The night air is cool and frosty, their breaths bubbling up in smoke as they power through piles and piles of ancient maps; Leliana is out on a mission (a library and a magister with clues to Corypheus' origins), and Josephine has been roped into entertaining bored nobles who are simply too rich to ignore.
They're alone and the room is cold, too, the dying fire the only warm company apart from him. Ellana, who has been staring at his hands for minutes, suppresses a shiver, swallows in dry. The fireplace is sizzling its way into a slow death, and she quirks an eyebrow at it, thinks about reviving it. Then Cullen's hands curl around his feathered pauldrons very slowly (is that the right name? Ellana remains unused to human clothes, their names, their weird social meanings), and she erases the thought from her mind, only too glad to give him a chance.
He doesn't say anything as she tries to look interested, just bites his lip indecisively and struggles with the weight of the feathers, the weight of an unasked question.
Cullen is an open book, and Ellana has grown up reading. She arches her spine a little and smiles sweetly, because she knows he likes the push. She knows he revels in assurance, in knowing she wants him too, and Ellana is only too glad to oblige. Their hands meet when she takes it, smiling and blushing demurely (because if Ellana doesn't downplay how downright excited she is, she's going to embarrass herself).
Cullen's eyes darken when her shoulders disappear under the feather mass, his right hand grasping at the hilt of his sword, gauntlets flashing; her breath stutters a little, she can't help it. Oh, she thinks, throat dry, and doesn't manage to focus on anything for the rest of the evening.
It's surprisingly hard to sneak into the men's bathroom building, but Ellana is proficient at both magic and climbing all manners of things, and she manages. Finding his clothes is easy, convincing herself that she just can’t or shouldn’t slip into his shower stall is definitely not.
Instead she brings along the vest he wears on top of his armor, slinging it around her neck like a scarf. Bringing the pauldrons along with her results in a less than stealthy exit, however, and even though she has to knock out two guards before they realize the intruder in the barracks' lavatories is the bloody Inquisitor, it's definitely worth the trouble.
The feathers and the vest are not what she'd call a warm outfit, and the pauldrons fall off her shoulders when she makes sharp movements. But then again, she supposes they were meant to be worn on top of many other layers (one of which his armor, his work clothes, oh, Mythal protect her). Ellana is bare, her arms prickled into goosebumps as she checks herself out in the mirror she's made him put in his bedroom.
The combination reveals far too much without actually revealing anything, and she feels both horribly embarrassed and toe-curlingly satisfied. Her face is flushed, her heartbeat quick under the red fabric. She shudders at the thought that he's going to see her like this, bare and vulnerable and wearing nothing but his clothes, and the feathers under her chin ripple with the staccato of her sigh.
“Alright,” she tells herself, closing her eyes and breathing in. She feels anxious, nervous, even a little guilty, but most of all she feels hot, her magic sizzling in her blood, desperate for release. “Alright,” she adds, in a whisper, opening her eyes again, “let's do this.”
She pads to his bed, meticulously made. It doesn’t surprise her that he takes the time each day – he is an ex-Templar, and now a Commander, and he’s always had rules by which to abide. She notices it when she gives an order and his kneejerk reaction is to nod and say, “Inquisitor,” in a soft, deep voice that almost makes her toes curl. Ellana swallows again, thickly, and sits on the edge of the bed, crossing her legs. She uncrosses them seconds later, unsure, her stomach fluttering, and finally decides to keep them crossed, after all –
The door to his office clicks open.
Ellana sits up so fast the mattress sighs a little. She holds her own breath in reply, the warmth spreading from her face to the rest of her. His bed covers are cool like the night outside (courtesy of the horrible hole she can’t believe he hasn’t tried to get fixed yet), and when she fidgets, they crinkle soundlessly.
“—get my hands on that – that thief,” comes Cullen’s voice, as the door shuts again and she hears the clatter of his armor as he deposits it – somewhere. She wants to see, wants to peer down and –
She keeps herself still, breathing in slowly. It's so hard to wait! The vest slides across her thighs when she shifts them, distracted and ready to burst, full to the brim of expectation as she is. Downstairs, he shuffles with some papers, and Ellana’s heart drops low at the thought that she’ll have to stay up here for longer than the time it takes him to climb up the stairs and see her. She's starting to regret the idea, but her thighs twitch and her breath catches at the thought she’s being denied. Her back arches and the feathers brush against her breasts. Ellana stiffens, brings up a hand to make sure the armor pieces won't fall off, and thinks: I will never again see him wearing this without thinking of—
Downstairs, Cullen groans, and it sounds final, like he’s giving up on something. It must've been a hard day; Cullen is known for working nights, and it's not midnight yet. Ellana’s stomach clenches at the sound despite the concern, and it is now she realizes she might actually stain his covers. Elgar'nan, that heated look in the War Room told her he'd hopefully like the surprise, but she didn't expect - she could have never expected to feel it this much.
The ladder creaks under his weight now, and Ellana bites her lip, face warm, eyes heavy and damp.
He’s clearly distracted with the prospect of his missing armor; Cullen doesn’t see her until he’s halfway into taking his shirt off – linen, white linen, oh, he’s come straight from the bathrooms, and Ellana can almost smell the soap on his skin – and then everything freezes. His alarmed eyes find her on the bed, latch onto her bare arms, then her legs, then return to settle on her face.
Cullen’s pupils get so wide, she can hardly see the hazel in his eyes. His fingers tighten around his shirt, halfway up his stomach already, and Ellana doesn’t purr, but she knows he hears it anyway.
“I-Inquisitor,” he manages, not even looking at her face anymore, and Ellana shrinks under his gaze before catching herself and straightening her back. The front of his vest parts in reply, and she congratulates herself on the choice of keeping it unlatched when Cullen swallows, the fabric of his shirt stretching and groaning between his fingers.
He’s fast, she’ll give him that. When Ellana manages to raise a hand to her collarbones, her fingers hooking around the feathers and pulling them away, Cullen is already kissing her, a large hand capturing her wrist as another dips her into his mattress. She’s glad for that kiss, since it smothers what would definitely be an embarrassing squeal, and also because it melts her, the relief spreading across her limbs and turning them to butter. The night before had frustrated her to the point of stealing his clothes; she is pliant at the thought he’ll make it up to her. His pauldrons slide off her shoulders, but Cullen catches the middle strap holding them together, keeps it there.
“I thought – “ he manages, when they part, his mouth already closing around her earlobe, his voice broken, “I thought it’d been Sera.”
“Not Sera,” Ellana replies, in a gasp, squirming under his hands. He slides one to her breast, but keeps his right one on the clasp, keeping the vest closed. Ellana doesn’t know why he thinks that’s a good idea, because she just wants to be very naked and very under him. That is, until he manages to put more than two inches between them, pushing her back on the bed and kneeling over to watch. A shiver runs up her spine when the wind picks up outside; how does he sleep here? She knows he's a human furnace despite all but—
“So I’ve gathered,” he mutters, and when she trembles this time it’s because of his timbre, ragged and deep and filthy, Mythal help her, she’s going to come from his voice alone. Cullen sighs at that, his left hand trailing her hip, tracing the skin his vest fails to cover up. Ellana tries curling her hips, if only to make him cup the flesh instead of just teasing it. Cullen pulls back his hand, lets his thumb caress the inside of a thigh before he leans back again, watching her.
His pauldrons finally slide up and onto the mattress, but the feather cape adorning them is large enough to cover her breasts anyway. It tickles in the worst and most aching of ways; she could groan in frustration, but thankfully only bites her lip and screams into the privacy of her mental hallways.
“Maker,” he adds, just a huff, and she tries squirming out of his clothes again.
Cullen’s right hand repeats the motion of gathering her two wrists, now, and when he presses them above her head Ellana helps him with the movement, arching out her back and hoping the friction is enough to – ah, there, she thinks, satisfied, and then Cullen’s mouth is on hers as he groans, the first sign of his undoing. The second one is not even a second after, his hips grinding into hers with a flinch. Ellana moans into his mouth at that, vaguely embarrassed but too far gone to be bothered with it. The night air nips at her chest, making her wish for his hands on her breasts, or even his mouth … she tries arching her back, because she knows how the movement flatters her, and his eyes follow her, but he doesn’t oblige her.
“Your behavior is certainly – ah, unacceptable,” Cullen says, against her mouth, and then again kisses it into her exposed collarbones, the feathers having parted when she bucked against him. The harness of the pauldrons digs into her shoulder; she tries to shrug it away, but his tongue laps away at her resistance at the same time he grabs at the armor with a large hand and pushes it out of the bed. "You went through so much trouble, to seduce me?"
Teasing, tutting, and thanking, all at once. Ellana melts, clenches her knees against his ribs.
His left hand is slow as it trails the line from her hipbone to her breast. Ellana squirms against him, trying to spur him on, anything. Cullen makes a half-desperate sound against the side of her breast in reply, his fingertips lingering close but never where she wants them.
“I should admonish you for such wanton behavior,” he adds softly, pulling himself off her, and Ellana loves it when he gets into that routine, but it's not what she wants tonight.
She's effervescent, needs him to just – do whatever he wants to her, really, though she'd never say it aloud or like that. Her breath stutters and her face reddens as she tries to form words, but Cullen is faster.
"But knowing it was for my sake, well," he murmurs, and finally maps out her flesh with his free hand.
Ellana throws her head back without meaning to, but she manages not to cry out. Cullen makes a disappointed noise, masks it with a cough, and then pinches at a nipple. Her knees bump together as her body clenches, ever the sensitive one, and then Cullen’s fingers leave, parting her legs and hooking them around his hips. She wants to hide her face behind a hand like she usually does, if only because Cullen’s gaze is intense and she’s feeling embarrassed, but Cullen’s grip on her wrists doesn’t wane.
“Let me watch you?” he asks, pressing a kiss under her ear. Then, when she fails to reply: “Please?”
She closes her eyes, face ablaze, but she stops trying to wriggle her wrists out of his hand. He bites at her lobe as a reward, and Ellana should’ve never told him about how sensitive the elvhen are there, Fen'Harel take him—
“Cullen,” she somehow huffs, her legs tightening around his waist, pulling him closer, “if you don’t do something to me soon – “
“Ah,” he cuts in, half-amused and half-shy, fingers tapping at her right breast, teasing her nipple, making her wish for something firmer, harder, a tighter grip, Mythal, help her, “I’ll do more than something.”
She again melts at that tone, turning her face away and moaning into the covers. Cullen kisses the space between her breasts, then closes his mouth over her left one. Ellana sighs, then cries out at the feeling of his teeth. He takes the opportunity to resume fitting his hips into hers, better, tighter, and she shudders, her arms wrestling to wrap around his neck. Cullen doesn’t mention it, nor does he release her; only gives an experimental roll of his hips and shudders along with her when she moans again.
“Did you think – I’d like to watch you like this,” he asks, in an rushed and quiet tone. One that doesn’t succeed in masking his embarrassment at being read so easily. Ellana doesn’t reply – she possibly can’t, and not just because it’s humiliating, but because if she stops biting her lip, she’s going to beg him to please, please, please – “I do,” he admits, this time louder, his left hand palming her ass as he fiddles with the fabric of his vest. Her nipples harden even more and he’s not touching her, and it’s not enough. “I do think – about this kind of thing – think about it more often than I’d – “
She kisses him, digging her ankles into his ass. His right hand clenches around her wrists, his left around a buttock, and Ellana whines into his mouth.
“Cullen,” she whispers, briefly ashamed that she’s no longer above begging, “please.”
Finally, he gives in, freeing her wrists and immediately putting his right hand to good use. Ellana sees the static electricity that shoots out of her fingertips when his own press into her folds. A thumb rubbing at her clit, two fingers inside her already, oh, Mythal, she’s so wet –
“Maker's breath, Ellana,” Cullen groans, widening his stance and pressing himself into her. His clothes are still on, but then again she’s still wearing his vest, so who cares? Ellana doesn’t. Ellana is preoccupied only with the rising sensation on her stomach, on the trembling of her legs, of Cullen’s eyes on hers as he fingers her. On his bed, while she’s wearing his vest—
She comes with a drawn-out sound that seems to be his name, and Cullen bites at her shoulder, his hips rutting into hers. He doesn’t wait for her stomach to stop trembling. Ellana’s mind is still hazy as he licks his fingers clean, clearly far too gone to remember Chantry Boys aren’t supposed to be this erotic, and then reaches into his breeches. Her mouth floods, and she hides her face in the feathers, this time, her cunt throbbing. But Cullen’s hands grab at the back of her knees instead, and for once she doesn’t want his mouth, she just wants him to fill her up and come inside her, maybe bite a hickey or twelve into her neck, maybe fuck her until she can’t stand up. Ellana decides to tell him this before his mouth manages to undo her:
“It’s fine,” she breathes, her hands pulling at his shirt's shoulders, trying to hoist him up. Cullen’s face is red as he presses a kiss into her thigh, watches it flex as she gasps. “Cullen, please, just – “ and he ignores her as he begins to eat her out, hands cupping her ass greedily and disallowing her an escape. Ellana’s chest is heaving, her heart beating against the ticklish surface of the feathers. Cullen’s tongue draws a line, then a dot, and by the time his right hand leaves her hip to join his mouth, she has already lost, her hands running through his hair as she mumbles his name over and over.
Cullen is breathing hard by the end of it, but he always looks too satisfied with himself whenever Ellana’s trembling legs close around his head, and she is not concerned. Not with him, at least, but with how much she needs to have him, right now – he wipes his mouth on his wrist and Ellana tries to reach into his breeches herself, but he once again captures her hands and hoists them up. This time he uses both of them, and it’s different in the way that he hovers above her like a cage. Her breath skips even as she tries to keep her eyes open – it’s always embarrassing for her to look at him straight out of an orgasm, mostly because he’s so enthusiastic in his voyeurism, but she tries, anyway. For him.
“Just let me,” and his voice breaks, but he clears his throat and continues pressing kisses along her neck. “Just let me wreck you,” he completes, and Ellana’s eyes roll back on their sockets. “Do you have – you look so good, you have no idea – “
She does, actually, judging by how hard and warm his cock feels against her slit, but she’s not coherent enough to talk back. Instead she bares her throat at him, eyes closed, and lets him get to work. When his hands leave her wrists, she keeps them up anyway, holding onto his pillow for leverage. Cullen very much reacts at that, bringing his arms around her waist and hoisting her into his lap. Ellana’s sigh is very vocal, very warm, and very desperate, when the head of his cock presses into her, then slides past.
“You’re horrible,” she says, somehow, and Cullen almost laughs, she can tell, but he’s too busy fondling her hips to focus on anything else.
“I really am,” he admits with a deep chuckle, kissing her jawline, trying to slot his hips into hers again. Ellana’s fingers grab around the pillowcase, stretching the fabric thin, and then he’s there, his hands grasping at her ass to help her take him in, and Ellana is lost around him. “Maker,” Cullen says, his voice tight, and she might not be Andrastian but she thinks it, too, oh, Maker—
He pulls back, anchors his weight on his hands, and then drives home. One of Ellana’s hands (she can’t tell which) drops from the pillowcase to her mouth and Cullen growls under his breath, his eyes on her. The vest will get stained, Ellana realizes, when the fabric brushes against her breasts and makes her tighten around him, but Cullen doesn’t seem to care about anything than fucking her, and that’s what he’s doing, he’s fucking her into his mattress and Ellana’s teeth are buried deep into her hand as she moans his name.
“You, ah,” he says, grabbing one of her legs and spreading her wide, wide enough that the heat returns to her face, wide enough that he has to interrupt himself to catch his breath. “You look good in it,” he mouths, leaning over her to kiss her. Ellana rotates her hips against his weight without meaning to, her only quest being completion. Cullen’s eyes melt at the sight of her, and his hips jerk once, twice, before he regains control. He's panting hard, his hands tight around the curve of her buttocks, and Ellana replies with a murmur that is much too garbled and breathy to decipher. Cullen gets it anyway, and he brings her hips up with his hands, his fingers flat against her ass and the end of her back as he drives into her. Ellana is too sensitive to last long; she tightens around him with a long, tired, raw whimper after minutes. Cullen shudders at that, desperately thrusting into her, his eyes on hers, on her breasts, bouncing against the red of his vest –
He comes with a desperate, begging moan, hiding his face in the crook of her neck and biting.
Afterwards, he teases her, his ears pink as she slinks out of his vest and into his bed, and though there’s a smirk on his face he’s still all cute and embarrassed. Ellana smiles back, just as flushed, and when Cullen asks if she, ah, truly enjoyed it, she just presses herself up against him and bites his earlobe, and then they do it all over again.