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For all her strength spent, he would teach her not to fear even as he fears himself, carried away on moonlight for respite, a darkened whisper overhead. || Cullen x F!Trevelyan Mage


Act II (of II) of Part III of the Order and Chaos series; set after the events of at Halamshiral and the fall of Adamant; the commander takes the Inquisitor for a breath of air, begging her forgiveness and her strength; Inspired by several fanarts crafted by the lovely Greendelle.

This is the second and final half of The Moonlit Mare.


Author: Illusionary Ennui

Disclaimer: If it's not in the games, codex entries, or the wiki, it's mine. All else, hail to Bioware.

Story Rating: M

Story Warnings: Fluff, Hurt/Comfort, Romance, Sexual Content, Drug Abuse/Rehabilitation, Withdrawal, Past Relationships, Past Dub-Con, NSFW

Edited: 01.27.2015


The Moonlit Mare - Act II

In silent vespers,
a proud beast will only bow
to whom gives her reign.

Fireflies began their dance, their soft luminescence conjuring stars onto the sleepy ribbon of the deep creek winding through the glade. Pure air and wet earth, honeysuckle clinging to their leaves, their season nearly done. In the valley, the wind rustled only the topmost branches of the trees, but it added to the music of water and life.

“Where are we?” A level tone gave little to the state of the Inquisitor’s mind, only of a touch of curiosity left to soften the mood.

The Commander sifted through the truth, toeing the line between them and the Inquisition. Each word masked the hidden agenda as he slid from the saddle.

“Our scouts have set this place as a potential site for a watchtower, perhaps a small barrack of guardsmen.” Gentle hands reached up, strong but kind, to help the Inquisitor down from the mare’s back. His fingers lingered on the curves of her hips. A touch of hurt still stung in the depths of her dark amber eyes, patinated even darker by her sulking. For one breath, he dared not meet their gaze. He spoke of the trees standing sentinel over them, of how he wanted to survey the area for himself, the lay of land fresher and sharper to his own eyes than any hasty report.

"Then why bring me? I know as much about battle strategy as that stalk of elfroot does."

"I have my reasons." His warmth left her, his fingers furling instead about the reins as she stayed behind. He led the mare away and busied himself with their pack: a pair of bed rolls and a small tent, some food and a bottle of his favourite mead tucked into one of the saddlebags. At his back, he sensed the subtle stir of magic pricking. The hair on his arms and neck beneath his garb trembled when its aura brushed over them. It called to him, made it difficult to strip off his gloves. It fanned up his spine, vines of cold fire tempting, teasing as she cast wards for their safety.

Magic pulsed at her fingertips, illuminating the tired lines of her face. A furtive glance made her heart drop into the pit of her stomach – she watched him stiffen, the mare’s bridle caught as the bit rattled in grinding teeth. Some part of her wished she had made a different choice – could she have spared him that pain, the pull of lyrium sated instead of bristling each time her magic whispered near?

The soft shine of ruby drew her eye, an apple stolen from Cullen’s hand. A warm smile tugged slowly on his lips, an easy, genuine line. No, he had come too far – he deserved a chance at freedom, to forge a new path.

With practiced skill, the knight’s calloused fingers worked the heavy buckle of the saddle’s girth. It sunk beside them with a thudand a tingof metal, dust coating once-polished boots. The mare nudged a broad palm, an innocent gesture full of trust. The blankets, folded with care, balanced atop the saddle, left aside just the same. She nickered and bumped Cullen’s hand again, bringing forth his chuckle as Mara had not.

It wounded more than her heart as she studied each act, unable to declare its stifled cry.

What can I do here? I know my magic is not enough, but am I?

Turmoil swirled. Judgment and doubt shaped themselves from lightning and forged steel. How many lies has he cloaked himself in for her sake? Her wrath, even curbed against him, would be virtuous if she learned of the templars sequestered in the belly of Suledin Keep, their lyrium denied – it was a torture he knew all too well; they would talk. The same tremors and vicious claws tearing his insides, sharpening need, his sight dimming – they would know it. Restrained in the dark, eaten from the inside, their very lifeblood made of poison – he could have been one of them. Its truth sickened him. Disdain made him throw himself away from his sin for their cause. Fear made him shield her from it. They needed what they knew - he needed to bring Samson to justice. He needed to be free of it all. He had promised her that it was not about revenge. How many lies would he tell her until it was over? How much truth had he hidden? He secreted her to that place to forget as he had when he was a child, their noise like the drumming of withdrawal against his temples. The memories of home came again to assuage the fire, but still the flames licked and seared.

Through gritted teeth, he spoke of his father in Honnleath, the old mare who ploughed the fields. With each word, the pain lessened, his focus whetted as he earned his Inquisitor’s awe, her stillness as he recounted the fussy mare in the elder’s hands. In his, however, that horse was a blessing, taken to task by gentle handling alone.

A bare hand beckoned the mage, the scars of the old life glinting like slivers of moonlight upon its skin. Mara found herself afraid to reach for him, dreading that he would shatter. Her hands clasped against her chest. Yet slowly, ever so slowly, she shuffled near, her breath held as close as she held her hands. Golden eyes sought hers, softened despite the pain masked behind a truer smile – he loved her. His fingers found hers, skimming innocently across her breast. She shivered, shaken by a single touch.

His smile broadened when he drew it toward him, his lips brushing across her thumb, to paint a kiss against the delicate skin over her racing pulse. Those fingers splayed around her ivory wrist, warmth and gentleness instilled. The commander shifted his weight to slip around her, his other hand sliding along her waist to settle on the swell of her hip. An affectionate breathed crossed her ear as he stretched out her hand towards the snowy mare.

"Relax." Another breath. He suspended her hand toward the velvety, incandescent hide. Without a word, the sleek muscles tensed and yet the mare turned her head to nestle into the mage’s palm, curious rather than alienated. "Let her come to you. Show her that she need not fear you."

Mara held her exhale, caught between the lithe beauty of the mare and the man holding her like a frozen flower, the man she loved and trusted beyond reason. When he spoke again, it tore open deeper hurts, the wounds not yet healed.

"You've watched me fall into a spiral, seen my hands shake like an addled old man and kept me sane even as it fights to break me. Before this, I’m not sure how I even survived – I am blessed you did not see me when I began down this road. Had I... Had we met then –”

“I would have stayed.” She meant to turn, to reach into him and assuage whatever disdain which had sewn itself into his heart. But his hands held her fast.

“You say that now, but you know how far a templar might fall without it. I would’ve killed you and conceived myself righteous, ignorant of the blood on my hands. Just another transgression for which I could not atone. Most succumbed within weeks. I don’t even know how many months it’s been. We all knew what should happen. Madness. Obsession. Dementia. In another time, I would have named this a dream, a demon’s spell. I don’t know how but I know who I am, what is illusion and what is reality. I know am here. With you.”

Penitence held them, stretched along the fragile weave of their lives from one breath to the next. How long could they stand as the world fell around them, their fates bound so tightly but barely touching save for the moments they stole, the moments they slipped free. They would fight with their own hands, their own power.

Was it enough?

“Cassandra had thought I was beyond it for a time, that I was lucky. That perhaps my course would be better than those who tried before me, taken by it less and less. And yet the pain and desire remains. Those moments of doubt, of question…” His breath hissed, his bottom lip between his teeth until it nearly bled. How many times had he rehearsed the pretty words, their hurt magnified? Regretful fingers dug into the softness of her hips, snagging themselves in the linen of her tunic.

“You’ve seen those darker hours of mine.” Few countenances drifting through the blackest hours, sleep-deprived to mop the vomit from her lover's mouth when he himself couldn't even stand. “How many nightmares have we weathered together, even those you cannot see? Maker knows what lies ahead for us. For me. Perhaps the greater of it is past. Perhaps it may only grow worse. How can I promise that I will not wake up one day and see you as something other than what you are? There’s nothing I have to assure you of anything. I may even lose whatever memories I have of my family and of you -"

"Cullen..."

No, her heart pleaded for reprieve but the sheer weight of his aura silenced her as if he had clapped his hand over her mouth himself, his kiss branded to the nape of her neck.

"Don’t. We are far from the road’s end, Inquisitor. But know this: lyrium will not take me from our cause or from you, not as long as you are by my side. I swear it. I will fight it, I will beat it. I know what I must do. But I am not yet free. I can still feel it. Until we find the source of Samson's red lyrium and stop him tainting the Order, I only pray I have the strength to endure." Stronger hands squeezed her waist, his nose nestled into the curtain of her hair. "But today, I have the strength to stand with you and we have a chance to breathe. The Inquisition will always come first, but you will be safe even if it will cost me this life. Even if the pain will not leave me, I know this is real. If you – Mara, if this is what you want, for this night and always, I am wholly yours. That is my gift to you, if you would have it.”

His words hung suspended as her knight stepped away, but he whispered for her to stay. The mare nudged her, wanting her to stroke its silken mane. The quiet rustle of leather and metal sounded behind but she dared not move, her fingers wound in alabaster strands. The horse bowed closer, her head bowed low to press her nose into the Trevelyan's palm. At last, a smile reached Mara’s lips, the horse at ease beneath her touch. Tender fingers caressed the sleek neck and an equine nose warmed in the cup of her hand until Cullen returned to press against her back, bared arms slipped around her middle. As he kissed her shoulder, Mara arched to find him only in his breeches, her stare accompanied by ruddy cheeks. Only a blind woman would not have been beguiled by the shadows the moonlight cast on her commander, the planes of muscle, skin, and scars etched into stark relief. In one breath, her hand fell from the soft hide and Cullen stepped away, depriving her of his warmth. Heedless of her keening, he instead slipped beside the mare, his broad hands too gentle to be real as he soothed the Orlesian.

With practiced ease, Cullen fastened the bridle back into place, the supple leather like corded silk in his hands. His legs tensed and with a sure stride, he swung himself up onto the mare’s back, as graceful as Cole snuck along the battlements, like flutters of petals swept in the sweetest zephyr. The mare moved as though she were not under the command of a rider. He barely nudged her, his calves set along the crease behind the shoulders when he squeezed his thighs. His feet flexed upward, his heels down. Together, they slipped easily through the glen, circling the Inquisitor, her mouth laid open, awestruck.

The mare's hooves danced across the grass, leaves and cast-down twigs crunching beneath their lithe weight. And then, with half-slit eyes, Cullen halted the silvery mount and licked the scar quirked up by a rare, mischievous smirk.

“Take off your cloak.”

A strange request – she barely felt the late summer’s failing warmth. But something in that gilded gaze brought the cloak tumbling from her shoulders to pool at her feet. His eyes brightened more, his knuckle whiter on the reins.

"The jerkin as well, Inquisitor."

She could almost hear the stifled hitch in his voice, the subtle hint of lust. Her fingers slowly traipsed along the toggles, their radiant silver reflecting the bright moonlight. Only he brought out that teasing, that playful glide of fingers. She could feel his eyes on her, their narrowed line fixing her with more than a lesson in mind. Her breasts relished the release, the soft cotton undertunic left open to the cooler air. That too slid to the ground. He needed not speak more plainly; she knew what he wanted, more than the carnal lusts that bound them both in a needful haze, but yet the beauty of his gift she was unwilling to waste. Her riding boots soon joined the discarded heap of her armour, all which shielded her from him.

His hand was there again, inviting, the calloused fingers crooked. Such strength, he pulled her up, her arms flying around his waist as she settled behind him, legs clamped tight to their mare’s trunk. The horse did not protest, their weight less than before. Cullen drew her hands around him and clasped them to his own breast. A gentle trot let her feel the horse's power beneath them, no saddle to hide nature's perfect sculpt. Dark amber eyes slipped closed as Mara nuzzled her face against the broad curves of her lover’s back, quelled by his presence and skill - in that moment, Corypheus slunk into the shadows of her mind to linger, a ghost of trials.

A gasp wedged itself in her throat, Mara startled when Cullen again slid from her embrace. A little whine tumbled off her tongue, his warmth and strength melting from her grasp. Yet his smile rekindled it and stirred the fire smouldering at her core. Tender hands placed her hand against the mare's neck once more, her fingers tangling again in the dense strands of her silvery mane and the well-oiled reins.

"She knows how she moves. Guide her. We need no force here." His lips lingered as the words imprinted themselves on her skin of knuckles. Force had been his weapon, he himself no more than a blunt instrument for the Inquisition. But not in her hands. He was whatever she needed him to be.

Yes, force was not they needed here. He moved her legs and slid them forward, urging her to rest them further up the barrel of the horse’s body until they rested along the crease behind the shoulders.

The fear of a child receded with each step, guided into peace. No fear of falling. Of losing. The barest touch won respect and response. Each move trembled through her, working up through muscle and bone. Where she ended and the mare began, she only knew the easy strides and his gaze. The elegance came from the Orlesian herself in that moment, but there was still pride. She yielded and danced for her as she had for the commander, around and around until that elation overran the confines of that single freedom. His smile, marked only by the pleasure he found in that sight of her without her burden, stole her from his gift and into another.

One moment they were free to roam, the next tethered and the mage’s fingers laced among her knight’s. Into his arms, she dismounted to his mouth slanted over hers, as liberating as the mare and as reeling as the chaos of the world around them. Hunger and ardour clashed like the Waking Sea through spindleweed rooted into the coastlines.

A groan ripped free, his temples a newly-tanned drum. She saw him wince, felt the tremors in his hand where he touched her. Compassion-made, she reached out, offering her magic to soothe as its jade light writhing across the contorted features, a balm to stem the floodwaters.

No,” he told her flatly. “I can endure.”

Heavy hands locked around her wrists, pulling them to lay on his chest instead, their glow faded.

“But –”

He sealed his mouth to hers, tamping down the protest to drown out the gnawing, sharpened longing of his demons to surrender. Maker he wanted to consume that poison as much as her, as much as making love to her or the future he imagined in her arms. Marshalling that dark desire needed only her, only her compassion and her restraint.

“I said no. Let me have this.” He feathered another kiss to her temple before reaching the pearly shell of her ear, fighting against the throb of his own. "All we have now is this moment. Let us not squander it before it is taken."

He cupped her face like some delicate figure, his kisses light as he would shatter her, a fragile figurehead bound in iron. But here, the cage was gone. She was free in his hands. Cullen’s fingers knotted into the silken halo of her tresses, tugging at the crown the others had laid there. They did not need it, not there. Not in his arms. He fashioned his own for her as he named her his.

When this is over, let her stay. Let me live, he prayed into those drakestone-tinted spray.

Control melted to uncover the rawness, the unbridled tongue speaking a lingua of ardent flesh, of love sparked in every caress and taste surged into the intimate ocean of themselves. No lyrium nor blade nor waspish words reached them within that aura, all heat and pulsing light. Salt and sweat, a warrior's musk coating her tongue, a mage's crystalline breath on his.

I did not want this life when they laid that sword in my hands, but I would not trade it if only to see you lifted up and free. If you must suffer, please don’t do it alone. Raised up by her toes, Mara pressed her kiss to his brow as if she could seal all her magic and love into its mark, to save him from his own madness. She would do as he asked until the the jesses of their bonds to the Inquisition snapped taut.

No other would serve as she did. How many would have abused the power their cause and followers laid in her hands? And yet she struck some balance - she would make of them the ideal he fought for, that Cassandra had seen in him.

I will become worthy of you if you would have me in the end. If I survive. This is all I crave anymore because your survival and those who look to us for peace are all I have.

Pulling on her left hand, he lifted her thin pinky and ring finger, like opals or diamonds left to sparkle under his pink lips. Delicate for a knight's hold, like he would break her if he sought a harder grasp, like he would push her away even if he would rather entrap her just the same.

"We have always put them and the Inquisition first. That is what matters." Her knight lured her to the bedroll, hastily unfurled to cover the bare grass, touched by dew. Well-learned gestures peeled the leathers from her, her nails catching on his until they stood bare. “But you matter. Let me show you that.”

"You planned this all long."

A spark of maiden’s blush crossed Cullen’s turned away cheeks, his hands as red as his visage. Naked, they swayed. Those hands never left her, never strayed. He felt like a recruit again, standing in line with the others before Knight-Commander Greagoir. No one knew his name then, only cared for his desire to serve a greater cause. He had his purpose even in the darkness, years later. Again and again he had fallen, but he opened his eyes to her and that flush rushed through him until he could not hide how deep his desire ran. His arms flexed, hooking around her until she cradled in his arms as he had carried her nights before, how he had carried her from the snow after Haven’s destruction and that first night they had lain together, choosing to loosen their chains.

With the same gentleness of before, he lowered her on the heavy blankets, their dyes made mute in the silver light. Every flaw and tremor undulated into sight, their bodies carved with their pains, both inside and out. But neither gave them pause.

"Would you forgive me?” Velvety as hers, his kiss offered itself in amends. Their hungers rose, higher and higher with each stroke of his hands across her skin. “I only wanted to give you a distraction worth remembering.”

"I thought I was a distraction." Teeth skipped along the hard edge of Cullen’s collarbone as the man squeezed the soft curve of her ass. Her mouth parted to him, the tip of his tongue tasting the quiver of her lips where he plunged to slake his thirst for the mere taste of her skin, tingling with its own magic as he suckled at her breast.

"Not tonight.” The knight gave her no warning, his strength greater than the breath he swallowed from her cry when he twisted. The look of loss only spurred him, her thinner hands pressed flat to the gentle rise and fall of his chest where the Inquisitor looked down at him, her thighs straddled about his waist. His need stirred beneath her warmth, luring out his own. Rigid and wanting.

She reached for him, her palm smoothing along his length. One hand curled about a thigh, his hand spread across her belly. Snaking, it delved up between her breasts, over the dip of her clavicle and around her throat to splay at the base of her skull. He drew her down to slant his lips across hers. He bowed her back until she opened up to him.

“You deserve to be happy when this over, Mara." Sharp teeth nipped at the lobe of her ear, airy as he panted and his hands sketched their patterns on her back.

Tender, loving fingers traced the scars of lucky strikes and bloodied victories, from Kinloch and Kirkwall, that blood and pain carved into his soul. Her nails raked through fine, dark golden hair of his chest. Another trail beneath his navel led lower, a teasing line begging her to seek more. His muscles twitched under her touch, the gentle flutter of each quivering under her touch. Their strength wore the training of his old life and the trials of the one they shared in them and in the scars.

"So d-do you, Cullen.” A crooked finger worked into the silky sheath, her walls clenched tight around it the thick knuckles. Slow was its rhythm, matching her stroke for stroke as he grew harder in her hand.

"The present is all we can weather here. Don't think any more."

Drowning, sinking further.

No more games.

Hot between them, he took himself from her and waited for her assent, his control traipsing a narrow blade. Rather than rut like beasts, only they each gave one another what they always craved, what they needed when words lost their voice. He commanded her armies, but he yielded to her fragile control, his own heeling until she gave him her command rather than affirming his own. To a woman who sought only to serve and ensure his peace and happiness with no other title to her own name than the noble blood in her veins, what was that gift but righteous?

Even if we did not have this, I would still love you as you are.

Blunt, neat-clipped fingertips dug into her canted hips as she took him in, their eyes snapped shut. A slow burn, consuming with each second, each eased inch of him. Little more substance than the summer’s heat swirling through the blue-black darkness above them, his name sang out into the Fereldan wild when he reached her depths, her darker curls entangled with his. She planted her palms, floundering to find the right leverage, the right cadence. At first, she moved awkwardly, her hips falling out of time until his guiding hands found her. He rose to meet her, chest to chest, their eyes in their matched fires enchanted by the other’s. Shifted, her legs straddled his lap and his forearms laid across her lower spine and along a quivering thigh, he bucked up into her and she rolled her hips down, the steps of their dance found.

It built in them like veilfire, its lambent tongues licking at their skin and inside them. He bathed in it, willing it hotter, needing to drown himself in it with each measured thrust. With each breath, she edged closer to the great roar of it but they needed more. He pulled back, his tip barely housed inside. Twigs and leaves twining in her mussed hair, Cullen flipped them to assert his strength once more but he was not done – he took control as he commanded, with skill and passion and she revelled in it more than her own. Beneath him, her spirit sang more beautifully than alone. One shaking calf he levered over his shoulder, her heel dangling down his back and kiss left on the instep of her knee where his thumb hooked behind it. Two fingers stretched her for him again and he returned into her with a slick, careful slide, smoother than before. 

He knew her as she knew him, two halves orchestrated into a whole - the scars, the hurts, all their uncertainties taking flight. Complements completed.

I know this is real. I know this is what I want. When this is over –

“Maker, I love you.”

The bundle of nerves inside her, their mark, his fingers and cock worked against the tight coil of their lust. His back was raw, furrowed scarlet by her own nails and the press of her heel as she tore away his armour, the dented and rusted parts of him until nothing remained between them. No titles wreathed their brows. The blood sloughed itself from their hands.

Faster, then. Shallow, skilled strides. A deft twist, a clever circle of his hips joined every surge and her fingers matched with his between them. Deeper still, stealing strength to quicken their release, her magic charged in the very ether sheathing their soul. And then the tethers snapped. Shaking, stronger – they fell together, one breath for her and he in her next, his seed a white-hot brand left to claim. Its lightning curled from their toes, streaking up their arched spines.

Boneless. Spent. Undone. Wisps of moonlight and sanguine pleasure woven together. Perfection.

“I love you.”

Cullen snored, the morning far from them, where he lay, naked as she was in the grass save his braht draped over him, lulled to chatter of crickets and frogs. A few fireflies gyrated over the brook, dancing to their own music. The second moon hugging the horizon, the inky blue above them stippled with the Maker's light, the stars. Another apple glowed in Mara’s palm, the mare still docile, her bravery was rewarded. Its warm breath pooled in her palm, damp and kind.

At the sound of her name, she sensed him stir, his voice shaded by half-sleep. Easy feet carried her over and with a single crooked finger, an arm stretched behind his head, he beckoned her to join him again as wakefulness and desire reformed. Unwinding, he folded himself around her and turned until his head pillowed on her breast. Her heart thumped near his ear like downy the wings of baby bird, humming as she hummed one of Maryden’s sweeter melodies , combing her fingers through the thick flaxen curls. Strands of silver reflected the light between them, the wear of his life and years on him, etched in the thin lines carved into his face.

"Are you still in pain?"

"It doesn't matter." Like no more than an unruly child, Cullen refused to meet her gaze, the stars winking at him rather than the loving glow of her light. I can’t let you waste away for me.

"Yes, it does." Frayed threads snapped, patience worn. Tears prickled her eyes, barely contained - he wanted to suffer? “Why do you –”

"Mara, I will not use you as I have others!" No, she had not deserved that anger. He let it simmer, the pain tamped down further. His head sank back onto stole of fur, his fingers tugging his braht tighter around them. She looked down, just as broken. Maker, she deserved better – why did they torment themselves? He tilted her chin to bear witness to that lonely, shattered vision. "Please, I didn't mean to slight you. It's just... there were times in the Order, even before they made me leave Kinloch Hold, when I felt I had nothing but faith. Beyond the Order, we lived for nothing else. We took our pleasures where we could find them and then spoke of it even less."

"Did you not care for anyone?"

She only knew of one that won some measure of his zeal but he had merely admired the Hero of Ferelden. His love for that woman was simpler than what he felt for her. He had told her once in the wee hours of morning before he tore himself away from their bed that for all those years, all he saw the girl who healed him, a wild blow left to fester. Her sympathy and understanding was what had drawn  him, but he knew then that he could not have more, for both their sake. It was her kindness that the demons had twisted, not some ill-spent desire. Kirkwall had not been any kinder, his heart too guarded.

"NO! I mean, no, it was never like that. I'm not proud of it. We told ourselves we had needs, regardless of what we may actually say. Perhaps we took advantage of the loyalty and trust we had in each other. One misstep and it was over. A demon, one day. A spell gone astray, another. How could I let anyone get close? I would lose them in the end. Few of us found anything, anyone beyond the Order. We only had our duty, our faith, whatever vows we took. I only had my luck.”

His hands shook again but not with pain where they tangled in the thin chain around her neck, his brother's gift still housed in its silverite finding as she wore it proudly.

“Even now I try to convince myself I breathe of my own accord. But without lyrium or the Chantry's claws tearing at me, every day seems easier. If I have learned anything from Cole and from you, I am more than I thought I was made to be. I know I've committed as many sins as I have righted in my life, but this? This feels right. I need nothing more than that.” His kiss, honeyed by pure words and by the fleeting whisper of more, touched her lips. "I love you as you are. Never doubt that. But I never want to abuse what you give me so freely - I will not let my past shadow our future, whatever it may be.”

Cullen…” Her throat closed around his name, its syllables cracked beneath the weight of him and choked buried her tears in crook of his shoulder.

She cried for him until she could cry no more, until the quaking stopped and she could breathe. All the while, he held her close, not daring to let her fall. When all grew still, he reached to pluck up her left hand and his thumb rubbed along the Anchor where it lay across her palm. It stayed silent even beneath his touch, nothing more than pale line slash into skin.

To see him accept it, to hold it as he held her – it felt even stranger.

"Would you hate me now if I asked if it pains you?" He unfurled her fingers to match his out-stretched palm, her hand so much smaller than his.

"No." She let him lace his fingers with hers, enveloped in their warmth. "And no, it doesn't. Unless something in the rifts agitate it, it stays silence. Perhaps being a mage makes it easier to control but I try not to think about it. I give little care to it unless it is needed. We already know its nothing but a curse, not some Maker-given gift."

“But it’s a part of you. It serves the Inquisition just as you do.”

Crinkling with the last bits of leaves still caught in the auburn locks, her head dropped back onto his shoulder, her dark eyes never leaving the sight of their intertwined limbs.

"I don't want this kind of power, Cullen. I didn't want any of this. Before the war, I meant to follow in my predecessor's footsteps. To be First Enchanter, to serve and guide. To make sure those of who could survived. In the Circle, we only prayed that we might wake up the next day. That we wouldn't harm one another or the templars risking their lives beside us. They said I was good at it - I knew what was needed of me. Before this mark, my path had been set the moment I set my mother's garden to bloom. I sometimes wonder if I let myself be chained, that I was nothing better than a burden - that my path had to be dictated like my brothers. But you chose to leave your old life behind."

“– Because I wanted nothing to do with that life, with its corruption. I need to be better that what its become. I need to be better. I need –”

Even as he strained in her arms, his fingertips marking bruises in his vigour for his own trails, yet she cupped his cheeked and set her brow to lay against his.

Cole had said that he was stronger when she held him but it had always been more - they made each other stronger.

"You are better. You will be better. But you chose this path. You chose to aid the Inquisition. Our men follow you because of your strength of will and your moral compass - you did that on your own. You say it’s easier yet you suffer day in and day out to prove that there is better. How can they not admire that, believe in that? And still you give me this life, this hope." For a moment, she felt like a little girl in the Circle again, finding love only made of ink, crafted in tales of valour tucked between dust-laden tomes, beyond her unworthy grasp. “I never thought I could even be a part of someone else's path. Not like this. But I can’t lose you to it. I can’t bear to see you suffer. Not when I can help you. You wanted this, Cullen, but it hurts. Perhaps that is selfish of me, but it’s true. I look at you and it feels like one breath and you might slip away because I failed –”

Fire and ice, his mouth firm against hers, stole her again into submission.

“The only question you need to ask is if you want this. That is the only question I need answered. The rest will follow. Now, do you want this?”

“Yes.” With all her lean strength, she pushed back until he lay beneath her. In his eyes, narrowed rims of gold, she saw the world and hope where the Order did not dictate him nor did the Circle cage her but his ideal manifested, mages and templars working together. Would he stay with her then, even without the lyrium that once controlled and grounded him gone? “But what do you want?"

This. That is what I want here. I want to choose you.” The same fingers that once only desired to death knotted in those auburn strands and drew her down into the cautious spiral with him, into all that he could give her. “I will be stronger at the end of this – that, I promise. I love you. Truly.”

A part of his dual-mind taunted his soul, begged him to speak another truth, but the indulgent kiss of her spirit enfolding him in its comfort forced it back into its pit of vanity and righteous need, unable to taint that blessed peace.

Maker, let my pursuit of change not be in vain. Let the Seeker heed me before my time is done...

And the moonlit mare knelt while they slept, her eyes like steel and her hide made of quicksilver.

End of Part III (Act II of II) of VIII – Next Part: Into These Hands
III-II:The Moonlit Mare | Cullen/F!Trevelyan Mage

Author's Note: Here's the second half of The Moonlit Mare, the first found here: III-I:The Moonlit Mare.

Again my deepest apologies for breaking this up into acts/parts - dA wouldn't let me post it as a whole because the text was too large in terms of space.

Any road, I’d like to thank my dear Tina for helping with the references for the horseback riding. She’s a darling. Same goes for my beta – I can never be more grateful for a best friend who also is an English major.

This is Part III, Act II of the Order and Chaos (Series).

--------------------------------------------------

The Order and Chaos (Series).
Part I: Let You Down
Part II: What I Know of Love
Part III: The Moonlit Mare (Act I and II)
Part IV: Into These Hands (WIP)
Part V: Seeing Red
Part VI: If They Dared (Acts I, II and III) - WIP
Part VII: Anno Mundi - WIP
Part VIII: White Knight - WIP
Extra-Story: Imprinted
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Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: sexual themes)
For all her strength spent, he would teach her not to fear even as he fears himself, carried away on moonlight for respite, a darkened whisper overhead. || Cullen x F!Trevelyan Mage


Act I (of II) of Part III of the Order and Chaos series; set after the events of at Halamshiral and the fall of Adamant; the commander takes the Inquisitor for a breath of air, begging her forgiveness and her strength; Inspired by several fanarts crafted by the lovely Greendelle.

This is the first half (of two) of The Moonlit Mare.


Author: Illusionary Ennui

Disclaimer: If it's not in the games, codex entries, or the wiki, it's mine. All else, hail to Bioware.

Story Rating: M

Story Warnings: Fluff, Hurt/Comfort, Romance, Sexual Content, Drug Abuse/Rehabilitation, Withdrawal, Past Relationships, Past Dub-Con, NSFW

Edited: 01.27.2015


The Moonlit Mare - Act I

In silent vespers,
a proud beast will only bow
to whom gives her reign.

Leliana,

If you believe that is the best course, then I will not let you be deterred. I know how easy it is to be broken when denied. Before I bring this to the Inquisitor, make the neces -

“- Maker’s breath! Does it ever end?!”

Laughter. A cacophony of the ring and clash of tankards, the smashing of bottles. All rumbled across the courtyard, echoing on the ancient walls. Only the greater moon hung in the sky. His paperwork was yet to be finished before the morn, and the grating noise and the incessant throb in Cullen Rutherford’s head turned ink into indecipherable scratches.

He had had enough.

Wilhelm snapped him curious look. The notch-eared mabari padded over to press against the commander’s thigh. A tired hand reached down to scratch the half-grown pup’s ears. Only the Maker knew what Cole had been thinking bringing the litter there, but even with the pain, and the disdain, and self-loathing the knight felt for himself, the runt had imprinted on him and perhaps Cullen imprinted him in return. By his hand, the mabari grew, a testament to his breed. He never whined when commanded to stay, never barked unless danger lay before them. A commander could not have asked for a better guard, or a more loyal friend as the hound followed him onto the wall walk outside his offices.

“You there?! You’re on watch. Pray tell, what use is there for peace and sleep when some disturb it with that damn racket? ”

Finer hairs risen on the back of his neck, the guardsman on the battlements pointed a shaking hand towards the Herald’s Rest. Trapped in the Commander’s piercing gaze, seeing a rigid hand on the pommel of his general’s sword and narrowed eyes of the mabari at Cullen’s side, fear struck him like ice digging furrows into the earth. He dared not question what brought his general from the guard tower. How could he not answer?

“The Chargers, ser. One of the boys said they’d be celebrating.” Under his visor, the lowly soldier swore an oath and prayed for forgiveness. “The Lady Inquisitor is with them, if you need her.”

Cullen heard no more. Fereldan leather slammed on the stone and down the stairs, their levels taken two at a time. His breath fogged in the mountain air, suspended on bitten-back concern and simmering rage. They had argued earlier but he had known better – keeping the Wardens as allies was safer than leaving them to face Corypheus’ false Calling alone. He would act should her compassion damn them, but he yielded to her power and that demand for balance. She had earned his trust through sacrifice, through her very being.

After all she had suffered, the truth now known – how cruel had he been? Even if she possessed nothing holy, her title gilded by the people’s desires and yet tarnished by happenstance, she still held his heart.

I only want to protect us. Can they not see that?

Against her choice, he had let the bloodsong of lyrium seep into reason – the Inquisitor had not deserved his ire then, so fresh from battle and only caring for his support as she had when the mages joined with their cause. She had known their worth and their risks as her own, allowing him to set their boundaries and allowing only those who proved themselves capable the greater freedoms. She offered her own leash. It struck him; he was taken aback – he had seen too much death at the hands of mages and of templars alike, their loyalties and trust molested. He countered that their few templars could scarcely match the mages but again, the Maker had granted them balance – their ranks swelled daily since Skyhold became their home, those orphaned and not tainted red fleeing from the ruins of the Order.

Andraste, am I a fool?

Teeth clenched,ignoring his blood’s own calling for the vice he would not give it, he only knew the sound of his boots, the thump of his fists against his garb, and the soft click of Wilhelm’s nails until he reached the lowest landing. Sour piss and stale ale mingled among dust and blood. It danced with sweat and abandon. Gold-ringed pupils widened at the sight ahead, edged in the light of lanterns spilling onto the well-packed dirt before the tavern door.

All muscle and scars, the Tal-Vashoth shifted on awkward feet.

"Commander.” Like the slide of dull steel, Cullen’s title slipped through a nervous smile.

“Tal-Vashoth.” The Inquisition’s general narrowed that gaze, fingers poised to curl around his blade’s hilt.

“Yeah. Sorry ‘bout this. The Boss couldn’t quite knock back more than three sips.” A roll of a grey shoulder brought the Herald’s keening cry, muffled by leather and bulk. The big Qunari laughed deeply, heedless of Mara Trevelyan’s slight form that was, to The Iron Bull, no weightier than one of the cook’s sacks of ground wheat. “Not what I expected, but she gave it her best shot.”

The warrior gave neither of them any warning as he let the Inquisitor tumbled down his arm. She wobbled when she tried to stand straight, her auburn tresses matted and her face paler than milk. A meaty, sharp-nailed hand clapped her on the back, more like a hammer striking a leaf, and she tipped forward as if the mage would trip over her own feet.

“All yours, Commander. Make sure the Boss gets tucked into bed all safe and warm before anyone else sees. There’s no reason why you can’t keep her to yourself after that.” A wink, a devilish grin, and then The Iron Bull let the heavy tavern door hide them away. Behind it, the Inquisitor swayed on her feet before her Commander, time-worn wrinkles deepening as his features undulated between horror and surprise.

His hands wound around her like they were always there, like they belonged about that waist. Concern flickered when he felt an unevenness as she continued to forget her meals even as she reminded him of his own. Her head fit on his shoulder where he loved her most when he pulled her up into his arms, where he wanted her to stay even when the war set itself between them. A meek thing, she huddled into his warmth, her apologies little more than hushed vespers while he carried her into the shadows. The power behind their cause, all those around them at her command with a single word and yet so vulnerable. A careful eye kept them hidden, kept the Inquisitor from prying spirits. Never for his sake but for hers.

Up the back stairwell and through the throne room; that should do it. It was enough to keep Cullen’s focus from the incessant tinge of pain edging into his mind, a midnight demon awakening to steal him away. He would not let it control him. Soon they both would be free of it all. With the Empress spared and a demon army struck down in its infancy, only Samson and Corypheus remained and then yes, they would be truly free.

His steps heavy, they drifted toward the stables, the shadows deeper there. In the cradle of his vambraces, their insignia of the sword wreathed in flames glowing orange in the torch light, Mara shifted closer where her face buried in the fur hanging about his shoulders. A horse nickered, a soft, innocent thing but the mage’s arms flung around his neck and squeezed tight.

“Mara?”

Her cool, ruddy cheek rubbed against his, the stubble dragging across her smooth skin. She hugged him tighter as the drunken, Seheron-spiced words tumbled, threads of memory drawn forth in a hoarse, half-strained timbre.

Her father’s horse, her shame – a little girl thrown into the dust. She never rode again herself. She lied and said it spared the horses for the longer journeys when she shared a mount with Blackwall or Cassandra. Too many times had Varric and the others cast complaints like dry puns, their feet sore and their bodies aching as they watched her stumble about Thedas, her worries kept so soundly that she had forgotten their reasoning until that moment.

A playful, doting smile tugged on the Commander’s lips while she rambled on, her voice lost in the bear fur, the depths of Skyhold keeping her secrets. Wilhelm left to guard her door, a part of him wished to stay and whisper words of comfort to ease the addled mind when her quarters, draped in Josephine’s liberal hand of Free Marcher and Orlesian finery, saw them safely away. Gentle hands unlaced her tired arms from him, his fingers unhurried in their shaking as he slipped the toggles of her doeskin leathers open. Her skin, smattered by freckles where the sun had kissed her ivory skin outside the Circle, greeted him with more the Qunari’s brew drowning in the sandalwood soap scrubbed into the pores. The deep twinge in his body and in his heart begged him to stay, to slide beside her as she slipped into slumber and into the Fade. It pleaded with him to settle into the comfort of simply sleeping beside her, to wash himself in the aura of her being which held the darkness at bay.

But he did not heed it and moved away into the moonlight, careless fingers scratching the back of his neck.

A wanton hand jerked at the memories from the first night they made love, the first night he gave himself to passion rather than need. How he had never felt that way with anyone before. Relief and ardor spun with hope. He remembered how they fit together as easily as a sword sat in its own sheath. It struck him to acquire he had been her first, that she never thought to share herself before - mages were not meant to know love or family, she subscribed.He almost lied in spite of himself - he knew mages who prided themselves on their conquests, careless of their get. She deserved better than the hollow future she once believed in when he yet atoned for the errors of his own ways. Still, guilt speared him when he could not have said the same of himself – he only prayed she would be his last and he, her only. He served his penitence for that sin every night he shared her bed. There, a devoted man defined what deserved pleasure was for them as he learned her as he had his blade, so right in his hands.

Some portion of his moral ground tugged at his heart, wondering if he used her as he and his fellow templars used one another. No, he had not known what she would bring him when he first entertained the thought of pressing his lips to her pink, petal-soft mouth, when he first sunk deep into that blessed heat.

She had not used her magic then.

He loved her before it. He trusted her even longer, a rarer thing.

Yet was he wrong to pretend that he did not revel in both as she gave freely from all of herself?

Her ambient magic affected the faint traces of lyrium sticking to his marrow. More than her presence and her love, it was her soothing magic in the idle moments which eased the greater pain, the aura of it rather than its use. Mediation helped him when she could not, his willpower spent. But nothing more. Not once did it dissuade his desire for what he once imbibed without thought to consequence.

But Mara always gave him more despite it.

How much conjured magic alone had she given him, the mana drained to keep his mind clear so that he might stand straighter, see sharper through the thick fog of his own thoughts? He needed to stop it, to stop her wasting away for his sake – even a mage had limits. The Inquisition needed her more than he could justify for himself. What was one man’s love against the world’s?

“I will not trade one addiction for another. Andraste preserve me, I want to love her without it. Even if it is a part of her.”

What was a day of pain to see him through beyond what he meant to leave behind? How many nights had she given and risked her health rather than rest? He knew his trials filled her thoughts beside their cause, duty always at war with what they shared. The Inquisition claimed her again and again as the world called out for her, but he loved her. He had her, magic or none. Even without that pulse or the exhaustion of their primal desire, she gave more than freedom from pain. His need for her, for her compassion and her heart, engulfed the pain. More than need, it named itself Passion. Love.

She loved him despite the scars of his past. He loved her despite the accident of her birth. It was enough. They wanted this, accepted themselves as a whole… but was it the life she wanted?

Tired eyes stared from her balcony. They closed and he imagined his tower standing guard, decrepit but enduring. Ache seeped into his joints, a quiet creek masked by leather and armour and the steady thump inside his head. His gloved fingers dug into the weathered stone of her balcony’s balustrade, his throat swallowing around the lump of doubt.

“I never asked for more.”

Inside his mind, the bookshelves of training manuals, maps, and histories swam with colour and form. Supplies stacked against a wall for the horsemaster. One of the new daggers stabbed halfway into a training dummy. Each and every piece of that place, even in chaos, focused solely on the duty he had sworn, his work cluttering even his chair. Everything had its place even in the chaos, his armour polished until it gleamed to show their men that he was worth their loyalty as he stood straighter, though behind closed doors, he struggled to keep his feet beneath him.

For longer than he cared to remember, he had always been content with what he has had or been given, a Spartan man - he afforded himself no luxuries.

Except her.

How long would she wait for him if the madness did not take him first?

“I’ve grown too weary to wage this war of mine. I want this life. I want her. I want her in my life as she is. I love her enough to deny myself and walk that path. But what of her? Would she – I mean, I don’t know what she wants, what You want from us. I know she contents herself with what little she is allowed, but I don’t know how much more can she bear. If this is what she wants, then I welcome it. I just… I have no answers here.”

The whole world tipped sideways into the gamut of each tendril made of emotion and hurt, his knees sinking onto the flagstones before the bones of the earth and the Maker Himself.

“You set me to this path, to the Inquisition... but is this where it next leads? Or will she, too, be taken from me? I have abused her trust in me as I have others far too much for the few pleasures we may have. What must I do to ensure that I never fall again? Andraste, I beg you, lend me your faith, your wisdom.”

The Canticle of Trials wove itself from his lips even as his thoughts turned to other paths, to one that lingered in the shadows and danced with different spirits.

“Though all before me is shadow,
Yet shall the Maker be my guide…”

If the Seeker would help him, there was a glimmer of hope which he kept to himself as he saw the old tome, hidden with care, behind his eyes.

“Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.”

The gentle breeze claimed his prayer and breathed life and strength where only faith might reach.

“This course is mine to search. If I am to walk beside her, it must be done.”

Until that time, he would endure. For her. He could not give her false hope for a fever dream. Not yet. His luck would have to suffice for them, its token still hanging from its chain around her neck. She had almost returned it so that he would not lose what precious little he held, but for their sake, he impressed it deeper into her palm until its face imprinted into her skin - he would rather risk losing his own to spare them from the darkness stretching out its hand. As long as she wore it, she was safe – she would return to him, would she not?

Only a kiss upon her brow did he leave behind, her bed otherwise empty beneath the silken sheets.

He had other plans to make.


The hour sunk low, the sun touching the battlements of Skyhold’s vast expanse. A few guardsmen stopped to raise their hands in salute to their Commander; others inclined their heads towards the Inquisitor. Rumours hung on their lips, but none dared broach what happened behind closed doors. Even the Commander’s squire, with blankets and packs in hand and trailing behind their leaders and the mabari hound at their feet, could not help but stare in awe as they crossed the lower bailey, a quiet sort of strength wrapping them and those near in its grasp. But whatever admiration was left unsaid as the knight took from him their gear and sent him on his way with only a smile and a word of gratitude.

“Cullen –” Mara Trevelyan fixed the retreating boy with a worried stare. She leaned against the stable’s wall, huddling deeper into her cloak as she gave Wilhelm an idle scratch. “Do you think –?”

A gloved hand curved along her jaw and held her face to meet the soft golden gaze.

“He’s just a boy,” Cullen offered as he feathered a kiss to her cheek in the shade of her hood where none might see that sweetness. “Though I’d rather not let them lose themselves to idle rumour and speculation. All that matters is the Inquisition first and us, second. They know that as well as we do. We have always put them first, them and our cause.” His fingers threaded into her hair until strands twined around the leather. He stepped closer, his body warm and inviting where his breath ghosted across her skin, his lips so near hers. “But we have won some respite for now, and there is something we –”

“Now, I may not be your favourite person right now, Commander –” Gruff was the voice, tainted by its worn, darker bass. “- But if you want to be down the mountain by nightfall, you’d bloody best get moving. She was waiting for you.”

Blackwall received nothing more than a curt nod and the mabari’s flash of teeth as he held the reins of a magnificent white mare out for the Commander to take. One of the Empress’s gifts to the Inquisitor, the ethereal beast appeared like moonlight made flesh, a beautiful specimen bred for both war and allure. Yet, for all his worth, the former chevalier earned little more than acknowledgement from the Inquisition’s general. Cullen had certainly not forgiven him, even if he respected him. Whatever rapport they shared, it sat like lead within their bellies, forgotten. Only for her did they manage some semblance of courtesy, knowing the Wardens would soon have him for their own. There, his lies would be far from tainting that which Cullen loved and Blackwall admired. Only Josephine spared the conscript any tears behind her impassive mask and Antivan pride.

The mare nudged Cullen’s shoulder as the man stroked the sleek neck. Her saddle wore its shine like a badge of honour, the bridle sharing the same well cared for sheen. Her lines bore her breeding, but it was the care Cullen showed that Mara found enchanting. Complete ease, complete understanding, and therein lay her fears.

“Come here.”

Mara clasped her hands close to her chest as if one misstep, one gesture might send the creature into flight. She thought to look towards Blackwall, but the burly warrior was already gone. Only she and the mare remained as Cullen swung up onto her back, his great leap uniquely elegant, as if he had been born to ride.

“Trust me.” Two simple words opened her to him and she set her hand in his where it waited for her. The mare did not shudder, nor did she steer away when Cullen laid her palm against the warm, velvety hide. “There.”

His strength alone, fingers tight on her forearms, lifted her up before she could protest. Her legs were awkward as they slid behind him, their lengths loose where they fell to either side of the saddle. Her arms locked around Cullen’s chest, her face buried in the fur-trim peeking over his cloak. From beneath armour and leather, she felt him chuckle, a warm hand clasped over hers. A reassurance, a kind press to grant her strength but her hands tightened onto what she could hold of his loose garb when he set the horse to an easy walk, the dust barely stirred beneath her hooves.

How fitting, Mara mused in the silence, that the Inquisitor herself held such fears. Even as the towers of Skyhold soared above them and Wilhelm set to guard in their absence, she felt its weight, felt the weight of all the lives within, all the lives that looked towards her and yet there she sat, clinging like a child, fearing something so simple. She remembered the amusement mixed among concern that played across her lover’s face as he recounted her stupor. Once more she felt the heady flush mark her in its crimson.

Did Cullen think any less of her, knowing the truth from a drunken haze? Of how she had fallen from her father’s horse as a child in a flash of dread, that she feared she could not control something so wild and natural? Like her magic when she first felt its pulse, she always feared what she could not control, what she could not protect. Time shifted, changed. She learned control, but the burden of so many brought back that doubt. For his sake, alone, how could she not when she lay awake, hiding from the Fade as she helplessly watched him wrestle the nightmares, watched him lash out against the pain? She would not have even agreed to grant a night to the Commander for some secret purpose he kept from her had he not assured her that Leliana’s spies had granted them leave, that no red templars lurked near their influences after the fall of Adamant. That they were safe, if only for that moment.

“If you intend to sneak out, Boss, you’d better put your hood down.” The Inquisitor’s gasp lost itself against the commander’s back. Half-drunk but far from a great stupor, a cocky smile flashed them The Iron Bull’s amusement. With a quick gesture towards his heart, meaty fist thumping on his chest, the Qunari bent them a playful bow in salute. A raised eyebrow kept them only a bit longer. “Takin’ her for a ride, eh, Commander?”

A part of her nearly felt the familiar crimson that matched her own streaking across Cullen’s worn features, the heat beneath his collar threatening to burn through leather and metal. But Bull’s hearty, deep-bellied laugh made it impossible not to smile, if only to know she had the good commander to herself. No one would hear her speak it, but they both knew that the precious little time they garnered weighed more than all the treasure Josephine might conjure.

Palm spread wide, the warrior set the mare to frantic prancing as he slapped her flank. Mara’s face once more buried in Cullen’s back, her arms locked tighter – damn him! Only her lover’s skill brought their mount to quiet barely a span of the breath later; she did not hear the angry words her army’s general spat back at the Tal-Vashoth, another bout of laughter returned in answer.

“You kids go have fun.”

True to their Tal-Vashoth’s claim, with her face hidden in the cloak’s shadow, no guard gave them pause as their commander flashed the Inquisition’s sigil of the all-seeing eye.

“Wilhelm, stay. Guard the keep.” The mabari nodded his great head to his master’s will and padded away, leaving to nip at the sleeping watchman near the gatehouse. Only the Commander and his lady would take their leave that night.


 

Around them, the rocky crags gave way to snowy forests and then to damp green, revealed with every clop of elegant hooves. Twilight added its shade to the shadows, the dappled light through the foliage shimmering like wisps.

The mare swayed and trotted in place, her reigns suddenly pulled tight.

“Cullen?” Her curious gaze tried to peek around the heavy cloak to glimpse a white-knuckled grip on the strong leather. Her fingers curled onto his shoulder, their gentle squeeze enough to garner his attention. “Cullen, are you all right?”

“It’ll pass.” A hoarse whisper, the former templar meant to allay his lover’s unease. His head snapped back towards the road ahead, the crow’s feet about his eyes stretched against the pain. Its lances forked to sharpen more blades, his fingers clenched until his knuckles neared breaking through the skin. Teeth on edge, only the weight of her against him held it at bay, giving him the strength to loosen the chains before they bit deeper.

“Let me –”

“It’s f-fine. We’re almost there,” he assured her, the strained timbre lessened by the sweetness injected for her sake. More and more, the migraines stayed their hand and the fire in his blood dimmed. But when they struck? No, he would endure as Andraste had endures the flames. He knew what she wanted to do but he could not give her leave – he had made a promise. Her touch was enough to stem the tide, to help him fight against it. The leather of his gloves kept him from the comforting warmth of her hand as he reached over to cover the fingers fisted in his cloak. He wanted her to envision his smile, not the grimace hooking at the corners of his Cupid’s bow. “It’ll pass. I promise.”

He proffered no more, the burgeoning chorus of the coming night filling the space between them. Cicadas and owls marked time alongside the mare’s steady hoof-beats. Mara let her arms return to settle about the knight’s middle, her face pillowed against his shoulder. Wrapped in her own silence, she warred with herself – why did he not grant her leave? The path he walked, he did not have to walk alone. Unlike his fellows, madness had not taken him. Only the nightmares persisted. The moments of weakness were fewer, marked only when the body drew too much on will. But not once did she stay her compassion. Why would he not accept her help? It seethed, tainting whatever joy she harboured for what peace and pleasure they might gather that night. A thousand questions earned no answers, only silence.

What are you hiding from me, my love?

End of Part III (Act I of II) of VIII – Next Part: The Moonlight Mare (Act II)

III-I:The Moonlit Mare | Cullen/F!Trevelyan Mage

Author's NoteWhat in the Void? I had only intended to write a short, smutty piece after a horse-ride... how did I end up with 20 pages? And much of it character-study. I only hope that it was mostly enjoyed, if only the smutty bit.

Also, I'm sorry for breaking this up into acts/parts - dA wouldn't let me post it as a whole because the text was too large in terms of space. The second part can be found here: III-II:The Moonlit Mare.

Any road, I’d like to thank my dear Tina for helping with the references for the horseback riding. She’s a darling. Same goes for my beta – I can never be more grateful for a best friend who also is an English major.

This is Part III, Act I of the Order and Chaos (Series).

--------------------------------------------------

The Order and Chaos (Series).
Part I: Let You Down
Part II: What I Know of Love
Part III: The Moonlit Mare (Act I and II)
Part IV: Into These Hands (WIP)
Part V: Seeing Red
Part VI: If They Dared (Acts I, II and III) - WIP
Part VII: Anno Mundi - WIP
Part VIII: White Knight - WIP
Extra-Story: Imprinted
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The sacrifices we make are our burdens to bear, the losses just as a damning. This was not the life she had meant for them, but she would not let them fall.
AU, Cullen x F!Inquisitor Trevelyan Mage and Dorian x M!Trevelyan Mage.


An AU where slugette’s Yvad is Mara’s young half-brother, their paths reunited after she retakes Skyhold and the rebel mages join the Inquisition.


Author: illusionaryennui (with help from slugette for Yvad)

Disclaimer: If it's not in the games, codex entries, or the wiki, it's mine. All else, hail to Bioware.

Chapter Rating: T

Chapter Warnings: Hurt/Comfort, Tension, Confusion, Anger

Edited: 01.18.2015


Ubi Sunt

Brother, brother mine
Huddled in the fallen snow,
where are you to go?

Hardly more than a young man, the Commander of the Inquisition’s forces eyed the boy where he stood before him in the guard-tower. Very little of Yvad Trevelyan reminded him of the Inquisitor. Yet there was something in his eyes, even in their amethyst shade, which struck him with the same determination and compassion, if only less weathered.

Skyhold barely under their control, a bevy of rebels hosted beneath crumbling walls. The Circle gone, a part of him felt for the mage. He understood the allure of Grand Enchanter Fiona’s bid for order among chaos. Had he known of his fellows attacked of them after he left the Order himself, what rapport would they have now? It sat in the pit of his stomach, congealed with his disdain – they had only learned themselves of the bloodshed at Therinfal Redoubt, the few survivors finding sanctuary within the old fortress. In one breath, Cullen was glad for their presence to counterbalance the influx of mages. However, in the next breath, it strained his own resolve – Maker, he could still taste it in the air.

“You know that you will receive no special treatment from me. Even if the Grand Enchanter and the Inquisitor may vouch for you.”

“I didn’t expect any,” Yvad assured him as he chewed on his lower lip. His robes, not heavy enough for the mountain weather, shifted with his feet, his balance moved from one foot to the other. A thin hand reached to brush a fallen lock of ebony from his eyes. It was his own dreams and demons that called to him from the fallen, Alexius’ folly like molten lead worming through his veins. All he crave was their silence and the comfort of the one who mattered most. “Can I see her?”

“Your sister should be here shortly. Ambassador Montilyet had need of her for another matter.” Leaning to lay his vambrace across his desk, the commander’s amber stare fixed the mage in its line. Leather-clad fingers tapped an uneven rhythm on the hardwood to hide the subtle twitch of their lengths. He knew his duty as he fought to keep his mind in check. His voice hardened, its timbre lowered as if to remind himself of the truth so he would not waver. “First and foremost, the Inquisition takes precedent above our own desires.”

Yvad returned the former’s templar gaze with one of curious ire. A fire burned in the man’s breast, a quiet but building flicker. He had seen it before, the need and fascination. Too many times he saw it dwell in the First Enchanter as he watched his sister grow under Lydia’s care. But this man’s flame burned with a different light. Softer. Torn. He could not sense the lyrium with full certainty in the commander’s blood, but there were chains like it hooked deep. Perhaps there was more to him than met his eye? Something held the warrior to the standard of command, masking him in it. But beyond that, Yvad could only guess what lay beyond the golden glare.

“And what of her desires?” The anger simmered near the surface enough for the tingle of magic to ghost across the tips of his fingers. It set his teeth on edge even as he caught the commander reaching for the hilt of his sword, his stance telling as the man snapped to his feet. No, he would listen – they both had fought too hard for his. Mara had given him everything in the Circle, gave him peace and strength. How could he let them forget she was as mortal as they were? “First the First Enchanter. Then the Inquisition. Everyone one of you try to use her. All she wanted was to help of us, to make things easier for mages AND templars alike.”

“And I’ve given her my promise that such destruction will never happen again. Corypheus may have taken hold of the Order, but I will not let their poison go unchecked.”

The young Trevelyan stepped back from the low roar. There it was, the same fire of an altered strain. What was this man? More than a commander of a growing army. More than a templar. There were ghosts clawing behind those eyes and something more. What made this burn at the mere mention of his sister’s trials? With a measured breath, Yvad let his magic fade and his mind calm, sifting through query after query.

“What do you –“

“Yvad?”

All his bravado drained at the mere sound of his name. He turned to see only Mara, not the tower around them, the commander’s book, nor the man in stranger garb beside her. All Yvad saw was his sister, their blood shared only through Bann Trevelyan alone. He saw him in her face, but he cared little for the man. His mother loved her, no more than an elven mistress to their father but they grew together. Yes, their elder would inherit what they could never hold, but of all their siblings, they shared the greater connection. He wanted to speak, to tell her how much he had missed her, how he had feared for her. Even the Bann had thought her dead until the rumours became truth and inspiration. He had wanted to leave the rebels then, to flock to Haven. He never reached her in Redcliffe, held back by Fiona for his own safety. But he was here now – he wanted to help.

“Mara, I –”

“What were you thinking?!” Her righteous wrath mingled with her relief. Expecting a scolding, he bristled only to feel her arms fold around him, barely giving him room to breathe into the tangle of auburn. Whatever argument he could muster lost itself in her embrace, as comforting as he remembered. He forgot everything save that warmth.

“Now, don't smother the lad. I can imagine he's been through enough.”

It was the other man’s accent that pierced Yvad’s haze. Further north than their own. Seheron? No, too far. Tevinter. All dark skin and style coif. Yvad managed to pull away just enough to meet the steel-grey eyes smiling at him from behind his sister. Even in the aura of their own, his magic and stature stood out like a challenge, something worth reaching for. Who was this mage?

Courage and ease took Yvad then, his own fire fanned.

“And miss out on all the fun?” He flashed the Tevinter mage a smile of his own, his words found again. “Not a chance.”


Bonds: Ch. 01 - Ubi Sunt
Author's Note: Again, this is an AU, a what-if. And admittedly, I don't know how it's going to play out, but it should focus more on the familial bonds and history between Yvad Trevelyan (belonging to slugette) and Inquisitor Mara Trevelyan as well as their relationships with those they care about and their choices.

Will be done in small installments as the muse takes me. And I've decided on a whim to give the chapters Latin titles. No idea why.

Any road, I intend to work on this when I don't have the muse for my Order and Chaos series, probably even after that one is finished.

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(Contains: nudity and sexual themes)

A change made for a different hand. They set bow and sword aside for a moment to silence the blood rushing in their veins. || Cullen x F!Trevelyan Archer (One-Shot)


Prompted by and for chenria, who is such a darling. I felt she needed a pick-me-up with her noble archer and the good commander… no shirt and daggers.


Author: Illusionary Ennui

Disclaimer: If it's not in the games, codex entries, or the wiki, it's mine. All else, hail to Bioware.

Chapter Rating: M

Chapter Warnings: Fluff, Training, Sexual Tension, Sexual Content, Weapon Training, Minor Injuries, Blood

Edited:  01.13.2015


Lucky Strike

My blade is no match
against the fear and madness
hidden in a glove

“Watch your guard!”

Clear waters bubbled through the glade, far from the reach of Skyhold’s prying eyes. Plans for the new barracks sat, still rolled beneath their seals, untouched beside a lonely tent. Three daggers caught the twilight, wicked edges wielded with light hearts. The Commander of the Inquisition held only one, its longer balance held with a swordsman’s grasp rather than that of an assassin. His voice carried over the rustle of leaves as late summer’s breath whispered through the vale. The Inquisitor gripped her twin blades even tighter, the leather of a single glove on her left hand creaking.

Another lunge. The archer’s fingers loosened on the bronto-hide hilt as she let her dagger fly. Cullen parried, metal ringing against metal. An opening, one forearm braced under the other. Estelle’s second dagger flashed out, reaching for the bare skin of her Commander’s ribs. His shoulder thrust her away, her lithe frame and boots sliding in the dirt.

“You need not hold back." No scolding slid into the hushed timbre, the warrior’s pleasured smirk tweaked by the touch of his tongue to the scar on his upper lip. The night was theirs alone, a moment to move beyond titles and rank. They trained for the thrill of it, for the passion – the archer and the warrior, honing lesser-explored skills. A private session for them both. Sweat dripped down lean muscle and linen, each movement unmistakable as they flexed with every trick and turn. A lustful eye fought to mask its allure, the curve of her breast a teasing sight. Their breeches caked with dust as they stirred the ground.

He could taste her sweeter scent clinging to him, and she felt the sheen of his earthy musk upon her, setting their blood aflame. Yet they denied desire for the dance of steel and their pride. They were all grins and limber strength, he nothing more than a moving target to guide her strikes, the guard to her blade. How many hours did they trade blows, techniques shared and learned? Above them, the greater moon took her watch, painting their bodies in stark shadows and wisps of light.

One breath, one moment. The warrior stilled. His guard slipped, eyes squeezed shut against the lance of pain piercing through the daze. Another breath and she nicked his cheek, driving him back into a tree.

The dagger in her left hand fell and she reached for him. Gentle fingers feather over the thin cut, barely enough room to bleed.

"I am all right." A strained, but pleased smile pulled across his lips as her thumb idly traced the fullness of them. She wanted to kiss him, to take the pain away but that smirk startled, and confused her. Golden eyes shifted downward, leading her gaze. Beneath her arms, the tip of his own knife hovered over the swell of her bosom, an easy spear between her ribs if he chose. "Distractions are good for daggers. Keep that in mind."

Another lesson learned. Her prize: his mouth hot against hers and his fingers snaking into her hair. Yet, she pushed him away, her palms pressed flat and tickled by the fine, flaxen curls upon his chest.

"But you weren't faking that." Estelle stole a breath, her mouth ghosting over his. The former templar turned pensive, caught between her and the towering oak. His hands relaxed their hold, their ardour quieted.

"No, but there are times that we don't have a choice." A tender hand tugged on the pins within reach until her tresses unravelled in a cascade of pale gold. “You need every moment, every chance to survive so that you will return to me.”

The headaches and spasms came and went, taking him only in the darker hours. They struck when his body slipped beyond its threshold, worn and restless. His path to free himself of his leash yet stretched far ahead, but he no longer craved the poison’s flavour. Only hers. Only her strength, and her heart sustained him. Her support carried him through the nightmares and saw him into the day, into the sun and the Maker’s light. She gave him hope that he had been forgiven for his crimes, that their cause was just. He was the luxury she allowed for herself, what kept her sane amongst the undulating tides when fate uprooted a life of servitude and solitude, unwilling to risk something she could lose. She was the luxury the older, darker part of him could not afford, but for her, he was willing to live beyond his life’s means. This was the life they chose and perhaps, Cullen imagined, they could have more.

Questing fingers reached for the hand hidden from him by leather. The Anchor lied silent so far from the rifts. She shivered and froze as he kissed the gloved lengths.

“Don’t.” Her pleas sounded pained, her fingers stiffed where they curled about his own. What if she faltered and the mark came alive?

"I trust you. You would never hurt me of your own accord." Happenstance may have branded her, but they shared the same course. She was his, the Anchor merely a tool she wielded – it did not change the woman he loved. It did not change the faith he held for her. But there was another lesson calling for an answer as their blood cried for a different vice, and he tipped her chin to meet his half-lidded gaze. His nose brushed across her cheek, his breath hot over her skin. “Now, we have a moment to ourselves. It would be shameful of us to waste what precious time we have.”

Her azure stare needed only to match his and there was no retreat. Giving in to the grasp of instinct and lust, Cullen wound his arm to lay up her spine, the blade kept away from her skin as he pulled her against him. Warm, hungry lips slanted over hers. She dropped her final dagger while his clattered onto the ground behind her, her boot-heel kicking it away. Teeth and tongue danced like the blades they had abandoned, the rough bark digging into skin only a subtle undertone to the chorus building in their veins.

Estelle gasped, her shoulder blades abraded by bark as Cullen spun her around to brace her against the oak. The warrior’s fingers dancing over her skin, gliding up her stomach to seek the lacing of her breasts’ binding. He made quick work of them, her mouth never leaving her until the soft mounds spilled free. Playful nips trailed behind as he reached for them, his tongue and lips lavishing one pert tip. The archer’s fingers stole into his hair, gripping tighter with each flick of the wet muscle, his name muttered like a Chantry sister’s prayer.

Her own hands joined the fray until they both stood bare before the moon and the Maker. Estelle’s fingers circled her lover’s length, flush with blood and stiff in her grasp. It twitched and throbbed at her touch, all blood and need. A restrained hiss, the warrior’s voice set the fire to the woman’s blood, its lusty growl spearing deep. With all his strength, Cullen lifted her whole body from the ground and pinned her there with it alone, her heels left to hook into the meat of his backside. In tandem with his mouth upon hers, one finger slipped into her, thick and clever, reaching for that place inside her that brought forth her mewling cry. Then another. A slow, steady pace, each careful stroke made with purpose as his tongue matched it, dancing with hers as she bucked into the cup of his calloused palm. A deft twist made her near the precipice when he struck the right cord, the coil wound to its breaking point.

And then he withdrew.

She made to protest, to demand reparation but his mouth swallowed it, her legs hitched higher on his waist. Evened, Cullen needed only to pull himself from her hold and slide himself into her blessed heat to appease the dull ache undulating within them. His legs shuddered with that press but he held firm, fingernails imprinting half-moons into her flesh and her own essence smeared onto her skin. She shook and quivered, moaning in marked time as he did. Each rolling snap of his hips brought her voice ringing out, his name again on her lips before he swallowed it as well. The thrusts grew shallower, stronger. He knew just how to play her as easily as he knew how to angle his shield or sweep his sword. Another twist, his hips changed their song, circling, and she felt him reach deeper still. Another breath, his fingers quick and learned to bring her with him into the spiral as the coil snapped taut. Deeper and deeper, down into the sea of raw and primal thoughts and acts. And then it rose up. She lost herself in it with his name torn from her in a throaty croon and her own lost in a lion’s roar against her clavicle, her release a tide which took him not long after.

And yet he did not loosen her from his hold, her body shaking in his grasp. She would not be able to stand even as he himself swayed on his feet. His seed dripped down her thighs, his member quivering within its sheath, softly writhing around its girth. Dare they even move? The sheen of their exertion and his musk cloyed on her skin and on her tongue - it was enough to ease even the greatest of burdens. Strength still lingered in them as Cullen lifted her gently away from the old arbour. Careful steps spun them around. Onto his knees, he sunk before their bedrolls laid together as one, kneeling as one at vespers, she his Chantry in that untamed wild. He laid her down as if she was some fragile, precious thing and brushed a sweat-slick lock of satin gold from her eyes before slipping from her warmth. Then he lay, splayed out and his arms stretch wide, inviting her into the comfort of his side.

Despite the rawness and ache seeping through, Estelle nestled herself into that place of strength and safety, the place she had once thought was beyond her, a place she had not want to risk losing, rather than never know it at all. Yet there, their cause left frozen in their wake for a single moment, he was what she could never regret. For that pleasure, that kindness beneath the stars, she pressed her kiss on his heart and saw the smile which she herself could only conjure on those lips.

“Maker, I am a lucky man.”

THE END

Lucky Strike - CullenxF!Trevelyan archer (Gift)
Author's Notes: This was made for Chenria , but also to combat some hate made for the pairing. I love anyone with Cullen, regardless of specific class. I have more of a rant, but I digress. Why clutter of this place with unnecessary pain?

I hope it was enjoyed.

*feels sheepish for forgetting to post this here*
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  • Mood: Love
  • Listening to: Vertical Horizon, "Save Me From Myself
  • Reading: Tanya Huff's "Blood Pact"
  • Watching: Yu-Gi-Oh!
  • Playing: Dragon Age: Inquisition.
  • Eating: Angel Food Cake with chocolate pudding.
  • Drinking: Water.
Seriously, go play Dragon Age: Inquisition. Meanwhile, I've working on some fics, including one for an art trade with :iconslugette:

She's amazing, by the way.

And have I mention that I love the interaction with the characters and how much Cullen has grown. For all he's endured, he deserves a happy ending.

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illusionaryennui
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"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Writer, Conceptual Artist, and Resident Fan of Everyone Else
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ab39z Featured By Owner 14 hours ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the +fave!
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MediAsylum Featured By Owner 1 day ago
thanks for the fav
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IrieGyal Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for the fave! :D
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kiwipok Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2015
Many thanks for the fav!! ^^
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illusionaryennui Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2015
You're welcome, my dear. That watercolour was stunning!
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