"Paperwork..." Dawn Trevelyan sighed. "How much paperwork must the Herald of Andraste go over for a pack of bloody mabaris that were, in fact, gifted to us from King Alistair?"
She glanced pensively through a window in Josephine's office, as the ambassador helped her with the paper. Josephine frowned slightly. "Inquisitor," she chided, "this paperwork covers more than just the dogs. It covers trainers, kennels for Skyhold, several hundred pounds of dog food shipments, and more than a few boxes of mabari crunch."
"I know, but..." Dawn rolled her eyes, rolling a lock of her long, dark brown hair in a free hand, twirling a quill in her other hand as she returned her gaze to the paper. "I had no idea getting dogs for the Inquisition could be so much work."
Josephine looked up from her papers and smiled briefly at the Inquisitor. "Look on the bright side. Once this work is done, and the kennels are properly set up-- you said you liked dogs once, didn't you? You'll get to go play with the mabaris now and then." She chuckled. "Maker knows Cullen will be gushing over them. You know Fereldens and their dogs."
"I suppose." Dawn replied, somewhat distractedly, scribbling her signature onto yet another document, eyes flickering out the window at the sunset every few seconds. "One will probably imprint on him, and then his room will be inhabited by not only one of Leliana's ravens, but a dog." She snorted. "All he needs after that is a nug, and he's got a proper menagerie."
"At least the dog can't climb up the ladder to his bedroom," Josephine said with a chuckle, "I distinctly remember one night you stayed up there and you woke up in the very early morning to the bird on your head. The shriek you gave when it--"
"--ah, let's not finish that thought." Dawn blushed. "I'm just relieved that most people believed me when I said it was just a spider that frightened me."
"Which is mercifully plausible. Do you remember that time you refused to sit in judgement after a very large spider was found on your throne?" Josephine giggled. Dawn shuddered.
"Never again, Josie. Never." She rapidly zipped through a few papers and turned them to Josephine. "I think that's the work I was supposed to do. You said you wanted me to do this here and not in my room, because...?"
"Oh, yes, about that-- you know that you sometimes sign things and then leave them in your room and forget to turn them in? I couldn't have that for this time and have them be late at all." Josephine shook her head. "Not considering the circumstances."
Dawn raised an eyebrow. "What's the circumstances?" She cocked her head to the side, frowning slightly. Josephine stared at her.
"Inquisitor, you were informed that the mabaris got here early, yes?" she asked, hesitatingly. The Herald shook her head, leading Josephine to groan and set down her quill, focusing on the Inquisitor.
"I was told that you were told," Josephine explained, "the mabaris got here today, a week early-- some of the soldiers are scrambling to set up a proper kennel in time, before night falls. I needed this paperwork done and turned in as soon as possible."
Dawn sat up straight, eyes widened. "You mean they're--" She stood up, pushing her chair in hastily. "I should probably go check on the dogs. Maybe I can lend a hand with my magic."
"I'm sure they would appreciate it," Josephine stated, a small smile on her face, eyes alight, "Try to pet the dogs while you're at it. The visiting Fereldens do love to see leaders and important persons with dogs. It would be excellent if one imprints on you. It would do wonders for our reputation in Ferelden."
"We'll see," Dawn said with a shrug, "another time, Josephine."
"Good-bye." The ambassador responded, turning her attention back to another pile of papers on her desk. Dawn made her way out, passing through the main hall. The stained glass windows cast shapes and colors over the hall and throne as the Inquisitor walked briskly past chatting nobles and dignitaries. Dawn noticed Vivienne up over the hall, sitting with a glass of wine in her chair, watching over the people and waved to her briefly, which Vivienne returned with a slight smile. She passed a quick glance to where Varric would normally be, by the fireplace. The dwarf wasn't there; there was nothing but a notebook left open with notes she didn't stop to look at.
Dawn continued to Solas' room, and found it absent of the elven apostate, though the signs remained that he had been there recently: books were flipped open on his desk, and a strong smell of paint permeated the air as it dried. She paused for a moment and looked up the tower, not hearing many footsteps. "Dorian?" she called out, straining her neck to look up.
No one responded, but a few footsteps came as Dawn turned around and looked up to face the source of the sound. Helisma looked over the balcony at her calmly, with the same neutral expression she always bore. "Dorian left to go look at the mabaris, along with Solas and Varric."
The mage blinked; she hadn't expected Dorian to be among the interested parties over the mabaris, much less Solas. "Thank you, Helisma." She replied as she continued out of the building, out into the setting sunlight and brisk air of Skyhold. She looked down over the bridge towards the stables to see several soldiers working on kennels for the mabari puppies, which were a few feet away, being fawned over while most of the Inquisitor's companions looked on, smiling slightly, amused.
She quickly scurried across the bridge, through Cullen's absent room, and down the stairs to the grounds. Several people took note of her approach and turned to her. Dorian grinned at her. "Inquisitor, what excellent timing," he greeted, "here to see the new recruits?"
"That I am." She smirked. "I didn't know you liked dogs, Dorian."
"Of course I do! They're mabaris, with Tevinter heritage. No finer dogs in the world." He shrugged. "That, and I came here to settle a bet between Varric and I."
Varric chuckled, crossing his arms. "I'm telling you, Sparkler, two of them are going to imprint on Curly and our beloved Inquisitor."
"While I'm saying that they've probably alright got their eye on a master." Dorian sighed. "We'll just have to see."
Dawn laughed. "Well, I don't know that any will imprint on me-- maybe Cullen. How are they looking?"
"Full of piss and beans, that's how the look," Sera said loudly, reaching over to pet one of the puppies, "they've already pissed all over a bunch of bushes and tress and the wall. Look how cute they are, too, little asshats." She cooed as one licked her hand. Iron Bull reached and stroked the puppy with a laugh.
"For a dog that came from the Vints, they're excellent warriors, so I've heard. I should get one for Krem. The dog would probably be better at blocking shield bashes than him."
Dawn looked over their shoulders and pushed through the crowd to find Cullen in the middle of the group of dogs, one of which was obediently sitting at his side as he tossed a few treats to the onlookers to feed to the dogs. He looked up at his lover and he beamed, eyes alight with delight. "Inquisitor, you're here! I knew you'd come to look at the mabaris." He picked up one of the smaller puppies, holding her like a baby as she happily licked Cullen's face. "This one's imprinted on me. I don't know how much time I'll have to take care of her, but--" The puppy nuzzled against Cullen's chin, licking him more.
The Herald reached, letting the dog in Cullen's arms sniff her hand carefully before licking it affectionately. "Taking a break from all your work, Cullen?" she asked.
"Of course. I heard the dogs were here, and, well," the man cleared his throat, "Varric said I had a serious expression on my face too much. So I thought I would just check out the new dogs." He looked down at the puppy in his arms. "Didn't think I'd come out of it with a mabari pup of my own."
"I would have been surprised if you didn't come out with a pup," Dawn chimed in, "a good man like you is the sort of person a mabari would imprint on."
Cullen laughed. "These puppies are related to the Queen of Ferelden's mabari. I just never imagined I'd get one myself-- but I did expect you to get one, and I see you did." He beamed at her, much to the Herald's confusion.
"What are you talking--" A paw hit her boot and she looked down to see a chubby puppy pawing her, reaching up for her. He stared into her eyes for what seemed like a long time as he did so, and he whined and begged to be picked up. She reached down and picked up the puppy, and the ball of fluff and love was in her arms, wriggling until he found a comfortable position and leaned against her chest, tail wagging rapidly.
Dawn didn't have a moment to say anything in response to the imprinted dog as he vigorously licked her face, placing a paw against her cheek. He began to make snuffling noises of content, pulling his paw back and enjoyed being held like a baby. Cullen let out a laugh.
"That one's the oddball of the group. He was romping around the horses for awhile before taking time to lick everything, for reasons I still don't know."
The puppy happily barked in response and licked Dawn's face even more. She giggled and rubbed his belly, much to the dog's content as he continued to issue snuffling grunts of appreciation. "Of course I fall in love with the oddball," she remarked, smirking at Cullen, "just like I always do."
The commander rolled his eyes and snickered. "Apparently you do."
Behind them, Varric held out his hand expectantly as the Tevinter Altus mage sighed and dropped a small bag of coins in the dwarf's hand. Next to them, Sera yelped as a mabari knocked her to the ground and began to lick her face. She groaned, yet giggled as the dog licked her, having met its new master. Sera sat up, running a hand over the puppy.
"I think this one wants to join the Friends of Red Jenny." She took on a babying tone. "Who wants to be a Friend of Red Jenny?" The puppy barked cheerfully. Sera rubbed and tugged gently on the dog's ears as he pawed her chest. "You dooo! Who's gonna be the best Friend of Red Jenny? That's right! You areee!" The mabari pup barked again and Sera sighed contently. "Now all I need to do is name you. I can't believe I got imprinted on!" The archer paused. "That sounds weird. Really weird. Imprinting. There should be another word for that that's not so weird."
Dorian looked back to Varric and held out his hand as the rogue returned the bag of coin, sighing dramatically. "You win this time, Sparkler," Varric replied, albeit still sounding smarmy, "who would have guessed that one of the inner circle would have gotten imprinted on?"
"I did, evidently. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to be spending my winnings on candied dates..."