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Malum in se

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There had been signs, of course, long before the incident in Redcliffe. She'd just been ignoring them.

He was the most beautiful human Deandre had ever seen in her entire life-- admittedly, she hadn't seen all that many, but knew enough about shems to know he was a particularly attractive specimen. They spent long hours in the library together, chatting, flirting, talking about their lives. She loved him, she knew it; and she felt he loved her too, though he was so strangely shy about it. She should have been happy.

But, she wasn't. Because, try as she did to ignore it, she felt something was wrong.

It was strange, of course, when he referred to her as, "my good man." She thought it odd, of course, when others came up to her asking why he always steadfastly refused to refer to her as anything other than "he." She had wondered, of course, but she hadn't given it too much thought. Perhaps he was making joking reference to how the men of her species were always mistaken for women, or perhaps he was genuinely confused.

She didn't understand, until they went to Redcliffe. Then, she understood all too well.

Dorian preferred the company of men, he'd told her. It had confused her so much, since he clearly preferred her company over all others, had even come close to kissing her a few times in the past... It was the mention of blood magic that made the puzzles pieces fall into place. It was then that everything began to make sense.

She found him after they returned from Redcliffe, staring out the library window. "Dorian," she said, "I have a question for you."

"After that debacle, I'd assume you'd have a few. Only one is quite a surprise." He smiled at her-- no, he doesn't deserve that, you need to-- and splayed his hands out in a welcoming gesture. "Ask away."

The words didn't come easy. They stalled in the back of her throat, jumbled up around her teeth, stumbled past her lips awkwardly. "Dorian," she said, "I need to know: do you know that I'm a woman?"

He gave her a long, hard look after that, staring her up and down for much longer than was comfortable. "If this is what I'm thinking it's about," he said, "I'll have you know that I'm much more open-minded than you appear to think me. In fact, I've had quite a few stimulating conversations with the Bull's charming young friend, Krem, and I--"

"Dorian, I have a cunt."

She was surprised that he took her statement so good-naturedly, hardly doing more than quirking an eyebrow in clear disbelief and putting his hands on his hips. But, surprise quickly gave way to frustration, and she knew that the only way she'd be able to work through the haze of magic around his mind was to shatter it completely.

So, right in the middle of the busy library, she grabbed his hand by the wrist and shoved it down the front of her trousers.

All noise stopped.

"Well," he said stiffly, voice clearly on the cusp of a nervous breakdown, "I'm certainly no expert in the subject, but I do believe that is exactly what you claimed it to be."

"Your father's blood magic ritual worked," she said, closing her eyes so that she didn't have to see the fear and heartbreak in his own. "It didn't work the way he'd thought, but it did... work. It tampered with your perception. I'm so sorry."

"Don't be. This was most likely the least painful way to find out." He pulled his hand out and, gingerly, placed it on her shoulder. "I'm grateful. A less... noble woman would have kept such knowledge to herself."

"I couldn't let you go through life like that, Dorian," she said, voice thick with emotion. "I just... couldn't."

"You saved my life. Amata." He put his forehead to hers. He was crying. She could feel it. "Thank you."

"I'm not done yet," she said. "We need to reverse the ritual."

"I hope we do. Otherwise, I'm in for a very, very confusing sort of life."

Through a series of dangerous and often hilarious misadventures, they do, eventually, lift the spell, and Dorian (after having a panic attack upon seeing the actual appearance of his friends, though especially Iron Bull) started off on his journey to become a normal human being, capable of finding love with the gender he truly desired (which also involved misadventures, his friends, and, especially, Iron Bull). And Deandre got herself a stalwart and faithful friend.

Of course, there were times, during lonely Skyhold nights, when she wondered what life would have been if... But, she swallowed it down. Because she loved him.