they forget so easily

prompt for 1/31: “You forget so easily.” DAI fanfic because come on, that prompt was made for Cole.

Cole felt cold.

Part of him recognized the dissonance in this, because how could a spirit feel something corporeal as cold? But it lingered, lying leisurely in his stomach, as he watched the rest of them carousing at one of the tables in the Inquisition’s grand hall.

He was accustomed to watching from the outside, face pressed against the windowpanes. His breath didn’t fog the glass but he wished it would. The ice threading its crystalline webs across the panes reminded him of the mage tower—it reminded him of Dorian with ice at his fingertips. Of Dorian’s laugh. Dorian was laughing, inside, clapping his palm down against the table, probably at a joke he’d told. Dorian found himself very funny—

“A wit such as mine is difficult to find, my spirituous friend,” he’d said. “But then, do you even appreciate humor?”

“I heard a joke once,” Cole had said, but Dorian had found that funny as well and the rest had been lost to laughter.

—“Hey, kid.”

Varric’s hand touched Cole’s shoulder and squeezed. Cole had learned not to jump because it upset Varric. He looked away from the window but the patterns the frost made felt frozen into his brain. Concentrating on the low beat of the dwarf’s heart—like someone rapping their knuckles on a piece of granite—made Cole feel calmer. Varric was the stone—sturdy and sane. He felt like coming back to Skyhold after a long absence—seeing the familiar keep and knowing you were safe. Varric was—warm and welcome, wise and wry. Cole liked him because dwarves kept their pain smothered beneath layers of stone, so it wasn’t so loud.

“I’m cold,” Cole said.

Varric chuckled.

“Nah, you’re Cole.

Cole’s mouth twisted.

“I know, I know. I was joking.”

“I heard a joke once.”

“Yeah, so Sparkler told me.”

Cole looked down, and the brim of his hate shadowed his eyes.

“Alright, what’s the matter, kid?” Varric said. “You know, it really won’t help Cassandra’s opinion of you if you’re always skulking outside of windows. In fact, please avoid hiding in dark hallways or in any closets, too.”

Cole couldn’t catch it, this feeling. So instead he said—

“I feel cold.”

“You gotta help me out a little, kid.”

“You forget so easily!” The words burst from him and Cole hated them—they felt like fire, fierce but fettered, falling to fracture whatever humanity he’d gained in Varric’s eyes. It burned, to feel this angry. “You say you trust me, you want me here, and then you blink and I see it! Every time anyone blinks I can see them forgetting.”

Because the world had always been cruel, Varric blinked and Cole watched the vague, subconscious surprise manifest again on the dwarf’s face.

“It doesn’t happen so much anymore, Cole,” Varric said. “There’s kind of a trick to it. I can talk to everyone else.”

“It makes me feel not worth remembering,” Cole said. “How can I help if nobody knows I’m real?”

Varric shrugged, lifting his hands.

“Why don’t we go inside? I’m cold, you’ve said fifteen times that you’re cold, seems like a good plan.”

Varric stepped to the side and placed his hand on the keep’s great doors, but he paused. He looked at Cole and this time he remembered.

“It’ll come. I think. Look, kid, I don’t even know what you are. If you’re a demon, I feel kind of weird for liking you as much as I do. If not—all of us are trying. And all of us want you here.”

“I’m helping?” Cole said. “Not hurting?”

“Helping.”

Varric pulled the doors open and walked inside, and Cole followed him. His heart beat a little faster when Adaar looked up with an exuberant greeting—but then, when the others began to call out to Varric, he realized what had happened. Varric turned around and scanned the area where Cole stood, his mouth down-turned in puzzlement. Then the dwarf turned back to the table and took a seat beside the Inquisitor.

Cole wandered to where Dorian sat and crawled onto the bench beside the mage. They’d notice him, in time. But it never lasted.

They forgot so easily.

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