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The Magic Between You and I

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Thom Rainier runs his thumb over the box in his pocket, then removes his hand from his pocket and picks up his whetstone instead. The worn corners of the small box will tear soon if he doesn’t stop touching it.

He forces himself to take a relaxed breath and sharpens his sword as a distraction. He hasn’t slept all night; he arrived at the Winter Palace before the sun had fully risen this morning, but sleep is the last thing on his mind. Palace servants said the Inquisitor is making her rounds, and Rainier is eager to see her.

He huffs to himself. Eager is a complete understatement. This jangling impatience in his belly, the anxious tapping of his foot, these thoughts of her cheeky smile and the dimple at the corner of her mouth - this isn’t eager. This is desperation pure and simple, and he’s not sure how much longer he can wait before storming the palace in search of her. The four months they spent apart were bad enough, but the tantalizing knowledge that she’s just out of reach is harder to tolerate than all those months combined.

The morning passes with the torturous slowness of quicksand, and he eventually begins to practice with some throwing knives that Cole gave him. Rainier isn’t sure whether Cole meant them as a gift or for safekeeping or for some other odd Cole-like reason altogether, but he accepted them nonetheless. The distraction is mildly successful; Rainier is actually managing to focus on his target when suddenly his attention is snared by a voice - the only voice that matters.

“If it isn’t my wandering wildman from the forest, back from his cross-country travels.”

His heart leaps into his throat, and he’s grinning like a fool before he even turns around. “There she is. I missed you-”

“Shut up and get over here,” Arya interrupts. A gamine grin lights her face, and the summer breeze lifts the auburn tufts of her hair, and Rainier has never seen anything finer in his life.

He takes one eager step toward her, then suddenly she’s running toward him. Before he can do more than open his arms, he finds himself wrapped in her: her fingers are in his hair, her legs tight around his waist, her sleek tongue in his mouth, and all of it is bliss. The aching cavern in his chest feels like it’s been filled with hot spiced mead. He clutches her close, one arm banded tightly around her waist and his other hand supporting her bottom. It might be improper, and he might be hearing some shocked whispers, but Rainier doesn’t care; his lady Lavellan is here, she’s here, she’s in his arms and this is all he wants for the rest of his life-

She breaks from his lips with a breathless laugh, and he sets her gently on her feet and cups her precious face in his hands. “I have to say, while I appreciated the letters, this is much better,” he says huskily.

Arya beams at him. She’s still pressed flush against him, her arms tight around his waist, and he’s relieved to see he’s not the only one who ached for the comfort of their closeness. She tilts her chin up, and Rainier is so busy admiring the mischievous glitter in her amethyst eyes that he almost misses her words.

“There’s more where this came from. In my quarters,” she says.

Her tone is sultry and nearly as sinuous as the subtle press of her hips. Rainier tries to maintain his composure, but he’s been so long without her - too long, far too long - and he can’t resist pressing his lips to the tender point of her ear. “Is that a promise?” he growls.

“Absolutely,” she purrs, then slowly she peels away to stand a more respectable distance away. They talk about his travels, and he tells her of his former comrades and the mixed reception he met during his travels, but the words are leaving his mouth without conscious thought; his attention is consumed by her. He stares at the catlike tilt of her eyes and the rapt attention in her gaze, and he thinks of the box in his pocket, the little box with its edges worn smooth-

“I’m happy for you. Truly,” she says softly, and Rainier tunes back in. Her expression is soft and fond as she continues to speak. “I know this wasn’t easy for you. But you look more… at peace. You seem grounded, somehow.” Then, to his surprise, a hint of caution enters her expression. “Leliana said you’re going by ‘Thom Rainier’ now.”

She’s correct; he’s taken back the name with which he was born, and he’s gotten used to hearing it over the past few months, but it’s strange to hear it in Arya’s voice.

He nods. “Yes, my lady. It was time to stop hiding behind a name that wasn’t mine to take. And it let me reconnect with family - people I haven’t seen in years.”

She nods thoughtfully then stands, and he reluctantly stands as well. “Well, Thom, it’s been lovely catching up, but I have Council business to attend,” she says. Her tone is professional, but she can’t fool him: he can see the genuine regret in her face.

He’s dismayed as well. They’ve suffered enough separation already, and the thought of leaving her side - even just for the afternoon - makes his stomach hurt anew. “I’ll be here if you need anything,” he says. “Anything at all.”

She smiles fondly, then steps close and wraps her arms around his neck. “I’ll find you later,” she whispers. “I have a promise to fulfill, after all.”

He basks in the gentle press of her lips, then forces himself to let her walk away. If he’s lucky and the moment is right, she won’t be the only one making promises tonight.

********************

Arya opens the door to the guest suite to greet him, and she’s already grinning.

Rainier smiles back as he steps into the room. “Good afternoon, I take it?” he says inanely. He should probably ask more incisive questions; the Exalted Council convenes tomorrow, after all. But he can’t be bothered. Arya is retreating into the room with more slink in her step than usual, and his attention is too deeply hooked by the sway of her slender hips to spare any thought for politics.

“It was fine. But it’s about to get better,” she replies, then lifts a silk pouch from the table. He watches as she reaches into the pouch, then pulls out a long, slender length of rope.

His eyebrows jump high on his forehead. “What’s that for…?” He trails off as Arya glances at the Orlesian bed with its four ornately carved bedposts.

A sudden rush of excitement blazes from the crown of his head straight down to his groin. He only realizes his jaw has fallen open when she steps close and tugs playfully on his beard. “I take it you’re interested, then?” she purrs.

Words. A reply. He needs to find one. “Where did you…? How did you know - I mean…” He can feel his face turning red, and he snaps his mouth shut before he can look any more foolish.

“I bought these this afternoon,” she says as she slides her fist along one length of rope. “As for how I knew…” She glances at him, looking oddly sheepish. “I hope you won’t be angry, but I got to talking with Bull…”

Bull told you I wanted to-?” He splutters to a halt as Arya’s lovely face is lit with a grin, and she slides a comforting hand down his chest. “He suspected,” she says. “He’s a former Ben-Hassrath, he knows everything. And I’ll admit, I’m… curious. So if you want to…”

Rainier cups the back of her neck and kisses her hard. Immediately she nips his lip with her teeth, and he marvels at the smoothness of her tongue in his mouth, as sweetly silken as the ropes in her delicate hands. This wisp of a fantasy was once a half-formed inkling and nothing more, but he’s suddenly violently grateful for the qunari commander’s sixth sense for sexuality. Everything Rainier didn’t dare to imagine is at their disposal: the bed, the ropes, his beautiful Dalish rogue, and most importantly, the time.

Arya slowly leans away and smiles. “I’ll take that as a yes,” she says breathily.

Rainier nods with wordless eagerness. He is lost in the glowing violet of her eyes, and when her lips move to command, all he can do is follow.

“Take off your boots. And strip from the waist up,” she says.

She slides the rope teasingly through her fist. The look she slides across his body is an equally salacious caress, and Rainier is powerless to resist. Mutely he does as he’s told, then follows her lead as she pushes him back toward the bed.

She jerks her chin at the ornate padded headboard. “Go,” she commands.

He goes. She kicks off her boots and crawls onto the bed to straddle him, and he eyes her still-clothed body with painful longing. “You take something off as well,” he pleads. “I missed you.”

She shoots him a quick grin as she holds out her hand, and he obediently places his right wrist in her palm. “I will,” she replies. “All in good time. Now let me…” She trails off as she lifts one rope to his wrist, and he watches avidly as she twines the rope into a cuff around his wrist, then ties his wrist to the bedpost.

The silken rope is lighter and smoother than it looks, but when he pulls experimentally at his arm, the rope pulls back with a tug of tension. Rainier inhales slowly to quell the sudden surge of want in his abdomen. His cock is already heavy with lust, and he lifts his hips pleadingly as Arya shifts on his lap to reach for his left wrist.

She shoots him a quick grin, but her eyebrows are furrowed with focus as she turns her attention to his other wrist, then leans back to inspect her work. She bites her lip as she studies his left wrist, and Rainier realizes something: beneath her confident laugh and her sultry stare, the Lady Lavellan is nervous.

A wave of tender fondness rinses over the blazing anticipation of his lust, both mellowing and enhancing it at once. “Arya,” he says. “Look at me.”

She slides her wide-eyed gaze to his face, and for a split second he wishes he wasn’t tied down. Words aren’t his forte; Rainier is a man of action, a man who prefers to comfort with touch rather than talk, but with his hands splayed and bound, he’s left with no choice but to speak.

“Be easy, love,” he says gently. “Do what you want and nothing more. I trust you.”

Her shoulders instantly relax, and Rainier wishes more than ever that he could take her in his arms. “All right,” she says. “And you tell me if you want me to untie you…” She trails off as her face falls, then she groans and buries her face in her hands.

Rainier gazes at her with alarm. “What’s the matter?”

She lowers her hands and winces apologetically. “Bull told me to have a knife on hand in case I need to cut the ropes. I forgot…” She rises on her knees as though to leave, and Rainier leans forward without thinking.

“Wait,” he says. The bindings at his wrists pull him back, sending a fresh jolt of friction and feeling through his arms. Arya gazes at him with surprise as he stops to catch a breath, and for a frozen, fizzling moment, they stare at each other. Her lips are slightly parted and her pupils are huge, and Rainier falls into them for a moment before remembering that he had something to say. “Check my thigh,” he says breathlessly.

She raises one eyebrow and smirks, and Rainier shakes his head even as he’s relieved to see his playful Arya return. “There’s a sheath,” he explains. “I have throwing knives.”

She raises her eyebrows. “You don’t use throwing knives. Why do you have those?”

He hesitates before replying as he realizes how odd his answer is going to sound. “Cole gave them to me,” he finally admits.

If possible, her eyebrows rise even higher. “Cole gave them to you? That’s…” A slow smile creeps over her face, then she starts to laugh. “You know what, I’m not thinking about that right now. Let me see these knives.”

He nods toward his right thigh, and she slides her hand along his leg and unstraps the sheath, then happily inspects one small narrow blade. “Perfect,” she chirps. She slides off the bed and places the knives on the nightstand for easy access, and when she turns back toward him, her sly look has returned.

She slides back onto the bed and straddles his hips anew. “Now, you asked me to take something off…”

He watches with breathless anticipation as she tugs off her gloves, revealing the slender lengths of her fingers. She places one careful palm on his abdomen, and the simple heat of her hand below his navel makes his muscles go rigid with want.

She pushes slowly off of his abs and rises to her knees, lifting her hips to hover teasingly over his. Her fingers rise to pull away her scarf, and the soft length fabric drifts lightly from her fingers like leaves from an autumn tree.

The movements of her hands are slow and hypnotic, and Rainier watches them with an almost obsessive interest. The tips of her fingers trail across her collarbones before she pulls away her vest. They slide with languorous ease along her sternum and down to the hem of her shirt, and they gather slowly in the fabric before pulling her shirt over her head to reveal the planes of her belly.

His eyes latch onto the rosy rounds of her nipples as her fingertips drift over their puckered peaks. His Arya is no mage, but her hands have entranced him all the same, binding his attention and keeping it desperately captive.

She skims her thumbs below the silken swell of her breasts, and Rainier surges forward with desperate longing. His mouth is watering, clamouring for the taste of her skin, and as the bedposts creak with his efforts, he hears his Dalish lover gasp.

His eyes finally leave her slender hands to rest on her face. Her gaze is travelling along the length of his arms with a leisurely slowness. Her lips are suffused with a rosy flush that matches the peaks of her breasts, and Rainier can’t decide what he wants to taste more.

Her eyes drift along his shoulders and back to his face, and she holds his gaze with a hint of challenge as she skims her thumbs below her nipples again. Rainier grunts and pulls his wrists, and her eyes dart manically across his upper body again.

“You like this?” she breathes. Her hands, her delicate and slender hands are weaving a spell and driving him mad; they slide across her belly, her thumb drifting across her navel, the tips of her fingers dancing across the buttons of her trousers.

He stares fixedly at her hands as she pops the buttons one by one, then slowly peels back the edge of her trousers to reveal the edge of her silken smallclothes. He swallows hard before replying, but even he can hear the edge of lust that renders his voice rough. “I’d like it even more if I could taste you,” he rasps.

She lowers her eyes demurely as she rolls her trousers slightly down from her hips. Then suddenly she leans forward and grasps the head of the bed. “Taste me then,” she says.

Her breasts are in his face, small and round and silken as the ropes around his wrists, and he needs no second bidding; eagerly he turns his face towards one golden-skinned mound. But before he can do more than trace his tongue over one heavenly nipple, she leans away.

He surges toward her with rising desperation, and the bedposts groan at the strength of his pull. Arya’s eyes are glowing with ardour, but she only smiles and shifts off of his body.

“Arya,” he growls, but even he can’t decide if he’s trying to censure or beg. Regardless of his uncertain intent, all he receives in return is a mischievous smirk over her shoulder as she kneels between his spread legs with her back to him.

She runs her fingers through the hair at the nape of her neck and along the line of her shoulder, then skims her palms down the subtle curves of her sides. The tips of her fingers trace that delicate edge where cloth meets skin, and Rainier’s eyes are inexorably drawn to the dip in her spine, the delicate curve that deepens as she arches her back and eases her trousers down.

Leather slides away from skin as the twin globes of her bottom are revealed, and Rainier groans out loud. His desire is so acute that he feels lightheaded, and he’s not sure what possessed him to agree to such games when he’s been without her for so long. His lady always jokes that he’s the bit of rough she picked up in the forest, but as she sinks down onto her heels with a slow, sinuous movement, he feels every bit as rough as she's ever teased him of being.

Arya tosses him a coquettish look, then leans forward on her hands and lifts her luscious bare ass in the air, and Rainier strains towards her with desperate longing.

“Is this what you want?” she taunts. Her body is like one of her own fine elven bows, all smooth curves and lines, and Rainier growls. “Woman, you’re testing my patience,” he warns.

She laughs - a low purr of a sound - then slowly slides her knees apart to sink closer to the bed, and Rainier is visited by a single-minded wish to slide up behind the inviting curves of her body. He stares at the juncture of her thighs, but he can’t see more than a teasing glimpse of her heavenly cleft. He yanks fruitlessly at his wrists again, then falls back on useless words. “Turn around,” he commands.

Arya tuts playfully as she rises to her knees again. “You’re being bossy,” she says mockingly as she turns around, but her cheeks are flushed with heat, and now that she’s facing him, he’s finally able to see the glory of her womanhood: the glistening sheen of her nectar is spread across the inside of her thighs like melted butter on a golden scone, and Rainier stares unabashedly at the tempting sight.

“I want you,” he blurts desperately. His eyes dart up to her lovely face, and he drinks in the heat of her smile like a parched flower. They haven’t explicitly discussed the rules of this game they’re playing, and he gets the sense that he’s giving away pieces of his power with every word he speaks, but he doesn’t mind: it’s Arya Lavellan looming over him, his Arya with her heart in her eyes and her body bared, and there’s no one he would ever trust with any piece of himself other than her.

Slowly she lowers herself onto her hands and knees until her lips are a whisper away from his own. “You’ll get what I feel like giving you, and nothing more. We’ll see which of us has the stronger will,” she whispers against his cheek. Then she tilts his chin up to look him in the eyes. “If you give up, tell me to cut you loose,” she says, and though her tone is sultry, her gaze is serious and warm.

He nods silently, then bucks his hips beneath her body. Now that the rules are laid out, he’s desperate to continue the game, to feel more than just a hint of her heat and a tiny piece of her passion…

She pulls away from him again and he tries to follow, but his bonds restrain him with a stern creak. Her hands are moving again, and Rainier’s attention is once again snared by their smooth and sinuous slide across her body: a thumb across her nipple, her nails across her navel, then the delicate tips of her callused archer’s fingers at the juncture of her thighs.

She presses her hips into her own hand, and he strains toward her until he can feel the pull in the muscles of his shoulders and his neck. “Please, my lady,” he pants. “Just a taste.”

She pouts at him with mock-pity, then lifts her fingers from her pussy and leans toward him. “Always so polite,” she whispers.

He opens his mouth with eager desperation. She’s barely touched a single part of his body since this all began, and every inch of him is screaming for her: his lips, his cock, his chest, his thighs, everything vibrates with an impatience that only seems to buzz more strongly as she skims her breasts close to his abs without touching him.

She brushes his lower lip with one shining finger, and Rainier uses the give in his bonds to jerk forward and take her finger in his mouth. He sucks the juices from her digit and savours her precious musk. It’s been months since he had the privilege of this scent in his nose and this flavour on his tongue, but this tiny taste only leaves him hungry for more.

She gently takes her finger back and he stares at her pleadingly, but through the storm of his lust he feels a bolt of satisfaction: she might be acting the mistress all cool and coy, but her eyes are glittering and her lips are flushed. She’s never been able to hide her ardour from him, and the knowledge of her desire only serves to fan his own lust even higher.

Her finger is a featherlight touch along his collarbone, across the dip in his throat and over his nipple, and Rainier jolts at the delicate brush. Arya stills for a moment before smoothing her fingers more firmly over his nipple, and Rainier strains into her touch. There must be magic in her elven blood; there has to be. It’s the only explanation he can find for why he feels like this: like a fine layer has been sanded away from his skin, leaving him more sensitive than before, like he could combust with rapture at the slightest whisper of her hands across his body.

She smiles wickedly as she continues to tease him, her fingers dancing across the expanse of his chest and entrancing him with tortuously delicate caresses, and he gives up pretending to have any kind of control in this matter. Arya is as much in charge here as she is outside of their bedchamber, and Rainier gives himself completely to her mercy.

Her fingers ghost across his beltbuckle, and she trails the length of his belt across the swollen bulge of his groin before tossing it aside. He lifts his hips obediently as she slowly peels his trousers down, then watches as she studies the rise of his manhood with a speculative smirk. When he catches her eye, she reaches out and brushes the tip of her finger across the dew gracing the tip of his cock.

She licks the tip of her finger playfully, and Rainier groans. “Please, my lady,” he begs. His hips are reaching for her, his arms straining against his bonds, and Arya looks more smug than ever. Her naked body is glorious, smooth and golden and hot and too fucking far away for his liking, and he wants everything: the softness of her silken skin, the marvelous heat of her mouth - something, anything at all…

“Close your eyes,” she says.

He obeys instantly. Long, torturous moments prick his skin with impatience, then the unmistakable heat of her tongue strokes the inside of his thigh.

He moans uninhibitedly as her cheek grazes his length. Her fingers, her tongue, the soft pillows of her lips all play a tender dance across his lower body, fuelling the flames of his lust into a blazing inferno of need. Somehow she metes out the finest amount of pleasure, just enough to whet his palate but not nearly enough to satiate.

Suddenly she presses her palms against his thighs and takes his length into her throat. The firmness of her grip and her tightness of her throat are overwhelming after the delicacy of her teasing touches, and he almost comes on the spot. He hunches forward, a choking gasp of pleasure pouring from his throat as he tugs his wrists and lifts his hips.

She chuckles around the girth of his cock, then draws her nails lightly along his thighs as she pulls away. The delicate sprinkling of pain only serves to enhance his pleasure, like a sprinkling of salt on fresh caramel, and Rainier writhes beneath the ministrations of her mouth. His fingers are aching to sink into her pixie-short hair, to stroke the lines of her open jaw as she takes him deep, but all he can do is clench his empty fists and flex his hips toward her lovely face.

His impatient climax scrabbles higher with every rhythmic stroke of her mouth. He’s gasping, the exquisite pressure is building in his core, in his throat, at the backs of his eyes-

He opens his delirious eyes to gaze besottedly down at her, but it’s a mistake: she releases his cock and sits back on her knees. “I told you to close your eyes,” she scolds.

Rainier gasps out a strangled breath as his foiled climax roils back into his bloodstream like a simmering of fire sitting just beneath his skin. Her hand rests on his thigh, the heat of her palm taunting his painfully rock-hard cock by virtue of its proximity, and the heat in his blood burbles from his mouth in a fountain of incoherent begging. “Please, my lady, please, I need you - please...”

She shifts her body and straddles his hips, and he moans with need and bucks toward her. Her wetness is hovering over him, not quite close enough to touch, and it’s torture: she’s playing him like a mandolin, forcing him to sing a pleading song in her name. He’s never wanted her more than in this moment and he feels like he could scream-

She braces one hand on his shoulder and slides her slick folds over the head of his manhood, and Rainier slams his fists against the restraints with all the strength he has. The bedposts rattle against the wall as he leans toward her. “Fuck me,” he commands.

Her eyes snap onto his face at the unusual authority in his tone, and he drinks her in with an agonizing surge of adoration. Her huge eyes are glittering like the precious amethysts that they are, her slender collarbones rising and falling with the sudden sharpness of her breaths. Her desperation is clear in the clenching of her fist on his shoulder and the tiny undulations of her hips, and Rainier marvels at the sheer equality of their mutual need. He might be the one who is tied and bound, but his Arya is tied just as securely, her desire surging higher in tandem with his own.

She slides against his length again. “You want me to fuck you? I need something from you first.”

He bucks toward her but she lifts her hips away from him, and he slams his head down on the pillow, powerless again. “Anything, my lady. I am yours to command,” he promises. He would drag down the moon if she asked for it. He would go back into the fucking Fade and bring her a floating mountain if it meant she would wrap him in the heat of her silken flesh.

She leans forward and traces the edge of his ear with her tongue, and goosebumps ripple across his neck as she tells him her demand. “I need your mouth on me,” she breathes.

“Yes, my lady,” he says, and she wastes no time in slithering higher on his body. She straddles his chest, her hands braced on the wall behind the bed, and he stares up at the column of her body for a moment. Her belly heaves with anticipatory breaths, her breasts rising with every shallow gasp, and he swallows his eagerness as his eyes shift down to the auburn curls between her legs.

“Come closer,” he grunts. She presses her pelvis close, and he happily fulfills her command: a firm kiss to her slick folds, a smooth lick along the length of her slippery cleft, and he finds his target with his tongue: the hooded nub of her clit.

Arya throws her head back and whines with pleasure as he caresses her slippery center with his tongue. His palms are itching to touch her, and he squeezes his eyes shut as he imagines the ways he would touch her if he only could: his hands on her ass, pulling her closer to his face; his fingers sliding along the silken length of her thighs, pinching the tenderness of her budded nipples, his thumb grazing her clit while his tongue slides deep…

His cock is throbbing with need, pounding in time with the subtle waves of her body as she undulates against his face. He laves the sweetness of her flesh with his tongue, drinks deeply of the honey trickling along the length of her cleft, and when she gasps and cries out in ecstasy, he plunges his tongue deep to plumb the depths of her pleasure and draw her cries to a satisfying close.

She pulls away, her shoulders shuddering as she sits back on his chest. Her eyelids rest at half-mast, unfocused and dazed, and Rainier shamelessly exploits her momentary weakness. “Arya,” he commands.

She lifts her gaze to his face at the firmness of his tone, and he jerks his wrists. “Cut me loose.”

Her expression sharpens, and without hesitation she reaches for his right wrist. With shaking fingers she releases the knot at the bedpost, and before she has a chance to undo the cuff at his wrist, he reaches out and takes her slender throat in a gentle grip.

She grabs his wrist and gasps. Her eyes are suddenly feverish, her breathing quick and desperate, her fingers pressing his hand more closely to her throat. He runs his thumb firmly along the tendon in her neck, and it’s like he’s struck a chord: she keens with pleasure, her hips pressing down on his chest, and Rainier recognizes the shift with all the instincts of a warrior. Her climax has toppled her powerful stance and torn away her defenses, and all he needs to do now is strike hard and fast.

He pulls her close and runs his thumb along the edge of her jaw. “I’m going to fuck you now,” he informs her calmly.

She bites her lip and nods her unequivocal agreement, and Rainier jerks his head towards his left wrist. “That one now. Quickly,” he says, and she obeys swiftly, releasing his left hand from the bedpost and swiftly tugging the rope cuff from his wrist.

He wraps his arm around her waist and surges forward to lay her on her back, and he stares at the length of her as he slides his hand up her arms to catch her wrists in one hand. She strains toward him with invitation in every inch of her body, and Rainier feels like an urchin in a sweet shop: he wants every part of her all at once, and now that he’s free to touch as much of her as he wants, he can’t decide where to start. Her breasts, her hips, the angle of her ribs - every part of her is delicious and smooth and exquisite, and he tastes as much of her as he can while impatiently shoving his trousers off.

She lifts her hips pleadingly, and Rainier takes a brief moment to stroke the smoothness of her thigh before plunging two fingers into her heat.

“Thom, yes!” she screams. He drops his face to her neck and breathes in the scent of her skin as he strokes the pleasure cries from inside of her. He wants her so desperately, every damned fragrant inch of her, and every point of contact between them sends a current of joy through his chest: her fingers tangled in his hair, his fist gripping her hair in kind, her nipples brushing his chest and the angle of her knee rising up to meet his hip - every touch, every pull and every stroke fuels the roar of need and desire and unbearable love that he was forced to hold in check for all the time they were apart.

He takes her mouth in a blazing kiss and swallows her desperate gasps of pleasure, then presses his lips to her cheek. “On your hands and knees, love,” he whispers.

He pulls his fingers free from her glorious heat, then strokes her belly and her hips as she rolls over to fulfill his request. She lowers herself to her elbows and looks over her shoulder at him, the damp spikes of her bangs giving her a mischievous air. “Come on, Thom,” she pants. “I’m all yours.”

A fresh wave of adoration spills from his overfilled heart, warming his chest and rendering him breathless. His Dalish lover is splayed before him, open and trusting and waiting to be taken, but suddenly he thinks of the little box in his pocket with its edges worn smooth from his nervous fingers. Rainier wants to fuck her hard, to fill up every corner of her body and show her what he missed while he was away - but more than that, he wants to clutch her close and give her his heart.

Tenderly he strokes his palm from the center of her back to the angle of her hip. His cock is pulsing, a throbbing urge to be inside of her, and he leans close over her body as he teases her entrance with his cock. He slides against her slick heat and caresses her breast with one hand, his lips stroking a lingering line of love along the length of her spine.

She whines with need and jerks back against him, and his own desperation rises with every stroke of his cock along the length of her cleft. Just when Rainier thinks he can’t wait a moment longer, she pounds the bed with her fist and cries out. “Blackwall, please!

He freezes at the sound of his adopted name. An odd sense of vertigo buzzes in his ears, a sensation of strange-but-familiar; he’s gotten used to hearing his real name over these last months, of hearing the name Thom Rainier spoken in a myriad of voices, but in Arya Lavellan’s voice, his old alias - his old title - it brings a sudden warmth that he didn’t expect.

He feels the muscles of her back go rigid beneath his palm, then she starts to pull away. Her voice is tight with awkwardness as she starts to apologize. “I’m sorry, Thom, I didn’t mean-”

He drags her back toward him and slams his cock into her yielding heat. She screams out in rapture, and Blackwall slides his hand from her breast to caress her precious throat with his fingers. “It’s all right,” he breathes. “Call me Blackwall.”

Blackwall. He released the name when he released the pain of his past. He’s no longer afraid to be known as the captain with a flawed history; he strives to be better, to show that anyone can be better, but the inspiration of Blackwall’s name was a central part of that… and the sound of that name in Arya Lavellan’s seraphic voice. Arya called him Blackwall and believed him equal to the name he stole. She called him by this name in happiness and in anger, teased him flirtatiously with this name and cried this name in the throes of her passion. Blackwall was once a mask, but now it’s the name by which she calls him, the name she knows him for, and for that reason alone, Rainier will love this name forever.

“I want you to call me Blackwall,” he whispers. “Only you.”

She hiccups a breathless little laugh, then takes his hand from her throat and presses her lips to his palm. “I missed you,” she says.

Her voice trembles with emotion, and his throat swells in kind as he thrusts into her. “I missed you,” he whispers gruffly. “More than you know.” Suddenly it’s not enough to simply touch her, to stroke the golden canvas of her back and the slender lines of her throat; he needs to look at her, to see her beloved face and kiss her beloved lips.

Without a word, he pulls away and grips her hips, then rolls her onto her back and slides her beneath the shelter of his body. Moments later they’re tangled together chest to chest, a mess of hands and hips and heated skin, and this is what Blackwall was waiting for: the solid press of her body beneath his, her limbs enveloping him like she’ll never let him go. As he thrusts firmly into her heat, this is the thought that crystallizes in his mind: that he never wants to let her go, never wants to be apart, never wants anything except the contents of this gamine archer’s heart.

She scores her nails along his arm and nips his shoulder with her teeth, and he kisses her hard before pressing his lips to her ear. “Marry me,” he gasps.

She pushes him away slightly and stares at him, and he’s utterly relieved when a slow smile starts to creep across her face. “Wait. Are you serious?” she says.

“Yes,” he says, slightly awkwardly. He didn’t mean to say it so baldly, and he certainly didn’t mean to say it here; she deserves moonlight and romance and so much more than his big crude body looming over her, but he can’t hold his devotion in check. Arya Lavellan is everything. She’s the one who always believed in him, the brightest star that lights his nights and the blazing sun that warms him. She’s the bolshy laugh that fills his dreams and the sharp tongue that puts him in his place, and he loves her so fucking much.

She continues to smile at him, her eyes twinkling with wicked humour, and he ducks his head with shame. “I didn’t mean to ask like this,” he laments. “You deserve much better. I should’ve planned something, I… Do the Dalish even marry? I didn’t think to ask…”

She slides her hand into his beard. “Yes,” she says, and flexes her hips against his.

She’s sleek and so damned tight, and coherent thought leaves him for a moment as she sheathes him completely. He gasps in a breath and forces himself to concentrate. “You - the Dalish do get married?”

“Yes, yes,” she pants, and thrusts her hips against his more insistently. Her fingers slide around his neck, her nails biting into his flesh as she levers herself against him with one leg around his hip, and he sighs with relief, then groans with renewed pleasure as she fucks him all the faster. “You do? Well, that’s good. I mean, well, maybe it’s good, if you - Arya Lavellan, I - will you-”

Fenedhis, Blackwall, I said yes, yes I’ll marry you, yes-”

She trails off into a wordless wail of pleasure as he shifts higher, changing the angle of their bodies so he’s pushing into her in a way he knows she likes. He fucks her hard and tender, his rapture rising with every loving thrust, and when she throws her head back with a delighted cry, he kisses her with every scrap of passion he can muster.

His climax explodes over him with all the glory of a summer storm. He wraps one hand in her hair and slides his other arm beneath her body to embrace her, and she hugs him tightly as they gasp and tremble in tandem. He presses his lips to her delicately pointed ear, and in a voice that’s cracked with passion and emotion, he releases his greatest truth to her. “I love you,” he breathes.

She shudders beneath him and stretches one arm above her head. “I love you too,” she moans, then exhales and relaxes completely beneath him.

He smiles against her cheek and strokes the dampness of her chestnut hair until she chuckles and taps his shoulder playfully. “So,” she drawls. “We’re getting married, are we?”

Blackwall winces and buries his face in her neck. “I’m sorry I asked so poorly,” he mumbles. “But… this is all I want.” He rises to his elbows and cups her cheek in one hand. “I hated being away from you,” he says softly. “I’ll always be at your side, and I want everyone to know it.”

Her cheeky smile softens, and she lifts her chin to kiss him slow and sweet. Dreamily they shuffle into their customary afterglow position: he on his back, and she sprawled across him.

She runs her fingers idly through his beard, and he sighs with deep contentment before speaking again. “What are Dalish weddings like?” he asks.

She shrugs lightly. “Nothing like a human wedding, that’s for certain. At least not like those fancy Orlesian affairs. The Keeper says a rite, there are some offerings to the gods, and then the couple is joined. It’s quite simple.”

Blackwall swallows nervously as a more difficult question occurs to him. “Have there ever been, er, humans who… What I mean to say, will your Keeper, will he…?”

He trails off sadly as Arya grimaces and shakes her head. “My clan is willing to trade with humans,” she says. “To join with them, though…” She rises onto her elbow and smiles down at him. “Who said I wanted a Dalish joining, though? If I wanted that, I’d have picked a Dalish man.” She strokes his jaw. “I’ve chosen you. We’ll get married some other way.” Her eyes brighten suddenly, and she starts to laugh.

Blackwall cocks his head. “What are you laughing at?”

She catches her breath and grins down at him. “I’m the Inquisitor. Who’s to say I can’t declare us joined for life and be done with?”

Blackwall gapes at her. It’s not what he imagined, but tangled in this bed with the love of his life, her thigh thrown over his and her fingers rubbing his earlobe: what could possibly be better than this?

“Wait,” he says, then reluctantly slides out of the bed and pulls on his trousers. He sits on the bed again and pulls the worn little box from his pocket where it’s been waiting patiently. He opens it and shows Arya the gift he had made for her: an intricate gold ring shaped like halla horns cradling a single amethyst.

He watches nervously as her eyes widen, then rise to his face. “You’ve… this wasn’t a whim,” she breathes. “You’ve been planning this?”

Her eyes are shining, glowing more brightly than the jewel in the golden ring, and he nods seriously. “The thought of this, of you saying yes… It kept me going while we were apart. I had this made in Val Royeaux. Josephine put in a good word for me. It’s supposed to look like halla horns,” he says lamely. He’s babbling now, his mouth running like an autumn ram as he waits for her response. “Because you’re swift and strong, and you’re so fucking beautiful, and those Dalish in the Exalted Plains said-”

She takes his face in her hands and kisses him hard, then leans back. “It’s gorgeous,” she says. “It’s - well, it’s a very human tradition, but I love it.” She laughs giddily as Blackwall slides the ring onto her slender finger, then cups his face again. “I want to have one made for you. It’ll be shaped like griffon’s wings,” she announces.

He stares into her eyes as her face grows serious. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen at this council tomorrow,” she says. “Leliana thinks the Inquisition might have to disband.” She sighs, then strokes his cheeks. “I’ve had to make so many hard choices these past few years, but this one is easy. This is the best thing I’ll ever do. If my being the Inquisitor is worth anything, let it be this.”

She takes a deep breath, then presses her forehead to his. “Thom Rainier. Ser Blackwall - my Blackwall: I declare you my husband. Until the Maker takes you, or Falon’Din takes me, or we both just slip away in our sleep together - nothing will sunder this bond. Do you agree?”

He slides his arms around her and pulls her tight against his chest. “Yes. Absolutely,” he rasps. She kisses him deeply, her hand cradling his neck and her tongue tenderly tracing his lips, and as he basks in the heat of her, he realizes that this is perfect, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thom Rainier has been many things in his life: a captain and a coward, a leader and a liar. He’s a soldier at heart and a swordbearer by trade. But the best parts of himself are the ones that Arya unveiled. She pulled his heart from the ashes of his past. She polished his purpose and gave him the conviction to believe he could be better. Now, with his Dalish wife’s arms around his waist, he embraces the most brilliant facet of himself: he’s Arya’s Blackwall, her shield and her shelter, and her husband until the end of time.