It all happened so suddenly.
One moment Dorian was happily walking to the Skyhold library for another day of research, after having spent a wonderful night with the Commander in his loft. The next moment someone screamed and he found himself running, in a panic, back to Cullen’s office.
What Dorian saw horrified him. There lay Cullen, on the ground in a pool of his own blood, while one of the new recruits was being held restrained by two guards, a bloody knife at his feet. The recruit looked up at Dorian’s stricken face and sneered. “Greetings from Corypheus.”
No, no, no! Dorian ran to Cullen’s side, his happiness crumbling into a million pieces. He cradled Cullen’s head on his lap. It had been only moments before that Dorian had kissed his Amatus’ warm lips, and yet Cullen's skin already began to feel cool. The life and light had completely gone out of those beautiful honey-brown eyes. Dorian wailed, his body wracked with sobs as he clung to his lover’s lifeless form.
The assassin was dragged off to the holding cells to await judgement, when the Inquisitor, Josephine and Leliana burst in.
Josephine immediately burst into tears, her heart breaking for Dorian. Maxwell looked at the other guards standing around in shock. “What happened?”
The senior most guard in the room approached the Inquisitor. “It was one of our newest recruits, sir. Apparently an assassin sent by Corypheus.”
Dorian was inconsolable, refusing to let go of Cullen. It took several guards to pry him away so they could prepare Cullen’s body.
Several days later, when all arrangements had been finalized and Cullen’s family had been able to be brought up to Skyhold from Honnelath, they held the funeral. Dorian stood proud and silent, dressed in all black robes, his eyes bloodshot from crying. The day went by in a blur. Cullen’s sister, Mia offered her condolences, and hugged him after seeing his tear-stained face. Dorian barely reacted.
It wasn’t fair. Finally after all these years, Dorian had finally found a man who didn’t just desire him, but actually loved him. Cullen was the first man who had wanted to be with him for more than a quick tryst. Cullen had wanted more. Dorian dared to hope he had found a man to spend the rest of his life with, and yet again, the centuries old corruption and madness from Tevinter reached out and snatched even that away from him.
After the funeral, Dorian became listless, his research forgotten. He spent most of his time in his quarters, crawling into yet another bottle. His life had lost all meaning. Members of the Inquisition kept checking on him, bringing him meals, trying to coax him out with one inducement or another. Still he remained sequestered, replaying the last night with Cullen in his mind over and over.
“I love you Dorian,” Cullen had confessed. “I’ll always love you.” Always. Always. Always.
It was as if he was stuck in a time loop, doomed to re-live that one perfect night forever.
That’s when it dawned on him. Time.
He and Alexius had experimented with time magic, and he was flung one year into a horrific future with the Inquisitor. They came back in order to fix events before they ever resulted in that future they had seen.
Could he do it again? Could he use the amulet and travel back to a time before Cullen was killed, and save him?
Dorian wasn’t sure but he had to try.
Filled with new purpose, Dorian made his way to the archive where all the artifacts the Inquisition had collected were stored. He occasionally spent time researching there, so there were no questioning glances as he entered. He quickly located the amulet and then went back to his room to work on the spell, this time taking greater care than he’d had time for in that horrific future.
Several hours later the spell was complete. Without hesitation, Dorian activated the amulet and stepped through the resulting portal, back to approximately an hour before Cullen had been murdered. Dorian frantically began to search for the assassin, who seemed to remain well hidden. No matter, all Dorian had to do was remain in Cullen’s office, keeping an eye out for when the assassin entered.
Dorian hid himself under Cullen’s desk, waiting for his alternate self and Cullen to come down from the loft. It wouldn’t be long after, that the assassin would strike. Soon he heard his counterpart and Cullen stirring and making ready to come down. Dorian peeked from under the desk and his heart ached as he held back a hitch in his breath when he saw Cullen descend, alive and well, followed by his past-self.
He watched as Cullen and his past-self kissed sweetly before parting company, the other Dorian walking happily over the ramparts towards the library. That’s when the assassin entered, in the guise of a recruit with a report in hand. Dorian immediately jumped up from behind the desk and cast a barrier around Cullen.
The “recruit” looked startled, before Dorian cast a Fist of the Maker spell against the would-be assassin, knocking him to the ground. Dorian walked over to the man and found the dagger hidden in his hand beneath the report he held and said quite determinedly. “Not this time.”
Two guards rushed in at the sound of the commotion, gawking at the scene before them.
Cullen had been watching in stunned silence. “What is going on, Dorian? How did you get behind my desk?”
“It’s a long story, Amatus, but this man was sent here by Corypheus to murder you,” Dorian said accusingly.
The assassin sneered, not even denying his intent. “This was to be payback for taking his commander away from him, Altus,” the assassin said, addressing Dorian. The guards mobilized into action and once, immobilizing the would-be assassin.
Cullen looked slacked jawed. “Samson? This was retribution for Samson? Guards, take him to a holding cell for questioning.”
Just then the other Dorian ran back into Cullen’s office, sensing something amiss, a shocked look coming over him at seeing himself. Dorian held up the amulet to indicate what he’d done and his past-self understood immediately, nodding.
Dorian quickly realized that his timeline had now effectively ended, as he felt himself slowly fade out of existence. First he looked at Cullen with his still bloodshot eyes, fresh tears streaming down his rapidly fading face. “I loved you, Amatus.”
Dorian then turned back to himself and said only two words before he faded entirely.