The fire flickered lazily in the hearth, casting shadows about the walls that tempted to lure Dorian to sleep. He drifted somewhere between the two states, falling asleep for minutes only to blearily open his eyes, curled against the chest behind him.
Thank the Maker that Cullen ran hot. His bed was perhaps the warmest place in all of Skyhold and Dorian was selfish enough to not allow anyone else to use it. Well, that wasn't true. Cullen was more than able to offer his bed to others. They hadn't placed restrictions on...whatever this was. It was completely in the Commander's prerogative to have another in his bed.
Dorian wasn't sure which he would dislike more, the idea that Cullen had another in his bed or that Cullen didn't. He simply decided not to dwell on it and elbowed his warm pillow lightly. Cullen grumbled in his sleep and pulled the mage closer, arms wrapping around Dorian tightly.
"I need to leave," Dorian mumbled as he allowed himself to be manhandled. Sun wasn't breaking yet, but judging from the embers and soot in the hearth, it would be soon. "Where did you throw my things?"
Cullen made a noncommittal noise and unwound his arms from Dorian's bare waist, instead laying his hands on the mage's hips loosely. "S'mewhere."
"Such eloquence," Dorian said as he smiled at the barely awake man. While typically he would continue to berate Cullen, 'somewhere' actually ended up being a rather apt description. All of his clothing was scattered about the room in no real discernible fashion. It was only with a large amount of practice that Dorian was able to dress himself so quickly. Lesser men would not know which belt went where, but Dorian was not a lesser man.
"Stoke the fire?" Cullen asked, mumbled really. The man bundled himself deeper into the covers as Dorian got dressed. Even with the roof fixed, Cullen's tower was incredibly cold and while Dorian wasn't the best source of heat--necromancers in general ran cool--it was still more than Cullen alone.
With a put upon sigh, Dorian added more kindling to the fire. Probably more than he should because Cullen had a large stack of firewood. The Commander didn't leave many aspects of his life to others, even something so rudimentary as chopping firewood for his room, he did it himself.
And bless the Maker for that. Beyond storming into the War Room and making his appropriately dramatic entrance, Dorian first met Cullen when the man was bare-chested and swinging an axe about his head. It wasn't a great first meeting, granted, considering how coldly Cullen spoke to him, but damn if it wasn't a memorable one.
"Chess tomorrow?" Dorian asked even though it was technically today and Cullen had never missed a game.
"Mm-hm," Cullen mumbled back before covering his head in the blankets. It was abnormally cold in the room since winter had fallen over Skyhold. Dorian asked the locals how in Maker's name they could possibly know it was winter since it was always snowing. Every single Southern had given him some terrible answer.
'The rooster's only crowing thrice. Winter.'
'First tree got knocked over. Winter.'
'Had a dream where Andraste showed me her tits. Winter.'
Cullen was the only one to give Dorian an answer of any worth. "It's colder," he had said. Dorian wasn't quite sure how it could get colder, but it had. Not that he could tell that much of a difference. Cold was cold and in the South, the only thing it ever was, was cold.
Dorian stepped down the ladder, confident enough at this point to do it in the low-light of the hearth. He knew which rungs to be careful on, which could be skipped, and the third to last one that nearly buckled every time Dorian so much as looked in its direction.
It took a minute of listening at the door before Dorian felt comfortable opening it. Or...attempting to open it. The damned thing wouldn't budge. Frozen shut, probably.
"Fasta vass," Dorian muttered as he navigated up the ladder. "Cullen," Dorian hissed when he could peer over the edge of the landing. "Cullen," he tried again, though it appeared as if the man had already fallen back asleep. "Commander....Amatus!"
Cullen opened his eyes, bright with no remnants of sleep clouding them as he gave Dorian a wide smile. Dorian would roll his eyes if he wasn't focused on trying not to blush. He hadn't meant to call Cullen 'amatus' months ago, and he certainly had not counted on Cullen actually knowing what the word meant. The least Cullen could do was never mention it again.
Which of course meant that he used every opportunity he could to get Dorian to say it.
"What?" Cullen asked as he stretched beneath the blankets, much like a large cat would yawn and settle into the mattress.
"Your door won't open."
Cullen blinked at him, his eyebrows furrowed before he stepped off the bed, duvet curled about him as if it were a robe. "You're sure?"
"No, I've woken you up because I wanted to criticize more of your fashion choices. A duvet? Honestly?"
"That's more likely," Cullen said with a smile. He enclosed one hand about the duvet and used the other to climb down the ladder before Dorian. At least he took the ladder down instead of jumping down as Adaar was wont to do. Honestly, it's like all the men in Dorian's life simply wanted to make foolish decisions.
Cullen shot Dorian his best 'Oh, you squishy mage' look before trying the door with his free hand. It groaned under Cullen's strength but barely budged.
"What's the use of all those muscles if you can't get a door to open?" Dorian asked.
Cullen grumbled something that Dorian was sure was insulting but he barely paid the man's words any mind. Not when the ex-Templar had dropped the duvet about his feet to yank on the door with both hands. Yes, yes, Dorian had seen Cullen in less than a pair of cotton breeches, but seeing Cullen actually use those muscles was a thrill.
It took ex-Templar a few more tries before the door finally relented and opened, allowing the chest high snow that had piled in the night to fall through the opening. Cullen leaped out of the way before getting crushed, the snow piling high and tumbling into the office without direction.
"Must have been frozen shut," Cullen remarked as he pulled the blanket from the floor and threw it about his shoulders. The already cold room became freezing with the introduction of the snow and flurries came in thanks to the open door. "Doesn't look like we'll be training tomorrow."
"However will your recruits manage?"
"Happily, I'm sure," Cullen said with a roll of his eyes. "Come back to bed. We'll wait the storm out."
"Back to bed?" Dorian looked to the snow bank, completely unassailable, blocking the doorway. "I have to get back to my chambers, Cullen."
The look Cullen shot him was flabbergasted, along with a touch of disappointment if Dorian were to look. He was not looking. The mage walked about the snow, looking for a way--any way--to leave the blasted room.
I'll simply have to burn the snow, Dorian thought. Nevermind that more snow would follow and the temperatures would turn that melted snow into ice. He couldn't stay here. He couldn't. He'd ran from Qarinus with not a piece of gold to his name, settled into the Inquisition, helped develop time magic....He would not allow snow to best him.
"Dorian, there's no way out."
"Perhaps not for a simple Templar," Dorian spat, maneuvering the snow with his arm. It was still somewhat fresh, despite the sheer magnitude of it. But each pile he moved, more simply came to fill in the empty hole. "It's fine," Dorian said with a grimace as he stepped back. "You've another door. Open that one."
"Commander," Dorian snapped back, reverting back to a title he hadn't called his lover in months.
Cullen shrank back, taking a small step from Dorian as he pulled his hands closer to himself, wrapping the blanket tighter around him to hide further in the fabric.
"Fasta vass, Cullen. That was unworthy of me. I-" Dorian ran a hand through his hair, turning back to the snow that kept him from his months long routine. "We cannot be caught together."
"So you've said."
"As I recall, we agreed."
Cullen sighed and one of his hands came out from under the duvet to run through his hair. "This isn't Tevinter, Dorian."
No, but that didn't mean it was any better. "All of Skyhold already distrusts me, Cullen."
"You've earned your place here."
"Yes, as the scary Tevinter Magister that's going to steal babes from their beds. Not as the scary Tevinter Magister that's going to steal babes from their beds and who has also seduced the Commander of a vast and far reaching army."
Cullen's shoulders slumped at the accusation and his gaze fell from Dorian's face to rest on the floor. Something clenched in Dorian's stomach that was most decidedly not guilt.
"This means a lot to you," Dorian said.
Cullen looked up, gracing Dorian with an annoyed look. "Don't do that."
"Place the decision on me."
"I thought I was merely asking what my lover's opinion was."
It was, apparently, the wrong thing to say. Cullen turned away from him, his frustrated huff echoing in the freezing room. "I refuse to force you to do something you don't want to do, Dorian." The Commander turned back to Dorian and Dorian had to fight to keep the relief off his face. Cullen wasn't leaving. "I will help you clear the snow."
And wasn't that just like the good Commander? He wouldn't turn away from anyone but he'd make it so much easier for everyone to turn away from him. It hadn't escaped Dorian's notice that he gave an excuse to everyone should they ever want to push him away. 'If I cannot fulfill my duties. If I become a burden.'
'If I fail to be who you wish me to be.'
"Amatus," Dorian said, reaching out to grab Cullen's hand before he could make it to the snow that still filled the doorway behind Dorian. Andraste's tits but Dorian hated speaking of anything that meant anything. "I am asking....Is this important to you?"
"I will wait until you are ready. Not a moment before."
"Would it make you happy?" Dorian asked instead.
Cullen gave him a soft smile, reaching up to take Dorian's hand in his own. He brushed his lips against the back of Dorian's hand in a way that melted the mage's knees just a bit. "I am happiest when you are happy."
Dorian laughed, pulling the Commander's hand to him and nipping at one of the knuckles. "You are an insufferable man."
"You've suffered me for quite awhile."
"Only because I am a veritable saint. Anything less and you'd have driven me mad long ago."
Cullen smiled at him, the same smile that Dorian knew would be the death of him. It was the smile Cullen had fixed on him that first chess match all those months ago. The same smile Cullen gave him when he was able to riposte with Dorian's banter.
The smile that had damned Dorian months ago to being utterly besotted to a Fereldan dog lord who was more romantic than man.
"Help me move the snow," Dorian said. Cullen nodded and did a rather impressive job of masking the disappointment that appeared on his face. For all the talents the Commander had, hiding his emotions was one he was severely lacking. "Out the door, you foolish man. A hole in the roof is one thing, an open door that's pouring snow in is entirely another."
"You don't have to."
"You've said. But you've gone and made an ouroboros out of our...." Dorian couldn't say 'relationship', even if it was more or less what it was. "Well, at any rate, help me with this snow, would you?"
Cullen shook his head and flashed that damned smile at Dorian. Cullen's happiness stoked Dorian's own happiness, though he was not near the romantic Cullen was. At the very least, he wasn't about to say anything about it.
The Inquisition may look upon him with suspicion tomorrow but it was nothing he hadn't shouldered before. Nothing he couldn't shoulder if this was how he felt making Cullen happy.
"You're the one telling Cassandra, though. Maker knows one romantic bleeding heart is more than I can handle."
"Are you speaking of my heart or yours?"