The noble that Dorian was chatting up was rather handsome in a 'I know I'm attractive and use that charm to sneak into many a person's bed' way. It helped that Dorian had more or less mastered the look when he was fifteen, so he knew a kindred soul when he saw one. At least it promised a pleasant way to pass the evening, even if the man thought he were the one manipulating Dorian.
Rather, it would have been a pleasant way to pass the evening if Trevelyan weren't glaring at him from across the Grand Hall.
"If you'll excuse me, monsieur," Dorian said as he stood with a flourish and a bow. "Work never ceases, it seems."
Dorian made a few comments as he strode the length of hall. The Inquisitor was beckoning him, but that didn't mean he suddenly forwent his manners. Besides, it considered it a learning experience for the Orlesians about him. With nary more than a brief introduction, he'd already had blackmail on one older gentleman and invitations to two young women's beds. One of which was married, not that it seemed to matter in the slightest.
Orlesians simply liked to believe they had the corner on what the Grand Game should look like. It was only because none of them would be caught dead in Tevinter that they were allowed to hold onto their foolishness.
"Inquisitor!" Dorian exclaimed as soon as he was in hearing range of the man. Trevelyan, luckily for them all, at least grew up in a noble house and could play politics marginally well. He inclined his head in Dorian's direction and excused himself from the fawning masses around him.
"If you'll excuse me, Lord Pavus was recently sent to the library in Orlais to gather some intelligence for us. It will just be a moment."
Dorian smiled at muttering Orlesians as Trevelyan was motioning him over the door that led to the garden. They walked up the stairs, up a few more stairs, and finally into an abandoned tower that the members of the inner circle often used to speak privately. The way they arrived may have been roundabout, as they circled the battlements and garden a few times, but after a few assassination attempts of members of the inner circle, it was simply precautionary.
"Well, Inquisitor," Dorian started as he peered at the thick layer of dust sitting on the stone window. "Are you going to regale me with why you decided I needed to be rescued from the party?"
Trevelyan shuffled on his feet and Dorian knew he was in trouble. The man might be able to charm a nation, but only on false pretenses. The second he encroached on needing to speak truthfully, the man turned into a schoolboy who was unable to hold your gaze.
It was that that made the idea of Trevelyan courting Cassandra all that more romantic, or so Dorian was told. Trevelyan got flustered when presented with emotions and Cassandra whipped out a sword as if she could cut the blasted feelings down.
"You were flirting with that man," Trevelyan said, his hands flitting about his outfit as if looking for someplace to rest. Pockets would do the terrible pajamas some good.
"How very astute!" Dorian exclaimed. "Though I'm loath to ask, why is that reason to try to set me aflame with your eyes?"
"Don't you think that's a bit unfair to Cullen?" Trevelyan demanded, his eyes raising from the floor.
Dorian furrowed his eyebrows as he took in Trevelyan's anger. "I'm sorry. I must have missed a portion of this conversation. How is the good Commander involved?"
"You're courting him."
Dorian was not a man who was at a loss for words often. In fact, he prided himself on being the exact opposite. All he found he could do at that moment was stare at Trevelyan, mouth slightly agape as his mind ran through the words.
"I-" Dorian started before he was able to reign in his composure. "My apologies, because I must have missed yet another portion of this conversation. You think the Commander and I are courting?"
It was Trevelyan's turn to look confused. "Of course you are."
"Of course I-" Dorian lifted his hands to make some grand statement but instead, he dropped them back at his side. "Why do you think the Commander and I are courting?"
"It's not just me. Everyone does."
"Fasta vass. Why would everyone think that?"
Trevelyan looked at Dorian for a few moments longer, as if gauging whether Dorian were telling him the truth or not. "You really don't know."
"Inquisitor, I assure you, if I knew I would not be asking."
"You're with him all the time!"
"If you mean for chess and lunch when I happen to be in Skyhold--which is not, may I remind you, often--than I suppose that's not a complete exaggeration at all. Who knew that 'all the time' was compromised of two hours a day."
"He goes into your nook at the library!"
"Oh yes, I can certainly see why you would think I'm courting him now. How terribly unobservant I am! Who knew all you needed to propose to a man was to invite him into your nook in what the Southerns apparently deem a 'library.'"
Trevelyan grasped Dorian's shoulders and shook him a bit, as if Dorian was being the unreasonable one. "You gave him a gift!"
"To replace that Maker's forsaken mantle about his shoulders!"
"He wears it constantly!"
"He wore the mantle constantly!"
"He gave you a ring!" Trevelyan shouted as he grasped the hand that currently bore the ring in question. "You wear it all the time!"
"What else would I do with a ring?"
Dorian wasn't sure how he got into a shouting contest about his supposed love life with the Inquisitor, but there he was. Honestly, it wasn't as if Dorian didn't give gifts to other friends. He gave the Inquisitor books constantly. What difference did one gift to Cullen make?
Sure, Cullen getting him a ring in return was...well, that was besides the point. It was a thumb ring and certainly not intended as to mean anything more than 'Dorian, I noticed you liked rings.' A fact the Commander told him, though he also mentioned he didn't know if Dorian would like it because it wasn't 'gaudy.' Dorian almost--but did not!--set the man's hair on fire.
"How do you think Fereldans court?" Trevelyan asked after a while.
"With dogs and snow, I presume."
The growl Trevelyan gave him was part frustration and part true anger. "You're not taking this seriously."
"Of course not. Why in Maker's name would I take this seriously?"
"Because Cullen thinks you're courting him."
No. That was...no. Cullen had never given him any indication that he thought Dorian was trying to court him. They played chess, occasionally ate lunch together, once or twice the Commander would visit the library, and that was the entire extent of their interactions with one another. Courting was not involved in it.
Trevelyan sighed loudly, placing his face in his hands. "In your library, see if there's a book titled A Brief History of Ferelden. It has a portion on courtship in it."
"Oh, very well. If only to dash this ridiculous idea from everyone's mind."
Dorian was courting Cullen.
Maker above, he hadn't meant to, but there it was. He was courting Cullen. Unlike a Tevinter courtship--which was either idiotically long or sex and run, as far as Dorian was concerned--a Fereldan courtship had only a few steps.
The first was an invitation to continually meet. Apparently this could be done by offering to help on a farm every day or something a little less rustic like a standing invitation to a chess match every day.
The second was to take meals with your...intended. This was typically done in feast type halls or in a home were both families would eat. The great hall was, essentially, the only place Dorian and Cullen could eat lunch together. It also happened to be the picture perfect place for such a step.
The third was an exchanging of gifts. Like a cloak. And a ring.
The fourth was one of the parties inviting another into their space. Cullen hadn't been feeling well, Dorian invited him into the library to relax, it became a thing, and now Dorian is wishing that it hadn't.
The fifth was a dance and thank the bloody Maker that they hadn't done that yet. Not that Dorian hadn't just fucking offered to teach the Commander how to dance only two days ago!
Cullen's raised eyebrow and curious question of "Are you sure?" suddenly made a lot more sense in Dorian's mind. It also meant that Cullen had to have been very aware that--unbeknownst to Dorian--they were moving right along in their Fereldan courtship.
The sixth step was a kiss. The seventh was an exchange of flower crowns to wear on the wedding day. That was it. Apparently the Fereldans weren't too picky on courtship because Dorian was sure he'd done most of these steps with the inner circle.
Well, perhaps not a standing invitation to join him in the library. And he never regularly saw any of the members outside of a mission....But again, that was all beside the point.
He was unknowingly courting Cullen and apparently the good Commander knew about it.
Dorian didn't get much sleep that night, but he would not miss his chess match with Cullen. They'd been meeting for months and despite Cullen sometimes feeling under the weather, the Commander had always made time for their matches.
"So," Dorian said as Cullen held the knight on the board in between fingers, unwilling to release the piece until he was certain it was the correct move. "Apparently we're courting."
The Commander's fingers slipped from the knight, dooming it to its square without anymore thought. Cullen sighed as he returned his hands to the arms of the chair, sitting back in his seat. "I was wondering when you'd find out," Cullen said finally.
"That you were courting me?"
"That I didn't know!"
Cullen blushed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Not...exactly. I was sure you didn't know about Fereldan courtship until the cloak. You seemed to forget about the gift entirely after that though. When you invited me to your library, I knew you didn't know what you were doing. No one is that offhand about courting."
"I beg your pardon, Commander, I am blase about everything. Especially serious matters," Dorian replied. Not that he was actually courting Cullen. But if he were, he would be the epitome of nonchalance.
Cullen snorted and merely rolled his eyes at the mage. "As you say."
"If you knew of my ignorance," Dorian said, "then you could have stopped this farce by simply not giving me anything in return."
A blush overcame Cullen's face quickly and the Commander turned his head as if looking across the garden weren't putting his reddened cheeks on full display to Dorian. The man mumbled something under his breath but Dorian caught absolutely none of it, just that it caused the blush to reach the man's ears.
"Once more? Perhaps lifting your chin from your chest so as not to smother the words."
Cullen sighed and looked back Dorian's way, the blush still on his face but marred by an irritated look. "Dorian."
Dorian was about to ask for a bit more helpful clarification than that but it all snapped in his mind like a puzzle finally coming together. The blush the good Commander was sporting, the cloak that he wore instead of his dreadful mantle, the ring Dorian always wore despite the other rings regularly changing....
"Oh," he said simply, caught speechless for the second time in less than a day. Cullen ducked his head once more, his right hand clutching tighter at the back of his neck in his nervous tic. Of course, it wasn't his only nervous tic, a fact that Dorian knew because he spent every day in this man's presence.
"Well," Dorian said after his cleared his throat, head still foggy in the knowledge that Cullen was an active participant in this courtship. "Do you even know how to dance, Commander?"
Cullen looked back at Dorian, his eyebrows furrowed. "I-? Yes."
"Good. Do save me a dance at Halamshiral then, would you?"