It was always snowing at Skyhold. Klaus woke up daily to a new layer of the soft powder on his balcony, and he’d pull the covers over his head and curse the cold. But he had never seen Redcliffe covered in snow before, and it was beautiful. The distaste Skyhold instilled in him ebbed away and he liked the way it transformed the characteristically red and brown city into a white wonderland. Children ran by armed with snowballs, and even a few adults were out playing and sculpting in the snow. Their joy was infectious, Klaus found himself smiling as he and his small party of Cassandra, Cullen, and Josephine made their way up to Redcliffe Castle. They were invited by Arl Teagan to enjoy the snowfall and a feast, but Klaus knew it was also a political gambit. It had been a year since Corypheus was defeated, the gratefulness of the nobility of Ferelden and Orlais to the Inquisition was starting to wane into weariness.
Suddenly feeling weary himself, he reached up and placed his hand over his chest where Dorian’s amulet rested under his doublet. He tried to reach him before they left for Redcliffe, but the connection continued to fail and he was forced to give up. He had gone long lengths of time without speaking to Dorian before, but it didn’t change that it always worried him and made his heart ache ever more to be with him. He ruefully thought, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” several times a day.
“I’m sure he’s only busy,” Josephine said from his side, her voice low and gentle so that only he heard her. “He is trying to revolutionize an entire country.”
Klaus couldn’t help but smile. “And I believe only Dorian can manage that.”
“With style!” Josephine added brightly and patted Klaus’s arm. “Do not fret, Inquisitor. Trevelyan and Pavus will be reunited again before long.”
“I hope you’re right.” Klaus sighed.
Time for conversation was over, they reached the gates of Redcliffe castle now and retainers came out to meet them and take their horses to the stables. The one who neared Klaus’s black dracolisk looked nervous, but to her credit she didn’t hesitate to take the reins.
“Inquisition! Welcome!” Arl Teagan was coming down the stairs, his arms opened in welcome and a polite smile on his face. “I trust your travels were safe?”
“Only snow to delay us, m’lord,” Cullen responded with a bow.
“It’s so kind of you to invite us,” Josephine remarked as she stepped forward to pay her respects. Teagan took her hand to kiss the back.
“It is our pleasure. Redcliffe rarely sees a snowfall like this and the city is quite remarkable, isn’t it?” He turned to look toward the village, the ice and snow glittering like diamonds. “Eamon likes to start calling it Whitecliffe.”
Klaus considered telling the Arl if he enjoyed snow so much he should visit Skyhold more often, but he held his tongue. He didn’t want to put Josephine’s etiquette lessons to shame so, he smiled and conducted small talk as they were lead into the castle and shown to their rooms, since traveling after a night of feasting and drinking in the snow would be foolhardy.
Many of the guests invited were already moving toward the main hall in their finery, mostly other Fereldan nobility but Eamon’s wife’s family was there from Orlais as well. Klaus recognized them simply because their clothes were much flashier than the rest.
He took his time changing into his finery, stopping to open the amulet and try to reach Dorian. Frustratingly, the mirror continued to only show him his own face, one with disheveled black hair and bags under his eyes. He snapped the amulet closed and tossed it onto the bed in a momentary fit of anger. When he finished dressing he hesitated at the door for a moment before finally deciding to leave it behind.
Fereldan parties were much more fun than anywhere else in Thedas Klaus had been thus far. Fereldans were much more open and their liquor much stronger. Jovial music and boisterous chatter filled the hall as everyone feasted on delicious dishes such as roasted pheasant, boiled potatoes, and a giant boar with an apple in its mouth. Dessert was an assortment of pies and pastries and frilly little cakes from Orlais, courtesy of Isolde’s family. When everyone had their fill of food and wine, the tables were moved out of the way, the music picked up, and the hall filled with dancing couples.
Klaus remained in his chair. He had eaten enough to be polite, but his appetite just wasn’t with him, and he definitely didn’t feel like dancing. But after a time, he received a reproachful look from Josephine, so he got up and moved onto the floor.
He turned to see Cassandra, who looked out just as out of place on this dance floor as in Halamshiral. She walked up to him and held out her hand. “Care to dance? You’d be doing me a favor.”
Klaus chuckled and took her hand. “In truth, you’re doing me one as well. Josephine has started giving me the evil eye.”
Cassandra sighed. “Me as well. I do not see how she enjoys such things.”
“Dorian seems to enjoy them too,” Klaus lamented.
“But you’d go to a thousand of them as long as you were with him, correct?” Cassandra’s voice was matter of fact, but her eyes were soft.
Klaus chuckled, but her words had cheered him up some. “You’re such a romantic, Cassandra.”
“And you’ll take that knowledge to your grave, Inquisitor.”
The night was winding down and guests with short journeys had started to leave. While the hosts were busy seeing to their departing dignitaries, Klaus wandered out in the garden. It was a peaceful little garden with simple flowers, except for a clutch of Andraste’s Grace glimmering in the moonlight. He wondered how the snow hadn’t withered the flowers, but he decided that was knowledge he didn’t need.
At the edge of the garden one could stand at a fence and look down over Redcliffe’s harbor. It was peaceful, and the air was quiet, softly muted by the snow. Flakes still fell from the sky, but they were few and far between. It was a nice moment, if only he could enjoy it without wishing for more.
“Do you know what I’m thankful for this year?”
The voice struck Klaus’s heart like an arrow and he spun around, almost sliding in the snow.
“That I didn’t sell my soul for a pair of shoes. Did you see what Isolde had on her feet? Tch.”
“Dorian!” Klaus rushed forward, grabbing the man in a tight hug as happy tears pearled on the edges of his eyes. Dorian returned the embrace just as hard, nearly lifting Klaus to his feet.
“I can’t believe it, you’re here!” Klaus exclaimed, grinning up at the Vint. His cheeks already felt sore from the effort. “Why are you here?”
Dorian huffed. “I can’t surprise my love?”
“That is the number one question to ask when you’re trying to deflect.” Klaus was starting to feel worried again. He stepped back from Dorian, trying to get a good read on the man’s face. “Has something happened?”
Dorian sighed, gripping the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger for a moment. “Well, as a matter of fact, yes.”
Klaus felt his heart drop into his stomach. “What?”
Dorian didn’t say anything for a minute, just stared into Klaus’s face with an unreadable expression on his own. “Oh, Amatus…”
Klaus swallowed. “Dorian, tell me.”
“Okay, but don’t freak out.” Dorian stepped up to Klaus and held out his hand, the gesture smooth and deliberate like it’d been practiced. “Take my hand?”
Klaus stared at his hand and then at him. “Why?”
Dorian frowned. “Damn it, Amatus, take my hand.”
“Because I’m trying to ask you to marry me, so take my damn hand!”
It was like all the air had been sucked out of the world. The snow began to fall harder, swirling around the two men standing in the garden, but they stood as rigid as statues. Klaus’s eyes were as round as full moons, and Dorian looked caught between frustrated and embarrassed.
And then it broke.
“You want to marry me? I thought something bad at happened!”
“To be honest some people think marrying a Tevinter is something bad,” Dorian remarked with a smirk.
Klaus grinned at him. He wanted to be irritated, to get onto him for worrying him like he did, but the joy in his heart was swelling so much he wasn’t sure his chest could contain it. He hugged Dorian again and they remained in their warm embrace for a long time.
“Marriage. Isn’t everyone in Tevinter going to lose their minds?” asked Klaus, his arms still securely around the waist of his fiancé.
“How sure are you the Marchers are going to keep their heads?” Dorian countered, and the two men laughed, louder than necessary.
“I can’t believe you came all the way here to propose,” said Klaus. “Cassandra is going to lose her shit.”
Dorian smiled. “All a part of my master plan.” And he leaned in to press his lips to Klaus’s.
The last time they had kissed had been nearly half a year before when Dorian was leaving for Tevinter again; the sorely missed sensation mixed with the glee of their impending nuptials made this the best kiss Klaus had ever had. He would always remember this night in “Whitecliffe.”