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Reverence

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The fire in the stone hearth roars, bathing the room in a rosy glow. Across the walls, shadows dance, filling the large space with spectres of the furniture, flickering as the flames lick at crackling wood. The air smells of sweet woodsmoke and wildflowers. It’s deceptively seductive, ensnaring the senses. The icy fingers of the bitter winter, her chill and her eerie drafts that haunt every space of Skyhold have no dominion over the Inquisitor’s private quarters.

When Trevelyan finds Cullen, he is standing in front of her writing desk, his back to the stairs, posture stiff. She can guess he must feel that he’s intruding--despite the fact that she’s invited him here--because she recognizes the set of his shoulders, the tension in his jaw. He isn’t quite uncomfortable, but she can sense he feels out of his depth, in over his head. Over the past several months they have become eerily acquainted with each other’s mannerisms, familiar with each other’s unique quirks, intimate even, from shared experience to matching scars.

Their blossoming relationship began with simple, coy flirtation, deepened with shared kisses and quiet moments on the battlements, and ultimately came to a crescendo, laying claim to each other on his desk and on his bed and everywhere in between. She’d never been made love to before, and although unexpected, she couldn’t possibly imagine regretting it, nor the morning after, nor the succession of sweet, stolen kisses in the privacy of his office. Nothing had been quite as intense since, and she’s begun to get the impression he might be afraid of her.

And yet, she finds him in her bedroom. His hair is spun gold in the firelight, shadows cast on the strong angle of his jaw, the darkness kissing his lips, his scar, his cheekbones. He is free of his armor, a curious vulnerability she has only witnessed once, and only because they’d taken turns stripping every layer of clothing, every barrier, every hesitation between the two of them. What expectations did he have in coming here? She can’t help but wonder what he feels now.

When she draws close, the heels of her boots click on the bare stone floor that the edges of the ornate Antivan rug don’t quite reach. She can hear Cullen suck in a breath, sees his shoulders tense up, watches as he fumbles, nearly dropping the small gold object in his hand. She knows it well--a family heirloom, the only such piece of her past she cared to carry with her.

The locket is a small gold oval, engraved with an ornate flourish that forms a T. A single red stone embellishes the curling tail of the monogram. It was her father’s mother’s, passed down to her before she had been sent to Ostwick Circle.

“Well, it would certainly complement your eyes, but I didn’t take you for the necklace-wearing type.”

“Inquisitor!” He seems surprised to see her in her own chambers, his eyes wide and startled.

“I think we’re a bit past titles now, don’t you, Commander?” she teases, smile impish.

His nose and cheeks and the tips of his ears turn faintly pink, and he scrubs the back of his neck with an open palm. The effect is all too charming. “Rosalind.” Every time he speaks her name, it’s like a prayer. Something warm stirs inside her, sets her skin alight, makes her feel as if she’s a brightly burning star.

“I was just… er--I’ve never seen this. It’s...nice.”

She responds with a slight snort in her typical cavalier way, sidling up to him. Even in heels, she is still so short that her forehead barely crests the cap of his shoulder. Without the trappings of her title, her station, without her fierce warpaint or her furs or her billowing suede coat, she is a small, dainty thing.

“Well, it’s the sort of locket you’re meant to put a portrait of your children and husband in, I suppose. My grandmother gave it to me before I was sent to the Circle. She was very ill. I imagine she expected I’d be married by now.” She frowns, taking the locket from him, and winds the delicate chain around her slim fingers. She sets it back in its place, privately amused that Cullen felt even slightly entitled to paw through her belongings.

“That’s lucky then,” he tells her, turning to face her. “For me, at least. These last months certainly would have been more… challenging if you had been married.” The smile he gives her is made of pure gold, tugging at each and every one of her heartstrings.

“I see you have jokes now.” Her lips quirk into a matching smile, the scar there puckering, her cheek tucking into a perfect little dimple.

“You may have rubbed off on me. You and your sparkling wit. Grown on me, even,” he tells her fondly. He doesn’t move closer, keeping her at arms’ length to simply watch her for several moments, drinking her in. It’s moments like these that seem to underscore how they fit together like the pieces of a puzzle, her fiery red hair a complement to his tawny mane, their matching scars, the way her hand fits perfectly in his. It conjures the memory of her body pressed against his, lips parted in soft ecstasy, fingers dug into pliant flesh as he drove into her. It’s enough to quicken the breath and the pulse.

“Have I?” Her voice is soft, her eyes large, shiny in the firelight. Her hair is a blazing halo, curling around her heart-shaped face. She bites her lip and his eyes track the motion. It isn’t the first time he’s had thoughts about the Inquisitor that border inappropriate, although that line has been blurred beyond recognition now. His gaze drops lower, tracing the delicate line of her throat to its hollow, where his lucky coin sits, hung from a suede cord. He feels his face warm, his body light.

“This suits you,” he tells her, brushing his thumb along the edge of the coin. His thumb trails to her neck, tenderly tracing the soft curve of her jaw, and he cups her cheek, fingers tangling in her hair. “Of all things, I didn’t expect to find you here,” he admits.

“In my quarters?”

He chuckles at her awful joke, which is somehow charming--everything about her is charming to him--and draws her closer, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead. Her skin feels warm, as if she’s been lounging in the sun all day, an effect of her fire magic.

“Here. The Inquisition. My arms.” He pulls away to gaze down at her again, catching a stubborn, wayward curl around his finger. There’s a sudden heat in his eyes, his words. “I never thought that I'd meet someone like you. That I’d be lucky enough, maybe, to have someone like you.”

“You do have me, Cullen.” She stands on her toes to kiss him softly, lips gliding against his. When they kiss, their scars align as perfectly as their bodies do, reminding him how much they share, how close they are, how it feels to just be, to catch his breath, and to breathe her in. She is warm fresh summer air, soft as rose petals; her touch, her lips, the taste clouds his head like sweet, fragrant smoke.

She melts into him, feeling the tension in his body, his arms, and his shoulders fall away. He smells like oak and tastes like elderflowers. It reminds her of the best parts of her childhood, lying outside in the grass under the tall trees. In his arms, she feels safe, cherished, letting her walls fall, letting herself be vulnerable, showing him the most intimate side of herself.

Each time they crash into one another, it feels like being pulled farther underwater, but for the first time Rosalind isn’t afraid of drowning.

She kisses the corners of his mouth, then pulls away from him. Already his body reels from the absence of her, tingling in the places her flesh has warmed his. She doesn’t go far, pulling off her boots and her fur-lined cloak. The season’s change in Skyhold has left the air particularly bitter.

Layer by layer, she methodically frees herself from her clothing, all under the dutiful watch of the Commander. When she is stripped down to her smalls and a chemise, she stills, silhouetted in front of the fire. It paints her skin with a rosy glow, sets her hair aflame, gives her seaglass eyes a gold cast.

Cullen steps forward, tracing the lines of her jaw with his thumb, brushing it against her lips, trailing it down her neck. He cups her neck with his palm, then slips it across the length of her shoulder, pulling her blouse down with it, exposing a freckled shoulder. He bows his head to kiss her jaw, her neck, her shoulder. Her body responds, skin flushing and warming, lips parting, soft sighs tumbling from them.

When he kisses her lips, she wraps her arms around his neck, fingers threading through his hair. His hands roam down her back, grip her hips, squeeze her thighs, her ass. When he envelops her in his arms, he lifts her from the ground and she wraps her legs around his waist.

He carries her this way to her bed, pulling his mouth from hers only to find a clear path there. Then he lays her down delicately, gaze reverent as he watches her stretch out on her back. Her skin is rose gold in the warm firelight, and with her eyes soft, half-lidded, hair fanned around her head, she looks celestial. His knee sinks into the bed as he takes gentle hold of her chin, tilting her face to his to capture her lips in another soft, nearly chaste kiss.

She pushes herself onto her forearms, adding heat, sensuality to the kiss. Her mouth tastes like a rich, smoky wine, and he licks into it, feeling her tongue brush his. His fingers thread through her hair, pulling her closer until she clutches his shirt in her fists, pulling him onto her. He braces his arms on either side of her, careful not to rest his full weight on her. He buries his face in her neck, humming softly against her ear, voice a warm burr, “You are absolutely vexing.”

“And yet--” her voice breaks off into a soft moan at the graze of his teeth. “--here you are.”

He draws away to look at her again, studying her as if it’s the very first time he’s ever laid eyes on her. He watches her, rapt, pupils blown wide so they swallow the honey color of his irises almost entirely.

“So I am,” his voice is as soft as the feather-light touch he uses to brush his thumb along her bottom lip.

She catches his thumb between her teeth, takes it into her mouth, sucks gently. If it were anyone else, it would look absolutely obscene, but Ros only looks angelic. She traces her tongue along the underside of his thumb and he sucks in a breath around his teeth.

“Rosalind…” What is meant to be a warning comes out as something weak, wanting.

She releases his thumb, guiding it from her mouth with a wet sound that does strange things to him, and smiles coyly at him. Not for the first time, he’s disarmed by the intimacy of this, by her sheer capacity for passion. He shouldn’t be surprised, when she must live as every day might be her last. Even if that didn’t hold true, he knows Rosalind well enough to know boldness and passion are her very essence. Still, to be on the receiving end sometimes is staggering in the best way.

He draws her face to his again, bringing her to her knees, kissing her lips until they’re swollen. He tugs on the hem of her shirt, pulling it over her hips, the soft curve of her waist, her full breasts. He cups them in his large palms, stroking her nipples with his thumbs until they harden into rosy peaks. He kneads her flesh, touch growing rougher with each sigh swallowed in his kiss. His hand drifts down her side, slowly enough to feel the gooseflesh rise on her skin everywhere he touches. His fingers find the skin of her soft, thick thighs and squeeze, eliciting a low moan that catches in her throat when he cups her ass and kneads it.

“Maker’s Breath,” he murmurs against her lips, lids heavy. He finally tears himself away, gazing down at her. “Do you have any idea what you do to me?” he asks, his voice husky.

She slips a hand between their bodies, reaching for his waistband. Before she makes contact, he catches her wrist and lifts her hand to his lips, kissing the back of her hand, the tip of each finger, the inside of her wrist. He can feel, faintly, the strange Fade magic of the Anchor rippling beneath her skin. It is unusual, though not entirely unpleasant, and when he presses his lips to her palm, he feels her sigh against him. He slips her shirt over her head, a slow, almost worshipful process, touching every inch of skin he exposes.

With gentle, steady hands, he guides her to the edge of her bed, sliding her knees out from under her to dangle off the side. Hooking his fingers in the waist of her smallclothes, he tugs them down. She lifts her hips, then each leg, unable to tear her gaze from him, watching the changes in his face as he touches every part of her. When she’s undressed, laid bare, he kneels between her legs, fingertips stroking circles into her thighs.

Beholding her now, her skin glowing in the firelight, her expression soft and serene, he could understand why she was thought to be blessed by Andraste. Perhaps that was heretical to think--that she was divine, holy--but these are the words that come to mind. He is blessed for having seen her, known her, loved her. And now he wants nothing more than to worship her.

He parts her legs with careful hands, pressing a tender kiss to the inside of each knee. She watches him, propped on her forearms, fingers threaded into the white fur blanket below her. His gaze finds hers and he holds it, lips trailing the length of her leg to her inner thigh. He grazes the soft skin there with his teeth, enthralled with the soft moan it brings to her lips, the way her brow furrows, her head tipping slightly to one side. This close, he can feel the heat radiating from her, enough to make any man impatient. He summons every ounce of willpower, every bit of resistance within him to persevere, to draw this out--see it through. He wants to hear her softest sighs and her loudest cries, hear her moan his name like a psalm, draw out her pleasure until she is swollen and aching, muscles taut with tension until he leads her to the edge and back down again. He wants to bask in the glory of her afterglow, lie next to her and hold her close, taste her warm, sweet lips, bury himself inside her and feel wholly consumed by her heat, by the feeling of peace and completion she brings.

He resists temptation with all this in mind, pressing a matching string of kisses to her other leg. This time when he reaches her inner thigh, his teeth sink in a little deeper and he closes his lips around her skin, leaving a purpling mark in his mouth’s wake. His fingers press into the flesh of her outer thighs, just this side of breaching the line between pleasure and pain. His thumbs drift down to the apex of her thighs, and he pulls her legs farther apart so he can truly look at her.

Her legs sway slightly inward as if trying to maintain some illusion of modesty--still vestal in spite of her bold tongue, wandering hands, intense gaze. He coaxes them apart, maintaining steady, tender eyes trained on her face. They lock eyes and he hooks his arms under her knees, grasping her thighs and tilting her hips closer to him. Then, he bows his head as if in prayer.

She tastes tangy, slightly sweet, like a plum picked before it’s fully ripened. She is all heat and velvety warmth and utterly intoxicating. His fine tether of willpower is slipping, slipping…

The tip of his tongue traces the seam of her sex and he feels her shudder against him, feels her thighs tense. He licks into her, savoring the taste of her, her heat, impossibly warm just like every other part of her. She begins to sigh softly under the gentle attention from his tongue, eyes fluttering shut. At the first pass of his tongue over her clit, she cries out with a jolt, leg flexing against him, eyes wide.

She looks embarrassed at her unexpected reaction, endearingly so, and it only makes him want her more. With a low rumble in his chest, he drapes her legs over his shoulders and pulls her forward until she’s flat on her back and his mouth is pressed against her again. His hands find her breasts, kneading, pinching, thumbs tracing circles into her flesh.

He circles her clit with his tongue, closing his lips around it and sucking softly, drawing a litany of moans from her. He doesn’t let up, even when her breathing becomes shallow, moans increasing in pitch and intensity. He licks at her, pleasuring her as if this is the most devout act of worship.

“Cullen,” she whimpers, sounding feverish. “Please--I need you.” Her fingers thread into his hair, mussing it, tugging just enough to hurt.

His hand caresses the front of her body, over the curves of her waist and hip, snakes under her, between her legs. He presses two fingers into her, a counterpoint to the ministrations of his tongue. She is slick and fluttery against his fingers and he finds himself again on the precipice of losing ground, ceding control to temptation.

His fingers curl into her, thrusting, pressed against the smooth spot within. Her moans become high keening sounds, music to his ears and she cries out his name as he draws every last thread of pleasure from her, feeling her quiver around his fingers. He doesn’t pull his mouth from her when she comes down. It leaves her mewling, pulling at his hair, her back arching from the bed. He kisses her clit, her swollen lips, her thighs, then pulls away from her, ridding himself of the few layers of clothing he wears.

He slides onto the bed next to her, drawing fur blankets around them both, body blazing with the way she fits against him perfectly.

She moves against him, throwing a leg over him, feeling him hard and pressed against her thigh. When she slides on top of him, she straddles his waist. When she kisses him, she tastes herself on his lips. He responds immediately and eagerly, hands at her hips, fingers digging into her skin.

Ros,” he growls, voice low and thick with need. She rests her forehead against his, catching his lower lip between her teeth, licking and sucking it. Her heat is pressed against him and she rolls her hips, grinding with glorious friction. They both want this, need this, the swell and crash of ecstatic release.

“Maker, please--” This time when he utters her name, it is supplicating, a solemn prayer made with parted lips and half-lidded eyes. His breath catches, his hands grasping, squeezing. “Rosalind…”

She stills, her mouth on his with searing intensity. When she shifts her hips, she can feel him flush against her, pressing into her painstakingly slowly. She mounts him, taking him to the hilt, feeling the burn of the stretch, eyes open and trained on him, breath caught in her throat.

He hums, low in his throat, feeling the delicious, slick heat of her as he is sheathed inside, feels her like warm velvet around him, walls fluttering. She shifts forward when she releases a suspended breath and it’s enough to make him moan, make his eyes flutter, make him twitch.

This may be the best thing he’s felt, or near to it, second only to waking up with her in his arms, bathed in sunlight, her soft crown of curls tickling his cheek, smiling and kissing the sleep away.

She exults in the feeling of him inside her again. He fills her, his warm hands stroking her thighs, their bodies cradled in a nest of white and grey furs. When she lifts herself, drawing away almost entirely, he grasps desperately at her, left wanting, like a drowning man in need of air.

She takes him in again, torturously slowly, basking in the exquisite slide, the feeling of completion she finds when he buries himself in her. Her lips crash against his, and for one moment time is suspended and nothing exists beyond this room -- not the hole in the sky, not the Fade, not Skyhold, not the Commander, not his Inquisitor--just Cullen and Rosalind, bodies and souls entwined.

The few tenuous threads of control he has left fray and snap. He is bucking against her, hips snapping to meet hers, thrusting in time with each roll of her hips. He pulls her hips, guiding her against him, licking into her mouth as she opens to him. His hand dips between their bodies, finds her swollen clit and strokes in circles. She gasps, bracing her hands on his chest, back arching, head lolling, lost to this divine euphoria. He feels her tense around him, begin to tremble, rake her nails down his chest.

Her climax is a firestorm, tearing through her with an intensity that leaves her breathless, crying out for him. His own crashes over him, a roiling heat that spills over into a gilded ecstasy. He pulls her down against him, kissing her lips, feeling her hot, sweet breath against his mouth. They move against each other until he is spent, until her trembling gives way to a quiet, tingling bliss that leaves her sedate against him. She clings to him, head buried in his neck. Her breathing slows and her muscles relax and she lifts her head to kiss him, softly, slowly.

His fingers skim the line of her spine, the dimples in her back, the curve of her hips. He holds her close, only releasing her when she sighs against him and disentangles herself from him, sliding onto the bed. She presses into his side, head resting on his chest, feeling deliciously sore. When he strokes her hair, she hums contentedly.

“I love that sound,” he murmurs against her hair, lips pressed to her crown.

“Which one?” she asks, face pink, charmingly abashed despite all things.

“All of them,” he admits with a soft laugh. He kisses her forehead. “But I love it most when you’re happy.”

You make me happy, Cullen.” She raises her eyes to him, her face open and more vulnerable than he’s ever seen it.

“That’s all I want.” He tilts her chin to kiss her softly, sweetly.

Her eyes are luminous when she smiles, looking impossibly heavenly. She strokes his jaw, the very same way he touches hers. “I love you, Cullen,” she murmurs sleepily, despite the light in her eyes.

Momentarily, the confession startles him. Then, his face softens into the tenderest look. He pulls her close, arms safe and strong around her. “And I love you, Rosalind. So very much.”