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Commander Barkford

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The snow was falling softly around him as he made his way in to Haven request reports in hand. All seemed as it should until he was just out side her door. Fist mid air he stops. The sound of sobs coming from the other side of the door freezing him mid knock. He stairs at the wood door that stands between the herald and him for a moment listening to the cries. His heart pounding he quickly knocks and opens the door fearing the worst.

“Herald?” he calls as he enters. Hand reaching for the pommel of his sword as his eyes searched the room for unseen foes. She's curled up on the bed knees to her chest. Her eyes meet his. Tear filled eyes widen as she takes him in.

“Commander.” She manages over shakey breaths. She tries to wipe away the tears from her cheeks and makes to stand. “is.... is there something you needed?” she half turns from his gaze.

He’s at her side before he registers his feet moving. He reaches for her shoulder stopping just short before catching his actions. He instead reaches for the back of his neck and clears his throat.

“Laddie Lavallen, your crying. I.... is there something wrong?” he wants to take her in his arms. He wants to hold her close. To kiss away the tears in her eyes. Comfort her. But he stands there like a fool watching her.

She smiles softly at the use of her name and sighs shaking her head. “I’m ... it’s nothing.” She looks at him and then reaches for the paper's in his hand. “are these for me?”

“I.... yes.” He looks down at the request in his hand then back up to her emerald eyes. “But they can wait. Please something has upset you.” This time he does reach for her shoulder. She’s a good foot shorter than him. He searches her face for the answer.

She meets his gaze for a moment. Then looks away. He swears he sees a blush cross her cheeks. “it’s silly.” She lets out a breath.

He just waits for her to answer. When none come. “please perhaps.... perhaps I can help?”

She looks at his hand on her shoulder. Taking her bottom lip in between her teeth she meet his gaze. Her eyes danced over his face. He felt his breath catch under her watch.

She finally let out a breath. “I.... I received a letter from my clan.” She drops her gaze and reaches for her braid and starts fiddling with the end. “I felt sad after reading it you know.” She says weakly. “everything here is so different.” She let out a sigh. “I heard one of the scots talking about a littler of puppies. I thought I could go see them. You know puppies. No one can be sad when there are puppies. I’ve never actually seen one before...” She trails of.

Confused Cullen tilted his head at her. “a puppy?”

She looked up at him and laughed a soft smile touched her lips. Making his heart skip. “No a Mabari. I know there war dogs and all. I just.... I have heard so much about them. I wanted to see one and well puppies.” She swiped at her noise. Looking back down at the ground.

Cullen felt him self smile at the thought of the Herald shrouded by wiggly balls of fur all vying for her attention.

“but... the man there... He...” She stopped taking a breath. “He refused to let me see them. He called me a knife ear.” She said the last part so softly he all most missed it.

He felt the familiar pain in his temple as the muscles in his jaw flexed. As he gritted his teeth.

“I know it’s silly.” She looked out toward the window. “I mean I’ve been called far worse. It’s just after everything.” She gestured to her hand with the anchor. She sighed. “I’m still just a knife ear.”

He knew the man well. He had had run-ins with him at the tavern. With poor Fliss over coin. He was nothing but vial spiteful shrivel of an old man.

“Bell...” He had just taken a step forward moving closer to her when there was a sharp knock at the door before it was swung open and in marched a runner. Cullen jumped back from the Herald. Letting his hand slip from her shoulder.

“Herald Sister Leliana asked .....” his sentence trailed of as he took in the towering Commander in the corner and the puffy eyes Herald glancing between him and the Commander.

Finally it took Bell’s sigh to break the horrid stand of. “Leliana… wanted?”

The runner shifted nervously on the balls of his feet in front of her. “arhh. For you to join her and Lady Montilyet in her office.” He shoots the Commander a quick glance but quickly brought his attention back to the Herald.

“You can tell them I am on my way. Thank you.” The young man salute and spun on his heels and raced out the door. closing it behind him.

She stared at the door for a moment and then looked back to him.

“I’m sorry Commander I didn’t mean to bother you with all this.” She let out a nervous laugh. “Please just forget I said any thing. I feel silly enough as it stands now for crying over it all.” She offered him a weak smile. “I should go. I’m sure if I leave those two for to long they will have me heading back to Val Royeaux for some Orlais affair.”

He couldn’t help but laugh as she scrunched her face up as she said the last part. “We can’t have that.”

She made to move towards the door then stopped. “You needed me for something?”

He quickly moved his hand behind his back with the papers. “they can wait. It’s just a requisition request for the troops in the hinterlands.” He moved towards her desk and placed the papers on the ink stained table. “I won’t have you fed to the Orlaision’s on my account.” He chuckled.

He glanced up at her just in time to catch her smiling at him. “Thank you, I will see to them as soon as I’m finished with what ever they have waiting for me.”

She then left him standing in her cabin. He sighed. Then shaking his head he squared his shoulders and marched out the door. He had an old man needing a visit.

 

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The next few weeks went by in a blur for Bell. Leliana had her head back to the hinterlands to find a Grey ward by the name of Blackwall. She all so found once she did make it there that there was more rifts needing to be sealed. When she did finally make it back to Haven it was mid-afternoon. She was greeted with the familiar sight of troops training in the snow covered filled outside Heaven’s gates. She smiled when she spotted the commander standing in the midst of them barking orders. She waved as she made her way past them and to the stables. He just smiled and nodded at her and then turned back to the troops.

Once she handed her reins over to one of the stable boys she took her saddle bags and headed through the gates to her cabin. She was hopping to sneak in a bath before she was called to the war room to discuss their new addition to the Inquisition.

She was lost in these thoughts as she made her way to her cabin. She opened the door and walked in there was a odd smell waiting for her. It took her a moment to realise what this smell was and where it was coming from.

There curled up on her bed was a tiny black ball of fur.

 

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Cullen was moving through lines of his troops as they sparred. When the herald and her companions finally made there way back in to Heaven. Leliana’s scots had reported that morning that the group would reach Haven that afternoon. As he watched her ride in to Haven he had to fight the urge to grin but found himself smiling at her when she waved. He contained making his way through the troops when he heard the squeal. He couldn’t hold back his grin. He heard Rylen chuckle next to him.

Cullen continued to move through the group but halted when he spotted the Herald running through the gates towards them with a bundle of fur clutched to her chest.

He quickly hid his smile as she manoeuvred through the troops.

He squared his shoulders as she finally reached him expecting her to stop in front of him. Except she didn’t stop. She rushed into him. Wrapping one arm around his waist as she crushed her cheek into his chest plate.

Shocked he just stood there mouth a gape as she curled against him.

“Thank you thank you. He’s perfect Cullen. I love him. Ohh he’s just perfect.” She stepped back from him and brought the wiggling ball of fur to her face. He couldn’t help but smile watching as the little pup licked and yelped at her. She finally lowered him from her face and looked up at him. “you didn’t have to do this.”

Her eyes glistening with tears as she gazed up at him. He chuckled. He reached forward and scratched the small pup behind the ear.

“You know Andraste had a mabari by her side. Seems only fitting that you her Hearld have the same.” He looked back up at her. Just in time to see a tear escape and roll down her cheek.

“Thank you Cullen…. I … I don’t know what to say. How I can ever repay you.” She looked back down at the puppy and placed a soft kiss upon his head.

“What we ask of you every day.” He took a deep breath and looked around him. Taking in all the soldiers that had stopped in the immediate area around them to watch the Herald of Andraste and their Commander of the Inquisition. “We could never repay you for what you have done for us and what we still ask of you. He should serve you well I knew his sire.” He placed his hands on the pommel of his sword. “Just promise me you will give him a fitting name of that of a war hound of Ferelden.” He laughed as he ruffled the puppy once again. Then stopped as Bell looked back up at him her smile turned in to a cheeky grin.

“Ohh fear not Commander I have.”

“What did’ya name him Lass?” Knight Captain Rylen stepped up next to her and patted the little pup in her hands.

She turned slightly to Rylen practically beaming. “Knight Captain I would like you to meet Commander Barkford.”

Rylen burst out laughing as did a few man around them.

“Makers breath you can’t be serious….” Cullen reached for the back of his neck.

“I Lass that is a very fitting name indeed.”

She smiled. “I think so to Knight Captain.” She turned back to him. “Oh Josephine is going to love you to.” She turned her gaze back to him. “Thank you Cullen.” She stepped forward in to his space again and before he registered what she was doing she raised up on to her toes and placed a soft kiss to his cheek. She dropped back down on to her feet and spun around dashing back towards the gates. She stopped short of the stairs and exchanged a few words with Varric who was leaning on one of the stone pillars watching the whole exchange no doubt. Cullen groaned at that. Maker please don’t let this ended up in one of his books.

Rylen chuckled again next to him and slapped him on the back.

“You’re done for.”

They both watched her finally disappear up the stairs in to Heaven. The dam dwarf winked at him and turned around following her.

He ran a hand through his hair and sighed ‘Barkford. Andraste give him strength.’

He realised most the soldiers were still milling around watching him.

“Get back to work.”

As he stomped back through the lines of soldiers a smile graced his lips.

He was done for.

 

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Andraste’s Mabari
You know Andraste's old mabari.
He don't show up in the Chant.
And if you ask those holy sisters,
Well, they'll say Andraste can't
Have had some big old smelly wardog.
But all Ferelden knows it right:
Our sweet Lady needed someone
Who would warm her feet at night.

And there's Andraste's mabari
By the Holy Prophet's side.
In the fight against Tevinter,
That dog would never hide.
They say the Maker sent him special,
Always loyal, without pride,
So he could be the sworn companion
Of the Maker's Holy Bride.

Oh, that dog, he guards Andraste
Without arrogance or fear,
Only asking of his mistress
Just a scratch behind the ears.
But then old Maf'rath gets to plotting,
Tries to lure that dog away.
But even as they trap the Prophet,
Her mabari never strays.

And there's Andraste's mabari
By the Holy Prophet's side.
In the fight against Tevinter,
That dog would never hide.
They say the Maker sent him special,
Always loyal, without pride,
So he could be the sworn companion
Of the Maker's Holy Bride.

Oh they thought the wounds had killed him,
But then he limped out toward the fire.
And Hessarian, he shed a tear,
As that dog laid on the pyre.

And there's Andraste's mabari
By the Holy Prophet's side.
In the fight against Tevinter,
That dog would never hide.
They say the Maker sent him special,
Always loyal, without pride,
So he could be the sworn companion
Of the Maker's Holy Bride.

Yes that mabari's the companion
Of the Maker's Holy Bride.

A popular, if historically unlikely, Fereldan tavern song