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Lullaby

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Valina walked slowly along the wall, the cold cobblestone biting at her bare feet. She often went for late night walks along the battlements, taking in the crisp fresh air, the moon shining brightly above Skyhold. The stone and the reassuring weight of the air in her lungs often acted as an anchor to the present, but her walk this evening had done little to soothe her mind. The Wilds had not been kind, and in mere days, they would set out to put the Inquisitor’s plan in place, to face Corypheus and his dragon for the last time.

She shook the thought from her mind. Malakar was counting on her to compartmentalise her emotions, and to assist Cullen with the strategy for the troops. She would not fail him. She forced her thoughts to turn to more pleasant things.

By the time she neared their quarters, she could feel her lips tugging in a smile, and she grew eager to return to the warmth of Cullen’s embrace. She opened the door, careful not to disturb the squeaky hinges as she slipped inside and closed it quietly behind herself.

She reached the top rung of the ladder, and her smile faltered as her gaze fell upon Cullen. She flung herself onto the loft floor, sprinting to his side, clambering onto the bed. She just caught his fist before it could connect with the headboard. His shoulders were still suffering from the battle at the Wilds – she would not allow him to break his hand.

‘Amatus!’

Valina shook him, but he would not wake. He thrashed against her hold, almost throwing her off the bed backwards as he fought against the nightmare. She grasped his wrists harder, her fingers aching. It had been only a day since they returned from the Wilds, and her body had yet to recover from fighting the Red Templars. She was forced to straddle his stomach and use the weight of her body to pin his arms against the pillows, and still, her limbs shook.

Amatus!’

Cullen’s eyes opened, tawny gaze flooded with panic. He pushed at her, lifting his arms but she held firm, gritting her teeth as she battled his strength.

‘Cullen, it's me!’

The fight left his body, his eyes finding her shining serpentstone gaze even in the darkened room. His chest still heaved, but the panic slowly left his eyes as he lost himself in the depth of her gaze. He took a shuddering breath and she released his wrists, framing his face with her hands.

‘That’s it, Amatus, focus on me,’ she whispered, leaning down until their noses touched, their lips barely a breath away, ‘you’re safe. We’re safe.’

His arms encircled her, and he clung to her as the remnants of the nightmare lingered. She stroked his stubbled jaw with her scarred fingers in soothing lines and patterns. She did not release his gaze, not even when the rhythm of his breath synchronised with hers, his panicked heartbeat slowing to its usual strong rhythm.

Cullen sighed deeply. ‘We were back in the Wilds,’ he said finally, ‘you…’ 

She pressed a kiss to his lips. ‘I’m right here. I’m safe.’

He clutched her to his chest, fingers entwining in her hair. He inhaled her rosy scent, holding her tighter as he pressed his face to her neck, surprised to find her skin chilled.

‘My love, you’re cold.’ His waking mind recognised the different fabric over her back. ‘And dressed. Where have you been?’

‘I went for a walk. I couldn’t sleep.’

‘You should have woken me.’

‘I didn’t want you to worry, Amatus. I just needed to stretch my legs.’

‘They’re still sore?’

‘Very. I spent a lot of time sprinting after those sentinels. Remind me to get some more elfroot balm in the morning.’

Valina pulled from his arms, sitting beside him as she stripped her pants and his sweater, returning to the warmth of their bed. She snuggled into Cullen’s embrace, nuzzling the fine hair on his chest.

Cullen sucked in a sharp breath when she placed her cold feet on his legs, but he did not protest. Instead, he held her tighter, entwining their limbs until he was unsure where he ended and she began. Still, he needed her closer. He grasped her thigh with a calloused palm, coaxing her knee over his hip, drawing her tight against his chest to reassure himself that she was truly in his arms.

He pressed a kiss to her hair. ‘Valina…’ He waited until she lifted her head and he could see her serpentstone gaze shining in the dimly lit loft. He cupped her cheek with a calloused hand. ‘I love you, you know that, right?’

Valina’s gaze brightened, a sweet smile gracing her lips, one she reserved for him. ‘I do, Amatus,’ she whispered, ‘no one has ever made me feel more special than you have.’

She stole a kiss before she settled her cheek against his chest, fingers tracing circles over his heart. ‘Would you like me to sing for you, Amatus?’ she asked, knowing he found the old melodies soothing.

‘Please,’ he whispered, and so she sang softly to him in Tevene, her breath falling against his skin, the warmth of her hand resting over his heart. He closed his eyes, clutching her tighter as her voice drifted over him, the tension of his terror finally leaving his broad shoulders, his face softening.

Valina did not know how long she sang, but soon he drifted off into peaceful sleep, and, still, she continued to hum the old melody, hoping in some way to protect him from his nightmares.