Dorian Pavus, scion of his house, magister to be, mage of great talent, was rendered speechless. He had stepped out onto a balcony just off of the little corner he had claimed for himself, the one with a delightfully comfortable chair, well padded and broken in just enough to be comfortable, with tall bookshelves and a small window. No one bothered him much in his little spot, unless they needed a book, and then it was all awkward silences as mumbled words of apology as his space was invaded. But even in those random encounters he was always able to find something witty to say. He wouldn’t have lasted long during the social season of Minrathous if he didn’t know how to turn a phrase correctly.
A glance out of his window (and he really did think of it as his window) was all it took for words to be robbed from his lips. He stood so suddenly that the book he had been reading tumbled off his lap and onto the floor, half stepped on and completely forgotten as he raced to the door down the way from his spot and threw open the door to step outside into the chilly air. His hands fell onto the cool stone and his breath caught as he watched the inquisitor and Varric speak with two men. He could see them just across the way, one with his hair shorn almost to his scalp, a mage because who else would have an ornate staff at his back. But it was the other that’d had Dorian Pavus, the altus with the razor sharp tongue, staring dumbly.
“Fenris,” Dorian finally breathed. “Leto…” He would know that shock of white hair, that face, anywhere.
But Fenris did not know him.
Fenris had bored quickly listening to Invictus and Varric catch up as if they’d not seen each other less than a year previous. “Vic, I’m going to take a walk, I’ll see you in our rooms. Do not get drunk with Varric, well not too drunk.”
Vic leaned down to kiss Fenris softly, with a yes love before he went back to swapping stories of the last few months with his friend.
The elven fighter made his way into Skyhold, impressed by the improvements that the Inquisition had made, even down to the training area he’d noticed as they entered. He wandered freely until he found the stairs that led up towards the second level. It was there he nearly ran into the Tevinter mage.
Dorian schooled his features into something slightly amused. “My, my,” he all but purred. “Friend of Varric’s? Or at least that’s the rumor going around right now.” He took a small step back into his alcove.
Fenris glared at the man who stared at him like he was for sale again. “I’ve been known as a friend to the dwarf. Who might you be? You stare at me as if there’s a price around my neck.”
“Do I?” Dorian mused. “I do apologize.” He gave Fenris a courtly bow. “Dorian Pavus at your service. But please make sure that service is nothing more than me standing around looking handsome. I’m afraid I’m not much good at anything else.”
“Ah, Varric warned me of you. I doubt you’re good for much else besides a coat rack, or perhaps target practice? Those shiny buckles and guards would get you killed in moments otherwise.” Fenris snarled as he tried to place Dorian, but fell short.
“Well then, that’s why I hide behind large Qunari, Seekers, and Grey Wardens with big swords and shields. makes it less likely that I won’t have to test those buckles and guards.” He glanced down at himself. “But they did cost me a bit of coin in Minrathous. But you know how the Tevinter are, not very practical when it comes to these things.”
It was surreal--this conversation, speaking as nothing had ever happened. A part of Dorian was screaming at Fenris, was screaming at them both. Remember me! it shouted. But Dorian leaned against a bookshelf and gave Fenris a small grin filled with just enough amusement and ennui to disarm.
“So you’re a disgraced magister? Perhaps an Altus that fell off the social ladder and ran to the Inquisition in hopes you could redeem yourself? I know all about Minrathous, Dorian.” Fenris said as his brands lit across his body, his hands twitched with want as he kept still.
“I thought I heard a small touch of Tevene in your voice,” Dorian said mildly. “And you are so close, it would wound me if I cared anymore about it. Society in Minrathous had begun to bore me, so here I am, making a difference and all that. As to redemption, that would imply I had anything horrible in my past to need redeeming for.” HIs smile was light, but his eyes had sharpened as he watched Fenris.
“Humble, as much as I’d expect from someone up North” Fenris sneered before he took in the mage’s appearance. Well built, clearly escaping Minrathous had done him good, but he was not going to be fooled by a winning smile and smooth words. That had cost him enough in his lifetime. “Anything else, Dorian?”
“What brings you here? If I may ask,” Dorian said. If Fenris was willing to talk to him, then Dorian was going to keep speaking if it meant the elf would stay just a moment longer. “Has Varric persuaded you to our cause?”
“I accompany the Champion, and we came at Varric’s request. Why have they not pitched you out on the cobblestones yet, if I may ask?” Fenris quipped in return
“Because it would make a horrible mess and the inquisitor, Lisbeth, actually likes me. Shocking I know, but it’s true, you can ask Varric, or if you want to ask the opinion of an honest man, then Commander Cullen. So you’re with the Champion of Kirkwall?” Something in Dorian’s heart seized at the question.
Fenris grinned deviously as he simply nodded yes, his expression turned almost gleeful as he noticed the change that came over the other man.
That pleased expression wasn’t so much shocking as it was more disappointing and a bit painful. Dorian remembered that look all too well. He’d seen it on Fenris’ face before, but at the time it had not been directed at Dorian, but at one that Danarius had bid Fenris to kill. The magister had done it to drive home to Dorian just who Leto belonged to.
That remembered pain had Dorian become careless with his words. “One could do worse than the Champion of Kirkwall if they wanted to climb high in life.”
“I suppose you’d know about riding someone else’s coattails, Pavus? If I recall, since you did not claim a title of magister, it means you never elevated beyond an Altus? Did I recall my hierarchy correctly, serah?” Fenris asked as he glanced at Dorian, then turned to peruse the books behind him as if the mage were nothing but a pest.
“You recall correctly, Fenris. I am a humble Altus who but awaits a marriage to some woman who is no doubt a cousin of mine and my father’s death to gain my true place in Tevinter society. Whyever would I think that riding coattails would be preferable to that? Besides, the inquisitor has excellent taste in robes and at least those coattails are well made.”
Some of Leto was still in there, Dorian could see it in the way the elf bantered, quick witted and sharp. Dorian had missed these conversations with him, the give and take of someone who wasn’t afraid of him, or wanted to play the game of politics.
“Seeing as you’re here, I supposed Thedas is safe from the ascension of yet another man with more power than sense. Tell me how do you fare without slaves to attend your every whim? I’d have thought you’d have a retinue with you, so far from home.” Fenris grinned maliciously as he let himself enjoy the battle of wits, something he’d missed during his travels with Hawke.
Dorian sighed as if put upon. “It has been a trial, I assure you. Why the first time I had to wipe my own ass I was nearly inconsolable. This was after failing to do it properly three times. As I said, I really am quite useless. But I do bring a pretty face to the inquisition.”
“I’m sure the remaining slaves are grateful to be short a master, especially one as yourself. I’m surprised you have not perished from the cold of the South. Perhaps it can be arranged, I hear the Storm Coast has weather that would suit that purpose, Altus Pavus.” Fenris folded his arms, leaned back against the bookcase and enjoyed the look of horror on the other man’s face as he toppled some books from a lower shelf.
Dorian clucked his tongue as he bent down to put the books back on the shelf. “Careful, Leto. Skyhold doesn’t have much in the way of entertainment except for these books and watching our Inquisitor and the commander pretend no one knows they are together.”
The fighter slammed Dorian against the shelf hard enough to rattle some of the heavier books, his voice a low snarl. “What did you call me?”
Fear crawled up Dorian’s spine. It wasn’t a fear of Fenris, but more of how his single slip could ruin everything.
“Fenris,” he said, and tilted his chin up. “There’s no need to grab me you know. You might not approve of my clothing, but I quite like it and don’t wish them ripped.”
“What, did you call me?” the elf repeated angrily.
“Fenris.” Dorian licked lips suddenly gone dry. The two men stared at each other, closer than they had been in years.
This isn’t how I wanted this to be, Dorian said to himself.
But how else could it have ever been?
“You said Leto, I know what I heard. Who are you? How do you know that name?” Fenris demanded as he rattled Dorian again.
Dorian gritted his teeth. “Let me go,” he replied in Tevene. “I am Dorian of House Pavus. An Altus formerly of the Tevinter Imperium. Currently of the Inquisition and being manhandled by you is not part of my job description.”
Fenris released him, a snarl of disgust on his face. “Giving me your name and house means nothing to me. How do you know that name, my...name?” the elven warrior’s voice hitched slightly as he tried to keep himself calm.
Dorian straightened his clothes in a bid for calm and to give him a moment to collect himself. “Maybe I heard someone mention it. Most rumors in Skyhold make their way to me eventually.”
“Liar, there a handful of people who know that name, the story...what happened to me. So you get one more chance before you get to see what I can do with the gifts granted to me by my old master, Danarius.” Fenris’ hands clenched into fists as he waited to see what other tales the Altus would tell.
Dorian absently smoothed his mustache, a habit he had when thinking. He waved his hand. “I knew you… before those gifts were given to you. But that was a long time ago now.” Other men might have avoided Fenris’ gaze, but Dorian stared right at him.
“So you used that against me? Knowing that you knew me from before? Typical of your ilk.” Fenris wasn’t sure if he wanted to punch Dorian or ask him everything he knew of him from before the markings. It was one of the few things Hawke couldn’t give him, no matter how he tried.
“It was long ago,” Dorian repeated. “And we are different men now. What is typical of my ilk or yours is something neither of us know anymore.”
“How long? I...I don’t, I…” Fenris stumbled over his words, anger and shame warred with a need for lost knowledge.
“Sixteen years ago,” Dorian answered. “We were both young.”
Fenris closed his eyes briefly, as he tried to add up the years. "I've no clue what that means, in terms of who I was then"
If Dorian was a more grasping, scheming man, he would have told Fenris just what it had once meant. But he had an unselfish streak in him, very unmagister like, and not all becoming of the House of Pavus.
“It means I bought pastries from your mother a few times and we chatted once or twice,” he said instead.
"Lies, you would not remember me if that was the case," Fenris replied as he glared at the man before him.
The elf paced around Dorian slowly, his patience thin as he tried to keep his hand out of the Altus' chest. "The truth, give it to me."
“Would you believe any truth I chose to give you?” Dorian asked simply. “We no longer know each other, Le--Fenris. I could know you from any number of ways, some of them not pleasant. Some things are better left off in the past.”
"Typical...to dangle the truth then snatch it away like cat toying with its meal." Fenris snarled as he turned to leave in order to find Hawke and bottle of that rot Varric called good drink.
You and I were never typical, Leto. But Dorian kept his mouth shut and gave the elf a deep bow.
"Should you find a scrap of honor, and your memory ask Lady Montilyet where our rooms are." Fenris refused to return the bow, his gait stiff as he hurried away from the other man.
“If I could find a scrap of my honor, then I would’ve left Minrathous a long time ago,” Dorian whispered to himself.
The dinner that evening, for all that it was awkward, was not the most tense one Dorian had ever been a part of. He had once witnessed a magister perform blood magic by slaughtering a slave right on the table centerpiece, what had once been a find confection of imported lilies from Orlais.
Dorian had hated lilies ever since.
He played his part well, as he always did when confronted with something he would rather not--the gregarious man with a touch of ennui, or it was less a part he played, and more an aspect of himself that he let shine through.
The others were excited to meet the Champion of Kirkwall and the elf Fenris. They had heard so many stories, most of which had been told and, in all probability, embellished by Varric.
Dorian wasn’t the most popular of Lisbeth’s companions, so he kept most of his remarks to those not qunari, elf, templar, or those who just outright disliked people who had been born into privilege.
That shortened the list of who he spoke to considerably.
It wasn’t often that most of them ever got to have a magister alone and unwilling to fight with more than words. He knew what his kinsmen were and had been capable of, so he didn’t quite blame them for taking a chance to get their digs where they could. Maker knew that Dorian did the same. Just because he loved his country, didn’t mean he was blind to the darkness and corruption in it.
His eyes flicked over the rim of his wine glass to Fenris while he listened with half an ear to a bit of gossip from Josephine.
The elf noticed that Dorian's gaze had fallen on him, his own sharpened as he glared at him. "Something on your mind, Altus?" Fenris asked too casually.
Vic glanced between them then over to Varric, unsure what had happened so soon after their arrival.
“I was just thinking that with Josephine's connections in Antiva, our wine selection has improved considerably.” Dorian raised his cup to the woman in question.
“Though I’m sure nothing will ever be as well received as a bottle of Aggregio Pavali, will it Dorian?” Fenris smiled as if he merely discussed the weather, instead of baiting the mage across from him.
“Love...do you know him somehow?” Vic asked as he leaned in to refill their goblets.
The only sign that Dorian was affected was the bobbing of his throat as he swallowed. “We both lived in Minrathous, Champion, we did run into each other once or twice.”
That word ‘love’ almost had shattered Dorian’s composure completely, but his eyelids lowered slightly, giving him a slightly indolent look.
“So he claims, however he knows more of me than he wishes to tell.” Fenris replied acidly as he deliberately turned to kiss Vic on the lips before giving Dorian his attention again.
Lisbeth glanced from the elf to her friend. “What’s going on, Dorian?”
“I think there’s a story here,” Varric announced.
“Nothing to tell, I assure you,” Dorian said.
“Lies will get you nowhere, Pavus.” Fenris replied in Tevene before he leaned back with glass in hand to see how the Altus would respond.
Invictus knew what had been said, but he remained quiet and content to let Fenris handle things. He knew he’d get the full story once they were alone.
“Lies are the currency of Minrathous and get one everywhere, Fenris.” Dorian didn’t bother to respond in Tevene, letting the whole table understand him.
Both Josephine and Leliana exchanged a look and then sat back to watch the game being played right before them at the table.
“Clearly your balance has run low if you’ve wound up here, instead of under your father’s thumb and in your proper place as the good son. Unless of course, you told the wrong tale at the most inopportune time, Altus Pavus.” That malicious little grin Fenris got when he was fully into the argument came back as he awaited Dorian’s response.
At the mention of his father, Lisbeth reached over to place a hand on his. Dorian’s eyes slid over to her and he gave her a small shake of his head, moving his hand out from under her fingers.
“Ah well, one can’t always tell the right tale at the right time. There are some tales that aren’t worth telling and should best be left alone.” Dorian raised his glass to Fenris in a small toast and took a sip.
“What is going on?” Cullen whispered to Lisbeth a bit too loudly. He used the opportunity to get closer to her. The commander of the Inquisition forces still liked to pretend that no one knew about him and the Inquisitor.
“I’m not quite sure,” she told him.
“Like the one you dangled in front of me like bait?” Fenris laid it out finally, his grin sharp and his eyes dark with fury. “Or perhaps the ones that my master told me about the deviant Pavus boy that would come to a bad end one day? Guess he was right.”
Invictus glanced over to the others, his expression tense as he wondered what in the Void Fenris was up to.
Dorian sucked in a sharp breath and rose to his feet, his chair scraping loudly on the floor. “Deviant?” Dorian hissed.
“Dorian, no.” Lisbeth reached for his arm, but he shook her off, his composure finally shattered.
“Danarius was one of the most powerful magisters in Tevinter. I don’t think he had any right to be calling someone else deviant, Leto. One doesn’t rise that high without spilling the blood of children or making deals with demons.”
The air seemed to have been sucked out of the room.
“Oh, no,” Varric whispered, realization setting in. “You knew him before…”
The only reason Fenris didn’t take Dorian’s heart at the table was because Invictus grabbed him around the waist as he tried to vault over the table. “You don’t get to call me that name, no one does. Leto is dead and gone.” the elven warrior snapped as he tried to get out of his lover’s arms.
“Love...please, don’t do this. Whatever he’s taunted you with, it’s not worth this spectacle.” Invictus whispered in the elf’s ear.
“Let me go, I need to go Vic.” Fenris relented.
“A fact that I am completely aware of. I told you to let this go. No good will come of it and you will not like what you find.” Dorian snatched up a wine bottle and a glass.
“I hope your stay in Skyhold is more pleasant, Ser Fenris.” He turned to leave the hall. He had an evening of getting good and drunk to look forward to.
“Serrah Hawke,” Lisbeth said. “I can’t have guests threatening my friends like this.”
“Apologies Inquisitor, we will retire and spare you any further embarrassment.” Vic reluctantly let Fenris go, with the hope he wouldn’t have to save the other mage’s life a second time that night.
Fenris gave a shaky apology to them before he left hurriedly towards what he hoped where their rooms.
The next morning found Dorian in his corner by the bookshelves, sitting in his chair and cradling his aching head in his hands.
Lisbeth crouched in front of him and began to heal his hangover. “I’m not good at healing, but I can do this.”
“And may Andraste bless you for it,” Dorian groaned. He sighed in relief and lifted his head.
“Talk to me, Dorian,” she said softly. “What happened last night?”
“I got drunk off of some excellent wine,” he said.
She scowled and smacked him on his shoulder. “Not that and you know it. Tell me how you know him.”
“I can’t,” Dorian told her, his voice filling with anguish. “Leave this one thing alone, Lisbeth. I know how you like to get involved.
“Dorian…” she chided.
“I loved him once,” he gritted out, the words pulled from him. “some days I don’t think I ever stopped.
Fenris had been awake for a few hours, but had refused to get up when Vic had risen. He remained under the pile of blankets, oddly quiet and curled up as he considered whether to bother with breakfast.
“Fenris, whatever this Dorian did to you in the past, don’t let him push you back into that dark hole again. He’s not worth it and I’m going to be sure he knows better than to bother you.” Invictus paused for a reply, some indication that his lover had heard him but got nothing. He pulled his tunic on with a sigh, unsure if the elf would even eat unless pushed.
Fenris turned over and glanced at Vic, his expression tired. “He knew me from before, dangled that like bait in front of me then said it wasn’t important. Not to him, but you know how I feel about this Vic.”
There was a sharp knock on their door. “Broody? Hawke?”
Fenris made a disgusted noise, and pulled the covers over his head.
Hawke let Varric in with a nod of his head towards the bedding and the elf-shaped lump under it. “Morning, surprised you climbed up here to get us personally.” Vic tried to not sound tired but failed as he took a seat to get his boots on.
“After last night, I thought it best to make sure that the elf wasn’t hiding.” Varric gave the elf shaped lump a significant look. “Seems I was right in coming.”
Fenris sat up to glare at their dwarven friend. “You could have saved the trip up here. I’m fine.”
Vic paused and glanced at the warrior. “You are not fine, fine wouldn’t mean making a nest of the bed and refusing to get up.”
“Fine wouldn't mean yelling at your friends.” Varric thought about it for a moment. “But for you I guess that does mean you’re fine. Huh…”
“What did you come up here for?” Fenris snapped as he threw the covers off and headed for the wash basin.
“To bring you down to breakfast,” Varric said simply. “Josephine went to a lot of trouble to plan out every meal while you’re both here, and I don’t want Ruffles to feel disappointed.”
He paused. “Plus I was worried about you.”
“Very well, Lady Montilyet has done me no wrong. I cannot guarantee what will happen should I run across Dorian however.” Fenris got ready quickly, annoyed with the silence that followed his words.
“As to that, the Inquisitor is on it. She is going to try and persuade him to tell you everything he knows. She’s a bit of a do-gooder and a meddler, but we love her anyway.” Varric moved to the door. “I’ll see you both downstairs then.”
“Lovely, one of the things I did not miss about our group of friends. I don’t need someone to coddle me and make things better.” Fenris threw his gauntlet across the room when he fumbled with the straps one time too many.
Vic got the offending piece of armor, quietly buckled it on and then the other. “People do things like that because they are nice love. Remember, we’re the outsiders here. They’ve got an established friendship with everyone but we’re new, unknown except in the ridiculous tales told by bard and legend. Please, don’t kill anyone. I’d like to come back and visit once this is over.”
"No guarantees Vic, let's just go." Fenris said tiredly
“I can’t do this, Lis,” Dorian told her quietly as they waited for their guests. This time the dining hall was clear except for the two of them.
“He deserves to know,” she whispered back. “How would you feel if you couldn’t remember someone? Wouldn’t you want to know?”
“I have the opposite problem.” Dorian sipped at his tea. “I have too much I can’t forget.”
Fenris entered after Invictus, and tried to keep calm when he saw Dorian with the Inquisitor. He sat and waited for their meal rather than engage the other man, especially since they’d wound up next to each other somehow.
Invictus silently begged for a quiet start to the day before he gave the Inquisitor a grin. “Morning, I take it your day has started off well?”
“Very well,” Lisbeth said with a warm smile. “I hope you both slept well.”
Dorian acted as if what had happened the night before had never occurred. he ate his breakfast and listened to Lisbeth and Invictus’ conversation intently, as if they were relaying important details and not small talk.
Well as could be expected." Fenris replied tersely before he felt a pinch to his thigh. "Very well, Inquisitor" he amended with a dirty look for his lover.
"It's nice to sleep in a real bed for a change, well a nice bed. Thank you for having us until you're ready to meet my contact." Vic replied with all the manners drilled into him.
“You’re welcome to stay as long as you wish,” Lisbeth assured him. “The Inquisition would welcome both of you.”
Dorian set his tea cup down slowly and gave Lisbeth an incredulous look. “I take back what I have said in the past. Your kindness will not be the death of you, but of me.”
Fenris didn’t rise to the mages’ bait, the only sign he was bothered was the odd little smile that had crept over his face as he tried not to further embarrass Vic.
Dorian ticked off names on his fingers. “The Iron Bull barely tolerates me. Sera and Blackwall think I am spoiled.”
“Which you are,” Lisbeth interrupted.
“Which I am,” he agreed. “But that is neither here nor there. “Leliana, Cullen, and Cassandra are just waiting for me to turn on you. Solas acts as if I represent all of Tevinter and treats me as such, Cole--”
Lisbeth place her hand on his arm. “I thought you didn’t care what anyone thought of you.”
“I don’t… But your continued defense of me will only make things harder on you.”
“You have proven yourself to me, Dorian.” She glanced at Hawke and Fenris. “And I meant what I said. The Inquisition would be glad to have both of you join us.”
“That is not my decision to make, Inquisitor. If you will excuse me, I wish to avail myself of your training grounds.” Fenris rose quickly without so much as a glance at Dorian or the others at the table, save Invictus.
‘Please wait,” Lisbeth asked. “Dorian has a few things he wishes to tell you.”
“Wish is a strong word, Inquisitor,” Dorian muttered. He winced when she kicked him under the table.
Fenris stilled but did not turn. “Is that so, Altus Pavus?” he replied.
Dorian kept his eyes on Fenris’ back. The elf deserved to not have him look away, even if Fenris couldn’t see it. “We met when we were both sixteen in Seheron. My family had a villa there and we went sometimes during the winter. Your mother belonged to a man who owned a bakery, but everyone knew it was really her and your sister that ran the place.”
“Is that all?” Fenris asked as he turned to face the mage head on. If they were to clear the air, he wouldn’t give him his back.
“What do you know of how you came to be a slave of Danarius?” Dorian asked.
Fenris blinked as he recalled the conversation with Varania, brief as it had been before she fled from him. “I’d rather not continue this in front of everyone. Vic, madame Inquisitor do you mind giving me ...space to talk with him?”
“Not at all, feel free to use our rooms. I won’t be far from you.” Invictus kissed him on the cheek before he not so subtly tried to clear the room.
“As you wish, my heart.” Fenris answered dully. He remained where he was, unwilling to take his gaze off the Tevinter mage in front of him.
Once Leto had said that to him, but he wasn’t Leto anymore, and nothing was going to change that.
Just give him what he needs, Dorian thought to himself. Anything more is useless now.
“Here or in your chambers?” Dorian asked instead.
“Chambers, otherwise someone may walk in.” Fenris led them back up the winding stairway back to the room he’d just left a scant hour before. He poured himself some wine, then nudged the bottle and glass towards Dorian so he could get his own.
“No… I learned my lesson with wine last night, and although Lisbeth has an unfortunate tendency to like me, I don’t think she’d want to heal another hangover so soon.” He didn’t sit, unwilling to do so unless Fenris did it first. He wanted to not have any sort of magister - former slave dynamic for this talk, it was going to be hard enough as it was.
“As you wish, I need more than just tea for this” Fenris finally sat down, his gaze on the dark stone table as he retold Varania’s words to him, and how he’d refused to believe it for a long time. “So I asked for these, as a boon to free my family and look what it got me.”
Dorian took a seat across from Fenris. “Your life stolen from you. But you seem to have forged a new life for yourself, with a man who loves you.” The words felt like lead in his throat, but he wouldn’t begrudge Fenris being with someone who gave him happiness.
“I know that, what I need to know is how we knew each other. I doubt you’d remember some boy that was a slave otherwise.” Fenris’ voice was pitched low, hard as he awaited a truth he likely would regret hearing later.
“We were friends. I met you going to your mother’s bakery. I didn’t lie about that. I was a magister’s son, and you were a slave. But we became friends regardless. For a whole winter we were together almost every day. Until…” Dorian desperately wished for that drink now.
“Until I told you of the tournament that would free your family.”
“Did you at least try to talk me out of it?” Fenris asked.
Dorian let out a bark of bitter laughter. “Oh, no. I encouraged it. I gave you the coin for passage to Minrathous so you could join it. Danarius might have dangled the carrot, but I pushed you towards it.”
"I see." Fenris took the rest of the glass down, and reached for the bottle instead.
“Do you?” Dorian inquired. “I lost my friend the day you won the tournament. I consigned you to a void you had no idea you had been walking into.” Dorian leaned across the table. “I didn’t know the winner was going to be exempt from the boon. I thought… I thought all three of you would be able to be freed.”
Fenris laughed bitterly at the mage’s words. “Well, you can see for yourself that was a lie.” he glanced at Dorian then back to the fire. "What were we to each other? You would not remember me, or look at me as you did if it were merely friendship.”
“Friends,” Dorian insisted. “I have more than earned your hate, Fenris. Do you know what your last words to me were? The last thing you said to me before you forgot me entirely?”
“That was not of my own choosing, you well know that.” Fenris pitched the emptied bottle into the fireplace with a growl. “Clearly I don’t remember, so enlighten me.”
“What has magic touched that it has not spoiled?” Dorian answered in Tevene. “That’s when I fully realized that I was the one who had done this to you.”
“I’ve repeated that often enough, sadly.” Fenris scrubbed a hand over his face tiredly before he turned to Dorian. “Anything else? If not, I’d rather be alone.”
“I can tell you things about your childhood, your family. But there is nothing else.” Dorian got to his feet. “If you wish to know, you can ask anyone where to find me. I am always in the same place.”
“Very well…” Fenris stared into the fire, his gaze unfocused as he considered the mage’s words. “thank you, you don't have to tell me anything.” he said as he heard Dorian head for the door.
“Don’t thank me,” Dorian told him. “This was my doing.”
“I’ll see you later, Pavus.” Fenris replied as he stared at nothing.
The door opening and closing was his only reply.
Fenris didn’t come down for lunch, but later he sought out the Qunari fighter Varric had told him about. He watched as The Iron Bull sparred with one of his men, his gaze critical as he watched them train.
The Iron Bull glanced up, spotted Fenris, and in that moment, let his guard down. His sparring partner rushed him and knocked him on his ass to the laughter of his men.
“Yeah, yeah, you got lucky,” the Qunari groused while he got to his feet.
“Luck for him means your head would be halfway down the road if that was a real weapon. Are you always so easily distracted serrah Bull?” Fenris asked as he unsheathed his weapon.
“Maybe if I like what I see,” Bull said with a crooked grin.
“I see...well perhaps I can disabuse you of that idea and take you down in front of your men? If you don’t mind sparring?” Fenris gave Bull a lazy smile as he circled the tall Qunari.
“Kreme,” Bull announced to the one he’d been sparring with, ”give this man your sword.” He tilted his side to the side when Fenris drew closer.
“I’ve seen you somewhere before.”
“Ebala Maraas. Ben'dar Seheron-asit?” Fenris asked in Qunlat while he declined Krem’s offer of a sword.
“You speak my language,” Bull said with a grin. “And yes… It would’ve been in Seheron. In fact... “ He raised his large hammer to bring it down in a strike.
Fenris blocked the swing with his own two-hander. “Is that were you hail from?” he slid back from the impact of Bull’s blow, but he grinned as he came around for his own hit
“I am Ben Hassrath, so yes,” Bull replied, looking more than a little impressed. “Most people would have been flat on their ass by now.” He blocked the strike, and felt the impact reverberate up the shaft of his hammer.
“And most cannot hit like that. You have exceptional strength.”
“I’m not most men.” Fenris grunted before he pivoted to counter his earlier strike.
Bull was almost to slow to block it. “Fog Warrior fighting techniques,” he observed. “But the strength is…”
“...unnatural” Fenris finished for him as he tried to block Bull’s next attack.
“The Ben Hassrath know of only one elf who can do those things… I had not realized that he had survived. But this does make Danarius’ death in Kirkwall more understandable.”
“It wasn’t slow enough.” Fenris snarled before he attacked again.
“Oh definitely,” Bull agreed as he blocked strike after strike. It didn’t escape his notice that he was being pushed back, but he couldn’t stop it without leaving himself open.
“Now that I think about it, I’m a bit surprised you didn’t kill the Vint'. Woulda saved us all a lot of trouble if someone else could do it.”
“The thought crossed my mind.” Fenris pivoted on his heel so he could try to get the Qunari down with a Whirlwind strike.
The flurry of blows slammed into Bull and he teetered backwards before falling on his ass again to the same sound of laughter.
“Yeah, yeah! But this time it was skill wasn’t luck,” Bull called out and held his hand out to clasp Fenris’.
“Nice to spar with someone who knows what they’re doing. You ever wanna kill that fucking Vint, you can count on me to help ya. Didn’t give a shit about him at first, but he’s gotten too close to Lisbeth. I think he might try to seduce her in one way or another.”
“That’s not what’s happening, Bull,” Kreme sighed.
“Can’t trust ‘em, Kreme. You know that.”
“I’m a Vint,” he replied, shoving a thumb at his own chest.
“Yeah, but you’re not a mage, are you? Makes all the difference to them.”
“I’ve got my own reasons to kill him, your own slights notwithstanding.” Fenris helped the warrior up and gave him a bow of respect. “Good fight, if you want to go again, I’d be happy to oblige.”
“You and Hawke going to join us?” Bull asked. He planted the butt of his hammer on the ground.
“Not my decision to make, I guess we’ll see what happens after he finds his warden contact.” Fenris frowned slightly at the marks in his weapon. “What’s that hammer of yours made of? Takes a lot to scratch starmetal.”
“Pure Iron Bull greatness,” Bull replied.
“It’s made from starmetal too,” Kreme sighed. “Inquisitor Lisbeth gave it to him. The big idiot likes to pretend that the damage it does is all him.”
“Intriguing, I didn’t think it was easy to find outside of areas of Ferelden.” Fenris sheathed his weapon before he glanced up at the sun. “We’ve been at it a while, almost time for the dinner bell.”
“Going at it for a while is what I do best,” Bull said with a grin. “You and Hawke ever want to find out just how--”
“Please stop,” Kreme pleaded.
“Again, not my sole decision. You can try to proposition if you want, it might not end as you like. I’ll see you later Bull, Cremesius.” Fenris waved as he headed in for a wash and hopefully dinner.
“See,” Kreme said. “he knows how to pronounce my name right.”
“Vint names never make any sense. Kreme sounds much better.”
“And Qunari are named after their jobs. How does that make any more sense?” Kreme scoffed.
Dorian moved away from the balcony where he had been watching Fenris and Bull sparring. He hadn’t lied to Lisbeth when he had once told her that it took a lot to get under his skin. One had to have a thick skin in order to survive Minrathous. But that didn’t mean each example of just how much Fenris hated him, and just how dead and gone Leto was, didn’t hurt him, squeezing his heart painfully.
Fenris felt better after a hot bath, and the chance to spar with Bull before he sought out Hawke for dinner. He found his lover deep in conversation with Inquisitor Trevelyan, their voices loud enough to carry through the thick wooden doors of the war room.
“I understand that you are distrustful of him, but he’s my friend. You don’t know Dorian like I do, Serrah Hawke. I want you and Fenris to join the Inquisition, and your past experience with distrusting certain mages is understandable, but…”
“It’s not mere distrust, Inquisitor. It is about my lover, the other half of my heart being hurt by your friend. Anders actions are not the only reason for my ...feelings on the matter.” Vic stabbed a marker into the map with more force than was needed but it felt good to get that out of his system.
Lisbeth pressed her lips into a thin line. There was going to be no happy ending for Dorian with this, no matter what he did. It hurt her that she felt that she had to sit by and watch it happen. She couldn’t help him like she had with his father. While there were those at the keep that knew she had gone with him to meet the magister, no one but Lisbeth and Dorian knew what had gone down during that meeting. She had promised Dorian never to speak of it, and she would hold onto her word.
“Dorian has my complete trust. If he has hurt Fenris, then that was not his intention. I just don’t wish this to be the reason you might decline my offer to join us.”
“Leave that be Inquisitor, I will not have this be a sticking point between us. Nor is it your affair to meddle in, nor mine. If you will excuse me, I think I’ve had enough tactical talk for the day.” Vic straightened from the table with a grimace. He was never one for a lot of chat, he preferred to act.
“Thank you for your input, Champion,” she said with a small bow of her head. “I’ll send scouts out in the morning.”
“Most welcome, I’ll see you for dinner.” Vic opened the door just as Fenris had raised his hand to knock. “Hello love, sorry to have kept you waiting.”
“It’s fine, I’d hoped to find you in time for dinner but it’s earlier than I thought. I think a nap is in order, care to join me?” Fenris leered at Vic, eager for time alone.
“Perhaps after dinner? I need to do something besides stare at a map for hours and plan things. We can simply retire early, and maybe scandalize some of our new friends.” Vic tugged at Fenris’ hand as he headed out of Skyhold’s main hall.
When the first flash of light flared in the corner of his eyes, Dorian didn’t pay any attention to it. He flipped the page of Hard in Hightown, his lips twitched in amusement.
“Naughty, naughty Donnic,” he murmured. “I…”
He frowned when he realized that he shouldn’t be seeing any light at all, and that he wasn’t in Minrathous where displays of magic were common place. He glanced out of the small window near his chair and looked down at the practice yard. Invictus Hawke whirled his staff above his head and slammed the butt of it down on the ground, sending flames racing along the scorched earth towards a set of practice dummies.
“Well now… That’s just offensive. Who taught him to cast like that?” Dorian asked himself. He drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair as he watched Vic cast spell after spell, the Tevinter mage growing agitated.
“How did he survive casting like that?” Dorian pushed to his feet in exasperation.
This was going to be a mistake, but he couldn’t seem to help himself.
Hawke didn’t hear the other mage approach, but felt his power thrum against his own. Vic whirled around, staff in hand and flames around his hands.
Dorian stepped up, but made sure he was a certain distance away from Hawke. He held his staff out so that Invictus could see it. “Too much movement makes it so you are wasting energy. Watch.”
His own movements with the staff were more precise, so when his staff struck the ground, the flames arced a little bit stronger and cleaner.
“You’re very strong, and I can see why you did all the things no normal mage could have, but you….” Dorian waved his free hand as he tried to find the right word.
“But what?” Vic snarled as he banked his power.
“Your spells are a mishmash of several different schools of training. I can even see Imperium fighting style. The rest of Thedas might not want to admit it, but when it comes to magic, Tevinter Circles do know how to fight better than the Chantry Circles.” He gave Hawke a considering look.
“But you are not quite Circle trained either. As I said, a mishmash of skills. You need to learn how to focus and not waste movement. It will make your already considerable power, more dangerous.”
Vic laughed as he twirled his staff around slowly, his gaze on the other mage. “Of course, you’d think you can teach me something. This will be good.”
“In a fight between the two of us, you would easily beat me,” Dorian told him. ”But not because you are the better fighter, but because you are stronger. I’ve been fighting magical duels in the streets of Minrathous since I was a teenager. I know how to size a man up.”
“Oh do tell me, Dorian how you’ll help my technique? You think you can teach me something useful, the Champion?” Vic scoffed at the other man, his expression haughty as ever as he called flame to his free hand, eager to fight.”
“I did not come here to duel you, Hawke.” Dorian took a step back.
“Then what do you think you’re going to do here Pavus?” Vic snapped as he let his power run over his hands, pool around him as he awaited the other mage’s next move.
“I’m starting to ask myself that same question,” Dorian murmured. “But if we must do this, then let it not be to the death. I have no wish to die today.” He brought his staff in front of him, but kept his power banked.
“Shame, I’m sure Fenris would be cheered by your head on a pike.” Vic struck out with the top of his staff to see how fast Dorian could react.
Their staves clacked together when Dorian brought his up to block. “Leto would be much cheered by it. Maybe he could use my skull for a cup. At least I would still be decorative and mildly useful in death as I was in life.”
“Is there anything to you, or just this veneer of foolishness?” Vic snapped as he counter-attacked.
“Maybe, but I would rather not be peeled like an onion for people to find out. It sounds rather uncomfortable.” Dorian took a few steps back and swung his staff over his head. Ice burst from his hands and rushed up the staff.
“Just like with the flames, but I use two fewer movements than you and will be much quicker. Watch.” When his staff hit the ground, ice spikes burst forth, but didn’t touch Hawke.
“Aren’t you just special?” Hawke melted his ice with a wave of his staff before he ringed them both in flames. “Care to critique this before I fry you?”
“Well, if you really wish me to,” Dorian drawled. “Why ring us in flames when you could create a cage of it?” He raised his hands and the flames leapt higher, forming lines of searing heat high above them.
“And I am special. or at least my mother had always told me so. I believe she regrets that now.”
Vic snarled at that, his flames fizzled out before he lashed towards Dorian with the end of his staff. “Shut it magister.”
“Altus,” Dorian chided as he jerked back in order to avoid being impaled. But he wasn’t quick enough and it grazed his cheek, drawing blood.
“Alas, you won’t be able to pretend you are a useless, pretty thing around here any longer.” Vic laughed as he twirled his staff in front of him.
Dorian touched his cheek and looked at his blood tinged fingers. “Lisbeth will have to heal me again. I think she might be getting sick of it,” he sighed.
“As to being useless, that is not pretending, I assure you.” He waved his staff and a spray of ice formed at Hawke’s feet.
“You on the other hand dispelled my little cage made out of flames as if it were nothing. Did I not say you were powerful?”
“Do not give me your pretty words and platitudes, Altus. Just say what’s on your mind and be gone from my sight.” Vic drew a short, tight circle around himself as he dispelled Dorian’s work once more.
Dorian raised an eyebrow at that. “Says the mage who dispelled a second spell of mine.” he gave Hawke a low bow. “I admit defeat. As I thought, you would kill me if we were dueling for any real stakes.”
“Who said we weren't?” Invictus snapped as he sheathed his staff. “Hurt Fenris again, and the next time you see me coming, I suggest you run.”
“A Pavus doesn’t run,” Dorian said almost by rote. “But I will take your words under advisement. If you ever wish to hone your skills, you know where to find me.”
He turned and started to walk away, touching his cheek gingerly.
Stupid, Dorian,he thought. He could have killed you.
Invictus stalked off in the other direction, his power flared every few steps as he sought out his lover.
“That was stupid,” someone called out to Dorian, echoing his thoughts. The mage looked up to see the commander staring down at him from a set of stairs that led up to a tower. Dorian shielded his eyes from the setting sun.
“Commander… Doing your templar duty and watching out for the nasty mages?”
“I’m not a templar anymore, Pavus. and I can’t help but be drawn to watch when two mages go after each other as you two did. There are other templars here who still feel they need to uphold their sworn duty. I only offer you advice to be careful.”
“Why?” Dorian asked. “I know you dislike me, Commander.”
“I do not…” Cullen cleared his throat. “I do not dislike you. Lisbeth considers you a friend of hers, and I only wish to look out for you.”
“Lisbeth?” Dorian clucked his tongue. “Such familiarity, commander. What will everyone think?”
“I… Just... “ Cullen sputtered. “Just be careful that you do not give the templars that live here cause to want to take you down.”
Dorian winked at the commander. “I won’t, serrah.”
Fenris jumped when Vic entered their room in a snit. He put his sword back slowly, just in case the mage was in such a mood he would see a quick movement and react out of habit.
“Sorry, I’m just… let me get washed up and we should get to dinner.” Vic dropped his staff across the bed before he started to clean up.
“You’re angry, well more than you were before you went to practice.” Fenris asked as he carefully picked up Vic’s staff to move it off their bed.
“Yes, I’ll tell you after dinner. For now, I’m starving.” Vic flung the used flannel away, took Fenris’ hand and led them to the main dining hall instead of the Inquisitor’s private rooms. Dinner was not going to be pleasant but he didn’t care about that at that moment.
Fenris let himself be pulled along, slightly confused as to why Vic was in such a foul mood but unwilling to ask. He figured he’d find out. He entered to find most of the Inquisition around the center table, but Dorian was missing.
Along with the Iron Bull.