The night brings not only darkness, but silence and peace along with it. Time seems to slow down at night, the air grows ever cooler, and that is the only time of the day Cullen truly lets himself relax.
He likes to take strolls on the fortified stone remparts of Skyhold, looking up at the stars high above from time to time, until he reaches his favorite spot. He seldom gets restful nights in bed, so he spends most of them out and about, finding peace wherever and whenever he can. The Inquisition takes a lot out of him, in time and energy, but Cullen feels grateful for the chance at redemption he’s been given here.
"Is sleep eluding you as well, my dear Commander ?"
Cullen turns to the voice that brings him out of his thoughts, surprised to find Dorian at his side. The mage mimics Cullen and leans forward, resting his forearms on the railing.
"We didn’t expect you to be back until at least sunrise," Cullen says, aware that Dorian’s question remains unanswered.
"Surely you must have suspected our task would be accomplished sooner rather than later with me involved, yes?"
Cullen’s mind is frozen for a second, still not entirely used to dealing with Dorian’s confidence and wit. Not to mention that Dorian’s presence has thrown Cullen off balance, his usual confidence all but vanished. Cullen has taken a long time to find the meaning behind the power Dorian holds over him. Too often has Cullen found his thoughts drifting towards the mage, wishing on some days for the night to come faster so that he can pretend he and Dorian are looking at the stars at the same time, no matter how far they are from each other. For some reason, Cullen finds distance obsolete whenever he’s stargazing. His pause gets a chuckle out of Dorian, who now regards him with an open fond gaze Cullen doesn’t expect.
"Worry not, Commander, I will not hold that preposterous underestimation against you," Dorian adds, turning around to lean back on his elbows and look up at the starry sky.
"It’s beautiful, isn’t it ?" Dorian cuts him off, sending him a quick glance. You’re beautiful, Cullen thinks but the words don’t quite reach his voice.
"It is," he says instead, glancing up as well as he takes a place beside Dorian, their shoulders brushing ever so slightly.
"To answer your question, sleep does not welcome me with…pleasant dreams," Cullen admits after a moment of companionable silence.
"Ah, I see," Dorian says, turning his gaze fully on Cullen now.
"What about you?"
"Nothing of import," Dorian answers rather quickly, avoiding Cullen’s eyes as he speaks, the actual answer a topic he clearly wants to dismiss. Cullen doesn’t push further. He understands the need for privacy. He takes a moment to study Dorian’s face, how tired and weary it seems, and yet it doesn’t undermine the mage’s beauty. He almost gets lost in it, unused to having such an opportunity to appreciate Dorian’s looks up close.
"I’m glad you’re here," Cullen blurts out, surprising himself with the unfiltered statement. He doesn’t have time to regret his words, for Dorian gazes up at him with a startled expression written on his face.
There is a vulnerable tone to Dorian’s question, and Cullen knows enough about him to recognize he’s taken him aback. Dorian’s grown up in an environment where vulnerability is repugnant, as Cullen suspects from Tevinter’s nobility.
"I am," Cullen confirms with a nod, making sure to not break eye contact with the other man. He might as well have confessed the true extent of his feelings for Dorian, now that he thinks about it, but Cullen isn’t distressed by the thought. If anything, he feels…at peace. Dorian’s face is unreadable, but his eyes seem to show…hope. Cullen hopes too, as he steps further into Dorian’s space, hopes that he’s not reading wrong. Hopes that his kiss isn’t unwelcome.
Cullen cups the side of Dorian’s face when their lips touch, and feels a tingle at the contact. A wave of relief washes over Cullen when Dorian responds to the kiss, deepening it and bringing Cullen’s body closer. Cullen is glad to have left his armor behind tonight, with nothing but thin cloth separating them. Dorian’s body is exceptionally warm, something Cullen has always suspected, and is now gleeful to properly discover.
"What…what just happened?" Dorian asks when they pull away, neither one of them leaving the other’s embrace. "Please tell me this isn’t a farce, Commander."
"Cullen," he rectifies. "Call me Cullen."
His request must ease Dorian’s distress, the latter looking at Cullen with the same hopeful expression as earlier.
"I…I am not well versed in the matters of the heart, please forgive me any misstep," Cullen continues, taking one of Dorian’s hand in his, his thumb stroking the back of it. "I’ve realized tonight I don’t want to spend another day wondering what could be. I want to know for sure, Dorian. I want to know whether you and I have a chance at…happiness. Together."
Dorian remains silent for what feels like an eternity, eyes fixated on their feet, though he doesn’t move from Cullen’s touch. So Cullen waits, heart heavy with hope and dread, letting Dorian take all the time he needs.
"You returned my question earlier," Dorian eventually speaks up, gazing up to meet Cullen’s eyes. "I came up here in the hope of losing myself in the stars, to clear my head, to avoid sleep, same as you. You want to know why? Because you, Commander—"
"Because you, Cullen, have been haunting my thoughts and dreams more and more with every passing day.”
Dorian’s words leave Cullen feeling light and ecstatic, the smile on his face clear proof of that.
"I assume that’s a yes, then?"
"Yes," Dorian says, sounding hesitant. "I must warn you that I have no more significant experience than you do in romance."
"That is fine, Dorian," Cullen responds, too joyful to care, and can’t help himself but kiss Dorian again. "We’re in this together, are we not?"
"That is what a relationship implies, yes."
"Then that’s how we’ll make this work. Together."
"All right, all right, you giant sap," Dorian says, and ends the conversation effectively with his lips on Cullen’s, who doesn’t have it in him to complain with Dorian’s methods.