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Family Obligations

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The Inquisitor was actually the last person to speak to him about his father- at least, as far as preparations for the arrival of the delegation from Minrathous were concerned. Indeed, they were already in the throne room, waiting for the delegates to get settled in enough to have officially arrived when she brought it up.

“Just so you know,” she said. “If your father goes too far, I will punch him in the face.”

A similar sentiment had already been expressed by almost everyone Dorian regularly associated with in Skyhold, up to and including Helisma- though he was inclined to believe that had more to do with the volatile mood swings caused by reversing the Rite of Tranquility than any real fondness for him. It wasn’t even as though that was the bluntest way it been phrased: Sera and the Bull had been quite explicit in their willingness to do his father bodily harm. That did not make the Inquisitor’s threat any less headache-inducing.

Vishante kaffas, Cadash, did you learn nothing from your clash with Josephine’s intended?”

“I think we all learned a valuable lesson about dueling Antivans that day,” Cadash replied, serene politician’s smile firmly in place.

“And nothing about consulting people before enacting violence on their behalf, evidentially.”

“I am consulting you.”

“This is not a consultation, it’s a warning that things will go horribly awry. Perhaps you should ask Josephine to clarify the difference for you.”

“I’ve already spoken with Josie, as a matter of fact,” Cadash replied. “That’s why I will be aiming for his face, rather than something closer to eye level.”

Dorian wasted several seconds trying to figure out how eye level and face were not nearly equivalent, before remembering that, as a dwarf, the Inquisitor’s eyes were somewhat lower than his own.

Vishante kaffas,” Dorian groaned again. It was the middle of the day, he had not touched a single drop of alcohol, and his head was already pounding. The things he did for his country.

“Hey,” Cadash said, dropping her Inquisitor face and touching his hand. “I know how important this is for you, and nobody from the Inquisition is going to do anything to sabotage the potential alliance. But if it’s already going nowhere, then I have no reason to play politics.”

Dorian sighed. “Far be it from me to stand in the way of you satisfying your own thuggish desires.”

Cadash grinned predatorily. “Hey now. I was an enforcer, not a thug.”

The delegates still hadn’t arrived, so he rolled his eyes. “I stand so corrected, dear lady.”

There was a flurry of movement from the corner of his eye, and he saw the Bull enter the Throne Room, trying to be clandestine and failing miserably.

It should be said at this point that no one is wearing the outfits they’d worn to Halamshiral. When they’d gone to the Winter Palace, they’d needed to provide a united front, and unable to find an outfit that flattered everyone, the Inquisition’s tailors had apparently settled on trying to unflatter everyone equally. Thus they’d arrived at the Winter Palace,  appearing to have raided a stash of military parade uniforms from a particularly cheap and tasteless Free Marcher state. He hadn’t seen those outfits since, and he suspected that Vivienne had had them discreetly put out of their misery once they were no longer needed. Now that they were on their home territory, they were dressed to show the full breadth of the Inquisition: Josephine was in a very lovely Antivan gown, Dorian wore ceremonial set of Tevinter robes, Cassandra had a special set of ornamental armor made for just this occasion, and the Bull had on what he could only presume was Qunari dress clothing.

For a given value of clothing, at least.

“Shut up,” the Bull said when Dorian nearly fell over laughing. “You’re wearing a dress.”

“You are never allowed to speak to me about what I wear again,” Dorian said with unrestrained glee. “You are especially never to mention makeup.”

The Bull tried to cross his arms in such a way as to not disrupt the brightly colored vitaar his body was covered in, and then sighed and gave up.

“At least it shows off my muscles,” he grumbled. “I can’t even see yours under all that bustle.”

“They’re robes. It’s not about muscles, it’s about what you can do with your staff.”

The sort of company he’d been keeping of late was such that he had almost made that joke on purpose, and when there was an outburst of nervous giggles from their fellow Inquisition members at his announcement he couldn’t bring himself to get properly upset about it.

Josephine entered the throne room- and there was an outfit with some proper bustle to it- and cleared her throat. The delegates, it seemed, had officially arrived.

“We’ve got your back,” Cadash reminded him softly. The Iron Bull took his place just behind and to the left of him, close enough that Dorian could feel the heat rolling off of him, which had much the same affect.

“Lady Cadash," Josephine began. "I present to you Tevinter Imperium’s delegation: Magister Ferminus Galhedron of Seheron, Carastes, and Minrathous; Grand Cleric Korbinian Pallas of Vyrantium; Magister Halward Pavus of Qarinus and Asariel; and Magister Cyriaca Cotto, also of Qarinus.”

“A pleasure to meet you all,” Cadash replied. “This day has been a long time in coming, and I know that many will rest easy once the Venatori have been rooted out, both within the Imperium and without.”

Chapter Text

The pleasantries continued for some time after that, and it seemed as though everyone was going to pretend that Lord Dorian Pavus of the Inquisition just happened to have the same surname as Magister Halward Pavus of Asariel and Qarinus.

That was tolerable. If he was very lucky, everyone in the Imperium’s delegation would get so invested in the fiction that it would become passé to acknowledge it as such. Indeed his father’s position in the delegation seemed almost an afterthought, compared to the others. Magister Galhedron was obviously there as a representative of the more reactionary elements of the Magisterium: not only did he still consider himself to have holdings in Seheron, but he was rumored to have connections with the Siccari, and some of his comments about the Qunari were considered a bit much by even the Imperium’s standards. Grand Cleric Korbinian was someone he remembered from his days as a student in the Vyrantium Circle: old, powerful, and disinclined to show his opinions to anyone until he felt sure of an outcome. Magister Cotto on the other hand, was a Laetan woman, one whose reputation painted her a bleeding-heart idealist, naïve and compassionate to a fault. And yet, somehow, she had become a Magister, and was now a part of a rather historic delegation. It wasn’t every day that the Imperium reached out in hopes of an alliance, and even less so when it came to an organization the Magisterium was still deciding whether or not to outlaw. His father was a moderate, which he supposed lent balance to the delegation, and of course, he was Dorian's father, which gave him the right to be here, in the eyes of the Imperium if not the Inquisition itself.

The Inquisition itself would happily line up to punch his father in the face, a fact which his father was seemingly unaware of. While he still had no desire to actually see anyone hit the man, he still derived a great deal of satisfaction from the knowledge that his father hadn’t the first clue how hostile an environment he had stepped into.

Of course, the delegation was scheduled to be here for a fortnight, which gave him plenty of time to be clued in a spectacularly disastrous fashion.

He managed to avoid his father for most of the first five days, at least outside of the negotiations themselves. He was the Inquisition’s expert on Venatori, and their most prominent member from Tevinter, after all: he was required to attend at least some of those meetings.

(Their other Tevinter member was Krem, and the thought of his father squaring off against Krem was both hilarious and terrible. One hint that Krem was a very different person than the midwife had declared him to be, and his father’s head might explode. Or he might simply start referring to Krem as ‘she’ and treating him like a woman, which was exactly the sort of behavior that made him stop bringing Mae around, and the reason why it was a truly terrible idea best not executed. Because he really did not wish for his father to be punched in the face, thank you ever so much. Even if he did deserve it.)

Outside the negotiations, he did his best. He spends his nights in the Bull’s room, and there is honestly more than enough around Skyhold that required his attention that he is quite busy. He saw his father in the courtyard, when he and Cullen were in the middle of a chess match, and he was aware that the delegation was watching as he coached some of the Inquisition’s mages into making better fireballs, but other than that they just had the one run-in in the library.

Dorian had been doing some research- ancient elven ruins seem as good a place as any to find a certain missing elven apostate, and it seemed almost as though a half dozen or so of those ruins get misplaced every age- and the Inquisitor was apparently giving the Tevinter delegation a tour of the facilities.

He was engrossed enough in his reading that he didn’t notice they’d arrived until he heard “I see my son has made himself at home.”

Dorian stiffened, and he could feel himself frown, but otherwise tried to continue on as though he were still operating in blissful ignorance.

“Ah yes, the Dorian nook,” the Inquisitor replied, the affection in her tone clearly more for his benefit than the delegation’s. “It’s an unconventional workspace, I admit, but this way the materials for his research are close at hand, and he’s readily available in case someone decides to open a third breach.”

“A third breach?” That was Grand Cleric Korbinian. “I wasn’t aware there had been a second.”

“It was only open for a short amount of time,” Cadash explained. “The one created by the destruction of the Conclave is the one responsible for the rifts we’re still in the process of sealing up. The second was opened by Corypheus in an effort to regain control after we defeated his forces in the Arbor Wilds. Dorian was there for both those incidents- I wouldn’t want break a winning streak, after all.”

“And this is easily the warmest spot in Skyhold outside of the steam house,” Dorian said.

Cadash laughed. “This makes me worry less about him losing limbs to frostbite, that is true.”

There was a polite smattering of chuckles, a reflexive response to her joke that was trained into the elite of Tevinter- Dorian himself had lost that habit at some point before joining the Inquisition, and he could see that Cadash was taken aback by it.

“Laugh all you want, but my water basin had frozen over this morning," Dorian explained for his countrymen's benefit. "And it’s nearly summer! Whoever named this range the Frostbacks certainly hit it right on the nose.”

He returned to his work- seriously, there was references to at least three separate temple complexes that had been sealed in Antiva during the Towers Age that were simply never mentioned again alone- and the delegation moved on.

So he managed to avoid any personal conversations with his father until they had their grand soiree at the end of their first week.

‘Grand soiree’ was a bit of a stretch by Tevinter standards, but the for the south in general and the Inquisition in particular it was quite the happening- a party for not only the Tevinter delegation and the Inquisition to mingle in, but also for various representatives from the governments they had contact with. Marquis Briala was here along with a veritable caravan of representatives from Orlais; King Alistair had sent his apologies along with a large retinue of Fereldans, ranging from nobility to the blacksmith and his partner who had fashioned a powerful amulet from the Inquisitor’s first dragon kill. There were no small number of Antivans, a half-dozen Rivaini matriarchs, a veritable mishmash of Free Marchers of varying titles with no clear hierarchy, and then an extended portion of Cassandra’s family.

No wonder the woman had volunteered to run security. Not that he’d wondered- he’d have joined her if that option was available. It was not: therefore, he downed seven glasses of wine, and ducked through the throngs of people every time he saw a fellow Tevinter heading in his direction.

Thank the Maker Vivienne was in Cumberland, preoccupied with her clashes with the Grand Enchanter. She would never let him hear the end of such behavior.

Things- namely himself- had mellowed by glass seven: it had been over an hour since he’d seen any of the delegation not deep in conversation with Cullen or Josephine, and given the number of Orlesians in attendance, there were several couples on the dance floor comprised of only one gender. He knew that the interference his friends were running was not going to last the rest of the night, let alone the entire three nights this soiree was taking place over, and that the Orlesians didn’t attach the same sort of romantic and sexual connotations to dancing as other cultures did, but it still gave him a moment to breathe. He was contemplating whether or not to savior an eighth glass of wine or try and dig the Bull out of the pile of chevaliers, Free Marchers, and Fereldan blacksmiths that had gathered to discuss weaponry in the far left corner of the room and have a dance of his own (privately, of course: he didn’t want to push his luck too far) when his father caught up with him.

“Dorian!” He was too close to be evaded, so Dorian merely inclined his head, greeted him politely, and began searching for glass number eight.

“We haven’t really gotten a chance to talk,” he began.

“As I thought I made clear the last time we met, I don’t particular care to hear anything you have to say,” Dorian replied.

It wasn’t exactly true. He’d told Cadash that if he didn’t like what was happening he wanted to leave, and the moment the truth had come to light she had gotten him out. She’d kept her word, and he was grateful, truly: being around his father made him feel shaky and ill and dangerously out of control, which was not a pleasant sensation in the least. But still, there was a part of him that wanted to hear his father attempt to apologize- or even attempt to justify his behavior- if for no other reason than the opportunity to tear those justifications to shreds, to make him understand what a monumental mistake he’d made.

His father grimaced. “I- things have changed, Dorian,” he said, after a moment. “Will you agree to hear me out, at least?”

“I suppose you wish to speak privately?” Dorian asked.

“If you will allow it.”

That was new- his father certainly couldn’t be arsed to get his permission before. So Dorian gave in: there was still a part of him that hoped that he and his father could come to understand each other again, at least. “This way, then.”

Chapter Text

Dorian lead their way to the nearest sideroom that was not already occupied- a feat made possible only because of a trick he’d picked up in Vyrantium that had served him very well in Skyhold, where there was a similar excess of proximity. There, as it transpired, things had not changed- or, at least, his father had not changed.

It was utterly predictable, which you’d think would have protected him from the crushing disappointment, and yet…

“It will work out for the best this way,” his father said. “With my support, it will be simple enough to sway the Grand Cleric to our cause. When we return to Minrathous, the Venatori will be outlawed, and with you serving as the Inquisition’s liaison it won’t cause trouble if you’re often away from home.”

Home, naturally, being with his wife, who he would, naturally, be required to impregnate.

“Father,” he said. “You- I’m not going to agree to live a lie, no matter how palatable you try to make it seem.”

And ‘Come back to Tevinter, marry a woman who we approve of- though of your choosing- and provide House Pavus with an heir while continuing to gallivant around on Inquisition business with your friends’ was a more palatable option than ‘you will allow me to perform this ritual that could turn you into a drooling vegetable or I will make you undergo it’, he had to give him that much.

“You wouldn’t have to be involved in the child’s life beyond conception.”

“Oh, have you become viddathari while I was away?” Dorian snapped. “I suppose exposure to qamek would explain a lot.”

“Dorian, must you-”

“Evidentially, yes, I must,” Dorian sighed, and pinched the bridge of his nose. This was the man who had taught him to disdain the way the Magisterium’s preoccupation with appearances allowed them to get away with every sort of crime, so long as they were not caught. The very same man who had taught him to be wary of the way the Imperium’s in-fighting could get the very best of them killed, but to not let that stop him from doing to right thing. “You would truly allow the Venatori free range of the Imperium to bring me back in line?”

“No, Dorian,” his father said, reaching out. Dorian drew back, and his father let his hand drop back down. “Of course I will continue to decry the Venatori. But I don’t know if I will be successful without your presence. The Inquisition might not be viewed in the same light in Tevinter as it is here in the south, but it does carry weight. I know that between the both of us, we can convince the Grand Cleric to make a public show of support, and having a representative to explain the realities of the dangers we still face to the entire Magisterium will make the vote easier.”

“So you simply want what, in exchange for my life? The promise of a comfortable position? One which the Inquisitor would probably ask me to fulfill anyway?”

“I'm offering you the chance to come home,” his father said. “You still aren’t wearing your birthright. I know it’s because you no longer have it- and you know that will close doors. I can give you your birthright back. I can give you the opportunity to change the Imperium for the better, as you’ve always wanted to do.”

Dorian thought about that for a moment. He would be provided with his own seal as part of the Inquisition’s envoy, as his father well knew. As his father also well knew, the delegation would be carrying back a recommendation for or against the alliance, and did not actually have the authority to create one. If he returned with the delegation it could be months before a vote was actually called, and the vote might not be in their favor. In the meantime, Dorian would need some way of making connections, and without his birthright, that would be next to impossible.

Without his birthright, it was entirely possible for him to be a virtual prisoner in his father’s home- which would likely suit his father extremely well.

Abruptly, Dorian realized what was going on here. He felt his face twist, and after several seconds to reign in his temper, he grit out “Have you spoken to the Inquisitor about any of this?”

“I wished to speak with you first. I thought you might take it better coming from me.”

Which was such a complete and utter fabrication that he- that he realized that his father honestly had no idea how the Inquisition worked. His father had assumed that the Inquisitor would bow to the political necessity of Dorian giving in to his father’s demands, and would come to him with orders to do so, rather than informing him of his father’s plans, promising to find some way around them, and reiterating her offer of-

Well. The offer he was about to take her up on. “I think it might be wise to discuss it with her at this juncture. Now. Before anything else comes up.”

His father was suspicious, but he agreed. “Lady Cadash was engrossed in her conversation with Ambassador Montilyet when last I saw her.”

Perfect. Then he wouldn’t have to worry about doing any of the damage control himself.

“Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Cadash was indeed speaking with Josephine when they approached. Or, really, flirting, with the intent of luring her away from her duties and out onto the dance floor.

“Inquisitor,” his father began as they approached, “May I have-”

“There is no alliance,” Dorian interrupted him, loudly enough for several nearby people to stop eavesdropping and openly stare at them. “This entire delegation is a farce.”

“Dorian!” His father had the gall to look hurt.

“I assume you have some more of the specifics, then?” the Inquisitor asked.

“Indeed I do!”

“Inquisitor, I apologize on behalf of my son for his appal-”

“You do not do anything on my behalf.”

“If we could take this somewhere private-”

“No. Your legacy is exactly as you’ve chosen to make it, and perhaps it’s time people understood that.”

“Inquisitor-”

She didn’t let him go any farther than that. “Let’s hear it, Dorian.”

“As you’re already aware, in-fighting is the national sport of Tevinter, and in the true spirit of my homeland the delegation is here more for their own politics at home than any interest in the rest of Thedas. We knew that when we accepted the Imperium’s request to host a delegation, but what has just now become apparent is that there was never any chance that would change.”

“Dorian, you are overreacting as-”

You have just attempted to bribe me into pretending I’m what you want me to be for the rest of my life. A bribe which would be far more effective to make once I was back in the Imperium as part of our reciprocal delegation, and well you know it.” He turned back to the Inquisitor. “I can believe my father capable of many things, but stupidity is not one of them. He would only do this now if he thought he wouldn’t have the chance later.”

“Inquisitor, my son is very upset-”

“Inquisitor, my father is a liar.”

“I remember what your father is, Dorian,” the Inquisitor said. He turned to face her, noticing as he did so that the Bull had extricated himself from the far left corner of the room and was heading towards him. He shook his head before the Bull got any further- this was his father, and therefore his problem to deal with.

The Inquisitor didn’t count. The Inquisitor was in everyone’s problems. She was also clearly waiting for him to speak.

His father got there first. “This temper tantrum of yours goes too far.”

“Yes, I suppose you would have been much happier for me to keep this all behind closed doors,” Dorian replied snidely. “Have you forgotten why I left? I’m not going to lie to make your life simpler.”

“What about your own life?”

“I do not want a simple life.”

“The how about one with respect? You know how people will view your… predilections. It is seen as a weakness, as unnatural, as a defect. It will not matter what you say or do, they will not listen to someone like that.”

"Someone like me, you mean."

His father said nothing, which was an answer in and of itself.

“Well, you certainly don’t listen to me! And it’s too late. Even if were to grit my teeth and marry, even if were to somehow produce an heir, it wouldn’t change who I was. Nothing I can do would.”

“Dorian-”

“At this point, even you can’t do much. My preference for men is hardly a secret!”

There was a sharp, collective intake of breath from the room, which suddenly reminded Dorian that there were other people than his father around- other people even than the Inquisition. They’d fallen silent at some point, and he’d been so angry that he simply hadn’t cared to pay them any attention.

Well. It really was too late now.

“Must you flaunt your- your blighted, deviant-!”

“Believe me, if I were going to flaunt anything you’d be a lot more uncomfortable right now. Unless, of course, you were willing to deign the charade you wanted me to live as ‘flaunting’.

His father sighed, and turned to the Inquisitor. “Can’t you talk some sense into him?”

“I suppose I can answer this with the same civility you’ve shown, Magister Pavus,” she said slowly, searching Dorian’s face for permission.

He nodded. “By all means, Inquisitor.”

Cadash leapt into the air in the motion Dorian most often saw when enemies were closing in too fast for her bow to be of much use, and hit his father squarely on the jaw. His father collapsed on the ground.

For a long moment, there was nothing but silence. Then the sound of Sera’s deranged giggling started echoing off the ceiling, and the Bull started clapping, which, bewilderingly, was taken up by the whole of the room.

Dorian looked around in confusion- weren’t these people all shocked and appalled by his announcement not a moment ago? Then he took a slower, more measured look around at the guests.

The widow who looked like Cassandra, minus the scars and plus about twenty years, and had yet to leave the side of her sister-in-law. Duke Emilio and Cid Marzio of Antiva, standing hand-in-hand just behind his father, each wearing one earring from a set. The Rivaini matriarchs, who could easily be paired into couples on the basis of their body language, let alone their matching sashes. The Fereldans, all of them, even down to the blacksmith- what was his name, Wade?- and his partner. The Orlesian contingent, who had been introduced with such lines as “Chevalier Estella and her lady love Anais” and “Duke Fortesque and his paramour, Ser Thomas” and was headed by the Empress’ very female, very elven, very well known, lover.

“Josephine,” he said, in a slightly strangled tone. “Did you arrange things so that everyone here is-”

‘Like us?’ was how he would have ended that sentence eventually.

“Liable to take personal offense to such a remark?” is how Josephine put it. “No, of course not. Cullen is still in the room.”

“And for the record, the fact that it was not a personal insult to me does not mean I am not offended,” Cullen said from somewhere behind him. He did indeed sound very offended.

“Oh?” Josephine asked in mock surprise. “I stand corrected. I suppose I did arrange things that way after all.”

Cullen slid through the crowd to stand to Dorian’s left. The Bull had arrived as well and was watching his father struggle on the ground with open amusement to his right. Sera was farther on, openly pointing and still laughing as his father remained on the floor, looking down at his hands with barely concealed panic.

“Did you smite my father?” Dorian asked Cullen.

“Just a precaution,” he admitted. “I didn’t want to bank on your having gotten all your magical talent from your mother.”

Dorian laughed. He couldn’t help it- his friends were all mad. He had friends and they were all utterly, gloriously mad people. It was marvelous.

“You know, amora,” Cadash said, looking up at Josephine. “I do believe Magister Pavus has had too much to drink.”

“Oh? How sad,” Josephine replied.

“Do you think you could arrange an escort to bring him back to his rooms?”

“Of course.”

Dorian managed to stop laughing, only slightly leaning against the Bull for balance, and then realized something. If Cullen was the only avowed heterosexual in the room, then-

“Where’s the rest of the Tevinter delegation?”

Chapter Text

“You know, I’m not sure which version I like better,” Dorian said the next day when he went to visit his father. His father was in his rooms, under what no one was calling house arrest, but was very obviously house arrest all the same. “The one where you knew there was something going on, but asked no questions and let things be as the price for being able to get to me, or the one where you knew and approved of the assassination plot and used me as a distraction.”

His father was seated on the bed. He’d offered Dorian the desk chair, which he accepted but not sat upon, choosing instead to lean on the back of it to better peer down at his father and the bruise blossoming along his jaw. He’d come alone: the Inquisitor had done enough and the Bull- well. Their thing had an ever-growing and ever-changing list of descriptors, and he didn’t want to add ‘something to rub in my father’s face for the sheer delight of watching him squirm’ to it, no matter how willing the Bull was to accommodate him.

“Would you believe neither?” his father replied.

Dorian snorted. “Let’s see… ‘blood magic is the last resort of the weak mind’, ‘sometimes you must sacrifice a bit of standing for the greater good’, ‘it is important to do the right thing, not merely appear in the right’… no, Father. I don’t believe you. I don’t believe I even know what you’re capable of.”

His father sighed. “I was hoping that you and I would be able to discreetly reach some kind of understanding, and that Cotto would take care of Galhedron before any else need be involved.”

“Well. If it's true, I suppose it’s comforting to know that the Imperium’s spies in the Inquisition have been doing such sub-par work. The last person who’d managed to hide something personal had assumed another identity months before the Conclave.”

“Dorian,” his father said. “What have you been telling these people?”

“Nothing.” Which was sort of true- Cole had really being doing much of the telling, when he asked Dorian his questions. He did that a lot- and although the Inquisition as a whole had developed an unspoken understanding to ignore what Cole said unless the other person was a danger to themselves, well…

When Cole talked about a particular hurt a lot, it got hard for other people to ignore. So Cullen found himself distracted with chess games when he was in a bad place. So on her brother’s birthday, Cassandra was inundated with blueberry-strewn pastries.

So when Dorian’s father arrived, people offered their support in all of its violent, blunt glory, for him to call upon when he needed it.

Thank the Maker Varric had taken Cole up to Kirkwall this month. He could only imagine what the boy would have made of all this, to say nothing of what Varric himself would write.“I suppose that would also make you right about Magister Cotto,” Dorian said. “She had that fight pretty much wrapped up when we arrived. We mostly kept the demons off and covered the Grand Cleric while she took Magister Galhedron apart.”

The motivations behind Magister Galhedron’s attempted assassination of Grand Cleric Korbinian were still being unraveled. That he was going to frame Magister Cotto for the act was clear, but to what end they did not know. To make the Inquisition dependent upon him for their relations with the Imperium? To sabotage the Inquisition’s standing in the eyes of the Imperium? The familiar dance of a virulently anti-blood magic magister turning out to be the worst kind of malificar?

She was not a malificar, but what kind of magic she'd used remained unknown. She’d seemingly turned her fellow Magister’s magic against him, making every hit he lashed out with rebound into himself. He’d quite literally torn himself to shred, his blood magic feeding into itself until there was no more blood in his body to draw upon. Not for the first time, he wished Solas were here. He was an inflexible smug snake of an elf, but he knew such an impressive amount of things lost to history, erased by politics and time- he was sure he’d be able to pinpoint the technique she’d used. Perhaps even give examples of others who’d known of it. He certainly couldn't have been less forthcoming than Magister Cotto herself.

“That’s why I suggested she join. Galhedron knew that he needed someone from the other end of the spectrum to round out the delegation and pin the Grand Cleric’s death on, and I knew that he would overlook her talents.”

“When did you find out about the assassination?” Dorian asked.

“I wasn’t in on the plan, if that’s what you’re asking,” he father replied. “Dorian-”

“Did you know that rifts were beginning to open in the Imperium?”

One look at his face told Dorian that he had not. “What?”

“Yes,” Dorian confirmed. That had been the Grand Cleric’s true purpose here: he had already decided to speak in favor of the alliance, come what may, because the Imperium needed the Inquisition and no one would consent to being on the receiving end of humanitarian aid. “Not quite as far north as Vyrantium, but it’s only a matter of time.”

“So you’ll be heading back home after all.”

“No. I’ll be accompanying the Inquisitor to the Imperium and helping her to close the Rifts without getting too mired in the local politics. I don’t expect to go home.”

“Dorian, I know you think that I am a complete monster-”

“No, actually, I don’t. This would be much easier if I did.”

“How do you think of me, then?” he asked.

“As someone who I loved dearly- who I still love- and attempted to do an insurmountable, unforgiveable, morally repugnant blood magic ritual, which would remain all those things even if it had worked, and additionally would have turned me into a husk if it had not. And I didn’t expect that you would-”

He took a deep breath. He did not come here to cry.

“I betrayed your trust,” Father admitted.

“You betrayed my trust, you betrayed the principles you taught me I should uphold, you were willing to risk changing me into a brain dead shell of a man rather than allow me continue to be myself, you-”

He took another deep breath, then two, then three.

“Are you happy?” he father asked.

“Do I look happy?” Dorian snapped. Then he sighed. That was unworthy of him- not that he’d tell his father so. “I’ve been doing good work here. I’ve made friends- there are people here who care deeply about me, and who I care about it return. And I trust them. So, yes, most of the time I’m happy here.”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t go home,” his father said.

“Maybe you should accept that you don’t factor into my decisions anymore,” Dorian replied, pushing away from the chair. “I’ll tell the Inquisitor that your story corroborates with the rest of the delegation. You should be allowed to attend the rest of the negotiations. We’ll- things will have to go from there.”

“Dor-”

“Good day, Magister Pavus,” Dorian said, and left. He gave his report to the Inquisitor, and left her to the mercies of her advisors. Then he walked along the battlements for a while, and when the hollow, panicky feeling refused to fade he went back to his quarters.

The Bull was waiting for him, along with a bottle of Sun Vint.

“It was going to be your nameday present,” he said, in answer to the question Dorian hadn’t asked. “But I found you a better one. You want company?”

“Please,” Dorian said, already reaching for the bottle. “If I go over the state of things with myself one more time, I’m going to take a leaf from your book and start hitting things with the feelings stick.”

“Hey now, I had people hit me with the feelings stick,” the Bull replied.

“Yes, and you were covered in bruises for the better part of the week,” Dorian reminded him. “Let it never be said I can’t learn from your mistakes.”

There was a knock on the door.

“Enter,” Dorian called out.

“Please let me hide from my responsibilities, I brought alcohol,” Cadash replied, not opening the door.

Dorian and the Bull exchanged looks.

“That sounds like the right password to me!” the Bull replied.

The door swung inward, to reveal not only Cadash, but Cullen and Josephine as well.

“It’s a bad idea to play hooky on your own,” Cullen explained.

“Also, all this alcohol wasn’t going to carry itself!” Cadash replied.

Nor was the small pot of split pea soup or the loaves of thick brown bread they’d brought with them, apparently. They gathered around, sipping their beer (Dorian put away the Sun Vint for another day) and dipping chucks of bread into the soup like peasants, and he found himself thinking, not for the first time ‘If my father could see me now…’

Well. His father had seen him now, and, somehow, the world had not ended and he still had this. He still had now.

It was enough to be happy with, he decided, watching Cadash snuggle up against Josephine. And even if it weren’t, the look on his father’s face when he’d landed on the floor was enough to bring a smile to his lips.