After three weeks at sea, the Antivan merchant schooner Asha finally moored into the newly rebuilt docks of Kirkwall.
The quay had few vacancies: row after row of anchored ships and sailboats crowded the piers, bobbing against the gentle waves.
It was a fine morning to arrive at the City of Chains. The warm air was moist, heavy with the smell of wet rope and seagull droppings.
Still a shithole, but a slightly cleaner shithole at least.
Dorian wrinkled his nose when a sailor rushed past him pushing a wheelbarrow full of rotting fish. The sharp, damp scent was repugnant to him, yet a secret warmth arose within at the memory of a man with dark, quiet eyes.
Though sieged with barren emptiness by the amulets' magic, Trevelyan had shared with him a part of himself when he little left to give. He watched over Dorian, guarded him from harm, even long before he truly knew him.
It seemed like another lifetime, now.
In the distance, the outline of the Sundermount peak stood out clearly against the brilliant blue of the cloudless sky.
Courtesy of the ever-gracious Lady Josephine, Dorian had hitched a lift with the House Montilyet fleet departing from Minrathous, before transferring aboard one of the Kirkwall-bound ships at Antiva City.
The three-masted galleon had sailed through the calm waters of the Waking Sea, its hull full of the world’s finest coffee beans, rum, and sugar, as Dorian spent most of his time inside his private cabin, trying not to be overcome by nausea.
The nightly conversations with Trevelyan via the sending crystal helped some, but he could not deny the relief he felt to have solid ground under his feet once more.
Wharf-labourers began unloading the sacks and crates onto the quayside, lumbering down the narrow gangplanks with their heavy hauls. Warehousemen stood by their mule-drawn carts, barking out instructions as dockers stacked the goods in neat rows, later to be transported to storage buildings nearby.
Dorian paid for a porter to deliver his trunk to the Trevelyan estate. Shouldering his travelling sack, he made his way down the main thoroughfare to the lift station.
One of Varric’s first orders of business as Viscount was to commission the construction of a new lift that ascended along the western edge of the Vimmark Mountains. The gigantic water-powered hoist raised and lowered stone platforms, taking up to twenty people at a time.
Instead of clogging up the busy laneways of Lowtown, then hiking up flights after flights of winding stairs to reach Hightown, for a small fee, merchants and loaders could now transport their goods with ease directly to and from the docks.
As a result, commercial trade improved. There was a reduction in traffic congestion in Lowtown, which in turn led to fewer altercations in the streets.
With the renewed and expanded wharf, allowing larger ships to transit and unload on Kirkwall docks, the port city was flourishing once again.
The journey took approximately fifteen minutes, during which a billy goat butted against his leg, and another nibbled at his cloak. The vendor grinned apologetically at him, but did nothing to dissuade the animals.
By the time the lift came to a gentle halt at the top of the incline, his cloak, a beautiful garment made out of twilight-grey wool twill, was dark in patches with goat slobber. Marvellous. Now he’s going to smell like a walking farm for the rest of the day.
The Trevelyan Manor was located in the corner of the southwestern quadrant of Hightown. A three-storey house typical of early Orlesian architecture, with narrow vertical windows and steep curb roofs, it was a vivid reminder of the city’s colonial past.
Dorian rapped twice on the doorknocker, a heavy brass ring adorned with a bear’s head. An ostentatious thing, really, but it was apparently a gift from Varric.
You have to fake it ‘til you make it, he’d said to the then newly-minted Comte of Kirkwall. Nobles are a snobby bunch.
Dorian smiled kindly at the surprised servant who opened the dark oak door.
The elven youth promptly took his bag. “My Lord? But we thought – ”
“Yes, got here just a mite early,” he said as he undid his cloak where it was clasped at his throat. “Is the Comte here?”
He followed the sounds of shouts and clashing metal – down the main hallway, past the formal dining room and the adjourning parlour, and turned right into the inner garden.
The mansion was built around a private courtyard, cloistered on all four sides by stone walkways. Early afternoon sun drenched the quadrangle in golden light, and a breeze picked up the refreshing fragrance from flowering embrium and crystal grace.
A long stone bench stood at one side of the courtyard, where Gus and her nursemaid, Abbie, sat sharing a bowl of sticky dried figs. Her short legs dangled over the edge, swinging back and forth as they spectated the sparring between Kirkwall’s Guard Captain and her Comte.
“Keep your shield up in front of you! It’s there to guard your chest. Not your side!” Aveline shouted as she heaved her sword in wide arcs. “Fight that instinct of swinging both of your hands. You must keep your shield arm in position!”
Trevelyan warded the blows with his shield, a circular expanse of cast iron attached to his artificial hand, metal chiming.
After months of designing, tweaking and tinkering, Dagna built Trevelyan an improved prosthesis that could withstand the stressful impacts of melee combat. Made out of black obsidian, the artificial forearm was enchanted with defensive runes, and snugly secured to the elbow by a leather half-cuff and a shoulder harness.
The hieroglyphs glowed silver, only blurs of light and movement as Trevelyan parried forward, countering Aveline’s quick, powerful attacks with his longsword.
Dorian was no swordsman, but it was apparent even to him that Trevelyan had improved considerably since he last saw him five months ago. It must have been a painstaking effort to master a new discipline – transitioning from a two-handed weapon to a single-handed sword and shield.
Beads of perspiration flew from Trevelyan's brow with each and every swing, glittering like tiny jewels in the sunlight. The wet sheen of his bare chest tempted Dorian’s fingers, as did the muscles of his strong back rippling and coiling under crossed leather straps when his sword clashed against Aveline’s over and over again.
He was breathtakingly beautiful.
Then, Gus spotted him in his hiding place behind a shadowed pillar, her large brown eyes widening in happy recognition. Dorian quickly raised a finger to his lips, gesturing for her to remain quiet. She grinned, showing two missing front teeth, and nodded eagerly.
The warriors’ boots thumped against the paving stones. Trevelyan advanced with a forehand swing at Aveline, who parried the heavy strike with her sword, sending forth a burst of sparks.
Without stopping, Trevelyan spun on his heels, circling his blade and gaining momentum to deliver a powerful backhand strike. His longsword hissed through the air, but it was thwarted by Aveline’s round shield that rotated inward to block his blow. Metal connected in a resounding clang, then Aveline’s blade darted out from above the buckler, stopping only mere inches from Trevelyan’s face.
For several long seconds, they stood still, their breaths hard and heavy.
Finally, Aveline lowered her sword. “The shield isn’t just for defensive manoeuvres,” she said. “Not only can you use it as an offensive weapon, but also subterfuge to conceal where your blade will strike from.”
Trevelyan blew out a puff of air and grumbled, “I didn’t have to worry about that before. My two-handed greatsword wasn’t so easily blocked.”
A bubble of laughter escaped Dorian, startling Trevelyan. His gaze quickly darted to the direction of the sound, and gaped at him in shock as Dorian stepped into the light, shaking his head with a smirk.
“Tsk tsk. Is brute strength all you’re capable of, my lord Comte?”
He was rewarded with a smile so broad, so utterly unguarded, that it felt like a whole new world to luxuriate in.
The longsword was hastily returned to the rack in a terrible jangle. Trevelyan raced across the courtyard to him, laughing, and picked him off his feet with his free arm tight around his waist. Dorian let out a horrifically high-pitched squawk when he was twirled around in a full circle.
“You’re here,” Trevelyan said before claiming Dorian’s lips in a heady kiss. He tasted of salt, of earthy heat, of everything good and right in the world.
The warm hand on the small of Dorian’s back urged him closer as Trevelyan’s mouth opened over his, deepening the kiss, and it took all of Dorian’s willpower not to melt against him.
When they broke apart, slightly out of breath, Dorian gave a half-hearted push at Trevelyan’s chest.
“You’re sweaty and disgusting,” he said with a grimace.
Trevelyan laughed. “I love you too,” he replied, nuzzling his nose against Dorian’s. “I thought you weren’t due to arrive until next week.”
“We were blessed with favourable winds sailing out of Antiva City,” he said blithely. At Trevelyan’s knowing smile, Dorian pursed his lips, confessing, “And I left Minrathous a little earlier than planned.”
Trevelyan kissed him again, softly this time. “I’m glad you did.” He reached up, threaded his fingers through the short hair at Dorian’s nape. “And you cut your hair.”
“Ah, yes, I did,” he replied, suddenly bashful. “I was growing tired of the evil Magister look.”
“You look just as you did the first time I saw you,” Trevelyan said, brushing a thumb against his temple, now closely shorn once more.
Something in his eyes made Dorian’s heart lurch with awareness of him, of his nearness, of the hard heat of his body. Feeling his cheeks warm under the attention, Dorian turned away.
“All right, you lovebirds,” Aveline said, rolling her eyes good-naturedly as she returned her sword to its scabbard, “if we’re finished for the day then I’ll be off now. I’ll be seeing you tonight.”
Dorian blinked. “What’s tonight?”
“Supper at Varric’s,” Trevelyan said before a pair of small but very determined hands pushed at their legs, prying them apart.
“Dorian!” Gus bounced restlessly at their feet, giving him a gap-toothed grin. “Look! Look! The faeries took my teeth!”
Dorian shot a questioning glance at Trevelyan, who shrugged. “That’s what my mother told me when I lost mine.” He ruffled Gus’ hair, chuckling at the annoyed glower aimed up at him. “At least the faeries left you a whole sovereign. I’d only gotten only two lousy bits for my tooth back then.”
She giggled. “That means my teeth are better than yours!”
“It’s called inflation, Gus,” Trevelyan said. “I’ll tell you all about it before bed. That should knock you right out.”
Dorian laughed. “Nothing like a primer on basic economics to put a five-year-old to sleep.”
Gus threw her hands up. “Five and a half!” she corrected.
Trevelyan nodded in amusement. “That you are.” He gave Dorian a gentle peck on the lips. “Why don’t you head inside with Gus? I’ll be there in a moment.” He gestured to the metallic limb attached to the heavy shield. “This will take some time to…disarm.”
He grinned, and Gus made a noise of disgust, clearly familiar with her uncle's painfully unfunny jokes, until Trevelyan reached down to tickle her sides. Her squeals and laughs punctuated the beauty of a clear autumn’s day.
Dorian smiled. This was the sound of family; this was the sound of love. Somewhere deep within, he could almost hear a lonely young boy laughing along as well.
* * *
The stolid, imposing keep just off Hightown had served as the home to every sitting Viscount of Kirkwall, and the seat of government since the city gained its independence during the Blessed Age.
Dorian had only been inside once before – the last time he visited Kirkwall, Varric practically dragged him by the hand, insisting on giving him a full tour.
The informal breakfast room was on the main floor of the keep, much nearer to the kitchens than the grand dining hall. A welcoming space with warm timber, its walls were covered in velvets of wine and gold – the Free Marches colours – and a fire crackled merrily in the wide stone fireplace.
The old-oak carved table was laden with food: roast grouse dressed with wild mushrooms, a full leg of mutton, large game pies, thick cheeses, dark bread, and crocks of butter.
Varric sat at the head of the table, wearing a gold-trimmed maroon shirt that showed off more chest hair than was strictly appropriate. Aveline and her husband, Donnic, sitting across from Trevelyan and him, raised their glasses in a welcoming toast before tucking into their meal.
Life as the Viscount had treated Varric well – his hair was shorter and slightly greying at the temples, and if not for the perpetual twinkle of terrible mischief in his eyes, he’d almost look distinguished.
“So, Sparkler, you planning a permanent move down here yet?” Varric said after taking a long swig of ale from his glass goblet. “It’d save me a lot of trouble if Comte Trevelyan over there doesn’t run up north every couple of months.”
“I did recover those missing bushels of corn and beans in the end,” Trevelyan said, already finishing off his third helping of pie.
“Yeah,” Varric scoffed, “three months after I asked you to.”
Trevelyan popped a small square of hard cheese into his mouth, and smiled over at Dorian. “I was busy.”
Busy. That’s one way to put it, he supposed.
At their secluded villa along the coast of Carastes, they spent their days with Gus, playing games and laughing, catching fish in shallow waters, languishing in the very essence of idyllic living. Then, they made love all night, relearned old callouses and explored new scars, until they're both exhausted and fell asleep entangled in each other’s arms.
One week of domestic bliss, until duty pried them apart once more. It wasn’t ideal, this arrangement, but Dorian would take every crumb he’s offered, for as long as it lasted.
As though reading his mind, Trevelyan leaned close, tasting the rim of his ear. “I can’t wait to ravage you, repeatedly,” he whispered, “every inch of you until you’re boneless and wrecked beneath me.”
Hot breath tickled the base of his neck, lighting a kindling of heat. A familiar, yearning ache stirred low in Dorian’s belly.
He shuddered despite himself. “You are incorrigible.”
With an impish little grin, Trevelyan pressed a soft, lingering kiss over the beauty mark high on his cheekbone, before settling back properly in his seat.
If any of the others had noticed their private little tête-à-tête, none gave any indication, thank the Maker. He quickly took a large gulp of ale from his goblet to hide the burning in his cheeks.
“Too bad you didn’t make it here earlier,” Varric said when the conversation lulled. “You could have come to my birthday party last month at the Blooming Rose.”
“You can’t be serious,” Dorian said, grinning. “The Viscount’s birthday celebrations at Kirkwall’s finest brothel? How scandalous!”
Aveline chuckled. “You should have seen Seneschal Bran’s face when Varric made the announcement. I thought he’d pass out right in front of me!”
“Good party though,” Donnic added, “almost worth the horrid headache the next day.”
Dorian gave Trevelyan a sidelong glance. “Did you have a good time, my lord Comte?”
It would seem his amatus was far more interested in spreading more butter on a thick slice of bread.
“It was all right,” Trevelyan said casually before taking a hearty bite.
He did not wear his prosthetic to supper, the left sleeve of his white doublet neatly pinned up to elbow height, and he smeared the yellow grease one-handedly with a round-bladed knife, with rather impressive dexterity.
“Don’t worry, Sparkler. Your boy was on his best behaviour. Kept his hand to himself all night despite many interested parties.”
“Oh? Interested parties, you say?”
“Come on, look at him. Tall, handsome, noble-born and the former Inquisitor – he’s a great catch!” Varric winked at Trevelyan, who nearly choked on his food. “Isabela sends her regards, by the way.”
Dorian bristled at the thought. “Caught the eye of the Admiral, have you now?”
He’d read Tale of the Champion, of course – twice, in fact – and Varric certainly didn’t skimp on words describing the pirate’s irresistible feminine wiles and her rather considerable womanly assets.
“She’s very…friendly,” Trevelyan said cautiously, the tips of his ears pinking. “Spent all evening telling us stories of the raids across Ferelden and Orlais when she served as an Inquisition field agent.”
“She was definitely friendly when she invited you to ‘raid her ship’s hull’,” Donnic chortled, yelping when Aveline jabbed at his hand with a well-aimed fork.
The Guard Captain smiled genially at Trevelyan, ignoring her husband’s muttering sulk. “Have you told Dorian about that thing Sister Nightingale found yet?”
“Oh, not yet.” Trevelyan straightened in his seat, looking relieved at the change of subject. He turned to Dorian. “One of Solas’ agents attempted to smuggle an artefact out of Orlais some weeks ago. He was intercepted by Leliana’s people at the Nevarran border and died fighting to protect it. She was hoping you could take a look at it, seeing how Tevinter magic has elven roots. Perhaps you could tell us what Solas wanted with it.”
Dorian frowned. “Where is it now?”
“In my desk in the study.”
“Did he manage to find another orb?”
“No, this one is hollow. And it has little…” He made a vague gesture with his hand. “Round…nubs?”
Dorian tried not to laugh at his confusion. “Round nubs?”
“You’re the scholar,” Trevelyan said, his mouth drawing up to something so perilously close to a pout Dorian wanted to kiss it right off his face. “I just beat things until they stop moving.”
* * *
They walked home in the silver silence of the night. The streets of Hightown were empty, save for the occasional outline of a city guard patrolling the area.
Still, Dorian’s heart fluttered at the warmth of their linked hands, feeling the familiar callouses as Trevelyan’s thumb traced circles on the back of his hand. Such a simple act would have been unthinkable back home: the upper class of the Imperium scoffed at public displays of affection, deeming it a graceless expression only fitting for the ill-bred.
But here, now, under the waning crescent twin moons, in a town square enshrouded in still darkness, rank and titles had ceased to have much meaning or importance. They were just two lovers, walking hand-in-hand in the crisp night air, eager to return to the sanctity of their bed.
Soon, he found himself pressed against the bedchamber door, trapped between hard mahogany and a broad, solid chest, his world narrowing to Trevelyan’s mouth on his.
Tender, slow, searching – their lips moved in fluid motions, unhurried in their exploration, gaining in heat with each teasing bite to swollen lips, each hot pass of their tongues. Dorian surrendered to the exquisite hunger of Trevelyan’s mouth, claimed his breath as his own as the kiss grew and expanded.
His fingers found the collar of Trevelyan’s doublet, deftly undoing the row of brass buttons. He ran his hands over the expanse of Trevelyan’s bare chest, tracing the ridges of his abdomen, feeling the muscles shift beneath his palms.
Trevelyan exhaled a low, breathless laugh when Dorian went to his knees and took the leather ties of his breeches between his teeth. Trevelyan watched, breathing harder now, as Dorian skilfully tugged at the cords with his mouth until they gave way and the fabric slid apart, exposing his prize.
Thick and hard and pulsing with heat, Trevelyan’s cock twitched against his stomach in anticipation. Dorian licked his lips, the scent of Trevelyan’s arousal flooding his senses – the need to taste, to please, to feel the throbbing weight heavy on his tongue.
Looking up through his lashes at Trevelyan, Dorian mouthed along the smooth length before closing his lips around the flushed head. He swirled his tongue around the velvety crown, savouring the salty dew that gathered there and was rewarded with a deep rumble that rolled from Trevelyan’s chest.
Strong fingers wove into Dorian’s hair, grasping it to a delicious pain. Dorian took Trevelyan deeper into his throat, hollowed his cheeks with each pull, lips sliding up and down the thick shaft with deliberate slowness.
“Stop,” Trevelyan panted, tugging his hair. “Come back up here and kiss me.”
With one last swipe with his tongue, Dorian released him with a wet pop that made Trevelyan groan anew.
Trevelyan reached for him, pulling him up. Their lips crashed together once more, ravenous and claiming, desperate hands ripping at clothes that were left crumpled where they fell.
Trevelyan caressed the line of Dorian’s jaw, down the column of his throat to touch the small gold ring he wore on a delicate chain around his neck. A promise from a mother to her son. A favour from a man to his lover.
Trevelyan gazed at the diamonds glittering against the centre of his chest, his eyes gleamed with something Dorian couldn’t name.
“I love you,” he whispered with a soft smile, and took Dorian’s mouth in another drugging kiss.
The plush mattress of the mahogany bed dipped beneath his weight as he climbed in, pushing himself up onto his hands and knees. Dorian’s blood thrummed in his veins – the cool silk sheets did little to soothe his passion-flushed skin.
The first warm touch of Trevelyan’s breath against his entrance had him sinking down onto his elbows, a cracked moan upon his lips. Trevelyan licked and lapped at his hole, circling the sensitive flesh with the tip of his tongue before delving within.
Pleasure crashed through him, raising gooseflesh on his skin – the wet heat of Trevelyan’s mouth was equal parts torment and bliss. Hands fisted tightly in the sheets, Dorian felt himself quiver around that clever tongue.
He pushed back, writhing. “Amatus…please…” His cock swayed heavily between his thighs, its tip leaking wanton strips of precum.
Trevelyan hummed against aroused skin, running his tongue along the relaxed rim one last time before pulling back. Rough fingertips traced over Dorian’s aching hole, spreading the wetness there.
“I love the way you taste,” Trevelyan murmured, “but not more than the way you sound when I do…this.”
He eased a finger inside him, and Dorian let out a soft moan, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Kaffas…” he cursed breathlessly into the sheets as Trevelyan worked his finger and mouth in tandem, before pushing another finger into him.
Dorian’s whine melted into a helpless sound of want when Trevelyan curled his fingers to find that hidden spot within him. Pressing soft kisses to the smooth skin of his arse, Trevelyan moved his fingers steadily in and out of Dorian, a maddening rhythm that mimicked what was to come.
The first breach of his body was always an exquisite burn.
Dorian whimpered, hovering in a haze of distended pleasure as Trevelyan guided himself to his entrance, slick with ambrosia-scented oil, and sank into him slowly. The stretch, the fullness, the intense heat of Trevelyan’s length – Dorian could only shudder as his body opened up to his lover once more.
After so many months, they were one again.
Trevelyan’s one hand reached for the curve of Dorian’s waist, fingers stroking the bone of his hip, and held him steady as he began moving. Slow at first, excruciatingly so, letting Dorian adjust to the intrusion before quickening his pace.
Trevelyan loomed over him, the press of his chest warm against Dorian’s back as he drove into him. Leaning down, Trevelyan traced his tongue across Dorian’s back, trailing wet, open-mouthed kisses as if drawing invisible maps upon his skin.
“I’ve missed you,” Trevelyan whispered, the words hot against the sweat-damp skin, groaning when Dorian clenched around him. “Maker… Dorian, you’re so tight.”
Dorian rocked back into Trevelyan, wanting more, needing more. “Amatus,” he gasped, arching his spine in a shimmer of pleasure. “Harder…I need it harder, please…”
Trevelyan pulled him up, flush against him. His right hand passed across Dorian’s chest to cradle the column of his throat, tilting his head to the side to suck a bruise into the tender skin of his neck.
The smooth stub of Trevelyan’s left elbow held him close as he snapped his hips forward in quick, hard strokes. He plunged into Dorian with fervent need, deep and forceful. The briny smell of sweat and sex, and the wet staccato of their flesh colliding and parting, sent Dorian spiralling higher and higher.
Stars danced in Dorian’s vision, the sweet friction against the sensitive cluster of nerves within drawing senseless gasps and whimpers from his lips.
Dorian, he heard Trevelyan call. He blinked at the sound of his name, trying to focus. He angled his head so their mouths met again. Soft, erotic glide of their tongues and lips in long, lush kisses.
Trevelyan made a noise of assent, low in his throat, his arms tightened around Dorian, bringing him closer.
Dark eyes burned into his when Dorian drew back. Banked and hidden for so long, the fevered joy blatant on Trevelyan’s face chased a flood of heat up Dorian’s throat.
Inquisitor. Comte. Amatus. His.
Dorian’s body tensed. He reached down to pump his own cock. “I’m- ughnn…amatus, please…I’m so close.” His voice came out in a rush of breathlessness, mouth falling open as Trevelyan slammed into him harder, with lost abandon.
A stinging bite on his neck, then a soothing tongue. “Come for me, then.”
Dorian cried out in delirious pleasure as he was pushed over the glorious edge and into sweet oblivion. His body shook, tightening around Trevelyan as he spilled messily over his fist.
It didn’t take long before Trevelyan followed him into the bliss of release. With one final, hard thrust, Trevelyan stilled with a shudder, groaning into Dorian’s neck as his cock pulsed to fill the gripping heat with his seed.
Passion-swollen lips slowed to lazy, lingering kisses. They sank underneath the golden waves of afterglow, hearts beating in unison.
Finally, Trevelyan withdrew gently and rolled off onto his side.
“Now you’re sweaty and disgusting too,” he laughed softly, brushing away sodden strands of hair plastered to Dorian’s forehead.
Dorian harrumphed, but his retort faded into a sigh when Trevelyan kissed him again. This time, it was gentle, soft-lipped.
Trevelyan’s thumb trailed across Dorian’s brow, down to the corner of his eye, stroking the soft skin there.
“Oh no,” Dorian frowned, “I don’t have a new wrinkle there, do I?”
A throaty laugh. “Hardly. How many virgins do you sacrifice a week?”
“No blood magic involved, I assure you. I simply inherited my mother’s youthful complexion. Though I dread the day when I look into a mirror and see a shrivelled-up raisin.”
“And I’d still find you just as lovely.”
Dorian gave him a wry smile. “Really? I thought you hated raisins.”
“I do,” Trevelyan said, placing a quick peck on his nose, “but you’re my raisin.”
The surge of warmth, centred in his heart, was a lovely thing.
Trevelyan ran a finger along the shell of his ear, touching the line of jewelled studs and earrings. Dorian’s spine tingled.
“Hmm, that’s a new one.” The slightly rough pad of a thumb grazed his earlobe, where a small golden snake nestled, emerald-eyed and frozen in mid-slither.
“You know how it is in Tevinter. Bedazzle friends and enemies alike with fancy clothes and garish baubles, lower their defenses with shiny things.” He nuzzled into Trevelyan’s hand, smiling. “It worked with you.”
Trevelyan wrinkled his nose. “That’s not true. I wasn’t fooled by all that.”
Magisters did not giggle, not as a rule, but Dorian was too jelly-limbed and sated to care. “Course you weren’t. Obviously, I’d ensnared the Lord Inquisitor with my captivating charm and disarming cleverness.”
“There’s that, and your perfect teeth and hair.”
Dorian ran a hand through the sweat-curled locks. “Less perfect, now.”
“I can't imagine anything more perfect,” Trevelyan said, fingers tracing the reddening marks on his throat. There was renewed heat in his eyes. “Just as you are, like this.”
Dorian bit his lip, arched his neck into his touch. “You’re insatiable. Savage.”
Trevelyan hummed with a glint in his eyes. “I’m a savage, all right.” He looked thoughtful for a moment, then asked, “Does it hurt? Piercing your ear?”
“Not terribly. Why? Would you like me to pierce yours?” Dorian laughed, then Trevelyan push himself off the bed. “Wait – you’re serious?”
Pulling on his sleeping braies, Trevelyan hopped on one foot as he headed for the door. “I am. What do you need?”
“If you’re certain about it: an embroidery needle and a cork.”
Several minutes later, Trevelyan returned to the bed with the requested items, along with a few damp washcloths.
Dorian cleaned himself up with one, and with another, wiped down a simple golden hoop he’d removed from the top of his ear.
After giving Trevelyan’s right earlobe a thorough rub with the cloth, Dorian took the soft flesh between his fingers.
“This will be slightly cold,” he said, and summoned a weak burst of ice magic to his fingertips.
Trevelyan shivered at the sudden chill. Dorian smiled and leaned in to kiss him, tracing his tongue along the seam of Trevelyan’s lips before slipping it inside the warm mouth.
The kiss stretched on, soft and yielding as he held onto Trevelyan’s lobe. And Dorian would have happily kissed that sweet, seeking mouth until the sun touched the horizon, if not for fear of Trevelyan’s ear dropping off from frostbite.
Dorian rose to his knees when they broke off, feeling slightly breathless. He placed the cork behind Trevelyan’s icy earlobe and with a minor fire spell, heated the tip of the embroidery needle.
“Just a little prick.”
Trevelyan wiggled his brows, nudging his growing hardness against Dorian’s thigh. “Not that little. Kiss me a little more and you’ll see.”
Dorian shot him a withering look, but it was broken by a smile. “Sit still or this will hurt. Are you ready?”
Trevelyan’s face scrunched up, eyes squeezed tightly shut. “Mmm-hmm.”
Vanquisher of the Darkspawn Magister, saviour of Southern Thedas, slayer of Hakkon Wintersbreath, bracing himself for the imminent jab of a small needle like a child.
Really, this giant of a man had no business being so utterly adorable, and yet here they were.
The fingers on his waist dug in a little as Dorian plunged the needle through the lobe and into the cork in one swift motion. He pushed the earring through the fresh piercing before even a drop of blood was spilt, and sealed the wound shut around it with healing magic.
“There. All finished.” The gilt of the earring shone warmly against Trevelyan’s bronze skin. A gold ring for a gold ring. It seemed only fair.
“How do I look?”
Dorian passed him a shaving mirror. “All you need is a hook hand, then your pirate transformation is complete. Perhaps Admiral Isabela would even take you into her crew.” He flicked at Trevelyan’s shoulder. “Clearly she wants you to raid her ship. Hoist her sails. Sing together a sea-shanty duet.”
“I see somebody’s been reading Varric’s stories.” Again, that playful little smile. “You’re not jealous, are you?”
“Me? Jealous? Perish the thought. As if you’d run off gallivanting with a woman who makes a living on the water.”
“That does put a damper on the whole thing, yes.”
“Besides,” Dorian extended his arms into a long, languid stretch across the burgundy silk, turning over onto his stomach, “you have yours truly right here in your bed.”
That got Trevelyan’s attention. He finally stopped admiring his new earring and put down the mirror.
His mouth came down on Dorian’s. “And pirates do love their treasures.”
Dorian smiled into the kiss. “I’ll bring you a parrot from Minrathous next time.”
“Yarr, matey, a trusty parrot be just what I be needin’,” Trevelyan said, making him laugh. His hand wandered once more, skimming down the smooth line of Dorian’s back to grip his arse, gently pulling aside the globe of flesh to make way for his fingers.
“But first,” he said against Dorian’s parting lips, “let me go back t’ enjoyin’ me booty some more.”
* * *
The sky was still dark and star-splattered when Dorian awoke.
The heated press of Trevelyan’s body against his back brought a sleepy smile to his face. Entrapped by the one long leg tucked between his, and the nose that burrowed into his hair, he was loath to leave the warm comfort of Trevelyan’s arms.
But he needed to use the privy, and after yet another round of ardent lovemaking, he could really do with a quick wash.
His body was wonderfully sore – in places it hadn’t been in quite some time – as he extracted himself carefully from the tangle of blankets and limbs. Trevelyan mumbled something incoherent, and rolled forward to bury his face into his pillow.
A swell of affection bloomed in Dorian’s chest, pushed against his ribs. He drew on a grey wool dressing gown, and pressed a gentle kiss on Trevelyan’s hair before leaving the bedroom.
The stone-tiled bathing chamber glinted under the magelight as Dorian refreshed himself at the washbasin, with a soft sponge and the sandalwood soap Trevelyan was so fond of. The deep, woody scent filled the mild night air, clearing the fog of sleep from his mind.
He towelled himself dry and slipped back into his dressing gown before making his way into the corridor.
It wouldn’t be long before daybreak, but thin moonlight still touched the narrow windows in a pale and pearly glow. The small ball of magelight bobbed along ahead of him, lighting his way.
The lure of climbing back into bed with Trevelyan was enticing, waking him up with kisses as he rose for his morning meditation. But curiosity pecked at Dorian like a hungry vulture, insistent.
Instead of returning to the bedchamber, he found himself following the luminous globe down the grand staircase, past the inner parlour and into Trevelyan’s study.
An ancient relic the Dread Wolf’s agent guarded with his life could yield vital clues to what Solas’ next step was. If they’d come upon another somnaborium, a foci with which to access the Fade at will, perhaps he could unlock its secrets and, in time, even learn to wield it.
Trevelyan’s stately desk, recovered from his Skyhold quarters, sat in front of a wall bearing a beautifully woven tapestry of his crest. Blotting paper and several books piled neatly in a stack next to an oil lamp, the feathered edge of a quill protruded from a brass inkwell.
Retrieving the key hidden in a hollowed-out copy of Swords and Shields on the bookshelves, Dorian went behind the desk to open the locked drawer.
And there it was, wrapped in layers of cloth. He picked up the artefact, turning it over in his hands and tracing the delicate markings with his fingers.
In shape, it was an intricately-designed dodecahedron – a twelve-sided hollow prism the size of a small apple, each face punctured with a circular hole of varying diameter in the centre.
There were spherical knops on each corner – the ‘round nubs’ Trevelyan was referring to – and appeared to be made of a mixed metal alloy of some kind.
Dorian had seen fragments of such devices once before – he’d stumbled upon sketches of such archaeological finds in the restricted section of the Magisterium’s archives, the rare volume nearly falling apart from age.
No one knew exactly what these fragments were: the book seemed to suggest they were parts of an ancient surveying instrument, or perhaps a religious artefact predating the fall of Elvhenan.
Extraordinary. He was holding, in his very hands, what could be the first fully-restored model of a device left by a long forgotten empire, at the height of their civilisation.
What did Solas want with this? Just what powers could this small object unleash if awakened in his hands? Whatever it was, surely it had something to do with his diabolical plans of tearing down the Veil –
A distorted susurration of voices hummed around him, faint, as though far away.
Hair stood on the back of Dorian’s neck as a rush of arcane energy flowed through the artefact, and the hollowed centre flared with green flames.
Like a thousand indistinct voices speaking at once in an echoing chamber, the murmurs grew louder and louder. A knot of panic rose in his throat when he tried to drop the artefact, but the knops of the dodecahedron were firmly fastened to his hands, bound to his skin by the blazing arcane fire.
Tendrils of magic slithered under his dressing gown and touched his skin like cold, wet fingers. A plethora of colours leaked from the circular holes of the artefact, like glistening waterfalls, as its power continued to swell.
Dorian staggered back; the surge of crackling energy crashing into him like waves, over and over, too much for one man to contain. He felt his eyeballs would explode from their sockets.
A stab of harsh, blinding light – and then, darkness.
He thought he heard himself screaming Trevelyan’s name, but if he had, the sound was drowned out by the tide of magical energy that engulfed him.
* * *
The painful pounding in his head dragged Dorian back to consciousness. A narrow shard of sunlight stole through the windows, pressing on his eyelids. He felt ill; his stomach was churning and his head spinning. And why was it so bloody cold?
He nestled his face deeper into the pillow and pulled the blanket over his head against the bone-numbing chill.
Just as he drifted off to sleep, a sharp knock at the door jolted him awake.
“My Lord Dorian? The council has already begun. The Inquisitor and the advisors are waiting in the War Room.”
Dorian’s eyes flew open with a start. Advisors? The War Room?
Despite the throbbing in his head, he took in his surroundings – an overfilled bookshelf against one wall, a small desk littered with books and papers, and an upholstered chair in one corner, against which leaned a well-worn staff.
Vishante kaffas. He was back in his room. At Skyhold.
“Lord Dorian?” the voice called again.
“Yes, yes, give me a moment.”
Dorian rolled out of bed, looking around to find his leather armour in a jumbled pile by the desk.
Right – this old thing.
He threw off his dressing gown and stepped into the outfit, taking a deep breath before giving the belts a sturdy tug one at a time. Kaffas. What was he thinking with all the straps and buckles! And he’d nearly forgotten how cumbersome it was to tie these cords over his shoulder.
At least the armour still fit after all this time. Thank goodness for small favours.
He flung open the door to find himself facing a startled runner. “What year is it?”
“M- my lord?”
“What year is it?” Dorian repeated, with more force this time.
“It’s, uh, 9:41 Dragon, ser.”
“Marvellous,” he muttered under his breath. “Bloody marvellous.”
He spent the better part of the walk to the War Room formulating in his head, how best to explain to Trevelyan his current predicaments. It would be a particularly precarious discussion, one that he’d rather have in private with the Lord Inquisitor.
But the thought of seeing Trevelyan, still bound by magical amulets – a detached, stoic man who hadn’t yet softened toward him – brought an unexpected pang to Dorian’s chest.
He quickly pushed those feelings aside.
This was a simple mishap, he’d tell Trevelyan. Time magic was his forte. He’d find his way back soon enough. Nothing to worry about.
The massive doors opened with a tremourous groan, and the Inquisitor straightened up from the map spread across the war table.
Dorian felt his skin crawl, his stomach turning again. It couldn’t be, could it?
“It’s unlike you to be late, Dorian,” the woman with brown hair said, her brows knitting together. “Are you all right?”
No. He hadn’t gone back in time. He’d been pushed into another timeline altogether.