Fenris had just settled into his quarters for the night. He’d absconded with a bottle of wine and sat before the hearth of his fireplace, trying to drink away his memories. Ironic really, since he had so many lost memories he would dearly love to recover.
Having come to Skyhold had been a mistake. Varric had begged him to join the fight and Fenris had grown weary of hunting slavers, so he decided to take the dwarf up on his offer. What Fenris hadn’t expected was to find Cullen here. He thought Cullen was still serving as the Knight-Commander in Kirkwall or some other Circle where there were still loyal mages remaining.
It was becoming more difficult every day to watch Commander Cullen stride about Skyhold, taking his troops through their paces during their morning exercises, making his way to the War Table to treat with the Inquisitor and his other advisors. They hadn’t said two words to each other since Fenris arrived, but sometimes he caught Cullen staring at him from across the yard.
As Fenris took another swallow of wine, instead of banishing old memories, they came unbidden to the surface.
It had begun innocently enough. Knight-Captain Cullen had asked Fenris if he played chess during a casual conversation they had while Hawke was in the Gallows making a purchase from one of the tranquil vendors there.
Soon Fenris was heading to the gallows frequently to play chess with the Templar. Partly because he enjoyed Cullen’s company and partly because he knew it would annoy Anders to no end if he knew what company he kept.
Before long, Fenris acquired his own chess set and began inviting Cullen to visit him in his rotting mansion in Hightown as well. Fenris found himself growing fond of the Templar with the troubled eyes. Cullen never spoke of it in detail, but the elf could tell that Cullen had suffered some severe trauma in his past. Something related to Kinloch Hold and someone named Uldred.
After a time, Fenris had been certain that Cullen may also be drawn to him, if the way he looked into his eyes was any indication. Especially when he blushed and stuttered when he was caught staring for too long. So, one evening Fenris tried to move things along by surprising Cullen with a kiss.
For the briefest moment, Fenris had felt Cullen melt into the kiss, before he steeled himself and pushed Fenris away. “I’m sorry. I can’t. You’re a good man, Fenris, but I can’t fall in love with you.”
Cullen left and he stopped coming over to play chess. So, Fenris headed to the Gallows on what he knew was one of the Knight-Captain’s nights off, only to be turned away at the dock. He was told he was no longer welcome in the Gallows.
The last time Fenris ever laid eyes on Cullen was during the final battle in Kirkwall against the maddened Meredith. After that battle ended, Hawke and all his followers fled the city. Fenris still remembered looking back one last time, only to find Cullen staring at him with a sad, longing look. That look made Fenris’ steps falter until Cullen merely turned his back and walked away. So Fenris ran and never looked back.
A knock at his door startled Fenris out of his reverie. He hadn’t even realized that he’d been crying until he went to wipe his face and his hand came away wet with his tears. The knock came again and Fenris called out. “One moment!”
He quickly dragged a wash cloth over his face before going to answer the door. Once Fenris realized who it was he stared in shock. Cullen.
The man had taken off his ever-present armor and fur pauldrons, opting instead for a simple outfit of rough spun breeches, shirt and a cloak. Clearly he hadn’t wanted anyone to recognize him going to visit the elf.
“Um…hi…May I come in? Please?” Cullen requested nervously.
Fenris had half-a-mind to slam the door in the man’s face but thought better of it. Instead he sighed and stepped aside, silently allowing Cullen entrance.
After closing the door, Fenris stared at Cullen. “What do you want?”
Cullen seemed to deflate a little at Fenris’ tone. “I’m sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have come…”
“You have something on your mind,” Fenris said. “So tell me.”
Cullen paced nervously, for a moment, as if trying to build up some courage, before he turned and faced Fenris. “I hate how we ended things back in Kirkwall,” Cullen began.
“We? There was no we. That was all on you,” Fenris growled.
“Let me explain, please,” Cullen sighed. “Meredith found out about our chess games. She…didn’t approve. That night you kissed me? I had been coming to tell you that I had to stop seeing you. It was a direct order. I should have explained then, but your kiss had me so flustered. I’m sorry.”
Fenris’ heart skipped a beat. All these years he’d been hurt and angry at the wrong person.
“So when you said you couldn’t fall in love with me?” Fenris asked softly, not daring to look Cullen in the eye.
“That was a lie,” Cullen said as he moved closer. “I couldn’t allow myself to love you because Meredith was going to tear us apart. But the truth is, I did…do…love you.”
Fenris’ head shot up in surprise, looking up into Cullen’s eyes. He saw sincerity, hope and love…the love that he himself had tried to bury and harden his heart against all these years.
Fenris reached up and cupped Cullen’s face and Cullen dared to embrace him, pulling the elf in close as he finally sobbed in relief at finally having him in his arms. “Please say you can forgive me?” Cullen begged as he buried his head into Fenris’ shoulder.
Fenris nodded and pulled back. Looking into Cullen’s eyes he smiled. “I love you, too.”