Jarad had not wanted to investigate the mines. They were cramped and dark and no matter how careful he was he always ended up scraping his horns on something. The last time he had let himself be talked into that nonsense, Josephine had been hounding him for a solid week about an Orlesian lord who was forcing his miners to work in wretched conditions for little compensation. In the end he’d gone out of sheer self defence, and could attest that the silverite mine was indeed in a terrible state, considering part of it almost collapsed right on top of him.
He might have been feeling a tad stroppy by the time Varric, Dorian, and Cassandra had finally dug him out. Jarad hadn’t needed to hang Baron Lofen over the side of his own castle wall, but it had certainly gotten his point across. Dorian had later commented that he’d never seen a man turn that particular shade of white, and if the warm amusement had made Jarad’s heart beat a little faster at least he was the only one to know.
Although maybe not considering the way Varric had been smirking at him later.
The point was, Josephine might have gotten the influence she needed amongst the Orlesian nobility after humiliating Baron Lofen and maybe the Inquisition had ended up with partial ownership of the mine when all was said and done. But Jarad could put two and two together to get four, and in his experience anytime he went into a mine it tended to collapse on him. So no more mines.
Which is what he’d said when Varric had spotted the carefully concealed entrance to a Venatori lair that had most definitely led underground. He’d pointedly reminded them all what had happened the last time they’d gone hunting traces of Venatori in an abandoned mine, only to find out that it was not in fact abandoned. He reminded them of the time before that when they’d found a cave system that had been the lair of a bear that didn’t appreciate being disturbed during its winter sleep. When Cassandra had pointed out that it hadn’t been a mine and it hadn’t collapsed on them, Jarad had been quick to point out that it had still involved going underground and the bear might have actually been worse than the whole thing collapsing on them.
Considering they hadn’t been able to wash off the bear stink for days afterward, no one had disagreed with him.
They had still been arguing with his perfectly valid conclusion that nothing good happened in mines or caves or anything really that involved cramp dark spaces, when of course, the mine collapsed on top of them. Because of course it did.
“Will it make you feel better if I admit you were right?”
Crouched over Dorian on all fours and surrounded by rock that was still making ominous rumbling noises above them, Jarad thought about it for a second. “Not right now it won’t. Maybe once we’re not half buried under a mountain.”
The glow of Dorian’s barrier as it flickered around them, holding the rocks just out of crushing range wasn’t true light but it was just enough for Jarad to see the way he rolled his eyes. “We’re not under half a mountain. Not even my barrier would have managed to hold off that much weight.”
“If this is you trying to be helpful, please stop.” With Dorian’s barrier a light buzz against his back, he could still feel the weight of all that rock surrounding them.
Dorian considered him, dark eyes reflecting the glimmer of his barrier. It should be impossible for the man to look elegant half sprawled beneath him and covered in rock-dust. Of course Jarad was aware enough to admit his own infatuation with the man might be influencing his opinion a bit. “You’re not a fan of enclosed spaces are you?”
Jarad blinked down at him. “Even if I were, and no real sane person is I’d like to point out, being buried under a collapsed mine doesn’t really count.” There was another faint rumble above them and Jarad flinched, before adjusting his position as much as he was able to keep Dorian under him.
“I suppose I should say thank you.”
“For what?” Jarad asked, still very much focusing on the sound of even more rocks settling above. A cold sweat broke out along the back of his neck and spine. Varric and Cassandra had been closer to the main cavern while Jarad and Dorian led the way down the tunnel. Hopefully they had managed to escape the worst of it and were able to get help. If not…
“For saving my life.”
Jerked out of the dark spiral of his thoughts, Jarad stared down at Dorian, who was staring back with a sort of bemused affection. “You don’t have to thank me,” he said. Jarad glanced up at the barrier that shimmered between blue and white around them. “In fact I should probably be thanking you instead. I doubt I would have been able to support that much rock for long.”
There was so much of it beyond the barrier. The weight of the mountain itself slowly crushing downward and Jarad didn’t know how long Dorian could hold the barrier before his strength gave out. His own strength would offer a paltry reprieve for Dorian, a few moments of darkness and fear before the rock crushed them both.
A warm hand slid around the back of his neck and Jarad hadn’t realized he’d started to breathe faster until he was startled out of the cycle of panic. He stared down at Dorian with wide eyes, and wasn’t sure what to make of the expression he found there. Still a hint of the bemused affection, but also something else, sharp around his eyes and the flat line of his mouth.
“A bit of a distraction might be in order, I think.”
“What-” Dorian’s mouth cut Jarad off and he had only a few moments to let the surprise sweep through him before a warm tongue slid between his lips. All he registered in the half light was the wet warmth of Dorian’s mouth and the wet scrape of his tongue before months of pining jettisoned his fear with extreme prejudice and he started to kiss back.
By the time they broke apart Jarad was far too busy wishing he had more room to duck his head and taste the skin along Dorian’s collarbone to think about the veritable mountain held off only by Dorian’s barrier.
“I’ve been wanting to do that for ages,” Dorian breathed, mouth swollen and damn was it a good look for him.
Then what Dorian said penetrated through the haze of lust and Jarad tried to rear back only to be stopped by the barrier. “You’ve wanted to kiss me?” ‘Then why didn’t you?’ reached the tip of his tongue before he managed to bite them back. Considering how long Jarad himself had been wanting to kiss Dorian and hadn’t….he probably wasn’t in a good place to throw stones.
Dorian sighed and the man had no right to sound that exasperated. “I was waiting for you to make a move. You seemed close a few times so I thought I would give you a few more weeks to gather your nerve so to speak.”
Jarad knew that they had plenty of air for the time being, but that didn’t explain why suddenly it felt so hard to breathe. “You knew?”
Dorian smiled, a soft, warm thing that made Jarad’s heart squeeze in his chest, each heart beat tight and almost painful. “Jarad, darling, everyone knew.” His smile shifted into something sharper, much closer to the smile Dorian usually wore. “Varric has been keeping track of all the bets for when you finally made your move.”
“Oh,” Jarad said, the only thing he could say really. “Did you place a bet?”
Dorian’s smug expression turned disgruntled. “Varric refused to accept mine on account that any interference on my end would make it invalid.” He sighed. “Which is just as well I suppose since my date has long since passed. Wretched dwarf.”
“So you do….” Jarad’s brain caught up with his mouth in time to keep from finishing that question, since it brought him perilously close to those awful years as a youth just growing his horns.
“Jarad,” Dorian said, reaching up once more to curl his hand around the back of Jarad’s neck. “I have wanted to drag you to your bed and keep you there until you forgot anyone else’s name but mine.”
“Oh,” It seemed to be the only thing Jarad could say, which did not bode well for any future conversations with Dorian. “I would like that?”
It was Dorian’s turn to blink up at him before he rolled his eyes again, which Jarad didn’t think was fair. “Maker help us both,” he said before dragging Jarad into another kiss.
Kissing was all they could really do which was nice at first but got frustrating after a while since Jarad had spent so long desperately wanting to touch and now that he could he literally didn’t have the room. His horns kept bumping against the barrier and then the rocks would shift above them and Dorian would swear at him to hold still.
By the time Varric and Cassandra came back with help to dig them out, Dorian and Jarad were beyond frustrated and barely waited until they had returned to Skyhold before finishing what they had started. And if he had to put up with Varric’s smirking and the inevitable dirty looks from those who had lost money betting on when he would finally make a move on Dorian, well, that was fine.
He definitely put his foot down about the mines though. Even if this one had turned out much better than that time with the bear.