A/N: Just a little something I wrote for the old kink meme. Nothing actually naughty here, just regular old fluff. Well, 'cept for Cailan's little makeover.
Cailan's makeover is totally naughty.
Everyone knew, really, but somehow Varel knowing that Cailan's visit was hardly just the diplomatic mission he insisted it was felt wrong. Utterly, completely wrong. They'd gotten along well since meeting, but all of a sudden, on the eve of Cailan's arrival, things had become suspiciously busy. Not only that, but he kept giving her this look. The look told her that she had better things to do as the arlessa of Amaranthine than invite the king over for sex.
She knew that she had more urgent, pressing matters, but it truly hadn't been her idea. They wrote to each other frequently and after the most recent round of improvements, she'd invited him over to see the Keep. Upon receiving his reply, she found that he'd misunderstood the invitation, and she actually laughed outright at what he had to say.
If this is your attempt at innuendo, my love, consider me a humble pilgrim. I will visit your Keep at the earliest possible convenience.
While he had misinterpreted her words, she wouldn't protest. The thought of seeing him again after all these long weeks was almost overwhelming in the happiness it gave her. Not only that, but it would be the first time seeing him outside of the castle at Denerim in months. Recalling just how much happier he always seemed when they were traveling, she smiled herself at the hope of seeing that smile of his again.
Not two weeks later, she received word from Cailan that he was readying himself to visit her. He had already packed a book of Orlesian poetry that came recommended from Celene herself. As a woman who vastly preferred more studious reading ventures, the book she sent Cailan must have struck a chord with her if she sent it as a gift. It also seemed that word of his relationship with the Warden had reached far into Orlais. Neither of them really minded.
When she got word that his small caravan of guards and attendants were seen on the road, she was halfway through discarding her armor in favor of something softer... and less complicated to remove, though she would've never admitted to thinking of the dress as such.
It felt all sorts of odd, half-running through the Keep in a dress. More often than not, even in the fanciest of situations, she wore her armor. Wearing a dress again, she felt weirdly out of place. She hadn't worn a dress since... Maker; it must have been over a year, almost two. This feeling out of place didn't stop her as she ran down this flight of stairs and through that hallway, fingers flying absently through her hair as she pinned it back as quickly as she could. Tangles; the mess of red hair atop her head was twisted and tangled and she winced as she accidentally pulled at it.
She should have been ready. If Varel hadn't given her so much sodding paperwork to do, she would have been perfectly coiffed and waiting for the king to arrive. But, no, she had far much to do and far too little time to do it in. She'd have to remember to thank him.
By the time she reached the gate, everyone and their mother was there. They were loud, too. Had the king already arrived? She couldn't quite see over all of the others as she slipped and nudged her way through the crowd, murmuring to herself as the people shifted out of her way. If Cailan was already there and she hadn't been at the front to say hello, she was going to be very, very angry.
And, as fate would have it, he was. The moment she gave the final push and stepped out in front of Varel, her eyes settled upon the king's familiar face and her shoulders deflated until he looked towards her. "I see the Warden has finally decided to join us," he said. Loudly. The smile on his mouth turned into a soft, teasing one as the crowd rippled in response. Lowering his voice, he leaned forward just enough to pitch his next words in her direction, "Hello."
Narrowing her eyes at him, she bit back a smile of her own before dipping down in a formal bow. "I apologize for my tardiness, your Majesty," she greeted, her voice crisp enough to leave any of her otherwise obvious excitement on the wayside. "You must be exhausted from your journey."
"Only half as exhausted as I will be after this visit, I imagine," he confessed, just as loudly as before. Isobel felt her cheeks positively glow with heat. She was about to glance around to see if anyone was still listening to him when he turned his attention to Varel. "There are so many improvements that need to be made to the Keep, after all. Isn't that right, Varel?"
The man gave a huff before tilting his chin downward. "Yes, your Majesty."
"Given the hour, I would prefer resting before we begin," Cailan continued, his hands moving to his hips as he rolled his shoulders back against the heavy, unyielding spaulders of his armor. "The very moment I wake, you will be the first person I seek out. We shall have the Vigil in prime condition in no time at all."
Another ripple ran through the crowd, though this one was littered with a few joyous shouts. It filled her with such pride knowing that the king was so willing to help, not only out of love for her, but out of a genuine love of his people. And his people loved him. He'd brought them out from beneath the largest part of the Blight's darkness, giving them light and hope and he was ready and willing to give them even more.
She was staring at him, nothing but adoration in her eyes, when she heard Varel from her left. "Very well, your Majesty; I will show you to your room."
"I don't think that's necessary, Varel," Isobel interrupted quickly, shifting a step forward, closer to Cailan. "I will show the king to his quarters." Which will be quite easy, as he's expressed interest in sharing, she thought to herself, her expression remaining passive despite the little thrill it gave her.
"You are very kind, Warden." Her cheeks twitched as she bit back a laugh at Cailan's effortlessly mocked tone of graciousness. "If you would lead the way..."
She murmured a quiet, "of course," before shouting for everyone to clear a path. Cailan was flanked by guards on either side and led by the illustrious Warden herself. He paused every once in a while to greet those who'd been standing at the back of the crowd, along with receiving introductions with the rest of her party. "I quite like Anders," he told her much later, the slightest bit of sadness creeping into his voice, "He reminds me of Alistair." Justice intrigued him, and Velanna's everlasting frost melted only the very slightest bit under the king's effusive praise.
By the time they reached the throne room, he was already wearing one of the widest grins she'd seen. This smile just about doubled in size the moment he saw the familiar red-headed dwarf standing off to the side near the cask. "Oghren!" he shouted, arms stretching out in front of him. His voice had a sing-song quality that almost made Isobel jealous, if not for how good it was to see him.
"By the tits of my ancestors!" The dwarf's sputter had him wiping at his beard with his forearm before trundling over to the king and embracing him like a brother. Or at least attempting to, as their vast height differences made it look more like a father hugging his armor-clad son. When he drew back, he looked to Isobel before turning back to Cailan with a little, raunchy giggle. "I'll leave you two to your business, but I want a drink, you hear?"
"Then a drink you shall have, my friend!" Clapping Oghren on the shoulder, Cailan gave the dwarf another lopsided grin before following the Warden-Commander out of sight.
When they finally reached her room, he was the first one inside, turning on his heel the moment he heard the door close behind him with an incredibly decisive thunk. He watched her as she fumbled with the locks at the top of the door before turning a key in it, as well. She meant business; he could tell. He was half-surprised she didn't pull her vanity in front of it, too. Just in case.
She turned towards him just as he was passing his tongue over his bottom lip, and she couldn't help herself. She had missed him. Worried for him. Longed for her to be there or for him to be here. Now that he was, she'd been forced to maintain appearances in front of the crowd, to ignore the urge to launch herself into his arms and kiss him, to remind him exactly how much she loved him. Words scribbled on vellum weren't enough. She had to say them.
He would allow her to do so... later. For now, they both settled for moving towards each other, almost hesitant despite wanting to rush into the others' arms. When they stood in front of each other, Isobel stared up at him for a moment before her eyes fell shut. A heartbeat later and she was gathered up in an embrace, felt the warmth of his mouth moving against hers.
When they parted, she realized he was smiling again. Smoothing her hands through his now closely cropped blonde hair, she mirrored the expression, the bridge of her nose bumping against his. "Maker, Iso," he murmured, his heavy gauntlets smoothing with care over the small of her back, "I missed you."
"I missed you, too," she sighed, her fingers running through the golden strands, "and I like your haircut."
He chuckled warmly. "Oh, so you noticed?"
"It'd be difficult to miss." Tilting her chin upwards, her elbows bent on his shoulders as her palm brushed a bit of his hair over his forehead. She could see a dimple carved deep in his cheek, his blue eyes glittering as he watched her face for any change. "You look so handsome."
"Is this where you tell me how much you want to ravish me?" he asked, brows hitching upwards suggestively. "Because, if so, I should prepare. I've had too much time alone in the past few weeks; I might not be able to contain myself."
Isobel grinned outright. "Too much time alone, hm? Reading my letters?"
"You could call it that, I suppose."
"I hadn't realized any of my words were very enticing," she said softly, her hands running absently over his breastplate. They trailed upwards until the very tips of her fingers grazed the skin of his throat.
Cailan murmured wordlessly at the touch. "You know what your turn of phrase does to me." Chuckling again, he wet his lips, absently fiddling with his gauntlets until he felt them give way beneath his attention. The armor was a bit of a bother, especially considering he couldn't feel her with all of this in the way. He had to remove the gauntlets first, though. He wanted to touch her. "I like what you've done with your, ah, hair."
Her head dipped down, shoulders shaking as she tried to hold back a laugh. She had utterly no idea what the mass of red looked like, but she knew it couldn't have been attractive, not with all the fussing she'd done, neglecting the fact that she'd stuck it through with a dozen pins, as well.
Tossing the gauntlets onto the nearest available surface, his hands sought out whatever pin held it back. He expected only one, perhaps two, so his face shifted to confusion the moment he drew one of them out only to not disturb a single strand. He pulled out another; this time a single wave drifted down to sit beside her ear. "Maker's mercy, what have you done?"
"I was in a hurry," she finally managed between hiccups of laughter.
"I thought I mentioned in my last letter that I wouldn't mind you not meeting me at the gates if I was greeted when I got to your room with you wearing nothing but a smile," he admonished, curling the chunk of hair around his index before seeking out the next pin. "You really ought to listen to me, you know. King and all."
Rolling her eyes, Isobel slipped her arms around his waist, tilting her head to the side to give him a better look at her hair. "But then you wouldn't have gotten the chance to embarrass me in front of everyone. I wouldn't want to steal that opportunity away from you."
She shut her eyes when she felt one hand slip into the depths of her hair as his lips met the curve of her cheekbone. "I didn't embarrass you, did I?" he asked, removing another pin before tossing that one aside as well. "Varel's the only one that seemed even the smallest bit offended." Grinning, he nuzzled her temple before brushing his fingers over the curve of her head, dipping and rising as they ghosted over the waves that fell over her shoulders. "And, really, it's the truth, so he can sod off. Why should you be embarrassed?"
"Mm, shouldn't we be trying to be discreet?"
"Isobel," he replied, his tone stern. "You just escorted me directly to your room and barred the door. I would not think of that as very discreet."
Turning her face to look up at him, her lips found the curve of his chin, and she gave it a kiss before sighing. She couldn't be discreet around him. It was impossible, especially if he was there. Her tone when she spoke about him made it obvious enough, but it was clear as crystal the moment she looked at him. "Good point." She sighed a second time, though this one was fitful. "Are you finished with my hair yet?"
"Just about," he muttered, "Exactly how many pins did you put in?"
"I don't remember," she said, her confession stammering with the onslaught of another round of quiet laughter. "It's probably tangled, too, as if you didn't already have enough problems."
His shoulders quaked, as well. "I will defeat these pins, if it's the last thing I do."
"Oh, I hope that isn't the last thing you do," she murmured, cocking her head just far enough to the side to feel the crown of it rest against his palm. There was a faked innocence in her eyes that made him bite down on the inside of his cheek.
"Mmm, is that so?" He removed one last pin and cast it aside, his hands moving to run through her hair in all its thick, wavy glory. While he'd had most of his chopped off, hers had only gotten longer. Leaning forward, he buried his nose in it, delighting in the fact that it smelled not only of eucalyptus from her shampoo but of her. When she worried, she brushed her hands through her hair more often than usual, and he could smell the faint scent of natural oil that rose from her scalp. He shut his eyes and breathed deeply, fingers still twined there.
He heard Isobel give a quiet, contemplative sound. "I have a proposition for you." He murmured his curiosity. "You get that armor off, and I'll brush my hair." Pausing, her hands smoothed over the width of his back. "And once you're done, we will lie together and you can rest." Another pause. "Maybe."
Cailan gave a quiet whoosh of air. "What sort of man can deny such a thing? I've fallen asleep in an empty bed for many more days than I would like. The past days of travel have been rather tortuous."
At that, she leaned upwards and placed a small kiss on his mouth, paying special attention to the pouted bottom lip. Withdrawing her arms, she gave his chest a pat. "Well, we can't have that, can we?" she asked, grinning and turning to reach for the brush on her vanity. She set it on the bed for a moment as she slipped out of the dress she'd so hastily put on hardly an hour before, laughing quietly when she heard a low, impressed whistle from behind her.
Once the dress was kicked aside, Isobel climbed up onto the bed and grabbed for the brush, looking towards Cailan. One thing she always loved was watching him remove his armor. He was so precise and meticulous, even now despite the fact that his hands were fumbling a little under her heated observation.
"You're going to melt it right off me if you keep watching like that," he warned with a laugh.
Tugging the brush through a tangle, she gave a huff of a sigh. "Maybe that'd help you take it off faster."
"Patience, Isobel," he reminded her. The irony of his telling her this was not lost on her. Oh, how far Cailan Theirin had come in the past year and a half, changed from the impulsive, glory-seeking young king to the man that stood before her now – both wider and wiser. He'd written to her a few weeks before to tell her that he'd started training with a greatsword. He'd brought over a gruff Orlesian gentleman to help, said to be one of the greatest in Celene's forces. She could already tell the difference the training was making when he finally removed his spaulders and breastplate, followed by the linen shirt beneath.
He couldn't help but laugh when he saw Isobel lick her lips in his direction. "You're making me feel like a prime cut of steak, my dear," he said as he twisted at the waist to work the straps of the cuisses. As he removed them, he kept glancing up at her. He couldn't deny the fact that her staring at him like that did wonders to both his confidence (which was still recovering from the latest meeting with Eamon) and his own desire. "Not that I mind. I thought I should point it out."
"Well, look at you! You were already fit when I last saw you. You look like you're sodding half-qunari now." She was blabbering and staring and she hadn't moved the brush an inch since he removed his shirt, but she honestly couldn't have cared less.
He straightened his posture, hands moving to his hips, and she had to make an effort to keep herself from gaping at him. The firelight played off of his skin, casting highlights and shadows over every dip and rise of muscle. His stature was proud, and his top half was entirely bare. That all paled in comparison to his bottom half, clad in a pair of dark brown trousers that clung to his thighs and disappeared beneath the gold of his greaves. She may have murmured a quiet, "Oh, Maker," but beyond that, she was entirely flabbergasted.
A moment later, however, the spectacle changed. After removing the greaves, he set them aside with the rest of his armor and loosened the laces of his trousers. Even from here she could see the trail of dark blonde hair that slipped down his stomach and into his smalls, and her fingers twitched, yearning to trace her fingers down it, to press kisses on the defined crease of his hip.
When he shot a lopsided smile at her, she felt her heart fall to the pit of her stomach, pulling her out of her tiny reverie. "Are you going to finish brushing your hair, or are you waiting for me to offer to do it for you?"
He strode forward and climbed onto the bed, knee sinking into the mattress before he sat behind her. His voice was pitched lower when next he spoke, and she shut her eyes, chin tilting back, the moment she felt his mouth move against the bare span of her shoulder, the vibrations of his lips against her skin. "Would you like me to brush your hair?"
Handing him the brush without a word, Isobel shifted until she felt his knee pressed against her rear. He was as gentle as he'd always been with her, as if all it'd take was a single, sharp move and she'd think he was some kind of brute. This wasn't the case, however, especially not whenever it came to tangles in her hair. "I don't think they'll yield unless you actually brush instead of just petting them."
So he brushed, punctuating each tug with a hurried kiss against her scalp. While this wasn't necessary, either, she couldn't find it in herself to complain. By the time he'd finished, she was nearly sitting in his lap, her shoulders pressed against his bare chest. He stroked his hands over her hair after setting the brush aside, and she murmured contentedly, beyond pleased with this turn of events despite the flush on her cheeks that was quickly spreading downward as those fingers of his left her hair.
Over her shoulders, down her biceps to the crease in her bent elbows, he smiled into her hair. There was nothing greater than spending time with her. The time spent apart had assured him of this. Spending time with her, kissing her, touching her, making up for the lost days – he intended to fill the next week with all of this and more, no matter what.
The pads of his fingers brushed feather-light circles over the sensitive flesh just inside of her elbows. "Do you think they'd mind very much if I stayed here?" he whispered just behind her ear, his arms sliding to wrap around her. "They might not notice, right? I could tell them I've taken an impromptu trip to Antiva."
"Of course," Cailan chuckled, nudging her hair away from the back of her neck with his chin before planting a long, warm kiss to her skin. "I could don a hood while here in Amaranthine to remain inconspicuous."
Isobel climbed out of his arms and turned around to face him. The corners of her eyes were creased deeply with a smile he only got a brief glimpse of before he felt himself being pushed backwards. She came to rest directly on top of him, leaning her chin against his. "Or you could stay in my room. Surely no one would notice."
He squeezed her then, tilting his chin down far enough to snatch her lips up with his. The slow tangle of their tongues lasted only a moment before she drew back to stare down at him, obvious adoration filling her eyes just as they filled his. "I love you."
She could feel his chest rise and fall in a happy sigh beneath her. "I love you, too."
"And when you wake up, I am going to ravish you."
Cailan grinned. "I'm going to hold you to that, you know."