It's slowly at first and he doesn't even realize it, but before long he notices himself picking up on the little things. The way her hand brushes back her hair, revealing the scar going from her left cheekbone to her lip. The way her eyes aren't quite grey, but they aren't quite blue either. How she closes those blue/grey eyes just a little longer when she is frustrated at the war table to keep from openly rolling them at her advisors. He even notices the calluses and scars on her hands. More than should be normal for someone her age. A sign of the position she has been put into. A war leader and mythical prophet, divine and oh so human, despite not being either of those things. He notices that when she's reading, her brow furrows in concentration and her leg twitches with restlessness. That when she's joking with Dorian or Iron Bull, one side of her mouth twitches higher than the other and that you can tell it isn't a genuine smile if the corners of her mouth are even. He notices that when the sun shines on her blonde hair just right, she has a halo. He knows that it's only when her hair is frizzy and disheveled and that if it were neat this effect wouldn't happen, but he can't bring himself to care when she looks so like an angel. It isn't long after he realizes that he is picking up on these things before he accidentally lets it slip. Just her and him, going over the Adamant strategy at the war table. He sees a flash of pink when she pushes her hair back. Glancing down he notices a new scar. Recent.
"That's new." He mumbles under his breath. She heard him.
"I um- I simply meant that- oh makers breath. The scar on your hand. It's new." He finally manages, cheeks burning.
"Oh yeah... I had to fight a wyvern for Vivianne. I got a bit too close." She shrugs, as though it's no big deal. As though the thought of her getting eaten by a wyvern didn't sent a chill up Cullens spine.
"Oh." Is all he manages to say for fear that if he says more then he'll say too much. Sure they've flirted a bit, but his feelings have grown past that. He is quite certain he loves her. Maker's breath they've never had conversations that weren't about the inquisition that lasted longer than a few minutes, but he has cherished every moment of that time. Ever since he almost lost her at Haven he's known that he wants her. She can never know though. 'What would she think? What would others think? That moment in the stables must have meant something, right? She must feel something for him, mustn't she?' So many questions were running through his mind he missed almost all of her strategy for the mages.
"-and should we move the mages here?" She leaned across him to set the marker for the mages on the other side of the map. Cullen hadn't even realized she was so close. He hadn't realized that he was leaning into her, trying to feel her warmth through his armor. She leans back and away from him, causing him to frown. Little does he know that she notices his frown.
She's noticed a lot of things recently. How he scratches the back of his neck when he's nervous. How he scratches the back of his neck a lot when he's talking to her. She's picked up on the days when he's had less sleep for whatever reason and she notices that there are some days, sometimes weeks, in a row where his armor is less than perfect. She doesn't know why during that time he looks so run down, but she knows it sends a little ball of emotion straight to her stomach to see him suffering. She notices that when it's raining, his hair curls into perfect ringlets. That some days his golden eyes look so dull and tired and all she wants to do is lay next to him and make sure he's sleeping. She keeps to herself that she notices these things because there's no way they could be together. He's an ex templar and a human and she is an elven mage. It could never work. Her keeper would have told her that she was walking in the fade thinking such things about a human let alone a templar. She knows he likes her, why else would he look at her the way he does when he thinks no one is looking, like she is the only thing worth looking at. She won't lie, it feels nice to be wanted, but she can't let herself be drawn in. She has too much to do to be in love. In love. The words sneak their way into her brain. Good thing he's so oblivious.