The sky is torn with several shades of red from the setting sun, and Dorian is beyond exhausted when their party finally arrives at Skyhold after a weary journey in Emprise du Lion. Dorian can still feel ice in his bones, and the high mountain winds up here only remind him of the snow back there, falling on his skin and chilling him to his core. The specks of red lyrium scattered all around the landscape top it all off, and make Emprise du Lion Dorian’s waking nightmare in Thedas. He is an exceptional mage, that he is well aware of, but he would not mind leaving that dreadful place to Vivienne or Solas for any future adventure there.
He’s surprised when he finds Cullen standing at the end of the stone bridge, right at the entrance of the fort, hands resting on the hilt of his trusted sword. Cullen looks as majestic as ever in his shining armor, his golden hair shining under the fading sunlight. In that moment, Cullen is the definition of a sight for sore eyes, and boy does Dorian need that. How long has the Commander been waiting for them there ? Dorian doesn’t remember their party alerting Skyhold of their return. Then again, Dorian hasn’t been paying much attention to anything on their journey back. He’s been too tired to care, and too eager to be back with Cullen. To be home.
Cullen greets him with a smile as they approach, and nothing in this instant could have stopped Dorian from summoning every last reserve of strength in him to run into the arms of his beloved Commander. It moves Dorian immensely, to know that someone in this world knows him and cares enough about him to be there to comfort him when he needs it most. Cullen’s body is solid when they collide, unwavering under the force of Dorian’s smacking into him, the perfect embodiment of Cullen’s place in Dorian’s life. He wraps his arms around Cullen’s shoulders, burying his face in the crook of Cullen’s neck.
"Oh how I’ve missed you, love," Dorian says, reveling in the warmth that Cullen’s skin and furred armor provides him with.
"Welcome home," Cullen returns, his voice full of affection as he kisses Dorian’s cheek. "I’ve missed you too."
Dorian find his eyes closing as he rests against Cullen, his surroundings all but smoke at this point, in the safety of Cullen’s arms. The accumulated fatigue crashes down on him now that he’s at last reunited in the comfort of Cullen’s embrace. Dorian hears a few vague words exchanged between the Inquisitor and Cullen, the latter’s hand running through Dorian's hair even as he speaks. Everyone in Skyhold is aware of their relationship at this point, and Dorian is delighted that they don’t have to hide it—that they’ve never had to hide it, as a matter of fact.
"Come on, let’s get you to bed. You don’t want to sleep on the muddy ground like an animal, do you?" Cullen’s voice brings him back to the present. Cullen’s chuckle is a true balm to Dorian’s soul, and he wishes he had it in him to retort with a witty comment.
"As long as I’m with you, I don’t care," Dorian replies instead, though he lets Cullen drag him across the yard to their quarters nonetheless.
"If it comes to it, I’ll drape your unconscious body across my shoulder and carry you back to our quarters, with all of Skyhold as my witness."
"Promise?" Dorian asks, half-joking, half-serious. He would certainly not mind Cullen manhandling him and showing off how strong he is. Dorian knows how taxing Cullen’s struggle with his lyrium withdrawal has been, and still is, however. So Dorian makes an effort to walk with Cullen, only using the latter’s hold as support. There are bound to be amused glances their way, but Dorian doesn’t take notice, too absorbed in the beauty walking alongside him. Dorian often finds himself wondering how someone like Cullen could have fallen for him, whether this is all just a figment of his imagination—or worse, a construct of the Fade that he’s trapped in. The Inquisitor has been of great help to banish these thoughts, thank the Maker, and Dorian just works harder to be worthy of Cullen.
Dorian feels like dead weight when he drops on their bed, the climb up the ladder a foggy mystery in his mind at the moment, and he fights to keep his eyes open. Cullen’s hands are gentle when they unfasten Dorian’s armor, when they work to wipe the grit and dried sweat from Dorian’s skin with a cloth dipped in warm and scented water. Dorian is happy to let Cullen take care of him, the silence between them a soothing gift he enjoys a great deal. All those thoughtful gestures never cease to leave Dorian in awe. Cullen’s generosity only pushes him to leave his past selfish ways behind, to become a better man every day. Dorian counts himself lucky to have found such a humble man to call his partner.
A few moments later, Dorian settles in bed freshened and content on his side, heaving a sigh when his head hits the fluffy pillow. Cullen joins him soon enough, wrapping himself around Dorian in a safe cocoon.
"Please tell the Inquisitor to leave me here with you next time something comes up in the ice mountains of doom," Dorian murmurs, tangling his fingers with Cullen’s.
"I’ll try my best," Cullen replies, and his arms tighten around Dorian’s waist in a reassuring way. "Though I can’t guarantee the results."
"Trust me, your best is enough," Dorian says, grinning at the thought of Cullen trying to explain to their dear Inquisitor why he can’t possibly go to Emprise du Lion. A yawn escapes Dorian’s lips then, stirring a chuckle out of Cullen.
"Good night love," Cullen whispers, dropping a kiss on the nape of Dorian’s neck.
"Good night, darling."
Dorian finds solace in these peaceful and intimate moments, knowing there will always be someone in his life to love and love him back, that he will never be alone again. Knowing his heart’s finally found a home.