Notes: Well, this is the last piece for this story. Perhaps a sequel is in the future, but I'm not sure yet.
Your mouth waters,
Stretched out on my bed,
your fingers are trembling,
and your heart is heavy and red
--Melissa Ferrick, Drive
Chapter Three: Cinnamon
When Alistair died, Leliana took the rose he gave Amell and pressed it into a small glass container. Amell wears it under her clothes, tied around her neck, hidden close to her chest.
She becomes aware that she's not wearing any clothes because Cullen takes it between his fingers, inspecting it as though it holds the answers to everything.
"Don't," she murmurs, but she's not quite sure what she's protesting.
Cullen grins, not reassuringly, but more like a predator. He traces her scar, from her shoulder to her breast.
"I thought mages could heal themselves," he says.
Amell doesn't answer him. He doesn't need to know it came from the Archdemon. A scar she earned before Alistair died, which means that somehow they're connected. Her brain doesn't understand it, but her body feels it.
"You don't know how many times I've pictured this," Cullen says. And, in a way, Amell realizes he's not really talking to her.
Their foreheads are pressing together, and that's okay, because it means that Cullen is currently distracted and Amell has a few more moments of living.
"Remember the first time we met?" he asks.
He's on top of her, hands on either side of her head, pushing into the mattress beneath them—
When did they make it to the bed? Ah, Amell's amazing autopilot feature.
"Greagoir's office," she says, straining to remember because she was so young. "I—I got into trouble."
It's hard to talk because between every word she breathes out, he's kissing her breasts, licking, biting. Her skin prickles into goosebumps, and they spread like wildfire.
"You were freezing butterflies," he says, and there's a brief smile. "With your friend."
She remembers now; Jowan teaching her to invoke frost. She hadn't wanted to freeze butterflies, but there was nothing else to practice on. "You walked me back to my room," she says. "Greagoir said I had to go straight to bed."
Cullen has slipped out of his armor. His skin is warm against Amell's. He dips his head down, his lips graze her neck.
"Do you want to know what the demon made me feel?" he whispers against her skin.
No, she wants to say, but she remains quiet. She needs to know what he'll do before she can strike back. She can feel the magic warming up in her veins again. A few more minutes and she can give him a second dose of electricity.
"We were married. You put the children to bed, and then…I had come back from work—something else, not being a Templar—and I just had to have you." He nudges her legs apart, fingers brushing her skin. "I picked you up, and we went to our room, and I—I—"
And there, right there, Amell can see that look, the look Alistair gave her when Duncan died, the look he gave her when Goldanna turned out to be a bitch—
The look he gave her when he thought they had an entire lifetime ahead of them, but they only had seconds.
There are so many similarities between them that it makes Amell hurt. Alistair could have so easily been Cullen.
And Cullen could have so easily been Alistair, maybe, if she had stayed, if she hadn't helped Jowan.
"Can I, please?" Cullen mutters.
He wants permission, Amell is aware, even though he's touching her breasts and between her legs.
Maker forgive her, but she nudges her hips into his, and he's inside of her, and—
It's like she doesn't need sugar any more. This is its own sweetness; a memory of what she and Alistair had.
But it's not Alistair.
It's a mage-killer.
"Andraste's hammer, Amell, I've wanted you for so long," Cullen says. "To be inside of you, like this, to feel your warmth. You always had that smile, I…"
She reaches up to touch him, run her fingers down his side. She reaches down, in between them, to feel him. He gasps at her touch, and he increases his thrusts.
Think fast, Amell thinks, but she can't. Her mind has finally given up on her, collapsed out of exertion. She's meeting Cullen's pace, and it feels like maybe she can save him.
Cullen suddenly jerks his hips, deepening in her, and it's over. Amell remembers to breathe. Something inside of her itches, and she feels desperate for a cup of tea (extra sugar, please—oh, and some sweetened milk).
But Cullen has fallen asleep, next to her, his skin still feverish, and it's probably from the shock and the stress, but Amell falls asleep, too, and she dreams of a Templar, but it isn't Cullen.
Amell sleeps lightly, and she immediately feels the presence in the room. She doesn't flinch, doesn't open her eyes. She listens for the footsteps, waiting for them to come in near range.
Cullen, apparently, has never had to worry about anyone murdering him in his sleep, because he is still snoring next to her.
And there, Amell takes advantage and reaches out to stop the hand from coming down on her.
"Ah, good, amor, you learned some of the things I've taught you."
Amell has never been so relieved to see Zevran in her life.
Zevran's eyes move from her naked body to Cullen's, and he smirks. "I see you've learned many things, yes?"
Amell moves out of the bed, carefully. She slips on her armor.
Zevran is still watching Cullen. "I heard you were going after a mage-killer, but maybe I misunderstood."
"Shhh," she snaps. "He—we're—friends." She doesn't know why she needs to justify herself.
"Ah, I wish we were that friendly," Zevran says, with a leer. "Would you like me to kill him?"
Amell jots something on a piece of parchment, and leaves it next to Cullen's sword. She has a feeling that he won't resume his mage killing, at least not without finding her first.
"Let's get out of here," Amell says. "I've been dying for an Orlaise butter pastry."
"Your wish is my command, my love."
Cullen wakes up, his head is pounding, and the sheets smell like Amell, like cinnamon and fresh snow. He doesn't need to get up to know that she's gone. He spends several minutes, his eyes still closed, rearranging the memories in his head. Cataloging the news ones to get rid of the old, fake ones.
He finally gets up, and it feels like he hasn't moved in weeks.
His armor is by the bed, looking tarnished, but his Templar's sash is neatly folded next to his sword. And there's a note, in hurried script.
Cullen stares at it, and smiles. Directions to the new headquarters for the Grey Wardens.
It's a promise he intends to keep.
Thank you, Maker, for you have blessed my path. I follow Your direction. I am Your weapon, and for that I am grateful.