Word count: 2200 (5 to 18 minutes) | Rating: T | Note: Dragon Age Spoilers | Characters: Dorian Pavus, Garrett Hawke, Varric Tethras, Cole
The Inquisitor was wise to bring Dorian along on this little errand with Cole, Varric, and the dwarf’s friend. Even to this forsaken spit of land. Hawke had fought Corypheus before and suspected the Grey Wardens were vulnerable to the wretch’s influence. His instincts ought to be conceivably better than his ability to kill darkspawn. The cruelly attractive Champion of Kirkwall had connections to shed some light on the situation, and having an experienced mage in Dorian who also knew what modern amenities were made a world of difference. Or it would, once they got to the spiky and dour affair that was Adamant Fortress. Its one benefit over Weisshaupt was not being stubbornly wedged into a frigid mountain.
Until then, Dorian had to contend with the ill-dressed Cole and his barbed good intentions.
“I’m hurting you, Dorian. Words, winding, wanting, wounding. You said I could ask,” he asked, confused. Of all the times Cole insisted on prying into his life, now was particularly horrid. A handsome, talented man was in their company! Then Dorian was in the position of having to field questions about his estranged father. Hard to make that look sexy no matter how desirable the man.
“I know I did,” he acknowledged, spiteful at the tremor in his words. Trying to be patient through the pain was testing the very essence of his soul. Navigating a craggy stretch of desert with their group all pretending to be stricken deaf to awkward conversations, Dorian tried to steer Cole away from the heart of it. “The things you ask are just—very personal.”
“But… It hurts.” He tilted his head, that ridiculous hat flopping from the movement. “I want to help, but it’s all tangled with the love. I can’t tug it loose without tearing it.” The Inquisitor looked over her shoulder to them to gauge Dorian’s agony and unwittingly added to it. He only grimaced and stared off to some rubble while Cole carried on. “You hold him so tightly. You let it keep hurting because you think hurting is who you are. Why would you do… Oh. You are not alone.”
Wait. He wasn’t?
That caught his attention. Turning to follow Cole’s gaze, with Varric doing the same, they both settled their stare on Hawke’s back. The easy smile on his face that he always had confirmed he hadn’t been warned at how nosy Cole could be. Open emotional wounds and helping to mend them were irresistible to their friend from the Fade, and the rumors suggested Hawke was essentially a walking bastion of emotional torment.
“What? Please tell me I didn’t fall backward into some unsavory stain again.” Hawke’s optimism might have worked as a shield or diversion any other time. No such luck with Cole. Something about a person rooting around in your head, it left you utterly defenseless.
“Her bloodied body on the soil, cradled by Mother one last time. ‘How could you let her charge off like that?’ Says nothing when only I return and not my brother, how could I let him die? She falls to her knees and sobs, shattered, sorrowful, scarred. My fault.”
Piece by fragile piece, that beautiful smile came apart to a truly haunted facsimile. The shame was that he remained quite attractive through it. When he also slowed to a stop, the rest of them did the same without a word of protest. What else could anyone do? The situation had caught everyone rather off guard.
Cole hadn’t said enough to make the painful memories perfectly apparent. It was oddly a comfort for Dorian to know that, from the outside, the inner workings of the mind and private history were not laid so horrifically bare as it felt. It was only due to Varric’s novel that he knew the finer details at all. But that comfort was small and guilt-riddled next to the recognition furrowing Varric’s brow. As if Hawke looking so near to cheerily shattering wasn’t agonizing enough.
“Her eyes clouded with death like starlight; she is dying, always my fault. I’ll be fine, I lie, and she lies back, but her last words mean the world.”
“Cole—” Varric started, soft with him as always. He’d taken a shine to Cole and didn’t have the heart to stop him from getting carried away.
In that ethereal quality his voice took on when recounting memories, he forged on. “My little boy has become so strong. I love you. You’ve always made me so proud.” The silence hung thick as they all waited. Cole shook his head again, worrying his hands. At last, he made eye contact with Hawke and seemed all too aware of how much he’d hurt them both. “But she wasn’t lying. Why do you both choose—”
“Kid, uh…” Varric walked over to Cole and patted his arm. He’d become quite the father, that tender-hearted storyteller. “Why don’t you take it down a notch?”
Cole glanced from Varric to Dorian to Hawke and back to Varric again. Whether or not he learned a single thing from that visual trek, they’d find out soon enough if Cole asked more invasive questions. More likely when he did. The boy was a curious delight and part of the ragtag family of the Inquisition, but he was not tactful. Which had to be a grave state of indiscretion indeed if Dorian said so.
”I’m sorry. I keep making it worse.”
“No,” Dorian half-whispered, emotionally exhausted. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” Hawke agreed, then walked ahead alone.
The return to Skyhold after that unmitigated disaster of a mission was honestly a relief. Dorian didn’t complain once about the cold or that swill at the Herald’s Rest! A trip to the Fade in person was momentous and he would never stop being enthralled by all he saw there—well, most of what he saw. Could have done without the nightmare spider part. All the same, the sight of those frostbitten peaks encasing an unsightly collection of boxes these people called a fort was a genuine improvement.
When he did clean up and set out for the Skyhold tavern, Dorian was surprised to see Hawke still there. He had to set out for Weisshaupt. There had to be an overwhelming list of tasks to undertake first, and he assumed Hawke would want to spend as much personal time as possible with his dear friend from Kirkwall. How two men of such arguable taste lived in such a shithole and held fond memories of it was a mystery… Although not as enigmatic as Hawke’s presence there. He had a difficult day to say the least. His Warden friend sacrificed his life in the Fade for them. The remaining Wardens had been absorbed into the Inquisition. Cole had rifled about in his mind before one of the single worst adventures the so-called Herald of Andraste brought them on. And, to finish it all off, he’d have to leave Varric again shortly to go to a place notably less pleasant than Skyhold.
Dorian shuddered to think how all those serious Wardens would drag Hawke down. Normally, he was a right ray of sunshine! There was a reason Varric called him Chuckles. He did have a way with nicknames, however begrudgingly Dorian had to admit that. He deserved better than an icy mountainous lair for terminally somber Wardens.
“You going to stand there all night?” Krem’s lighthearted jab took Dorian from his thoughts, where he had apparently stopped immediately in the doorway.
“Please do accept my deepest apologies,” Dorian joked back, stepping aside in the direction of the bar. “I sometimes succeed in my willful amnesia of this place, and I must suffer anew its subpar existence.”
“You arse,” his companion answered with a chuckle and washed that down with a swig from his tankard.
That freed Dorian to approach Hawke. His idle smile made a half-hearted appearance to what he recognized as an attempt to cleanse pain with enough alcohol. Cleanse or drown out, whichever happened first, really.
Dorian set himself down on the unforgiving imitation of a stool beside Hawke and offered his finest grin for the lovely friend Varric had been hiding. After all, what made misery seem further away than a profile as gorgeous as his?
“Care for company?”
“That depends on the company,” Hawke teased, waving the barkeep down for a drink regardless. It had to be for Dorian based on the fact that the one in his hand was presently full. And that precious discovery did add some sincerity to his grin. Somewhere in that embarrassing march to Adamant, Dorian had endeared himself to the Champion.
“I plan on getting rather drunk tonight, and I detest doing so alone,” he presented a small fib. Who was keeping track between them? If that night went as planned, there would be far more important events to remember. Presuming they recalled anything whatsoever. “So I am choosing to take your answer as a yes.”
“It’s that or I intend to drink with a tankard in each hand. I’d say you’ve made the right choice,” Hawke said with a wink and raised his drink in a toast for Dorian. Special attention was always a short path to Dorian showing off that silk dance he so loved, and he had to admire Hawke’s astute initiative in extending it so swiftly. Before taking a long gulp of his drink to get the night of drunken stupor started, of course.
His plan to wrap himself up in Hawke, a rare athletic mage with his own roguish charms, had gone swimmingly. Dorian was so fortunate as to have a clear memory of the highlights, as it were.
Hawke had an arm around Dorian as they rested naked beneath the sheets in the late nighttime hours. Perhaps early morning. How relevant was that when Hawke was warm and welcoming long after they’d both had their pleasure? More than once, in fact. They enjoyed themselves so thoroughly that they’d had to stop once to put the drapes out. Pesky fire magic had a way of intruding at the most inopportune occasions.
Much like Dorian’s decidedly unsexy insecurities invaded his mind post-coitus. That was how he ended up voicing unnecessary questions while he lounged against the firm pectoral of one Garrett Hawke.
“Do you suppose Cole was right?”
“Hm?” Hawke’s hum rumbled in his chest, a dangerously soothing sensation for Dorian. There happened to be a certain domestic quality to it that reminded him of what it meant to hope for a real love. A fool’s errand, more often than not.
Too late to retreat from it now, Dorian figured.
“That we’re not alone?”
He frowned when Hawke laughed, turning to place a kiss to his head between impish chortles. Why, oh why, was he always drawn to the mischievous ones? What ever became of ‘opposites attract’?
“Well, you’re here, I’m here,” he listed, the smile obvious in his bright tone. That made it markedly more difficult to be cross with him for treating this so lightly. “I think he may be on to something.”
“Oh, ha ha,” he deadpanned, sitting up. Hawke propped himself up on an elbow, watching him with something dangerously like affection. Arousal, Dorian could handle! There was no blaming him for that when he had the honor of witnessing his sculpted form in glowing candlelight. “You know what I meant.”
“Most places I go, people want to kill me or have me kill something for them. That’s basically all it’s been since Kirkwall.” For a second, Dorian kicked himself mentally for introducing a subject that detracted from the honeyed bliss of Hawke after many rounds of exceptional intercourse. Worse, it unveiled another common ground they shared. Dorian was only too familiar with the double-edged homesickness that made Hawke’s smirk wane. “I didn’t realize how miserable I was until I met up with Varric again. And then there’s you.”
Dorian’s heart did this strange flop and stutter as he was transfixed by Hawke reaching for his hand with a tender squeeze. His stay in Skyhold had been brief. The Inquisitor’s marvelous ability to stretch herself thin to serve the myriad crises across the land delayed him long enough to enamor Dorian, it seemed.
“Sinfully attractive,” Hawke flattered him, “with that sexy, tortured look that gets me weak in the knees.”
“Oh, please,” he made a flimsy attempt to dismiss what he knew to be feelings. Dorian decided against taking his hand away even so. The callouses on the Champion’s palms against the back of his properly moisturized hands felt entirely new. He would miss it when he departed. “Your knees haven’t been weak a day in your life.”
“Maybe not,” Hawke yielded with a one-armed shrug. “But if that dark day did ever come to pass, it’s good to know someone would understand.”
Oh. When reading Tale of the Champion in haste, Dorian attributed the suave style of Hawke’s dialogue to Varric. A wordsmith and a liar who obviously bore great love for his friend, Varric did strike him as likely to twist reality in his companion’s favor. Then Hawke had to go and make a sappy remark like that.
Dorian laid back down beside him, partly to cozy up to him for more warmth, but also to avoid meeting those fond eyes. He could only contend with so much sincere love and empathy in one night.
“You make the whole nasty business less awful for me too.”