Mages. Stupid drunk mages. Cullen scowls when he comes across the apprentices in the library. "You lot know you're not meant to drink," he says. Drunk apprentices tend to cause a lot of damage.
Thankfully for Cullen's skin, this lot is fairly mellow. There's only one suggestion he go shove his sword up his ass. Someone tells him to lighten up, someone asks, "Why don't you join us?" Teasing.
"I mean it," he says. "Back to the dorms. You want me to wake the Knight-Commander over this?" He stands there and looks stern.
It's better not to listen to the things they say. They grumble, but they get up.
One of them falls back down.
Cullen swears, and hauls Amell to her feet. She's giggling. Cullen glares at the rest of them, but no-one offers to take her off his hands. All too determined to get out before he can remember their faces.
"Don't think you're holding onto that," he snaps at one who thinks she gets to keep the bottle. Who's giving them spirits anyway? He'll have to find out.
"Cullen." Amell tips her head back to look at him, sounding delighted. Like she's just figured it out. She reaches up to pinch his cheek. "How's my favourite little prison-guard, then?" He swats her hand away, half dropping her the process. She laughs as he catches her.
It would have to be Amell. He's grateful for the armour between them; she's all too happy to let him take her weight. "Can't you at least try and stand up on your own?"
"I did try," she says. "I fell over." But she lets him put her arm about his shoulder, and walks along with him. Leans against him. Cullen could curse the Maker, putting him in this situation. Instead he curses mages, who can't control themselves.
She's looking at him. He can't tell what she's thinking – what do drunk apprentices think about? Usually the tricks they can play on innocent Templars. They're going to make him regret this, he suspects.
She's still looking at him. Pleased looking.
"What?" The mistake he makes is to stop when he says it; it jostles her, and she puts her free hand on his chest and looks him in the eye. His breath catches. She smiles, and slips her arm up around his neck. Kisses him.
She's drunk. This isn't happening, can't be happening. She moves her lips away, looking perturbed. "You're drunk," he says. His voice sounds very far away.
"I know," she says. She has her fingers in his hair, dammit, and it almost breaks him. "Cullen," she says.
This isn't happening. This isn't her throwing herself at him. She's drunk, that's all, a drunk, horny mage and he's the nearest warm body.
Too near, he realises. He's lent back into her without even thinking about it. She writes her fingers along his neck; she looks at him almost fondly. "Don't," he says, but he doesn't sound nearly as commanding as he wants. He sounds choked.
She's a mage, and even the least of them can get inside your head.
"Why not?" she says. She probably doesn't even realise she's pouting. She doesn't even sound seductive, like she's doing this on purpose. It would be easier if she were doing this on purpose, but she actually wants to know.
Why not? She's drunk and she's a mage, and it doesn't matter that he just wants to take her in his arms, it doesn't matter that he wants her.
He has a sacred duty, and this has no part in it. Wanting has no part.
She's searching his eyes for an answer, and he has none to give. Even explaining would encourage her.
"You're drunk," he says, with all the finality he can wrangle. She frowns, and draws in on herself.
"Fine," she says, and pulls away. It's very hard not reaching out. It's hard, not holding onto her. He feels cold all of a sudden.
"I can walk myself," she announces, turning. Stumbling a little, yes, but not falling. Like she never needed him in the first place.
He walks her back anyway, despite her sulking. Watching over mages is his job. Watching over them, watching out for them.
And everything else.
She does relax as they walk, losing her anger, but gaining something different. Something sad. Probably just something drunk, he tries to tell himself.
They stop outside the dorm room. She looks at him, and he feels transparent. Is that a mage thing, that she sees right through him?
She bites her lip.
"Good night, Cullen," she says.
No, he thinks, just her. "Sleep it off," he says, and tries to smile but thinks he winces. Holds himself very still. She sighs, and he doesn't reach out to catch her. He lets her go, lets her open the door behind her and slip away. He can't tell her not to go.
He can only watch over her.
He won't bother reporting them, though it will gnaw at him. Because that would mean remembering this. That it happened. That he didn't want her to go. In the morning, she'll have forgotten, he tells himself, insists to himself. He has to believe that. It's a matter of survival that he believe that.
He walks away, and tells himself he feels nothing.