love interests + saying i love you (da:i)
blackwall could say it a thousand times and still he wouldn’t think it enough. i love you, i love you, i love you, he says, the shadow of a man starved for his inquisitor, his words both an admission and a plea. one day he’ll be able to say the words plainly, not seeped with desperation, but for now that’s the only way he can say it, because his admissions of love are all he has to give the inquisitor – his love and his life, for whatever that’s worth. he comes close sometimes, late at night when his lover sleeps and he brushes his calloused fingers against the back of their neck, murmuring a soft “i love you” with only the moonlight as witness. true bravery is being able to repeat the words in that way when his inquisitor is awake – he is still a work in progress and he’s never been known for courageousness, but he is trying.
cassandra shows her affection with fierce declarations in heated moments. at least, that’s how it starts – from lioness roars her “i love yous” turn into stuttered responses, into handwritten poems left on desks (anonymously, or so she believes them to be, but the inquisitor always seems to have a knowing smile when they see them), and finally warm replies, quiet but no less amorous than her first confession. “i believe you,” she said once to her inquisitor after they expressed their love; now, with grand battles won and years passed, she finds that she can smile and answer: “i know. and i love you, too.”
cullen says it so earnestly, as often as he can. most times he says it as a reminder – he needs the inquisitor to know just how much they are wanted by him, just how much they mean to him, just how strongly he feels. cullen says it pointedly, with purpose, because he is a practiced man, but there are plenty of times when the words slip out quite unbidden. often they fall from his lips for the little things: when he sees the inquisitor get dressed, or when they smile at something he says, or when they laugh at their own, silly joke. once he says it at the war table and doesn’t even realize he’s let it slip until josephine giggles and leliana tries vainly to hide a smile; he’s mortified for only a moment until he sees his inquisitor, rosy and beaming. he may not yet know how to love himself, but oh, how he loves the inquisitor, and he hopes his words share as much.
dorian doesn’t know how to say it, not really. the words mean so much and yet, they are so empty - he can’t bring himself to use them in the presence of his inquisitor. not when the words are tied to all his lessons of loss, to a father who tried to change him, to a mother who turned a blind eye, to a homeland seeped in blood. sometimes he fears he’ll never say it but oh, he wants to - so he does his best to relearn the words, tie them to something different, to a relationship where he is wanted. and until he can earnestly speak the words, he pours his every emotion into corner kisses and tight embraces and breathed whispers of “amatus.”
iron bull says “i love you” as casually as he can. he means it every time, his eye glimmering with a warmth his easy tone tries to hide, but he means it even more when he hums “kadan” into his inquisitor’s bare shoulders. a plain “i love you” isn’t enough; no common tongue can quite capture the burn, the tightening, the placement of the inquisitor in his heart, the way that qunlat can. still, there is one human word that comes close; it’s telling, the way he says “boss” with a wicked smile, with a fond sigh, with a gut-wrenching roar on the battlefield, with rumbling laughter.
josephine is a silly contradiction when it comes to saying “i love you” – it makes her terribly embarrassed (but pleased, oh so very pleased) to hear the words said to her, but she herself says them almost easily. josie slips the words into light conversation with her darling inquisitor, writes them in love notes in between invitations and speech drafts, sends them through little gifts when she knows her beloved has had a long day. she tries a grand, romantic gesture once – candlelight and roses – but finds that she much rather prefers the bare words. “i love you very much,” she says now, a fond twinkle in her eye. she leaves the grand displays to her inquisitor.
sera announces it like it’s common knowledge, really, like it’s been written in stone for years and years and the inquisitor should just know it. she takes her time getting to this point, of course; the first time the words come out they’re a drunken slur, caught between a hiccup and a giggle. the second time she’s a little less intoxicated and by the third, when the inquisitor finally brings it up, she’s laughing at the hesitance. “i love you, yeah?” she says, and she will continue to say. (she’ll punctuate it with: “prob'ly a bit too much, but don’t let it get to your head” and a mischievous smile.)
solas forbids himself from uttering the words. he will tie his own tongue, guarantee his own heartbreak, dig his own grave – but he will not admit his love for fear that he will hurt the inquisitor any more than he already has, than he already will. still, while he cannot say it, he can think it, in the dead of night when he passes the door to her chambers, fleetingly when the wind carries echoes of her voice, when he sees her smile. the wolf inside him howls his heartsong, the god outside mutes the noise and gives nothing more than a tight-lipped smile, because that is all he can offer. the elf, the man wants to offer more, wants to give her the world and trace the words into her skin. (i love you, he thinks. “in another world,” he says, pleads, begging for her understanding. instead, it drives the knife in a little deeper.)
+bonus, platonic love
cole doesn’t feel the need to say it, so he doesn’t. for him it’s simple enough – he knows the way he feels and shows it through actions. that’s who he is: he acts rather than speaks and helps to fix any of their hurts, because any pain they feel, he feels, too. he’s learning from varric and dorian that there are other ways of showing love, like letting the inquisitor put their hand on his arm or sometimes his shoulder (he likes it when they hold him, but not for long), and letting them remember. he’s becoming quite fond of leaving the inquisitor flowers - cole doesn’t smile much, but he does when he feels the burst of warmth from the inquisitor when they discover the little tokens, or when they tuck them into their hair or tunic pockets. that’s another way of showing his love: smiling.
varric wishes he’d learn his damn lesson already, that holding any love for a hero is bound to end in tragedy, but he never does. it frightens him how fiercely he loves the inquisitor, because everyone he’s ever loved he’s also lost - but the inquisitor keeps coming back, the inquisitor slays demons and dragons and darkspawn and doesn’t even flinch at the pain. but when they stare at their bloody red hands with empty eyes and sinking hearts, varric has to admit to himself how much he cares; he covers their hands with his own, smiles, and pieces together their armor with witty words and wicked grace. and somewhere down the line, when ancient magisters are slain and darkspawn are crawling back into their holes, when skyhold is abuzz with celebration, he’ll watch the inquisitor mingle from afar and murmur, to no one in particular, “yeah, can’t help but love that one.”
vivienne has spent all her life building a reputation for being an iron lady, she wields words forged of steel and has a kingdom to match - she doesn’t love, she cannot love. (at least, so she says, but her heart aches even now when she thinks back on her beloved, taking his final breaths with her at his bedside.) still, vivienne feels a tenderness when she looks on the inquisitor; her casually flung endearments become softer, her smiles less sharp. to the untrained eye and ear nothing has changed, but most nobles know by now not to criticize the inquisitor in the presence of madame de fer, lest they want their secrets slipped and reputations sliced to ribbons.