A/N: My half of a fluff challenge with Crisium. "Pre-Harrowing mage fluff," she said, so pre-Harrowing mage fluff she gets--or at least as fluffy as I can manage, anyway.
She can always tell who he is.
She isn't supposed to. None of them are. Cullen is a Templar and he wears the Templar helm—this heavy thing of rivets and faith and burnished steel—he is a Templar, the right hand of the Chantry, the will of the Maker Himself sent to the Circle Tower to guard it from ruin, and such things as name and identity are not important. He wears the armor, after all. He wears the helm. He is a Templar; this is his duty; he is the vigilant watcher and it should not matter who he is behind the mask.
But. "Hello, Cullen," she says, smiling at him when she passes him in the hallways, and the mask slips a little as he stammers out a greeting in return. "I'm off to dinner," she'll say, or perhaps, "Nice weather today, isn't it?" or even: "How long have you been standing there? Don't you ever get tired?"
"It's part of the training," he tells her. And she smiles at him again and is on her way; meaningless trivialities, all of it, or it would be if he weren't turning red beneath his Templar's helm.
He likes the way her mouth curls up at the corners.
The Templars are part of the Tower as much as the mages are. The apprentices come in young and frightened, but they grow and they study and they learn to ignore the silent watchers lurking in the corners. A Templar, standing guard on duty, might as well be a shelf or a vase—more dangerous, perhaps, but there is one in every room and they all look alike, and Cullen thinks sometimes that they might as well be wallpaper for the attention that the mages pay them.
(There is a purpose to this, Gregoir has explained. It's to make the executions easier.)
It's hard to tell the Templars apart; Cullen has seen the guards lined up for inspection and they have looked the same to him, every one. But she always knows. Cullen stands as still and quiet and brooding as he can when she passes, and he is certain—certain—how much like any other Templar he looks, how indistinctive his pose is and how unparticular his bearing—but still she smiles at him, and says hello and calls him by name, and he looks after her when she goes and wonders if it is some strange magic of hers that lets her see past the mask.
He finally asks her about it, one day. She's coming out of the library with an armful of books and for some reason Cullen thinks they look heavy and the next thing he knows he's helping her carry them back to his room; "How do you know it's me?" he blurts out, halfway up the stairs, and she glances over at him with her eyebrows raised and says: "What?"
"Um," Cullen says, eloquently. And: "You always know who I am. How can you tell? With these—helmets. And all."
"Oh, that," she says, and laughs. "I never thought of it, really."
"You never thought of it?"
She shrugs. "I just—I know who you are. I can feel it." She glances at him again, mischievous, and nudges him with her free arm and teases: "It's like we have a special connection, isn't it?"
They are at her room. She is laughing. "I'm sorry," she says, taking her books from him. "Irving always says we shouldn't tease the Templars, likely you'd explode if we actually managed to make one of you smile—"
He focuses on the important thing. "You tease the other Templars?"
"Of course not," she says, tilting her head to smile up at him. "Just you."
And she is laughing again. "But only because I knew you wouldn't explode," she says. "Thank you, Cullen—for the books."
"You're welcome," he tells her, and goes downstairs (a little giddy), and it is not until hours later that he thinks to wonder how she had known that he'd been smiling then.
A/N: Dragon Age is depressing. But! Crisium is an awesome awesome author and you should all go check out her writing.