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Now that the Breach had been sealed and things had relatively calmed down, the Inquisition had a chance to relax, if only momentarily. Josephine was currently driving everyone in Skyhold mad, planning some sort of soiree for a visiting dignitary. Most of the advisors were avoiding her at all costs, trying to catch a breather before they returned to the madness that was Thedas.

Leliana was heading through the courtyard, frowning at a document in her hands. She never stopped working, as there was always something to do. Always another letter, a spy come to report, some matter or another to attend to. She didn't take the time for leisurely whims like the others.

Cullen was well aware of this and smirked as he watched her wind her way through the courtyard, intent on some letter in her hands. He was leaning against a column, the last of the day's sun filtering through the trees and playing across the courtyard. It caught Leliana's auburn hair as she walked past a rosebush, highlighting the shiny locks. Cullen watched her, transfixed. He'd had a growing respect for their spymaster for some time. Recently, it had festered into something more. He had tried to ignore it, in vain. Now, watching her walk through the bursts of sunlight, her beauty made him smile.

Leliana was so intent on whatever she was reading that she didn't see Cullen. She had turned past a shrub on the pebble walk and smacked straight in to him. She stumbled backwards, dropping the paper, a startled look on her face. Cullen was ready though, he'd watched her the entire time. He easily caught one of her elbows, bringing her towards him; the letter he caught deftly with his free hand. Leliana tripped slightly trying to regain her balance, falling forward she placed her palms out to steady herself. With his hand still on her elbow and her hands on his chest, Cullen stilled himself. He could feel the warmth of her soft hands even through his thick armor. He could smell her hair that he'd just been admiring in the sunlight. It had looked like fire, then, but smelled soft now, like some sort of light flower and peaches. He tried to discreetly take a deep breath, to memorize that smell.

Leliana jolted, pulling herself back, snatching her letter from his hands.

"Excuse me, Commander. I didn't see you there, I'm sorry," Leliana said as she straightened her clothing and folded the letter. It disappeared into some pocket before Cullen could even reply.

"No need to apologize, Leliana. You were absorbed in some important matter, happens to us all," he said, smiling and stepping back to lean on one heel, a hand on his hip at the hilt of his sword.

Leliana looked at him curiously, then down at her fingers.

"You, ah, have been busy; I take it, even now when things are a little quieter?" Cullen asked gently, trying to distract her with conversation before she had the chance to dissolve into the sunlight, back to her spymaster duties.

Seemingly caught off guard, Leliana rewarded him with a rare smile. "Yes, so I have been. There are far too many tasks that need my attention. I have had little time to..."

"Relax?" Cullen laughed.

Leliana crossed her arms; she looked as if she was trying to muster a glare but managed a small laugh.

"Yes, Commander, I have not taken much time to relax," she conceded.

Cullen loved the way her eyes danced when she laughed. Just like her fiery hair did in the sunlight. He longed to reach out and touch it; to feel what her fire felt like in his own bare hands.

"Please, call me Cullen. What do you say to another game of chess? Perhaps you'll even beat me this time," he jested as he gestured towards the chess table near them.

Hesitating only a moment, Leliana grinned.

"All right Command...Cullen. You're on. I have been practicing and I am certain I shall best you this time. A rematch it is!"

Cullen was warmed by her enthusiasm and energy. They sat down at the table and settled in to the game. Cullen tried to focus on the game and not the woman in front of him. He watched her long, pale fingers as they deftly moved across the board; not completely sure of herself but he could tell that she had been practicing. He took his time, wanting the game to last forever. He won the first two rounds but by the third he was so distracted by Leliana that he backed himself in to a corner. With a triumphant cheer and grin, Leliana jumped, leaning across the table to make her final move. As she did, her hood fell from her face, her red hair rumbling around. She looked up at him, her face in a full smile.

"Queen takes King, I win!"

Cullen could hear the pure joy in her voice. She looked almost vulnerable; she was never like this with him, or anyone he imagined. Throwing caution to the wind, he raised his hand to her face and brushed her hair back, tucking it gently behind her ear.

"What if...what if the King wanted the Queen to take him?" Cullen asked quietly, his eyes locked with hers. For a sweet moment, they were looking at each other, both seeming to search each other's eyes.

Leliana broke the spell, jumping back and up, knocking her chair down. She had pulled her hood up and stood back before Cullen could leap up and right the chair she had been sitting in.

"Thank you, Commander, for the distraction. It was refreshing...most pleasant...goodbye."

Just like that, Leliana had disappeared from the courtyard. Cullen sighed heavily, shaking his head. He'd been a fool to think cross that line.

"Dammit!" He swore, knocking every piece from the table with a sweep of his hand in a fit of rage. He stormed away without bothering to pick anything up. Servants, soldiers alike scurried out of his path.

Dusk gave into night and still Cullen couldn't focus. He hadn't seen Leliana at dinner, hadn't the nerve to go to her quarters and apologize. He had thought about a letter, perhaps, but every draft he wrote seemed unworthy. There was a pile of crumpled letters near the fireplace that had even missed his angry tosses. His work unfinished, his mood foul, Cullen finally gave up late that night and slipped from his office to the balcony behind it. It was accessible only from his office and he liked it that way. It was a very small balcony but he could see the stars here. He sighed, leaning against the cold stone wall. He had discarded his armor earlier, the slight wind cut through his clothes, chilling him. He ran his rough hands through his curly locks, sighing. Resting his hands interlocked atop his head, he paced the small walkway. What have I done? Finally, he swung his arms down, pressing his hands against the ledge and leaning down, closing his eyes in frustration.


He jerked upwards, spinning around. He knew that voice. It was hers. Surprise etched on every feature of his face, his eyes searched the dark for her. Was he hallucinating? Was his desire so fervent that he was now imagining her? But no, there she was, in the doorway. She was dressed in a simple black gown, no mantle or hood. Her hair fell in disarray around her face and she played with something in her hands nervously. Cullen thought she had never looked more beautiful.

Hesitantly, he took a step toward her. He didn't know what to say or do. He started a sentence half a dozen times but trailed off. Finally, Leliana stepped swiftly to him. She raised a delicate finger up to his lips, pressing it to them gently.

"Shhh," she murmured, pressing something from her hand into his palm.

At the feel of her touch, Cullen's entire body became warm. His gaze softened and he smiled down at her. He looked into his hand to see what she had given him. It was small, carved and polished, but what...

The Queen chess piece from the table.

He searched her eyes only for a moment before he slammed into her full force, his hands on both sides of her face, claiming her lips with a kiss full of hunger and unspoken want. Leliana's hands covered his; she pushed herself against him, opening her mouth to allow his tongue to explore. She moaned softly as he kissed her deeply, backing her against the stone wall. It was colder in the shadows but no one could see them and he didn't care. He had her, her heat, her fire, in his own hands.

Quickly he pulled his coat and tunic off. He felt her hands grazing his chest, nails lightly scratching him. He growled and pushed her against the wall again, tugging at the hem of her gown, towards her head. He buried his face in her hair, that glorious, molten hair of hers. He could smell her desire; feel his own pressing at his breeches. With one more sharp inhale against her hair he pulled back long enough to tug her dress over her head. She was tugging at his breeches, making soft mewing noises as his hands roamed over her bare breasts; tugging, biting, kissing.

The last of their clothes discarded he grabbed her roughly in his arms, pulling her legs around him easily. He walked her over to the balcony with two quick strides. Gently he set her on the edge and she gasped from the cold stone as it hit her backside. They were bathed in the full moonlight and anyone on patrol could likely see them but neither cared. Cullen scooted her closer to him, the cliff looming below them, but he held her tightly, his nails digging into her waist as he finally pushed inside her. Her gasp was the sweetest sound he had ever heard. She wrapped herself around him, clinging to him not with fear from the cliffs they were leaning over but want and desire. They moved together, each chasing their climax while holding on to the other.

"My Queen," he murmured into her hair as the stars exploded above them.