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Midnight

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It is well past moonrise when Cullen finally rises from his desk.

He has been working late into the night, not only because there is a never ending supply of work to be done, but also because tonight he cannot find sleep. It is not a rare occurrence. There are often too many things on his mind; they will not quiet enough to let him rest.

This evening, though, more than a few of his thoughts are pleasant in nature. As he stretches his arms above his head he thinks back to the breakfast he shared with Dorian. Conversation of no consequence, and a kiss goodbye; it has been lingering in his mind all day.

Looking out the window Cullen wonders if Dorian is also awake tonight. He knows the mage works late, studying his books and spells, looking for any way to stop this war.

The relationship with Dorian is new, and Cullen is unsure of what boundaries and rules are set in place. Would it be ill mannered to call upon him so late? He does not wish to wake the mage, only to provide company if he is, like himself, restless.

Cullen considers, and finally decides he should not disturb Dorian. One wrong move may very well disrupt the good thing that they are carefully putting together. Cullen wants that less than he wants this war with demons.

There is no harm in walking the corridors, though. Surely a late night stroll is no more indicative of desire than a simple greeting would be.

And should he wander close to Dorian's chambers and notice a light still flickering beneath the door, well, it would only be polite to inquire over the mage's wakefulness at such an hour. Perhaps he will bring a bottle of wine, in case that helps cure any insomnia Dorian is suffering.

Cullen searches his chambers, finding the few bottles of wine he has stashed away for special occasions. Which one is appropriate? He frowns in thought, noting and lamenting that they are all of rather poor quality. Dorian is used to finer wines than these, certainly. But he cannot go empty handed. Taking the bottle most ornate, regardless of age and make, he places it beneath his coat and leaves the room.

There is a chill in the air as he walks the battlements. New snowfall threatens in the east, and Cullen wonders if before dawn the grounds would be coated in white. The undisturbed snow is one of the little pleasures Cullen so enjoys; he should share the view of it with Dorian, should the snow began to fall.

It is quiet within the castle. Night guards roam the corridors, sleepy and slow. All show signs of surprise to see the Commander padding the floor in his soft soled shoes; he is rarely seen without his armor donned. He gives them nods of greeting and continues on his way.

The path he takes is by no means direct. He passes through the main hall, into the kitchen where servants are already hard at work preparing bread for the morning. His heart pulls him in the direction of Dorian's chambers, yet his feet stubbornly refuse to find their way.

The wine is too much; he was foolish to bring it. He is unlikely to even see Dorian – the mage must be sleeping. As he himself should be. There is nothing left for him but to turn around and trod back to his own bed and settle in for a restless night.

He doesn't return to his chambers, though. This time he takes the staircase up, and up. Each step closer to where he knows Dorian awaits his heart beat increases. By the time he is at the end of the corridor that leads to the mage's door Cullen is certain the beating is louder than any other noise in the castle.

What is he to say when the door is opened? Will he stand there and stammer, unable to form the words I wanted to see you? Already the heat is rising in his cheeks, and should the light of a candle hit his face the rose of a blush would be clear.

He hesitates. Maker, is he really doing this?

A step forward, and then another, and soon he is within sight of the door.

There is no light glowing from beneath it.

All at once his heart slows, and he sighs. A fools errand. That is all this was. Of course Dorian is sleeping, and who is he to think even if he was not that Dorian would wish to see him?

Spirits dropped, Cullen turns away from the door and begins his solitary walk back to his room. The wine bottle has grown heavier in his coat, and his steps slower. He does not greet the guards he passes any longer; his mind is too busy with the rejection that never truly happened, but feels as such just the same.

When he reaches the door that leads back outside, he steels himself to face the cold. A deep breath, a hunch of the shoulders, and he pushes the door open.

Beyond it Dorian is waiting.

“Cullen, there you are.” The other man looks as surprised to see him as he is. Dorian smiles, though, and the night is warmer.

“You were looking for me?” It is all he can manage to say, and his voice is quiet, nearly drowned out by the sounds of night birds and wind.

“Why else would I be out here freezing to death if I wasn't? Where have you been off to?”

“I was...I was looking for you.” Bashful, looking to the sky, to the tower where Dorian isn't because he is here. He is right in front of him with no signs of sleep, and indeed all things pointing to him wishing the same as Cullen. To be together in the night, to be together right this very moment.

“Of course you were! Ships in the night, as they say. Come on, let's get to your chambers. I fear I'm going to became an ice statue if we stand here any longer.” Dorian moves to Cullen, presses himself against his side and wraps his arm around his waist. He is still slightly warm from the castle, but cooling fast. Cullen wants to warm him, to take him in his arms until he is heat and fire and passion. He settles for placing his arm over the man's shoulder, keeping him close.

“Oh, and you were bringing me wine!” Dorian must feel the bottle under his coat. “How charming of you. I will take that,” and it is gone, into Dorian's fine hands. The smile on his face is enough for Cullen to shed all doubts about his wandering journey to Dorian's room. It is enough to make each worry disappear.

A moment of boldness overtakes Cullen. Perhaps it is the darkness of the night, where it is easy to forget the fears and hurts, or maybe it is the snow that is finally starting to fall and dust Dorian's eyelashes with its touch. More believably, it is Dorian himself, snuggled next to him and looking up with such affection he has never known.

Cullen leans forward, pausing only for an instant as he admires the shape of Dorian's lips. Then he is kissing him, light and gentle. Maker's breath, he thinks. This is more than I deserve.

Dorian pulls away slightly, but he is still holding onto Cullen. He is not leaving. “More of that inside, yes?”

They walk together, entwined as the snow falls from night dark clouds. Tonight they have found each other.