Dorian had always known when critical moments of his life were occurring. He could still remember the first time. He had been six and he had been walking with his mother down the garden paths at night. It had been warm and the stars had twinkled overhead and Dorian was content to wander the brightly lit paths while his mother described the constellations to him. That they had both been looking skyward was the only explanation for the fact that as they turned a corner his mother’s skirt caught on one of the low garden lights, the oil within spilling onto the azure silk and setting her gown on fire. Even now Dorian could feel that sense of disassociating with his body, almost watching from outside himself as he raised a hand and coated his mother’s dress in a thick sheet of ice.
That she could have saved herself had never occurred to him and then she was embracing him and laughing and telling him what a good boy he was and how unusual it was for a talent for frost to manifest first. The pair had run back to his father and that smile, the love that had shown in his father’s eyes that night was both his favorite memory and worst nightmare.
His father dropping him off at the Circle in Carastes was another such time. Well, not his father exactly but a morning one week later when he’d walked down the halls and stared at the boys who were five years his senior and known with everything in him that no one of them could beat him in a duel. There had always been a small voice inside his head before then that said that all of the planning and calculating that had been done by Pavus’ for generations had failed. That though his magic manifested early he was going to be a disappointment to his father, the one son from a line of sons that stretched back for generations that would fail to improve the family line. But that day, that day walking down the halls and really seeing for himself the mages that the other prominent houses of Tevinter had produced, he knew that he would do his family proud. That he would make his father proud.
After that it was years before he had another critical moment, and even now he hated to think about it because the moment was the first of two that came back to back. First was his Harrowing, a moment that usually caused trepidation for young mages but there had never been any doubt in his mind that he would pass without difficulty. In fact, he had enjoyed a rather pleasant cup of tea with the demon who had chosen to tempt him before he had severed its head from its body. If possible his father’s smile had been even greater that day than the day Dorian’s magic had first manifested. In a rare show of public affection his father had wrapped his arm around Dorian’s shoulder and told him that they would go immediately and select a new staff to commemorate Dorian’s first step to one day being Archon. They had shopped and eaten and watched the street performers and for the first time in his life Dorian had felt first in his father’s life.
Which made it all the crueler when the next morning Dorian had woken up to find himself drenched in sweat, the normally luxurious silk sheets chafing against his skin. And the smells, sweet Andraste, he could swear he could tell where every person in the house was based on their smell alone. Throwing back the covers he had almost fallen to the ground as his muscles refused to react correctly, his entire body tense and heavy. But that moment, that dissociative feeling that he had come to relate with critical turning points in his life had occurred only seconds before he felt the slick sliding heavily down his thigh. Dorian Pavus, latest and greatest hope for his family finally achieving Archon, was an Omega.
In an instant his golden life was gone. There hadn’t been an Omega birthed to the Pavus line in over a hundred years, and even that one had had a proper Beta brother to continue the family lines. Venhedis, even being Alpha would have been more acceptable, at least he could have gone into the military, channeled the natural aggression into something benefitting Tevinter. Even the dream of being Archon would have still be possible, there hadn’t been an Alpha in that position for almost two hundred years but it wasn’t forbidden. But an Omega, Omega’s only had one role in Tevinter society and that was to warm the bed of an Alpha. There would be no Magisterium for him, no studies in the Royal Libraries, no life outside whatever his Alpha allowed him.
It was his mother who found the solution. Always the clever one she reasoned that they could not be the first prominent family to have such a thing occur and while Dorian was sequestered in his rooms she searched until she found a black market alchemist who prepared the scent blockers, both a potion to be taken daily and a lotion that was to be applied morning and night. Then there was the suppressant that was added to his food that ensured he would never again experience a heat. But those were the simple things. Finding an instructor to overwrite Dorian’s natural Omega tendencies had been more difficult. Dorian had hid in his bedroom for a week when the Qunari first walked through the door. Tall, with two horns that curved back along his skull tipped in gold, his arms thicker than Dorian’s legs and smelling so much of an Alpha that Dorian had instinctively wanted to drop to his knees. Instead he had run, locking the door to his room and refusing food or drink until finally one night his father had simply had the door removed and that was the end of that.
His name was Beres-Taar which he told Dorian meant shield as he was now a shield against Dorian’s natural tendencies and together they would rebuild Dorian until he no longer needed any shield but his own mind. It had taken three years in which the only people Dorian saw were Beres, his mother and the house slaves, and in the end his body bore more than one scar as a reminder that the Tal-Vashoth’s lessons were not to be ignored. And the lessons were plentiful. Never bow your head. Never shy away from looking an Alpha in the eye. Never step back from an Alpha’s advance, but do not challenge by advancing either, stand your ground like the oak tree. Do not serve an Alpha either food or drink, nor allow one to serve you. And perhaps most important, beyond even bowing, never tip your head to offer an Alpha your neck.
In the end Dorian learned, and to celebrate his father threw a dinner party that included several lesser Magisters whose sons were Alphas. When Dorian passed his father’s rather blatant test and behaved like a proper Beta his father spoke to him for the first time since that morning he had the door removed from Dorian’s bedroom. He never saw Beres-Taar again and he could only hope that the man had moved on and not been dispatched in some less savory way in an attempt to maintain Dorian’s secret.
From there his life became a series of complicated lies. In an effort to ensure Dorian remained untainted by his status he was sent to study with Magister Alexius for several years, enjoying what social life he could alongside Alexius’s son Felix and aiding Alexius with his own studies. Dorian’s father had apparently chosen a mentor for his son well as there were no Alphas within Alexius’s inner circle and therefore Dorian was not as hard pressed to maintain his shields at all times. Not, of course, that he shared the truth of himself with any of them but it was easier to be simply a Beta among a sea of Betas.
Dorian had begun to think that perhaps his father had decided to wash his hands of the entire matter and leave Dorian with Alexius permanently until the summons home came. Again that familiar feeling of being outside himself washed over him as the coach crossed through the gates to the Pavus estate and Dorian finally saw his family home come into view. He shivered as he moved to step from the coach, uncertain what the threat was but feeling it all the same.
His mother’s embrace at the door had done little to calm the anxiousness in his chest and when she had bid him to meet their guests in the drawing room Dorian had begged off asking for a chance to freshen up after his long trip. His mother had acquiesced and Dorian made a show of heading off to his room, which had finally had the door restored. Looking at his own reflection over the mirror Dorian was reminded of Beres’ teachings, of the way the old man would lay two fingers gently against Dorian’s gut and tell him that information that came from there was stronger than anything he could get from his head or his heart.
And so, Dorian found himself creeping down the servant stairs toward the drawing room, moving silent as a mouse until he could hear the conversation occurring within. His father’s voice was the first to reach him, “You can understand the need for discretion in this matter.”
“Of course Magister Pavus,” a deep baritone voice replied, Dorian’s mind immediately supplying the ‘Alpha’ to go with the description.
“I assure you Livia will do as her mother and I tell her.” Ah, that voice Dorian recognized, Magister Everens. Dorian had been engaged to his daughter since birth, although honestly Dorian hadn’t thought of her in years and had assumed the engagement had been ended after he had presented Omega.
“And she understands that any children will not truly be hers, yet she is willing to raise them as such?” Magister Pavus continued.
Dorian’s blood ran cold as he tried to tell himself he was not hearing what he thought he was hearing.
“As long as young Maritas here understands he has no claim to the offspring I see no problem,” Everens admitted, only further confirming Dorian’s suspicions.
Any doubt as to what his father was offering in compensation was cleared up as the Alpha, Maritas, laughed heartily. “What do I care for whelps? Magister Pavus has been kind enough to agree to take me on as his apprentice and when the time comes aid me in achieving my own seat in the Senate. It is a chance to reclaim my family’s honor and nothing more.”
“It will not be a true claiming, you realize that,” his father continued. “Dorian must appear always as Beta, he will take over my seat when the time comes. I will not have my life’s work ruined because of his failures.”
Dorian would have fallen to the ground if his knees hadn’t already been locked. He failed to hear any more of the conversation as his mind took over telling him to move, move, move. And thankfully his feet listened, climbing the stairs he had just come down he took only the time to grab his still packed bag and his staff before again using the servant’s stairs to exit the building, keeping to the dark gardens and using a seldom accessed back gate to flee from the property before he could be sold by his father not once but twice. Once in marriage to cement an alliance his whole life in the making and again to an Alpha just so that Halward would have his precious heir.
The next few years passed in a blur for Dorian, he had not dared go back to Alexius’ nor anywhere his father could be expected to look for him which left the less desirable areas of Minrathous. Surprisingly he found a form of employment with the black market alchemist who had originally supplied the scent blockers and suppressants he required, spending his time concocting healing potions for the man until the smell of elfroot made him sick, but in the end he had learned how to make the potions and lotions he needed. He might have been content to remain there, tinkering with new potions and improving the alchemists existing ones but one afternoon the son of one of his father’s friends entered the store and Dorian realized his only hope to truly remain free meant fleeing Tevinter entirely.
He had heard rumors of Alexius and Felix moving south, to Ferelden of all places and almost without thinking he found his feet moving that direction. There were tales that Alexius had changed, had become hardened after the death of his wife and Dorian found himself hoping that perhaps Alexius could be convinced to hide his presence from his father. It would be good to be among friends again.
Dorian would forever be thankful to the Maker that when he finally reached Redcliffe he encountered Felix first. His old friend looked like death warmed over but it was the stories he told Dorian about Alexius that truly chilled his blood. He might have moved on then, knowing that Redcliffe wasn’t going to be the sanctuary he had hoped for, but the look in Felix’s eyes stopped the words from falling and almost before he knew what he was saying he found himself agreeing to help his old friend stop Alexius’ plans.
That one decision led to the latest of Dorian’s critical moments. Felix had gotten word to the Herald of Andraste asking that the woman meet them in the old cathedral and Dorian, ever determined to protect his ailing friend, had arrived first knowing that one of the strange green rifts that had been appearing all over Thedas had opened right in the center of the holy place. He turned his attention to ridding the building of the demons that the rift spawned and only had two of the creatures left to dispatch when he smelt it. The overwhelming scent of an Alpha in his prime, all rich loam and vanilla and some sort of citrus Dorian hadn’t smelled since leaving Tevinter and he found himself clutching his staff so hard that his knuckles turned white as he forced himself to continue dispatching the demons.
As the four new arrivals entered the fray Dorian was careful to keep himself in front of the Alpha, not daring to distract himself from the fight as he tried to remind himself of all of Beres lessons. All too soon the auburn haired woman he had to assume was the Inquisitor was raising one green hand and closing the rift. It would have been fascinating had his attention not shifted to the warrior standing behind her.
Kaffas, and he had thought Beres a beast. This Qunari was better than seven feet tall and as wide as both the humans who stood before him put together. A patch covered his left eye and was tied on one side to horns that extended at least two feet out on either side of his bald head. Dorian found his eyes moving to catalog the multitude of scars the warrior carried seemingly everywhere on his body.
He was magnificent. He was dangerous. He was Alpha. And even knowing these things Dorian found it almost impossible not to fall at his feet and bare his neck.
“Watch yourself. The pretty ones are always the worst,” the Qunari’s deep baritone sent a fission of heat directly to Dorian’s core and he could only be thankful that the suppressants removed his ability to produce slick or he’d be standing in a puddle right about now.
Arching one brow regally at the Qunari Dorian turned away toward the Inquisitor, thankful that the Alpha didn’t seem to sense him for what he truly was. But that didn’t change the fact that Dorian knew and for the first time in his life he actually found himself wanting to be an Omega. Fuck.