I know compassion, but what I know of love is safe and solid, protecting and proud. He is stronger for it. And she? She is sanctified by it. || Cullen x F!Trevelyan Mage. (One-Shot)
As a spirit, Cole can only perceive emotions through his otherworldly sense. But what does he feel on that night, even from his place so far away, when the Commander leads the Inquisitor into a dance they both require?
(Some might find this disconcerting as it is set more or less in Cole's perspective, albeit he is no voyeur and no way involved. Still, you have been warned.)
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: Angst, Drama, Fluff, Hurt/Comfort, Romance, NSFW
What I Know of Love
hold so little glamour here
where hearts lie at ease
I heard someone once say that I cannot know love. That is foreign to me, the strange boy in the corner. I can't say they are wrong, but I know its colour, its truth. I'm more, more than human - Varric has helped me just as she helped me grow, but I am still changed and yet, the same...
When I closed my eyes, I sensed them through the madness, the Lion and his Lady. Their lives so fragile behind the masks of power and of duty, leaning always towards one another, upon one another. How could they have known just how deep their emotions ran, reaching out into the darkness? Its aura pulsed to the drumming of their hearts, quickened. Can't see, only feel, knowing them locked in his tower, his sanctuary.
No more waiting. It's a hunger. Not of food, but of her. Of the brightness. A smile, brighter still.
Shattering, an Antivan kindness plied against the cold and madness; he wishes a drop or a measure remained now more than before. But the demons sleep and he fears that she might fade from his grasp if he does not act. He can think of nothing else, of no one else.
He lets the hunger rise. The brush of cold silver, the buckles of her garments. His fingers are nimbler than she imagined, thinner than they should be. Yet his nerves are still alive like shards dragged along their lines. They show no weakness, no hesitation. The anchor of her arms, not the Anchor branded, curl about him, denied him them, the suffering that I cannot cut from him myself.
She shivers, not of bare skin, her cheeks burning - her shirt, he has torn open. He forgets how to breathe, wood creaking. He tries to say he's sorry. To say she deserves better. Better than here. Better than an animal, than a broken man. His stomach clenches – he can almost taste the bile. His mind fights through the hurt, the sickness within. But she doesn't laugh. She doesn't scold. Her mouth answers not in words, but in their feather-light, sweet press. It's warming, a welcome heat.
Cold again. Ice. Icy tower. Magic, delicate threads. He cannot help but marvel as he looks up. She is magic, breathes it like the wind whispering across the world, setting his blood aflame. Yet he does not fear her; he cannot fear what he loves. Uldred did not make him. He made himself, woken by her, she who came before, harrowed and stolen. He dared not act then.
But she, his true Lady? She only makes him stronger. A better man, better with than without. What is foolish: to love or not to love? Where is his luck but here, there hung upon a delicate, fine-spun chain and nestled between her breasts? How is that luck? The cards often lie.
He does not waste this gift, this blessing sanctified - why is she so holy in his eyes? She does not sanctify herself so, but he does, he sanctifies her. She's far from heavy, never heavy. Burdened by light. Lithe, around and around. Step by step, up the crystal stairs. The construct serves and shatters, steam rising. At last higher now, safe from prying eyes and free, as much as he can offer in that place of war. In that place, they are their own. She kisses the scar slashing up from his mouth. Wounds open up, so much death and loss left behind beneath blood and rubble - I can still hear their screams just as he does, as Solas does. How does it not drive them mad? It drowns out even the blood pounding in his ears. He needs to silence its chorus, lose himself in her.
Haste falls away. It's just them, always. The walls come down, piece by piece. He forgets the stumbling of years gone by. He's not trembling this time, no horror and battle driving him into the fray, once resigned to the shadows, to his own loneliness. Here, he knows the dance, knows what he wants. Each caress, each grasping of her hands transcribe permission that he's earned his desire, its like waiting.
Still, he doubts.
Am I good enough?
She lets him divest her from the weights of so many lives tearing at her, pleading. She doesn't want to feel their clamouring hands, hear the people's cries for they etch even harsher woes into her heart. Too long, the chains rattling in her mind. She needs to be freed. She wants to pretend to be human, far from divine – is that why she startles when I see her light?
Soft fur. Metal. Snap, snap. Supple leather - the doe whose skin she wears was old, too old to care when the arrow pierce her hide. Another smile, a shirr of silk. All the trappings fall away, scattered like children's toys, forgotten.
They lose themselves among candlelight and ancient dust.
A week-old beard scratches, but I don't think she minds. She likes the feel of calloused, blood-stained fingers, so full of regret and desire for they are only kind. She kisses that scar again; a flash of rage cuts deep. His fingers dig in and she whimpers. It's like she can feel his hurt through his touch. Still, she only kisses him again. Soothing, her fingertips comb through golden curls.
She can wash the pain away, he knows. He wonders, always. Always wondered: Is this mine? Could this be mine? Am I free? Does she know that I love her?
Too hot, burning. Little lights of fire. Here. There. Haunting, always hurting… except now. So bright. No dust, no leash. Not that blacken plague once made of magic, its poison stinging, dripping through soul, staining it and skin alike. There lies a lovelier, purer song. A different drug, but better. Untainted. Only kindness. Only love. No act. No dream. Am I dreaming?
Real, real like her. They lie entangled, a knot of flesh. Tongues flicker, twisting. He suckles at her breast, though I can't understand why even as she tries not to cry out in pleasure, not ready, not wanting him to hear - he would rather hear her sing, to map every part of him.
Never fleeting, the pull that brought them to the precipice, the balance between duty and need. Truth and ardour, pillars to stem the tides. She wraps him in it, holds him closer than any other. He forgets another's smile pledged above him - that time has passed. In that space, he can only see hers, his dearest Lady's. The pain lingers, a memory and nothing more. She helps him marshal it, tame it, move beyond it. She devours sin and leaves only that light, leeching away the poison sticking to his bones, in his blood, its magick drowned in hers.
A perfect match: the mage and her templar, the templar that still holds order without its leash, free to serve his dream and protect it, protect her. To be his, order requires chaos, her chaos begs for order. They are as their two kinds should be. She brought him back from the grasp of darkness, brought him back into light. Her light. No demon would dare find them there - he would not let them corrupt that one pure light. Pride forges him as her sword and her shield; no other can take his place. She bears the claim and tucks it close to her heart - she cannot desire anything more.
Mouths paint truths yet without voice. In the quiet, she revelled. She forgets another place, a station. The accord of order and chaos, craved and won. Protected and protecting. Saved.
He murmurs her name - it's like a prayer, another prayer for her soul, for his. She breathes his, its whisper like a plea, a fever dream, a hope.
They don't want to feel so empty anymore, to feel without. He needs this, needs her, needs to be a part of her and unchained. She needs this, needs him, needs to slip away from her crown, her unwanted throne.
Can't fall. Can't hurt. No slipping, slipping in. Guided, testing. Like the way a sword slid so easily into its sheath, familiar. Still hungering. They bathe in the perfume of sweat and taste its salt and musk even as he can taste the muddle cherries of supper's treat from her lips.
Newer fire, old heart. Grasping, gasping. Too difficult to breathe, skin drawn taught. There's only one now, too close. So close. Inside, wanted. Where one wants, where one wants to be. I think the nails biting into his skin might mark and yet he wants them. He leaves his own, patterns of mottled purple and the impression of his fingertips when he realizes he can't let go, that he doesn't want to.
Muscles contract, war-worn and ready. Surging. Begging for release.
This is an old, old dance – are these the steps? Inside. Outside. Inside. Over and over. Building upwards. Ebb and flow, matching cadence and stroke. Dancing, dancing until the coils begin to snap. One more press, breath laboured – how can they even breathe, buried beneath the same haze?
He counts those he loves on one hand and is consumed by only one. She remembers a day when she couldn't remember what the sun looked like, trapped. He tumbles over the precipice first and then she follows, cast into the spiral with clever twist of thick fingers. She finds the sun again, the golden hues of his eyes like sunlight.
Both so bright, I can't count the stars.
Safe. Whole. Free.
And for one moment, he knew no pain.
If only she could have stopped the dreams.