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these wandering thoughts drift and find their way to you (to your lips and hands)

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Lavellan had bought the little crystal in Val Royeaux. The vendor hadn't seemed all that enthused with the purchase -- likely because it had barely gotten him a hundred gold -- but that was no matter. It was pretty and had no discernible use besides being an attractive bauble. It held no inherent magic that he could sense. There were no glyphs carved on it or the attaching bail. The design of the clasp seemed faintly Tevene. Lavellan had it strung on a cord of tightly woven black silk.

It was not the amulet that Dorian was looking for -- Lavellan was still looking into that -- but it would do for the moment. An utterly explicable gift, without hidden motive or design. There would be no way for Dorian to misinterpret Lavellan giving it to him as anything other than a token.

Still, Dorian raised a brow when Lavellan held it out. "For me?" he asked. "Whatever for?"

"It's pretty," Lavellan said plainly. "It made me think of you, so I want you to have it."

Dorian hummed then. His eyes were dark with the kind of pensiveness that made Lavellan's spine heat up. He turned the necklace over in his hands, looking as Lavellan had anticipated for some ulterior motive. Dorian made a small noise -- surprise with a lick of burgeoning desire -- and his smile spread, becoming quite mischievous.

"I adore it," Dorian said at last. Lavellan let out a breath of relief that he had to suck back in immediately when the other man turned toward him and stepped closer. "I adore it almost as much as I adore you. I shall think of you whenever I wear it."

Lavellan's heart beat like a little bird trapped in the cage of his chest. "Oh," he breathed. Dorian was so close that he could feel the heat of his skin. He could smell him. It was wonderful. "Will you?"

"Absolutely," Dorian affirmed, and Lavellan had to watch as the other mage brought the crystal to his mouth to kiss. "I'm thinking of you now. Can you tell?"

The crystal was seashell pink against the curl of Dorian's lips, pressed so softly that Lavellan longed to replace it -- to be clasped to Dorian's mouth and be held there by the presence of Dorian's fingers. The intensity of Dorian's gaze was so promising that Lavellan could almost feel the brush of lips against the slope of his neck. Dorian was always so gentle there, hesitant, like he wanted to leave marks but didn't dare. Lavellan wished that Dorian dared -- wished that he would dare, right here -- and so he tilted his head to the side, baring his throat.

"You can feel it, can't you," Dorian murmured. "How much I want you."

Lavellan shivered, face turning red. "Dorian..."

"You can," Dorian said. It felt like it was true.

Dorian pressed closer in less than a second, ducking his head like he was about to take Lavellan up on his offer. Instead, Lavellan got the tickle of Dorian's mustache against his cheek and a whisper of Dorian's breath against his ear.

"Later," Dorian promised.

///

Later turned out to be so much later than Lavellan had anticipated. Weeks had gone by with a seemingly endless number of requests from nobles and refugees alike. Lavellan had headed out to the Western Approach with his usual troupe in tow, unhappy with the blistering capriciousness of his first foray into deserted canyons and hard packed sand. Not to mention the sheer number of Venatori and giant lizards they'd run into.

His only consolation really was that he was among friends for the duration. Bull seemed gleeful every time they swung south to check the traps they'd laid out for the dragon, and Cole, of course, was a pillar of sympathetic misery.

But Dorian-- He usually never failed to refrain from commenting on the weather, yet it seemed that he was holding his tongue. Lavellan would worry, except that during their downtime, he would catch Dorian fiddling with the crystal slung around his neck. Their eyes would meet, Dorian's expression would turn smug, and next thing Lavellan knew, the slow crawl of sweat down his spine would instead feel like Dorian's tongue.

Which was insane because he'd never actually felt Dorian's tongue anywhere below the collar.

But he wanted to feel it. And Dorian looked like he wanted to offer.

That was just the first time.

They found a raiding party on the Steppes. Easily dispatched, but unfortunately, Lavellan's magic lay primarily with fire. The land was scorched by the time the battle was over, but especially around himself. Bandits liked to jump him from behind, so he'd built up the habit of laying a swath of fire mines behind him, just in case. The air, already hot from the afternoon sun, was practically steaming now, and as if on instinct, Lavellan searched out Dorian's broad shoulders.

He was standing on the other side of the pile of loot that Cole was compiling. One of the raiders had nicked what was apparently a vital buckle on Dorian's armor, and the mage had removed the outermost layer of his light armor in order to inspect the damage, leaving himself in only the padded linen undershirt. It was sweated through the back, sticking to every curve and slope of Dorian's body.

A wave of heat gusted over them, and Lavellan saw Dorian's profile twist in a grimace before he slid a frosty hand along the back of his neck. Lavellan was struck with a sudden desire to have Dorian's clever hands all over him, and only part of his reasoning had to do with the ungodly heat.

As if he knew the sharp turn that Lavellan's thoughts had taken, Dorian looked his way, brows raised in question. Lavellan swallowed guiltily, and Dorian lifted his hand from the back of his neck, looking at it as if to say, oh this? Then, with his fingers still covered in a thin coat of ice, Dorian touched the crystal, freezing it entirely.

Lavellan jerked in place, feeling what seemed to be icy fingers sliding up between his thighs and over his chest and down his back to slide between his cheeks and circle his entrance with an unfamiliar caress--

"You alright, boss?" The Iron Bull clapped a heavy hand on Lavellan's shoulder. "You're looking a bit red. We can take a break, if you like."

"No, I'm--" Lavellan's voice came out strained, so he cleared his throat quickly, trying to look Bull in the eye and honestly failing. He couldn't stop staring at Dorian -- who wasn't playing with his necklace anymore, but knotting some spare cloth through his armor so that it would be wearable again. "I'm fine, but let's head back to camp."

"Hot, hard, hungry," Cole murmured, off to the side. He was still rummaging through one of the raiders' packs, smiling to himself when he found a trinket. "He wants things he's never had before. Burning, boiling, bubbling over. He's ready to burst--"

"Cole!" Lavellan hissed, turning red for an altogether different reason. He didn't exactly want his lack of experience known, even if the only people around to hear were some of his closest confidantes.

Cole looked up, blinking slowly. "Yes?"

Lavellan took a steadying breath, reminding himself that Cole's intentions were friendly, not humiliating. But he still looked toward Dorian to guess at his reaction, to see if the other man realized the truth. He hoped it wouldn't stop what was building between them. His skin was still covered in goosebumps.

"Are you ready to head back?" he asked Cole, who stuffed a few more items in his pockets and nodded. "Alright," Lavellan glanced around quickly in order to reorient himself to their location before heading toward the nearest Inquisition camp. "Let's check on those traps after and see if we haven't summoned a dragon. What do you say, Bull?"

Bull grinned, heaving his sword over one shoulder with a grunt. "You say the sweetest things, boss."

They got back to camp in record time -- no raiders, no lizards, no Venatori -- but Lavellan was still wrapped up in what had happened. Dorian was absolutely no help in that regard, with his watching Lavellan from across camp but not saying a damn thing. He seemed to be waiting, his dark eyes tracking Lavellan's every move from his position at requisitions.

For himself, Lavellan felt restless. He was full of too much energy. He wanted to run but couldn't because that would mean letting Dorian out of his sight. He wanted to fight, maybe, get it all out -- but it felt like it would be a losing battle because all his focus was on Dorian and his hands and his mouth and that crystal.

It wasn't just his imagination.

It couldn't be.

Across the camp, Dorian smiled broadly at him, such that it looked feral, and Lavellan got hard so quickly that he felt dizzy.

///

They fought and killed the Abyssal High Dragon. It hadn't been an easy feat by any stretch, but it had been made all the harder by the fact that she had been immune to everything Lavellan had been capable of throwing at it aside from rift magic. He'd been, at best, a minor annoyance to her while everyone else had been the heavy hitters. He'd kept his distance, thrown barriers as often as he could, and built up his focus as quickly as possible.

It had been enough to take her down. Barely. Bull was wholly satisfied by the experience. He was recounting their battle to every ear that would sit still long enough to listen. There was no doubt in Lavellan's mind that they would return to Skyhold and find a celebration waiting for them. Lavellan should be happy too. They had survived, after all, but the day had been full of too many close calls.

In his mind's eye, he could still see the way the High Dragon had swung her tail wide, searching for a target, and found Dorian, who had been too focused on his spell casting to see the danger. Lavellan had seen it coming, but fear had trapped the words in his throat even as he'd thrown a barrier. Then, without even looking, Dorian had created an ice wall so thick and heavy that it had actually stopped the dragon's tail from crashing into him.

Lavellan had run to Dorian's side without thinking about it. His only concern had been to ensure that Dorian was truly alright and to hand over his healing potions if he wasn't. He hadn't seen the dragon raise her hind leg to hit him, but he'd felt it somehow, sensed it like a spirit just beyond his periphery, and whirled with the Fade wrapped around his fist like a stone. Soon, the High Dragon had limped away from them, her final confused and frightened wailing echoing in Lavellan's breast until Bull had struck at her throat and brought her down.

It had seemed at the time as if chance had allowed his aim to strike true, but now, Lavellan was not so sure. Even a week and a half later and with the road to Skyhold within their sights, Lavellan felt terror grip his heart whenever he and Dorian caught each other's eye -- terror and elation, twined together around the small pearl of his affection for Dorian, this knot of emotions that he couldn't untangle no matter how many times he sat down and tried to reason with himself. The fear was familiar, an old friend by now, and the relief at survival too, had always been a welcome feeling -- but the enormity of the two was what unsettled Lavellan so. And it grew and it grew, feeding upon itself, looming and lurking, twisting its way into each of Lavellan's senses until only the cool touch of the crystal between his fingers brought him relief--

Suddenly, Lavellan was able to wrench himself clear. His feelings -- the fright, the joy, the love he felt -- were all his own. Just behind him, Dorian took a sharp, shuddering breath. Lavellan twisted in his saddle to see Dorian coiling the necklace around his fingers. The little pink crystal was still as pretty as it had been the first time Lavellan had laid eyes upon it, but now -- as he slowed his hart to come alongside Dorian and rescued it from the other mage's fidgeting -- Lavellan could feel difference, the way the emotions swelled inside him until he felt ready to bursting as soon as he touched its surface.

He could recognize them all. After a month of having them burn in his gut as they explored the Western Approach, Lavellan was practically a connoisseur. Guilt, desire, fear, joy, comfort, anxiety. They belonged to Dorian, and like the spy he was, Lavellan had stolen a glimpse at that which Dorian had not yet granted him access. However inadvertently, he had been a thief, stealing Dorian's thoughts right out of his head with greedy fingers.

Dorian grabbed his hand, grip fierce as he said, "No!" He glanced ahead to Bull and Cole, who were leading the way, and some distance behind to where a small caravan of soldiers were guiding the carts full of dragon remains. He pressed his lips fervently to Lavellan's knuckles. "Vendehis, it is not like that. If anyone is the criminal here, it is I. I was the one who knew what this crystal would do, and I took it anyway. I wanted..."

When Dorian looked away, Lavellan felt his embarrassment as if it were his own. Realizing this, Dorian pulled the necklace over his head and shoved it in his satchel. For the first time in many weeks, they were truly separate, even riding next to each other. Lavellan ached for the closeness but worried at how easily he could be overwhelmed. He wondered at the possibility of a happy medium.

He wove their fingers together for lack of any other way to convey that he wanted Dorian near still. That he always would. "What is it that you wanted?"

"I wanted to drive you crazy, at first," Dorian admitted.

"And then?" Lavellan asked.

Dorian's smiled thinly. "Then it seemed cruel to tease you when you've never--" He made a vague gesture with his free hand. "When you're untouched."

"Oh." Lavellan lowered his gaze. The self-consciousness returned anew. "I didn't think it would bother you."

"It doesn't," Dorian said quickly, "but it bothers you. I felt how embarrassed you were when Cole ratted you out, and I began to wonder if you deserved something... better... than what I was offering."

"I want what you're offering," Lavellan said. Just the idea of Dorian following through on the thoughts he'd been having was enough to make Lavellan grow warm all over. "Deserving has nothing to do with it. I want whatever you're willing to give me."

Dorian gave him a long look with the kind of narrow-eyed focus that Lavellan had come to expect from his spymaster, rather than the mage he occasionally stole kisses from. There was something about which Dorian was suspicious, some concern that he had yet to voice. Lavellan wished that, like the rest of the inner circle, he would simply say what it was that was bothering him, but Lavellan suspected he would not unless he was pushed. That was one thing he couldn't do, but he could leave the door open. Perhaps if he became comfortable...

Lavellan put some space between their mounts, smirking a little at the way Dorian's gaze chased after him. "Put the crystal back on, Dorian. Think about it."

///

Ambassador Montilyet had an impressive spread waiting for them when they returned to Skyhold. There were dozens of nobles and hundreds of commoners serving as spectators between the throne room and the courtyard as their entourage hefted the massive dragon skeleton into view. Having led the party as soon as Skyhold was within sight, Lavellan squared his shoulders to ride proudly through the crowds, a hand raised in greeting as a roar went up around him.

Even months after his induction into the role of Inquisitor, he couldn't say he was entirely used to the sensation of being greeted like this, but Leliana and Josephine had both instilled in him the necessity of pretending as if it were accepted. And Cassandra too -- disapproving of his frustration with the Andrastian faith as much as she was relieved by his hesitation to grab for more power -- was there to lend a kind ear to any woes he might have about it.

Were it only he that suffered the consequences, Lavellan might have followed Dorian's path when it came to the duties slung upon his shoulders by the hands of others. But the Inquisition was built upon a foundation of faith, and he stood at its helm -- a sword, a paragon, some kind of guiding light. Lavellan had steered it as much as he could by claiming the Inquisition's purpose for order instead of faith, but that seemed little compared to the way Mother Giselle had summoned a tidal wave of hope in Haven's stragglers. Now, it seemed too late to do much of anything about his persona without sacrificing the cause.

At least he could say that his personal life was his own -- his own desires, his own hopes, his own dreams. Not all of it had been eaten up by Inquisition. One might even say that the Inquisition had given him the opportunity to chase them.

He dared a glance at Dorian out of the corner of his eye. He saw the glint of the crystal hanging outside Dorian's armor as it caught the chilly mountain sunlight. Seeing it made Lavellan's smile just a little more honest.

A small amount of time was allotted to their party so that they might wash and ready themselves for the celebration of their mighty return. Before departing to his quarters, Lavellan caught Dorian's eye, then dropped his gaze to the crystal for a split second. He would normally be quick about washing the road off him in anticipation of the duties Josephine would have waiting for him, but if Dorian liked, he would take his time about it. Be thorough.

Across the room, Dorian's expression became hungry, and before Lavellan could turn toward his quarters, he felt a rush of heat, of pleasure that simmered under the skin unsatisfied. It was broad hands under his clothing and caught in his hair. It was a feverish mouth against his neck. The heavy press of a body against his back. Whispers in his ear that were too vague to be intelligible but nonetheless were clearly meant to be arousing. Lavellan stumbled at the suddenness of it all, even having half expected it, and caught himself on the door frame that led to his quarters. Beside him, Josephine let out a noise of concern, subsiding only when Lavellan waved her off and headed upstairs.

There was a steaming bath and a change of clothes waiting for him when he arrived. A pair of servants helped him undo his armor, wiping it down for the rack, and another was pouring scented oils into the water. Lavellan dismissed them with a wave of his hand and soon dunked himself fully, wiping the water from his face when he rose again. It was swift work to clean himself, but then he eyed the bottled oils still sitting on the small table next to his bath. He thought of Dorian as he poured a little into his palm and felt a sweet bubble of anticipation in response. Somewhere downstairs, Dorian was waiting. Lavellan wouldn't keep him for long.

He braced himself on the edge of the bath, bent over with his knees braced in the tub's curves, and reached behind him with oiled fingers. The slick rub of his fingers sent hot shivers down the backs of his thighs, and it was too much to hope that he'd be able to go about this slowly. He wanted Dorian to touch him later and know that Lavellan had been thinking about him as he did this.

Dorian already knew now, in fact. Lavellan couldn't be sure what exactly the crystal allowed Dorian to sense, but regardless of the details, Dorian was sending back thoughts of his own hands, his own fingers opening Lavellan up. Such that, despite having two fingers inside himself, Lavellan felt as if it were Dorian doing it instead. Thick, lightly calloused fingers spearing into him with uncanny precision to stroke across his prostate -- once, twice, over and again until... With a soft cry, Lavellan bit into his arm and spilled, all evidence washing away into the bathwater.

Yet even with that, it was not enough to evaporate all desire. Even as Lavellan dried himself off, he could feel his body stirring once more. In another part of Skyhold, Dorian was still unsatisfied, his cock aching for release, and it echoed through Lavellan with an impatient throb.

By the time Lavellan was dressed and back in the throne room, his body was thrumming. He could barely stand still long enough to talk to all of the nobles that Josephine needed him to see. Every inch of him felt like it was honed in on Dorian's presence, the way the other mage prowled behind him, never quite in sight even when Lavellan tried to look. Lavellan was beginning to think that the presence he felt was just another gift of Dorian's, that the other mage was simply watching him from another place entirely and thinking about hunting Lavellan down. Regardless of the truth, the heat between his shoulder blades, the skip of his heartbeat when he thought Dorian was close to his back, the giddy desire to run simmering in his veins -- all of it was welcome.

He thought fiercely of Dorian chasing him through the party, of running until his body burned from the effort, of finally being caught, slammed against the unforgiving surface of the battlements or the stairs near the kitchens, or -- fuck -- the wide open doors of the throne room itself. He thought of Dorian behind him, pinning him, keeping him in place with his greater mass, chest pressed heavily against Lavellan's back as his hands roamed wherever they pleased. He thought of Dorian lacing their fingers together, the anchor held to the wall and smothered into darkness by the fold of their palms, and everyone being able to see how much he yearned and adored this man.

Suddenly, Dorian was in view, grinning broadly and trying to hide it. It was that feral smile again, all teeth and pure delight. As politely as he could, Lavellan cut the conversation he was trapped in short and bolted.

Bolted was perhaps an extreme description. Josephine would have an aneurysm if he'd actually ran, but Lavellan did make haste, light footed as he nimbly stepped past numerous faces as he made his way toward the huge doors opposite the throne. A ripple of conversation was left in his wake, but most notably was the loud excuses that Dorian was making as he followed. Lavellan paused at the exit, one hand on the smooth wooden surface of the door, and regretted that one of the little fantasies he had could not be fulfilled here. There were other places, however, if Dorian could manage to keep up. Lavellan flashed a grin when he glanced back and caught sight of Dorian's indignant expression. Then, with a quick fade step, he was off!

Down the steps to the courtyard, where a small fete was in full bloom around a billowing fire pit. He twisted past musicians, wove through dancers. Dorian's presence was hot on his tail, the sizzle of his magic close enough to raise the hairs on Lavellan's skin. Another step, up then down, toward the tavern, where another party was in full swing. Lavellan shrieking with laughter as Dorian's fingers caught in his belt just as he was about to take refuge behind the Iron Bull.

"Got you!" Dorian exclaimed, crowing with victory as he hauled Lavellan close.

Dorian's joy had butterflies in Lavellan's stomach. His chest was heaving from the run, from being chased so quickly, from the way Dorian held him -- up on his tiptoes, chest to chest, the thick bar of his arm wrapped around the slope of his waist. Lavellan touched Dorian's jaw -- smooth, like he had been freshening up while Lavellan had been opening himself up in the bath -- and helplessly thought about what it might feel like to have Dorian's mustache dragging all along his most intimate areas.

"Yes," Dorian breathed. "We should absolutely--"

"Right now," Lavellan agreed. "But not--" Not in the middle of the tavern where there were dozens of onlookers.

"How about--"

A distinct impression of rough stone against his front and soft grass beneath his feet, of the sounds of a tavern ballad muffled by distance and the rustle of trees, of a questing tongue sliding over his entrance and--

Lavellan tumbled backwards in self-defense, barely hearing Bull's riotous cheering as Dorian followed him back out into the cool air. Just as before, the slide of thoughts between the two of them was easier, more intense when they were touching, but Lavellan refused to struggle against it this time. He dragged Dorian around the tavern by the hand, his whole body humming with want, until they were past a handful of bushes and tucked into a dark corner of the battlements. They tore at each others clothes, hands working with an eerie kind of coordination, yet Lavellan had barely tossed his tunic to the side and toed off his boots before Dorian was turning him to face the wall and sinking to the grass.

"Dorian," he breathed, pressing his cheek to the cold stone as his leggings were pulled down to his knees and a hand was smoothing over the shallow curve of his bare back, soothing him.

Dorian used both hands to spread him open, and goosebumps burst out over his skin at the cold mountain air brushing over areas that were still slightly slick from oil. But soon, the cold was just a memory. He had Dorian's tongue lapping over his entrance, circling, spearing into it. He had the soft scrape of Dorian's mustache making his skin tingle everywhere it touched. He had the taste and feel of himself in his own mouth -- the sharpness of embrium and elfroot from the oil, the bitterness of the soap, the rough surface of his entrance as it clenched and softened under Dorian's tender ministrations.

It was bizarre and yet-- Lavellan moaned for it, arched his back, and pushed back for more. He reached for his cock and found one of Dorian's hands already there, so he detoured to hold his ass open instead, give Dorian all the room he wanted and free up his hands to do whatever he wanted with those too. Immediately, a pair of fingers curled inside him, the breadth of them enough to make him feel full, and Lavellan gasped, rocking back as soon as Dorian was certain he'd found the spot that would make him him scream.

Lavellan's hands slapped against the wall as he cursed. "Good," he whispered roughly before Dorian could get the question out. "So good, so-- Give me ano--ah!"

A third finger twisted inside him, with the knuckle of a fourth brushing along his rim. Lavellan shouted wordlessly, leaning back into Dorian's body heat when he rose back to his feet and started scattering kisses across his shoulders. The steady slide of Dorian's fingers was enough to make Lavellan's knees tremble, but not enough to stop the echo chamber that their minds had become.

Dorian's intentions spilled over like a waterfall, and Lavellan helplessly soaked up every mental image Dorian gave him of coming so hard that his shouts drew the guards from the battlements overhead and guests from within the tavern. Lavellan nearly sobbed at the idea of being caught so utterly, of being seen -- vulnerable and taken -- in the bracket of Dorian's arms. He wanted them to see him like that, speared upon Dorian's cock and fucking loving every second.

Let them, Lavellan thought feverishly as Dorian granted his desire by guiding his cock inside.

Lavellan surrendered to it, took every inch with a pained little whimper until their hips were flush, and then twisted, reaching for Dorian's face so that they could kiss. Once, twice -- their lips meeting around loose, humid gasps for breath as Dorian took hold of Lavellan's hips and started to move, gently at first and then at a more frenetic pace. A third kiss then, before Lavellan had to bend at the waist to brace himself against the wall, arms locked and thighs shaking.

Distantly, Lavellan realized he was making noises -- hitching cries and desperate mewling that echoed around their small corner of Skyhold. Dorian thrust all the harder because of them, wanting, wanting -- Lavellan wailed louder for him; he wanted everyone to know that this man he'd found -- with all his insecurities and and barbed defenses, with his apparent narcissism and his fervent hopes for a bettered home -- was exactly who he wanted at his side.

Dorian's thrust stuttered, slowed, stopped. "Amatus," he breathed, sounding faintly surprised.

No translation was needed, though Lavellan spoke not a word of Tevene. He felt the meaning in his heart, in his blood, in his breath as he twisted to look Dorian in the eye and said, "Vhenan."

Dorian swallowed and slipped away. But Lavellan had no fear. He was already turning, kicking his leggings off the rest of the way, and reaching to wrap his arms around Dorian's neck as he returned.

"I want to see you, amatus," Dorian whispered.

"I'm here." Lavellan hitched his legs over Dorian's hips, grunting when they stumbled together toward the wall. He kissed Dorian as he reached between them. "I'm here, vhen-- ah!"

Lavellan's lashes fluttered as Dorian slid inside him again, but he managed to keep the eye contact Dorian wanted. Dorian felt bigger somehow -- as if the admission of their feelings' depth had thickened his arousal yet further -- and their joining had taken on a different feel altogether than the raunchy desperation that had marked their earlier pace. Dorian rocked into him, setting every nerve alight, making even his breath feel as if it were on fire.

He was going to come like this, Lavellan realized all at once. With the roil of Dorian's joyous surprise and fervent adoration, with his love sliding beneath his skin and meeting his own like a star bursting in the skin. Lavellan didn't want to come yet, except it didn't seem to matter because Dorian already knew now how close he was -- how close they both were -- and he chased after it with a voracity that drove Lavellan that much closer to the edge.

Lavellan gripped his cock in a vice-like grip, but it was too late. He came, spilling over his own fingers, smearing his seed between their bellies, and lost himself in the wash of feeling that swept through him. He dragged Dorian after him, savoring the feeling of muscles bunching under his calves as Dorian hitched his hips a few more times before his legs turned to jelly. They tumbled down to the grass together, reluctantly drawing apart to catch their breath, but before long, they were folding toward each other again, seeking the other's mouth for lingering kisses in hopes of prolonging the sense of complete and utter union.

Lavellan cupped Dorian's cheek, threaded his fingers through his lover's hair, treasured this rare moment of peace and intimacy. It wasn't often that they were able to be together without onlookers, and as much as Lavellan wanted to shout what he felt from the rooftops, the truth was that not everyone would understand. These few minutes -- here and now -- were not for them, and Lavellan refused to share it with anyone but Dorian.

A tendril of Dorian's trepidation slithered through him, barely perceptible. Dorian was trying to hold it back, to hide it under a smokescreen of cotton-thick contentment, but the crystal that hung around his neck made it impossible. Lavellan felt a short wave of resignation as soon as Dorian realized he'd been caught, but then Dorian was taking the crystal off, setting it to the side.

"Too much?" Lavellan asked.

"No," Dorian said -- too quickly. He glanced covertly at the crystal as he rubbed his hands over Lavellan's arms. He shook his head free of whatever doubts were sticking like cobwebs to his mind and admitted, "Okay, yes. A bit. For now. Even you would say that it's a lot, surely? Being so close that it's difficult to tell where you end and I begin."

"It was," Lavellan agreed.

He pursed his lips, wondering how much he wanted to confess. It was different when the crystal had erased all possibility of concealment. Now he had a choice. He chose the truth. Honesty was always better when it came to Dorian.

"I liked it," he said. Just in case it hadn't been obvious. "I like knowing what you feel. What you want. Sometimes, I think there is too much distance to cross for me to get to you."

"Amatus..." Dorian started, but Lavellan put his hand to Dorian's mouth to stop him.

"I do not blame you," he said firmly. "It is our circumstances. I'm grateful that you consider the consequences of our appearance when I cannot. I wish we didn't have to. You support me. You protect me. You are one of my closest friends. I realize that the Inquisitor is not an easy person to love, though it makes me so happy to know that you do, and I want you to know that I do too. I love you, Dorian Pavus. If tonight is all that I can have for the rest of my life, then--"

Suddenly, Dorian brushed aside his hands, clasped Lavellan's face, and kissed him. "Shut up," he hissed, "or I'll be forced to ravage you all over again."

His tone was almost angry, but he was smiling as he kissed Lavellan again. Lavellan laughed softly, gentling the kisses with a few chaste pecks. He couldn't stop grinning as he reached for their discarded clothes and started dressing. Dorian followed his lead but stopped with the crystal hanging from his fingertips. He was very careful to hold it only by the silk cord, rather than touch the crystal directly.

"And what shall we do with this, hm?" Dorian asked. "It's too... unique to be left lying around somewhere."

"It is yours," Lavellan said. "You don't have to wear it. Feel free to destroy it, if that's what you want." Dorian frowned briefly, so Lavellan was quick to add, "If you do keep it and you do wear it, I would welcome having you so close to me again." He reached out and took Dorian's hand, bringing it to his lips. "But this... I would treasure this just as much."

"You're such a sap," Dorian accused.

He smiled shyly, however, and Lavellan needed no crystal to tell him that Dorian was happy.