Thank you all for reading and for your lovely reviews! Enjoy! I am very sad to see the story end, but I am glad you all saw it through to the end, despite the typos!
Also I could not find Cullen's last name anywhere, so I took the voice actors last name.
Rated M, I own nothing.
Cullen pressed his fingers under his chin while he sat and continued to watch Solona sleep heavily after their passionate exertions. It had occurred to him that perhaps, he should have woken her so that they could have already had their discussion. Yet, he had been loath to force such a meeting of the minds for fear of what it might bring in its wake. Twice already, he had pinched himself to assure the more fragile stings of his heart that she was real and very much in his bed. A warm sensation hovered sweetly over his thoughts and heart as he reflected that she belonged there. To him, it was as plain as day to see that she belonged in his bed; had always belonged there even when he had been far too stubborn to understand what it was about her that affected him so.
He realized in the few precious moments held tightly in her arms once more that he had loved her from the first time she had saved him in that hellish existence torn between blood magic wrought with strife. Though time had changed them both as he had noted while he had reverently played with her longer ordinary brown locks; they were still the same people emotionally that they had been in that deciding second in Ostagar when the world had made sense and then shattered in her wake. It had not escaped Cullen's noticed that despite her better intentions Solona Amell was a catalyst for a great many things in his life.
However, when he had been without her the world had held no vibrancy for him. Colors and sounds had bled into nothingness and the vortex of sorrow that comes with everyday survival. If he were still more devout in his beliefs, they had never quite recovered after the blow form the Chantry, then Cullen would have thought that it had been by the Maker's hand he had been guided down to Gwaren that day a year ago. To the formerly pious man, it could have been fate or coincidence but he did not wish to expend the energy required to think in circles.
Amber orbs watched her sleeping form with such a weight of love that had she been awake, Cullen knew Solona would have been struck by the blazing adoration laid bare in his gaze. He spared a glance out the window to see that dusk was already falling swiftly on the land. The sweet perfume of flowers wafting from the field below and Cullen could have remarked on what it felt like to experience true peace. Whatever little that he could offer her, he would. There was a fear of the unknown slinking around on the outskirts of his thoughts. He worried that what he had to give her would not be enough to make her stay. However, Cullen had already decided that she would never leave his side again.
Beekeeper Cullen was determined.
Images of what their life together could be rushed through his mind with a vengeance after having been denied for so very long. He could already see her caring after their first child, a boy with his red hair and her hazel eyes. Cullen glanced to the small kitchen and could very nearly see the ghostly outline of her form as she made preserves or dinner after he had come home from a long day at work. Even the imaginings brought him a great satisfaction. Affirmed in his desires Cullen rose from his lone chair and mentally reflected that he would need to make another tomorrow as he started for his study.
His boots thumped lightly on the wooden floor, but he saw that Solona had not stirred. His hands reached for a single leaf of parchment and Cullen searched about for his quill. It had occurred to him, on more than one occasion that perhaps he should have retained the lessons of organization from his time at the Chantry if nothing else. At first the haphazardness of his belongings had been a petulant way to strike back at his up brining and unfortunately they had declined out of a perverse sort of laziness that would have to be corrected. His shuffling of books and notes yielded one lone quill and Cullen dipped it into the nearby inkwell with precision as he penned out a short note to his beloved. Before he gathered his coat and headed out, Cullen made sure to light the candles in the main living area so that she would not be shrouded in darkness until he returned.
He had sworn long ago that Mage Amell would not escape him.
Consciousness came in stages to the woman who desperately tried to nestle back into the soft blankets that covered her completely. Her limbs felt heavy and she opened her eyes slowly to stare into darkness illuminated only by the soft glow of candlelight. Solona jolted from her prone position to sit and stare wildly around her. Her memories flooded through her frightened state with comforting and provocative images of what she had been doing to end up in a bed that was not her own. Quotidian hazel eyes widened as she flanked out the window to see the night sky was in full bloom and horror etched a path across her face as understanding dawned that she was extremely late for her tasks.
Solona stumbled out from the bed, her feet nearly caught in the folds of the blanket as the cool night air hit her bare flesh. She shivered and looked around for her clothing. She glanced back at the bed to see that Cullen was not present. Cold worry settled in the pit of her stomach as she started on the ties of her dress.
"Cullen?" She called out trying not to let the rising panic she felt reflect in her tone. Her rational mind attempted to provide reasons that he would have been away from the bed they had shared.
"Cullen?" Solona wandered out into the light of the main living area only to find it sans Templar and she worried her bottom lip between her teeth. The sheen of vellum caught her sight and the woman walked quickly to the folded note. Her fingers trembled and she had been helpless to keep the tears from brimming in her eyes as unfolded the missive. She would not have faulted him for leaving her as she had so cruelly left him, but her heart ached at the thought. The apostate took a deep breath before scanning the words with as much eagerness as one would see getting a tooth pulled.
I will return shortly. I expect you to still be there when I get back.
A bark of laughter erupted from her throat before she had been able to squelch it. Solona gazed in fondness at the commanding way in which he had more or less ordered her not to leave the premises. She supposed that his Templar colors would show through in several aspects. The musing gave her pause as she wondered for the very first time since seeing him again why he had been here. 'Where was his armor?' She wondered.
Her eyes searched the house for any noticeable sign of armor or even the smell of polish but she came up empty on both counts. Her feet lead her to the kitchen where still trembling hands grasped tightly onto a tin kettle that she shook to see if there was water within it. Heartened by her find, Solona had set about igniting a fire in the wood burning stove as she struck flint and steel to the kindling. Her breath gave life to the newly born embers as she had blown softly to encourage the rising flames.
Solona found herself tortured by thoughts and wonderings. She was stuck by the frightening notion that Cullen might have gone to fetch the Templars from the local chantry. Solona had avoided the giant reach of the law for nearly three years. Their hunt of her had dwindled long ago. Even though her traits would be recorded and her phylactery still active, Solona had been successful in avoiding magic completely. She wondered idly if he had gone to her employer, but Solona could not recall telling him who that was. She only remembered heat and touch, not talk at all. There was a pang of regret that had come with knowing that Madam Ward would be beside herself with worry over where Solona had gone.
'If I still have a job come the morrow, I will apologize for all I am worth.' Solona thought sagely. There was a slim chance, according to her observation of the woman, that she would be so overjoyed that Solona or 'Elaine' was unharmed, that she would not fire her on the spot. Solona had given it about a 7 percent chance of success. Perhaps 4 if the woman was in foul spirits.
The sound of boiling water drew Solona from her possibly exhausting future of hunting down another position and she moved to find a decent clay or wooden mug. She combed over his supplies with a keen eye and had been disappointed to find nothing to add to the water. Solona sighed and poured the hot water into the mug and waited for it to cool. Her cold hands wrapped around the mug that gave off delicious radiant warmth as she moved to sit at the lone chair at the table. Her fingers smoothed over his note once more and Hazel eyes retraced the words.
She would wait; just as he asked.
Left alone with her thoughts had turned out to be poor company in the hour or so that ticked by watching the tapers melt gradually under the heat of the flames. The soft smell of beeswax filled the cozy space and Solona had drank her water in absolute silence. She refused to move from her perch atop the chair until he returned. She was a patient woman. She had been waiting for him for years. What were a few more hours in comparison to a lifetime?
Her gaze wandered the space of the room over and over as she wondered where they would go from here. Had it been closure he sought? What had happened to him in order for him to become a beekeeper in Gwaren? Solona had been certain he had the makings of a Knight-Commander when she had met him. Still as selfish as it had been she was glad that he was here and not still serving the oppressive ways of the Chantry. However, Solona understood that she had stopped caring about the Circle of Magi and the Chantry the last time she had seen Cullen walking past her as she had stood in the shadows like a spirit from beyond the veil. All that Solona had cared about or cared for had been held in the being of a lone stubborn Templar that could have cowed the Tevinter Imperium with a glare.
The first sounds of footfalls echoed in the silent room and Solona suppressed the rush of fear that crept up her spine. She watched the door creak and groan as it was opened from the outside while she sat petrified internally at what the next few moments would bring. Her face was a mask of cold detachment while inside her heart raged to beat a path out of her chest by force. Relief filled her at the sight of Cullen, very much alone, looking mildly pleased with himself if the way his chin tilted was any indication to the observant mage.
His amber orbs pinned her in place and her lips curled into a soft smile as Solona stared back at him unsure of what to say.
"I see you stayed." His voice was cautious but his eyes spoke to her of something more and Solona felt magic hum with anticipation.
"Indeed I did." Her hands clasped tightly around the empty mug and she leaned forward with her elbows on the table. It had given her the appearance of an enraptured person who hung off the other's every word; which at that moment she had been.
"There are many things we need to discuss." His eyes lowered and she watched his left hand reach into his pocket but not come out. She wondered if he had developed a new nervous habit or if he had injured that hand somehow.
"Yes, you're right. We do need to talk." She chuckled in humorless laughter that bordered on the hysterical. She was so inexperienced in what one said to someone they loved. She knew what she had observed from others but their situations were so far removed from her own that Solona was left alone with only thoughts and not words or deeds. There was so much she wanted to say but the words stubbornly refused to come as they danced on the tip of her tongue.
"Before we do." Her gaze locked with his and she noted the worry that puckered around his eyes making them harder. "I have to ask you one thing."
She swallowed reflexively and her heart thundered so loudly she had been sure he could hear it. "What?" She knew she lacked eloquence in times of emotional uncertainty.
He strode toward her and Solona resolutely held her ground sitting defenseless on the chair at his table. His eyes searched her face as he knelt down before her. Solona's brain had chosen that moment to shut off completely and even her thoughts had left her before this man. His warm and rough hand grasped hers softly as his other hand left his pocket with a flash of silver. Solona blinked, unable to move or breathe at the tender look on his face. The open and honest look of hope that brought fresh tears to her his fingers worked a band of silver over her ring finger when he had chosen to ask her.
"Would a lifetime with a humble beekeeper be enough to keep you here?" His voice was filled with excitement and a touch of reverence. Solona would have memorized his expression, but the tears that clouded her eyes made seeing him clearly impossible. Her shoulders trembled as she brought her free hand to her mouth as she began to sob in earnest.
"It will always be enough." Her voice had cracked from the sheer weight of the emotions that coursed through her, so many she could barely register them all. Her magic burst forth unable to be confined in the near rapture of its mistress as she had flung herself toward him. She had held him tightly as they both toppled to the floor. She lifted her tear streaked face to his. "You have always been enough." She vowed to him as he wrapped her in his arms and they embraced so tightly Solona feared she might break.
"I love you Solona." He whispered in her hair and she was forced to stop herself from crying even more. The words she had longed to hear for so long played a sweet tune to her ears and she snuggled her head into his chest.
"I love you too Cullen." Her tone held all the warmth she felt and had previously been afraid to share with him.
Solona groaned in exasperation at the cheeky grin that had been directed her way. It had been her observation that whenever that grin came about on that handsome face, she was in for the most hair-raising day. In all honesty, she should have known what she was in for the day she agreed to become Mrs. Solona Ellis. Or Elaine Ellis as the people of Gwaren had come to know her. Yet, no matter how intelligent a mage she was, Solona could never seem to outsmart the owner of said cheeky grin.
"Don't you dare." She warned gazing into all to familiar amber orbs as a mischievous giggle echoed from the kitchen. Her feet were swift, but not swift enough to keep the fourteen-month-old son from pulling down the container that held all of the freshly picked vegetables Solona had just harvested from the family's garden. Dirt and carrots flew in all directions while she contemplated quite seriously if it were possible to suspend a child in mid-air for a period of time.
'I must have patience. I must have patience. I must have patience.' She had recited to herself like a new spell that might miraculously cause the brimming anger to abate. Her gaze landed on her rather mobile son as she clapped happily to himself and squealed out in delight. Solona had been ready for him to take a nap all day and now seemed as good of a time as any to the mother-mage. She scooped the still talking babe into her arms and walked back into the shared bedroom that her little ones shared. Solona was tempted to tell Cullen that he would be granted the honor of watching their youngest on the morrow, but She sighed and recalled what had happened to their eldest when he had provoked a bee in his earliest years.
Solona shook her head as she had closed the door. Her days and nights had been filled with love. An escaped apostate who had been the only successful escape from the Circle of Magi in its history had been blessed with a former-Templar husband and three fine sons. Solona had heard tales from passing traveling Templars and her dear husband, that the dreaded apostate Amell was rumored to have joined with the Witches of the Wilds. Where that tale had been spun, Solona suspected her incompetent chantry Hunters who had not wanted to their lack of success to reflect badly upon them.
'All boys. Maker, would it really be so horrid if you gave me at least one more female to ease my burdens?" she prayed with amusement evident in her thoughts. Though she was still a very introverted person, around her husband and sons she had become someone new. She had always been eternally grateful that she had taken a few risks. The rewards of such risks were her world as she listened to her youngest son protest his forced confinement she laughed softly to herself.
Warm arms wrapped around her waist as she picked up the last of the carrots from their un-needed demise. A pair of lips pressed sweetly at her temple.
"Hello love." He whispered and she leaned into him, allowing herself a few calm breaths.
"Hello yourself." She stated playfully as she turned around to face him. The years had been kind to them both as she sought out a life in the wild changing ways of the world. Her magic sung happily around her a swirling mix of power and contentment.
"After all these years, your magic still sings to me." She watched the most handsome grin paint his lips and Solona laughed.
"It adores you just as much as I do." Solona winked coyly up at him and she felt the low rumble that started in his chest, the barest hints of a growl as she went back to her task. She heard the pitter-patter of two sets of smaller feet as they started a stampede through the front door. She lowered her head in defeat for the youngest started to wail wanting out of his room. Life in the Circle had been a bed of roses compared to the sufferings a mother went through out of love. Exasperation had turned out to be a common occurrence as well as precious moments she would treasure long after she had been surrendered to the side of the Maker. Her only desire is that she could walk it at Cullen's side.
But Mage Amell , now Mage Ellis, was special. She had never been caught; at least not according to the Chantry's records.