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A Second Chance

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“I dared Cullen to marry me. Honestly, I didn’t think he’d actually do it,” I laughed over the rim of my cup.

“Andraste’s tits, that’s how it happened?” Sera said as she shrieked with laughter to my side.

“Darling, is that really true?” Vivienne said, restraining a laugh. “You truly deserve better than a proposal done on a dare.”

“When did it even happen? Was it on the desk?” Sera giggled.

“You all remember those few days before we went off to the Winter Palace, right? For that council thing?” I started to explain.

“At Skyhold? Ah, yes. That week when we got together to discuss our plans for the council,” Josephine said fondly, placing her hand carefully on the table. “The things me and Divine Leliana got up to… well, I suppose they could be considered unholy, now.” She smiled at Leliana from across the table, and I swear I could see the former Spymaster blushing.

“Ambassador, do not tell me that you and Leliana…” Cassandra gasped with a hint of drunkenness in her voice. “Maker.”

“No! We are merely friends…” Josephine blushed, turning her face back to me. “What happened with Cullen, Inquisitor?” She said quickly, avoiding eye contact.

“It started as some cute pillow talk,” I started again. “and then I said something like - “how funny would it be if we, just, got married?” and at the time, he just laughed a bit - you know Cullen - but then, well, you know the rest of that story.”

I glanced around at the room of shocked faces and managed a sheepish smile. Josephine put her head in her hands, while Vivienne stared at me with possibly the most disappointed face I had ever seen in my years of knowing her. Sera was overcome with laughter once again, making my face turn even redder.

“Inquisitor, you must fix this, you know.” Leliana sighed, pushing her dinner aside.

“I told you, Leliana, you don’t have to call me that anymore…”

“She’s right.” Vivienne interjected. “Darling, this may be the last time we’re all in the same place.”

She was right, and I hated it. It had been a few months since that day at the Winter Palace, and all of my former Inner Circle (except Solas, of course) had - by some incredible luck - been able to make it to Skyhold for a meeting concerning our futures, contacts, and some other housekeeping that Josephine insisted was of grave importance.

“Well, I mean…” I started to speak before being cut off.

“We already have the venue, really. And I have kept some... useful contacts.” Josephine interrupted with a sparkle in her eye.

“And I have some ways to get your outfit in order,” Leliana chimed in with a rare smile on her face. “I am quite knowledgeable in that area.”

“You would do that all… for me?” I said, tears starting to form in my eyes. I hadn’t realized how strong my bonds with the women in this room had truly become, despite the time and distance that usually separated us.

“Why wouldn’t we, darling?” Vivienne smiled. “You deserve it.”

“I promise I won’t even mess with your commander’s precious hair,” Sera laughed. “probably.”

“Thank you…” I said, tears now running down my face. “I…”

“Let’s get this wedding started, yeah?” Sera cheered. “For Inquisitits!”

“For the Inquisitor,” Cassandra repeated, holding up her mug for a cheer.

“For the Inquisitor!” Josephine gushed as the entire table cheered in my honor, making me feel like the Herald of Andraste again, if only for a moment.

And so, the next day, our planning began.

We had about a week before everyone was scheduled to leave Skyhold for good, and we had to be discreet. Josephine insisted the ceremony be a secret to the male side of the Inquisition until the last moment, citing their meddling natures as a reason. I didn’t dare protest.

Our first step: an officiant. It was Ferelden tradition to have an official chantry member oversee any wedding, and Leliana gracefully accepted the position.

“What will the world say about having the Divine officiate our wedding?” I wondered aloud during our planning.

“They’ll say you will have the most beautiful marriage in Thedas,” responded Leliana.

“I’ll take it.” I laughed. “Even though we’re technically already married…”

“I’ll bless it anyways.” She smiled.

Step two: the venue.

“Would you like flowers, Inquisitor? Or perhaps silks across the ceiling? Ooh, we could install a fountain...” Josephine said cheerfully.

“Yes.”

“I…” She looked at me, confused. “I don’t understand.”

“Josephine, please, I trust your opinion on… everything, really.” I explained. “Take creative liberty.”

“Are you sure?” She gasped, clutching her trademark book to her chest in excitement. “Oh!”

“Yes. Don’t make me regret this.”

Step three: the tailoring.

By this point, a few days had passed, and I was still high off of the idea of being wed to Cullen with all of my friends present. It was a dream come true.

“Inquisitor, I’ve found the perfect dress for you,” Leliana exclaimed, bursting into my old room at Skyhold one morning. “Here, here, try it! Oh, I’m so excited.”

She held out a mid-length white dress that seemed tailored to my figure, along with a small veil and white shoes. I hesitantly took the bundle and went to my closet to try it on.

“How did you get my size so… oh, yeah. Spymaster,” I muttered, walking out of the closet with a small spin and pose.

“Oh, Maker!” Leliana squealed. “It’s perfect.”

The dress draped across my body, framing it perfectly; it made perfect use of my small elvish features, incorporating delicate lace that brought back memories of the Dalish. The shoes were a simple white lined in gold, bringing a quiet elegance to the entire outfit. I had to admit - Leliana really knew what she was doing.

“It is.” I responded with a smile, before a knock at the door rang through my room.

“Love? Are you awake?” A familiar Fereldan accent called out from below.

“Shit.” I whispered, shooting a panicked glance at Leliana.

“No, I’m not!” Leliana called out, her face caught somewhere between mischievous and nervous.

“Is that… Leliana? Perhaps I should return later.” Cullen responded, and I could feel the look of confusion that was on his face.

“Maker preserve us,” I whispered under my breath.

Step four: tell Cullen?

By the end of the week I was off my high and knee deep in literal terror. Cullen must’ve thought I was crazy - we were laying in bed the day before the wedding when he finally asked me:

“What are you hiding from me?”

“What?” I said, my ears perking up. “Nothing!”

“Darling…” He put his hand on mine, turning to look straight into my eyes. “Please.”

“How funny would it be if we just, got married?” I blurted out, my cheeks burning a bright red.

“I’m… sorry?”

“Um, well, funny story…” Panic was rising in my voice. I guess I hadn’t really considered Cullen in this whole situation, and now I was growing more and more worried that he wouldn’t be okay going through with a second marriage ceremony on literally one day’s notice. “Please don’t be mad.”

“Darling…” He started to talk, but stopped. His face was a mix of confusion and… was that a smile?

“Y… yes?”

“I don’t… quite understand, but I trust you.” He smiled, pulling me into an embrace.

“Oh, okay, good.” I sighed, relief filling my body. “Make sure to dress nice tomorrow and be at the war room by noon.”

“T… tomorrow?” He stammered. “Oh, Maker.”

“Hey, you signed up for this!” I shot back, trying to laugh it off.

“I suppose I did.” He said with a chuckle. “Alright.”

That night was uneventful, thankfully.

And so it came: the day of the ceremony. I left Cullen early in the morning, departing back to my own personal quarters to prepare myself for the day ahead.

“Oh, darling, you look positively marvelous,” Vivienne smiled as I stepped out of my closet in full wedding attire.

“Thank you.” I whispered sheepishly. “How’s the hall looking?” I looked to the sky outside my bedroom; the sun hung high in the sky, meaning we had little time before the ceremony was set to begin.

“Beautiful. Don’t worry about it.” Leliana said calmly. “Josephine is a competent planner, I assure you.”

Before I knew it, I was standing outside the doors to the main hall of Skyhold, holding a bouquet of roses, ready to have a real wedding with the love of my life.

Josephine stood at my side, holding my hand as my maid of honor. The doors slowly opened, revealing the crowd of friends and family inside. We started down the aisle as I took in my surroundings - flowers of all different kinds were beautifully placed around the hall, delicate music echoed through my ears - it was like walking into the most expensive palace in Orlais. I was left speechless.

As I walked forward, I saw all of my friends in the crowd: my Inner Circle (Bull was even wearing a shirt!), a few elves from my clan, even Mia and the rest of Cullen’s family were there. I think I saw one of Leliana’s nugs in a tux, too.

Then I saw him: Cullen Stanton Rutherford, standing in a beam of light, his golden curls shining in the sun. He was dressed elegantly in his own tuxedo, and looking at him made me fall in love all over again. My heart flew out of my chest and I almost lost my balance from how much I loved that man.

I found myself at the altar, suddenly face to face with him as Leliana stood between us, in full Chantry garb.

“Cullen Stanton Rutherford, we have gathered here to watch you make a promise,” Leliana began.

“Yes,” Cullen whispered, beaming at me. “I swear unto the Maker and the holy Andraste to love this woman for the rest of my days.” He paused for a quick moment before continuing. “I love you, so, so much.”

Leliana turned to me and nodded with a smile.

“I swear unto the Maker and the Gods above to love this man for the rest of my days, and anything thereafter.” I smiled, tears forming at my eyes. “I love you, Cullen.”

We stared at each other, grinning like lovestruck fools; until a voice in the crowd that sounded suspiciously like Sera yelled out: “Just kiss, you idiots!”

And for the first time, he kissed me, unabashedly, publically; he embraced me without a damn given for who might see us. The world blurred around us as we kissed, and the booming of our friends cheering us on and the chorus of aw’s and ooh’s coming from the audience seemed to be worlds away.

I felt Cullen run his arms around me, and suddenly I was being carried out of the hall, bridal style, with a roar of applause behind us.

“Love, isn’t there a party after this?” I said, looking into his honey eyes.

“Of course,” he whispered, kissing me lightly. He continued to carry me down the stairs of the hall to the tavern, where we entered to find an empty room.

“What…” I said, confused, as Cullen finally put me down. “I don’t understand.”

“The rest of them will be here soon,” he responded, putting his arms around my waist. “But for now, you’re all mine.” He pulled me into another kiss, our bodies intertwining into one as I felt him smile onto my lips. We slowly backed up to a wall and he pinned me there, kissing my neck as I -

Bang, bang.

A knock at the tavern door pulled us apart as we sheepishly greeted the rest of our friends, including Mia.

“Get a room, Cullen.” Mia laughed, walking over to us and giving her brother a playful punch.

“I thought I had.” He groaned.

“Don’t let us stop you.” Bull snickered, entering the room and taking a seat nearby.

“Absolutely let us stop you.” Cassandra groaned.

We settled around a large table - my inner circle, now including Mia - and started talking about every topic one could imagine. But most of all, we discussed the Inquisition, the memories we had made, and the wonderful times that we had. It was a much needed moment of relief after the stress of the prior months.

“So, Curly, how’d ya do it?” Varric laughed. “How’d you charm our dear Inquisitor?”

“Ooh, yes, details, please!” Sera grinned. “And explain the desk situation to me. Why a desk?”

Cullen went bright red at that last comment and nervously rubbed his neck. “I… I suppose it was only a matter of time.”

“Protecting, solid, proud. He feels complete when you hold him.” Cole whispered, staring at his hands. “What does that feel like?”

“Ahh, kid, let him be.” Varric said as he downed the rest of his drink. “The man’s gone through enough.”

“I just want to know how you two hid this from us all for so long.” Blackwall frowned.

“Most of us. I knew.” Leliana giggled from across the table.

“I... didn’t need to know that,” I sighed, rubbing my temples. “We didn’t want any drama, Blackwall. That’s how.”

The night continued, full of laughter and joy. But eventually people started to peel off and retire, one by one, leaving only me, Mia, and Cullen by the end of the night.

Once we were mostly alone, Mia turned to look at me. “Take care of him.”

“I will.” I responded with a smile.

“I’m still here.” Cullen groaned. “I’ll be fine, Mia.”

“You better be. I should be going, though. I have business to attend to in Denerim - people are waiting on me.” Mia said suddenly. “Love you, Cullen. Please remember to write me, okay? Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Mia. I love you too.” Cullen responded, getting up to give her a quick hug.

I looked to my husband as his sister left the room. “Well. I’m exhausted.”
“Thank you for this.” Cullen said, looking into my eyes. “I… appreciate it.”

“The pleasure was all mine.” I smiled.

“Well… shall we retire as well?” Cullen smiled, taking my hand tenderly.

“I would love to.”

We walked out of the tavern, into our new lives, together.