Based on this Prompt from the Dragon Age Inquisition Kink Meme:
"Cullen finding and carrying Lavellens small frozen body to camp after finding her after the distruction of Haven.
+ his feelings/fears for her while they are evacuating and/or before they see her come over the hill at the camp
+ them taking off her armor and changing her into dry clothes, him holding her to his body to warm her
+ him staying by her side while she recovers"
I figured it was tame enough to go on this site! Hope you enjoy :)
She had been wandering for so long in the dark and cold that when she finally crested that hill and saw the camp, she'd thought that she must surely be hallucinating.
Even when she heard Cassandra's voice and the clear relief it held, there was still a part of her that didn't believe it.
It was only when she collapsed into his arms that she allowed herself to believe that maybe, just maybe, she had made it…
A sea of faces seemed to swim about her. For a brief moment, she wondered why they all appeared to be looking down at her – and then she comprehended that she was no longer walking but was being carried through the camp and the crowds that closed in on her with grateful cries and Maker's praises.
But she didn't have the strength to face any of them. She knew she should but she just couldn't. She was beyond exhausted, beyond drained. It felt like every drop of strength had been leeched out of her, taken by the pain of her body from the fight, from the fall and then from the ever-present cold wind and lashing snow. Dear Maker, she was so cold.
So when she hears his forceful voice from above her, commanding the throngs back, ordering them to clear a path, she cannot feel anything but grateful… And the emotions that had already been growing since she'd first met him seemed only to swell further.
His arms were tight around her smaller frame, fervently pressing her to his chest almost as though he were afraid that someone might try to take her from him.
She is glad. She doesn't want to be taken from him.
Even when her half-closed eyes spy the large tent before them and she hears Cassandra's voice say firmly: "Commander, let me take her from here. It's not proper for you to do so," she knows that she doesn't want him to listen.
Which is why she is so very relieved when she hears the all but growled response of: "Screw propriety."
And then the air is changed to one of darkened warmth and she knows that she is inside the tent. She feels her numbed body being set down on a soft bedroll, the arms that had been holding her moving out from under her–
She doesn't even realise her hand has moved until she sees the sight of her pale fingers holding onto the lapel of his mantle. "Don't leave," she says, but her throat is so sore that it comes out as barely a croak.
She just about manages to focus on his eyes, and sees the concern, the tenderness, the resolution in them.
"I won't," he answers her, laying his warm palm over her grip whilst his other rises up to cup her face. His gaze was the most intent she has ever seen it. "I promise I won't ever leave you."
The words feel like a balm to her and she wishes that she had the strength to enjoy them, but she is so cold and she can barely keep her eyes open. All she can do is sag weakly back against the bedroll and leave it all to him to take care of.
Which he does.
Shucking off his mantle, he instructs over his shoulder: "Cassandra, leave us."
There is a pause, an almost tangible air of reluctant anxiety warring with understanding. Despite this, it doesn't take long before the swish of the tent flap is heard, followed immediately by the sound of it being firmly closed, isolating its occupants from the outside world…
From behind her heavily shut eyelids, she hears the sound of metal armour being quickly removed and then she feels him leaning over her, cupping her face once more in an effort to get her to reopen her eyes.
With effort, she does so. She sees a cup being held before her, tiny wisps of steam rising from the liquid within.
"Drink," Cullen says softly, bringing it closer to her lips. "It'll help you to warm up." He even slides his arm underneath her head, helping her to raise it so that she can bring her mouth to the proffered item.
The sharp taste of heated alcohol coats her tongue and though she can't readily identify what it is, it does seem to go some small way to heating her chilled insides as it glides its way down to her stomach. She moves to take another small sip, which he allows her to, but when she goes for a third one, he takes the cup away, placing it to the side of them.
Her gaze moves to his face in enquiry.
"Don't have any more yet," he explains gently. "It's strong stuff and I don't want you falling asleep until I've got you out of those frozen clothes, alright?"
He clearly doesn't expect an acquisition from her; he was in Commander Mode even though he was speaking to her so softly, so caringly, but he knew that there was a job to be done and he was going to make sure it was.
He doesn't even hesitate before reaching down and beginning to undo the straps of her armour. In the back of her mind, she realises how different this was to when she'd asked him about whether or not he'd taken vows of chastity and how immediately bashful and embarrassed he'd become at talk of such intimate matters.
She vaguely understands that she is the one who should be embarrassed now but she's too weak, too numb, to really feel anything at that moment.
Cullen keeps talking to her, keeping his voice calm and steady, even as it remained tinged with the anxiousness. She knows that he's talking to keep her awake, to keep her focused on the here and now but her consciousness seemed determined to drift away from her.
When her eyes slide shut, he is quick to lean back over her. "Hey, don't fall asleep on me yet," he instructs.
It's the clear note of apprehension that impels her to just about force her lids back up, even though the action is a tremendous struggle.
His face shows his understanding and he presses a palm to her cheek again in sympathy. "I know you're tired," he acknowledges sympathetically, "But I just need you to stay awake for a couple more minutes, okay? Just let me get rid of these clothes and then you can rest for as long as you need."
She would really have liked to have responded with a playful quip at his choice of words, just to see him blushing again, but her icy lips flat-out refuse to move. All she can do is give a very weary blink to show that she understands.
He goes back to his task, quickly working the ice-covered buckles of her breastplate loose so as to discard the heavy metal of to the side of them. Her gauntlets and greaves soon follow, along with her snow-encrusted boots.
He glances up as his fingers set about to undoing the laces of her breeches, but far from being one of hesitancy or uncomfortableness, the look is merely to make sure she's still awake.
She does manage to feel a brief spark of embarrassment when he pulls off her lower covering in one determined motion, leaving that half of her completely bare, but the feeling soon disappears after he swiftly grabs a blanket and throws it over her. Even though the coarse wool itched something fierce, the fact that she now had something dry on top of her instantly started to make a big difference for the better.
Cullen continues to move quickly though, coming to sit right next to head so as to unbutton the clasps of her damp undercoat. He carefully shifts her torso up to rest against his as he strips the heavy fabric from her, leaving only one layer left.
"Sweet Maker, you're freezing," he can't help but murmur absently as his bare fingers brush against her chest to unfasten the bindings on her beige tunic.
All she does is bury her face even deeper against the fabric of his own shirt, partly so she wouldn't have to actually see him when he removed her final layer, but mostly because his body felt just so damn warm.
With a muttered, "Finally," under his breath, he reaches the bottom hem of her tunic. He hastily pulls it down her shoulders and then casts it onto the large pile of discarded garments sat a few feet away.
She manages to move her hand enough to grab hold of the blanket at her waist and hike it up over her chest – but as she goes to slump down onto the bedroll, her chore of staying awake now finally at an end, Cullen again stops her, this time by not removing his arm from around her shoulders where it continued propping her up in a sitting position.
Just as she makes a noise of discontent in the back of her throat, he explains: "No, hold on, I've just got to move you again."
The sound of annoyance grows louder –she just wanted to sleep dammit!– as he suddenly lifts her up into his arms once more. "Ssh," he soothes her, "It's alright; we're just going over here."
Sure enough, less than a second later he's placed her back down on another bedroll, this one completely un-dampened from where her clothes had lain on it.
With the most grateful of sighs, she lets her body sink down into the soft, cushioned comfort of her new surroundings.
She didn't think she could get any happier until she hears the rustle of fabric, followed by the swift lifting up of the blanket that still covered her and then the feel of movement right beside her.
It's the surprise as much as anything else at the way her entire body is suddenly hugged up against naked skin –the bare, hot skin of Cullen's chest– which sends her eyelids opening back up with a rapidity that that she'd thought impossible given her current state of exhaustion.
At her sudden focus and alertness, Cullen's expression instantly turns from that of Experienced Commander to one that resembled a child who'd just been caught peeking through the neighbour's bathroom window.
"I err, I do apologise if this makes you uncomfortable or is unnerving in anyway," he explains hastily, as the delightful blush that had been so lacking up until now started to speedily blossom into its full glory. "It's just that, well, sharing body heat is the quickest method to rectify someone who's been severely chilled and, well, obviously you have been so–"
She reaches up to place her fingers over his lips, halting his earnest rambling. Despite what he'd just said his arms have remained tight around her, almost clutching her to the muscled –not to mention scarred– contours that constituted his chest. Not that she was complaining!
Evidently though he still wished to make his intentions absolutely clear and honourable, because when she removes her fingers to absentmindedly trace over the scar on his upper lip he can't seem to help adding: "I promise I won't stay longer than is necessary – I mean, I don't have to. I mean, I don't have to if you don't want to me to – I mean, not that you should want me to, but if you do–"
She grabs the back of his head and pulls him down for a kiss.
After the initial gasp of surprise, he is quick to respond.
The kiss is slow and gentle but still sensual, lips pressing and melding against each other… Yet, to her chagrin, she can't make it last as long as she wants it to, nor give it as much passion as she would normally, given any other circumstances.
Something her commander seems to instinctively understand as they break away to simply look at each other.
"I don't want you to leave," she whispers in her weakened but now slightly less croaky voice.
His palm rests on her check as he looks down at her with utmost devotion. "Then I promise you that I won't leave your side," he replies with unmistakable sincerity.
She tries to smile but isn't sure she manages it as he lays his hand on her head in order to gently impel her to back to rest against his chest, his other arm remaining firmly round her waist.
She falls asleep to the soothing sound of his steady heartbeat.