Chapter 1: Impossible
Varric could feel.
But he was asleep.
He was dreaming?
Dwarves don't dream.
The air was heavy, thick, familiar from the trip to save that poor sleeping half elf from himself.
And here he was again, improbable as it seemed, dwarf in the Fade, twice in a row, some sort of mansion, heavy fancy clothes, no Bianca on his back. His fingers twitched, uneasy, unarmed.
Anything could happen.
But nothing did. Just a quiet room, rich tapestries, dwarf-sized furniture. No one else.
No pretend sunlight beyond the view, either.
He frowned, walking towards a window, his frown only growing deeper as his sturdy stride made no sound on hard stone floors. That's not normal.
He looked out the window, eyes wide at the sight of soaring stone, rich red light reflecting up from somewhere out of sight, far below the walkways he could see, glittering on mirrors and metal walls and jewels placed perfectly to make the giant cavern sparkle and glow, the buildings beautiful and ornate and strong.
But not Orzammar as he heard about it now, oh no. There were crowds filling the streets below him, voices filling the air as they talked, and shopped, and argued. There were so many of them, bright and brilliant and colourful and happy.
This was Orzammar of more than a thousand years ago, before the first Blight, Orzammar back when his people were strong and prosperous and hopeful.
He'd never felt regret for what the Tethras clan had lost before, happier on the surface, happier with friends and stories and adventures, but now, this... This should be real. This shouldn't be lost.
"Husband." He turned away from the window, for once completely speechless. The dwarva before him was exquisite, her body full and curvy, her black hair tied up above her head, her eyes so dark he thought them black as well, until her head tilted and he saw the slightest flash of green when they caught the light. And her smile, soft and warm apparently just for him. "What are you dreaming about, love?"
"I don't..." He shook his head, his voice caught in his throat. Husband? Love?
"Oh," she sighed, stepping slowly across the room towards him, that smile deepening, a dimple appearing in her cheek. "I haven't seen that look in your eyes for all of a day and a half!" Her laugh was as beautiful as the rest of her, rich and rumbling and sweet, and then she was beside him, her voice a whisper against his ear. "We should take advantage of it while our little ones are off with Nanna, shouldn't we?"
Little ones? But for all his thoughts couldn't line up more than a word or two in order, his heart thumped hard in his chest at the thought of children, a wife, a family, one apparently born of joy and love, her hands slid around him, her mouth on his, his body responding enthusiastically to her warmth, her taste, her skin against his, no grief or regret or ale or greed or exile...
Her tongue slid between his lips, her hands moving down to grab his ass, to pull their hips together, and he gave up worrying and wondering, this was too good, too wonderful, if this is what humans get every night, it's no wonder the Fade seduces them so easily.
If this was his only chance at a dream, he was damn well going to enjoy it.
He took his time getting her naked, his mysterious perfect lover, admiring every inch of skin with hands and mouth and words. He worshipped her breasts, hands and mouth and tongue, only pausing in his sucking long enough to compliment them, extol their weight and shape and taste, before dropping his mouth to a nipple again, a gentle scrape of his nail against the other one, back and forth and again and again until she cried out, her body arching up off the bed.
"Stone, Varric." She laughed again, something that was rapidly becoming his new favorite sound, though it was breathier this time. Still beautiful.. "You haven't done that since we were courting, sneaking touches in dark hallways and empty rooms, seeing how far we could get without taking off our pants."
"Then it's high time I did it again, hmm?" He kissed her again, every touch lush and perfect, his hands stroking down her sides, trailing along her hips. "What would you like next, my love?"
"Oh, you should definitely keep that clever tongue of yours very busy, don't you think?"
He grinned, and shimmied down her body until he could do as she asked, tasting every bit of her, licking her folds, her clit, sliding his tongue as deep inside her as he could get. He circled her nub with his tongue, then pushed it inside again, angling up with his jaw, pushing deeper, rubbing his nose up against her clit again, harder and harder, his face pushed so tight against her he had trouble breathing.
Her thighs were braced on his shoulders, her heels digging into his back, her fingers tangled in his hair, her voice high and breathy as she cried out again, her legs so tight around him he really couldn't breathe at all, for just a moment.
Absolutely worth it.
He licked a few more times, gentle and slow as she sighed. She tugged on his hair, and he lifted his head, following her strong fingers until he reached her face, until she kissed him, hard and thorough. And then she shoved his shoulders, rolling him over and straddling him, lowering herself on his cock without a word of warning, and he forgot to breathe again, shoving himself up inside her, feeling her clench around him, hearing her moan.
"Oh yes." She rolled her hips, eyes closed, a soft shudder through her body as he pushed up again. "Sometimes I just need you inside me, husband."
"Anytime, wife." His heart ached at that, knowing this wasn't real, just a dream, a perfect nameless wife, perfect invisible children, an impossible home. But he couldn't stand not playing along; the very idea hurt even more. "Anything you want. You know that."
"Anything?" That dimple again, as she leaned down to kiss him, her body sliding gloriously along his cock as she moved. "Fuck me hard, husband. Fill me with your seed until I'm pregnant again. We already had twins. Let's make the whole city green with envy as we have more."
He growled his agreement, his fingers tight against her thighs as he thrust up again and again, her body a perfect fit, a tight grip all down the length of him, warm and wet, rubbing everywhere as he moved, until she clenched harder, and he swelled with seed, filling her as she'd asked.
He flipped her over and did it again, her legs wrapped around his hips, her body arching up to meet each thrust until she cried out his name, until he felt the pressure in his balls overflow inside her.
And again, from behind this time, her hands braced on their headboard, her perfect full ass under his hands, the slap of skin audible at the end of each thrust, their voices rough and raspy with over-use as they cried out in unison.
Even in dreams though, there had to come an end, bodies sweaty and chests heaving, collapsed together. He slid his hands to hold her cheeks, kissing her again and again, trying to freeze time, to make it real, to stop the dream from passing. But finally, despite his best efforts, her breath evened out beside him, and his own eyelids were too heavy to keep open.
He wondered, before he drifted to sleep, if he'd ask the mages about the Fade when he woke back up in Kirkwall, if he'd try to learn about dreaming, try to find a way back. Maybe even bother Choir Boy, with his books and his Chants. He found he rather wanted to believe in Brides, all of a sudden.
Chapter 2: Freedom
Sebastian liked this dream. He'd somehow known, when it started, that it wasn't real. But he liked it enough he didn't care.
A tavern. A card game. Him in normal clothes, breeches and leathers. No robes. No gold. No armour.
He was free. Not a Brother, not a Prince, just a man.
A man who could do anything he desired, and no one would get hurt.
It wasn't selfish if it was just a dream, after all. No responsibilities abandoned, no duties betrayed, no vows broken.
No loss, no pain.
Just a dream.
He won his game.
The wench who refilled his drink winked at him, and he bowed over her hand as if to kiss it. Instead, he pulled her into his lap, whispered into her ear until she laughed her consent, and he slid his hand up her skirt, teasing gently along her thighs, against her smalls, until he could feel the damp, until she begged.
She looks just like...
He shrugged away the whisper. This was a dream. Not real. Not her. He couldn't seduce her.
That voice wasn't his, rough and soft and sickly sweet, so he dismissed it, focused back on the dream, on the woman, on a warm and willing not-her in his arms. The barmaid's hair was lighter, her skin darker, her eyes safer, safer for who?, clear and grey and laughing.
There was an angry thrum in the air, easily ignored in favour of her laugh.
His head descended to her neck so he could taste her skin, could make her sigh.
He shifted her in his lap, slid her smalls out of his way. His thumb traced gently along her folds, his finger slid inside, then a second, curved just so... He circled her clit, stroked against her walls, his mouth gentle against her jaw, her mouth, her ear, her neck. His hand fucking her until she came apart in his lap, for the whole taproom to see.
Always did like an audience.
A familiar body sauntered towards the stairs, tall boots, lush curves barely hidden, hugged by white cloth. She looked back over her shoulder to wink at him, to tilt her head and hold up three fingers before disappearing in the shadows.
And when the audience joins in...
A voice in the back of his mind, too good to be true, don't trust, don't act, but this was a just a dream. What harm from a dream?
He was up the stairs, looking down a narrow hallway, well-lit by torches spaced evenly along the walls.
Door number three, the gilt flaking off the iron number nailed to the middle of the panel.
The room was dim and warm, firelight, flickering, highlighting skin.
Two women, not one.
Already started, tumbling across a giant bed.
A perfect pair, beautiful in their contrasts.
Voluptuous curves caressed by delicate hands, brown eyes blinking closed as green eyes disappeared between wide spread thighs, golden jewelry still wrapped around a neck, glinting at ears and beneath a lip, heavy and rich, intricate tattoos tracing pale limbs like the most expensive lace.
Isabela's scarf was gone, her hair spread wildly around her head, her hands tangled in Merrill's short braids, tugging as she moaned, as her hips rocked against the dalish elf's mouth. And then they moved, fingers teasing along Merrill's ears, and the elf gasped, her voice light and musical.
Sebastian shifted slightly on his feet.
He couldn't remember when he'd taken off his clothes, but he was completely naked, his cock hard and erect as he watched the women on the bed. Listened as the soft noises they made layered upon each other until Isabela threw back her head, part groan, part laugh, her body a masterpiece, perfection in taut muscles as she came.
Merrill's head moved, licking and kissing along Isabela's hips and stomach, sucking a nipple into her mouth, her hand stroking up and down Isabela's side in time to the slight shiver of visible aftershocks.
Eventually, Isabela groaned, tugged at those lovely short braids again, pulling Merrill up until they could kiss. Sebastian could see their jaws shift, could hear the wet sound of tongues and lips, could lose himself in admiring the line of Merrill's back as she lay across Isabela's body.
But this was a dream.
He could do more than that, if he wanted.
He could do everything he'd ever wanted.
"May I?" He spoke up, leaning against the bedpost, close enough to touch. But not yet. Not 'til he was invited.
No reason not to be a gentleman, just because you wanted to fuck someone's brains out. Wanted to make them go blind with pleasure. Wanted them to scream your name, to beg for you to do it again.
And again, if you were very lucky, and hadn't had so much to drink that it slowed you down.
Or were in a dream, so the realities of alcohol and cheap beds above cheaper bars needn't apply.
Not a dream, not just a dream, dangerous, listen, think.
He ignored that voice too, for all it was recognizably his own, greatly preferring the feel of his cock twitching when Merrill lifted her head, the sight of her tongue licking her lips, eyes wide as she stared at him.
"I do believe it's our little Kitten's turn to scream," Isabela purred, one hand giving the elf's delightfully pert arse a slap. "How would you like it?"
"Tease me, Sebastian." Merrill practically slithered off of Isabela, crawled toward him across the expanse of blanket, every move of her body an invitation, a promise of strength and pleasure hidden by deceptive innocence. "Tease me til I beg, then fuck me 'til I scream."
He'd wondered, before, how far her tattoos went. He tasted each of them, now, his mouth and tongue tracing every line down one side of her body and up the other, lingering on hips and thighs, stroking her firm soft skin 'til she whimpered, breathing fast and uneven.
"Please, Sebastian, please," she whispered in the delectable sweet voice of hers.
He ignored her, starting over again, firmer this time, the occasional scrape of teeth, a bite here, a nibble there, pinning her down with his hands when she tried to squirm beneath him. She was gasping now, almost sobbing, his name no longer a whisper but a moan, drawn out between breaths as she bucked up against his mouth.
Isabela was panting too, watching, Aveline holding her down in a chair beside the bed.
When did she arrive?
Was she here before?
She's here now, does it matter?
Isabela was trembling, straining against the strong arms wrapped around her chest, her legs spread wide, held in place by Aveline's legs tucked around her shins. He could see how wet she was, even from his place on the bed.
He looked into Aveline's eyes, dark and hooded, her hair loose and tousled around her face, like spun copper in the firelight. Her shoulders were bare, freckles visible along the line of muscles behind Isabela's body. Isabela whined in protest as Aveline's arms and legs tightened around her, keeping her close, keeping her still, stopping her from touching herself to go along with the show.
Aveline bared her teeth at him, a dare, a promise, wear yourself out on these pretty things, and then I'll take, I'll make you beg.
He was looking forward to it.
He had a job to do first, though, one he would enjoy just as much.
He leaned into Merrill, shoving her hard against the mattress, pinning her with the weight of his body as he kissed her, lips firm and tongue deep in her mouth. His hands slid down her sides, fingers digging into her tender flesh, listening to her groan, feeling her body curve up against him.
He sat back up and gripped her legs, thumbs digging into the crease between her thighs and the curve of her hips. And then he waited, waited as she pushed up against his hands, waited as she squirmed and panted, fingers clawing at his arms, catching on his skin. Waited until she swore and begged, twisty dalish words he didn't understand, a breathless desperate tone of voice he did.
He shifted his hands, lining up her folds and his cock, and then he thrust, one hard shove of his hips, hard enough she slid back along the bed, deep enough she wailed, hands clenching at the sheets so hard he heard the fabric tear. She was hot, and wet, and tight, so tight it almost hurt, so tight around his cock he almost wailed with her.
Instead he growled, a low dark sound, pushed himself back and out of her, and slammed all the way in again, even harder than the first time. Her voice broke, silent as she clenched around him, silent as her whole body shuddered, eyes closed and toes curled and fingers tight, silent as she came.
He pulled out before her pleasure pushed him over the edge as well, waited until her body and breathing eased.
And then he lifted her legs up over his shoulders and fucked her. Long, strong, steady strokes, over and over, the slap of skin as he slammed into her, her eyes closed and her face tilted back, a sudden memory, her face gentle, not flushed with sex, leaning back to look at clouds, innocent, not like this, her jaw clenched and he forgot, lost in the sound of her moans.
Isabela's hips were bucking in time to his thrusts, just visible out of the corner of his eye. "Fuck, yes, come for us Kitten, scream for Sebastian, please," Isabela's low voice was almost as good as the sight of her naked breasts, nipples tight as she leaned back against Aveline's chest.
"Shut up whore," Aveline's whisper was harsh, but still carried. "It's not your turn yet."
Maker, he wanted them too. But they could wait. He had to make Merrill scream, first. He was almost there, the gasp she made with each thrust was getting higher, louder, he could practically feel her cunt pulsing around him in time to her breathing. But he could also feel his cock thickening, his balls tightening, he wanted to let go, he wanted to fill her, to pump inside her, he wanted to come more than he could remember wanting anything...
He growled again, trying to banish the mysterious whisper that kept plaguing him, his hips grinding down against Merrill's body.
"Yes!" She screamed, at last, her voice high and loud and piercing, her body tight, so tight, frozen too tight to shudder, too tight to clench any more, too tight to do anything but wait, ride it out, to take his seed as he came, fire and relief, until finally she broke, collapsing to the bed with a whine.
He grunted as he slid free; he couldn't move for a moment, concentrating more on breathing and staying upright on his knees than anything else. As soon as the world stopped swaying he kissed her softly along her stomach, nuzzled at her breasts, her neck, and finally took the tip of her ear into his mouth and sucked, gently, until she groaned and opened her eyes.
"You'll have to help me off the bed, lethallan." Merrill's voice rasped along her words as she turned her face to look at Isabela. "Unless you're playing with him somewhere else?"
"Oh, she's not going anywhere just yet." Aveline growled. "Come over here and show us what you can do, Choir Boy."
It had been too long. He hadn't forgotten, though, the feel of a woman's slick on his tongue, in his mouth, her warmth covering his face as he knelt before the chair and lowered his head between Isabela's legs. First he just used his mouth, his tongue, until she shuddered, and he heard Aveline's whispered "good job." But oh, he wasn't done yet, he kept going, tongue and lips, fingers helping now too, the occasional scrape of teeth, never stopping, timing the shift of his jaw to go along with her clenching muscles as she came again, and again, her body thrashing in Aveline's grip.
Finally, he saw it, a shift in Aveline's legs, a weakening in her position, and he stood up, pulled Isabela free, and spun them both around. He bent her over the side of the bed, his arse in Aveline's face as he took Isabela from behind, his cock thrusting inside, rough along the front wall of her cunt, his fingers gripping her hips and arse, holding her in place, admiring the curve of her back, the soft broken gasps of her voice, her warmth wrapped tight around him.
They both cried out as she came, as she milked him dry, shuddering in counter-point to each other, until she collapsed across the mattress, and his knees slid to the floor, his head resting against her thighs.
"Not bad." Aveline's hand was tangled in his hair, pulling his head back so she could stare into his eyes. "Got a round three in you?"
"For you?" Sebastian remembered his old smile, the one that had inspired blushes and giggles and lifted skirts, felt it find its way across his face as he admired the warrior goddess before him, all strength and freckles and delicious looking nipples. "Anything."
She tied him to the bed, arms and legs spread, made him watch as Merrill and Isabela played with her, grinding themselves on her thighs, Merrill's hand up her cunt, Isabela's fingers in her arse, all three flushed and gorgeous, pale and pink and dusky, delicate and strong and lush, legs rubbing and hips tilting and mouths tasting and bodies taut.
Three distinct voices twined together to make a beautiful melody, soft words and soft moans. Then not so soft, Aveline's rough cry as she came, nimble fingers and hot tongues ensuring the other two quickly followed.
Finally, she came to him, and how he longed to touch, to taste, hands straining against leather cuffs, neck stretched up so at the very least he could see.
His head fell back against the bed with a groan, however, eyes closed and hips bucking up despite himself as her hands wrapped around his cock, fingers slick and cool as she covered him with some sort of oil.
She waited until his eyes opened, until he was looking again, before she straddled him, before she started to lower herself on his cock. He bit his lip, fingers clenching in the wrinkled sheets as he held his hips still. She was so very hot, her muscles shifting in her arse as she took him deeper and deeper, agonizingly slowly.
She groaned, head thrown back, tendons visible along the strong lines of her neck as she finally settled against his body, muscular thighs tight along his hips.
Maker, he adored her arse, so tight and strong, each shift of her body making his cock throb inside her, but it was torture, looking at her cunt, wet and empty, right above his stomach, and be unable to touch, unable to taste.
Isabela came up behind her, pressing herself against Aveline's back, her mouth on Aveline's neck, one hand on Aveline's breast, the other circling her clit, right where Sebastian wanted to put his own hand, taking all the pleasure Sebastian was denied.
Aveline laughed, hips rocking as he pushed up inside her, not all my pleasure denied, Maker, so good, her hands resting above Isabela's. Her laughter was strange, bitter, almost mocking. Not like her rare honest amusement at all.
None of this is like her. She wouldn't be here, wouldn't do this. I've seen the way she looks at that Guardsman, the one we helped her rescue from the former Captain's schemes...
He shook his head, trying to lose himself in her body again, but now that his brain had woken up it wouldn't stop, cataloguing impossible eyes, sly smiles, expressions very unlike the women he admired, beyond even the surreality usual in dreams.
Isabela's fingers were too long.
Merrill's tattoos too dark, an almost purple tinge beneath the skin.
Aveline laughed again, the sound rough and dark, almost double-toned, but he lost his thought as she came, her body clenching around him, his own orgasm rough and sudden and surprising as he pumped into her arse.
Your Guardswoman gave me away, did she?
The bed was gone, mist and smoke, Aveline and Isabela and Merrill only dreams, the shape above him dark and twisted and Maker forgive him, unbearably beautiful.
Demon , he tried to push himself away, but he was still bound, tied to nothing, tied with nothing, unable to free himself. There were no clever tricks, no twist of fingers that would loosen knots of thought and air. No matter how he tried, she was always there, wrapped around him, hot and smooth and sex and smoke, and his body wouldn't stop, despite the horror tightening his throat, the twist of panic in his gut. She was cold and heat, wet and dry, impossible and perfect and horrible, and he couldn't get free of her.
Please, Maker, no.
He woke to darkness, his room silent and empty. He rolled out of bed, falling to his knees on the cold stone floor, barely making it to his nightstand in time to move the water pitcher out of the way before his stomach heaved, his dinner from the night before sharp and bitter in his throat on its way into the basin.
He heaved again and again, until only bile burned his stomach. He stood there, panting, eyes closed tight, muscles trembling, but the nightstand stayed firm beneath his hands, the stone of the floor solid and real beneath his feet.
Not a dream.
Never just a dream.
He rinsed his mouth with a handful of water, spit into the basin. Picked it up to toss in the midden heap behind the kitchens, on his way to the chapel to pray.
He had a feeling he'd be praying for a very long time.
Chapter 3: a chink in the armor
Aveline sighed, leaning back against her pillow. It felt odd, having her own quarters at the Keep. Fancier than she'd ever needed, or wanted. But they came with the job. Couldn't very well turn them down.
Could if I was married. If I needed a home.
She swallowed, jaw clenched. She wasn't ready for those sorts of thoughts. Not yet. Though, if she were honest with herself, (she prided herself on her honesty), she knew precisely who she'd imagine in that home. If she was the sort who imagined such things.
In her dreams, occasionally. Perhaps. She never remembered them much, a jumble of images, of feelings. Warmth. A hand, a touch, a smile on a familiar face.
Blood, in the nightmares.
Perhaps she'd be lucky tonight, and just have pleasant dreams. Something simple.
Simple was nice.
It started simple.
A sheath of white, a bouquet.
A memory. Wesley's smile.
Wesley fading, one last brush of his lips, fingers lingering, calloused and cool.
And then he was gone.
But she was still at a wedding.
Not a memory this time.
Hands, slowly undoing the buttons down her back. The feel of his fingers, gentle against her skin. The ache as he filled her, slow and warm. The pleasure of finding a place, together.
And then again, rougher, the strength of their bodies slamming against each other, need and want and lust.
The taste of him on her tongue, filling her mouth, burning her throat.
His stubble scraping between her thighs, his tongue, his hands, her pleasure searing hot as she came.
She was at work, papers, business, dull, and then he was there, handsome as always in his uniform, bending her over her desk, taking her from behind, fierce and hard, her breathing ragged as she whispered his name. Donnic, yes, Donnic.
She rode him, not even looking at him, taking, not giving, both of them separate, somehow, despite their interlocking bodies, despite the feel of her shudders as she came around him.
Wrong, this is wrong, what is this?
He watched, as she fucked herself, first her hands, then a toy, something hard and smooth, curving inside her until her voice broke and her body clenched.
Again and again, almost violent, almost impersonal, things she'd never done, never wanted to do, before, plugs and clamps and paddles, dark, wrong, fucking against doors, in alleyways, she was tired, so tired, couldn't stop, each clench of muscles pain and heat and pleasure and confusion and guilt and more, always more...
She thought of the Estate, family, didn't want her to know, could never know, had to keep them safe, protect her...
A snarl of rage echoing off the walls.
More faces, flashing by, were they watching, did they know?, Guardsmen, nobles, the damn smug Seneschal smirking at her, friends, the useless noble archer, the apostates, the elf, Bethany lost, poor girl, given away in the Deep, an empty seat at the table, an empty spot waiting next to the plaque for Carver, lost in the Blight, the dwarf, the pirate...
Somehow this was her fault. It was her style, sly looks and indecent behaviour.
Aveline ignored the twinge of guilt at the thought, the memories that, despite her apparently careless ways, Isabela never did try to be so merciless.
The sigh didn't feel like Aveline's voice, too high and low, both at once, it sounded cruel, it filled the air, but it has to be me, it's my dream, isn't it?
Aveline woke with a jerk, staring through the darkness towards a ceiling she was shaking too hard to see. She could feel the sweat in her hair, soaked into her pillow and sheets.
Her hand was between her legs.
She pulled it away as if it burned, scowling and coughing, eyes burning as if she needed to cry.
Not that she would cry.
Just a dream.
She rolled over onto her side, the unexpected throb between her legs making her wince. Aveline slowly levered herself out of bed, her knees shaky as she walked over to the washstand, poured cold water over her hands, rubbed at the back of her neck.
She felt dirty.
Not just salt, or grime. The kind of dirt that never washed off.
She shook her head at her unusual urge for melodrama, ignoring the ache low in her stomach, lust still burning down the back of her throat. Washing was the only thing she could think to do, and she gathered a rough towel and her dressing robe.
Bathhouse. Benefit of being stuck in the Keep. Should be empty this time of night.
It had better be empty. She couldn't stand the thought of eyes on her.
She had a sudden memory, gold and purple, and swallowed as her stomach tried to heave.
She certainly wasn't getting back to sleep tonight.
Chapter 4: regret
Isabela knew that voice. That voice made her heart ache, her fingers tighten. That voice made her want to apologize.
Isabela never apologized.
I'm so sorrry.
"I told you to strip." The voice had dropped, low and growly, and she felt that rumble low in her stomach. She was blindfolded, couldn't see him, but she knew him. She couldn't resist.
Not that I resist that many things. That would be dull.
She grinned, pulling her scarf off her head and flinging it in the direction of his voice.
There was a hum of approval, footsteps approaching, the soft slide of bare feet against a wooden floor, and then a hand, stroking her hair.
So she did, sliding off layers. More layers than she wore, nowadays, old clothes from her previous life, fancy clothes, overdress and underdress and petticoats and a slip and thin silk pantaloons and stockings, and always that voice, encouraging her, or a hand, sliding across her skin.
Soon she had it all off, everything except the corset to support her breasts.
"Stop." Those hands, holding hers, that voice.
She stopped. Let him guide her across the floor. Let him pull her into a chair, his chest firm behind her shoulders, warm even through his shirt, his erection a hard length she could feel trapped behind the small of her back. She moaned a little, rubbing back against him, feeling the taut cloth of his trousers catch on her skin.
"Shh." His hand wrapped around her neck, pushing her jaw up, her head back, making her think about every breath passing beneath his fingers. His other arm crossed under her breasts, pinning her arms to her sides. "Spread your legs."
Normally she preferred to be the one calling the shots, but the impossible relief of that voice, of the second chance it offered...
She spread her thighs as wide as she could, lifting up as well until her knees were above his thighs, her legs sliding down the outside of his until she could tuck her feet behind his calves, making his trousers wrinkle between them, slight ridges against her skin.
"Now." He'd lifted his head, and she frowned. Now what? What do you want?
She shuddered as another pair of hands touched her thighs, fingers firm and cool, and an unknown tongue found her clit.
"Andraste's tits." Her voice was a hiss as his hand tightened around her neck, almost but not quite blocking her attempt to breathe, her fingers digging into his thighs.
"This is what you wanted, isn't it?" His breath was hot against her ear, making her whole body writhe, pushing up against that mysterious mouth, the tongue now licking inside her cunt. "You tried to tell me, tried to show me, tried to explain how you couldn't bear to be tied down again, but you wanted to come back to me, didn't you?"
"Yes." She moaned, that answer for him, for the mouth between her legs, for the hands hard and hot against her skin.
"I didn't understand." She felt his lips brush the skin in front of her ear, gentle against her temple, her cheek, a flick of his tongue against her jaw. "I do now. And now I want to appreciate the opportunity you're providing me."
"What." She gasped, swallowed, as the lips started to suck her clit, as her body arched and she forgot words. "What, opportunity?"
"That's for me to know."
She cried out wordlessly, her body pushing against his arms as the orgasm flashed across her skin, and the mouth between her legs disappeared.
He shoved her to the ground in front of their chair, her knees hitting the floor awkwardly, the move shocking her breath back into her chest. "Thank the nice lady for her good work."
His hands were firm against her head, pushing her forward, until she felt the warmth of another woman past her nose, smelled the arousal of another woman's wet pussy. "Make her scream, my dear."
She licked the stranger's folds, tasting and teasing, listening to the sound of her breathing, adjusting to the feel of her muscles twitching. Humming occasionally, as his hands stroked down her back, petted her hair, tapped her ass.
Isabela slid a finger inside the woman, twisting until she made her jump, until she heard her voice moan. Isabela's mouth moved up to her clit, licking, circling, sucking, finger pumping and curving inside her, over and over, until she felt the tension build, until she could hear her breath catch, and then, only then, she very gently bit.
"Ah!" The stranger screamed, just as requested, her legs taut as she came, her breath sobbing as she came down. "Oh, yes."
"Nicely done." He leaned along her back to whisper praise in her ear, his hand sliding around her hip to cup her sex, a gentle chuckle audible as his fingers felt her slick. His head lifted again, his next words aimed at the stranger. "Send the boys in, would you dear? I'll get her ready."
"Boys? Ready?" Isabela asked, trying to turn around and touch him, kiss, taste him. It's been so long.
"Oh, you didn't think that was it, did you?" He pulled on her hands, avoiding her embrace, leading her across smooth floor, pushing her onto a bed, tying her wrists together, then attaching them to the headboard. "Tonight will be a night to remember, my love."
And it was, oh Maker, it was.
The first man he called up fucked her mouth, his cock hard and hot and burning down her throat til she could barely breathe, and just as he swelled, just as she lifted her head to try and swallow, he pulled out, shooting his seed across her chin, her neck, the top of her chest.
The second cut her corset off her, the cool pressure of his blade against her skin making her writhe until she could feel the goose-bumps across her skin. And then he fucked her breasts, hands kneading and teasing and twisting her nipples, cock hard between them as he rubbed them together. He groaned above her, this stranger, his seed hot against her breasts as he came.
By now she was aching, her cunt empty and clenching, wanting nothing more than a touch, a finger, a cock, anything, her clit throbbing in time to the whisper off to the side. The one she'd hurt, back again, encouraging, ordering, never silent, always there, watching.
She could feel his gaze, heat on her skin, even as other men touched, took her, fucked her.
For him. All for him.
The third man turned her over, the tacky drying seed of the previous two sticking to the sheet beneath her. His hands spread her ass, his tongue a promise of things to come. First his finger, lubrication. Then his cock, so wide, so hard, that first thrust almost burning, then pleasure and tension, in and out, never quite far enough to hit her favorite spot, teasing and tightening but not quite enough.
She was swearing, begging, asking for more, harder, deeper.
Instead he pulled out, and she felt his seed, hot along her back.
And then his voice, to the side, denying her any relief. "Don't let her come, boys. Do whatever you want, but stop before she comes. Every time. You can come as often as you'd like, though, as often as you can, as long as you don't do it inside her. Cover her with your seed."
And they did. Between her thighs, the angle just wrong so they wouldn't rub her clit. One spanked her with a paddle til she was red and hot, thighs clenching and breath ragged, then fucked her ass again, his nails digging into sensitized flesh as he spread her cheeks apart, pain and heat and pleasure 'til she screamed.
They turned her over played with her breasts, hands and mouths, licking and sucking, pulling back when one of them was ready to come along her breasts, returning to rub the result into her skin, to taste their mingled seed upon her. She could feel the tug from her nipples straight to her womb, but just as her back lifted her chest up towards them, just as she was almost there, his voice called them off again.
They fucked each other on top of her, groans and grunts and skin rubbing against her, never enough, never in the right place, spilling along her stomach and thighs one after another after another.
And then they stopped, though she could feel them watching as she writhed on the bed, trying for friction from something, anything, to get herself off. They waited until the tension eased, a sour taste in her throat and a burn of denial in her muscles.
They fucked her again, one after the other, filling her mouth and her throat with cocks, hands hard and ruthless along her hips, her breasts, her legs, until she couldn't breathe, couldn't gasp, couldn't bear another moment, her body straining for relief, air, release, and the darkness behind her eyes grew heavier than that created by the blindfold, and she passed out.
She woke up to silence, darkness, the blindfold still secure over her eyes. She tried to talk, but her throat burned, dry and sore.
"Shh," gentle hands, untying her wrists, rubbing down her arms as they fell to the bed. "Take your time."
She turned her head until her head found his hand, rubbing her nose against his wrist. She felt him sigh, his hands sliding along her temples, his mouth soft as he finally kissed her. She tried to pour all her regret, all her relief, all her desire into that kiss, lips moving and tongue diving into his mouth, moaning low in her throat.
I loved you. I did. But it wasn't enough ...
"I'm so -"
"Shh," his finger pressed against her lips. "No need."
She felt a tentative touch along her blindfold, reached her hands up to cover his. Shook her head no.
She knew this wasn't real, just a dream. He never did forgive her, never would. Never should. But if she got too close, thought his name, saw his face, she was afraid it would break the spell, wake her up, end it all.
And it was such a nice dream. To have eased his heart instead of breaking it.
His soft chuckle brushed her face, and her body stretched beside him, rolling in towards his warmth. She smiled, trying to capture that sound, remember the feel of it in her heart and head when she woke up.
"Still want to play, do you?"
"With you?" She aimed her smile in the direction of his voice. "Always."
Strong arms slid under her shoulders, her thighs, lifted her up in the air. Her head felt fragile, almost spinning, her body light, floating as he carried her. She descended slowly, hot water and smooth ceramic, a bath so deep only her head was free of the water, resting against the smooth slope of the back of the tub.
Her ass stung, her muscles tightened, she hissed for just an instant, everything sore, before the water worked its magic and her body eased. "Maker."
She could hear the hum of his breath, a slight slosh of water, and then the gentle strokes of a soft wet cloth against her chin and cheeks.
Isabela sighed, her body sinking through the water, limbs heavy as he moved down her neck and shoulders, cleaning her skin until it felt soft and new. His touch was kind and smooth, not remotely sexual, and yet it wasn't long before her muscles started to tighten, her body shivering as the cloth slowly made its way down her body, all the pent up frustration from his game still there, hot and bitter beneath her skin.
He moved past her hips and down the outside of her legs all the way to her feet, (twice! once on each side, the tease), before finally reaching her inner thighs.
"Lift your legs." He finally spoke again, a soft request.
"Oh honey, anything you say." She managed a smirk, hooking her heels over the edges of the tub to hold her up. He laughed again, that soft chuckle, and her heart ached as she smiled, proud of herself, proud of him, thankful for this lovely hallucination.
The water shifted, splashing up against her chin as he moved, and she felt two arms between her legs, one hand supporting her ass so the cloth could clean between her cheeks, remove all traces of oil and slick and seed.
She whined, a little, lifting herself higher, stretching her thighs, hoping.
Nothing happened for a moment, an eternity.
Fingers, stroking along the very tops of her thighs. Finally, moving inwards, fingertips soft against her lower lips. Her clit was throbbing, aching as he took his time cleaning each fold and curve around it, her hips jerking at every other tantalizing touch, the shift of water never quite enough.
"Please," Isabela whispered, eyes closed tight in anticipation, as if that mattered, hidden behind cloth. "Please."
Pressure, just the slightest touch a shock like lightning, pain, aroused too long, too sensitive, too tender, but good, so good, a wordless cry past her lips as her hips thrust up against him, water splashing up the sides as her body jerked, and jerked again, his thumb, definitely his thumb, thick and broad and almost rounded, rough skin almost catching then sliding again, circling around and around, drawing it out.
Her muscles burned, her shout fading to a keen in the back of the throat as she shuddered, swallowing and spitting water as she slid back down in the tub.
She moaned, feeling her arms and legs twitch as her cunt clenched with one last aftershock.
"Maker," his voice was rough, and then his hands were rough, tangled in her hair, his mouth hard and forceful as he thrust his tongue in her mouth, and she'd never been so thankful for a dream, because she was ready again, already, feeding on his desperation.
She kissed him back, her tongue tasting his mouth, his lips, his tongue, panting every time his lips shifted. She reached out until she felt his shirt under her fingers, pulled on the fabric above his shoulders, hard and fast and ruthless. She yanked him into the tub with her, water pouring over the sides, splashing their faces, soaking her blindfold, her hair, his clothes, almost choking her as a wave crashed over her face.
Neither of them cared, his mouth hot on her skin, his shirt sticking to his back and shoulders as he heaved himself up so she could get her hands between them, fingers tugging on wet ties and thick cloth until she could shove his trousers out of their way, both of them panting, neither able to keep still, hips tilting towards each other, mouths bumping and slamming back together after every shift of their bodies.
His cock was free, hot and hard, oh blessed Andraste, she'd forgotten the feel of him, hard between her hands, and then his hands, fingers tight around her wrists as he yanked her arms out of his way, her thigh pinned between his hips and the tub, pinched and tight, and it didn't matter, because he was saying her name, he was pushing his cock inside her.
"Yes, fuck, yes, please, more," she didn't know what she was saying, didn't know what to do with her hands, arms flailing in the darkness before wrapping around his shoulders, fingers digging into his neck, stroking through his hair, gripping his arms, tugging on his shirt, wet and clinging to his back, the front dragging in the water and catching on her breasts, "fuck, yes."
He rolled his hips, all the way in, rubbing everywhere inside her, and she screamed as her body almost spasmed, muscles burning, bucking up against him, cunt clenching his cock, thighs clenching around his hips. Her head hit the edge of the tub so hard she stunned herself, unable to move, and it didn't matter, because he kept moving, in and out, riding the pulse of her pleasure. She shuddered and jerked beneath him, so hot, so hard, oh Maker. He bit her shoulder, growling against her skin as his hips jerked once, twice more, swelling inside her as she arched and tightened even more, the heat of his seed inside her taking her over the edge with him.
"Isabela," the word was barely louder than the sound of his breathing. His lips were soft as he kissed her, long and slow and sweet. Her body felt warm and heavy beneath him, and she so seldom bothered with sweet, but she rather hoped this would never end.
Never wake up, never again.
"Oh lover," she shifted beneath him, his wet clothes going cold beneath her fingers as she stroked his back. "That was... you were..." she purred, unable to think of a thing to say that could encompass how very sated she felt.
"I'm not done yet."
She felt him move, heard the slap of wet fabric against the floor as he stripped, and despite expecting it, squeaked in surprise as he picked her up again, the water remaining in the bottom of the tub sloshing over his arms.
They were back in the bed, wrapped in blankets and each other, each touch achingly slow as he warmed them up, hands stroking skin, gentle licks and kisses along muscles and curves. She laughed when he stuck his tongue in her navel, rolled him over and tickled his ribs until he laughed as well.
She straddled his hips, took him inside, so slowly, so full. She could feel every finger as his hands stroked her thighs; every shift of his body was exquisite as he rubbed inside her. She rocked her hips, her body swaying back and forth as he rolled up against her, over and over, timeless and perfect in the nature of dreams, pleasure building, passing between them, thick and heavy and slow.
Her orgasm when it came was much the same, starting with her cunt, tightening around him, both of them moaning. She felt so full of his cock she could feel the pulse of his heart between her legs, matching hers, a heavy thud as the muscles low in her stomach clenched. Her breasts were heavy, nipples tight, a shivering ache up her spine, a tremble in her thighs, heat flushing across her skin. Her head fell back, a sigh escaping her mouth as the rolling pleasure tightened her shoulders, her arms, making its way all the way down her legs to curl her toes.
His body lifted up beneath her, and she could feel him coming inside her, hear the stutter of his breath, the moan of his words. "Oh, Isabela, I lo-"
She fell forward, her mouth on his, swallowing his words before he could finish. If he said such a thing in her dream ...
Her chest ached as she tasted his tongue, as her body shivered above him, his cock softening, resting against the walls of her cunt.
They kissed for a long time, until their breathing slowed and their hearts settled and the last of the water and sweat dried off their skin.
She was almost asleep, snug against his side, when he spoke up again. "And who would you like me to invite for your next surprise? More strangers? Or friends? That one who leads, perhaps, so rough, always being responsible..."
She ignored the odd depth to his voice, laughed softly against his skin. "She is much too monogamous to enjoy the way I play." You are too monogamous to enjoy the way I play. She felt his fingers tighten around her, tensed at his touch, too tight, too harsh, a dark growl rolling over her before he relaxed again. Just a dream? "But Sparklefingers could use the break, I'm sure. Poor man has forgotten how to play. I'll ask Anders if he and his electricity trick are allowed out of the clinic."
"Anderss," his voice was almost a hiss, still oddly dark. "I'll ask. Don't you worry about a thing."
Isabela sighed, and tried, but fell asleep with worry a tight knot in her stomach. Somehow, something had gone horribly wrong, but she'd be damned if she could tell precisely when or how.
Just a dream. Nothing wrong with a dream. Right?
Chapter 5: escape
Warding one's sleep against the denizens of the Fade tended, over the years, to give most mages a bit of a knack for steering their dreams they way they wanted them to go. Something better than the life they had to live, and less chaotic than the flashes of subconscious desires mixed with Fade shimmer that was all most people could recall.
Warden Taint mostly broke that, whispers of Darkspawn giggling nastily in shadows.
There were no darkspawn tonight, however, the whisper of their minds distant enough he could ignore them, so Anders indulged, just a little.
It was so seldom that he could let himself relax.
Remember something fondly.
There were so few fond memories.
An unusual afternoon, everyone's schedules a jumble as the Circle prepared for a visit from the Grand Cleric herself, due in a sennight. He'd weaseled his way through three different work crews before he managed to get assigned to glass cleaning.
Which meant windows.
He adored windows.
Especially cleaning them, as that meant they had to be propped wide open so he could lean precariously out into the fresh air to scrub the outside panes. It was almost as good as freedom, those moments, surrounded by wind and sky, unable to hear the familiar tread of armoured feet with his head briefly on the right side of the Tower's stone walls.
He'd eventually had to crawl back in, of course, but in this particular office, he'd barely gotten himself turned around, his stomach still braced on the thick stone sill, his feet dangling above the ground, when he heard the thud of the door and the click of a lock behind him.
"Well, well, isn't this a pleasant sight."
Young Anders had grinned at the familiar voice, wiggling his hips.
"And no one else around for at least a mark."
At that he'd started to push himself back into the room, before Karl's hand had landed softly on the curve of his arse, holding him still. "Oh, no, I think you should stay right where you are."
He felt the slide of cloth as Karl started lifting his robe, felt himself getting hard already, off balance and dangling and having trouble breathing, the catch of arousal, the pressure of stone against his gut, Karl whispering fondly behind him.
"Just this once," Karl's hand stroking against bare skin as he slid Anders' smalls off, "you can breathe deep," the hand came back, sliding between Anders' thighs to tug on his balls, the slick slide of grease on his fingers, on Anders' skin, "you can shout as loud as you'd like," the warmth disappeared, the audible shifting of fabric as Karl arranged himself, "out into the air, the real world, no one near here in the Tower."
Fingers splayed across his hip, holding him in place as he felt Karl's cock slip and glide between his thighs, push forward to catch on his balls, Karl's hand reaching around to wrap around their cocks as they moved together.
In reality, he'd stayed like that, Karl's hips thrusting back and forth, his fingers gripping desperate at the edge of the stone sill to try and hold himself in place, the pressure of cock and hand more than enough to make them both spill against the wall. And yes, just that once, Anders had let himself cry out in pleasure, no burn down his throat as he swallowed his voice, instead permitting a wordless shout to disappear into blue and clouds.
Even then he did not dare call Karl's name, just in case. They'd had a bucket to clean up the mess, afterwards, and no one was ever the wiser.
In his dreams though, there was no hurry to get back to work, no reason to stop, no danger of interruption, and after Karl helped him off the sill and back into the room, he got to kiss him. Soft and slow, trying to explain with lips and fingertips all the things it wasn't safe to say.
Wasn't safe to feel.
He tilted his head under a warm summer sky, freedom and fresh air and the heat of the sun against his skin; all the things that were never his, not with Karl.
That wasn't Karl's voice.
He opened his eyes, felt the weight of his clothes against his skin, not Circle Robes, not any more, and blinked at the ache in his chest at the sight of Justice standing before him, cool and blue and green, lit by the Fade, the sunlight just a memory. They'd managed it before, once or twice, and yet it always hurt, relief and regret both, to see him like that.
No warmth in his head, no cool flicker in his heart, separated, almost, the slightest tug of connection low in his gut all that was left of their Joining, if only here, if only briefly, in between dreams in the Fade.
Justice's features were even here, too even, the lines of his body straight and hard, the shape of his eyes almost familiar, almost not. His new form should have been awkward, part armor, part Kristoff, part Anders, and yet, despite the familiarity of the line of his jaw, the ache of the empty places in his own mind, it was nice to actually see Justice. To talk to him again, like friends, rather than their thoughts echoing back and forth, twisting and twining together as they did when they were awake.
Only Justice's form was different tonight, somehow, a flush beneath the blue, and Anders was suddenly half-hard again, despite his recent dream, swallowing heat down a tight throat even as his gaze followed the line of Justice's chest, his thighs, tried desperately not to wonder about the possibility of a spirit blue cock, hard and thick and quite possibly tasting of lyrium.
"There is a demon here."
At that Anders managed to look at Justice's face, to meet his gaze, hard and blue and hot, oh Maker, he wanted ...
"Well," Justice's words were slow and thick, making Anders' cock throb with each dark syllable. "Not here, precisely. It cannot make its way past our wards, but somehow it is still near, trying to get even closer."
"A desire demon, obviously." Anders was having trouble following the meaning of the words, having trouble focusing on conversation when he wanted to press a hand to his groin, wanted to ease that ache, wanted to take the two steps forward that would let him reach towards Justice.
"Yes." There was the slightest shift of Justice's head, his shoulders, an almost awkward step adjusting his hips.
"You feel it too?" Surprise lifted Anders' eyebrows, even as the heat beneath his skin seemed to increase. He licked his lips, could feel the weight of Justice's eyes on him.
"I have a body now, though it is ours, yours, though I do not quite," the rich voice paused, unable to find the phrase he wanted, unwilling to admit to the confusion hiding between the pauses of his words. There was a moment of silence, as he considered, as Anders ached, before he tried again. "I feel it too."
Justice's stance shifted, feet planted firmly, shoulders back. Steady again. Solid. "Why?"
"I know you have trouble with the physicality of it all, sometimes. Needing to sleep, to eat. Feeling the itch on our nose, or the ache between our shoulderblades. Thirst." Anders swallowed again, feeling tight and vaguely guilty for all the many things he wanted, now that he was paying attention for someone else's sake, no longer denying them as he had when he was always so very alone. "Temptation."
"Perhaps it would be easier if I stopped avoiding them."
Anders couldn't manage another word, throat too dry even to swallow again as Justice took a step closer, slow and even.
And then he stopped. It took a moment to interpret the pause, the line of shoulder and jaw and blue almost armor. He needed Anders to take that last step, needed to know this desire was mutual.
Wasn't just the demon.
Anders needed to know it wasn't just the demon.
"Let's get rid of our uninvited guest first, shall we?" He reached out a hand, felt the cool strong lines of Justice's fingers wrapped around his own and closed his eyes. He could feel the hum of their magic intertwined, warm and cool and soft and sharp, all at once, and he swallowed it down until his heart hurt, wrapped in barbed wire and scratchy wool, and shoved against his wards, up and out and out again, felt the hiss against his ears more than heard it as the demon's presence faded away.
It'll smell Merrill's blood magic any moment, probably try to whisper in her ear. Merrill wasn't good for much, but even she could handle a solitary wandering demon without too much trouble.
Anders ignored the last lingering traces of the demon fading away and turned his hand within Justice's grip, felt the slide of skin against his own, too smooth, too cool, too hot. Felt his breath catch at the feel of Justice's thumb curling against his knuckle.
He had better ways to spend his time. If Justice is still interested, at least.
He lifted the hand in his grasp, bent slowly over it and kissed the smooth expanse of skin just past the knuckles, glancing sideways up at Justice's face before he moved away, the warmth of his breath parting along Justice's hand to blow along Anders' fingers as well.
He'd felt that expression part his own lips, and it was perhaps a little odd to find it arousing, his own mouth on someone else's face, but every shift of Justice's body moved it so differently than he would, it made the similarities more intriguing than anything else.
And it was Justice, his best friend, his refuge in the darkness of the night, looking at him as if he wanted to be devoured, if only he could figure out how to ask.
Anders wasn't going to make him ask.
He stepped in close, close enough he could feel the spirit's breath, warm and ragged against his lips, could almost brush against his mouth as he spoke. "Are you sure, my friend?"
He felt the answer, the movement against his mouth, the tug of heat low in his gut, the curl of fingers around his arms pulling him even closer, body to body and heat to heat and an echo of his own heart beating in Justice's chest.
There was the slightest pause when he finally pushed forward that last breath, an instant when Justice's mouth was still beneath his own, before he began to kiss him back. Every time Anders moved, his mouth along Justice's jaw, his hands down his arms, his fingers digging into his skin as his fade armor slowly disappeared, there was a half a heartbeat before Justice responded, as if he was considering, weighing each motion before he made it.
Would it even be possible, to bring a spirit so into sensation, into desire, into something so purely physical, that he forgets to think?
Probably not, but Anders was damn well going to try.
Justice's skin was smooth against his fingertips, flawless and even and firm, and as the last of their clothes vanished into the Fade along with their worries and inhibitions, he wrapped his hand around the base of Justice's cock and watched all that smooth skin shudder.
He dropped to his knees and licked, feeling warm hard skin press against his tongue, and listened to Justice groan.
"It is different, to feel," his voice was shaky, for once, still rich, but jagged instead of smooth, a catch between the words even as his hips jerked forward, pushing himself closer to Anders' mouth. "Rather than to know a man's memories."
Anders wrapped his lips around Justice's crown and hummed his agreement, much better than memories or dreams, smiling as much as he could with a full mouth when he heard the shake in Justice's breathing, when he felt fingers grabbing and catching in his hair as he slid slowly closer, jaw dropping and lips spreading wide to take even more of Justice's cock. It had been too long since he had felt the heat of a man between his lips, shivered at the brush of a cock against the roof of his mouth, tasted the tease of pre-cum burning down his throat when he swallowed.
Justice's skin tasted just like anyone else's, but it buzzed a little against his lips, potential and imagination and desire and will only barely contained. Anders took him as as deep as he could, a thrum against his throat as he swallowed, as Justice groaned, broken and needy, and maybe Justice could still string two thoughts together but he couldn't, not anymore, he wanted.
He took, heat deep in his mouth and flesh firm against his hands and always, always, that tug low in his stomach, that echo of Justice's pleasure, of his own, traveling through their connection.
Come for me.
Feel for me.
The sigh of Justice's breath echoed when he came, a jerk of hips and tightening fingers, a flare of blue as the spirit within a dream body shivered, pulsed, almost forgot his shape before he slammed back into it again, a quick sharp gasp inward, again, as if it hurt to breathe, hurt not to breathe, as if he had to force himself to remember how lungs worked.
Anders swallowed, not lyrium, not quite normal either, almost sweet, almost tingly, let his thumbs stroke softly, smoothly, back and forth across Justice's thighs, and slowly slid his mouth free. He hummed as soothingly as he could, kissed the too sharp jut of a hipbone, and looked up at Justice through his lashes, content to watch the shift of shadows across his face that were as close as he managed to a proper expression, content to wait for as long as Justice needed.
"That was," his deep voice was thick, slow, and it stopped abruptly, a tilt of his chin accompanying the silence as if he couldn't quite find the word he wanted.
"If we're doing it right," Anders murmured, pushing himself up to his feet, feeling his breath and his skin brush lightly against Justice on the way up, trying not to moan at the tease of light contact against his cock. "I don't think you're going to find just one word to describe it."
Justice's head straightened, a pause as if he was considering before he answered. "Then I think we are doing it right. But perhaps we should keep trying, just to be sure."
Anders heard himself laugh, felt it, rough against his throat, something he hadn't done in much too long. His laugh caught in his mouth, sweet and heavy, when Justice turned his face, lifted a hand to rest fingers along the line of Anders' cheek.
Justice moved in first, the slightest brush of their lips together, that thrum of potential, of impossibility, underlying every shift, warm and deep and soothing even as their mouths opened, pressed together, deeper, harder, the slick slide of tongues, the slightest sharp flat edge of teeth before lips moved to soothe, to taste, to take.
"More," Justice whispered, and they were falling, blue and warm, and the Fade had a bed for them, because Justice wished it, and Anders' hips were rising, a choked cry escaping his mouth at the feel of Justice's lips, and the heat of his mouth, and the shift of his throat as he swallowed, Spirits have no gag reflex, good to know, and then even that thought was gone at the feel of Justice's hands, the slide of that perfect skin against his own, the push of his tongue and the shift of his lips and the questioning hum from deep in Justice's throat, and Anders came, heat and pleasure and release.
He woke, trembling, hard again, still?, his hand wrapped around his cock, and it felt different, somehow, like he was touching someone else, like someone else was touching him, curiousity and warmth beneath his skin, behind his thoughts, and he stroked, slow, gentle, and it had none of the usual desperate edge of a solitary wank in the darkness, it was good, almost sweet, and his back curved and his breath sighed and his hand stroked, and he came, again, even better than the dream because this was real, skin on skin and the sound of his breath loud in the silence of his room.
Sometimes it was awful, to have your best friend and your own worst enemy both be you, both be inside your head, to hate yourself and love your friend and be afraid of him, and what he made you want to do, and what you made him want to be, but this, this one quiet night ... this was, perhaps, what it could have been, in a better world, a chance to share, and wait, and watch, together.
A chance for something nice, at last, between the nightmares.
Chapter 6: pretense
cw: rape fantasy
Merrill sighed, looking around her house. It wasn't really a home. Probably never would be. She frowned, feeling her brows crease as she walked around the edges of each room, over and over. There was... something. She wasn't sure what, exactly, but the back of her neck was tingling, and her finger-tips itched, just like when she was working on the eluvian.
But it wasn't the eluvian.
It was warmer. Softer, somehow. Sneakier? Her eyebrows tightened further, as she stopped in her pacing to stare down at her bed. There were ways to strengthen her wards as she slept, but would the opposite would be better? The only way to find out exactly what it was, or what it wanted, would be to let it in, after all. Just a little bit. Just enough for a whisper.
What harm could there be in just a taste?
Quite a lot, in fact, as she well knew, but it was that or hide under her covers and pretend it wasn't there, and that wasn't likely to end well either.
It didn't even begin well.
A pair of Templars hunting her, the scent and sound of steel echoing between Lowtown's crumbling stone walls, the sunlight itself sharp and cool instead of warm, the shadows so thick they seemed to shift and move out of the corners of her eyes, and she could feel it watching, whatever it was, poised and taut and impatient, hungry for her fear, waiting for her to break, to flee, to lead it where it wants to go?
But there was something about how strongly it wanted, it desired ...
That was easy enough to deal with, especially in a dream.
She let them corner her, a crooked blind alley, broken stones and mud beneath her feet, let the sharp breathless pain of a Holy Smite knock her off her feet, bright echoes behind her eyelids as she panted for breath, as she let the real world go.
No fear, no danger, no responsibility, no duty. No questions, no answers.
Just this one imaginary moment.
Just the feel of leather gauntlets catching in her hair, the sharp tug as a Templar forced her to lift her head, and her spine curved and her breath caught and she could feel the heat of his body above her as he hissed into her ear, "what do we have here, a dirty little knife-ear?"
She felt a moan catch in her throat at the feel of hot breath against her skin, and his fingers tightened and he lifted just a little higher, 'til she felt the prick of water in her eyes at the pain, and her fingers curled helplessly in the air beside her, her knees scraping through mud and silt and stone as her weight shifted.
"You should beg for mercy, little knife-ear." The other one was talking now, his voice deeper, rougher, further back behind her. "Do you know what we can do to maleficar?"
She managed a soft keen, a light wordless question, even as her legs trembled from anticipation, from the strain of her position. You can’t do anything to me here, not really, not that I don’t want.
"Anything we want," the first one leaned in even further, close enough she could feel his breath, the brush of his lips as his mouth moved, the tease of teeth just past the curve of her jaw, and she couldn't stop a shudder, a flaring of her nostrils as she breathed. "Should we show you what we want?" The Templars voice was tight, almost a snarl, and she cried out when he bit the lobe of her ear. "Should we show you what we can do?"
She heard the metal toes on his boots scrape against the stone as he shifted his weight, and then his free hand found her breast, grabbed, twisted, shifted, just enough to push up, to squeeze, hard enough it hurt, hard enough she squeezed her eyes tighter and gasped for breath, even as her thighs pushed together to ease the growing ache, even as she thought of heat and tension and being fucked against the stone, a swirl of arousal to capture the demon in its own trap.
That meant she was trapped with it, but that seemed a small concern, at the moment. She hadn’t had so much fun in ages.
The Templar was laughing beside her, a low cruel rumble in the air, "you like it, don't you? Want a good hard fucking from a proper man, rather than one of those knife ear boys."
I prefer choosing my partners, but the demon thought you'd be frightening, so you're what I've got. Better know what to do with your cock, Templar.
"You are a dirty one, aren't you?" The other one was closer now, she felt the toe of his boot pushing against her calf, spreading her legs further apart. "I'm going to hurt you, and you're going to like it." He kicked her other leg, hard, and she gasped a breath even as she moved it for him. "You're going to beg for more."
She laughed, and the growl of anger came as much from the stones beneath her as the men surrounding her, and she was much too proud of her success to bother fearing what the demon might try next.
It was trespassing on her dream, after all.
There was no way its simple desire was any match for her. She would take, and it would lose, and then she'd know.
But first she'd enjoy its game.
And she did, even more than she'd expected, more than she'd planned, more than she knew how to handle, the tight grip of gloves and snarling voices, cruel words washing through her, setting her free, free to gasp for a last desperate taste of air before she was pushed down to the ground until her face was almost buried in the muck, free to yell as he ripped off her leggings, her smalls, free to claw and swear and fight, free to shudder and groan as he pushed his cock inside her, too hard, too fast, she was going to break, to split into fire and lightning, spilling against uneven stone walls, but she didn't, she stayed whole, barely, brittle and throbbing as he pulled back, his cock dragging inside her, and he slammed forward again and she screamed, loud and long, her body jerking and clenching around him, and he grunted, surprise or pain or pleasure, she didn't know, she didn't care, she was begging, fuck, please, more, and he gave it to her, rough uneven thrusts, deep enough to burn, deep enough to hurt, deep enough she came again, sobbing, even as he lost what little rhythm he'd had, and spilled his human heat inside her.
He staggered back, and his partner flipped her over, ripping off what was left of her muddy jerkin and blouse, running his hands down her sides as he pulled the fabric away, her skin catching and pulling in the joints of his gauntlets, each tiny shock of pain making her breath catch, and her heart try to speed up, again, in helpless eager anticipation.
She could feel the instant the demon lost hold of its plan, of its control, gorging itself on her desires, that vulnerable instant when she should have pulled the dream back, should have confronted it, or kicked it out along its way, but she'd lost her grip as well, fallen into sensation and pleasure, and instead the rush of the demon's power made her scream, her body clenching and jerking, and the Templar's groan of release was echoed by a demon's howl, and they turned her over,
they turned over
no mud stinging against scraped skin
They weren't quite in the Beyond, but neither were they in a dream version of Lowtown any more, the air too thick, each breath too loud, the sky too close, the horizon too far away.
Illusory Templars gone, her previous light-weight clothing replaced with her usual chain and tunic.
And there was the demon itself, half bent over, braced on a knee, on calloused knuckles, breathing heavy, hard enough she could hear it, could see the lift of its shoulders, and oh it was gorgeous, lashing tail and dusky lavender skin over lean muscles and pointed ears, full breasts and a half-hard cock, part demon, part dalish, illusory vallaslin sliding across its face, an even darker purple than its skin; half caught in her trap, still echoing her desires in its form.
It hissed, and the world blinked, and she heard its snarl as she stood in Anders' clinic, as every dream scrape and cut throbbed, twice as painful as when she'd gotten them, and the ache between her legs sharpened, bruised and hurting and still wanting.
She laughed, loud and bright, and watched the light flinch away from the sound.
"He may have no use for me, nor I for him, but the shem'len is too good a healer, even with his Spirit, to fit any of your plans without quite ruining the fantasy, demon."
She'd expected a roar, a scream, another fight, but the light steadied, and the demon whispered, "you don't care what the shem'len think do you, real or not?"
Her nostrils flared, and she tightened her lips. It was smarter than she'd thought. Fen'harel's Teeth, that was stupid, underestimating it just because it had fallen for her first trap.
"But elves," the whisper thickened, slowed, a caress against her skin, fingers trailing against her throat, breath against her ear, "could you find pleasure in their hatred? Would their cruel words be so easy to forget, so easy to use for your own ends?"
Pol, Marethari, no.
She pulled her thoughts away from her Clan, wouldn't let it find them, never, not them.
It tried to build the Vhenadahl in front of her, its shadow lingering between the branches, and she ripped it away, the Hanged Man's dingy walls surrounding them instead.
You will not have my People.
"Not even these?" Its voice sharpened, interested again, at the shape of a card table, eight chairs, music fading in and out, whispering and wandering around the hint of voices growing, building, and the light seemed to pool around the head of the table, H-
She stopped that thought, wouldn't give it her, wouldn't give it what it wanted, pulled back the light, the table as a whole, Aveline's shoulders and Isabela's boots and Varric's broad spreading hands as he shrugged and the scratch of Anders' quill and Sebastian humming and Fenris sighing... and the demon lunged, and the light flared and the music screamed -
And she woke up in her bed, coughing and swearing.
Chapter 7: fantasy
This was nicer than his usual dreams.
She looked at him, and he looked back, and it was easy, just this once. No past, no future, no fear.
Only her, and her soft mouth beginning to curve into a smile, just crooked enough he could see the edge of a tooth peeking out between her lips.
Her fingertips brushed lightly against his jaw, and he did not worry about where her other hand was, he did not clench his teeth, or tense, or feel any need to look away from her clear gaze and that precious smile.
He hadn't thought he'd said it, but her smile widened, eyes catching and holding the firelight until they seemed richer than rubies, hotter than the blood aflame beneath his skin, and yet still soft, still kind, still an echo of all those things he had never thought existed.
Before the soft touch of her hands, just barely brushing against his skin, the ease of her laugh, light and sweet between them.
"I have a name, you know."
"Miriam," he whispered, and it echoed, dark and heavy, and he breathed in, tense, and then she ducked her head, a flush across pale cheeks, her smile blindingly bright, and he forgot every possible worry as he smiled back. "Miri."
She laughed again, loud and bright this time, and she was in his arms, a hug, a spin, and he couldn't stop it, never wanted it to stop, his own laugh as free as hers. His feet found a rhythm, their spin settling into a dance, her skin beneath his hands and her eyes smiling into his. The vague mist of a dream settled, burned away, firelight and starlight and the familiar warmth of worn red rugs, patterns faded into blurs of gold and blue and yellow, soft beneath his feet.
Curtains pushed aside to allow the glint of stars, the reflection of the fireplace gilding the glass, hiding the stars as they turned,
Staggered, the dream suddenly dimmer, mistier, cooler and warmer both, and he looked up, up looked back, and he forgot, forgot, Hawke hummed, and he looked at her face, clear and open and precious, and couldn't help the smile as they spun in the other direction, as the music in his heart echoed in his ears, the whisper of silk and footsteps, other dancers, musicians and lights and Hawke --
And Miri laughing again, right before he felt the warmth of her lips on his cheeks, and oh, here it was easy to turn his face towards her, to let the next kiss land on his lips, to kiss her back.
To land on a bed, soft and warm and clean, and feel smooth skin beneath his hands, to feel strong muscles shift as they rolled over, and he rose above her, and she still laughed, though it was low and warm now, 'til his stomach clenched and he leaned down to kiss her again, and her hands were holding him, resting gently against his skin, moving up through his hair, her chin lifting to prolong their kiss, 'til his heart ached and his lungs burned but he couldn't bear to stop just for something as unimportant as breathing.
He ignored the uneven pounding of his heart as he held her cheeks, and felt her smile beneath his palms, against his lips, and he smiled, and smiled, and the pounding grew, too hard to ignore, too loud, not his heart.
Not his dream.
He groaned, blinking and rubbing his eyes; it was harder to wake up than usual, than he could remember since he'd fled Tevinter, harder to be himself...
He scowled. He could almost --
He heard the pounding again, a fist against his door, his actual door, the door to the one room he kept clean and warm for himself, not the door to the mansion itself.
Someone had made it up here to disturb him.
"Fenris," the person called out now, an odd note in Isabela's voice he couldn't recognize. He'd heard her swear, heard her lie, heard her laugh, heard the odd soft note of the few times she was simply kindly honest but this. This was something else.
"Fasta vass," he muttered, staggered to his feet, blanket tangling around his legs as he kicked, held a hand to his forehead. Something. This isn't. He arms felt wrong, too light, too hard to control, and something twisted in his chest, his gut. He rolled his shoulders, trying to ignore the itchy feeling between his shoulder blades.
Liked he'd been watched.
He huffed out a breath, and made it to the door just as Isabela started pounding again. He flung the door open, glared at the hand she barely managed to stop before she knocked him on the forehead. "What?"
"Thank the Creators." He shifted his glare to Merrill, who only blinked, and sighed. "Did you have an odd dream before we woke you up?"
"Define odd." He could feel his frown, dark and heavy, but it, as usual, had no effect on Merrill's wide eyes.
"Was Hawke in it?"
That's not odd. He managed not to say so, but the half a swallowed cough from Isabela probably gave him away despite his best intentions.
"Not a nice dream with Hawke in it." Merrill frowned at both of them, and it was surprisingly successful at making him feel like an arse. Isabela even looked contrite. He was reasonably sure Isabela didn't do contrite. "Did it shift when it shouldn't? Were you not as alone as usual? Did you feel too drunk, or hungover now?"
He grunted at that, felt his frown fade as his eyes widened, and had to roll his shoulders again to stop himself from shivering.
"Halam sahlin!" Merrill stomped her foot, and the back of his throat felt cold, his stomach greasy and empty. "We have to get to Hawke. Now."
He couldn't quite manage any words to that, just looked at Isabela, who bit her lip in something, something; in anyone else he might have thought it fear. He swallowed. Made himself speak. "Let me get my sword. It's not safe to traipse through Kirkwall this time of night."
"Quickly." Merrill shifted from one foot to the other. "I just hope Anders got my message."
The chill in his bones deepened. How serious, that she would send for him? How serious, that all he could do was nod, and find himself hoping for the same.
Chapter 8: truth and lies
It was a dream.
She could tell that right away, the lines not quite right, the weight of the sky too much.
She couldn't enjoy it, couldn't enjoy leaning against Fenris' side as they sat on a bench and listened to the Chant, couldn't enjoy the ease, the warmth of his shoulders, couldn't enjoy the feel of his hand in hers as they walked along the Coast, neither of them skittish, neither of them tense. She couldn't enjoy the fleeting brushes of heat, of imagining Fenris kissing her, of the strong lines of his arms pinning her down, the feel of his skin, his body pressed to her, inside hers, couldn't enjoy the anticipation, the possibility, the bright and endless potential. Couldn't enjoy Sebastian's smile across the card table, the familiar whispers of her friends’ voices, of laughter dancing around her, couldn't, couldn't...
It wasn't real.
Dreams were never real.
It wasn't hers.
It was like Feynriel's Gallows, only slightly... smaller?
It was almost Fenris' house.
But not. Quite. Right.
"Hawke." Fenris' voice, Fenris' body.
"You're not my Fenris."
It smiled, and it looked like him, and her heart ached, because Maker she loved that smile, even when it was a lie. "But I could be," it said, and its eyes were clear as it stared at her, so much like him, so much, but it's not.
She let her stance shift, felt the give of the ground beneath her feet, could no longer ignore the thick wavy possibilities of the air in the Fade surrounding her, brushing against her skin.
It spread Fenris' hands, smiled, and that one was not Fenris' at all, not even a little bit.
"What do you want, demon?" She kept her voice quiet, steady, no matter how she wanted to scream, wanted to stab it, for stealing that face, that voice.
"You, of course." It stepped closer, a slink in its step making the Fenris disguise even more obscene. She couldn't quite swallow the pained grunt in reaction to that movement, so wrong, and it laughed, a terrible sound, dark and hungry. "You are precious, aren't you?" It sighed. "Such a lovely little Hawke."
"Why?" She held her ground, even as it stepped closer again, again, almost close enough to touch.
It's head tilted, another entirely un-Fenris sort of movement, and she blinked, and when she opened them it wasn't Fenris anymore.
It looked almost human, handsome, a clean jawline, short dark purple hair swept back from its forehead, muscled shoulders and chest ... naked. Pale purple skin, small horns, a lashing tail, rough layered skin down the length of it almost like scales, almost not. Hair across its chest, curling in a line down past its stomach to a heavy cock half-hard between its legs.
She swallowed, and made herself meet its eyes. They glinted gold and black as it smiled again, the edge of a pointed tooth just visible between full lips.
"You're much too delicious to resist, my dear."
"Why?" She repeated, ignoring the curl of heat low in her stomach, annoyed with herself at how effective it was, equally annoyed that she hadn't expected it. It is a desire demon, of course it's good at lust.
"You're different." It smiled, and its tail swung, soft and lazy, and she had to squash the sudden urge to reach out and let the tail brush against her hand, had to pretend she didn't want to know how it felt.
She frowned. "What do you mean?"
"You brought a dwarf to the Fade. Kept him there, so I could find him again, could taste his thoughts, could make him dream." It hummed, hungry and pleased, warmth vibrating in her chest at the sound. "You have not a lick of magic, but you shine, almost as bright as a mage."
It paced, back and forth, inching ever so slightly closer with each pass. "I followed you here, followed that light of yours, and here is so very nice, here I can feel so many desperate desires, churning and scalding and pushing against the Veil." It leaned in, but it was the cool sharp press of teeth she felt, not lips, and she had to close her eyes and inhale, try not to whimper in surprise at how good that felt.
She'd never, she hadn't, she didn't want... what was wrong with her that she did?
"I can feel them all, my little Hawke, mages and not, and you. Always you." Its breath was cool against her skin, and she made herself open her eyes again, made herself meet its gaze, dark and hot and she shivered and her next breath burned down her throat. "I don't think I'm ever going to leave."
"I could just wake up. Then you'd be gone."
"Would I though?" It grinned, sharp teeth and sharper eyes and a sudden lash of its tail. "Or will you spend all your time wondering, worrying if I'm coming back, or if I'm still here, waiting for just the right moment to strike? I know your friends too, sweet thing."
Hawke hissed, felt her teeth clench and fingers tighten, got a whisper of a picture, pictures, fleeting images behind her eyes as the demon's smile widened, Varric in a stone bed, the curve of Sebastian's naked back as his hips thrust, Aveline's skin flushed and her head bowed, Isabela blindfolded in a tub, water splashing as her body moved, Anders' eyes closing, a flash of Justice blue, Merrill clawing at the ground, Fenris...
Fenris kissing her. His dream, so much like hers, and she was there, his or hers she couldn't tell, it didn't matter, she was feeling it, feeling him, the warmth of his lips and the shiver of his breath inside her mouth, and the way she could feel his tongue against her own, the way she could feel the press of his body against her, all the way to knees suddenly gone weak and shivering.
She opened her eyes and saw purple, felt the prick of claws in the hands that held her, the flick of a demon's tongue inside her mouth, and she moaned into the monster's mouth, held tighter to its shoulders for half-a-breath, half-a-heartbeat, it feels so good, before she shoved it away. "You're not real."
"Oh, I'm very real." It let her push it, but only a step, close enough she could still feel the barest swish of its tail against her leg. "And so are you, even here, and isn't that just... tantalizing?"
She made herself step back, frowned. "Of course I'm real."
"You hold the Fade steady beneath your feet, force it to your will." It was too close, too far away, and she ached, ached, wanted to let it touch her again. "How do you do that, little Hawke?"
The fuck if I know? "Why should I tell you?"
"I could steal it from your mind, little one, could force my way in, claw and tear and take, or ..."
"You could try." She bared her teeth at it.
"Perhaps." It sighed, and shrugged, easily, prettily. "I would prefer a trade, a prize for a prize?"
"I'm not stupid enough to trade with a demon." She managed a scoffing sort of breath, though she knew it fooled neither of them, both aware of how hard she was pushing her thighs together. "If you saw my trip into the Fade with Varric, you know that already."
"But you want to, don't you?" Its voice trailed off and it inhaled, hard and deep, and she shivered, trying desperately not to whimper, not to reveal the burn down her throat, in her eyes, suddenly quite sure it knew precisely which part of its approach had turned her on. Its voice dropped low, a purr, slow and rich. "If you're too smart to risk a trade, how about a contest?"
"Why should I give you any of my attention at all?" She straightened her spine, ignoring ache and heat and lust and embarrassment.
"If you won't, I'll just have to try all your friends again, won't I? Night after night, dreams and nightmares, using them to keep myself here and grow stronger." It finally leaned back, stood still a proper pace away. "Still too proud to hear my offer?"
Hawke thought about her daggers, about its blood, thick and purple as it spilled.
Not yet. She lifted her chin, and stared at it, and waited.
It chuckled. "There we go, was that so hard?"
She rolled her eyes at it.
It clicked its tongue, and let the smirk fade. "You want, my little Hawke, but think you shouldn't. I want, but you refuse to help."
The fake pout in its voice was thick and cloying, and she couldn't quite help a snicker as it grinned at her. Void, she kind of liked the thing, despite its threats, despite knowing it was just there to try and eat her brain so it could hold its place by Kirkwall, could feed on all the people living too close to a tattered Veil.
It was honest about its corruption; it was just doing what it was made to do?
There was clearly something wrong with her. As if the fact that she kept thinking about that damn tail wrapped around her wrists, still wanted that edge of white glinting tooth, wanted to feel those black claws dig into her skin, didn't make that obvious.
"I'll give you what you want, everything you want, fulfill every desire you've never even been able to admit to yourself, and if, despite it all, you can keep me out of your mind, stop me from making my anchor, you win."
"And what do I get if I win?" She was proud of herself for keeping her voice steady. Proud she stopped herself from staring at the gleam of liquid just starting to visibly form at the tip of its cock. Proud she didn't lick her lips, didn't give up and spread her legs right then.
"A very good fucking, and my promise to leave you and your friends alone."
"If I lose?" Her whole body wanted to tremble, it took so much concentration to hold herself still.
It smiled, and this time she shivered. "I'll come back to you, night after night, until your fantasies are stronger than reality, until I have devoured every bit of your strength, 'til I am strong enough to do anything and everything I want to your city, to your friends... and you never wake up again."
She shook her head, but what a way to go, stepped back, and it was there, its chest solid against her back, its hand splayed at the base of her throat, its tail tight around her ankle, its voice a sudden soft brogue against her ear. "Don't you want to know how it would feel?"
Her breath caught, eyes closed as her head fell against its shoulder, and she'd wanted so much, for so long, and always told herself no, but this, this --
-- just a dream.
"Yes," she whispered.
Its teeth were sharp, a nip at her ear, its hand moving up beneath her chin as she gasped, not pressing too hard, not yet, just a promise, a potential; it could, at any moment, and they both knew she'd like it.
Its other hand slid effortlessly beneath her pants, fingers pressing against her clit, hard and sudden, no sliding, no friction, just pressure, firm and solid. She whined, and her hips bucked, tried to shift, move, tried to make it rub, but its arms were too solid, too firm, and it held her there, held her still, 'til her cunt throbbed and her breath whined.
"Do you even know what you want next, darling?"
She shuddered, heat chasing its way down her spine, flushing beneath her skin, even as she swallowed hard to keep a groan in her throat, refusing to admit to herself precisely what its voice was doing to her, rasping in an accent that was decidedly not Fereldan or Kirkwaller. Or Tevene.
"You've never gotten what you want in your whole life, have you, always doing what someone else needed, never asking for more."
She could feel the heat of it, not quite burning, warm skin pressed to her back, fingers between her legs, breath against her neck, but still it just held her, still it didn't move.
"You're so afraid, little one, so afraid he'll finally come to you, and you won't know what to do, what to say. You'll fumble it, and disappoint him."
She shook her head, but she wasn't denying it. It hurt too much to hear, too much to think about, especially here, especially now, worse, even worse, frighten him, disgust him, with the feel of its cock hard against her back, the press of its fingers teasing with their stillness.
"You can't disappoint me." Its fingers eased, then pushed again, and she followed the shift of its grip, desperate, throbbing, legs trembling and her entire body starting to ache with the need building beneath the pressure of its hand. "I know what you want, whether you tell me or not."
"Then do it." She barely recognized her own voice, tight and trembling.
"Are you sure you're ready?"
"Yes, what?" It murmured against her ear, her skin, its hand finally moving, and she almost sobbed with it, with the way the tension started to build, waves of it, echoing the rhythm of its hands, its breath on her ear.
The ground hurt as she hit it, knees and palms stinging, eyes blinking, the feel of claws, surprisingly delicate little pricks along her hips, naked hips, claws to skin, clothing gone, its cock, sliding between her thighs, slick and hot, a bump against her clit to make her bite her lip, a shift of its grip, its thighs behind her, and it was inside her, slow and steady, pushing deeper and deeper, 'til she couldn't breathe, couldn't move, 'til there was nothing left of her but it filling her.
Its grip tightened, claws sharp enough to burn, and it pulled her closer, tighter, tilted its hips just enough to push its cock even deeper, deeper, and she whimpered, half a broken breath caught in her throat, high and desperate, and it laughed, and she could feel the rumble all the way through its cock inside her and she shuddered, and clenched, and her mouth opened on a silent gasp, too far gone even to whimper this time, full and hot and trembling, already on the edge, about to fall, about to fly.
"Beg." Its voice was a hiss, a whisper, more inside her head than out of it, and oh it was dangerous that it was already inside her thoughts, even more than the danger of its body surrounding her, filling her, but she couldn't make herself care, not anymore.
Please, she swallowed, she thought, her throat too tight to speak. Please, please, I beg you. Anything. Everything. Please.
It sighed, and it shifted, and its cock moved, sliding back, just a little, a little more, 'til she felt cold and hollow, its heat surrounding her but her body empty, so empty, please, no, I need --
It thrust forward, hard, so hard, a slap of a skin, and a scream torn from her throat, its grip so tight she felt the trickle of blood on her hip, and it dragged inside her, back and forth, so full, so hard, so fast, over and over, and her fingers clawed at the ground that wasn't ground beneath her, and she came so hard she broke, cracked nails and a shuddering heart and nothing left but the hiss of its thoughts and the shudder of her pleasure, light and dark and heat and pain, again, again, the way its body slammed against hers, inside hers, the lash of its tail and its claws scratching and the feel of its thoughts, smoke-grey greedy shards as caught in the dream as her own.
More, she didn't know if it was her thoughts, its voice, flat on her back with its hands around her throat as it rose above her, its grip easing enough for her to gasp with each thrust of its hips, tightening as it filled her, as the pressure rose and rose, more than she could bear, more than she could survive, hot and tight and bright and burning, yes, Maker, Void, fuck, lightning and shadows and its skin beneath her nails as she clawed, as she came, as it growled and shuddered and its golden eyes turned black --
black, quiet, a breath, a chill, a crack in the light, the shield of lust so thin, so brittle, a whisper down her spine, a shudder, a shiver, a sob
"Hawke?" She opened her eyes, sighed at the glint of green, Fenris' eyes so wide, so soft, as warm as the dark around them, as the whisper of bed hangings and a settling fire somewhere behind her. His arms wrapped around her as she straddled his lap, his thighs braced beneath her as she shifted, felt the width of him inside her, warm and firm and perfect, and her sigh caught, shuddered, and she kissed him, as soft as the feel of his fingers stroking her spine, as the brush of his chest against her breasts, as the ache between each beat of her heart, each caress of his breath against her skin.
"Fenris," she sighed, and her heart burned, and her eyes, and her whole body throbbed as her clenched around his cock, and she came, she came, sweet and endless, and it was him, the heat in her heart so delicate, so fragile, precious and prized and...
She pulled, she pushed, she shoved away the green, the dark, she fell, deeper into her thoughts, deeper into her dream, its dream, felt her heart shred, felt herself crying, rough and ugly, it hurt more than she'd imagined, more than she could bear, that she'd almost fallen, because she'd already fallen for him, and the demon used it, used her, used them...
Its tail was tight around her wrists, pulling her arms up, up, almost too far, the burn in her shoulders making each breath short and desperate, making her feel her own pleasure shivering down her spine, across the spread of her hips, and then its cock was in her mouth and she moaned, and she sucked, and its tongue was on her clit, lapping around her folds, inside her, inside her, twisting and delving, deeper than could be possible, deeper than she'd ever imagined, and she choked on its cock, screamed around the heat of it as she came again, again, and the black and the grey shivered in her head, pushed, pushed, snarling and hissing and whispering and she died, she died...
Her bed was soft beneath her, warm and safe, I'm safe, she sighed, she sighed, her hips lifted against the mouth kissing her between her thighs, soft and warm and a flick of a tongue and the press of his nose and the hint of blue shining between lashes as he glanced up and...
No, no, nonnononon
She shoved, again, sobbing, guilty, aching, wanting, how dare she, she didn't, she couldn't, wanting what they cannot give, and the demon laughed, it laughed, and she snarled and screamed and fled its voice, fled its offers, its desires, couldn't flee her own.
It was quiet now, soft and grey and flickering, next to a hearth at twilight, feeding the campfire just before dawn.
She knew better.
She still wasn't safe.
She remembered sitting with Bethany during her lessons, easing her sister's fears as they listened to Father, learned how to breathe, how to build up a wall inside their thoughts, stone by stone, brick by brick, curve by curve, until it was a perfect endless ball enclosing everything that made them, everything that kept them human.
Kept them safe.
Doomed them both.
She remembered, remembered, lesson after lesson, years and years, the steps to build wards she could never feel, shields she’d never have, how to hold one true thing and keep it solid, how to hold, how to hold, and the demon howled its victory, she felt its hunger rise again, wild and endless as it stole her sister's name.
you cannot have Bethany
She howled back, my head, my dream, my rules, and her daggers were in her hands, a silver glint before she moved, she danced, fighting had always been a dance, it made her blood sing, her heart pound, made her stronger than its greedy little desires. You cannot have any of them, never, ever, never again, I will not let you pass. It stuttered, it froze, too tightly wrapped in her lust to avoid it as it shifted, as it rose, blood-lust making it scream, the golden glint in its eyes now as dark a red as ever she'd seen her daggers spill.
She stood, felt her whole body heave with the depth of each breath, felt sticky purple blood against her skin, felt the whole sky shiver, felt her thoughts warm as the cool grey slivers faded away, as her body ached inside and out, as her eyes watered and her throat burned and her heart beat hard, too hard, too hard to breathe, to think to be to...
She blinked, awake?, blinked, awake, felt darkness around her, awake! She heard the familiar whisper of the night air through the crooked shutter outside her window, smelled the lingering warmth of the fire's coals, saw the hint of her canopy in the shadows above her. Her hands trembled as she held them to her face but there was no blood on her cheeks to stick against her fingers. She sat... she started to sit up and groaned instead, fell back against the bed, hands falling to press hard against her body, low on her stomach.
It still hurt. Muscles she didn't know could be so abused, below her stomach, inside her, she hissed as her legs shifted and her sex felt raw, and her thighs stuck, and this time when she reached down and touched the thin soft skin of her upper thighs something stuck to them, thick and warm, and she closed her eyes on a whimper, a shudder.
How could she have?
How could she have wanted to?
Well. That was easy. She wanted, but knew her wanting would hurt the very ones...
She swallowed a sob, another, face tight and fingers curling and everything hurt, worse than the burn in her muscles, worse than regret, than sorrow.
She wasn't sure if she was sorry.
She wasn't sure, if she had it to do over, she'd have done anything differently.
It had felt so good.
Maker forgive her, everything the demon had done to her had felt good. The truth of it fucking her, pain and pleasure and endurance.
The lies were even better. It let her see the impossible outside her own fantasies, memories that weren't true, could never be true, and yet...
She never wanted to forget them, forget the feel of Fenris' lips, his fingertips ghosting down her spine, his cock inside her, the whisper of Sebastian's voice in her ear, the heat of his breath on her skin, tasting her slick with a smile.
She heard the footsteps, two, three? the voices, Isabela's warm murmur keeping the other two low and quiet. She pulled her night-shirt all the way down and her blanket back up... but didn't get up.
"Hawke," there was a shiver of something in Fenris' voice, something like fear, and she felt a terrible twist of shame and hope churn in her gut, sharp and bitter.
"It's dead." She couldn't make herself open her eyes, couldn't think of anything else to say to the weight of the three of them, enough to take up all the air in her room.
"Hawke," Merrill's voice was soft, the soft brush of her fingertips against Hawke's temple somehow clearly graceful, even though Hawke couldn't see them. She turned her head a little into Merrill's touch, and she heard a tremble in Merrill's sigh before she spoke again. "Out."
Hawke had never heard Merrill sound so sharp, so sure, and knew suddenly why she'd been First in her Clan. She heard a pained sort of grunt, almost a question, but then an uneven stutter of footsteps, and the soft click of the door latch catching after it was closed.
Merrill's weight settled on the bed, and she started to stroke Hawke's hair. "It will be all right." Hawke tried to shake her head, but Merrill's fingers caught in her hair and she stopped. "It will. I'm sorry it hurt you--"
"It didn't, I agreed..."
"Lethallan," Merrill interrupted, and Hawke had to open her eyes at the sound of her voice, such pain, such anger. "It makes you agree to something you want but think you shouldn't desire, something you think will be easier than reality, that will protect you from something you can't have, and it laughs as it takes. Of course it hurts. That's what such Spirits do. It fooled me, and I let it get past me, and I'm sorry, so sorry that you--"
Hawke made herself sit up, made her hand move enough to grab Merrill's hand, to grip her tight. "If I can't blame myself, neither can you."
Merrill coughed something that was almost a laugh, and shook her head. Hawke squeezed her fingers harder. "Neither can you."
Merrill sighed again, deeper and slower, until her shoulders sagged and she nodded. "Neither of us."
"I'll remind you, you remind me." Hawke leaned in until her forehead almost bumped against Merrill's. "We'll remind each other until we believe it. It will be all right. We'll make it all right."
The sound Merrill made was nothing like her usual light laughter, bright and sparkling. It was rough and raspy and painful and it was the most beautiful thing Hawke had ever heard.
We'll make it all right. All of us, together.
Chapter 9: aftermath
Hawke still dreamed.
They were hers now, hers and hers alone, but they were no longer safe.
She wanted, and knew she wanted, and knew what and who...
That first day they'd all gathered, and it was clear the Demon had hunted them all, though no one would talk about how.
Except for Varric, who mostly thought having a dream at all was fucking weird but whose dream itself had apparently been... nice.
Aveline frowned, and shrugged, and insisted she was fine. It clearly wasn't true, but it was close enough Hawke didn't push. Anders was smug, know how to get rid of a Desire Demon prowling, don't I? which just made Merrill angrier. Isabela laughed, but it was sharper than usual. Fenris wouldn't meet Hawke's eyes, and the guilt shimmered between them.
Sebastian flinched, and at first Hawke was afraid that somehow he knew, knew the Demon had made it impossible for her to ignore how attractive she found him, the sweetest trickle of lust beneath every breath of their friendship; but then she realized he wouldn't look at anyone, not just her. It burned in her gut, as angry as Merrill, sharp and bitter, and she wished more than anything that the Demon was still alive so she could kill it again.
She didn't ask what any of them had dreamed. When she was tempted, when she thought it would help, she pushed her tongue up against the sharp line of her teeth, pushed until she forgot her questions, lost in the bright innocent pain.
She wouldn't risk someone turning her questions back around, someone asking her. She would never tell them how she'd let it in, didn't want them to know, could never let them know she'd wanted it, wanted what it offered, no matter how it hurt them all along the way.
Still wanted, not the Demon, no, but the illusion, Fenris fucking her and staying in her bed, her house, making love to her. Fenris wanting, Fenris wanting her, above and beyond a tangle of sweaty sheets and warm flushed skin, wanting more than just the way her body felt around him when she came.
She still wanted. Friends and lovers and partners...
But her dreams were now only about fucking, and she wanted it and dreaded it, hated it, loved it, hated herself. Missed who she used to be. She missed when she could stay up late and talk about anything with him, missed when she fantasized about holding his hand, about sitting close enough her knees would bump against his legs.
Missed him so much her throat burned in the morning when she woke up from swallowed tears, her back ached when she went to bed from holding herself still when he was around, holding herself away from him. She missed him even as dream-Fenris bent her over a table and drove his cock deep inside her, hand gripping tight to her hair as he pulled, and her spine curved and her cunt clenched around him and dream-Hawke begged and screamed and came and came and she woke up queasy and horny and ashamed.
She missed him even as they sat across from each other at the same table over dinner. (Never alone, never just the two of them, never again, everyone at dinner or no one). He watched her hands when she talked, as she watched his shoulders when he shrugged, and they seldom met each other's eyes. She had to think about what she was going to say, each breath before each word, had to watch each shift of her weight, each movement of her hands, her legs, had to be careful, had to be sure, had to be safe. More than once she found an irregular circle of crescent lines across her palms once she was alone, almost-scars from the sharp curve of her nails as she'd clenched her hands, tighter and tighter, until she couldn't remember what she'd wanted to do to him, for him, about him... couldn't remember what she'd almost said before the brilliant shimmer of pain took over.
She wondered if he felt the same, if he was more careful now than before. He'd always been so guarded; she couldn't tell. Perhaps she didn't want to tell, didn't want to find out if he was, if he wasn't. She didn't know which was worse. Her smile didn't settle properly when it crossed her face, no matter how much she simply liked his company, how much she still enjoyed listening to him speak. Sometimes he would pause and tilt his head as if considering, and she couldn't remember if he used to do that before, or if it was new. She couldn't tell what concerned him. Was he considering what had changed, or what she was hiding, or why any of them dare to trust me at all?
She couldn't be trusted. She'd led a Desire Demon to them, dangled all of them before its mercy, and let them all be hurt when it didn't have any, just because she was curious. Just because she wanted.
Sometimes she and Fenris were friends again in her dreams, and the Demon came back to fuck her instead.
She wasn't sure if that was better.
They met at the Hanged Man like before, all of them, cards and ale and firelight flickering; they talked around it without ever really talking about it, but still. They were there. That was something, wasn't it? She watched them so carefully, watched for pain or sorrow or anger, listened to the things they didn't say.
Made sure none of them listened too closely to the things she would never say.
They got better around each other, day by day and week by week. Varric spread his hands and dealt the cards and refrained from asking for details. Anders' ease faded, until he was almost as tense as before. That wasn't really better, but it was... normal. Aveline still frowned but it didn't make her shoulders hunch, Isabela sighed but her smile came back, Merrill asked everyone how they were every time, eyes glinting as she refused to look away until they answered.
Hawke always sat on the far side of the table from Fenris. Not next to him, never close enough to touch. Not across from him, not where it would be too easy to look, to stare, to talk, to want.
Not that sitting anywhere else was better. She always knew where Fenris was, how many chairs away, how easy it would be to lean closer...
Closer to him invariably also meant closer to Sebastian. A Sebastian who was quieter than he used to be, who lost track of the jokes, the game, lost the pot more often than he ever had before. She wanted there to be something, someone, anything else she could stab for him, anything she could kill to make it better. She wanted to kiss Sebastian until he stopped thinking about whatever it was had happened to him, until he forgot everything entirely in favor of thinking about her.
She wasn't that cruel though. She kept her careful distance from him as well, though she made sure to smile whenever he came in the room, though the expression still didn't feel like it used to, she didn't feel like she used to, she'd never feel like herself again.
He tried to make her feel better, his eyes soft as he looked at her, though he no longer reached out a hand to touch as he used to, no longer let his elbow or his shoulder bump against hers as they walked through town, when they sat at services. He even startled a laugh out of her, loud and sharp enough she realized how seldom she still laughed, when he asked how well she'd scrubbed behind her ears.
I'll never get all the evil out.
But he was better too. He no longer winced when anyone looked at him. He relaxed when Fenris sat beside him, and the night he let Fenris take his hand without pulling away some impossible knot in Hawke's chest eased, and she almost ruined it by offering to buy them a drink and make their quiet friendship into a loud group affair.
That night she dreamt the two of them were kissing, saw the glint of Sebastian's eyes as he looked up from between Fenris' legs instead of her own, watched the way Fenris' wrists moved as they gripped Sebastian's hips, listened to the sounds they made as their bodies came together.
She woke with a jerk and couldn't decide if she wanted to swear, or cry, or stick her hand between her legs to ease the ache. If she wanted the edge of a blade against her skin, pain that would be sharp, and sweet, and simple.
She settled for practice and went out back to throw daggers at a target 'til her eyes blurred and her shoulders burned and she could pretend she wasn't still thinking about them. Pretended her thoughts weren't scrambling and rushing and tangling around each other trying to figure out how to act when she saw them again, how to hide everything...
Why couldn't she have terribly inappropriate dreams about Isabela, who'd laugh if she told her, or Merrill, whose eyes would widen before she tugged Hawke close and asked for all the details, a lilt of amusement in her voice?
Why couldn't she have fallen in love with Varric, solid and stable and liable to snort with swallowed laughter if she tried to be romantic? With Aveline, who would be comfortingly oblivious to the possibility until Hawke managed to get over it?
Why did she have to dream about the man who'd sworn off such relationships, such encounters? Why did she have to love the one who was still discovering what he wanted for himself and didn't need his life complicated by what she wanted for herself?
Why did she have to dream about them together, about being held tight, her back to Sebastian's chest, his cock up her arse, pressure and anticipation singing beneath her skin, his fingers teasing her clit 'til she couldn't breathe with the tension, the pleasure, 'til she couldn't think, couldn't even beg, and only then, only when her eyes closed and she gave herself up entirely to him, only then did Fenris join them, did Fenris move between her thighs, did his cock so slowly start to enter her, to fill her cunt, to fill her entirely.
Nothing the Demon had done had felt as good as this, pressed between them, their cocks rubbing together through her, their hands on her skin, on each other, hot breath on her neck from both of them, hot kisses shared between them, between her, over and over, pleasure endless and beautiful until even in the dream she knew it was impossible, until it shimmered apart, too good to be true, to be real, even as she begged and reached for them to stay.
She hated waking up from that, a moan swallowed down her throat, alone and shivering despite the warmth of her bed.
Hated going to sleep again, to be reminded of how selfish her desires were, how enduring, how hopeless. Wanted to go to sleep again, wanted to find the dream again, wanted to stop them from leaving ever again.
Wanted it to stop.
She didn't know how to stop.
I'm worse than ever the Demon was. It was just living according to its nature. It was honest about its corruption. She lied and smiled and swore she was a friend, a friend, even as she wanted to tempt them as the Demon had tempted them, wanted to take them, wanted them to take her.
All she could do was stuff the memories down tight when she woke, try and hide them, try not to hurt the ones she wanted.
Try only to hurt herself.
Good thing she now knew how much she liked a bit of pain.
Maybe she'd figure something else out before it was too much, even for her.
Maybe someday it would be safe enough for some of her dreams to be true.
She knew that wasn't safe to think, but she couldn't seem to help it, not in the dim rosy-grey light of dawn, not when she stood by her window by herself and it was safe just to breathe, just to hope. Not when she smelled the hint of the sea blowing up from the Harbor, the warmth of incense drifting down from the Chantry. Not when anything seemed possible, even here in Kirkwall, beneath a sky so slowly turning blue.