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Metamorphosis

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The first sign, which didn’t make sense until much, much later, was the dreams.

 

For two weeks straight he dreamt that he was meeting a little boy. The child had red-brown hair and dark eyes and laughed when he saw Dorian. He would launch himself at Dorian, hug him tightly around the waist and say how much he’d missed his brother.

 

It varied more after that, sometimes they’d play and Dorian would be able to think he’d just dreamed about having a little brother-

 

But sometimes they went flying and spat fire. Sometimes they looked down on battlefields and wiped armies away with a roar.

 

The dreams always made him feel better in a way he couldn’t quite put his finger on, as if they eased an ache he was so used to he hadn’t realised he had it until it was gone.

 

Bull said he’d been waking up smiling, but then Bull also wanted to take all the credit for it.

 

-

 

The second sign was that magic was rapidly becoming effortless.

 

It was still a joy, weaving the spells, manipulating the world but it had become easier. He felt as if he could dance all night.

 

And he’d dismissed it as part of joining the Inquisition. The demands it set upon him were greater than anything he’d previously experienced, of course he was getting better.

 

He felt like such a fool.

 

-

 

The next sign was that all the Darkspawn in Thedas were trying to kill him personally.

 

But that was apparently well established tradition by this point and no one seemed to notice.

 

-

 

After that it was difficult to pinpoint exactly. The…symptoms came quickly.

 

He remembered gradually becoming aware of the…scents. But he had been confused, not quite connecting sensations his body wasn’t built to process with their cause. Mostly it had given him headaches and strange, crawling feelings as if he could sense the whole population of the castle moving and the trails they left in the air in their wake.

 

There’d come a point when he’d started recognising their…blood.

 

There was a fresh feel to humans, sharp and clean and slightly overpowering. Like the scent of lime and cut grass.

 

The dwarves felt solid and were thankfully subtler, if he were to continue the metaphor he’d have said they smelt like wet clay.

 

The elves were different again, ancient and with them it hit him, overwhelming and nearly implacable. It was like the smell of dust and dry stone if such a thing could become as forceful as the scent from a tannery.

 

Even then he’d noticed that there was something…different about Solas. He was similar but distinct to Sera, the Inquisitor-

 

But Dorian hadn’t thought about it really, chiefly because he hadn’t wanted to think any of it was any more than his imagination or perhaps a little too much of that ghastly green liquor Bull had insisted he try-

 

There’d been a period when he’d found himself more attracted, or perhaps just drawn to Iron Bull.

 

Either way it had the same outcome. He’d spent even more time with the Bull which had ended up meaning more time in Bull’s bed-

 

He’d ignored the way Bull felt- a subtle smell that reminded him deeply, impossibly of home.

 

He’d firmly ignored everything unusual, put it out of his mind. Right up until that one night when he couldn’t ignore it anymore.

 

-

 

His hands had been bound and the ropes pulled taught so that they spread wide. They dragged him up on to his toes so it felt like most of his weight was hanging from his wrists. He’d hung in that pleasant fog, surrounded by the comforting feeling Iron Bull produced, loved, valued-

 

And incredibly aroused, but that went without saying.

 

Bull had been behind him, had knelt and let the moment stretch out with Dorian wondering what he was intending to do, straining his neck to try and see-

 

The touch when it came had…surprised him. The intensity of it-

 

He’d cried out, cum. And fire had curled from his mouth, licking harmlessly across his bare arm, setting the rope alight and scorching the wall.

 

Bull had used the watchword and laughed while he cut Dorian down.

 

They’d lounged in bed and Bull had joked about it being the second time Dorian had lost it so he must have been doing something right and may be next time he could try aiming for the chairs cos then they’d have an excuse to replace them. Dorian had chuckled.

 

But that was the first time he had truly worried had known something was wrong-

 

Because the last time he had cast a spell and this time-

 

This time he hadn’t. He had breathed fire. Hot enough to blacken the wall five feet away.

 

And it hadn’t left a mark on his skin.

 

-

 

He’d gone to the healers then realised how ridiculous that was when he arrived. He could hardly tell them that he’d just snorted out a fireball after all.

 

So he’d ummed and ahhed and given her vague symptoms.

 

Headaches, trouble sleeping, a sudden sensitivity to smells-

 

She sent him packing with something to help him sleep and a tincture of elfroot.

 

Of course she had.

 

-

 

It had gradually worsened for a week and then plateaued.

 

The head aches were abominable and his back itched terribly but after two days of bed rest and no improvement he had gotten bored. So he had put on a brave face and hobbled back into the field.

 

Even if the Darkspawn were all still trying to kill him, enough now that Cassandra actually commented on it.

 

He didn’t tell anyone about the whispering in the back of his mind, a hiss like words he wasn’t close enough to make out.

 

It seemed as ridiculous as claiming he’d actually breathed fire.

 

-

 

This idiocy, with a certain predictability, ended when he collapsed in the middle of Skyhold.

 

Apparently Iron Bull had carried Dorian inside to his room, slung over his shoulder like a hunting trophy. The indignity of it irked.

 

He tried to hold on to that while the healers argued.

 

They hadn’t the slightest idea what was wrong and Dorian…did not wish to think about that too deeply.

 

-

 

The smell had woken him, and damn but these sensitivities were becoming even more difficult. Dust and dry moss, stone and fur, it was so strong and yet a month ago he probably wouldn’t have had a clear idea what half of those things smelled like.

 

Almost elven. Almost but not quite.

 

“Solas.” He murmured without opening his eyes. “What are you doing in here?”

 

“I came to see you.”

 

A perfectly natural and proper sentiment when one of your comrades was incapacitated. But Solas was…Solas was different, Solas was lying perhaps not right at that moment but he had lied to them all. Dorian just knew and he did not want to be alone in a room with Solas.

 

He wished Iron Bull was near by, but the Bull had left several hours ago, he could tell by the way the scent had blurred into the air.

 

“What do you want?” Dorian asked and he wondered if, even now, with his head pounding and the painful confusing sensations his magic would come more easily.

 

Could he defeat Solas if it came to that? He wasn’t sure, perhaps he was being paranoid.

 

“I may have an idea what ails you.” Solas said simply. “I’ve observed something similar before.”

 

“In the Fade I suppose?” Dorian suggested.

 

“Yes.”

 

Lying, lying, LYING-

 

Dorian opened his eyes. The room span in lazy anticlockwise circles and Solas with it.

 

It hurt and he couldn’t think-

 

“You’re lying.” Dorian hissed and Solas, it was almost a flinch- “What are you-”

 

He spluttered, choked and suddenly Solas was at his side helping him sit enough to drink watered elfroot poultice. A good portion of it ended up down his shirt or spattered over Solas’ but he managed one or two good swallows.

 

It didn’t really help.

 

“Does it truly matter what I’ve learnt and where?” Solas asked, his voice softer. “You need help.”

 

Which was true, and Dorian wasn’t sure that he could get rid of Solas, magic or no. The room was spinning faster-

 

“You feel wrong.” Dorian admitted in a whisper.

 

“As do you.”

 

“You- You knew!” Dorian accused, even though he wasn’t entirely sure what he was blaming Solas for.

 

“I suspected.” Solas corrected as he helped Dorian to lie flat once more. “I could have been wrong. I hoped I was.”

 

“You-!” Dorian floundered and the pain suddenly was worse.

 

The room rolled. The smell of whatever Solas actually was hurt like a noise that was too loud, a light that was too bright. But he’d told the truth and Dorian couldn’t think of a suitably damning insult anyway.

 

“What is wrong with me?” He demanded.

 

Solas frowned down at him and put his palm briefly against Dorian’s forehead.

 

“The way you sense the Fade, use magic, has it changed?” Solas enquired.

 

“Yes.” Dorian gritted.

 

“And your perceptions have altered.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“How?” Solas asked.

 

“Feelings…instincts, scents-” He murmured. “It’s too much it hurts-

 

Solas seemed to consider this and Dorian found his eyes caught on the man’s robes. The piece of bone, a wolf’s bone he was sure of it but how could he know that. Perhaps he was getting feverish.

 

“Why didn’t you go to the healers sooner?”

 

Dorian let out a cough that was trying to be a laugh. “I’d have sounded like Cole. Telling them I spat fire at the walls”

 

He closed his eyes. The whispering was back, though thankfully still quiet. If he breathed deeply he could soak in the remnants of Bull in the room and it made him feel…grounded.

 

“What’s wrong with me?” He asked again, steadily even if his voice wasn’t exactly strong.

 

“Have you studied shapeshifting Dorian?”

 

“What does that-”

 

“The symptoms you’re displaying and the changes in your aura, are similar to the effects a mage can suffer if they spend too long in the wrong shape.”

 

“That’s-”

 

Impossible, he’d wanted to say. But Solas was telling the truth and he knew that the same way he knew the differences between colours when he opened his eyes. But he’d never worn any form that wasn’t his own, save perhaps in the Fade. He couldn’t really know whether Solas was lying or not, he couldn’t really breath fire or tell the difference between races by their smell-

 

He was human.

 

His mother and father were human.

 

He had to be human.

 

“You’re going to change me into-” Dorian began and found he had no idea how to finish his sentence.

 

“I could help you return to what you were.” Solas corrected. “If you wish.”

 

“Why?”

 

Solas sighed. “You are much more vulnerable like this, Dorian, and unlikely to improve. I wouldn’t want you to fall to the Darkspawn.”

 

Which wasn’t a lie, even if it had a tinge of evasion to it.

 

His head hurt, everything hurt. The smell of Solas was overpowering and the mess of truth and lies dazzled.

 

“Does the Inquisitor know?”

 

“Do you want her to?”

 

Yes, yes he did. Because he trusted her and her pure Dalish scent more than Solas.

 

And Solas seemed to accept that, to understand. He’d left as silently as he arrived and Dorian had finally got back to sleep.

 

-

 

Iron Bull had carried him out into the innermost courtyard in a knot of blankets and Dorian had tried to muster the energy to be embarrassed.

 

The area had been completely cleared, it was perhaps the first time he’d seen it so quiet. The Inquisitor had stood to one side with Cullen, Varric and Casandra, clutching her staff. He tried to give them his winning smile but it may have come out rather weak.

 

The world had been spinning around him for a while now.

 

Bull put him down in the centre and stepped back. He looked so worried-

 

Dorian watched Iron Bull as Solas began to unravel the spell.

 

Bull shrunk away below him as he….grew. And that worried look changed to startlement, skipped fear and settled on awe.

 

“Ataashi-” Bull whispered reverently before everyone else started panicking.

 

And the world faded away.

 

-

 

“Dorian,” It was Lavellan’s voice. “Dorian are you alright?”

 

“Mmm?” He opened his eyes-

 

Everyone was suddenly so small. Lavenllan was close, possibly right next to his eye and yet she still seemed-

 

“My head doesn’t hurt anymore.” He replied, which was true. The world wasn’t spinning, the scents didn’t hurt but-

 

His voice sounded different. His body felt-

 

He lifted his head and it seemed to keep going up for an age. He almost didn’t notice the way Cullen had jumped back and Casandra’s hand had gone to the hilt of her sword.

 

His head nearly reached the top of the walls and he wasn’t even standing. He could turn it further than before too, enough to see neatly folded wings, an enormous tail and how he took up virtually the entire courtyard.

 

Well he’d suspected this part at least since Solas had crept into his room, after all what else spat fire?

 

He bent his neck so that his head was near the ground again and he could sit back and examine it with stubby paws. A good, long snout. Large eyes. Fantastic horns-

 

And he was a rather fetching colour, a glittering mix of greys, pale blues and white.

 

He wondered if he should have felt…different, changed, twisted by this. After all he had just become a dragon but-

 

He felt no less himself and there was no uneasyness, if anything this felt easier than before, more natural, right.

 

“Dorian?” The Inquisitor asked, rubbing her hand against the side of his neck.

 

He shifted to look at her with his left eye. “Yes?”

 

“How do you feel?”

 

“Tired.” He admitted. “But…better.”

 

“Can you change back?”

 

He couldn’t frown anymore but apparently wanting to resulted in slightly raised wings and short lashes from his tail.

 

“I don’t know how.” He told her, yawning and feeling a little embarrassed that he couldn’t cover his mouth as he did. “I don’t remember ever…being like this in the first place.”

 

They’d all weighed in with opinions after that, all disbelief, advice and what-was-Cullen-going-to-tell-the-troops-if-they-couldn’t-get-the-courtyard-back? And Dorian meant to pay attention, really, but he’d just been so very very tired.

 

If he hadn’t trusted Lavenllan he might have tried harder. As it was he shut his eyes and fell asleep on the paving slabs.

 

-

 

It was night by the time he woke again, knowing before he opened his eyes that there were four humans and Iron Bull in the courtyard with him. Varric had been earlier and an elf, probably Lavenllan-

 

And Solas.

 

Dorian opened his eyes and raised his head, making Krem jump and the man beside him laugh. He ignored their bickering, looking for the Bull who he knew was near-

 

Apparently his new eyes weren’t much better than the old after dark. He could make out Casandra near one of the gateways and another of the Chargers.

 

And finally, Bull.

 

His neck twisted and curved bringing his head close and level with the Qunar- Tal-Vashoth-

 

It was strange thinking about how different his body was now. He hadn’t been a dragon for more than a day but already he couldn’t quite imagine how he’d managed in a human form for so long. This was so much better- so right.

 

For a moment Dorian stared at Iron Bull and Bull stared back. It was bizarre to think that Bull was smaller-

 

“So,” Bull began. “You’re a dragon.”

 

“Apparently.” Dorian confirmed, tail curling upwards.

 

“Are you still Dorian?” Bull asked, pushing himself off his spot on the wall.

 

“I believe so.” The dragon confirmed, tilted his head to one side. “At least I don’t remember anything else. Why? Did you think I would be a dangerous beast that needs to be leashed? Because I believe you promised to buy me dinner first and that may be rather more expensive now.”

 

Bull huffed out a laugh and the tension in Dorian’s wings eased.

 

“Anyway,” Dorian continued. “You have to admit I am just as devastatingly handsome as before.”

 

He turned so that Bull could properly observe his profile which, come to think of it, might well be rendered in marble somewhere in Tevinter.

 

“You’re just as arrogant.” Bull chuckled.

 

He stepped forward, slowly steadily, one hand raised. Dorian stayed as still as he could manage and slowly, gently the Iron Bull laid a hand on his snout. He stroked the heavy scales of the upper lip, across over the plate of the nostrils and back towards the eye, running a finger over the heavy ridge above it.

 

“Ataashi,” Bull murmured. “I knew there was something about you-”

 

“Apart from my sparkling wit, dashing good looks and sunny personality?”

 

Bull laughed again and slapped his neck and well…perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad.

 

-

 

He ended up talking to the majority of them over the course of the night and the next morning.

 

Mostly, he suspected, they were trying to decide if he was still…himself. And for the most part he believed he’d put them at ease. Cassandra had taken some time and Varric had been especially awkward. Sera still hadn’t come to see him, which was a shame, but Leliana had been remarkably easy.

 

Lavenllan had been there for hours, stiffly clutching her staff near the walls at first and later sitting on one of his front legs. He told her he had no more idea what was going on than she did and she believed him.

 

He’d wanted to tell her something was wrong with Solas but he wasn’t quite sure how. Especially when they’d been so close, when she’d come to him with an unmarked face and tears in her eyes. How was he supposed to tell her the man had been lying to them all when he had no idea what Solas was hiding in the first place?

 

He tried cautiously to explain that Solas smelt wrong, and she’d wondered if it was an effect of the Fade. So he’d sighed and let it go.

 

Anyway the Inquisition still needed him, preferably in a recognisably humanoid shape as quickly as possible. They’d barred almost everyone from the courtyard as he slept, most of their troops didn’t know yet, the Chantry didn’t know.

 

And if he picked up shapeshifting quickly it could stay that way. Which after all the Inquisitor had done for him was really the least he could do.

 

-

 

Except that shapeshifting was hard and Lavenllan didn’t know more than vague theories and Solas was an abominable teacher.

 

-

 

They’d been hoping, he realised later, that he’d pick it up in a day and they could all pretend it never happened. They’d also been protecting him, not just from the Chantry’s judgement but the knowledge that they were all running into Darkspawn more often. That the damn things were turning up closer and closer to Skyhold.

 

Which Dorian probably should have worked out but in his own defence he had still been recovering and spending most of his time in an exhausted heap so he hadn’t been thinking too deeply about precisely what sort of dragon a Tevinter Altus might turn out to be-

 

It had taken the Chantry and Solas to spell it out for him and when they did he wished they hadn’t.

 

-

 

The chief problem with being a dragon was that one found it simply impossible to go indoors. Which meant that the first he knew of any festering problems was when they exploded out into the courtyard.

 

In this case the festering problem wore a pointed hat, spoke with a pronounced Orlesian accent and had already tried to get the Inquisitor to renounce him once on the basis of his nationality.

 

The argument had apparently already been going on for some time but the first Dorian knew of it was when the esteemed Reverend Mother and the Herald of Andraste burst out into the courtyard shouting at each other. It seemed like half the Inquisition was behind them. Josephine was giving him odd sidelong glances and Cullen looked as if he wanted to be anywhere else. Varric was probably taking notes. He could just make out Bull at the back-

 

He couldn’t see Solas but the smell of fur and the crawling feeling it produced made Dorian sure he was there.

 

From what he could make out the Reverend Mother was, in her own wonderful way, pointing out the irony of the so-called Herald of Andraste counting one of Tevinter’s Old Gods among her allies.

 

Or maybe she was just trying to encourage them all to kill him. The two seemed so similar within the Orlesian Chantry.

 

He would have interrupted them himself but then she mentioned Archdemons and Blights and-

 

And suddenly it made sense, the way the Darkspawn had gravitated towards him, the whispering. An Old God. Not merely a dragon or even a High dragon but an Old God and a horde of Darkspawn at the door yearning to taint and twist him into leading the next Blight so soon after the last-

 

Maker that was not how he wanted to end his days.

 

Lavenllan, bless her, was holding her own and trying to keep a hold of her temper too. Defending him again, arguing that driving him away would make a Blight more likely not less-

 

But, predictably, the Reverend Mother was not listening. She was screaming about the desecration of the Golden City, sin and the Blight and the evil of the Old Gods.

 

“The Herald of Andraste CAN NOT harbour one of these monsters in the Inquisition!” She thundered-

 

And Dorian gradually became aware of just how full the little courtyard was now, knots of Cullen’s soldiers, the Chargers- Some of them probably would try to kill him on the Reverend Mother’s word.

 

Which was when, like the light from a flaring spell, he suddenly noticed Solas.

 

“She does not have one Ancient God among her allies,” Solas stated, calmly and at a reasonable volume which somehow cut through the poisonous debate-

 

“She has two.”

 

Dorian had blinked and taken a moment to reflect that no one was looking at him anymore.

 

-

 

“What-” The Inquisitor stammered.

 

Solas stepped towards her, arms raised and the Inquisitor’s expression set. She raised her staff as if it was a sword and she intended to run him through.

 

“Who are you?!” She demanded.

 

“My heart-” Solas began.

 

“Your name! Or I swear I will-”

 

“It was once Fen’Harel.”

 

There was a short moment of quiet, of calm. Then Lavenllan punched him hard enough to make him stagger, the crowd drew in around them and flowed back into Skyhold’s buildings out of Dorian’s view.

 

-

 

The most maddening part of it was not knowing what was going on.

 

No one had bothered to come outside and tell him anything, of course they hadn’t and they were too deep in the Keep for him to overhear anything. All he could do was wait, drat it.

 

He tried pacing and quickly found that his new body did not handle tight corners well.

 

After he’d disentangled his wing from the archway he changed tactics. But getting any of the people who rushed through the courtyard to stop and tell him what was going on was impossible.

 

Dorian wondered if it was possible to die from an excess of curiosity or boredom and determined that he should probably tell someone that Bull was welcome to his teeth if he expired. Just in case.

 

-

 

He woke hours later in the darkness to the scent of Iron Bull and stirred.

 

“What’s going on in there?”

 

Bull shrugged expansively. “Solas says he’s some kind of elven demon. Boss thinks he might have caused all this. The Chantry didn’t understand that, Boss started explaining it now they’re arguing about what to do with him.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Bull patted the base of his neck and leaned against his ribs.

 

“Boss is pretty pissed.” He observed.

 

“I can imagine.” Dorian replied. “Can you let me know what happens?”

 

“Sure.” Bull said with a sigh. “Why not.”

 

-

 

“So they didn’t throw him in the dungeons?” Dorian enquired as he considered the cauldron of what looked suspiciously like Fereldan’s infamous grey stew.

 

“They did.” The Iron Bull said with a smirk. “Until they realised they couldn’t keep him there.”

 

“And then?”

 

Bull shrugged. “Boss started shouting at him. Even money says she’s still going.”

 

-

 

And apparently somewhere in the background Leliana and Josephine had managed to corner the Reverend Mother so they hadn’t completely split from the Chantry yet.

 

-

 

The smell of dust and fur drifted out over the courtyard. Dorian raised his head and Bull moved so he could follow his gaze. Solas trudged out towards them.

 

“You’re still in the doghouse then?” Bull quipped.

 

He didn’t answer and sank by one of Dorian’s front legs. Dorian shifted and his neck snaked round so that he could look at-

 

He still wasn’t quite sure what Solas was. A God? But he’d said himself that the Elf Gods weren’t divine. An Ancient Elf? But he didn’t seem to feel a particular kinship with elves and distained the Dalish-

 

He was still wearing that godawful apostate-hobo get up that Dorian had so thoroughly disparaged, which seemed a small, ordinary, mortal thing. So perhaps it was best to treat him as Solas.

 

“Are you alright?” Dorian asked.

 

“It doesn’t matter.”

 

Dorian sighed. “Somehow I doubt that.”  

 

The silence stretched out with Solas staring off into nothing and Dorian trying not to twitch. Finally the Iron Bull cleared his throat.

 

“Ben-Hassrath to C3-”

 

-

 

He didn’t leave after Bull did, which had surprised Dorian. He’d stayed silent until well after sunset. Then he’d pulled the robe’s hood over his head and settled against Dorian’s leg to sleep.

 

And when it started to rain Dorian moved his wing to shelter him.

 

-

 

“– bare-faced, embarrassed. She thought it was because of her –”

 

“Hello, Cole.” Dorian sighed, moving so that he could see them.

 

He was beginning to miss being able to move his eyes like a human instead of having to shift his entire head. He could see Cole, perhaps more clearly than before, but he didn’t have a scent which somehow made focusing on him more difficult.

 

He ended up focusing on Cole’s wide, ragged hat.

 

“She thinks it was a lie.” Cole continued.

 

“It wasn’t.” Solas replied.

 

Which was enough for Dorian to piece together that they were talking about the Inquisitor and it seemed unfair to listen in on her private sorrows. So he moved his head away, raising up and stretching and yawning and looking around for something else to concentrate on. Which was when he spotted-

 

“Cole,” He began carefully. “Is that a cake?”

 

“Small sad scents of him like home far away. Reds and greens and fire but here everything tastes grey.” Cole replied, as if this was the obvious explanation. “I thought it would help.”

 

It looked almost too small to pick up with his mouth, and he was sure he couldn’t chew with his jaws. He pinched it carefully in his teeth and jerked his head back so it would sit on his tongue while Cole talked about brothers trapped in a nightmare who walked dreams and wrapped the youngest in foreign flesh.

 

He supposed that was aimed at him but he was rather more interested in the sweet, fruity ball that gradually dissolved on his tongue.

 

It helped.

 

-

 

They went back to shapeshifting.

 

Solas was still an appalling teacher.

 

-

 

“The Darkspawn are getting closer.” Dorian observed.

 

“We weren’t supposed to tell you that.” Bull told him calmly.

 

“No one did.” He replied, craning his neck in the vague direction of the Darkspawn.

 

If he stood and stretched he could just about see over the walls, even if there was no way to see the Darkspawn themselves.

 

“You can sense them?”

 

He paused considering. But he didn’t think the Darkspawn were the whispering voices, it seemed more likely they were the rotten smell wafting out from the woods. Similar to the way dwarves and humans smelt with an added bitterness, like spoiled food.

 

“Apparently.”

 

-

 

He woke, human again on the flagstones and was rather shocked until he realised that he hadn’t woken at all, it was the Fade, a dream and he should get a blasted grip.

 

Dorian took a moment to accept his abominable lack of wings and wondered if perhaps the Fade’s version of Skyhold retained a stock of liquor. It had after all been some time since he’d had a decent drink.

 

-

 

The Fade’s wine turned out to be of a far better quality than the damned vinegar they had in the true Skyhold. He liberated a few choice bottles and wandered the halls, glass in hand. It was so strange to think that he had lived in here, that he’d been so confined. It felt like a lifetime ago.

 

And he would probably have to do it again, that was the point of the shapeshifting after all. Something that would reduce him to a size they could relate to and perhaps ensure that any visitors didn’t die of shock.

 

Strange, he hadn’t had a chance to fly either because he’d been too exhausted or because the risk of being tainted had become too real and yet he’d miss his wings.

 

He smiled, shook his head and drank. It wouldn’t do to make the spirits melancholy.

 

-

 

He wandered for some time before he heard voices and because he was curious he sought them out. As he got closer to the round tower room he recognised them, Lavenllan and……Solas.

 

Dorian dithered for a moment, wine in hand, wondering whether he should-

 

“You lied to me!” She said and he could hear the pain in her voice-

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

Dorian sighed and decided that he should perhaps be elsewhere.

 

He left the bottles at the door, no doubt the contents would be useful to them either way and made his way out through the gardens to the courtyard. For a time he stared at the sky.

 

The change came far more easily in the Fade, he merely wanted to be himself and he was. He reared and spread his wings gave a few stumbling, uneasy flaps like a young bird fledging.

 

And flew.

 

-

 

When he actually woke he found that Solas was in a much better mood and that shapeshifting was suddenly much easier to master.

 

He wasn’t sure if it was because the Fade had helped him to accept the necessity of it or because the Dread Wolf was being less of an arse. It seemed like a victory either way.

 

-

 

And even though it felt distinctly strange and alien to be human now there were some definite advantages. Such as being able to drink the wine and eat out of something that wasn’t a trough.

 

And hands, and kissing and Iron Bull. In fact if this was ever over he’d have to become human again periodically just for this, being smaller than him and below him and ground possessively into his bed.

 

-

 

On the other hand he wasn’t allowed to do anything anymore because apparently if he set one foot outside the keep he’d be at too high a risk of getting tainted.

 

-

 

He honestly thought he was going to die of boredom by the time Solas and Dagna cornered him. He’d suspected they were going to be trouble as soon as he saw the grin Dagna was wearing. Solas held out a selection of vials.

 

“Do you know what these are?” Solas asked.

 

“Blood.” Dorian answered simply and attempted to turn back to his book.

 

“Yes but you know what sort don’t you?” Dagna pressed excitedly and Dorian gave up with a sigh.

 

“The two on the left are human, the next is Hurlock, then dwarf, then genlock. Does that satisfy you?”

 

Dagna’s eyes lit in an expression of such extreme joy it could only be disturbing.

 

“Do you know what that means?” She enthused. “You can sense the taint.

 

“And?”

 

“And failure to properly identify it has so far hampered attempts to separate it and prevent it spreading.” Solas stated calmly.

 

They were working on a way to stop him becoming-

 

He didn’t quite listen as Dagna babbled about theories and ideas and how this would make everything so much easier, save so many lives. It was, truth be told, a little much to take in.

 

She left with the blood floating on her own happy cloud and Dorian turned to Solas.

 

“Why are you doing this?”

 

He shrugged. “Dragons can be useful. Why do you think I stopped them from driving you away?”

 

Dorian turned back to his book with a sigh. Perhaps Solas was still an arse after all.

 

-

 

They wouldn’t let him anywhere near their experiments of course, or tell him how it was coming along. Just…pop in occasionally to ask if a sample was tainted and then vanish again. Which was incredibly frustrating.

 

At one point he was seriously considering changing form and taking it out on pieces of masonry. But that would probably have been a little bit petty.

 

-

 

What Dagna, and possibly Solas, eventually came up with was a tiny enchanted metal contraption. Silverite, a complicated entanglement of lyrium, two wicked looking needles and a sort of trap. They’d tested it on tainted men in the infirmary first, and Dagna was careful to stress that it removed the taint but nothing they’d tried so far had undone the damage the taint left behind.

 

Still if he wore it, let it filter any poison out of his blood, he could go out again. He could fight. And after an age of sitting around idle that was more than enough.

 

-

 

He’d missed it terribly. The thrill, the comradery, setting their enemies ablaze.

 

But the highlight in the first few days back on the field had been the Templars. The idiots had attempted some sort of ambush.

 

And what was the first thing any group of Templars looking to pick a fight with their Inquisitor did?

 

They’d cleansed the area, disrupted all spells-

 

And Dorian had grown huge and fearsome as the fragile thing holding him human failed.

 

He didn’t think he was ever going to forget the looks on their faces as they dropped their swords and ran.

 

-

 

“Oh come on,” Bull wheedled. “It would be amazing.”

 

“No!” Dorian said for what felt like the millionth time.

 

He could hardly say anything else; expanding it to ‘I will not let you ride me into battle’ would only have encouraged the lummox.

 

-

 

A dragon, dark and mad with ragged wings roars above Corypheus’ army.

 

He lets the small, frail shape he held crumple around him and soars after it. It’s a similar size, but he tears through it like so much paper, with the true power of a dragon.

 

Of a God.

 

It’s not just easy it’s a joy. And between them all they will close the Breach. They’ll vanquish Corypheus-

 

Dragging Tevinter forward into a better future had never seemed possible before. But now-

 

The tainted dragon screams and falls into Corypheus’ lines leaving Dorian, unchallenged master of the sky.

 

Anything’s possible.

 

-