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Legacy of Dorian Pavus

Chapter Text

Lord Trevelyan

At first, all I was aware of was a dull, throbbing pain coming from the centre of my left hand. I struggled to open my eyes with great effort as I began to sense other things. The smell of cold, damp stone, the cloying smell of oil-soaked torches and a chill cool breeze grazed my cheek.

Voices reached my ears, but I couldn't make out what was being said. Pulled roughly to my feet, two armed guards dragged me from the rough cot I lay in, my hands bound with chain. Unable to resist, I sank to my knees as they dropped me to the floor. I blinked in the flickering light of the torches to get my bearings.

A formidable woman entered the room, dressed in full armour, her face contorted with anger. I could make out a faded scar on her left cheek. Her hair was black and cut short to emphasize the steel in her eyes. She was followed by a second woman whose face was obscured by the long, hooded cloak she wore.

“Tell me why I shouldn't just kill you now!” The first woman spat. “Everyone is dead! All the people who attended the Conclave died in the explosion. Except you!”

“What are you talking about?” I managed to retort, unable to make sense of her words.

“The Conclave.” She snapped. “Divine Justinia was trying to put an end to the conflict between the mages and Templars. And now she is dead. What happened? How is it you are the only one to emerge from this unscathed?”

“I don't remember.” I stammered. “What happened?”

“Perhaps I should just kill you then. You are wasting my time while the world is in peril.”

“No Cassandra.” The second woman said, her voice calm. “We need him.”

Straightening, Cassandra turned to her. “Leliana, go to the forward camp and check our forces. I will bring him there.”

Leliana left without a word as Cassandra turned back to face me and removed the restraints at my wrists.

“Will someone please tell me what's going on?” I demanded, still confused. I couldn't remember how I'd got here or even where here was. Who were these people?”

“It will be easier if I show you” Cassandra answered, leading me outside.

I looked up as we left the building, shielding my eyes against the daylight and gasped at what I saw there. A giant, swirling circle of green light filled the sky, while seemingly pouring green light down towards the earth below.

“What is that?” I exclaimed.

“We call it the breach.” Cassandra said, her eyes suspicious. “After the explosion destroyed the Temple of Sacred Ashes, this is what took it's place. It is a portal to the Fade and it is allowing demons to pour out of it. We don't know how to stop it.”

“But how did this happen?”

She gave me a curious look, making it clear she doubted my ignorance on the matter.

“We don't know. A spell gone wrong perhaps. We were hoping that you could tell us since you are the only survivor we know of. Witnesses saw you fall out of the Fade, and fall unconscious with that mark upon your hand.”

“Unconscious? How long have I been out?”

“Three days.” She said, leading me across a bridge and up a path leading to the forward camp and closer to the breach. “And it continues to get bigger with each passing hour.”

“And you think I did this? Or that I can somehow fix the giant hole in the sky?”

“I don't know.” She snapped, increasing her pace. “But we have to try. The longer we wait, the more demons appear. If we don't find a solution soon, all of Thedas will be threatened.”

A crackle of energy burst in the sky like a thunderclap which echoed into my left hand. The pain lanced through the mark and raced up my arm, bringing me to my knees. Cassandra's eyes softened as she helped me back to my feet. “As I said. You are our only lead and that mark connects you to the breach. We have to try something before it kills you.”

“Kills me?” I still couldn't make sense of anything that was happening. My memory seemed disjointed and I felt there was a lot missing.

“Come on. We're almost there.” She said before crying, “Demons! Quickly, before they see us. Stay behind me.”

I looked on as she slashed at a sloth demon before noticing a pile of abandoned weapons close to where I was standing. Grabbing up two daggers, I went after a second demon which was trying to flank her. When the way forward was clear, she turned to me, her weapon aimed at my heart.

“Drop your weapons now!”

“No!”

“Give me one good reason why not.”

“Because it's my life on the line. If you're going to take me through demon hordes, I want to be able to protect myself.”

“You are right.” She agreed, sheathing her sword. “I can't protect you from every threat. And I should remember that you didn't try to run.”

We continued on, cresting a hill to see several armed guards battling another group of demons below us. They were standing underneath what appeared to be a smaller version which was less than a dozen feet above ground.

“Quickly!” Cassandra cried. “We must help them!”

As the last demon fell to our attack a thin, bald elven man saw me, grabbed my left hand and raised it to point it at the green light above us, which to my mind looked like a rip or rift given it's smaller size. A sensation of pulling ran through me as energy passed through my palm to connect with the rift above us. I gasped, the feeling somewhere between pain and exhilaration. With a deep bang, the rift closed and I snatched my arm back from the elf's grip.

“As I suspected.” He said, nodding at me. “You possess the unique ability to close these rifts by using the mark upon your hand.”

“Who are you?” I demanded, put off by his presumptive attitude.

“Forgive me. I am called Solas. At your service.”

“He is an apostate.” Cassandra corrected.

“Technically all mages are now apostates Seeker.” He retorted. “With the Circles fallen and the Templars abandoning their duty, all is chaos.”

A dwarf steeped up behind me as he was shouldering a strange-looking crossbow. “Allow me to introduce myself.” He said, his blue eyes and clean-shaven face alight with interest. “My name is Varric Tethras. Adventurer, merchant and occasional story-teller.”

“Nice crossbow.” I said, admiring it.

“You mean Bianca?” Yeah she's seen me through some harrowing adventures over the years.”

“You named your crossbow?”

“Of course.” He replied, a wide grin on his face. “She's one of a kind.”

“What are you doing here Varric?” Cassandra demanded. “You are no longer a prisoner. You are free to leave.”

“Have you not seen the giant hole in the sky Seeker? Something tells me you're going to need my help.”

“Very well.” She snapped, turning away. “Just see that you make yourself useful. We need to reach the breach before it gets worse.”

“Right behind you Seeker.”

I followed behind the three of them, lost in thought as we made our way down to the other side of the mountain. The explosion had destroyed the Temple and created large crater on the other side. I said nothing as we walked, still trying to remember anything that would explain how I'd gotten here. I listened as the others discussed the breach and theorized what might be responsible. None of them knew anything though, it was all just guesses and speculation. Yet when we passed several large red pillars of what looked like stalactites, Varric hissed.

“Red lyrium.” He said in a low voice.

“I can see that Varric.” Cassandra snapped. “What about it?”

“So what's it doing here? And why is it above ground?”

“Another question to which we need answers.”

“Fine. But whatever you do, don't go near it. Dangerous stuff.”

I looked up at the giant green tear in the sky as we reached the base of it. It was massive and these people believed I could fix it? I listened as Solas explained his theory and with no other suggestions to choose from, we went with his plan.

After I opened the rift using the mark and fighting several large demons, I set to work sealing it permanently. Due to it's sheer size, a single attempt wasn't enough, but I could sense the tear weaken after each attempt. I still didn't know how I knew when it was ready for me, but I did. I could feel the breach grow weaker with each burst of power from my hand, even as it both weakened and strengthened me.

With a final push of power, I raised my left arm to seal the breach, and with a burst of power, it snapped closed. The energy recoiled, slamming into my chest and knocking me flat on my back on the ground. I struggled to sit up but couldn't as a wave of black engulfed me and I passed out.



 

Chapter Text

Your Worship

I woke to the sound of shuffling feet and the soft click of a door closing. Sitting up, I startled a young elven girl who dropped the package she carried and fell to her knees in fear.

“Oh!” She cried. “I”m so sorry mi-lord. I didn't mean to disturb you!”

“Calm yourself.” I said, swinging my legs over the side of the bed. “Where am I?”

“We're in Haven Your Worship.” She said, her head bowed. “The people are talking about how you sealed the hole in the sky and saved us all.”

“You mean they're pleased with me?” I asked, still confused by the “worship” business.

“Of course Your Worship! Very pleased! Seeker Pentaghast wanted to see you as soon as you woke.” She said, scrambling to her feet and backing out the door. “At once, she said. At once!”

That said, she was gone, leaving me staring at a the closed door. I took in my surroundings to find I was in a small cabin, alone and unguarded. Outside, I could hear voices in low conversation, the smell of wood burning fires and the crisp cold air of a snow-covered landscape.

I assumed by the girls' reaction that I had indeed fixed the breath and with that thought, some of my memory returned. I remembered now that I had been ordered to attend the Conclave by my father. He had been frustrated by my lack of compliance with his wishes and hoped I would find my obedience in the company of the Chantry clerics. Unwilling to argue the matter further, I had agreed only to give myself time to think. I had no intention of joining the Chantry to become a brother of the faith, nor did I wish to become a Templar.

My personal interests lay elsewhere and neither path would allow me the freedom to live as I hoped. I knew that defying my father meant I would be disowned, but i didn't care. I had read the Tale of the Champion and though many events in her life had been heart-breaking, she had built herself a life from nothing. She hadn't joined the Templars or the Chantry, she hadn't even had a proper job. Yet she had still managed to earn the admiration and respect of the people of Kirkwall, defeated a Qunari Arishok and defended the Circle mages from a Templar Knight-Commander gone mad.

Shaking myself, I got to my feet and left the cabin. As the people gathered turned to stare at me, the armed guards stood at attention as I passed, bowing their head in respect. Well that was something new, I thought as I made my way to the Chantry building. These people respected me. Perhaps I would be given the opportunity to choose my own path after all.

----xxx----

Inside the Chantry, I headed for the room at the far end of the vast chamber where I could hear voices raised in anger as I approached.

“Guards!” Barked a man as I entered the room. He was dressed in Chantry robes and was livid to see me enter the room without out permission. “Chain this man! I want him taken immediately to Val Royeaux for trial.”

“Belay that order!” Cassandra barked. “And leave us.”

Wordlessly, the guards bowed and closed the door behind them as they left.

“You are taking a serious risk Seeker.” The man growled. “This man is responsible for the death of the Most Holy and everyone in attendance.”

“So I'm still a suspect then?” I asked, incredulous.

“You most certainly are!” The man snapped.

“No he is not.” Cassandra retorted. “We all heard the echo of what happened at the Conclave. There was a woman, possibly Justinia and a third party we could not identify. This man is not responsible for what happened.”

“Yes.” Leliana agreed. “A third party. Which means we have other suspects to investigate.”

“You can't possibly think I had anything to do with this!” He spluttered.

“Until we know more, everyone is a suspect.” Leliana retorted.

His face flushing crimson, he stormed from the room, slamming shut the door as he left.

“So now you don't think I'm responsible?”

“No. You were there, but after hearing what we did, it is clear someone else was in the room at the time. I have decided to invoke the power of the Inquisition. It is an order created by the Divine, to be used in times of great need. The major rift has been sealed, but the breach remains. We must work together to find answers and restore order to all of Thedas.”

“What about the Chantry? Shouldn't they be doing something about this?”

“The Chantry is in chaos. There is no one left among them of any significant rank suitable enough to take the place of the Divine and lead them in these troubled times. As for the mages and the Templars, they are leaderless and are fighting each other. It will take a concerted effort on a large scale to restore order.”

“And you think we can do that?” I asked.

“Leliana and I served as Justinia's Left and Right hands. It is my right and duty to do this and see that order is restored.”

“That's all well and good.” Said a pale, yet attractive blonde man who entered the room. “But to do that we need resources, people and supplies. It won't be easy recruiting them to our cause.”

“We can speak with Mother Giselle.” Leliana said. “She is in the Hinterlands helping refugees and has sent word she would like to speak with the Herald.”

“Herald?” I echoed.

“Yes. When you first fell out of the Fade, the soldiers saw a woman standing behind you. Now that you've sealed the Breach, you have become their saviour. They are calling you the Herald of Andraste.”

“But I'm not a Herald of anything!” I protested.

“Whether or not you agree, the people believe and that is enough for now, is it not?”

“Leliana, give the poor man time to breathe.” Admonished a well-dressed woman with dark features and even darker hair. “Allow me to introduce myself.” She said, turned to me. “My name is Josephine Montilyet. The man in the strange feathered armour is our dear Commander Cullen. I am a diplomat and scholar. I will be assisting you with various tasks, most of which concern forging alliances and gaining support for our cause.”

“Pleased to meet you my lady.” I replied, inclining my head.

“Likewise.” She said with a smile.

“That reminds me.” Cassandra interrupted. “Who are you? Do you remember anything at all?”

I nodded. “I remember everything prior to arriving at the Temple, but nothing after that. My name is Nathaniel Trevelyan. I was sent to the Conclave on the order of my father. I remember arriving at the Temple and then nothing until I woke in my cell in Haven when you joined me.”

“So we know nothing.” Cassandra huffed.

“We know his name.” Josephine corrected. “I can send inquiries to your family to find out more my lord. With your permission, of course.”

“I would appreciate that Lady Josephine.”

“Very well.” She said, heading for the door. “I shall get to work then.”

“With that settled, you should go meet with Mother Giselle and speak with a Master Dennit in the Hinterlands. I have word that he has horses he might be willing to donate to our cause.”

“Assuming you wish to help.” Cassandra interjected.

“Do I have a choice?” I retorted. “It appears that I am the only one here capable of sealing these rifts. If I were to leave, what would happen?”

“Only those here or who were present at the Conclave are aware of your success. Others in Thedas still believe you are responsible for the death of Divine Justinia. You would not be safe.”

“So a mutually beneficial partnership then.” I concluded, smiling at her. “The Inquisition protects me from being lynched and I help you seal the rifts.”

Leliana smiled while both Cullen and Cassandra frowned at me.

“Does that mean you're staying then?” Cassandra asked.

“Of course I'm staying.”

“Good.” She nodded. “We've received reports of hundreds of these smaller rifts appearing all across Thedas. I suggest you get started right away if we wish to make any progress restoring order..”

“Very well. The Hinterlands then?”

“Yes. But first, speak with Varric and Solas. You should know more about the people who will be working with you in the field. Com to me when you are ready and we will head out.”

I nodded and left the room, my head still spinning with everything that had happened. Herald of Andraste? Even saying it in my head made me cringe. I was no Herald. From what everyone had said so far, I either had good luck for surviving the explosion or the worst timing ever and had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As I crossed the courtyard, those in the village turned to stare as I passed. I spoke to a woman who needed resources for weapons. She had very strong opinions on the events at Ostagar, believing that Loghain Mac Tir was an honourable man. I was incensed by her words and told her that Loghain was a traitor to his King and the Grey Wardens.

She clamped her mouth shut at that and asked I forget she'd said anything. I scowled but made no reply as I walked away. Not bloody likely, I thought angrily, but kept it to myself.

I spoke briefly with Leliana and consoled her over the loss of the Divine who had clearly been a dear and valued friend to her. It was apparent her heart was broken, yet she seemed embarrassed by her display of weakness and brushed aside my sympathy.

After touring the rest of the small village, I found Solas, finding him standing outside the alchemist's building. He was reflective and very pleased that his theory on how to close the breach had been a success.

“It seems you've taken a great risk coming here.” I noted.

“Why? Because I'm a mage? Or because I am elven?”

“Both.”

“The breach threatens us all.” He reminded me. “If I did not stay and try to help I would only be sealing my own fate.”

“I suppose. But it is fixed now, why remain?”

“The immediate danger has passed, but the breach remains. We must find a way to seal it permanently or we are all doomed.”

“In that case, I thank you for staying Solas.”

“Thank you. It is rare to find such acceptance from a stranger, especially one that is human.”

Was that an insult? I wasn't certain, but his words were not meant to reassure. I let it slide though. I had no desire to be his enemy even if I didn't yet trust his reasons for being here.

“I have no issue with mages or elves Solas.” I countered.

“Forgive me. That was a little insulting. No matter. I am certain you have other, more important things that deserve your attention. I will be here if you wish to speak later.”

“Very well.” I nodded, taking my leave and heading for the small tavern nearby.

 

Chapter Text

Herald of Andraste

The air here was crisp and cold, but not yet freezing. Winter had yet to settle over the land, but it was coming. My hands were chilled and I wished to warm them by a fire before I continued my exploration of the area. Heads turned and conversation stilled as I entered and made for the bar. A bard began to sing, filling the silence my entrance had prompted and conversation slowly returned.

The woman behind the bar smiled at me in greeting and asked if I needed anything. I ordered a hot rum to chase away the chill, but she refused my coin when I tried to pay for it.

“I can't take that mi-lord.” She protested. “You saved us by sealing the hole in the sky.”

“Surely you can't refuse coin out here?”

“Only yours, Your Grace.” She replied nervously. “Your coin is no good here. I won't profit from the chosen of Andraste, real or no.”

“Have it your way then.” I said, pocketing my silver. “If you won't take my money, perhaps you would give me your name?”

“But of course Your Worship. I am Flissa. Lady Nightingale asked me to come here to run this tavern. I had nowhere else to go, so I accepted.”

“Do you want to be here?”

“As things stand mi-lord, I can think of no place safer at the moment.”

“I see your point. Very well, I shall leave you to your work. Thank you for the drink.”

“Anytime Your Worship.”

I cringed at the title as I left the title, catching sight of Varric as I stepped back outside.

“There you are.” He said as I approached. “So tell me. Now that Cassandra isn't glued to your side, how are you feeling?”

“Confused.” I admitted. “I still think this is all just a dream. Or a really bad joke.”

“I know the feeling.”

“So what's your story Varric? Why are you here?”

“Technically I was a prisoner like you when I first arrived. I was in Kirkwall when the Circle fell. Cassandra thought I should tell my story to the Divine in person. Lucky for me we hadn't yet reached the Temple when it exploded.”

“But you're not a prisoner now. Why stay here?”

“After seeing all that red lyrium at the site of what remains of the Temple, I think I need to see this through.”

“I take it you know something about red lyrium?”

“Not enough to be much help.” He grumbled. “I first encountered it on an expedition my brother launched into the Deep Roads. But even then it was only a small piece, encased in an idol we found. As far as I knew, it was the only red lyrium in existence.”

“You don't seem to like it very much.” I observed.

“Regular lyrium is dangerous, but you have to ingest it for it to become a problem. The red stuff caused problems just being near it. You hear voices, music – it can bring inanimate objects to life and cause madness. So no, I don't.”

I smiled at him. “Well I won't keep talking about it then. Red lyrium, bad. Got it.”

Varric chuckled. “You know for a hero, you remind me of a close friend. It's a little comforting actually.”

“A friend?”

“Someone I met in Kirkwall.” He hedged, clearly uncomfortable. “Perhaps we could talk about it later? I'm sure you have other things to do.”

“Of course Varric. Not a problem.”

 

----xxx----

 

After speaking with the blacksmith, I moved on to Cassandra and Cullen. She was hitting a target dummy with her sword and muttering under her breath as I approached. Seeing me, she straightened and sheathed her weapon.

“I suppose you have questions.” She huffed.

“I just thought I should get to know you better.”

“Very well. What do you want to know?”

“How about where you're from? What's a Right Hand of the Divine do exactly?”

Cassandra talked grudgingly about herself, listing the facts of her past by rote. Yet with each question answered, her tone and demeanour softened and she began to relax by degrees. She had been raised by her uncle whom she clearly despised. After her brother was gone, she left to join the Seekers – an organization which oversaw the Templar Order and who would investigate Circles whose relations with their mage charges came into question.

She revealed that she blamed the Seekers for the outbreak of war between the Templars and mages, but refused to elaborate. She had left the Order and sought Leliana in the hope of finding the Champion of Kirkwall, someone who could lead an Inquisition and help restore order. When the Conclave was destroyed, she was even more determined to find answers.

“So you're a member of the Seekers of Truth?”

“Not anymore.” She retorted. “I left the Order and the Chantry. They both had a hand in what led to the rebellion with the mages. I refused to be a part of that.”

“In that case, I'm glad to have you with me Lady Cassandra.”

“We shall see.” She replied, turning back to the target dummy. “If you will excuse me, I need more practice.”

I nodded and moved to greet Cullen who was currently barking orders at the armed soldiers who were training nearby.

“Ah, Herald.” He greeted, dismissing his aide. “Allow me to formally introduce myself. I am Commander Cullen, former Knight-Captain of the Kirkwall Circle. At your service.”

“You were in Kirkwall?” I asked, intrigued.

“Yes. It was a very messy, violent affair. One which I wish had gone differently.”

“If you were in Kirkwall, you must have met the Champion.”

“I knew of her and spoke with her only briefly.” He replied, his face grim. “She stood against Knight-Commander Meredith after the Chantry was destroyed. Meredith had called for the deaths of every mage in the city and the Champion disagreed.”

“You stood against the Knight-Commander?”

“I fought at the Champion's side. I didn't agree that every mage should pay for the actions of one man, though I should have seen what had become of Meredith sooner than I did. She'd had a sword made from red lyrium and it drove her mad.”

“Still a brave act to stand against your superior.” I reminded him.

“Perhaps. In the end, the sword destroyed her, turned her into a statue of sold lyrium. It was horrible to see.” He shook his head at the memory. “But enough of that. I'm sure you didn't come down here to listen to me give a speech.”

“If you have one prepared, I'm all ears.” I teased, the words out of my mouth before I could stop them.

Cullen blushed and coughed to cover his reaction. “Right. Well, I still have work to do. Perhaps we can speak another time?”

Maker's breath, what was I thinking? I admonished myself as he returned to his soldiers. The man was certainly attractive, but he was also still shaken by the events at Kirkwall. Never mind the fact that I had no indication he liked other men. What was wrong with me? I shuffled off to speak with the smith again as I continued berating myself for my misstep.

Despite what everyone had agreed on, I was still an unknown to everyone here. By luck or design, good or ill, I was their only hope at bringing order back to the world and only by the fact of the mark on my hand. And no one understood the mark or even had an explanation for, except perhaps Solas, which, if I were being honest wasn't comforting. I didn't know what my issue was with the elven mage, but I did have one. I believed he was confused by the mark, but he was also fascinated. He hid his interest well, but I hadn't become a skilled rogue with just swordplay alone. I suspected he knew a lot more about what was going on here than he was letting on and I vowed to watch him closely. Of everyone who had gathered to join the Inquisition, his motives were the most suspect despite his reasons for being here.

As I spoke with the smith, I reminded myself once more to keep my personal interests to myself. Neither the Chantry nor the Templar Order approved in my taste of intimate partners, and no one here needed to know about it. At least not until after I could assure myself they wouldn't turn on me like rabid dogs if i failed to produce desired results in their quest to restore order.

How had any of these even happened? I wondered as I wandered off in search of resources for the alchemist and quartermaster. One minute, I was the youngest child of a noble family in Ostwick, forced to attend a Conclave for a Chantry I didn't believe in. Next minute, I'm declared the Herald of Andraste for surviving an explosion and falling out of the Fade. Yes Andraste was a hero to everyone outside the Tevinter Emperium. She had almost single-handedly wrested control from mages everywhere and removed slavery from all of Southern Thedas. Only to be betrayed by her own husband out of jealousy and then granted salvation by the Maker himself. It wasn't a happy ending and being named the Herald of someone who's life had ended so dramatically didn't exactly inspire hope for my future.

Maker's breath, did I even want this burden? I knew the answer was no even before my mind formed the question. I'd been under enough scrutiny by my parents and every noble house in Ostwick. Hard enough to hide my true nature in that setting. But as the Herald of Andraste the entire land of Thedas would be watching.

Frustrated by my line of thinking, I began stuffing elfroot and iron in my pouch, crushing the plants and scraping my palms on the iron as I did. Wanted or not I was stuck with the role. The mark on my palm left me with no options and I felt more alone now than I ever had before, even more so than when I'd left Ostwick under the disappointed gaze of my father.

I knew he knew about me and I also knew he disapproved. I also knew he hoped that being with the Divine would make me see reason. Barring that I knew a part of him hoped I would never return. Better to lose a son than deal with the shame of one who would never take a wife.

You don't know that, I protested. Didn't I? The look on his face and the words he'd said to me had been enough. He had been fighting the urge to call me out, disparage me and even strike me. I knew enough of his beliefs to know he would never accept me as I was. It had hurt, but as the youngest son I had no reason to care. I was meant to be Templar or a brother of the Chantry. Someone my parents could boast about and use to solidify alliances within the nobility. I was little more than a pawn, a tool for which they would gain much while I passed into obscurity.

My palms itched and I looked down to see a multitude of scratches there, some of which were openly bleeding. Sighing, I stopped to adjust my pack, surprised by the weight of it. Looking inside, I realized I had more than enough resources and had skinned my palms so thoroughly I would need a poultice to heal them.

Andraste's ass, I cursed, heading back to the village. I needed to get my thoughts in order. Like it or not, everyone would now be looking to me for direction as though I had any clue to what I was doing. Sighing, I straightened my shoulders and returned to Haven.

After slipping away from prying eyes to apply the poultice I got from Adan, I met with my new advisors before heading out to the Hinterlands, Cassandra, Varric and Solas in tow.

 

Chapter Text

Lord Pavus

He was on his third or was it his fourth? Antivan brandy. He couldn't quite remember at the moment, which was just as well. The murmur of fear and disgust from his fellow patrons had become pleasantly muffled by the haze the liquor had cast on his senses.

He knew what they thought of him. An evil mage out of Tevinter and he didn't care. It wasn't as though he could disguise himself. From his dark skin, darker hair and and the magical staff of his trade on his back, there was no mistaking where he hailed from.

Not that he gave fig either way. After what he'd learned of his father's plan for him, well... nothing could top the shock of that particular discovery. Then there was that giant green hole in the sky that everyone here was talking about. He hadn't seen it yet since he was still in the Free Marches.

On the run from his family and the future his father had planned for him, he hadn't thought where he might go, he just went. When he'd heard of the destruction of the Conclave and the Temple of Sacred Ashes he hadn't been surprised to learn of it's failure to bring peace to the war the South was waging between it's mages and Templars. But he had been surprised to hear of a lone survivor. Nothing but wishful thinking as far as he could tell, especially after he'd heard the whispers that not only had this unknown man survived, but had been handed out of the Fade by Andraste herself. He'd snorted at that. Free Marchers and Fereldens certainly put a lot of faith in a woman over a thousand years dead.

He finished the last of his brandy with a heavy sigh. He'd left Qarinus with little coin and he'd just drank the last of it. The only thing he had on him was his birthright, and though he despised what it represented, he was loath to part with it. Yet if he wished to continue heading south, he needed money. He frowned at that thought. Was he really going to cross the Waking Sea just to see this breach that had caught everyone's attention? Yes he bloody well was, he snarled to himself. It wasn't as though he had anywhere else he could go.

Alexius, a magister and his former mentor had approached him two weeks ago as he was passing through a Tevinter boarder city. He'd wanted Dorian to join a cult with him, one that was calling itself the Venatori. They were very interested in the South's so-called Hearld and Alexius wanted his help.

When Dorian had pressed him for more details, Alexius refused to say more unless he first promised he would join him. Suspicious and uncertain of Alexius's sincerity given how they'd parted, he'd refused. Less than a week later, he'd learned of his father's plan for him and fled his home. For whatever reason he had yet to fathom, his mind had coughed up Ferelden as a place to go. So here he was, drowning his sorrows in a filthy tavern in lower Kirkwall.

----xxx----

He had just sold his birthright to some shady noble merchant in Val Royeaux and ordered a glass of cheap wine to relieve his guilt, when Felix sat down across from him.

“Felix?” Dorian was so surprised he very nearly spat his wine all over the table.

“Dorian.” Felix smiled. “You're a hard man to find. I'd heard you'd left Minrathous, but I never expected to find you in Val Royeaux. What in blazes are you doing here?”

“Running away from home.” He retorted, recovering from his initial shock. “Isn't it obvious?”

“Yes, but the Free Marches? Where are you planning to go?”

“I haven't yet decided Felix. Perhaps I'll take a look at the giant hole in the sky. They say it's quite the thing to see.”

“I've heard the Herald has already fixed that.”

“You're working with rumours dear boy, the breach isn't gone, just temporarily sealed. I've also heard the former Left and Right hands of the Divine are putting together a new Inquisition. Apparently with all this chaos, they hope to restore order and find out who's responsible for what happened at the Conclave. But never mind that, the bigger question is what are you doing here and does your father know?”

“My father is here Dorian.” Felix said, his tone serious. “He doesn't know you're here though and I'd like it to stay that way.”

“Intriguing. All right Felix, you have my attention.”

“Father has joined a cult.”

“Yes I know that already. He asked me to join him two weeks ago. Some group calling themselves the Venatori. What about it?”

“They're obsessed with the Herald Dorian and my father has finished his work on the time amulet you worked together on.”

“Don't be absurd Felix. Neither he nor I could ever get that damned thing to work properly.”

“Things have changed Dorian. It works. I've seen it and now he's gone and forged an alliance with the apostate Circle mages in Redcliff.”

Dorian paled. “He'd done what now? Has he gone mad? He can't possibly occupy Redcliff, it will start a war.”

“He doesn't care Dorian, he won't listen to me. We have to stop him and I need your help to do it.”

“Help how exactly? I've already tried reasoning with him Felix, it didn't work.”

“Which is why I need you to go to Redcliff and speak to the Herald.”

“And why would the Herald be in Redcliff?”

“Father used his time magic to secure an alliance with the mages there, but not before the First Enchanter had spoken to him here in Val Royeaux.”

“Let me guess. The First Enchanter will have no memory of ever speaking to him.”

“Exactly.”

“Maker's breath.” Dorian swore. “How long do we have?”

“You have two days. You must be in Redcliff before we arrive.”

“Andraste's flaming ass. You're saying I have to leave today aren't you? On a ship? On open water.” Dorian felt his face drain of colour at the thought.

“You have to Dorian. There's no one else who can help. Besides, can't you use magic on your aversion to the sea? A spell?”

“You know those bloody things don't work. And I'll thank you not to mention the sea again.”

“Will you help or not Dorian? I have to get back before my father comes looking for me.”

“Yes, yes, of course I'll help.” He snapped. “Bloody Herald, rifts, time travel, end of the world....”

“Dorian?”

“Never mind Felix. Just working up a bit of anger before I engage in my sea-faring suicide trip.”

“It's not suicide Dorian. It's just a boat.”

“Just a boat he says. You wouldn't say that if you were in my shoes. But run along now Felix and don't worry, I will be there when you arrive.”

“Thank you Dorian.”

----xxx----

He arrived in Redcliff less than a day later, calm seas and brisk wind helping to shorten the crossing immeasurably. For which he was very grateful since it gave him a full day to recover from his seasickness.

Once Felix arrived, they made their plan and he headed for the Chantry to await the Herald. He'd only been there a few hours when a rift formed directly above his head, scaring him out of his wits.

Drawing his staff, he battled the demons as they appeared, turning to the Chantry doors when he heard it open. “Ah, good you're here.” He called out over his shoulder. “Mind helping me close this would you?”

 

----xxx---

 

“That was fascinating.” He said, taking in the handsome human male before him. “How does that work exactly?”

The intense green eyes of the man before him flickered slightly, but said nothing in response. Dorian laughed to cover what he felt must look like rude staring. “You don't even know do you? You just wiggle your fingers and poof! Rift closes.”

“Who are you?” The man asked in a deep, silken voice.

“Pardon my manners. I am Dorian Pavus, formerly of Minrathous.”

“I thought Felix would be meeting us.”

“He'll be along soon, I'm certain.” He replied, captivated by the man's voice.

“So you're from Tevinter then. What do you know about Alexius' plan for the mages?”

“To put it simply, time travel. Alexius has joined a cult calling themselves the Venatori. They're particularly interested in you I'm afraid.”

“Me? What does he want with me?”

“I'm not sure.” Felix answered as he joined them. “But they are very interested in that mark on your hand. They also think you're a false prophet and that you interfered in something you weren't supposed to.”

“I think they want you dead.” Dorian said, voicing what everyone was already thinking.

“All this plotting just for me?” The Herald joked. “And here I didn't get Alexius anything.”

“Send him a fruit basket.” Dorian suggested, enjoying the man's wit. “Everyone loves those.”

“I have to get back now Dorian, before my father sends out a search party.”

“First, I want to know why the two of you are willing to betray Alexius. He's your father Felix”

“Because what he's doing is wrong.” Felix replied.

“And because time travel is extremely dangerous. It warps the very fabric of reality, this world and beyond. Unchecked, it could destroy everything. He must be stopped.” Dorian added.

“And who is he to you then?”

“He was my mentor. I know what he's done sounds impossible, but I'm the one who helped create the magic he's now using. I can stop him.”

“Very well.” The Herald nodded, his eyes on Dorian with a curious look on his face.

“Don't worry.” Dorian reassured him as he headed for a back door. “Alexius doesn't know I'm here and I'd like to keep it that way. But when you're ready to confront him, I want to be there.”

 

Chapter Text

Herald of Andraste

I watched Dorian with what I thought must be unrestrained interest after I closed the rift. His northern accent, his dark, handsome features and his chiselled physique had me riveted to his every movement and gesture.

After what had happened with Cullen, I'd spent some time in front of a mirror practising at keeping my face neutral. I didn't want to alert anyone to my personal interests. Too many who were watching were already too eager to find fault or see me fail. I couldn't afford to have anyone questioning my judgment at this early stage.

We'd come to Redcliff on the invitation of First Enchanter Fiona. She'd approached us as we had left Val Royeaux on a wasted trip to speak to the Chantry there. Prior to this, we had traipsed all over the Hinterlands, the Storm Coast and a horrible place called the Fallow Mire.

The last was aptly named for it had looked as bad as it sounded. It rained and stormed the entire time we ere there. The water stank of dead things. Everything wet and rotting, with most of the buildings destroyed. Whoever had once lived there were now long dead since we found evidence of a plague.

The only living things there was a group of rebel Avaar who wanted me dead. It had been a tough battle, but we'd killed the leader and his followers and freed our captive soldiers.

On the Storm Coast we'd set up a presence there and by challenging the leader, I had recruited a band of Hessarians to our cause. Despite it raining constantly, it was still a better place than the Mire. At least the sun had been out, unlike the Mire where it had been so dark you weren't sure the sun still existed.

After speaking to Fiona in the Gull and Lantern in Redcliff, Varric and I were instantly suspicious. She had no memory of speaking to me in Val Royeaux and had forged an alliance with a Tevinter Magister. I was so shocked by this, I couldn't think what to say.

King Alistair would be furious when he heard or very likely start a war. The Arl had been kicked out of the castle by this magister and given that he was also the King's uncle, nothing good would come of this. It was at that moment when the magister himself arrived, dressed in the most ridiculous hooded garment I had ever seen.

I bristled at his appearance and felt my skin crawl as his smooth placating words washed over me. As I joined him at his table I wondered idly if my reaction was some form of magic he was using. A second, younger man appeared then who Alexius introduced as his son, Felix.

Felix didn't look well to me, but he caught my eye as he crossed the room, feigning a stumble as I rose to catch him. Alexius was at his son's side in an instant, taking him from me and insisting we would have to speak later. As soon as they left, I looked at the note Felix had pressed into my hand.

“You are in danger.” I read aloud to my companions.

Varric snorted. “You think?”

I frowned at him. “Come on. We're supposed to meet him in the Chantry.”

“Odd.” Cassandra grumbled. “That he would choose the Chantry to meet.”

“Makes sense to me.” Solas countered. “It would be the last place anyone would look for someone from the Imperium.”

“I... suppose.” Cassandra conceded.

Yet Felix wasn't there when we arrived. Instead there was Dorian, fighting darkspawn alone underneath a rift that had formed within the walls of the Chantry itself.'

As he talked, I kept my reaction to him as neutral as possible, smiling only when he countered my witty remark to Felix with his own regarding a fruit basket.

It seemed ridiculous, but after Dorian left the Chantry felt empty, almost as though the sun had gone from the world. You're being stupid, I told myself as I led the others from the building.

“So what now?” Varric asked as we returned outside to the late afternoon sun.

“I suppose we need to return to Haven. Cullen, Leliana and Josephine need to know what happened here.”

“If what the Tevinter mage said about time travel is true, we must put a stop to it.” Solas argued.

“I don't think anyone is suggesting we ignore it Solas.” Cassandra retorted.

“I am just vocalizing a concern Seeker. I've no wish to give orders, merely offer suggestions.”

I said nothing to that and pointed up in the direction of Haven.

 

----xxx----

 

My advisors were dismayed with my report and fell to arguing over what to do or how to handle what had happened in Redcliff. Since we had yet to hear from Alexius, there wasn't much we could do about it.

While we'd been in Val Royeaux I'd received offers of support from two as yet, unknown potential allies and on invitation from a Grand Enchanter in Orlais. Tired of traipsing about the countryside, I headed to her home to find out what she wanted.

Some of the nobility asked if I were a guest of Madame de Fer when I arrived, saying I was a guest of Lady Vivienne. They laughed and said my response was amusing since Vivienne also called herself Madame de Fer. I didn't get it and was about to say so when Duke something or other began insulting me before challenging me to a duel to defend my honour. I didn't get the opportunity to decline before he was quite suddenly frozen in place.

A tall, dark woman with an elegant and impressive gown and mask descended the staircase, speaking to the captive Duke the entire time.

“My dear Duke. You know how much I despise such rude behaviour in my home. Especially when it is directed at one of my guests who I invited here personally.”

“Lady Vivienne.” He stammered. “My apologies... I didn't mean to...”

“Hush darling. I know what you meant. Whatever shall I do with you?”

She turned to me then, a faint smile on her lips. “You, my dear, are the injured party here. What do you suggest?”

“The Duke doesn't interest me.”

Releasing the duke with a snap of her fingers, she smiled at him coldly. “Run along now my dear duke, before I change my mind about you.”

Once the duke had made his disgraceful departure, Vivienne led me upstairs so we could speak privately.

“I'm so glad you could come my dear.” She purred. “I've so wanted to me you. My name is Lady Vivienne and I would very much like to join your Inquisition.”

“You do? Why?”

“Isn't it obvious darling? The Chantry is in shambles and Orlais has become embroiled in a civil war. It will take a monumental effort to restore the Circles and bring order back to the land.”

“Is this a personal or business proposition Lady Vivienne?” I asked.

“My, aren't you charming?” She purred again. “Why it's professional of course.”

“Very well.” I nodded. “Welcome to the Inquisition.”

 

----xxx----

 

The second interested party on my list was back out on the Storm Coast. A Qunari with his own band of misfit mercenaries wanted to join our cause.

I eyed the tall, heavily muscled oxman with interest and suspicion. I didn't trust the Qunari and trusted oxmen even less. He called himself the Iron Bull and the men he commanded the Chargers. Witty for a member of the Qun whose order used titles and not names. Even wittier given he was also an oxmen not known for their levity.

“So? What do you say?” He pressed, looking down at me. “We fight hard and we are loyal to our employers. We're worth the cost and have never broken a contract.”

I agreed to the alliance even as I vowed to keep an eye on him. Despite what he had said, Qunari were sneaky bastards. They were ruthless, skilled and not to be trusted. Yet I had been tasked with garnering support and this one had come to us, just as Lady Vivienne had.

“You won't regret this boss.” He said, breaking into a wide grin. “Krem! Tell the Charges to pack up, we're hired.”

“But Chief, we just opened on of the casks.” Krem complained.

“So find a way to seal it up. We're leaving.”

“But we used axes Chief.”

“Figure it out Krem. We've got work to do.”

“Fine Chief.” Krem grumbled. “I'll tell the boys.”

Turning back to face me, Iron Bull smiled. “Don't worry about us boss. We'll meet you back in Haven.”

“Alright.” I nodded. “See you there Bull.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

Waiting for the Herald to make a move and for Alexius to send his invitation to the Inquisition was driving him mad. He was also growing quite tired of hiding out in Redcliff like a common thief. He didn't understand what was taking Alexius so long. Never mind the fact that he couldn't get the Herald out of his mind for very long.

His deep voice, firm rogue physique and those eyes... he could get lost in those green eyes. Maker's breath he was doing it again. Fantasizing about a man whose name he didn't even know. Making up daydreams about things that would likely never happen while torturing himself with his on-going fantasy of having someone love him. It was stupid. Especially since he knew nothing about him. For all he knew the Herald could be married, or worse, promised to some noblewoman back wherever it was he hailed from.

After two days of this he'd had enough. After packing what little belongings he had and arranged for transport, he set out toward Haven. Besides, he reasoned, he wanted to see this breach for himself and if the Herald wouldn't come to him, he would go there. Thoughts of the man refused to abate, his curiosity so strong he just had to know what kind of man the Herald was. At least this way, he'd be in the right place when the Alexius sent his invitation. He just hoped he would arrive in time to help.

 

Herald of Andraste

Back in Haven, my advisors were still undecided on how to handle the situation with Redcliff. Frustrated, I headed back out to follow up on the strange red notes we'd found hidden on the streets of Val Royeaux.

At the location marked on the map, with Varric, Cassandra and Vivienne following, we were ambushed. After we dealt with them, a lone man appeared, confused by my involvement. As we approached him, a young, blonde elven girl armed with a bow stepped out of the shadows.

“Just say what.” She said.

“What?” He said and she let fly an arrow into his head.

“Stupid piss-ant noble shite.” She spat, turning to me. “You heard me right? I gave him plenty of warning.”

Even surprised by her action, I agreed she had warned him though it had been in a deliberately confusing way. She introduced herself as Sera, saying she was part of a group calling themselves Red Jenny. I couldn't follow much of what she said other than the mention of some people not having breeches. It was then that the courtyard filled with more armed men, not wearing pants.

Things clicked into place and I grumbled, “Why didn't you take their weapons?”

She only laughed and said, “No breeches!”

Once it was over, she again attempted to explain her purpose, which I again failed to grasp entirely but agreed she could join us if that was what she wanted. She was overjoyed by this and in a burst of excitement fled the area, calling over her should that she would meet us back in Haven.

“What in Andraste's name was that?” Varric wondered.

“I don't know. If I figure it out, I'll let you know Varric.”

“Are you certain this is wise?” Cassandra asked.

“Really, my dear.” Vivienne echoed. “The Inquisition should not be involving themselves in pointless pranks and childish behaviour.”

“We'll see.” I told her. “I was tasked with finding allies and this one isn't as questionable as some of the others who've joined our cause.”

“He does have a point ladies.” Varric agreed.

“Truly.” Cassandra murmured.

“That as my be Herald.” Vivienne continued. “But the Inquisition has a reputation and an image to maintain. I do hope you know what you're doing.”

“So do I.” I murmured, catching Varric's knowing look as we headed back to Haven.

 

----xxx----

 

“We cannot delay any longer. We must make a decision now before Alexius retracts his offer.” Cullen was arguing as I joined my advisors in the war room. “That, or we forget this nonsense with the mages and pursue an alliance with the Templars.”

“We have a city of Ferelden occupied by a Magister of the Tevinter Emperium.” Leliana countered. “We cannot allow this to continue, it will start a war.”

“Regardless, we must find a way to protect the Herald. This entire plan is most certainly a trap. We must do what we can to ensure his safety.” Josephine reminded them.”

“It seems Alexius has outplayed us all.” I said, interrupting them.

“It would seem so.” Cullen agreed. “I can't in good conscience advise you on a course of action. Sending you in there alone is guaranteed to get you killed.”

“Wait.” Leliana said. “There is a secret passage into the castle. Not large enough for soldiers, but a handful of agents could get through.”

“I don't like it.” Cullen grumbled. “It's too dangerous.”

The door banged open behind me and we all turned to stare at the door. My breath caught in my throat as my eyes landed on Dorian. Maker, I hadn't expected to see him again so soon. I struggled to hide my pleasure at seeing him and must have managed it since he broke eye contact almost as soon as he had met my gaze.

“Fortunately, I'm here to help.” He said. “You'll never get past Alexius' magical wards without me. Therefore, I volunteer my services to see you safely inside the castle.”

“Who is this man?” Cullen demanded.

“His name is Dorian Pavus.” Leliana said. “He's a mage from Tevinter.”

“No need to say it like that dear lady.” He countered. “Not all of us are evil mages who practice blood magic.”

“We shall see.” She said.

“Mmm. Tough crowd.” He mused. “So? What do you say? You want to succeed in stopping Alexius or not?”

“I don't see that we have much choice.” Cullen growled.

“Good.” Leliana nodded. “Here's the plan.”

 

Dorian

Though the Herald had readily accepted his offer of help, he couldn't tell whether or not the man was pleased by his appearance or not. Something had changed in the man since last they'd spoken. His witty demeanour had been replaced with a seriousness and caution he hadn't noticed before.

Disappointed by the man's reaction to him, he was still buoyed by the fact that he at least would get to speak to him again. It wasn't what he had hoped for, but it was better than having his offer of help refused outright.

Back in Redcliff, Alexius preened as he sat in the ousted Arl's chair. Dorian was furious and dismayed by hie former mentor's display. Was he mad? An act like this would surely start a war with all of Thedas once King Alistair heard of it. When the Herald informed Alexius, he would offer nothing in exchange for taking the mages, the trap was sprung.

“They know everything father.” Felix said.

“Felix!” Alexius cried. “What have you done?”

“This isn't right. I love you, but you're making a terrible mistake. You joined a cult father.”

“I did it for you Felix! It was the only way to save you.”

“Save me?” Felix echoed.

“The Elder One. He promised to save you. All he asked in return is that I remove the Herald as the only one who could oppose him.”

“What are you talking about father? Do you know what you sound like?”

“He sounds like a raving lunatic.” Dorian answered, stepping out of the shadows. “One we always agreed we never wanted to become.”

“Dorian.” Alexius growled. “I offered to make you a part of this and you refused me.”

“Of course I refused! This is madness! Can't you see that?”

“It is not madness.” Alexius countered. “The Elder One will restore the Emperium's former glory. You, Herald are a mistake. A little boy playing with powers you don't even understand.”

He took a step toward the Herald then, holding out an amulet toward him as Dorian moved to protect the man.

“I will correct that mistake and the Elder One will save my son.” He continued, whispering words as he pointed the amulet at the Herald.

“No!” Dorian cried, lashing out at Alexius' outstretched hand.

Blackness descended around him and when he could see again, Dorian found himself and the Herald standing in knee-deep water in a stone-walled room. Two guards, startled by their appearance attacked while Dorian moved to protect the Herald.

“What just happened?” He asked.

“Alexius. I believe he used the amulet, but I countered it and the spell went wild.”

“But where are we?”

“I think we're still in the castle.”

“Is this what Alexius intended then?”

“No. I think he planned to remove you from time completely. If he had succeeded, you would never have been at the Temple and then wouldn't have existed to foil the Elder One's plan. Whoever that is.”

“So if it didn't work, where are we?”

“Excellent question!” Dorian smiled. “But of course! It's not where, it's when. When I countered the spell we were moved through time, rather than being removed from time itself. Make sense?”

“Not really.”

“Don't worry.” He said, dropping his light tone. “I'm here to protect you.”

The Herald smiled, a curious glint in his eye. “I appreciate that.”

“Yes, well. Very good then. We should look about, find out where and when we are so we can find our way back. If we can.”

“Good. I'll search the guards for a key.”

 

Herald

Being sucked through a time warp was not my idea of a good time. As bad as that was, I was more than a little relieved to find that Dorian had accompanied me. Without him, I would have been stuck here, wherever here was, indefinitely. By the look of the place, I wouldn't have liked that much.

When Dorian tried to reassure me with his comment about protection, I felt my hear thump and my breath catch. Stop it, I told myself as I searched for a key. They're just words. He would have said them to anyone who had come through with him. It wasn't personal, but oh, how I wished it was.

In our search for a way out, we found Fiona – half her body had become fused inside a pillar of red lyrium. I almost wished we hadn't found her, so awful was the discovery especially since she was still alive. But from her, we learned we had missed an entire year and that the others he'd come to Redcliff with were somewhere here in the dungeons.

We found Varric and Cassandra, both of whom weren't doing well, but thankfully didn't have lyrium growing out of them, though their eyes were misty with red light. They were skeptical that he and Dorian were real, never mind unharmed. Yet despite their misgivings, they agreed to follow them, even if only for a change of scenery.

My unease about what had happened increased as we made our way through the castle. Whatever Alexius and the Elder One had done while I was gone was destroying the world.

After rescuing a very angry and very sick Leliana, we caught up with Alexius. He was not surprised to see us and cared nothing for what he had done to the world.

In a fit of rage and vengeance in her heard, Leliana slit Felix's throat. Though it had been a mercy for the already wasted young man, the act threw Alexius into a rage and we were forced to kill him to gain possession of his amulet.

“Excellent.” Dorian smiled. “Give me an hour and I'll work out the details to send us back.”

“An hour!” Leliana choked. “You don't have an hour! You must go now before the Elder One arrives.”

“Nothing like working under pressure.” Dorian muttered.

My emotions over what was happening warred within me as Cassandra, Varric and Leliana volunteered to sacrifice themselves to give Dorian and I time to escape.

“I can't let you die for me!” I argued.

“Look at us, we're already dead.” Leliana countered. “Just make sure this future never happens. Or the entire world is dead.”

I made a move to help her when a darkspawn arrow pierced her chest and Dorian grabbed my arm to stop me.

“You move and we all die!” He cried.

“Moments later, the horrible scene before me vanished, replaced by the shocked face of Alexius falling to his knees in defeat.

“Ah good.” Dorian sighed. “It worked.”

Marching feet of heavily armed soldiers filled the hall and we turned to see King Alistair approaching.

“Or not.” He muttered.

“Grand Enchanter Fiona.” Alistair barked. “Imagine my surprise when I learned you had handed Redcliff to Tevinter Magister.”

“King Alistair...” Fiona stammered. “I didn't mean...”

“I know what you meant.” He snapped. “I wanted to help you, but you've made that impossible. You are no longer welcome in my kingdom. I hereby banish you from Ferelden.”

“But where will we go?” She cried. “We have hundreds of people here.”

“Come work with us. The Inquisition” I said, hoping to avoid more conflict.

“And what are the terms of this arrangement?”

“As our allies of course.”

“I'd take the offer if I were you.” Alistair said coldly. “One way or another you are leaving Ferelden.”

“Very well. On behalf of the mages here, I accept.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He returned to Haven with the Herald, curious to see how the alliance with the mages turned out.

“Regardless, we didn't experience what the Herald witnessed.” Cassandra said. “Besides, he fulfilled his mission to secure an alliance with the mages and he did that.”

“Ah, the voice of reason.” Dorian drawled. “And here I was just beginning to enjoy the circular arguments.”

“You're still here?” The Herald asked.

“Didn't I mention? The south is so quaint this time of year. So many things to recommend it.”

“So you're staying then?”

“But of course.” He drawled, keeping his gaze locked on the man, his thoughts alight with curiosity. “I can't leave before seeing this hole in the sky that had everyone talking. Besides, I'm in no hurry to return to my homeland. Not that I'll be missed at any rate.”

“Good.” The Herald smiled at him. “There's no one I'd rather be trapped in time with, future or present.”

“Yes, well, let's not do that again shall we? At any rate, I'll be around if you wish to talk more. I'm sure you have much more important things to discuss.”

As he left the Chantry, his heart was pounding. Had the Herald just flirted with him or was he just being kind to the evil Tevinter? He was unaccustomed to such acceptance outside the Emperium and thus couldn't decide one way or the other.

As he crossed the courtyard, he felt several pairs of eyes follow him, their suspicion and animosity barely disguised as he passed. Though he had expected it, he was still relieved when no one accosted or threatened him. Likely it was due to the Herald's acceptance of him and not anything he'd done to help, he reasoned.

No matter, he shrugged, making his way to a small cabin near the alchemist's shop. He'd see how thing went. If it became dangerous for him, he would move on. He wouldn't like it, but he had enough to worry about without adding Inquisition enemies to the list of those who wished him harm.

 

The Herald

After several more hours of debating our next course of action, I excused myself. Leaving my advisors to continue their discussion, I headed outside to speak with some of my newest companions.

Sera I had yet to figure out, but her light, cheery attitude was like a breath of fresh air compared to the doom and gloom I got from some of the others. The Iron bull didn't have much to say, though he approved of Cullen and how well he was training our soldiers.

Vivienne was all business. She criticized my alliance with the mages, chastising me for taking such a huge and unnecessary risk. Brushing aside my protests as though she were swatting a fly, she informed me that I would have to take steps to ensure they knew their place, while recruiting ex-Templar's to watch over them all.

I bristled at her tone and her condescending attitude, leaving her company in a foul state of mind. I found Cassandra out on the practice field arguing with one of our mage allies. The man was complaining about everything and I could see Cassandra resisting the urge to strike him.

“Having fun I see?” I quipped as the mage stormed off.

“This is your doing.” She snapped. “They are our allies, not our wards. They need to learn what that means instead of wasting my time making demands.”

“Are you saying you would have chosen differently?”

“Oh!” She exclaimed, her glare dissolving. “It does sound like I'm blaming you doesn't it? I apologize. I wasn't there when it happened. Having the mages as our allies could very well prove advantageous in the long run. I shouldn't judge.”

“There's a lot of change to adjust to Cassandra. No need to apologize.”

“True enough I suppose. However, are you certain it's wise to allow Dorian to remain here?”

“Why? Because he's from Tevinter?”

“Yes. It's possible he is as he claims, but it is also possible he is a spy for the Emperium.”

“That could be said about a lot of our new companions.” I reminded her.

“That's true. The Iron bull comes to mind. As does Sera. Are you certain they are what they claim to be?”

“As sure as I can be.” I replied. 'Though I noticed you didn't include Vivienne or Solas.”

“Vivienne is a player. More than that she is powerful in both magic and connections. Her reasons for being here are nothing more than a bid for political power.”

“What about Solas?”

“Why would you question him? He helped you when he had every reason to avoid the Inquisition.”

“Yet his timely appearance doesn't bother you?” I pressed.

“I admit that part of me is suspicious. Yet he has done nothing to garner my distrust.”

“Which is why I wonder at his true motive for being here.”

“You are a very suspicious man Herald.” She observed. “Even I am not so paranoid. But likely that is also why I was not chosen by Andraste.”

“You still think I'm the Chosen One?” I exclaimed.

“Honestly? I don't know. But there must be a reason why you survived what happened at the Temple. I suppose only time will tell us what that reason is.”

“Maybe.” I grumbled.

“Never mind that now.” She said, returning to her sword practice. “I've taken enough of your time. I'm sure you have other things which require your attention.”

Leaving her, I returned back inside the wall of the town of Haven. Where was Dorian hiding? He can't have gone far. After voicing my concerns to Cassandra about Solas, I wasn't in the mood to speak with him again, but it was the only area of the small village I hadn't t checked.

Solas was nowhere to be seen as I headed to the alchemist shop and I sighed in relief, even as my pulse sped when I spotted Dorian opposite to where Solas could usually be found.

“The Inquisition supports free mages?” He exclaimed as I approached. “What's next? Elves running Halamshiral? Cows milking farmers?”

I smiled at that, pleased by his light tone. “Just wait. I'm sure I can come up with something even more surprising.”

“I rather doubt that.” He said. “Unless you strip naked in front of the clerics and allow the Chantry sisters to flog you publicly for heresy. Now that would surprise me.”

“So you don't agree with my decision to make the mages our allies?”

“You've given Southern mages license to... well, to be like mages back home.”

“So long as they're like you.” I teased, the words out of my mouth before I could stop them.

Dorian laughed. “Oh, none are quite like me I'm afraid. Too much of a pariah. Also, too good looking.”

“So we're doomed to a future of blood magic then?”

“Not by me. But many in the Emperium practice it. They deny it of course, but anyone who wishes to have more say in how things are run, need more power to do that. And if they aren't already powerful enough, a bit of blood magic is just the thing.”

“I take it you don't like your homeland much.” I was confused by his tirade, yet stymied by his passion.

“It might seem that way, but I love my homeland. It's those who would choose to destroy it I despise.”

“So why don't you go back and change things then?”

Dorian chuckled. “I'm not exactly welcome back home. Bit of an outcast really. Besides, I never quite fit in. Bloodstains are so hard to remove from silk.”

“It just that you don't seem to have anything good to say about Tevinter.”

“It's not the place itself, it's the way things are run.” He snapped, his voice growing hard. “If you disagree and don't practice blood magic, you can't change anything. The magisters are so convinced of our superiority and so drunk on their own power they refuse to see how things could be done differently.”

“You're very passionate about this.” I observed, letting a hint of admiration slip into my voice.

“I am aren't I? One good thing I can say is that we are very passionate. We care, very deeply about everything. From the state of our country and the world and the people we love. Passionate in every way.”

“It's very admirable.” I noted.

“Truly?” Dorian sounded surprised. “But enough about me. I'm sure you have much more important Herald things to do.”

“I suppose I do.” I agreed, taken aback by his abrupt change in tone. I bid him farewell and headed back to the Chantry no wiser as to his interest than I had before he'd come to Haven.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He stood there, shivering in the cold afternoon sun as he watched the Herald make his way back to the Chantry. He kicked himself as he watched him. The man had been trying to get to know him better and he'd turned him aside. Why? He was almost certain the Herald had been flirting with him and he'd shut him down. Was it fear? Maybe. Though he hated to admit it. He didn't want the Herald thinking less of him, for whatever asinine reason he had yet to fathom, he desired the man's trust and support more than his affection. It was such an odd thing for him that he hadn't known how to continue their conversation without turning it into something sexual.

If he was wrong and reciprocated a misunderstood compliment, he wasn't certain he was up for the inevitable rejection. The Herald didn't strike him as someone who would hold that sort of thing against him but he wasn't willing to take the chance. Better to dream about the possibility than know for certain and be disappointed.

It was while he was lost in thought that the dwarf, Varric, appeared before him.

“There you are Sparkler.” He said. “I've been looking for you.”

“Sparkler?” Dorian repeated.

“Yeah. Sparkler. Come with me and join me for a drink. You look like you could use some warming up.”

“Are you certain that's wise?” Dorian asked, falling into step beside him. “You know what they say about mages from Tevinter.”

Varric chuckled. “Of course I do. I'm one of them. Now come on, let's drink.”

Over a pint of ale which Varric generously paid for, Dorian found himself relaxing by degrees as the mood in the tavern resumed it's low murmur of conversation following his arrival. Most of the patrons ignored him or recognized him as having aided the Herald and spared him little more than a suspicious glance before returning to their drinks.

“So Varric. Do what do I owe this courtesy?”

“Just wanted to get to know you better. I've heard some not so good things about Tevinter.”

“And? You want me to confirm or deny these things?”

“Can you?” Varric challenged.

“Depends on the question.”

“Fine. Slaves. Did you have any?”

“My family had slaves. I personally, have never had slaves.”

“Are they treated badly? Abused?”

Dorian frowned. “That sounded very much like an accusation.”

“Well?”

“There are some magisters who abuse their wards, but those who do are soon dealt with. It's bad enough what the rest of Thedas thinks of Tevinter slavery, but we do not tolerate abuse.”

“You sure about that?”

Dorian grew cross. “Just what is this about Varric? It sounds like you know something from personal experience, yet that is impossible since Tevinter does not have dwarven slaves.”

“I was in Kirkwall. There were a lot of slavers there, buying people and prisoners and kidnapping refugees from Ferelden to take back to the Emperium. I wanted to know what you knew about it.”

“In Kirkwall?”

“So you didn't know.”

“It's not as though the people who engage in such practices have a storefront Varric. Most slaves are taken on Qunari raids or are part of a slave's existing family.”

“Seems like there's a lot more you don't know about your homeland.” Varric mused.

“Apparently.” Dorian grumbled, dismayed by the dwarf's revelation while trying to mute his reaction. “But what's this about abuse? Where did you hear that from?”

“Ever hear of a magister by the name of Danarius?”

Dorian paled.

“By the look on your face, I assume that means you have.”

“That man was a vile, despicable excuse for a human being. He disappeared from Tevinter several years ago. Everyone assumed he fled under threat of death by other magisters, but I see that motivating him.”

“What do you think happened to him then?” Varric asked.

“My guess is he'd dead and good riddance. He had an elven slave he'd tortured and branded with lyrium tattoos. The slave escaped and Danarius spent an exorbitant amount of coin trying to recapture him. I suspect he finally caught up to to slave and was killed.”

“So what made Danarius so vile?” Varric asked.

“You really need more?” Dorian did not want to discuss the man. “Very well. He abused his slaves openly. Called many of them his pets and held private parties to entertain those who supported his abhorrent behaviour.”

“But you said the other magisters don't tolerate that.”

“They don't.” Dorian snapped. “But Danarius was very powerful with very powerful friends and allies. He killed all of his most vocal opponents till there was no one left who could challenge him.”

“Hmph.” Varric grunted. “Too bad.'

“Why are you so interested Varric? Did you wish to remind me of all the evils of Tevinter to make me leave the Inquisition in shame? How do you even know about Danarius?”

“The slave you mentioned? Friend of mine. And yes, he killed Danarius. Reached inside his chest and crushed his heart.”

“Maker's breath.” Dorian whispered. “Where is your friend now?”

Varric laughed. “Don't worry Sparkler. He won't come after you. His beef is with blood mages and slavers. In fact, the two of you might get along though I wouldn't suggest seeking him out. He tends to strike first and search the bodies later.”

“I see.” Dorian swallowed hard, downing the rest of his ale. “He sounds like a perfectly reasonable, perfectly murderous fellow.”

“Fenris? He has his moments. But he's come a long was since first meeting the Champion.”

Dorian gaped at him. “That's who she's with? That Fenris?”

“You know another elf by that name?”

“Maker's breath. The world is so much smaller than I thought.”

Varric chuckled. “That's something I have to keep reminding myself about. You're all right Sparkler. You want to stick around and help the Inquisition, I've got your back.”

“Wait. So was this all just a test then?”

“I'm a storyteller. Stories always turn out better when I know what motivates my characters.”

“I am not a character.” Dorian protested.

“On the contrary Sparkler, I think you are quite the character and a very interesting one at that.”

 

Nathaniel

I was inordinately disappointed by Dorian's abrupt dismissal as I headed to the war room. It hurt in a way I hadn't expected but I was knew it wasn't really important now. The breach remained. If I didn't fix it, no one would have a future. If I did pull it off and survive, I would have plenty of time to get to know Dorian better.

Several hours later after successfully closing the breach with the assistance of the mages, we were back in Haven celebrating my success. I couldn't believe how easy it had been. Perhaps I was getting stronger with each smaller rift I closed. I was lost in thought when the clanging of the guard tower bell sounded, making me jump as I rushed to the city gates.

“A large armed force is marching on Haven.” Cullen informed me.

“Under what banner?” Josephine asked, coming to join us.

“None.” Cullen said.

A crashing at the gate drew my attention and I rushed to open them. A strange young man wearing a giant floppy hat stood there, staring at me with worried eyes.

“I've come to warn you. The Elder One, Corypheus is coming, though you probably already knew that.”

“The Elder One? Here?”

“Yes. He wants to kill you for stealing his mages. He's very angry.”

“Everyone back inside!” Cullen barked. “Quickly!”

Haven was not defensible against such a force as we could see approaching in the distance. But Cullen and Chancellor Roderick came up with a plan to save our forces and the people of Haven.

“I hate to ask this of you.” Cullen began. “But if we don't delay Corypheus, none of us will make it out of here alive.”

“It's all right Cullen.” I said, resigned to my fate. “Corypheus only wants me. I'll keep his attention while you get everyone to safety.”

“Maker watch over you Herald.” He said, leaving me, Dorian, Varric and Cassandra to stand between Haven and the Red Templars who were descending on the town.

After fighting our way to the nearest trebuchet, a massive dragon appeared just as I readied it to launch. Spitting fire at us, the explosion rocked the ground where we stood and I yelled for my companions to run for safety. Stunned, I lay on my back staring up into the cold, dark sky as a strange figure approached me from the left of where I lay.

“You are nothing but a mistake.” He growled. “You stole what didn't belong to you, interrupted my plans and interfered in something you can't possibly comprehend.”

“I'm not afraid of you.” I snarled, getting to my feet.

“Indeed. Brave words spoken only by those who hide their true fear. You will give me back what you stole from me and that will be the end of your meddling.”

Moving faster than I thought possible, he reached for me and lifted me up by my left arm, my feet off the ground. Using his other hand, he sent waves of magical energy into the mark and I squirmed in agony at the pain it caused. He snarled and tossed me through the air to land painfully against the trebuchet.

“The mark is permanent.” He said. “I cannot remove it. But you have interfered in my plans enough. You will die. I will not suffer your existence any longer.”

“You talk too much.” I retorted, bringing the blade of a discarded sword on the rope of the trebuchet, launching a massive boulder into the snow-covered mountain above Haven.

Scrambling to my feet, I raced away from him heading for an area I knew held a broken mine shaft. I prayed I would reach it before Corypheus or his dragon could react. Instead, the snow reached me taking me off my feet and tossing me into the shaft I had been aiming for.

I woke shivering, not knowing how long I'd been out or if Corypheus still searched for me. Struggling to my feet, I realized I must be in the passageway Chancellor Roderick had mentioned for it was clearly not a mine shaft.

When I reached the end of the tunnel, I was met by with blistering cold and a heavy snowfall whipped into a frenzy by the wind. The cold stung my eyes and stole my breath as I struggled through the deep snow. My body did not want to continue on, but I pushed forward knowing my only hope of survival was to find the others. I prayed I would have the strength to make it before the cold took me to my death.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

After fleeing the battlefield and reaching the relative safety of the Chantry, he felt his heart still when the Herald failed to join them.

“We can't just leave him!” He argued, echoing Varric as Cassandra scowled at them.

“We don't have a choice Dorian.” She reminded them. “The Herald is who Corypheus wants. He said he would buy us time to escape. I will respect his wishes.”

“So you're just going to abandon him then?”

“Look mage, I don't know why he agreed to let you stay. But he did. Don't throw what he's given us by sacrificing yourself. If you have any faith at all, trust in the Maker to see him returned to us.”

Dorian clenched his teeth as she spoke. Much as he hated her words, he knew she meant only to remind him of what was important. But it didn't mean he had to like it.

On that Varric agreed with him, but even he fell into step behind Cassandra as she led them out of Haven.

 

----xxx----

 

It had been hours since they'd set up camp after reaching the other side of a narrow passage through the mountains to a small, sheltered clearing. He was beside himself with regret and recriminations. He should have stayed. He should have gone back to help the Herald. Without him, those he travelled with had already begun to slip back into looking at him with suspicion and dislike. He wouldn't be able to remain without the Herald's support. Andraste's flaming ass, but he had mad yet another mistake he couldn't fix.

It was then that he heard the Herald's advisors shouting.

“There he is!” Cassandra cried.

“Thank the Maker.” Cullen said.

“Quickly, get him into the camp.” Leliana advised. “He's injured and needs healing.”

Dorian heard it all and felt his breath catch at the mention of healing. Why? What had happened to him? He itched to ask someone or offer his assistance, but knew he would be turned away. Grumbling to himself, he dug out a small flask of whisky he'd been saving and drank deeply while he and everyone else waited for the Herald to recover.

Inquisitor

After resting for several hours, I spoke to Solas after I recovered and we set out to find a stronghold he called Skyhold he assured me was there for the taking.

The ancient stronghold the elf had described didn't do the place justice. Before us lay a massive, fortified castle, complete with a long, defensible bridge, towers, barracks, a tavern and a stable. Once we were inside the walls of the stronghold, my advisors called me over and asked if I would be the leader of the Inquisition.

“This was a unanimous decision?” I asked, surprised by their confidence and faith in me.

“It was.” Cassandra confirmed. “We need a leader, someone to guide in the days ahead. Who better than the one who has already been leading us through all the victories you have achieved?”

Humbled, I raised the sword they offered me skyward, while those who had joined our cause gathered below and cheered my acceptance of the title of Inquisitor. “I do this because it is right.” I said loudly. “And to bring order back to all of Thedas.”

We made our way inside where the castle had clearly seen better days. Broken floorboards, shattered glass and rotting furniture lay strew about the main hall.

“Seems we have our work cut out for us.” Leliana drawled.

“More importantly, we now have a name for our enemy.” Cullen added.

“But who is Corypheus?” Josephine wondered. “None of us have ever heard of him before.”

“I might be able to help with that.” Varric offered, joining us. “In all the excitement, the name jogged my memory and I got in touch with an old friend who might be able to help.”

“Thanks Varric.” I said. “Introduce me.”

“It might be better if we do this in private. Parading through Skyhold might cause a stir. Meet me on the battlements when you have a moment.”

Curious, I watched him leave before turning back to catch the gaze of my advisors.

“At any rate, we stand to move on these issues at your command Inquisitor.” Josephine said.

“I know one thing for certain.” Leliana murmured. “If Varric has brought who I think he has, Cassandra is going to kill him.”

Dorian

Having arrived at the mysterious castle in the middle of nowhere, he had made a quick tour of the place. On the second floor of the aviary, he was pleased to discover a well-stocked and still intact library. He'd had enough of the stares and suspicious glances on the trek there and wanted nothing more than to hide himself away from prying eyes.

With the Herald now named their official leader and crowned the Inquisitor, he suspected the man would have little time to chat. A part of him was saddened by the man's sudden rise to power. It made his own presence there more suspect.

A Tevinter mage with no title, no money and no power would easily be seen as a grasping manipulator. He wasn't , but he had learned long ago that people would believe what they wanted and denying it only made it worse.

He was absorbed in reading the spines of the books on a nearby shelf when he heard footsteps on the stairs behind him. Steeling himself, he braced for whoever might be about to set him on the defensive and was stunned to see the Inquisitor standing there.

“So Corypheus claims to be one of the ancient magisters who stormed the Black City and doomed us all to the horror of the Blights. How refreshing to realize my homeland is responsible for everything wrong in the world.” He paused as his words seemed to have no affect on the man. “What's the matter? Am I speaking too quickly for you?”

“I was distracted.” He replied, his eyes sparkling.

“By my wit and charm?” He teased. “I have plenty of both.”

“You're very confident.”

“Yes well. It was us all along. We destroyed the world.” Dorian reminded him, suddenly uncomfortable.

“It's not your fault Dorian.” The Inquisitor said.

“No one with thank me, whatever happens. No one will thank you either. You know that yes?”

“I'm not doing this for their approval.” He replied.

“I see.” Dorian nodded, impressed by the man's self-awareness. “But enough about that. Oh and congratulations on that whole Inquisitor business. Glad to see someone who's capable of taking charge.”

Inquisitor

I could only stare at him as he walked away, perusing the bookshelves as he went. The man was so hard to read. I was certain he was interested in me, but not in what way. Was he someone who flirted and teased everyone who spoke to him? Or was it more personal? I just couldn't tell.

Frustrated by the exchange, I headed outside to the battlements to meet with Varric's friend. When I saw the slim, attractive, dark-haired woman standing there, I wasn't surprised. “You must be the Champion.” I said, greeting her warmly.

“I am, but I don't use that title much these days.”

“I understand.” I nodded my understanding, knowing exactly what she meant by it.

She went on to explain what had brought her to Skyhold and we arranged to meet with her Warden friend in Crestwood as soon as I could get away. Her friend knew something about the disappearance of the other Wardens and wanted to help.

The mention of Wardens reminded me of Blackwall. I hadn't had time to return to the Hinterlands and wondered if Cassandra had been able to track him down. After I spoke with her, she directed me to the stables where a rough-looking man with a generous black beard and moustache was sitting by a fire.

He was friendly enough, though he had nothing to offer me by way of knowing anything about Corypheus or where the other Wardens had gone. Given what Hawke had just told me about the Warden's history with Corypheus, I found it more than a little suspicious.

Yet he seemed sincere enough in his desire to make a difference, so I shrugged off my misgivings and welcomed him to the Inquisition. Besides, I had enough to worry about without adding my companion's personal secrets to the burden I was carrying. I was content enough in their willingness to join that they could keep their secrets for the time being. I was overwhelmed enough already.

Dorian

He'd done it again, he thought miserably. Brushed aside the Inquisitor's interest as though it were nothing. He was beside himself with fear and indecision and he didn't much like it. He was almost positive the man had been flirting with him, but he couldn't tell if it was real interest, or just an attempt to make him feel welcome.

After their talk, he lost all interest in the books scattered about and had wandered outside to the battlements where he had a view of the courtyard below. He watched as the Inquisitor headed toward a tower and spoke with two figures who were waiting for him. From there, the Inquisitor headed for the barracks and spoke briefly with Cassandra before making his way to the stables on the other end of the large courtyard.

He sighed as he watched him. Whether or not the Inquisitor was interested in him was moot at this point. For now, he was content to admire him from a distance. No one could fault him for that as everyone seemed to show the man a level of respect borne out of admiration. If asked, he could simply state what was clearly on everyone else's mind. The Inquisitor was a man to be admired and respected. Simple enough, yet he still found himself anticipating their next chat.

He was still watching when the Inquisitor returned to the entrance to Skyhold. He must have sensed his eyes upon him for he looked and beamed at him when his eyes met his. Surprised, Dorian managed a quick, pained smile before retreating back inside to his claimed space in the library. His heart was pounding as he settled into a chair, a book clutched in his hand.

Well, that was certainly not my imagination, he thought, still surprised by what had happened. As the Inquisitor's eyes had met his, he had the distinct impression of seeing hunger and desire reflected there. Definitely more than mere friendship at any rate.

Buoyed by the thought, the tension he held in his shoulders relaxed and a sigh escaped him. Feeling better about joining the Inquisition than he had in weeks, he settled in to read more about the land he now found himself in.

 

Chapter Text

Inquisitor

After resting for a few hours, I decided to head out to Crestwood to meet with Hawke's Warden friend, Stroud. Of course none of that turned out to be simple when we learned a rift had formed at the bottom or Crestwood's lake. After speaking wit the mayor and dealing with a group of bandits, we opened the dam to drain the lake so we could reach the rift there.

I didn't much care to be underground as we walked the damp, dripping tunnels in search of the rift.

“Is it just me,” Dorian asked. “Or did the temperature just drop off dramatically?”

“No.” I answered. “I feel it too.”

“Damn.” Varric grumbled. “That means there's probably spirits here.”

“Keep your guard up.” I cautioned.

“As if we aren't already on guard.” Bull grumbled giving away his one dislike for being underground.

“Don't care for enclosed spaces Bull?” Dorian teased.

“No, I don't.” He growled. “And I'll thank you to keep it to yourself Vint.”

“So long as you watch where you're pointing that thing.” Dorian retorted.

“Dirty.”

“Vishante kaffas! That's not... ugh! I meant your sword.”

“Here, let me flex for you, give you a better view.”

“I think I may vomit.” Dorian muttered.

“Quiet. Both of you.” I hissed.

“Sorry boss.” Iron Bull mumbled while Dorian merely looked green.

I happened to feel the same after hearing Bull's comment while also experiencing a rush of jealousy at the oxman's open sexual taunt. Perhaps bringing him had been a mistake, but it was too late to turn back now. The sooner I closed the rift, the sooner we could return to the surface.

 

Dorian

He couldn't believe what the Qunari mercenary had just said to him. Embarrassed and disgusted didn't quite cover it. Especially since the comment had clearly been intended to let him know the Iron Bull knew he desired the company of a man.

Andraste's flaming ass! Despite his efforts to conceal his preferences, the damned Qunari had already figured it out and his own reaction to him hadn't helped. Thankfully, the Inquisitor had put an end to the exchange and with it he'd detected a note of irritation in the man's voice. Frustrated by the fact he had walked into the trap with his own words, he kept any further comments he might have had to himself.

After closing the rift and returning to Crestwood, Dorian wanted nothing more than to get as far from the Iron Bull as possible. He could feel the Qunari watching his every move and felt his skin itch with the sensation.

The mayor tuned out to have fled town after leaving behind a note of confession.

“So the good mayor drowned his own people?” Varric sighted.

“The townsfolk won't be happy when they find out about this.” Iron Bull agreed.

“What a sad business.” Dorian murmured. “Will the Inquisition bring him in I wonder?”

“I don't know.” The Inquisitor sighed. “Let's go meet with Stroud and head back to Skyhold.”

“No arguments here boss.” Bull said, falling in behind him.



Inquisitor

So Grey Wardens were under the influence of Corypheus. That was just great I sighed, retiring to my room. After meeting with my advisors, I was in desperate need of some privacy.

I wanted to speak to Dorian, but after Bull's comment I wasn't sure how welcome I'd be. I fell into my bed and stared up a the ceiling. If I didn't make my interest known soon, I had no doubt the Iron Bull would beat me to it. It didn't help that Dorian was practically a walking invitation for desire. Whether or not he welcomed Bull's attention was irrelevant. I didn't for a moment think the Bull would take Dorian's aversion to him as a reason to stop trying – he'd see it as a challenge.

Despite Dorian's flustered response to the oxman, I had sensed how lonely he truly was. He was very good at hiding it beneath all his bluster and preening, but I had been there and knew what it felt like. I had also dealt with it the same way Dorian was now.

Heaving to my feet, I headed downstairs to speak to him. It was now or never I couldn't let him slip away from me if there was even the slightest chance he'd give in to the Iron Bull first. I wanted him if he would have me and I would never forgive myself if I didn't try.

Dorian beamed as I approached, making all my earlier concerns vanish.

“I could watch you wander Skyhold all day.” He teased, a smile on his lips.

“Is that so?”

“It is. I suppose it's more fun this way, for me I mean. You're rather strapping.”

“You're quite strapping yourself.” I countered, emboldened by his admiration.

“That just takes eyes.” He said.

“Luckily I have those.”

“Yes, a rather fetching pair at that.”

“Trust me Dorian, I am well aware of your finer qualities.”

“Well of course you are. When I first met you, I said to myself, now there's a man who knows quality when he sees it.”

“Indeed.” I agreed, my pulse speeding.

“Did you know we're actually related Inquisitor? I heard your name mentioned and had to look it up, but it's there. We are talking ages ago of course.”

I gulped, my hands suddenly damp. “You just knew that off the top of your head?”

“Maybe not the top. Perhaps somewhere in the middle, near the bottom.”

“I'd rather we weren't related.” I replied, feeling my heart sink. “It might make flirting awkward.”

“Oh we're not first cousins or anything like that.” He assured me. “It was over three ages ago, so I think we're good to go.”

“Well that's good to know.”

“Quite.” He said, his mouth twitching. “Anyway, I'm sure you have other important thing to deal with. I'll be here if you need me.”

I wandered off, lost in though and pleased with our exchange. I was looking very forward to speaking to him again and headed downstairs to plan our next excursion out to the Western Approach.

My pleasant mood was interrupted when Mother Giselle called me over to her. She had been contacted by a member of Dorian's family who were supposedly concerned about him and wanted to meet with him in Redcliff. And then she referred to him as “that Tevinter” and I felt my blood boil.

“I'm not going to trick Dorian into going to Redcliff Mother Giselle.”

“I was afraid you might say that. But please Inquisitor, it might be what is best for the young man and for you if he were to return to his homeland.”

Her insinuation very nearly had me slap her for it, but I restrained myself and snatched the letter from her outstretched hand, startling her and making her retreat from my scowl. I didn't have time for this right now, but I would deal with it when we returned from the Approach.

I had only just now managed to break the ice with Dorian. I knew he wasn't on good terms with his family and wanted him reassured of my support and friendship before I told him about the letter.

 

Dorian

Well that had gone much better than he'd hoped. He was pleased and stymied by the Inquisitor's returned interest and had enjoyed his wit immeasurably. He hoped the man's interest was sincere and lasted longer than any of his past involvements.

He would hate to be set aside again afterwards but despite that possibility, he wouldn't pass up an opportunity to learn more about the man behind the title. Which reminded him that he knew the man's name and didn't have to call him Inquisitor anymore. He would ask his permission later, but wasn't in a rush. Too much familiarity would cause him grief should any within Skyhold take issue with his friendship with the Inquisitor. If he was heard using the man's name, his presence there would be even more suspect than it already was and he didn't need that.

Inquisitor

Out in the Western Approach, Dorian, Blackwall and Cassandra had all insisted they be present. Dorian was tracking a group of Venatori, Blackwall knew of some Warden artifacts he felt should be recovered and Cassandra was hunting rogue Seekers who were assisting Corypheus.

Between the three of them, I couldn't decide who was less likely to pitch a fit if I left them behind. In the end, I was too tired to care and hoped that for my sake, they'd keep their personal dislike of each other to themselves.

Unfortunately, Blackwall turned out to be unable to keep his thoughts about Dorian private, forcing Dorian to defend himself. By the time we had tracked down the Warden artifacts, I'd had enough of Blackwall. It wasn't just his comments about Tevinter mages or the Emperium, but he had begun disparaging nobles as well, clearly forgetting I happened to be one.

After setting up camp, I ordered him to return to Skyhold while the rest of us waited for Varric to join us.

“You don't' much care for our dear Blackwall do you Inquisitor?” Dorian ventured.

“He might be a Warden and dedicated to our cause, but he's very judgmental and at times, rude.” I replied.

“I hate to agree with you Inquisitor, but he has been very heavy-handed with his comments.” Cassandra agreed. “His Warden connections with be useful, but he is not a very agreeable man.”

“Why Seeker, if I didn't know better, I think you liked me better than him.” Dorian teased.

“Hardly.” Cassandra drawled. “Though you are somewhat better company.”

“Did you just pay me a compliment?” Dorian marvelled. “I swear I really must be hearing things.”

“I did. Just be certain you give me no reason to regret it.”

“Perish the thought. I would never.”

We were interrupted then when Varric stepped into the light of our campfire.

“So this is the Western Approach? Talk about being at the ass end of nowhere.” He grumbled, taking a seat by the fire. “Does this place have anything besides vast quantities of sand to recommend it or what?”

“There's a small oasis at the bottom of that valley over there.” Dorian pointed cheerfully. “And over there is a poisonous, gas-filled gully that will kill you in less than a minute.”

“Great.” Varric muttered. “So where's Hawke and Stroud? Found them yet?”

I shook my head. “Not yet. We'll head out that way tomorrow, I wanted to wait for you since Hawke is your friend.”

“I appreciate that Inquisitor.” Varric smiled. “Sounds good but I'm beat. If we're walking anywhere in this mess tomorrow, I need my beauty sleep.”

“Goodnight then.” I said as Cassandra excused herself to do the same.

“As much as this speaks opportunity to me, I will retire as well.” Dorian announced, getting to his feet. “Goodnight Inquisitor.”

“Goodnight Dorian.”

 

Chapter Text

Inquisitor

Our meeting with Hawke, Stroud and the man behind the Warden's use of blood magic went very badly for the now compromised Warden mages. Corypheus had used fear to sway weaken the Wardens, while Livius Erimond had used promises of glory to convince the Warden-Commander into believing blood magic was a good idea.

All the Warden mages were now under the complete control of Corypheus. They had bound demons to themselves through the use of blood magic after putting their warrior comrades to the knife. Erimond fled while we defeated the remaining wardens and their demons.

Hawke and Stroud fled in pursuit of Erimond to find out where the other wardens had gone and promised to catch up with us back in Skyhold.

----xxx----

 

After speaking with Hawke and my advisors, I headed up the stairs to talk to Dorian. I had almost forgotten about the letter Mother Giselle had given me, though I wished I hadn't remembered it. I wasn't looking forward to what I was about to do, but I couldn't keep it secret from Dorian.

“Aren't you a sight for sore eyes.” He said his eyes sparking with pleasure, making what I was about to say that much harder.

“There's a letter for you.” I said.

“Is it a naughty letter? An offer of marriage from some dowdy dowager?” He teased.

“It's from your father.”

His face grew cold and all the warmth and merriment drained from his eyes. “And what does Magister Halward want, pray tell?”

“A meeting.”

“Let me see this letter.” He growled.

Handing it to him, I stepped away to give him privacy but hesitated. He hadn't asked to be left alone and I watched as his face darkened further.

“I know my son?” He repeated angrily. “What my father knows of me would fill a thimble!”

“I know there's bad blood between you Dorian, but they do seem to be concerned about you.”

He laughed, the smile never reaching his eyes. “Interesting choice of words.”

“Is it because you wouldn't do as they asked and get married?”

“They had a plan for me and I refused. Rejected their idyllic plans and left. Likely this “retainer” my father mentions is some hoodlum my father hired to knock me on the head and drag me back to Tevinter.”

“Is it really that bad?” I asked, not understanding.

“Only one way to find out. If it's a trap, we kill everyone and return here. You're good at that sort of thing. If not, I tell this retainer to tell my father to shove his concern because I am not interested.”

---xxx---

 

Outside the Gull and Lantern in Redcliff, Dorian hesitated, his hand on the door.

“We don't have to do this if you don't want to Dorian.” I said, sensing the emotional turmoil in him.

“No. I have to do this. I need to know what this is about.” He said, stepping inside.

I followed on his heels and was instantly tense when I saw the tavern empty.

“Uh oh.” Dorian quipped. “No one here.”

“Dorian.” Called a dark man from across the room.

“Father.” Dorian replied, his voice heavy with anger. “So this business about a retainer was what? A smokescreen? Something to get me out here?”

“Inquisitor.” He said, addressing me. “I see you were told then. It was not my intention to involve you in this.”

“Of course not!” Dorian snapped. “It's not like you could come to Skyhold and be seen with the dread Inquisitor! What would people say?”

“It has always been like this.” He murmured, again addressing me making my anger rise.

“Dorian has a right to be angry considering you lied to get him here.” I retorted.

“That's not all he's done.” Dorian added. “But maybe you should know.”

“Dorian.” His father protested. “There's no need for...”

“I prefer the company of men.” Dorian said.

“That's what this is all about?” I asked, incredulous. “Who you sleep with?”

“Not just that.” He snarled, his voice laden with hurt and anger. “Tevinter prides itself on the perfect mage, the perfect body, the perfect leader. It means every perceived flaw, every abbe ration is deviant and shameful. It must be hidden.”

He took a step towards his father. “Blood magic is the resort of a weak mind. He taught me that. Yet what was the first thing you did when I wouldn't do as you asked?”

He moved away and the pain in his voice broke my heart. “You... tried to change me.”

“I only did wanted what was best for you.” His father protested, yet even to me, his words rang hollow.

“You wanted the best for you! For your fucking legacy!” Dorian cried. “Anything for that!”

Turning, he stepped away from his father, leaning his hand on a table to collect himself and I moved to join him.

“Dorian.” I said, hating that I had to say anything. “Don't leave it like this. You'll never forgive yourself.”

Meeting my eyes, he turned back to his father. “Why father? Why are you here?”

“If I'd know I would drive you to the Inquisition...”

“You didn't!” He cried, almost in tears. “I joined the Inquisition because it's the right thing to do. Once, I had a father who would have known that.” Turning, he headed for the door.

Rooted to the spot, I could only watch, my heart breaking on Dorian's behalf.

“Once I had a son who trusted me. A trust I betrayed. I only wanted to talk to him again, hear his voice. Beg him to forgive me.”

Dorian froze and turned to look at me. I couldn't speak, so I only smiled and left him alone to speak with his father.

----xxx----

Back in Skyhold, Dorian made straight for the library. He hadn't spoken on our return trip and I though it best to give him some space before speaking with him again.

I checked in with Josephine, Cullen, Cassandra and Leliana but their were no updates on our plans to go to Adamant Fortress. Leliana's scouts had yet to report in and Cullen was still waiting on news regarding the delivery of a trebuchet. Accepting the delay I told them I would head out to the Emerald Graves while we waited.

After changing my clothes, I headed for the library and Dorian. He was staring out the small window of his favourite alcove when i arrived. On hearing me approach, he began to speak.

“He says we're too much alike.” He said, his voice muted. “Once i would have been overjoyed to hear him say that. Now, I'm not certain.”

“Are you all right?”

“No. Not really.”

“What happened Dorian?”

“I refused to play the part he wanted. I was to be married and pretend I was happy. Selfish I suppose to not want to spend my entire life screaming on the inside. Living a lie, it festers inside you, like poison. You have to fight for what's in your heart. And then I found out he was planning to use blood magic to make me more compliant, change me.”

“Would that have even worked?” I wondered aloud. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

“Maybe. It might also have left me a drooling idiot with no trace of who I was. I wouldn't have liked that Dorian much.”

“I'm sorry.” I said, wishing I could offer more comfort than just words.

“It broke me to think he would risk that over the scandal it might have caused. But thank you for taking me out there.” He said, turning to face me. “It wasn't what I expected, but it was... something.”

“I'm just glad I could help Dorian.”

“Maker knows what you must think of me now.” He said, shaking off some of his melancholy. “After that whole display.”

“I think you're very brave.”

“Brave?” He repeated, his eyes widening in surprise.

“It's not easy to abandon tradition and walk your own path.”

“I... well, thank you Inquisitor.” He said, seeming at a loss for words. “At any rate, I think it's time I drank myself into a stupor. It's been that sort of day. Join me sometime if you've a mind.”

It was then I heard someone calling for me downstairs and I turned to go.

“Excuse me a moment.” I said, taking the stairs down.

“Pardon me, Your Worship.” One of Leliana's agents said, handing me a note. “The Lady Nightingale wanted you to have this.”

I read the contents and wondered at just how much of everyone's secrets actually remained secret with Leliana around. Stuffing it in my pocket, I headed back up the stairs to the sound of voices raised in irritation.

“Don't play games with me young man.” I heard Mother Giselle saying. “I would know your intentions here.”

“Apparently my intentions are to be clucked at by a Mother Hen.” Dorian retorted.

Frowning, I reached the top of the stairs to see Dorian with his shoulders hunched and his arms crossed protectively over his chest. Mother Giselle blinked at my sudden appearance and took a single step back away from Dorian.

“What's going on here?” I demanded, coming to stand beside Dorian.

“My apologies Your Worship.” Giselle said. “I was merely inquiring as to the young man's intentions.”

“You may need to spell it out for him.” Dorian snapped.

“There have been rumours Inquisitor. He is from Tevinter and therefore an unknown. It has caused some rumours about why he is really here.”

“Really?” I asked, curious. “What kind of rumours? I'd like to hear them for myself.”

“I... would not want to repeat them Your Worship.” She stammered.

“So you've repeated them before.” I said, making it a statement.

“I... see.” She whispered, taking another step back. “It was not my intention to offend Inquisitor. If you feel the young man is without ulterior motives, I humbly beg forgiveness from you both.”

“Does this happen often?” I asked Dorian after she had left.

“More often than you might think. People have been talking. They seem to believe that you and I are... intimate.”

“That's not the worst assumption they could have.” I told him.

“I don't know. Is it?”

“Do you always answer a question with a question?”

“Would you like me to answer in some other fashion?”

“If you're capable.” I challenged.

Clamping his mouth shut, he stepped into my personal space, grabbed me by my arms and pushed me up against the bookcase. His lips met mine in a kiss filled with hunger and promise and I felt my knees weaken and my heart pound.

“If you're capable he says.” He murmured, drawing back from me to gaze into my eyes. “The nonsense you speak.”

“You realize this makes the rumours somewhat true.” I said, smiling at him.

“Evidently.” He whispered, kissing me again before releasing me. “We might have to explore the full truth of them later. In private.”

It was very hard for me to step away from him after that, but I had to. If I didn't, I wasn't entirely certain I'd be able to stop if he touched me again. Parting from him, I felt my heart lighten and the burden on my shoulders ease as I returned to the War Room to plan my next excursion.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

Maker's breath, he thought, watching the Inquisitor, Nathaniel, walk away. He had again forgotten to ask about using his name, something he would have to remember for next time.

Next time, he whispered, smiling to himself. There would be a next time. Yet though the thought pleased him greatly, he worried about what would come later. No man he'd ever been with had ever wanted more. It was always just about pleasure. Shared though it was, it had begun to feel empty and pointless. He'd been hurt by those rejections so often he had stopped hoping for more a long ago.

It never mattered how much he cared or how much he believed his partner cared for him. They had always turned him away from seeking or wanting anything deeper or long-term. But no matter, he shrugged. They hadn't discussed taking this further and he was content to have the man's friendship for now, if not his love.

Besides, he reminded himself, his thoughts returning to his father. Sometimes love wasn't enough and he knew that better than anyone. Best to enjoy what was offered in the moment. At least it provided him some degree of happiness and a lessening of the pull of loneliness that had been his constant companion for most of his adult life.

 

Inquisitor

The Emerald Graves was a beautiful place, with lush green grass, majestic trees and a breathtaking skyline. It was a shame I couldn't stop to enjoy it. We were there to assist some refugees who had become targets of a group calling themselves the Freemen of the Dales.

They were deserters from either Gaspard's or Empress Celene's armies, whose civil war had thrown Orlais into chaos. The fighting and destruction was worse in the Exalted Plains, the sight of the destruction of the ancient elves hundreds of yeas ago. But after the kiss I'd shared with Dorian, I hadn't wanted to see that destruction and so we had come here instead.

We hadn't accomplished much when we received word from Leliana's agents that they had returned from scouting Adamant Fortress and were forced to return to Skyhold.

----xxx----

 

After checking in with my advisors I headed to the library to speak with Dorian.

"Fancy meeting you here." He said, turning to greet me.

"I've heard mention of an amulet." I told him.

"Where did you hear that?" He demanded. "Leliana. Of course she would find out."

"But what is it Dorian?" I asked, wondering at his discomfort.

"It's the Pavus birthright. I didn't have much by way of coin when I left Tevinter, so I sold it. Entirely forbidden of course, but I was desperate. I'll get it back... somehow."

"For something you clearly value, I would have expected something more than just 'get it back somehow'."

"Just leave it be." He snapped, surprising me. "It's my mistake. I don't want you getting involved."

Speechless, I took my leave and headed for the war room, stopping when Josephine called me over. She explained she needed me to accompany her to a meeting she had with a Duke who was waiting for her in Val Royeaux.

Which also happened to be where the merchant with Dorian's amulet would be. I readily agreed to meet her there, anxious to get Dorian's amulet back before the merchant decided to sell it to someone else.

 

Dorian

Andraste's ass. He was behaving badly, again. The man had only been asking a question after all, but it was one more stupid mistake he'd made in his life. He didn't want Nathaniel to know how deplorable his behaviour had been prior to joining the Inquisition. Not that he was doing a great job now. He couldn't fathom why he was being so guarded. The Inquisitor wasn't like other men he'd flirted with, he was a lot more easy-going for one thing. Yet he was afraid he'd be accused of using the man. He didn't think Nathaniel would ever do that to him, but he knew others wouldn't hesitated if they believed he was having a negative influence on him.

He promised himself he'd do better and hoped Nathaniel hadn't been put off by his behaviour. Others had broken relations with him for less, so he was surprised when he invited him to come with him to Val Royeaux. Something to do with the Lady Ambassador, but he didn't care. Perhaps the Inquisitor really was different from the others.

 

Nathaniel

My hands were slick with nerves when we reached Val Royeaux. I was certain Dorian would figure out why we really here and spoil everything. But he seemed content with what I'd said about Josephine and waited outside while she and I met with the Duke.

After the meeting, I couldn't believe what we'd learned. A long-dead rival of Josephine's' family had a contract with an organization of assassins. They had orders to kill her if she ever attempted to rebuild her family's fortune. I knew Antivan society was cutthroat, but this was going too far.

I headed for the meeting place of the merchant and as we approached, the man recognized me and bowed in greeting.

"Ah, Inquisitor. This is exactly what I was hoping for. So glad to see you received my message." He said.

"Are you joking?" Dorian sputtered. "Is this why we're really here?"

"As I explained to the young man, it is not money I desire, but influence of which he has none. With a word from you, Inquisitor, I will be accepted into the Celestine League."

"You're a merchant." I reminded him. "Why not just sell the amulet?"

"A birthright possessed by one to whom it does not belong can still be useful, even so."

"Dorian?" I asked.

"He's not wrong." He grumbled. "Leave the man be. I'll find another way to get it back."

"You should accept the help of your friend messere." Ponchard de Lieu said calmly.

"Kaffas!" Dorian snorted. "I know what you think and he's not my friend. He's... never mind what he is."

Not his friend? "Don't you want the amulet back?" I asked, confused.

"Of course I want it back. Just not like this."

"Well Inquisitor? Do you accept my terms or is our business here concluded?"

"Alright." I agreed. "I'll do as you ask."

"Excellent. I will have the amulet delivered as soon as I receive word from the the Celestine."

"Bloody influence-mongering." Dorian muttered, turning away.

"Isn't this what you wanted?" I asked, catching up to him.

"I don't want to be in your debt. I don't want to be in anyone's debt. I told you, I didn't want you to get involved in this."

I frowned. "Don't you think..."

"I don't want to discuss it." He snapped, stalking away from me.

 

Dorian

He'd gone and done it. The bloody man had used his power and influence to correct his mistake. Now the fingers and tongues would wag, confirming their suspicions he was nothing more than a user, seeking power for himself. He was angry but couldn't decide who he was more angry with. Himself for losing it in the first place, or the Inquisitor for getting back for him.

 

Nathaniel

I hadn't expected Dorian to thank me for going against his wishes, but I hadn't expected his anger either. I couldn't understand what was so wrong with what I'd done. It hadn't cost me anything but a letter. Certainly it was a small thing to however much Ponchard had paid for it.

Leaving him to cool off, I headed to the war room to make the arrangements for the return of Dorian's birthright. I was exhausted by the time I left and retreated to my room for some much needed privacy. The following morning we would be descending on Adamant Fortress and I wanted to be fully rested for whatever we might encounter there.

The sun had set by the time I woke and upon returning to the Main Hall of Skyhold I was stopped by one of Leliana's agents. The young woman handed me a small package, smiling as she left. Inside was an amulet, Dorian's name carved into the back of it.

No time like the present, I thought, heading for the library and Dorian's favourite spot.

"The Inquisitor's work is never done I see." He said, setting aside his book as I approached.

"I have something for you." I said, handing him the amulet.

"Now I'm indebted to you. I didn't want this. I told you." He said, clutching the amulet to his chest.

"I didn't do this so you would be indebted to me Dorian. I did it for you."

"That's the problem."

"How is that a problem?" I asked, confused by his anger.

"Someone intelligent would cozy up to the Inquisitor if they could. It'd be foolish not to. He can open doors, get you whatever you want. Shower you with gifts and power. That's what they'll say. I'm the magister who's using you."

"I... had no idea you were concerned about that." I stammered, surprised by his discomfort.

"I don't care what they think about me." He retorted hotly. "I care what they think about us! I was... an ass earlier at the merchants." He said, taking a step toward me and bowing. "It's my specialty. I apologize and thank you." He added, before gathering me into his arms and kissing me passionately.

Pulling away, he smiled. "I'm going to stop before I say something syrupy, but I will repay you. Count on it."

 

Dorian

He watched Nathaniel leave and felt his heart constrict with emotion. He was falling for the man and was helpless to stop it. He couldn't understand what the Inquisitor even saw in him. He was an outcast and pariah in his homeland, and a disappointment to his family.

More than that, he had done some very stupid things in his life. The worse of which the Inquisitor had just fixed for him. He had no idea how he would pay him back, but he would think of something.

 

Nathaniel

After leaving Dorian, I headed to the war room where my advisors were busy preparing for our march on Adamant Fortress.

I had about an hour to kill after I spoke to them and though I had just seen Dorian, I was itching to talk to him again. After speaking to Josephine, I returned to him and he asked if I had yet been to my quarters.

I was confused by the comment, but curious enough so that when he suggested I check it out, I hurried upstairs to see what he was talking about.

The room was filed with pinpricks of floating white lights. It looked as though a hundred stars filled the room. It was breathtakingly beautiful and it left me speechless. I was there only a moment before Dorian entered, joining me.

"So." He began, sauntering close. "It's very nice, all this flirting business. I am, however, not a nice man."

To which I nearly blurted that I very much doubted that, but kept silent, not wanting to ruin the moment.

"So here is my proposal. We dispense with the chit chat and move on to something more primal. It'll set tongues wagging of course. Not that they aren't already."

He paused then, stepping up close behind me to whisper into my ear over my shoulder. "I suppose it really depends. How bad does the Inquisitor want to be?"

I sighed with pleasure as I turned to face him. "I thought you'd never ask."

"I like playing hard to get." He said.

"And now?"

"I'm gotten." He said, pulling me to him and planting a firm kiss on my lips while guiding me backward toward the bed.

Our lovemaking was filled with passion and more tenderness and desire than I'd ever experienced before. I felt as though my heart would burst with joy at his every touch and never wanted it to end. He was a gentle lover, showing a level of concern for my pleasure that filled me with wonder and leaving me wanting more.

Sated, I lay staring up at the ceiling, my heart filled to bursting with love for him. For his part, Dorian was restless and rose from the bed to stare out the window, providing me with an exquisite view of his gorgeous, naked ass.

"I like your quarters." He said, his tone casual. So casual that I frowned at his backside.

"Do you now?"

"Don't misunderstand. I'm not suggesting we venture into mutual domesticity. I just like your appointments."

"Ah." I said, curious to know what was really on his mind.

"Not that I couldn't suggest some changes." He added, seating himself on the edge of my bed. "Your taste is a little austere."

Rising to sit beside him, I frowned again. "You seem a little... distracted."

"Sex will do that. It's distracting."

"I heard a rumour." I countered, meeting his eyes.

"Very well, you've rooted me out. There is something I want. I'm curious where this goes, you and I. We've had fun. Perfectly reasonable to leave it here, get on with the business of killing Archdemons and such..."

"Tell me what you want Dorian." I said.

"All on me then?"

"Should it be all on me?" I retorted.

He sighed, looking away as though preparing to be hurt. "I like you. More than I should. More than might be wise. We end it here, I walk away. I won't be pleased, but I'd rather now than later. Later... might be dangerous."

"Why dangerous?"

"Walking away might be harder then."

"I want more than just fun Dorian." I assured him, my heart hammering in my chest. "Speechless I see."

"I was expecting something different." He said quietly. "Where I come from anything between two men... it's about pleasure. It's accepted, but taken no further. You learn not to hope for more. You'd be foolish to."

"This is more Dorian." I said, hoping he'd believe my sincerity. I wanted this man, now and forever and I hated seeing the pain that was evident in his eyes and wished I could banish it forever.

"Funny I didn't recognize it then." He said, a light trace of hope in his voice. "Care to inquisit me again? I promise I'll be more specific in my directions this time."

I laughed as I turned into his embrace. "Show off." I murmured as he pushed me back to the bed once more.

 

A/N: Let me know what you think, comments, likes, dislikes... whatever you like. More chapters will be posted soon.

Chapter Text

Dorian

He'd lied when he'd told Nathaniel walking away would be harder later. It was already too hard. He'd fallen for him. He was certain it had been after their trip to Redcliff, or quite possibly before that. He wasn't sure anymore. But he knew his heart would break should anything happen to him.

Despite his fears for Nathaniel's safety, he still wouldn't trade what was happening between them for anything. He had never known what it felt like to be loved by a man he cared for. It had always been him – falling for someone and being rejected later. He'd lost count over how many times that had happened and after a while had given up. His heart had been encased in ice for so long, he was surprised by how easily Nathaniel had melted it.

Clearly he wasn't a insulated from feeling love as he'd thought. And he wasn't satisfied with the intimate moment they'd shared. He needed to do more for him. A single moment was grossly inadequate to how much he adored and appreciated the man. He would have to take some time to come up with something truly special.

Barring that, he would seek suggestions from their companions. Much as the thought of asking for assistance from anyone caused him undue anxiety, Nathaniel's happiness was worth it.

Nathaniel

I wasn't looking forward to the battle at Adamant Fortress. So many things could go wrong, what with the Wardens using blood magic and Erimond with his enhanced abilities from Corypheus, there was no telling how much danger we would all be in.

As much as I wanted to protect Dorian by leaving him behind, I couldn't imagine going to Adamant without his reassuring presence at my side.

Andraste's ass. I grumbled. What had I done to myself? What had I been thinking? If only I hadn't encouraged him, he'd be blissfully unaware of my true feelings. And yet... he deserved to know and I wanted him to know I cared. Anyone loved needed to know. Too many never took the risk and lamented the decision when the moment to do so was gone. Shit. This was complicated.

Dorian caught my eye as we rode to Adamant. He raised an eyebrow at what he saw in my face, but I just shook my head. No need to burden him with my worries now. I was only making myself crazy. I didn't need to share that with anyone.

We arrived at the Fortress in time to see Cullen's forces break down the door and provide us cover to enter. Stroud and Hawke were there and Hawke hurried off to provide Cullen's soldiers with support on the battlements, leaving us to locate Warden-Commander Clarel.

After helping to defeat the demons who were overwhelming Cullen's forces, we reached the first group of Wardens. After I explained our reason for being their, the warriors stood down and allowed us passage without bloodshed.

“Well that went better than expected.” Dorian drawled.

“I had hoped the Warden warriors would see reason.” Stroud added. “I am pleased to see I was right.”

“Come on.” I said. “We need to find Clarel.”

Around the next corner, we came face to face with a newly formed rift. Clarel and Erimond stood above the courtyard as Clarel prepared to sacrifice a Warden. I watched in horror as she drew a blade across his throat, my shout of “No!” coming too late to stop her.

“Clarel!” I shouted. “Don't do this! Wardens! I only stand against you because I know you're being used.”

“Wardens! The people we have sworn to protect have turned against us!” Clarel cried. “We must proceed so we can save the world from itself!”

“And then Corypheus binds you to him and turns you against us!” Stroud yelled.

“But Corypheus is dead.” She murmured, a look of shock on her face. “Perhaps we should learn if there is any truth to these claims.” Aiming her comment at Erimond.

“Or perhaps I should find a better ally!” He snarled, shoving her aside. “Inquisitor! My master thought you might show up here to interfere with his plans. Luckily, he provided me with something to welcome you!”

A great shriek split the air as Corypheus' dragon appeared overhead, spitting fire. I could see the truth hit Clarel like a slap in the face as she turned her staff and took aim at the dragon.

“Clarel!” Erimond barked. “Don't!”

“You!” She cried, turning the staff to him as he scrambled away from her. “Help the Inquisitor!” She called to the remaining wardens and then she was gone.

With the Warden's assistance, we managed to make short work of the demons who had already broken through the rift. With them defeated, we hurried to catch up with Clarel.

Dorian

A sense of foreboding had begun to creep through him as they fought their way through Adamant. Things had gone well, from breaking into the keep, to gaining the upper walls and clearing the battlements. With each step, the foreboding grew, his unease steadily increasing until the dragon appeared. When it did, his fears were realized and he fought to stay by Nathaniel's side as the Inquisitor raced ahead.

The reached to top of the Fortress in time to see Clarel advancing on Erimond who was cowering before her on the ground. Behind him, the tower that had been there was now gone. The bridge that had connected it, now led to a with a sheer drop into a deep crevasse. He had nowhere to go and they all knew it.

“You did this!” She cried. “You destroyed the Wardens!”

Erimond laughed as he got to his feet. “You did that yourself you stupid bitch! It was all your own doing. All I had to do was tempt you with promises of power and glory and you ate it up as though it were candy.”

“I will never serve the Blight!” She cried, taking aim with her staff.

Erimond braced for the assault, but before Clarel could target him, the dragon appeared, reached it's head down and snatched Clarel up in it's mouth. It landed behind us on the wall, placing it's massive body between us and the only way off the bridge. It tossed Clarel's bleeding body to the ground as it paced slowly toward us.

We began backing away from it's advance as it snarled in triumph. Dorian could hear Clarel's voice, faint, but unmistakable. She was reciting the Warden's motto, readying a spell as the dragon passed over her broken body. “In peace, vigilance. In war, victory. In death, sacrifice.”

Dorian's heart stopped beating as the dragon prepared to strike. Nathaniel was so close it could have snapped him up with a single movement of it's head, but it didn't. Instead, it made to leap at them as though it would crush them all. At the same time, Clarel released her spell, casting it straight at the dragon's belly.

It stumbled, missing them all by inches as it tumbled over the broken edge of the battlement. The ground shook under the weight and it began to crumble, breaking apart the platform they were all standing on. Cold fear clutched his heart as he scrambled to avoid falling to his death.

Nathaniel! He cried silent, looking behind him to see him reaching back for Stroud. And then he was falling, all of them falling.

A bright green light flashed in his eyes, momentarily blinding him and he braced for the impact with the ground. But it didn't come. He opened his eyes to a strange world that seem tinged with green light everywhere he looked. He recognized nothing, while the sky roiled with dark, angry clouds. He heard voices then and turned toward the sound.

“We were falling...” He heard Hawke say. “Are we dead?”

“No.” Stroud answered. “If I'm right, I believe we are in the Fade.”

“Not this place again.” Varric grumbled.

“Last time I was here, it was all castles and decadence.” Dorian added. “I had tea with a demon before it tried to possess me.”

“It seems different than the last time I was here.” Hawke noted.

“Perhaps because this isn't someone's dream.” He said, reminding them all how much danger they were in.

“Is this what it was like last time you were here, Inquisitor?” Hawke asked.

“I don't know. I still don't remember what happened the last time I did this.”

Dorian frowned. He didn't like the curiosity he heard in Nathaniel's voice. Squaring his shoulders, he moved to his side, prepared to put himself between Nathaniel and anything else that tried to take him from him.

“The Rift from the courtyard.” Stroud said. “Can we get back out that way?”

“I don't know.” Nathaniel answered. “But it beats standing around here waiting for demons to find us. Let's go.”

Nathaniel

It was such an odd place, the Fade. Nothing here was real other than myself and those who had fallen here with me. I was comforted by Dorian's presence at my side, relieved he had been unhurt by the dragon's attempt to kill us all.

From what I could tell, no one had suffered any injuries from our fall, yet I could feel massive tension radiating from Dorian. I wasn't certain what was causing it, and though I wanted to ask I knew now wasn't the time for it.

A woman appeared on the path ahead then, blocking our progress.

“Most holy?” Cassandra breathed in awe as the figure greeted us all by name.

“It can't be. Everyone at the Conclave is dead.” Hawke reminded her.

“What are you?” Stroud demanded.

“What does it matter?” The woman replied. “Would you believe anything I told you? Besides, we do not have time. I only wish to help guide you from the Fade before the demon who controls Corypheus' army learns you are here.”

“Why help us?” I asked.

“Inquisitor. You do not remember what happened at the Conclave or how the mark upon your hand was created.”

“No. I don't.”

“That's because the demon who works for Corypheus has stolen your memory. You must retrieve the parts it stole before you can escape the Fade.”

“Buy you already know what happened.” I protested. “Why not just tell me?”

“Because you would not believe me and you need the parts of yourself the Nightmare took from you when last you were here.”

I frowned. I wanted to remember, but a part of me was afraid of what I would learn. But it was clear the spirit was done talking, so I did as she instructed and began retrieving pockets of memory from the path we now followed.

We found three separate locations where my memories were hidden. After I retrieved each one, the memory of what had happened at the Conclave sprung to life before my eyes, replaying itself as though I were experiencing it all over again.

When the memory was complete, Hawke was angry. Apparently everyone with me had also seen what I had seen.

“Which means you aren't Justinia.” I said, addressing the spirit. “She died at the Conclave.”

“I am sorry I disappoint you.” She said, though she looked at Hawke while she said.

Hawke looked stricken and then grew quiet. “Those were Grey Wardens holding the Divine.”

“As I said before, Corypheus must have taken their minds. They were being controlled.” Stroud reminded her.

“By using blood magic!” She snapped. “The Wardens provide a service, but they go too far! They need to be controlled.”

“How dare you!” Stroud thundered. “It was you who caused the mage rebellion that destroyed Kirkwall!”

“To protect innocent mages from wrongful persecution! Not as a bid for power!”

“Enough!” I shouted, stepping between them. “Hawke's right.”

“Inquisitor...” Stroud protested.

“You must go now!” The image of Justinia cried. “The Nightmare has found us.”

“We will discuss this later.” Stroud promised.

“Oh, I intend to.” Hawke retorted.

Hurrying, we reached the place where the rift would return us to the real world and where a a giant demon loomed above us, blocking our escape.

“You must defeat the demon.” The spirit called, challenging it with her power. “Please. Tell Leliana. I'm sorry. I failed you too.”

After an exhausting battle the demon was defeated, but the Nightmare demon returned to block the path.

“Go!” Stroud shouted. “I will cover your escape. The Wardens are responsible for what's happened.”

“No.” Hawke argued. “The Wardens need a leader to help them rebuild. Corypheus is mine.”

Andraste's flaming ass, I cursed. I would have to choose between them.

“Stroud.” I said.

“Inquisitor.” He nodded. “I will cover your escape by drawing the demon's attention away from you.”

“I'm sorry.”

“Don't be. It's been an honour to fight at your side.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

Back in Skyhold, everyone was talking about my decision to recruit the Wardens. So many disapproved that I retreated to my quarters for some peace and quiet and to escape their accusatory stares. I wasn't certain I had done the right thing as it was.

Yes, the Grey Wardens had crossed the line, but they'd also been used and manipulated by Corypheus. They were also the only force in all of Thedas who could end a Blight. The world couldn't afford to lose that knowledge, which would have happened if I'd banished them.

I fell to my bed in a fit of mental and emotional exhaustion. With the return of my memory, I was inundated with feelings of inadequacy. So many had believed my survival to be some form of Divine Will. Yet I now knew for certain it had merely been dumb luck or bad luck, depending on how you looked at it.

When I'd caught the orb Justinia had knocked out of Corypheus' hand, I had inadvertently unleashed an enormous burst of magical power. Only my contact with the orb had saved me from the resulting explosion. If I hadn't touched it, I would have died along with everyone else. Alternatively, if I hadn't been in the room, I wouldn't have even known about it. It was making my head hurt.

To suspect my survival was based on bad timing was one thing, to know with certainty was another. I thought of everything that had happened since that moment, and still couldn't accept how much my life had been changed by that one event.

I had followers, admirers and advisors. People looked to me for guidance and advice as though I somehow had all the answers. Me, a nobody noble from a backwater in Ostwick. The level of responsibility I'd stepped into was a burden which was beginning to wear on me. The realization that if I failed, the entire world would cease to exist was too much.

I sat up abruptly, my breath coming in panicked gasps. I had to get out of this room lest I succumb to the building wave of fear growing within me. I wanted Dorian to comfort me, yet I had sensed his tension on our return to Skyhold. I wasn't sure he was in a position to reassure me, so I headed to Josephine's office instead.

“Your Worship.” She gushed. “I am so relieved to see you safely returned to us. When I heard what happened at Adamant I was very worried for you. How are you feeling Inquisitor?”

“Better now.” I assured her. “Hopefully in the future, I can avoid any more accidental trips to the Fade.”

“That is my hope as well.” She smiled. “Now, was there anything else I can help you with?”

“No. I just wanted to talk.”

“Very well. I shall speak with you again later.”

After Josie, I stopped by Varric's table. He hadn't said much after Hawke had parted ways with us at Adamant. She was off to Weishaupt to inform the Wardens there of what had happened at Adamant Fortress.

“Varric.” I said. “How are you doing?”

“Never thought I'd be visiting the Fade again in this lifetime. Maker's breath, I hope it never happens again.”

“At least Hawke made it out.”

“Yep. Closest thing to a miracle there. Anyway, she asked me to write to everyone back home – tell them where she's headed. Fenris needs to know. Maker, I'm glad I won't be doing this in person.”

As Varric wandered off in search of ink and paper, I hesitated. The pull to check on Dorian was strong, but he had been so quiet after Adamant I wasn't sure what to expect from him. Kicking myself for my cowardice, I left the castle and went in search of Cassandra.

“Writing an epic tale I assume?” I teased, finding her in the barracks.

“I am no writer and I do not have the gift of blather like Varric.” She said, her face creased with frustration. “I was there, in the Fade. It needs to be recorded. No more guesses about what actually happened. Yet I find I cannot find the right words. It's as though they're being recorded by a child.”

“However it turns out, it's a good idea Cassandra.”

“Perhaps. It is difficult to know what to say. So many things I'm not sure of. Tell me, do you think the spirit we spoke to really was Justinia? That she somehow was there to help guide us from the Fade?”

“I do actually. She was kind and wanted to help us.”

“Thank you. I had thought you might say that. Still, I don't know if I should mention it. There are so many people who would call it heretical.”

“Does it matter what people call it?” I asked. “We were there Cassandra. It should be recorded and let those who read it make up their own minds about what happened. You know people will do that anyway.”

“This is true.” She agreed, meeting my eyes. “Have you spoken to Leliana about what she said?”

“Not yet, no.”

“I had thought to do it myself, but... Would you mind terribly if I asked you to speak to her?”

“Of course not.” I said, smiling at her. “I'll go now if it makes you feel better.”

“It does. And... thank you, Inquisitor. For everything.”

----xxx----

I headed for the rotunda and was stopped by Solas who was looking both cross and intrigued. I was amazed he could pull it off considering how contrary those emotions were.

“Inquisitor.” He said, his voice hard. “I am told you were physically in the Fade.”

“I was, yes.”

“Remarkable. Is it possible it was only a dream? That perhaps you merely thought you were there but not physically in the Fade itself?”

“No. I don't believe so.” I said, to which he scowled at me. What was that about? He'd asked my opinion and I'd answered. Yet he looked like he thought I was either lying or had no authority to make that kind of observation.

“Truly remarkable.” He said, his voice laden with sarcasm. “To be so certain of what you see and experience, it must be wonderful to be so self-assured of one's reality.”

“I don't understand your tone Solas.” I said, feeling my anger rise. “You asked me what I thought and I told you. Why are you angry about that?”

“I am not angry, though perhaps I am envious. I apologize. I did not mean to imply you are incapable of knowing what you've seen and experienced. Though I am surprised and perhaps a little disappointed you recruited the Grey Wardens into the Inquisition. I had thought what they'd done to be unforgivable.”

“The Wardens were being controlled by Corypheus. I don't condone their actions, but they have more knowledge and experience with archdemons and blights than anyone in Thedas. Banishing them would not help in future if we abandoned them.”

“I suppose you are right. Perhaps I was hasty in my criticism. Knowledge should never be wasted or trivialized. I hope your decision proves to be a wise one. Now, I'm sure you have more important things to attend to. I will trouble you no further on this matter. Good day Inquisitor.”

----xxx----

I was in such a foul mood after speaking to Solas, I backed out of the rotunda and took the other set of stairs leading to the library. I would have had to pass Dorian if I'd taken the ones off Solas' room and didn't relish the thought of explaining why I looked so cross. I knew Leliana wouldn't comment if she noticed and since I wasn't yet sure what I thought of what had happened with him, I was fine with that.

“So you were physically in the Fade.” Leliana said, her voice cautious as I entered her work space. “I read your report, but I would like to hear it from you Inquisitor.”

“Of course Leliana.” I said. “What do you wish to know?”

“What was she like? Justinia, or her spirit... do you think it was really her?”

“She was kind and helpful and tried to protect us. I do think it was her Leliana.”

“Oh.” She said softly.

“Also, she had a message for you. Tell Leliana, I'm sorry, I failed you too.”

“Did she say anything else?”

“No. I'm sorry, but she didn't.”

“The Fade is a place of lies and illusion. Nothing there is real.” She said angrily, getting to her feet. “Justinia never failed me. I failed her.”

Sensing she did not want to discuss the matter further, I left her to her grief and memories. She was a hard woman who did not like showing weakness. She wouldn't thank me if I stayed.

Dorian

He was beside himself with fear. After their near miss at being eaten alive by a dragon or archdemon or whatever that beast had been, they'd gone to the Fade. Walked there as though it were a vacation. He was still upset Nathaniel had opened a rift and taken them there. Nothing like that had happened since the magisters of old had walked there, filled with a sense of entitlement and superiority they had dared step foot in the land of the Maker. In response, the Maker had cast them from the Fade making them the first darkspawn. According to legend, the magisters from his homeland were responsible for the Blights that had threatened the world ever since.

He couldn't imagine what affect their presence there might have had, if anything. He was terrified at the implications of how easy it had been and how much he feared anyone from his homeland finding out about it. It would be too tempting for many of them to try it for themselves without sparing a thought for what level of destruction they could unleash.

But most of all, he was angry. Angry with himself for falling for the Inquisitor and for making him think he had died, that he'd lost him before even getting the chance to know him. He felt weak and vulnerable and it was making him very cross.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

Having no one else I wanted to talk to at that moment, I took the stairs down to the library to speak to Dorian. I could hear him muttering to himself as I entered the room, his voice growing more angry as he heard me approach.

“You have remarkably little here on early Tevinter history.” He said as I stepped closer. “All these “gifts” to the Inquisition and the best they can do is the Maleficar Imperio. Trite propaganda. But if you want twenty volumes on whether Divine Galatea took a shit on Sunday, this is evidently the place to find it.”

“That's the Dorian I know.” I said, interrupting his tirade. “Criticizing every book in my library.”

“I wouldn't have to!” He snapped, turning to face me. “If you could find some rebellious heretic archivist to join the cause.”

“Are there rebellious archivists? Other than you, that is?”

“If Corypheus starts burning masterworks of literature, I'm sure a few will pop up.” He retorted, his tone returning to normal. “Did I see something by Genitivi here? I could've sworn...”

I frowned at him. “What is this about Dorian?”

He turned away from me then, his voice trembling. “When we fell into the chasm, into the Fade... I thought you were done for. I don't know if I can forgive you for that moment.”

“I... I'm sorry you had to go through it with me.” I said, stunned by his words.

“I'm not sorry I was there with you.” He said, turning to face me again. “I thought I'd lost you. You sent me ahead and then didn't follow. For just a moment, I was certain you wouldn't. I thought – this is it, this is where I lose him forever.”

“I'm sorry Dorian.” I repeated. I didn't know what else to say. I wanted to reach for him but was afraid he'd push me away.

“We went into the Fade. Physically went in.” He paused, his eyes giving away how upset he was. “Are you... all right?”

“It was horrible. Like walking in a nightmare, but everything was real. I couldn't...”

“Ah. It's as I thought.” He sighed. “The Fade is an ordeal even under normal circumstances. To be the only real thing there... beyond description. That any of us made it out alive is difficult to believe. That you made it out... a miracle.”

“You think my survival was a miracle?”

He frowned at me. “I realize you don't see how truly remarkable you are.” He said, taking a step toward me. “But you are. You survived the explosion at the Temple while everyone else died. You closed the Breach. You forged an alliance with the apostate mages without starting a war.”

I felt my heart pounding as he spoke. It was more emotion than he'd shown for me to date and I was overwhelmed. He stepped closer, gripping me by my upper arms as he pulled me to him.

“But most of all, you are remarkable to me. You are the most beautiful, most kind and most patient man I have ever met. I don't want to lose you amatus.” He said, placing a gentle kiss on my lips.

He released me then and stepped back, his brow furrowing in anger. “So don't ever do that to me again.”

I frowned back at him, confused by how quickly his tone had changed.

“You made me think you were dead!”

I reached for him then, his body stiff with fear as I pulled him into my arms.

“I'm sorry Dorian. I didn't realize.”

He blinked furiously to stem the tears that threatened to spill from his eyes. “I'm sorry too.” He said, his arms going around my back to pull me closer.

“For what?”

“For being angry with you. The mark saved your life. It saved all our lives and it's power scares me. But that's not your fault.”

“I love how much you care Dorian.” I said, my voice thick with emotion. “I've never had anyone say those things to me before.”

He laughed, his sombre expression replaced with it's usual mischievousness. “Now that, I find hard to believe.” He said, kissing me again. “With your strapping physique, your beautiful green eyes and a voice to melt butter. How can no one have ever loved these things about you?”

“I suppose I was waiting for you.”

“Ah amatus. I adore you so much.” He sighed, releasing me. “But we should stop now before we draw a crowd.”

I looked around the library to find the space empty and smiled. “I don't think we need to worry about that. Seems our discussion has scared everyone away.”

“Imagine that.” He said, looking around. “Perhaps we should argue more often.”

“Let's not.” I said. “I much prefer when we're not arguing.”

“You're very dull you know.”

“I try.”

“Hmph.” He snorted, crossing his arms over his chest.

“But there is one thing I'd like to ask you.”

“Just the one? Pity.”

“What does amatus mean?”

“You mean you don't know? What's the world coming to when a man pays a compliment to someone and they don't even understand the meaning? Barbarians, the lot of you.”

“Dorian.”

“It means... my beloved.”

“Does that mean... ?”

“Yes, yes. Try not to get all syrupy now, but it means I love you. I love you with all my heart. Now shoo before you make me cry. I'm still angry, you know.”

I laughed, all the tension dissolving between us as if it had never been. “Yes.” I smirked. “I can see that.”

He frowned at me. “Go away now. I need to stew for a while.”

“Very well.” I said, heading for the stairs. “Oh, Dorian?”

“Yes? What is it now?”

“I love you too.”

I smiled as I took the stairs, the stunned expression on his face carrying me down as though I were weightless, so light was my heart.

Dorian

He... loved me? Dorian stared unseeing at the spot Nathaniel had flashed him a grin, said the words he'd never heard from anyone before and disappeared from sight.

He was rooted to the spot, his mind at a complete loss as to what he'd been planning to do. He felt as though he were in a dream. A beautiful dream where what he most desired came true, but would end the moment he woke.

But he wasn't sleeping and it wasn't a dream and the man he loved had just told him he loved him back. It was so surreal he felt he should pinch himself just to be certain, but if it really was a dream, he didn't want to wake up.

A commotion on the stairs drew him from his thoughts and he sighed and stretched to recover some sense of normalcy to his appearance. He frowned when Sera bounded up the stairs, a foul expression on her face. On seeing him, she frowned harder before coming to a stop before him.

“There you are mister prissy pants.” She said in her girlish voice. “I need to talk to you. Come outside with me yeah?”

Dorian frowned. “You want to talk to me? Are you sure you're in the right place? I thought you hated mages. Me especially since I'm one of the evil ones from Tevinter. Wouldn't you rather talk to someone who you don't threaten on a daily basis? Perhaps Varric or Iron Bull?”

“Look you.” She barked, ignoring him. “I've got a magey question and you're it. I'm not talking to Miss noble-shite Vivienne. She's a bitch and she's always sneering at me like I smell funny. And Solas, well, he's just an arrogant shite with his head shoved up his arse like a thousand years ago.”

Dorian smirked at her assessment of their fellow mages. She wasn't wrong, but she certainly had a colourful way of describing them. He sighed, exaggerating it to make it seem like it was a huge effort on his part, though he had to admit he was curious.

“Very well then. I'll come with you. But only if you promise not to stick me with any of your arrows along the way.”

“I'm not even armed you daft tit!” Heading for the second stairwell to avoid Solas.

“You never know. You could have one hidden in that dress of yours. Perhaps shoved up one of your pants legs maybe.” He teased.

“Well, I don't, but... that's not a bad idea. For like... emergencies or whatever.”

“It's a terrible idea! It's the dumbest thing I've said all day!”

She giggled. “Sure about that? It's early yet.”

He frowned as he followed her outside. “I do not say stupid things. Now, before we get to whatever it is you're leading up to, why do you want my help?”

“Because you're a mage and you're not Vivienne and you're not Solas. And because you're helping fight bad people from your own country. Plus, the Inquisitor likes you, so you can't be all evilly like the rest of your people.”

“Evilly?”

“Stop picking on my words yeah? Or I'll go get some arrows and make you stop.”

“Well, we wouldn't want that now, would we.”

They'd reached the battlements by then and Sera led them to the top of the only tower that wasn't broken or otherwise occupied by guards. Curious, he followed her up, wondering again what in blazes was wrong with her.

“Right. So...” She began pacing the floor of the top of the tower while a bitter wind whipped at her hair. “I have questions and you since you were there you would know, but now that you're here... it's well, it sounded better in my head.”

Dorian frowned, crossing his arms over his chest, waiting.

“Don't look at me like that!” She snapped.

“What did I do now? I'm merely standing her, waiting for me to tell me what's going on.”

“You're glaring at me with that smirky look on your face, like this is just, oh so amusing.”

He sighed, uncrossed his arms and settled down cross-legged on the floor. Whatever was bothering her wasn't her normal state. He'd never seen her so anxious and certainly she had never sought his help on purpose before.

“Sera. I don't know how you expect me to look, but I'd rather not freeze to death out here waiting for you to explain. I promise I won't interrupt, but I can't help you if I don't know what's wrong.”

“I never said anything was wrong.” She snapped

“Very well. You brought me all the way up here for what? So you can stand there pacing? Insulting me and arguing there's nothing wrong?”

She groaned and sat down heavily, facing him.

“I swear on your Southern Andraste's name I will not laugh.” He said.

“Well good, cuz she'd probably smite you if you're lying.”

Dorian said nothing and waited.

“Alright.” She sighed. “So you were in the Fade. The actual Fade with the Inquisitor and that place is real, so then that means maybe the Maker is real and maybe Andraste is real. So... real thing yeah?”

“I... suppose so. Yes.” He agreed, surprised by her line of thought.

“But you were there physically, you weren't dead and you walked there and saw things and... and you came out of there alive.”

“All true. Yes.” He nodded.

“So if all that is real then did the Maker really curse us with the Blights? Or was it the Dread Wolf like the elves say it was?”

“You want my opinion on which of those two things are real?”

“Of course. You're smart yeah, or you pretend you are. Always got your nose in some book or whatever. Always reading.”

“All true, yes. But I haven't ever considered which of those stories were true. I always thought he difference was more based on cultural things. The elves believed in magic and reading signs and omens and they were immortal. And humans believed in strength and knowledge and that magic was to be feared rather than respected.”

“Pfft.” She snorted. “Respect is the same as fear Sparkler. Just a different way of saying it.”

“Fine.” Dorian huffed. “My point is that each group has different stories to help them explain the absence of their gods.”

“So you don't know?” She said, her voice angry.

“I never considered it. And I haven't spent much time with elven history.”

“Why in Andraste's name not?” She spluttered. “Aren't you like an archivist or something? Important or whatever back home?”

“I am an archivist Sera, but there are very few records of the elven gods. It does exist, but most of what hasn't been lost is locked away in Chantry vaults. And for obvious reasons, the Dalish don't share what they do still have in their possession.”

“Fine. Whatever. But now that I've asked you, you'll find out and give me an answer yeah?”

“You're serious.”

“Of course I'm serious! I need to know if I'm praying to the right gods or not!”

He was so stunned by her words that he hadn't a clue how to respond. Yet now that she'd brought it up, he realized that somewhere in the back of his mind, he'd been wondering the same thing.

“Alright Sera. I'll see what I can do. I'll ask the Inquisitor to send a request to Tevinter. I”m sure there are some books there I can consult. Perhaps I can check with Leliana as well.”

“Good.” She said, getting to her feet. “Hoped you'd say that.”

“You did? Why?”

“Can you imagine me asking Leliana to find something like that? She'd think I was having her on and get me a picture book or something. Come on then.” She said, extending her hand to help him up. “Let's get down from here. I'm freezing my arse off.”

Dorian laughed. “Well good. I thought I was the only one feeling the cold.”

“Not one of my better ideas.” She agreed, heading down the ladder. “I'll have a better place for privacy next time.”

Somehow, Dorian didn't find that as comforting as she'd intended.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

Feeling more positive about things than I had in weeks, we headed out to the Exalted Plains. No Solas or Sera this trip though. The last thing I needed was Sera disparaging any Dalish we might encounter, or Solas and his moody, dark comments about the evil nature of humans.

I was well aware of human shortcomings. I certainly didn't need him insulting me or my long-dead ancestors. Especially since I also knew he'd be aiming the majority of his comments at Dorian, seeing him and his country as the root cause of every human failing.

It was a dismal place, made worse by the civil war which was currently being waged over the stupidest thing I'd ever heard –whether the current Empress or her cousin Gaspard should rule Orlais.

Yes. While a giant hole in the sky threatened all of Thedas and an ancient, supposedly long-dead magister was waging war on Grey Wardens and Templars, Orlais had decided now was a good time to argue over rulership. Yet another reason why I hadn't brought Solas.

I had, however, brought Dorian, Cole and Iron Bull. I wasn't sure Bull could keep his suggestive comments to Dorian in check, but I hadn't a choice in the matter. Blackwall had once again rubbed me the wrong way with his evasive answers to my questions about the Wardens and Cassandra was busy trying to track down the rest of her Seeker order.

Despite all that I was still glad to have Bull there. He was bigger than the three of us combined, and his sheer size was intimidating enough that I'd seen some enemies run off at the sight of him. He was very striking, even from a distance. With his bare chest, piercing stare and large horns, I'd found him very useful for scaring off bandits when the rest of us were too tired to deal with them.

Especially lately. Between closing rifts, dealing with rogue fanatics who wanted me dead, hand-holding nobles and fighting demons, I was growing increasingly exhausted. Once we finished helping out the missing and presumed dead Orlesian army stationed here, we had to finish up our exploration of the Emerald Graves.

After closing some rifts, claiming several logging stands and a quarry and recovering some ancient elven runes, we found the Dalish camp. They weren't overly hostile, but their Keeper was less than pleased to see us. Thankfully, I knew their history and had enough spare resources on me that I soon gained his trust.

From there, we headed for the two military outposts which had somehow become overrun with the undead. It was a disturbing business, especially when we had to burn the pile of bodies at the end. But the four of us had become adept at clearing hot-spots, and were on our way to the main army encampment in under two hours.

Unfortunately, by the time we made camp it was very dark. After eating a light meal, I bid everyone goodnight and crawled into bed. I was sure Dorian would wonder at that, but I was too tired to care. Within minutes of my head hitting the bedroll, I was out as surely as though I'd been drugged.

Dorian

Nathaniel had been acting strange all day. At first he hadn't noticed much, but when he began going around things, rather than through or over them and hanging back when they ran into demons or mercenaries, he felt the first stirring of alarm.

He'd planned to question him after they made camp, but he'd gone to bed so soon after that he hadn't been given the chance. He could feel Bull watching him from his spot across the fire, the flames flickering in his eyes.

"Notice anything odd today Vint?" Bull asked.

Dorian sighed. "Please don't call me that."

"My apologies Dorian. Well?"

"Yes. The Inquisitor has seemed quite tired today."

"And the avoiding enemies? The going around and hanging back?"

"Yes. I noticed that too."

"Well?" Bull pressed.

"Well what?"

"What's wrong with him? You're a mage. You should know. Besides, aren't the two of you like... real close these days?"

"What does my being a mage have to do with anything?"

"Mages always know shit us normal people don't. It's what they do."

"I hate to disappoint you, but I don't know." Dorian snapped. "I'm just as confused as you are. I was going to ask him after we made camp, but..."

"But he's already crashed." Bull nodded. "So go in there and do some mage stuff and find out."

Dorian was shocked. "You want me to work magic on the Inquisitor while he's sleeping?"

"Yeah. So? What's the problem? It's not like he'll kick you out if you wake him up."

"That's not the point!"

"What is the point?"

"It's rude, it's invasive... it's wrong!"

"I... oh. I didn't think of that, but what if it's poison or something?"

"What poison? Nothing we encountered today was poisonous, not even the plants we gathered were toxic."

"Well I don't know!" Bull thundered. "But aren't you worried?"

"Vasha Kaffas!" Dorian swore. "Of course I'm worried you big hairless ox, but I'm certainly not going to assault him with magic while he's unconscious."

"I never..."

"Just stop." Dorian said, getting to his feet. "I'm going in there to check on him alright? If I think he needs medical attention we'll return to Skyhold immediately."

"Fine."

"As if I would put his health at risk..." Dorian muttered.

"I wasn't..." Bull sputtered, but stopped at Dorian's icy stare.

Ducking inside Nathaniel's tent, his heart raced with fear. He'd been doing his damnedest to cover his growing concern with anger, but the more Bull talked, the more anxious he'd become. It was several minutes before he was calm enough to run a few tests with his magic over his lover's sleeping form.

After twenty minutes, he emerged from the tent. His heart and breathing calm as he rejoined Bull at the fire.

"I think it's just mental exhaustion." He said, accepting the mug of ale Bull offered him. "That or the desolation of this place. Perhaps a little of both."

"So no poison then?"

"No poison. But I gave him an antidote just to be sure."

"Good." Bull nodded. "I've been thinking."

"Never a good sign." Dorian teased, feeling more like himself.

"Very funny." Bull cleared his throat. "I wanted to apologize. You're not like any mage I've met before. You're honest, sincere and you care a great deal about a lot of things. A little prickly maybe, but inside you're a man of your word and you have great passion for the things you care about."

"I..." Dorian could do nothing to hide the look of surprise he wore. "I don't know what to say, except thank you."

"You're welcome. Besides, the Inquisitor seems to care about you and he is not the kind of man who invests in someone lightly. I respect him and by extension, I respect you too."

"I have to say, that was the last thing I ever expected to hear from anyone. Especially not from a Ben-Hasrath. I too owe you an apology. You're not what I expected and you've shown nothing but loyalty and dedication to the Inquisitor and his cause. I apologize if I have ever offended you."

"No need." Bull smiled. "I'm sure I've pissed you off one or two times and I probably deserved it."

"Well you're not wrong about that."

"I've got your back mage and you've got mine. We're better than good, we're friends."

"Really? Well that deserves a toast. Another round?"

"Definitely."

A faint groaning sound coming from the Inquisitor's tent made them both turned to stare as Bull refilled their mugs.

"Bad dream maybe?" Bull asked just as Cole stepped into the the circle of light cast by the fire.

"Cole!" Dorian exclaimed. "You scared the piss out of me! Where have you been?"

"Wandering. Speaking with spirits. Most can't hear me though or maybe don't want to. Can't tell. I heard you Dorian."

"Heard me what?"

"Crying on the inside. Worry, fear, please don't be hurt. I can't, I can't, not again."

"Shit kid." Bull grumbled. "You can be a real mood killer sometimes."

"I'm sorry. But I heard you too."

"Don't! "Bull said, holding up his hand. "I know what I was thinking. I don't need you repeating it."

"No. But it's not just exhaustion. It's this place that's hurting him."

"What?" Dorian exclaimed. "What are you talking about Cole?"

"Deep within the earth, there is something pulling, crying, calling. It's like magic, only different. Elven I think. It's attracted to the mark, asking him to stay."

"Kaffas!" Dorian swore. "Then we need to get him out of here."

"It's too late Dorian." Cole said, shaking his head."It asked him as soon as he fell asleep. He said no and it went away."

Dorian felt cold all over. Whatever Cole was going on about, it wasn't good. He didn't understand it, but he could feel the boy's sorrow hidden in his words.

"Then what did you mean by it's too late? If he said no, he should be fine now yes?"

"He didn't say no until he slept. It drew on him all day without his knowing. What it took is gone. He'll be awake soon. He won't be tired tomorrow."

"Dammit. That does not make me feel better. Why can't you make sense?"

"Dorian." Bull said softly, shaking his head.

"I'm sorry Cole. I shouldn't have shouted."

"It's all right Dorian. I know how much you care. I'm sorry, but there's more. It's important."

Dorian held up his hand to stop Cole speaking. "One minute. Bull, I don't suppose you brought anything stronger with you?"

Bull smiled and rummaged in his small sack. "I have just the thing." He said handing him a mug half-filled with dark liquid. "Antivan brandy. Just don't ask where I got it."

"Not to worry." Dorian said, taking a healthy swallow. "I don't much care at the moment."

"Alright Cole." Bull said. "Tell us what you need to say."

"Light, light. The light shone so very bright when first I saw it him in Haven's night. But now grows dim, there's less within, in time it will darken him."

"Kaffas!" Dorian whispered, downing the brandy in a single swallow and getting to his feet. "I... need to walk. Excuse me."

"Shit kid." Bull murmured after Dorian left. "Does that mean what I think it means?"

"What?"

"That the mark is taking the Inquisitor's life?"

"Maybe. I'm not sure."

"Does he know?"

"It hurts sometimes when he closes a rift. At first it felt good, like closing a door on a cold day or standing by a fire to warm. Now it brings pain and a pulling away. He doesn't understand what it means, but for a time he feels better when another rift closes."

"And what happens when he uses it to stop Corypheus?"

"I don't know. Maybe nothing. It's only the rifts affecting the mark. Though the orb might be affecting it too."

"Kaffas. So why'd you have to tell us about the light then? Maybe the light getting darker just means there's less rifts."

"It's possible." Cole agreed. "But it doesn't sound right."

"Hmph." Bull grunted. "Do me a favour kid, next time you want to share something like that, talk to me first alright?"

"Why?"

"Because that way I can tell you if what you want to say will help or hurt. Understand?"

"Yes. I think so."

"Good. Just don't forget."

"I promise."



 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I groaned as I stretched in my bedroll. I'd slept deeper last night than I had in months. I didn't know what had brought it on, but I was aware I felt better much better now.

Dorian moaned softly in his sleep beside me and I smiled at his sleeping form, throwing my arm over him and snuggling into his back. Still asleep, he responded, pushing himself more snug against my chest and letting a sigh of pleasure pass his lips. The gesture was so endearing to me that I felt my heart swell with gratitude for his presence.

But it was quickly followed by alarm. Dorian had never shared my tent before, nor had he yet to spend the night in my quarters at Skyhold. My heart hammered in confusion and a faint trickle of alarm washed over me.

Something must have happened, but I couldn't remember. I couldn't recall anything that might have compelled him to join me. He was still uncertain of my sincerity and of trusting me, despite his declaration of love. It didn't bother me, since I could do nothing but let him come to me on his own. But what in Andraste's name had happened?

Moving slowly so as not to disturb him, I eased out from under the covers, retrieved my clothes and stepped outside into the chilly dawn air.

Bull was already up, cooking breakfast. “Hey boss.” He said. “Good to see you up. Just cooking some breakfast. Have a seat.”

I finished putting on the last of my armour and joined him by the fire.

“You're up early.” I said.

“Yeah. Don't trust this area. Sure we cleared out most of the undead around here, but there's something about this place. Got me on edge.”

“True. It does have that creep factor about it.” I nodded, lapsing into silence while I watched him work. “Hey. You know where Cole might be?”

“He's over by that little stream we crossed. Says he likes watching the light on the water or something. Says he's listening to it.”

“Right. Thanks Bull.” I said, getting to my feet. “I'll go find him.”

“No disrespect boss, but the kid's a bit creepy. Why you letting him stick around?”

“I don't know. I found his story sad. I just couldn't send him away.”

“Mmm.” Bull mumbled. “I can see that. Well, food will be ready soon. Hurry back. I'm starving.”

I found Cole sitting on a rock on the opposite bank. He was rocking himself, his eyes fixed on the river beneath his feet.”

“Hey Cole.”

“Hello.” He said, smiling while keeping his eyes on the water. “Did you sleep well?”

I had crossed the river and taken a seat beside him when he asked. I was surprised by the question. Cole never ask about things like that. Something had happened then.

“I did actually. Why do you ask?”

“You were very tired.”

Right. That was it. I'd been so drained by the time we made camp yesterday I couldn't wait to crawl into my tent. But that didn't explain why Dorian was in there.

“Cole, what happened last night? Do you know why Dorian is in my tent?”

“Yes.” He stopped swinging his legs and looked at me. “I heard his hurt and tried to fix it. But I made a mistake and instead I made it worse.”

“What do you mean?” What could Cole have said to hurt Dorian?

“I told him why you were tired and that your light isn't as bright as before.”

My light? I assumed he meant the mark and Cole agreed when I asked. Then he recited the rhyme he'd told Bull and Dorian and my heart froze.

No. I thought. No! It can't mean what he's suggesting. That with each rift I closed, my life was closer to ending.

“Yes.” He said, reading my thoughts. “I'm sorry.”

I shot to my feet and caught Dorian watching me where he stood by the fire. His eyes were filled with such sorrow and fear I could feel it from where I stood. My eyes brimmed with tears and I looked away. I couldn't do this. I couldn't see that hurt today.

I whistled for my horse, which appeared at my side moments later. “Tell Bull and Dorian to pack up the camp.” I said, mounting the horse. “We're going back to Skyhold.”

Cole stood, confusion in his eyes. “But don't we still have to help the other people?”

“Not today Cole. I need to get back. I'll see you there.” I turned away then and spurred my horse forward, not looking back.

Dorian

He woke alone and fear lanced through him when he realized Nathaniel was gone. In the distance, he could hear the low murmur of voices and relaxed slightly. As he dressed, the memory of Cole's words hit him anew and he hurried from the tent, anxious to see his amatus whole.

He could do nothing to hide the fear he knew marked his features, so when Nathaniel saw him he knew he saw it. He itched to stop him talking to Cole, but Nathaniel was a driven man. If he wanted answers to something, he would get them one way or another.

He'd just finished half the breakfast Bull had prepared when heard the whistle Nathaniel used to call his horse. Alarmed, he shot to his feet, dumping his plate of food to the ground. He watched in mute surprise as his amatus mounted the horse and took off in the direction of Skyhold.

“Hey!” Bull cried, not noticing. “I put a lot of work into preparing that food mage.”

Cole came running up to them then, breathless, his face filled with worry and confusion.

“He said to pack up the camp. We're going back to Skyhold.”

“What?” Bull thundered, looking around in confusion. “Where's the Inquisitor?”

Cole pointed to a speck in the distance. “There. He didn't want to wait.”

“Shit.” Bull muttered. “What did you tell him kid?”

“What he wanted to know.”

“Specifics Cole.” Dorian said, his voice cold. “Did you tell him what you told us?”

“Not everything, no. I told him the rhyme I told you.”

“Damnation.” Dorian swore, hurrying to help pack up the camp. “Come on, we have to catch him.”

“Why?” Cole asked, confused.

“Before he does something stupid.” Dorian snapped.

“Like what?”

Seeing Dorian's' increasing foul mood, Bull took Cole aside and set him to work packing up the camp. He didn't think Dorian would attack the kid, but he was worried. He wasn't as attached to the Inquisitor as Dorian was so he couldn't imagine how the man felt. Though if he had, Cole's ignorance about the situation would probably have made him want to lash out.

In silence, they packed up the camp and headed out, their pace as fast as they dared over the rocky terrain. When Dorian pulled ahead, Bull said nothing. Whatever the mage was feeling, he knew his own heart was having trouble being positive. And if that was the case, Dorian's heart was likely in danger of breaking. He knew the only thing on the mage's mind was the Inquisitor, the man he clearly loved.

Nathaniel

I was winded by the time I reached Skyhold. I'd ridden my horse hard, stopping to rest only a few hours as I crossed Thedas.

Inside the courtyard, many of the people smiled when they saw me, but soon turned to confusion when the rest of my companions failed to appear. I ignored the looks, speaking to no one as I walked through the main hall to my room.

Upon reaching the door, I paused to lock it behind me, something I never did, and proceeded up the stairs. When I reached my room, a fire had been lit and the space was infused with warmth. I stood there, staring at the extravagance around me as my eyes began to well with unshed tears.

Cole's words echoed in my mind like a death knoll. A drumbeat that was slowly winding down and my grief was suddenly replaced with anger. I needed to hit something, break something. The energy building within me needed release and I paced the floor, my body growing tense with each passing minute.

Remembering the odd balcony at the back of the room, I headed for the door and looked around. I spotted an old crate and upon inspecting it, found it filled with discarded plates and lugged it up the ladder to the balcony which overlooked my room.

I grabbed a plate and threw it at the wall, some of my tension easing as the satisfying sound of it shattering reached my ears. I threw plate after plate, until half the crate was empty, each one bring me a small sense of release.

I threw another and felt my knees give out as the implication of Cole's words reached my heart. I sank to the floor, tears coursing down my cheeks and wept. I had thought something was wrong with the mark, but it had only become apparent yesterday. The exhaustion hadn't felt natural and though I suspected the mark was to blame I didn't know. I had never travelled or worked so hard before and had brushed it off as a natural result of overexertion.

Certainly the mark hurt at times, but the pain was brief and fleeting. Nothing at all like what I'd felt when I'd closed the breach, which had been excruciating. Smaller rifts felt like nothing more than the brief sting of an insect bite. Noticed in the moment, then forgotten. I thought the mark might be changing, but I really couldn't tell since I was constantly tired.

Yet Cole's words struck a chord in me. But because of my exhaustion I couldn't tell if it was true fear or the fear I had harboured since receiving the mark of not being able to defeat Corypheus, of not being enough. Combined with that was my fear of losing Dorian and my heart hurt.

No, no, no. It can't be true. I was not dying. Not now, not after finding Dorian and having my love returned. It wasn't fair! I had been looking forward to being with him after we dealt with Corypheus. Assuming we survived, I had hoped to spend the rest of my life with him. Happiness on a level I had never imagined having filled me whenever he smiled at me or kissed me or stared into my eyes.

Dorian... I whispered. Oh, my heart, I should never have encouraged you. If what Cole said came to pas, it would break him. My sobs quieted even as the tears continued to course down my cheeks. I had thought to ask Dorian to marry me, but I wouldn't be doing that now. I couldn't promised to be with him forever when I wasn't sure I had forever to give.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I heard footsteps on the stairs and froze. Who in damnation could that be? I'd locked the bloody door! Had someone broke the lock? I held my breath, waiting as the tread on the stairs grew louder, my heart sinking as Dorian appeared below me.

“Amatus?” He called. “What are you doing up there?”

“Nothing.” I lied, swiping a sleeve over my damp face, brushing away my tears.

He smiled, crossing his arms over his chest. “Well that's clearly not accurate. Fortunately for me, you're a very bad liar.”

“I'm not lying.”

“We both know that's not true. Now come down here and talk to me.”

Reluctant, I did as he asked, catching sight of the haunted look in his eyes as I did. Maker, here I was worried about causing him pain, yet I'd already done that when I fled from him. Yes, I was doing such a good job of not causing him pain, wasn't I?

When I reached him it was all I cold do to meet his eye, but the pain I felt was too strong and I looked away.

“I'm sorry I took off like I did.” I said, relieved when my voice didn't crack with grief. “I'm sorry I made you worry. I didn't mean to hurt you.”

A sharp intake of breath made me look at him, his eyes filled with an emotion I couldn't read. Wordlessly he crossed the room, crushing me to his chest so hard I almost couldn't breathe.

The feel of him, with his arms around me was so welcome and made me feel so safe, I hugged him back, my body relaxing even as tears spilled down my cheeks.

“Hush amatus.” He whispered, his hands rubbing in circles on my back. “No need to apologize. Anyone would have reacted the same after hearing Cole's words.”

I sniffed, not trusting myself to speak.

“But I was very worried about you. I wasn't certain you would actually return here. You scared me amatus. Please don't do that again. I don't think my heart could take it.”

“Dorian I don't deserve you.” I said, hating that my reaction had hurt him. This was the second time I'd scared him and he'd asked me not to do it again. Yet I had and hadn't even thought twice about it. I felt unworthy and couldn't meet his eyes.

“Nonsense.” He clucked. “What a strange thing to say. What brought this on?”

I pulled away from him, not wanting him to comfort me as I spoke. I'd been selfish and in my haste to protect myself, I'd hurt him again. “I scared you. You asked me not to after what happened in the Fade and I did again.”

“Maker's breath...” He whispered, drawing me to him. He kissed me then, his lips so soft and gentle, I felt my heart breaking and I whimpered, feeling lost. He pressed his lips to mine again, this time with hunger, his tongue seeking mine and I responded in kind with hunger of my own.

He pressed himself to me and I could feel his need match my own, making my pulse jump in my throat. He came up for air and smiled, pressing his lips to my neck to trace a line of kisses along my jaw. I felt myself sway and he gripped me more firmly to keep me steady, a growl coming from deep within his throat as he began to remove my clothing.

I moaned as his fingers brushed my skin at the line of my pants and I shivered under his touch. I felt him smile as he worked to remove my breeches until I stood naked before him. He sighed at the sight of me and I looked at him, my breath catching at the molten hunger I saw in his eyes.

“Oh amatus.” He whispered. “Never have I seen a more beautiful sight.”

I couldn't speak, so overcome with desire and longing was I, so I reached for him and drew his shirt over his head. I pressed my lips to his breast, sucking hungrily before the garment hit the floor at my feet. He groaned, arching his back to me, silently asking for more.

I swayed again and he drew me to the bed, his grip tight on my waist to steady me. He pushed me onto my back and climbed onto the bed, settling himself between my legs. His eyes watched me and I moaned in response to what he asked without words.

He lowered his lips to me and licked a long, wet line up the back of my member and I twitched all over at his touch. I opened my eyes to see him grinning at me, the pleasure of my reaction filling him with desire. Smiling wickedly, he bent his head again, his hot wet mouth taking me inside him and I arched my back at the sensation of his lips around me.

He began to suck, slowly at first then faster and faster. Spots burst behind my eyes as he slowed, taking only the tip of me in his mouth and rolling his tongue over and around me. I was lost to his touch and my mind couldn't have formed words even if I'd wanted to. I shuddered as my pleasure crested, feeling him increase the pressure of his sucking.

“Dorian...” I croaked, unable to form words.

“Fill me amatus. Let me help you carry your burden.”

I cried out then as my pleasure burst, filling him. He swallowed convulsively, his throat a pleasure I hadn't known before as he took in all of what I had, waiting for my body to still before removing his mouth from me. I grabbed for him then, catching his face in my hands and reached up to kiss him deeply. He moaned as my tongue sought his and I could feel his hardness press into my chest.

I released him and pushed him back onto the pillows. His eyes went wide with surprise as I moved between his legs, pressing them apart with my knees. “Amatus.” He croaked. “You don't have to...”

“Hush, my heart.” I said, stroking my hand up his thigh. “I want this. I want to feel you under my lips. He fell back to the pillows, the tension leaving his body as I bent my head to take him in my mouth. “Oh Dorian.” I whispered. “You are so beautiful.”

I licked a line up the back of his member, turning my head so I could lightly suck the sensitive skin there into my mouth. Up and down I went, his body twitching in response to my touch. He moaned and I let him go, moving to take him inside me. I pressed my lips to him, letting the wetness slide over him in light strokes from lips I wet for his pleasure. He twitched again, his hand making fists in the blankets as he fought for control. I smiled and took all of him in my mouth, taking him as deep as deep as I could without cutting off my air.

I found my rhythm and began to suck faster and faster, sliding up and down his member, my lips slick so as not to break my pace. He moaned and bucked under me.

“Amatus...” He croaked.

“Let go Dorian.” I whispered. “Be mine.”

He shuddered, his member twitching in my mouth and I increased the pressure so as not to let go under his body's reaction to his mounting release. He came then and I swallowed, mimicking everything he had done for my pleasure. I felt him soften under my lips and I swallowed again, licking my lips as I let him go.

His eyes fluttered open and he drew me up to him, kissing my lips tenderly as I lay down beside him to stare into his eyes across the pillow. He rolled to his side to look at me, his eyes filled with love and concern.

“Dorian...” I whispered as he placed a finger to my lips.

“Amatus... I know what Cole said. But you must remember that he's a spirit. He doesn't know everything and he's always making mistakes. He read your mind not the truth. He's a spirit of compassion, remember? It's entirely possible he misinterpreted what he saw there and read your fears, not what will come to pass or even what is real.”

“But...” I protested.

“No.” Dorian shook his head. “I refuse to believe you're dying, that the mark is killing you. The magic contained in the mark is powerful, but it is still magic. Which means it can be studied, understood. It's secrets can be revealed.”

“Some of what he said is true. The mark does hurt sometimes and I do feel a part of me is being pulled away.”

Dorian frowned at me, his voice angry. “Why have you never said anything?”

“Because it has always hurt, but not like when I closed the breach. It's like an insect bite, noticed and then forgotten. And I've never worked this hard before. It seemed perfectly reasonable that I'd be tired, Any normal person would be what with everything I've been doing.”

He sighed, his eyes distant. “I have to admit that I've been amazed by your energy since we came to Skyhold. Just watching you run around Skyhold is tiring. To be honest, I'm surprised you haven't collapsed from exhaustion sooner.”

“Trust me Dorian, I didn't know I was tired until it hit me yesterday. But is that what made Cole hear you? Why you were in my tent?”

“Yes. We were worried about you.”

“I thought you didn't want our friends knowing about us though. You've worried about it often enough. What made this different?”

Dorian laughed. “Cole knows everything in both our heads. And the Iron Bull is Ben-Hasrath. He's trained to know everything about everyone. The two of them already know about us amatus. It's why I came to you last night. I wanted to be by your side, reassure myself you were okay.”

“I don't understand. Is there something more?”

He then told me what Cole had said about the land at the Exalted Plains and the power which had been draining me all day.

“He could hear voices coming from beneath the earth?”

“Apparently.”

“But what does that mean? What is this power? And why there?”

“I don't know amatus. But is a sad place with a long, sad history. Hundreds of elves died there and it's just a theory, but I suspect whatever Cole sensed is elven in nature.”

I frowned, lost in thought as his words reminded me of something. “Do you think what happened might have something to do with the rune carvings we recovered?”

He looked at me with interest. “I hadn't remembered that, but it is certainly possible.”

“I just had another thought.” I said, as we disentangled ourselves to dress. “The more we learn about where Corypheus got his power, the more it seems connected to the ancient elves and their magic.”

“This is true. I wonder how we never noticed before?”

“I don't know about you, but I don't like it. All this elven magic is... well, it's making me think there's more going on than just a blighted magister dreaming of godhood. Like there's something else at work behind the scenes.”

Dorian had finished dressing and looked at me, a trouble expression on his face. “You know, I just felt a chill as you said that.”

“Then we feel the same way about this.” I said, smiling at him.

“I suppose we do.” He replied, leaning in to kiss me again. “I will never get tired of kissing you, you know?”

I smiled under his lips. “Nor I you.”

“Alright, enough of that.” He said, straightening and giving me a stern look. “You've given me an idea I want to follow up on. I want to know more about the land in the Exalted Plains. Perhaps I can find something that might help connect the pieces we seem to be missing in all this.”

“There's no one else I trust to do a better job than you, my heart.”

“Amatus, you must desist in these continued syrupy comments. I may never leave this room otherwise.”

“Promises, promises.” I teased.

“You are an evil man.” He growled, his eyes growing heavy with desire.

“Alright, alright. I won't say anymore.”

“Now that I find hard to believe. But I'm off to do my research now. Are you sure you'll be alright now? Not going to go smashing any more plates are you?”

I flushed at the memory. “No, I won't be smashing any more plates. But I should have just talked to you rather than run away. I promise I won't do it again.”

“Amatus you handled it better than I would have. Besides, smashing plates was a very wise thing to do." He said, turning to leave.

"I love you. You know that don't you?"

"I do." He said, his smile reaching his eyes. "And I love you amatus. Now enough with the syrupy words, I have work to do. Promise you'll be fine?"

"Promise."

"Good." He nodded, crossing the room to kiss me again. "You need me at all, come find me. I'll always be here for you."

"Thank you Dorian. You're too good to me."

"Nonsense. You're too good for me. I never imagined meeting anyone like you. You're a blessing, though you could ply me with wine and grapes if you're so inclined."

I laughed. "I'd love to. I'll talk to Josephine about getting some grapes. I think we already have wine."

"I was joking."

"Well I'm not and you're worth it Dorian."

"Maker's breath..." He muttered. "Very well, have it your way but you're in danger of stroking my ego a little too much."

"I can live with that."

Dorian grunted and left the room. I knew he was overwhelmed by my words, but I didn't care. My world had righted itself just from being with him, and I thanked the Maker for bringing us together for the hundredth time that month.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

Despite the reassurances he'd given Nathaniel, he was afraid for his amatus. The mark was still such an unknown and it gave him no comfort. Thankfully, Nathaniel didn't know him well enough yet to realize just how good he was at hiding his thoughts.

As he'd ridden back to Skyhold, Cole's cryptic words had haunted him. He'd had a lot of time to think on it and wasn't the least surprised to realize he'd already made the connection between the land and the ancient elves. Even the artifact was elven. At least it was according to Solas, though how he knew that was beyond him.

Which made him wonder what else Solas knew. The mage wasn't the friendliest, nor the easiest person to talk to. Not that he talked to Dorian about anything other than to point out the failings of his homeland. No, he wouldn't be asking Solas anything, yet the man puzzled him and caused a nugget of suspicion to settle in his gut.

Shaking off his ruminations, he turned his thoughts back to what he'd just shared with his amatus. The man was determined to break his heart, he just knew it. Yet he was filled with such love for him, he was certain his heart would burst with joy and happiness whenever he gazed into those gorgeous green eyes.

He had never experienced anything like what he felt with Nathaniel. Not with anyone. The fact that he had given him oral pleasure the way he had, made his cheeks flush with the memory. It had been pure joy when he'd put his mouth on him. His pulse sped at the memory and he shook himself to banish the images it conjured. It just wouldn't be civilized to speak with the Nightingale about books with his eyes all glassy and his palms damp with remembered passion.

He shook himself again, wiping his palms down his pants to dry them before climbing the stairs to her office.

“Dorian?” Leliana greeted. “What brings you up here?”

“I have a favour to ask my dear Nightingale. I wonder if I might trouble you to track down anything you can find regarding the ancient elves and their gods. Specifically anything on the Dread Wolf, or Fen'Harel as the Dalish refer to him.”

“Does this have something to do with why the Inquisitor returned to Skyhold alone?”

Dorian nodded. “It does. Something strange happened while we were in the Exalted Plains. He was overcome with exhaustion. Cole said some upsetting things, though I cannot say for certain what he said can be taken literally.”

“Cole is a strange addition to the Inquisition. Though I have found many things he says to be true, if not clear.” Leliana agreed.

“That was my take on it as well.”

“I'll see what I can do.” She said, smiling. “I'm aware of your growing attachment to the Inquisitor and he to you. I want you to know I'm pleased by it. The burden he carries should not be carried alone and given your actions to protect him from Alexius, I cannot imagine anyone better to fulfill that role.”

Dorian blushed. “My Lady Nightingale, I am both pleased and flattered you think so. I was afraid you and others would see it as undue influence.”

She shook her head. “Despite your tendency to hide your feelings behind a carefree facade, you have a heart of gold Dorian. Anyone can see that once they get to know you, which is likely what drew the Inquisitor to you in the first place.”

“In that case, I thank you for telling me. If I might trouble you further, I would like to do something special for him. Do you know what he might like as a surprise? I'm afraid he hasn't shared much of what he did prior to becoming the Inquisitor, though I do know he likes to read.”

“I have a few thoughts.” She smiled. “And I think it's a wonderful idea. Give me a few days and I'll have something for you on both requests.”

“Thank you my Lady. You have been a delight to talk to.”

Nathaniel

After a few days, what had happened on the Exalted Plains began to seem more and more like a bad dream. Though Cole's words had been shocking, I realized that much of my reaction was a direct result of over-exertion. I would never had reacted so drastically if I'd been taking better care of myself and apologized to Dorian again for neglecting myself. He had kissed me then saying that if I wouldn't pay attention to my needs, he was more than willing to do it for me. I had kissed him back, telling him how grateful I was for him and how I hoped he would let me do the same for him.

We returned to the Plains a day later, freed the blockaded garrisons there and headed back to the Emerald Graves. The mark became less of a source of pain as I closed the rifts there, freed some refugees and recovered messages for Cullen, who was searching for the Red Templar stronghold.

“I hear you and Dorian have become close Inquisitor.” Cullen observed as I joined him in his office. “I have to say I was surprised to see it, but it is clear you care very deeply for one another. It is inspiring to see such a thing in these troubled times.”

“I... thank you Cullen.” I stammered. Did everyone know? Not that I was surprised, but Cullen hadn't struck me as the kind of person to gossip.

“I didn't mean to intrude Inquisitor.” He blushed. “I only wished to offer my support. I've heard the gossip, much as I detest such things and wanted to reassure you that none of us here think badly of the connection you share with Lord Pavus. In fact, many of your companions are pleased by it. It gives us hope there is a future to look forward to after this business with Corypheus is taken care of.”

I smiled. “If that's true I should tell Dorian. He's been very reluctant to be more open about our relationship. He's afraid many would see it as nothing but a bid for power and influence given he is a mage from the Imperium.”

“He may be from Tevinter, but he is not what I expected. Also, without his help, we would not have been able to stop Alexius from destroying the world. And he saved your life – both in the future and now. I cannot imagine how anyone could think he had ulterior motives after that. His life was in just as much danger as yours. No one risks that sort of thing lightly.”

“I'm pleased to hear that Cullen. I'd thought something similar, but was unsure whether or not anyone else realized just how much he risked by coming to us.”

“Thankfully, not all of us allow history to tell us what to think. I have you to thank for that Inquisitor.”

I frowned at him. “What do you mean?”

“When I told you of my desire to break my lyrium addiction, you didn't judge me. You helped me see how I could make a difference in the world if I didn't give up. My beliefs in the world and the teachings of the Chantry have defined my life for a very long time. I'm not sure I would have been as accepting of Dorian had I still been taking lyrium.”

“I'm glad I could help in that case.”

“You do more than you realize Inquisitor. Now, I think I've taken enough of your time. I'm sure you have other things to attend to.”

Dorian

After talking to Leliana he headed for the tavern. He'd insisted Nathaniel take some time off from saving the world and he'd agreed. They'd be staying in Skyhold for the next two days before returning to the Exalted Plains. Though Nathaniel truly did need a break, Dorian was more concerned about returning to the Plains. He wasn't certain he could trust what Cole had said about the power beneath the earth and hoped he could learn more before they returned there.

In the meantime, he needed a drink and normalcy. Not that warming a chair with his butt in Skyhold's only tavern was normal, but it was better than stewing in his own juices alone in the library.

“Hey Sparkler.” Varric called as he passed the dwarf's table by the fireplace.

“Varric.”

“Heard there was some trouble out on the Exalted Plains.”

Dorian hesitated. “Some. Yes.”

“Calm down Sparkler.” Varric said, holding his palms out. “I just thought you could use a drink and some company. You have that look.”

“What look would that be?”

“Drowning your thoughts in copious amounts of cheap alcohol.”

“It is utterly unnerving how you manage to read people so effectively.” Dorian huffed. “Gives the impression you're as resourceful as our Lady Nightingale.”

Varric chuckled. “Unfortunately I will never be that effective. I get too involved with my people. Tends to put a damper on the whole secret spy thing.”

“I see. Well you've rooted me out. If you're not bothered by a bit of brooding, then by all means, join me.”

Varric laughed again, falling into step beside him. “Sparkler I've seen moody AND broody. Your moods pass too quickly to qualify.”

“You've had a lot of experience with broody people Varric?”

“Just the one. At first, I thought it was one of the hardest moods to be around. Then I met Choir Boy.”

“By your tone, I take it this Choir Boy wasn't a friend of yours.”

“More like an acquaintance. But that's a story for another time. What are you having? I'm buying.”

“You're buying? Did you lose a bet or something? I thought dwarves hoarded their riches.”

“I'm a surface dwarf and a business man Sparkler. Only dwarves in Orzammar hoard.”

“Very well, I'm in the mood for some brandy.”

“I like how you think Sparkler.” Varric said, placing their order before heading for a table on the second floor.

“So. You wanna fill me in on what happened?”

“Not particularly, but I'm sure you'll find out somehow. May as well come from me.” Dorian huffed.

After telling him everything, from the Inquisitor's strange behaviour to Cole's cryptic comments, he waited while Varric stared quietly into his mug of Chasind Sack Mead.

“Well it's weird, I'll give you that.” Varric said. “But it's not the weirdest thing I've heard. You have considered the possibility that the mark is dimming because of all the rifts the Inquisitor has closed right?”

“Yes. The thought did occur to me.”

“The elf stuff though... that doesn't seem like a coincidence given the orb Corypheus has is also supposed to be elven.”

“No it doesn't.” Dorian agreed. “I've asked Leliana to find me some books on the area's history.”

“Sera mentioned you were also looking into something on elven gods?”

“I am. I just talked to Leliana about that.”

“Well I've got a friend back in Kirkwall who might be able to help. I'll write to her, see what she thinks. Might have to send for her though – she's not the best writer.”

“She? What sort of friend are we talking about Varric?”

“An elven girl. Daisy is passionate about her people's history. If there's something to know about this Fen'Harel person, she's the best one I know to ask.”

“I appreciate that, but why are you so interested?”

“Because we're coming across too many coincidences Sparkler. Coincidences are fine on occasion, but we're finding more than I'm comfortable with. Which means there's probably more going on than we know.”

“More than just an ancient Tevinter magister with delusions of godhood?”

“Exactly.”

Dorian sighed. “I was rather hoping I was just being paranoid.”

“Paranoid is just another way of being prepared. Besides, I know how much you care about the Inquisitor. Nothing wrong with being prepared Sparkler.”

“You know about that?”

“Storyteller remember? It's my job to notice things.”

“Kaffas.” Dorian muttered. “If you know, then everyone else knows too.”

“If you're worried about people judging you, don't be. Everyone can see this isn't a play for power and those who can't don't matter.”

“You make it sound so simple Varric.”

“It is simple. Why do you think I live on the surface? Noble crap is just that, crap. In the bigger picture, none of that shit matters. It's the people we love that matter, the rest is just scenery.”

“What are you two doing hiding in a corner?” Sera asked, dropping into a chair beside Varric.

“Just having a friendly chat Buttercup.” Varric said, easing back in his chair.

“Yeah?” She said, eyeing Dorian.

“What's that look for?” He asked, frowning.

“So... you and the Inquisitor hey? What's that like? Jousting?”

Dorian smiled. “Fewer horses, marginally. More cheering, definitely.”

Sera giggled. “Nice.”

“You came all the way over here just to ask me that?”

“Course I did. Had to know if the rumours were true. Plus it looks good on you. Both of you I mean. I think it's sweet. Seeing it happen while everything else is pure shite... well, it give people hope yeah?”

“I... never thought of it that way.” Dorian admitted.

Sera frowned. “Only reason you didn't see it like that's cuz you're still looking at things like a rich tit. Always whinging and whining about what people think – but they're nobles, they aren't real people. They don't know what really matters. People matter. Friends, lovers, whatever.”

“I can't believe you managed all that in one go Sera.” Dorian teased. “But thank you for saying it.”

“I... what? You mean you agree with me?”

“He agrees Buttercup.” Varric smiled. “And I couldn't have said it better myself. A toast. To friends.”

“Now you're talking.” She smiled, raising her cup.

“Here, here.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

After Dorian left to speak with Leliana, I changed out of my travel clothes and headed to the stables to speak with Blackwall. I hadn't spent much time with him since Adamant or brought him on many of my excursions throughout Thedas. Part of it was his attitude towards nobles in general, Dorian in particular. Coupled with his lack of insight into the Wardens and Corypheus I'd been hard pressed to find any reason he would be helpful out in the field. I hoped by now that his perspective had seen some improvement, though I wasn't holding my breath.

"Inquisitor." He said, looking up from working on a wooden rocking horse he was crafting. "This... this is just something to keep idle hands busy."

"It's finely crafted." I said, admiring the woodwork.

"Thank you. Also, I'm glad you stopped by. I've been meaning to thank you for tracking down the Grey Warden artifacts. You're a busy man, you didn't have to help me yet you did anyways. I appreciate that."

"Just glad I could help." I said, still eyeing the horse.

"Was there something else you needed?"

I hesitated. "There is actually. I wondered if you might have different opinions about nobles since your arrival at Skyhold. When we met, your perspective was a little harsh."

Blackwall blushed and looked away. "Oh. Yes, I owe you an apology for my careless words. I didn't mean to insult you or our allies."

"Actually, I think you did." I countered. "I accept your apology, but I would hope you and everyone else here could set aside their preconceived notions about others while we work together to stop Corypheus."

"You have a fair point and though it's not one of my better qualities, I will do my best. Also, I wonder if you could apologize to Dorian for me? I feel I've judged him more harshly than I should."

"I could, but wouldn't you prefer telling him yourself?"

"You honestly think he'd believe me? I'm not so sure about that."

"I'll pass on the message then."

"I would be grateful, and I will do my best to reserve judgment on anyone else I might have a problem with."

"Good and thank you. It's all I ask. I just want everyone to feel welcome here. Perhaps you'd care to join Commander Cullen and I for a game of chess this evening?"

"I appreciate the thought Inquisitor, but I never learned how to play. Perhaps we could meet for drinks some time ?"

"I'd like that. I'll let you know when I'm next available."

Dorian

Following Varric's toast, Iron Bull had joined them and they'd enjoyed another round before someone suggested a game of Wicked Grace. So far, he'd lost twice and won once, breaking even.

"I think I should quit while I'm ahead." Dorian announced. "But before I go why do you smell like overly sweet fruit? It's quite a pungent aroma."

She giggled, smiling mischievously. "Bull and I came up with a drink we named after you."

"You're joking."

"Nope, no joke."

"Alright, but why fruit?"

"Because it's equal parts smooth and tart. Like your words. And how you look at the Inquisitor."

"I do not look sweet when I look at the Inquisitor." Dorian retorted, his cheeks flushing.

"That's cute what you're doing there, but yeah, you do." She teased. "Don't worry, most of us are happy for you."

"I... had no idea."

"Not common knowledge.”

"So what's this drink called?" Dorian asked.

"We called yours The Good Tevinter."

Dorian laughed. "The Good Tevinter? I suppose it's better than the Evil Tevinter, but what's in it?"

"Rum and fruit liqueurs."

"Fruit liqueurs?"

"Yeah, so it tastes like you - smooth and tart."

"Smooth and tart? I was hoping it meant handsome and charming, but I suppose it will suffice. Dare I ask what you came up with for yourselves?"

"It's great." Bull grinned. "Mine's made with absinthe, bourbon, rum and beer. I call it Mayhem."

"Of course." Dorian mused. "How could it be called anything else?"

"Mine's the Red Jenny." Sera slurred. "Course right? Flaming shot of tequila and red cordial, followed by sweet, hard candy."

"I can't say I imagined anything else, confuses the senses yes?"

Sera laughed. "Yep. Now you're getting it."

"They came up with one for me too." Varric grumbled. "Called it the Storyteller. Apple brandy, whiskey and pear cider. I haven't tried it yet and I'm not sure I want to."

"Oh come on dwarf!" Bull roared. "You've got to try it at least once."

"Maybe another night Tiny. I've had too much already."

"So is this what the two of you do in your free time then?" Dorian asked Bull and Sera. "Mix up vile liquid  concoctions to see how drunk you can get?"

"Yeah." Bull grunted. "Not much to do around here for fun. Need a bit of entertainment once in a while."

"Killing darkspawn and dragons and such not enough for you?"

"Killing dragons is great! But the thrill wears off after a day or two. This is just a way to pass the time."

"I suppose there are worse ways to pass the time." Dorian agreed. "But I think I've had my fill for one evening so I will bid you all good night."

"Night Dorian."

"Sparkler."

Nathaniel

"Thank you for suggesting this Inquisitor." Cullen said as I joined him in the garden. "It's nice to take a break once in a while."

"I know it's not easy." I said, knowing how much the Commander thrived on work.

He laughed. "I realize you're just saying that for my benefit. And you're right. I find it hard at times to set aside my duties."

"I can't say becoming the Inquisitor was part of my life plan." I mused, moving a piece on the board.

"No, I don't suppose it was. Which reminds me, how are you feeling these days? I heard you had some trouble recently."

"You heard about that?" I sighed. "Of course you did."

"Only that you were pushing yourself too hard. I know what that's like. Well, you saw for yourself how far I'd gone a few weeks ago."

"You're right. I was pushing myself." I admitted. "Though there might also be something up with the mark. Dorian is looking into the history of the place."

"Well I hope you're feeling better now."

"I am, thanks to Dorian." I said. "As the youngest of four I didn't receive a lot of hands on care. I could take care of myself for the most part, but I guess I never learned much about my limits."

Cullen smiled. "I suppose we have that in common Inquisitor."

"I suppose we do. I hope you're feeling better as well."

"I am. I too was pushing myself too hard. I'm glad you were there to help see me through it. It's good to have friends." He said, moving his last piece. "Ah, checkmate."

"Well done Commander."

"Thank you Inquisitor. This was an excellent idea."

"I agree." I said, getting up from the table. "We should do this more often."

"Time permitting, I think I would enjoy that."

"Good evening Cullen."

"Inquisitor."

----xxx----

I kept my promise to Dorian and remained in Skyhold for the next two days. I had to admit it was exactly what I'd needed. By the third day I felt better about everything I was doing. Most of all though, I was grateful to have found Dorian. I knew I said it often enough to myself but I couldn't help it.

Despite the mark, my estrangement from my family and everything else that had happened, by comparison, Dorian seemed a miracle. And the best part about that was he was my miracle.

We returned to the Plains and freed the blockaded garrisons there before heading back to the Emerald Graves.

Varric, Dorian, Cassandra and I met with a man named Fairbanks. He'd organized and protected refugees who were trying to avoid the Freemen of the Dales. We rescued some captive refugees, closed the rifts and took out the leader of the Freemen.

As for the mark, it gradually became less of a concern and with each rift I closed, the pain diminished and I felt better. We found several letters in the Graves which provided details on red lyrium, as well as clues to the location of Corypheus' red lyrium mine.

"Cullen will want to see this." Cassandra said after we found the last letter.

"How can they have red lyrium above ground?" Varric frowned. "I thought the piece Bartrand and I found was the only one."

"I don't know Varric." I said. "Dagna told me something disturbing though. She said it was alive, organic."

"You didn't have to tell me that." He grumbled. "Now I'm going to have nightmares."

"Sorry Varric, but you did ask." I said.

"Cheer up man." Dorian said, flashing him a smile. "We're getting close to putting a stop to all this madness. Once we destroy this lyrium source, we'll be that much closer to restoring order. I for one am looking forward to it."

Varric sighed. "I suppose you're right Sparkler. We have accomplished a lot haven't we?"

"Of course we have. We're heroes. Just keep it in mind whenever you start to doubt, it makes seeing the end of the tunnel much easier."

"If you two are finished wringing your hands like a pair of  Chantry sisters, I would like to return to Skyhold." Cassandra interrupted. "I grow tired of sleeping on the ground."

I laughed. "I think we're all tired of that Cassandra. Let's head back."

"Lead the way your Inquisitorialness." Varric smiled.

"I agree Seeker." Dorian said, falling into step beside her."A nice hot meal and warm bed sounds like just what I need. Let's hurry shall we?"

Dorian

The Emerald Graves turned out to be a nice change of pace after the Exalted Plains. A handful of rifts, a band of rebels and a haunted house was much better than hordes of undead and demons. Yet he frowned at how he was now rating locations based on how much trouble they were to establish a presence in. As much as he liked the Graves, he was anxious to return to Skyhold. Leliana had assured him she'd have something for him to give the Inquisitor upon their return.

Back in Skyhold, he headed for the rookery eager to speak with the Nightingale.

"Ah Dorian." She said a smile lighting her eyes. "You've returned. Perfect timing too." She added, handing him a cloth-wrapped package.

"It feels like books." He said, noting the weight.

"It is. The Inquisitor is something of a romantic. He's been wanting to read Varric's stories. I procured all of them for you."

"Romantic? He actually likes these tales?"

"Don't look like that Dorian." She frowned. "The Inquisitor is a very educated man, but he is also a dreamer. Apparently Varric's stories have never been sold in Ostwick. There are no books of leisure there, only tomes of study."

"I'm just surprised is all, and I am very grateful for your assistance my dear Leliana." Dorian said. "What do I owe you for this?"

"Nothing at all."

"Nothing? Surely I can repay you in some way."

"I require nothing in payment. Thought I wouldn't say no to a bottle of Vint-9."

"Vint-9?" He repeated. "You've had it before then?"

"I have. Though it was a long time ago, when I was still in Orlais."

"Then consider it done, I shall send for it personally. Thank you again for this, I do appreciate it."

"You're welcome Dorian. Please let me know what he says, I'd love to hear how he likes it."

"You'll be the first to know my dear, I promise."

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

Dorian had disappeared after we returned to Skyhold, muttering about research or something. I assumed he was still looking into the history of the Plains and left him to it. If I had learned anything about him these past months, it was his passion for research.

Knowing he could be lost in his books for several hours, I decided it was time to talk to Vivienne again. We had chatted several times since arriving at Skyhold, though not of anything important. She was civil enough, but I always had the impression she was hiding her disappointment in me.

I wasn't sure how to take Vivienne. I knew why she was here and what she believed about the mage Circles. Unfortunately I didn't share her feelings and she knew it. I wanted to stay on her good side knowing how much political power she held, but found it hard to hold my tongue. I doubted our next conversation would be any different, but I was wrong.

“Inquisitor.” She said, leading me out to the balcony. “I find myself in the uncomfortable position of needing your assistance in a personal matter.”

“I'm listening Vivienne.” I said, surprised by her hesitancy.

“I need the heart of a snowy wyvern. I had an arrangement with some Orlesian chevaliers, but they were killed in the early stage of the civil war.”

“A snowy wyvern?”

“A rare and dangerous creature. Only ever spotted in the Exalted Plains unfortunately.”

Shit, I thought. The Plains were the last place I ever wanted to return to. “Can I ask what you need it for?”

“It's for a potion. Other than that it is a private matter. I do hope you understand.”

“Not really.” I frowned. “But if it's important to you, I'll see what I can do.”

“Thank you my dear.” She said. “Please come see me straight away as soon as you return.”

I left Vivienne's room lost in thought. What could she possible want with a wyvern heart? It was hard to read her, but I'd sensed an urgency in her words, as though it involved something close to her heart. Which, by all accounts, Vivienne was lacking. I'd never met a colder individual, driven forward through life by nothing more than ambition and the desire for power. I was still pondering it when Varric stopped me in the Grand Hall.

“You look troubled Inquisitor.” He noted, frowning at me.

“Not troubled Varric, confused – but it's nothing. Was there something you needed?”

“Me? No. But you missed dinner and Dorian was looking for you. Said to tell you to meet him in your quarters if I saw you.”

“I missed dinner?” Sure enough as I glanced outside, I could see the sun had already set. I must have been with Vivienne longer than I thought. “Thanks Varric. I'll head there now.”

“No problem.”

----xxx----

I heard nothing as I climbed the steps to my quarters and frowned. Even when reading, Dorian had a habit of talking to himself. It was one of the reasons he kept his chair in the library in an alcove – a small attempt to keep from disturbing the other researchers.

I entered the room and my jaw dropped. It was filled with pinpricks of light, like tiny fireflies. Most of the torches had been put out, leaving only the fireplace and several candles burning on a small table in the centre of the room.

“Dorian?” He was standing near the fireplace, the light silhouetting his firm physique in all the right places.

“Ah, amatus.” He smiled, his eyes lighting at my appearance. “I thought you'd never get here.”

“What is all this?” I asked, crossing the room to him.

“Surprise!” He said, planting a soft kiss on my lips. “I was inspired to do something a little different this evening. I thought we might share a private dinner, give you a break from all the social pressure you have to endure. Come and sit down.”

I followed him to the table, feeling overwhelmed by the gesture. “You put this together for me?” I said, eyeing the food. I could see there was both land and sea food on my plate, reminiscent of dishes popular in Ostwick. In the centre of the table was a full bottle of red wine. Was that Flames of Our Lady?

“I had a little help from our dear Nightingale.” He said, digging in.

“This is so unexpected.” I said, marvelling at how romantic it was. “I think I'm speechless.”

Dorian laughed. “Good. I take it my surprised worked.”

I smiled. “Definitely. Thank you for this. I've never had a surprise before.”

“Never?” He frowned. “You can't be serious.”

I took another bite of fish, savouring the wine and salt flavours. “Oh, but I am. Youngest child remember? Not going to provide heirs, own land or titles.”

“But why would that matter?”

“I suppose being an only child it's hard to understand.” I noted. “But large noble families tend to focus their attention on their eldest sons and daughters.”

“That's terrible. What about birthdays and things like that?”

I could tell he was upset by my casual dismissal of my past and didn't want that. “It's nothing Dorian. Don't worry about it, I want to enjoy this.”

“Its not nothing. You're telling me that in your family, you were all but invisible.”

I frowned. Damn, he wasn't going to let it go. “A fair assessment I suppose.”

“And what exactly were you expected to do with your life? Marry and disappear into the woodwork? Become a backup to your older siblings?”

He was pointing out things I'd just as soon forget, but it was my own fault for bringing it up.“Something like that.” I said, taking a sip of wine, savouring the fruity notes as I swallowed. “It bothers you doesn't it?”

“Of course it bothers me.” He snapped. “Your family treated you like you were nothing. No one should have to go through that. Tell me, if not marriage what were their plans for you?

I sighed, taking another swallow of wine. “Chantry brotherhood or Templar.”

“Maker's breath...” He muttered. “Is that why you were at the Conclave?”

I snorted. “Yes. My father thought if I spent time with the Divine I would come to my senses and comply with their wishes.”

“I take it you had other plans?”

I smiled at him. “I had no sword skills. Very disappointing to my family when I showed natural skill with blades. Nor was I any good at Chantry verse, never mind that I hated it.”

“I can't see you in either role actually.” He said, taking a sip of wine. “You're not saying it amatus, but I can assume you aren't on good terms with them.”

“You're right. I'm not I daresay they were hoping I wouldn't return from Haven. Better to lose a son than have one who would bring them scandal.”

“Scandal?” He frowned.

“My father found out I preferred men. It was not a pleasant day. I'd been arrested, accused of despoiling the good name of a powerful noble family. All lies of course – they just wanted me out of the way.”

“Arrested?” Dorian was clearly shocked. “By whom?”

“The man I was seeing is very high nobility. He wanted to avoid further scandal and denied he'd been with me willingly. Laughed at me when I told him I loved him.”

“Oh amatus.” He said, reaching for my hand across the table. “Forgive me. I shouldn't have pressed this.”

“It's all right Dorian. It was years ago now. I've largely forgotten the pain he caused me.”

“Still...

“The charges were dropped once I agreed to leave the city. Though they wouldn't let me go on my own – my father had to escort me. I was released on the condition I never return.”

“Is that when he found out?”

“Yes.”

“I'm sorry amatus. This was supposed to be a romantic evening. Now I've spoiled it.”

“Don't be sorry. It was a long time ago. Besides, this evening is wonderful and I've wanted to tell you about it anyway.”

“You have? Why?”

“Why wouldn't I? You let me in Dorian. You told me what happened with your father. It's only fair you know about my own past.”

“Is that why you insisted I talk to my father?” He wondered.

I nodded. “There will be no such letters of concern from my family. They will never reach out to me.”

“Not even if you stop Corypheus and save the world?”

“Not even then. I imagine they've disowned me and branded me a heretic by now.”

“But you're no heretic!”

I laughed. “Not everyone believes the stories of my heroics Dorian. Besides, given my preference for male company, declaring me a heretic works out better for them.”

“This is not the kind of evening I had planned. Apparently I lack the basic understanding of the definition of romantic evening.”

“I'm enjoying this very much Dorian. I haven't told anyone these things. I've never wanted to before. Thank you for listening.”

“You are entirely too forgiving amatus.” He said. “Did you enjoy dinner then?”

“Very much. It was amazing. It reminded me of home, one of my favourite dishes.”

“I'm pleased. But there's more.”

“More?”

He nodded, reaching under the table. He stood and handed me a silk-wrapped package. “This is for you.”

I smiled as I opened it, my eyes going wide with surprise. “Books? Varric's books? How did you know I wanted these?”

“A little bird told me.”

“Leliana. Of course. I imagine you're surprised by my taste in reading material.” I mused. “I heard you weren't impressed by the writing.”

“On the contrary, I was pleased. I had no idea you and I shared a secret passion for romance and adventure.”

“Really? Have you read them then?”

“Not all of them, no. But yes, I admit I have a secret passion for romance and happy endings.”

I rose from my chair and kissed him. “Thank you Dorian. Dinner was wonderful and I love the books.”

“Mmm.” He muttered against my lips. “You're welcome amatus.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

Taking Dorian's hand, I drew him from his chair to stand before me. I cupped his face in my hands and placed another gentle kiss on his parted lips. His arms slid around my waist, pulling me close.

“Now this is more like it.” He murmured.

I kissed him more firmly, my lips parting to allow him entry as his tongue met mine. Tentative at first, desire taking over each of our senses as our kiss became more passionate in mere seconds.

I felt his body respond to mine as he pressed himself more firmly against me. “I love how you respond to my touch Dorian.” I whispered, tracing kisses down his jaw.

“As I love yours amatus.” He replied, his voice breathless. “Might we move this to the bed?”

“In time.” I said, removing my shirt and breeches as he did the same.

I was mesmerized by the look of him. Every curve, every muscle stirred things low in my body, bringing a growl from my throat. “Dorian...” I began, running my fingers over his chest, delighting when my touched raised goose-flesh on his arms. “I could stare at you for hours and never tire of you.”

“I've never had anyone look at me the way you do amatus.” He whispered. “It makes me wonder what you see.”

“Beauty, perfection, desire...” I growled. “The mere sight of you makes me want to run my hands over every inch of you. Feel you respond to my touch.”

I moved behind him then, reaching my arms around his waist. Pressing myself into his back, I nuzzled his neck, turning his head to the side to allow me access to more of him. With one hand I took hold of his arousal while the other held him close. He moaned, leaning his weight into me, trapping my own arousal against his back.

“Amatus...” He croaked. “This is the most erotic position I've ever experienced.”

I squeezed him lightly and began stroking him up and down, slowly so I could savour his response. “Maker, you are beautiful Dorian.” I whispered, nuzzling his neck again. I pulled my hips back and placed myself between his legs, causing him to take a sharp intake of breath. He moaned in surprise as his member hardened more and twitched in my hand.

“Amatus, are you going to...?” He whispered, a note of trepidation in his voice.

“No, my heart. I want to pleasure you Dorian. Nothing more.”

“Sweet maker...” He cried, relaxing. “Don't stop amatus, please.”

I drew him back, bracing his body with my own and turned him slightly so I could capture his mouth with mine. He kissed me hungrily, his breath coming in gasps as I stroked him faster, each time increasing the pressure of my hand.

“Amatus... I'm...”

I spun him around then, forcing him back to the bed, my hand never leaving him as I bent to take him in my mouth. He cried out, his body convulsing at his pleasure filled me. I looked up, meeting eyes heavy with desire. I swallowed before he drew me up, kissing me as he pulled me with him to the bed, his hand reaching down to grip me firmly.

I gasped, feeling my body convulse at his touch as rolled me onto my back. Capturing my breast in his mouth, he began to suck, tracing tiny circles around my nipple with his tongue, while his hand continued to stroke me firmly.

“Dorian...” I croaked. “Maker, but you're amazing.”

He smiled and kissed me again, his hand never leaving me as he increased the speed of his stroking. I writhed under him. His hand on my member, his mouth at my breast – I was lost to sensation as my need increased.

I could feel myself reaching the end, even as he released my breast and placed his warm, wet mouth on me. I cried out, filling him as my body reacted to the feel of his lips on me.

Sated, I blinked unseeing eyes at the canopy of my bed. Never had I experienced such passion at the hands of another before. Every moment with Dorian was like a gift – a dream and a promise of more. I reached for him, drawing him up beside me to place a kiss on his now red lips.

“Thank you for the surprise.” I said, smiling wickedly.

“I should be thanking you amatus.” He said, stroking a hand through my hair. “Maker's breath but you're beautiful. Your every touch is filled with love and passion. How do you do it?”

“That's easy. I love you. The sight of you fills me with desire and I'm helpless to hide it.”

“Easy he says.” He snorted. “If you only knew how rare that is.”

“You do it too Dorian.” I said, frowning at him. “It's part of what makes me desire you so much.”

“Oh amatus, even your words come easy to you. They are like the sweetest wine to my ears.”

“Speaking of wine, where did you get that bottle? Isn't that a rare label?”

“It is. But I had a few favours I called in. I thought you'd like it.”

“I do like it. Shall we have another glass?”

“Anything you wish amatus. It's all part of my plan.” He laughed, rising to get the glasses.

“Thank you again Dorian, for everything. This evening was wonderful, I'm looking forward to reading my new books.”

“I'm glad you like them amatus. I wanted to do something special for you. Show you how much I appreciate you. I'm not sure I can ever repay you for getting back my birthright.”

“Just be with me Dorian. I don't need anything more than that.”

“You know me amatus. As much as I believe your sincerity, I will continue in my quest to repay your kindness.”

“I thought you might say that.” I said, sipping the wine.

“What's that look?” He frowned. “You look very serious all of a sudden.”

“Will you stay with me tonight?”

“I... would love to say yes.” He said, looking away. “But I'm sorry amatus... I'm not ready for that yet.”

“I know. I just thought I'd ask.”

“It doesn't mean I don't want to.” He protested, his eyes filled with worry.

I smiled and placed a kiss on his lips. “I know Dorian, I can wait.”

“Thank you for understanding.” He said, rising and retrieving his clothes. “And thank you for a lovely evening. I'll give you a few minutes to get dressed before I send a servant up to clear the table. See you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight Dorian.”

Dorian

He left Nathaniel's room in a state of euphoria. Every encounter with him was like the first time. He knew how it sounded, but it was the only way he could describe how it felt sharing an intimate moment with the man. Often his encounters were filled with passion, lust and desire but were quickly forgotten once they were over. With Nathaniel it was nothing like that – he would find himself flashing on a memory of a kiss or a touch at odd times during the day, often while fully engaged in some bland activity or another. The memory of it would always fill him with longing, making his pulse race and his palms dampen with remembered desire.

He returned to his room above the courtyard garden and stared around the empty space. Why he insisted on sleeping here alone he couldn't say. It was a remnant of his past, a painful memory of betrayal which had marked him in a way he'd been unable to leave behind. It annoyed and frustrated him no end. He didn't want the memory or to be reminded of it, but it had left an imprint on his heart he couldn't seem to release. He hoped it would become nothing but a distant memory the more comfortable he became with his relationship with Nathaniel.

Maker's breath, but it better be soon he thought, stripping down to his small clothes. He was not enjoying sleeping alone anymore. Each time he and Nathaniel shared a kiss or an intimate moment it became more and more difficult to leave when they finished.

He fell into a restless sleep, his mind filled with thoughts of his amatus even as he muttered in his sleep about how bad memories shouldn't be allowed to haunt someone indefinitely. Groaning, he pushed his past hurts from his mind with effort and drifting into a pleasant dream, one filled with wine, peeled grapes and stolen kisses.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

The following day was filled with frantic activity as those who were going prepared to leave for the Winter Palace. When Dorian and I had been thrown into the future with Alexius' time amulet we'd learned how Corypheus had thrown Orlais into chaos by assassinating Empress Celene. Despite both Leliana and Josephine's efforts to warn the Empress about our suspicions, she had not responded. Luckily, her cousin Duke Gaspard, the man who believed himself the rightful ruler of Orlais had made contact with us and invited us to the Winter Palace as his personal guests.

I spent most of the morning being fussed over by tailors as they dressed me in Josephine's design for the Inquisition's formal wear. Personally I could have done without all the red and gold, but kept my thoughts to myself, not wanting to add to Josephine's anxiety. If I'd had any say at all, I would have chosen colours more suited to my skin tone – perhaps something in royal blues and silver, but I had none.

“Have you given any thought to who you want to accompany you to the palace, Your Grace?” Josephine asked.

“I have actually.”

“And who are your lucky companions then?”

“Dorian, Cassandra and Varric.”

She let out a loud exhale of breath. “Thank goodness.” She muttered before instantly flushing at her words. “Oh! Inquisitor! I do apologize, I didn't mean...”

I laughed. “Relax Josephine. I can see you were worried I was going to be bringing Iron Bull or Sera.”

“Not to diminish the importance of the visit, but I do appreciate your understanding of the situation. Every noble house in Orlais will be there. I can't help but be nervous about how we will be judged, not just on our actions but who we call our allies. If you had wanted to bring either of them I would have found a way to deal with it, but I have to admit I am quite relieved by your choices.”

“You already do enough for us Josephine. I didn't want to make your job any harder than it already easy.”

“Thank you again Inquisitor.” She smiled. “I do appreciate it. Now, we should get everyone ready for travel. We have a bit of a journey ahead of us if we do not wish to be late.”

“I'll let my companions know to get ready Josephine, don't worry. We'll meet you outside in the courtyard in twenty minutes.”

“Thank you Inquisitor.”

----xxx----

I was nervous when we entered the palace gates and I moved to greet Duke Gaspard. He was very gracious, but also cryptic and seemed overly confident in my abilities. He was sure I would be successful in preventing the assassination of the Empress, his cousin. He was also certain he was the rightful ruler and that by the end of the evening, he would be the newly crowned Emperor of Orlais.

I smiled, keeping my thoughts to myself as we entered the Winter Palace and presented ourselves to the court and Empress Celene. Once the formalities were over, I met with Leliana who wanted me to check out Celene's court enchanter. She seemed to know the mystery woman and didn't hide her suspicions of her, though she didn't give me a name.

As I worked my way through the place searching for clues, I was struck by the machinations and pure selfishness I encountered among the nobles. Orlais was filled with vipers. False smiles and secret agendas hidden in words as craftily as their faces were hidden behind their masks. It was so unlike the noble court in Ostwick, my skills at keeping my intentions hidden were sorely tested. As I wandered through the open parts of the palace I discovered a lot of information that was not public knowledge and passed the secrets on to Leliana. I had no idea if they were of any use to us, but she was pleased with what I found making her smile even more than usual.

I found Dorian in the garden during my wanderings and polite conversations with the nobles there and felt my heart sink. He was standing apart from everyone, looking lost and alone. I kicked myself when I saw it, thinking how selfish I'd been to bring him here. He was a Tevinter mage, of course the nobility would avoid him.

“Dorian.” I said, seeing the mask of indifference he wore firmly in place. “I'm sorry about this.”

“Whatever do you mean Inquisitor?”

Shit. “I wasn't thinking. I should never have brought you here, you look miserable. I hate seeing that mask on your face.”

He frowned at me. “I have no idea what you're talking about Your Grace. People talk, I do not wish to add to your burden by causing a scandal. They're already talking about you, how you brought a Tevinter into your midst. It won't do for you to be seen chatting me up. Imagine what they could do with such knowledge.”

I wanted to shake him, but it was my own fault for bringing him here. “I don't care what they think or what they say Dorian. I care about you. I promise I will make it up to you, just please don't talk like that. Not to me.”

He sighed and uncrossed his arms. “You are a very stubborn man. Also, very irritating. I can't affect an air of indifference when you continue to badger me with your heartfelt concern.”

I smiled at him. “That was my goal all along. Promise you'll save me a dance later?”

“You are very determined to prove to me just how little regard you have for people's opinions.”

“If it will make you stop talking like that, I'll kiss you right here.” I threatened.

He blanched, his mask slipping. “You wouldn't dare.”

“Wouldn't I?”

“Very well. I would be delighted to dance with you Inquisitor, but don't think for a moment I will forget you blackmailed me into it.”

“It's not blackmail Dorian. Especially since I might kiss you anyway. You're just too delicious for me to ignore.”

“Well that's true.” He smiled. “I am quite delicious.”

I sighed, frustrated. “I am enjoying this exchange far too much, but I suppose I should let you go. For now. We won't be dancing at all if we don't find out who's behind this assassination threat.”

“Just remember, you started this. I can't be held accountable for being goaded into making a spectacle of myself.”

“I'll hold more against you than accountability when we return to Skyhold.” I said, smiling wickedly as I left him and returned to the Grand Hall.

----xxx----

After my very public dance with Gaspard's sister, Duchess Florianne, Josephine was beside herself with praise. Apparently, I was better at the Game than I had first believed and she was overjoyed with my masterful skill. I thanked her and continued my search for clues once more.

I found Varric in the lower Garden Courtyard, surrounded by nobles. He seemed rather surprised by whatever they were saying and I waited for a lull in the conversation before taking him aside to question him.

“You seem to be quite popular with the nobles.”

“I do, don't I? Apparently my book serials are quite the hit in Orlais. I had no idea so many nobles were reading my work. I think I'll be having a serious chat with my publisher once we return to Skyhold. It will start with the words “you” followed by the word, “bastard.” He's going to have to do some serious grovelling if he wants to remain my publisher, and keep his tongue.”

“You wouldn't really do that would you?” I asked, surprised by his irritation.

“No. But I have connections. If he's not willing to make amends, I know people who will.”

“This is a side of you I'm not used to seeing Varric. You're actually quite devious for a dwarf.”

Varric chuckled. “It might seem that way, but in my line of work threats are always a good incentive for people to do the right thing.”

“Have you noticed anything this evening? Something that might help us determine who is behind the threats to the Empress?”

“Nothing like that. Everyone is nervous though, but I'm sure it's mostly because of the volatile nature of these supposed peace talks. I have heard rumours about you and Sparkler though.”

“Maker's breath.” Did I want to hear this?

“Calm yourself Inquisitor.” Varric smiled. “They're tickled by the affair. Most of them envious of what you appear to have with each other. I wager they're placing bets as we speak over whether or not the two of you will dance together before the evening is over.”

“They're happy about it?”

Varric laughed. “Very happy. As a matter of fact, I wanted to tell you myself I think the two of you are great together.”

“Really? I had no idea you were a romantic Varric. I thought you couldn't write romances.”

“I'm beginning to think I may just have been looking at the wrong examples. It's inspiring to watch you. Makes me believe there's more hope in the world than I thought.”

“Thanks Varric. At least I know someone approves.”

“Oh it's not just me. Many of our mutual friends feel the same. You may want to talk to them about it, you might be surprised by what they think.”

“I'll think about it.” I promised. “But enough chit chat. Empresses to save, heroic deeds to perform and all that. Meet me near the Royal wing in twenty minutes. I think we're nearing the end of the evening.”

“I'll be there.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

So far in my search, I had uncovered evidence implicating both Gaspard and Briala, the elven ambassador who rumour had it, said she had been a former lover of Celene's. Scandalous as that was, it didn't get me closer to uncovering who the assassin might be.

Florianne had made several cryptic comments during our dance though and it had me suspicious of her motives. My advisors insisted I had to act soon before someone murdered Celene, but I refused. I wasn't convinced I had all the evidence there was to find and headed for the Royal Quarters to search.

“Did you enjoy your dance with the Duchess Inquisitor?” Dorian asked while we were searching the royal wing.

“It was all right.” I said, distracted by a letter I found.

“Just all right? Seems to me you enjoyed it very much. You were quite graceful and attentive to your partner.”

I caught the note of irritation in his voice and turned to stare at him in surprise.

“You're joking.” I said. “That sounded an awful lot like jealousy to me.”

“Nonsense.” He scoffed, frowning at me. “I don't get jealous of frilly women, dressed like prize peacocks.”

I crossed the room and put a hand to his cheek, forcing him to look at me.

“Dorian.” I said, meeting his eyes. “The only reason I looked like that is because I was imagining I was dancing with you.”

“The things you say...” He whispered, his tension leaving him as I placed a kiss on his parted lips.

“Are all true.” I finished, releasing him as Varric and Cassandra joined us. “Dance with me later?”

“Assuming we survive and find this assassin in time?” He replied, his tone light again. “Yes. I would like that. They'd be so beside themselves with shock I imagine they'd throw fruit baskets in protest.”

“They'd do no such thing. And besides, they'll be so grateful I saved their empress they'll applaud us. Orlesians love happy endings.”

“Be that as it may, you clearly don't know how many here detest my homeland.”

“Dorian.”

“Right.” He huffed. “Very well Inquisitor, my answer is yes, I would love to dance with you.”

“Good. Let's get this business finished with then.”

Half an hour later, we had uncovered evidence implicating Gaspard, Briala and Empress Celene herself. All of them had plotted against each other, yet as I suspected, Florianne was the true assassin in their midst. After I confronted here, I used what I had gathered to force the three of them into suspending their hostilities to work together.

Once Celene made her speech to her guests, I retreated to the balcony to gather my thoughts and catch my breath. I was joined by a dark-haired woman with strange yellow yes who informed me Celene wished for her to join the Inquisition.

Despite my misgivings I welcomed Lady Morrigan to our cause and promised to speak with her in more length once we had returned to Skyhold. Dorian joined me a minute later after she had left me and returned to inside to the ballroom. He was pleased as punch at how we'd saved the day and come out the other side unscathed.

“I know what you need amatus.” He said, seeing my tired look. “A distraction. Luckily, I have just the thing.”

“Really?” I teased. “You're not going to start throwing insults at every noble inside are you? Because that would be quite the distraction.”

“Sadly, no. I had something more pleasant in mind.” He said, offering me his arm. “Would you care to dance Inquisitor?

I smiled and took his arm. “I was hoping you would ask.”

“Thank goodness once of us is capable of showing some initiative.”

----xxx----

Upon our return to Skyhold, I decided to follow up on Varric's suggestion and make the rounds with my companions. I was skeptical about his assertion they approved of my relationship with Dorian. Though I truly wasn't concerned with what they thought, I was interested in hearing what they had to say.

Also, it couldn't hurt to let Dorian in on it. Perhaps if he knew he had nothing to worry about, he'd stop being so paranoid about what people may or may not think about the matter. If I could do that, then maybe it would also help him to be more relaxed with me whenever we were in public together. Whatever it took, I was determined to keep his discomfort to a minimum.

First stop, Cassandra. I found her in the barracks again, this time arguing with Mother Giselle. Apparently the Chantry Clerics had become desperate and were now considering both her and Leliana as possible candidates to become Divine.

“The fun never stops at Skyhold, does it?” I quipped after Giselle had left.

“The Inquisitor was hilarious.” She retorted. “That's what people will say when this is over.”

“So long as they remember I was also very charming, I'm fine with that.”

She sighed, looking away. “Can you believe Leliana and I are being considered as the next Divine?”

“I can actually. You both have strong views on the Chantry and you each are very dedicated. But I get the impression you don't want to be the next Divine, that you might have other plans. Am I wrong?”

“No. You are not wrong.” She said, meeting my eyes. “But I cannot refuse to become a candidate when all of Thedas needs the guidance of a new Divine. It would be selfish. Besides, as Divine I could make a positive change. With the Chantry, the Circles, the Templars - all of it.”

“But what of your personal hopes for the future? Don't you deserve happiness too?”

“It is not important in the bigger picture.”

“I happen to disagree with that, but I won't argue with you if you truly desire the position.”

“I haven't made up my mind yet. Though I draw much of my inspiration from you.”

“Me? How I am inspiring?”

“You pursue what you want with great passion. I have seen how you and Dorian look at each other. It is very inspiring. Also romantic. I find myself envying the connection the two of you share. And I wish to apologize for doubting his reasons for being here.”

“No need to apologize Cassandra. You're my advisor. I value your opinion and you'd be a poor advisor if you didn't question my decisions.”

“I suppose you're right.” She nodded. “I wonder if I might ask you something else then?”

“Of course. What would you like to know?”

“Have you given any thought to what you plan to do after we defeat Corypheus? With Dorian I mean. You don't have to answer if it's too personal, but I do wonder.”

“I have thought about it. I can't imagine not having him by my side.” I admitted. “I had thought to ask him to marry me.”

“That is very romantic Inquisitor. Does he know? I mean, have you talked about it?”

I shook my head. “No. I don't think it's wise to get too far ahead of myself. I want to get the business with Corypheus done first. I don't think it's fair to plan for “after” yet. If I fail, it won't matter.”

“I do not believe you will fail. I understand your caution, but it is always wiser to err on the side of hope is it not?”

“Why Cassandra, I had no idea you were a romantic.”

She frowned at me. “I am. It was considered silly nonsense when I was growing up, but that was then and is no longer a concern. Will you at least promise to consider what I've said? I don't know Dorian as well as you, but I believe he would be delighted with the idea.”

“I will give it some serious thought. You have my word on that.”

----xxx----

I had no desire to seek the opinion of either Solas or Vivienne. They had made no secret of how they felt about Dorian or Tevinter, and I had a good enough understanding of their character that I could quite easily imagine what they would say.

I also didn't need to talk to Cole. Being a spirit of compassion who could read people's minds, who I had helped to become more human, I knew he approved. Which meant there were only three more people to speak with, not including my advisors.

I found Sera in the tavern, as usual, sharing a drink with Iron Bull.

“Boss!” Bull roared, his face alight with merriment. “Come have a drink with us!”

“Seems like you're celebrating. What's the occasion?”

“How you manipulated all them noble-pants into cooperating.” Sera hiccuped. “Made me laugh when I saw their faces. Though I still want to stick them all with arrows.”

I laughed. “I would have liked to stick them with arrows too.”

“Well good then.” She nodded. “To arrows!”

I drank deeply of the mug Bull passed me and nearly choked on the sugary taste. “What is this I'm drinking?!” I gasped.

“It's called the Good Tevinter.” Bull chortled. “Made it up based on our favourite Vint.”

I peered into my cup suspiciously. “So why is it so damned sweet?”

“It's a joke yeah?” Sera smiled, taking another swallow. “Equal parts smooth and tart, just like him.”

“So a bunch of fruity liquors and what else?”

“Rum!” She laughed. “You know, cause sailors drink rum and Dorian hates the sea.”

“Very funny.” I smiled, sharing her merriment. “So you think of any other drinks based on our companions?”

“Oh we got lots.” Bull nodded. “But since we're talking about it already, I want to say I'm happy for you boss.”

“You are?”

“Yeah. You and Dorian. Never would have thought it, but you're perfect together.”

“Perfect. You two are so sweet, you make my teeth hurt.” Sera said, wrinkling her nose. “But I like how he looks at you, all dreamy like. But it kinda makes me jealous yeah? Wish someone would look at me like that. But girls though, not into guys with their parts and stuff.”

Bull and I burst out laughing earning us a stern scowl from her. “What? Just saying.”

“I'll keep that in mind Sera.” I said, smiling at her. “And as much fun as this has been, I do need to check in with the rest of our people. Enjoy your drinks. You'll have to tell me later what other drinks you've come up with.”

“Sure thing boss.” Bull nodded. “We'll be here whenever you've got time.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

When Nathaniel showed no further signs of exhaustion or pain from the mark, he began to relax his worry over it. He was still waiting on more research, but had made some interesting discoveries with what he had found.

He was just finishing up his notes when Sera appeared before him, looking cross.

“Arse-biscuit.” She said.

He sighed and put aside his notes. “What have I done now?”

“It's been freaking ages since I talked to you and you still haven't answered my bloody question! I brought arrows this time.”

Getting to his feet, he turned his palms toward her trying to look as non-threatening as possible. “Sera my dear girl, there's no need for violence. It takes time to do research you know.”

“Pfft.” She snorted. “Time my arse. I know what you've been doing and it's not “research.” At least not the kind to do with books.”

To his horror, he felt his cheeks flush. “Now, now that's not fair. I have been doing research. I've just finished up my notes. See?” He said, showing her his parchment. “It's not entirely complete, but I'd be more than happy to share what I've learned so far.”

She frowned. “You're just saying that cuz you don't want me to stick arrows in you.”

Dorian chuckled. “Yes, well arrows would be unpleasant, but that doesn't make it any less true. Now, do you want to go somewhere private so I can tell you what I learned or do you want to continue arguing?”

“Fine.” She said, taking a step toward him, an arrow appearing in her hand as she waved it under his nose. “But you better be telling the truth, yeah? Or I'll use this.”

“Well, we can't have that can we?” He teased. “Lead the way, dear girl.”

Casting him a scathing look, she stomped off toward the stairs, not looking back to see if he followed. They crossed the great hall and through the door first door leading to Josephine's office before Sera turned left and took the stairs down to the cellar and the kitchen.

At the bottom, she crossed a large open room which was empty, heading for another door on the far side. Once inside, Dorian felt his fingers itch. They were in what must have been Skyhold's first library. A long, narrow, book-lined passage led to a small circular area containing a desk and chair. It too surrounded by shelves, filled to almost bursting with dust-covered tomes.

She parked her butt on the desk and turned to face him, arms crossed. “Talk.” She said.

“Sera. How long have you known about this room?” He asked, running his fingers over the spines of one shelf of books.

“Since we first got here and them noble-pants cleared away the rubble. Why?”

“Why?” He couldn't believe she had to ask. “Because this is a library, a very old library I might add. And the answer to your question could very well be hidden in one of these books!”

She snorted at him. “I don't care about answers! I want opinions. Mag-ey opinions. And since Coryph-enus is one of yours, who's going to have a better opinion than you?”

He frowned. “I can't have an opinion if I don't know the whole story.”

“Like the Chant of Light is just oh so accurate? Please. No one tells the truth in stories. Why would Andraste's story or the elf story be any different? Meant to be scary yeah? Give orders, make people do things like always tell the truth or hate magic.”

Dorian smiled. “You... have a point. Very well, let me get comfortable.” He crossed the room and took a seat in the dusty chair.

“Waiting.” She reminded him, twirling the arrow through her fingers.

“Getting to it.” He retorted. “So you know Andraste's story yes?” At her nod, he continued. “Very good. And you've heard about the Dread Wolf?”

“Course I have.”

“Just checking. His elvhen name is Fen'Harel. Back when elves were gods there were two groups of them. One they called the Creators, the others the Old Gods. They were constantly fighting as people tend to do and this Fen'Harel got tired of it. Apparently, he was like a middle-man, neutral I suppose since both sides trusted him.”

“Big mistake, right?” She said, interrupting.

“Quite. So one day, he's so fed up he tricks both sides into searching their parts of their personal lands for a weapon he said would destroy the other.”

“He tricked them.” Sera said. “I bet there was no weapon.”

“Right again. No weapon. So while they're off searching, he springs his trap, locking both sides away forever. They have their magical realms, but can no longer use their magic to affect anything in the world.”

“Smart. Pretty sneaky too.”

“Perhaps.” Dorian agreed. “The next part I haven't gotten to yet, so I don't really know what happened next, but something went wrong.”

“Like everything does eventually.”

“True enough. Anyway, this Fen'Harel did something to ensure neither group could escape, but whatever he did, it hurt him too. Diminished his power or something and he went into some kind of magical sleep and no one knows what happened next. I couldn't find any records or mention of when all this took place, but it seems to coincide around the same time as when the magisters allegedly entered the Black City.”

“Andraste's arse.” Sear swore. “So you're saying both stories are true then? Just mixed up and confused because of the war and the blight that was happening at the same time?”

Dorian frowned. He hadn't actually thought that far ahead, but it made sense. “Seems like a logical conclusion, yes.”

“Bloody stupid immortals.” She fumed. “So doesn't matter who I pray to then since none of them are around to do anything with it.”

“They're still there Sera.” Dorian reminded her gently. “But you're right. If the story is true, the gods are locked away where they can't do anything for us.”

“But Andraste was real and she wasn't a god.”

“Also true.”

“Well good. I'll keep praying to her then. At least she wasn't part of that whole immortal bullshit. But i guess that means the Maker wasn't really the Maker then.”

“It's possible he could have just been wishful thinking. But it's just as possible he was real and just the Dread Wolf in disguise.”

“Well thanks Dorian.” She said, hopping off the desk, a wide grin on her face. “Knew you were good people.”

“I try my best.”

“Andraste it is then. Sure hope we don't run into this Dread Wolf though. I might have to stick him with arrows if we do.”

“Why?”

“Because if any of it's true, then he's the one who broke the world right? Caused the blights and the archdemons and all of it. If not for him, the gods would still be here. No demons, no undead, none of it.”

“I'm not sure about that.” He said, frowning. “Maybe the gods were going to do something equally bad and the Dread Wolf stopped them.”

“Maybe. But he was probably a mage and no one does all that work just to be nice with nothing in it for them. Probably wanted more power for himself. Like you're always saying about your magey people back home – every mage wants more power once they have a taste for it. Don't care who it hurts either and this wolfy guy hurt his own people. Can't trust someone like that to be good yeah?”

“You... have another point.”

“Right. Well I'm off to the little Andraste statue. Gonna light a candle for her. Least she's what the Chant says she is. Thanks again Dorian.”

“You're welcome Sera.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I ran out of time to speak with more of our companions regarding Dorian and myself. Things in Orlais were still chaotic, and advisors and messengers were running up to me as soon as I stepped out of the tavern with urgent matters apparently only I was capable of dealing with.

The latest dilemma was that the Chantry clerics had become desperate and were looking outside the Chantry for candidates they were considering electing as the next Divine. As such, a Chantry mother had ambushed me as I attempted to enter the castle, insisting that I allow Leliana and Cassandra return to Orlais with her. I politely informed her that would be their decision and excused myself.

I had bigger concerns at the moment. Cullen had found evidence placing much of Corypheus' lyrium mine in the Emrpise du Lion and needed us to go there immediately and put a stop to it's production.

----xxx----

Dorian

As locations went, the Emprise was no vacation spot. Great drifts of snow covered the landscape and for no reason anyone could explain, it's only river had frozen solid overnight. On top of that were well-armed groups of Red Templars, many of which had presumably through the use of lyrium now stood at ten feet tall.

He was cursing under his breath as Nathaniel rushed ahead again in a stealth move to try and take one of them by surprise. Didn't he understand he was no match for those things? His teeth were on edge as he watched in horror when Nathaniel went down, unconscious.

Kaffas! He swore, readying a spell to revive him barely missing having the Templar who'd taken him down take off his own head. Shit! Cassandra glared at him as she took up a position at his back, her eyes saying everything he needed to know. He couldn't keep risking himself and their companions every time Nathaniel went down, which of late was becoming more and more frequent.

“Dorian.” Cassandra huffed, catching her breath as he cast his revival spell. “You must get your priorities straight.”

“I'm aware of what I'm doing Cassandra.” He growled.

“I'm sure you are. But is the Inquisitor? Perhaps it's time to talk to him about... recent events.”

“Why me?”

“Do you really have to ask that Sparkler?” Varric teased.

“Kaffas.” He muttered. “Very well. Set up camp and I'll talk to him.”

Nathaniel was sitting on a log resting when Dorian took a seat beside him. He didn't say anything, but shifted closer to him when he sat down.

“Amatus.” He began.

“I know what you're going to say.” He said, sounding tired. “I've been taking too many risks. I'm sorry my heart. I don't know what's wrong or why I suddenly can't hold my own against these Templars.”

“Well at least you're aware.” Dorian sighed. “But Cassandra wanted me to speak to you about it.”

“She did? Why?”

“Because I've been putting all my energy into protecting you and ignoring my own safety.”

“Bloody mage...” He muttered. “I'm sorry Dorian. Why do I keep screwing up? I know better. If it were you risking yourself while I watched I wouldn't be as calm as you're being right now.”

“True.” Dorian nodded. “You'd be yelling at me and waving your arms about in the air like a wild animal.”

Nathaniel laughed. “You're right, I would. If I promise not to do it again will you forgive me?”

“I might be persuaded.”

Nathaniel turned to him then and kissed him hard on the lips, his hand going to the back of his head to hold him close. “Does this help?” He whispered.

“You're on the right track amatus.” He whispered back.

“In that case, you don't need to worry. I'll stop going after the hard targets and rushing into their midst alone.”

“Good.” Dorian said, kissing him back. “I'm glad to hear it since I'm certain if you hadn't Cassandra would have had something less pleasant in mind to convince you.”

Nathaniel laughed. “I prefer your method. Come on, let's get some dinner.”

Nathaniel

We were successful in taking back the Emprise du Lion from the Red Templars and destroying Corypheus' red lyrium source. We returned to Skyhold where Leliana informed me of a large Venatori presence searching for something in the Hissing Wastes. Given that they made up a large portion of Corypheus' remaining supporters, it was imperative we find out what they were doing there and stop them.

More walking and camping I thought, my mind heavy with exhaustion. I had just about had enough. It seemed the more we learned about Corypheus and his plans, the less we knew how to stop him. All I wanted at this point, was for it to be over. The waiting had become intolerable and I was feeling both anxious and edgy – not at all like myself. It was unsettling and I wasn't sure if it was the stress of the situation or if it had something to do with the mark.

It had been acting up recently. Nothing like what had happened on the Exalted Plains, or I would've mentioned it to Dorian. But I couldn't shake the idea that the mark was somehow directing me forward, pushing me toward a climax I wasn't sure I was ready for.

After the Winter Palace, everyone had become more tense. I wasn't sure why, but given my own thoughts, it wasn't hard to guess what was causing it. Yet the last thing anyone needed was bad news coming from the one person who could stop Corypheus.

But could I really? I still didn't even understand how I closed rifts. How was it supposed to be enough against Corypheus? Every time I thought about facing him, all I saw was Dorian's stricken face as the mark tore me apart when I used it to destroy him.

It didn't fill me with confidence and I was running short on optimism. Yes, we'd been successful so far, but I had failed at Haven. I hadn't even been able to stop him touching me and here I was planning to destroy him with a mark of magic I didn't even understand. At the same time, I was filled with sadness and fear – not for myself, but for Dorian.

How could I risk myself at the loss of his smile? A weight had settled in my chest, making itself at home and it was irritating not knowing how to rid myself of it. To make things worse, I was reminded of what I might be sacrificing every time I saw his smile and more painful after kiss. It was also getting harder to hide my fear around him and because of it, I had begun to avoid him.

I knew I risked hurting him by doing it, but I had no other thoughts on how to protect him if I failed. Maker, but I hated this. Why couldn't we have met before the world was threatened? Why couldn't we have years of happiness first?

Because life isn't fair, said a voice that sounded a lot like my father. But it's not right, I fumed. I had experienced so little happiness in my life before Dorian that the thought of losing him now was tearing me apart. I was lost in thought in the garden when Morrigan approached me. Maker's balls, I'd forgotten about her.

“So...” She drawled, sauntering close. “The Inquisitor likes gardens yes? I've noticed you haven't spoken to me like you promised. Have you decided my services are not required here?”

“Lady Morrigan.” I said, bowing to her. “Please forgive me. I had every intention of speaking with you, it's just...”

“You have a full plate of responsibility and it slipped your mind?” She finished, her eyes glinting with the hint of amusement.

“Something like that.”

“Do not apologize.” She said, waving her hand dismissively. “I was merely teasing. You have much to consider given how you are in charge of everything here.”

“This is true.” I nodded, wondering why she was really here. Leliana had already warned me about Morrigan, as had Vivienne. Though I suspected the later was more borne from jealousy over the favour Morrigan had found with the Empress than any true concern for my well-being.

“Things have been going quite well have they not?” She asked, her tone casual.

“I suppose so. We've taken back the Wardens, recruited the mages to our cause and have shut off the source of Corypheus' red lyrium supply.”

“All very splendid accomplishments, yet he wields a magical power unlike any have seen before. Which is why I wanted to speak to you. I may have some idea for what else he seeks to ensure his rise to power.”

“Really?” I said. I was still suspicious of her involvement with the Inquisition. Though Celene had commanded Morrigan to join us, I had to wonder how much had been Celene's doing or if Morrigan had manipulated the Empress into believing it was so. At any rate, Morrigan was an unknown, yet I suspected she was here to help, despite her true motives – whatever they might be.

“You sound surprised Inquisitor. Is that not why I'm here? To aid you in your quest and put an end to this madness?”

“It is Lady Morrigan. I'm just surprised by how much you seem to know about this creature.”

“I have spent much of my time studying the ancient magics of the world. It was an interest long before Corypheus entered the field. It is not deception I am offering, but knowledge.”

“I was not implying...”

She waved her hand at me in a dismissive gesture.

“I know what you imply and it does not matter. Come with me. I wish to show you something.”

She turned then and crossed the garden, heading for a small door set far back from the courtyard. I followed, curious to what she was about since as far as I was aware the room she sought was empty.

But I was wrong. She was waiting for me beside what appeared to be a very tall mirror, thought it was lacking glass and caused no reflection.

“What is that?” I asked. “It looks like a mirror.”

“It is a mirror, of a sort.” She said, waving her hand in front of it before releasing a surge of magical energy from her palms. It hit the surface of the thing, and spread across it, blossoming and swirling with blue light, making it appear fluid like the surface of a lake. “It is an Eluvian. Follow me please.”

Without waiting for my response, she stepped inside it and disappeared from the room. Fascinated, I followed and stepped into a place which very much reminded me of the Fade. Yet everything here was brighter and muted with a pale blue light, rather than the dark green of the Fade. It also didn't contain any of the threatening energy that permeated the Fade. It was calm and peaceful, if a bit eerie and I looked around in wonder.

“What is this place?” I asked.

“I call it the in-between.” She said, clearly pleased I had followed. “It's close to the Fade, but it is not the Fade. The ancient elves left no roads, but they used these mirrors to communicate and travel great distances. Most of them are dark, locked or broken, or otherwise corrupted – making them useless to our purpose. Other have been left open or merely require a key, a price to be paid. It is a lot like someone leaving a door unlatched, but at some point in the past all the Eluvians led here.”

“For what purpose?”

She shrugged. “Who can say? So much has been lost to the passage of time we may never know what reason the ancient elves had for such a place.”

“Alright. But what does this have to do with Corypheus?”

“I believe he seeks an Eluvian in the Arbour Wilds. Most of the mirrors are locked, but should he find the one he seeks, he will use it to come here.”

“Why?”

“As I said, this place is close to the Fade. Given his power, it would likely be a simple matter to open a way into the Fade itself.”

“But you said the Eluvians need a key. Does he have it?”

“If he seeks the Eluvian, he does not. But each one requires a unique key to unlock it. Should he find this key, he will be successful and all will be lost.”

“Great.” I muttered. “So what now?”

“I will need to speak with your Spymaster so she can send her agents to search the Wilds. We have time if he has not yet found the place, but I would advise we not let him succeed. But to answer your question, I believe we have time before that happens. I only wished to make you aware of the Eluvian's existence and power.”

“So we should have time to search the Hissing Wastes then? I only ask because there's a group of Venatori there now searching for something. Maybe it's the key to this Eluvian”

“It very well could be. At any rate, now you know about it I shall not keep you. If I learn anything more about this matter, I will seek you out.”



 

Chapter Text

Dorian

All his talk about ancient elves and gods had got him worked up about ancient history and the Imperium's role in the events which started the Blights. How much of it was true? How much had been orchestrated to happen as it had? How much had been accident?

Certainly this Dread Wolf hadn't wanted his own people to suffer. That part must have been a result of a plan backfiring or a spell gone wrong, or at least he thought so. But it bothered him that he could find nothing regarding the true nature of Fen'Harel.

It seemed reasonable to assume that he had been an elf or elvhen as the Dalish referred to themselves, yet even they had nothing good to say about this supposed god. A trickster certainly, but if his plan had been to prevent the downfall of his people, how determined would he be to want to reverse those events? Assuming he still lived, where was he? Why did no one care to mention his name?

In his frustration, he had gone through every area of Skyhold speaking with every elf he encountered, both city and Dalish. Unfortunately, there were only two Dalish in the entire compound and had little to say on the matter. What they had said was neither positive nor encouraging.

Fen'Harel was a being to be feared and avoided. He was a trickster, a god who believed in his own power and importance. Arrogant to the point of being dangerous, for if he had faults, he did not see them or otherwise acknowledge their existence.

The city elves had been no help at all naturally, so he retreated back to the library to think. So lost in his musings was he, that when the lanterns lit up along the walls he was surprised to realize how late it was. It was then followed by a sharp pang of anxiety when he realized he hadn't Nathaniel in over a day.

Alarmed, he stood abruptly and headed for the great hall where he could hear the sounds of dinner being served. He took the stairs down the rotunda which led him through Solas' favourite spot in the castle. The elven mage was waiting for him, blocking the way to the hall with his back pressed casually into the wall.

Dorian resisted the urge to scowl at him. Solas had made no effort to be friendly with him, nor had he made any attempt to disguise how much he disliked the mage from Tevinter. Refusing to let himself be intimidated, he slowed his pace, dropping his practised, aloof faced over his features. Despite Solas' arrogance, Dorian knew with certainty the man had no clue he was even putting on an act.

“Solas.” He said, his voice warm and soothing. “Waiting to escort me to dinner?”

Dorian smiled inwardly as Solas' nose wrinkled in disgust at the thought of entering a public place on the arm of a man. He wondered idly if he showed Nathaniel the same visage, but given the man's nature, he thought it very unlikely.

“Of course not.” Solas snapped. “I'm sorry. That was more harsh than I intended. I have already eaten, but as it seems you have not, I won't keep you long.”

“You want to speak to me then?” Dorian was so surprised by this, he couldn't think of a single witty remark.

“I do.” He said, giving Dorian the warmest smile he'd ever seen. “Perhaps we could speak somewhere more private? I feel the need for some fresh air.”

Dorian looked around the empty room wondering how much more privacy Solas wanted. It put him on edge, given their mutual dislike, yet he could find no reason to refuse him.

“Very well.” He said. “Lead the way.”

Once outside, the sounds and smells of Skyhold castle faded from his awareness as he followed Solas out along the battlements. The sky was black, lit only by the abundance of stars punctuating the night sky and glittering like diamonds. The wind was calm for once and Dorian whispered a word of thanks having no love for the cold weather Ferelden was famous for.

Solas turned to regard him with interest as they reached the wall overlooking the bridge which led into the Keep. “It seems you and the Inquisitor have grown quite close of late.” He said, making Dorian tense.

Maker's breath, this is what he wanted to discuss? “We have. I consider the Inquisitor to be a good friend.”

“Indeed. It is good he has someone with which to confide in and help carry his burden.”

“I'm glad you approve.” He replied, wondering at the man's arrogance. Did he truly believe he cared what Solas thought of him?

“It takes great courage to do what you have done.” Solas continued, ignoring him. “Leave your world behind, join a heretical cause and fight against your own countrymen. It is admirable.”

“We're not all monsters Solas.” Dorian retorted. “And it's the right thing to do. Corypheus threatens the entire world. It's not a difficult concept to grasp.”

“Clearly. Yet most from your homeland would never act so openly against such a thing. What would people think?”

Dorian's patience was quickly wearing thin. Despite Solas' words, they still held a note of scorn and disdain regardless how pretty he tried to make them sound.

“Well thank you Solas, but I really must get inside. I haven't eaten since breakfast and I wouldn't want to faint in front of you.”

“Perish the thought.” Solas said, mimicking one of Dorian's favourite phrases. “I will detain you no longer. Thank you for speaking with me. I know we have had our differences of opinion, I merely wished to offer my support for your presence here.”

“Very well.” Dorian nodded, still suspicious of everything the elf had said. “See you inside then.”

“But of course.” He said, taking a step toward him as though to walk back inside. “One more thing though.”

Without warning and before Dorian could react, Solas reached out and touched his temple with the tip of his finger. Words failed him as his knees buckled and he felt himself falling just before his world went completely black.

----xxx----

He woke in his favourite chair in the library to the sound of Varric calling him names. Well not names, precisely. His name, his nickname for him. He opened his eyes and blinked several times to clear the fog from his mind. Nothing seemed clear though, so he settled instead on focusing his gaze on Varric.

The dwarf was standing a few feet away, a concerned look on his face.

“There you are.” He said, a smirk tugging at his lips. “Thought you'd be out for another hour at least.”

Dorian straightened in his chair, surprised to find a book open on his lap with no recollection to how it got there. It was then he realized how bright it was, his eyes flicking to the window where it was obvious the sun had come up.

“How long have I been here?” He asked, trying to hide the confusion he felt.

“By my guess, you've been here all night.”

“All night?”

“Yeah. You missed breakfast Sparkler. The Inquisitor had to go out, checking some elven ruin near the Graves and asked me to look in on you.”

Dorian stilled. Nathaniel had left without him? He never left Skyhold without him. Had he done something awful last night? And why in blazes did his head feel like an over-ripe melon?

“Dorian?” Varric called. “Are you all right? You look a little green.”

“I... can't seem to remember how I got here.” He stammered, feeling his pulse race. What in bloody blazes was wrong with him?

“Might have something to do with that empty bottle of wine under your chair.” Varric mused.

“Wine?” Dorian looked down and sure enough, a discarded empty bottle was indeed under his chair. “I don't remember drinking that.”

“Sparkler. You're starting to worry me. Howe about we step outside? Maybe the fresh air will jog your memory.”

“I... yes. Air. Lead the way.”

He followed as Varric led them through the rotunda and out the door to the bridge which connected Skyhold to Cullen's office. Solas hadn't been in his room when they'd passed through and it had sent an odd trickle of fear down his spine making him gasp aloud, startling Varric.

“What in Andraste's name is wrong with you?” Varric grumbled. “I've never seen you like this Sparkler.”

“I think I need to sit.” He said just before his knees gave out and he crumpled to the ground in a heap.

“Okay, that's it. I'm calling for a healer. This is not normal for a hangover.”

“No!” Dorian cried. “No Varric. Just... give me a moment.”

“You got one minute Sparkler. Anything happens to you, I don't want to be responsible for it when the Inquisitor finds out.”

Inquisitor.... Nathaniel, yes. That was his name. Wait. He'd left without him. But if he was planning on checking out elven ruins, he would have needed a mage.

“Varric. If you didn't go with the Inquisitor and I didn't go, who did he take?”

“Solas, Cole and Iron Bull.”

As each name reached his ears, Dorian felt a vise-like pressure squeeze his heart.

“Solas? Iron Bull?” At the second mention of the oxman's name, a red-hot lance of jealousy seared through his veins. And why did Solas' name leave him feeling equally terrified and angry? With Cole gone as well, he couldn't ask the boy what was wrong with him. Despite the odd nature of Cole's existence, Dorian had found him oddly comforting.

“Come on Sparkler.” Varric said, helping him to his feet. “If you didn't drink that wine last night, you certainly look like you could use something now.”

Feeling like a lost puppy, he allowed Varric to lead him down the stairs and off the battlements. Neither of them spoke again until Dorian was seated, with a mug of hot mulled wine clasped in his hands.

Raising his own glass, Varric toasted him and waited for him to collect himself. After a few sips, the wine had the desired affect and he began to feel more like himself and less like a leaf tossed about in the wind

“Feeling better?” Varric asked.

“A little. Yes. Thank you Varric.”

“No problem. You remember anything yet?”

“I remember I spent much of the day speaking with the elves in Skyhold, and I had a pleasant chat with Sera after finishing some research she asked me to do.”

“Okay. When was this?”

“Pretty much all day. I was caught up in my research and forgot to take a mid-day meal. I was in the library when the lights came on, so I headed downstairs to the dining hall.”

“Then what?”

“Then...” Dorian paused. There was nothing there. He clearly remembered how hungry he'd been and how concerned he'd been about not seeing his amatus. But his memory stopped at the stairs. He couldn't recall reaching the dining hall or how he'd ended up back in the library.

“What's all this then?” Sera asked, flouncing over to their table and dropping into a chair. “What's with the serious faces? Something bad happen?”

“That's what we're trying to find out Buttercup.” Varric said, sharing a glance with Dorian.

He shrugged. At this point, he didn't care who knew about it, he just wanted answers.

“So what's the problem?”

“Dorian seems to have lost part of his memory. He can't recall what happened after he left the library to go to dinner.”

“Really?” Sera breathed, her eyes filled with curiosity. “So the last thing you remember is?”

“Taking the stairs to the dining hall.”

“Which ones?”

“Which ones what?” He snapped. What did that matter?

“The ones going down to Solas' place or the other one that takes you past Vivienne's room, arse-biscuit.”

“I was hungry.” He retorted, feeling defensive. “I took the rotunda stairs. They were closer.”

“Yeah, so? Did you see Solas? Talk to him maybe?”

At the mention of the elven mage's name Dorian felt ice fill his veins while his mind filled with anger. It was so sudden and intense, he let out an involuntary gasp of shock.

“Well that's something innit?” She said, sharing a look with Varric. “Pretty simple what's wrong with you now.”

They stared at her, their foreheads creased with confusion. “And what, pray tell is that exactly?”

“You been magicked. Duh. For a mage you sure are slow to figure out obvious things.”

“Magicked?”

“Yeah, mag-icked.”

“By who?”

“Also duh... but by the way you reacted, my guess is mister arrogant himself.”

It was Varric's turn to be shocked. “You think Solas used magic on Dorian? Why would he do that?”

“It's not like it's a big secret he doesn't like him right? I'm sure he's just been itching to do something to you since you got here.”

“But why would he do such a thing?” Dorian protested. “It doesn't make sense.”

“How in Andraste's name am I supposed to know that?” She snapped. “Maybe he wanted a laugh yeah? Or maybe he wanted to prove to himself he's better than you. I don't know. Not that it matters. Not as if you can ask him – you got no proof. But if I were you, I'd keep my distance. If he did do something, then he's no friend is he?”

With that she was gone, off to play havoc with the kitchen staff, or some other bit of amusement.

“Well shit.” Varric muttered. “Think she's right? The elf messed with you?”

“I don't know. I can't imagine why, but yes, I think he did.”

“Gonna tell the Inquisitor?”

“Maker no!” He sputtered. “And say what, exactly? Like she said, I have no proof.”

“He's gonna ask where you were last night Sparkler.”

“I was in the library, reading. And apparently drinking. I passed out and woke up to you poking me.”

Varric snorted. “Sure. I'd buy that. Only one problem with that though.”

“What, exactly, would that be?”

“That wine under your chair? Had a look at it. It's elven, never seen it before and I know Skyhold's cellar doesn't have any. So where's you get it?”

“From some elven recruit. Saw me, heard about my heroic deeds and gave it to me as a gift.”

“Alright Sparkler, you're on. But if he doesn't believe you, you owe me 20 silver.”

“I'm not making a bet over this!”

Varric laughed. “I knew it. You don't think he'll believe you. But if Solas did mess with you, I suggest you stay away from him. If you have to go anywhere near him, take a friend to watch your back – just to be safe.”

“You really think it was him?”

Varric snorted again, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “I base my assessments of people on what's inside them, what motivates them. But that elf talks in circles and cryptic statements, yet he never really says anything about himself. No one here has any clue where he came from or why he's really here. Now, of course, that could be said about a lot of people. But him? An elven apostate who joins the Inquisition before it's even off the ground? Call me crazy, but that's not normal.”

“It does seem off.” Dorian agreed. “Think Leliana knows anything?”

“If she did, she would have told the Inquisitor. But it couldn't hurt to ask.” Varric said, getting to his feet. “I've got some personal business to take care of now, so if you're feeling better I should get to it.”

“I am. Thank you again Varric. I appreciate your concern.”

“Sparkler, I know you don't believe anyone around here trusts you, but I do and so does Sera, Cole and Iron Bull. And the Inquisitor more than trusts you. You're my friend. You need anything, just ask.”

“I'm glad we're friends Varric.” Dorian smiled. “I always wanted to meet a dwarf. I'm glad the first one I met was you.”

“Just stop now.” Varric frowned. “A little appreciation is one thing, but let's not go overboard.”

“I wouldn't dream of it dwarf.” Dorian teased.

“Now that's more like it. See you later.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

After speaking with Morrigan, I'd grabbed a quick meal and headed to my private quarters. I was tired and my talk with her had only served to increase my feelings of despondency. My head told me Dorian could chase the fears away and given me peace, but my heart was too distraught. I was afraid he'd see the fear in my eyes and I knew I was too upset not to fall apart in front of him. I despised myself for being a coward, but hoped he'd be too involved in his research project to take much notice of my absence.

The following morning I woke alone with equal feelings of relief and disappointment. There was no sign of Dorian at breakfast that morning, but one of the servants let me know he'd fallen asleep in the library last night after I asked about him. I thanked her, feeling relief even as I felt shame for thinking it.

When Solas approached me in the hall, insisting he accompany me to the elven ruins, I agreed. If Dorian had spent the night doing research, I didn't want to disturb him just to have him at my side for a bunch of ruins. Besides, they were elven. Solas would have more knowledge of elven history than Dorian would. When Cole and Iron Bull also volunteered, I was too distracted by my cowardly behaviour to protest.

It wasn't that I didn't appreciate each of them, but of all my companions, the only other two more depressing than Cole and Solas were Blackwall and Vivienne.

After speaking to Varric about checking on Dorian, we heeded out hoping to find answers. Either answers for what Corypheus was up to, or some clue as to what type of magic or magical artifact he'd used to open the breach which had also created my mark.

----xxx----

By the time we solved the puzzle of the elven ruins and defeated the trapped and very powerful demon there, I was thoroughly fed up with all three of them.

Cole hadn't stopped making cryptic remarks about every elven rune and alter we discovered. I had no desire to know how the individual in question had come to have his body separated and bound with magic. Whoever it was had been dead a long time, and as far as I was concerned had no bearing on our purpose there.

Then there was Solas, arguing with Bull about the Qun. I had heard it all before and was gritting my teeth over the argument now. One more minute of this and I wouldn't bring them again.

As for Cole and Solas, most of the time I understood what they were talking about which I'm sure would have surprised them both. Usually it was about spirits long dead and choices made eons ago. Yet once in a while, Cole would ask a question to which Solas would answer. No different and no more remarkable than other words, and yet I knew... I knew he was intending a double meaning.

Whether he was doing it on purpose or if he was so involved in his memories I didn't know. But I could hear those words as though he were talking about himself. When he made the comment about having different faces, one to show the world and one to hide, I very nearly gave away my understanding of it by turning to stare at him. I froze in my act of turning and instead feigned a stumble to cover what I'd been about to do. But I had been quick to react and as a result none of them noticed.

I had heard so many of these kinds of double entendres that after a while I'd stopped paying attention. Yet this time, my mind whirled, taking this piece and that and fitting them together. It reminded me of my earlier suspicions of how he'd joined the Inquisition. Which then made me wonder how I'd forgotten to keep an eye on him.

Maker's breath, I muttered to myself as we headed back to Skyhold. What did this mean? Why was I suddenly uncomfortable with Solas trailing behind me? I resisted the urge to shudder at the bizarre sensation and prodded them to move faster, feigning a tiredness I didn't feel.

----xxx----

Back in Skyhold I let the stable boy take my mount. It earned me a puzzled look, but I just shrugged and headed for the castle. Normally, I would have followed, taking a moment to check in with Blackwall and Master Dennit. But I was consumed with the sudden irrational fear that Dorian was gone. That because I'd left him behind and hadn't sought his company the night before, he'd left in a fit of pique back to Tevinter.

I hurried to the barracks to change and ran up the steps leading inside the castle. I reached the door of the rotunda leading to the library and froze. As I reached out to push open the door, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of dread and revulsion. It was so strong and unexpected, I stepped back abruptly and collided with Varric just as he was returning to his spot by the fireplace.

“Whoa there Inquisitor!” He said teasingly. “Careful of the little guy.”

“I'm so sorry Varric!” I stammered, still confused by what had just happened. “I didn't hear you coming.”

“Natural of course. We dwarves move as silent as cats. Or so they say.”

I smiled. “I have yet to experience this well-known skill.”

“Seriously? After all the times we've fought together? Must be the chest hair distracting you. It has that effect on people.”

I broke into a wide grin. “You do have a nice chest Varric. Sadly, you're not my type.”

“A fate for which I am forever saddened. Was there something I can do for you? You look lost.”

“Uh, no, actually. I just remembered something I forgot to do. Excuse me.”

I moved away, heading to the second door which would take me to the library, making sure Varric wasn't watching. When he settled down at his table and picked up an inkwell, I sighed in relief. Turning back to the door, I stretched my hand out and almost yelped out loud. This one was worse. I had the distinct impression there was something on the other side, lying in wait to eat me.

Which was ridiculous. There were hundreds of mages here and more than a dozen Templars. If anything dangerous really was behind the door, it would have been dealt with already. Given that no else seemed bothered by the door, it meant I was either very tired or someone had done something to it.

I tried again and bit my tongue at the scream that almost flew past my lips. I frowned, growing angry. This was ridiculous. I had to have access to the library, I was the Inquisitor. There were people I needed to speak to and I had a pouch of creature samples to drop off.

I stood there a moment, thinking. I headed back to Varric's table intending to have him get Dorian. But when I tried to say his name, another wave of fear and anxiety crashed through me and I couldn't do it. Maker's balls, what in damnation was going on here?

“Inquisitor?” Varric asked, frowning at me. “Something wrong?”

“I'd rather not say Varric. I need you to go get Vivienne for me.”

“The dragon lady?” Varric blanched. “I'm not saying she scares me, but... oh, who am I kidding? Of course she does, but why?”

“I can't say. I just need you to go get her. I'll explain after I talk to Vivienne. Promise.”

“Alright.” He sighed, clearly unhappy. “I'll be right back.”

“Inquisitor.” Vivienne purred when she saw me. “Varric tells me you asked to see me?”

“I did.”

“And what is it you need my dear?”

I glanced around the room, taking note of how many nobles were present and shook my head.

“Not here. Let's step outside.”

Frowning, they followed me outside and up the stairs to the battlements where a lone guard was stationed. I shooed him away to give us some privacy before turning to face the puzzled expressions Vivienne and Varric wore.

“This is all very mysterious darling, but what pray tell, is going on?”

“I'm not sure. I think someone has put a ward on the doors leading to the library.”

Vivienne laughed. “Surely you can't be serious? I passed through those doors as did Varric and a dozen other people today. What makes you think such a thing?”

I frowned at her even as Varric said nothing. I found that curious but thought better of asking him about it with Vivienne present.

“Because I couldn't even put my hand on it.” I retorted, feeling my irritation rise. “And when I tried the other one, I was convinced there was something on the other side waiting for me.”

Vivienne's smile vanished. “That is no laughing matter Inquisitor. I apologize for my rudeness. We must get to the bottom of this immediately.”

“I agree.”

“Now then. Think carefully darling. Picture the door by the fireplace. Good. Now think about opening the door.”

I did as she instructed and felt my knees buckle from the weight of revulsion that slammed into me the moment I pictured putting my hand to the door. Varric gasped and made to reach for me, but I recovered quickly, bracing myself on the wall beside me.

“Someone has cast a spell on you Inquisitor.” Vivienne said, her frown turning angry. “We must find the one responsible. They have worked a trigger spell on you – linking it to those doors and that area of the castle.”

“For what possible purpose? It doesn't make any sense.”

“It does in a way.” She said. “Tell me the truth darling. What do you think when I say Dorian?”

I couldn't speak. Tears welled in my eyes, overcome with a tidal wave of grief that this time did send me to the ground.

“Inquisitor.” Vivienne said, her posture rigid. “You have a very dangerous enemy here at Skyhold. Master Tethras, please remain here with the Inquisitor while I attend to something. I shall return directly. Do not let Lord Pavus anywhere near him while I'm gone. Understood?”

“But...” I protested.

“No Inquisitor. I will not explain further until after we have removed the spell afflicting you.”

“Alright.” I said, too stunned by what had happened to argue further.

“Master Tethras?”

“I'll do as you ask. Should I take him to Commander Cullen's office?”

“Absolutely not. The less who know about this the better. We will have no way of discovering the guilty party if the entire Inquisition hears about this.”

Varric nodded.

“Good. See that no one disturbs him. Make something up, but do not draw attention.”

“I think we get it Vivienne.” I grumbled, letting Varric help me up.

“Very well Inquisitor, I will return shortly.”

Varric looked even more concerned after Vivienne had left as though he'd been wearing a mask the entire time she'd been with us.

“Varric?” I asked, frowning at him. “You're being awfully quiet. You look like you might know something about this.”

He shook his head. “I might. But until you're straightened out I don't think I should say anything.”

“You aren't making me feel better.”

He stared at me hard, but said nothing. Something else had happened then, something I wouldn't like. Maker's balls, who would have the audacity to do this? And for what purpose? As far as that went it seemed a pointless waste of magical energy. Keeping me out of the library wasn't exactly a threat that made sense. Surely whoever had done it knew that?

But maybe that was the point. Maybe there was none. It was possible whoever was behind it only wanted to create unease or sow mistrust. If so, then they wanted me unsettled. Even if it was some crazy Corypheus supporter, keeping me out of the library, for lack of a better word was stupid.

Which meant their true goal was something else entirely. But for the life of me, I couldn't imagine what, but I needed to know what else had happened first, so I stopped thinking about it.

Vivienne returned then, a book and a vial of purple liquid in her hand. Wordlessly, she handed me the vial and indicated I should drink it. She then ordered me to place my hand on the book. I reached for it and another wave of dread washed over me.

She clucked her tongue with impatience. “Inquisitor. I know what you're feeling, but you must place your hand on the book. It will help ground the negative energy and act as a focus so I can trace it's origin and remove it from your person.”

Gritting my teeth,, I tried again while bracing myself against the wall with my other hand. A shock of energy hit me me like a bolt of lighting when I touched the book, but I held on and after a moment it passed.

Vivienne smiled. “Very good darling. Now, keep your hand on the book and let me work. Should only take a moment.”

Varric and I said nothing as she closed here eyes and began murmuring to herself. I strained to make out what she was saying, but soon gave it up since I couldn't hear or understand any of it. I felt a trickle of energy flow up through my hand, up my arm and extend outward from the centre of my chest.

I began to feel calmer then, yet flinched when I felt her power find the source of the problem. I felt her struggle with it and could almost see what was happening in my mind. After a few more minutes, I felt something inside snap, letting out a howl of fury at being discovered and destroyed. A minute later Vivienne opened her eyes and smiled at me.

“Very good my dear. You have exceptional control for someone without magic.”

“So it's over then?”

“Only one way to find out.” She said, tucking the book into a pouch at her waist. “Dorian.”

I felt... nothing. No fear, no grief, nothing. Which was not a relief and I began to panic. “I don't feel anything.”

“Mmm.” She murmured. “I expected that. Not to worry my dear, it will take time for the residual effects to leave you completely. Your feelings for Lord Pavus will return, I assure you.”

“Well... good.” I said, not entirely comforted by her words. “Thank you Vivienne.”

“Nonsense darling. Now, I suspect you're in no condition to speak to anyone at the moment. I must have a word with our Spymaster. Tell no one of this. Speak with Leliana when you're feeling better. Master Tethras, can I count on you to watch over our beloved Inquisitor for a while?”

“I am at your service milady.” Varric said.

“Very good. I shall check in with you later Inquisitor. See how you're doing. Later, my dear.”

I turned to share a look with Varric as she left. “Feel like getting a drink?”

“Sounds good to me your holiness.”

“So what else happened Varric?” I asked, following him to the tavern. “I could see it all over your face earlier. You think this is connected to something else.”

“I do. But we might want to discuss that in private.”

“Maker's balls.” I cursed, entering the tavern. “I need a drink first. Or several.”

“You'll get no argument from me.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

Following his chat with Varric, he'd been overcome with exhaustion of a kind he'd never experienced before. After finishing his wine, he'd paid the bartender and headed to his quarters. By the time he reached his room, he was so tired he fell into his bed fully clothed. In his delirium, he didn't see notice the shadow that slid down the wall of the room before slipping out the window, unnoticed and undetected.

It was full dark when he woke, rested and once more clothed and starving. He was dismayed he again hadn't changed before bed and muttered curses under his breath as he stripped out of his clothes and donned a fresh pair of pants and shirt.

He doubted it was still early enough to catch dinner but there were always kitchen staff about. Sighing, he left his room and crossed the grounds to the kitchen. As he walked, thoughts drifted through his mind and by the time he reached his destination, he was both irritated and saddened that Nathaniel had yet again failed to come see him.

He kept his temper in check as he made his request to the staff and retired to the library to eat. A small part of him whispered that the Inquisitor was no longer interested in him. That he'd finally had enough of Dorian's teasing wit and barbs and had come to his senses regarding getting involved with a Tevinter mage.

He scowled at himself, forcing his mind to focus instead on the words of love and concern they shared. Words are cheap, his mind whispered. Scowling harder, he pictured the passion they'd shared. Petty, inconsequential moments of pleasure, whispered the voice. Meaningless.

Snarling, he jolted out of his chair and in a fit of frustration hurled his plate at the nearest wall. It shattered into pieces leaving him with a feeling of gleeful satisfaction when the sound of it breaking reached him. Restless and in no mood to speak to his amatus for fear of what he might do or say, he left the library at a hurried pace and made his way to the tavern.

Which, he realized too late had been a serious mistake. Iron Bull was there as usual, slumped in a chair and laughing loudly with a handful of patrons gathered around him. Dorian scowled, crossed the room to order his drink and find the nearest dark corner to drink it in.

Of course that didn't work at all when Iron Bull caught sight of him and made his way over to where Dorian stood.

“There you are!” Bull cried, his speech heavy with drink. “Missed you Dorian. Where've you been the past two days? Hiding your nose in some book probably. Am I right?”

Dorian could feel a cold rage building in the centre of his chest. He'd never felt anything like it before and it was scaring him. He didn't trust himself to speak, so he merely nodded and shot back the brandy he'd ordered before requesting another.

“Hah!” Bull cried, undeterred by his silence. “I knew it! Blackwall owes me ten silvers.”

Dorian cringed and focused all his attention on the drink he held. What in bloody blazes was wrong with him? He'd never felt this much rage and resentment toward anyone before. Not even his father. But the rage inside was quickly being replaced with fear born of confusion and he didn't like it.

Bull must have sobered enough as he stood there saying nothing, for he suddenly tensed and took a single step back, away from him. Dorian felt the rage diminish a fraction, but it was still there. Bull took another step back and this time Dorian looked at him, confusion on his face.

“Want to tell me what's wrong?” Bull asked, his voice soothing.

“I... don't know that I can.” He stammered.

“I've seen that look before Dorian. It's not natural. Someone's messed with you.'

“Messed with me?”

“Yeah. Magic. Powerful. The last guy I saw who looked like that went into a rage in the middle of a well-armed, very crowded room. Death by insanity.”

“Bloody maker's balls.”

“Don't.” Bull warned.

“Don't what?” Dorian snapped.

“Whoever did this made it so if you get angry, everything's over. You'll be dead before you realize nothing you're thinking or feeling is real.”

“Dead?” He echoed, feeling the first wave of fear wash through him.

“Yeah. I can help, but you have to trust me. I know, I know. Whoever did this also attached my name to it. I can see it all over your face. But you can't leave it like this. The spell is designed to build until you snap. One way or another it will make you lash out. When it does, the only question is who will you kill before it kills you.”

“Okay.” Dorian nodded, clamping a vise down on this rapidly diminishing control. “I'm listening.”

“Go outside. Head toward the barracks. Don't stand in the shadows and don't move or talk to anyone till I get there.”

“I think you need to hurry.” He grated. “I think it's getting worse. I'm not sure I have much time.”

“Shit.” Bull swore. “Alright. Go now. Don't do anything but what I told you. You trust me?”

Dorian nodded.

“Good. Hang in there, I'll be there soon.”

It was more difficult to follow Bull's instructions than he'd imagined. Every nerve in his body was alight with power. Rage coursed through him, making it feel as though his blood was on fire. Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead, his control fading as he stood rigid in the light of the moon.

“Dorian.” He heard Bull whisper.

“Yes.”

“This is going to hurt. I'm sorry.”

The blow came seconds after Bull spoke, hitting the back of his head with an impact that made pinpricks of light burst behind his eyes and then he was falling into darkness.

----xxx----

He struggled up from his dark prison to the sound of low voices, the feel of a soft bed pressing into his back. In the candlelit dark of the room, Vivienne's face swam into view.

“Ah.” She said, smiling at him. “You're awake. How are you feeling darling?”

“Like someone hit me with a tree.”

Vivienne frowned. “Apologies my dear, but it was necessary. Here, drink this.”

She handed him a vial of purple liquid and he drank it down as instructed.

“Now.” She said, holding out a book. “I'm sure you recognize this.”

Andraste's ass. That was what was wrong with him? No wonder he hadn't felt like himself the past two days.

He frowned. “I do.”

“Good. Then you know what comes next. Give me your hand.”

He did as she asked, feeling as though he'd been violated. Which, he told himself, he had been in a way. He closed his eyes as Vivienne worked her spell and felt the snap when she broke the threads binding the spell to him.

“Now, there is one other thing.” She said, tucking the book away. “Someone has been in your room I'm afraid. I had to break the wards to gain entrance, but not before one of them attacked Bull. He's fine darling, just a small scorch mark – nothing a good poultice can't fix.”

“Someone warded my room?

“Someone did indeed. I suspect there's more here, but it will have to wait. You can't stay here and before you say it, you can't see the Inquisitor either.”

“Why in Andraste's name not?” He demanded, sitting up abruptly.

“Because whoever did this also targeted him. Though his target name was yours. He nearly fainted when I tested your name on him earlier today. He won't be in any condition to see you just yet. The magic used here is very old and very powerful. No apostate did this, of that I'm certain. Now, do you have somewhere safe to sleep tonight? I must report this to Leliana.”

“I'll... think of something.”

“Well you know how spells like this work. I'm sure they can find you somewhere to bed down for the night.”

“I know, I know.” Dorian said wearily. “I will feel nothing until the effects wear off.”

“Very good. I will check in with you tomorrow then. Sleep well my dear.”

 

 



 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

After we had fortified ourselves with a copious amount of liquid courage, Varric and I once again returned to the battlements for some privacy. I was feeling pleasantly numb from the brandy I'd drank, my earlier tension dissolved. If I were being honest, I was probably a little too relaxed, but there was nothing I could do about it now.

“Nothing like a crisp, cold wind in the face to point out just how many drinks are too many.” Varric grumbled. “I think we might have overdone it, your Inquisitorialness.”

I laughed. “I can't believe you were able to say that and not trip over the word.”

“I'm a storyteller. Words are my weapons.”

“Uh huh... sure they are.” I smiled, looking out across the snow-covered landscape. “I think we should take a minute. Let the cold sober us up a bit before you tell me what else happened.”

“Probably wise.” Varric nodded, sitting and pressing his back into the cold stone wall.

I joined him and let the cool air chase the fog from my thoughts. After a moment, I felt Varric stir and he began to talk, telling me how he'd found Dorian. When he reached the part about Solas and the elven wine, I sobered instantly, filled with an anger so hot I couldn't focus.

“Where is Solas now?” I asked, my voice hard.

“Far as I know, he's still in his little room with the paintings.”

“Good.” I said, a plan forming in my mind. “Does Leliana know about this?”

“Not that one, no.” Varric said. “It wasn't very serious at the time, and Dorian wasn't convinced he hadn't drank the wine. I disagreed, but...”

“But he's a very stubborn man.” I finished.

Varric laughed. “Just remember, you said it not me.”

“Do you know where he is now? Dorian, not Solas.”

“After I left him in the tavern, I went back to check on him later. He's in his quarters sleeping. Far as I know, he's still there.”

“Good.” I nodded. “Let him sleep. When I speak to Leliana, I'll have her put one of her people on his room. I want him protected. Whoever did this has to be one of ours.”

“You don't think it has anything to do with Corypheus then?”

I shook my head. “I can't see the point in that. Besides, it was too personal, too specific a target. Something else is going on here. It may not even have anything to do with me or Dorian. It could be a feint, or a ruse – something to keep us from looking elsewhere.”

“That's a lot of planning ahead for an elaborate distraction.” Varric observed.

“It is. Which makes me suspect there's more to this. Until we know more, no one else is to know what's happened. Sera knows about Dorian's missing time, but she doesn't need to know more. I'll talk to her, make sure she doesn't tell anyone else.”

“So it'll just be the four of us then? Me, you, Vivienne and Leliana? Oh, and Dorian.”

I nodded. “The fewer who know, the better. Whoever did this will be watching. They'll know we're also keeping quiet, which means they already know too much.”

“What about Solas?” Varric pressed. “You really think he's involved?”

“I don't know why, but yeah I do. The spell used was designed to keep us apart. Either he was being petty or there's another reason he wanted us separated. I need to find out which it is.”

“And just how are you planning to do that?”

I frowned at him. “I don't know yet. Just keep an eye out Varric. Watch out for Dorian for me. I need to speak to Leliana.”

“Got it boss.” He said, getting to his feet. “I'll be by the fireplace if you need me.”

Dorian

He woke to the smell of old, worn leather and sweat-dried bodies. He groaned as he struggled up from the enveloping dark of a deep sleep. Once more, he was dismayed to find himself fully clothed. He wrinkled his nose in distaste as he rose from the bed they'd given him in the barracks.

The sounds of early morning activity reached him and he passed a weary hand through his curly locks. He had no way to check his appearance before leaving the building. It was irritating, but at the moment, he was too tired to care.

Iron Bull was waiting for him when he emerged. Seeing him, Bull crossed the courtyard, smiling as he drew closer.

“Dorian.” He said. “You feeling better?”

“Much better. Thank you.” He nodded. “Though I wish I had a mirror and a change of clothes.”

Bull laughed heartily. “Now I know you're feeling better. Someone tries to kill you and you're worried about how you look.”

“Appearances are not to be underestimated Bull. One should never let their opponents see their weaknesses.”

“Your appearance is not a weakness Dorian.” Bull replied angrily. “The asshole who did this is a coward.”

Dorian was surprised by Bull's vehemence. “Coward or not, he or she almost succeeded.”

“If that was their goal.” Bull muttered.

“What do you mean by that? You think it was something else?”

“Just follow me Dorian. I'm supposed to bring you to a private meeting.”

“Has something else happened then?” He asked, following him to a door leading to the Keep's dungeon.

“Not here. Someone could be listening.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I had begun pacing five minutes ago, to the great irritation of all present. What was taking them so long? Where was Dorian? Why weren't they here yet?

Vivienne's patience with me was wearing thin. She didn't approve of how I was acting and she sniffed at me in disapproval. I was about to snap at her when Bull poked his head in the door and caught my eye. I mumbled an apology and practically flew from the room while Bull entered, closing the door behind him.

Dorian stood less than ten feet away. His hair was still mussed from sleep, his clothing wrinkled and his eyes were still blinking sleep from them. He heard me then, his eyes meeting mine and a jolt of fear lanced through me, catching me off-guard.

“Amatus.” He whispered, his voice gentle. “Bull told me what happened to you yesterday. I don't know what you're feeling, but you must fight it.”

I was rooted to the spot. I had been beside myself, anxious to see him, yet now I couldn't seem to make myself move.

“What's wrong with me?”

“You know you were be-spelled?”

I nodded.

“Then you have to come to me amatus. It's the final step to breaking it's hold on you.”

I nodded and fixed my gaze on his beautiful, smokey eyes. I held them in my mind and took a step, then another. As I drew closer, the fear I'd felt diminished and by the third step it had vanished completely.

A wave of relief washed over me and I closed the distance between us in seconds, my hands going to cup his face as I pressed my lips to his. Desperate for his touch, I pushed his back into the wall behind him, crushing him to me. His desire matched my own, his breath coming in short gasps as our tongues battled for domination. I wanted to devour him, make him mine and never let him go. I could feel his need match mine as his hands went around my waist to pull me closer.

Breathless, I broke off our kiss to stare into his eyes. “Oh, my heart.” I whispered. “I've missed you so much.”

“Amatus.” He whispered back, his eyes filled with longing. “I thought you were angry with me.”

“I wasn't angry Dorian.”

“I know amatus.” He said, loosening his hold on me. “We were be-spelled, you and I.”

I nodded, remember my earlier outrage and my eyes clouded with anger.

“What emotion did they make you feel amatus?”

“Fear and grief.” I said. “And you?”

“Anger and jealousy.”

I frowned. “Anger I understand, but jealousy? Of who? Or what?”

He blushed. “Iron Bull.”

“Iron Bull?” I repeated. “Really? Why?”

“Because he propositioned me and he's a very formidable figure.”

I wrinkled my nose at him. “I suppose that's true, but I assure you I do not find him attractive in any way.”

Dorian laughed. “I didn't think so, but I wasn't sure. So many here have ridden the Bull, I was beginning to think it had become something of a Skyhold rite of passage.”

“Dorian, my heart. You have nothing to fear. I have never and will never share my bed or my body with him. Only you, always you.”

Dorian's eyes grew damp, his voice filled with emotion. “Amatus... the things you say...”

I smiled and kissed him again, gently this time. The feel of his soft, yielding lips beneath mine drew a growl from my throat and I pressed myself to him again.

“Maker's balls.” I muttered. “I want nothing more than to ravish you. Right here, right now. But everyone is waiting for us. We have to figure out who did this.”

“You are making it very difficult to care amatus.” He whispered, his breath coming in gasps. “I fear we must find some privacy first, I don't think I can wait.”

“Dorian...” I said, taking his hand and leading him down the hall to a dark corner of the dungeon. I snuffed out the lantern there, turned to him and fumbled with his breeches to see him hard and ready.

At the barest touch of my hand he moaned, his member pressing against my palm, his eyes unfocused. I smiled at his reaction to me, went to my knees and took him in my mouth as deeply as I could.

He cried out in surprise, his need rocking his hips as he tried to go deeper. I knew he was close and began to suck the length of him, applying light pressure as I reached the tip of him He moaned, his hands gripping my hair like a vise to keep me in place as I took him deep into my throat once more.

“Oh amatus, I can't... I can't...”

“Come for me Dorian.” I whispered moments before he cried his release, his hips bucking in pleasure as his eyelids fluttered against his cheeks.

I swallowed as he came, drinking down every drop until I felt him grow soft beneath my lips. His hands were still tangled in my hair and he drew me up his body for a kiss.

“Oh amatus.” He whispered, against my lips. “No one has ever done that for me before and now you have done it three times.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “You mean no one has ever...?”

He smiled. “Not that amatus. No one has ever wanted to... taste me before.”

I couldn't believe it. “Never?”

His eyes twinkled. “Never.”

“Then they were fools.” I said. “I want to taste all of you Dorian.”

“And I you amatus. Now, shall we take care of your needs or do you want to wait until after our meeting?” He asked, smiling wickedly.

“I...” The thought of having to wait nearly brought me to tears. But he only smiled and shoved me against the wall, taking down my breeches and putting his lips to my member in a movement so fast, I didn't have time to prepare.

The wet warmth of his mouth enveloped me and all coherent thought fled my mind. My world narrowed to the feel of his lips around me, his tongue tracing patterns on my shaft and I moaned, unable to control my eyelids. I wanted to watch, to see him take me inside him, but my eyes refused to focus. I gripped his shoulder to steady myself while I ran my fingers through his hair with the other.

“Dorian...” I whispered.

“I know amatus. Fill me with your pleasure.”

His words were all I needed to let go. I bucked under him, twitching all over as my release left me in a burst of stars behind my eyes. I was gasping with exertion when he finally released me, his hands reaching for my face.

I opened my eyes, my vision unfocused as he kissed me soundly on the lips.

“You are mine amatus.” He said, his eyes filled with passion.

“And you are mine, my heart.” I whispered.

Clearing his throat as though something were caught there, he stepped back from me and pulled up his breeches. “I believe it will be impossible to hide the shenanigans we've been up to.” He said ruefully.

“Quite.” I smiled, adjusting my own breeches.

“Who is all in there?” He asked, running his fingers through his mussed hair.

“Vivienne, Leliana, Varric and Iron Bull.”

“Maker's breath.” He muttered. “Bull will never let this go.”

I smiled. “No, he probably won't.. You're not concerned about Vivienne then?”

He frowned at me. “Despite our mutual dislike for each other, she is a noblewoman first and foremost. She will be more annoyed by why she had to wait than by the fact we were doing it with each other.”

“So she doesn't care about sleeping partners?”

“She does not judge others on their personal preferences. But she will be very put out by the knowledge of what we were doing to make her wait.”

“Mmm.” I said, adjusting my clothes. “I guess I should have waited to call the meeting then.”

“Nonsense amatus. Vivienne's discomfort is a trivial matter. Ours, however...”

I smiled and kissed him again. “A travesty.”

“An emergency.” He corrected, smiling beneath my lips.

“That reminds me.” I said as we headed back to the meeting room. “I want you to stay in my quarters from now on.”

Dorian froze. “You... what?”

“You heard me Dorian.” I said. “I want you in my quarters.”

“You wish to announce our involvement to all of Skyhold?”

I frowned at him. “You don't really believe anyone at Skyhold doesn't already know?”

“Of course not. But this is different. This is...” He trailed off.

“I'm still waiting Dorian.”

“I know I've been reluctant and I admit I've grown tired of leaving your quarters amatus. I had thought you were angry with me or I would have come to you sooner. But in answer to your question, nothing would make me happier.”

“Well good, because you can never return to your room.”

“What? Why not?”

“Vivienne may have removed the wards there, but something else has been done to it. Your room is now completely off-limits until we can figure out what kind of magic is at work.”

“But... my things, my books...” He protested, his eyes growing wistful.

I laughed. “Your things are fine. I've already had them packed for you. I was only waiting on your approval before I had them moved to my room.”

“You... waited for my approval?” He had never experienced such a thing before. Always it was orders or dictates either from his father, his tutors at school or from his mentor, Alexius. No one had ever asked if it was what he wanted.

“Of course I did.” I said, confused. “I don't own you Dorian. I would never presume to know someone else's wishes without asking them first.”

“I'm just surprised amatus.” He said, still wearing a look of wonder. “I will explain later if you wish.”

“You don't have to. I'm just happy you've agreed to be with me.” I said, feeling the wall he kept up between himself and the rest of the world weaken.

“I... thank you amatus. Shall we go face the music now?”

“No time like the present.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

No one commented on how long they'd been gone or what had kept them. But Vivienne wore a frown and Iron Bull couldn't stop smiling with what was unmistakable approval. He avoided looking at either of them for fear of what he might say and to keep from blushing under Bull's stare.

The meeting itself was quick and thorough. Leliana would replace some of the guards with her own agents, while Bull would provide ground detail with his Chargers. Varric was assigned his usual duty, watching and taking note of any who caught his attention.

In the meantime, they would go about their business as usual. Nathaniel announced then that he would not keep his new sleeping arrangements quiet, for which Dorian was both tremendously pleased and terrified. He wasn't going to make a public announcement, but if asked, he was not going to deny who he'd chosen to share his quarters.

He was overcome with emotion on hearing Nathaniel's words. Never had anyone wished to make such a public claim on him. That he should do so without any hint of reservation or hidden agenda was something he was having a hard time believing. A part of him was sure he was dreaming it all, but when the meeting broke up, Nathaniel came to his side while everyone else left the room.

“Dorian?” He asked. “Are you all right? You look a little dazed.”

“I am... unaccustomed to being claimed so publicly amatus.” He said, irritated by the surprise in his voice.

“I know.” He said placing a gentle kiss to his lips. “I'm hoping I can change that, but I don't want you to be uncomfortable either. If it's too fast, tell me. Please.”

He heard the worry in his amatus' voice and felt his heart constrict even as his tension eased.

“I'm not uncomfortable amatus.” He said.

Nathaniel frowned.

“Alright, alright. You know me too well. I am a little uncomfortable, but it is not something I want to fix. I can't promise I will be rational about this , but never doubt how much joy it gives me.”

Nathaniel smiled and kissed him again. “Just promise you'll tell me if I go to far.”

“I promise. Now can we go somewhere I can get cleaned up? I realize we were both in grave danger, but wearing one's garments two days in a row in criminal. I feel like a wet dog.”

His amatus laughed and led them from the room. “You don't smell like a wet dog Dorian. But even if you did, you'd be my wet dog and I'd love you anyway.”

Dorian frowned. “As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I can't imagine the smell of wet dog is even remotely pleasant.”

Nathaniel turned and held him in place with a serious look. “You always smell good to me Dorian. You smell of lavender and leather, musk and home. I love your smell. It makes me feel all is right in the world.”

“Amatus...” He began, clearing his throat and trying hard to frown. “If your intention is to make me cry like a baby, you are well on your way there.”

Smiling, Nathaniel kissed him again. “No it's not my intention. I'm merely trying to chase your fears away so that hearing these things stop being such a shock to you. I don't know what it was you experienced to make you think this way, but I hope I can undo them.”

“Amatus...” He whispered as a tear rolled down his cheek. “Maker's breath, but you have no idea how sweet your words are to me. You could charm a dragon with that silver tongue of yours.”

He laughed, wiping the tear from his cheek with his thumb. “I rather doubt that. Besides, my tongue is much more interested in other things.”

“We will never leave this dungeon if you continue this line of thought.” Dorian grumbled, trying to reassert himself.”

Nathaniel sighed. “I suppose you're right. Much as I'd like nothing better right this moment, we have a Venatori group to hunt in the Hissing Wastes. Come on then, let's you and I go get cleaned up.”

Nathaniel

The Hissing Wastes were just that. Wastes. Drifting hills of sand as far as the eye could see, punctuated here and there with small outcroppings of rocks, trees and the occasional dwarven statue. So far I'd closed several rifts with relative ease. I didn't know why it had become so easy or so natural and though it sparked a tiny flicker of unease in me, I said nothing.

As far as I was concerned, it meant nothing. The fact that there were fewer rifts open in Thedas was enough reason to believe that's all it was. The energy of the Fade, for lack of a better word, was fading. Returning to it's natural state and natural place in the way things worked, the early pain I had felt when closing the rifts was diminishing.

We were currently working our way through the final riddle of the fourth Thaig and I was happy. Happy we were nearing the end of our excursion, happy to have ended the Venatori presence, but most of all I was happy Dorian was at my side.

I smiled at him as he lit the final sconce with veil fire and the inner Thaig door unlocked with a whoosh.

“Finally.” Varric muttered clomping over to the doorway.

“Something wrong Varric?” I asked.

“No. Not really. All this ancient dwarf business is making me think too much about dwarven things. I don't know Inquisitor, it's just... I'll be happy to get out of here is all.”

“Well this is the last one.”

“No it isn't.” Bull argued. “We still have to find the one that needs all these bits of key.”

I rolled my eyes at him, letting out a huge sigh. “Fine. I stand corrected. Second to last one.”

“Boss, I'm just saying.”

“You're also killing my good mood.” I grumbled. “I'm trying to be positive. I hate this place. Too much sand, too much space and way too many secrets.”

“Well... you've got me there.” He agreed.

“If the two of you are finished, the dwarf would like to return to the surface now.” Varric said, pushing past us.

“Bit moody are we?” Dorian teased.

“A little Sparkler. Kinda like how you felt when we were looking for that stupid broken blade.”

“You mean the Suledin blade?”

“Yeah. That one.”

“I see. Then I apologize Varric. I didn't intend anything with my comment.”

Varric laughed. “Course you did Sparkler, but that's why I like you. Never apologize for who you are, it's a sign of great character and confidence.”

“Why thank you Varric. I had no idea you like me.”

“Liar.” Varric retorted.

“Very well. I had no idea you held me in such high regard.”

“That's more like it.”

We had returned to the surface and headed back to our nearest camp. Everyone was tired, dirty and in varying degrees of hunger. I myself was hungry for other things, but after getting sand in everything the first time Dorian and I had tried to be intimate, we had decided to abstain while here. There was nothing romantic or alluring about getting sand in your teeth or licking it off someone's skin.

Dorian had agreed but the decision had left both of us tense and very frustrated. That tension had begun to seep out in small bursts of anger or jibes – against each other and our companions. After the last incident, I'd dragged Dorian away from camp and kissed him thoroughly leaving both of us breathless.

“I know we agreed to abstain, but this is getting ridiculous. We're going to take someone's head off if we continue like this.” I'd said.

“I know amatus. I can't help it though. I want to touch you so badly... but the memory of the sand.” He agreed, his face miserable.

“So what do we do? We can't keep this up. One of us is going to snap.”

“I don't like it, but what if we make it a contest? First man to lose control has to do whatever the other says once we return to Skyhold.”

“I'm not sure that will help Dorian. I'm already thinking those things.”

He'd frowned at me. “As am I amatus, but you did ask my advice.”

“Shit. We're doing it again aren't we?”

He'd nodded, the frown deepening.

“Alright. Let's see how long this lasts. Are there any restrictions on what the winner can ask for?”

“Only that it must be pleasurable and not make the other person uncomfortable. It has to be within reason.”

“Mmm.” I'd said, my mind lost in possibilities. “Okay. I can work with that.”

“Good. Now kiss me thoroughly before I ravish you hear and now, sand be damned.”

I had complied with his demand, though it had taken more than twenty minutes to satisfy us both.

That had been three days ago now and I was beside myself with anticipation regarding our return to Skyhold. It didn't seem as if either of us was going to lose the bet and I wanted to ask Dorian what happened if it was a tie.

After dinner, Varric entertained us with another of his many tales. This time it was about copper-marigolds. When he finished, our moods had lightened and we were sharing a small keg of ale.

“So boss, where do we go next?” Bull asked, taking a long pull of ale with a satisfying smack of his lips.

“I think we need to head east. It's the only area we haven't searched, but I'm sending a scout first. I'm not wasting have a day or even part of a day tracking this damn Thaig down.”

“Really? I thought you liked the thrill of discovery?”

I growled at him. I knew what he was getting at and I also knew he was aware Dorian and I had been separated since the first night we'd arrived. Seeing my look, he laughed.

“Okay, okay. I'll stop poking you. Seriously though, why a scout?”

“Because something tells me this Thaig won't be as simple as the other four.”

“So like traps or something?”

“Or something.”

“Probably right boss. It is the last one and not likely to be easy.”

“Plus they were dwarves.” Varric reminded them. “Dwarves who used magic and built Thaigs on the surface.”

“All well and good.” Dorian said, getting to his feet. “I for one am beat. I shall see you all in the morning.”

“Night Vint.”

“Sparkler.”

“Amatus.” I said, earning me a surprised look to which he blushed and quickly ducked inside his tent.

“Amatus?” Varric repeated.

“Hah!” Bull crowed. “You owe me dwarf. Pay up.”

“Pay him?” I asked. “For what?”

“Varric bet me I was wrong about how close the two of you were getting. And I said if one of them says “amatus,” I win.”

“I see.” I said, looking to Varric. “So why the question?”

“Tiny here wouldn't tell me what it meant.”

“It's Tevene. It means my beloved.”

Varric swore. “Andraste's naked ass. If I'd known that, I wouldn't have made the bet.”

I smiled. “Beat you at your own game Varric. Better mark that on the calendar Bull. It won't happen again.”

“We'll see boss. We'll see.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

Though he'd agreed to Nathaniel's suggestion to abstain from intimacy while in the Hissing Wastes, the tension he carried was becoming almost unbearable. Yet as much as wished for release, neither were content with mere kissing and touching. They both always wanted more, so frustrated he would have to be.

If that wasn't bad enough, he'd become having bad dreams. They'd started the second night at camp, the first night Nathaniel hadn't slept at his side. At first, he'd brushed if off as being nothing more than leftover residue from the spell he'd had cast upon him. By the second night, he'd abandoned his theory and done his best to remain cheerful and upbeat during the day, hoping it would help put a stop to them.

By the third night, he'd given up any notion he had any control at all over his dreams and resigned himself to the continuation of his night terrors. What irritated him most was that upon waking, he remembered nothing but the fear. An overwhelming sense of terror whose residue became increasingly intense.

By the fifth night, he felt certain he was losing his grasp on reality. He'd tried potions, amulets and tonics in an attempt to control his dreams, all to no avail. He'd said nothing to Nathaniel though. He knew his amatus was as stressed as he was and had no desire to add to the ever-darkening circles in his lover's eyes. The man had enough to worry about without listening to Dorian complain about nightmares. And despite Nathaniel's continued, upbeat mood, he could see the strain in his eyes.

The Inquisitor was worried and with good reason. They could all feel how close they were getting to the end of all this. None of them really knew what that meant, but he knew Nathaniel feared he wouldn't be enough to stop Corypheus. He'd done what he could to assure him that if anyone could stop Corypheus, it was his amatus. Yet though he could see his words soothed the man, he knew the Inquisitor didn't share the same degree of confidence in his abilities.

So he said nothing about his dreams. Which in retrospect had probably been a mistake. They'd been in the Wastes eight days now and the nightmares had gotten worse. The previous morning he'd woke in a cold sweat, confused by his surroundings and uncertain as to how he'd gotten there. He knew it was a bad sign but still refused to say anything. They'd be out of the Wastes soon enough and with any luck the dreams would end once they returned to Skyhold.

Nathaniel

I knew Dorian was hiding something from me. I could see it in his forced smile, the strain at the corners of his eyes and how he had stopped trading witticisms with Bull and Varric. But I said nothing to him. The tension between us was wound tighter than a bowstring. If I pressed and he wasn't in the sharing mood, it was almost guaranteed to end in harsh words and things which couldn't be unsaid. I didn't want that, so I'd asked Bull and Varric to watch him and let me know if they discovered anything.

When Dorian disappeared into his tent, Bull stood up. In a loud voice he announced he was curious about a clump of rocks in the distance and asked if I would accompany him to check it out. I teased him, not wanting Dorian to get the wrong idea if he were listening and asked Varric to keep watch.

He nodded solemnly while bull and I headed west to check out the rocks. He kept up his idle banter even after we reached the strange shape, proclaiming loudly that Varric should join us.

“Alright Tiny.” Varric said when he joined us. “What's up? You learn something?”

“Yeah. Dorian's been having nightmares. Bad ones.”

“Nightmares?” I echoed. “Do you know what they're about?”

“Not sure boss. But he was thrashing around in his tent something fierce last night. Kept saying no and then he said wolf.”

“Wolf?” I repeated stupidly. “Why wolf? We haven't seen any wolves out here. In fact, I can't remember the last time we even fought wolves.”

“Emprise du Lion.” Varric muttered.

“Right.” I frowned. “Sorry Varric.” I'd forgotten that. We'd been scouting north, just outside our second base camp when a pack of wolves had surrounded us. Varric had somehow gotten concerned by three of them and had taken a bite to the arm before Cassandra and I had been able to help.

“But that's just is boss.” Bull continued. “I don't think he meant wolf exactly.”

“You lost me Bull.”

“You know. The Wolf. The one from those Dalish stories.”

I felt an icy shiver trace it's way up my spine. “You mean the Dread Wolf? Fen'Harel?”

“Yeah! That's the one.”

“But why would Sparkler be dreaming about that?” Varric asked. “It doesn't make sense. We're nowhere near any elves or elven ruins here.”

“It makes sense to me.” I said, my tension rising. “Before all this started, Dorian was doing research on old elven gods. It was after he talked to her about what he found that he had that episode of lost time.”

Varric nodded while Bull looked confused.

“Lost time? When did that happen?”

“The night before we went to the elven ruins in the Emerald Graves.”

“And Solas and Cole came with?” He asked.

I nodded.

“Yeah. I remember now. You did that fake tripping thing or whatever it was. Forgot to ask you about that?”

“You knew I was faking? Shit. Do you think Solas noticed?”

Bull shrugged. “Don't know boss. That guy is hard to read, even for me and I've been around all kinds of elves.

I frowned at him. “Well that was less than helpful Bull.”

“Hey now! You asked. But back to this time thing – what happened?”

I told him what Sera had said and how Varric had found Dorian that morning. I'd questioned him about it, but he'd been embarrassed about the wine and brushed it off as nothing but a hangover. I hadn't accepted that, so he told me what he remembered but was adamant he was only guessing. In the end, he said he'd had a nightmare about a wolf and drank the wine to forget the fear it caused.

“So that's where you got the wolf from.” Bull nodded. “But how does that connect to Solas? Just cuz Sera thought it, doesn't mean she's right. I mean, it's not like they get along but she might have said it because she doesn't like him.”

“No.” Varric shook his head. “I think the Inquisitor might be on to something. Solas is always going on about ancient elves. Their stories, their origins, their past glory, whatever. But I still don't know if he even likes them, hates them or just likes hearing himself talk.”

“I always thought it was all three.” Bull ventured.

“I suppose it doesn't matter.” I sighed.

“What do you mean boss?” Bull asked.

“We have no proof of anything. Look, the only real problem here is figuring out what's causing Dorian's nightmares and making them stop.”

“And just how do you propose to do that?” Varric wondered.

I frowned. I'd thought of something, but when I'd said Dorian's name it had vanished. “I don't know Varric. I had an idea, but it's gone now.” I shook myself and headed back to camp “I'll be in the tent with Dorian. If his nightmares are getting worse, I have to be in there with him.”

“Whatever it takes Boss.” Bull agreed. “It sounded bad last night. Maybe if it you're in there if it happens again you can wake him up or something.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

Outside Dorian's tent I stripped off my armour and piled it neatly by the door. Grabbing my bedroll, I tucked it under my arm and ducked inside. I paused a moment, letting my eyes adjust to gloom.

I could hear Dorian breathing, but didn't sense anything amiss. I laid out my bedroll beside him before removing my shirt since I tended to sleep hot most nights. I stretched out beside him and snuggled in close to his back, draping my arm over his waist.

The smell of him hit my senses and I moaned in frustration. I'd forgotten about that but pushed all thought of intimacy away. As tempting as it was to start kissing his neck, I was more concerned about the nightmares – if that's what they really were.

But I was even more annoyed he hadn't told me or maybe I was annoyed with myself for not noticing sooner? I growled at myself. This wasn't the time for self-recrimination. I'd deal with that after I knew Dorian was safe. I just wanted to hold him close so I pulled him to my chest, burying my face in his hair and breathed deeply of his scent.

He sighed in his sleep, but didn't stir. After a moment, I let my body relax and began to drift off. I was just thinking Bull may have exaggerated when Dorian suddenly lashed out at something in his sleep.

“No!” He cried. “You can't have him!”

Maker's breath, what was this?

He moaned again and began making horrible whimpering sounds. If I hadn't been beside him I would never had heard it given how quiet he was. “No! I won't help you. I won't!”

The pain and fear I heard in his voice was raw and broken. It was the most awful sound I'd ever heard. I make to wake him and gather him in my arms when he cried out again.

“I'll kill you first wolf. Don't think I won't.”

Andraste's flaming ass! The damned wolf again.

“No!” He cried, only this time it was the sound of a soul lost, a future destroyed and a heart whose reason for beating had been taken away. It was so painful to my ears that tears sprang to my eyes and I'd had enough.

“Dorian.” I whispered, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Dorian, wake up. It's your amatus.”

“No.” He whimpered. “Can't be. The wolf killed you. You're dead.”

“Dorian please. It's me. It's just a nightmare. Wake up my heart.”

He twitched in his sleep as though he were fighting with something and I turned him onto his back, putting my hands to his cheeks.

“Dorian! Wake up!”

He stopped thrashing then and his breathing slowed as his eyes fluttered open and looked at me.

“Amatus?”

My heart was in a vice. It was as though he couldn't tell if he were awake or dreaming still.

“Yes, my heart.” I said, feeling my eyes well with tears. “It's me.”

“Amatus.” He said again as tears rolled down his cheeks. “What are you doing here? Am I dead too?”

“Maker's breath Dorian.” I whispered. “Who's done this to you?”

He blinked again and this time I knew he saw me and knew where he was. His body tensed and he looked at me with such confusion, I didn't know if I should laugh or cry.

“Nathaniel? Why are you sitting on me? Did Bull put you up to this?”

I didn't know what to make of his use of my given name, so shocked was I by the change in him. “Maker.” I whispered again. “Get up Dorian. We need to talk.”

I rolled off him and waited as he rose to a sitting position. Most of his earlier confusion was gone, but his cheeks were still damp with tears.

“Well I feel rather silly.” He said. “Here I am half-asleep and you're here in my tent. Does this mean I win the bet?”

“Bloody mage.” I growled. “Why didn't you tell me you were having nightmares?”

He paled at the mention of his dream and looked away. “I didn't want to tell you amatus You've been so stressed and tired lately. It's just a few nightmares. I didn't want to burden you further with a bunch of scary dreams.”

“Burden me?” I was angry now. “Nightmares? Plural? So Bull was right. This has been going on all week?”

He nodded, his eyes still haunted. Likely from sleep deprivation, I grumbled to myself.

“Bloody arrogant, stupid mage!” I roared. “How could you possibly think you're a burden? I love you dammit!”

“I'm sorry amatus. Please don't be mad at me.”

“Ugh!” I reached for him then and kissed him hard. I didn't know what else to do to make him shake off whatever the nightmares had done to make him sound so beaten. I pulled away, keeping my face close to his.

“I'm not mad you bloody dense man. You scared me to death! How can I help you if you don't tell me what's going on? Did it not occur to you that maybe someone is messing with you again? That same someone who tried to kill us both?”

A light went on in his eyes and he look both terrified and ashamed and then to my horror, his eyes rolled back in his head and he keeled over, unconscious. My heart stopped as I rushed to his side, calling for the others.

“Dorian!” I said, my hands holding his face. “Dorian! Dammit mage, wake up!”

“What do you need boss?” Bull asked, poking his head inside the tent.

“Dorian's fainted I think. Do we have anything for that?”

“Sure Be right back.” He returned a minute later with a vial of blue liquid clasped in his giant hand. “Wave this under his nose a bit.” He said. “When he can sit up, make him drink it.”

I nodded and did as he instructed as Bull ducked back outside. A minute later Dorian was awake and upright, once more utterly confused.

“Drink this.” I said, my tone brokering no arguments. “Now.”

He did as I asked, downing the contents of the vial in one swallow.

“How long until it works Bull?” I yelled.

“Not long. Maybe a minute or two.”

I sat there watching Dorian, not sure the vial had been enough and terrified he would faint again. After a few minutes, I was pretty sure he was all right – for now. Trouble was, he didn't look all right and I hated seeing it.

Gone was his quirky smile and the twinkle of mischievousness he always had in his eyes. He looked haunted, beaten – his eyes smudged with dark circles, his skin pale and dry and his hair dishevelled. It looked as though he'd been fighting for his life every night we'd been here and I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed before.

“Amatus.” He whispered, sounding lost.

I went to him and gathered him in my arms, crushing him to my chest. He was shaking and after a moment, I felt him tremble as he cried. “I don't know what's wrong with me.” He choked. “I feel like a lost and broken puppy.”

“Someone's messed with you in your sleep Dorian.” I said, pulling back to meet his eyes. “Do you know of any spell capable of something like that?”

He frowned, then nodded. “A spell applied to a person's dreams would have to be powerful, but it is possible. It would also need a focus point. Like something the victim carried or wore.”

“Can it be detected with a counter spell?”

He nodded again.

“Good.” I said, moving away from him. “Remove all your clothes.”

He smiled, a bit of smirk tugging at his lips. “I understand the necessity amatus, but are you sure that's wise?”

I broke into a wide grin. “Wise or not, I want everything off. You're going to check your clothes and everything else you brought with you for magic not your own.”

“Always taking the fun out of things.” He teased, some of his balance returning.

I knew he was doing all he could not to break down again and because it made me feel better, I played along with him.

“Tell you what.” I said. “If it will make you feel better, I forfeit the bet. You win.”

He paused long enough to stare at me before stripping everything he wore off and tossing it into my lap. “Now that's something worth my dignity.” He said, his mouth twitching. “I cannot wait to return to Skyhold.”

“That makes two of us.”

“So amatus, do I check my things buck naked or...?”

“As much as I would enjoy seeing that, i don't want you exposed to the cold. I'll find something of mine you can wear and we'll get started.”

“Kinky.” He smirked, his eyes alight with suggestion

I smiled, tucking his clothes under my arm and left the tent.

Once he was dressed, he joined the rest of us in the light of the fire. The pain in my chest eased slightly then. Much of his normal colour had returned and the hunched look he'd had when I'd first woken him had disappeared. He worked his magic on every item he'd worn, then moved on to his bedroll, the tent and his personal belongings. When he was finished, he'd found all the items marked with magic not his own.

“Now what?” Bull demanded. “Is this stuff contagious?”

Dorian frowned, staring at the pile of his corrupted belongings. He was angry now, which for me was a massive improvement to how he'd been feeling a short while ago.

“Not contagious, no.” He said. “But whoever did this was very thorough and very powerful. Magic like this is also very old. I've only ever read about it and then only in history books.”

“Andraste's flaming ass.” I swore. I was going to kill Solas.

“Amatus?”

“This is the third time someone has said old, powerful magic. It is no coincidence and I'm almost positive Solus is behind it.”

“Solas?” Dorian echoed.

“Yes. Solas.” I repeated. “It's not important why I think it's him. But this has gone too far. I'm confronting him when we get back to Skyhold.”

“Uh boss?” Bull began. “You sure that's wise? I mean, if you kick him out, confront him, won't he be harder to track? I mean, the guy is already slippery.”

“Vasha kaffas!” I swore. “Bloody arrogant, meddling elven arse-hole!”

“Uh Inquisitor?” Varric said. “We get it. He's a dick. But Bull has a point.”

“Well I hate it.” I snapped. “He's already tried killing Dorian twice, this makes it three times. I don't want him anywhere near me and I most certainly don't want him near Dorian. I can't... I just can't let him stay and pretend I don't want him dead.”

Everyone stayed silent and looked just as upset as I did, but didn't disagree with me.

“Whatever you decide, we're with you Inquisitor. All the way.” Varric said, Bull nodding in agreement.

I looked at Dorian and his eyes told me everything I needed to know. “Then it's settled. Solas is out when we get back. I'd much rather lock him up, but we have no proof he's behind any of this. Now, what about these things he's corrupted Dorian? What do we do with them?”

“All the fabrics must be burned.” He said, resigned to losing more of his possessions.

“What about the buckle, ring and raven amulet?” I asked.

“The buckle will have to be destroyed. Give it to Dagna, but tell her what's wrong with it first. As tor the ring and amulet, I can put a protective ward on them to keep the magic active but harmless to me. If we desire any hope of tracing it back to it's source, we need to keep them intact.”

“You can do that?” Varric looked impressed.

Dorian shook his head. “Not alone and not when I'm the spell's target.”

“Shit. Does that mean Vivienne again?”

“No. I was thinking we might ask our newest ally, Lady Morrigan.”

“Morrigan?” I repeated. “Why her?”

“Because I am not entirely certain Vivienne is strong enough to trace this kind of spell. Not to mention that I also don't trust her, but Morrigan is a very powerful apostate who has studied the ancient magics. And we cannot redo the spell if it fails. If Vivienne cant trace it, the spell used will destroy the original enchantment.”

I nodded agreeing with his reasoning. “I agree Dorian. Alright. I guess cast your warding spell and get this done. Bull?”

“On it boss.” He said, gathering up the clothing and other fabrics and tossing the entire pile into the fire. He ducked a moment later, the rest of us jumping in fear as the sound of shrieks filled the air.

“Bloody maker's ass!” Varric swore. “What in holy Andraste was that?”

“The corruption spell's death.” Dorian answered, looking pale. “Each spell required the agreement of a spirit. They were all likely protection spirits.”

I frowned. “Protection? That doesn't make sense.”

“Yes it does amatus. By agreeing to protect, the spell transmutes into trap.”

I frowned, my teeth gritted in anger as a pulse began throbbing behind my eyes. “Fine. Whatever. I don't' want to hear anymore. Finish your spell Dorian and come to bed.”

When we were finally tucked in together inside my tent, I held him tight to my chest, burying my face in his hair. Silent tears coursed down my cheeks and I trembled, unable to control myself any longer.

“Hush amatus.” Dorian cooed, threading his fingers through mine and holding tight. “I'm all right now.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He was ashamed of himself. Not because he hadn't thought his nightmares the result of a spell, nor because he'd believed he could handle it alone. No. He was ashamed he'd not told Nathaniel. The man only wanted to help and out of a foolish desire to protect him, he'd hurt him anyway.

He held onto him for a long time while he listened to Nathaniel's peaceful breathing as he slept. How could he possibly believe he was good enough for this man? He was always making the wrong choices. Keeping things hidden, covering his true feelings with with and sarcasm, refusing his offers of help. It was obvious to everyone at Skyhold that Nathaniel loved him, but he still didn't understand why.

He'd thought to ask, but voicing the doubts in his head made him sound weak and pathetic. Like he had no confidence in himself at all, making all his boasting of his finer traits nothing but lies. How could a man like the Inquisitor love someone like that? A man who saw who and what people really were behind their masks? Did he just not see Dorian's faults? Or how insecure he was about his own ability and power? And if he did see them, why in Andraste's name did he put up with him?

He wiped the damp from his cheeks with a weary sigh. Enough. All this self-doubt was coming from the spell he'd been under. He couldn't recall much of anything he'd dreamt aside from the feelings he'd experienced. Loss, failure, fear, anger and the overwhelming sense that no matter what he did, he would be inadequate to whatever lay before him.

He understood the spell had drawn power from any small sense of emotion he carried and amplified it. It didn't matter if the feelings had originated in childhood or last week. If he had ever experienced any of them in his life, the spell had been designed to feed on it and make it grow so big it consumed him.

It had been a very successful and very powerful enchantment. He was almost certain that if Nathaniel hadn't woken him, it would have completed it's purpose. Binding him so tight to those raw and devastating emotions that no counter-spell could have saved him.

What scared him most, was how quickly it had worked. He knew he would normally have mentioned the nightmare the first night he'd had it. Which could only men the spell had been designed to isolate him first, make him believe it was nothing. That he could handle it alone and that it was nothing to be concerned about.

He frowned then, his anger rising. What made no sense at all to him was why. Why would anyone, including Solas, want to torture him like this? What was the purpose of it all?

He had no answer to that. Even Nathaniel's theory about Solas and the Dread Wolf didn't' make sense, though he had to admit it made a good story.

Sighing, he realized just how tired he was. Snuggling closer to Nathaniel's reassuring presence, he closed his eyes and promptly fell asleep.

Nathaniel

After killing the dragon which had been guarding the final dwarven Thaig, we returned to Skyhold. Though I had no love for killing dragons, in many ways the fight had been a small blessing. We were all tense and frustrated over what had happened last night. Killing the dragon had given all of us a way to release all of our pent up emotion and tension.

Bull, of course, was ecstatic. Killing a dragon was high on his list of most awesome things to do. He couldn't stop talking about how glorious it had been to defeat such a magnificent creature and his exuberance sustained us all the way back to Skyhold. So much so, that by the time we arrived we were all in much better moods.

My earlier rage toward Solas had diminished and I was no longer in danger of killing him outright. The battle with the dragon and the trip back had given me time to distance myself from my feelings and I viewed the event as a puzzle. I still wanted to kill whoever was responsible, but I was no longer fuelled with blind rage.

I needed more information before I took action and to do that, I needed to be rational. The dragon and Bull's excitement had helped remind me of the bigger picture.

But all the calm I'd just been revelling in dissipated as we entered Skyhold's courtyard. Everything was in chaos and I was instantly on alert. One of Leliana's agents saw me and ran up to us, breathless as we were dismounting our horses.

“Your Worship!” She cried. “It's good you've returned. Something's happened! You must come quickly!”

Maker's breath, what now? I wondered as we hurried after her into the castle.

The main hall was completely deserted aside from Cullen, Cassandra, Josephine and Leliana. I could see the collective sigh of relief they displayed as soon as they caught sight of me.

“Inquisitor.” Leliana began. “We have a situation here, as you've probably already noticed.”

“What's going on?”

“I have informed the others of the prior incidents regarding yourself ad Lord Pavus.” She said. “Unfortunately, we missed a few things.”

“What are you talking about? What things?”

“Someone transferred the magic cast on you and Dorian to the locations where they were first discovered.” Cassandra said.

“One of the nobles became convinced there was a demon hiding in the stairwell and caused a panic.” Leliana continued. “And no one has been able to touch the two doors leading to the library since.”

I frowned. “If that's true, how did you get out?”

“The magic is on this side of the door Inquisitor. I came down to see what AL the fuss was about and then couldn't return to the rookery.”

“Is Solas still here?” I asked.

Cullen frowned. “That's an odd question Inquisitor. But we don't actually know. None of us can get in.”

“And I can't get a message to anyone inside the tower.” Leliana added.

“I'm sensing there's more to this than just a frightened noble.” Dorian noted.

At this, they all looked as though they were guilty of some horrible crime.

“A few of our recruits are dead Your Worship.” Josephine said in answer to Dorian's comment.

“Dead? How?”

“We found them inside Dorian's old room. We don't know how they got in or how they got past the guards we had stationed there.” Cullen said, looking ashamed.

“How did they die?” Dorian asked, looking tense.

“We're not sure.” Leliana answered. “But it appears they may have killed each other.”

“Appears? You mean no weapons were found?”

“None Inquisitor.”

“So then how...?”

“We believe they did it with their bare hands.” Cullen finished.

“Andraste's ass.” I muttered, earning myself a stern look from both Leliana and Josephine. “Sorry ladies. So what do we do about this?”

“I might have a suggestion.” Called a sultry voice from behind me.

Everyone turned to stare at Morrigan as she joined our little group.

“Yes Lady Morrigan? What do you suggest?”

“You're aware I am a mage yes? I can clear any remaining spells within the castle and the grounds. And if someone would kindly show me this cursed room, I may be able to fix that as well. Perhaps even identify the person behind all this. I only wonder why my assistance wasn't sought sooner.” She said, directing her final comment at Leliana.

“I apologize Morrigan.” Leliana said, inclining her head to her. “In all the confusion, I had forgotten you were here.”

Morrigan laughed. “Oh I rather doubt that, but perhaps we can discuss it another time. I will endeavour to rid the spell from the doors now. With your permission of course, Inquisitor.”

I nodded and she crossed to the first door, stretching out her hands. “My, my.” She muttered. “Someone certainly enjoys their little games.”

Closing her eyes, she muttered a few words under her breath before flicking her hands at the door, blue and white light radiating from her palms. It impacted the door spreading outward, tracing a path up the wall on a course that followed the staircase on the other side. It glowed and pulsed for several minutes before disappearing from sight. Moving to the second door, she repeated the same ritual only this time, the light travelled straight up before taking a spiralling route up the wall in an echo of the second set of stairs.

Returning to us, she smiled, thought I could sense she was disturbed by whatever she had learned from the ward on the door.

“It is done.” She said, wiping her hands down the front of her shirt as though to clean them. “Now if someone would kindly show me this cursed room, I will see what I can do.”

“Follow me Lady Morrigan.” Cullen said, bowing slightly.

“Thank you Commander.” She said, catching my eye as Cullen turned away. “Once I am finished there, I suspect we should meet privately.”

“I agree.” I said. “I hope you're able to help Morrigan and I thank you for your assistance.”

“It's what I'm here for is it not? But you are welcome, regardless.”

After she left, the rest of us stared at each other I silence which Varric broke quickly.

“I don't know about the rest of you, but I need a drink.” He muttered.

“I need to return to the rookery.” Leliana said.

“And I wish to check on Lady Morrigan's progress.” Cassandra announced, taking off after Cullen.

“Well then.” Josephine huffed. “It seems we have successfully dealt with the danger. For now. If you will excuse me Inquisitor? I have several letters of apology to write.”

I nodded as she headed back to her office. I glanced at Dorian, meeting his eyes.

“Care for a drink?”

“Or several.” He grumbled.

“Good. Let's go.” I said hurrying to catch up with Varric.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

As much as he had looked forward to returning to Skyhold, the winner of the bet he'd made with Nathaniel, he wasn't in the mood to make use of it. The business with the nightmares and the calculated coldness of the spell's design had him thinking of everything but sex. The fact that he wasn't even remotely interested in intimacy made him angry.

That someone's malicious act had worked so well as to make him voluntarily put distance between himself and his amatus was hard to stomach. He knew he shouldn't give in to what he was feeling, prove to himself and his enemy they had failed, but he couldn't. No matter how much he argued with himself, he couldn't find pleasure in the idea. Which was a thousand times worse than the fear he'd felt in his dreams.

After going to the tavern to calm their collective nerves, they'd met in the War Room with Morrigan to discuss whatever she might have learned. Which unfortunately wasn't much. She'd cleared Dorian's former quarters of harmful magic, though it had taken her longer than expected. She had no success in tracing the origins of the magic there either.

As for the magic itself, she described much the same way Dorian had. Old, powerful and from a time only read about in books. She was also not optimistic she would be able to learn much from Dorian's amulet and ring, but promised to do her best.

Which then brought up the question of Vivienne. Why hadn't she been there to help? Leliana answered by saying she'd sent her to Val Royeaux to check on something for her, but would not say what.

From there, everyone had some idea what to do next, but none could agree on a course of action. As for Solas, he was gone. No one knew where he was or when he might have left, though Leliana was certain he'd disappeared after they'd headed out to the Hissing Wastes. Nathaniel was livid on hearing this, but did a masterful job of keeping his thoughts to himself.

Cullen made sure to post more guards around every entrance in and out of Skyhold, while Leliana had already increased the amount of spies within the compound. Nathaniel ordered full seep of the grounds and building, both known and unknown with Morrigan leading the search. He wanted to know if there were any other traps hidden in Skyhold or if there might be other entrances they were unaware of.

All those gathered aside from Dorian looked confused by this, until Nathaniel reminded them all that it had been Solas to tell them of Skyhold in the first place. By the end of the meeting, everyone was exhausting and in varying degrees of foul moods. The fact that Solas might actually be responsible for recent event had them all questioning their ability to sense danger.

Nathaniel took Dorian out of the War room then and after ordering food be sent to his room, led them to his private quarters. He was uncharacteristically distant. Gone was his easy smile and confident posture. He seemed weighed down by everything that had happened and let it show the moment he crossed the room to stand by the fireplace.

“Amatus.” Dorian said.

He turned to look at him, a sadness in his eyes he'd never seen before and for once didn't know what to say. Nathaniel sighed, his shoulders sagging, but said nothing, returning his gaze to the fire. Dorian crossed the room, slipping his arms around his waist and resting his chin on Nathaniel's shoulder.

“Talk to me Nathaniel.” He said. “I know you're upset, but tell me what you're thinking.”

“I'm thinking I want Solas dead. I'm thinking I should never have let him join us. And I'm thinking I like it when you say my name.”

“But you didn't let him join us.” Dorian reminded him. “He was part of the Inquisition long before you started leading it.”

“Maybe. But I had my suspicions about him from the very beginning. How could I have forgotten that?”

Dorian turned him so they were staring into each other's eyes. “Maybe because you had bigger problems to deal with? Like travelling through time with an evil mage from Tevinter? Recruiting apostates from Redcliff? Staring down a self-proclaimed god single handed?”

Nathaniel frowned, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “How can I berate myself when you're being so bloody logical? And you're not an evil mage from Tevinter.”

“Well that's easy. You can't.”

Nathaniel smiled and pressed his lips to his. “What would I do without you my heart?”

“Oh I don't know. I'm sure you'd think of something, though less fashionably of course.”

Nathaniel laughed and pressed himself to him, claiming his lips in a passionate kiss. “Mmm. I think you're wrong about that. Though you're right most other times, as usual.”

Now it was Dorian's turn to frown. “As usual?”

“Yes, you bloody mage as usual. Do you not know how much I depend on you? For advice and discussion and reassurance?”

“Well I'm aware you seem quite interested in my opinions, but you're making it sound as though you couldn't' do anything without me. Now I'll be the first to tell you how unique and talented I am. I am, of course me, but I think you may be exaggerating my better qualities.”

Nathaniel shook his head, his smile vanishing. “No Dorian, I'm really not. You give me the strength to keep going. You help me just by being at my side. I thank the Maker every day for bringing me to you.”

“I... don't know what to say.” He stammered. The man was certainly doing his best to humble him, if that was his goal. But he knew it wasn't. Even if he still had doubts, he could hear the sincerity in Nathaniel's voice, leaving him no choice but to believe him.

“I told you before Dorian. I will do whatever it takes to chase that doubt fro your heart. I meant it.”

“I believe you amatus.” He whispered.

“Now you have to answer a question for me.”

“Anything.”

“You used my real name. Why have you never said it before?”

Dorian frowned. “I wanted to ask your permission. I was uncertain how it might be viewed by others if I were to address you so informally.”

“But you've not used it when we're alone either.”

“I keep forgetting to ask if it's okay with you." He said, not meeting my eyes. "There's always something else to discuss and whenever I see you its about pleasing you, seeing you smile. I forget, and then you're walking away and I remember I forgot to ask again."

Nathaniel closed the distance between us, capturing my face in his hands and pressed his lips to mine in an urgent kiss. I sighed, my body relaxing as I drew him closer, his lips parting as his tongue sought mine. I pressed myself into him needing his body touching mine.

“My apologies Inquisitor. I didn't mean to intrude.” Said a female voice at my back, startling us both.

Nathaniel pulled away and turned to look at who had spoken. Our food had arrived. Waving off her apology, he thanked her for bringing our meal and waited while she set about arranging the plates and food tray on the small table.

I shared a wry smile with Nathaniel and took a seat, suddenly ravenous. We ate in companionable silence even as the space between us grew heavy with heat and desire. We'd only finished half our meal when one of Leliana's agents appeared on the stairs.

“Pardon me, Your Worship.” He said. “But the Lady Nightingale wanted this delivered straight away.”

Dorian watched as Nathaniel read the missive, his lovers' face changing from one of curiosity to confusion.

“Maker's breath.” He swore, crumpling the note and tossing it into the fireplace. “Blackwall's disappeared. Gone running off to Val Royeaux.”

“Did it say why?”

Nathaniel scowled. “No it bloody doesn't. I'm sure Leliana knows something, she just didn't share it with me.”

“It does sound like her. When do we leave?”

“Now, apparently.”

“Lead the way then amatus. I'm curious to find out what's going on.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

Since I wasn't expecting any trouble in Val Royeaux, I brought Sera and Varric with us. Varric since I knew I could count on him to lighten a mood and Sera because she never hesitated to call things as she saw them.

After everything else that had happened, I needed a lighter mood around me. When we arrived, there was a large crowd gathered at one end of the courtyard where the gallows were. An Orlesian guard in full armour was reading out charges against a bound prisoner on the platform.

“Well this isn't the most pleasant thing to arrive in time for.” Varric grumbled.

“Where's the food yeah?” Sera asked, not paying any attention. “Fancy pants nobles always go all out for these things.”

As the final charge was read, a familiar voice shouted for them to stop. Blackwall was mounting the platform, his face rigid and his movement determined.

“Blackwall!” I shouted, my words lost to the crowd as he continued to talk. As his words reached our ears we groaned or swore in varying degrees of irritation.

“Shit.”

“Maker's breath.”

“Knew it!”

As the guards released the prisoner and placed Blackwall under arrest, I felt all the air rush out of me. I couldn't believe what we'd just witnessed. Blackwall wasn't a Grey Warden. He wasn't even Blackwall. He was a wanted criminal named Thom Rainier.

“Amatus?” Dorian asked while Varric trailed after Sera to make sure she didn't cause trouble while I debated what to do.

“Mmm.”

“What do you want to do?”

I looked at him and frowned. “I want to pretend none of this just happened. I want to punch him in the face for lying to me – to all of us. What I'm going to do is have Cullen meet me at the prison and talk to Blackwall. I mean Thom Rainier.”

“I can't believe the bloody man hid this from us.” Dorian agreed.

“Neither can I. Wait here a moment.” I said, moving to talk to one of Leliana's agents who she'd stationed in Val Royeaux. Message sent, I rejoined Dorian in the now vacant courtyard.

“Any idea where Sera and Varric have got to?” I asked.

“Varric said they were going up to check on some stuffy shirts. I got the impression it wasn't just Sera who was interested though. I think they might be a while.”

“Good.” I smiled. “Let's get some dinner.”

“Dinner? In public?” Dorian looked scared. “This isn't Skyhold amatus.”

I smiled at him and took his arm. “I know that Dorian and I don't care. Now come on, we didn't get to finish our supper and I'm still hungry.”

“Very well.” He sighed. “But don't say I didn't warn you.”

An hour and a bottle of wine later, Dorian had relaxed immeasurably. No one had questioned them or even raised an eyebrow in their direction over seeing the Inquisitor having dinner with a man known to be from Tevinter.

“Told you.” I smirked.

“Told me what?”

“These people don't care who I spend my time with as much as you think.”

“I have to admit you are right amatus. Though I did have good reason to think otherwise. My homeland is not very forgiving when it comes to relations between two people, especially if the union is not likely to provide impressive offspring. Love is never a factor and neither are an individual's preferences. We have heirs, not children and families. I wish my country saw these things as clearly as the South, but it is not an area in which we are prone to change any time soon.”

“I'm sorry Dorian.” I said, feeling guilty. “I didn't know. I hadn't meant to upset you.”

“Nonsense.” He said, waving off my concern. “It is my fault for not explaining sooner. I have no doubt you would have handled it with your usual tact and consideration for my comfort as you always do.”

I smiled. “It would have been useful, but you're wrong about the South Dorian. Not all regions here are as accepting of the different as you think.”

“What do you mean amatus? I've seen no evidence that anyone in the South disapproves of same gender relations and they practically flaunt the female version in the streets.”

“You've only seen a small part of Ferelden Dorian.” I reminded him, my thoughts going to Ostwick and Starkhaven.

“I get the impression you're speaking from personal experience amatus.” He said, his frown giving way to concern.

“I am.”

“Does this have to do with the incident with your father and former paramour?”

“Paramour is stretching it a bit, but yes it does.”

“I didn't ask when you brought it up before.” Dorian paused. “I wasn't sure you wanted to talk about it. But what happened to this man who hurt you? What became of him?”



“His family had had enough of his wanton behaviour and had him hauled off to the nearest Chantry far removed from brothels and taverns. I heard he turned into a new man and is a devout brother of the Chant. He was in Kirkwall for a time and I think he returned to Starkhaven to reclaim his rightful place as king.”

Dorian gaped at me. “Are you telling me the Prince of Starkhaven is the one who broke your heart and had you arrested?

“I am.”

“Maker's breath.” He muttered. “I can't believe it. I wonder if that's who Varric referred to as Choir Boy back in Haven.”

“Varric talked to you about Kirkwall?”

“Only briefly. Wanted to know what I knew about slavers in Kirkwall.”

I frowned. “I see. Want to tell me about it?”

Dorian shook his head. “It's not a very nice story, though it has a happy ending. Perhaps we could talk about it another time?”

“Sure.” I said, curious about the expression I saw on his face. “Was there something else you wanted to talk about?”

He sighed, meeting my eyes. His grey pools were filled with a sadness and resignation that made my pulse speed and my breath catch in my throat. “There is something.” He said.

“You're scaring me Dorian.” I said, my voice cracking. “What's wrong? You look like you're about to break up with me.”

A look of horror passed over his features and reached across the table to grip my hands in his. “Never that amatus. Never. I didn't mean for you to see that.”

I returned his reassuring squeeze feeling my pulse return to normal, letting out the breath I'd been holding. “Maker, that is not a pleasant sight Dorian. What it is?”

“I thought it was time I told you why I'm so reluctant to be more open about... us.”

I held my breath. From the look I'd seen on his face I wasn't sure I wanted to know. “It's all right Dorian. You don't have to tell me.”

“I want to amatus.” He said, gripping his glass of wine like a vise. “I was young and stupid at the time. A very powerful and very attractive man seduced me. It was before I met Alexius and after I'd been kicked out of the latest mage school.”

I waited, signalling the waiter for more wine. Whatever Dorian had to say, I was certain we would both need more before he finished.

“At first I was reluctant to continue my intimate relations with men. Not that I hadn't fully explored my own yearnings. I just wasn't certain it was what I wanted for my future. I was fully aware of my position in my family, especially being an altus and what that meant for my future. But he was very charismatic, very attentive and against my better judgment I fell for him. Hard.”

I reached across the table to grasp his hand. He took it, giving it a firm squeeze but not letting go. His grip tightened as he continued.

“He showed me ways to love a man I'd never even dreamed of. He showered me with gifts and trinkets as well as favours and kisses.” He sighed, his eyes growing distant. “I was so blinded by my love for him I didn't question anything he said or did.”

“What happened Dorian? What did he do?”

He gripped my hand harder, leaning forward to give himself some semblance of anonymity as a tear rolled down his cheek. “He...” Dorian's voice failed him and I could see how much pain it caused him to continue.

“Dorian, please. You don't have to continue. I hate seeing you like this.”

“I'll be all right amatus. I need to tell you.” He said, giving me a weak smile.

I nodded, not letting go his hand.

“He didn't want me at all. He' never loved me and never intended to make good on his promise to care for me for the rest of my life. I found some things the day before I left, things I'd never known or suspected. There were ingredients for a spell, a blood ritual. He'd gotten close to me so he could use my blood in a ritual that would give him more power. He was planning to sacrifice me while we were in an intimate moment together – with the combined energy of release and my blood, the power he could have gained would have been enormous.”

“Oh Dorian.” I said, my heart breaking even as I wished the man dead.

“Quite.” He said, his eyes still sad. “When I found out what he'd planned, I gathered my things and left. I returned, armed with a new staff for the one he'd purchased for me had been corrupted so that it would break down my resistance to him the longer I had it with me.”

I'd assumed he had finished, but I was wrong. He let out a loud exhale, flicking his eyes to me before returning his gaze to his wine glass.

“I confronted him in his home. He denied it at first, then laughed at me much as your former lover did you. I left then, my heart broken and nowhere to go, so I headed to the nearest tavern and started drinking.”

My gaze fell to the wine bottle and I wondered if I shouldn't have it removed. He saw my look and smiled. “Don't worry amatus. I'm not going to drink the entire bottle after this.”

I returned his smile, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. “Tell me the rest Dorian. Let it go.”

Another tear rolled down his cheek but he sniffed loudly and sat up straighter in his chair.

“He denounced me publicly. Said I'd seduced him and run off with everything he'd ever given me. The magisters searched the room I'd taken at the tavern and took everything that he'd bought for me as a gift. A week after that he was killed when he tried the spell on someone else who wasn't strong enough. The mansion where he lived burned to the ground. Though everyone knew he'd done it to himself, there were rumours I'd had him killed. Needless to say I had to leave after that and a few days later I met Alexius.”

“I'm so sorry Dorian.” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“It's all right amatus.” He said, giving me a small smile. “It's time I let all that go. And I thank the Maker every day for ensuring your survival at the Conclave and bringing us together.”

“As do I, my heart.”

“That sounds an awful lot like you're going to kiss me.” He said, removing his hand from mine.

I stood, reaching for him across the table. “It does, doesn't it?” I said, capturing his face in my hands and kissing him deeply.

I could hear quiet gasps and small giggles echo through the establishment, but no one cried out in disgust or demanded to know what I was doing. Feeling empowered, I deepened the kiss, my lips parting to allow him entry before I released him.

His eyes were glassy and unfocused as I returned to my seat, his face the picture of desire. His lips were red from the pressure of mine on his and I felt myself grow hard. He sighed and looked at me, a wistful expression on his face.

“Amatus. You are determined to embarrass us both.”

“No.” I said, shaking my head. “I'm determined to change the world.”

“Be that as it may.” He continued, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “But don't do that again or I will be unable to walk beside you without embarrassing myself.”

“You won't be alone.” I said, winking at him.

“Bloody man.” He growled “It would serve you right if our dear Commander Cullen were to show up right now.”

“Did someone call my name?”

We turned to see Cullen staring at us from the courtyard.

“Maker's breath.” I muttered. “If you would be so kind to speak with the Orlesian guards I will join you momentarily Commander.”

“Of course Inquisitor.” Cullen nodded. “I'll see to it straight away.”

Dorian rolled with laughter as Cullen moved out of earshot, while I did my best to think dark thoughts.

“Stop that.” I grumbled. “It's not funny.”

It was ten minutes before I was able to rise from my chair with dignity, Dorian laughing at me the entire time.

“Keep that up and I'll find some way to get back at you.” I threatened.

“Promises, promises.” He sang, unable to stop grinning. “Enjoy your visit with our dear Blackwall amatus. I shall endeavour to find our fellow companions and will be waiting for you when you've finished speaking with him.”

“Do not say one word of this to Varric.”

His face lit with even more humour. “I had no intention of that amatus, but thank you for mentioning it. See you soon.”

My meeting with Blackwall went as well as I had anticipated. After talking to Cullen, I went back outside and returned to Skyhold with Dorian and the others. When we got back I spoke to Josephine about arranging Blackwall's release into our custody and headed for my quarters. Dorian was off to speak with Morrigan about his enchanted possessions and I had no desire to follow him. I'd had enough excitement for one day.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He felt a shift in his heart as he entered Skyhold's garden to speak with Morrigan. He'd never told anyone what had happened with the magister who had used him. Not Felix, who had been like a brother to him and not Alexius who despite their falling out years later had been like a second father. He was surprised how light and relieved he felt having told Nathaniel his sad story.

It was not what he'd expected. He'd believed telling his tale of woe would only reinforce his fearful reluctance to share his feelings openly with another. Yet that hadn't happened. He felt as though light had replaced the dark place in his heart where his former love had resided. It was as though by sharing his story with Nathaniel, his love for him had banished all the pain he'd carried from both his heart and his soul.

He found Morrigan in the garden where she seemed to be most comfortable. She was a fascinating woman, especially since she had also been an apostate all her life. Yet she was also a mystery to him. She didn't despite him like most apostate's did, though she also had no love for the Emperium either.

“Lady Morrigan.” He said approaching her.

“Lord Pavus.” She replied, inclining her head to him.

“Please, my lady, call me Dorian.”

“As you wish. I assume you've come to ask me about your enchanted objects.”

“I have. Did you learn anything?”

“Not much I'm afraid. As we suspected, the spell used was both complicated and simple. I was unable to trace it back to the one who cast it, but I did learn it's origins.”

“Really?” Dorian was surprised and pleased to hear it.

“It came from within the walls of Skyhold. Someone amongst us did this, though the who is still hidden from me.”

“Unfortunate, but not unexpected. Did you learn anything else?”

“I'm afraid not.” She said, sounding annoyed. “I am not accustomed to having my magic fail me, yet fail me it did. The only explanation I have for this is that the mage in question is more powerful that we know, assuming it even is a mage.”

“What do you mean? Only a mage could cast spells such as we've seen.”

“I never said it wasn't a mage.” Morrigan snapped. “Only that they are something more. Put it this way, the only person I've ever met who might be capable of such a spell is my own mother. But she would not do this. Antics like these are petty and inconsequential. She would never waste magic on such things.”

“Your mother?”

She smiled. “If you believe the stories, she is Flemeth of the Chasind or Asha'bellanar as the Dalish call her.”

“Truly? I didn't know this.” He said, noting the tension in her eyes and caught himself before he smiled at her. “I take it you and your mother are not on the best of terms.”

“That would be an understatement, but you're not wrong.”

“I understand Lady Morrigan.” He said, dropping it. “So our villain has magic power equal to that of your mother.”

“It is the only explanation for why I was unable to trace the spell's source. Whoever this is, they are very dangerous. Perhaps even more dangerous than Corypheus.”

“But if true, what is the purpose behind these attacks? So far they've only gone after the Inquisitor and myself.”

“True. But I believe the only target is you.” She said. “Have you not yet realized this? They may have attacked the Inquisitor surreptitiously but it's clear they did not intend him any harm. You have been the focus three times now.”

“I see your point, but I still don't understand why.”

“You are from Tevinter are you not? Where people there still strive to be the most powerful mage? Produce the most powerful heir.”

“Yes, but...”

“I heard you were an altus Dorian. You are also a necromancer.”

“I still don't see why that would make me a target. I'm not a magister. I hold no title and no power in Tevinter and have no standing among my peers.”

“True, but you have studied your land's history. How many altus necromancers have there been in Tevinter? How many are alive now?”

“Are you saying these attacks on me are because they want the power of my magic?”

“I do not know for certain. But it's not unthinkable that they might want both.”

“Maker's breath.” Dorian swore. “And the attack on the Inquisitor and Skyhold?”

“A smoke screen. Nothing more.” Morrigan frowned. “Despite my assistance and assurances that I've done all I can to clear any harmful magic from Skyhold, I cannot claim I did not miss something. If the one who did this is as powerful as I suspect, you are still in grave danger here.”

“Andraste's ass.” Dorian muttered. “Do you any suggestions as to what I can do about it?”

“An amulet.” She said, handing him a parchment. “Have your spymaster search for it in the Kokari Wilds. It's not much, but it will offer you some protection.”

“Thank you Lady Morrigan. It is very refreshing to speak with someone as knowledgeable and as passionate about ancient magic as you.”

“I have enjoyed our conversation as well.” She said, giving him a rare smile. “But I must take my leave. I need to see to my son. If you will excuse me?”

“Of course.”

Nathaniel

Though initially I thought myself too tired to do much other than sleep, I found I couldn't relax once I reached my quarters. Knowing Dorian's love of conversation, I knew it would be hours before he returned.

Changing into something a little more comfortable, I left my quarters in search of distraction. There was no pressing business to attend to for the moment, so I headed out to the practice yard. I had time on my hands and decided to pass the time speaking with some of my companions.

I was surprised to find Cassandra sitting on a stool reading a book as I approach.

“Interesting reading?” I asked.

She startled at the sound of my voice, jumping from the chair and turning her body to hide the book in her hand. “No!” She lied, her face flushing red. “It's just field reports from Commander Cullen.”

“Of course, because I was suddenly struck blind.”

“It's a book.” She grumbled.

“Yes. I can see that.”

“It's literature. Smutty literature. One of Varric's tales, the latest chapter.”

“The latest chapter?” I repeated. “You've read them all?”

“Not all of them. I had almost finished when Haven was destroyed. I haven't had time to finish until recently.”

“I see.”

“It is a distraction, nothing more.” She paused, her face lighting with excitement. “I know Varric is working on the next chapter. He must be. You! You could command him to...” Her face fell, her brow furrowing into a frown. “Forget you know this about me.”

I let her go, a smile on my face as I hurried back to the castle to speak with Varric

“Why hello your Inquisitorialness.” He said. “Something I can do for you?”

“Cassandra wanted to know if you were working on your next book.”

“I think I must have heard you wrong. Are you talking about our dear Seeker? The one who likes to hit people with giant swords?”

“She seems to be a big fan.”

“You don't mean my romance serial? She'll be waiting a long time. I'm not working on it and had no plans to continue it. It's easily one of the worst books I ever wrote.”

“Cassandra seemed to be enjoying it and is looking forward to the next chapter.”

“Wait. Are you saying you want me to write this? That is such a terrible idea I have to do it. But on one condition. I have to be there when you give it to her.”

I grinned. “You have a deal Varric.”

“Good.” He smiled, pausing. “I don't mean to pry, but speaking of romance, you and Dorian seem to be getting along quite well.”

I frowned. “We are actually. Why do you ask?”

“I just wondered if you'd given any thought to what you want after we deal with Corypheus. Assuming we don't die of course.”

“I... don't know. I know I want to be with him and can't imagine not having him at my side.”

“I kind of figured that.” Varric smiled. “But can I give you a word of advice? Don't wait to tell him that Inquisitor. I've seen too many good things end over a simple lack of communication.”

“I appreciate that Varric. I assume that because you're a writer you would have observed this at some point.”

“More times than I thought possible.” He admitted. “Anyhow, that's all I wanted to say. If you'll excuse me, I have some writing to do.”

Varric was right. Though I'd thought fleetingly about “after,” I hadn't given it much attention. My initial goal had been to reassure him I was sincere in my affection for him. Perhaps it was time to tell him how committed I really was.

I headed for the tavern to speak with whoever might be available. Sera had a room there while Cole and Iron Bull just sort of hung out there at all hours of the day. Cole didn't sleep, but I had no explanation for why Iron Bull never seemed to sleep.

“Inquisitor!” Sera smiled as I joined her and Bull at the bar. “Nice to see you here with us little people.”

“Hey boss.” Bull greeted. “Come to join us for a drink?”

“Sure. What are you drinking to?”

“New friends.” Sera cried happily. “And kicking Coryph-enus in his stupid darkspawn arse!”

“And dragons!” Bull roared.

I laughed. “Well I can drink to all of that.”

“Speaking of celebrating, what are you planning with Dorian?” Sera slurred. “I mean, you're serious and he's serious and everyone's seen how you two look at each other.”

“Funny.” I said, surprised by the question. “Varric just asked me the same thing.”

“We like you boss.” Bull slurred. “We just want to make sure you're happy and want you to stay that way.”

“Yeah.” Sera nodded, her eyes glassy. “Are you happy Inquisitor?”

“Yes Sera. I'm very happy.”

“Well good then.” She nodded, downing the last of her drink with a loud smack of her lips. “To being happy!”

“How many has she had?” I whispered across to Bull.

“Uh, not sure boss.” He said, looking embarrassed. “I might have forgot to pay attention.”

“Well I think she's had enough. Think you can convince her to return to her room to sleep it off?”

“Sure boss. I got it covered.”

I left them to their continued revelry, my mind whirling. So my companions could see how serious Dorian and I had become. I frowned when I thought of the rest of them though. I couldn't imagine Vivienne thinking it a good thing. Leliana likely had some contrary thoughts on the subject, but given how much she'd softened since Haven, I realized that might have changed.

I then thought of Blackwall and kicked myself. I'd forgotten about him and wondered if Josephine had been successful in securing his release so I went to her office to ask.

“Inquisitor.” Josephine smiled. “Was there something I can do for you?”

“I just wanted to know if you'd had any success with the business of Blackwall.”

“I have Your Grace. He's currently in our dungeon awaiting your judgment.”

“I see.” I frowned. “Thank you Josephine. Have him brought up, I'll deal with it now.”

“As you wish Inquisitor. Give me a moment to notify the guards.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I was not looking forward to this. Blackwall, err Thom Rainier who'd turned traitor to Orlais' royalty and ordered his men to murder before running from his crime only to pretend to be a Grey Warden. The amount of treachery and betrayal the man had committed was almost unfathomable. Yet he'd willingly joined the Inquisition and taken up arms at his side. Risked his life to rid the world of darkspawn and the threat Corypheus posed only to toss all of it away to save one of his men and take responsibility.

“What did it cost you to free me from the prison at Val Royeaux?” Blackwall sneered.

“Josephine called in some favours.” I replied, irritated by his tone. Even chained as he was he couldn't keep his acidic words to himself.

“And what will it cost the Inquisition? When everyone learns the Inquisition wields the power they hold over Thedas to free a guilty man?”

“No one will even remember this after Corypheus is defeated.” I retorted. “This business won't even be a blip in their minds.”

“I'll remember.” He said flatly. “So what happens now? I was prepared to take my punishment in Val Royeaux, ready for the hangman's axe.”

“You have your freedom.” I said coldly. “You're free to make amends for what you've done. Not as the man you believe you are or the man you were, or even as the man you pretended to be. But as the man you really are, Thom Rainier.”

“I'm not even sure who he is anymore.”

“Then you'll have plenty of time to figure it out.” I said, nodding at the guards to remove his chains.

“If my life is mine to do with as I please, I swear it to the Inquisition. If you have need of me, my sword arm is yours.”

I nodded and let him leave to the sound of several gasps, muttered words of shock and murmurs of approval. I had no doubt there would be a lot of angry people after they heard I'd given Blackwall his freedom but I didn't care. I saw enough death every day I was out in the field, I didn't need to deliver more while sitting in my pretentious throne in Skyhold. It was my home.

With a sigh I turned my back on those present in the hall and retreated to my quarters for some much needed space. But once I got there I remembered what I'd been doing before the business with Blackwall and returned to the main hall. Much as I didn't want to be scrutinized after passing my judgment on Thom Rainier, I needed to speak to Leliana.

I had just reached the second floor when Vivienne called out to me.

“Inquisitor.” She purred, her Orlesian accent thick with admiration. “You've done well removing Corypheus' supporters.”

“Thank you Lady Vivienne.”

“The Inquisition has become a force to be reckoned with and it is all to your credit.'

“I have good allies.” I said, wondering at her lavish praise. It wasn't like her to be so approving, at least not voluntarily. “You among them. I couldn't have come this far without their support and yours.”

“Nonsense darling. You would have done just as well with other supporters though perhaps not as delicately.”

“You humble me Lady Vivienne. That is fine praise coming from you, but I'm sure you didn't call me over here just to compliment my achievements.”

“You are correct darling.” She nodded, her eyes growing serious. “I'm aware of your relationship with our dear Lord Pavus as is everyone else at Skyhold.”

I tensed. I didn't like how she'd said that, accusatory or perhaps disapprovingly. Though to be fair, there wasn't much Vivienne did approve of that wasn't in line with her view of the world.

“I've made no secret of my feelings for Dorian.”

“Indeed. Which makes me wonder what you intend after Corypheus is no longer a threat. The Inquisition will still be here and it will need a leader. It will be a symbol of hope and order in a world that is still beset by chaos. The people will look to the Inquisition for guidance and inspiration.”

“I suppose they will. What of it?”

“I understand how affairs of the heart can seem all-consuming amidst intense circumstances. But open association with a mage from the Emperium will not help reassure the people Inquisitor. Nor will it help the Chantry to restore the Circles and the Templars. You will need their support in the days following the defeat of Corypheus. It would be difficult to convince anyone the Inquisition is impartial while involved with a man from Tevinter. Your loyalties will be in question.”

“I'm not concerned with what people choose to think Lady Vivienne.” I retorted, reigning in my anger.

“You should be Inquisitor.” She snapped. “The Inquisition has become a symbol of hope for the future. All of Thedas will be watching. You cannot afford to lose support for your cause at such a critical moment simply because you wish to satisfy your own desires. You have a responsibility to those who helped get you where you are.”

I was livid. If she wasn't a powerful enchanter with equally powerful political connections I would have slapped her.

“I do not owe the people anything more than what I've already promised to do Vivienne. If I am victorious against Corypheus, my duty ends.”

“The Inquisition will need a leader. You cannot pretend to not know this.”

“What I do or don't do is none of your concern.” I spat. “I will not sacrifice my happiness for the sake of appearances or to allay the fears of others. And I will not end my relationship with Dorian for anyone or anything.”

“I see.” She said, her voice cold. “I had thought you to be wiser than this. It is disappointing.”

“I'm happy to disappoint you. If you'll excuse me, I have work to do.”

I left her then, my pace carrying me through the library up the stairs to Leliana's workplace faster than I had planned. She saw the look on my face and said nothing as I paced the rookery, willing myself to calm down. After about ten minutes I had managed to reign in my anger enough to try speaking.

Leliana smiled at me. “I take it you didn't care for Vivienne's speech.”

“I did not.” I said, unfazed by the knowledge she already knew what had happened.

“Vivienne has always been this way Inquisitor. She was the one who turned the court enchanter position into a powerful political appointment. She is cold, calculated and should never be underestimated.”

“She's a viper.” I spat. I didn't care who she was or how much power she wielded. She would not influence my decisions or my choices.

Leliana laughed. “Yes, that too. It is unfortunate she continues to view the world so narrowly, yet I suspect it is not what brought you up here. Was there something I can help you with?”

I exhaled loudly. “My apologies Leliana. I did have something on my mind, but I can't remember what it was.”

“It wouldn't have anything to do with your paramour would it?” She asked, her eyes twinkling with merriment. “I find watching your blossoming relationship most pleasing Inquisitor. It gives many people hop and pleasure to see and it is a privilege to be witness to a love shared so openly.”

“I... thank you Leliana.” I stammered, my cheeks flushing.

“It's something to keep in mind whenever you encounter resistance Inquisitor. There are those who would express jealousy or wish to exploit such a union, but they are but a fraction of those who wish to see it celebrated and treasured.”

“I'm both surprised and pleased to hear that my Lady Nightingale.”

“It needed to be said. And I suspect this is what brought you here. You wish to make your union with Dorian more permanent, more official yes?”

“I... I do actually. How did you know?”

“I''m a Spymaster Inquisitor, but more than that I have known the kind of love you now share with Dorian. But it doesn't take my skills or my experience to see how well-suited you are for each other. Nor does it take a genius to see how in love you are. It's natural to want to share that happiness with the world.”

“It might be natural.” I agreed. “But it isn't exactly something the Chantry approves of.”

“Which is why you came to speak to me. You want to know if I would change Chantry law if I become Divine.”

I nodded. Surprised and relieved I wouldn't have to ask her. I'd been nervous just thinking about it and now I didn't have to.

“Be at ease Inquisitor.” Leliana said, her smile wide. “It would please me very much to make such a union legal in the eyes of the Maker. I've wished for these archaic laws to be changed for a long time, and now it seems the power to do so is within my reach.”

“Thank you Leliana. I don't know what to say.”

“No need to say anything. Just promise me that if I become Divine you will give me the honour of allowing me to perform the ceremony.”

I smiled, wanting to hug her but knew instinctively that it would make her uncomfortable.

“You have my word, my lady.”

“Inquisitor.”

Dorian

“Dorian. What can I do for you?” Leliana asked as he joined her in the rookery.

“I have a request. Lady Morrigan believes there's an amulet in the Kokari wilds that might help protect me from Solas. She suggested I ask your assistance in locating it.”

“Is this about the attacks against you?”

He nodded.

“I see. It is unlike Morrigan to be so helpful. She must believe the threat is significant.”

“I take it you don't have a very amicable relationship with Morrigan.” He observed. “Didn't you know her back when you travelled with the Hero of Ferelden?”

Leliana laughed. “You could say that, though my feelings are on behalf of another. Morrigan may help, but it has been my experience she does so only for her own gain. Though she has changed some since last I saw her. I suspect it has a lot to do with her son.”

“Do you you know something about her son?”

“I do.” She answered, frowning. “Though it is not my story to tell. She helped the Hero of Ferelden and King Alistair during the blight and likely saved their lives. And then she vanished. I don't know where she's been or what she plans, but I will not trust her again.”

“She wronged you somehow?” Dorian was confused.

“No. It wasn't personal, though I did take it that way at the time. Forgive me Dorian. I've said too much already. Did she saw what the amulet's purpose was?”

“Only that it would give me some protection against ancient magic.”

Leliana nodded, her eyes distant. “Then I shall send my agents to look for it immediately. If she has offered this, it would be wise to take her assistance.”

Dorian frowned. “Should I be worried?”

Leliana shared his look. “I'm afraid so Dorian. Until now, I thought only Flemeth was capable of unsettling Morrigan. It seems I was wrong.”

Dorian sighed. “Well thank you Leliana. I'll check the library. See if there's anything else I can use in the interim.”

“I wish you luck Dorian. And rest assured my agents will keep close watch over you.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

Following my talk with Varric and Leliana, I'd wanted to speak with Dorian privately. Unfortunately,Vivienne was still waiting on me to get her damn wyvern hearts. Though I had no desire to do her any favours, I remembered Leliana's and Cassandra's warnings and knew I couldn't ignore it.

“Why are we here again?” Sera groused.

I hadn't brought Cole or Iron Bull back to the Plains this time. It would have brought up too many memories I would just as soon forget, so instead I'd brought Sera and Cassandra along with Dorian.

“Vivienne needs an ingredient for a potion.” I answered, wading through the knee-high waters of the cove. Scouts had found a wyvern nest close to where a High Dragon made its home. I wasn't in the mood for dragons today, and was hoping the wyvern's were smart enough to keep their distance.

“And you just agreed to get it for her?” She asked, incredulous. “I don't know why you put up with her Inquisitor. She's no one's friend yeah?”

“Maybe not Sera, but I don't want to make her an enemy either.”

“Pfft. You think doing her a favour will make her like you more?” She scoffed. “That's just stupid.”

“Hasn't anyone ever told you about keeping enemies close?” Cassandra asked, following behind her.

“Course they have.” Sera retorted. “But Viv's a snake. You don't make friends with snakes.”

“It's not about making friends dear girl.” Dorian admonished. “We're just delaying her ambitious nature for a short time.”

“It's still stupid. But whatever. Not my problem yeah? Let's just get this thing she needs and get back to Skyhold. I hate this place.”

An hour later we had the snowy wyvern heart along with a few regular hearts. As hunting went, it had been a pretty easy fight. We returned to Skyhold and I headed to Vivienne's room to give her the hearts.

“I have what you asked for Lady Vivienne.” I said. “Now, can you tell me what they're for?”

“I can do better than that darling. Come with me Inquisitor.”

----xxx----

We returned to Orlais and the palace where I'd first met Vivienne and were standing in the master bedroom. An older man was asleep in the bed. Vivienne told me we wouldn't be there long. I watched as she went to his side, lifted him up and helped him to drink the potion she'd made.

“Vivienne?” He said, opening his eyes. “You're here then?”

“Of course I'm here my darling Bastien.”

“It'll be all right my love.” He said weakly, his eyes drifting closed again. “It'll be all right.”

“Darling? Bastien?” Her voice was tight with unshed grief as she stood there, frozen in place. Bastien was gone and it seemed so was any trace of whatever emotion had drawn Vivienne to his side.

A minute passed an she straightened, her posture stiff, her face a cold mask of indifference.

“Let us leave Inquisitor.” She said, not meeting my eyes. “There is nothing here now.”

Back at Skyhold, Vivienne told me how she'd met Bastien, her lover. She then fell into a clinical state, listing all the things she needed to take care of. She needed to make funeral arrangements and inform his children of his passing.

“If you need anything Lady Vivienne, just ask.” I said.

“Thank you my dear.” She said. “But it won't be necessary.”

Nodding, I excused myself and left her to her work.

----xxx----

“Varric?” I said after leaving Vivienne's room. He was deep in hushed conversation with a a hooded female dwarf. “Something I should know?”

“Hey boss.” He said, his eyes shifting to the woman at his side. “This is a friend of mine. Allow me to introduce you. This is Bianca. Bianca, the Inquisitor.”

She nodded to me, a smile on her lips.

“Bianca? Like the crossbow?”

“It's a pretty common name Inquisitor.” She replied. “Half the merchant's guild are named Bianca.”

I doubted that was all there was to the story given Varric's crossbow but chose not to pursue the matter.

“What's going on Varric? The two of you look like cats who got into the cream.”

“It's just dangerous for us to be seen together. But Bianca has a lead on where the red lyrium came from. She wants our help to go check it out.”

“I see. We can do that Varric. Let's go.”

Dorian

It had been three days since his talk with Leliana. He knew it was too soon to ask about the amulet, yet he couldn't shake the feeling he was running out of time.

They were back in the Hinterlands, checking out a mine which Varric's friend, Bianca had access to. He was so tired of red lyrium and it's implications, yet if it cut off Corypheus' supply source he was more than happy to help out. Yet he kept his worry regarding the amulet to himself. Nathaniel had enough on his mind these days. There was no sense in causing him more worry over the matter.

“So Varric?” He said as they followed the Inquisitor. “Bianca is it?”

“Later Sparkler.” Varric muttered, keeping his voice low.

“She seems a very capable woman.” Dorian observed.

“That's one way to describe her.”

Dorian laughed. “If that wasn't a loaded comment, I don't know what is.”

“I'll make you a deal.” Varric said as the others moved out of hearing. “I'll tell you about Bianca if you tell me about the Inquisitor.”

“Fair enough.” He agreed. “Over drinks at the Hanged Man later then?”

“Wouldn't miss it.”

----xxx----

Back at Skyhold, Varric had lost interest in going to the Hanged Man.

“Sorry Sparkler. Maybe another time.”

“I understand.” Dorian nodded. “It can't be easy for you to know Bianca gave Corypheus access to the red lyrium.”

“That's putting it mildly.” Varric drawled. “Though you have a point. I'll see you later.”

It had taken two days to return from the Hinterlands. A storm had blown through, making travel difficult, so after parting ways with Varric, Dorian headed for the rookery to speak to Leliana.

“Your timing is uncanny.” Leliana observed as he joined her. “My scouts recovered the amulet. Here it is.”

Taking it from her outstretched hand, he examined it carefully. As amulets went, it was fairly unremarkable, though clearly well-crafted. A simple blue stone encased in silver was surrounded by detailed carvings of leaves and tree branches. On the back were carved intricate symbols of which he didn't recognize or make sense of. Holding it in his hand, it gave off a slight cooling energy, inducing a sense of calm over his entire body.

“Thank you for this Leliana.” He said, putting it over his head and tucking it beneath his leather tunic.

“Think nothing of it.” She said, waving her hand at him dismissively. “You are a valued member of the Inquisition. A threat to you is a threat to all of us. I cannot guess what Solas' intentions toward you were, but I doubt we have seen the last of him.”

“Not a comforting thought.” He said. “Hopefully this amulet will help deter him.”

“I hope so too.”

“Oh, one more thing.” He said, pulling a bottle from the pouch he was carrying. “I have this for you.”

“Oh!” She cried, breaking into a pleased smile. “You got me another bottle of Vint-9?”

“But of course.” He smiled. “I must have some way to repay you for your invaluable service.”

“Thank you Dorian. It wasn't necessary, but I do appreciate it.”

“You are most welcome my dear. I also wanted to thank you for the books you procured for the Inquisitor. He was most pleased with them.”

“Was he surprised?”

“He was.”

“And how was your evening? You must tell me.”

“Wonderful. Better than I could have expected actually.”

“I am pleased to hear it. You and the Inquisitor are a good match Dorian, never doubt that.”

“I... thank you Leliana. I never expected to find someone like the Inquisitor. At least, not in my lifetime.”

“All the more reason to cherish what you have.” She said. “But if you will excuse me, I think I'd like to enjoy a glass of this before my work demands my attention once more.”

“Of course.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I couldn't sleep. Dorian and I had shared another private evening. It had been wonderful sharing dinner with him in front of the fireplace. After, he'd suggested reading together which had both surprised and pleased me. I was more than happy to oblige him since his earlier resistance to openly being my lover had all but disappeared. Though he still blushed and showed some distress whenever we left Skyhold, he'd gradually lost all self-consciousness about “us.”

Just yesterday he'd kissed me in the library in front of all the mages and researchers. I'd been so surprised and aroused by his unexpected display of affection, we'd had to retire to my quarters to finish what he'd started.

It was past midnight now and he lay sleeping peacefully at my side, his face the perfect picture of peace. I didn't know what had woken me, but I was filled with overwhelming unease. I could sense nothing within the castle that might have disturbed my sleep. No cries of distress or any disturbance at all. Restless and careful not to wake Dorian, I rose from the bed and headed for the balcony overlooking the garden.

The unease didn't dissipate, nor did it increase yet I still felt as though something was wrong. Maybe it was just worry for Dorian, but that didn't feel right. I was always worried for Dorian now, ever since Solas had disappeared, I'd been on edge with anxiety over his motive. I wished I knew where he was and what he wanted with Dorian. It seemed he wanted him dead, yet he could have done that a hundred times over and hadn't. Why the tricks and spells? There was more going on with Solas than any of us in the Inquisition understood, but damned if I knew what.

The cry of wolves suddenly pierced the quiet of the night and goosebumps broke out on my arms. A pack of them had been circling Skyhold for the better part of the past week. Cullen had sent several soldiers out to deal with them after they'd attacked one of our supply caravans.

They'd killed the pack, but the following night a new pack appeared. I didn't like it at all, it wasn't natural. But I also couldn't justify killing every wolf pack who took up residence outside our walls. I was worried, but we couldn't waste resources over my fears when we still had Corypheus to deal with

Dorian moaned in his sleep and I was at his side in an instant, my heart in my throat. I knew I was overreacting, but I couldn't help it. I slid under the covers and pulled him tight against my chest as I breathed in his intoxicating scent.

“Amatus.” He whispered through closed lids.

He was still fast asleep as he spoke, my heart swelling with love at his words. That he called my name in sleep was overwhelming and precious. I loved him so much and so fiercely, I was almost afraid of how strong my feelings for him were.

A sigh escaped me. I hated not knowing where Solas had gone or if he was still a threat and it was making me paranoid. Yet even as my eyes drifted closed, my arm draped protectively over Dorian's side, I couldn't shake the feeling I was being watched.

Dorian

Nathaniel and Leliana had left early that morning, saying only that Leliana had received a message regarding a mysterious package from Divine Justinia and they were off to retrieve it. She had asked the Inquisitor to accompany her and there was no need to bring anyone else.

Nathaniel had kissed him goodbye, promising he'd be back soon. Dorian's heart had swelled at those words, being so unaccustomed to the love he was now being showered with. He wasn't sure how to handle any of it. The end of the Inquisition's journey loomed on the horizon and yet he still couldn't decide what that would mean to him when it came. The thought of not being at Nathaniel's side for any reason after they dealt with Corypheus was defeated, filled him with a heartache he'd never felt before. He hoped Nathaniel felt the same and that nothing would change between them, but he didn't know. He'd been a “port in a storm” before and though what he felt then was similar to what he felt now, his lover has still cast him aside when the crisis had passed.

With nothing else to do, he spent most of the morning in the library, reading more on the ancient elven gods. Leliana had been unsuccessful in procuring any more tomes of study, though she'd found one written in ancient elvhen. Unfortunately, neither he nor anyone else at Skyhold could read it and he spent several minutes staring at it in accusation.

Growling to himself over his dark line of thought, he snapped closed the book he held and got to his feet. He still hadn't heard Varric's Bianca story and went to see if the dwarf was in the sharing mood.

----xxx----

“So you see Sparkler, that's why I can't tell you everything about Bianca.” Varric said over his tankard of ale.

“Why Varric, who would have thought you could cause so much trouble all on your own?” Dorian teased.

“Certainly not me.” Varric snorted. “So. You wanna tell me about the Inquisitor now?”

“What do you want to know?”

“You ever been in love before?”

“That's not the question I was expecting.”

“That's me.” Varric chuckled. “I'm just full of surprises.”

“Honestly Varric, I'm not sure. In comparison to what I felt before, I would have to say no. But at the time I would have told you I could never feel that strongly about someone.”

“Are you comfortable with that?”

“You mean does it scare me?”

Varric nodded.

“I admit I have some moments of unease, but I suspect that's to be expected in any relationship.”

Varric snorted. “You're not wrong Sparkler. When I think of how Fenris came to be with Hawke, I can't imagine how unease he was.”

“I'm curious Varric. How exactly did the Champion and Fenris come to be together?”

“That's a long and complicated story. Hawke probably wouldn't appreciate having me repeat it.”

Dorian frowned. “Surely among friends you can make an exception?”

Laughing, Varric downed the last of his ale. “Alright, but just the short version.”

An hour later, Dorian was surprised by how relieved he was when Hawke and Fenris finally admitted how they felt for each other.

“Stubborn pair then?” He said.

Varric rolled with laughter, taking several minutes to recover before he could speak again. “Sparkler, you have no idea how painful it was to watch them all those years I think a lot our friends took the stress of their tension out on each other.”

“I can't even imagine. Thank you for the story Varric. I promise not to repeat it without your permission.”

“You can tell the Inquisitor if you like.” Varric smiled knowingly. “I hear he's something of a romantic.”

Dorian was about to reply when everything went black. He blinked and it was as though nothing had happened. He heard himself answering Varric but it was a though he were observing it. Confused, he looked around the tavern. For the most part, everything was the same. The same patrons in the same groups of conversation, the same bartender. Yet though nothing appeared to have changed, there were a few people looking around seeming as confused as he felt.

“You okay Sparkler?” Varric asked.

He blinked, turning to face the dwarf. “I'm fine Varric. Did you notice anything odd a moment ago?”

“Like what?”

“I'm not sure. It seemed like everything went black for a second.”

“Maybe you've just had too much.” Varric teased. “But no, I didn't notice anything. But that's enough for me anyway. Got some letters to write. Walk you back to the castle?”

Nodding absently, Dorian fell in beside the dwarf unable to shake the feeling something big had just happened.



Nathaniel

Leliana didn't talk much on our return trip to Skyhold. Letting Sister Natalie go seemed to weigh on her and though I thought she was okay with that, I was pretty certain she didn't want to discuss it. Back at Skyhold, we took the stairs to the castle in companionable silence, when Leliana spoke.

“Thank you for accompanying me Inquisitor.” She said. “Things would have turned out much differently if you hadn't been there.”

“You might have surprised yourself Leliana.”

“Doubtful. But I appreciate the thought.” She replied. “If you don't mind my asking, how are things between you and Dorian?”

I smiled. “They're good. He's still unnerved by my willingness to be open about us, but better than he was at the beginning.”

“I suspect Dorian has a good reason for that. It must have been difficult to be in Tevinter as a young man, especially as an only child and an Altus.”

“He hasn't said anything about that part of his life, but I'm sure you're right.”

“Have you given any more thought to telling him of your future plans?”

“I was wanting to wait...” I paused mid-sentence as a wave of black passed over my eyes. It was as though someone had stolen all the light from the world. A black so complete I thought my eyes were closed, though when I tried to open them I was shocked to find them already open.

“...until we know how to defeat Corypheus.”

Leliana had stopped just outside the big double doors leading to the keep. “Inquisitor?” She asked, watching me curiously. “Is something wrong?”

“Did you notice anything strange a moment ago? It just happened.”

“I'm sorry Inquisitor, but I didn't. Perhaps you need to rest? You've been working very hard this past week.”

I smiled to reassure her, but kept my doubts about her theory to myself. “You're probably right.”

“In that case, if you will excuse me? I would like some time alone. Perhaps we could speak later?”

“Sure.” I nodded.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

Feeling unsettled, I parted way with Leliana in the library to speak with Dorian.

“Amatus.” He said, his eyes filling with adoration as he embraced me. “Everything went well with Leliana's mystery message?”

“It did.” I said, stepping back from him. “I think she might be remembering what she truly values.”

“She's a very strong-headed woman amatus. Any softening would be a welcome change.”

“I hope so.” I agreed, though not entirely certain I'd done the right thing.

“Was there something else?” He asked.

I hesitated. I wasn't sure I wanted to push just yet, but everyone could feel how close we were to ending Corypheus and I needed to know where I stood with him.

“I wanted to ask you something.” I said.

Dorian frowned. “That sounds a bit ominous.”

“I thought we could discuss what happens... after.”

“Ah yes.” He nodded, crossing his arms over his chest. “After. Dreadful thing, after. Let's see. Assuming one or both of us aren't slaughtered along the way, what do you wish to happen? We could go our separate ways if you prefer. I've been a port in a storm before. I would understand.”

“You mean more to me than that Dorian. You know that.” I couldn't believe what I was hearing. “I want us to stay together.”

“You're very sentimental for someone who's killed as many people as you have.”

“You bring it out in me.” I retorted. Why was he talking like this? Had I done something wrong?

“Sweet maker. Next you'll be making calf eyes at puppies. I... don't know what the future holds. For us or anything. Once Corypheus is defeated, when this is over, I'd like to talk about it more. If you would.”

“Alright.” I said, though inside I felt as though my heart had just shattered into a million pieces. I'd been so certain he wanted to be with me, to stay with me forever. How could I have not seen this? How could he not know how much I loved him? He'd said he loved me numerous times, did that not mean the same thing to him as it did me?

“Inquisitor.” Varric called as I walked aimlessly toward the castle's front door.

“Varric.” I said, still stunned by what had happened with Dorian.

“I have a friend I'd like you to meet. She'd down in the tavern. She's a little shy, so I thought it best if you met with her in a more relaxed setting.”

“Oh?” I said absently, still trying to collect myself. “Who is this friend Varric?”

“Just someone I met in Kirkwall.” He said, leading me outside. “She's an elf and knows a bit about ancient elven history.”

“Does that also mean she knows something about their gods as well?”

“Yeah. She was always talking about the Dread Wold. I wrote to hear and she wanted to come here to meet you. Apparently, the elves in Kirkwall are doing much better now. Most of the fighting has stopped, most of the residents are too busy rebuilding and fighting darkspawn to waste resources on clashing with the city elves.”

“I see.” I said, not knowing what else to say.

----xxx----

“Merrill.” Varric said, giving the young, black-haired girl a hug hello. “I'd like you to meet the Inquisitor.”

Merrill blushed and offered a deep curtsy as though she were greeting a king. “Oh! Goodness! You're much taller than I expected.” She said, her voice tremulous. “It's an honour to meet you, Your Worship.”

“The pleasure is mine Merrill.” I said, smiling to put her at ease. “Any friend of Varric's is someone I'm always happy to meet.”

“You're nice.” She said, giving me a small smile. “Not like the stories at all.”

I shared a look with Varric, who blushed and ducked his head. “What stories are those?”

“Oh! I said something wrong again didn't I?”

“It's okay Daisy.” Varric told her. “He's nothing like the stories.”

“I don't suppose any of them are yours?” She teased.

“Ahem. Uh, maybe? Besides, you know how stories are Daisy. They all tend to take on a life of their own.”

Merrill smiled knowingly. “Oh sure I do. Like those ones you used to tell about Hawke killing a dragon single-handed. Or that one where you say she's fat.”

“Those are just details Daisy. Hawke is larger than life. I had to do something to make her more believable. If I said she was beautiful and deadly, people wouldn't want to read my stories.”

“So a fat Hawke is better then?” She asked, curious.

“It's okay if you don't get it.” He said. “You were there. You know what really happened and who Hawke really is. That's all that matters.”

“I suppose that's true.” She agreed. “Have you heard from her Varric? I heard she went into the Fade, Fenris was most upset by that. That must have been frightening.”

“How'd you hear about that?” He demanded.

“Oh! On the road here. All the supply caravan people are taking about it. Every trader who comes to Kirkwall from Skyhold are always trading stories on the road. Helps to pass the time.”

“Well at least people are talking.” I said, sharing another look with Varric.

He laughed. “True enough Inquisitor. I suppose there is a bright side. As to your question Daisy, I have heard from her. She and Fenris are on their way back here from Weisshaupt Fortress.”

“Really?” I said, interrupting. “Why are they coming here? I thought she'd gone there to help the Gray Wardens.”

“She told them what happened at Adamant. Then Fenris caught up to her. I'm not sure what he said or what might have happened next, but the result is they're coming here. And before you ask, no, she didn't say why.”

“Oh that's exciting!” Merrill exclaimed. “I've missed her so much. I can't wait to see her again.”

“I'm sure she's missed you too Daisy.”

“Well I should get going.” I said, leaving them to their conversation. “It was nice meeting you Merrill. I'll let the two of you catch up and we can talk later.”

“Oh of course!” She beamed. “That would be nice. Perhaps we could talk in the garden next time? I hear it's quite beautiful in there.”

“Sure Merrill.” I said, nodding. “Varric.”

“Inquisitor.”

Dorian

Now what had all that been about? He stood in the library in the exact same place he'd been in when Nathaniel had asked about “later.” He was shocked by what he'd said to him. It hadn't been at all what he'd wanted to say, yet those words had flown from his lips as though propelled by something else entirely.

The look of hurt on Nathaniel's face as he'd evaded his question had been heart-wrenching. He'd wanted to embrace him, beg his forgiveness and say he hadn't meant any of it. But he hadn't been able to move or even speak again.

Even now he wanted to chase after him, beg forgiveness. But he couldn't make himself move. Growling, he replaced the book he still held in his hand and left the library. When he reached the main hall, he headed for the garden thinking maybe a bit of nature would help clear the confusion he felt he was drowning in.

“Ah Dorian.” Morrigan sighed, catching sight of him. “Come to enjoy the garden?”

“You could say that.”

“I take it you wouldn't?”

“Not my first choice, no.”

“I see. Did you happen to notice something strange a short time ago?”

“I did actually.” He said, his interest piqued. “Do you know something about what it was?”

She nodded. “I believe someone cast a powerful spell over Skyhold. I have yet to determine from whence it came, but I assure you I will find out. I placed wards over the area after the incident with the stairs in the main hall. Whoever is behind this will be revealed to me in time. It was not, however, a dangerous spell. It was a forget spell, though just what we are meant to forget remains to be seen. But I advise you to be on your guard.”

Dorian frowned. “Be on guard for what?”

“If I knew that I wouldn't have said it. But there must be a reason I was compelled to warn you.”

“Are you saying this has something to do with me?”

“I... believe it does.” She said, looking uncomfortable. “Though the why has been erased from my memory.”

“Then how do you know?”

“Because I do not make a habit of second-guessing myself.” She snapped. “Trust me Dorian, despite the fact I cannot remember the why or the what, you are in danger here. Be careful who you trust.”

“Alright.” He nodded, though he was still confused. “You've convinced me Lady Morrigan, thought I do wish I knew where to look for the threat you speak of.”

“When I learn more, you'll be the first to know.” She promised. “If I cannot find you, I will inform the Inquisitor.”

“I appreciate that Lady Morrigan, but forgive me when I say that I hope you're wrong about this.”

“I understand. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to check on Kieran.”

----xxx----

Nathaniel

“Ah. Inquisitor.” Solas greeted as I entered his room of murals. “Just the man I wanted to see.”

“Solas.” I said. “Was there something you needed?”

“May we speak privately? Perhaps in your quarters?”

I frowned. Something about his request bothered me, but I couldn't for the life of me say why. Nodding, I turned and led him from the room.

Upstairs in my room, he led me out to the balcony where he stared out at the frozen landscape lost in thought.

“You must think my behaviour odd Inquisitor.”

“Not at all.” I lied. “You clearly have something on your mind.”

“Indeed. I wanted to ask you something. Do you feel the mark has changed you in any way? Made your personality different than what it was before you received the mark?”

I shook my head. “No. I don't believe so.”

He frowned. “Ah. I see.”

“Sorry to disappoint you.”

“On the contrary, I am not disappointed, merely surprised. I had thought such powerful magic like that contained in the artifact would change a person. It seems I was wrong.”

“I'm not sure what to say Solas.”

“No need to say anything Inquisitor. You are unlike any human I have encountered before. You continue to surprise me with your wisdom.”

“Oh. Well thank you.”

“Also, I want you to know that whatever happens, you have my deepest respect. I consider you to be a good friend.”

“I'm glad to hear that Solas.” I said, wondering at what he was really trying to say.

“As am I. But enough of that. I have taken up enough of your precious time. If you will excuse me?”

I nodded and watched him leave. I remained on the balcony, lost in thought. I couldn't shake the feeling I had missed something very important, something I'd forgotten. I stood there staring out at the frozen landscape wracking my brain for any clue to my current discomfort. It was then that I noticed how quiet it was and remembered the wolves.

With the sun low on the horizon, the air should have been filled with their haunting cries, yet all was silent. I frowned, yet still could not remember why it should bother me. Shaking myself, I went back inside and having nothing else to attend to for the day, I went to bed.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

After speaking with Morrigan he returned to the library, no more enlightened than when he'd left. He still didn't know why he hadn't told Nathaniel he wanted to be with him. Nor did he feel any pull to reassure him now. Thought the thought caused him a slight tinge of sorrow, it was fleeting enough that it changed nothing. Retrieving the book he'd been reading earlier, he settled into his chair and lost himself in it's pages.

Nathaniel

I woke alone the following morning, my pulse speeding at Dorian's absence. I was on my feet in an instant and dressed minutes later. Where was he? Had he even come to bed last night? What was going on with him? It was then when I remembered the disquiet I'd felt last night regarding the talk with Solas and the absence of the wolves around Skyhold.

I headed for the main hall intending to find and talk to Dorian when Morrigan blocked my path.

“Inquisitor.” She said. “We have need of you in the War Room.”

----xxx----

“A large Red Templar force has been spotted in the Arbor Wilds.” Cullen informed me once I'd joined them. “They are being led by Samson, a former Templar. Corypheus is with them.”

“They seem to be headed toward an ancient elven temple” Leliana added.

“Do we know anything about what they're looking for?” I asked.

“It is as we discussed Inquisitor.” Morrigan answered. “Corypheus likely seeks the Eluvian. If there is one to be found, it will be there.”

“Then we have to stop him.” I said. “Gather our forces. Leliana, send you agents ahead to slow them down and sabotage the camps. It will give our soldiers time to catch up. Josephine, contact our allies and have them send supplies ahead. We cannot let Corypheus reach that mirror.”

“At once Inquisitor.” They replied in unison.

While my advisors went to work, I left the war room and headed for the library. I had to talk to Dorian. What with his absence last night and his reluctance to discuss “us” after we defeated Corypheus, I needed to see him.

Dorian

He woke in the library, his neck and back stiff from the position he'd slept in. Stretching, he took several minutes to orient himself. Why was he still here? Why hadn't he joined Nathaniel last night? Had they argued? He couldn't remember. He was still searching his memory when Nathaniel appeared before him looking upset.

“Dorian.” He said. “Why are you here? Why didn't you come to bed last night?

Getting to his feet, he replaced the book he held on the shelf and turned to face the Inquisitor.

“You know me.” He drawled. “I just got caught up in my reading and must have fallen asleep.”

“But you stopped doing that months ago. Have I done something to upset you?”

“As far as I know, you have not.” He frowned.

“I worry about you Dorian. You keep so many things bottled up.”

“I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I did do it quite well for many years before you came along amatus.”

“I didn't mean...”

“I don't need a babysitter.” He snapped. “I heard we now know where Corypheus is. Perhaps you should be more concerned about him at the moment.”

“I...” Nathaniel began, his face closing down. “You're right. I should. See you downstairs.”

Nathaniel turned on his heel as he finished speaking and left the library, his body stiff with tension as the took to the stairs. Dorian felt a sharp pain lance through his chest as he watched him go.

It was like watching a nightmare unfold before his eyes. He was desperate to call him back and apologize. Take him in his arms and never let him go, but he was rooted in place. He cold feel his own indifference clash with the pain in his heart, but couldn't bring himself to move.

As soon as Nathaniel disappeared from view, all the tension left him in a rush and all his inner turmoil vanished. Retrieving the book he'd been reading earlier, he returned to his chair as though nothing had happened.

Nathaniel

Morrigan accompanied us into the Arbor Wilds since she was the only one among us who understood who Eluvians actually worked. I'd also brought Cassandra, Varric and Dorian.

I usually stuck close to Dorian's side on these excursions, but after what had happened in the library, i couldn't bring myself to fall into the habit as though nothing had changed. I didn't understand his recent behaviour at all and couldn't shake the feeling I was being manipulated. By who or what I didn't know, yet was certain I was right.

We reached the temple easily enough, just in time to see Corypheus destroyed by some ancient elven statues imbued with protective magic. Samson and his red Templars crossed the bridge leading to the temple, casting us a derisive look as though nothing had happened before disappearing inside.

We followed, confused, staring down at Corypheus' remains before starting across the bridge. A sound behind us made us turn. Watching in horror, one of the dead wardens began moving like a rag doll as a black energy flowed into the warden's corpse and began to change, morphing into Corypheus. Somehow, he was coming back to life.

We raced across the bridge and reached the temple just in time to avoid Corypheus' dragon as the doors sealed shut behind us.

“What is this place?” I asked Morrigan.

“If my studies are correct, this is an ancient temple dedicated to Mythal.”

“And what are these square platforms?” I asked, after I'd stepped on one, activating a magical light beneath my feet.

“I believe they were used to show dedication and respect to Mythal. The faithful would walk these paths in reflection to show their respect.”

“And then what?”

“Perhaps they will show us a way inside Inquisitor. Or maybe open a door.” She said. “Walk the path, we must catch Samson before he reaches the Eluvian.”

Dorian

He felt disconnected from everything they were doing in the Temple of Mythal. Correction, he grumbled, disconnected and conflicted. He didn't' like how Nathaniel seemed to be hanging on Morrigan's every word as though she were the only mage in their group. Yet at the same time, he felt it unnecessary to say anything about it.

He waited with the others while Nathaniel walked the paths to open the way forward. No one seemed inclined to talk, which was fine with him. His indifference didn't falter until they reached the inner temple hall and were stopped by an ancient elf calling himself Abelas.

“We mean you no harm.” Nathaniel said. “We only wish to stop those who entered the temple before us.”

“Then we should work together.” Abelas said. “And then you will leave, never to return. This temple has seen enough destruction over the centuries.”

“You mean when the Imperium destroyed your people.” Dorian countered.

Abelas turned cool blue eyes on him. “History is for fools. Even our own people have forgotten the truth of what happened. Humans did not destroy the elves. We did that to ourselves. Civil war destroyed what we were, your people merely claimed what was left.”

“We should hurry.” Nathaniel reminded them.

“I will go ahead.” Abelas announced. “These red Templars as you call them, will not desecrate the Well of Sorrows. I will destroy the well myself.”

“Wait!” Morrigan interrupted. “You would destroy your own history?”

“My people will never listen or accept the truth of what destroyed our people. Every time someone enters these halls it becomes less important to protect the Well.” He said, turning away from her. “One of my people will guide you to the one you seek. I must go.”

“No!” Morrigan cried. In a flash of light she shifted, transforming into a great black bird to chase after Abelas.

Nathaniel

I wasn't at all surprised by Morrigan's behaviour and hurried after the guide who waited patiently nearby for us to join her.

Catching sight of Dorian's face, I knew he was more than a little disturbed by what Abelas had said. Varric and Cassandra made no comment as we made our way through the winding halls of the Temple.

A short time later, we had caught up with Samson and a handful of his Red Templars. After a brief argument, I held up the rune Dagna had crafted and activated it, destroying Samson's armour. We battled for what seemed an eternity though we eventually brought Samson down.

“I can't believe it.” Cassandra muttered. “He's still alive.”

“Have Cullen and his men take him back to Skyhold. I'll deal with him there.” I said.

The sound of raised voices reached us and we hurried onward to catch up with Morrigan and Abelas.

“Stop!” We heard her cry. “You cannot destroy the Well.”

“It has already been spoiled by your mere presence here. What does it matter now?” Abelas retorted.

“How can you abandon your own history?” She challenged. “You can't possibly believe this is the only way.”

“We have guarded these halls for centuries. Each time we wake, the world has become even more foreign to us than the last.”

“You don't want to preserve your history?” I asked, joining them.

“I do not see the point.” He replied. “You have walked the path, shown respect to Mythal as few others have who preceded you. If you wish to drink from the Well, I will not stop you. But know this: whoever drinks will pay a price, bound to the will of Mythal for all time.”

“I will pay that price.” Morrigan announced. “It seems a small thing to be bound to the will of a god who may or may not even exist.”

“Mythal was betrayed and murdered, Fen'Harel had nothing to do with it.”

“Murder? I never said...”

“Enough.” Abelas spoke. “My work here is done. We will leave this place. Do with the Well as you wish.”

----xxx---

“Why do you want this Morrigan?” I asked

“If there is a price to be paid, I will do so willingly. I have studied the ancient magics far more than anyone else here.”

“What do the rest of you think?” I said, turning to my companions.

“You're asking me?” Varric looked surprised. “I don't know. None of any of his makes sense.”

“I don't trust her.” Cassandra said flatly. “But if it is a choice between you and Morrigan, let her take the risk.”

“I don't want to lose you to a Well Amatus.” Dorian said, showing the first sign of emotion I'd seen in two days.

“Very well.” I nodded, turning back to Morrigan. “I hope you know what you're doing. The Well is yours.”

“Thank you Inquisitor.” She said, stepping into the pool of water to drink.

As she drank, a flash of light filled the air causing us all to close our eyes against the brightness. A moment later, the Well was dry and she lay on the bottom unconscious.

She woke groggily at my touch, but got to her feet on her own. I was about to question her when Corypheus appeared at the other end of the courtyard. Morrigan shouted for us to run and we headed into the surface of the Eluvian. We arrived in Skyhold moments later, shaken but unharmed.

After Morrigan sealed the mirror behind us, everyone went their separate ways. I was fine with that. After everything we'd just seen and experienced, I needed some time to process what we'd learned.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He was beside himself with confusion and indecision. After leaving the others, he made his way to the library. He couldn't believe the Imperium had lied about conquering the elves They'd allowed all of Thedas to believe the Magisters of Tevinter had destroyed the elven race single-handed. But the truth was that they were little more than scavengers.

Much of Tevinter's power and arrogance stemmed from the apparently false belief they had destroyed the elves, but they had done no such thing. Abelas had clearly been there all those centuries ago – his own people had done that, not humans, not mages, elves.

If his people knew the truth it would change everything. It would bring all their arrogance down to a point where all the old arguments would fail. He was lost in thought, staring out the window, when he heard someone approaching.

“Dorian.” Solas said.

He turned to see the elf standing a few feet away and frowned.

“Solas? Something I can do for you?”

“I have heard you spoke with one of my people, an elder of the Temple of Mythal.”

“We did. He said the elves destroyed themselves.”

“It is partly true.” Solas replied. “Though your people did contribute to the elves' destruction, they were not initially responsible.”

“That's what I understood Solas. What of it? Did you come to rub my nose in my people's arrogance?”

“My apologies.” He said, stepping closer to him. “I merely wished to speak with you.”

“About what?” Dorian snapped. “I know what you think of me and my people Solas. I don't need a reminder, especially not from you.”

“I only wanted to say how much I appreciate that the Inquisitor chose to walk the ancient paths. Though I am disappointed he allowed Morrigan to drink from the Well. Does he trust her that much?”

Dorian frowned. “I don't know why you're asking me. Ask the Inquisitor. The choice wasn't an easy one. Abelas left the Temple and the Well. If no one had drunk from the Well, Corypheus would have.”

“Not necessarily.” Solas argued. “The Inquisitor could have destroyed the Well as Abelas had intended.”

Dorian frowned harder. “What is with you and Abelas? Why were you both so eager to destroy your own history? It's almost as though you like how history remembers the destruction of your people.”

“I admit it does have it's advantages.” Solas admitted, stepping closer.

“What are you doing Solas?” He asked, suddenly very uncomfortable.

“I am merely talking.” He said, taking another step.

“Well I would prefer you not stand so close while doing so.”

“As you wish.” He nodded just as he put a finger to Dorian's temple.

He didn't even have time to protest when everything went black. A moment later, Solas was staring at him, a concerned look on his face.

“Solas? What's going on? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I believe you stood up too fast.” He answered.

“Stood up too fast?” He repeated, feeling confused. He couldn't remember what he'd been doing, nor could he recall what they'd been discussing or even if they had been talking before he blacked out.

Solas nodded. “Yes. You were reading in your chair when I approached.”

“I was? I don't remember that.”

“I will leave you then. Perhaps you need some rest. We can speak later.”

“Alright.” Dorian nodded, watching him leave.

Still confused, he returned to his chair trying in vain to remember what might have caused his momentary lapse in memory.

Nathaniel

I wasn't happy how things had played out at the Temple. I didn't trust Morrigan, yet I also hadn't wanted to drink from the Well. Though I knew Morrigan had her reasons for helping us, I wasn't blind to the fact her actions were typically selfishly motivated. As long as her goals aligned with that of the Inquisition, she would remain our ally. Beyond that, I had no idea whether or not she would become friend or foe.

Aside from Morrigan, I was unsettled by Dorian's behaviour. Not only had he not mentioned sleeping in the library, he hadn't spoken to me at all while we were in the Arbor Wilds. Other than objecting to my drinking from the Well of Sorrows, he'd kept silent the entire time. Being near him had always brought with it a sense of comfort and belonging. But now he felt distant, aloof. Almost as though he were deliberately pulling away from me.

Nothing about his behaviour made sense and I couldn't shake the feeling there was more to it than just Dorian being afraid of commitment. After speaking briefly with Morrigan, I headed for the library. I had to talk to him.

----xxx----

When I arrived, he was, as usual, seated in his favourite chair a book in his hand. Seeing me, he set it aside and got to his feet.

“What happened at the elven temple, it's got me thinking. I should go back, shouldn't I? To Tevinter i mean. Once this is done... if we're still alive.”

I felt my face fall, my easy smile slipping as he moved past me to the railing.

“All my talk about how terribly wrong things are back home, but what do I do about it? Nothing.”

“How does this relate to the elven temple?” I asked, frowning.

“That elf, Abelas. He said the Imperium wasn't what destroyed the elves. My people would never accept that. It would reduce us to scavengers, destroy our legacy no matter how terrible.” He said, his voice angry. “But we should accept it, take our history down a peg, confront the legacy hanging over us like a shroud. Maybe not all of us want to, but that could be altered. If you can change minds, so can I.”

“You would just leave?” I couldn't accept what I was hearing. First, he hadn't wanted to discuss “after,” then he'd slept in the library, avoided me for two days and now this? What in Andraste's name was going on? “What about...”

“Us?” He said, finishing my sentence. “Trust me amatus, it would give me no pleasure to leave your side. You make monumental decisions affecting the entire world. How can I not consider some of my own?”

“Why don't I go with you?” Surely he couldn't be serious, this couldn't really be happening. He wouldn't leave me. Leave us.

“Take you away from all this? I can't ask that of you.”

I frowned. “You don't have to ask, I'm offering.”

“Tempting.” He said, his eyes sad. “We both know you would end up doing it all yourself. As much as watching my homeland beaten into submission would amuse me, this is something I need to do.”

Kaffas! Was this really happening? “But I need you at my side. Now more than ever.” I hated how needy I sounded, but I couldn't just let him leave.

“Emotional blackmail is a fine thing to pull out of your arsenal.”

“But I didn't...” I could feel tears welling behind my eyes. Was he truly making fun of me now? Did I mean so little to him?

He laughed. “I'm joking. I'll think about it. Closely. I promise. This is all your fault remember. You inspired me with your marvellous antics. You're shaping the world... for good or ill. How could I aspire to do any less. If it means proving Tevinter can be better, that there's hope even for my homeland? I would do anything.”

“Clearly. If you'll excuse me.” I said. Numb beyond words, I left the library in a daze without waiting for a response.

I reached the main hall feeling as though I were in a waking nightmare. Had that really just happened? Had Dorian put reforming his homeland ahead of me? Ahead of us? Was he truly that unattached to what we had together. He'd said it would give him no pleasure to leave me, but it clearly wasn't enough to stay either.

Once again I was lost in though when Varric called to me.

“Inquisitor? Do you have a moment?”

“Uh, sure Varric.” I said absently. “What can I do for you?”

He frowned at me, his eyes alight with concern. “Are you all right? You look a little pale.”

“I'm fine.” I lied, blinking to focus on him more completely. “What's up?”

A crease settled between his brows, sensing the lie but choosing not to argue the point. “It's my friend, Merrill. She needs to talk to you privately. Is there somewhere we can go to talk?”

“What about Varric?”

“It's better if I let her explain.”

“Alright.” I sighed. “Bring her up to my quarters. We can speak there.”

“Thanks Inquisitor. See you soon.”

Dorian

After Nathaniel left, he was struck once more by a sense of powerlessness combined with a heart-wrenching sense of loss. Had he really just said all those terrible things?

Absently, he returned to his chair to stare unseeing at the shelves of books surrounding him. He knew something was off. He hadn't felt like himself for several days and now that he thought about it, he hadn't felt at ease since he'd shared a drink with Varric when he'd told him about Bianca. Had that really been only a few days ago?

Why had he told Nathaniel he was going back to Tevinter? As inspiring as Nathaniel was, only a fool would believe such a dramatic change was possible for the Emperium. A place so mired in it's own power and arrogance it couldn't even allow diversity of opinion to exist. How could he even entertain the idea he could change any of that?

For that matter, why had he rejected Nathaniel's offer to help? The man loved him, he would never have done what he'd implied – taken over Dorian's plan and done it all himself. Where had that thought even come from?

He was still lost in thought when Solas appeared before him.

“Solas?” He frowned. The elven man had never liked him, yet he'd now come to see him twice in one day. It was beginning to feel suspicious.

“Dorian. Are you felling better?”

“I'm fine Solas. Why do you ask?”

“You look pale. Also, I could not help but overhear your conversation with the Inquisitor. Is it true you wish to return to Tevinter?”

“It is.” He nodded, still confused by Solas's concern. “But I haven't decided yet.”

“Of course. Though I think it is a grand idea. One that will require much time and effort, though still an admirable and worthwhile quest. If anyone could lead the magisters of the Imperium in a new direction, I have no doubt you are more than qualified for the task.”

“Thank you Solas.” He said, surprised. “I'm surprised to hear you say that.”

“Naturally. But the sentiment remains true. It is only my opinion of course, but I think you should go back. The Imperium is long overdue for a change of direction and purpose.”

“I will take what you've said into consideration Solas.” Dorian said. “Thank you.”

“Of course. Also, should you be agreeable to the idea, I would gladly join you in your endeavour. I realize my being elven would require disguising myself, but I would welcome the opportunity to assist you in this.”

“That's very generous of you.” He said, feeling more unsettled by their conversation. “Very well. If I do decide to go back, I will welcome your assistance.”

“Good. Now I must return to my work. I would like to complete my most recent mural.”

Dorian nodded. “See you later Solas.”



 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I was pacing the floor of my bedroom when Varric and Merrill joined me.

“Goodness!” Merrill exclaimed. “I've never seen a bedroom so beautiful before. Hawke's room was grand, bu this is stunning.”

Varric chuckled. “Now Daisy, what do you expect for someone who's saving the world?”

“Well I don't know.” She replied. “I suppose it's fitting then.”

“So Varric.” I began, interrupting their exchange. “What did you want to talk about?”

“Daisy had something she wanted to tell you.”

“Alright. Let's hear it then.” I said, knowing my voice was more stern than usual.

Merrill nodded. “Right. Well Varric mentioned you wanted to know more about the Dread Wolf.”

I nodded for her to continue.

“He was a friend of the Creators and the Old Gods, but he was also a great trickster He betrayed them all and locked them away from the world.”

“Yes, I know. I've heard this part before. Is there anything else you can tell me?”

“Oh, but of course! Well, the truth is Fen'Harel was a friend to no one. He is a ruthless, selfish man who cares nothing for gods or the people. He loved to walk among the elves as though he were one of them, but he never did anything to help them. He was no teacher, nor mentor or friend. He only ever observed and liked to play games with those of his own kind. After the fall of Arlathan, there was talk he might have started it all.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, frowning.

Merrill looked past me to the frozen landscape outside my balcony door. “He tricked both sides into believing something about the other.”

“You mean the elves fought a civil war based on lies started by the Dread Wolf?”

She nodded. “Not all of it was solely his fault, but yes he tricked his own people the same as he did with the gods.”

“Clearly not a very nice individual.” I said. “I'd like to know about the curse regarding the Dread Wolf. What does it mean?”

Merrill frowned. “What curse?”

“May the Dread Wolf take you.” I quoted.

She blushed. “Oh. That. Well, I'm not entirely sure but in my clan, we always thought it meant that if the Dread Wolf came for you, you would be cursed to walk in the Fade forever.”

“I see. Doesn't seem like a pleasant fate.”

“No. The stories say the Dread Wolf is more in love with the spirits in the Fade than the mortals in the real world. If he thought you deserved it, he had the power to trap you in the Fade for all time.”

“But don't mortal spirits pass through the Fade and into the Veil, the realm of the Golden City?”

“Oh yes, they're supposed to.”

“What happens when they can't?”

“Eventually I suppose they go mad. Perhaps that's what makes some spirits become demons.”

“Not a very nice fate then. One more thing, you spoke of Fen'Harel as though he were still alive. Is there something more to that?”

“After he sealed the gods in their realms, he alone was left with the ability to walk in the Fade and live among mortals. But no one knows what he did next. The ancient elves had all but destroyed themselves, the Magisters of the Imperium killing or enslaving the rest, while the humans of Thedas fought darkspawn and each other. There was no one left to record much of anything that was going on at the time, especially not elven gods.”

“So your people believe he's still alive somewhere?”

Merrill nodded. “Of course. They say nothing can stop the Dread Wolf. Except perhaps another god, but they're all gone now.”

I was thoughtful. All this time, talking about Fen'Harel had begun to set my teeth on edge. I felt as though we were being watched, but more than that I felt I had forgotten something very important. Something that threatened all of Thedas, while also being a more personal threat to myself and my friends at Skyhold.

“Inquisitor?” Varric said, frowning, “You think of something?”

“Maybe. All this talk of the Dread Wolf... I feel I've forgotten something important.”

“I know the feeling. I don't like the idea some rogue elven god might be wandering Thedas looking to cause trouble. We've got enough trouble already.”

“That's an understatement.” I said, my smile grim. “Was there anything else Merrill?”

She nodded, looking worried. “I received a message in a dream from an old friend. I haven't heard anything else yet. I'm not a very good dreamer.”

“Dreamer?”

“Yes. There are those among my people who used to be very powerful dreamers. Not only could they shape the world of the Fade, but the minds of the living and the real world. They were considered very dangerous.”

I wasn't following what she was telling me at all. “So what's this about a friend?”

“Oh! Right. Well I can't understand his message, but he said Hawke is on her way and he'll pass the message on to her.”

“Hawke?”

“That's right.” Varric answered. “She and Fenris are on their way here remember?”

“Of course, but you didn't say why.”

“That's because she didn't tell me why. But I suspect Fenris just didn't want her hanging around a bunch of Wardens.”

“Oh.” I had no idea what to say to that. “Any idea when we should expect them?”

“Soon, I would imagine.”

“Alright. Well thank you Merrill. What you've said certainly helps me understand Fen'Harel a little better.”

“Oh, you're quite welcome!” She blushed. “I enjoy telling stories about my people.”

“Come on Daisy.” Varric said, heading for the stairs. “Let's get a drink.”

“Oh Varric,” She teased. “Are you ever not thirsty?”

He chuckled as he led her down the stairs, but made no comment.

Dorian

He woke with a start, blinking furiously while he tried to remember where he was. As the library came into focus, a tingle of alarm shot through him. What was he still doing in the library? Why had he fallen asleep?

His heart thudded in his chest as he got to his feet. He wasn't sure how long he'd been her or why he'd blacked out so completely.

“You're awake.” Fiona said as he stepped out of his small alcove. “I was beginning to be concerned Lord Pavus.”

Dorian frowned. He hated titles, but was still too disoriented to correct her.

“Are you well?” She asked. “You seem to be spending a lot of time in that chair.”

He didn't know the former First Enchanter well, only that she was elven and had voted for the mages to leave the Circles.

“I'm fine thank you.”

“You seem to be getting on quite well with the mage, Solas.”

“I am?”

“Don't you remember? He was up here not long ago to speak to you. He seemed very concerned about you.”

“Solas was concerned? About me?” It was so foreign a concept, he couldn't wrap his mind around it.

She frowned. “Perhaps you're not as fine as you think. Maybe you should talk to the Inquisitor.”

Dorian felt his blood chill at the mention of the Inquisitor. The thought filled him with dread and a sense of loss he didn't understand.

“No, truly I'm fine. Just tired from all the travelling we've been doing lately.”

“Of course.” She nodded, clearly not believing him. “My mistake.”

Frowning at her, he left the library and headed outside to the lower courtyard. Perhaps some fresh air would help.

 

Chapter Text

Hawke

“What are we doing here Hawke?” Fenris grumbled.

“You've seen the tear in the sky Fenris?” She teased.

“What about it? The Inquisition is more than capable of dealing with that. I thought we were returning to Hightown.”

Kirah sighed. “I told you. I heard from Merrill. She wanted my help with something.”

Fenris frowned harder. “The last time she asked for your help, you met in secret with Morrigan to get rid of the Eluvian and cure the abomination.”

Kirah winced. He'd forgiven her for her secrecy regarding Anders, but she knew he didn't trust Morrigan.

“Fenris.”

“I'm sorry Hawke. I didn't mean for that to sound accusatory.”

“She smiled, slipping her hand into his and giving it a squeeze. “I know you didn't. But Varric had already told me about the attack on the Inquisition. Merrill didn't say why she came to Skyhold and she doesn't ask for help lightly.”

Fenris sighed as they passed under the portcullis of Skyhold and into the courtyard. It turned to a frown when their appearance drew more than a few stares from those who saw them.

“I know Hawke. It's just you've done enough already. I don't want you in any more danger. It's time you left that behind and lived for yourself.”

“Which is why I wasn't planning to stay long.” She said, coming to a halt and turning to face him. “But there's a few things I need to tell you before we see Varric.”

“I do not like the sound of that.”

Kirah sighed. “Morrigan is here.”

“What?! Why didn't you tell me before we got here?”

“I didn't know for sure Fenris. Merrill never mentioned it and neither did Varric. I heard it from the barmaid in that tavern we stopped at earlier.”

“And you didn't think to tell me then?”

“I wasn't sure I should believe her Fenris. But then I heard more people talking as we passed those traders on the road. I thought you might have heard them yourself.'

“If it's true, what is she doing here?”

“I don't know.” Kirah admitted. “But there's something else I need to tell you.”

“I'm not going to like this am I?”

“The Inquisitor's companion. Dorian? He's from Tevinter.”

“Kaffas Hawke! A magister is part of the Inquisition and you said nothing? I don't believe I'm hearing this.”

“He's not a magister Fenris, only a mage. He left everything behind to join the Inquisition.”

“You expect me to believe that?”

“I would never lie to you Fenris. You know that.”

Hearing her tone, the tension drained from him. “No you wouldn't lie. I'm sorry Hawke, I didn't mean to accuse you. But what does this Dorian have to do with anything? I thought we were here to see Merrill and Varric.”

Kirah sighed and told him what had been happening to Dorian and the Inquisitor and the final attack on Skyhold itself.

“Kaffas.” Fenris swore. “Why is this Dorian a target? Did Varric have any ideas on that?”

She shook her head. “No one seems to know, though they suspect one of their own – an elven apostate who joined the Inquisition shortly after the Temple of Sacred Ashes was destroyed.”

“Elven apostate? Where is he now?”

“Varric didn't say.”

Fenris huffed a loud breath. “Alright. So what are we doing here then?”

“Varric wanted us to have a talk with Dorian. See if we can learn anything the Inquisition might have missed given we're an objective party.”

“And you're sure he's not a magister? Never mind.” He said, shaking his head. “I know you are. So where do we find this Dorian?”

“Varric said he spends most of his time in the library.”

“What's he look like?”

Kirah described him as best she could based on Varric's description. While she talked, Fenris caught sight of someone descending the steep staircase leading up to the castle.

“Is that him?” He asked, pointing.

Following his gaze, Kirah turned to see a strikingly handsome, dark-skinned man with ebony hair and expensive clothes descending to the courtyard. He seemed intent on his goal and had taken no notice of them.

“I think so.” She said. “He certainly fits Varric's description.”

“Except for the sparkling part.” Fenris mused.

“He does seem rather less vibrant than Varric described.”

“We've seen that look before Hawke.” He reminded her.

“Who?” She began before memory kicked in. “Oh. Anders. But Dorian isn't possessed.”

“Perhaps not. But he wears the look of a man haunted.”

“Shit.” Kirah swore.

“I'll go talk to him.” Fenris said, trailing after Dorian as he headed for the merchant stalls.

“Fenris.”

“I'm just going to talk to him Hawke.”

“Don't scare him Fenris. Varric said he and the Inquisitor are very much in love.”

“I won't scare him. Wait here.”

Dorian

When he stepped outside, the fresh mountain air felt wonderful. He still couldn't shake the cobwebs from his mind, but it was an improvement to the sense of being trapped had been while in the library.

After a moment, he took the stairs to the merchant stalls. He wasn't much for potions, but thought perhaps one of the merchants at Skyhold could recommend something for the fog he seemed to be carrying with him everywhere he went.

When he reached the courtyard, he scanned the stalls near the stables trying to decide who would be most likely to be of assistance. He wanted to avoid speaking with all of them – he certainly didn't need these people spreading rumours about him.

It was while he was scanning the stalls when he felt someone approaching him from behind. He turned to see a formidable, white-haired elf with strange markings all over him, headed straight for him. As he met the man's eyes a chill shot through him and he stopped breathing, his entire body frozen in fear. He could feel how terrified he was, yet couldn't understand what the elf had to do with it. As the man closed the distance between them, it was all he could do not to flee in terror.

“Are you Dorian Pavus?” The elf asked, coming to a stop before him.

“I am.” He said, hearing the tremor in his voice.

“I am Fenris.” He said. “I've come to talk to you.”

“Fenris?” Though his mind understood this must be Hawke's paramour, the irrational part of his mind had gone into a panic. All he heard at the mention of the man's name was wolf. Wolf, wolf, wolf.

He took a step back away from Fenris as he tried to maintain control over his rising panic.

“Did you say wolf?' He asked, surprising himself. He'd meant to say Fenris, but that's not what happened and his panic increased tenfold.

Fenris frowned. “I did not. I said Fenris.”

“You're here to kill me aren't you? Kill the Inquisitor.”

“What? No!” Fenris frowned harder. “I just wanted to talk to you.”

“Stay away from me wolf.” Dorian snarled, his fear and panic taking over. “Stay away from the Inquisitor.” He repeated before backing away and running for the door leading to Skyhold's kitchen.

----xxx----

“Fenris.” Hawke said, coming to his side. “What in Andraste's name just happened?”

“I don't know.” He said, his brow creased with worry. “But whatever is going on isn't good.”

“What did he say?”

“He called me a wolf.”

“What?! Why?”

“I told him my name and he said I called myself a wolf.”

“I don't like this.” She said quietly.

“Neither do I.”

“Come on. Let's go find Varric. Maybe he knows what's going on.”

Nathaniel

I was still in my quarters when a sound near the balcony drew my attention. As I turned to look, a great black bird landed there before disappearing to be replaced with Morrigan.

“Morrigan? What the blazes are you doing?” I demanded.

“We need to talk. Immediately. I didn't want to draw attention.”

“And coming here as a bird does that?” I asked, my voice full of sarcasm.

“Never mind that.”

“Fine. What's going on?”

“Are you aware the Champion is here?”

“No.” I said, frowning. “When did this happen?”

“A few minutes ago. It's not important right now. You have to keep her arrival secret. With your permission I will bring her to your quarters.”

Thoroughly confused, I stared at her uncomprehending. “You mean you're going to fly her up here?”

“How else would I get her here without being seen?” She drawled. “Time is of the essence Inquisitor.”

“Fine. Yes. Do what you need to.” I retorted “But you better have a good explanation for this.”

“It would be pointless not to have an explanation if I'm willing to go to all this trouble.” She said dryly. “I will return anon.”

Hawke

They hadn't made it far out of the lower courtyard when Fenris spotted the black bird heading straight for them.

“Shifter.” He growled, stepping protectively in front of Hawke.

The bird landed on the step above them and after looking around, seemingly to ensure it wasn't being observed, disappeared to be replaced with Morrigan.

“Champion.” She nodded before turning to Fenris. “And you must be Fenris. I see the stories about your appearance were greatly understated.”

“Morrigan.” Kirah replied. “What's going on here?”

“It is imperative no one else knows of your arrival. I will explain once I've taken you to the Inquisitor's private quarters.”

“She's not going anywhere with you witch.” Fenris snarled.

Morrigan laughed. “Yes she is and so are you. Believe me or no, but you are both in danger here. No one else can know of your arrival. Meet me on the top of the south battlement tower. I will take you directly to the Inquisitor. Do not draw attention to yourselves.”

“What is this about?” Kirah asked, ignoring Fenris's dark look.

“I will explain later. Here.” She said, handing them two hooded cloaks. “Put these on and go. I will be waiting.” Her task complete, she changed back into a bird and took to the sky.

“Don't look at me like that.” Kirah grumbled, donning the cloak.

“I'm just wondering if you have a sign somewhere that says “Hey, I'm a Hawke, come kill me.”

“Fenris.”

“I will never understand how you always seem to be at the centre of danger every time I turn around.” He growled, donning the other cloak.

“Except now you're the centre of that danger too.” She smirked, heading up the stairs. “Morrigan said we were both in danger.”

“Kaffas.” Fenris swore.

“Come on. Let's go find out what's going on.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

After fleeing the courtyard and navigating the kitchen which had been crowed with staff, he found himself in the old library in the basement of the castle. Seated at the desk, it was several minutes before his mind cleared enough for him to see past the drowning sense of fear he'd felt in the courtyard.

The he had just been utterly terrified beyond words, he now could not remember why. Nor did he remember Fenris. Though he had seen the elf as plain as day while they talked, all he could remember now was a great big grey wolf with cold, piercing green eyes. He wasn't even sure he hadn't just dreamed the wolf into existence, especially since he knew with certainty there were no wolves in Skyhold.

Rising, he went to the nearest bookshelf and began perusing the books. In minutes he was lost in mindless calm enjoying the thrill of discovery, the fear of the wolf completely forgotten.

Nathaniel

I paced before the fireplace. Whatever had got into Morrigan was now working it's way through me. She knew something about what had happened here of late and I was anxious to get to the bottom of it.

A moment later a loud thud drew my attention to the west balcony. A hooded figure stumbled into the room, clearly struggling to maintain their footing. After a minute, the figure removed the cloak and Hawke's raven-coloured hair and honey-brown eyes met mine.

“Inquisitor.” She said, smiling ruefully.

“Champion.” I nodded. “Probably not the entrance you thought you'd be making when you arrived here.”

She laughed. “No, definitely not.”

“Is Fenris with you?” I asked.

She frowned. “Yes. He's just a little uh... resistant to our mode of transport.”

I smiled. “I guess he's not much for heights.”

Her eyes twinkled and I could see what men found so attractive about her. I may have preferred the company of men, but Hawke was strikingly beautiful. You'd have to be blind not to see it.

“No, he doesn't like heights but don't say anything. He'll never admit it.”

“I imagine his resistance might have more to do with Morrigan than anything else.”

She laughed again, a deep musical sound that made her eyes sparkle with merriment. “Fond isn't in Fenris's vocabulary. He doesn't trust her at all. If she wasn't a powerful witch and an ally of the Inquisition, she wouldn't have got within ten feet of me.”

“You've met her before?”

“Yes, back in Kirkwall. She fixed Merrill's mirror and cured Anders. Then she left, taking the Eluvian with her.”

“How'd she manage that?” I wondered, picturing the massive Eluvian currently stored in a room adjacent to Skyhold's garden.

Hawke shrugged. “I have no idea. She didn't want me in the room when she did... well, whatever it was she did to take it with her when she left.”

A thud on the balcony drew our attention where a second hooded figure stumbled into view. A flash of black smoke and Morrigan appeared behind him.

“I have never met a more stubborn, more contrary creature than you.” Morrigan growled.

“Keep your distance witch.” Fenris snapped, removing his cloak and coming to stand by Hawke. “You may be an ally now but only a fool would trust you beyond that.”

“If you weren't riddled with lyrium, I wouldn't hesitate to silence you.” She retorted.

I cleared my throat, drawing their attention away from each other. Morrigan blushed and looked away while Fenris turned his wide green eyes to me.

I had to admire his attractiveness and could see clearly why Hawke was so drawn to him. Here was a man of passion, integrity and a fierce loyalty of unequalled measure. I could see how his past had shaped him into the warrior that now stood before me. His heart and soul were in his eyes, matched only by the challenge I saw in them. I didn't need to know him better to show him respect – he already had it for everything he'd overcome to get to where he was today.

He must have sensed something of what I was thinking, for he smiled and offered me his hand in greeting.

“You must be the Inquisitor.” He said, his deep voice captivating me.

“And you must be Fenris.” I said, smiling as I took his hand. “It's an honour to finally meet you.”

“It is?” He said, looking puzzled. “You've heard of me?”

I smiled again. “Of course I have. Varric is here.”

He groaned. “The dwarf. Of course. How could I forget?”

“This is all very touching, but may I suggest we get to the business at hand.” Morrigan interrupted.

We all turned to stare at her and though she didn't back down, I was certain I caught a flinch under our combined scrutiny.

“And what business is that Lady Morrigan?” I asked, showing her cool eyes. “You've made quite the dramatic scene. I assume you have a good reason.”

“I am not known for my love of the dramatic.” She replied coolly. “Of course I have reason.”

“Then perhaps you should get on with it.” Fenris growled as Hawke slid her hand into his.

“In time elf.” She said, dismissing him. “Let us sit.”

Once we were all seated near the fireplace, we all waited expectantly for Morrigan to explain herself.

“Well?” I prompted.

“First, tell me if you remember noticing something odd occurring here at Skyhold a few days ago.”

“Something odd?” I repeated. “Oh. You mean that bit of dizziness where everything seemed to go black for a second?”

She nodded. “Yes. Exactly that.”

“What of it?”

“Patience Inquisitor.” She said, turning to Hawke. “Tell us what brought you here Champion?”

Hawke frowned. “Varric wrote to me. He told me about the attacks against Lord Pavus and the Inquisitor.”

“Attacks?” I repeated. “What attacks?”

Both Fenris and Hawke turned to stare at me, confused.

“Never mind him.” Morrigan prompted. “Please continue.”

I frowned at her, but held my tongue. At mention of the attacks my pulse had begun to race. I didn't know what Hawke was talking about, but part of me must have or I wouldn't have had a physical reaction to her words.

“He only said Skyhold might have a traitor within it's ranks. That some in the Inquisition suspected an elven mage and that Lord Pavus seemed to be the main target of the attacks.”

I could feel my hands slick with sweat as panic suddenly gripped me. Something in Hawke's words had struck a pinprick of memory. I looked to Morrigan who was watching my reaction with interest.

“And what did Varric think you could do about it?”

“He thought I might be able to see possible suspects more objectively than those who have been here since the beginning.”

“A wise plan.” Morrigan nodded. “I knew the dwarf was smarter than he pretends.”

“I don't understand.” I said, trying to ignore my rising panic.

“Tis simple Inquisitor. Your enemy here has cast a spell to us all forget who he is.”

“So the attacks Hawke's talking about really happened? To me? To Dorian?”

Morrigan nodded. “Yes Inquisitor. Though the details remain clouded, the more we bring this business into the light, the more we shall remember.”

“I don't understand what's happening here.” Hawke said, drawing our attention. “You don't remember these events?”

“Did you not hear what the Inquisitor and I just said?” Morrigan sneered. “Some has made everyone at Skyhold forget these events. We clearly had the right suspect and they wished to remain hidden. Which means they are here at Skyhold now.”

“Why would they come back?” Fenris asked, shooting Morrigan a warning look at her tone.

“If we knew who it was, we wouldn't be here discussing it.” She retorted. “What else did Varric say?”

“I...” Hawke began, then frowned. “I don't' remember.”

“Maker's breath.” Morrigan swore. “It is as I suspected. The spell cast on Skyhold lingers. I don's suppose you kept Varric's letter?”

Hawke frowned, her hands going to a pouch at her waist. “I was sure I kept it. But it's not here now.”

“Of course.” Morrigan sighed.

“This is all very interesting Morrigan, but if you don't know who our enemy is, why did you want Hawke's arrival here kept secret?” I asked.

“Because whoever it is remains at Skyhold. I may not yet have a name, but the Well reminded me of the fact I had forgotten something important.”

“The Well?” Hawke echoed.

“The Well of Sorrows.” I answered. “It gave Morrigan the memory of the elves.”

“Simply put Inquisitor, thought the reality is far more complex than that.”

I glared at her to which she sighed.

“However you wish to explain it, the whispers told me that Fenris was in danger. Whoever our enemy is, he is afraid of the elf. Of Fenris specifically.” Morrigan continued.

“Fenris? Why?” Hawke demanded.

Morrigan shrugged. “I honestly am not clear on that yet. Though if I had to guess, it is likely connected to his lyrium markings.”

“What to the markings do exactly?” I asked, curious. “It looks painful.”

Fenris shared a knowing look with me and I could see respect reflected there. “It is.” He said. “But they allow me to turn my body ethereal. I can put my hand in a man's chest and pull out his beating heart as though flesh were made of water.”

I could tell he didn't enjoy discussing the markings and hurried to finish my line of thought. “Is it a form of magic then?”

“Truthfully I do not know. The markings were branded into my flesh during a ritual. The pain of it erased my memory. I only know what it allows me to do.”

“I'm sorry you had to suffer that Fenris.” I aid, earning myself a surprised look.

“I... thank you Inquisitor.” He said. “But the pain has diminished much since that time. It no longer troubles me as it used to.”

“Be that as it may, until we discover the name of our enemy, I must insist you remain in the Inquisitor's quarters.” Morrigan interrupted.

“That's not a long-term solution.” I reminded her. “They can't stay hidden here forever.”

“Then what do you suggest?” She asked, frowning at me.

“I don't know, but I'll think of something. In the meantime, I'll just ensure no one enters my private quarters.”

“Very well.” She nodded. “I will return to the garden then. Perhaps Hawke should speak to Varric in the meantime. I believe he had something he wished to discuss with her.”

“No, I think it was Merrill, but I'll ask him.”

“Cautiously of course.”

I stared at her. “Did that really need to be said?”

“I suppose not. I'm merely trying to point out the seriousness of the situation at hand.”

“I think we get it witch.” Fenris growled.

“That remains to be seen elf.” She retorted, getting to her feet and crossing to the balcony. “Inquisitor.” She nodded before transforming into a bird and taking to the air.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

“I imagine the two of you are hungry after your journey.” I said after Morrigan had gone.

Hawke nodded. “We are actually. The last tavern we passed before arriving here didn't have much on offer.”

“In that case, I will see to getting you some food. If you want to rest, feel free. I will likely be gone for about an hour after I return with your food. I have a few people I need to speak with before I bring Varric up to see you.”

“You don't have to do this Inquisitor.” Hawke protested. “As Morrigan implied, we could just leave. I'm not sure how much help we can be to you if we don't know who we're hiding from.”

“I don't think that's an option.” I said. “Even if you did, you would have no way of knowing if the traitor here doesn't already suspect something. He could have spies here and whoever it is, they've been two steps ahead of us since this all began.”

“Does that man you're starting to remember what you were made to forget?” Fenris asked.

I shook my head. “Not exactly. I feel it in my gut though. And saying it aloud reinforces my belief I'm on the right track. No. You're safer here for now. I'll be back soon with some food.”

Dorian

He was immersed in reading about early Tevinter history when he became aware of a presence watching him. Looking up, he recognized Cole's distinctive hat bobbing in his direction.

“Cole?”

“Dorian. I need to talk to you. But not here. Will you walk with me?”

Dorian frowned. “I can do that. Is there something wrong?”

“Yes.” He said, moving to the door leading to the main hall without further explanation.

Confused by Cole's behaviour, he got to his feet, following Cole to the battlements outside.

“You are not yourself Dorian.” Cole accused when they reached the west wall.

“I...” Dorian began. He knew he wasn't behaving normally, though he had little memory of what that meant or even looked like. Something had changed and he felt disconnected from the things he usually did every day though he could not recall what those things were.

“You are in two places at the same time.” Cole continued.

“I”m... what?”

“Are you not aware of being in the Fade?” He challenged.

“The Fade? I'm not following you Cole. I went to the Fade with the Inquisitor, but that was a while ago.”

Cole shook his head, his face troubled. “No. You are in the Fade now and you are here too.”

“That's not possible. Could you please make sense?”

“Then you don't know.”

“Know what?” Dorian retorted. It was so hard to follow Cole's line of thought that sometimes he felt as though the young man was deliberately confusing. “I don't know what you're talking about.”

“Forget I said anything Dorian.” He muttered.

“Forget? How could I forget a conversation like this?”

“I don't know. But you have to. If you're not aware that you aren't fully here, then you can't stop. It means someone else has done this.”

“Done what? I don't understand what you're talking about Cole.”

“I can't say. They might be listening.”

“You're giving me a headache.” Dorian grumbled. “And now I'm worried. Tell me what this is about.”

“I can't. I'm sorry Dorian.”

“But it's not possible to be in the Fade and here unless I'm dreaming. I don't understand Cole.”

“I'm sorry.” Cole said, changing tactics. “You're right of course. I made a mistake. I'm always making mistakes. I have to go now.”

Dorian was speechless as Cole hurried away from him as fast as he could go. What in bloody blazes was that all about? It wasn't possible to be in the Fade and here at the same time. Was it?

He made his way back to the castle at a leisurely pace, his mind racing. There used to be Dreamers in the world, those who could shape the world and the Fade, using only the power of their thoughts. Among humans, they had been feared, for a Dreamer could enter the minds of others to kill or drive mad. Before Arlathan fell, many of the elven leaders had been powerful Dreamers.

Yet despite their power, Dreamers were now very rare. The only one he knew who might be considered a Dreamer by ancient standards, was Solas. He didn't know if Solas could enter the minds of others, but he could certainly enter the Fade whenever he chose to.

A shiver ran up his spine at the thought a Dreamer might be at work in Skyhold. Since Solas was the only one he knew who might qualify, the elf's recent behaviour changed from being merely suspicious to ominous. What made it worse, was Cole's belief that Dorian was here and in the Fade. It wasn't possible though, was it?

Unnerved by the idea, he headed for the library in Skyhold's basement. He already knew there was nothing on Dreamers in the tower library. Not only that, but if Solas could enter someone else's dreams, he was in no hurry to be anywhere near the elf.

Nathaniel

After delivering some food to Hawke and Fenris, I left to go speak with Varric.

“Inquisitor.” He greeted. “Just the man I was looking for. I finished writing the latest chapter of Swords and Shields. Wanna tag along when I deliver it?”

I'd completely forgotten about his book and though I knew the business with Hawke was important, I didn't want to miss this. I needed a feel-good moment.

“Wouldn't miss it.” I smiled, falling into step beside him as he headed for the practice yard.

“What have you done now?” Cassandra growled, getting to her feet as we approached.

“I get it Seeker.” Varric drawled. “You're still mad about our spat earlier.”

“I'm not a child Varric. Do suggest I am without reason.” She retorted.

“I bring a peace offering.” He said, holding the book out to her. “The next chapter of Swords and Shields. I hear you're a fan.”

“This is your doing.” She said, turning to me.

“Oh yes.” I smiled. “Do you really think I'd miss this?”

“Well,” Varric drawled, turning to go. “If you're not interested, you're not interested. Still needs editing anyhow.”

“Wait!” She cried.

Varric stopped, turning back to her with a smile on his lips. “You're probably wondering what happens to the Knight-Captain after the last chapter.”

“Nothing should happen to her! She was falsely accused!”

“Well it turns out the guardsman...”

“Don't tell me!” She barked, snatching the book from his hand.

Varric sighed. “This is the part where you tank the Inquisitor. I don't usually give sneak peaks after all.”

Cassandra turned to me, the book held protectively to her chest. “I... thank you.”

“This was everything I'd hoped for.” I smiled.

“I know how you feel.” Varric agreed.

“I wonder if I have time to read the first part?” Cassandra muttered, ignoring us.

“Don't forget to tell all your friends.” Varric called over his shoulder. “If you have any. Ah, completely worth it.”

I was about to catch up with him when Cole appeared in front of me, blocking my path.

“Cole?”

“Inquisitor.” He said, not meeting my eyes. “I need to talk to you. It's important.”

“Uh, all right. I'm listening Cole.”

He shook his head. “No. Not here. Somewhere private. I know a place. Follow me.”

He turned, heading for the stairs to the lower courtyard where the medical tents had been set up when we'd first arrived at Skyhold. At the bottom of the stairs, he turned to his right heading for the room at the base of the keep's west tower. Inside, I found him pacing nervously.

I frowned. “What's wrong Cole? What's happened?”

“I'm... worried.” He said.

“Please stop pacing and tell me what this is about.”

“Dorian.” He said, coming to a stop and meeting my eyes.

“Dorian?” I repeated, feeling my blood chill. “What about him?”

“He's not himself.”

“I've noticed.” I said, frowning. “Do you know something about it?”

“I'm not sure.” He said. “I thought he might be a Dreamer, but when I asked he didn't know what I was talking about.”

“A Dreamer?” I'd heard that phrase before. “Why would you think Dorian is a Dreamer?”

“Because he's not all here. I've seen him in the Fade. He shouldn't be there if he isn't.”

“You've seen Dorian in the Fade?” I wasn't following him.

Cole nodded. “Yes. I heard his hurt. His pain. It's sharp like a blade, like a knife in the heart. It pierces him like a fresh wound. It isn't healing. But when I went to help, the pain wasn't coming from him.”

“I don't understand. How could it not be?”

Cole's' eyes filled with more worry and I was certain I also caught a hint of fear in them. “Because the part that hurts, that feels pain and love and laughter is in the Fade. It's stuck there.”

“What? That's impossible.”

Cole shook his head. “That's what Dorian said too. But it's the truth.”

“How do you even know this Cole? I thought now that you were more human you couldn't enter the Fade as easily as before.”

“I heard him. His pain is very loud in the Fade. I couldn't not hear him even if I wanted to. You have to help him.”

“Of course I'll help Cole, but I don't understand what's wrong. I wouldn't know where to start.”

“Dorian of the Fade is dying. If he hasn't done this to himself, someone else has done it to him.”

My blood turned to ice. “Dying? He cant' be dying.”

“You have to remind him how much you care. He's trying to remember you. He feels pain when you argue and he doesn't want to say the things he says, but then something makes him forget what he's done.”

“Something or someone?”

“I don't know, but I found this.” He said holding up an amulet.

Taking it from him, I felt an instant cooling sensation as my hand closed on it and a spark of memory shot through me. I'd seen this amulet before.

“What is it? Where did you find it?”

“It's an amulet. Very old, very powerful. I found it on the stairs near Solas's room.”

“Solas?” I repeated. I was beginning to feel like a parrot. But why did Cole's answer chill me? “What's it used for? Do you know?”

“I think it's for protection against powerful magic. I think it might be Dorian's. I don't understand why I don't remember, but I'm sure he used to wear it.”

“Kaffas!” I swore, startling him. “You're saying someone has done this?” I couldn't believe how long it had taken me to reach this conclusion, but dismissed the fog and held onto the new thought with all the focus I could manage. “This is why you wanted to talk to me privately. You think whoever did this is still here.”

He nodded. “Yes. When Dorian didn't understand what I asked, it scared me. If someone has done this to him, they can probably hear what he hears. Know what he knows.”

“Andraste's flaming ass.” I seethed. “How do I help Dorian then? If I talk to him about this, whoever has done this to him will know about it.”

“Not if you give him the amulet first. It should protect him from prying eyes.”

“Alright. Do you know where Dorian is now?”

“I watched him. He went to the basement library.”

“Thank you Cole.” I said, turning to leave. “One more thing. What happens to Dorian if the part of him in the Fade dies?”

“He won't remember you anymore. He'll return to Tevinter without joy. He'll stop being Dorian.”

“Shit.” I muttered, hurrying back to the castle.



 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He'd been in the library for close to an hour now. He couldn't quite remember why he'd come down here, only that Cole had talked to him in the courtyard. What they'd talked about was hazy now, but he could feel a part of him still unsettled by whatever the subject had been.

He looked down at the book he held and was surprised to see he'd been reading about ancient mages who had also been Dreamers. Why would he be reading about that? He was about to return it to the shelf when he heard footstep approaching.

Nathaniel appeared framed in the doorway, a strange expression on his face. He got to his feet, placed the book on the desk and waited.

“Dorian.” Nathaniel said, his voice filled with an emotion he didn't understand.”

“Inquisitor.” He replied, noting with surprise how he flinched at his use of his title.

“I have something for you.” He said as he drew closer.

“For me?” Dorian repeated. What could the Inquisitor have for him? Since when had they become so familiar with each other?

“Do you trust me?” He asked.

“I...” Dorian hesitated. Did he? He was surprised to realize he did. When had that happened? “Yes. I suppose I do.”

Nathaniel nodded. “Good. I want you to close your eyes.”

“This is highly irregular Inquisitor.” He protested, but seeing the look in his eyes, he acquiesced quickly. “Very well. I hope you aren't playing a joke on me. You didn't bring Sera with you did you?”

“No It's just me Dorian.”

“Alright. Closing my eyes now.” He could feel the Inquisitor step close to stand behind him. A moment later, he felt something fall around his neck. As it touched him, a wave of cool, comforting energy washed through him. It was so peaceful and so comforting that he heard himself gasp aloud at the wave of emotion that washed through him.

He opened his eyes to see Nathaniel staring at him, his face filled with worry and concern.

“Amatus?” He said, his heart squeezing painfully as tears welled in his eyes. “What's going on?”

“Oh Dorian.” He whispered., hands going to Dorian's cheeks as he pressed his lips to his. “I've missed you so much.”

Dorian felt his tears begin to flow unchecked down his cheeks as Nathaniel deepened the kiss. He moaned, not knowing if it was from relief, joy or sadness. He felt his throat constrict painfully as though he had been alone for an eternity and was now rejoicing at being seen.

“Oh my heart.” Nathaniel said, releasing him and stepping back. “I'm so sorry.”

“I don't understand amatus.” He replied, blinking and brushing away his tears. “What's happened?”

“I'm not sure, but you haven't been yourself for several days now.”

“What did you give me amatus? I feel so different from a moment ago.”

Nathaniel smiled at his words, his eyes lighting with happiness. “An amulet. Maker, I've missed hearing you call me that.”

“An amulet? What kind of amulet?”

“It's for protection. I don't remember why you were wearing or how you lost it, only that it was very important you not take it off.”

“Apparently I did take it off.”

Nathaniel frowned. “No, I don't think so. I think someone took it from you.”

“You're not making sense amatus.”

“Someone did this to you Dorian and I'm not sure you're back to normal yet.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Do you remember our last conversation?”

“Now what kind of question is that? Of course I remember. You told me about the Prince of Starkhaven.”

Nathaniel paled.

“Amatus? Is that not what we last talked about?”

“No. That was over a week ago Dorian. You don't remember Abelas? Or the Well of Sorrows?”

“Abelas?” Dorian frowned. “I...” He felt himself disconnect as though his body was elsewhere and he was watching himself as though he were observing a dream.

“Dorian?”

“He... he was an ancient elf. In the Temple of Mythal.”

“Yes.”

“He... Maker's breath.” Dorian gasped. “Did I really say I was leaving you?”

Nathaniel's eyes filled with tears seconds after he'd voiced his thought. It was clear he really had said those horrible things. Overwhelmed, he pulled Nathaniel into his arms, gathering him into a crushing embrace.

“Oh Amatus. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean any of that.”

“I wasn't sure what I'd done.” Nathaniel croaked. “I thought maybe you didn't love me anymore.”

“Never.” Dorian replied, his voice stern. “I will never stop loving you amatus. How could I have said those things to you? I don't understand.”

“Neither do I.” He agreed. “Someone is toying with you Dorian, trying to change you. I think whoever it is has made all of Skyhold forget.

“But why? Don't we have enough to deal with already?”

“I don't know. But I don't want you spending any more time alone.”

Dorian kissed him then, pressing his lips to his, his lips parted, desperate to claim him again. Nathaniel moaned beneath his lips, his tongue seeking, exploring and pressing himself harder to his chest.

“Amatus.” He whispered, breathless.

“My heart.”

“I want you amatus. I love you. No matter what's going on here or who's behind these horrible machinations, never doubt that. I will never stop loving you or wanting you in my life as long as I live.”

“Nor I you.” He sighed. “But as much as I want you naked before me, Hawke is here. I have some things I need to figure out.”

“Hawke?” Dorian blinked, releasing him. “Why?”

“Varric asked her to come. Merrill needed to talk to her privately.”

“I don't understand.”

“Neither do I, but that's the problem. None of us remember, but given how completely you've forgotten the past week, it's imperative we find out who's responsible.”

“I agree.” Dorian said. “I don't appreciate being manipulated like this. Lead the way amatus.”

“I'm sorry Dorian, but you can't be involved. Whoever is behind this might be watching you. I don't want them knowing anything about Hawke or Merrill.”

He didn't like the idea that he couldn't be involved in discovering who his enemy was, but he knew Nathaniel was right. “Kaffas.” He swore. “I hate this amatus, but you're right.”

“I don't like it either and I also don't want you out of my sight, but until we know who's behind all this we don't have a choice. But you can't be alone either. Go to the tavern. Stay with Bull or Sera until I come for you. Will you do that for me? Promise me you won't go anywhere alone.”

“I promise amatus. If I've forgotten as much as I think I have, I have no desire to have it happen again.”

“Good. Let's go, I'll walk you to the tavern.”

Nathaniel

I was shocked by the change I'd seen in Dorian's behaviour after I'd returned the amulet to him. It was as though I were seeing a completely different person. He wasn't fully back to his normal self, but the underlying animosity I'd sensed previously was gone.

When we parted at the tavern, he'd kissed me passionately as though he were trying to promise without words that he would never again let me think he felt anything but love for me.

Feeling comforted by the thought he was out of immediate danger at least for now, I headed for the castle to retrieve Merrill and Varric and take them upstairs to meet with Hawke.

----xxx----

Returning to my quarters, I was relieved to see Hawke and Fenris looking more rested than when they'd first arrived. Having had to deal with Cassandra, Cole and then Dorian, I knew I'd been gone much longer than I'd fist anticipated. By the look of my guests, the delay had been appreciated.

Hawke caught my eye and smiled. “I'm not sure what kept you Inquisitor, but we appreciate it. We were more tired from our journey than I realized.”

Fenris scowled, his cheeks flushing a pale pink. “Hawke.” He growled.

“What?” She asked innocently. “We were tired Fenris. We needed the rest.”

Flushing more, he turned his back to her, his gaze fixed on the snow covered landscape outside.

“Hawke!” Merrill cried, rushing over to her friend and gathering her in a hug. “It's so good to see you! I was so worried about you.”

Hawke smiled. “I missed you too Merrill. How's Aveline?”

Merrill grinned, releasing her. “Oh you know Aveline. She's always most happy when she's brandishing that sword of hers. Luckily she's able to do that a lot.”

Fenris snorted, his eyes alight with amusement. “I thought most of the fighting in Kirkwall had stopped.”

“Oh! Hello Fenris!” She said, turning to him. “Yes, most of it has, but the streets at night are filled with looters and thieves again.”

“Damn.” Hawke cursed.

“I told you we needed to go home.” Fenris grumbled.

“Soon Fenris.” She promised, turning back to Merrill.

“So Hawke,” Varric interrupted. “How was Weisshaupt?”

“Cold.” Fenris answered. “Isolated. Depressing.”

Varric laughed. “Thanks Broody. I can always count on you not to sugar-coat anything.”

Hawke smiled, listening to their familiar banter. “Well he's not exaggerating Varric. I told the Wardens what happened at Adamant. They were thankful, but not all that surprised.”

“They're Wardens.” Fenris grumbled. “No humour in that lot. Plus they seemed very unconcerned about it all, embroiled in some conflict or concern they weren't willing to share with outsiders.”

“Is that why you left?” Varric asked, directing his question at Hawke.

She shrugged, sharing a look with Fenris.

“We left because the place reeked of death and gloom. Plus it was very cold.” Fenris answered.

“When you say “we,” I assume you mean Fenris insisted you leave.”

Hawke laughed. “I've missed you Varric.”

“Me too Hawke. Even you broody. So what's going on? Why are the two of you hiding up here?”

“Morrigan insisted.” Hawke answered while Fenris merely frowned.

“Never thought I'd see her again after Kirkwall.” Varric admitted.

“Morrigan is here?” Merrill exclaimed, puzzled.

“You mean you haven't seen her?” I asked, joining their conversation.

“No, but then I haven't seen much of Skyhold yet. Just the tavern and Varric's spot by the fireplace.”

“Ah. Well that explains it. She spends most of her time in Skyhold's garden.”

“Oh! Maybe she'd like some company then.”

Varric grimaced. “It's a nice thought Daisy, but I don't think she's big on sharing space with others.”

“As much as I'm enjoying this, perhaps we should get to the business of why we're here.” Hawke said, drawing our attention.

“You're right.” I agreed. “Morrigan said you had something you wanted to tell Hawke, Merrill.”

“Yes, I did. Thank you Inquisitor.” She nodded. “I got a message from an old friend from Kirkwall.”

“An old friend?” Hawke frowned.

“Yes, but I couldn't understand him. I'm not a very good Dreamer I'm afraid.”

Hawke and I froze at the mention of a Dreamer, while both Varric and Fenris began radiating tension.

Hawke took a deep breath. “You don't mean Feynriel do you?”

“Yes!” Merrill cried happily. “I knew you'd remember!”

“Hawke.” Fenris warned.

“I know Fenris. But I know Feynriel, he wouldn't have contacted Merrill without a good reason.”

“He told me you were coming to Skyhold.” Merrill continued.

“Am I missing something?” I asked. “Why are you all so tense all of a sudden?”

Hawke and Fenris turned toward me. Hawke looked troubled while Fenris radiated tension.

“He's an elven apostate we met in Kirkwall. I saved him from becoming Tranquil and he left to study his magic abilities in Tevinter.” Hawke said.

“An elven apostate in Tevinter?” I repeated. It didn't sound much like helping to me.

“He doesn't look elven.” Hawke explained. “His mother is elven, but his father was human. He needed help controlling his magic as a Dreamer.”

“Very dangerous.” Fenris scowled.

“Maybe Fenris.” Hawke retorted. “But he survived the Fade demons Fenris. He's not weak.”

Fenris said nothing though a he looked uncomfortable at Hawke's words. “You're right Hawke. He was not weak, unlike myself.”

“Fenris.” She said, turning to look at him. His eyes softened under he gaze and all the tension drained from him.

He sighed. "Very well. How is Hawke supposed to receive this message Merrill?”

“In her dreams of course.” She answered.

“Am I missing something here?” I said.

“Feynriel can communicate with others who have been to the Fade. I suspect you could do it as well given the magic in your mark.” Hawke replied.

“I've only done that by accident.”

“So have I for the most part.” She smiled.

“All right.” I nodded. We'd best get on with it then.”

“I agree.” Fenris grumbled. “The sooner we get to the bottom of this, the better.”



 

Chapter Text

Dorian

“Dorian.” Bull said, joining him at his table. “Haven't seen you lately. Something up?”

Dorian sighed. “Apparently. Though I was unaware of it. Seems I've been under some kind of spell.”

“Spell? What spell?”

“I don't know. I didn't even know about it until recently. I'm not even sure it is a spell. Seems more like a curse.”

“Someone hexed you?”

“That's my theory.”

“Huh.” Bull huffed. “Why does that not surprise me?”

Dorian frowned.

“Hey now. I didn't mean anything by that. Just seems like maybe this isn't the first time this has happened, though I can't remember why I think that.”

Dorian grunted. “I suspect there's a lot of things none of us remember. If Nathaniel's right, I think someone has messed with all our memories.”

“You mean they made me forget too?” Bull exclaimed. “Stay her. I'll be right back.”

Bull got to his feet and crossed the tavern. “Krem!” He barked before bending to whisper in his lieutenant's ear. Krem got to his feet and hurried away as Bull returned to Dorian.

“What was all that about?” Dorian asked.

“If someone's messed with my member, Stitches has a cure. Krem's gone to get him.”

“A cure for magical memory loss? I didn't think anything like that existed.”

“It's not widely known.” Bull grumbled, his voice low. “Keep it down Vint. Someone is always listening.”

“But if it's true...”

“Never mind that.” Bull retorted. “It's true. Even so, Stitches won't have enough for everyone.”

“I assume you mean for him to bring you the cure so you can take it?”

“Do you even have to ask?”

“I suppose not.” Dorian sighed, returning his attention to his untouched ale.

“Besides, didn't you say the Inquisitor clued you in to what was going on with you.”

“He did. What of it?”

“How'd you remember anything if you didn't take a potion for it?”

“I... I'm not sure. He put an amulet around my neck.”

“Let's see it.”
Frowning, Dorian drew the amulet out from beneath his tunic. Bull hissed at the sight of it and leaned away from him.

“Kaffas! Venhedis! Vishante!”

“What?” Dorian asked, surprised by Bull's reaction.

“Where did you get that?” He demanded, his voice dropping to a whisper.

“The Inquisitor gave it to me. What's wrong?”

“It is very old, very powerful magic. Taamsalah katoh.”

“A masterwork amulet? How do you know that?”

“I've seen one. Only in pictures though. They're made to protect the wearer from powerful magic.” Bull answered, downing the last of his ale in one swallow.

“Okay... but if it's a protection amulet, why did you react like that?”

“You said you remembered things after the Inquisitor put it on you right?”

“Yes. So?”

“So the potion I sent Krem to get won't help you.”

“Why not?”

“Because you're the target in all of this.” He grumbled, waving his hand in the air. “Someone's cast a spell on you. It would have to be removed first. The potion will be useless.”

“Me? Why me?”

Bull grunted. “If I knew that, we wouldn't be talking about it. I'd be ending whoever was responsible.”

“I...” Dorian stammered, surprised.

“I like you Vint. No one should be a target of something like this. Whoever did this is a bloody coward. Hey.” He paused. “Is that why you're here? The Inquisitor didn't want you left alone right?”

Dorian frowned. “No, he didn't.”

“Kaffas.” Bull swore again. “This is not good. Don't worry though. I'm not letting you out of my sight Vint. Not until we know who's behind this.”

“And what if we don't find out?”

“You just better hope we do.” Bull retorted, ordering another round.

Nathaniel

“So how is this going to work exactly?” I asked

Hawke had taken Fenris out to the balcony after Feynriel's name had come up. Though he'd agreed to letting Hawke meet Feynriel in her dreams, everyone in the room could tell he'd lied when he said he was okay with it.

“I have a potion I can give to you and Hawke.” Merrill said, her eyes on Hawke and Fenris. “You drink it and if he mark is enough and focus right, you should have no problem entering the Fade.”

“Okay.” I nodded., my thoughts whirling. “But you said Feynriel wanted to talk to Hawke. Why am I going and how will we arrive at the same place in the Fade?”

Merrill blushed. “Well the first part is to keep Fenris calm. The other is because I'm pretty sure his message is for you.”

“Because of Dorian.” I said.

Merrill nodded.

“And the second part?”

“Uh.. well for two people to arrive in the same place in the Fade, you uh... you have to drink some of their essence.”

“Their what?” Varric exclaimed.

“Essence.”

“I know I'm going to regret asking this, but what qualifies as a person's essence?” He asked.

“Hair or uh fingernails.”

“Maker's breath.” He muttered. “Do me a favour Daisy, don't say that in front of Fenris, I'll tell Hawke privately.”

“Okay.”

“Get your potion ready Merrill.” I said. “I'll add my uh, essence to Hawke's share before they come back.”

“Oh! Good idea!. Varric, here's the one for Hawke to add to.” She said, handing him a vial.

“Sure hope this works.” Varric grumbled, crossing to the fireplace.

“Merrill. One more thing.” I said, turning to her. “Does this potion have any lasting effects? Like I'm not going to get into Hawke's dreams or go to the Fade by accident am I?”

“Oh no! No, the effects won't last more than an hour.”

“So how will Feynriel find us?”

“Don't worry Your Worship, he'll find you. He spends a lot of time in the Fade and he knew when Hawke would arrive at Skyhold.”

“Uh, how did he know?”

“He was in my dream last night of course.”

“Of course.” I nodded. I could see now why Fenris had first disliked the young elven girl. Not because of her naivete, but by how dangerous she would have been as a practising blood mage.”

Hawke and Fenris joined us then. Hawke looked flushed and determined while Fenris did his best to cover his worry with an angry scowl.

“Are we ready to do this?” Hawke asked.

“Sure.” Varric answered. “But I'd like a word with you in private first.”

“Okay Varric.” She said, frowning at him.

They returned from the balcony a minute later. Hawke was grimacing and Varric looked pleased with himself. He made his way over to me, slipping Hawke's essence vial into my hand without pausing on his way to Merrill's side.

I shared a look with Hawke and she nodded imperceptibly, letting me know she was ready.

“So are we all ready then?” Merrill asked.

“As ready as I'll ever be.” Hawke said.

“Same here.” I agreed.

“Okay. Well you need to be lying down before you drink the potion. It works pretty fast.”

Feeling uncomfortable with everyone watching, I crossed to the bed, Hawke following reluctantly. I could almost hear her tension. She was holding her breath, waiting for Fenris to protest this new development, but he dais nothing.

Once we were settled, Merrill stood and crossed to the foot of the bed so she could make eye contact with us both.

“Okay. Drink the potion now.” She said. “Remember, you'll only have an hour before it wears off.”

“Got it.” I said, downing the contents of the vial. Hawke winced at the taste, but said nothing. Almost instantly, my vision began to dim and the room grew dark. The last thing I heard before sleep claimed me, was Merrill's shouted warning about demons, followed quickly by Fenris swearing in Tevene.

Dorian

Following Bull's declaration of protection and his anger over what had allegedly been done to him, he'd ordered a bottle of Flames of Our Lady.

Bull raised an eyebrow, but made no protest when he offered him a glass.

“How you feeling Dorian?” Bull asked.

Dorian snorted. “How do you think I feel? I've been made a target for some nefarious plan while a delusional darkspawn tainted magister is trying to make himself a god. I admit I enjoy receiving more than my share of attention, but this? This is going too far.”

Bull chuckled. “True. You do enjoy attention. Speaking of attention, how are things going with the Inquisitor?”

“Not well I'm afraid.”

“What? Why? I thought the two of you were getting serious.”

“I imagine we were.” He whispered miserably. “But whatever this spell is, it... it made me say some things. Not nice things. Things I know hurt him.”

“Fasta vaas.” Bull swore, taking a swallow of wine. “Damn that's smooth.”

“Isn't it though.” Dorian smiled. “One of my favourites, though too expensive to have more than once a season.”

“So what did you say to the Inquisitor?”

Dorian sighed. “I really wish I could forget that part of my restored memory. But this spell took effect before I made a very lofty speech.”

“You gave the Inquisitor a speech?”

“I told him I needed to go back to Tevinter.”

“You did what? Why?”

“To reform my country. Save my homeland, change minds.”

Bull's jaw dropped as he absorbed Dorian's words. Blinking, he downed more wine before he found his voice.

“Seriously? You told him you were going back to Tevinter to... to reform the Magisters? Alone?”

“Yes.”

“What did he say?”

“He offered to come with me of course.”

Bull frowned, sensing more. “And what did you say?”

“I refused. I implied he would take over, leaving me watching from the sidelines while he did all the work himself.”

Bull choked on the mouthful of wine he'd been about to swallow and spent several minutes getting his breathing under control.

“You what?!” He exclaimed when he could talk again. “You know he'd never do that Dorian.”

“I know Bull.”

“Venhedis.” Bull swore. “Wish I could find the asshole who did this. This is so many levels of wrong I don't even know where to start.”

“I know.” Dorian muttered. “I wish you could find them too.”

 

Chapter Text

Hawke

Though Fenris had agreed to her entering the Fade, she knew he was angry. She wasn't sure how many more times he would forgive her for her willingness to put her life at risk for others.

Though he understood why she did what she did, in his view nothing would ever justify the risks she took. She was going to have to make a decision about her future soon. Fenris was the most important, most precious thing that had ever happened to her. She couldn't keep choosing strangers over him. It didn't matter how altruistic her motives were. Eventually it would drive a wedge of resentment between them – one even she wouldn't be able to remove.

“Hawke?” The Inquisitor was watching her with interest. They had passed into the Fade as soon as they had closed their eyes and she'd spent the past minute brooding over her decision to come here.

“Inquisitor?”

“I... uh, heard you just then. And call me Nathaniel. Inquisitor seems a bit too formal now.”

“What do you mean you heard me?”

“You were just thinking about Fenris.” He said, his eyes filled with understanding. “I'm guessing the potion we drank is to blame.”

She frowned. “I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Most of my plans never worked the way they were supposed to.”

“I know the feeling.” He replied, smiling.

“You heard me because you feel the same about Dorian.”

He nodded, his eyes sad. “I don't know how to help him. I don't even know how much of what he's said to me over the past week came from him or the spell.”

“I understand.” She said, taking his hand and squeezing it gently. “I felt the same way when Fenris's master still lived.”

“I heard about that. Varric told me the short version, but I can't imagine how frustrating it must have been for you.”

“It was certainly frustrating.” She agreed. “But though we weren't officially a couple for a long time, I knew he would never willingly leave my side. And I very much enjoyed the friendship we shared before finally sharing how we felt about each other.”

“It's plain to everyone who knows you how much you love each other Hawke.”

“Thank you Nathaniel.” She said. “I wish the same for you and Dorian. What do you say we start looking for Feynriel so we can make that happen?”

He smiled. “I say lead the way. He's never met me and I've no idea what he looks like.”

“Let's make this quick then. The longer we're here the more likely we are to attract demons.”

Nathaniel

It was a little unnerving how easily I had overheard Hawke's thoughts. Though she didn't say it, I imagine she could hear mine just as easy.

We headed off in the direction we'd been facing when we entered the Fade. I wasn't sure it mattered much since the Fade was a world of spirits, demons and dreams. But Hawke seemed to know what she was looking for, so I followed.

We'd taken a flight of stairs guarded by the Ferelden bird statues before entering a clearing filled with ancient and current symbols of Tevinter. It was strange how quickly they appeared, but then I knew nothing about the Fade other than what I'd seen after being tossed here by the artifact I'd touched at the Temple of Sacred Ashes.

“He should be close.” Hawke said, heading for a large tree in the centre of the clearing we'd entered.

“Why the tree?” I asked.

“Feynriel's mother is elven. She raised him alone in Kirkwall's alienage, so I imagine he draws comfort from his elven heritage.”

We'd nearly reached the tree when a slim, blonde elven man with delicate features stepped out from behind it.

“Champion.” He said, smiling at Hawke before turning his gaze to me. “And you must be the Inquisitor.”

“Feynriel.” Hawke greeted.

“I am.” I agreed.

“I'm glad to see both of you are able to meet me here.” He said, coming to stand within arm's reach of us. “I have information for both of you, but it was too dangerous for me to come physically to Skyhold.”

“Dangerous how?” I asked, frowning.

“In time Inquisitor.” He said. “Come with me. I've built a safe haven for myself here in the Fade. Little did I know at the time how important it would become, but I suppose the Maker truly does work in mysterious ways.”

Turning, he led us to the other side of the tree where a door materialized beneath his outstretched palm. Wordlessly, he stepped through, holding the for us as we followed. Once he'd secured the door behind us, he led us down a flight of stairs into a spacious seating area.

Comfortable chairs, tables, couches and desks were scattered about and after choosing one, he bid us join him.

“We are safe here.” He assured us after we were seated. “Though your enemy is one of the Dreamers of old, he is not as skilled here as he likes to believe.”

“You know who it is?” I exclaimed.

Feynriel frowned. “Unfortunately no, I don't. I have been unable to discover his true identity in the physical world. But here, he is Fen'Harel, the Dread Wolf.”

“Kaffas.” I swore.

“Fasta vaas.” Hawke echoed. “So we really are dealing with an elven god then?”

Feynriel frowned. “I'm not sure I would call him a god exactly, though he believes himself to be one.”

“So what did you want to tell us?” I grumbled. “We already suspected we were dealing with Fen'Harel.”

“You may have suspected, but Fen'Harel has made everyone at Skyhold forget. I believe you knew who it was before the spell took effect.”

“I don't understand.” Hawke interrupted. “How did you get involved in this?”

“Stirrings in the Fade. The spirits have been whispering about disturbances here. Some are afraid, while others like the demons, have been gathering in great numbers at different locations. The demons are excited about something and it has nothing to do with Corypheus. They somehow know what's going on, but they're demons. It would be pointless to question any of them.”

“What about the spirits? The ones not demons. Won't they communicate with you?”

Feynriel shook his head. “I tried. They're too frightened, though I did learn to never say his name outside this sanctuary.”

“How?” I asked.

“The spirits I spoke to about Fen'Harel were gone when I returned to the Fade. When I asked one who had heard of the disturbance, it told me the Dread Wolf had come and destroyed them.”

“How can anyone kill a spirit?” I frowned.

“I am uncertain. It would take a great deal of power. However it was managed, those spirits are gone.”

“That's bad.” Hawke said dryly.

“There's more.” Feynriel continued. “Fen'Harel fears your friend Hawke. Fenris is a threat to him.”

“What?! How can Fenris be a threat to a god?” Hawke protested.

“Through the lyrium markings. The Dread Wolf is not immortal. He is a man of flesh and blood. A powerful man certainly, but still just a man. With Fenris having no magic of his own, yet covered in lyrium, he could kill him as easily as any man. The lyrium also protects Fenris from magic, at least the kind of magic Fen'Harel would use against his enemies. Fenris will never succumb to a forget spell. His memory can only be influenced by a repeat of the ritual which created the markings on his skin. The tattoos are both a curse and a blessing.”

Hawke let out the breath she'd been holding. “So Fenris really is in danger.”

Feynriel nodded. “Yes. Until you know who is behind all this, his life is in danger.”

“This is interesting.” I said. “But we didn't come here just to get more bad news.”

“Apologies Inquisitor. I know it isn't what you hoped, but you are on the right track. It is good you returned the amulet to Dorian, just as it was wise not to bring him to see Hawke. The spell he's under most assuredly transmits what he knows back to the Dread Wolf.”

“But what does he even want with Dorian? Why him?”

“For his magic of course. Fen'Harel committed crimes against his peers and his own people through his own arrogance. I can't imagine he planned for the elves' downfall. I believe he wants to restore his people to the level of power and respect they had before he interfered.”

“That still doesn't tell me what he wants with Dorian.”

“Power. Magic. It will take a great deal of magical energy to achieve his goal. I think whatever he plans has something to do with the Fade.”

I frowned at him. I couldn't understand anything about Fen'Harel's motives and wasn't sure I wanted to.

“Whatever his plans are, I don't think it's important now. How do I restore Dorian's memory? How do I protect him from the Dread Wolf?”

Feynriel frowned. “You won't like it.”

“I believe I speak for both of us when I say neither of us has liked anything you've said so far.” Hawke replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

“You have to break the spell cast on him.” He continued.

I frowned. “How am I supposed to do that when I don't even know who cast it or what it is?”

“I believe Morrigan is close to discovering the name of your enemy.”

“Really? Does it have anything to do with her drinking from the Well of Sorrows?”

“That's part of it, but more because she is a powerful witch and a shapeshifter. Fen'Harel is the same. Perhaps she is a descendant of the same kind of magic.”

“With Morrigan anything is possible.” Hawke murmured.

Feynriel frowned, titling his head at an odd angle as though he was listening to something.

“What is it Feynriel? Is something wrong?”

He shook his head. “No. A spirit just whispered to me that the Qunari in your service may have a remedy for the spell cast on Skyhold. He's just sent one of his men to fetch it.”

“So Bull will be able to cure himself? What about the rest of us?”

“His supply is limited. And you cannot use it on all of Skyhold. As Morrigan said, the spell as left behind a residue. To restore everyone's memory, you will have to find where the spell is anchored.”

“You're saying there's a physical aspect holding the spell in place?”

Feynriel nodded.

“But Morrigan has already searched Skyhold.”

“That was before the spell was cast. Here.” He said, handing me a scrap of parchment. “This is a recipe for a potion to help her remember where she has searched when she looks again. A spell like the one used at Skyhold contains glamour. Which means she could look directly at the source and not see it. This potion will prevent that from happening.”

“Thank you Feynriel.” Hawke said. “We appreciate your help in all this.”

“I felt I owed it to you Hawke, and to you Inquisitor. You both have done more for this world than any other in over a thousand years. I may be half elven, but I have no wish to see the Dread Wolf succeed in restoring the elven empire.”

“I think our time here is almost up.” I said, getting to my feet.

“What about Fenris?” Hawke asked. “Should we leave Skyhold?”

Feynriel shook his head. “I'm afraid that won't solve anything. You will need to remain until you've discovered who the Dread Wolf is. Though if your Qunari's potions works, you won't have to wait long.”

“I...” I began when a great rumble shook the ground at my feet. “What in blazes was that?”

“A disturbance in the Fade.” Feynriel answered. “It's time for you to go.”

“Thank you again Feynriel.” I said.

“It was an honour to meet you Inquisitor. I wish you luck.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

Seconds later I felt the press of fabric against my back and the whisper of hushed voices. Blinking, I opened my eyes to stare up at the familiar canopy of my bed at Skyhold.

“You're back!” Merrill cried happily as Hawke and I sat up. “Did you see Feynriel? Did he give you his message?”

“One question at a time.” Fenris growled, moving to Hawke's side.

“Right. Sorry Fenris.”

“We did Merrill.” I said, rising from the bed to stretch my legs. “It's a little complicated, but right now I need to speak to Iron Bull. If you and Varric could return downstairs, I think we'll be ready to go after Corypheus soon.”

“Really?” Varric frowned. “Our spymaster knows where he is then?”

I shook my head. “No. I just have a feeling we'll be confronting him sooner rather than later.”

“Hmph.” He grunted, turning to Merrill. “Come on Daisy, walk me to the fireplace. If we're going to be leaving soon, I think I want a nice cold ale first.”

“Lead the way then Varric.”

“Do you need me to bring you anything?” I asked Hawke as I moved to the stairs.

“No. I think we're good for now Inquisitor.” She smiled.

“Alright. Stay here until I get back with Bull's potion.”

Dorian

Bull was working on his fourth ale, grumbling about Krem and Stitches, neither of whom had returned when Nathaniel appeared beside him.

“Amatus.” He sighed, his shoulders relaxing.

“Dorian.” He smiled. “Bull, I hear you might have a potion for us.”

Bull paled and leaned away from the bar. “How do you know that?” He demanded.

“It's not important right now. Do you know what's keeping Krem and Stitches?”

He shook his head. “Sorry Inquisitor, but I don't.”

They were interrupted then when one of Leliana's agents appeared.

“Inquisitor.” She said, breathless. “Your advisors wish to speak with you immediately Your Worship.”

Nathaniel sighed. “Right now?”

“Yes sir.”

“Alright. Tell them I'll be right there.” He said, nodding to her. “Bull, keep an eye on Dorian for me?”

“You got it boss.”

“Amatus?” Dorian frowned as Nathaniel kissed him softly on the lips.

“I'm sorry my heart, but I have to go. Stay with Bull, I don't want you left alone.”

“Very well. But hurry back amatus, I miss having you at my side.”

“As I miss you.” He said, smiling. “See you soon.”

Nathaniel

“Do we have any idea where Corypheus might be?” Cullen demanded as I entered the war room. “He can't have gone far.”

“I'm sorry Commander.” Leliana answered. “But my spies were unable to track him after he left the Arbour Wilds.”

“There must be some way for us to...” Josephine began when the mark on my hand blazed to life.

They all turned to stare at me seconds before a giant boom shook the ground and green light filled coloured the air. We all turned to the window to where a giant pillar of fire shot into the sky, seeming to originate from the ruins of the Temple of Sacred Ashes.

“Corypheus?” Josephine whispered.

“It seems he is not content to wait for us to find him.” Cullen muttered. “Our forces have not yet returned from the Wilds. I have no one to send with you Inquisitor.”

“Which is exactly what Corypheus is counting on.” I seething. “It's all right Commander. It's time I finished this.”

“But...” Leliana protested.

“I'll be fine Leliana.”

----xxx----

I was tense with fear as I readied myself for my final confrontation with Corypheus. I wanted to leave some of my companions behind for a variety of selfish reasons, but they had already made it perfectly clear to me that none of them would be left out of this fight.

As my eyes roamed over them while we prepared to head out, my heart clenched at seeing Dorian's worried face. I smiled at him with what I hoped was reassurance but was unsure if he got my meaning. Everyone else nodded as I caught their eyes, smiling encouragement at me even as their faces were tight with grim determination. As my gaze passed over Solas, I felt a icy chill snake down my spine. Startled, I turned to stare at him but he had already looked away.

I frowned. I could have sworn I'd seen a derisive smile on his lips, but then Bull was at my side, his body taught with tension and barely restrained excitement.

“You ready for this boss?” He growled.

“Not really Bull, but I'm tired of Corypheus' games. It's time to end this.”

“Agreed. And don't worry about Dorian, I'll keep an eye on him. You just take down Corypheus. Drinks are on me after you're done kicking his ass.”

I laughed, my tension easing as we made our way to the Temple. “Looking forward to it Bull. And thanks.”

“Anytime Boss.”

Dorian

When the explosion at the Temple shook the ground at Skyhold, he and Bull had left the tavern to see what had happened. They'd shared a knowing look as Bull barked orders to the people still inside the bar to stay put. Sera and Cole joined them in the courtyard, Cole looking worried while Sera scowled at the green pillar of light which pierced the heavens.

“Guess this is it yeah?” She muttered.

“Looks that way.” He agreed. “So what's up with you this time? Why you hanging out here with Bull and not nose-deep some book or whatever in the library?”

“It's... complicated.”

“Pfft.” She snorted. “When isn't it complicated? Still want an answer though.”

“We have an enemy at Skyhold Sera. I seem to be their main target and whoever it is cast a spell over all of us to make us forget.”

“Forget what?” She demanded.

“Who is the Dread Wolf.” Cole answered, interrupting.

“Dread Wolf?” She repeated, scowling harder. “You're right. It is complicated and crazy. The Dread Wolf is fairy stories. Keep them yeah? I'm going to go find the Inquisitor.”

She stormed off, heading towards the castle still muttering to herself about wolves and fairy stories.

Dorian turned back to Cole who was watching him, a curious expression on his face. “You know about the Dread Wolf Cole?”

He shook his head. “Not really. I know I've seen a wolf in the Fade though. I'm glad the Inquisitor returned your amulet to you Dorian. It seems to have helped.”

“Does that mean I'm no longer in two places then?”

Cole frowned. “No.”

“What do you mean no? Are you saying I'm still there?”

“Not as much as before, but yes. A small part is still in the Fade. Be careful Dorian.”

“Be careful of what Cole? I don't even understand how any of this is possible. I'm not a Dreamer.”

“I know. But if the wolf wishes to strike, it will be soon. Be careful who you fight beside today.”

“Bull will be watching my back Cole. Not to worry.”

Cole frowned. “I hope it will be enough.”

Nathaniel

“Hawke, Fenris.” I said after I'd hurried from the war room to my quarters to retrieve my gear. “I know you want to help, but please stay here. I can't leave Dorian out of this fight, but I won't risk your safety as well.”

“Inquisitor...” Hawke protested, frowning.

“Hawke.” Fenris said calmly. “He's right. We don't need to join the fight against Corypheus. We can stay and protect the civilians here at Skyhold. There's bound to be demons on their way here as we speak.”

Hawke sighed, her hand dropping from the hilt of her blade. “You're right Fenris. Promise you'll watch out for Varric for me Inquisitor?”

I smiled. “Of course I will. You be careful as well. We still don't know who the traitor is and Krem still hasn't returned with the potion he was sent to retrieve.”

“We'll be careful Inquisitor. Don't worry about us.” Hawke promised.

“May Andraste watch over us all.” Fenris said, surprising us both.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I left Hawke, Fenris and Merrill and a handful of soldiers and mages watching over Skyhold while my companions and I headed for the Temple and the pillar of green fire.

As we neared the source of power, we could hear the deep booming voice of Corypheus ordering the handful of soldiers who'd been guarding the Temple to bow down before their new god. Screams, shouts and ripples of power rent the air as we drew closer to where Corypheus waited.

Reaching the clearing, Corypheus stood framed in red glowing energy, the artifact glowing in his outstretched hand. I noted the bodies scattered about, some were clearly dead while others thankfully just looked unconscious but unharmed.

“I knew you'd come.” Corypheus said as I moved into view.

“It ends here Corypheus.” I spat.

“And so it shall.” He retorted, his hands glowing with red fire as the ruins of the Temple and the ground beneath our feet began to rise into the air.

“You have been most successful in foiling my plans, but let us not forget what you are.” He continued. “A thief. An interloper. A gnat. We shall prove once and for all, which of us is worthy of godhood.”

I couldn't believe what he was saying. “I didn't come here to become a god Corypheus.” I retorted. “I came to stop you.”

The look of surprise on his face was unmistakable and as he stared at me, the telltale growl of a dragon drew my attention. Coming from behind Corypheus was his darkspawn dragon, snarling as it stared at me and my friends as though we were nothing more than bugs to be crushed.

It launched itself at me, intent on it's kill, but it never touched the ground. Morrigan in her dragon form, crashed into it's left side, the impact sending them both over the edge of the platform we were on and away from us.

“How clever of you.” Corypheus sneered. “A dragon. It will avail you nothing. You will fall as a warning to those who oppose my divine will.”

“Could someone please shut him up?” Bull roared, charging at Corypheus.

“Allow me.” Dorian quipped, sending a bolt of fire slamming into him.

“You dare touch an avatar of divinity?!” Corypheus bellowed as several demons came at his call to attack us. “Feel my wrath, little wretch.” He said, targeting Dorian with a red lyrium bolt of power.

My heart froze as Dorian's knees buckled under the onslaught. I raced to his side watching in relief as Cassandra reached him first, her shield raised to protect them both.

Bull roared again, his great-sword cleaving through the air to attack Corypheus. With a snarl, he vanished moving away from the battle, his path taking him up the path leading skyward to where the ruins he'd raised reached their peak.

“Look at you!” He snorted. “A soporati, nipping at the heels of your betters. You are nothing! All you love will be ground under the Imperium's heel.”

“Anyone else bored with this monologue?” Dorian muttered as we followed Corypheus to the top of the now air-borne ruins. “I know I've heard enough.”

“More arrows!” Sera cried.

“Right behind you Buttercup.” Varric answered.

“I'm glad the two of you are enjoying yourself.” Cassandra huffed, falling in behind me and Vivienne.

“Truly darling. It is an epic battle. One for the history books.” Vivienne purred.

“Then perhaps you would allow me to pass my lady?” Blackwall grumbled. “I can't do much to help from behind you.”

“Then maybe you should move faster my dear Blackwall.” Vivienne retorted. “It's not as though Corypheus will wait for you to catch up.”

Blackwall growled and shoved past her into the second clearing mere seconds before the dragon and Morrigan crashed to the ground before us. I shared a look with Cassandra and Vivienne as they moved to help Morrigan to her feet.

The rest of us formed a barrier between them and Corypheus' injured dragon. Roaring a battle cry, Blackwall and Iron Bull charged ahead intent on damaging the dragon's legs. It roared in pain, swatting Blackwall away with a powerful kick, missing Iron Bull by inches. Magic filled the air as Solas and Dorian attacked from the edge of the clearing, while arrows rained down like hail to impale the dragon's flank. It roared again, spitting fire as I cloaked myself and my nearest companions in shadow, preparing to attack.

Morrigan had managed to inflict severe injuries upon the dragon while she'd battled it in the air and within a few short minutes it was dead. As it's life drained away, a small glowing red orb lifted from it and sailed through the air to return to Corypheus.

I smiled to myself on seeing it. With the dragon defeated, his magical link to the dragon was severed d he was once again mortal. All we had to do now was wear him down and take the orb from him and he'd be finished for good.

“Let it end here.” Corypheus shouted. “Let the skies boil and the world be rent asunder!”

“Hurry!” I cried. “The breach is getting bigger!”

“And then the Fade swallows the world right?” Varric shouted back.

No one answered as I reached Corypheus and slammed my blades into his back repeatedly. The air crackled with red lyrium as my attack was joined by magic from Vivienne, Dorian and Solas. Weakened, Corypheus snarled sending out a powerful bolt of magic directly at me. But Cassandra was there, fortifying my defences with her will and faith, protecting me from the worst of his power.

“Not like this.” Corypheus moaned. “I have walked the halls of the Golden City, crossed the ages. Dumat! Ancient ones I beseech you! If you exist, if you have ever existed, aid me now!”

My mark sprang to life as I neared him and the artifact and a bolt of green energy slammed into him as he prayed. He stumbled, his hand going to his side where I'd hit him, snarling at me as he turned even as the orb left his hand to land in mine.

With the orb in my possession, Corypheus fell to his knees in defeat, his lips curled with hate and disgust. Instinctively, I held the orb aloft, aiming it at the hole in the sky as a bolt of energy shot out of it. The pain coursing through my arm was intense but I held on as the magic inside the orb sealed the breach in the sky above me.

The hole in the sky closed as the power dwindled and I dropped the orb to the ground as I moved to stand over Corypheus where he still knelt, staring at me with unmistakable hatred.

“You wanted into the Fade.” I sneered, aiming my palm at him. “So go.”

A jolt of green fire slammed into him, consuming and destroying him as he screamed in pain and outrage. With a pop, he disappeared even as the ruins he'd lifted into the sky began raining down all around me. Shit, we had to get out of here before the ruins crushed us all I thought even as I lost my footing and stumbled to the ground.

Memory flooded through me as I regained my feet, my heart clenching in fear when I saw no sign of Dorian. The ground tilted and with a whistle of air, and I could feel we were falling even as I collapsed back to the ground and blacked out.

----xxx----

I woke to find myself alive and unharmed and Solas kneeling before the broken pieces of the artifact.

“Solas?” I said, moving to stand behind him.

“The orb.” He said, sounding heartbroken.

“Corypheus is dead.” I reminded him. “That's the important thing.”

“Yet so much has been lost.”

I frowned at his back. What was this about? I waited as he got to his feet and turned to face me. “There's more isn't there?”

“It was not supposed to happen this way. No matter what comes, I want you to know you shall always have my respect.”

What in Andraste's name was he talking about? Whatever it was, it didn't sound good. I was about to press him on what he meant when Cassandra called out to me.

“Inquisitor? Are you alive?”

I turned to greet her, a smile on my lips and glanced back to see if Solas was coming. But he was gone, vanished as though he'd never been there. Stunned, I turned back to Cassandra my thoughts whirling at what my mind was struggling to put into words. Was Solas the traitor then? How had he vanished? Why had he betrayed me by and gone after Dorian? No. I shook my head. It couldn't be, could it? Cassandra was watching me, frown forming on her face so I smiled and led her away from the ruins to join our friends.

My heart swelled with joy when I saw Dorian, alive and unharmed as he smiled back at me.

“Victorious I see.” Morrigan said, holding a hand to her injured side. “What a novel result.”

“And you're alive.” Dorian said, unable to hide the happiness in his voice. “And I'm alive. Incredible isn't it?”

I smiled back. “It is indeed.”

“And it seems the breach is finally closed.” Morrigan added.

“Looks that way.” I agreed.

“What do we do now?” Cassandra asked.

“We go back to Skyhold.” I said, joining my friends and taking Dorian's hand as I led us all back to our home.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

It was unbelievable to him that he and everyone else had survived the battle with Corypheus. It was even more amazing his amatus was alive and unharmed. He had never felt so happy and relieved in all his life, he felt giddy with excitement as they returned to Skyhold in triumph.

His heart swelled with pride and admiration as Nathaniel, now changed out of his rogue armour, ascended the stairs to the castle back at Skyhold. Amidst exultant cheers from everyone there and reverence of his advisors, his amatus turned to smile at him and only him as roars of excitement rippled through the crowd.

He watched as Nathaniel followed Cullen, Josephine and Cassandra up to the doors of the castle, overwhelmed with joy at everyone's survival. But most of all, he was excited for the future and the realization he would now be able to have one with Nathaniel at his side.

Bull clapped him on the should with a wink and headed up the stairs to the tavern for an early celebratory drink. Josephine had already let them know she'd made arrangements for a private banquet which would get underway as soon as some of their more important guests arrived.

Sera was a bundle of smiles and giggles as she skipped ahead of him, her short blonde hair bobbing as she went Varric smiled up at him and headed for the castle, while Blackwall fell into step behind Sera and Iron Bull. Cole appeared at his side and gave him a rare smile.

“We won Dorian. We actually defeated Corypheus.”

“Yes we did Cole. We did win.”

“But there are still so many people hurt and injured. Why are we celebrating? I don't understand why I'm happy.”

Dorian sighed. Well at least some things hadn't changed. “You're smiling because what threatened everyone and all the world has been defeated. We may not have been as powerful as Corypheus, but combining our efforts we were enough to stop him. We won. There's' something to celebrate in that. Do you understand?”

“I think I do.” Cole nodded. “There are people still hurting, but they will get better or they won't. But right now I feel good. We stopped Corypheus. Everything else can wait.”

“Now you're getting it.” Dorian smiled.

“There's so much I still need to learn, but I'm looking forward to what comes next.” Cole said. “I think I will join the others in the tavern now. Are you coming Dorian?”

“In a moment Cole. I'd like to speak to the Inquisitor first.”

“Of course.” Cole nodded. “See you soon then.”

Dorian watched him go and turned to follow Vivienne into the castle. No one had asked if she'd join them in their early revelry, since everyone knew she would never set foot in such a low-class establishment. He waited while she stopped to offer her congratulations to the Inquisitor before taking the stairs to her room above the grand hall.

“Dorian.” Nathaniel said, his voice husky with emotion.

“Amatus.” He replied as Nathaniel drew him into a warm embrace and kissed him deeply.

“We made it.” He said.

Dorian smiled. “We did amatus. What now?”

“Now we celebrate. The best food, the best drink and the best songs. No demons or dragons or undead magisters allowed.”

“Sounds rather dull after everything we went through to get here.”

“I could use a bit of dull for a change.” Nathaniel retorted. “Though with you at my side, nothing will ever be dull again.”

“Amatus, really.” Dorian admonished, though his heart swelled with emotion at his words.

“Come now Dorian. You know you love it when I talk like that.”

Dorian smiled and pulled him closer. “You know I do.”

“Good.” He whispered, his lips claiming his once more in a gentle kiss.”

Dorian moaned, his hips moving involuntarily against Nathaniel's, making him his aloud. “Amatus please. As much as I want you here and now, I don't think our dear Ambassador would ever forgive me for stealing you away.”

Nathaniel sighed, reluctantly stepping out of Dorian's arms.

“You're right. I want nothing more than to drag you to my quarters and have my way with you, but Josie would have my head if I abandoned her now.”

“Such are the trials and tribulations of heroes amatus.” Dorian teased.

Nathaniel frowned. “Hero or not, you're my hero Dorian. I love you, you know. You can't imagine how relieved I was to see you unharmed.”

“Oh, I think I can. Especially when you went missing those few moments after you destroyed Corypheus. I thought I'd lost you. Again.”

“I'm sorry about that.” Nathaniel said, taking his hand. “But what would you say to us taking a short vacation together once this is over? Just the two of us?”

“A vacation?”

“Yes. Just a short one with just you and me. Maybe to Val Royeaux or perhaps somewhere of your choosing. I think we're both due some quality alone time.”

“I suppose I did just help you save the world. But really amatus? You want to leave all this behind and go away with me? All of Thedas will be running here to meet the man who saved their collective arses.”

“The only person I want to see is you Dorian.” Nathaniel said, his voice dropping to a whisper. “What do you say?”

“When you put it that way, how can I possibly say no?”

“You can't.” Nathaniel smiled.

“In that case, I would love to join you in your mad scheme to escape the revelry and adoration of your fans. In the meantime, I think I'll join our friends in the tavern. Josephine looks ready to burst with frustration over how long you've made her wait.”

Nathaniel turned to see Josie, nervously shifting from one foot to the other, all the while casting them glances filled with both irritation and anxiety. He laughed and gave Dorian a quick kiss on his cheek.

“She does look a bit out of sorts doesn't she? Very well, go enjoy yourself. I'd better go talk to her before she looses her temper.”

“I don't envy you amatus.” Dorian murmured, a smile on his lips as he left the castle.

Nathaniel

I watched Dorian leave and was nearly bowled over by Josephine when she rushed up to me in her haste to claim my side before anyone else could steal my attention.

“Inquisitor.” She said, breathless. “I wonder if I might have a moment of your time? I'd like you to go over the menu for tonight's banquet. It's imperative we celebrate your victory against Corypheus in the most appropriate way.”

“Relax Josie.” I said, turning to smile at her. “I'm sure whatever you decide will be fabulous.”

“I... thank you for your confidence in me Inquisitor, but I was hoping for something a little more practical.”

I sighed, a smile on my lips as I took her elbow and steered her towards her office. “Very well. Perhaps we should discuss this in your office then? I'm sure we'd be able to speed things up if we discussed this privately.”

“An excellent idea Your Worship.” She gushed. “Let us hurry then.”

Hawke

She and Fenris had returned to the Inquisitor's room following the sealing of the breach. Though Corypheus was now defeated, they still had no idea who the traitor at Skyhold was.

Fenris stood behind her on the balcony, his arms wrapped around her waist, his head resting on her shoulder as they stared out at the setting sun.

“It seems the Inquisitor was victorious.” He murmured, his lips grazing her ear.

“Mmm.” She sighed. “Seems that way.”

“Perhaps we should do some celebrating of our own before he returns?” He whispered, planting a teasing kiss on her neck.

“Fenris.” She sighed. “I would love to but perhaps we should wait until after we have our own room. If we're going to have a private celebration, I will not be inclined to attend the banquet Josephine mentioned. It would be rude to miss that.”

“Banquet.” Fenris scoffed, kissing her neck again. “Who needs banquets when we have each other?”

Kirah's stomach growled in response and she giggled. “Apparently I do.” She said, turning in his arms to face him.

He smiled. “You have no idea how relieved I was when I heard you had survived the Fade in Adamant.”

Kirah frowned. He hadn't said much about that part of her adventure with the Wardens and had thought, or at least hoped he'd forgotten about it. She should have known he hadn't, though she also had no desire to talk about it either.

“Fenris.” She whispered, not meeting his eyes. “I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean to scare you again.”

“Hush Hawke.” He said, placing a finger to her lips. “But it is what I've been trying to say for a while now. It's time to move on from saving the world. You've done enough Kirah. We've done enough.”

“I know we have.” She agreed. “Which is why we're going back to Kirkwall.”

“We are?”

She laughed. “Yes. I've been giving it a lot of thought after what happened at Adamant Fortress and having to leave Stroud behind in the Fade. He sacrificed himself to save us.”

“It could just as easily been you.” Fenris accused.

Kirah blushed and looked away, stepping out of his embrace.

“What is it Hawke?”

“I argued with Stroud over who should stay. I said Corypheus was my responsibility, that he was needed to help lead the Grey Wardens.”

“You what?” Fenris paled, his body rigid with tension as she spoke. “How could you say such a thing? How could you even consider giving more? To leaving... “ He broke off, too stunned to finish what he'd been about to say.

“I'm sorry Fenris. I've thought about that a lot and I don't know why I said what I did. The Nightmare demon spoke to all of us, wearing us down by speaking our fears aloud and taunting us with them.” She whispered, remembering.

“What did it say to you Hawke?” He asked, his voice gentle as he gathered her in his arms again. “What fears did it taunt you with?”

A single tear rolled down her cheek as she drew a shaky breath. “It said you would die Fenris. Like everyone else I loved, you would did and that nothing I ever did changed anything. That I didn't matter, nothing I did mattered.”

“You know that's not true Hawke.” He growled, pulling her closer.

“I do, but at the time it sounded true. I had lost everyone and nothing I did for the Templars or the mages of Kirkwall changed anything in the end.”

“Hawke. You saved people. Maybe not everyone, but you're not a god. You saved Merrill and Varric, you helped Aveline and Anders and even Isabella. But most of all you saved me. That matters Hawke. It matters a lot.”

Kirah smiled and wiped the tear from her cheek. “I know and I'm sorry I didn't tell you this sooner.”

“And I'm sorry you were there without me. I never should have let you go alone.”

“Nonsense.” She smiled. “You knew you had something just as important to take care of in Kirkwall.”

He sighed. “I suppose. Slavers were overrunning Kirkwall, but still...”

“Hush Fenris.” She said, kissing him. “It's done now. No more adventuring alone for either of us. It's time we went home.”

“Just tell me one thing.” He said, meeting her eyes. “If you were arguing to stay behind in the Fade, how is it Stroud remained instead?”

“The Inquisitor chose between us.”

“Did you ask him why he chose Stroud?”

Kirah shook her head. “No. I wasn't sure I wanted to know and once we were out of the Fade, I felt ashamed to have survived. I couldn't understand why I had ever suggested staying behind – especially with you here and Varric at my side the whole time.”

“Well whatever the reason, I'm glad he chose Stroud. I'm sorry anyone had to be left behind, but I would have been so lost without you Kirah.”

“I know Fenris. As lost as I would be without you.”

He smiled and pulled back from her embrace to look her in the eyes.

“So we're really going back to Kirkwall then?”

She nodded. “As soon as this Dread Wolf business is settled, we're going home Fenris.”

“Good.” He said, drawing something from a pouch at his waist. “In that case Kirah Hawke, will you accept this ring as a token of my love for you? Forever and always?”

Kirah gasped, her eyes drawn to the shining silver ring he held out to her. With a trembling hand, she picked it up, marvelling at the sparkling green and honey hued jewels embedded within it.

“Maker's breath Fenris.” She whispered. “It's beautiful.”

“Not nearly as beautiful as you Kirah.”

She smiled. Sliding the ring onto her finger, she felt her heart fill with at how perfectly it fit.

“Does that mean yes?” He asked, watching her nervously.

“Yes Fenris.” She cried happily, hugging him to her. “A thousand times yes.”



 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He left the bustle of activity in the great hall and stepped outside to where the rest of Skyhold's inhabitant's were celebrating everywhere he looked. Cheers, music and laughter filled the cool night air with voices raised in celebration and song.

Smiling to himself, he headed down the stairs to the tavern, his heart light with love and hope for the future. He couldn't believe they had finally put an end to Corypheus. Despite all his doubts and fears they had won, but more than that neither he nor Nathaniel had been harmed.

As he was about to enter the tavern, a cold chill descended around his shoulders as the hand of death had just brushed past him. Startled, he stopped to look around but could see nothing out of the ordinary. The residents of Skyhold were still laughing, singing and drinking, just as they had been when he'd stepped out of the castle.

He frowned then shrugged it off. Must have been a residue of unreleased tension, he reasoned before stepping into the welcoming warmth of the tavern.

----xxx----

Varric had every intention of joining his friends at the tavern, but first he wanted to check in on Merrill. He knew she hadn't given up the idea of speaking to Morrigan and she hadn't been in the tavern when they'd returned to Skyhold so he had a pretty good idea where he'd find her. After excusing himself from the nobles surrounding his table in the grand hall, he made a beeline to the garden hoping he would get there before his friend could get herself in trouble.

Almost at once he spotted her, deep in conversation with the witch herself whose expression was looking more annoyed with each passing second. Moving quickly, he reached Merrill's side just as it seemed clear Morrigan had had enough of the young elven woman.

“Varric.” Morrigan said, interrupting what Merrill had been saying. “I see you've finally found your friend. Come to her rescue have you?”

He smiled, sharing a knowing look with Morrigan. “In a manner of speaking. I've come to ask her to join me in the tavern.”

“Good. Well then, if you'll excuse me, I need to check on my son.” She said, not waiting for a reply.

“Oh Varric. I'm so glad to see you're all right. What a terrible ordeal it must have been facing Corypheus and his dragon the way you did.”

“It wasn't that bad Daisy.”

“But the Temple was floating Varric! Weren't you afraid you'd fall?”

Varric grimaced. “I was actually trying to fogey that part. Besides, I was a little busy killing demons to have time to worry about that.”

“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to remind you.”

“It's okay Daisy. But what are you doing here? I thought I told you Morrigan wasn't the chatty type?”

“Well you did of course, but I saw she was injured when you all came back and thought I'd ask if she wanted my help. I had some healing herbs and teas made up just in case.”

“And did she want help then?”

“Not exactly. Though she did take one of my teas and one potion. But then she got a bit cross. That was just before you joined us.”

“Sounds like Morrigan.” He muttered. “Anyways, everyone is down at the tavern. I thought you might like to join us.”

“That sounds nice Varric. Lead the way.”

----xxx----

Nathaniel

After helping Josephine with her banquet plans, I went in search of Morrigan. She'd been injured in the fight with the dragon and I wanted to check on how she was doing. More than that, I wanted to know here plans now that Corypheus was dead.

I passed Varric and Merrill in the hall where they told me she'd gone off in search of her son. Sure enough, the garden was relatively deserted save for a few Chantry clerics who lingered in small groups, talking in hushed, but excited whispers about the sealed breach.

Seeing no sign of Morrigan, I headed for the room which held the Eluvian. I wasn't sure why, but I felt certain I would find her there. As the door closed behind me, I was filled with shock. The room was deserted, yet the Eluvian was activated, swirling and pulsing with blue colour.

I called out for Morrigan but heard nothing in response. Though I had no desire to step through the Eluvian I didn't see much other choice. She had to have activated it, therefore if I wanted to talk to her I would have to follow.

----xxx----

On their walk to the tavern, Varric and Merrill were stopped by one of Leliana's agents when she rushed up to them, breathless and holding a crumpled parchment. “Master Tethras?' She asked, her breath coming in short gasps.

“At your service.” He replied, giving the woman a short bow.

“A letter for you sir.” She said, handing him the parchment. “It's come a long way.”

“Uh, thanks.” He said, taking it from her and holding it gingerly. “It's not from the Merchant's Guild is it?”

“No sir. I'm told it's come from a ship near Antiva.”

“Maker's breath.” Varric muttered as the messenger left.

“You don't think it's from Isabella do you Varric?” Merrill asked, curious.

“I don't know anyone else with a ship. Especially not one in Antiva.”

“But how does she even know where to find you?”

“I kept in touch Daisy. Or I tried to. After she left Kirkwall, she didn't leave an address where she could be reached. Most of my letters were being held by the harbour master in Antiva city.”

“I guess she must have gotten them then.” Merrill reasoned. “So open it Varric. I want to know what she sent you.”

“You and me both Daisy.” He said, opening the letter.

----xxx----

Nathaniel

Frowning at the Eluvian which continued to swirl before me, I took a deep breath and stepped through and into a space that looked nothing like the in-between I'd seen before, but did look a lot like the Fade. Andraste's flaming ass, I muttered taking in my surroundings.

The Fade was a vast and largely unwelcoming place, filled with demons and mortal dreams. It was not a place for the living, yet this time it felt empty, barren even. I could see no sign of Morrigan, so I started walking. She had to be here somewhere. She would not have activated the Eluvian and then left it unguarded.

“Inquisitor?”

Startled, I turned to see Morrigan, her cheeks streaked with dried tears, her eyes red-rimmed and fearful.

“What are you doing here?” She asked.

“I could ask you the same.”

“It's my son... he came here somehow, activated the Eluvian. It shouldn't be possible, but he came here. To the Fade. I must find him.”

“Alright, let's start looking.”

“How could he do this? Why would he come here?” She muttered, clearly upset by what had happened.

I could tell she was talking to cover her fear so I stayed silent.

“This is all my fault.” She continued. “I set him on this path many years ago. This is my doing.”

“I'm sure he's find Morrigan.” I said. “Let's just focus on finding him. We can worry about how he did this later.”

“No!” She cried, spotting two figures ahead of us and running towards them. “Get away from my son.” She growled.

“Morrigan.” Said a very attractive, white-haired woman with a thick accent. “And you must be the Inquisitor. My, my. I never expected such a grand reception.” She smiled as she got to her feet beside Kieran, regarding us both with speculation and amusement. “You're taller than I expected.”

“What are you doing here mother?” Morrigan demanded. “Leave my son alone.”

“I came to collect what has taken me years to find. You hid yourself well daughter. Now it is time for me to take what is rightfully mine.”

“If Morrigan was hidden from you, how did you manage to find her now?” I asked, feeling left out

“She herself made it possible.”

“The Well of Sorrows.” Morrigan breathed. “But that means you're...”

“Flemeth? Asha'bellanar? An old woman who talks too much?” Flemeth laughed.

“You cannot have my son.” Morrigan repeated, scowling at her.

“But this was your intention all along was it not? To save an old god soul only to hide it away for future use?”

“That may have been my intention at the time, but now...” Morrigan's voice cracked. “Now he is my son. I will not let you take him from me.”

Flemeth frowned, a curious glint in her eyes.

“If you must do this take me.” Morrigan demanded. “I will not let you harm my son.”

“I see.” Flemeth mused, turning her attention back to Kieran. Taking his hands in hers, she held them and closed her eyes. As she did, a glowing blue orb passed from Kieran and into Flemeth's chest before disappearing.

“No more dreams?” Kieran asked his grandmother.

“No more dreams.” Flemeth smiled, releasing his hands and watching as he ran to his mother's waiting arms.

“I... don't understand.” Morrigan stammered.

“Sacrifice only happens when willingly given Morrigan. You were never in any danger from me.”

“Wait!” Morrigan cried as Flemeth turned to leave.

“What is it girl? While the song plays, we must all of us continue to dance. I have work to do.”

“The whispers want me to warn you.” Morrigan said making Flemeth frown.

“A warning? About what pray tell?”

“It's a warning for you. Can I trust you long enough to speak with you privately?”

“Unnecessary. The Inquisitor will need to hear whatever it is you wish to say.”

Morrigan frowned. “He does? How do you know this?”

“I too have heard the whispers, but clearly I have not heard all there is to hear. Out with it girl.”

“The Dread Wolf. He intends to betray you. It is not his wish, but his plans require it if he wants to succeed and success is all that matters to him. The voices suggest a copy.”

“A copy?” Flemeth frowned. “Interesting. I will do what must be done. And remember Morrigan, now that you've drunk from the Well, I will call upon you whenever I have need. Goodbye daughter, pray my plans do not fail for if they do, you shall take my place and my burden.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

The three of us returned through the Eluvian after Flemeth departed, Kieran no worse for ware as he ran off to play. Morrigan sealed the mirror behind us, looking as though she'd aged ten years.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“More or less.” She sighed. “I always suspected my mother was more than she pretended, perhaps not even human. But this? In retrospect, I wish it had been you who had drunk from the Well of Sorrows.”

“What did you mean earlier when you said the Dread Wolf plans to betray Flemeth?”

“Just what I said Inquisitor. I do not know how or when, only that the voices are certain he will do so.”

“Do you think Flemeth believed you? Will she take precautions?”

“I'm sure she doesn't believe me exactly, but we are tied now. She believes the voices and will do what is needed to ensure her survival. Whether or not it will be enough remains to be seen.”

“That's not very reassuring.”

“I suppose not, but never mind that now. Don't you have a celebration to host? Let us leave aside these questions for another time shall we?”

“Does that mean you'll join us?”

“Perhaps later Inquisitor. For now I would like to speak to my son about his grandmother. But do not fear, I will not leave Skyhold without first saying goodbye. You have my word on that.”

“Thank you Morrigan. I appreciate it.”

Flemeth

It had been amusing to see Morrigan's reaction to the consequences of drinking from the Well of Sorrows. Though it pained to her to realize how much harm she'd caused her daughter, she had no time to dwell on the matter.

She'd heard the whispers regarding the Dread Wolf, though they had no been as clear to her as they had been to Morrigan. She knew he was looking for her and if she hoped to survive their inevitable meeting, she was running out of time to prepare.

Disguising herself as a great eagle, she passed through the Eluvian she'd used to reach Kieran in the Fade and headed for a secret cove deep in the Arbour Wilds. Her heart was pounding with fear of discovery as she could sense her lost love closing in on her. As much as she longed to see him and remember what they'd shared long ago, she didn't doubt for a moment that he would ever hesitate to betray her to achieve his goal.

Working quickly, she activated the Eluvian in the clearing and stepped through before working a heavy magic spell to copy herself before Fen'Harel found her. Her work completed, she smiled and closed her eyes, passing a part of the Old God soul she carried into her doppelganger. Satisfied with her work, she sent her copy back through the Eluvian to await the Dread Wolf.

Much as she desired to stay and hear his voice again, she knew it was far too dangerous to linger where he might sense her. With a sigh and a muttered curse, she cast a final spell on her copy and left the in-between using a secondary active Eluvian to escape.

----xxx----

“I knew you would come.” Flemeth's false vessel said as Solas entered the clearing. She had been sealing the Eluvian against him as he arrived, ensuring her true self's escape. “You should not have given your orb to Corypheus Dread Wolf.” She continued, turning to face the man she had loved so many years ago.

“I was too weak to unlock it after my slumber.” He said, his voice filled with sorrow. “The failure was mine. I should pay the price, but the people, they need me.”

Flemeth put her hand to his cheek as he held her other hand in his.

“I'm so sorry.” He murmured, his eyes flashing with blue fire.

“I am sorry as well, old friend.” She whispered as he lit with white smoke, stealing her breath and the Old God soul she held within her.

As her heart slowed and stopped, she felt her body grow cold and heavy before darkness claimed her and she knew no more. Solas held her lifeless body in his arms, bending to lay her stone form gently on the ground, his eyes glowing with blue-green fire as the soul he'd stolen filled him with power.

Dorian

Inside the tavern, Dorian pushed his way through the crowd to where he could see Bull, Blackwall and Sera sharing a drink. Despite the crowd, the patrons inside kept a polite distance between themselves and the heroes who had helped stop Corypheus at the Inquisitor's side.

“Dorian!” Bull cried, spotting him. “Glad you could make it. Here.” He said, handing him a goblet filled with red liquid. “Have a drink!”

“Thank you Bull. What am I drinking this time?” He asked, peering suspiciously at the cup he held, smiling as Sera and Blackwall greeted him.

Bull chuckled. “The Good Tevinter of course! Thought we'd celebrate in style.”

“Good man.” Dorian smiled, taking a sip.

“Yeah! We're all having our own tonight!” Sera added, popping some brightly coloured candies in her mouth.

“And what are they called? I seem to remember you were going to tell me about them but never got around to it.”

“Mine's the Red Jenny.” Sera crowed proudly.

“Mayhem.” Bull grumbled, a wide grin on his face.

“If you must know, I'm drinking something called Broody Beard.” Blackwall added. “I wasn't sure I should try it when Sera told me the ingredients, but it turns out it's not that bad. Actually quite appropriate given what we're celebrating.”

“Are you going to tell me what's in it?”

“Strong coffee, vodka, bourbon and ale.”

“Maker's breath. And you're actually drinking it?”

Blackwall laughed, raising his tankard in a toast. “I am. Here's to us and the Inquisition. May we always find victory at the end of every quest.”

“Here, here.” Dorian agreed.

“Arrows!”

“Mayhem!” Bull roared. “And victory!”

“Well I see you're all celebrating nicely.” Varric mused, appearing at Dorian's side.

“Varric!” Sera squealed. “You made it! Just in time too. Here, try yours.” She said, handing him a mug filled with a honey-hued liquid.

“I appreciate the thought Buttercup, but I have to pass. Josephine sent me to collect you all. The banquet is about to start.”

“Already?” Sera pouted.

“Come on Sera, time to go. Besides, I'm hungry.” Bull said, downing the last of his tankard. “Can't wait to see what's on the menu for tonight.”

“I think you'll be pleased Tiny.” Varric smiled. “Ruffles has outdone herself this time.”

“Well come on then, let's go!” He said, getting to his feet. “What are we waiting for?”

“Any of you see the kid anywhere?” Varric asked as they filed past him to the door.

“I'm here Varric.” Cole said from behind him.

Varric smiled. “Let's go kid. Time to celebrate our victory.”

“But Varric, I don't eat.”

“Details, kid. Details.” He replied, falling in behind the others. “Besides it's not really about the food. It's about being with your friends. Come on, I'll explain it to you on the way.”

Nathaniel

As my companions appeared in the grand hall and the attending guards bolted the doors behind them, a chill ran through me. In all the excitement, I'd forgotten about the potion recipe I'd gotten from Feynriel for Morrigan. Andraste's flaming ass, I couldn't leave now to give it to her and though she'd said she would be here, I knew she wasn't going to join us. Given what she'd learned about her mother and what had happened with her son, I couldn't blame her. Though we'd sealed the breach and defeated Corypheus, Dorian and Fenris and who knew who else was still in danger from the Dread Wolf.

As everyone assembled I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that though Fen'Harel was still out there for now, we were all as safe as we could get. Josephine had wanted me to give a speech and though I would have preferred not to, I agreed. She'd done so much for the Inquisition and me, I couldn't refuse her.

Afterwards, I made my way to the end of the hall so I could speak to each of my friends individually. Now that Corypheus was gone, I wasn't sure what any of their plans were. I was certain many would be heading home, but the fact was I hadn't asked so I figured now was the perfect time to find out.

After each conversation, I felt lighter and happier, my heart filling with gratitude for all their loyalty. Varric had no plans to return to Kirkwall anytime soon. Iron Bull was free of both the Qun and the Qunari and hadn't given his future much thought, so he would also be staying.

Blackwall still felt he owed me a debt and would remain as long as I needed him. Cole was still a little confused by the celebration, but was content to enjoy himself as best he could. Sera was deep in her cups by the time I spoke to her and I had to cover my smile at her giddiness. Even so, she too was staying.

All of my advisors were also staying put, save for Leliana whom the Conclave had chosen to be the next Divine.

“Thank you Inquisitor.” She said, beaming. “I never imagined this day would come.”

“You deserve it Leliana. I think you'll make a great Divine.”

“I'm glad you think so. And don't worry, I haven't forgotten the promise I made to you.”

“Promise?”

Leliana giggled. “Chantry law Inquisitor. Marriage. Remember?”

I blushed. “Oh. Yes, of course.”

“I'm not surprised you forgot given everything that's happened since we spoke of it. But tell me, will you ask Dorian tonight now that Corypheus is dead?”

“I... hadn't planned to, no. I've asked him to go on a short holiday with me after the banquet. I thought it might be better to ask once we're away from Skyhold.”

“Oh that sounds very romantic.” She gushed. “I have to admit I'm a little jealous.”

I smiled at her. “You'll love being Divine Leliana. You've always been happiest when you're helping people and giving orders.”

“You're right I suppose.” She sighed. “Though I am still a bit jealous. But enough of about me, you should mingle more. Enjoy yourself Inquisitor, you've more than earned it.”

“Thanks Leliana and thank you for being my spymaster. I couldn't have done it without you.”

“You're too kind.” She laughed. “Now shoo!”

I turned away, leaving her to talk with Josephine and caught Dorian staring at me. My breath caught in my throat at the look he was giving me as I crossed the room to his side.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

“I was passing through the hall earlier when a serving girl saw me and squealed. Dropped her laundry and everything. Such a mess. She was completely breathless. “You were at the battle with the evil one weren't you?” I didn't even get a chance to answer. She hugged me. Hugged me. This is your influence.” He said, frowning.

“Admit it.” I smiled. “You're having a ball.”

“I don't trust camaraderie. All these people smiling, buying me drinks... it's unnatural. Mind you, I can't say I hate the notion of being the Good Tevinter. “I suppose you can't all be evil bastards.” The blacksmith said that and he spat when we first met. I hope my father hears. He'll shit his smallclothes from shock I swear.”

“I'm happy you're here after all that's happened.” I said, interrupting his tirade.

“I fully expected to die.” He said, his voice growing serious. “It would have been thematically appropriate. And you! You could've been a martyr. Oh, the songs they would have composed.”

“There will still be songs.” I countered.

“Yes, but they won't have the same gravitas. We'll just have to be satisfied we're alive. And together. I'm staying by the way. I still can't believe I said all those horrible things to you.”

“It wasn't your fault Dorian.”

“I'm not so sure amatus. Regardless, there's no you in Tevinter. Nothing else matters.”

“I feel the same way about you Dorian.”

“Well of course you do. I am me after all.” He teased.

I laughed and left him to speak to Varric who had joined us, crossing the room to where Vivienne was talking to several nobles I didn't know. Of all my companions, it seemed she would be the only one leaving the Inquisition.

With a new Divine chosen and soon to be ordained, she was anxious to return to Orlais to help rebuild the mage Circles. Seeing her excitement and determination, I chose not to share my doubts about her success. Given what I knew of Leliana, restoration of the Circles was not high on her list of thing to do. So rather than say it, I merely smiled and nodded and wished her success, thanking her for her help with the Inquisition.

As she returned to her conversation with her friends, I paused to take in the laughter, song and smiling faces which filled the grand hall. I smiled as a wave of pleasant exhaustion washed over me. I'd spoken to everyone and they all deserved to continue celebrating long into the night. But I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than a good night's rest away from all the excitement.

Turning, I headed for the door leading to my quarters when Dorian's voice rang out from behind me.

“Leaving so soon amatus?” He asked, closing the distance between us.

I smiled. “I am. I'm tired Dorian.”

“Tsk tsk.” He said, clucking his tongue. “You didn't really think one brief chat would be enough did you?”

“Define enough.”

Dorian smiled, his eyes twinkling. “Insolence. I like it.” He said.

Taking my hands in his, he kissed me firmly before pushing me backwards through the door, his eyes filled with happiness.

My heart felt close to bursting as Dorian gathered me in his arms in my quarters, pressing his lips to mine possessively. Maker. It felt as though it had been an eternity since we'd been alone together. The feel of his arms around me, with his lips pressed to mine, I never wanted to let him go.

“My heart.” I whispered. “Maker, I've missed you.”

“As I've missed you amatus.” He whispered back, his voice filled with passion.

“Are you sure you're all right Dorian?”

“I feel all right.” He smiled. “Being with you I'm always all right. Better than all right actually.”

“It's just that we still don't know who's after you Dorian. I don't like that you're still in danger.”

“Hush amatus.” Dorian crowed. “I'm safe enough now. I'm with you. No one can reach me here.”

A thought occurred to me as he spoke, remembering I'd left Hawke and Fenris in my quarters. I had no idea where they were now.

Dorian frowned at my sudden tension. “Are you all right? You look like you've just seen a ghost.”

“I.. I'm fine.” I stammered. Dorian didn't know about Hawke being here. I couldn't tell him what had just occurred to me. It was then I noticed the note on my desk, marked with a Kirkwall seal. He was still watching me, his brow creased with concern. “It's nothing.” I said, drawing him into my arms. “I just thought I'd forgotten something.”

“Are you sure amatus? You don't look very relieved.”

“I'm fine Dorian. Better than fine with you in my arms.”

He smiled, lowering his lips to mine as his hands moved to remove my shirt. My heart thudded in my chest as I reached for the fastenings holding his own garments in place.

“I'm so content right now I almost feel as though I'm dreaming.” He murmured against my lips as his hands caressed my naked back sending tingles of pleasure rippling through me.

“You're not dreaming Dorian.” I murmured back. “But I know what you mean.” I said, tracing the curve of his shoulder blades with my fingers as I pulled him closer.

He smiled against my lips as we pressed against each other, leaving no doubts as to our mutual desire for each other pressing against our abdomens.

“I can feel how much you're enjoying this amatus.” He teased, raining kisses along my collarbone.

“Oh my heart.” I moaned. “I've missed you so much.”

“As much as I've missed hearing you say how much you adore me.” He said, his tongue tracing circles around my nipple before capturing it between his lips and sucking gently making a tremor ripple through me.

“We're way beyond adoration Dorian.” I laughed, enjoying his attentions. “I love you Dorian. I love you to the ends of the earth and back.”

“Mmm.” He mumbled absently, his hands pushing my trousers down my legs to pool at my ankles. He gazed at my hardness, his eyes filled with hunger making me close my eyes. “Amatus will you make love to me?”

My breath hitched as I opened my eyes to see him staring back at me, his face filled with raw need. “Are you sure?” I croaked, my own need making me harder.

“I am sure amatus. I want to know what it feels like to be made love to by someone who loves me, body and soul.”

Smiling, not trusting myself to speak, I nodded and cupped his face in my hands, kissing him fervently. I pressed myself against him, feeling his member twitch against me in response.

“I would do anything for you my heart.” I whispered. “I promise I'll be gentle.”

“But not too gentle.” He murmured, his eyes twinkling mischievously.

“Mmm.” I growled, kissing him again as a I moved us toward the bed. He sighed in response to my kisses and the feel of my hardness pressing into his back as he turned in my arms. I growled low in my throat, bending close to nibble at his exposed neck, biting him lightly.

He moaned in response, his eyes closing as he leaned his back into my chest, exposing his arousal to me as he did. The sight of him filled me an overwhelming sense of passion and possession. Dorian was mine, mine I growled, the evidence of his arousal filling me with base need.

I bit him, leaving behind teeth marks as I shoved him down on the bed. He moved without question as I crossed to my desk to retrieve the oil I kept there, hiding the note from Hawke under more paper as I did. I returned to the bed in seconds, the vial of oil in my hand.

Dorian had crawled onto the bed and was watching me through hooded eyes, his look unreadable as I crawled up the mattress to him. He turned to face me and I bent over him to kiss him again, moving to straddle him, trapping his legs beneath me. He pulled me down to him trapping our hardness against each other making us both moan with pleasure.

We became lost to sensation as we kissed, our hands exploring each other's bodies as I began moving above him. My desire setting our pace as I applied the oil to myself and Dorian. He sighed again, his eyes losing focus as his arousal grew harder. “Oh amatus, please I can't take it any longer. Make love to me Nathaniel.”

I growled low in my throat upon hearing the need in his voice and positioned myself above him. Desperate for my touch, he moved beneath me using his hands to guide me inside. His body tensed briefly as I pressed my tip inside, the oil serving to heighten both my arousal and my anticipation. My heart thudded in my chest as I pushed inside him, both of us gasping aloud as I slipped inside him as easily as if I belonged there.

Dorian cried out, his body trembling as I filled him, his breath ragged with pleasure as my legs began to tremble. Lowering my lips to his I kissed him while we were locked together, his body writhing beneath me making my control slip from my grasp. He moaned and writhed again, his need crushing against us both.

Using my weight to still his movements, I caressed his member with my free hand. Gradually picking up speed to match the rhythm his trapped hips were making against me. I began to thrust as he did the same in my hand and soon we were lost to sensation. With a gasp, Dorian convulsed in my hand. My control gone, I too let go, my limbs weak with exertion as I collapsed on top of him, shifting my weight to the side to keep from crushing him beneath me. We cried each other's name as our pleasure crested and we lay gasping on the bed.

I pulled free of him, groping for the towel I'd placed near the pillows. After drying myself I used it to dry Dorian's abdomen while he watched me, a lazy smile on his lips. I passed the towel to him as I stretched out beside him, my hand going to caress the curve of his shoulder as I kissed him again before stretching out to lay beside him.

He smiled at me. “I don't think this small towel will be enough amatus.”

“What? Why?”

“I adore the effect I have on you as it is most gratifying to the ego but we didn't manage to miss the bed covers during our exertions. There are several damp spots beneath me.”

“Well get off it then you ninny.” I teased.

“Ninny is it? After what we just shared you've resorted to name calling?”

“Dorian.”

“Very well. I must agree it's not the most pleasant sensation.” He said, rolling to his feet. “But really amatus we should have thought to put something else on the bed before we commenced our carnal activities.”

I smiled at him as we removed the top cover from the bed. “I can't be expected to think of everything my heart. I think I'll leave those details to you.”

“Just as well.” He agreed, climbing back onto the mattress to gather me in his arms. “You are the saviour of all of Thedas after all. I can't expect you to remember every detail of every little thing.”

“If it involves you, I will always remember Dorian.”

“Amatus. You never fail to find ways to bring me joy or embarrass me.” He whispered, placing a kiss to my lips.

“Good.” I smiled. “It's all I ever want to bring you.”

“Speaking of joy, what we just shared was beyond description. It was wonderful, amazing... I have no words for it. I love you Nathaniel.”

“And I love you Dorian.”

“I know. Isn't it wonderful?”

I laughed, draping my arm over his chest as I snuggled into his side. “Let's sleep now my heart. I'm exhausted.”

Dorian yawned and gathered me in his arms, his eyes drifting closed. “Splendid idea.” He murmured.



 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I woke to see Dorian dressed and staring out the window, his back turned to me. He looked pensive, lost in thought and didn't turn as I rose from the bed to dress.

“Now this is more like it.” He said absently as I moved to his side.

“It is peaceful here.” I agreed, watching the sun rise over the mountains.

“There are two things I wish to say to you.” He said, turning to look at me.

“Only two?” I teased.

“You're very dull you know.”

I frowned and moved outside to stand on the balcony. “And what's the second thing?” I asked, keeping my back to him.

He followed me, his arms going around my waist as he bent his head to rest his chin on my shoulder. “I hate you and I hope this ends soon.”

I leaned my back into him pressing us close, the heat of our bodies melding and becoming one.

“Is that so?”

“Mmm.” He murmured, nuzzling my neck. “It's criminal to be up this early.”

“Didn't you just say you hated me?” I teased as he began raining kisses on my neck.

“I don't know what you're talking about.” He protested, turning me to face him.

“I'm certain that's what you said.”

He smiled, pressing his lips to mine in a deep, sensual kiss. It was filled with love and promise and I sighed at the sensation of him against me.

“I suppose I did.” He murmured. “I hate you for being so bloody adorable. Understanding,” He continued, punctuating each word with another kiss. “Beautiful. Handsome. But most of all because you love me. Makes it impossible for me to be the evil Tevinter. I've had to change my ways because of you.”

I smiled, capturing his lips with my own. “Admit it Dorian, you love it all.”

“Well of course I do.” He retorted, smiling at me. “Just don't tell anyone. I have a reputation to uphold you know.”

“You mean the one where you're an evil mage from Tevinter?”

“That's the one.”

“My lips are sealed.” I teased.

“I certainly hope not.” He said, kissing me again as I parted my lips allowing him entry. I moaned as the kiss deepened, my pulse racing as he tightened his hold on me.

“Mmm.” He said, pulling away. “That's more like it.”

“I thought you wanted to keep your evil reputation intact?” I teased, following him back inside.

“I think we both know that's no longer possible. I love you too much for one thing. Besides, it's not as glamorous as it sounds to be known as the evil Tevinter. A lot of work goes into that and frankly, I just can't muster the energy to do it.”

“I see.” I said, pulling him into my arms again. “I guess you're stuck with being the good Tevinter.”

“So long as it means you're by my side, I think it's a burden I can live with.” He said, hugging me back.

“Who knew you were such a martyr?”

He laughed, hugging me tight. “Ah amatus, I adore you.”

“And I love you my heart.” I said, kissing him again.

“Mmm.”

“Shall we go downstairs? See how last night's banquet ended without us?”

“Intriguing idea.” He said. “Though I'd much rather stay here with you.”

“As would I, but Josie mentioned we might be playing host to some important nobles today. I suppose I should find out who they are before they arrive.”

“Very well.” He sighed, releasing me. “Now that you mention it, I would like to check on our friends. See how they fared after their late night revelry.”

I smiled as we walked hand in hand downstairs to the grand hall. “You mean you want to see how many of them overindulged so you can tease them mercilessly.”

He laughed, giving my and a squeeze sending warm tingles of happiness flooding through me at the gesture. “You know me too well amatus.”

“I hope so.” I murmured as we stepped into the hall.

Pulling him to me, I kissed him again. “Try to go easy on them Dorian. They did help save the world after all.”

“I'll try amatus.” He said, smiling wickedly. “But I make no promises. It's too tempting not to tease, it's something I'm very good at.”

----xxx----

After speaking with Josie about our expected guests, I headed to the garden to see Morrigan. I'd known she wouldn't show at the banquet despite what she'd said. I didn't mind, but I was anxious to have her search Skyhold for the anchor which still held the spell on Dorian and the inhabitants of Skyhold in place.

“Inquisitor.” She said, looking up from the book she held. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”

“How are you Morrigan?”

“You mean since finding out my mother is not fully human and my son no longer immortal?”

I frowned. “If you like.”

“I'm fine Inquisitor. I'm not pleased with what's happened, but I am grateful to have my son safely returned to me.”

“Do you think he'll be all right?”

“I believe he's suffered no ill effects from his meeting with his grandmother.” She said, getting to her feet. “As for the rest, only time will tell.”

“I'm glad to hear that.” I said, handing her the parchment Feynriel had given me in the Fade.

“What's this then?” She asked, her eyes widening at what she saw there. “This is a very powerful spell Inquisitor. Where did you get it?”

“Does it matter?”

“I suppose not.” She frowned. “But why are you showing it to me?”

“I want you to use it to search Skyhold again. I was told there's a spell anchor holding the enchantment against Dorian and Skyhold hidden on the grounds. This spell will remove any glamour which might be keeping it hidden.”

“I see.” She nodded. “Very well. I shall gather what I need and begin immediately.”

“Shall I have some guards accompany you?”

“That won't be necessary.” She said, turning to go. “IF the anchor is as you've described, they will only be in my way.”

“You could take some of Leliana's agents with you, like before.”

“Last time they were there for Leliana's peace of mind, not mine. But if you insist, I will take two agents of your choosing with me. Would you care to join us?”

“I would, but I'm afraid I'm needed elsewhere this morning. Perhaps Hawke could join you instead.”

“Most agreeable. Hawke and her elven lover may accompany me.” She nodded, surprising me. “I shall send for her.”

“You know where she is?”

“Of course. Leliana gave them a room above the garden before we returned from defeating Corypheus. She didn't tell you?”

“No, but then I didn't remember they were here until I went to my room and discovered them gone.”

“Understandable given yesterday's events. At any rate, I shall begin searching as soon as Hawke joins me.”

“Thank you for doing this Lady Morrigan.”

“You're welcome but it is not necessary to offer thanks. This magic is against me as well. I wish to know who holds this kind of power and put a stop to them if I can.”

“Of course.” I nodded.

“I will speak with you as soon as I've completed my search.”

Hawke

Kirah groaned, stretching beside Fenris who was pressed into her back, warming and comforting her with his presence. What she'd told him earlier about volunteering to remain behind in the Fade weighed on her mind. She felt guilt claw at her heart, her mind filling with all the things she'd been willing to sacrifice. Even when it had meant breaking the one thing that had brought her more joy than she'd ever dreamed possible.

A silent tear trickled down her cheek and she shifted quietly to brush it away, not wanting to disturb Fenris. But he already knew her too well and his arm snaked over her abdomen, pulling her close.

“Kirah? What's wrong?”

“Nothing.” She lied, hoping he'd let it go.

“Hawke.” He murmured, nuzzling her neck with soft kisses. “I know you. It's not nothing.”

“I can't stop thinking about the Fade.” She whispered. “That I was so close to giving up my life. To leaving you... I don't know how you can forgive me for that.”

“Kirah Hawke.” He said, his voice firm as he turned her to face him. “It wasn't you, not really. It was a demon, manipulating you by playing on your fears and making you believe you didn't matter.”

“But...”

He frowned at her. “How could I not forgive you Hawke? How is it any different from when I betrayed you in the Fade to the Pride demon? You forgave me for that.”

“But you weren't going to sacrifice yourself and abandon me Fenris.”

“No. I was going to do much worse Hawke, but you saved me and you forgave me for it. I can do no less. Let it go Kirah, you're here safe with me now.”

“I'm still sorry Fenris. I want you to know that.”

“I know you are. But none of that matters now or have you already forgotten the ring?”

“Ring?” A look of horror crossed her face. “Maker's breath. You must think I've lost my mind to still be upset about the Fade when I have so much to be happy about.”

“I would never think that.” He said, a faint smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

Kirah smiled. “True. You'd much rather tell me how loony I am.”

“I will never tire of teasing you Kirah. I enjoy how it makes you blush.” he said, claiming her mouth with a kiss.

“Mmm.” She sighed, her melancholy evaporating as he deepened the kiss. She was so lost in the feel of his lips on hers she almost didn't hear the knock at the door.

“What was that?” She murmured.

“What was what?”

“I'm sure I just heard someone knock.” She said just as the knock came again.

“Fasta vaas.” Fenris swore.

“Who's there?” Hawke called as she rose from the bed and dressed.

“A messenger milady.” Came a muffled voice from the other side.

“Just a moment.”

“Of all the worst timing...” Fenris grumbled, retrieving his armour from the floor. “Shouldn't everyone still be sleeping off last night's celebration? What could anyone want from you at this hour?”

“Only one way to find out.” Hawke replied, opening the door.

The woman on the other side handed her a folded paper, then bowed and hurried off.

“Well?” Fenris prompted, still annoyed by the interruption.

“It's from the Inquisitor. He wants us to accompany Morrigan in her search for that magic anchor.”

“Anchor?”

“You know. The one holding the spell in place on Dorian and Skyhold.”

“Right.” He nodded, frowning. “But why do we need to go with the witch? Neither of us possess magic.”

“I think it has more to do with keeping an eye on Morrigan than her needing our assistance.”

“OF course.” He nodded. “When?”

“We have ten minutes to meet her in the courtyard near the tavern.”

“Very well. Lead the way Hawke. The sooner this anchor is dealt with, the sooner we can track down this Fen'Harel and go home.”

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

After leaving Morrigan I headed for the tavern. I figured Dorian would still be there harassing Bull and Sera, especially if they weren't in the best shape this morning. Smiling to myself over what I imagined he was saying, I entered the tavern seeking his ebony hair and bronze skin.

But my smile faltered when I saw no sign of him, my eyes landing on Bull who was lounging in his favourite spot looking no worse for wear.

“Boss! Surprised to see you so early. Thought you and Dorian would spend the day in bed.” He teased, raising his tankard in greeting.

“As much as we both would have enjoyed that, I'm expecting several nobles to arrive today.”

“Ah. So the hero is preparing for the masses to fawn at his feet. Good on you boss. You deserve it after all this work.”

“Thanks for that Bull, though I didn't do it alone.”

“True. But that won't matter to a bunch of noble assholes. Watch yourself though, those nobles can be slippery bastards. Never know when they're playing you or being sincere.”

“I'm sure Josephine can handle it.”

“I suppose she can. The ambassador does know her stuff in that department. Anyway, what can I do for you?”

“Nothing right now Bull. I was just looking for Dorian. He'd said he was going to see how everyone fared last night.”

“You mean tease us mercilessly.” Bull clarified.

“Yes, well he is Dorian.” I smiled.

“As much as I enjoy swapping witticisms with the Vint, I haven't seen him. If he's looking to check up on us, he hasn't made his way to the tavern yet.”

“Hmm.” I frowned. “Well perhaps he went to see Leliana or Josephine first. I'll check with the them, but if you see him tell him I'm looking for him would you?”

“Sure thing boss.”



Varric

He'd been so tired after the celebrations he'd returned to his room and slept until the sun rose over the horizon. Now seated at his favourite chair by the fireplace, sipping a tea Merrill swore worked wonders on over indulgence. Pulling Isabella's letter from the pocket he'd tucked it in yesterday, he began to read.

Varric,

Thanks for the letters. It's a relief to know Hawke is okay and didn't do anything stupid like get herself killed while I was away.

I have a ship of my own now and I've been everywhere. Pillaging, stealing, making nobles walk the plank... all great fun. But it hasn't been the same without my friends around to brag to. I heard you were in Ferelden, staying at some long-lost Keep in the mountains and was hoping to see the lot of you.

I'm headed for Denerim and will be staying at The Pearl. I'll be there in about three days if the weather holds if you or Hawke or anyone else want to meet and catch up. If not, stay safe and say hello to Hawke and Merrill for me. I miss you all and bugger Hawke for making me go soft.

Kisses,

Isabella”

Denerim? Isabella had a ship? Varric shook his head. As much as he'd tried to stay mad at her for all the trouble she'd caused in Kirkwall, he had never been able to stop liking the irritating pirate queen. Despite everything, she had still matured a lot since first meeting Hawke in the Hanged Man and he missed having her wise-cracking, fun-loving self around.

But as much as he'd like to see her, he had no plans to leave Skyhold yet. The Inquisitor still needed his help with the Dread Wolf business and unless a miracle happened, it would be a while until he was free to travel anywhere.

He was about to write her back, when the Inquisitor himself appeared at his table looking distraught.

“Inquisitor?” He frowned, laying aside the quill he'd picked up. “Something wrong? You look upset.”

“I can't find Dorian.” He said, his voice quavering.

“Alright. Take a deep breath, calm down and tell me what happened.

Nathaniel did as Varric asked, taking slow deep breaths before telling him everything.

“And you've checked with everyone? Blackwall? Cullen? Vivienne?”

“Yes Varric.” He frowned, growing angry. “No one has seen him. He's gone.”

“I don't suppose he might have just returned to your quarters?” Varric asked hopefully.

“No... well, I... no I don't think so. I'll check, but I see no reason why he would. Dorian is gone Varric.”

“Emergency meeting then? Want me to get everyone gathered?”

Nathaniel sighed. “Yes please Varric. I'll check my quarters and meet you there.”

Nathaniel

My pulse was racing as I ran to my quarters even though the pit in my stomach told me it was futile. How could he be gone? He'd been in my arms less than two hours ago. He'd been fine then, safe. My heart dropped in defeat at finding my room empty as I had known it would be, yet it didn't stop the panic which rose in my chest at the sight of the vacant space.

Without stopping to think, I hurried back down the stairs to the War Room breathing hard from my frantic pace. It was crowded with all my friends. They wore mixed but muted expressions of worry or frustration, each of them doing their best to hide it from me.

I crossed to the table, leaning my hands on it to avoid meeting anyone's eyes. I didn't want to see their sympathy, nor their pity. I just wanted Dorian. Sighing heavily, I braced myself to address the room when Morrigan entered, followed closely by Hawke and Fenris. Compared to how I imagined I looked, they wore expressions of distaste and anger, their eyes widening in surprise to find everyone gathered.

“My, what have we here?” Morrigan drawled. “I didn't expect to return to such an audience as this Inquisitor.”

Grateful for the distraction and her cool detachment, I focused all my attention on her to ground me in what I had to say.

“Did you find the anchor?” I asked, ignoring her remark.

“We did Inquisitor.” Hawke nodded, moving to stand beside Varric, Fenris close behind.

“Indeed.” Morrigan frowned. “I was able to destroy it. Your friend should be safe now.”

I looked away, taking a deep breath. “I'm glad to hear it Lady Morrigan, but I'm afraid it's too late. Dorian is gone.”

“Gone? What do you mean he's gone?”

“I mean he's disappeared. No one has seen him since this morning. It's been over two hours now.”

“My apologies Inquisitor.” She said sincerely. “I had believed Lord Pavus was relatively safe here. It seems I was wrong.”

“We both were.” I muttered. “What about the spell cast on Skyhold? Is it still in place?”

“No. When the anchor was destroyed, it removed both it's hold on Skyhold and Lord Pavus. The magic holding it in place was quite powerful however. It will take some time for the effects to be completely neutralized.”

“Boss.” Bull rumbled from my left. “I might be able to speed things up a bit. Krem finally returned with Stitches. I have enough of the cure I told you about for everyone here in the room.”

I stared at him, feeling my eyes prickle. “That's perfect Bull. Josephine, could you send for some glasses please?”

“Of course Inquisitor.”

“Hold on. What's all this then?” Sera demanded. “What's this about potions and anchors and what not? I thought we were here cuz Dorian is missing.”

I sighed. I'd forgotten that not everyone knew about the attack on Skyhold. I squared my shoulders to explain when Leliana laid a hand on my arm.

“Inquisitor.” She said softly. “Allow me. Why don't you take a moment to yourself in the hall? You've enough to worry about at the moment without having to answer everyone's questions.”

I smiled at her and crossed the room. Grateful for the reprieve, I stepped into the hall just a tear coursed down my cheek. This couldn't really be happening could it? Was any of this real? Andraste's flaming ass! What in the Maker's name did the Dread Wolf want with Dorian? Why couldn't he just leave him alone?

My jaw clenched as my hand balled into fists. Flames! If anything happened to Dorian I would kill him. God or go god, he would die by my hands or I would die trying.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He woke to the sound of horses and the bump and rattle of a carriage moving rapidly over rough terrain. His head felt heavy and he sat up slowly as a wave of dizziness washed over him. Groaning in pain, he cradled his head in his hands while he waited for the nausea to pass.

After a moment, his thoughts cleared and he looked around trying to remember how he'd come to be in a carriage. Where in the Maker's name was he? Why did his head hurt? And why did it feel as though his heart had been shattered into a million pieces?

Answer, he decided. He needed answers. Moving slowly he put a hand to the carriage curtain and pulled it back to stare out at the passing landscape. The first thing he noted was the lack of snow, but for the life of him he couldn't understand why that would be important. The second was that as the bright green colour that blurred past made him feel dizzy and he dropped the curtain for fear he was about to be ill.

Green? He shook his head to clear the fog from his thoughts. He felt as though he was forgetting something very important, yet every time he got close to catching it, it raced away from him to be replaced with a overwhelming feeling of nausea.

Taking a few deep breaths, he stared around at the small space he was in attempting to start small in trying to pieced together how he'd gotten here. He was in a carriage pulled by horses. Yes. His mind snapped irritably. Very astute. From the brief glance outside he had gathered they were on a northward course. Yet why did that send a chill coursing through him? Where was he? Where had he come from and more importantly, who was steering this thing?

He remembered something about snow and mountains and... his heart stopped as his breath caught in his throat. And... Nathaniel? Why did that name make him feel both panic and relief? Was he on the run from this man? If that were the case, why did the thought of him make his chest constrict?

The carriage came to an abrupt halt then, drawing him from his thoughts. He held his breath at the sound of approaching footsteps over rough terrain. The door swung open, the bright light of the sun temporarily blinding him. When he could see, Solas was standing there, a concerned look on his face.

“Ah. You're awake.” He said, flashing him a faint smile. “I was afraid you were going to sleep all the way to Tevinter.”

“Solas?” Dorian said, frowning. “What's going on? Why are we going to Tevinter?”

Solas frowned, stepping close to place a comforting hand on Dorian's arm. “Don't you remember?”

Dorian frowned back, his eyes going to Solas' hand on his arm. “I...” He faltered, returning his gaze to Solas where for a brief moment he could have sworn the man's eyes had flashed with blue fire. “I...” He repeated as Solas stepped back.

“Of course I remember.” He smiled, unaware of the change that had fallen over him. “We're going to save my homeland together. Help my people move into a new way of thinking.”

“That's right.” Solas nodded. “Of course I will have to disguise myself before we go any further.”

“Right.” Dorian nodded. “Yes, of course. Wouldn't want anyone suspecting you're anything more than a slave before we get past the border.”

“No. That would most assuredly defeat our purpose.” Solas agreed, his voice hard.

“Right then.” Dorian said, stepping out of the carriage into the heat of the afternoon sun. “Do whatever you need to Solas. I think I'll take a moment to enjoy the sunshine.”

“Of course.” Solas nodded letting him pass. “Give me a moment to ready myself. We're about a day's journey from the Tevinter border.”

“I must say it will be good to be home again.” Dorian said cheerfully. “I've missed the heat something terrible.”

“I can imagine.” Solas drawled, watching him through hooded eyes. “I shall return momentarily.”

“Yes, yes.” Dorian nodded absently, climbing into the driver's seat. “Take your time.”

Nathaniel

Once Josephine had returned, she set about pouring out enough of Bull's milky green potion for everyone gathered. Each of my companions waited to drink until I had nodded and in a silent toast, they drank.

“Ugh! That tasted like ass!” Sera groaned, punching Bull in the arm. “Why didn't you warn me eh?”

“I didn't know.” He retorted, swiping the back of his hand over his mouth.

“I agree.” Cassandra muttered. “That was awful.”

“How long before this stuff works?” Cullen asked making everyone turn to stare at Bull.

“What?” He grumbled.

“It's your potions.” Josephine pointed out, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Well look elsewhere. I've never had it before either.”

“Not that much fun being the centre of so much attention huh Tiny?” Varric teased

“Shut it dwarf.”

“This is all very entertaining, but from what I detected in the ingredients, it should take effect within the next five minutes.” Morrigan drawled, her eyes flicking from one companion to another.

“Yes but how will we know it worked?” Sera persisted. “I mean, how can we remember what we don't remember?”

“Maker's breath...” Varric groaned.

“Goodness.”

“Fasta vaas.”

“Kaffas!”

“Andraste's flaming butt cheeks!”

We all stared at each other in shock as all our forgotten memories returned. From what I could tell, Blackwall and Sera were the only ones completely taken off guard by what we'd all forgotten. I wasn't surprised since I'd left both of them out of the loop after the first incident with Dorian. The rest of my companions had been witness to follow-up attacks and therefore knew almost as much as I did.

“Solas?” Sera said staring at me, the crease between her brow becoming more pronounced. “That higher than thou arrogant prick did all this? But how? Why? Shite on a stick!”

My smile was grim as I nodded.

“Bloody elf ears ass.” She muttered, her voice filling with anger. “But why would he...” She trailed off as Morrigan positioned herself to address the room.

“He is the Dread Wolf or Fen'Harel if you prefer. Isn't that right Inquisitor?” She said, turning her golden eyes to me.

“Yes. I believe so.”

“So that is what he wanted all of you to forget.” She murmured. “I think I know now what he wants from Dorian.”

“What?” I demanded, feeling my blood grow cold of the sound of certainty in her voice. “Tell me.”

“Power. He needs power. With the destruction of the artifact during the battle with Corypheus, he does not possess the power he requires.”

“Requires for what?”

“I do not know for certain, but I believe he wishes to restore himself to the status he had millennia ago. He wants to restore the Elvhen empire to it's former glory.”

“Blood. Shite. Arse-bucket.” Sera muttered.

“You're shitting me.” Varric groaned. “Didn't we just go through this same song and dance with Corypheus?”

Morrigan sighed, her eyes closing as she swayed on her feet. I crossed the room quickly, grabbing hold of her arm to steady her. “Are you all right?” I asked as her eyes fluttered open.

“I'm fine Inquisitor.” She said, gently shaking me loose. “The voices from the Well... there's more you need to hear.”

When Morrigan finished, you could have heard a pin drop it was so quiet. I couldn't believe what she'd just said and from the state of everyone gathered, neither could anyone else. Yet it made perfect sense. I kicked myself again for not dealing with Solas when I'd first suspected him back in Haven.

“You mean everything we went through? All the people who died by Corypheus' hand... it's all Solas' fault?” Cassandra said, shocked.

“I knew that piece of elfy shite was no good.” Sera growled.

“And here I thought I was good at reading people.” Varric muttered, his voice grim.

“To think he had the guts to even show up here.. join the Inquisition.” Cullen echoed.

“We have to stop him” Blackwall growled, his body rigid with tension.

“We don't even know where he is. How do you propose we do that?” Cassandra challenged him.

“I may be able to help with that.” Leliana said quietly. “Some of my agents were unaffected by the spell cast on Skyhold. When they received no further instructions from me, they continued their surveillance of Solas.”

“When did you learn that?” I demanded. “We could have stopped him before he took Dorian.”

“I'm sorry Inquisitor, but I only received word from them just prior to our meeting.” She said, her voice sad. “They tracked Solas travelling by carriage to the city of Jader. From there, Solas boarded a ship that was bound for Kirkwall.”

“And then?” I pressed, feeling my frustration growing.

“They followed of course, though they had to wait a full day before crossing the Waking Sea. They reached Kirkwall, but discovered that Solas had never set foot in the city.”

“So they lost him.”

“No Inquisitor. They picked up his trail again outside the city of Ostwick as he made his way through the Free Marches.”

“Sounds like you're leading up to something bad.” Varric muttered.

Leliana frowned. “I am. Solas discovered he was being followed. He set a trap for my agents outside Starkhaven. Only one of my agents survived.”

“What was Solas doing in Starkhaven?” I asked.

“My agent believes he is merely passing through. He believes Solas is headed to Minrathous or at least as close to Minrathous as he can get.”

“What?!” Everyone exclaimed at once.

“But that's suicide!” Cullen exclaimed.

“Cullen's right.” Cassandra agreed. “Solas is an elven apostate. How could he possibly expect to make it through Tevinter without being killed?”

“Never mind unharmed. You're forgetting dead or captured by slavers.” Bull countered.

“It's obvious isn't it?” I growled. “It's why he wants Dorian. He plans to pose as his servant.”

“But why?” Sera frowned. “Why go to Tevinter at all? I thought Solas hated the Imperium.”

“I think it's clear.” Leliana answered. “If Solas truly is the Dread Wolf, he must need something to help him in his plans. Something that has been lost over the centuries. It's the only explanation that makes sense. Perhaps the accumulation of centuries of magic holds some importance for him. Maybe even the location of another artifact.”

“So what are we waiting for?” Sera growled. “Let's go stop him.”

“Not so fast Sera.” Bull countered. “We're talking about entering the Tevinter Imperium. We can't just waltz in there to take Solas down.”

“Bull's right.” Cullen agreed. “Not only would we be prevented from entering, but given we have no mages with us, we can't even lie our way in past the border.”

“We wouldn't have to.” Josephine said. “With a new Divine being named, we could go under the guise of a diplomatic visit to the capital city.”

“You mean just march the Inquisitor there to make nice with the Magisters?” Varric exclaimed. “Somehow I don't think that will work.”

“It's too dangerous.” Cullen agreed.

“I don't care.” I said, feeling more frustrated by the minute. “I'm going after Solas and I'm saving Dorian. I don't expect any of you to follow me, but I'm going. Excuse me, but I need some air.”



 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I crossed the room before anyone could react and kept walking until I reached Josephine's office. I stopped by the fireplace to stare into the flames while I fought to gain control of my emotions. The Imperium? What in Andraste's bloody arse was Solas up to? Was Dorian simply a cover? Was he in danger? How much time did I have before it was too late?

“Fasta vaas! Venhedis! Kaffas!”

“Inquisitor?”

I turned to see Hawke standing behind me. She crossed the room to my side, her eyes filled with sympathy and on seeing it I broke. Tears coursed down my cheeks as she took me in her arms, my shoulders shaking with fear and grief for the loss and helplessness that overwhelmed me. She said nothing as I wept, waiting quietly for my sobs to subside as I let go of the control I'd had on my emotions.

“Hawke.” I croaked, stepping free of her embrace. “Thank you.”

“You don't need to thank me Inquisitor.” She said. “I can't imagine what you're going through.”

“I feel so helpless.” I cried, turning back to stare into the fire. “I can't even go after him without a plan. I feel useless.”

“I understand Inquisitor, but I came out here to offer my help. Fenris and I can leave today, follow up on where Solas went. Perhaps even cross into Tevinter.”

My eyes widened in shock at what she was suggesting. “What about Fenris? Won't he be in danger if he goes back there? And you. You have no magic. It would be beyond dangerous for the two of you to go there. The odds of being captured by slavers is too high, especially given your reputation in Kirkwall.”

“Details Inquisitor.” She said, her eyes filled with determination. “I have a friend who can provide the necessary cover for me. You don't need to worry about that.”

“And this friend would be willing to do this for you?”

Willing or not, he owes me. As for Fenris, he may not like the idea but it would give him the opportunity to kill slavers. It's something he and I both enjoy.”

“Are you sure about this?” I said, worried for her safety. “I thought you wanted to go home to Kirkwall.”

“Oh I still plan to go home. But if this Solas is planning to start a war, how long will any of us be able to enjoy the peace you've brought to Thedas? I can't just walk away knowing this.”

“And Fenris?”

She frowned. “He won't be happy I'm leading us both into danger again, but we'll be together. In the end, it's all that matters.”

“Will you take Varric then? Or Merrill?”

She sighed. “I miss having them with us, but no. It would be too dangerous for Merrill. She says the wrong things much too often and it would be impossible to hide the fact that she's Dalish. And you'll need Varric more than I will. We'll be fine Inquisitor.”

I sighed, nodding at her assessment of things. “Very well. If this is what you want, I don't have a problem with it.”

“What's all this then?” Varric asked, joining us. “You planning to leave again Hawke?”

“I'm sorry Varric, but I have to.”

“That's right.” Fenris growled, following on Varric's heels. “Hawke to the rescue. Again.”

“Give me some credit Hawke.” Varric frowned. “I figured that's what you were doing out here. I just wanted to let you know about Isabella.”

“Isabella?”

“She has a new ship. She sent me a letter telling me she'd be in Denerim for the next ten days if any of us wanted to come visit.”

“That's very fortuitous Varric.” Hawke smiled.

“I suppose it is. She said she'd be staying at The Pearl.”

“Of course she is.” Fenris muttered. “Where else would she go?”

“Thanks Varric and could you do me a favour?”

“Anything.”

“I need Justice. Can you get a letter to him?”

“Are you sure that's wise?”

“We'll need a mage if we want to get into the Imperium. I have no choice about that and he owes me.”

“What about Sunshine?”

“I don't want her involved.”

“Hawke.”

“I know Varric. If she follows him anyway, so be it but make it clear to him where we're going. Maybe he'll be able to talk some sense into her.”

“Fine. I'll send it today. With any luck, it'll have reached him by the time you track down Isabella.”

“Justice? Sunshine?” I asked, puzzled.

“My sister and a... friend.”

“Friend.” Fenris snorted.

“You're not talking about....” I let the thought die.

“Don't say his name!” Hawke hissed. “No one knows he survived what happened at Kirkwall and I'd like to keep it that way.”

“I didn't think you would be inclined to protect him after what happened.”

“I'm not one to hold grudges Inquisitor, but if he wasn't with my sister...”

“They're together then?”

“They are.” She nodded. “I don't object to my sister finding happiness, but by staying with him she's put herself in grave danger.”

“Not unlike yourself.” I noted.

Fenris laughed. “He knows you well Hawke. Yes Inquisitor, stubbornness does run in the family.”

“Fenris.” Hawke blushed, frowning.

“Hawke, it's one of my favourite things about you.”

She smiled then and reached for his hand. “Thank you Fenris. But we should get going. Will you be all right Inquisitor?”

“I will be once I have something to do. Some direction to move in.”

“Don't worry. We'll find Dorian and we'll save him.”

“I hope so.”

“We will.” She repeated, moving to the door. “I'll send word once we reach the Free Marches. Don't give up hope. Remember, Solas doesn't know we're coming or that we remember anything. He won't be expecting any of us to show up to stop him.”

“I hadn't thought of that.” I murmured. “Thank you for doing this Hawke. It helps.”

“You're welcome. Andraste guide you.”

Dorian

He was in his father's garden. The sun was shining brightly overhead, the sky a crystal clear blue and a light breeze was on the air. He was taking a light lunch and drinking one of his favourite wines, Agreggio Pavali.

He couldn't recall the last time he'd taken a moment to himself to just sit and enjoy the small pleasures of life. Yet though the day and the setting was perfect, his mood was far from content. None of it seemed normal or appropriate. For one thing, he couldn't remember getting up that morning. Nor could he recall who had served his lunch, though he knew he hadn't fetched it himself.

Even that was an odd thought. Since when had ever gotten his own food? There were always servants for that. Weren't there? Frowning, he looked around the garden noticing that it didn't' extend as far out as he remembered. In fact, the garden was downright small and... was that green mist?

Startled out of his observations, he sprang to his feet, his heart pounding. Was this the Fade? Alarms began going off in his head as his hands dampened with sweat. Maker's breath was he dreaming? Was this a nightmare?

“Dorian Pavus?” A voice called from behind him.

Startled, he jumped, whirling around to face the direction the voice had come from. A young, blonde human male stood there, watching him with cool blue eyes.

“Who wants to know?” He asked, surprising himself.

“My name is Feynriel. I'm a Dreamer.”

“A dreamer? You mean you're a Somniari?

“I have not heard that word for some time, but yes I am.”

“What do you want? Are you a demon? Is all this your doing?”

“I assure you I am only here to offer my assistance. Such as it is.”

“I don't understand.” Dorian frowned. “Why am I in the Fade? How are you even talking to me? For that matter, how in the Maker's name do you even know who I am?”

“The Dread Wolf has trapped you here. You lost your amulet.”

“Amulet?” Dorian paused. Why did that sound familiar? And why did it make his heart hurt and tears spring to his eyes?

“You are losing yourself to the Fade Lord Pavus.” Feynriel said, his voice sad. “You must fight the spell Fen'Harel has cast on you.”

“Fen'Harel? He's real?”

Feynriel nodded. “You must fight the illusion Dorian. If you find yourself here again, look for my tree. It will help ground and protect you.”

“Tree?”

“I am half-elven. Seek the tree. It is a sanctuary which will help hide you from the Dread Wolf.”

“I... think I understand, but why are you helping me?”

“Because the Dread Wolf must not succeed in his plans. I am sorry, but I must go.”

“What? Why?”

“He is coming. He does not know of me yet and I would like to keep it that way. We will speak again Lord Pavus.” Feynriel said, turning to leave. “You have my word.”

Nathaniel

It had been close to a month since Dorian's disappearance from Skyhold and two weeks since I'd last heard from Hawke. She and Fenris had met with Isabella, crossing the Waking Sea to Kirkwall and travelled North on foot to Starkhaven. I was expecting to hear from her again this week, but the wait was killing me.

My patience and nerves were completely shot. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep and had had to resort to taking a potion Merrill had made for me just to knock myself out for a few hours each night.

When I wasn't pacing my quarters with worry over Dorian, I was in the great hall receiving noble after unending noble – coming from one side of Thedas to the other. If they weren't there just to be seen with me, they were there to beg favours and resources of which the Inquisition had many. There'd been rumblings of dissent among some of the local Bannorns and rulers of Ferelden's scattered and refugee inundated cities.

Some resented and feared our power, while others were simply grateful for our presence. Regardless what any of them wanted or sought, I was indifferent to it all. I didn't care. Nothing mattered to me without Dorian at my side. Colours were muted, music became noise an every morning felt like waking to a new nightmare. I felt empty, hollow. I didn't know if I would ever feel normal again. The waiting was also shortening my temper and I took no pleasure in anything, not even food.

My only release, my only moment of the day when I felt a modicum of normalcy return was when I was sparring in the practice yard. The feel of my blades in my hands as I fought with Bull or the practice dummies made me feel like I was in control. Clear. But I couldn't do it all day and my obsession with it was quickly becoming a problem.

I needed to leave. I needed to do something, anything. But most of all I needed Dorian. I needed to know he was all right. The not knowing was killing me.

Exhausted and tired of pacing my room, I fell to my bed fully clothed and was asleep in minutes.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

“Inquisitor?”

I blinked, my vision blurry as I looked around, groaning when I recognized the misty green light that permeated the Fade.

“What?” I grumbled, knowing before I saw him that it was Feynriel.

“I have news Your Worship.”

I frowned, turning to face him, his blonde hair falling in his eyes, longer than the last time I'd seen him.

“Don't call me that.” I growled. “My name is Nathaniel.”

“As you wish.” He nodded. “Follow me Nathaniel. We need to talk.”

Sighing heavily, I followed him through the Fade, back to the tree we'd spoken in before.

“Well?” I pressed once we'd entered his sanctuary.

“I have spoken with Lord Pavus.” He said, watching my reaction.

“What! You have? When?”

“A few days ago. He was here in the Fade. He didn't know where he was or how he'd gotten here.”

“Was he all right?” I asked, feeling my pulse race.

Feynriel shook his head. “No. He is forgetting more and more things the longer he stays here.”

“Fasta vaas! Is that all you have to tell me?” I fumed, feeling my hands clench in anger. “More bad news?”

“No. I know you seek him and that Hawke is following the Dread Wolf. She is getting closer but I have learned where Solas is going. They're headed to Qarinus.”

“Qarinus? They're going to Dorian's home?”

“If that is where he is from, then yes.”

“Do you have any idea why Solas is doing this? Why he needs to be in Tevinter?”

“I'm sorry Nathaniel, but I do not. I have a theory though.”

“Great.” I sighed. “Tell me your theory.”

“I think Fen'Harel wants to destroy the Imperium from the inside out. I think he wants the Magisters out of the way before he attempts to restore the elven empire.”

“And to do that he has to be in Tevinter?”

“I don't know Nathaniel. Maybe there's something in the city he needs. Perhaps another artifact or an ancient spell.”

“Well whatever he seeks, I'm going to stop him.” I declared, heading for the door.

“May Andraste and Mythal guide you and keep you safe.”

“Andraste? Really?” I asked, turning to stare at him

“I am half human Inquisitor.”

“Right. Of course.” I said, stepping out of the tree. “Well thank you Feynriel, this helps me.”

“I am also seeking to help you personally Inquisitor.” He added, following me.

“What do you mean?”

“The mark. You know it is slowly killing you. I'm looking for a way to remove it before that happens.”

“Why would you do that?” I asked, surprised.

“Because I suspect the Dread Wolf may try to take it from you. I want you to know there might be another way. Do not allow him to trick you.”

“All right. I'll remember what you've said.”

“See that you do.”

Dorian

“Solas?” Dorian called from his sitting room where he was currently studying ancient Tevinter magics.

“Yes Dorian?” Solas said, appearing in the doorway.

“Have you made any progress in getting us into the Magisters Symposium undetected?”

“Not as yet.”

“We've been here over a month now and made no progress.” Dorian grumbled. “I'm beginning to think I've wasted both our times in coming here.”

“Do not loose hope Dorian. I said I haven't yet, but I am following a lead. I should have more for you tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” Dorian looked up from the tome he was studying. “Well that's good news. Have any of the servants given you trouble?”

“None.” Solas answered, his voice hard. “They understand their place well.”

“Indeed.” Dorian frowned, detecting the note of anger in his voice. “Is something wrong Solas?”

“I am finding it increasingly difficult to ignore my people's plight here Dorian. I'm sure you can understand why.”

“Of course.” He said, setting aside the book and crossing the room to him. “Which is why I was surprised you were willing to accompany me here. You do not have to stay you know.”

“If you think for one minute I will abandon my people for the sake of my own sensibilities, then you don't know me mage.”

“Whoa Solas!” Dorian said, holding up his palms. “I didn't mean anything by what I said.”

“Of course.” Solas nodded, his voice returning to normal. “I apologize. Though I am more than happy to assist you, I fear I have greatly underestimated my own tolerance for the injustice I have seen here. I will endeavour to remind myself of our purpose here.”

“Well good. Come with me then. Let's get ourselves some well-deserved dinner. We can discuss our plans further over a nice meal.”

Nathaniel

Three days after Feynriel visited me in the Fade, I was on my way to Kirkwall. Hawke had finally sent word from Starkhaven. They had tracked Solas's carriage through the Free Marches and confirmed what Feynriel had already told me.

Varric, Cassandra, Sera and Cullen were travelling with me being the best cover for getting us past the Tevinter border. Blackwall, Cole, Bull and the Chargers would scout the trails ahead of us, removing or dealing with any traps or slavers along the way. Blackwall had argued, but in the end agreed that of all of us, his presence would be the hardest to disguise if we ran into trouble.

He and Bull didn't always get along, but they respected each other and it was enough to keep them working together without my intervention.

For much of the journey, I kept to myself. Riding my horse ahead of the others, I lost myself in thought. Worried for Dorian and fuelled by Feynriel's warning, I was filled with an urgency to reach Qarinus as soon as possible.

Several times Cullen or Cassandra had to insist on making camp for the night. Though I resented the delay, I was grateful for their presence. Without them, I likely would have ran my horse into the ground or collapsed from dehydration and exhaustion before ever crossing the Free Marches.

On the fifth day we reached Starkhaven. Hawke and Fenris were staying at the Pious Dragon, a tavern located in the working class area of the small city. It wasn't until after we were seated and waiting on our drinks when I remembered Sebastian.

“Inquisitor?” Hawke called, noting the change in my demeanour. “Something wrong?”

“Nothing more than usual.” I said, taking a large swallow of the whiskey I'd ordered. “Do you know anyone by the name of Sebastian?”

Fenris grunted, then smirked watching Hawke and Varric's reaction to the name.

“You could say that.” Varric drawled. “We met Choir Boy a few years ago when he was slumming in Kirkwall as a Chantry brother.”

“Chantry brother?” I repeated. “So he really did become part of the Chantry then?”

“He did.” Hawke nodded. “But how do you know Sebastian?”

“It's a long story.” I said, wishing I'd kept my mouth shut.

“I like stories.” Varric grinned. “Care to share it with us Inquisitor?”

“Sorry Varric, but it's private.”

Varric frowned. “Can't be that bad.”

“Never mind the dwarf.” Fenris said. “He doesn't understand the word no.”

“Says you Broody.”

“But I am curious.” Fenris continued. “When did you meet Sebastian?”

“Before he joined the Chantry.”

“Ha!” Varric crowed. “I knew Choir Boy had secrets. So, you knew Sebastian before... interesting.”

“Varric.” Hawke warned.

“Hawke, I would never repeat what I'm thinking. I'll just have to ask Dorian about it after we rescue him.”

“Varric.” Now it was my turn to warn the dwarf.

“What? The three of you such mood killers. Fine. I won't breath a word to him. Maybe just mention Starkhaven in passing.”

I rolled my eyes, but kept silent. Varric was a menace to my sanity, but I was glad he'd come with us. Despite everything, he was good at diffusing my dark moods and lightening any situation with his unique sense of humour and amusement.

“So do we have a way to get into Tevinter yet?” Cassandra asked, joining the conversation.

“Maybe.” Varric nodded. “Hawk and I may have come up with something. We can talk about it tomorrow though. I'm beat.”

“Alright.” I agreed, getting to my feet. “I'm going to bed. See you all in the morning.”

----xxx----

I was walking along a sandy shoreline. The sun was bright overhead and I felt wonderful. Dorian walked beside me, our fingers entwined. I felt so good I neither knew nor cared where we were going or if we ever reached our destination.

A stand of trees appeared on the horizon and Dorian quickened his pace, pulling me along beside him. My heart light, I followed laughing with delight at how happy I was. We reached the trees and Dorian released my hand to pass between them.

The loss of contact with him caused a thrill of fear to course through me and I hurried to meet him on the other side. But he was gone. Instead, I came face to face with Solas and stopped dead in my tracks.

I took a step back from him and then another as he stepped free of the shadows. His eyes were an icy blue and I was almost certain they were glowing.

“Solas.” I said, making no effort to disguise my anger.

“Inquisitor. It's been a while since we last spoke. How are you?”

“You know how I bloody am!” I seethed. “Where's Dorian? What have you done with him?”

“I have done nothing.” He said, his voice cool. “I know you are looking for me. I wanted to tell you I still respect you Inquisitor.”

“I don't give a flame about your respect! Give me Dorian!”

“I can't do that.” He said, his calm facade making me want to hit him. “You didn't let me finish. I wish to offer you a trade.”

“Trade? What trade?” I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Did he really think I would even consider trusting him after what he'd done? After he'd betrayed me?

“I will give you back Dorian. Your... lover.” He said, clearly displeased by the word. “Unharmed. Unscathed.”

“In exchange for what?”

“The mark. I can take it from you. Save your life. You know it's killing you.”

“Give you the mark? Are you serious? And then what? You let me walk away, no questions asked?”

“You will be alive. You will have Dorian back. And you will have time to enjoy your life together for a time. It is more than many will ever know.”

“You must think I'm stupid to believe anything you say Solas. After you betrayed me, hurt and manipulated Dorian. Tried to kill him even.”

“I never intended for Dorian to die. It was a mistake, a miscalculation on my part. I was glad when you were able to save him.”

“Save him from your mistake you mean.” I countered. “Like you tried to fix the mistake you made with Corypheus.”

Solas blanched, the first time my words seemed to have any effect on him. He frowned before meeting my eyes again, his cool mask in place once more.

“So you know.” He nodded. “Once again I have underestimated you.”

“You seem to do that a lot Solas.” I retorted. “I have no intention of giving you the mark. I don't trust you. I have no reason to trust anything you say.”

“Not even if it will save your precious lover's life?” He taunted.

“If all I have is your word that he will not be harmed, then no. Not even for that.”

Solas sighed. “That is unfortunate Inquisitor. I would wish you luck, but...”

“But that would make you a hypocrite.”

“Indeed. Ar lasa mala revas Inquisitor. Pray we do not meet again.”

“Telanadas Solas.” I shot back. “Dirthara-ma.”

Solas' eyes flashed blue with anger as the last syllable left my lips. The next thing I knew, I was sitting up in my bed gasping for breath. The room was unfamiliar and it was several minutes before I remembered where I was. Right. The tavern in Starkhaven. Kaffas! Solas knew we were coming. Knew what I was coming for and wanted to trade with me? Venhedis! I had to find Dorian. Now.



Translations

Ar lasa mala revas = I give you your freedom

Telanadas = Nothing is inevitable

Dirthara-ma = May you learn (meant as an insult)

Venhedis = swear word

Kaffas = sh*t

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

Solas' mood had not improved much since the previous day. Tired of being cooped up inside Alexius' mansion, he'd taken a servant and headed out to the market. He knew his appearance in his home city would draw attention, but he didn't care. He was tired of hiding, tired of working alone with only Solas for company. He still couldn't understand the elven mage's motivation for accompanying him to Qarinus.

An elven apostate who had willingly volunteered to travel to the Imperium was not normal. In fact, Dorian was becoming increasingly suspicious of the mans' motives. If that wasn't enough, he'd been having strange and unsettling dreams. He was positive he'd been to the Fade several times since crossing into Tevinter, but damned if he could remember any of it.

“Lord Pavus?” Called a deep voice as he browsed the fresh produce.

“That's my name.” He said lightly, turning to face the person who'd spoken. Before him stood a strikingly tall and formidable woman. Her blonde hair a halo of long waves about her head as she watching him with interest.

“You came home to Qarinus and didn't' tell me?” She said, her brow creased in a frown.

“My dear lady, why would I do such a thing? Are you implying we know each other?”

She frowned harder and closed the short distance between them, her eyes searching his face.

“Dorian. Of course you know me. Is this some kind of game you're playing?”

“I'm afraid I don't know you.” He said, feeling increasingly uncomfortable under her steady gaze. “I have few enough friends here. The odds that you happen to be one of them are too high to count.”

“I don't know what you're playing at Pavus, but I don't like it.” She growled.

“I assure you dear lady, I am not playing at anything. I'm merely browsing the market. Now if you will excuse me, I believe my servant has concluded our shopping. Good day.” He said, brushing past her to pay for his purchases.

Shocked by his abrupt departure, the blonde bit her tongue to keep from snapping at him. Unsettled by their exchange, she decided to follow him at a discreet distance. She had never known Dorian to play games before, at least not this kind of game and her curiosity was quickly replaced with concern. Pretending to go back to her own shopping, she watching him out of the corner of her eye. His behaviour had become quick and furtive. He was clearly nervous about her assertion they knew each other, yet the idea seemed to frighten him. She frowned. Maybe he really didn't remember her. It was the only explanation for his current nervous behaviour. Which meant someone had used powerful magic on him, a curse or something more sinister.

She waited until he and his servant rounded a corner on the street ahead before hurrying after him. She had to know what was going on. Dorian was one of her closest friends. If was in danger she was going to put a stop to it.

Nathaniel

I came down to the common room to find everyone already gathered and a new face was seated amongst them. A man with long blonde hair, blue eyes and a scruffy beard sat hunched over at the table between Hawke and Varric.

He looked nervous, angry and very uncomfortable. When he saw me approach, a flash of fear crossed his face before he looked away.

“Ah. Inquisitor. Glad you could join us.” Varric smiled.

“Varric!” Cassandra hissed.

“What?” He frowned before flushing with embarrassment at the use of my title. “Oh shit. Sorry, uh... Nathaniel. Cassandra.”

“Be more careful dwarf.” She threatened. “Before your loose tongue gets us all killed.”

I nodded, accepting Varric's apology as I took a seat at their table.

“Sir.” Hawke began, a smile tugging at her lips at Varric's blunder. “This is Justice. The friend I told you about.”

“Good to meet you.”

“So you're him.” He said, nodding in approval.

“And you're him.” I retorted causing him to blanch and look away.

“So you know who I am then.” He sighed.

“I do.”

“Do I have you to thank for making me come here then?” He grumbled.

“No. That was my idea.” Hawke answered, making him glance at her sharply.

“If you wanted to get me killed you could've just put up a wanted sign. I'm sure Sebastian would just love to know I'm in his city.”

Hawke frowned. “Sebastian doesn't know anything about your connection to Kirkwall's Chantry. If you want to keep it that way, I suggest you stop using his name.”

“As if he wouldn't be able to put it together Hawke. He knew how I felt about the Chantry long before he left town.”

“And if you hadn't been stupid, the Chantry would still be here. I cannot believe you're still as self-centred as you always were mage.” Fenris snapped.

“Self-centred?” Anders spluttered.

“Alright! Enough! Do you want to hear our plan or not Anders?” Hawke hissed, fixing him with an icy glare.

“Yes. Alright. I'm sorry Hawke. I didn't mean...”

Cullen sighed heavily. “As entertaining as all this is, we have more important things to discuss. Shall we get on with it?”

Anders looked up sharply at Cullen's interruption, paling when he recognized the former Templar. He looked from Cullen to Cassandra and back to Hawke, looking for all the world like a caged animal.

“That's right.” Cullen nodded. “I know who you are. I don't know why Hawke saved you or how you survived. If I hadn't left the Order, I'd kill you now.”

“Cullen.” I warned. “We don't have time for this.”

Cullen blushed, leaning away from the table and Anders. “I... sorry sir. You're right.”

“Besides what's done is done. From what I've heard, this man isn't responsible for what happened in Kirkwall.”

“Maybe not entirely responsible.” Cullen frowned. “But he shares blame equally.”

“In Andraste's name. Would all of you please let this go?” Cassandra huffed.

Grunts and grumbles of agreement rippled through our group, effectively breaking the tension at the table. Once everyone had taken a moment to settle, Hawke laid out her plan.

Nathaniel

Three hours later we had left the city behind and were headed east to Antiva. Our party had split up again since not all of us would be able to cross into Tevinter openly. Hawke and Fenris had gone ahead, able to cover more ground and would meet up with Bull and the rest of them to clear the route ahead.

I didn't like the risks they were taking for me so close to the Imperium border, but I also couldn't refuse their help. Anders hadn't been pleased about being left behind with strangers, but after Hawke spoke to him privately, all his protests ceased and he retreated into a sullen silence.

Once again I found myself riding ahead of everyone else. I didn't care about Anders' involvement with what had happened in Kirkwall. Nor did I care what Cullen thought of the mage. I couldn't get the conversation I'd had with Solas out of my head. Feynriel had warned me Solas might try to make a deal with me over the mark, but I had never imagined he'd do it in the Fade.

“Inquisitor?” Said a voice to my right. I looked over to see Cassandra watching me, her eyes filled with concern. “Are you all right? You haven't said much since we left Starkhaven.”

“Is it that obvious?” I sighed.

“No. But I'm a Seeker. I'm trained to notice changes in others. Tell me. What troubles you?”

“I spoke to Solas.”

“You... what?” She exclaimed a little too loudly before recovering her composure. “What do you mean you spoke to him?”

“He drew me into the Fade to talk to me. He wanted to make me a deal.”

“Deal? What deal?”

“He knows I'm looking for him and that I want Dorian back.”

“Andraste guide us.” She whispered. “So he knows we're coming.”

“He knows I'm coming.” I corrected. “I don't know if he's aware of the others with me, but he said he would give me Dorian back if i gave him the mark.”

“Gave him the mark? Is that even possible?”

“I don't know but it doesn't matter, I refused.”

“Inquisitor...”

“I know Cassandra. The mark is killing me... slowly. But do we really want Solas to have that kind of power?”

“No. I suppose we don't, but if he could remove the mark you would be safe.”

“If he can remove the mark, I still don't want him to have it. Besides, if the mark can be removed, he can't be the only one capable of removing it.”

“Perhaps. But Solas is a god is he not? Who else would have that ability?”

“I don't know what Solas is other than a very good actor and trickster. Aside from being very old, I don't know if I would call him a god. Do gods need magical artifacts to amplify their power?”

Cassandra frowned. “I admit that didn't occur to me. But then that begs the question. What is Solas?”

“I wish I knew.”

Dorian

His exchange with the woman in the market had frightened him. He didn't want to acknowledge the effect she'd had and hurried back to Alexius' mansion fearful she'd try to talk to him again. It wasn't so much that she knew him, it was that he had no idea who she was even as he was certain he should know her. What was wrong with him? Why couldn't he remember her face?

It was as he was approaching the house when a wave of dizziness slammed into him. He stumbled, falling to his knees, his face drenched in sweat as his vision blurred. The servant he was with turned to him in shock, hurrying to his side.

He could hear the man speaking, but his words were lost as his ability to hear faded. As he tried to focus on what the man was saying, his vision went black and a name flashed through his mind before he lost consciousness.

----xxx----

Maevaris watched in horror as Dorian fell to his knees collapsing on the street a few yards from the front door of Alexius' mansion. The front door swung open revealing a bald, elven man who hurried to Dorian's side. Concealing herself behind a hedge, she watched as the two elves picked Dorian up and carried him swiftly into the house.

She frowned as the door slammed shut, her earlier concern changing to alarm. The elf who'd emerged from the house did not display any of the behaviours of a servant or slave. He appeared to be in charge. Not only of the other servant who was with Dorian, but of the entire household. He had carried himself with a palpable air of authority that even from this distance was unmistakable.

She didn't like it at all, but given Dorian hadn't known who she was, she didn't think it wise to approach the house demanding answers. She needed to know more before she did anything. Clucking her tongue in frustration, she hurried away toward the Pavus estate. If she hadn't known Dorian was back, she was certain his father didn't either. And if that was the case, whatever was going on was a lot worse than she had first thought.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

It had taken another three days to bypass the Hundred Pillars mountain range, but we'd had no choice. We needed supplies before we made our way to Qarinus through the Arlathan forest, so we were heading to a small city in Antiva.

I knew we had to stop, but the delay only served to increase my anxiety and concern for Dorian. By the time we reached Seleny, the closest city inside Antiva's borders, night had fallen and we were all in various states of exhaustion and hunger.

I had no appetite myself, but ate anyway at Cassandra's insistence. I knew I needed my strength, but the waiting was a nightmare. I couldn't stop thinking about Dorian or what Solas might be doing to him as I sat in the warm tavern eating a hearty stew and surrounded by my friends. It hurt me to know he was alone in all this. His only companion an elven mage who had already caused him a lot of harm and for all I knew planned to cause him more. I hated Solas more than I have ever hated anyone. It enraged me to think how Solas had managed to convince Dorian he was a friend. Or what he might have done to make Dorian forget.

The last part hurt me more than I was willing to admit. Even to myself. What if Solas hadn't done anything? What if Dorian just didn't care about me as much as he cared about his homeland? I knew the thought was a betrayal of everything we'd shared, but I couldn't help it. Just the mere thought that Dorian had gone willingly was more than I could bear.

“Inquisitor?” Varric whispered at my side. “I know you're worried about Sparkler. There isn't much I can say to help, but try to remember how much he loves you.”

Tears brimmed in my eyes as my throat closed up. I nodded, turning away to regain my composure before answering.

“I know Varric... it's just...”

“How has he forgotten you?” Varric frowned. “I don't know the answer to that, but I do know Dorian loves you. I've only ever seen the kind of love the two of you share in Hawke and Fenris. That kind of connection can't be faked.”

“You're right. It's just hard not knowing what's happening.” I said, taking a shuddering breath.

“I can't even imagine. But don't worry, we're all here for you. We'll see this through, save Dorian and stop Solas. Don't ask me how, I just know we will. Besides, we can't fail we've got both the Champion of Kirkwall and the Inquisitor on our side.”

“Thanks Varric.” I said, getting to my feet. “I appreciate everything you're all doing, but I think I want to be alone now. I'm heading to bed.”

“Sure. See you in the morning, bright and early.”

Dorian

He woke to the feel of soft linens against his skin and the welcome softness of a luxurious mattress at his back. He sighed, stretching as he stared up at the ceiling, his thoughts confused. He couldn't remember how he'd gotten here or what he'd been doing before he passed out.

He took a moment to collect himself before swinging his legs over the side of the bed. Glancing around the room, bits and pieces gradually made him remember the market. Then the blonde woman who had called him by name, followed by the dizziness he'd felt before he'd lost consciousness.

Frowning, he focused on the dizziness, wracking his memory for any clue as to what might have caused it. Something about the woman nagged at him. Despite his initial reaction to her, a small part of him insisted he knew her and knew her well. Taking a deep breath, he focused on the memory of her face as he tried to remember her name.

Maevaris. Her name popped into his mind like a flash of light from the sky, accompanied by a searing pain behind his eyes. Was that right? Yes, he nodded to himself, remembering more. She was a good friend and they'd known each other for years. In fact if his memory was returning, she was also his only close friend in all of Qarinus.

But if that was true, why hadn't he remembered her in the market? The thought chilled him as another wave of nausea washed over him making his head throb. He cried out, clutching his head in his hands as images and memory flooded his senses. He stayed that way for more than twenty minutes before the images ceased leaving him shaken, his breath coming in short gasps.

Skyhold, Solas, Inquisitor, Nathaniel... his face filled with horror as he remembered the visitor who had spoken to him in the Fade about the Dread Wolf. Solas was Fen'Harel, and he was in the house with him. Likely waiting for him downstairs to make sure he was still oblivious to who he was.

His eyes filled with tears at his recovered memory of the Inquisitor. Nathaniel, his hear cried. What must he think of him now? That he would abandon him without a word... not remembering anything... He felt shame as his heart squeezed painfully. Did he even know where he was? Was he looking for him even now, or had he washed his hands of the Tevinter who'd caused him so much pain and heartbreak?

Snap out of it Dorian. He chided himself. You can worry about Nathaniel later. Right now, you have bigger problems. It was a sobering thought. If Solas really was the Dread wolf, he was in far greater danger if Solas realized he'd recovered his memory.

Footsteps on the stairs had him hurrying to the small wash basin to freshen up and wash the tears from his face. A knock sounded as he splashed his face with water.

“Lord Pavus?” Came a muffled male voice he didn't recognize.

“Yes? What is it?”

“How are you feeling sir? Master Solas wanted me to check on you.”

I just bet he did, Dorian fumed. “Tell him I'm fine thank you. I'm just freshening up at the moment.”

“Very good sir. I shall let him know you're awake. He's waiting to speak with you in the library.”

“I'll be down shortly.” He said, feeling himself tensing with anger. Master Solas indeed, he sneered, checking his appearance in the small looking glass.

How did one fake a look of ignorance? Indifference was old hat to him, but ignorance? He'd never been any good at pretending not to know something. Better learn fast then, he growled to himself, ignoring he pale look of his skin and the dark smudges under his eyes. He wondered what had triggered the return of his memory, but quickly brushed it aside. It didn't matter right now. It was back and he would be damned if let Solas steal it from him again. He would just have to be careful not to give himself away. Simple really.

Feigning more confidence than he felt, he left the bedroom and took the stairs down to the study. The sooner he spoke to the vile mage, the better. He needed a plan, but first he needed to know what Solas was up to.

Nathaniel

Everyone was nervous as we came within sight of the Tevinter border. Anders would pose as a returning magister, long-ago appointed to monitoring Qunari activities along the Antivan coast. Isabella had procured the necessary papers he would need to gain entry, though Anders was not reassured by this.

The rest of us were posing as his guard save for Varric, who was a trader who had business with the Merchant's Guild of Qarinus regarding research involving the cities Golems. As for me, the mark had been concealed with the aid of thick leather gloves. If anyone questioned it, Anders would provide the excuse that I had severe burns on my hands after an altercation with a band of Tal-Vashoth on our journey here.

Though the Tevinter guard seemed displeased by how many of us were travelling as part of Anders' party, he allowed us to pass through the gates with little hassle. Twenty minutes later, after we'd moved out of sight of the border guards, we left the main road and headed off into the woods. Though our passage into Imperium lands had been uneventful, none of us were comforted by the lack of hostility.

We had no illusions that the guard wouldn't send word ahead of our arrival. Though hiding in the woods wasn't ideal, we were erring on the side of caution rather than risk an encounter which might provoke an altercation we didn't want.

After making camp deep within the forest which bordered the road to into Qarinus, we settled in for the night. All of us were on edge now. We were inside hostile lands and were very aware of how much danger we were in if we were discovered.

Restless, Cullen and Cassandra were up before sunrise, scouting our route through the trees for any sign of trouble. We'd gotten this far, but we still didn't have a plan for how to locate Dorian or Solas without bringing attention to ourselves. Varric as busy arguing with Sera after Cullen and Cassandra left, trying to explain his plan to her.

“Buttercup, I know you don't like it but we haven't got a choice. It's not like we can march into town demanding directions to the Pavus estate. As a trader, I should already know where it is. In fact, I should know the location of all the important estates in Qarinus, but I don't.”

“Bollocks.” Sera fumed, her cheeks flaming pink with frustration. “There might be slave here, but they're also elves. I don't see why I can't just slip past the city gate and talk to some of them.”

Anders sighed as he listened to them argue. “Even if we thought that a good idea, what makes you think any of them would even talk to you? You aren't one of them.”

“Because I'm an elf and I'm approachable. Unlike you, magey pants.” She sneered.

“Elf or not, slaves won't want anything to do with a stranger and if you're approachable, I'm the king of Antiva.”

“You don't know that and I'm a lot more approachable than you with that scruffy beard of yours. You look like a savage. Besides, who put you in charge? The Inquisitor calls the shots round here, not you.”

Anders threw his hands up in mock defeat. “Fine. Get yourself killed and all the rest of us arrested. I'm done arguing with you. And my beard is not scruffy thank you very much.”

“Sera.” I said, moving to join her and Varric as Anders stalked away.

“What?”

“Anders and Varric are right. You can't go in there alone. I know you're more than capable of going undetected, but it's too big of a risk. We can't afford to lose anyone if something goes wrong. We too out-numbered as it is.”

“So what then?” She pouted, a huge crease forming between her brows. “I just tag along like beaten down slave while the rest of you do all the work?”

I sighed. Sera did have a point. If I hadn't planned to make use of her skills, why had I brought her with us? I shook my head. “No, you're right. I have something that might be safe enough, but you're not going in there alone.”

“But...”

“No Sera. Cullen or Cassandra will follow at a distance, but this isn't up for debate.”

“Fine.” She grumbled. “What do you want me to do?”

After I explained my plan to her, she was anxious to get moving. Vibrating with excitement she almost had a conniption when I told her she couldn't leave until after dark. After pacing the camp for more than an hour, muttering to herself while casting me angry looks, she finally calmed down dropping cross-legged to the ground in a sulk.

Cullen and Cassandra returned to camp about an hour later, tired but hopeful about what they'd learned. As we sat around the camp eating an early dinner, Cullen gave us their report.

“It's not as bad as we imagined it would be Inquisitor. There aren't many guards posted at the city's entrance and from what we say they do little to bar entry to visitors.”

“I suppose that's good. What about anyone watching for our arrival?”

“We couldn't tell Inquisitor.” Cassandra answered between mouthfuls of venison. “I'm uncertain if anyone is aware of our passage into Tevinter.”

I nodded at what she said. I had expected it and moved on to tell them my plan for Sera.

“And who do you want trailing behind her?” Cassandra grumbled. “We can't both follow as her bodyguard. It would be impossible to get all three of us past the guards.”

“I volunteer.” Cullen said, eager to get things moving.

“Sorry Cullen, but this one's for Cassandra. With her Seeker training, she should be able to shadow Sera without drawing attention.”

“But...”

“I know you have your own very admirable talents, but being inconspicuous is not one of them.”

“I.. you're right Inquisitor. May I at least accompany them to the outskirts of the city proper? It would set my mind at ease.”

“Of course. Just remember to stay hidden. The last thing we need is to draw attention to ourselves.”

“I think that goes without saying.” Cassandra drawled.

“Sorry Cassandra. At any rate, wait until after nightfall before you attempt to enter the city. The more cover you have the better and darkness is a great cover.”

“Gotcha Inquisitor.” Sera nodded. “I'll be like smoke on the wind. No one will even know I'm there. Can't say if Cassandra will be as successful though.”

“My skills as a Seeker will keep me hidden Sera. You should be more concerned with not getting caught or swearing too loudly.”

“I don't swear that much. Okay, wait, maybe I do. But I'm not stupid, I know this is serious business.”

“Good.” I nodded, smiling at her. “I wish you all luck, but I must bid you goodnight. I'm utterly exhausted.”

“Good night Inquisitor.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

“Ah Dorian.” Solas nodded, rising from the chair he'd been in. “You're awake. How are you feeling?”

“Much better thank you.” He nodded crossing the room to the small bar to pour himself a brandy.

“i am pleased to hear it. Erevan tells me you just collapsed unexpectedly in the middle of the street. Gave him quite the shock.”

“That makes two of us.” Dorian retorted, downing a healthy swallow of brandy. He could feel Solas watching him, making him self-conscious.

“Do you have any idea what might have caused it?”

Dorian frowned. “I can't imagine really. I suppose I may have just got too much sun, though I don't ever recall fainting before.. Perhaps I am still recovering from our trip. We did come a long way in a short space of time.”

Solas was thoughtful and turned to stare out the window which overlooked the estate garden. “Perhaps you're right. We did travel a great distance, though that was several days ago now.”

“Well whatever it was, I hope in never happens again.” Dorian said, joining him at the window. “It was rather embarrassing.”

“Indeed.” Solas agreed, turning to stare at him. “Everan also told me a woman spoke to you in the market today.”

“Yes, that's right.” He nodded, keeping his eyes on the window. “Strange business that. Kept insisting she knew me. I don't know what kind of game she was playing at. I actually thought she was going to argue the matter right there on the street.”

“Strange indeed. Yet you didn't know her.”

“No. I didn't. I told her I have few friends in Qarinus and that she just happened to be one of them was too outrageous to even consider.”

Solas nodded and crossed to the desk where he began searching for something. Dorian frowned. What in blazes was the man doing now? This cat and mouse game over Maevaris was making him nervous.

“I suppose it is outrageous to think you have friends here. It seems you left home with quite the unflattering reputation.”

Dorian frowned. How did he know that? “Yes well when you don't agree with how the Magisters run things, you tend to stand out from the crowd.”

“Perhaps.” Solas mused. “But enough about that. Are you feeling well enough to hear my plan now?”

“Yes, I'm quite fine now. Let's hear it.”

“Very well.” Solas said, taking a seat. “Let's talk.”

Maevaris

Maevaris had crossed the city in no time at all and was now hurrying up the street to the Pavus mansion. Though it hadn't taken long, dusk had already descended and soon it would be quite dark. In her haste she almost ran right into a man who appeared before her on the path, seemingly blocking her progress.

Frowning she tensed her shoulders, prepared to blast him out of her way if he tried to stop her from reaching her destination. She shifted course to breeze past him and he stepped sideways blocking her path again.

“Excuse me.” She barked, her hand reaching for her staff.

“Pardon my intrusion my lady.” The young, blonde man said quietly. “But I need to speak with you.”

She frowned harder, stopping a few feet in front of him. “Get out of my way.”

“Apologies mistress, but I must speak with you. It's very important.”

“Look you, I don't know who you are or what you want, but I'm not interested. Leave me alone.”

“I cannot. It is imperative that I talk to you.”

“This is your last warning.” She said, the grip on her staff tightening.

“You are headed to the Pavus mansion to speak with Dorian's father are you not?” He asked.

She paled. “How do you know that?”

“I assure you, his father does not know Dorian is here.”

“Just who the blazes are you?”

“A friend.”

She sneered at that. “If you knew who I was you would know I don't have many friends.”

“I know exactly who you are Maevaris Tilani. Now, will you listened to what I have to say or not?”

Blowing out a frustrated breath, she nodded and turned on her heel. “Seems like you're not going to give me a choice.” She growled, marching down the street, back the way she'd come. “Follow me. We can't talk here, it's too dangerous. Too many eyes and ears may be watching.”

----xxx----

Back at her mansion, Maevaris wasted no time activating the wards and protective spell she'd placed all over her house and property. Satisfied when no alarms went off which would have indicated someone had tampered with her security, she marched into her study to pour herself a drink.

The blonde man followed, saying nothing as he watched her before declining her offer of a drink.

“Alright.” She said. “So talk. Who are you?”

“My name is Feynriel. I have information for you regarding Lord Pavus and why he didn't know you.”

“How do you know about that?” She demanded.

“I know a lot of things. Does it matter how?”

“Yes it bloody does.”

“I'm afraid that will have to wait.”

“Fine! Get on with it then before I lose patience with you.”

When Feynriel had finished his story, Maevaris could do nothing more than gape at him.

“You can't be serious.” She dead-panned.

“I'm afraid I am deadly serious.”

“The Dread Wolf? Really?”

“Do you have any other explanation for why Dorian didn't recognize you? Tell me, how much power would it take to affect a mage like Dorian?”

“I... don't know.” She faltered.

“You're aware he had a lover in the Inquisition?”

She nodded. “I am. It's why I was so surprised to see him here. His letters... he was so happy. I've never known Dorian to be so happy before.”

“And what kind of magic could make him forget the love of his life? And his past?”

“Only something very powerful. A magister wouldn't be enough, though several might be able to pull it off.” She said, feeling chilled by the thought.

Feynriel watched her as she processed what he'd just told her.

“Alright. Say it's true what you say. How do you fit into all this and how do you know so much about it?”

He smiled. “So you believe me then?”

“As outrageous as your story is I can't see another explanation that makes sense.”

“The Inquisitor needs your help.”

“The... what?” She blurted. Whatever she'd expected him to say, that was definitely not it.

“The Inquisitor. He's coming here to save Dorian and stop Solas.”

“But that's suicide! He'll never get within ten feet of Dorian, never mind inside Tevinter's border.”

“He already has.” Feynriel said calmly.

“What?!” Her eyes had grown round as saucers, her jaw hanging open in shock.

“He's just outside the city now though he has no idea where Dorian and Solas are staying. I need you to shelter him and his friends.”

“Shelter Fereldens?” Her eyebrows had shot to new heights of incredulity. “Do you have any idea how dangerous that would be? Does this Inquisitor have a death wish?”

Feynriel frowned. “Of course not. All he wants is to see Dorian safe. He loves him and he knows Solas needs to be stopped.”

Maevaris looked thoughtful as she poured herself another shot of brandy. Gulping it down, she poured another, her mind racing.

“And what about you? You still haven't told me how you're involved in all this.”

“I will do what I can, but the closer I get to Solas the more danger I'm in.”

“Why? What makes you so special?”

“Because I'm a Dreamer. A Somniari if you prefer.”

Maevaris nearly choked on her brandy. “Seriously?”

He nodded.

“Andraste's flaming arse.” She muttered, making up her mind in an instant. “Very well. Where is this Inquisitor and when do we collect them?”

“Tonight. After nightfall.”

“Fine. Then we have time for dinner. I don't make a habit of harbouring my countryman's sworn enemies on an empty stomach. Follow me. I'll have the cook fix us something while we wait and you can tell me more about this Inquisitor.”



Nathaniel

I was wide awake lying on my bedroll fully clothed as the light dimmed from the sky. I was tired beyond words, but was so consumed with worry for Dorian I couldn't sleep. Low voices and shuffling feet drew my curiosity and with a frustrated groan, I got up to join my friends, surprised to see Hawke and Fenris had arrived.

“Inquisitor.” Hawke nodded in greeting.

“Hawke, Fenris.” I said, joining them. “I didn't expect to see you two here.”

“We learned what we could and took the scenic route to get past the border. Cullen was just saying you weren't sure if your passage into the Imperium went unnoticed.”

“That's right.” I nodded.

“From what we could tell, no one seems to care. They didn't send word of your passage to Qarinus, nor did they seem the least bit disturbed by the return of a mage formerly assigned to Antiva's coast.”

“I wish I was more reassured by that.” I murmured.

“I know what you mean.” Fenris growled, clearly unhappy.

I glanced up at him, meeting his eyes to convey my appreciation for his support.

“Thank you for being here Fenris. It means a lot to me.”

“Mmm.” He grunted. “If this Dread Wolf truly is a threat there is nowhere I am needed more, but you are welcome all the same.”

“Is it time yet?” Sera moaned. “The sun has gone down and I want to get moving.”

“Of course Sera. Just remember to be careful.”

“I know what I'm doing.” She snapped, jumping to her feet as her cheeks went pink. “Um... sorry Inquisitor, didn't mean to snap.”

Cassandra rose to follow, giving me a nod as she left with Cullen fast on their heels.

“Anyone else thirsty?” Varric asked as they disappeared into the trees. “Because I for one could use a drink.”

“Set us up Varric.” I nodded. “I think we could all use a drink.”

----xxx----

Crouched in the bushes outside the city gate, Cassandra waited while Sera fiddled with an arrow.

“May I ask what exactly it is that you're doing?” She whispered, frowning at the girl.

“Getting my distraction ready of course.” Sera hissed. “Wait here.”

Cassandra watched as Sera slipped from cover to cover until she was less than twenty feet from the gate. She held her breath as the elf cocked an arrow and sent it whizzing past the guard's heads to lodge in the brick of a nearby stone wall. Heart thudding, she barely managed to cover her yelp of surprise when Sera reappeared at her side.

“Maker preserve me.” She muttered. “What in blazes was that?”

“Shh.” Sera frowned. “Just watch.”

Seconds later, the sound of coins scattering across the stone walkway reached them. The guards posted at the gate jumped in fright, turning as one to the source of the disturbance.

“Brilliant.” Cassandra drawled. “When they see your arrow, they'll know it's a trap.”

“Pfft.” Sera snorted. “Shows what you know. There won't be an arrow to find. Come on.”

Ten minutes later she and Sera were hiding in a garden, breathing hard as they recovered their breath from the mad dash they'd made through the city gates.

“Alright. Tell me. What do you mean there won't be an arrow? I saw you shoot it over their heads.”

“I coated it in my ice potion daft one.” Sera retorted rolling her eyes at her. “Anything I put that stuff on turns it to ice. The only thing those guards will find is a puddle of water. Now if you're dumb asking me dumb questions, we should get moving.”

“Fine.” Cassandra grumbled, still unclear as to how a potion could manage something like that as she fell in behind her.

They encountered no one as they made their way through the darkened streets of Qarinus. Neither had been sure how they would find the Pavus estate in the mass of houses, but after checking a few, it was clear every home proudly displayed the family name.

They'd checked two city streets with no luck and were passing into a third when Cassandra froze.

“Don't do that.” Sera hissed.

“I thought I heard something. Stop moving so I can listen.”

“I'm not moving. What did you hear?”

“It sounded like footsteps. Like we were being followed or watched.”

Craning her neck above the bush they were hidden in, Sera searched the street for signs of movement.

“I don't see anything. You're just imagining things. Let's keep moving, we haven't got all night you know.”

“Do you want to get caught?” Cassandra hissed back. “Just wait a moment.”

“Can't. I have to fill Solas with arrows for hurting Dorian and the Inquisitor. Let's go.”

“Sera!” Cassandra growled as Sera sprinted ahead to another stand of bushes.

“See.” Sera grinned, turning back to her. “No one's here.”

Cassandra paled as a dark shape detached itself from the shadows of a nearby building and began walking directly to their hiding spot. Seeing her look, Sera whirled around, knocking an arrow even as the shadow loomed over her.

“Not bad. But at the rate you're going you'll never find Dorian before you get caught.” The figure drawled, snatching Sera's arrow from her trembling hand.

“Who are you?” Cassandra demanded, still recovering from her shock.

“A friend. Now follow me, we can talk back at my mansion.”

“Right. We're just going to trust a complete stranger in a city full of evil mages.” Sera snorted, reaching for another arrow.

“Either come with me now or I call the guards.” The figure growled. “Make your choice.”

“We'll come with you.” Cassandra agreed.

Sera frowned and muttered under her breath though didn't argue more as she followed Cassandra and the stranger.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

“Are you mad?” Dorian spluttered as Solas finished laying out his plan.

“On the contrary, I am being very reasonable.”

“But you want to make me Archon.” Dorian protested, not bothering to hide his shock. “Even if that were possible, none of the other magisters would ever allow it. They'd have me assassinated before it ever went to a vote.”

“Nevertheless, I do not see any other way to achieve your goal. You need power Dorian. You do not yet wield enough to take on the magisterium, never mind all of Tevinter.”

“This is madness. It can't be done.” Dorian shook his head. “No. There must be another way.”

“If there is, I haven't found it. This is the way Dorian, or do you not wish to reform your country?”

“Reform it yes. But this sounds more like a coup, an abuse of power. This is not what I had in mind.”

“Is that not what why you want it to change? The magisters already abuse their power through the use of blood magic. How else do you expect to change things?”

Fight fire with fire is that it? You want me to become what I most despise about my own country just to change it?” He growled.

“If that's what it takes.”

“No.” Dorian said, his voice firm. I won't do this. I won't become what I hate just to reform my country. I will not compromise my values for the sake of saving time and effort. We'll just have to find another way.”

“There is no other way!” Solas shouted, shooting to his feet to glare at him. “You must make the sacrifice Dorian. No one else can do this.”

“Then I won't do it.” Dorian retorted, crossing his arms over his chest. “If I can't stay true to myself then my country is lost. I will not resort to abuse of power to achieve my goal. It goes against everything I believe in, everything I loathe about my country. I will not turn myself into a hypocrite.”

“That is unfortunate.” Solas said coolly, crossing the room to stand before him. “I was hoping you would see reason, yet it seems your time in Ferelden has made you go soft.”

“Ferelden?” Dorian echoed, tensing. He had no idea if he was supposed to remember being there or not. Did he feign ignorance? Or denial?

“Yes Ferelden.” Solas continued, watching him with interest. “You do remember do you not? It seems the Inquisitor not only softened you up, he has also made you take responsibility as well.”

“Inquisitor?” Dorian repeated, feeling his blood go cold.

Solas clucked his tongue. “Come now Dorian. We both know you remember everything. No need to continue this charade now.”

“I assure you I have no idea what you're talking about.”

“Don't trifle with me mage.” Solas threatened, his eyes flashing with blue fire. “I don't know how you managed it, it should not have been possible. But you remember everything, don't you?”

“You mean how you tried to kill me? Manipulated me? Started the entire bloody war with Corypheus?” Dorian snapped.

“So you know about Corypheus as well.”

“What do you mean?” Dorian demanded. “Who else have you talked to about Corypheus?”

“It matters not. My journey is almost at an end. Though I must admit I am pleased I will no longer be forced to pretend friendship with you.”

“We were never friends Solas.” Dorian retorted, his eyes flashing with anger. “I merely tolerated you.”

“Truly.” Solas smirked, moving to answer the knock at the study door. “Did you hear all that?” He asked Erevan who stepped into the room.

“I did.” Erevan nodded.

“Good. Give it to me.”

Dorian watched as Erevan handed Solas what looked like iron shackles. Fear coursed through him as Solas turned to face him, a smile on his lips.

“Now that we have no secrets between us, I'm afraid you've become a liability.”

“If you think I'm going to put those on, you're gravely mistaken.” Dorian retorted.

“You'll put them on.” Solas assured him. “I have no doubts about that.”

“Keep away from me Solas. I'm warning you.”

“Warning me he says.” Solas repeated, amused. “You don't get it yet, do you mage? I am more powerful that you can possibly imagine. Hold out your hands Dorian.”

“No.” He retorted even as his arms rose of their own volition.

“That's a good mage.” Solas chuckled, fastening the shackles around his wrists. “I told you you'd cooperate.”

“You compelled me with your voice.” Dorian whispered, horrified by the implication of Solas' power.

“Impressive isn't it?” Solas said, turning his back to him. “Erevan, take Master Pavus to the cellar. Everything is prepared as I requested yes?”

“I oversaw the arrangements personally sir.”

“Excellent.” Solas grinned. “Goodbye Dorian, we will speak later. I can't say you'll enjoy your new accommodations, but it can't be helped now.”

“I won't let you do this Solas!” Dorian cried. “I'll stop you. The Inquisitor will stop you.”

Solas laughed. “I will enjoy watching him try. But like you, he will fail.”

“Solas!”

Nathaniel

We were on our third round of drinks, all of us in various stages of happy inebriation when a rustling in the bushes nearby froze us all in place. Hands went to sword or bow as we all stood, searching the shadows for danger.

“Hold up yeah!” Sera called, her voice piercing the quiet. “We're back and we've brought a friend.”

“Friend?” I echoed, my heart pounding in anticipation of seeing Dorian. Had they found him that easy already?

“Yeah, a friend. She's a magister, but don't let that fool you.” Sera continued, stepping into the light of the fire as Cassandra joined her.

“What Sera is trying to say is that we met someone who is eager to offer her assistance.” She said, stepping aside to reveal a tall, blonde woman who beamed at all of us in turn.

“Maker's breath...” I heard Varric mutter.

“Inquisitor.” The woman smiled, stepping up to me. “I've been dying to meet you ever since Dorian told me about you. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Maevaris Tilani, at your service.”

“Maevaris?” I repeated, stunned. “Dorian's best friend?”

“The one and only.” She smirked, her eyes crinkling in amusement.

“And my deceased cousin's widow.” Varric added.

Maevaris spun in place, her eyes wide with shock which changed swiftly as she moved to Varric and picked him up in a bear hug against the dwarf's very vocal protestations. “Varric!” She cried, her smile growing even wider. “What in the Maker's name are you doing here?”

“I'll be more than happy to fill you in after you put me down.” He grumbled.

“Right! Of course.” She said, settling him on his feet before taking a seat by the fire.

“You two know each other?” Cullen asked, recovering his surprise before the rest of us.

“You bet we do!” Maevaris beamed. “Oh this is just so perfectly wonderful.”

Varric frowned and met Cullen's eyes. “Maevaris was unofficially married to my cousin Thorold. He died in an “accident” back in 9:37 Dragon.”

“Accident.” Maevaris snorted, her brow creasing in a frown.

“I'm guessing this accident wasn't quite so accidental.” I said, taking a seat beside her as the rest of my companions followed my lead.

“Nope. Sure wasn't. But I took care of that.” She said, winking at me with a knowing look in her eye.

I smiled. “I imagine your former in-laws were pleased.”

“Oh most definitely.” She laughed, turning to Varric. “How about you pour me a drink dwarf and we can get down to business.”

“Pardon my manners my lady.” Varric teased, retrieving a bottle of brandy from his sack. “One brandy coming right up.”

“Ah Varric. Excellent taste in spirits as always.” She sighed, taking a healthy gulp.

Her eyes sparkled with pleasure as she took a moment to enjoy her drink while turning her attention to everyone gathered, one at a time.

“Quite the party you have with you Inquisitor.” She murmured, her eyes going wide with shock when she reached Fenris.

“I know you.” She said, her amusement fading.

“Do you now.” Fenris retorted. “I highly doubt that.”

“No. I know you. You're Danarius' escaped slave.”

Fenris hissed. “Never call me that.”

“Sorry elf.” She exclaimed, a flush spreading over her pale cheeks. “I was just surprised to see you here.”

“That makes two of us.” He grumbled.

“My apologies. I was more than pleased to hear of his death. I just never imagined I'd meet the one responsible for ending his life.”

“You know for certain he's dead then?” Fenris asked, baiting her.

“Don't toy with me elf. I know you killed Danarius and I know the Champion by your side was there when it happened. If not for all the rumours flying everywhere, Dorian was fascinated by the Tale of the Champion. He always used to tell me it was like reading about a light at the end of a dark tunnel. That a man as evil and powerful as Danarius could be taken down by a slave, well... he saw it as a reason to hope for the future.”

“Dorian talked about Hawke and Fenris with you?” I asked, intrigued.

“Oh yes. Loves his stories that one, especially the ones with happy endings. Though he would never admit to reading anything like it in mixed company.” She said, a knowing twinkle in her eyes.

“Perhaps we should leave the storytelling for another time.” Cassandra said, interrupting. “We are running out of time while we sit here.”

“Right. Of course.” Maevaris nodded. “I can get you all into the city and to my mansion. I believe we have a lot to talk about before we get to rescuing Dorian.”

“I agree.” I said. “But first, I think we should know how you knew we were here.”

“Feynriel, Inquisitor.” Sera said. “That guy you told us about from the Fade, he's here in Qarinus.”

“You're joking.” Fenris grumbled.

“Oh I rarely joke.” Sera shook her head. “Prank yes, joke... not so much.”

“I'll give you twenty minutes to pack up your camp.” Maevaris said, downing her brandy and handing her empty mug to Varric. “Meet me west of the outer gates and I'll lead you from there. I have a secret passage which will get you into the city undetected.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He was kicking himself as Erevan led him down the hall to a doorway he knew led to the cellar. Erevan had been joined by two other elves judging by their height, though it was impossible to be sure.

Clad all in black with masks like that of the Venatori, he couldn't see their faces. Each of them carried a silver rod with a large crystal fastened to the end, each of which gave off a faint amber glow. He had no doubt they wouldn't hesitate to use them if he tried to resist. Though it galled him to go along with his impending imprisonment, he was also greatly outnumbered with the loss of his magic due to the iron shackles on his wrists. In the very likely event he lost to his captors he had no desire to be rendered unconscious while Solas was around.

His shoulders slumped as they led him down a torch-lit hallway and into a sparsely furnished, stone-walled room. He didn't remember it from when he'd been Alexius' student, though admittedly he had never spent much time in the cellar either. Erebas grunted at him, motioning him to an iron frame bed with a faintly stained mattress in the far corner of the room.

He frowned, wrinkling his nose at the foul odour which permeated the air, but stumbled forward when one of his hooded figures prodded him in the back

“You can't be serious.” He said, forcing himself to keep his tone light. “Next it'll be thumbscrews and hot brands.”

“Don't tempt me mage.” Erebas grunted, crossing the room to attach his shackles to a chain secured to the bed frame.

“You do realize who you're working for yes?” Dorian asked, ignoring him. “He's not who you think he is.”

Erebas smirked, settling on a stool in the far corner. He nodded to his companions to take their leave and they bowed before gliding from the room on silent feet. Under other conditions, he might have asked how they managed it, but given the situation it mostly just unnerved him.

“You think I don't know who he is?” Erebas laughed. “He's our saviour. He's going to restore the elves to their proper place in this human-infested world.”

“Human-infested?”

“You heard me. Human-infested. Your kind is nothing but a blight on the world. A stain on the land that is measures worse than the Blight caused by archdemons.”

“He'll betray you, you know. It's what he does.”

“Shut your silver tongue mage. Everyone knows mages do nothing but lie. Especially garbage-rutting magisters like you.”

“I am no magister.”

“Yes you are. Doesn't matter anyway. You bleed as easy as any other man. Once my master is done with you, you won't care what happens anymore.”

“And what exactly is he planning to do with me? And why call him master? I though you were a servant, not a slave.” Dorian retorted, unable to hold his temper.

Erebas' lip curled in anger, tightening his grip on the glowing rod in his hand.

“I won't warn you again mage. Shut your mouth.”

“I don't think Solas would appreciate having his prisoner assaulted by the likes of you.”

“That's where you're wrong.” Erebas grinned, his eyes going cold. “So long as you don't die, I can do whatever necessary to get you to cooperate.”

“Well I am cooperating.” Dorian reasoned, wondering how far he could push the elf before he snapped. “No one's forcing you to talk to me.”

Erebas grunted, refusing to respond to Dorian's jibe.

“Fine. I won't point out how blind you're being. But perhaps you should ask your master just who exactly his people are. For as long as I've known him, Solas doesn't care much for elves of this time. Not city elves, and not the Dalish and most definitely not slaves.”

Erebas stood, his eyes cold as he crossed the room to stand before him. “You're making that up.” He spat.

“I assure you I am doing no such thing.”

“No matter. I'm tired of listening to you talk anyway. Pleasant dreams mage.” he said, raising the crystal rod in his direction.

“Wait! What are you doing?”

“Putting you to sleep.” He smiled, pressing the crystal to Dorian's leg.

A flash of brilliant white light lanced through his vision as the crystal made contact with him. He had a brief moment to swear at himself before everything went black.

Nathaniel

Our trip into the city was short and uneventful. We reached the Tilani mansion while the moon was still high in the cloudless sky. With so many of us descending on her home at once, it was several minutes before she had rooms ready for us. Though both Cullen and Cassandra protested loudly, I accepted the private room Maevaris offered me and refused to allow either of them to guard the door.

“But Inquisitor...” Cullen continued.

“Leave it Cullen.” I said wearily. “If anyone who wishes me harm makes it inside the mansion, no single guard outside my door is going to make much difference.”

Maevaris laughed, clapping me on the back when I finished cutting off Cullen's protests. “Oh I like you Inquisitor. You're very practical and I can see what Dorian sees in you.”

I flinched at the mention of Dorian's name, reminding me yet again I still had no idea if he was okay or not. I knew he wasn't safe and it was killing me not go to him immediately, especially when I knew he was so close.

Maevaris must have picked up on my change in mood because she smiled then and called everyone to the dining room. Once we'd all gathered, she called for some light snacks and drink before dismissing her servants for the evening. While my companions settled in with their drinks and food, she caught my eye and motioned for me to follow her. Since I had no appetite and had already had several drinks back at our camp, I nodded and followed her down a short hallway and into a room I took to be her study.

Crossing the room, she poured out two glasses of a honey-brown liquid and handed me one as she closed the door behind us.

“Sit Inquisitor.” She said. “Before you collapse from exhaustion in front of your host.”

I frowned at her. I'd known I was excessively tired, but had hoped it didn't show. Shrugging, I took a swallow of the drink she'd given me and sunk into a plush high-back chair across from her. The liquid warmed me, a sweet, earthy scent mixed with cinnamon and I let out a content sigh as I settled in the chair.

Warmth spread through my limbs as we drank. Maevaris watching me with a curious expression on her face, which as I watched turned into a pleased smile. Frowning, I set aside my glass feeling better than I had since Dorian had first disappeared and knew in an instant she'd spiked my drink.

“What did you put in my drink?” I demanded, even though my voice held no hint of anger.

“Just a simple potion Inquisitor.” She shrugged. “Completely harmless. I needed to be sure who you really were.”

“Then why do I feel so much better than I did a few minutes ago?”

“I couldn't help it. If Dorian truly loves you, he'd want me to help you. It's a mild healing potion laced with another which tells me if you're lying.”

“Really.” I dead-panned. I had more questions and though I was upset at what she'd done, the effects of what she'd given me was making it difficult to think clearly.

She frowned at me, taking another sip of her drink. “I'm impressed Inquisitor.”

“By what?”

“The potion... well, I can't tell you exactly what it is but it tells me everything I need to know about you. I admit I've never seen colours like yours before.”

“Colours?”

She sighed, a faint flush creeping over her cheeks. “When Dorian first told me about you, he didn't say how much you loved him. Though I imagine he likely didn't know himself. But he also never mentioned how honest and honourable a man you are. In all my years of using this potion, I've never met a purer soul than yours.”

“Uh...” I had no idea how to respond to what she'd just said, though I was getting very uncomfortable with her praise of whatever it was she saw in me.”

“I'm sorry I used the potion Inquisitor. It was rude of me. I should have just asked you what I wanted to know.”

“Little late for that.” I managed to say, before shaking my head at her. “Though I do understand your motive. You don't know me at all and here in Tevinter, that can be dangerous.”

“Still...” She frowned. “I hate to ask this of you, but please don't tell Dorian what I did.'

“So you think I'll be able to do that then?” I asked, unable to keep the mix of hope and fear I felt out of my voice.

“Ah Inquisitor... I must apologize again. I keep saying the wrong things to you. But yes, I will make damn sure you and Dorian are reunited. But first, I need to know why you brought that elf Fenris, with you? Do you know something about him?”

“Only that he is somehow a threat to Solas.”

“He's much more than that Inquisitor.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Legend mostly.” She said, absently twirling her empty glass on the table before her. “Thing is, legends usually have a thread of truth to them. And so the Dread Wolf, Fen'Harel was felled by his son, Fenris also known as the little wolf.”

“But Fenris isn't Solas' son.”

Maevaris smiled, clicking her tongue at me, clearly amused by my words.

“Inquisitor, really. I said legend.... since when are legends entirely literal?”

I blushed, saying nothing.

“Never mind me Inquisitor.” She added. “It's probably my fault you even said that. Likely the potion is affecting your thoughts. We should save this discussion for later, after it's worn off.”

“No.” I said, shaking my head. “I need to know. Is Dorian all right?”

“He's as all right as he can be while with this Solas person. He was fine in the market when I saw him, though he didn't recognize or remember me.”

I nodded. “So he's lost more of his memories than I had hoped.”

She frowned. “You know about that? Did Dorian forget you before this happened?”

I nodded, remembering his grand speech about saving his homeland and the words he'd used which had broken my heart.

“Damnation.” Rising, she crossed the room, placing a hand to my shoulder. “Come with me Inquisitor. Let's not discuss this now, you need to rest. We can talk more come morning.”

“But...”

“No buts.” She said firmly, guiding me from the room. “Go to your room. I'll have a servant bring you something to eat. You are in dire need of rest and nourishment. I promise we'll talk more tomorrow.”

Too tired to argue, I nodded and took the stairs to my room.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He groaned as he rolled over onto his back, hearing the clink of chains as he moved. His head was pounding something awful a throbbing which made thinking difficult. He groaned again and tried to rub his hand over his face, only succeeding in smacking himself in the nose with the iron cuff at his wrist.

“Kaffas!” He swore, blinking to clear his vision.

When he could see, he looked around the small room. It was the same as when he'd first seen in. Cramped, with a bed and a stool in the far corner. Upon further inspection, he noted the chamber pot and small table beside the bed, which now held a small pitcher of water and an empty glass.

He licked his lips, suddenly aware of how thirsty he was. When he sat up he made sure to be careful of the shackles on his wrists as he threw his legs over the side of the bed. A wave of dizziness washed over him and he waited for it to pass before pouring himself a drink. It was difficult to manage with his wrists bound, but was able to pour it without spilling a drop.

Once he'd finished assuaging his thirst, he began to wonder how long he'd been out. It was impossible to tell what time it was. There were no windows, the door was shut tight an the only illumination came from a single torch on the far wall. The soft clink of metal broke the silence as he shifted position on the bed making him frown at the offending things on his wrists.

He had to find a way to get free. If Nathaniel... his eyes swelled with tears at his name. Solas had said he was coming to stop him. Did that mean he was also coming for Dorian? Did he know he was Solas' prisoner? Or did he think he'd left Skyhold because he'd wanted to?

The sound of a door sliding open reached his ears and he swiped at his eyes to hide his distress.

“Ah good. You're awake.” Solas said cheerily as he crossed the room, settling himself on the only chair present.

“What's s good about it?” Dorian growled, wishing he could wipe the smug smile of the elven man's face.

“Come now Dorian. No need to be like that. We are partners after all.”

“We are not partners Solas.” Dorian scowled.

“Of course we are. Once I've dealt with your enemies in the Magisterium, you will become the next Archon.”

“They will never allow that. Especially not with my father still in power.”

“Oh didn't I mention? Your father is dead. Assassinated from what I've heard.”

“You killed him!” Dorian raged, his voice breaking as his heart filled with conflicted emotions.

“I did no such thing.” Solas replied coolly. “It seems your father had enemies. Something to do with his lack of an appropriate heir I imagine Or at least one who would provide a continuation of the family blood line. I can see their point. What good is a powerful magister if he will never father a well-bred child?”

“You bastard.”

“I am no bastard Dorian. But it is clear to me you are in no mood to be civil.”

“You won't get away with this Solas. I'll stop you. The Inquisitor will stop you.”

“You do like saying that don't you? Unfortunately your gallant hero will not be coming. The Inquisitor is currently a guest of the Imperium. There will be a banquet to honour his victory against Corypheus and sealing the Breach.”

“What?”

“Oh yes. I'm told it will be a most memorable evening. Unfortunately there won't be many left alive who will live to tell about it.”

Dorian rose to his feet, storming cross the room to put his hands on Solas, jerking to a stop when he reached the end of the chain which secured him to the bed. “If you touch him, I swear I will kill you Solas.” He seethed.

“You'll do as you're told Dorian.” Solas sneered. “You do remember the wolf do you not?”

Dorian paled.

“Ah yes. I knew you did. Enjoy your evening. I know I will.” He laughed, slamming the door behind him as he left the cellar.

This couldn't be happening! Dorian fumed, returning to the bed. When he'd stood, a wave of dizziness a as washed through him and he'd felt the muscles in his legs begin to cramp. He was utterly exhausted and felt as weak as a baby kitten. As he sat there, he realized he hadn't been given any food. In fact, he couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten.

His heart beat rapidly as a horrid thought occurred to him. Solas was keeping him weak on purpose. As far as he could tell, he'd only had water in the past 24 hours. Vishante kaffas! He had to find a way to free himself before he was too weak to even defend himself.

Nathaniel

I woke the next morning tired but buoyed by the fact I was now closer to seeing Dorian than I had in weeks. Soon. I told myself, soon I would see him again and this nightmare would finally be over.

“Ah Inquisitor. You're up.” Maevaris said as I joined everyone in the kitchen.

I took a seat and helped myself to a small serving of pastry and a glass of juice I wasn't hungry, but I knew I still needed to eat. Once everyone had finished, Maevaris had us follow her into the library.

“I'm afraid I have some bad news.” She said, her eyes glued to mine. “Lord Pavus was murdered last night in his home. Apparently he was assassinated.”

For a moment my heart stopped and I thought for sure I was going to faint. Then I remembered Dorian's father.

“Lord Pavus?”

She nodded. “Yes, Dorian's father is dead. From what I've heard, his enemies are behind it but there won't be an investigation. It's being reported as an unfortunate accident between two rival mages but those who knew him have no illusions that it was murder. As far as that goes, there's no evidence it has anything to do with Solas, but if it hadn't happened he likely would have done it himself.”

“But why?” I demanded. “I still don't understand why Solas even needs Dorian.”

She frowned. “I've wondered that myself. Maybe he only needed Dorian to help get him into Tevinter.”

“But all the planning and the attacks on Dorian and Skyhold...” Cassandra protested. “It seems like a lot of work just to gain access to a city.”

“Feynriel said Solas needed power. Is Dorian supposed to be his source of power?” I asked.

“I don't know.” Maevaris shook his head. “If he is, I can't imagine how Solas plans to make use of it.”

“Maybe he needs Dorian to access something else here. Something only a magister can get to.” Cullen suggested.

“I suppose.” Maevaris nodded. “Though of all the things a magister might have access to, I can't imagine what Solas would have for it.”

“Maybe it's something older?” Varric suggested. “Solas is centuries old. Maybe there's something here only he knows exists.”

“It's possible.” Maevaris agreed.

“Well this isn't getting us anywhere.” Cassandra reminded us. “What's our plan on how we're going to stop him?”

“I'm afraid that will have to wait.” Maevaris said, her voice hard. “The Magisters have learned you're here Inquisitor. They are preparing a banquet to honour your victory against Corypheus.”

“What?!” Everyone erupted into various expletives of fear, suspicion or worry all at once.

“You can't be serious.” Cassandra said, turning to me. “This is a trap, you can't possibly attend.”

“I don't think I have a choice Cassandra.”

“He's right.” Maevaris nodded. “If the Inquisitor does not show up, the magisters are prepared to arrest you all as spies against the Imperium.”

“But how did they even find out we were here?” Cullen demanded, glaring at our host.

“I don't know. I suppose it's possible Solas found out, but I think it more likely my house was being watched. Like Dorian, I have few friends and many enemies.”

“Kaffas.” Fenris swore. “Do they know Hawke and I are here as well?”

“No, neither of you were mentioned in the letter I received this morning. They know of Cullen, Cassandra and the Inquisitor. They have no interest in Varric since they know he is a relation, but they know the Inquisitor's advisors accompanied him to the city. They expect all three of you to attend.”

“We can't possibly comply with this.” Cassandra argued. “If we go we'll be in danger of being taken prisoner, or worse.”

“The Magisters won't do anything to you at the banquet. I made sure to tell them you were here at Divine Justinia's insistence. They won't dare move against you with that kind of Chantry support. Besides, I will have my own people hidden among the servants. Nothing will happen to any of you.”

“Even if what you say is true, what makes you think Solas won't try anything?” I asked.

“Nothing. I'm certain he will. It's why I'm bringing my own people into this. The Magisters neither know or would care about Solas so there's no point in postponing this.”

“Venhedis.” I swore. “I don't like any of this.”

“None of us do Inquisitor. But we don't have a choice.”

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

After repeated attempts to free his bound wrists, he'd laid back on the bed trying to come up with some kind of plan. Frustrated by his lack of options, he'd only succeeded in giving himself a headache and had closed his eyes, his body and mind exhausted from lack of nourishment and promptly fell asleep.

When next he opened his eyes, he couldn't remember anything. He blinked in the dim light of the room, confused by his surroundings. Where was he? What had happened? The last thing he could recall was waking in a carriage bound for Tevinter. Was he ill? Had he been sick? For clearly he was no longer on the road, but in a house somewhere.

A sound drew his attention and he looked over to see Solas enter the room, a concerned look on his face. He smiled and crossed the room to him, lighting several candles along the far wall as he did.

“Ah good. You're awake.” He said. “I trust you're feeling better?”

“Better?” He echoed, rising to throw his legs over the edge of the bed. A pain in his wrist drew his attention and he frowned at it. Had something happened to his wrists? They felt as though they were inflamed. He inspected them, rubbing them absently but could detect no injury.

“Yes. You've had a very long day. You fell ill on our journey here and have been asleep off and on for the past two days.”

“Two days?” He asked, feeling as dense as a small child.

“Here.” Solas said, placing a tray on a nearby table. “I've brought you something to eat. You need to regain your strength now that the fever has passed. You have an important banquet to attend this evening.”

The smell of food hit his senses, his stomach growling in response to the food as Solas' words faded. He crossed to the table and began eating as though he had never tasted anything so wonderful before. Sated, he turned his attention back to Solas who had remained silent as he'd eaten.

“What's this about a banquet? Didn't you just say I was recently ill? How can I be expected to attend a banquet?” He asked, washing down the last of his food with a healthy swallow of the sweet red wine Solas had provided.

“Don't you remember?”

Dorian shook his head.

“The magisters are holding a banquet to honour the Inquisitor's victory over Corypheus. As heir to house Pavus, you must be in attendance.”

Inquisitor? Banquet? Heir? He frowned. “What do you mean heir Solas?”

“My apologies Dorian. I had expected you to remember that much at least. Your father was murdered last night. An assassination from what people are saying.”

“My father is dead?” Dorian didn't know what to feel about that. Loss, disappointment, relief? He couldn't believe any of this was real. “Is there to be an investigation?”

“I do not believe so.” Solas shook his head, frowning. “But I'm afraid that's not important now. You must get dressed for the banquet. I'll have a servant ready your bath.”

Dorian nodded absently, numb with shock over Solas' news. The Inquisitor was here? He remembered the man with the strange mark on his hand. They'd worked together to stop Corypheus after all, but... what was he doing in Qarinus? It's not as though they'd been friends or even all that close. It seemed odd the man would even bother coming to Tevinter given all the work he undoubtedly still had to take care of in Ferelden. A servant appeared then and he followed the elf to another room where a hot bath awaited him.

An hour later he was clean, dressed and ready for the banquet. Solas joined him, carrying a gilt-edged box bearing the Pavus family crest.

“What's that?” Dorian asked.

Solas answered by opening it, revealing a talisman made of gold and silverite, the metal twining like rope around a large, bright red ruby surrounded by clusters of tiny diamonds. “I believe it was your father's.” Solas said.

Dorian nodded, feeling his heart constrict with the sudden pang of loss. “He wore that every day that I can remember.”

“Now that he is gone, it is yours. Here, put it on.”

Dorian reached for it, startling slightly when a jolt of power shot through him. “What in blazes was that?!” He exclaimed.

“Is something wrong?”

Dorian frowned. He supposed a treasure such as this would hold some magical power, but that had been unpleasant and the mere thought of wearing it repulsed him. “It shocked me.” He said, taking his hand back.

“That's to be expected.” Solas reasoned. “Your father was a magister after all.”

“Maybe. But I really do not want to wear it.”

Solas frowned. “Nonsense. You must wear it. Here, let me help you.”

Before Dorian could protest further, Solas had stepped behind him and dropped the necklace in place around his neck. His vision swam and a wave of black washed over him. He felt ill as a faint pressure built behind his eyes as though something was attempting to control his thoughts.

“There.” Solas smiled. “Now you're ready.”

“I...” Dorian struggled to form the words that would have Solas remove the offending bit of jewellery, but nothing happened. He could feel his will weaken as his resistance faded away. In moments, he couldn't remember what he'd wanted to say.

Solas smiled at him, the expression making him uneasy, but again no words would come.

“You look splendid.” Solas crowed, pleased. “Let's get downstairs and call for your carriage. You don't want to be late.”

“No. Of course not.” Dorian said absently. “Let's go.”

Nathaniel

“This is ridiculous.” Cassandra said for the hundredth time. “You cannot go Inquisitor. It's a trap, we'll all be killed.”

“No we won't Cassandra. Despite the Imperium's dislike for me, they won't dare do anything now. With Maevaris' quick thinking, we were able to let all of Ferelden know about our visit. Even the Chantry knows. The magisters might hate or even fear me, but they fear open war with the Chantry more. They can't afford to start a new Exalted March with the increased hostilities with the Qunari on their northern borders.”

“I still do not like any of this.”

“None of us do Cassandra.” Cullen said quietly, placing a hand on her arm. “But we have no choice.”

“Are we done arguing yet?” I asked, tired of listening to their argument. “I'd like to get this charade over with.”

“Yes Inquisitor.” Cassandra nodded. “I don't have to like it but I agree we have no choice in this.”

“Just be alert for any sign of Solas. If he intends anything against the magisters, this banquet would be the perfect setting for it.”

“Understood Inquisitor.”

“So we're all in agreement then? We're ready to go now?” Maevaris asked, joining us.

“As ready as we're ever going to get.” I answered.

“Good. Let's be on our way then.” She said, leading the three of us to the front door and her waiting carriage.

“What should we expect?” I asked once we were seated and the carriage lurched forward.

“Just be yourself Inquisitor. I'm sure you've been in much more challenging situations than this. Just bring out that Trevelyan charm and you'll be fine.”

“That's all?”

“You'll be fine. Just don't accept anything to eat or drink from anyone but myself or one of my servants.”

“I thought you said the magisters wouldn't try anything?” Cassandra growled.

“They won't. It's just a precaution. They won't do anything to harm you or the Inquisitor, but they aren't above having a bit of fun.”

“What does that mean?” Cullen barked. “Fun how?”

“Oh just a bit of suggestive magic. Like having the Inquisitor hop on one foot or decide to wear a dress or dance on a table. Nothing fatal I assure you.”

“So manipulation? Mind control? How is that not dangerous.” Cullen demanded.

Maevaris frowned. “Look, none of that will happen so long as you follow my instructions. Stop being so paranoid. I'll be there to keep all of you safe, as will my guards – half of which will be there, disguised as servants.”

Cullen sighed heavily. “The sooner this evening is over with, the better.”

“How long are we required to stay?” I asked, having no desire to extend my visit any more than necessary.

“Minimum two hours. After that, no one will bat an eye if you leave. Any sooner would be seen as an insult, most likely leading to something unpleasant.”

“Fine. Two hours it is and no longer.”

“Good.” She said, smiling. “Despite the risk, I have to say I'm looking forward to seeing their reaction to you. This will be fun.”

“Fun?” Cassandra grumbled. “If this is your idea of fun, Id' hate to see your version of a bad day.”

“Yes you would.” Maevaris agreed, the amusement leaving her voice. “You would indeed.”

Dorian

After leaving the mansion, he'd settled into the waiting carriage and was joined by a handful of armed guards dressed in House Pavus colours. He had never seen them before and didn't recognize any of the servants. They certainly hadn't come from his father's household, yet he couldn't fathom how Solas had found them.

He frowned at the thought. It wasn't as though it mattered really since they were mostly just for show. He doubted any of them would leap to his defence if anything were to happen to him. He was a magister now and though it meant he was also more powerful, they were also elves. On top of that, they weren't slaves, which meant none of them owed him any loyalty. At the same time, none of them showed any sign of being forced to join him.

In fact, they all seemed very eager to reach the banquet. He had no idea why that would be, but it did nothing to reassure him about the coming evening. He couldn't shake the thought that something terrible was going to happen. Though his thoughts were muddled and his pulse was steady, a thread of anxiety still coursed through him the closer they got to the Magisterium's Meeting Hall.

Once they arrive, three of his escorts preceded him into the building, with the others taking up positions at his back. Inside, he saw and greeted many faces he recognized. Yet there were just as many magisters present whom he didn't recognize. He assumed they were recent appointments, having risen in power the last time he'd been here. Likely through blood magic and assassination he thought darkly. Why his countrymen believed blood magic was the answer to everything, he would never understand.

After greeting each one in turn, he took his position in the hall and waited with his colleagues for the Inquisitor to arrive.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

My palms were slick with sweat as the carriage pulled to a stop outside the massive building where the banquet was being held. Maevaris stepped out of the carriage first, allowing Cullen and Cassandra to take up positions to either side of me.

We were followed by half a dozen guards as Maevaris led us inside the building. I could feel my jaw drop at the opulence that greeted us. Gold, silver and gems of unimaginable worth glittered on every available surface. The room was packed with magisters and their accompanying guards. A path had been cleared allowing us to walk the length of the hall as the honoured guests we were.

No one, save for the man who announced us, spoke. The silent appraisal of our party raised the hairs on the back of my neck and I felt like a prized bull being put on display for inspection, but shook it off. Now was not the time for doubt or fear. I was the Inquisitor. I'd defeated Corypheus, an ancient and powerful magister. I would not allow myself to be intimidated here.

We reached the far end of the hall and a second speaker replaced the first. He began by welcoming us to the Imperium before launching into a grand speech about Tevinter's long undefeated history and their renowned power. After the first few minutes of this, I tuned him out, hearing nothing of what he said as I searched the crowed for Dorian.

Maevaris had assured me earlier that he would be here. As heir to House Pavus, he was expected to make an appearance and claim his place among the rest of the magisters. If he didn't, they would waste no time declaring his claim forfeit before dividing up the family assets and appointing someone else to the vacant magisterial seat.

I could see no sign of him though and tuned back in to what the speaker was saying, just as he wound down his speech. The crowd before us erupted into applause and I felt my face flush for having missed what had set them off. With a nudge from Cassandra, I moved to the podium to tank those gathered fro their gracious hospitality and warm welcome.

As soon as I finished, the hall erupted in applause once again before the speaker from earlier announced that food was being served in an adjoining hall. Slaves would be bringing drinks around while everyone made their way to their assigned seats.

The applause died away and soon after, magisters were crowding around us, eager to personally introduce themselves and welcome me to Tevinter. I gritted my teeth at the sea of people surrounding us. I wanted to find Dorian. I wanted to go home and I wanted to put an end to Solas once and for all. I did not want to make nice with a bunch of magisters who may or may not also be blood mages.

I itched to take out my blades and hack my way through them all to find Dorian, but instead I took a deep breath and made small talk with each magister who stepped up to shake my hand. I could feel Cullen and Cassandra radiating tension with each new face and I cast them a warning glance. They nodded imperceptibly, visibly relaxing even as their jaws clenched with tension.

My smile firmly in place, I turned my attention back to yet another magister who held his hand out to me. I had no idea how many of them wished to greet me personally but hoped the list didn't include everyone in attendance. My anxiety at not finding Dorian earlier was quickly wearing away what little patience I had for these proceeding and didn't know how much more I could take before I snapped.

Dorian

When the Inquisitor arrived followed closely by his two known advisors and led by Magister Maevaris Titus into the hall, he felt oddly uncomfortable by the sight. Maevaris was his friend. The fact that she'd made no effort to inform him the Inquisitor was her guest hurt. But more than that it was unforgivable. How could she not have told him personally? He'd worked with the man to help stop Corypheus for Maker's sake.

As the Inquisitor and his party made their way down the hall, he was shocked by how strikingly handsome he was. Certainly he'd worked alongside him to stop Corypheus, but how had he forgotten how beautiful he was to gaze upon? He passed Dorian, not sparing him even a token glance and felt an unfamiliar pain squeeze his heart, drawing a frown to his face. What the blazes was that? So the man hadn't looked at him. Why did that make him feel as though his heart had just been broken?

He shook himself, frowning at the strange reaction. He couldn't remember being all that close to the man, nor could he recall noting any overtures toward friendship during his time with the Inquisition. Yet why then, did he feel as though his whole world had suddenly been deprived of all happiness? One of his guards noticed the change in his posture and nudged his elbow.

Blinking, he turned to see her offering him a glass of dark red wine. Grateful for the distraction, he took it from her and downed it quickly. In moments, his earlier discomfort was gone and he turned vacant eyes toward the house speaker, attentive to everything the man said.

Nathaniel

After shaking yet another man's hand in greeting, I had had enough. I had to find Dorian. I had to know he was all right. I was about to ask Maevaris to clear the way to the dining table for us when a familiar voice called out to me.

“Inquisitor.” Dorian said, his hand held out to me in greeting. “I am pleased to see you again after such a short time. I hadn't expected you'd be able to leave Skyhold so soon after your victory against Corypheus.”

“Things changed.” I choked out, covering my shock as my hands grew damp with adrenaline.

“As many things do I'm sure.” He smiled. “I certainly hope your visit here will be most pleasant. Tevinter has many wonders to recommend it.”

“I'm sure it does. You told me of many yourself if I recall.”

He frowned at that, but covered it quickly with a warm smile as he stepped away to let another magister take his place. “Well of course I did. Tevinter is a jewel among jewels after all. But I will not keep you. If you'll excuse me? I think I shall go find myself a seat in the dining hall. I'm told the dinner will be something to be remembered.”

“Of course. Good to see you again Magister Pavus.” I said, the words stumbling out of my mouth as my fingers itched to pull him to me. I watched him go, my heart hammering wildly as I realized he didn't remember me. Us.

“Inquisitor?” Maevaris whispered. “Are you all right?”

“No.” I shook my head slightly. “No, I'm really not.”

She nodded, her lips pursed in frustration. “Allow me to help.” She said, turning to the waiting throng of people still vying for my attention.

“The Inquisitor has had a long journey and is in need of nourishment. Perhaps further introductions can wait until after he's enjoyed the marvellous feast that's been prepared in his honour.”

A chorus of murmurs rippled through those gathered and the space surrounding us slowly thinned out as they made their way toward the dining hall.

“Inquisitor. What happened?” Cassandra asked, coming to my side. “I couldn't hear what he said.”

“He doesn't remember me Cassandra.” I said weakly. “I don't think he remembers anything of what we meant to each other.”

“Powerful magic is at work here.” Maevaris fumed. “Did you notice anything else different about him? Perhaps a clouding of his eyes or a tremor in his handshake?”

“What? No... I don't think so. Though he was wearing an amulet I've never seen before.”

“What did it look like?”

I described what I'd seen and she growled low in her throat. “It is the talisman of House Pavus, but the diamonds are not part of it. Are you certain they were diamonds?”

“Pretty certain. It was bright enough and sparkled something fierce when he moved.”

“Then it is be-spelled.” She spat. “Diamonds on a family talisman do not sparkle as you've described. Nothing should take away from the brightness of the ruby.”

“Do you think it's affecting him somehow?” Cullen asked, sharing my frown.

“I've no doubt it is.” Maevaris said. “We must find a way to remove it if we're to help him.”

“I don't see how we're going to do that.” Cassandra argued as we made our way to the dining hall. “Did you not see his bodyguards? They were not slaves.”

“No they weren't.” Maevaris agreed. “But we must find a way.”

“Why?” I asked as we entered the dining hall. “Because it's controlling his thoughts. If we don't get it off him soon, nothing we do will matter. The damage it's causing to his mind will be permanent and the Dorian we know will be gone forever.”

“Kaffas!” I swore.

“It would be so much simpler if we could just kill his bodyguards and kidnap him.” Cullen grumbled.

“That's not a bad idea Commander.” Maevaris grinned.

“What? You can't be serious.”

“I'm deadly serious.” She said. “Leave it to me. When I have all the details worked out, I'll let you know. In the meantime, make nice with the magisters and try to enjoy the evening. Just remember not to accept anything from anyone other than my own people.”

“And how do we know who your people are?” I asked, frowning.

“They all wear a pin of a golden nug. You can't miss it.”

I nodded, even as I doubted anything she'd suggested so far would be as simple. I kept my thoughts to myself then before falling in behind a servant who had appeared before us to lead us to our assigned seats.

 

Chapter Text

Dorian

He rubbed his hand absently after speaking with the Inquisitor. A tingle of recognition and a sense of connection had shot through his palm when he'd shaken the man's hand.

It was unexpected and quite unsettling and it had taken great effort not to snatch it back. He'd forced himself to smile and nod, saying what was expected of him before excusing himself. While the Inquisitor responded politely, he hadn't missed the look of shock and sadness in the man's eyes. He'd had to look away, unable to process the look of raw emotion he saw there. It had been heart-breaking to see and he'd felt his heart breaking at the sight of it.

He headed to the dining hall, mulling over what had happened. One of his bodyguards appeared beside him, once more offering him a glass of wine he frowned at it and set it aside on the table. He felt the guard stiffen when he didn't drink and he turned to stare at the man. By all appearances, he could see nothing amiss, yet he felt as though he'd just done something offensive. But that was ridiculous. The man was a bodyguard... yet then why was he bringing him wine?

His attention was drawn from his musings then as slaves filled the hall, laden with plates of food. He turned to his dinner as it was placed before him, shoving away his discomfort and suspicions as he ate. He was halfway through his meal when the Inquisitor appeared, taking a seat to his right.

“Looks like a splendid feast.” He said, lifting a fork to his mouth.

“Yes...” Dorian stammered, suddenly nervous. “Quite grand.”

“Do magisters eat like this often?”

“No, not especially.” He answered, glad to be on safe conversational ground. “Too man rivalries I'm afraid.”

“I see.” The Inquisitor nodded, trying to catch his eye.

“Pardon my forwardness Inquisitor, but why have you chosen to sit here? I believe as the guest of honour you are meant to be seated at the head of the table.”

“I wanted to sit with an old friend.” He answered, his voice casual. “You did help me defeat Corypheus after all.”

“Well certainly.” Dorian agreed, feeling himself grow increasingly uncomfortable. “But so did a lot of other people. And I hadn't realized you thought of me as a friend. I'm flattered by the compliment, but I was certain I was nothing more than a political ally.”

“You're much more than an ally to me Lord Pavus.” The Inquisitor whispered back. “Much, much more.”

Dorian looked up sharply. What in Andraste's name was the man playing at? More indeed. Was this some kind of joke? Making fun of the new magister? “I'm sure I don't know what you mean Inquisitor. And I don't appreciate being made fun of.”

“Magister Pavus?” Called a female voice to his left.

Frowning, Dorian turned to see a servant of House Titus addressing him. “Yes? What is it?”

“Magister Titus would like a word with you sir. If you'll come with me?”

“Of course.” He nodded, grateful to be rescued from the uncomfortable conversation he was having with the Inquisitor. “Inquisitor. I hope you enjoy the remainder of the evening's festivities. Good evening to you.”

Without waiting for a response, he fell into step behind the servant as she led him from the dining hall to a private room at the end of a short corridor. He was so preoccupied with trying to work out what the Inquisitor had said that he didn't notice when his bodyguards began to disappear. By the time he was shown into the private room, he was completely alone and staring into the worried face of his friend, Maevaris.

“Dorian.” She said, a pained look on her face.

“Maevaris. What's going on here? It isn't like you to play cat and mouse games. At least not with me.”

“We need to talk Dorian. You're being used. You're in a lot of danger here.”

Dorian laughed. “Of course I'm in danger. Everyone who happens to be a magister is always in danger. What of it?”

She shook here head. “It's not that kind of danger.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Someone is stealing your memories Dorian. It's affecting your mind, your thoughts, everything.”

“That's impossible!” He sputtered. “Magic like that doesn't exist. It died along with all the Somniari. You know this Maevaris. What point are you making here? Are you trying to scare me with children's stories?”

“She's telling the truth Dorian.”

Dorian turned, his brows raised in surprise as the Inquisitor approached him, closing the door as he joined them in the room.

“You! What are you doing here?”

“Trying to help you.”

Nathaniel

Maevaris made good on her promise and had returned to me with her plan. She'd pressed an oddly shaped, lightly glowing crystal into my hand with instructions to hold it against Dorian's arm once she had him alone. When the servant had led him from the dining hall, I'd waited ten minutes before excusing myself to follow.

I entered the room in time to hear Dorian arguing with Maevaris about the danger he was in. When he turned and saw me standing there, I could see the warring emotions behind the confusion in his eyes. But what struck me most was the fear. Not of me, but of the idea that Maevaris was telling the truth.

“I don't need your help.” He said, though I heard the tenor in his voice. “I don't need either one of you to help me. I'm leaving now.”

Palming the crystal, I reached for him pressing it into his arm as I held on tight. His eyes widened as he turned to stare at me, fear and confusion warring within him.

“Let me go.” He croaked.

“I can't do that.”

“Hold on tight Inquisitor.” Maevaris murmured, readying her spell.

Either I or Dorian had time to react to her words when she released her spell, aiming at the amulet Dorian wore around his neck. A strange light filled the room, blinding us all as the chain broke and the sound of the amulet clattering to the floor broke the silence.

Dorian

His eyes widened in shock as the light faded and he stared at Maevaris before turning his gaze to me. Confusion filled his eyes as he noticed my hand on his arm.

“Amatus? I... Inquisitor? I... where am I? What's happening?” He stammered and then his eyes rolled back in his head and he fainted, collapsing into my arms as he lost consciousness.

“What just happened?” I demanded, my fear for Dorian overwhelming me.

“He fainted.” She replied dryly.

“I can see that.” I snapped. “Why did he faint? I thought removing the amulet would fix him.”

“I never said that Inquisitor. He's just had quite the shock. We've no idea how long that amulet has been affecting him. It will take a while for him to recover. I'll have him taken back to my mansion where he can recuperate safely.”

“I'm coming with you.” I said as she moved to take Dorian from me.

“Nonsense. You can't leave for another hour and you certainly can't leave with an unconscious magister in your arms.”

“I'm not leaving Dorian.” I growled.

“Inquisitor.” Cassandra said, placing a hand on my arm as she joined us. “We understand how you feel, but we can't afford to draw attention to ourselves now. You must stay.”

“Kaffas.” I swore as Maevaris' servants appeared to take Dorian away. “I don't like this.”

“I swear he will be perfectly safe Inquisitor.” Maevaris promised. “Go. Return to the dining hall before you're missed. You can leave without causing a stir in an hour. A carriage will be waiting for you at that time.”

“Fine.” I said, still upset about not being able to leave. “I'll do what I must, but that carriage better be there.”

“It will be Inquisitor. Trust me.”

 

----xxx----

A terminable hour later I made my gracious goodbyes and we were on our way back to Maevaris' mansion. If I thought I could get there faster by running, I would have so desperate was I to see Dorian again. When we pulled to a stop I practically flew from the carriage, stepping into the house to learn that Dorian had been taken to my room to rest.

An armed servant was standing guard outside the door when I arrived. He nodded to me in greeting as I slipped quietly inside.

My eyes went directly to the bed where I could see Dorian fast asleep. I crossed the room, removing my cloak and boots as I went. Someone had removed his clothes and he was clad in nothing but his smalls with a light blanket covering him. He appeared to be resting peacefully, the lines in his face smooth and the dark circles under his eyes faded as his breath came in rhythmic waves.

I eased onto the bed to lay beside him, careful not to disturb him as I turned to watch him sleep. I wanted to touch him, reassure myself he was real but I stayed my hand. I was reluctant to disturb him and after a moment, my own exhaustion caught up with me and my eyes drifted closed to the comforting sound of his breathing.

Chapter Text

Dorian

When he'd seen Nathaniel standing in the room with him and Maevaris, his hand on his arm he'd been overcome with shock and shame. As the light from Maevaris' spell faded he'd been undated with an overwhelming wave of emotion and memories. His heart and mind had warred within him and he'd been unable to sift through any of it before darkness clouded his vision and he blacked out.

He didn't know how long he'd been unconscious when he became aware of the sound of someone's soft breathing. He could feel the gentle press of a blanket on his bare arms and legs, and the welcome comfort of a soft mattress at his back. He was so relaxed, he felt almost boneless yet his mind refused to let him drift off again.

Who was breathing? Was it him? With difficulty, he forced his eyes open and tuned to the source of the sound. Nathaniel lay beside him, his face peaceful as he slept quietly. A sudden pain stabbed through his heart. Was this real? Was his amatus really here or was it some cruel trick his mind was playing on him? He had to know. He didn't want it to be a dream, something that would fade as soon as he woke fully.

Reaching a hand out from beneath the covers, he pushed the hair from Nathaniel's brow which had fallen over his eyes in sleep. His breath caught as the vision remained as he waited for him to disappear. Instead, Nathaniel's eyes fluttered open and he smiled at him. A tear trickled down his cheek as he watched his amatus' eyes fill with love and longing.

“Dorian.” He said softly. “You're awake. How are you feeling?”

“I.. I'm not sure.” He stammered, his heart thudding. “Are you real?”

“Of course I'm real.” He said, his hand reaching out to caress his cheek. “I'm very real. I came to find you.”

“You came for me?”

“Of course I came for you Dorian. I love you. You're my entire world. I would do anything to keep you safe. I just hope you can forgive me.”

“Forgive you?” Dorian frowned. “Forgive you for what amatus?”

“I was supposed to keep you safe. I made a promise and I failed you. I let Solas take you from me.” He whispered, his voice breaking. “I'm so sorry Dorian.”

“Amatus. You have nothing to apologize for. I know you did everything you could. I'm just glad you found me.”

“Are you sure? You seem awfully surprised I came for you. What did Solas do to you to make you think I wouldn't come?”

“I'm not sure.” He stammered, breaking eye contact. “Everything is still a little fuzzy.”

“It's all right Dorian. You're safe now. I'll never let you out of my sight again.”

“That's a nice sentiment amatus, but we both know you can't do that every day.”

“I...” Nathaniel stammered, his body tensing. “No. You're right. I shouldn't make promises I can't keep.”

“I didn't mean...” Dorian protested as Nathaniel rose from the bed and dressed. “Where are you going?”

“You've been through a terrible ordeal Dorian.” He said, keeping his back turned. “You need your rest. I have something I need to take care of.”

“Amatus wait. Please don't go.”

“No. You're right. I fail at every promise I make you. I won't do it again.” He said before slipping out the door.

Dorian's heart hammered in his chest like a trapped bird. What had he done? He hadn't meant to say what he had. What was wrong with him? Why was he constantly saying the wrong thing and hurting his amatus with his casual words?

His eyes brimmed with tears, weeping silently at the the depth of despair he felt, desperate for Nathaniel to return to him. But two hours later, he still had not come back. If he hadn't felt so weak, he would have gone after him, but he was too tired and before long sleep had claimed him once more.

Nathaniel

I left Dorian in a state of confusion and heartache. His words had hurt me deeply because in my current state, I thought he was right. I hadn't protected him and Solas had gotten hold of him despite everything I'd done to keep him safe. It didn't matter that I was up against a powerful would-be god.

Corypheus had threatened the entire world, much as the Dread Wolf now did, yet I'd kept much of Thedas safe. But for the one man I loved more than anything, I had failed miserably. I didn't return to where the rest of my companions were gathered. Some of whom had given up waiting for me and had gone to bed. I didn't want to talk about Dorian, nor did I want to know more about Solas' plan. I wanted to be alone, so I headed outside to the garden and paced the perimeter, lost in thought.

I was still pacing when Feynriel joined me, falling into step at my side while I waited to acknowledge him. With a great sigh, I stopped and stared at him, searching his face for a reason to speak.

“What is it now Feynriel?” I asked, doing nothing to disguise the tiredness I felt.

“Dorian.” He said. “He needs my help.”

“What are you talking about? He's fine now. He's upstairs resting in my room.”

“He is not fine Inquisitor. I told you before Solas is a dreamer.”

“And? What does that have to do with Dorian needing your help?”

“Solas has trapped parts of Dorian in the Fade. I need your help to recover them.”

I groaned. After what Dorian had said to me, I had no desire to see him just now. I was tired of all the conflicting emotions, drained beyond all thought and I really didn't want to deal with it anymore.

“I'm not a dreamer Feynriel.”

“No,but you are his friend and you love him. He needs you Inquisitor. I cannot do this alone.”

“Then ask Maevaris. She's his friend too.”

“I'm sorry Inquisitor, but it has to be you. You've already proven resistant to demons and Maevaris cannot enter the Fade like you can.”

I sighed. “Very well. What do you need me to do?”

“Come with me Inquisitor.” He said, leading me back inside the house.

Dorian

He tossed fitfully as he slept, his mind inundated with disconnected images which filled him with loss and sadness. A sound nearby jolted him awake and he frowned when he felt the presence of dried tears on his cheeks. He looked to where the sound came from, his breath catching as Nathaniel entered the room followed by a pale, blonde elven man.

He frowned as he sat up, wondering at the intrusion and the unexpected visitor. “What's going on?” He asked, covering his lower body with the blanket as he sat up. “Who are you?”

“My name is Feynriel. I'm here to help you recover the parts of yourself that are missing.”

“What are you talking about?” He demanded, turning to Nathaniel. “What is he talking about?”

“Just hear him out Dorian.”

When Feynriel finished talking, Dorian shared Nathaniel's look of confusion. “I don't understand any of this.” He protested. “How do you propose to accomplish any of this?”

“Trust me Dorian.” Feynriel said. “Better yet, trust Nathaniel. He will help you in the Fade.”

“So you're telling me Solas, that elven apostate who like to dress like a homeless, wandering hobo has trapped parts of me in the Fade? And that you propose we deliberately enter the Fade to free them?”

“Yes.” Feynriel nodded.

“The Fade is dangerous as you well know. What makes you think this will even work? That we won't immediately be attacked by demons?”

“The Inquisitor's mark will keep most of them at bay for the most part. What remains will be relatively easy to deal with.”

“Are you certain this is necessary?” Dorian continued. He didn't like the sound of any of this and he certainly had no desire to enter the Fade again with or without Nathaniel at his side.

Feynriel nodded. “It is. Solas is using the parts of you he has trapped to increase his power. If we don't recover them now, we will be unable to stop him when the time comes.”

“We can't allow him to succeed Dorian.” Nathaniel said, meeting Dorian's eyes.

“I suppose not.” He agreed. “Very well, let's get on with it shall we?”

“Very good.” Feynriel said, climbing onto the bed with Dorian. “Both of you sit cross-legged and join hands with me. It will help us to remain in contact when we transition into the Fade.”

“Are you sure this will work?” Dorian asked, reluctantly taking Nathaniel's hand in his.

“Yes.” Feynriel assured him. “Just remember what I told you. We must retrieve your trapped selves, your trapped memories in order to stop Solas. It is the only way.”

“I hope you're right then.”

“It will work.” He said again. “Trust me.”

-------------------------------------------

 

*Update (April 2018): This work has not been abandoned! My cat of 11 years passed away in February and can't yet get back to the happy place this work sprang from. It will be finished, but cannot say when. Thanks for reading this far. :)</p>

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel

I still didn't quite understand what we were doing, but I had no time to consider the matter. As soon as I closed my eyes we were transported into the Fade. I blinked and looked at Feynriel, knowing as I did that I wasn't truly blinking my eyes and I banished the thought. Thinking about where I was in relation to what I was seeing wasn't going to help right now.

“Now what?” I asked him.

“Follow me.” He said, heading off in the same direction he faced. “I can sense a piece of Dorian just ahead.”

Wordlessly, Dorian and I fell into step behind him. We walked only a short distance before Feynriel came to a stop beside what looked like a small clearing. Looking past him, I gasped aloud at what I saw. Dorian, or at least a part of him was there. I wasn't sure what to call it but I didn't like what I saw.

He'd been stripped of all his clothes, save for his breeches. His eyes were hidden behind a blindfold, his wrists bound and shackled to a nearby tree. My heart pounded at the sight of his vulnerability and I was frozen with horror.

“Now what?” I whispered, hearing my voice break.

“Dorian. You must claim the part of you that feels weak and inadequate.”

“How exactly?” He asked, his voice filled with more fear than courage at what he saw.

“Merge with what you see before you ad trust that you are enough.”

“You mean strip to my underclothes and stand there helpless?”

“Yes.” Feynriel nodded. “You must in order to reclaim your lost parts.”

“I don't think I can do that.”

“Yes you can Dorian.” I said, tearing my eyes away from the vision before him to meet his gaze. “I'm here with you. Draw on my strength.”

“I...” Dorian stammered, his eyes returning to his exposed self and back to Nathaniel's. “Alright. I'll... try.”

Stepping into the clearing, he stripped down to match the vision before him. My heart pounded as I watched him. I'd had no idea his feelings of inadequacy ran so deep as to become trapped here. He hesitated only a moment before stepping behind his memory self, closed his eyes and merged into it.

I waited, watching to see what would happen. I wanted to go to him, but Feynriel only shook his head at me. “Wait, Inquisitor.”

After a moment, Dorian began to tremble and then the chain holding him to the tree disappeared. He trembled again and the shackles on his wrists fell away and he lifted his arms, removing the blindfold as he did. His eyes met mine as he tossed the blindfold away and smiled at me.

“Amatus.” He said and it was all I needed to hear before I was in his arms, kissing him.

“Dorian.” I whispered against his lips. “Are you all right?”

“Much better now.” He said, smiling at me.

“Very good.” Feynriel said, joining us. “Retrieve your clothes Dorian. There is another part to recover.”

When he was ready, Feynriel once more led us onward. This time we found a part of Dorian crouched on the top of a tall tree stump, surrounded by a pack of snarling wolves.

“Maker's breath.” I whispered. “How do we retrieve this one?”

“Imagine yourself being the one on top of that tree stump.”

“And then?” He asked, his voice wavering.

“Then it is up to you and the Inquisitor. You must conquer this fear. It isn't yours and it doesn't represent the on you think you see through the illusion. You will succeed here.”

Dorian sighed heavily, closed his eyes and concentrated. As I watched, he disappeared from my side and I could only assume he'd been successful.

“Now it's your turn Inquisitor.” Feynriel said, turning to me.

“My turn for what?”

“Become the wolf. Draw the pack into yourself. You will be the wolf Dorian believes he fears, but it is illusion. He must see past his to fully recover this part of himself.”

“Alright.” I nodded though I had no clue what he meant. I got down on my hands and knees and focused on becoming the wolf. A moment later the pack had disappeared and I felt heavy and warm, my vision strange as I stared at the human crouched on the tree.

“Come down now Dorian.” I heard Feynriel call out, though I was finding it difficult to understand his words.

I watched as the human who smelled of fear slowly climbed down the tree. I bared my teeth and growled at him, making him flinch away from me. He wreaked of sweat and a hammering heart and I wanted to attack him, make him stop making my ears twitch, but something made me hesitate.

The human approached slowly and though I could still taste his fear, it seemed to dissipate with each step he took toward me. After two more steps he was beside me, running his fingers through my fur and I panted at the human's touch. I heard a voice raised in approval, blinked and found myself transformed back into a man. I was still crouched on the ground, Dorian's fingers in my hair when I remembered myself and got to my feet.

“That was... interesting.” I said, noting Dorian's smile. “Are we done here yet?”

“I believe that's all of them.” Feynriel nodded. “Dorian? Do you feel whole again?”

Dorian frowned. “No. I think there's another piece trapped here.”

“I cannot sense it.” Feynriel said. “You will have to lead us.”

“Alright.” He nodded, heading off into some nearby trees.

When Dorian stopped at the next clearing, I was surprised to see myself standing opposite the part of Dorian still trapped here. I edged closer and I could hear his words, recognizing them from the conversation we'd had after visiting the Arbour Wilds.

“This is the piece of you that's trapped?” I asked, searching his face for understanding.

“Yes.” He whispered.

“But why? Solas was influencing you for this wasn't he?”

“He was.” Dorian nodded. “But I could feel how my words affected you. I wanted to call you back, apologize. But I didn't. I shrugged it foo and returned to my book.”

“But...” I protested, still confused.

“Inquisitor.” Feynriel interrupted. “If I'm reading this right, Dorian wants this memory to change. He needs it to change in order to reclaim it.”

“This memory fills me with shame amatus.” Dorian said quietly. “It doesn't matter to me that I was being controlled. All that matters is that I hurt you and I'm ashamed I didn't fight against what I said.”

“Alright.” I nodded, still not understanding completely how this would help. “What do I do?”

“Step into your memory self and let me say what I really wanted to say.”

“Okay.” I said, moving toward my memory self. When I was within touching distance, I closed my eyes and felt a tingle on my skin as I merged with Dorian's memory of me. I waited a heartbeat and though it was quick, I noted the moment when he did the same.

“I could go with you.” I heard myself say.

“As much as I would enjoy that, I can't ask you to leave the Inquisition for me.”

“You're not asking Dorian. I'm offering.”

“And that is why I love you.” He said, his face breaking into a wide grin. “I have no idea where that thought even came from. I see you conquering the world and am able to imagine anything is possible. Even saving my homeland from itself.”

“There's nothing wrong with having hope Dorian.”

“There is when I'm even entertaining the idea of leaving you behind.” He corrected, taking a step toward me.

“But I know how important your homeland is to you.”

He shook his head, his eyes filling with sadness. “It will never be as important to me as you are amatus. Never. I beg of you, please forgive me for even bringing this up. I love you. I will always love you and nothing will ever come before my love for you. Ever.”

“There's nothing to forgive.” I said, stepping into his embrace. “But if you need to hear it, then I forgive you Dorian. I will always forgive you, never doubt that.”

“Amatus.” He sighed, pressing his lips to mine his kiss filled with wonder and promise.

Feynriel cleared his voice over my shoulder and Dorian pulled out of my embrace with reluctance. “I hate to interrupt, but we should go before we attract desire demons.” He said.

Keeping my hand linked in Dorian's, I turned and pulled him back to where Feynriel stood waiting for us. “Do we need to go somewhere else in the Fade to leave here?” I asked.

“No.” He said. “Just link hands with me like before and we can go now.”

“Sounds good to me.” Dorian huffed. “I think I've had enough of the Fade to last a lifetime.”

 

 -------------------------------------

 

*Update (May 2018): This work has not been abandoned! My cat of 11 years passed away in February and can't yet get back to the happy place this work sprang from. It will be finished, but cannot say when. Thanks for reading this far. :)</p>