Chapter 1: Steamy dreamy
A deep sigh escaped her lips as her cheek rested against the side of the copper tub in the bathhouse. Although Josephine was kind enough to help organize for her to have her own bath, some times Willow just needed to take in other surroundings. Plus, who knew who she might encounter? In that moment, she hoped that one person…maybe even two…might chance their way to her. She couldn’t hide the happiness, the joy that was radiating off her as her cheeks heated at the mere thought. Everything around her felt new in that moment, the heat of the water giving the wooden walls that surrounded her an earthy smell that took her into another world as her eyes bathed in the memory of the night before. Her heart was thumping when she remembered how his body felt against hers, how his hands roamed her body as if she were a temple. Willow couldn’t suppress the giggle that bubbled from her chest, her delicate hand covering her face for a mere moment…
“My my…what do we have here?” a familiar…teasing…voice broke her concentration as her hand dropped to cover her smile. The room heated with steam as the magic rose from the water, making her hum in annoyance. Dorian couldn’t mask his amusement as he stepped into the candle light. “Am I interrupting? Or were you waiting for me to find you?” his smirk never faded as he pulled up a chair to sit beside the tub. His forearms resting as he leaned forward.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about” she mused, folding her arms over her chest. Not because she was shy in front of him, but rather to match his teasing posture.
“Oh please my dear, I saw the glance you gave me in the court yard. You were practically begging me to follow you” he flicked some of the heating water towards her, the mischievous glint in his eye on full display. “Of course…being a gentlemen and all…I left you to have a moment to yourself. And clearly…” he trailed off, his eyes taking in her joyful expression “I should have given you more time to yourself”. He chuckled as it was her turn to flick water in his direction with mocked horror.
It was always so easy with Dorian, to be herself and not feel like just the Inquisitor. Ever since they were stuck in that horrible future, she knew that he would be there for her. “There’s no one else I’d rather be stuck in time with” he mused after their ordeal. And Willow couldn’t help but agree with the sentiment. They had shared that burden together, took comfort in each other when nightmares arose in the middle of the night. Even now, there was a calming factor to his presence. He would never allow something to happen to her, nor she him. Willow had even shared a deep secret about herself in a moment of heartache. He swore he would never tell a soul, and she knew he meant it. “Your truth will come out on your terms, not the Inquisitions” she remembered.
“Is…is it wrong to feel this happy? Under the circumstances?” she questioned, her face suddenly falling into worry. Willow knew that it was silly, to be afraid of the glimmer of joy in such a dark time. The love that was blossoming was growing stronger as the days rolled on. But she couldn’t help the pang of guilt. She thought of the life she left behind in Ostwick, a life she so desperately wanted to get back to.
“Willow…” his voice brought her back into reality as he took her hand and held it tight. There was softness in his eyes as he rubbed his thumb over her palm. “You above all deserve any happiness that comes your way. You have all of Thedas on your shoulders and I dare any one to try and question that”. She smiled and pressed her forehead to his hand, thanking the Maker for bringing such a devoted friend into her life. “Now” he coughed and she straightened herself in the tub “what has gotten you in such a good mood?” the glint back as he leaned closer, clearly wanting all the gossip.
“Well…” she sang, getting comfortable once again and resting her elbow on the edge of the tub as she began to retell her steamy memory from the night before. Dorian made a “Wooing” motion, his hand over his forehead and head thrown back as she told him about the Commander throwing everything off his desk and pushing her down on top of the wooden frame. “I always knew he was the rough type of chap” Dorian mused, smirking deviously at Willow, and she couldn’t stop the fit of laughter. She didn’t dare ruin the imagination for him. She couldn’t tell him that it was merely heavy petting and passionate kissing atop the desk. Cullen had felt how she hesitated to go farther and smiled fondly when he pulled back to restrain himself. Willow motioned for his bed to continue the escapade and he happily obliged. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to make love to him in that heated moment, it was more of the right-place-right-time feeling. She wanted their first time to truly be comfortable, but at least he knew now that she truly wanted him and only him.
She entertained him further, leaving out certain details and feeling completely lost in the moment. Willow barely realized the water was starting to cool and the candles dimming as they threatened to go out. Dorian looked smitten with her and she knew his joy for her was genuine. After she told the tale of her triss, they thought to themselves for a moment. Dorian leaned closer, brushing a loose strand behind her ear.
“Are you going to tell him?” he asked gently, not wanting to push.
Willow pursed her lips, her brows furrowed at the thought. “Do…you think he would care?” she asked, her stomach instantly turning to knots.
“I believe our dear Commander would be more understanding then you give him credit for” the words stung, but she knew Dorian was right. “If you truly love him…” but his words were cut off.
The door to the bathhouse swung open, the figure standing in the reflection of the midday sun was rigid. Her cheeks grew hot and her hands instantly covered her face. Cullen. His eyes were wide and mouth gaped lightly at the scene before him. His lips soon turned into a tight line and the sound of Dorian’s laughter made her cringe even more.
As Dorian got up, he placed a hand on her shoulder and leaned forward. “Tell him” he whispered softly, giving her shoulder a squeeze before straightening up. He began to walk towards the door, smirking dreadfully at the Commander.
“Dorian” Cullen spoke with a quick nod and eyes narrow.
The Tevinter just gleamed and patted the other man on the shoulder. “Don’t get her too dirty, she just cleaned up” he quipped while ducking out the door.
“Dorian!” Willow groaned, trying to stifle her laugh at the horror on Cullen’s face.
“You had to tell him?” Cullen growled, shutting the door and locking it as he stepped in.
Wanting to quickly change the subject, Willow stood from the tub and smiled at the success of the distraction. His eyes wandered her naked form, dripping from the cold water. “You can either worry about that…or…you could get us some hot water” her head tilting to the back room with a smirk. As he dropped his things on the near by chair, she stepped out to help clean the tub for the fresh water.
Willow couldn’t help but think about what Dorian had said, the twinge of guilt coming back. She would need to find the right time to tell her darling Commander the truth.
Chapter 2: Morning Bliss
What could possibly ruin this morning?
I fixed the ending to this chapter. Hopefully it's better then the last version.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The early morning sun was beginning to peek through over the mountains and the cool breeze blew the curtains into the open wall length windows. Her head titled to the side, letting out a low sigh as she placed her knuckle between her teeth. Willow peeked her eyes open, peering down her naked body to the golden curls that was nestled between her thighs. Willow smiled brightly; a playful giggle escaped her lips at the feel of his scruff against her skin. The giggle turned into a moan as his lips found her swollen pearl, causing Willow to arch into his mouth. His strong digits soon found their way to her entrance, teasing her before filling her completely. It caused Willow to let out a growl, gasping in pure bliss as she spread her legs further, allowing him to go deeper.
“Cullen” she whimpered, hips bucking against his mouth and fingers. The pleasure coursed through her every nerve and her body heating with lust. Willow was suddenly grateful for the open window. Her right hand found its way into his tussle of blonde hair, pulling him closer to her if that were even possible. His free hand clung to her thigh, lifting her leg so it rested against her abdomen. The new angle causing her to moan louder and hips to grind into him. He hummed against her, clearly taking in her taste and enjoying every moment.
She was grateful for the nights he stayed with her, he knew how hard the last trip was for her. It felt like ever since she returned from the Storm Coast, Cullen had made sure she woke up in pure bliss. She liked to think they were making up for lost time; for the months of flirting and stolen glances. And now, her body was aching for so much more. She craved to have him deep inside, to feel his weight press her into the mattress. “Cullen” she breathed out, reaching down to pull him back up her body.
“But I want to taste you” he growled low as he protested.
They were still exploring each other, finding out the right spots to touch and devour. She was grateful that he was so willing to learn all he could about her body and she was just as devoted. Though, he still seemed rather shy when it came to her turn. But Willow would always reassure him, that she took pleasure in tasting him as he did her. He was always patient with her, realizing that sexuality was still rather new to her. Even if she was rather flirtatious, she was still rather naïve when it came to the matters of the flesh. So she was grateful when he would allow her to explore his body, the trust so evident in his eyes when he watched.
“I know my love” she pressed her lips to his in a hungry kiss, groaning at the taste of her own essence on his tongue. “But I need you” Willow emphasized the last word as her hand cupped his hard cock; her delicate fingers stroking him.
“Fuck” he grunted, thrusting into her hand as she squeezed along his length. Willow couldn’t contain her playful laughter, relishing in the fact that she could get such a reaction out of him. Cullen didn’t swear often, at least not in front of her. So whenever she would get a rise like that out of him, she knew she got him hooked.
Before he could protest any further, Willow hooked her thigh over his waist and began to guide him inside of her. It didn’t take long before he took control, his elbow hooking her knee and lifting it to give him a deeper angle. Her head tilted down, watching as he finally entered her wet folds. They both let out a guttural moan, as he filled her completely with his thick girth. “Oh Willow” her grunted, his length getting used to how tight she was before beginning to pump his hips. Her body was always so reactive to his, as if they were made for each other.
“Don’t stop! Commander don’t you dare stop” the expression on her face showed how close she was. Her walls constricting his length as he found her weak spot with ease and her body writhed from under him. His calloused hand dropped from her thigh to find her swollen bud, rubbing her hard and fast to help her reach her release. Cullen whispered dirty little secrets into her ear, nibbling her lobe as she finally hit her peak. His name bounced off the walls and in that moment she did not care if all of Thedas heard her cries of pleasure. Willow knew it wouldn’t be long until his own end was near. She cupped his firm ass, squeezing him to coax him to climax and soon his body went rigid atop her. Willow trembled as she felt his release, kissing him sloppily as his pace slowed. “Fuck Cullen” her breath was deep, matching his own ragged breath.
“Maker…you’ll be the death of me” he laughed as he pressed his sweaty forehead to her own before sadly rolling off her and onto his back. She always hated when he pulled himself from her, so she rolled onto her side and traced the tip of her fingers along his chest. “Could think of worst ways to go” she mused, smiling warmly at him as he turned to spank her. By this time, the sun was shining brightly through the opened windows and she had to dip her face into the pillow next to him.
“Why couldn’t you have taken time off with me?” she mumbled into the fabric, grumbling when he rolled off the bed. Her scowl grew when she heard his chuckle but she squeaked when he gave her another firm spank. “Because Inquisitor, our new recruits need training” he kissed her shoulder while rubbing her back.
“You could always get Rylen to train them” she pointed out, quirking an eyebrow when she finally looked up at him.
“Maybe I should clarify…the recruits need proper training” his tone was so teasing and his mirth only grew as she threw a pillow at him.
But instead of arguing, she just rolled onto her back and she watched as he began to clean himself up. The smile on his scarred lips never fading as he chanced a glance at her. Willow didn’t bother to clean herself up yet, sliding off the bed to help him with his armor. “Maker…how did I become so lucky?” he sighed, turning around to hold her once more. “I will send food up for you and will come check on you midday” he began to pull his gloves on once she took a seat on the edge of the bed. “Plus, you have your own reports to get back to” his head nodded towards the desk beside the window and chuckled at her scowl. “The morning will go fast if you do not think about it” he came over, kissed her tenderly and had to break away before he found his way back onto the bed with her. He truly loved her and knew better then give her the opportunity to get her way.
“Until then my Commander” she called out, throwing herself on the bed and groaning. “Damn reports” Willow mumbled to herself once the door closed behind Cullen. Of course he was right, the reports staking up on her desk needed to be done and the faster she wrote them, the faster the pile would be no more. Willow pouted once more, groaning as she rolled off the bed and made her way towards her bath to clean herself up for the day. She hummed quietly, throwing a robe over her bare form once the passion of her morning was cleaned. Willow didn’t plan on leaving her room unless there was an emergency, plus she was hoping Cullen would be back later on, so what was the point in dressing?
Her mind began to wander as she combed her hair back into her usual ponytail; thinking back on the choices she made, especially recently with the Charges. Was Iron Bull truly okay? He seemed so distance when they got back to Skyhold; it made her second guess her choice to save the Charges. He was a Qunari after all, the Qun was so important to his people; and now they considered him a traitor. Willow had chosen to take a few days before going back on the road. Her companions needed the rest and she knew she would have to check in with Iron Bull soon. They had become close over the last few months and it was hard for her to think that she caused him any pain. She thought about pulling him and the Charges aside, to have a few drinks that night and just have some fun to forget their stress and sorrows. Willow pulled out a piece of parchment and her quill as she began to write “drinks on me?” to pass along to the Bull and as if on que, there was a knock on her door and she granted permission, expecting it to be a servant with her breakfast. "Good morning" she smiled, turning towards her guest. Willow had rolled up the note and turned to have the message passed along, but was surprised to see the large frame of the Iron Bull instead of a small servant that she had expected. “Bull…what brings you here?”.
The morning had gone by surprisingly quickly for Cullen and he could feel a headache being brought on by the new recruits. How could so many not know how to handle a shield properly? It baffled him so much that Rylen relieved him for lunch before the Commander throttled the next soldier who didn’t hold the shield down. He patted his second on the shoulder and made his way to the main hall to see how his love was fairing. But as he passed the hearth, Cullen stopped in his tracks at the sight before him.
Josephine had been making her way to the Inquisitors chambers when Iron Bull suddenly emerged. His large hand held up in protest, an almost smug look splayed across his face. “Let her rest” Bull beamed to the Antivan and when Cullen looked closer, he could see the Qunari laughing at the perplex expression on Josephine’s face. Feeling the headache becoming stronger and his heart tugging at the mere thought of his precious Willow being with another man, Iron Bull no less, Cullen turned on his heels and headed for his office; his mind racing, thinking of the worst and his own insecurities began to bubble. There had never been a reason the Iron Bull would visit the Inquisitor in her private chambers unless invited. And the darkest of thoughts crept into Cullen’s mind. Was he truly enough? Is this why she had such a hard time opening up to him about her life? He thought back to all the times where he wanted to get to know her better. He would ask Willow of her family and would get snippets here and there about her life before the Inquisition, but it always felt like there was a part of her that she kept hidden. It wouldn’t have bothered him if he hadn’t noticed the little changes in her posture or how she wouldn’t look at him when the subject came up. Willow would always change the topic to his own family, as if her life was nothing special. But Cullen had a nagging suspicion that wasn’t the case at all. She was so special to him and he hoped that one day she would be comfortable enough to share her past with him.
But in that moment, Cullen wasn’t thinking clearly as his mind was clouded with pain and all rational thought was gone. He just kept replaying that smirk across the Bull’s face and scowled to himself. What could have they been doing to cause such an expression? Did Cullen really want to know?
Please let me know how you feel about the ending of this chapter.
Chapter 3: And So It Begins
Willow finds new courage to tell the truth but soon realizes that it’s a different secret that has everyone stirring.
She didn’t know how long she sat there, her fingers idly tracing the shape of the picture as she looked out the window into the departing sun. Her mind had been racing since Bull slipped the envelope on her desk earlier that day, giving her a knowing look. “I was supposed to hand this in to the Ben-Hassreth but…” his deep voice trailed off as he knelt beside her, a large hand resting gently on her back.
“But…?” she asked, her hand reaching for the envelope and finding the contents inside. Her golden eyes drifting from his to the small portrait. Willow’s breath hitched at the sight of it, lips quivered and her stomach dropped. The very blood in her veins went cold as she let out a shaky breath at the realization of what he was gifting her.
“But fuck’em…” there was a hint of knowing in his voice mixed with mirth as he watched Willow carefully. “Think of this as a thank you, boss”.
Tears swelled in her eyes, hands shook as she studied the faces in the portrait. “Bull…” Willow squeaked as she soon found herself lunging at him. Her toned arms encircling his larger neck and he soon found himself returning the hug. Willow could feel her heartbeat in her throat, unable to speak for fear of sobbing. It was such a simple act that shook her very core and she knew it was such a foolish thing to hide from her companions. Especially from her Commander. If Dorian and Iron Bull could understand, why couldn’t everyone else?
She sniffled a few times, turning her head to wipe her tears and mess away before turning back to the Charger. Her right hand gracefully cupping his cheek and furrowed her brow at a sudden thought. “Won’t they send more assassins for keeping this?”. Willow was unsure what to make of his nonchalant attitude as he shrugged his large shoulders at the question. “You take care of loose ends when something like this falls in your lap. I made a choice” a small smile pulled at the corner of his lips. “I chose my boss”. Willow laughed quietly and kissed him on the cheek.
“Thank you Bull…truly”
“Only one to thank here is you. You saved my men”. It was such a simple statement between the two of them.
“Well…if it wasn’t for the Commander, you’d be getting more then just a kiss on the cheek” the playfulness in her tone caused Bull to chuckle, his grin growing ever wider.
“Who said he couldn’t join in?” his voice grew deep and his eye suggestive.
“Bull!” she laughed, smacking his shoulder at the mere thought. “Though…it would be quite funny to see his reaction!” Cullen wouldn’t be able to handle such a request, which made the two laugh for a few minutes as they simultaneously thought of the scene playing out in their minds.
They fell into a comfortable silence, relishing in the knowledge that their bond and trust had grown over the past couple of months. Willow tried to keep things even among her companions, taking everyone equally the best she could. But of course, she couldn’t help but favor the Bull and his Charges a bit more then the others.
“You should tell him” his baritone voice broke the lingering silence as he stood tall before her. “Maybe not my…or should I say our offer” Bull smirked as she rolled her eyes and chuckled at him; but he placed his hand on her shoulder and offered her a coaxing squeeze. He didn’t need to say anything more as he turned back to the main hall, a knowing smile still plastered on his lips. Willow sighed and held the picture to her heart, turning from the chair and laying on the bed as she began to think of different ways of telling her Commander.
Willow had just begun making her way down the main hall for dinner when Josephine stopped her abruptly at the door. The Antivans arm stretched out with an annoyed expression. “We must meet now. I have been waiting all day to speak with you!” Josephine was so flustered that she didn’t bother formally addressing Willow like she normally would.
“Why didn’t you just come up?” the Inquisitor looked puzzled, had she not given her counsellors permission to enter whenever they needed something?
“I would have…” Josephine fidgeted as she dropped her arm to let Willow pass. “But Iron Bull said that...you needed to rest” her voice was strained and Willow let out a gentle sigh and began to follow Josephine into the war room, not giving Josephine’s explanation any thought.
“Are Cullen and Leliana ready?”
“Leliana yes, but we are still waiting on the Commander”.
“Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Cullen since this morning” Willow was mostly talking to herself as she pushed open the heavy doors to the war room, propping it open in a kindly fashion for Josephine to enter first.
“Yes well, you’ll see him shortly” Josephine stepped around the large mapped table and took her place beside their spy master.
“Nice for you to finally join us, Inquisitor” Leliana chastised mildly, her hands placed promptly behind her back.
Willow’s head rolled back, letting out yet another sigh. “You were all given permission for a reason, let me rest yes, but not all bloody day if it is this urgent”.
The loud bang of the door startled the three women, turning their attention to their brooding fourth. His eyes locked down at a piece of paper, not greeting them like he usually would.
Willow ignored the lack of eye contact and greeted Cullen with a warm smile, but it soon dropped when he barely even waved a hand in her direction. Today must have gone worse then she thought.
“Can we get on with this meeting? I have other things that need to be done” he had the bridge of his nose pinched between his fingers, clearly in no mood for anyone.
“Yes well…” Josephine began and held out a piece of parchment for Willow to take. “Your family is on their way for a visit. They said the letters are comforting but would rather see you in person”.
“What!?” she barked, snatching the letter and reading it line for line, thrice.
“We need to make preparations right away”
“They’ll be here in a fortnight” Leliana chimed in.
“This is not something you just keep from me! You should have stormed into my room!” Willow’s eyes were bulging from her head, heart pitter-pattering against her ribs.
“I did not want to cross the Iron Bull’s request” Josephine said sheepishly, a light blush coming across her cheeks.
Cullen snorted then and the three of them looked at him.
“Is this funny to you Cullen?” Willow demanded, feeling suddenly queasy that she didn’t have the time like she thought.
“So now my feelings matter?” he accused, eyes narrowing in a cold stance with her.
“What is that supposed to mean?” she couldn’t help but wonder if he knew.
“Now is not the time you two” Leliana was not impressed but Willow was not backing down.
“Well Cullen?” Willow crossed her arms, standing firm with him.
“I don’t see how my feelings are suddenly something that matter to you, Inquisitor. Not when you have the Bull to be there for you now. I saw the merry look in his eye and his smug grin as he emerged from your chambers”. The words stung at the realization of what he was accusing her of. Willow looked at the other two women and noticed that neither of them could look her in the eye, clearly thinking the same as Cullen.
“You really think that low of me, Commander?” she didn’t hide the pain in her voice as she stared at the man who had stolen her heart. The only man. “You think I’d play with your emotions like that?” her voice began to rise as the portrait that was placed in her breast pocket grew heavier. His expression changed in a mixture of emotions, turning away from her as she slammed her hands against the side of the table. “Maybe everyone else was wrong!” she barked, the unnoticed tears streamed down her cheeks. “Maybe you wouldn’t understand”.
Willow turned and left without another thought, her face buried in her hands as she raced towards the room in shame and heartache. How could their morning of bliss turn into such a nightmare? How could Cullen think she would ever share her bed, let alone her heart with anyone but him?
Cullen stood motionless, staring at the fleeting rogue with a hand stretched out towards her. “What have I done?” he breathed, the pain in his head growing even worse as he chastised himself. The annoyance of his day and the dark thoughts had taken over, and in a moment his happiness was gone by his own hand.
“Go after her” Josephine seethed, pushing his shoulder with aggression that he didn’t know she contained.
“Or leave her be” Leliana countered.
“How could he leave her be?” Josephine gapped at the nightingale.
Leliana quirked a brow. “Didn’t you question it you too?”
“Shhh!” Josephine grumbled and shot Leliana a knowing look.
“But I saw…” Cullen broke off, his stomach falling out as he leaned against the table now, his head bowed in shame. How could he have been so stupid? So stubborn? “I saw him leave and…” he was mostly talking to himself now but still felt the push of the Antivan.
“Go after her!” she demanded again and he knew he had to listen. Clearly something had spooked Willow and he should have pushed his pride aside to be there for her.
“But what are we to do about the Trevelyans?” Josephine asked, mostly to Leliana now.
“Simple, we make arrangements”
“What?” Cullen asked, completely forgetting why they were even called to the war council.
“Never you mind, go after the Inquisitor” Josephine shooed him off again and he didn’t waste any time to leave the room.
As he made his way towards Willow’s room, he hoped to the Maker that she would forgive him. And if not, he would do all it took to earn her forgiveness.
Thanks to the lovely Lara for helping proof read this chapter!
And I’m sorry it took so long to update!
Chapter 4: Antici-
As Cullen and Willow work through their misunderstanding, the time for the truth has finally come.
Willow had sunk to the floor, her back pressed against the frame of her bed as she faced the wall furthest from the door. Her head hung as she let the tears fall freely from her burning amber eyes. How had this day turned into such a nightmare? It had started so promising and hopeful; her personal life was beginning to blossom with Cullen, her courage to be open with him almost bursting from her chest. She never thought she deserved someone so noble and caring. Ever since her accident, no one in Ostwick deemed her worthy of marriage, or even a second glance. Her father practically hid her away in shame from the rest of the world, as if her scar was a sign of failure. The fact that he even let her train to begin with had been a blessing, and with one mistake, he took it away from her.
She knew from an early age what her role in the family was supposed to be. Willow was to follow her older siblings example, to be prim and proper and carry on the family legacy. She was to build a strong bridge through marriage and remain quiet when it came to the Game. Her father never liked how outspoken she was, he had to beg her to just stand and ‘look pretty’ at the balls. Any confidence she felt in herself was snuffed out with a single glare. But, it was always her mother, Elizabeth Trevelyan, who encouraged her to be the woman she was meant to be. She never wanted her daughter to feel stifled or let her light be snuffed out by her overbearing husband. Willow remembered that once she was healed, her mother pushed her to continue her duelling lessons. Elizabeth would disguise the training to her father as dance lessons and he never thought of second guessing his wife.
Willow would always be so grateful for those days and a sense of dread washed over her. A fortnight. That’s how long she had to prepare herself until her family’s arrival.
She placed her head in the palms of her hands as a new wave of tears escaped her. How long had it been since she saw her family in person? Before the conclave. Yes, she had written to her brother and sisters, but seeing them again was a whole other thing. Would her father be coming too? That thought made her queasy, she was not on good terms with Bann Trevelyan.
But as her mind raced with possibilities, there was a soft knock on her door. She didn’t acknowledge the knock since she knew who it was.
“Willow?” his strained voice called to her and her heart sunk even further.
“Willow, please”. She pulled her knees to her chest and shut her eyes.
The silence dragged on as Willow went back and forth between letting him in or shutting him out. But she knew what her heart wanted and let out a shaky huff.
“The door’s open” her voice sounded louder and shorter than she intended.
There was another silent pause before she heard a click from the door and the heaviness of amour. Her jaw clenched and head bowed once more, unsure of what her first words to Cullen were going to be.
He didn’t approach her right away, his tired eyes never leaving her form as he watched her. The coldness of the room broke his train of thought as he looked towards the dimming firelight. Quietly, he shrugged off his mantel and folded it neatly on her desk before kneeling down to spark the flame back to life. He was grateful for the quick distraction, allowing him that moment to reflect on what to say.
When he was satisfied with the fire, Cullen stood and finally made his way towards the bed. His hand resting on the wooden frame, trying to assess the mood. Willow did not budge, other than to turn her head slightly to look at him.
“May…may I?” he asked for approval, clearing his throat of the lump that was forming.
She gave a curt nod and looked towards the wall as he clumsily sat beside her. His stomach turned as he caught a glimpse of her smirk at his awkwardness. Cullen sighed softly, relieved that he could still have some positive effect on her after the fiasco in the war room. He had been chastising himself the moment the accusations had left his lips and he desperately hoped that he did not mess up.
“Willow…” Cullen whispered her name as if it were a prayer, his body leaning forward so his focus was solely on her. “There is no excuse for how I acted…for the accusations…” his jaw clenched as he noticed the way she flinched at his words.
“I’d never do that to you…” she breathed after what felt like an eternity of silence. “Have I not made my intentions clear?” she asked, brows furrowed as she dared a true glance at him. Cullen felt his heart ache and stomach knot.
“Yes you have…and for me to doubt…Makers breath” he cursed, this time he had been the one flinching from her. “I’m such a fool”. His hands were balled into tight fists and soon his forehead was pressed firmly against them. Cullen was used to failed attempts at romance, never being able to connect with someone on a deeper level. He wanted someone who would understand him, who would see past his flaws and realize he was just a man underneath it all. Cullen wasn’t just a Templar nor was he just a Commander. He was a farm boy, a shy chess lover, perhaps even a victim of his past. No. He knew better than that; he knew he could have been better than what became of him back in Kirkwall. Those decisions will haunt him and he wondered if Willow could handle that truth. Would she accept him if she knew how he sunk into the depths of darkness? Would she understand how she was his shimmer of light in that darkness? There was only one way to know, he had to tell her the truth.
But as he was debating on how exactly to tell her, he felt her small hand rest against his arm. Clearly he had been struggling more then he had realized. How in Thedas was she the one comforting him? Willow was the wounded party, not him.
“I will do anything with in my power to earn your forgiveness” he pleaded, his larger hand coming to rest on hers and felt so grateful that she didn’t pull away.
“I…I understand what it must have looked like” her lip trembled ever so slightly, and Maker he wanted to kiss her until it stopped. And before he could protest, she quickly moved on to what she had to say. “But…what hurt the most…is the way you looked at me. As if…as if you had made a mistake…with me” her voice grew to but a whisper and her eyes swelled with new found tears.
“Maker no!” Cullen didn’t hesitate as his hands reached for her arms, pulling her into his strong embrace and he didn’t dare let her go. His heart shattered with every sob, his hand running down her reddish brown locks. “Willow…how could I ever think of your love as a mistake?” his eyes shut tight in fear of his own tears spilling out. He needed to be strong, he needed her to know that he would be there for her. Always. Cullen pressed his scarred lips to her hair, rocking her gently. He repeated how sorry he was, that he was a fool for hurting her, that he loved her. Cullen didn’t know how long they sat there for, and frankly he didn’t care. He would hold her for every moment of his life and praise the very ground she walked on if it meant he had earned any ounce of forgiveness from her.
When Willow was confident enough that her voice would not break, she slowly moved away from him and wiped her cheeks with her sleeve. His hand still rested on her back, not wanting to part from her just yet. His reassuring announcements of love and pleas had tamed the ache in her heart. If she was being honest with herself, Willow had forgiven him the moment she heard the knock on the door. And she would forgive him every time after that. She just hoped that he would forgive her now.
“There…there was a reason Bull was here…” he stiffened at her words now and she reached to dig into her breast pocket. “It was sort of a thank you gift…for saving the Charges. He was supposed to report this to the Ben-Hassrath…but chose not to”.
Willow felt sick and she closed her eyes as she passed the tiny portrait to Cullen. “I have a daughter, Cullen” her voice was strained and pain shot through her as she heard his intake of breath. “She just had her first name day…and will be here in a fortnight”.
Hope you like the cliffhanger! Comments and kudos are welcomed
Chapter 5: -pation
Cullen finally learns of Willow's secret and wants to know more about her past. But is he really ready for the truth?
I'm so sorry for taking as long as I did in updating the story! I know the ending of Chapter 4 was a huge cliffhanger. But I hope it was worth the wait <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I have a daughter” was the last thing he remembered hearing as he stared at the small portrait, unknowing what to say or even how to react to this news. He never would have guessed that this was what she was holding back from him. Cullen had a feeling that Willow had kept secrets, she rarely ever spoke of her family or her life before the Conclave. He of course had no room to judge however, since he barely spoke of his own family or was upfront about his past. But never in his wildest imaginations would he have thought that Willow had a baby. His eyes studied the young babe now, trying to spot the similarities between the two. He knew the likeness would be stronger in person since the keepsake was too small to include more detail of the two of them.
“Well that’s…something” was all he could muster. His throat felt dry and tight and he hadn’t realized that his jaw was clenched. Cullen was not angry, more concerned and worried of what impact this news would have on his own life. Then it hit him.
“The…the father…” his brows furrowed and hand clenched for a moment as he turned to look at her. There was sadness in her eyes and a hint of something else. “Where is he? Is he…no longer with us? Or…will he be joining us with the rest of your family?” Cullen didn’t intend to sound so put off, nor did he want to feel hopeful that the baby’s father was deceased. But it was better than the alternative.
“I wish” she mumbled, slumping back against the bed and he had no intention to hide his shock.
“Wh…what? You wished he were coming?”
“No. I wished he were dead. Would be much simpler to explain to her when she’s older”. Willow crossed her arms across her abdomen, turning her head stubbornly.
“That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?” he reasoned. Cullen had a harder time wrapping his mind around her words. When did she become so spiteful? “What happened for you wish death upon the father of your child?” the words for some reason tasted bitter on his tongue. He wondered if he even wanted to know about this man, if he wanted to know of her past lovers. But if it would help him understand her better, he would have to suck it up.
“You honestly want to know?” she sounded bewildered.
“I wouldn’t have asked”
Willow let out a huff and closed her eyes. She still didn’t turn to look at him as she spoke, instead she fiddled with her fingers and bit her lip. He would wait all night if he had to, he could tell that maybe she needed to get her story out before she exploded.
“You have to understand my father first” Willow reached up and touched her scar and he watched curiously. “After my accident my father said that I wouldn’t find a man to love me” her words ripped at his stomach and he felt a flash of rage. But Cullen stayed calm and did not speak. “He was all about appearances and forming alliances with the nobles around Ostwick or across Ferelden. So when his youngest daughter wasn’t presentable any more…well he would rather hide me away and act as thought I didn’t exist”. Her tone was calm, as if she had practiced this a hundred times before. “I never thought I was appealing, so I barely gave a second thought to what others thought of me after”. That sounded more like the Willow he knew. She hated nobles maybe as much as he did.
“However, during one of my fathers many balls…things…changed? There was a young man there, he was tall with dark brown hair and sea blue eyes. I admired him from afar, keeping my father’s words close at heart. I never thought he would ever glance my way…until he did”. Her eyes were glazed over as she continued and he wondered if she thought of this man often. “He was the first man in my life that gave me hope. Hope that my father was wrong. Hope of a life filled with love. It wasn’t long until I…gave myself to him” her brows furrowed and she bit her bottom lip. “I was so caught up in being admired…in being wanted. I gave in and tossed all reason aside for love. It happened only twice and then he had to leave to visit family…” she sighed and rubbed her forehead. Cullen wasn’t sure he liked where the story was going.
“What then?” his voice was soft and he couldn’t help but place his hand on her knee, encouraging her to continue.
“I found out I was with child only a few weeks later” her lips turned up in a slight smile and then frowned. “I was delighted when he returned just a few days later. I hadn’t spoken to anyone about it, not even my mother. Yet, when he came home, he did not come for me. I waited until I couldn’t contain my excitement any longer. I came to his home and he looked…put off?” she questioned and he realized it was to herself now and not so much him. Her voice became more irritated as she continued. “He kept shushing me, begging me to go home before I was found with him. I was so confused and kept trying to make him listen. I blurted out the news of that I was with child and he paled then grew angry” her fist clenched then and her face turned from him. “He told me that I would ruin everything…that…that…he was already promised to another”. The realization hit Cullen in the stomach.
“How…when?” he didn’t know how to form the question. She answered anyways.
“He had already been promised to another and had been looking for someone easy to bed. He called it ‘practice’ and I happen to be the easiest prey. The unwanted Trevelyan daughter who would fall for anyone. The other nobles put him on to it. And I fell…like a fool”. Willow dipped her head in shame and he could tell she still struggled with the deception. It hadn’t happened that long ago and his heart sunk. How could she have been used in such a way? This incredible, talented, kind, brave, extraordinary woman. “I should have listened to my father. I should have realized that no one in Ostwick could ever love me. And now…now with a child…I was an even bigger fool then. My father shipped me off to my aunts until the baby was born. He said he was too ashamed to even look at me. Of course my siblings and mother fought to keep me home. But he would not listen. Father always said I was a fool…and I suppose he was right”.
“The only fool in this story is that boy and your despicable father”. Cullen would not have her question her self worth.
When she turned to look at him, with fresh tears in her eyes, he cupped her cheeks and stroked the tears away. His thumb resting on her scar, caressing the skin softly. “You are beautiful, Willow. You are the most stunning woman I have ever met.” He didn’t need to hear the rest, he just needed her to know that she was loved. “Whatever happens. Whatever life you wish to live; I will be here. My love for you could never falter” Despite this news, despite what she thought, he loved her. He loved her for exactly who she was and would spend the rest of his life proving that to her. Cullen wasn’t sure how things would be with the baby, if he even knew how to care for one. But he knew he would at least try; and he hoped that was enough.
He leaned over and pressed a single kiss to her scar and he felt her sob. The breath she had been holding was let out in a cry the moment his lips met her skin. Cullen whispered reassuring words and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. He held her tightly, hoping she felt safe. When Willow finally slipped her own arms around him, there was a sense of hope that she believed him.
“I love you, Willow” he didn’t expect her to say it back but he needed her to hear it. He was in love with her and nothing nor no one could change that.
“I love you too Cullen, so much” she said it as if it were a prayer and he knew that they could get through anything together.
When his body finally began to protest to sitting on the ground for so long, he made a point to lift her as he stood, not wanting to break the contact between them. Willow wrapped her arms around his neck, nuzzling her face into his chest and he combed his fingers through her hair. He smiled slightly and let out a mixture of a groan and a chuckle as a sudden thought crossed his mind.
“What?” she asked with a perplex expression and he couldn’t help but smile.
“We only have a fortnight to baby proof the entire Keep. Maker help us”.
Also, the titles of Chapter 4 and 5 were inspired by The Rocky Horror Picture Show! Pretty good, eh?
Chapter 6: Gearing Up
Now that Cullen knows about little baby Faye, it's time for Willow to get the courage to tell her crew. She has a plan, but will it work?
Willow grumbled quietly to herself as she sat in bed, thumb between her teeth, elbows rested against her knees and the sheets pooled around her waist. She had been so caught up with revealing her secret to Cullen that she completely forgot about how she was going to tell the rest of her companions. Dorian and Bull already knew and she’d have to rope them into helping her. Does she send out a letter? Throw a surprise party? She loved the people she worked with; she trusted them with her life. But how in Thedas is she expected to open her soul? Makers Breath, she had a hard time telling the man she loved! Having a child was a blessing, but it also has a lasting effect on other people’s lives. Even her siblings were unsure of the steps taken place to help raise Faye. Benjamin had just gotten married when she revealed her pregnancy and only now started a family of his own. Sylvia was utterly distraught that her little sister was the first of the four to have a child. The thought of Willow being the first even outweighed that she had a child out of wedlock. Elijah. Well…Elijah was hopeless. The responsibilities of being the “spare” male in the family were never taken seriously. He was the second youngest and didn’t feel the weight of the family like the others. Mostly because the rest of the siblings knew Ben could take on the challenge of being Bann Trevelyan when his time came.
Willow snorted to herself “Bann Ben Trevelyan” she muttered in amusement. She’d have to tease him about it when he arrived. Elijah would like that one.
As she schemed up ways to tell the others, she suddenly realized something. “Leliana!”
The large frame beside her jumped as she woke him with her exclamation. He grumbled disapprovingly and she winced, giving him a shy apologetic smile when he turned to glare at her. “What are you on about?”
“Leliana must know of Faye. She is our Spymaster after all. She could let them read the report of my family coming! But she could re-write it so it includes Faye” Willow rolled so she was laying on Cullen’s back who let out a huff. Her cheek pressed firmly to his warm shoulder blade. “She could do all the work” she didn’t mean to let that part slip out.
“Just take them to the tavern, buy a few rounds and tell them” his face was half buried in the pillow, mumbling the words. “Now get back to bed, woman”. She giggled and kissed his shoulder, rethinking of the new plan.
“Yes. Get Leliana to send an invite-“
This time, Cullen raised his head and looked at her the best he could. “These are your soldiers. No. Your companions. Tell them to meet you at the tavern at a specific time, have food and drinks ready. Stop making it complicated.” She could tell he was slightly annoyed, so she kissed his shoulder again.
“You’re right. We’ll meet them at the tavern” Willow couldn’t help but give his bottom a swat, teasing him as she was rearing to get ready for the day.
“We? Who said anything about we?” he buried his face back in the pillow, cursing Andreste.
“Because you are the love of my life and I need the support…?” she let the sentence hang in the air as a question, hoping it would butter him up.
Cullen was silent for a few moments.
“And here I thought Dorian was the love of your life” he teased.
“Okay, okay. You are the third love of my life.”
“THIRD!?” Cullen pulled the pillow from under his head and tried to smack her lightly with the plush object. Willow giggled and rolled out of the way but to no prevail as the pillow connected with the top of her head, mussing her hair. He wasn’t done with her yet though. For such a large frame, he moved quickly. Cullen had his arm around her waist in no time, dragging her so her back was against his chest. “How dare you push me down to compliment Dorian’s large ego!” he let out a chuckle as he began to tickle Willow in the ribs. She squirmed and laughed harder each time; he was not letting her leave so easily.
“Mercy! MERCY!” she yelped, her face turning red and tears prickled her eyes as she continued to laugh from the tickling.
Some how Willow was able to shuffle out of his arms and fell off the bed upside down, her feet still perched up on the bed. When she thought she could catch her breath, Cullen grabbed hold of her feet.
“I’m not through with you yet, Inquisitor!”
“Maker, no!” she gasped, wondering how he ever figured out her weak spot. At this point, she was more concerned she would kick him in the face. But he was relentless to make her suffer. Maybe it was from scaring him awake or the teasing. Either way, she was paying for it now. Her lungs heaved and back arched as his calloused fingered danced across the pad of her foot. When she tried to push his pec away with the free one, he locked his arm around it to hold it against his side. Their laughter filled the room and she could only imagine the look on everyone’s face.
“I’ll go to the tavern alone!” Willow some how managed to blurt out when he gave her a chance to breath. The mischievous look in his eye made it clear that was not the answer he was looking for. His long fingers twitched, teasing her with another tickle attack. “Okay, okay, okay!” her hands raised in protest as she laughed again. “You’re my…only love?” his eyebrows raised as if wondering himself whether or not the answer was good enough.
“That’ll do” he lifted her legs up so she could flip herself over on the floor. His laughter made her heart flutter. It felt different with him, lighter. As if the weight of her secret was now lifted and she could truly be herself with him. Of course, there was a lot of healing left from the harsh words of her father, but she knew it would be easier with Cullen by her side.
He was lying on his stomach now, looking down as she lay on the floor on her back. Smiling, she pushed herself up, and kissed him easily. Willow could feel his stumble on her nose, causing her to grin against his lips. Her arm reached up to hook around his neck and his strong hands gripped her sides. It wasn’t long until Cullen had her back on the bed and was hovering over her, trying not to put his full weight against her. Their lips pressed in little pecks soon turned into a prolonged kissed. The morning sun gave a golden glow across the room and along his body.
“How did I get so lucky?” she mumbled, not wanting to pull her lips away from his just yet.
“I thought that was my line?” he mused, there was so much love in his eyes. Before, it would have terrified her. But now, she embraced it and hoped he could see the same amount of love in her own. They stayed like this for some time, kissing ever so softly and pulling away just to tease one another.
“If we are going to the tavern tonight, I’ll need to get some work done” he sighed finally, giving her own rear a spank as he got up and stretched to face the day.
“Is it we, now?” she cocked an eyebrow up at him.
“It always has been” Cullen gave his own eyebrow a quirk as he shook his head. “You keep laying there like that though, we’ll never leave the room”.
“That such a bad idea?” she thought out loud, her eyes roaming his body as he stood above her.
It took every ounce of energy for Willow to get out of bed after Cullen pried himself away. “Dumb reports” she muttered to herself as she made her way down to the main hall. Varric was standing in his usual spot by the fire. Her first target.
“Varric!” she called out as she approached him, butterflies filling her stomach with nerves.
Varric looked up and smiled wide as she approached “Well hey there, Giggles”.
“Giggles?” she looked at him in bewilderment.
“Shouldn’t it be obvious?” and that was all he had to say. Her face heated in embarrassment. All of Skyhold really did hear her.
“Um…yes. Yes it was” she squared her shoulders and coughed, wanting to move on from the topic. At least he wasn’t calling her Moans. “I was wondering if you want to come for drinks tonight?” Willow thought it was best to move right along.
“Sure, why not? Could even get the cards together for some Wicked Grace. Talk about the tourney coming up!” he nudged her arm and smiled brightly.
Oh right. The tourney. Damn.
“Can’t wait! You and Blackwall will need to tell me who will be competing” she raised a finger up to stop him from continuing “tonight! At drinks. I mean the tavern. For drinks” Willow stumbled awkwardly as she backed her way towards Solas’ entrance.
Varric just chuckled and waved her off. “Until tonight, Giggles”. She might curse him for it, but Willow was just grateful to finally have a nickname. She’d never let anyone know that she had been waiting on one since they met.
Willow composed herself before entering Solas’ room and was completely floored when she walked in. He had painted almost the entire wall, right up towards the ceiling. Her honey eyes widened as she spun to take in the beauty of it.
“I had no idea you painted, Solas” Willow needed to spend more time with the elf. She felt bad for never warming up to him. The concept of being friends with spirits, besides Cole, was so foreign to her. She couldn’t relate to Solas but she knew she should at least try. As she went to say something more, her attention was grabbed by a light snore. Her cheeks reddened.
Solas was fast asleep on his little couch, one arm dangled off the edge and head titled slightly.
“Sorry” she mouthed, creeping her way towards his table to write him a little note.
Tavern? Drinks? Company?”
“Would love for you to join us for drinks”
Willow nodded in approval, scratching the first note out before placing the more suitable one beside him. It didn’t take her long to make her way up to the library where Dorian always was.
“I’ll see you at the tavern for drinks” her finger pointed towards him as she walked by, giving him a playful wink.
“Of course my dear! Can’t have a party without me there, now can you?” Dorian barely looked up from his reading, but she could see his smile. She loved that man.
She of course wanted to make sure the advisors were invited as well, she wouldn’t be where she was today with out them. Leliana would already know, but she deserved the opportunity to be invited, to hear about Faye from her instead of hearing it from her agents. Willow took the final flight of stairs two at a time to the top of the tower and she couldn’t resist the urge to peek through the opening to make sure the Nightingale wasn’t busy. The tall ginger haired woman stood tall as she read a piece of parchment, her expression never faltering as Willow came near.
“What can I do for you, Inquisitor?” her thick Orliesan accent greeted her in a cool fashion.
“Well, I was thinking that we could have a night of fun. Have some drinks” Willow thought it best to be straightforward when asking. There was nothing suspicious about having some drinks with friends, colleagues. They had already played Wicked Grace and she knew the crew was rearing up for more.
“Shouldn’t we be preparing for your family’s arrival?” the other woman questions, looking up at her finally.
“Maybe that’s what this is all about” Willow replied, wondering if she should some come out and say it now.
“You wish to discuss your family over drinks? Isn’t that rather informal?”
Willow shrugged and bit her lip. “If it were just about my siblings and possible father coming…then perhaps. But…”
“But…? This is not just about them, no?”
Taking a big breath, Willow shook her head. “I should have told you sooner, Leliana. But, I have a daughter. She will be coming with the rest of my family. I haven’t told many” her finger twirled against the table that Leliana was now leaning against.
“I see” was all she said.
Willow finally looked up, wondering what she would say next.
“I’d be happy to attend. Thank you”
“That’s it?” Willow questioned, looking rather shocked.
“What more is there to say? You have told me in person, though, I wish it were sooner. I could have prepared you more for Josie’s reaction” there was the slightest hint of a smile on Leliana’s lips.
“Josephine? Why would you need to prepare me for her?”
“Let’s just say, all of the clothes in Val Royeaux will be sold out by the time your daughter arrives. I suggest you tell her how old she is to get it out of the way. I doubt you’ll see Josie for the next fortnight as she prepares”.
Willow felt her stomach drop for a moment. She wouldn’t have a room any more, rather, a very large wardrobe for her daughter. “Oh my…” the thought made her a bit queasy. “Faye will be fine. She doesn’t need all that” Willow was speaking to herself now.
“If you think that, you don’t know Josie very well” the amusement was clear in Leliana’s tone. “I will join you and the others tonight at the tavern. I wouldn’t want to miss this”. And with that, the Spymaster turned and grabbed a report from one of her scout’s hands.
The rest of the morning went smoothly; everyone seemed more than excited to have a relaxing night in. Usually it was always about gearing up for their next mission or Willow wanted to get to know them better. But she quickly came to realize that she never really talked about herself. She was much more interested in their history and stories and didn’t think twice about ever talking about her own. On the rare occasion she would bring up her family, or if she were asked directly, she would give an honest answer but didn’t elaborate. Willow wondered if they would be pleased that she was finally opening up, or if it would bother them. But when Bull gave a knowing smirk and a nod of his head, she thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. If Bull was worried or had concerns about a certain member of the crew, he would have spoken up. Even Leliana would put her two cents in like she had with Josephine. There was only one way to find out, and she would just have to lay it all out and hope that she wouldn’t loose her entire crew.
I honestly had so much fun writing this chapter! I wanted it to be more light hearted since the last few chapters were pretty angsty (but I know you all like that!).