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Dread Rites

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"Mahanon has been gone for a long time."

Three companions sit around a shared fire, the sky above cast in a brilliant, red hue by the setting sun. Their fourth, Mahanon Lavellan, has wandered off. Presumably to discard what's left of a ram carcass they had stripped for their dinner. Solas had taken note of the boy leaving, but he'd been so lost in his thoughts he hadn't realized how much time had elapsed. The Hinterlands are relatively safe now, and there is little that would pose a danger to the Inquisitor. Perhaps a wolf or a bear, but a Dalish mage should know how to dispatch a wild animal on his own. Still, Solas cannot ignore the tickling in the back of his skull, as if some unseen force is prodding him into action.

"You worry too much, Seeker," Varric says. "Maybe the kid just needed a little time alone. He's been through a lot lately."

Solas stands up, brushing grass from his leggings. "I'll look for him," he says, walking away from the camp before Varric and Cassandra can ask questions or offer to join him. He wouldn't mind a little time away from the others for a while.

The Inquisitor may not appreciate Solas coming to find him. Their last conversation about the Dalish did not end well, but if the boy did not want to know his opinion, then he shouldn't have asked. Nor should he have argued. Only Solas knows the truth of the matter, and the truth is that the Dalish are little more than foolish children praising gods they haven't the slightest clue about. The gods they so love would sooner drown them all in their own waste than offer their blessings.

Solas rubs the back of his head, attempting to soothe the strange itch that seems to grow stronger with each step he takes into the forest. His keen eyes scan the area, and his gaze falls upon a flicker of firelight just beyond a thatch of trees. Bare feet carry him silently across the mossy, forest floor, and he makes certain to move even slower and quieter when he hears the faint murmur of voices. Drawing even closer, he realizes it's just one voice that he hears. But the voice is in his ears and in his mind. The persistent itch along the base of his skull expands, blooming into a warm sensation that pulses across his head and down his spine, urging him forward.

Only now does he realize what it is. A spiritual tether, fettering him to... something. To someone. Oh, sweet spirits. Of all the times to be invoked! And by whom? For what purpose? After so many years, so many centuries, who could possibly know the proper rites?

The answer to his question is before his eyes, and the sight is as bizarre as it is alluring.

Mahanon is on his knees in front of a small fire pit, the ram's heart within, filling the air with smoke and the acrid aroma of burning flesh. The elf's shirt is draped across a tree branch, leaving his lean, muscled torso bared before Solas' eyes. He arches his back, his ribs pressing against his skin in a way that makes Solas' mouth go dry. His soft murmuring is barely audible, but Solas does not need to hear what the boy is saying. Not when he can feel the words deep within his very soul.

"Hear me, Fen'Harel. Fen'Hahren."

Elder Wolf. No one has called him that in years.

"I call upon thee, in whatever form and by whatever name you wish. Your humble servant desperately needs your guidance." A bead of sweat drips from Mahanon's brow, and his long black hair sticks to his face, which is flushed from the heat of the fire.

No. No! He has to do something. He cannot allow this madness to persist! In any other circumstance, Solas would walk away. Despite his own feelings on Dalish culture, he would be content to allow the boy his silly prayers and rituals. But this is no normal circumstance, and the boy has no idea what he's doing or who he's invoking. It has to stop.

"Mahanon," Solas says, his voice rougher than he means it to be. "What are you doing?"

Mahanon's shoulders curl forward when he sees Solas step into the clearing. A cold prickle of embarrassment washes over him, and he becomes increasingly uncomfortable the longer the elder elf stares at him. It's not so much that he's staring, but the way he's staring, as if Mahanon is doing something unspeakable. "Praying," he replies tersely. "The Herald of Andraste is still allowed to pray to his gods, is he not?"

Solas runs his hand across his head. "That was no prayer," he says, an accusatory note weaving through his words.

"My apologies, lethallin," he forces the word out with as much derision as possible, "if my heathen ways offend you." Perhaps he should be a little more respectful to an elder, to someone as knowledgeable of the Fade as Solas is, but their last conversation still grates on him.

"It has nothing to do with offence, da'len," Solas snaps, his voice taking on the same mocking tone. "Come back to camp, Cassandra and Varric are concerned." With that, the hedge mage turns on his heel and stomps away.

Mahanon glares at Solas' retreating form. He hadn't wanted anyone to see this ritual. Even his own clan would worship their god carefully and in secret. If the other clans knew they worshiped the Dread Wolf, the enemy of the People, the Lavellan clan would have more enemies than it already does. Or did...

With his clan wiped out, he is the only one left to carry on the ways of his people. It's what he was trained to do since childhood, and he'll be damned if he allows anyone to get in the way.

"My apologies, Fen'Harel," he murmurs, stomping out the small fire. "I will build a proper shrine for you when I am able."

Mahanon makes his way back to camp after washing the ram’s blood from his hands and the sweat from his skin. He is greeted with a smile from Varric, a disapproving scowl from Cassandra, and a venomous glare from Solas. Did his ancient rites really offend the mage that much?

"Sorry if I worried you. I came across a stream and took the opportunity to bathe,” he says to Cassandra, picking at the shirt clinging to his damp skin. He just hopes he doesn’t smell of fire and sweat, they won’t buy his lie otherwise.

"Told you there was nothing to worry about, Seeker," Varric says, casting a cocky grin her way. "Thanks for finding our lost pup, Chuckles."

"I was not lost," Mahanon protests. "And I am no pup."

Solas scoffs, but does not respond. Instead, he retires to his tent without a word to anyone. Cassandra and Varric share a look, both confused at the strange behavior of the usually soft-spoken mage. They turn to Mahanon, who merely shrugs and feigns ignorance. If Solas did not understand his habits, the Seeker and the dwarf will understand them even less.

"I think I will retire as well," Mahanon says to his two companions. "Wake me when it's my turn to keep watch."

He pushes his tent flap aside and settles on his bedroll, breathing a deep sigh. "Dread Wolf, give me strength."

"Dread Wolf, give me strength."

Solas throws his arm over his eyes, wincing as the boy's voice echoes in his mind. Is this the result of the invocation? Is he forever bound to the foolish boy? Forever cursed to hear his praises and his pleas? Perhaps it is no less than what he deserves. Joining the Inquisition was a risk he had to take, but it was the only way for him to see his task through to the end. Which is something he will not be able to do effectively if he is bound to this fool of an elf. But what can he do? He cannot tell the boy what the rite has done to him, not without exposing who and what he is.

He breathes a soft laugh. The very idea that the Inquisitor worships him, the Dread Wolf, is completely absurd. Solas wonders how he would react if he were to find out. Would he laugh? Would he fall at his feet in reverence? The idea of the Inquisitor groveling at his feet is- intriguing. It's ridiculous, of course, but intriguing all the same.

When sleep finally claims him, it is nearly impossible not to drift in and out of Mahanon's dreams. At first, he was nothing more than another Dalish mage with a head full of fanciful stories, but now... Now things are different. Because it's not Mythal he worships, but him. And Solas is so curious it hurts, which only serves to draw him closer to the boy and further away from sense.

The Fade flickers around him, and a grove of trees comes into view. It is not so dissimilar to the grove he found the boy in earlier, only this one is larger, with paintings of wolves on tree trunks, and a large bonfire in the center. There are many figures sitting around the fire, but they are blurry and indistinct, save for one. Solas steps closer to the figure kneeling in front of the fire. Mahanon is clad in tight, leather leggings, a hood made from a wolf's head, and little else aside from the red and black body paint decorating his exposed skin.

"Is this a dream or a memory, Mahanon?" he asks, preparing to defend himself if need be. It is risky to invade the dreams of a mage, and the boy may think he's a demon, rather than his comrade in arms.

"A bit of both, really. You're not the only lucid dreamer in this camp," Mahanon says, slowly turning to glare at him. "Why are you here?"

"Because you called me here." Solas wants to say, but he settles for telling the boy, "I was curious." It's not the whole truth, but it's not a lie either.

"This is private." Mahanon rolls his shoulders to ease the tension building within, and Solas' eyes are drawn to the flexing muscles of the elf's well-built form. "I miss my clan," he says abruptly. "I can hardly remember their faces anymore."

"I am sorry for what happened to them," Solas tells him, because he is. No one should suffer that kind of loss. "And I am sorry for this interruption. I will leave you to your dreams."

"Solas, wait."

He turns around to find Mahanon facing him, and his throat grows tight at the sight. Whorls of paint adorn his strong torso, highlighting the firm planes of muscle and the smooth valleys in between. Lines of paint curve over his delicate hip bones and vanish beneath the hem of his pants. Solas curses at himself for letting his eyes roam across the Inquisitor like some kind of drooling lecher. There is no real harm in admiring one's vassal, but there is a very thin line between admiration and blatant staring.

Mahanon shifts nervously at his silence. "I would like it if we could be friends. There is much I could learn from you."

“I would like that as well, lethallin,” Solas replies, his lips quirking into a wry grin at his use of the term. “I expect there are a great many things we could learn from each other, but you should sleep for now. We’ll talk later.”

Solas is relieved to be back home in Skyhold after such a long journey. At least the Inquisitor’s attitude has drastically improved after their meeting in the Fade. His views toward the Inquisitor have changed little. The only real difference is the fact that he cannot seem to get Mahanon out of his head. He can hear him. Feel him. See his body laid bare before him. He doesn't know if it's because of the rite, or if it's a result of being so close to a subject after years without. Regardless, his minor attraction to his fellow elf troubles him.

"It does not matter," he assures himself. They grow closer to defeating Corypheus with each passing day, and once that happens, Solas will be free of this place. Free of the Inquisitor and his silly prayers, and free of this foolhardy attraction.

Even with his back to the door, he knows the exact moment when Mahanon enters his study. He was able to feel the boy’s presence growing stronger with each step he took toward the rotunda. He's got to figure out a way to reverse whatever happened during those rites. To be free of whatever this is.

"Solas?" His voice is soft, as it usually is when he leaves the War Room. "Is now a bad time to talk? I could come back later if you’re busy."

"Now is fine," Solas answers, scratching the prickle of heat rising along the base of his skull as he turns to face Mahanon. "What do you wish to talk about, da'len?"

"Don't!" he snaps, his voice loud enough to disturb the crows that roost above them. "Don't call me that! I am twenty-two years old! I am the First to my clan's Keeper-"

"And yet, here you are, acting like a petulant child.” Solas’ voice is calm despite his mounting annoyance.

Mahanon sighs. "I'm tired of everyone calling me kid, or shorty, or da'len," he says, practically growling the last word. "The Keeper used to call me that, even when I reached adulthood. I didn't mind it so much when she did it."

"But you mind when I do it," Solas says. "I apologize, but you truly are a child compared to me."

"That's because you're old, hahren." Mahanon grins, and Solas laughs at the remark. "You have a good twenty years on me, at least."

"At least," Solas offers. He marks his place in a book he'd been perusing. " I am glad you're here. I have a few questions for you, as I am sure you expected."

Mahanon takes a deep breath, preferring to stare at a painted walls of the study, rather than Solas himself. "I expected as much, yes."

"Specifically, I have questions about what I saw the other day." Solas moves closer to him, noting the boy's discomfort. "I am only curious. Why are you so uncomfortable?"

"It's not something that I was ever allowed to discuss with outsiders, especially other Dalish.”

"I am no Dalish, as you very well know," Solas says, motioning to his couch. "You will find no judgment here. I only wish to learn from you, as you wish to learn from me.”

Mahanon sits as instructed, and after a few fumbling starts, he finally manages to string a sentence together. "I suspect you know much about Dalish culture, despite the fact that you detest it, right?"

"I detest it because the Dalish have their facts all wrong," Solas growls, but then he schools his voice into something more calm. "But yes, I know quite a lot. I know that Keepers and their Firsts are responsible for passing on the ancient lore. They also perform ceremonies to protect the clan from Fen'Harel, rather than performing rites to invoke him- Oh, don't look so surprised, lethallin, I know what I saw."

"Then you can understand why I am reluctant to speak of it," he says, watching Solas carefully. "The other clans would not accept our beliefs."

“I do understand, but I am not Dalish, and I do not care who you worship. I only wish to understand why you worship the Dread Wolf.” He offers the boy a soft smile, hoping to soothe his nerves. “You cannot fault me for being a little curious, can you?”

"We believe-" a heavy pause, and the boy stares down at his hands before looking Solas in the eyes. "We believe he is the spirit of rebellion. He is change. He is freedom. Most Dalish lore tells us that he sealed us off from the Creators, our lore tells us the same. The difference is in how we interpret it."

It is hard for him to speak at first, as stunned as he is. "And how does your clan interpret the stories?"

"Fen'Harel freed us from a never ending life of ignorance and servility. So what if we are not immortal? I would not trade my freedom for an eternal life as a slave," Mahanon tells him, a firm determination to his voice that Solas so seldom hears. "Fen'Harel is no benevolent god, but we believe he's done more for the People than the Creators have."

"I see..." he says, his mind whirling. “And why do you believe the Creators would have enslaved your kind?”

“Because Fen’Harel didn’t.”

“Fascinating,” Solas breathes, unable to stop himself. How is it that only one Dalish clan could see it that way? How many thousands of Dalish elves were out there, cursing his name? He cannot blame them for vilifying him, not when the humans have stepped up as the oppressors of the People.

Mahanon turns away and bows his head, his long, black hair falling over his shoulders and obscuring his face from Solas' gaze. "I could teach you our ceremonies if you'd like. It would be nice to pass the knowledge on."

"Later, perhaps." Solas shakes his head, unnerved. "I- I need a moment to think. This is a lot to take in."

His head droops even lower. "I've offended you."

"No." A thousand times no. "You have given me much to think about, lethallin, and it is not unpleasant," Solas tells him, and he tries to smile, even though it goes a bit wan. "I swear to you, I am not offended."

"All right," he says, uncertain. "We'll talk later."

Sleep. Sleep is what he wants. What he needs. To roam the Fade and to speak with the spirits he calls his friends. So rarely did the Dread Wolf need guidance. So rarely did he feel so rattled. But the boy, that foolish, silly, oddly beautiful Dalish boy has rattled him in a way few seldom do.

The boy worships him. Was raised to worship him and to inspire future generations of his clan to do so. It's unnerving to think he is- was so venerated. He tried so hard to help the People, but his plans all backfired, thus, turning him into a villain. But not to the Lavellan clan. Not that their devotion matters anymore. They are gone. Solas couldn't help them then, and he cannot help them now. He might be able to help Mahanon, the lone survivor. But hasn't he done enough? After all, the poor boy is suffering as a result of one of Solas' ill-conceived plans, isn't he?

This entire situation is driving him mad. Just the memory of his bare torso has Solas stirring in his bed. And the tantalizing vision of the dark hair that runs from his navel and below the hem of his leggings? It's enough to make Solas wet his lips, desiring to see what lies beneath. He's never been so intrigued with a mortal before, never seen the raw beauty and power within a mortal's body. But that was before Mahanon, and before Solas had taken complete leave of his senses.

So, naturally, when the Fade washes over him, he dreams of Mahanon. Or, to be more correct, he stumbles into one of the boy’s recent memories.

The forest glade is bathed in a silvery wash of moonlight, the edges of the clearing fusing into the scintillating atmosphere of the Fade. Because it's not the surroundings that are important to this memory, just the two stark figures standing beneath a tree. Solas immediately recognizes the Inquisitor, but he does not know who is with him.

He should leave. This isn't right. He's intruding on something private. It's clear by the way the two males are looking at each other. But his curiosity is insatiable, and Solas has never been able to walk away from a Fade memory, no matter how personal it may be. So he cautiously moves closer, even though there is no reason to walk so silently. Mahanon is so lost in his memory, Solas doubts the boy would notice him if he were standing right next to him.

The smaller male with pale skin and messy, red hair curls his fingers into Mahanon's tunic. "So, you're leaving?" he asks. "How long will you be gone?"

"As long as I have to be," Mahanon says, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind his lover's ear. "The Keeper wants information about the conclave."

"It will be dangerous," the other says. "Why do we care about what these shems are doing, anyway?"

"Because it affects us," Mahanon replies.


"Be still, ma'vhenan. I will return to you." Mahanon presses a kiss to his lover's forehead. "I always do."

"May Fen'Harel guide your path," his lover murmurs before capturing his lips.

Solas will never get used to hearing such things. He's used to his name being thrown around as an insult or a threat. Shaking his head in disbelief, he makes to leave this memory behind, to let the Inquisitor relive his last moments with his former lover. But what the lover says next gives him pause, and as curious as he is, he has no choice but to watch.

"Perhaps I should give you something to remember me by," the redhead says. "Just be sure to keep your voice down. It would be a shame if we were to get caught… again."

Mahanon's deep, throaty chuckle breaks off into a gasp when his lover cups him between his legs. Solas clenches his jaw. This is definitely not for his eyes, but he remains riveted in place, watching with rapt attention as the boy's lover slides his leggings over his hips, freeing a rather impressive erection. His lover falls to his knees, dragging his tongue along the underside of the Inquisitor's cock.

Even here in the Fade, Solas can feel blood rushing to his groin. "Dirty old man," he calls himself. But he cannot blame himself for being so needy. How long has it been since he had a lover? Since he even pleasured himself? Too long.

The flood of desire pulls Solas from the Fade, and he wakes in his small bed. His skin is sticky with sweat, and his cock hard and aching. "What is wrong with me?" he wonders. This odd lust that has come over him is something he cannot understand. Never before has he wanted someone like this. He wonders if he would feel this way about anyone, or if it's just the Inquisitor.

A delirious, giddy laugh bubbles from his throat when he thinks about the Inquisitor, who some claim to be the Herald of Andraste, and how the Herald worships him. Mahanon is everything the humans fear in the Dalish. A wild, untamed creature performing strange rites and worshiping heathen gods. His long hair decorated in braids and feathers, and his body seething with the raw, unrestrained power only an elven mage can command.

And maybe that's what Solas likes about him. Maybe that's why his stomach quivers as his fingers travel across the naked expanse of flesh, and unbidden fantasies arise.

Mahanon on his knees…

Solas grits his teeth as his fingers circle around his aching member.

Deep, green eyes staring up at him…

He tugs hard from base to tip. No time to tease. No time to really enjoy it. It is not pleasure he seeks, but an end to this madness, this obsession, that is threatening to consume him. It has to stop.

Mahanon's full lips encircling his length, a hot mouth taking him in…

Another firm twist and pull of his fingers has Solas coming with a broken cry, his release hitting him sudden and hard. His body twists and shudders from the sudden onslaught of pleasure. When the aftershocks subside, he lays there for a long while and waits for his dizziness to ebb away. He needs to move, needs to do something about the seed slicking his belly, rather than bask in the afterglow of an orgasm brought about by a strange fantasy and his own weak will.

As spent as he is, he can still feel that dull, insistent ache of lust nestled deep within him. He does not need this kind of distraction. Something will have to be done. Solas cannot- no, he will not spend his nights bringing himself off to vulgar fantasies of the Inquisitor.

A plan starts to form in his sluggish mind. A plan to sate his desires and to end this madness. It's not an honorable plan by any means, but the Dread Wolf has never been known for his honor.

Chapter Text

Solas leans over the table in his study, his eyes roaming over the various papers, books, and notes scattered across it. He cannot focus. He has not been able to focus for days. It would be too easy to blame it on the Inquisitor, but it's only partially his fault. Solas cannot stop thinking about what he said, and that is his own fault.

He said Fen'Harel is rebellion, change, and freedom. It's flattering, but still wrong. What an absurdly romanticized view of his true nature. There are so many things Fen'Harel tried to be before his multitude of catastrophic failures earned him the title of the trickster god. He tried to be rebellion. He tried to be freedom. He tried to be something more than what he really is.

It took him years to realize his true nature. To come to terms with his purpose. If Fen'Harel is anything, he is a fool. He was a fool to think he could make the world a better place then, and he is a fool to think it now. Yet. here he is, due to more foolishness, more mistakes, he’s with the Inquisition. He’s trying to piece together a world that was broken long before Corypheus got to it.

A laugh from above interrupts his brooding, and he glances up toward the second story landing. It's late at night and the library is mostly empty, save for the Inquisitor and Dorian. Mahanon has his back against the balustrade, and Dorian stands next to him, whispering something filthy into his ear. His thin mustache brushes against the elf's tapered ear, drawing a soft, breathy laugh from him.

Solas turns away from the sight. He squeezes his eyes shut, trying in vain to control the white-hot jealousy burning in his chest. The Inquisitor is free to pursue anyone he wishes, and he's not made any romantic overtures toward Solas, not that he would return them. What he wants from him is far more base than love. Love doesn't even factor into it. Mahanon can save those softer emotions for Dorian. But-

Mahanon, for all intents and purposes, is his. His vassal. And a wolf is seldom inclined to share what it rightfully his.

Solas clears his throat a little louder than is strictly necessary, and when the elf and Dorian do not cease their flirtations, he says, "Mahanon." They both glance down at him, and Solas cants his head. "A word, if you don't mind."

"Oh," the boy says, his face flushed. "Sure- um, one moment." He turns to Dorian, and softly says, "I'll see you later."

"Mmn." Dorian nods, his lips curling into a coy grin. "I do enjoy watching you leave."

Mahanon laughs, and when he rounds the stairs to Solas' study, he's still smiling. But that smile is not reserved for Solas, a fact that annoys him greatly. "What did you need, Solas?" he asks.

Solas steps closer to the boy. "The other day you said you'd be willing to teach me the ceremonies used by your clan," he says, speaking quietly as to avoid being overheard by the mage upstairs. "I admit, I am very curious about them.”

"Not here." He motions for Solas to follow him to his private quarters. Once they safe from any prying eyes or eavesdropping ears, Mahanon finally speaks. "Usually I'm the one asking you all the questions."

"Is that a complaint?"

"Just an observation," he says, leading Solas up a flight of stairs and into his dimly lit quarters. A flick of his wrist has every candle flaring to life, bathing the room in soft, golden light. "I do not mind the questions, Solas. It's flattering, honestly."

A smile curls across his lips at those words. "I flatter you, do I?"

Mahanon stops in the middle of his room, his boot scuffing at the stone floor. "Well, yes," he admits, not bothering to look at Solas just yet. "You could probably find a better source of information about my clan in the Fade, but you ask me instead." He finally turns around. "Is it foolish of me to be flattered?"

"Yes," Solas thinks. "No, of course not."

"Good," Mahanon says, nervously chewing on his bottom lip. He glances up to catch Solas staring at him, a mysterious smile playing on the older mage's lips. "I know we do not always see eye-to-eye, but I respect you. You're a powerful mage, and your knowledge of the Fade is impressive." Solas' smile falters slightly at those words, and he quickly changes the subject, fearing he’s said something wrong. "Anyway, I don't have everything I need to perform the rites, but honestly, I should explain them first and-"

"I am not the only powerful mage here," Solas says, taking a few steps closer. "You are rather impressive, yourself. Your command over your magic, your-" he pauses, his smile growing a bit lopsided, as if he's telling a joke. "-honor for the ways of your clan, and your indomitable focus in the midst of battle."

A soft laugh escapes him, his cheeks burning at the compliment. "Indomitable focus?" he asks, smiling at the strange combination of words.

"Presumably." Solas tilts his head, the curious motion reminding Mahanon of a wolf when it's seen something particularly interesting. "I have yet to see it dominated, but I imagine the sight would be fascinating."

Mahanon scrubs a hand through his messy hair and looks down at his feet, unable to withstand the intensity of his fellow elf's stare. "Um-" he winces at how inarticulate he is. "Are you flirting with me?" he asks, a small thrill racing beneath his skin. He never thought about Solas in that way. His fellow elf is attractive enough, but he's always so in his head, he just assumed there was no room for anything else.

"I don't know," Solas says roughly. "This is highly unusual for me."

His head snaps up at that admission, and he is struck momentarily speechless by the look in Solas' eyes. Those deep pools of electric blue seethe with an eldritch power not unlike the mark on his palm, and he doesn't know if he should run or simply remain still until the danger has passed. Solas shifts his weight, moving like a cat preparing to pounce, and despite the fact that Mahanon is both taller and heavier than his fellow elf, he suddenly feels very, very small.

Maker's balls, man. When was the last time someone looked at him like this? Even Dorian's flirtations are subtle compared to the I'm-going-to-eat-you-alive look Solas is giving him. "Um, anyway," Mahanon begins, struggling to keep his voice light. "Did you have questions about the rites, or was that just a convenient excuse to get me all alone?" He grins at the older elf, knowing that he really shouldn't press him. Solas will either run away, or he won't, but Mahanon has better things to do than engage in a staring contest with his fellow mage.

Something dark flashes behind his eyes, and he moves faster than Mahanon has ever seen him do.
Solas bodily shoves him up against a cold, stone wall. One of his hands fists in his tunic, the other gripping him by the neck. "Are you teasing me?" he growls, sounding so unlike himself.

"No!" Mahanon gasps, trying in vain to pry Solas' fingers away from his neck. The mage isn't strangling him by any means, but it’s uncomfortable all the same. "It's always the quiet ones," he silently muses. "Not so rough, if you don't mind. I bruise like a peach."

Solas loosens his grip only to slide his hand up to grasp at his chin. "Forgive me, Inquisitor." he presses his body against Mahanon's, lips so close he can smell wine and cloves on the elder mage's breath. "I do not know what has come over me," he says, his voice shaking. "It’s-- been a while."

There are a million sarcastic remarks he would love to make to that statement, but Solas silences them all with a bruising kiss. Lips pressed so firmly that he can barely draw breath, and when he doesn't open his mouth to accept his probing tongue, the elder mage digs his blunt fingernails into his jaw, forcing his mouth open. Solas kisses him with such ferocity, he has no choice but to respond. It is an
action born of instinct rather than any real desire to kiss his fellow elf. They seldom get along. He's too rough. More importantly, he's not Dorian. Responding to Solas' advances is a terrible idea. but his advances are so insistent that it's difficult not to.

When Solas' lips leave his, both men are gasping for breath. He allows Mahanon little time to recover from the forceful kiss as he grabs him by the shoulders, and in a demonstration of surprising strength, throws him onto the bed. He crawls on top of him, straddling his hips and grinding his erection against the younger elf's rapidly hardening length. It's then that he decides to throw his reservations about bedding the Solas to the wind. There will be time to regret his hasty decisions later, but for now, now all he wants is to feels Solas' skin against his. Which is something that is rather difficult to manage with Solas pinning his arms down.

"If you want this to work, I need to be able to touch you." Mahanon punctuates his statement with a roll of his hips, and Solas sucks in a hissing breath through clenched teeth as a result. "You would like that, wouldn't you?"

"I- I don't know," Solas says, gasping when he rolls his hips again. "Stop that."

Mahanon goes still. "Should we talk about this? I thought you wanted-"

"As I stated before," he cuts him off, his voice clipped in the way is usually is when he argues with The Iron Bull about the Qun. "This is highly unusual for me."

"What's so unusual about an erection? You're not that old, hahren," Mahanon quips, and Solas levels him with a fierce glare.

Solas releases his wrists and clamps his hands down on his shoulders, fingers squeezing so tight he's certain to leave bruises. "Go on, then," his whisper is wavering and uncertain, but he still demands, "touch me."

Rather than complain about the pain or question him again, the younger elf slides his hands along the insides of Solas' thighs, lightly brushing his fingertips over the hardness in between. That experimental touch turns into a teasing stroke, and his cock twitches in response. "This will feel better with less fabric in the way," Mahanon suggests.

"Nothing good will come of this," Solas breathes, but despite his reservations he's pushing his thin, cotton trousers down, freeing a cock that's much larger than Mahanon had anticipated.

The young elf licks his lips at the sight, and he pushes his own trousers down just enough to free his own aching length from its confines. "Well, well. You're just full of surprises," he murmurs.

"You have no idea," Solas says, his words breaking off into a breathy moan when Mahanon slides his hand down his throbbing length. "Yes-- just like that, fen'len." He gasps for air, his hips instinctively thrusting in time with the hand running up and down his shaft.

"You're awfully fond of diminutive terms," Mahanon says, shifting his grip so that he can press his cock against Solas', earning him yet another moan from the older elf. He squeezes his fingers tight around their lengths, tugging quickly, determined to push them both to their peaks as quickly as he can. Because it doesn't look like Solas is going to last much longer, and he is eager to find his own release as well.

Solas’ hands leave his shoulders, his slender fingers curling into Mahanon's unruly hair as the he bows over his body, his teeth finding the tender flesh of his neck. He cries out in both surprise and pain, and the teeth only clench tighter. The body above him jerks, and Solas unleashes a primal growl as his warm, shuddering release stains Mahanon's silk shirt. He continues to pump his hand throughout, hoping to prolong Solas' pleasure, and to push him closer to his own release.

"N-no-" Solas gasps. "Stop!"

Mahanon jerks his hand away from Solas, and the elder mage pushes away, turning his back to him. He quickly tucks himself back into his trousers, the tips of his pale ears tinged red.

"Are you all right, Solas?" he asks. His concern for Solas outweighing his own sexual needs.

Solas glances at Mahanon, his eyes drifting down to his stained shirt and flinching away. "This shouldn't have happened."

Ah, perhaps he's embarrassed of coming so quickly? Typical prideful elf. "It's okay," he says, shrugging. "There's nothing to be ashamed of."

"No!" he shouts. "This was a mistake! I-" he stumbles across the room. "I have to go."

"Wait!" Mahanon flinches when the door to his room slams, and despite the fact that he is still hard, he is in no mood to finish himself off. "You could've at least brought me a towel," he mutters, feeling used and unfulfilled.

He pushes away from his bed, walking to his bathing chamber and muttering curses the entire way. "Why, you're welcome, Solas. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, you pompous ass. Thanks for staining my favorite, fucking shirt." Mahanon pulls his shirt off with a snarl, tossing it into the corner of the small room. He takes a deep breath and stares at his reflection in the mirror. "What in the Void just happened?"

Solas' flight from the Inquisitor's chambers is not as graceful as he would've liked. He nearly tripped over his own feet and Varric when he bolted from the door and down the main hall. After a hasty apology he runs outside, desperate to escape the noise and heat of the keep. He wipes the sweat from his brow when he steps outside into the cool, night air.

What has he done? It's true he wanted to get Mahanon alone, but he never thought things would end so disastrously. He'd been so drunk on his own lust, his mind so clouded with need- what must the Inquisitor think of him now? Perhaps he should've stayed. Perhaps he should've at least helped Mahanon reach his own peak, rather than running away like a scared pup. Solas drags his hand over his eyes when he thinks of the mess he made. He's ashamed of his lack of control. He's ashamed of what he's allowed this boy to do to him. Oh, if the Evanuris could see him now. They would laugh themselves sick at this pathetic creature the Dread Wolf has become.

"Planning to join us for Wicked Grace, Chuckles?"

Solas' spine goes stiff at the sound of the dwarf's voice. Varric is looking up at him with those curious, discerning eyes, and likely seeing more than what Solas would like him to. "Not tonight," he says, forcing a smile. "I still haven't financially recovered from last week's game."

Varric pushes a snort through his nose, a half-hearted laugh. The dwarf can tell something is wrong. He witnessed Solas' embarrassing flight from the Inquisitor's chambers, after all. "So," Varric begins, "I'm guessing his Inquisitorialness won't be joining me, either? I always enjoy leaving the tavern with my pockets full of his gold."

"I- I wouldn't know."

"What makes you so certain you'll clean me out tonight, Varric?" Comes Mahanon’s voice, sounding as cheerful as ever. "Good evening, Solas." He doesn't spare the elder mage a passing glance as he steps past him and descends the stairs. The boy is wearing a change of clothes, his hair brushed and his chin held high, as if nothing untoward just happened.

Varric laughs goodnaturedly at his challenge, and he follows Mahanon down the stairs, their voices becoming more and more distant as they cross the courtyard. "You look like you could use a drink, kid."

"You have no idea, Varric."

Solas swallows hard when Varric and Mahanon step into the ruckus of the tavern, leaving him behind. Alone. He's rather an expert on being alone, and he never used to mind solitude. But now he wants to join the others, his supposed friends, and he wants to be close to his vassal.

His vassal who is now disgusted with him, surely.

Mahanon's cold demeanor is more painful than Solas expects, and he knows the boy would not appreciate it if he showed up for Wicked Grace tonight. Solas does not think he could stand to watch him flirt with Dorian, which is his habit whenever the alcohol starts flowing. Unbidden thoughts of the young elf seeking comfort in Dorian's arms arise in his mind, and Solas grits his teeth at the unwelcome images. It's not as if he can prevent Mahanon from pursuing the Tevinter mage, especially now after their disastrous encounter. Solas wants the boy, but he doesn't know what to do with him.

All he knows is that he wants him all for himself, and he does not want to share.

With a heavy sigh Solas returns to the keep and to his studies. He does have quite a lot to do. Books to read, theories to think on, mysteries of the Fade to explore. He accomplishes nothing, however. Nothing more than tapping his finger on his desk and staring at a half empty inkwell. All he can think about is how happy the boy looked when he asked him about his clan, and how good his mouth tasted, how wonderful his body felt against his own. Solas rarely gives in to his sexual desires, and he’s never wanted a mortal like this. But now he does, and the desire is so strong he cannot think about anything else except claiming every part of Mahanon as his own. Mind, body, and soul.

Hours pass and Solas finally manages to shake himself free of all distracting thoughts in order to read Varric's infamous tale of The Champion. A book the boy suggested he read, coincidentally. There is a commotion in the main hall pulls his attention from the book, but he pays it little mind. He knows it’s only Varric and the others returning from their game, and they are not likely to disturb him at such a late hour. Especially when they are all well into their cups.

The Inquisitor has other ideas, however, and his arrival in the rotunda shatters the peace of mind Solas has been working so hard to maintain.

"Are we going to talk about what happened earlier, or what?" The question is forceful. No doubt fueled by ample amounts of sexual frustration and Maker knows how many flagons of ale.

"Perhaps later, when you are sober," comes Solas' smooth response, not bothering to look up from the book. He has no desire to speak with a drunken, petulant elf.

"Fuck you," Mahanon snarls, yanking the book from Solas' grasp and slamming his hands down on the armrests of the chair. He leans down so they are eye-to-eye. "You don't get to ignore me, old man."

The audacity of this elf. That he would dare-

Solas inhales deeply through his nose, calming himself and breathing in the scents of the musty tavern that still cling to the boy. His eyes roam over the elf's face. Full, bow-shaped lips, a strong nose that's only slightly crooked. Broken once. Or maybe twice. Mossy green eyes with flecks of gold, and a light pattern of vallaslin curving around the left eye. Dark, onyx eyebrows knitted together in anger, his face framed by impossibly unruly black hair. The boy could intimidate, that much is true. But the fact that he's trying to intimidate the Dread Wolf himself is laughable.

He does laugh, actually. The soft chuckle that inspired Varric to give him that deplorable nickname. It's been centuries since he found much to laugh about. But these mortals he now shares his time with- no. Best not to think about it. It's better in the long run to ignore how happy they make him. Instead, he distracts the boy and himself by asking, "Why do you have vallaslin if you do not worship the Creators?"

Mahanon sniffs, his nose crinkling slightly. He had not expected that question to arise. "To blend in," he says calmly. "The other Dalish clans we traded with would suspect us if we did not have vallaslin. It is just a mark. It means nothing to me."

"I suspected as much."

"Then why ask if you already know the answer?" Mahanon asks, his face a mere breath away.

Why, indeed. Solas shifts in his chair. Both uncomfortable and positively reveling at how close the boy is. "Mahanon, I am-" he pauses, a bit nervous because those soulful, green eyes watching him so intently. "I am sorry about earlier. I panicked."

"It's okay," he says, a soft smile on his lips. "I can deal with panic. What I can't deal with is being used."

"It was not my intention to make you feel used," Solas admits.

"I also can't deal with this. I told you to be gentle," he says, tugging down the high collar of his shirt to reveal the deep bruise left by Solas' teeth. "For as wise as you are, hahren, communication is not something you excel at."

Solas licks his lips, his eyes focused on the bruise marring the Inquisitor's neck. The Herald. His boy. Marked. Marked for him. By him. His. "I'm sorry," he says, a second apology in the span of a few minutes. That's probably some kind of record for him.

"You should be," he says, his voice pitched low. "I didn't even come."

That admission, combined with the low rasp of his voice has Solas reaching for him, pulling him in, guiding him to straddle his lap as their lips meet. The kiss is less desperate and less violent than before. It's slow, searching, and only a little sloppy thanks for Mahanon's drunken stupor. Sense seems to take over his drunken companion before himself, however, and Mahanon pulls away to say, "Don't toy with me, Solas."

Solas chooses not to respond. Because he knows he cannot give the boy what he needs. He can't give him what Dorian can. But that doesn't matter. Not right now, anyway. All that matters is that he has a lap full of warm, willing elf. Said elf is dragging the pad of his thumb across Solas' jaw, his eyes focused on the elder elf's lips. He needs to end this. He should push the boy away. But he is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Proceeding is foolish. Nothing good will come of this. But ignoring this need is almost impossible. So, perhaps that is why Solas initiates the next kiss. Maybe that's why he gropes the boy between his legs, stirring his needy cock to life. Not a difficult task considering Solas left him wanting.

"Someone might see us," Mahanon says in between kisses. "This room isn't exactly private."

"It's very late, fen'len," Solas says as his deft, willowy fingers tug at the laces of his trousers. "The library is empty."

"The aviary-" he begins to protest, but when Solas wraps his fingers around Mahanon's thick, curved shaft, he loses the will to argue.

It is strange to do this for another. To give and not receive. Part of him balks at the idea that he, the Dread Wolf, is to give any pleasure to this ill-tempered elf. But the time for argument has long since passed. He's never done this for another male, and at the very least, Solas is glad to have enough knowledge of his own body to be able to do this with some skill. He squeezes the head of Mahanon's cock, swirling his thumb over the slit, and then pulling his fingers down the swollen length. A small amount of fluid trickles out, which isn’t surprising given how wound up the boy is. He could finish him quickly, but he finds the idea of keeping the elf on edge, and pushing him to the point where he is begging for release is so much more interesting.

"I'm not sure if I can last for very long." Mahanon rests his head on Solas' shoulder, giving him access to the bruised and abused flesh of his neck.

Solas laughs softly, his eyes riveted to the deep bruise. "You will last as long as I want you to last," he says, before laving the tender flesh with his tongue, drawing a whimper from the elf in his lap. Firm strokes grow slow and teasing when he feels he's close to his release. He draws his thumb along the underside of his shaft, sliding along the slick, near-constant stream of fluid there. Mahanon is shivering and moaning, his hands gripping the back of Solas' chair so hard the wood groans from the pressure.

"Not so loud," Solas murmurs in his ear, grinning when that draws another shiver from the elf in his lap. "You don't want the others rushing in to see you like this."

"Then stop teasing me and get me off," Mahanon growls.

That earns him another laugh. "What a sight you are. The famed Herald of Andraste sprawled on the lap of an elven apostate and begging for release." Solas punctuates his remark by giving the elf a few quick tugs just beneath the head of his cock, before slowing down again.

"I- I am not begging you. I'm commanding you." His retort is hardly intimidating, not with his voice breaking every time Solas rewards him with a particularly firm stroke.

"Therein lies the problem." Solas' lips are still near his ear, and he breathes deeply, taking a moment to familiarize himself with his scent. A tantalizing mix of leather and sweat, elfroot and mint, and a musk that is undeniably male. "I want you to beg."

Mahanon goes still- or at least as still as he can be with Solas sliding his cinched fingers along his shaft. "Solas," he says, caught between consenting and arguing. The Inquisitor is not a submissive man. Dalish Firsts seldom are. They command respect and devotion. But unbeknownst to Mahanon, Solas is the god he venerates, and if Fen'Harel wishes for his vassal to beg, then beg he shall.

Solas allows the young elf some time to consider his options, and he is content to continue his slow tease. The hand not tormenting Mahanon's aching cock slides beneath his shirt, tracing patterns across his lower back. He hums, amused that his light touches cause the Inquisitor's hips to twitch.

"Do you want to come, fen'len?"

"Yes," Mahanon gasps. "Yes- I want to come."

"Then you know what to do," he whispers. The throbbing of his own sex is a little distracting, but he's rather enjoying the delicious torment he's inflicting on the Inquisitor too much to care. They both will probably regret their behavior tomorrow, but for now, all Solas needs is submission. "Beg."

"Please, Solas." The words are more akin to a wanton moan than actual speech. A sound Solas finds to be intensely satisfying. "Please let me come."

His hand splays across Mahanon's lower back, and a warm prickle of electricity courses across his skin. Not enough to harm or to hurt, just enough to set his nerves alight. His hips twitch again in response and he truly does begin beg then. His voice low and warm, begging for release in broken elvish, and Solas, high on power and lust, is happy to oblige.

As desperate as the elf is, it only takes a few, firm tugs to send him over the edge. His frustrated groans turn into grateful whimpers as he spills, his hips instinctively rolling as Solas helpfully draws out the rest of his release, only stopping when Mahanon's whimpers have quieted. There are no words when he pulls away to clean his mess and tuck himself back in his trousers. The orgasm must have had a sobering effect on him, because when he turns to face Solas his expression is a mix of sadness and shame.

"This probably shouldn't happen again."

"Probably." Solas inclines his head, watching the boy's retreating form. "But it will," he says under his breath.

Chapter Text

The Inquisitor has been avoiding him for days.

Solas has not been entirely devoid of his company, however. The boy prays nightly, performing rites at some cobbled together shrine he erected in a hidden corner of his room. Every night it’s the same. Solas can hear a soft murmuring, just beyond the scope of normal hearing, and the more he focuses on it, the louder it becomes, until the boy’s voice is all he knows. He may be disgusted with Solas, and he’s certainly been going out of his way to avoid him, but he still devotes himself to Fen’Harel.

It’s driving Solas completely mad.

His voice, always his voice in his head crooning sweetly to the god he thinks Fen’Harel is. The more Solas listens, he finds himself expecting it. Needing it. Craving it. What’s worse is that he is always keenly aware of where the boy is within Skyhold’s walls. He is so tempted to seek him out, but he can’t. Not after what happened last time. He regrets his last interaction with Mahanon, and as much as he tries to rationalize what happened, he knows he’s only making excuses in an attempt to chase away the shame and longing their little tryst left in its wake. His pride will not allow him to go crawling back to the boy with his tail tucked between his legs. The Inquisitor will have to seek him out on his own.

Which he does.

After a week of avoiding Solas, Mahanon finally steps foot inside the rotunda. He takes a moment to admire a freshly painted fresco before he finally turns his attention to Solas. “I want you to come with us when we go to Adamant Fortress,” he says without preamble, his voice clipped and serious, and sounding every bit like the Inquisitor should. But Solas cannot forget the way he sounded when he was begging to come, and the blissful sighs that came after-

“Solas, are you listening to me?” the Inquisitor snaps, pulling Solas out of his reverie. “Or has your hearing finally gone, hahren?”

“I am to accompany you to Adamant Fortress,” Solas replies tersely, internally chastising himself for slipping away into a fantasy so easily. “When are we leaving?”

“Tomorrow.” Mahanon steps deeper into the room, curiously looking over the objects on his desk, and Solas doesn’t miss how his eyes briefly flick toward his chair. “Varric is coming with us, and I’ve asked Bull to come along as well.”

“Why ask me to accompany you? Why not Dorian?” Solas moves closer to Mahanon. “He is as capable as I.”

“Because I asked you,” he says. “Is that a problem?”

Solas breathes a laugh. “You’re avoiding my question.” He knows he shouldn’t harass the Inquisitor, not now, not after everything that has happened. Even though he does have some insight into the boy’s mind, it is little more than ethereal whispers of pleading and praise. He doesn’t know how the boy feels, and he doesn’t understand why he so desperately needs to know. He just does.

“I’m not avoiding your question,” Mahanon growls, folding his arms across his chest. “I am choosing not to answer it because it’s a stupid question. I am asking you to accompany me to Adamant because I want you to, what more do you need?”

“I’m just wondering if you are protecting Dorian, or if you do not trust him.”

“What?” Mahanon sputters, clearly he had not been expecting that. “He hardly needs me to protect him.”

Solas’ lips twitch into a short-lived grin. “But do you trust him?”

“Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I?”

“You often ask him questions about Tevinter, and it’s rather colorful history with blood magic and slaves-”

“I’m the Inquisitor. I inquisite.” Mahanon snorts, his lips twisting into a sneer. “Do you always eavesdrop on my conversations?”

“Sound travels quite well in this tower,” comes Solas’ blithe reply. “It is difficult not to overhear.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he mutters, and lets his arms fall at his sides. “I ask him questions because I want to get to know him better. If you remember, I asked you questions for the very same reason.”

Solas desperately tries to ignore the strange twist of emotions needling up his spine. It’s more than petty jealousy, and it’s ridiculous to even think he would feel jealous because the boy has an interest in Dorian. “I remember,” he says, a little strained. “When do we leave for Adamant?”

“We leave at dawn,” Mahanon says, and without another word, he turns on his heel and strides from the room.

It’s for the best that he leaves when he does, because Solas gasps, his hands clenching around the edge of his desk for support as the boy’s voice invades his mind. “Fen’Harel take you, you bald son of a-” and he laughs, drowning out the rest of the boy’s fruitless curse. There’s a sick kind of pleasure in knowing that no matter what Solas does to the boy during the day, he’ll be singing his praises come nightfall.

Adamant Fortress is a fucking nightmare. Literally.

Mahanon didn’t expect to open a door to the Fade, he didn’t expect any of this would happen. When the bridge fell, he honestly thought he was going to die, and for a brief, wild moment, he actually welcomed it. The ringing silence and blissful nothingness of death would be a welcome change to the never ending responsibilities he’s had to contend with ever since the explosion at the conclave. But he is not dead, he is very much alive and in the Fade, along with the rest of his companions.

The demon taunts them as they trudge through the muck. He struggles to regain his memories, and his companions struggle to remain sane. The demon is relentless in his petty torments. One by one, he lays their fears bare for all to see. He taunts Warden Loghain about his past, Hawke over her fear of losing Isabela, and Varric’s fear of getting Hawke killed. Even The Iron Bull’s thick skin is not impervious to the demon’s toxic barbs, and just when he feels as if they are getting closer to the rift and closer to going home, the demon turns his attention to him.

“You think about it often,” the Nightmare’s voice booms across the Fade. “You wonder if your clan would still be alive if you had been with them. You wonder if you could have protected them, if you had only been there.”

“I cannot deny it,” Mahanon answers.

“How do you expect to protect anyone? You’re just a little, lost pup. A lone wolf without his pack.”

“Do not listen to it,” Solas’ voice is hissing in his ear. “Do not let the Nightmare wear you down.”

“Dirth ma, harellan,” the nightmare demon laughs, low and wicked. “Ma banal enasalin. Mar solas ena mar din.” There is a vile pleasure dripping from the Nightmare’s every word, and it takes Mahanon a moment to realize the demon is no longer speaking to him, but to Solas.

Solas, however, is walking on ahead, but his response to the demon is loud and clear. “Banal nadas.” Nothing is inevitable. If he hadn’t been watching Solas walk ahead of him, he would’ve sworn the elder elf was still standing beside him. His voice was so close. Closer than it would be if his lips had been against the shell of his ear. But that makes no sense. Why would Solas’ voice be in his head?

There is no time for Mahanon to give it much thought. They are closing in on the rift and there are demons crawling out of the shadows. If they make it through this, perhaps he will think on it more.

Mahanon cannot get the Nightmare demon’s words out of his head, even though he only understood half of them, and perhaps that is why he’s been obsessing over what was said. Harellan. He’s only heard his old Keeper use that one sparingly. It’s true meaning lost to time. The Keeper used it to describe one who betrayed the clan, but it could mean enemy to one’s kin, or even kin-slayer. Despite how one might translate it to the common tongue, the root meaning is the same - betrayal.

“What did you do, Solas?” he murmurs as he paces back-and-forth in his quarters. “Who did you betray?”

At his own question he stops his pacing to look around his well furnished room. It is so different from how he was raised; sleeping under the stars, occasionally taking shelter in a tent or an aravel when the weather turned. No privacy. No creature comforts. How strange that he’s so comfortable with his very shemlen lifestyle. He happens to love the big, comfortable bed, the fine rugs beneath his feet and the solid roof over his head. Meanwhile, his clan lay slaughtered, their bodies unburied, rotting in the sun, and being picked apart by scavengers. Is he not a traitor as well? Did he not entertain thoughts of never returning to the nomadic life of his clan in favor of this new life of comfort?

He curses at himself, bitter words giving voice to bitter thoughts. Whatever Solas did in his past should be left there, and Mahanon knows he would do well to leave the elder elf be. Especially after that one particularly strange night. But, damn him, he cannot seem to shake those memories. Worse yet, is that he dreams about that encounter, and he often dreams of new scenarios. The dreams feel so real, and he often wakes up hard and aching, shamefully bringing himself off to thoughts of that insufferable mage.

“Stop.” He runs his hand over his face, wiping away the beginnings of angry tears. “Just stop,” he tells himself again. “That’s enough self-loathing for one day.”

Mahanon stretches, his muscles aching and joints popping. He is exhausted. The bone-deep ache that courses through him is almost enough to prevent him from praying at his little, cobbled-together shrine. Almost.

He kneels before the small altar, his fingers trailing across the brow of a wolf’s skull he picked up in the Emerald Graves. He doesn’t know what praise to give, as tired and as lost as he is. There are no prayers on his tongue, only an admission. “I have never been as lost as I am right now,” he murmurs. An oppressive sadness hangs over him as he steps away from the shrine. As far as he knows, his clan was the only clan to ignore the Creators in favor or worshipping the Dread Wolf, and now he is the only one left.

He wonders if Fen’Harel is disappointed.

When he crawls into his shemlen bed and wraps himself in blankets that were undoubtedly crafted by the tired hands of underpaid city elves, he wonders if his Keeper would be disappointed as well.

A fitful sleep claims him. A sleep filled with visions of fleeing Adamant, of watching his clan die, and of returning to find them alive, only to be banished. The dreams chase him in an out of consciousness for hours upon hours, and he is tormented by the horrors than exist only within his psyche.

Mahanon wakes in his bed after a particularly upsetting dream, but a quick look around his room tells him that he is still in the Fade. Purple light streams through the stained glass windows, dancing off motes of dust within the air and casting the room in a brilliant hue. Deep, dark shadows pool in the areas the light does not touch. He knows he should be concerned to wake in a perfect replica of his room. Such comforting familiarity is usually the work of a desire demon. But he is distracted by a figure that stands at the foot of his bed.

The tall figure is dressed in robes that would make an Orlesian noble envious; shiny, rich silk embroidered with gold filigree, untied and allowed to hang open, revealing a lithe, masculine body. He wears breeches beneath, and they are cut so tight they may as well be a second skin. Gold chains adorn his neck, while gold rings decorate his long, delicate fingers. A fur shawl is draped around his shoulders, and his face is partially obscured by the hood of his robes. Mahanon can only see the man’s-- no, the elf’s mouth and chin, and there is something oddly familiar in the sharp, sloping jawline and his dimpled chin.


“You know who I am, fen’len,” the figure says. “Say my name.”

He is right. Mahanon would know his god even if he were blind and deaf, he can feel him within his very soul. He is so afraid that this is the work of a desire demon, because what he needs the most is standing right in front of him, and he is too afraid to accept it for what it is. But he would be a fool to deny the blatant truth in favor of his anxieties, because the Fade ripples around Fen’Harel, submitting to his power and eager to bend to his will.

“Fen’harel.” His obedient answer comes with little conviction, and the uncertainly of his voice causes the god’s mouth to curl into a feral grin. Definitely not a good sign. “I-” he doesn’t know what to say. What can he say? “Pardon my insolence, but why-”

“Your sorrow called me here,” Fen’harel says, pacing around the room and regarding the furnishings with disinterest. “I was curious as to why my little pup was crying so, but now my curiosity has been sated.”

“Please- don’t go,” he pleads. It is shameful how he begs, but his god is standing before him, and he does not want the moment to end. “I would serve you, if you would allow it, Fen’Hahren.”

The Dread Wolf turns to face him. “If you truly wish to serve me, fen’len, then I would have you do so on your knees.” And as if to avoid any possible confusion, he unlaces the leather ties that keep the placket of his breeches closed.

For a moment, Mahanon is struck silent. This cannot be happening. It has to be a result of some temporary madness. Because the Dread Wolf is coming to him in a dream and asking him to suck him off. It’s an utterly ridiculous scenario, but one that he has shamefully entertained in the past. He wonders if shemlen entertain similar fantasies of Andraste.

“This is not something I would offer anyone,” Fen’harel says, his voice deep and melodious, made even more resonant by his obvious desire. He strokes his long fingers across a tell-tale bulge in his breeches, and all of Mahanon’s previous reservations scatter like ash.

He takes a step forward, and Fen’Harel reminds him, “On your knees.” He obediently lowers himself to his hands and knees, which is something he would balk at if anyone else gave him that order. The people of his clan do not bow. They do not submit to anyone except for He Who Hunts Alone. And it feels good to submit to him. There is a freedom in allowing someone else take control for a little while.

Tentative hands press against Fen’Harel’s thighs, sliding up the smooth, rich material. He can see the throbbing need hidden beneath the breeches, and as confined as his cock is, he is stunned by the sheer size of it.

“Go on,” Fen’Harel urges.

So his god is the impatient sort, is he? The thought brings a smile to Mahanon’s lips as he slides his trousers down, freeing an impressive, half-hard cock. His fingers circle around the shaft, just beneath the swell of the head. He flicks his tongue against the tip, earning him a gasp that urges him onward. He slips the head into his mouth, sucking gently at the rapidly hardening cock.

Fen’Harel’s cock twitches in his grip, and he twines his long, slender fingers in Mahanon’s hair. “More,” he gasps.

He obeys, sucking the head into his mouth and letting it slide in until it bumps against the back of his throat. The fingers in his hair grip him even tighter as he swallows around the intrusive cock. He is surrounded by his scent; of sandalwood and loam, and a very familiar musk that he cannot place, and he doesn’t care to. Because his god’s cock is in his mouth, and his hands are in his hair, gently guiding his movements with the reservations of one who hasn’t done something like this in a very long time.

But Mahanon is no skittish, young wolf on his first hunt. He had many lovers within his clan, and they spent many long, cold nights tucked inside an aravel or a cave with not much else to do. He increases his pace, groaning softly when he is awarded that first taste of his god’s essence. Fen’Harel sighs, and the Fade around them flickers for the briefest moment. It is enough to remind Mahanon that he is in the Fade and that such activities done in the fade can attract demons.

He hesitates at that thought, and Fen’Harel impatiently tugs at a lock of his hair. “You are safe with me,” he says, as if he can read his thoughts. “Keep going.”

With his fears assuaged, he devotes all his attention to the elf in front of him. Expertly working his length with every trick he knows. While his god keeps most his face hidden beneath a cloak, he can tell from the slight part of his lips, and the trembling in his thighs that his release is close.

His own cock lies heavy and aching between his legs. Craving to be touched. But oddly enough, Fen’Harel is not the one he desires, but Solas. That stuck-up, infuriating elf has managed to claw beneath his skin. He tries to keep his mind on the task at hand, because Fen’Harel’s release is not far off, and it wouldn’t do to get distracted now, but it is hard not to think of how glorious it would be to do this to Solas. To watch him fall apart, utterly ruined and spent all because of him.

A soft, trembling gasp is all that signals Fen’Harel’s release. His nails dig into Mahanon’s scalp, hips instinctively twitching as his seed spills down his throat. He barely has time to register the taste, because Fen’Harel is pulling himself free of his grasp. “You did well, fen’len,” he says, but his voice doesn’t carry the same confidence as it did before.

Is it his imagination or is Fen’Harel, the fucking Dread Wolf himself, ashamed? He holds his head low, and he adjusts his clothes with stiff, awkward motions, rather than with the fluidity and grace he had before.

Before Mahanon can even think to question him, the brilliant, violet light of the Fade is replaced with cool streams of moonlight. It takes only a moment to get his bearings. He is awake, cast out of the most pleasant dream he’s ever had. He reaches for the memories of the events that happened only moments ago, but the images are faded and distant. He knows they will be gone by morning.

His mind may not be able to recall the events of his dream, but his body hasn’t forgotten. He tries to remember what he can, to create a pleasant fantasy to entertain himself with. But instead of Fen’Harel, it is Solas who has him on his knees. “So this is what it’s come to,” he murmurs as his hand circles around his aching member. “Wanking to a fantasy of a cranky, old bastard.”

Solas splashes cold water on his face, the chill chasing away the last, sticky remnants of the Fade. He does not often have regrets, but he regrets trifling with the boy’s dreams. He is not as powerful as he once was, but he can still shape the Fade if he wishes to. When he heard his little wolf’s cries, he found himself unable to ignore them. Solas hadn’t meant to give into his lust, but there was something intoxicating about being in his old clothes, and being called by his true name. There was something beautiful and right about acting like a god again.

Nothing is private in the Fade. All desires and fears are on display, unfurling like a blaze through dry grass, drawing all manner of demons and spirits to it like moths to a flame. His own command of the Fade means he is privy to a dreamer’s thoughts, and what he saw in his vassal had pushed him over the edge. Granted, his talented, pliant mouth was doing a good enough job of that, but he utterly came undone when he saw Mahanon’s desires.

“This is disastrous,” he says to himself. Because it is. He should do the sensible thing and avoid the Inquisitor, and to stop this madness before it destroys them both. Encouraging it will only cause pain in the end, but trying to ignore it seems to be a fruitless endeavor. Despite the pain he knows it will bring, he decides the best course of action is to simply face the problem head on.

With a resigned sigh, Solas knows he must speak with the Inquisitor, regardless of the late hour.

It’s time he did something about this infatuation. This is wrong. He is no better than the Evunaris if he allows it to linger. The Dread Wolf requires no vassal. He doesn't want anyone to fall at his feet in reverence. Those days are long past gone.

His only need is to be free of this senseless entanglement.

Chapter Text

It is time for this madness between them to end.

Solas is halfway across the main hall within a matter of seconds, his movements swift and purposeful. He must find a way to fix this, although he has no idea how he’s going to do that. He had no right to enter Mahanon’s dreams. No right to use his grief to against him. Every reasonable part of his mind had been screaming at him to stop, to leave the poor lad alone, but reason could not reach him. Solas had been so consumed by his lust, there was no power in Thedas that could have stopped him. His wits finally returned to him when he stepped from the Fade and back into the harsh light of the waking word.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Chuckles.” Varric’s voice stops him in his tracks. It is not often that anyone catches him off guard, but he had not been paying attention to his surroundings. His one and only concern lies within the Inquisitor's chambers, and he cannot afford to be delayed.

Still, he can’t just ignore Varric. So he turns to look at the dwarf, feeling very much like a deer at the end of an arrow. Which might actually be a position he finds himself in if he’s not careful.

“Am I not allowed to speak with the Inquisitor?” Solas asks, glancing down at the dwarf.

“Look, I’m not one to tell people what they can and can’t do, but the kid has been through a lot lately.” Varric sounds like less of a concerned friend, and more like a protective father. Solas cannot help but respect him for it. He wishes he had Varric’s capacity for compassion. “Something is going on between you two, and normally I would encourage such a thing. It’s nice to have company, especially when the world’s gone to shit. But a lover is supposed to make you happy, and the kid doesn’t seem very happy.”

“I- Varric, you misunderstand-” Solas sputters. “We are not lovers.”

“Do you make a habit of visiting Leliana in the middle of the night?” the dwarf presses. “Cullen? Dorian? No? Then do yourself a favor and stop pretending this is anything less than it is.”

Solas inhales deeply through his nose, doing his level best to remain calm. The very last thing he needs is to be interrogated by Varric. He does enjoy the dwarf's company, but he does not enjoy him sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. Still, it is important to maintain proper relationships with his fellows until Corypheus is dealt with, and to do that, he must weave a lie.

He doesn’t know what to call this madness between himself and the Inquisitor. One thing is certain, though. They are not lovers, and they never will be. This is insanity. It is not love. It is anything but love.

“I will tell you what I can,” he says with a sigh. “This ought to stay between you and I. The Inquisitor would not want the others to know.”

Varric holds his hands up. “I don’t need relationship details,” he says quickly. “I’m just worried about the kid.”

“Mahanon suffers from night terrors,” Solas says, wanting to get this over with as quickly as he can. While he can lie and play the game better than Vivienne, he hates lying to Varric. It feels low to lie to him about this, seeing as dwarves do not dream, but talk of dreams and the Fade is usually the easiest way to put Varric off a subject. “I have been attempting to help him with them. His last dream left him rather distraught and I wanted to make sure he was all right.”

“I see.” Varric runs his hand through his hair. If he thinks Solas is lying, he doesn’t let it show. The dwarf has perfected the art of only letting people see what he wants them to see. “I shouldn’t keep you then. Maybe I overreacted, but I tend to get a little protective of my friends.”

Solas smiles at Varric, hoping it doesn’t seem forced. “You care about him, and there is nothing wrong with that. I would have reacted in the same way.” But for entirely different reasons. He would fight anyone away from Mahanon’s door. Not out of love, but because the boy is his, and no one else may have him.

He can feel the Varric’s eyes upon his back as he walks toward the Inquisitor’s chambers. It is almost a relief to be on the other side of the thick, oak door. He is certain the dwarf is picking up on something more. If anyone knows how to read people, it’s him. But Solas cannot worry about that right now. He can scarcely think about anything but the Inquisitor and what had just transpired between them in the Fade.

Solas had given in to what he wanted, and he had given Mahanon what he’d been aching for- Fen’Harel in all his godlike splendor. But to his immense surprise, the boy’s thoughts were of his less impressive form.

His own feelings in regards to the situation are complicated, to say the least. Before the Inquisitor, sex had just been a distant, if pleasant, memory. He did not think he would have another intimate encounter again. He has no time for courtship or idle flirtations. He tried so hard to be a completely forgettable elf. He didn’t think anyone would be attracted to a scholarly, old hahren, but-

Well, it’s not the first time Solas has been dead wrong about something.

Solas is certain the boy’s attraction is likely a result of his invocation. His rites unknowingly created a tether between them, and now they were caught in this perilous dance of desire. The dance has to end, because they are teetering on the edge of destruction. He must attempt to break the spiritual link between himself and his vassal, even though it will pain him greatly. The rites must be undone.

Oh, he doesn’t want to do this. But Solas has never been one to shy away from what must be done, regardless of how much pain it will cause him in the end. This is a distraction they both cannot afford.

Solas doesn’t bother to knock on the Inquisitor's chamber door, nor does he bother to mask his footfalls as he climbs the stairs. The room at the top of the stairs is dark, save for the milky streams of light pouring in through the windows. Mahanon stands near the window, his dark skin bathed in a silvery wash of moonlight.

“I am a mage,” he says without preamble. “I am trained to know the difference between a dream and a construct of a demon. I know when my mind has been invaded, and I want to know why you think you have the right to invade my dreams.”

His heart begins to race. No mention of Fen’Harel- yet. Solas used every trick of the Fade he could think of in order to warp the boy’s dreamscape just enough to make him forget certain details. Better he think Solas to be nothing more than a sexual deviant than associate him with the Dread Wolf.

“I apologize, da’len. My actions were ill considered. You were so deeply upset, and I only wished to help. Things are easier for me in the Fade-”

“You could have come to my room,” he says. “I would’ve appreciated the company.”

“Like I said, things are easier for me in the Fade. I only wished to comfort you.”

“Forgive my ignorance, hahren, but how am I supposed to find comfort in this? You came into my dream and used me.” There is a sadness to his voice that wasn’t there before, and Solas would do anything just to bring back the anger. The anger he can deal with, but this heartache is something else entirely. “Is that what you’re here for? Hoping I’ll suck you off in the waking world, too?”

“I was hoping we could talk, actually.” Even though Solas is finding it difficult to speak with Mahanon standing across from him, clothed in nothing more than a pair of trousers. The thin linen clings to his body, teasing Solas with a vague idea of what lies beneath. He so desperately wants to see more- but he must focus. This maddening need is all because of the rites, and somehow he must explain this to the Inquisitor without exposing who he really is. The sooner they are both free of this madness, the better.

“Fine,” he sighs, folding his arms across his chest. “Say what you need to say.”

Solas takes a cautious step toward the Inquisitor. “You can feel it, can you not? This link between us? I am drawn to you, as you are drawn to me. It will only become stronger if we fight it, but I believe there is a way to fix it.”

“How long have you been alone?” He breathes a tired laugh. “It’s called attraction. It happens sometimes.”

“It is more than that,” Solas asserts. “I have a theory, if you are willing to endure my company long enough to hear it.”

The Inquisitor bites his lip. “All right,” he says slowly. “I admit, I am wondering where exactly you’re going with this.”

“I believe this has something to do with the rites you performed when we were in the Hinterlands,” Solas begins. “I do not know how or why, but I suspect it has something to do with the power of your mark.”

Mahanon snorts. “I’ve performed those rites a hundred times and nothing strange has ever happened,” he says, derision thick in his voice. “You’ll have to tell me a better story than that, old man.”

“I trust that you have, but in the past you were not able to open and close the Fade with a wave of your hand. I believe the rites morphed into a misdirected spell, and rather than calling upon your god, you were linked with me.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he says, before his shoulders slump in defeat. “But I suppose it makes even less sense for you to soil yourself with a Dalish fling.”

Solas swallows hard. He hadn’t been expecting such a pained reaction. For some unknown reason, it appears the Inquisitor has come to care for him, to desire him. Surely it is a result of the rites. If they affect Solas so strongly, then surely they have had the same effect on the boy. Still, he cannot seem to shake the thought that he is wrong. Invocations are indeed powerful, and while they do form a strong bond between a god and their subject, but they do not create emotions where there are none. Some underlying attraction must have been there for it to have sparked into whatever this is.

“Lethallin,” Solas says, unable to stop from reaching out to caress his face, aching to wipe all traces of sadness away. “It is not my intention to hurt you. I only wish to be honest.”

Mahanon recoils from his touch as if it burns him. “This would hurt less if you’d just said, ‘well, Lavellan, it’s been fun, but I think I’m done with you.’ But instead you make up some bullshit excuse about how this has to do with a misdirected spell! You really are a piece of work, you know that?”

“It’s not an excuse,” Solas says, his patience wearing thin. “The rites must be revoked.”

“I can’t just revoke the rites, Solas!” he gasps, offended by the very idea. “Even if I knew how, I wouldn’t do it!”

“A banishing spell, then.” The words are out of his mouth before he gets the chance to truly think about what he’s saying to the boy, and he instantly regrets it. His chest grows tight at the look of betrayal that flickers across Mahanon’s face.

“I’ve lost my clan. My identity. I’ve lost everything,” he says weakly. “And you- you use me for your own pleasure, and you give so little back. Haven’t you taken enough from me? You want to take this away from me as well? Fen’Harel is all I have left!”

He nervously wets his lips. “Forgive me. My words were careless.”

“As they so often are.” The Inquisitor turns away from him. “Do you truly, honestly believe this is because of a misdirected spell? Is it so wrong for it to be real?”

“I don’t just believe it. I know it to be true.” He grabs Mahanon by the arm, forcing him to face him. “This is a distraction that benefits neither of us. It needs to end. Revoke the rites so that we both may be free of this spell.”

The Inquisitor rubs at his eye with the heel of his palm. “I’ve gotta say, this is the most interesting way I’ve been dumped.”

“I am offering you the truth, and the truth is that this attraction is not real.”

“You really are a fan of twisting the knife, eh?” He laughs again, but it is tinged with pain. “I get it. We're done. Will you just go away?”

“Promise me you will think on what I've said,” Solas presses on, knowing he is treading on thin ice. “This link must be severed.”

“Solas, please. Just leave me be.”

“Promise me-”

“By the Dread Wolf!” he snarls. “If you bring up the rites one more time I will open a rift and throw you into it!” He takes a deep, calming breath. When he speaks again, his voice is the very essence of forced calm. “Leave, now. I will not tell you again.”

Solas knows the Inquisitor well enough to tell when his patience is at it’s limit. He is quiet for a long moment, wanting to plead his case until the boy finally breaks down and agrees to do as he wishes, but he knows that will not happen. Not tonight. Eventually, he will see reason, but not now. Not when the pain is so fresh.

“For what it’s worth,” Solas draws the words out, knowing Mahanon will not appreciate such a flimsy, shemlen apology. “I am sorry.”

A new day breaks over Skyhold, and when Solas wakes from his fitful sleep, he finds himself strangely… lacking.

He is as alone as he’s always been. It is a pain he should be used to, but now he is without that tether that ties him to the boy. The spiritual link has been broken, although he doesn’t understand how. Despite Mahanon’s protestations, he has done something to revoke the right. It appears the boy’s claims of ignorance were nothing more than lies. Fen’Harel should expect nothing less.

It is what he wanted, but why does it hurt so badly? Why does it feel as if his still beating heart has been ripped from his chest?

Why should it matter?

Solas has endured the pain of heartache before, and he will survive it yet again. “It is better this way,” he reminds himself. It is better for both himself and the Inquisitor to be free of distractions. Neither of them can afford to be distracted by an emotional entanglement. Mahanon must keep his head straight in order to defeat Corypheus. He must harden his heart and put his pain to good use, just as Solas will.

It is simply easier to hunt alone.

Chapter Text

The hollow pain of rejection is a woefully familiar feeling. How many times had innocent flirtations ended up as a tumble in an aravel? So many of those encounters left him longing for more. He wanted more than a quick release on a hot, humid night. Mahanon wanted to be loved. He wanted to be somebody’s someone.

If he had any sense at all, he would have told Solas to go fuck himself and spent his nights with Dorian. He would have been loved and cared for, and he would have been able to return that gesture. Instead, he spent his nights pining over that cantankerous, old mage. Thier few encounters leaving him at a loss. He was alone. Used.

It’s not the first time a man has loved him and left him. Same sex relationships were not taboo among his clan, but they weren’t exactly encouraged, either. So, no, it’s not the first time a man has come to him with an urge, acted upon it, and then left him. He was just foolish enough to think Solas would be different.

For all his anger, he could not simply dismiss Solas’ concerns over the rites having a strange effect on them. There is nothing peculiar about his attraction to Solas, but he had noticed some odd happenings. He seemed to be strangely aware of where Solas was within Skyhold, and he had no explanation for it. So, yes, he revoked the rites on the off-chance that the Anchor did indeed warp the veil. Stranger things have happened.

The severance pained him more than Solas’ flimsy apology. Fen’Harel is all he has left, and to revoke the rites felt like a sick sort of heresy. Even after that, he’d been tempted to forgive Solas, but after what he said about the rites being the only reason they were attracted to each other…

Well, he couldn’t let that go.

It’s completely forgivable when one person loses interest in another, to end an affair that was as temporary as it was real. But to deny the attraction existed in the first place? That’s something he cannot forgive.

Weeks pass, and thoughts of Solas still leave a sour taste in his mouth.

He’s been dutifully avoiding the mage, dedicating himself wholeheartedly to his duties to the Inquisition. It’s nice to be able to lose himself to the minutiae of travel. What’s more, it’s been rather enjoyable to be away from Skyhold, away from his advisors, and away from the elf. However, he cannot ignore Solas forever. He is a vital part of the Inquisition and Mahanon can’t let his bitterness get in the way of getting the job done.

He holds his head up high when he walks into the rotunda, carrying a crateful of shards he’d collected during his travels. “Solas,” he says, his voice all-business. “I found more shards out on the Storm Coast, I thought you might want to have a look at them.”

The state he finds Solas in is enough to give him pause. He is slumped in his chair and looking like he hasn’t slept for days. He sips tea from a battered, tin mug, wincing when he forces himself to swallow it.

“Something wrong with your tea?”

“It is tea.” He says the word as if it’s a vile curse. “I detest the stuff, but I find myself in need of it this morning.”

“I’m inclined to agree,” he says, striving for levity. “You look awful. Are you hungover?”

Solas gives him a strange look that he cannot place. “No. I just need to shake the dreams from my mind,” he pauses a moment, “and I may have a favor to ask.”

Mahanon places the crate of shards near the desk, his mind whirling. Solas is not a man to call favors, and he is not inclined to show him any kindness after the bitterness of their last encounter. Still, it is better to take the high road and help him. The Inquisitor must occasionally push his feelings aside in favor of being a strong leader.

“What is it?” he asks.

“One of my oldest friends has been captured by mages and forced into slavery,” he says, pushing from his chair and pacing around the room. “I heard the cry for help as I slept.”

“Captured by mages and forced into slavery?” he repeats, making sure he heard Solas correctly. After a moment's confusion, he finally realizes the friend is a spirit rather than a real, living person. Solas doesn’t do so well with the living. “Your friend is a spirit, I take it?”

“Yes.” Solas nods, meeting his eyes for a second before quickly looking away. “It was summoned against its will, and wants my help to gain its freedom and return to the Fade. The circle is somewhere in the Exalted Plains. I’ll have a better idea of it’s exact location when we are there.”

“All right.” Mahanon clears his throat, eager to leave the rotunda, because the mood is far too heavy for his liking. “You go pack your things and I’ll go rally the troops. We can leave as soon as we’re armed and armored.”

Solas closes the distance between them. He lays his hand upon Mahanon’s shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Thank you.” This time, he does not look away when their eyes meet. “I know I have no right to ask you for anything. I cannot tell you how much this means to me.”

The Anchor tingles with energy and he has to clench his fist just to contain it. There is a bitter, angry part of him that says Solas is only being nice because he wants something, and that may be true. But the foolish, hopeful part of him wants it to be something more. Friendship would be preferable to this awkward in-between they seem to be stuck in.

“Don’t worry about it.” Mahanon steps out of his reach. “Meet me in the courtyard in half an hour.”

The journey to the Exalted Plains is a subdued one. Solas speaks very little, only giving directions when necessary. Otherwise, he does his best to avoid conversation. When they aren’t fighting restless corpses or possessed wolves, Bull and Varric talk almost excessively in an attempt to chase away the silence. Mahanon tries to keep up with them, but he often finds himself retreating into his mind.

Occasionally he catches Solas staring at him, only to quickly look away. But he’s not looking at him like he was all those weeks ago. There is no feral hunger in his eyes, only a deep sadness that Mahanon cannot name. He could call it longing, but it wouldn’t make sense. Solas doesn’t want him and it is foolish to think otherwise. He is only seeing what he wants to see.

He could be watching him for the same reason his comrades have been. Varric and Cassandra have both expressed concern over his change in mood, and he has to admit he’s been a little terse as of late. He blamed it on the mark, claiming it was causing him pain, and they both bought it. His other companions seemed content to mind their own business and leave him to his sulking. All but Cole, who he has been doing his best to avoid.

“We’re getting close,” Solas says, leading the group along a path through the grassy terrain. “Prepare yourselves.”

They stop in their tracks when they see the circle of stones and the pride demon bound within. The noise Solas makes is something between a pained gasp and a feral growl. The spirit has been corrupted, as they both feared.


“What have they done to you?” he whispers, his blunt fingernails digging into his scalp hard enough to leave marks. “What did they do?”

Mahanon steps forward when a shemlen mage comes into view, fearing Solas is not composed enough to deal with him just yet. The mages will face consequences, that much is true. But they need to investigate first. If there’s a way to save Solas’ friend, then he means to find it.

“Oh, you’re mages!” The shemlen gasps. “You’re not with the bandits, then?”

The absurdity of the situation makes what the mages have done all the more disturbing. They summoned a spirit, they corrupted it, and for what? Did they really think they could control an unwilling spirit? Did they know nothing? For all the damage they have done to his friend, Solas still attempts to explain to them what they have done wrong. Mahanon doesn’t know if it’s to teach, or to admonish-- maybe a bit of both, if he’s honest. He considers asking Solas to show them a little mercy, there’s no reason to punish them for being stupid, but what the mage says next obliterates what leniency he was willing to offer.

“I understand how this might be confusing to one who has not studied demons, but after you help us I can-”

“We are not here to help you,” Solas growls, his anger palpable.

“Word of advice, I’d hold off on explaining how demons work to my friend here,” he snaps. “I daresay he’s more knowledgeable than you are.”

“Solas, how can we help?” Bull asks softly, watching him with a wary eye.

“The summoning circle,” Solas says. “It’s the only way. If we break it, we break the binding.”

“No!” The mage shouts. “That circle is the only thing keeping the demon from killing us! We can’t just set it free! Whatever it was before, it is a monster now, there’s no way-”

“Inquisitor, please.”

The plaintive, needy tone in his voice very nearly rends his heart in two. For all his anger, and for all his pain, Mahanon cannot ignore such a desperate plea. It is outrageously dangerous to free a bound demon, but he would not come all this way just to deny Solas now.

“Don’t worry, Solas. We’ll free your friend,” he says, knowing they can free the spirit, but he doesn’t know if they can actually save it. The mages are not as powerful as they believe themselves to be, so the binding is not particularly strong. The demon, however, will be just as strong and vicious as all the other Pride Demons they have faced. They may be forced to kill it before it kills them.

“Thank you,” he whispers.

Mahanon turns to address the others. “Bull, I need you to upend the stones and break the circle while Varric taunts the demon. Just try to do as little harm to it as you can. Solas and I will cast barriers and keep you both safe.”

The Iron Bull and Varric hold no love of demons and they have both made their feelings known on numerous occasions. But for all that they fear demons, they follow their orders without question or complaint. Which is something he will always be grateful for. He doesn't think Solas would have been able to tolerate a lengthy debate about the pros and cons of saving a demon.

The circle is decimated within a matter of minutes, and the spirit, now free of her bonds, fades away.

Bull and Varric pretend to see something rather interesting off in the distance and Mahanon keeps his eyes on his boots. He prefers to count the stitches rather than focus on Solas’ pain. It is too strong. Too personal. This pain is not for their eyes.

“What have you done?” The shemlen mage cries. “The bandits are sure to attack us now! The demon was the only thing keeping them away!”

“Can we come with you?” Another mage asks. “It’s too dangerous for us out here!”

Mahanon rounds on the idiot mages, unable to control his anger any longer. “Fen’Harel ver na!

The curse has barely fallen from his lips when Solas surges past him. Dark, rage-fueled magic crackles in the air. A force spell knocks the three mages to the ground, and Solas looks back at him, silently begging for permission to exact justice. His eyes are intense; red rimmed from holding back tears and gleaming with a hunger that is borderline dangerous. Mahanon knows better than to stop him, nor does he have any desire to, he merely nods his assent. With permission given, Solas tears into the mages. He throws magic to the wayside and kills them with his bare hands. The cracking of vertebrae echos across the silent plains like thunder, and the mages are dead before they even realize what hit them.

Varric stares at the pile of bodies, open mouthed and speechless for once. The Iron Bull breathes a whisper of admiration, and Mahanon keeps his eyes upon Solas. They have seen Solas kill dozens of times, but it has always happened in the midst of battle. None of them thought him capable of such carnage, and they are torn between horror and amazement.

“I need some time alone.”

Without another word, Solas walks away without so much as a backwards glance, leaving Mahanon to wonder if he’ll ever see him again.

Solas has been gone for days.

It is pathetic how he looks for him. He finds any reason to pass through Solas’ study, only to find it empty. A sketch of a new fresco adorns the wall nearest to the door, books and papers are scattered across his desk and on the floor. Everything is the same, save for one small detail. Solas is not sitting in his chair. He is not pacing the room, ruminating about one thing or another. He is gone and Skyhold feels empty without him.

“I am an idiot.” He should not even care about Solas, not after he used him and dumped him. But he is so worried. Is he all right? Is he even coming back? Wandering the Exalted Plains alone is not wise for anyone. He’s seen warriors in mourning behave in the same way. They leave looking for a fight they know they cannot win, because it is better to die in battle than by their own hand.

He places his hand upon the back of Solas’ chair. “May Fen’Harel guard your steps, hahren,” he says to the empty room, only to be answered by the cawing of crows-- and by Solas himself.

“You honor me, lethallin,” he says softly.

Mahanon jerks away from the chair. “Solas!” he gasps, staring at the elf in the doorway for a heartbeat too long. “I- I didn’t think you were coming back.”

“Neither did I, for a time.”

“I know this is a stupid question, but… Are you all right?”

Solas looks away. “It hurts. It always does. But I will survive.”

He nervously wrings his hands. “Our Keeper always warned us about the dangers of not traveling with your pack,” he tells him. “The Exalted Plains are dangerous and I was worried about you. I’m glad you’ve returned.”

“Are you?” he asks, tilting his head ever so slightly and staring at him with those fathomless, blue eyes.

“Of course I am,” he says. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Because I have mistreated you. To pretend otherwise is an insult to us both.” He approaches Mahanon, walking slowly as if he’s nearing a frightened animal. “You are right to be wary of me.”

“I’m not afraid of you,” he says, cursing at himself when he takes a step backwards and bumps into the edge of the cluttered desk.

“No?” Solas lifts a brow, a ghost of a smile playing on his lips.

Mahanon sighs and rubs the back of his neck. “This isn’t fear,” he admits. “I’m not made of glass, you know. What happened between us was not unwelcome. I just wish you wouldn’t lessen it by pretending it was the fault of the rites.” He takes a breath, his heart hammering when he says, “I severed the link, just as you wanted. But I don’t feel any different.”

“And how do you feel?”

“I’m hurt, but that’s to be expected.” He lifts his shoulder in a half-hearted shrug. “You either want me or you don’t. It’s fine if you don’t, just be forthright about it.”

“I admire your mature approach to the situation, but I want to know how you feel.”

“I still want you,” he says, his voice barely above a whisper. “And that has nothing to do with the rites.”

Solas holds his gaze for sometime, taking in his words. “You said you didn’t know how to revoke the rites.”

“I lied,” he says, smirking. “I’m a First. I know how to do a lot of things.”

He could slap himself. He hadn’t meant to sound so flirtatious. It’s sad and pathetic to flirt with a man who has no interest in him. It will only serve to make future interactions awkward and tense. At least Solas doesn’t seem to pick up on it, or he’s choosing to ignore it completely.

“What were you like before?” he asks suddenly, taking another step closer. “Who were you before the Anchor? Has it changed you in any way?”

He swallows hard. One more step and Solas will have him effectively trapped between his body and the desk. They haven’t been this close since…

“I’m not sure I would’ve noticed if it had,” he admits, his voice wavering slightly. “Why?”

“You show a wisdom I have not seen since-” he falls quiet for a moment, carefully considering his next words. “Since my deepest journeys into the ancient memories of the Fade. You show a subtlety in your actions. You have a wisdom that goes against everything I expected of the Dalish.”

He can’t help but laugh at that. “I am not your average Dalish, as you very well know.”

“I know.” He smiles softly. “Perhaps that is it. Most people act with so little understanding of the world, but not you.”

“I don’t claim to have any special understanding of the world,” he admits. The endless compliments are making him feel horribly awkward. He almost wishes they could just go back to fighting. “This has been rather fantastic for my ego, but I can’t help but wonder why you’re doing this.”

“Because you need to hear it.”

“What does this mean?” he asks, because the mage is too close, and his words are too kind. Mahanon doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. This is not a part of Solas he is used to. He is used to the scholarly, old hahren, and he’s all too familiar with his cruel indifference. He does not know how to react to whatever this is.

“It means,” he moves closer, finally trapping him against the desk, “the rites have been revoked, and yet I still feel the same. I still want you and I cannot explain why. I just do. I have wanted you ever since I saw you performing the rites. I couldn’t stop thinking about the way your body looked in the firelight. I still can’t stop thinking about it now.”

He does not have a chance to respond, because Solas captures his mouth in a fierce kiss. Just the scent of the old mage is enough to chase all sense from his mind, because if he had any sense left he would end this now. Despite the internal struggle between reason and lust, Solas is having an undeniable effect on him. He tastes crisp and powerful like lyrium, even though he hasn’t had a potion in days. His taste is intoxicating, and Mahanon curls his fingers into his wool sweater, holding him close.

Solas breaks the kiss, but he doesn’t pull away. “I should leave you be,” he says mournfully. “It would be kinder in the long run.”

“I’m not asking you to promise me forever.”

“Would that I could, fen’len. I know better than to make promises I cannot keep.”

“At least promise you’ll stay the night,” he breathes, almost too terrified to give voice to what he needs. He still wants him. After all this time and all this pain, he still wants Solas. “I hate waking up alone.”

His hand settles at the nape of Mahanon’s neck, his eyes slipping closed when their foreheads touch. It is a very intimate, very Dalish, gesture. “I promise,” he says. “I will stay.”