Warning: This story is rated mature for later chapters.
Note: All characters are owned by BioWare.
Welcome to my Dragon Age: Inquisition story. This story will be a twist on the romance plot with Cullen. Enjoy and feedback is always welcome.
Ever since the attack on Haven by Corypheus, and their forced movement to Skyhold, Evelyn had been unable to get a good night's sleep. Every time she closed her eyes she saw the faces of those they had lost. All those she'd been unable to save that night, those she hadn't been able to get to in time. The guilt weighed heavily on her mind, plaguing her dreams whenever she would finally drift off to sleep.
With her quarters away from everyone else, Evelyn found herself feeling lonely when she parted from her companions. When she was with people she trusted she was able to be her normal self, determined to the core, willing to do anything to stop the fighting between the mages and templars, and to help anyone she met. She had been promoted to the position of Inquisitor, leading her merry band of men and women against those who wished to see the world fall into chaos. It was this burden, this responsibility, which was another reason why she wasn't able to sleep.
She had left her friends shortly after dusk, bidding them all a pleasant evening before making an excuse about needing an early night. While she knew that sleep was unlikely to happen, her companions agreed that she deserved some rest. She had not stopped since arriving at Skyhold, whether it was travelling across the land to close rifts or helping to restore their new home to it's former glory. She wanted to do it all and slowly it was beginning to become obvious that the stress was catching up with her. She had snapped at Sera for no reason, the elf being her usual crazy self, which clearly hadn't gone down well with the Inquisitor. She was already regretting her reaction.
Staring out onto the mountain side, Evelyn wrapped her arms around her chest as she studied the stars. She had dressed for sleeping, in a thin pair of breeches and a flowing top, having hoped that exhaustion would allow her to slumber for a little while undisturbed. However it was not meant to be that night. It hadn't been long before she had woken with a cry, tears slipping down her cheeks as her mind replayed the haunting screams of the people she had left in Haven.
A deep sigh left her lips as she wandered back into her large room and closed the doors to the balcony behind her. She didn't feel like spending her evening star gazing, having already spent too many evenings lost in the beauty of the night sky. Unsure of what else to do with herself, Evelyn began a leisurely walk down her staircase and along the corridors of the keep until she came into Josephine's room.
The Ambassador looked up from her desk as the Inquisitor drew close, a faint smile on her lips as she studied the woman. As the eldest daughter to the noble Montilyet family, Josephine knew more about diplomacy then almost anyone in the Inquisition. It was her charm, grace and careful favours which were helping to forge relations with some of Thedas's more influential figures. Evelyn wasn't sure what they would do without her sometimes.
Slumping down into one of the comfortable chairs by the fireplace, Evelyn could feel the eyes of her advisor on her as she sat there. She could feel her own eyes slipping closed for a moment as she relaxed in the company of another. While she wasn't going to admit what she was doing, she was sure Josephine was smart enough to figure out it. It felt comforting being around someone else instead of all alone in an oversized room. If only the silence could have continued for a little longer.
"Inquisitor, do you mind if I ask you a question?" The accented voice of her advisor drifted across the room, causing her to shift slightly in the seat she had settled in so she at least appeared to be more awake then she felt.
"Of course Josephine. What would you like to ask?" Evelyn stared into the roaring fire as she spoke, hoping the Ambassador's question was merely something small and not a matter which would require her to do a lot of thinking. She spent most days having to force her head around the issues which plagued the lands and what they could do to solve them, which was enough to wear down even the most resilient person.
"I was wondering if you had heard from your family recently?" Josephine spoke in a timid voice, clearly not sure whether she should be asking her question but doing so all the same.
It has been a long time since Evelyn had heard from anyone from House Trevelyan. While they had been residing in Haven, she had attempted to write a letter to her family, but had given up after being interrupted one too many times. She loved her family dearly, always had, but leading the Inquisition was something she wanted to do without her parents or siblings at her back. She knew that keeping the name Trevelyan was probably not helping her cause, but she couldn't bring herself to cast the name and therefore part of her identity aside.
"I have not heard from them, no." She said after a while, turning her attention across the room to the Ambassador for a moment before returning her gaze to the flames of the fire. She could tell that the woman was plotting something, most likely something to do with her family, but she didn't have the energy to argue the woman down from whatever idea she had.
"Your name will hold some weight when we seek to make connections with some of the other noble houses. As I have most likely said before, I am sure having the full backing of your family would help our case." Josephine was attempting to keep her voice light and void of any emotion, but she was failing badly. The Inquisitor knew that the woman was desperate to make contact with members of the Trevelyan family, having explained time and time again the possible positive effects the action would have. But every time Evelyn had crushed the idea. She didn't want them involved.
"Not now Josephine." She knew her words were said in a snapped manner, but she couldn't help herself. Her lack of peaceful sleep and the weight of leading something as imposing as the Inquisition was starting to make her normally tame temper flare in a manner which seemed less determined and more angry.
After half an hour, Evelyn gave up on trying to find some peace with Josephine. After her outburst all had gone quiet for a while, neither one of them saying anything as they sat in silence. However as time went by, Josephine must have found some of her courage again as she began to ask about the Trevelyan's once more. Making her excuses, she hurried away from the Ambassador before she was able to ask her anything else about her family, making a mental note not to seek refuge with the woman again.
By now most of the people who had been in the throne room when the Inquisitor had left were long gone, leaving only a few who took little notice of her as she crossed the room. Varric was in his normal spot, smiling when he saw her drawing near. As much as she loved the dwarf, she knew she would find little peace if she stayed with him. But that wasn't enough to stop her from going over to him all the same.
The man was well known for the stories he could tell, and for the effort he would go to in attempting to gain some information from you to help craft a new one. In the short amount of time they had been in Skyhold, the bowman had weaved a number of tales about both the place itself and the people who were currently living within its walls. Due to her lack of sleep, Evelyn was certain that if she stayed around the man for too long, she was going to tell him something she would regret by the morning. Varric had a way of spreading his stories which meant that by the time you found out, everyone else had already known for hours, maybe even days.
"I thought you had gone to bed Ginger?" The dwarf said with a smile, folding his arms over his chest as he waited to hear her excuse. She opened her mouth a couple of times, hoping that a reasonable explanation would tumble from her lips, but nothing did. Giving a weak sigh, she shrugged one of her shoulders before looking about herself.
"I didn't." Was all she said in the end, returning her gaze to the male. The smile on his lips had faltered slightly as he studied her, an unsure look in his eyes. Normally Varric would have made some humorous comment about how she wasn't able to sleep because she was thinking about one of her companions or advisors in a provocative manner. But this time the dwarf wasn't acting like his usual self.
"This sort of place will do that to you." He spoke with a knowing look on his face, his smile having vanished now as he looked towards the open doors of the throne room. As much as he liked to tell stories, there was some things about Varric which Evelyn was still yet to learn. One of the biggest questions and one she had asked many times before, was why he had named his crossbow Bianca. It was a story he refused to tell and one which implied that there was some things she would never know about the dwarf.
Wishing the male a good evening, she slipped through the door by his side to leave him in peace and shuffled along the corridor until she came across Solas.
The elf barely registered her appearance, his attention fixed on his painting. The Inquisitor wasn't sure what story he was attempting to tell on his walls, but she was fascinated with it all the same. Sinking down into a wooden chair, she couldn't help staring at the pictures all around her, her head thrown back so she could take it all in.
When at last the elf seemed satisfied with the section he was working on, he settled himself into a chair next to Evelyn, looking up at his work with a faint smile playing at the corner of his mouth. Neither one of them said anything as they sat there, each one lost in their own thoughts with their eyes on the painting. Solas was unique in the fact that when he dreamed he was able to see beyond the Veil, learning about the history of a place just by sleeping there. It was something which the elf seemed to enjoy greatly.
Since arriving at Skyhold, Evelyn had found the elf on many occasions sleeping in different parts of the keep. He had mentioned that a long history was contained within the walls of the buildings and he seemed to relish the idea of being able to learn them all in time. It made her smile slightly to think that Solas, someone she had never seen raise his voice or lose his temper, could enjoy a slumber filled with dreams of days gone by. She wished she was able to do the same.
While the Inquisitor was sure she could have happily fallen into a relaxed slumber just then, she feared to do so in case Solas was to join her. She trusted the mage, having taken him with her on many outings across Thedas, but that didn't mean she wasn't afraid of what he might be able to do. She didn't want anyone knowing of her dreams, of the screams for help she heard or the broken and lifeless bodies she pictured sometimes. She didn't want them to worry, or think her unstable and unable to lead.
Evelyn didn't say anything when she left the elf, not wanting to pull him away from whatever thoughts he might have been having. Moving up through the tower, she noticed that Dorian was not in his normal place in the library but Leliana was. The Spymaster moved about with a grace that the Inquisitor had not noticed before, completely consumed with preparing and receiving reports from her agents to notice Evelyn.
It did not shock her to find the bard working so late, having guessed that the best time to carry out her sort of work was once the sun had gone down. It sadden her slightly to think that at times Leliana was surrounded by death. While the woman mostly worked in secrets, the swift removal of people was also a part of her job. Just thinking about it caused the Inquisitor to recall memories she had been hoping to repress that evening.
Leliana had seen and done much in her life, having fought darkspawn in the Fifth Blight, met the champion of Kirkwall and now as advisor to the Inquisition. In all those years she had seen many people come and go, and yet she still worked tirelessly in the hope that someday they could bring peace to the people of Thedas.
Not wanting to disturb the woman, Evelyn proceeded back down the tower before Leliana spotted her, slipping out of the door in Solas' room which lead to the battlements. The cold night air whipped around her, ruffling her red hair and causing a shiver to work down her spine. She could hear the sound of those who were in the tavern, their laughter easily reaching her ears even in the breeze which surrounded her.
The Inquisitor suspected that many of her companions could most likely be found drinking the night away, having found them asleep in their drinks on a number of mornings. Iron Bull had made the tavern his home along with his company, while Sera had taken a room upstairs to herself. Not finding them inside would have been a surprise. Evelyn suspected that Dorian, Blackwall and Cole could also be found in the watering hole, having spotted none of them on her trip around the keep. Cassandra and Vivienne were both likely to be in their quarters for the evening, neither seeming to be fans of getting blind drunk just for the sake of getting drunk.
She considered going down to the tavern and joining anyone she found, using alcohol to drive away the demons which filled her mind. But she knew it wouldn't work. She had tried it once before and the end result had not been pretty. Her body had not liked the amount she had attempted to drink and she had spent the rest of the evening in the privacy of her own room trying tirelessly not to make a mess all over the floor.
Surveying the buildings around her, she noted that there was still light shining from Commander Cullen's office. The former templar was the leader of the Inquisition's military and their tactical advisor in the war they were fighting. He was a man that Evelyn had come to trust, along with Josephine and Leliana, to help her make the decisions that needed to be made. She could tell that he was someone with his own troubles, having spoken a few times about things which had happened in the past. Cullen had seen things which would have broken weaker man.
Without thinking about what she was doing, Evelyn found herself walking towards the Commander's door, slipping silently inside once she realised the man was busy talking to someone. A group of guards were currently huddled in the small space, listening intently as Cullen gave his instructions. Even at the late hour, the man was still wearing his amour, the candlelight causing the metal to shine slightly. It almost gave him a divine appearance.
She had noticed that Cullen could always be found wearing his amour and fur lined coat, no matter what was happening. Having been a templar for most of his life, she suspected that the habit of being dressed ready for battle had become engrained into his very being, becoming a defining part of who he was. Evelyn had to admit she liked a man in amour.
Using the wall behind her for support, the Inquisitor brought herself down to the ground in one graceful movement, pulling her knees to her chest in order to take up as little room as possible. She found herself smiling as she listened to Cullen talk, her eyes slipping closed as she sat upon the floor. Oddly enough his voice was a like gentle caress on her troubled mind, keeping her focused on the present and not the past.
"I want an hourly rotation. Two men per post. If you notice anything unusual, I want one of you to come straight to me." Cullen spoke in a commanding tone, a chorus of agreement coming from the group. This was a man who held the respect of his troops without the need for fear. It was a quality she admired greatly. For someone who was as new to leading as she was, she couldn't help looking up to the Commander.
At some point she must have drifted off to sleep, because when she opened her eyes next the group of people had all disappeared. Looking across the room, she noticed that Cullen was still at his desk, bent over as he scribbled on something. The candles which had been set up around him cast a shadow across his face, hiding his expression from Evelyn's view. There was no denying that she found the Commander to be attractive, having caught herself on many occasions simply staring across the war table at him as they discussed something.
She wasn't sure what it was about the male that made her feel calm, but at that moment in time she felt confident that she could easily fall into a deep slumber without having to worry about any nightmares to wake her. Being in Cullen's presence seemed to be enough to comfort her troubled mind. This was somewhat different to the peace she had experienced sitting with Josephine and Solas. Here she did not fear being asked a barge of questions or worried about someone appearing in her dreams. Here her mind struggled to conjure the images it normally threw her way.
"You are awake my lady." Cullen suddenly said, seeming to have noticed her hidden on the floor across the room from him. For a moment she was sure she caught a look of concern on his face before it disappeared behind a nervous expression, watching as the male rubbed at the back of his neck. She had learnt by now that whenever the Commander felt uncomfortable in a situation, he would rub at his neck, an action which she had yet to fully get her head around.
"I'm sorry if I woke you." The male bowed down his head slightly as he spoke, shuffling some papers on his desk before turning his gaze back to her. She realised at that point that Cullen was no longer wearing his usual plumage topped coat. Looking down at herself, she found the garment to be wrapped around her body, the soft furs tickling her skin as she moved. There was something very sweet and touching about the gesture.
"Don't be sorry Cullen. I should be apologizing to you for invading your space without asking." Evelyn spoke with a smile, nuzzling into the warmth of the coat as she sat there. Out of the corner of her eye she caught the look on the Commander's face as he watched her, seemingly transfixed by her. Maybe she hadn't been imagining the prolonged looks she had caught the male giving her, not being able to deny the look of longing she saw now.
"I like it when you invade my space." Cullen said under his breath, most likely not expecting the Inquisitor to catch what he had said. As he looked over to her, a slight blush formed on his cheeks. He had spotted the smirk which was playing at the corner of her mouth, giving her away. She didn't know whether the male was implying something more then simply not minding her coming to visit him in his office, but a part of her liked to think that maybe there was a deeper meaning to the comment.
"Maybe I'll do it more in the future." Evelyn whispered in reply, watching as the blush which had appeared on Cullen's face brightened a touch. He was adorable when he got flustered and she felt only a tiny bit guilty for causing it. A yawn forced its way out of her mouth, tiredness sweeping through her as she sat on the floor. She needed to go to bed but didn't want to leave the Commander just yet.
"Just give me five more minutes please." She knew her words had come out as a plead, but in that moment she didn't care. The comfort she took from being encased in Cullen's warm coat and sitting in his presence was not something she wanted to give up so quickly. The idea of returning to her lonely room was enough to have her bury her head further into the fur of the coat, the smell of the outdoors and spices filling her lungs. If this was what the Commander normally smelled like, she would have to borrow his jacket more often.
"As you wish Inquisitor." Cullen spoke in a hushed tone, the ruffling of paperwork and the scratching of writing drifting over to her, signalling that the Commander had gone back to his work. It was nice that he didn't question why she wanted to sit on his floor and sleep. She smiled to herself over Cullen's seeming inability to call her by her first name. Most of her companions and advisors called her Evelyn, or some nickname they had come up with, yet the Commander seemed unable to do the same.
"Evelyn. Call me Evelyn." She wasn't sure if Cullen had heard her, seeing as she had whispered out the words. But at that moment in time it didn't matter to her if he had heard or not. For the first time in what felt like forever she drifted off into a peaceful slumber. Said slumber did mean she missed the Commander saying her first name.
The warmth of the sun on her face woke Evelyn with a start. Sitting bolt upright, it took a couple of moments for the Inquisitor to work out where she was and what was going on. Blinking, she slowly realised that she was still in Commander Cullen's office on his floor by the door. The sun was shining through a window across from her, chasing away the slight chill she felt.
Looking down at herself, she realised that someone had taken the time to put some pillows under her head and a blanket over her, the pillows indicating that at some point while sleeping she had slipped from her sitting position to laying on the floor. She was still wrapped in Cullen's jacket and judging by the fact that sunlight was pouring in through the windows, she had slept with the item all night long. Now felt like a good time to leave.
Standing up, she stretched out her body, throwing her arms above her head and reaching her fingertips up to the ceiling. Looking up at the floor above her, she wondered whether Cullen was still asleep or if he had already left for the day. She couldn't hear the sound of breathing or snoring, but then again she didn't know what sort of noises the Commander made in his sleep. For a second she stood there thinking about what Cullen might look like while sleeping. It was a thought she was quick to push out of her mind, knowing it wasn't appropriate.
Crossing the room, she carefully placed Cullen's jacket onto the back of his chair, before folding up the blanket she had used. She put this along with the pillows onto the Commander's desk. The surface was covered in reports from scouts, troops and even a few of her own reports from her time out in the field. As leader of the Inquisition, she found herself constantly travelling across Thedas in an attempt to solve the world's problems, and at times it was required that she sent back reports. She had no idea Cullen had been saving them, or maybe she was thinking a little too deep into their presence on the table.
Finding a blanket piece of paper, she thought about a writing an apologize for falling asleep on Cullen's floor but in the end all she could muster was 'Thank you. E.' She left the note in the centre of the desk, hoping the Commander would find it before silently leaving the tower.
It must have been early in the morning because the keep was almost completely silent. She noticed a couple of people wandering around, either soldiers on patrol along the battlements or Master Dennet and his men attending to the horses. However there was no sign of the troops who would normally be found practising in the yard, or the groups of nobles who would come to visit Skyhold. It was nice to see the place without all the noise that usually accompanied it.
Guessing that it wouldn't be long until breakfast was served in the throne room and her companions woke, she made her way swiftly back into the main building and over to her private quarters. Her footsteps echoed as she made her way up the staircase which led into her room, a cold chill lingering in the air. The loneliness and guilt she had felt the night before returned as she stepped into the bedroom, the sunlight doing it's best to scare away the darkness but not succeeding.
Giving a deep sigh, she tried to clear her mind of the pictures it was attempting to force to the front. For once she had been able to have a peaceful sleep without reminders of Haven disturbing her and she wanted it to stay that way for as much of the day as she could get. There was a lot she needed to get done and standing around doing nothing because of her guilt was not going to help anyone.
After a quick bath, she pulled on a fresh set of clothes for the day, opting for her lighter amour as she suspected she was be heading out at some point. Towel drying her hair, she ruffled the red locks into a presentable style before making her way down to the throne room. She had an Inquisition to lead after all.