A/N: Hello lovelies! I'm back, this time with a Cullen/Amell tale. So, as noted by the title, this entire story was inspired by the song "Glycerine" by Bush (Try and guess what decade I grew up in!). I was listening to it one day and it just struck me as absolutely perfect for Cullen and Amell's relationship, and thus an idea was born. For those of you who were NOT pre-teens in the 90's I heartily suggest you listen to as it is one of the all-time greatest bittersweet love songs ever.
Just a few words about this story, mostly relating to story telling. Some of you may be confused by my initial portrayal of Cullen, but hear me out: Due to his reaction to mages in Origins and the beginning of DAII, I think that the our dear templar was, at one time, a very by-the-book untrusting Templar. I believe that only after having experienced love for Amell and Meredith's madness did he begin to loosen up and soften in his attitude towards mages.
Also, I will be playing merry havoc with the use of magic. I always felt that the range/use of spells in the game was severely limiting, especially when it came to blood magic (seriously, there could have been SOOOOO many more badass spells), and frankly, not very fun to write. So forgive me my made-up spells and somewhat twisted take on the discipline.
Anywho, love to all, please R&R and I hope this leads somewhere awesome!
It must be your skin I'm sinking in
It must be for real 'cause now I can feel
And I didn't mind, it's not my kind,
it's not my time to wonder why.
Everything's gone white and everything's grey
Now you're here now you're away
I don't want this, remember that
I'll never forget where you're at.
Don't let the days go by
I'm never alone, I'm alone all the time
Are you at one or do you lie?
We live in a wheel where everyone steals
But when we rise it's like strawberry fields
I treated you bad, you bruised my face
Couldn't love you more you got a beautiful taste
Don't let the days go by
Could have been easier on you
I couldn't change though I wanted to
Should have been easier by three
Our old friend fear and you and me
Don't let the days go by
Black moon white again
Black moon white again
And she falls around me
I needed you more when we wanted us less
Could not kiss, just regress
It might just be clear, simple and plain
Well, that's just fine that's just one of my names
Don't let the days go by
Could've been easier on you, you, you
-"Glycerine by Bush-
Kinloch Hold, 9:30 Dragon
Cullen fell to his knees and spit blood upon the floor, his ribs protesting with every panting breath. Distantly he could hear screams echoing off the stone, the cylindrical nature of the tower spiraling the sound up until it reached the apex with a ghostly resonance.
"Such music," his tormentor muttered dreamily as she stalked towards him, hips swaying a seductive rhythm. She passed through his magical prison as if it were nothing but air and gracefully knelt mere inches from him. Cullen scrambled away, scuttling on his hands and feet until his back hit the wall and he gazed up the creature with a mixture of vile disdain and fear.
"Keep your distance, demon," he warned, though his voice quavered. The creature in question laughed low and throaty, the sound made to spurn wicked thoughts and deed in men, and raised a hand between them, eyes flashing.
"Why would I do that, when there are so many things we can engage in close-up?" the desire demon purred, reaching out to touch him. Cullen growled and batted her hand away, succeeding only in irritating her. She sighed as if put upon and lashed out lighting fast, talons raking down is face in a harsh and stinging line. "Tsk, tsk, my sweet boy," she said with mock concern, "you know what comes when you resist my charms."
"Don't touch me," he hissed, hands rising feebly in pathetic fists. He had to keep fighting, no matter how maker damned tired he was. He refused to submit to this violation, to succumb to Uldred's vile plot. He had survived being beaten and tortured, being thrown behind magical bars and left in the keep of a deranged demon; he could damn well survive a bit more.
"Why not?" the demon pouted, having the audacity to look wounded, "we could have so much fun you, and I, if you would just let me in that pretty little mind of yours. I bet there are so many desires just waiting to lash out and break free."
Cullen growled and futilely tried to punch the demon in the face, but the move was sloppy and half formed, and his fist hit nothing but air before limply falling to his lap. It was useless, he was too wounded and he closed his eyes in shame. The demon laughed before harshly back handing him, sending him skidding across the stone to lay prostrate on his back, vision swimming with black streaks.
"Now," she murmured, placing one cloven foot upon his belly and leaning down to breathe hot and acidic in his ear, "let us see what you long for in the lonely hours of the night." Cullen screamed in pain and horror as she slapped a palm upon his chest and sent her tainted magic creeping through his body. It felt as if every nerve was a light with unimaginable pleasure, so great that it bordered on pain, and he arched his back at the sensation. It was over in a manner of seconds and he limply dropped to the ground, sweat coalescing on his brow as he relearned how to breathe.
The demon began to chuckle, low at first and then maniacally, as if she were overcome with hysterics. Cullen winced at sound and shakily rolled onto his stomach, arms straining to push upright.
"Oh that is beyond rich," his captor cackled, a sickening smile painting her hauntingly alien face, "such a present you have given me. I shall have fun breaking you down."
"You will never break me," Cullen panted in promise, finally managing to gain his footing, and he swayed with the effort to remain upright.
"Maybe not me, but she just very well might," the demon purred, her half naked body shimmering as a mages robe of palest lilac wove itself into being around her lush form. Cullen's eyes widened as he took in the garment, recognizing it almost immediately and his memory teased him with a painful and heart wrenching past.
"No," he whispered, pressing his fists hard against his eyes as if he could wipe the image from his gaze.
"Cullen," a beguiling and rich voice whispered softly, the sound weaving through his mind and setting up shop in his heart. It was as if she had never left and he felt his body grow heavy with longing at the melodic and dulcet tones of her speech. When he at last forced himself to open his eyes, the desire demon was nowhere to be found, but something much more dangerous had taken her place.
"You aren't her," he insisted, though he could not keep the wonder from his voice.
"Cullen," the woman once more beseeched, her violet storm-could eyes flashing at him in the sweetest way, a hand out stretched in offering. He bit back a sob and dropped to his knees, ignoring the way her delicate fingers beckoned him, and began to pray, hands clashed fiercely against his desire. He needed to hold on to himself, to pour his energy into faith and fortitude, because he was unwilling to admit just how close he had come to taking that hand and all the pleasure it had offered.
As his lips mumbled a litany of pleas to the Maker, his mind betrayed him and wandered to the last time he had seen Thais Amell and the long, sad story of their ill fated relationship that never should have been.
A year and six months prior
Thais Amell wearily rose from her knees and wiped her hands absently on her stained and tattered robes. Sparing one more glance down at the boy who slept quietly on the cot at her feet she allowed herself a small smile. The child would live, and it was a small blessing, for others had not been so lucky. Her, along with twelve other mages, had spent a week in the small, isolated village of Andralia, tending to the hundred plus citizens that had fallen victim to the plague that had descended upon the community without warning. It had been bad timing, for just a week prior to receiving the plea for help from the village the majority of harrowed healers had been sent to meet with the Grey Warden encampment to aid in the battle against the rising army of darkspawn. Rumor had it that another blight was upon Thedas, and the Wardens sought to end it before it had the opportunity to become a true threat. And so when the plea from Andralia had come, First Enchanter Irving had no choice but to send his two remaining healers and handful of untested apprentices to cleanse the village of plague. And so it was that Thais found herself free of the confines of the circle for the first time in living memory, and despite the dire circumstances, she intended to enjoy it to the fullest.
Walking wearily to a nearby stack of crates pushed against the far wall of the makeshift hospital, she idly rubbed the sweat from her brow with her forearm, wishing fiercely for a bath and a hot meal. Plopping down upon the nearest sturdy looking box, she let out a sigh and leaned her head against the rough wooden wall. A light, and teasing breeze rustled past her nose and she smiled warmly, eyes seeking out the source. When her gaze laded on a small crack in the wood she leaned closer, fair pressing her nose right to the wall. A strand of matted, scarlet hair tickled her cheek but she paid it no mind and breathed deep of the lavender scented air.
"Thais, come away from there and help me stave off boredom," she heard her friend Anders call to her with a lecherous lilt to his words. She ignored him and smiled as she once more felt a breeze upon her skin.
"Don't you have patients to tend to?" she wondered dreamily, mind wandering to the open space beyond the hospital and the wonders it could hold.
"They're well enough," he replied dismissively and he gracefully sank into an occupied crate to her left. "All dreaming of sweet nonsense in the fade. I find myself…without purpose at the moment, if you get my drift."
"Anders," she asked idly, eyes still closed, "tell me about rain."
"Again?" he whined, "you know I have far more interesting bits of wisdom I could impart to you, love."
"I think you've taught me everything I could ever hope to know about that discipline," she said wryly, shooting him an amused look over her shoulder before once more turning her attention to the small crack in the wood.
"I don't know about that," he said wickedly as he snaked a hand around her waist and leaned in close to breathe sinfully in her ear, "we could always move onto the more advanced levels of study." Thais slapped his arm, never once giving him the courtesy of her full attention, and Anders sighed wearily before acquiescing to her request.
"Fine," he muttered sulkily, "Rain. What can I say? It's wet…and cold, and it causes your robes to smell all moldy and rotten."
"You're not telling it right!" Thais whined as she rounded on him and stamped her foot. As the only mage she knew who had managed to escape the confines of the tower, Anders had the unique pleasure of experiencing the outside world free of templar influence. It was a favorite pastime of hers to pester him with questions that annoyed and amused, satisfying her curiosity and sparking her imagination. She had been taken to the circle at the young age of three, and she was hard pressed to recall a memory that did not include the oppressive stone walls of Kinloch hold. She had not been allowed to venture outside for over seventeen years, and so she lived vicariously through her wild and daring friend, holding his tales close to her heart in the despairing dark of night. Somewhere along the line she had succumbed to Anders' charms, and tumbled head first into the cad's bed, and for the past year the two had engaged in a casual dalliance of passion and stories. It wasn't a grand love affair by any stretch of the imagination; both knew that they came to one another to stave off the loneliness and boredom that came with living in a gilded prison, and that emotions such as love would only ruin what little happiness they had managed to achieve. Every mage eventually learned the lesson that love was something the Templars could hold over you until they twisted the very nature of such an emotion into something terrifying and deadly.
"Am I?" Anders mocked, arms pulling her close, "What will you give me if I do?"
"Do you ever get tired of playing the lothario?" she asked, resting her hands lightly upon his shoulders.
"How can I when I'm surrounded by beautiful young women on a regular basis?" he asked earnestly, shocked that she would even ask such a question.
"There are other hobbies to be had, you know. Have you considered taking up knitting?"
"And what would I knit, Thais?" he deadpanned, "cunning sweater sets? Little wool staff cozies?"
"Fine, fine, have it your way…just remember what the Chantry says about idle hands," she sing songed in warning.
"My hands aren't idle, love," he said, hand gliding around her thigh, fingers inching dangerously close to places that would land them both in trouble, "they're very well occupied."
"Get it a rest, Anders," she snapped, "this really isn't the time or place."
Anders shrugged and rose to leave, causing Thais to huff in irritation before closing her eyes and giving way.
"Very well," she said begrudgingly, "if you tell me about rain, in the correct way, you shall receive the undying friendship of this beautiful young woman, and if you're very lucky, a thankful hug."
"Remind me never to invite you my name day parties, you give the most appalling gifts," he said with a frown, as he joined her once more. "But let it never be said that I don't have a few chivalric bones in my body…it wouldn't do to refuse a lady. Rain…you feel it like a kiss upon your skin, the kind that sends shivers up your arms and leaves gooseflesh long after the act has finished. It cools with the breeze and brings with it a scent unlike any other, suffusing the air with an odor you can almost taste, but never quite name."
"Thank you," Thais whispered when he had finished, a pleased smile painted on face. Anders grinned down at her before swooping into to claim her bee stung lips in a skillful kiss. Thais rolled her eyes but slid her hands up to tangle in his pale blond hair, returning his passions with amused tolerance. She could hear the annoyed snickers from her fellow mages but paid them no mind as Ander's hand roamed seductively over her robes. Just as things were about to go too far, a harsh clearing of a throat had the two breaking away from each other, hastily putting distance between them like two children caught out at doing something wrong.
A young templar, no more than twenty, twenty five years stood before them, a severe and disapproving look upon his features. Thais blushed in embarrassment and averted her eyes, though she could not help but sneak a glance at his appearance once more. He was handsome, in an infuriating sort of way, his face all sharp and chiseled lines. A shadow of stubble clung to his chin, the same strawberry blond as that of the thick hair that graced his head.
"There will be none of that," he commanded, voice dripping with disapproval. Anders chuckled lazily at his tone and rolled his eyes.
"You really need to lighten up, Cullen," the mage offered playfully, "all that chantry taught repression isn't good for the psyche. Maybe we should find you a girl, you know, if only to help ease the tension in those lovely templar built muscles. It'll do wonders for your personality."
"I am to escort you and your companion to supper," Cullen ground out through clenched teeth, pointedly ignoring the mage's jibe. "I expect there will no attempts at escape during the event, is that clear?"
"Ruin all my fun," Anders' pouted, crossing his arms over his chest.
"You give him quite a bit of credit, sir," Thais said wryly, elbowing her friend in mirth, "Even Anders here needs more than a few yards worth of a head start to slip your grip."
"I'm offended by your lack of faith!" he replied in mock outrage. Thais giggled quietly, though abruptly stopped when she felt Cullen's gaze fall on her.
"I am well aware of this one's penchant for flight," he said coldly, "I refuse to take chances, no matter how great the odds seem."
"Well, isn't that just oh-so proper and dour of you," Thais said sweetly, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. Clearly this was the man's first assignment outside of the Circle's walls. It was so painfully obvious that he was operating by some silly book of conduct that he had memorized. One glance at his fellow Templars would have shown him how ridiculous he was acting, but it seemed that Cullen was very set in his state of mind.
"You're Thais Amell, correct?" he asked after a moment. She nodded in reply, refusing to back down from his steely gaze. "I'm surprised they let you out of the circle."
"And why is that?" she asked innocently, a bite of anger flavoring her words, "Apart from Ismae and Anders here, I'm the closest you lot have to a harrowed mage, what with all the others being shipped off to parts unknown. Such troublesome creatures, darkspawn."
"I'm surprised they let you out, what with your history," Cullen continued, wariness set in everyone of his bones.
"Tread carefully Cullen," Anders warned as he felt Thais tense at the words. The Templar ignored the mages warning and continued on his foolish path.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't you nearly made tranquil not five months ago?"
"If you value your tongue at all you will stop speaking right now," Thais growled, the blood in her veins turning to ice.
"Yes, now I remember," Cullen continued, unaffected by her shift in mood, "You attacked a Templar…nearly crippled him for life."
"That oily bastard deserved it," she spat, stepping towards him in anger.
"That 'oily bastard' has a name, Sir Edmund, and he is a friend of mine," Cullen said darkly.
"Imagine my shock. All you Templar's are cut from the same cloth, aren't you,?" she muttered, syllables dripping with disdain. Before Cullen could offer further argument she pushed past him and exited the stuffy, and oppressive hospital, desperately needing to breathe deep of fresh air. She could hear Anders beleaguered sigh and the Templars gasp of outrage chase after her, but she paid it no mind. She burst out of the doorway hastily walked towards the large tent that had been erected as a make shift dining hall and tried to steel herself against memories that still had the power to hurt. Edmunds hands fumbling at her robes, his acidic and cloying breath fanning across her face as he taunted her with sadistic reasoning. Her tears coursing down her face as she tried to reach for the magic inside her. A blast of power and Edmund's limp and bloodied form lying prone on the stones. As the memories bombarded her she could feel it, an unknown power pressing beneath her skin, itching to be lashed out. Thais had no idea what this strange sensation was, only that she had felt it on and off her entire life. It was tied to her magic, of that she was certain, and it came with frustrating side effects. While she had excelled at healing magic, her efforts in other schools of discipline had not come as easily. It was not that she lacked power, far from it, but try as she might she could not effectively cast offensive spells with any sort of predictability. One day she would excel and the next she would fail, and it was all tied to this strange power that lay inside her. Her instructors insisted her failures were due to a lack of discipline, but she knew they were wrong. It was something else entirely, and the "something else" in question was rising within her as memories of a vile encounter plagued her thoughts.
"No!" she cried out, pressing her fists against her violet eyes in an effort to wipe the dastardly images from her mind. Breathing deeply, she focused on centering herself in the present, and slowly, the sounds and smells of a village come back to her, and she was once again steady in her reasoning; the strange power receding from her in a tingling rush. Sighing wearily she opened her eyes and began to make her way towards the tent. It was then that the sky burst open above her.
Blasts of power lit the air and Thais suddenly found herself in the midst of a torrential storm, sheets of rain falling against her skin in an icy burst. She gasped at the sensation and whipped her head to the sky, eyes landing upon a mage-cast tempest that engulfed the tiny village. Wind howled and lightening flashed, and the once quiet shore line that framed the town began to churn violently. As more spells were cast, Thais saw Templars pour from buildings, searching out the cause of such upheaval.
"What did you do?" a voice boomed accusingly over her shoulder, and she whipped around to find Cullen standing before her, sword drawn.
"Nothing!" she snapped, "I'm just as confused as you are."
"It's an uprising," Anders panted as he sprinted to join them, head nodding to the tent, "see?"
The pair followed his gaze and saw nine of their fellow mages, staffs whipping frenetically through the air, battling against a contingent of Templars.
"Is this your doing?" Cullen demanded, rounding on Anders.
"Of course not," he snorted, as if the idea was offensive, "I prefer my escape attempts to be handled with some measure of grace and guile. This is just…sloppy."
Cullen frowned and glanced back at his comrades, clearly torn between wanting to aid his fellow Templars and wanting to keep an eye on the two mages before him.
"Go on then," Anders said, hands shooing the man away, "Don't let us stop you from participating in the slaughter."
"And leave you two alone? To aid your fellow mages in their bloody revolt, I think not," Cullen said stoically, his shoulders set. Anders sighed and shook his head, as if deeply saddened by the Templar's words.
"Pity," he murmured before thrusting a hand out and calling out a simple sleep spell. Cullen's eyes went wide in shock and outrage before he crumpled to the ground, chest rising a falling with measured breaths. Thais gaped at the display in shock and rounded on her friend in outrage.
"Come on," he said intently, grabbing her hand in his, "this will be fun." Thais stumbled along as he drug her to the small dock the village had constructed to receive trade. Two small, and barely sea worthy fishing boats, swayed on the violent water, their only anchor a thin rope tied to land.
"What do you think you're doing?" she hissed as Anders began to climb into one of the vessels.
"This is too good a chance not to take," he said dismissively, a hand reached out in supplication, "come with me."
"With you?" she parroted dumbly, eyes blinking.
"No time like the present, love. You wanted to live the real world? Now's your chance." When she made no move to follow he sighed wearily and grasped her face between his hands. "Look at them all," he said gesturing to the Templars, "distracted, each and every one. It's just too easy. Escape with me and I'll show you everything I've ever told you in my stories."
"Anders, no! Are you touched in the head?" she protested, "They'll catch you! They have your phylactery."
"Can't catch me if they're dead," he said grimly as the pair watched a Templar be felled by a massive bolt of lightning to the chest.
"And our fellow mages? Or did you not realize they'd more than likely be dead as well?" she spat, horrified that he would leave them behind to a grizzly fate. "You know they won't win, they can't…we never do."
"I can't save everyone, love," he said, eyes gone sorrowful and wide, "but I can save you. Come on."
"No," she said firmly, shrugging out of his grasp, "I'm not going to be held responsible for their or your foolish actions."
"Have it your way," he said quickly before pressing a fierce and passionate kiss upon her lips, "take care of yourself, Thais."
She watched helplessly as he launched himself from the dock, his lean arms pushing away from the shore line. Her lips parted, a cry for him to come back readied on her tongue, but her words were silenced as a pair of strong arms gripped her from behind, a hand reaching to clasp over her mouth.
"That was quite foolish of you," Cullen hissed in her ear, and she froze in a panic, all too aware of how another Templar had held her in the same manner just a few months prior."
"Let go of me," she mumbled from between his fingers, but his grip tightened and her anxiety boiled over, and she began to thrash beneath his hands. A well placed elbow to his stomach had him cursing and loosening his hold on her, just enough for her squirm away. Without thinking she lunged towards the remaining boat, hands scratching over the sodden wood as she gracelessly fell into the vessel. Cullen was right behind her and followed suit, trying to restrain her as best he could. The motion of the water below their feet had them lurching to the side and Thais lost her footing, falling into the Templar and catching her shoulder on the sharp peak of his chest plate. The metal sliced through fabric and skin effortlessly and she cried out in pain, hands instantly clapping over the wound and becoming sticky with her blood. Cullen took advantage of her moment of distraction and restrained her once more, eyes flashing in triumph.
"Let her go!" a voice boomed out, and the two whipped their heads around to find a row of mages standing before them, staffs out stretched in warning. Three Templars knelt on the ground before them, bound and bloody. "If you value your life, Templar, you will let her go."
"Ismae?" Thais asked in astonishment as she finally managed to recognize the mages face.
"Just give me a moment dear," the older woman responded musically, eyes never straying from Cullen's face, "we'll have you free in a jiffy." Thais gaped dumbfounded at her mentor and felt the world spin. Never in a million years would she have pegged her sweet, doting, dotty old mentor capable of participating in such a foolish crusade.
"What in the name of all that is holy do you think you're doing?" she demanded, forgetting for a moment that she was held captive by a very angry Templar.
"What I should have done long ago," the woman responded, "refusing to be chained like criminals by the Chantry's lap dogs. No master but magic!" Thais felt Cullen stiffen at the words, and she glanced up at him in confusion, only to find his face filled with vile hatred.
"You're one of her followers, aren't you?" he demanded, "I didn't think her poison had spread to the circle."
"Her faithful are legion," Ismae said bitingly, "and your precious order cannot stand before us."
"Will someone please enlighten the one person who is out of the loop?" Thais demanded, struggling against Cullen's hold, breaking free and glaring up at him.
"I had hoped to have time to ease you in, my dear," Ismae said, voice gone gentle, "but things moved farther a pace than I expected. I shall explain everything in due time. Now come, join us in our victory and we shall be free of their hold."
"Free?" Thais asked warily, something about the woman's tone causing her to fear her meaning.
"Once we have dispatched of our oppressors we will take our leave, and the world will be laid bare before us," Ismae said with religious fervor.
"You expect me to kill these men?" Thais gasped in shock and she heard Cullen draw his sword in warning. She made to round on him and make a scathing remark, but hissed in a breath as her injury burned in protest and the strange power began to ripple beneath her skin.
"You do not wish their deaths?" Ismae retorted in disbelief, "You, who have suffered degradation at their hands? Hands that were supposed to protect and guide you? Play the innocent all you want, my child, but you despise their order as much as anyone, and have even greater reason to do so."
"That does not mean that I will lay myself so low as to murder them," she protested, an ill sort of feeling crawling over her as the unknown magic grew larger within her, filling her up in the most remarkable way, "it makes me no better than them to do so evil a thing."
"If you do not stand with us, then you are against us," Ismae said coldly, eyes narrowed.
"Ismae, have you lost your damn mind?" she cried, the feeling of otherness almost over powering her, "I'm your pupil! You practically raised me!"
"Maharette teaches there is no loyalty but to that of freedom," the old woman said softly, regret etched in her voice. "I am sorry child, but you leave me no choice."
Just as the old woman raised her staff, Thais thrust her blood covered hand out before her, crying, "No!" and the world exploded. Thais was thrown back into Cullen, the pair collapsing upon the boat's slatted floor in a breath stealing rush. Distantly she could hear screams and the wet sounds of flesh being torn from bone, and above it all a hellish sort of howling that rent the very air. Thais' vision swam before her eyes and just as darkness claimed her she had the fleeting thought, What have I done?