schizoauthoress: (I Read Your Fanfic -- The Shining)
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Title: It Has to Be Hurt
Author: D.L.SchizoAuthoress
Rating: PG
Spoilers: a bit of companion banter in "Dragon Age: Inquisition"
Warnings: Romanced!Dorian because that's how I roll; angst, obviously
Word Count: 1811
Summary: What is the function of a wooden duck? Dorian is reminded of a childhood incident.
Word of the Day: bird-dog, verb: To follow, watch carefully, or investigate.

Note: It might be a little awkward, but I'm referring to the player character as only "The Inquisitor" and not going into much detail about him. Y'all don't seem to like it when I write about my particular Quizzie.

"To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also."
-- Igor Stravinsky

It Has to Be Hurt

Dorian does have his own quarters at Skyhold, despite what those jumped up mask-wearing Orlesians seem to think. He's heard the whispers, and known full well that they wanted him to hear. (They're just jealous, he tells himself as he shuts the door to the Inquisitor's quarters behind him. All the same, he hopes that whatever construction is going on to fix that space between the Great Hall and the Inqusitor's bedroom will include stairs with another entrance eventually. Sneaking around for romantic trysts is fun, whether or not it's actually necessary.)

Dorian strides the length of the Great Hall, neither avoiding looks or seeking to attract them. He exchanges a nod of acknowledgement with one of Bonny Sims's people, and takes a moment to hold open the door to the tower for one of Helisma's researchers. The Tranquil man's pleasant expression doesn't shift quite right, and his "thank you" is rather toneless, but Dorian smiles as bright as he would for anyone and ignores the unsettled crawling down his spine at the sight of the scarred-over Chantry sunburst on the man's forehead.

"You're welcome," Dorian says. And he asks, "Do you need help with those? The stairs..."

The Tranquil man takes a moment to adjust the truly prodigious stack of books in his arms. "No. They are properly balanced now."

"All right." Dorian still lingers in the doorway, waiting until the researcher has started going up the stairs. Solas says nothing to him, and he says nothing to Solas.

When he shuts the door, a sparkle of light catches his eye. Dorian looks up, and there's the Madame De Fer. Of course she saw him leaving the Inquisitor's quarters. She probably saw them entering as well -- she's almost always up there, turning the space that leads out onto the balcony into a sitting room, or using it as such.

She's so far up that he can't make out her expression, but she seems rather relaxed as she leans on the bannister and looks down at the Great Hall. He wonders if he'll hear about this later, should they both go out into the field together, and decides that he'll look forward to it. Vivienne's barbs are so much more clever than some that get tossed at him by other companions.

Dorian keeps walking, out of the Great Hall and toward his own quarters. Magister Tilani sent him a letter recently, and even before the Inquisitor showed up to pull him out of the library, Dorian had been meaning to write back. If nothing else, Maevaris will probably appreciate the news of more dead Venatori, and he wants to get her thoughts about what was going on in the Still Ruins out in the Western Approach.

In the courtyard, nobody speaks to him, which is fine. They're all busy anyway, and he's already absently composing part of the letter in his head. He walks up the stairs and opens the door to his room.

The first thing he does is light a new stick of jasmine incense. The scent from the last time lingers, very faintly, and he'd like it to be stronger. Dorian is around many -- too many -- places and people that stink, these days. (Not the Inquisitor, Dorian thinks fondly: no, the Inquisitor always smells nice.) He blows out the flame, leaving a little ember behind, and waves his hand slightly to disperse the smoke before putting the thin, smoldering stick in its holder on his nightstand.

And that's when he sees it, sitting right on the indent in his pillow. A wooden duck.

Dorian scoffs to himself; perhaps he's seeing things. But no, when he reaches out to touch it, the smooth wood is solid beneath his fingertips. And there is weight to it when he picks it up in his hands.

It's a light-colored, almost blond wood; the shape is different than the one he remembers; the eyes are painted on; and there are no wheels. He rubs his thumb over this duck's rounder head and shorter neck, and sighs.

Cole.

'It has to be hurt, or a way to help the hurt.' he had said, at the Mercenary Fortress in the Hinterlands. 'That's what calls me.'

That was when Cole had mentioned Rilienus, and in front of the Inquisitor and the Iron Bull! (Dorian had not cringed over it -- an Altus didn't cringe, for goodness sake -- but he'd been braced for uncomfortable questions. Somehow, even later, they'd never come.) Of course that strange young man, that strange spirit, would have picked up on this hurt. Even older, even sharper than Rilienus.

Dorian has a moment where he wants to throw the wooden duck out the window. His window faces out over the fortress's protective outer wall, after all.

An Altus also does not throw a tantrum, though. He's thirty years old and he has more dignity than that. Dorian puts the toy on top of his wardrobe and goes to the writing desk. He still owes Maevaris a letter.

****

They're tramping around Crestwood next, and of course the Inquisitor decided to take Cole along instead of Vivienne. Of course. Dorian trails along behind the Inquisitor and hopes that eventually he'll stop smelling the wet dog, wet druffalo reek of Crestwood. The big rift under the lake is still active, but they'd stumbled across smaller ones on the abandoned farms around the village, and the Inquisitor wanted to get those closed.

Dorian glances at the pale young man beside him for the fifth time in as many minutes. And finally, decides to bring up what has been bothering him for days. "Cole, the wooden duck I found on my bed... was that you?"

"No," Cole says serenely, "I'm not a wooden duck."

Dorian fights the urge to roll his eyes. "I mean did you put it there?"

"Yes?" Cole answers, a touch uncertainly. As if he cared about Dorian's feelings, when if he truly cared, he wouldn't go poking at old scars to bleed them again, so to speak. "I couldn't find one with little wheels, though. I'm sorry."

The Inquisitor looks back at them then, and the angry retort dies on Dorian's tongue.

He is not going to speak of this, not here and not to the Inquisitor.

****

At least they are back in Skyhold when the dream starts in earnest. He's been getting bits of the incident, snatches of sound and images, mixed in with his dreams ever since he found that damned wooden duck on his pillow. (That's what has been bothering him; that's why his temper has been shorter than usual. Not that Blackwall, the one who'd commented on his foul mood, would ever be given that reason. Dorian has his pride.)

He was five, or maybe six years old when it happened. Neither Halward nor Aquinea had much time for him -- Father busy with Magister duties, and Mother... well, he didn't know then what she was doing. But her job, despite not looking much like work, was to keep the Pavus family in good standing with other magister households -- and he knew now what a consuming and stressful job that was. So he was often left in the care of the servants, or sometimes the slaves, and played alone.

Dorian's favorite toys were a set of carved wooden animals. Each one -- a horse, an elephant, a fish, and a duck -- was carved out of light brown wood, with the eyes indicated by small, shallow holes drilled in the head. The flat shapes were mounted on four rounded, very polished wooden wheels. He vaguely recalled that there might have been a stick or a lead-line to pull them around with, once, but he must have discarded those almost immediately.

Dorian preferred to push the toys around with magic. It was more fun that way, and his control was getting better and better the more that he did it. (Halward had praised him for it, when he'd first seen his son playing that way. Even Aquinea had mustered up a genuinely pleased smile when he'd come marching into the dining room one day, behind the perfectly straight line of four toys rolling into the room.)

He does not remember what day it had been. But he does remember what happened after he gave his wooden duck too hard of a magical shove that day.

The toy rolled out of Dorian's playroom and rattled slightly on the tiled floor of the hallway. He'd looked up, intending to ask his nanny to go fetch the toy for him. But she was deep in discussion with another of the servant girls, so he'd resolved to go get the duck back himself.

Dorian's playroom was just outside of Aquinea's wing of the house. He'd never spent much time there, even as a young child, because she had so clearly needed her own private refuge. So he was very, very quiet as he walked toward his toy -- already knowing, even as small as he was, that it would not be good to disturb her if she were here.

He'd just bent down and laid his hands on the wheeled wooden duck when he heard the sound of shattering glass. Dorian froze.

"Get out!" Aquinea screamed, and for a moment, a terrible fear gripped the young boy. Was someone attacking his mother? There was another shattering sound, and Aquinea repeated, even louder, "Get out!"

"This is my home and you are my wife--"

"I don't care! I've done my damned duty to you, Halward; now you leave me alone!"

Dorian stood up, clutching his favorite toy to his chest. She was yelling at Father. Why was she so angry? What had he done?

"I have given you everything you asked for--"

"Not everything!"

"That woman is not coming into this house, now or ever, Aquinea! I will not have it!"

"Oh, Halward Pavus won't have it? You won't have it?" Aquinea's voice got shriller, almost hysterical. Each sentence was punctuated by more solid thumps. She was throwing things again, more substantial than glass. "Well, you won't have me either, you pompous, self-important ass! I hate you!"

"I hate you, too!"

Dorian turned and fled back to the playroom.

****

Dorian wakes up in a cold sweat.

He hates that memory. Hates it so much. Now, he can mention that his parents despised each other and sound like he doesn't even care. But back then? He'd had no idea, up until that moment, how much they disliked each other. (And -- he'd thought, the frightened reasoning of a child -- if they hated each other so much, didn't that mean that they could only hate him, too?)

Damn Cole for making him think about this again. How was this supposed to help anything?

*-*-*-*-*

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