her little "talks" when he did something considered wrong in her eyes. As angry as Josephine was in that moment there was no doubt she would go running to Cassandra and tell her everything if he said another contrary word.
"Fine," Remy growl and turned on his heels. A sense of dread filled him as he wondered how he was going to participate in this duel without her finding out, especially if she was determined to come along.
"Remy," she called back to him. Her voice was thick with care. "I am sorry you have to go through this ordeal due to my engagement. If it were up to me it would have never happened. And I want you to know that I miss you."
He turned around and regarded her with sadness, not bothering to brush away the thatch of chestnut hair that fell against his ruby-colored eyes.
"I miss you, too."
The trip to Val Royeaux seemed to take forever. Yet despite the fact that it was suggested by Leliana and Cullen that Remy stay safe in the large carriage he chose to ride up front with the small cavalry. His horse was a large Ferelden breed with massive hooves covered with thick tufts of long, white fur. It was a proud steed, a little flighty, but showed him as much respect as he did the animal.
Josephine stayed inside the carriage and barely showed her face except during the evenings when the caravan stopped to make camp. She acknowledged the Inquisitor little but for a few friendly, chaste words when she met him for dinner. On the evening before they reached their destination she was woken by a light knock on the carriage door.
Remy entered the small area and removed the fur-lined cap on his head. Strands of his hair stuck out in all directions which made her giggle. He blushed with chagrin and attempted to smooth out the wild hairs.
"Is there something I can do for you, Inquisitor?" she painted on her best congenial, professional face.
Any hope of being greeted by his sweet Josie-Posey faded from his eyes as he heard her call him him by his title. Why did she have to continue to play this role? No one present cared if he and their ambassador had a romance going on. The soldiers who were charged as escorts were Fereldens; tough souls who worried about food in their bellies instead of which noble was sleeping with another. Any of Leliana's agents already knew of the Inquisitor's love affairs, both current and past. Yet she still continued to act like nothing had happened between them. The break in his wounded heart deepened.
"Josephine, I-" he bit down on his bottom lip and shook his head. He couldn't say it. He couldn't bring himself to admit what he truly wanted.
A soft, warm hand caressed his cheek, and Remy's eyes fluttered shut. He sighed and leaned against the loving touch, lips pressing against her palm. His long, nimble fingers wove between hers. When he opened his eyes he saw the thick coating of tears shimmering against her hazel irises. Her chin trembled and her breath hitched in her throat. He pressed his forehead against hers and angled his mouth.
Her fingertips stopped the kiss before it happened.
"Please, Remy," she whispered. "Don't make this harder for us than it already is. We must both be patient."
"I am tired of being patient," he grumbled and grabbed her fingers where he placed a soft, lingering kiss on each tip. "I need you."
"And I need you," she paused and swallowed the thick lump in her throat, "to return to where you were before you entered the carriage."
Remy sighed and pushed himself away. His sight locked onto the floor. The fur-lined cap was wrung between his hands before it was placed back on his head. Tomorrow, he told himself internally, things will change. And I will prove that she and I belong together.
"You have everything you need?" he asked. "Warm blankets? Plenty of rations?"
"Yes," she answered after a painfully long second of silence. "Thank you, my Lord."
He murmured "you're welcome" before exiting the carriage and coming face to face with his horse. The animal seemed too intelligent to be some stupid pile of muscles and fur. He somehow knew his master wasn't well and gave a horsey grumble before nuzzling Remy's pockets for a warm pat on the nose.
"What?" Remy cooed as he scratched the horse's neck. "You think you can convince her that no one here cares? Go on and give it your best shot, my friend."
However, the tall gelding decided that following his rider offered more warmth than Josie's carriage did and slowly walked behind the human noble where he remained by his side until morning.
The first couple of days showed no sign of Lord Otranto which meant Remy was forced to pretend he was in Val Royeaux on official Inquisition business. He did manage to find many items of interest which he purchased and discovered that despite Orlais reputation for being "proper" and "virtuous" many women and men weren't exactly shy. While he burned some time in a common tavern, watching the foam on his ale disappear with each drink he was approached by no less than five interested parties asking if he wished to "engage in intimate activity". When he assumed the first person, a lovely young woman with hair as red as fire and her eyes concealed behind a butterfly-shaped mask, was a prostitute, he was promptly slapped across the jaw. His pride and cheek barely had a chance to recover before the second individual, an eager young bard, the lad couldn't have been over 20 years of age, began to conduct a song, praising him on the tautness of his "perfectly sculpted buttocks". The rousing lyrics had him moving to a more shadowed part of the establishment in hopes there would be less attention.
Any attempts to get the handsome Inquisitor into bed failed when he walked out of the tavern alone. He stopped outside the Veridium Cobblestones, a fine inn which housed visiting nobility and important dignitaries, and stared up at the window of one particular room. This time there would be no sweet soliloquies sung, no drunken admissions of desire. He sighed, shoved his hands in his pockets, and continued walking down the street toward his own play of temporary residence.
The next day news arrived on a piece of paper slid under his door. One of Leliana's agents reported that the Lord Otranto was seen heading for the city's center along with a large following. He quickly dressed, asked the agent if she could keep Josephine busy while the duel was conducted, and rushed out before he had a chance to explain to any of his guards where he was going in such a hurry.
When he came to the city center it was obvious who Otranto was; a tall, well-dressed, arrogant-looking man with his nose shoved so high into the air Remy wondered if he could smell Andraste's ass. He walked with the swagger of a man who would argue over who owned every rock in the earth and was ready to declare that that man was him.
"Lord Adorno Otranto," Remy called out to the man and the crowd of silks, brocades, and gilded masks parted for the two men to meet. "I am Lord Remy Trevelyan, Son of Bronn Trevelyan of the Free Marches. I am here to prove myself worthy of Lady Josephine Montilyet and end the arranged engagement."
Otranto spun on his silver-capped heels and smiled slyly at his opponent.
"Ah! So you are the one who has challenged me to a duel, hmm? I've heard about you, Inquisitor. A backwater noble from an old house that has virtually no purpose anymore. But you, however, you have caused quite a stir!"
Around him Remy could hear sharp whispers of "it's the Inquisitor! He's really here!" At the moment he had no guards around to protect him from a possible mob. He prayed there would be no violence other than the sort he was about to engage in.
Otranto turned to his servants and grabbed two thin-bladed rapiers. The early morning sun shone off the tips as he turned back around.
"There are songs of your exploits which have made it all the way to my homeland. I must say I am humbled and honored to have met your acquaintance. It is, however, unfortunate to meet you on these terms."
Remy accepted the rapier, checking the weight of the weapon in his grasp with a light flourish before positioning himself in a starting, defensive pose.
"Let's just get this over with, Otranto," he growled.
"Of course," the Antivan bowed elegantly and tapped the edge of his sword against his opponent's to begin the duel.
With a few expert parries and even a quick step out of the way, Remy began to second-guess Otranto's capability. The man could fight!
"You fight well, Lord Trevelyan, but can you fight well enough to prove your worth to me and to Lady Montilyet?" Otranto taunted. "It is a pity she is not here to see me best you. I've heard she is exquisite! This will make a great tale to tell to our children's children."
Despite the anger that boiled in Remy's veins, he pasted a wicked grin across his lips before smacking Otranto's blade away.
"That'll never happen, my friend, and it's a story no one will ever hear."
Another daring move was made by the Antivan which had Remy on his toes and nearly on his backside. The crowd began to back away, giving the two a wide birth.
"You are delusional, my friend. Rules are rules for a reason, and I will wed the Lady!"
"She doesn't want to marry you!" Remy revealed. He thrust forward again in hopes of catching Otranto off balance.
But the other man proved to have excellent dexterity and simply stepped out of the way while Remy ran straight ahead, nearly stabbing a large pot of red flowers to death. He stumbled on his toes, anchoring his heels against the stone street, and turned the upper half of his body around just in time to see Otranto dashing for him.
"Maker's Balls," he grumbled and waited for a hard blow. He spun out of the way but not before his antagonist's blade made contact with his cheek. It left a short but deep cut in his stubbly skin. Blood immediately began to dribble down his face.
"Will you give up now, Lord Trevelyan? Before more blood is spilt onto Orlesian ground?"
"Never!" Remy seethed and stood back up, ready to fight again.
"Ah well, then," Otranto shrugged and pointed his rapier back up. "En garde, Inquisitor!"
The blades nearly hit until…
"What in Andraste's Name is going on here?!" Josephine's voice cut through the murmurs and whispers of the crowd. Both men stopped fighting to watch her push through the audience. Her face was screwed into a tight, angry scowl. "Remy Trevelyan, how dare you go behind my back and arrange this- this brutish display of arrogance!"
Remy lowered his sword and stepped closer to her. He wiped the blood from his face, leaving a bright red smear against his chin. "Josie, I can explain," he said in a weak voice.
"Well, I'd love to hear this, but first let me say this to you! This duel, did you have any idea how badly you could've been hurt?"
"But duels are not fought to the death anymore-"
"That doesn't mean that it can't or won't happen!" she threw her arms in the air. "The Inquisition needs you! They depend on you! And you go behind everyone's backs and- Maker's Breath, I can't even talk properly I'm so angry with you right now!"
"Leliana knew," he threw out in a weak defense.
"Oh, so you and my best friend were plotting this little charade together?! I'll have a word with her, too! Putting your life in danger, and for what? For your pride?!"
Remy shut his slacked mouth and threw the rapier aside. "I did it so we could be together."
"I already told you, I was working on a way to end the engagement! And instead of doing as I asked and stay out of the way you- you- ugh! What were you thinking?!"
He huffed an exasperated sigh. "I was thinking of how much I love you, Josie!"
The crowd suddenly became incredibly quiet. Josephine's angry frown softened. Her fists loosed as she drew them up to her heart line.
"You love me?" she gasped.
"Of course, I love you! Why do you think I did this? Maybe it's a matter of pride but I couldn't stand the thought of losing you to someone who probably would never love you as much as I do. And I would do this all again every day for the rest of my life with no question if it meant you would love me back."
Tears poured out of Josephine's eyes and a brilliant smile revealed the twin dimples on her left cheek. She rushed into Remy's arms, holding him tightly as she buried her face into his jacket.
"I love you, too," she admitted. She pulled his face down, careful to avoid the cut, and kissed him deeply in front of her betrothed.
The tender moment was cut off by the sound of Otranto clapping slowly. The love-struck couple turned to watch the Antivan slide the rapier through a belt-loop.
"This I cannot compete with," he smiled. "When I received word that you were involved with the Inquisitor I prayed that it was simple infatuation. But you do love him, Lady Montilyet?"
Josie wrapped her arms around Remy's waist and held him tightly.
"I do, very much, Lord Otranto," she answered.
Otranto shook his head as he bent down to pick up Remy's borrowed weapon. "Then I am truly bested. The House Otranto regretfully rescinds their agreement on the marriage engagement with House Montilyet. May Andraste guide you, my friends."
The audience applauded loudly for both Lord Otranto and the Inquisitor for the great amusement. Remy didn't hear a single clap. He was lost in his happiness; victory was theirs.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about the duel," he apologized. "I guess I wanted to prove that I'm the one who belongs with you."
"I guess I should've known you would pull a stunt like this. Your patience only lasts so long."
"Then you're not angry with me?"
"Oh, I'm furious with you, Remy. Don't you ever do something that stupid again! I could've lost you in any number of ways."
"Yeah, but it turned out for the better," he shrugged nonchalantly and flashed a cheeky smile before wincing when the pain in his cheek lashed out in protest.
"For now on you will do as I say when it comes to matters that involve me, understand?"
"Good. Now, kiss me again."
He chuckled and leaned in closer. "As you wish, my Josie-Posey."