A.N Been a while since I've sat down and wrote anything, but I am in actual fact in LOVE with Dragon Age release, I've played at least 3 hours every day and I think I may actually have a problem. I'm looking to write more DA:I things, but I wanted to post this. Please, please tell me if I'm ruining the characters or the English language in general. Tanks x
She finds him in his weakest moments, in the moments that Cullen is too ashamed to seek help with. When the past whispers in his ear; taunting him, twisting his thoughts until he's unconsciously scratching his nails across his scalp hard and fast. She finds him pacing, pawing at himself and – on occasion – muttering pitifully. He eyes the little wooden box sat innocently upon his desk with distaste, but not without a small shred of longing.
One drink, just to help the tremors past, the voices soothe even as he reminds himself of the months of agony it had taken to get where he is now. Could he do all that again? Would his body even allow it, the withdrawal that killed so many, would he manage it again?
He's ashamed at first, stuttering and apologizing. For what, he's never sure, but the apology is as quick on his tongue as anything, quicker than the instinct to hide his shaking hands behind his back and straighten.
The Inquisitor stares, quiet and calculating with those oddly eternal eyes all elven women seemed to possess. On a day like today, Cullen does not welcome her gaze. His cheeks are warming already, awaiting the 'are you ok?' that he is sure is going to be asked. Readying himself for the pity, unwanted never mind the kindness behind it, he straightens and attempts to keep his voice even.
"Was there something you needed, Inquisitor?"
She merely stares for a moment, eyes darting from one eye to the next, to his obviously clammy skin and quaking voice. He cannot ignore the dread, the thought that someone like her – an almost sort of friend if you ignore the end of the world situation – would worry over something he quite obviously deserved.
"Dorian called me flat chested," she crosses her arms, jutted a hip and made the saddest little moue he'd ever had the pleasure of seeing. "I want him executed,"
The relief is almost palpable in the silence that followed, interrupted only by the sharp breath Cullen finally released. He gave a little cough, eyes darting from her face to her chest before he blushes hard enough to hurt. She grins, all teeth and sharp eyes and he can't help but give her a faint smile in reply.
"Dorian?" he asked, playing for time as she nods and thankfully ignores his unnatural tone, all warbling and tense. "As in Dorian, your favourite?"
"Shh!" she hisses, looking around the room in fake panic. "You'll make Bull cry, he ever hears you,"
He stares a moment too long, confusion and withdrawal doing nought to help him keep up. "Could you not just, I don't know, refuse to speak to him?"
"Sounds dull," A wave of the hand, batting his suggestion away as she walks slowly around the room. "What's the point of power if I can't have my friends executed?"
He does laugh then, a breathy sort of affair that's more a sigh than anything else as her aloofness breaks into a pleased grin. "What indeed," he mutters, hand half raised to rub at his neck before he remembers the tremors and hides it once more. "I'm afraid execution is out of the question, you'd only regret it. What about if we had him thoroughly shouted at?"
She nods slowly, eyes far away before she treats him to the penetrating gaze that always makes him feel strangely bare. "I suppose that'll do, tell him his moustache is stupid too. That'll make him cry," A wicked grin seems to slide into place, all teasing and blush inducing. "He's a liar anyway,"
"Oh yes, without question," Cullen agreed without a thought, until her expression changes to something a touch more impish. Oh, her chest, right. "I mean, o-of course I don't mean… What I mean is-"
There is a musical little laugh to interrupt his babbling, hand rubbing at the back of his neck too fast for his brain to kick in and hide it once more. Too late now, he's edgy for an entirely different reason. "Thank you Commander, you say the sweetest things!"
He makes another move to explain himself, but she was grinning at him so mischievously it turns into a muttered apology and ears so hot they're painful.
"I've taken enough of your time, but please remember Dorian. I demand tears, Commander."
She is at the door and out before he can so much as agree to her terms, grin in place as he curses himself for a fool. With a bemused sign, Cullen sits at him desk, replacing the little wooden box almost absent mindedly.
After that, her visits get more and more frequent. At first he truly believes she is spying on him, the way she seems to appear ready with a taunt and a tease whenever his mind wanders back to the Templar issue box tucked away in his desk. He gets as far as sitting, shaking hand on the drawer handle before she storms in again with a hat flopping over her eyes.
"What do you think?"
It takes him far too long to understand what she's actually asked him, he's too preoccupied with looking a little less guilty and straightening fast enough his armour jars against his chair.
"I'm sorry, what?"
She raises a hand to poke the hat back, an eye revealed and an overly pleased grin. "The hat," she states, too happy and without any further explanation.
"Yes, that is indeed a hat, Inquisitor,"
She gives a world weary sigh, pushing the flopping thing back once more to stare at him with another teasing little pout that makes him feel peculiar. "Well done Commander, at least we know your eyes are working," she mutters, a grin appearing to turn the comment into another jest. "I was more interested in your opinion,"
He really doesn't know what to say to that one, instead he goes straight for his main concern at the moment. "Do you have Leliana spying on me?"
The grin falters the tiniest fraction of an inch, almost giving way until she scoffs in a very Sera like manner. "Why would I have her spy on you? You're barely a minutes' walk away,"
"You didn't answer my question,"
"That's because it's a stupid question,"
"Inquisitor, it is a fair trade,"
Another scoff, maybe Vivienne should have that chat with Sera, try to school her into less of an angry adolescent. "Hardly fair, but okay," the hat is released again, everything but her sharp chin covered as he stares vaguely where her eyes should be. It's a stupid situation, but some traitorous part of him wants to laugh.
The silence stretches a beat too long, the Inquisitor makes no move to speak and seems quite content to stand there mutely with her overly large hat.
Another world weary sigh from the depths of the floppy hat. "She's not spying, per se, it's more keeping an eye out,"
"You know, she asks questions. Of people. Like, your soldiers," The front of the hat is lifted almost in a panic, her other hand coming up to placate. "Not that she's told them anything, she just asks about your plans for the day. Meetings cancelled, if your schedule is delayed, that sort of thing," Panic over, she lets the hat hide her face once more.
"So, you know then?" The hat nods slowly. "How?"
"Sera?" Another nod. "How would Sera know?" The Inquisitor goes quiet for far too long, his nerves jumbled at the possibility of a mouthy elf knowing something so personal. "Inquisitor?" No answer. "Ellana,"
The hat finally – finally – comes off to reveal a surprisingly sheepish elf. "We were looking around,"
"Looking around?" Silence. "For what, when?"
The Inquisitor shrugs her shoulders, eyes averted before she answers. "We were pranking your desk,"
The silence that follows would be comical in another situation, Cullen almost asks her to put the stupid hat back on just to brighten his mood a little. With a start, he gives the desk a tiny push and watches as the thing teeters about. "I thought something was off," he mutters, turning his gaze back to the elven woman who smiles in what she obviously thinks is an apologetic nature. "So, Sera found it?"
"Sort of, I mean," she hastens to add as Cullen groans to himself. "She just went 'Oi arseface, hold these' and I did and I saw the symbol," Ah, the flaming sword. He's sort of following if you ignore the rambling. The hat is being slowly abused in her grasping fingers, turned and grappled before being turned again. The edges are crinkling already. "She was trying to lift it up but there's so much stuff all over the place we just started moving things, then box. Sera had no idea, she just threw it at me,"
A small relief, in the grand scheme of things. "So, wait, you know about the lyruim," A sharp nod. "So you come bother me whenever I have an exceptionally bad day?"
She pulls a sour little face, as if he's just waved something unsavoury past her. "Let's not say bother, think of me more as a personal jester," A beat as she considers her words. "Occasionally,"
"For the purpose of?"
She doesn't answer straight away, instead there's a thoughtful little crease between her eyebrows as her lips draw tight together. "Distraction," A shrug follows her words, a hand waving over Cullen in general. "I'd say it's working, to be honest."
With a start, Cullen realises he's relaxed back into his seat –even if he is silently seething over his possessions being raided and dirty little secrets aired for anyone to see. Thankfully, she has at least been discreet… ish. Although, her words do hold truth. He has forgotten about the itch within his bones and the shards of pain that have been running up and down his spine for the better part of today. He can't find an argument, but knows there should be more outrage on his part.
The Inquisitor, the Herald of Andraste and saviour of them all knew the one little secret he had tried so desperately to hide. Although secret was hardly the word, all knew him as the ex-Templar, Knight Commander of Kirkwall under Meredith's terrible reign. He had enough baggage to contend with, without Ellana judging him further.
Although, she had tried to offer her aid to him, hadn't she? In a peculiar way, but it made sense once you got to know the woman.
"I, yes I suppose," he links his hands together, quiet for a few minutes where the Inquisitor just stares around his quarters with mild curiosity. As if she'd never really looked before, although when her gaze does fall back to him it's not surprising. Ellana has a way of pinning a person with nothing more than her gaze, as if it's a physical thing. Thankfully her eyes drift away again as he fidgets nervously.
"It's a lovely gift," he finally says, voice even and calm. Ellana stares at him a moment before realization dawns, hat back in place as she grins in obvious relief.
"How did you know it was a gift?"
"It's more Cole than you," he doesn't miss the way her eyes go large, then warm as if he's just paid her some great compliment. "He's a fan of hats, is he not?"
Ellana nods, biting her lip with a grin pulling the skin taut between her teeth. "I'm amazed you remember something like that," The grin turns more wicked, something seductive that makes Cullen squirm and his stomach leap. "Again, you're awfully sweet Commander. I'll let him know you remember," Ellana must see his discomfort at the idea of a spirit lad befriending him, as she continues in a voice so much softer than before. "He just likes being remembered now,"
"Ah, then by all means,"
She goes to leave, stupid hat in place and hand holding a flap away from her eyes before turning on the spot again. "Are you comfortable with this situation? I mean, occasional visits at opportune moments," A shrug, smile in place if a little uncertain as her eyes pierce his once more.
"Well, I mean, I – "She grins as he pauses to consider, to wonder if he wants her to visit for the distraction or the weird sensation of falling every time she sends a teasing little remark his way. "I assume you're terribly busy, wh-"
"Not too busy to help, Cullen" It's an automatic response, as if she never even had to consider the whole saving the world business. It leaves an odd sensation in his chest, as does the way she breathes his name almost too intimately.
"I, then, if you would, thank you," He almost winces at the stuttering, half muttered response before clearing his throat and trying again. "Thank you, Ellana."
The grin in return is almost too much.