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Love (Actually...)

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Falling into bed had been easy, in a way that the rest of Dorian’s time in the South hadn’t been, with too many strapping, sometimes-handsome men wary of mages and wary of Tevinters in ways that limited his options significantly.

When The Iron Bull had offered to scratch that unattended itch of Dorian’s when Cadash first began teaming them alongside her Warden sweetheart, he had to go through great lengths to hide his interest, his refusal of the Bull’s advances hinging solely on the inconvenience of sexual relations in a tent in the wild. When they finally returned to Skyhold weeks later, celebrating their victories over particularly onerous Freemen with an excess of swill that Dorian would never admit to liking, with a small sip or two of the flammable poison Bull insisted was alcohol, falling into bed felt like the easiest, most comfortable thing Dorian had ever done since becoming part of the dread Inquisitor’s inner circle.

It turned out an even greater boon when, even with both of them slowed by half-drunkenness, The Iron Bull proved to be a masterful lover, skills honed from many conquests anyone willing—which at this point, was half of Skyhold’s staff and a handful of feisty soldiers.

The aftermath was only half-expected, since Dorian had learned in the time he spent around his compatriots, that the inner circle was made up of irredeemable gossips. He knew to brace himself for mockery that was mostly just friendly ribbing, which Dorian felt safe in assuming only for the company, who, apart from Vivienne, didn’t tend towards overt cruelty.

What he did not expect, however, was how quaint their presumptions could really be.

“You know me, Sparkler, I’m a sucker for a good love story. Tevinter and Qunari, long at war, and you two move south and find each other, defying all the odds and falling in love,” Varric said, waving his hand like an orator on a stage of his own imagining.

“Ah, love. How droll,” Dorian deadpanned. “I thought perhaps the South was perfectly aware of sexual congress without involving sentimental feelings, but I suppose I cannot be too surprised, given that I receive more hugs from Cadash in a day than I’ve received from lovers my entire life.”

Varric chuckled. “You gotta admit, the whole setup screams Bestselling Love Story. You gotta let me do it, maybe improve Tevinter-Qunari relations along the way.”

Dorian sighed. “If you like. I’m enough of a pariah as it is, anyway, without the wild fictions of a mad dwarf.”

“Whaaat? So you didn’t suddenly fall madly in love with me after the third orgasm, and we didn’t pledge our lives to each other with the stars shining overhead, the moon full and bright, and maybe even a comet passing over the sky for good measure?”

Dorian huffed as Bull clapped a hand on his shoulder, sitting opposite from Varric at the bartop.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until the second night for confessions of undying love, amatus,” Dorian sighed, long and overdramatic.   

“So is that a yes on the rights?”

“Only if we get a cut of the royalties, Varric.”

 

It was… fascinating how much nuance was missed in the face of Ferelden simplemindedness, but Dorian couldn’t really complain when he began receiving stiff yet heartfelt congratulations for finding love with one so different from he, their distrust of the pompous Tevinter mage somehow balanced out by what they perceived as his humbling romance with what most believed to be a Tal-Vashoth mercenary.

The Bull was a master manipulator, allowing his perfectly crafted persona of a large, stupid, yet undeniably jovial Ox-man to grease the wheels of southern interaction. Dorian doubted few people would be all that bothered to learn Bull was Ben-Hassrath—most didn’t even know what that really entailed, outside of Tevinter, Rivain, and the troubled city of Kirkwall.

Even if Dorian did fall in love with the Bull, he doubted that love would survive a direct order from the Qun to take him out if it was seen as part of their nebulous greater good. Dorian had no illusions about that. They’d laid their cards out since the beginning, and whatever lies the Bull might spin, Dorian was fully aware it was never going to be personal. That was part of the risk, and the sex was too good for Dorian to really regret it.

“If you were given the order to kill me from up top, how would you go about it?” asked Dorian one day, after they recovered from an athletic bout that resulted in Dorian needing to repair his sheets. It was an absent-minded question, more an academic concern than anything.

“Depends on what the orders entailed,” Bull said, shrugging. He got up and took a washcloth from the now-cold basin near the bed and started wiping Dorian off, before getting to himself. “If they wanted it to look like an accident, I’d make sure you got offed on a mission, or somewhere you had the habit of visiting so people wouldn’t be suspicious. Maybe get you drunk then pitch you off the side of the ramparts, on the broken edges so it wouldn’t look odd.”

Dorian snorted. “Easy enough, I suppose. What if they repaired that area by the time the order came?”

“Down the stairs. We’ve got big ones up here in Skyhold.”

“Fair enough. But what if no pretence was required? What if the Qun suddenly decided to start their fabled incursion of the South and you didn’t have to worry about how it’d look?”

Bull lay back down beside Dorian on the wide bed, one that was just enough for both of them to lay comfortably. He put one enormous hand on Dorian’s neck and wrapped around it, squeezing lightly.

“Bas are generally smaller than we are. Breaking the neck is easy. Like breaking a thick twig. Even if it was someone bigger, we get taught this method that the Viddhathari learn, where you take a hold of the base of the jaw and brace against the collarbone, turn the head fast. Snaps the neck without needing to rely on brute strength alone.”

Bull had both hands on the sides of Dorian’s face, and Dorian chuckled.

“Just like that? Don’t want to make me pay for the dormitories full of kids I’m sure some bloodthirsty magister burned down on Seheron?” he said, though his amusement was tempered by an appropriate amount of gravity.

Bull took a moment to smirk, relaxing his hold on Dorian’s neck and jaw, giving him a lick right underneath the bit of hair under his lip.

“Nah. I can get worked up about a group, but individuals are a different story. And you’re too soft and sweet to have done half the shit those assholes got up to. If I had to kill you,” Bull said, growling against his ear. It shouldn’t have been so attractive, but Dorian had never been remotely appropriate, no matter where he was. “I’d make it fast. I like you too much to make it hurt.”

“Oh, now don’t tell me Varric and the kitchen staff have gotten to you, and you’ve fallen madly in love with me,” Dorian chuckled, pulling Bull into a playful kiss.

“Nah. I just like you. You’re a good guy, and this works for us. I’d miss the sex, too,” Bull said, and Dorian shoved him hard, knowing it wouldn’t do much but pull a hearty laugh out of the man, who mollified Dorian’s ruffled feathers when he wrapped around him, keeping him warm in the ever-chilled mountainous South.