owlmoose: (da - varric)
KJ ([personal profile] owlmoose) wrote2015-02-05 11:46 am

Dragon Age Kiss Battle! 2015 edition


Welcome to the 2015 Dragon Age Kiss Battle!


Any kind of kiss is welcome -- het, slash, femslash; shippy, familial, gen; cheek kisses, mouth kisses, kissing of... other things; serious, fluffy, silly, or all three at once; fanfic, fanart, whatever you come up with; anything goes!

The post is now open! I don't anticipate closing it, so come by any time!

THE RULES:

  1. To leave a request: Post a comment with character(s) and, if desired, a prompt. Put the pairing/character(s) in the subject line and the prompt in the body of the comment.

  2. To respond: Reply to the prompting comment. Include characters, rating, and title in the subject line. .

  3. Multiple responses are both allowed and encouraged!

  4. There is no limit to the number of prompts or responses you can post.

  5. Prompts from all Dragon Age canons and tie-ins are welcome, including DA:I. There is no rule against spoilers in prompts, but please do your best to be considerate. If a prompt response includes significant Inquisition spoilers, make sure to note it in the subject line. Readers should be aware that there may be spoilers in prompts as well as responses.

  6. Crossovers and AUs are welcome!

  7. Artwork can be posted inline, but try not to make it too large. Please link to images that are very large or NSFW.

  8. Please, be kind to others regarding pairing choices, prompts, or anything else. This game is for everyone! :)

  9. Anon commenting is on, as is OpenID, if you neither have nor want a Dreamwidth account.

  10. Send your friends! :D


If you have questions, please ask them here. Thanks, and happy kissing!!

Awestruck - Zevran/Male Warden

(Anonymous) 2015-02-11 01:30 am (UTC)(link)
The air was tense as they set up camp early, the clouds darkening and seeming to press closer to the ground, heavy with the looming threat of a downpour. Of course, most of the camp was worried about the risk of thunder and lightening as well as the inevitable rain.
When the heavens opened, everyone bar Zevran was holed away in their tents to wait out the worst of the pelting rain. The Antivan naturally ducked into the nearest tent, which turned out to be that of their dear Warden leader - who was seated on his bedroll, the war dog lying beside him. Hm, better than Oghren or Morrigan.
"Ah, I see this is not my tent." The blond sighed, looking from fellow elf to his dog and back.
"I'm not quite so cruel as to put you back out into that." The Warden answered, nodding to the rain that pounded the ground outside the tent, drummed against the waterproofed canvas over their heads. "You can stay in here until it lets up." He added casually, going back to stroking the mabari, no doubt in an attempt to keep him calm in case lightning and thunder was to follow. It was difficult to faze him, Zevran discovered. He seemed to be the sort of person who almost never let anything surprise him.
Zevran shot a quick grin of thanks, and sat down near the entrance of the tent so he could peer out at the sky overhead.
"This is the first storm I have seen in Ferelden that matches the ferocity of ones back in Antiva." He commented at length.
"Are there many storms in Antiva?" The Warden asked, and the blond nodded.
"Yes, mostly around summer. Quite a relief from the heat, as sultry as that can be." He answered, smiling to himself briefly at the memories spent sitting on window ledges in awe of the raw majesty of a storm, a display of sheer power from the skies in the bright light and booming cacophony that followed. Nature's reminder of how truly insignificant they all were, including the nobles and Crow Masters.
The Antivan shifted along when the other elf actually joined him at the mouth of the tent to examine the rain and the odd yellow quality to the light that still fell on the camp.
"Have I ever mentioned that I like storms?" Zevran questioned, aware of just how close the Warden was to him. A few more inches, in fact...
"I don't think you have. But I can see why."
The Antivan chuckled, about to say something else when a flash of light lit up a bank of clouds. Zevran counted under his breath, reached three before the skies rumbled. Sitting down on the ground, he could have sworn he could feel it.
Unable to help himself in the face of the boom of thunder, the Antivan laughed softly to himself. The Warden watched him, before smiling in response.
Then, as if on some unspoken cue, the gap between them was closed as quickly as the flash of lightning had been, their lips pressing together firmly, no hesitance or qualms from either of them. Zevran could taste smoke and the forest on the Warden's thin, warm lips, noticing how similar it was to his smell, how distinctive. Everything about the Warden was distinctive, and the kiss was as awe-inspiring as the storm outside.
The next flash of light saw them part at last, only a little out of breath, so they could watch the storm pass on overhead. There would be time enough for both action and discussion afterwards, if they chose.
pearwaldorf: rey from tfa (Default)

Topside (Harding/Dagna, G)

[personal profile] pearwaldorf 2015-02-08 01:38 am (UTC)(link)
Lace has heard through the grapevine that there is another dwarva at Skyhold, but it’s only now that she’s back from the field that she’s given any thought to making acquaintances. She has to admit, she’s a bit nervous. Underground dwarves sometimes have… interesting notions about surfacers. Or they look down their noses at them. (Figuratively. The height difference is minimal to nonexistent.) It’s something she and her family got enough of from the Kalnas, and if she can avoid it here, all the better.

She’s staring into the small mug of ale that came with her lunch at the tavern when somebody slides onto the opposite bench across from her. The new dwarva smiles at her, sweet and brilliant, and Lace’s stomach does a flip that has nothing to do with her lunch.

“I’m Dagna! You must be Scout Harding. Not that I could have missed you, considering everybody told me to be on the lookout for another dwarva.” Her face dimples. They never said how pretty you are though.”

“Thank you. That’s… that’s very nice of you to say.” Lace can feel herself blushing, and hopes it doesn’t show. It’s not like Dagna’s exactly terrible-looking, how her mouth curves when she smiles (Lace isn’t thinking about how those lips, beautiful and full, would feel against hers, absolutely not), and the way she exudes this irresistible presence, hungry and curious about everything around her. Lace hopes that includes herself.

“We don’t have to be friends, or even acquaintances who nod at each other in passing, but I’d really like it if we were. Friends, I mean.” Dagna’s expression turns wistful, longing. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen another sister of the Stone. They don’t have many of those in Circle towers.”

“I was born topside, actually. Right near Redcliffe.” Lace grits her teeth and waits for Dagna’s face to change, her expression to become disgusted or disdainful.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to presume. That was rude of me.” Dagna looks chagrined, and Lace’s chest unknots. Surprising herself, she reaches out her hands to meet Dagna’s. They are callused from the forge. She is comforted that some things, at least, remain the same.

“I think we’re going to get along really well,” Lace says, and she’s answered with another smile.

--

Dagna’s studies and Lace’s travels don’t always give them much time to spend together, but they make the most of it. They spend time exploring the hidden bits of Skyhold, both the high and the low. One day they find a ladder to a passage that leads up to a broad expanse of roof, high enough that they can see miles in the clear mountain air. Lace thinks it’s rather magnificent, but Dagna looks around her, awed and truly overwhelmed.

“I always thought people who went topside were always joking when they said they thought they’d fall into the sky, but I understand now. It’s beautiful.”

Dagna moves in, pressing her lips to Lace’s in a gentle, lingering kiss. They are soft and full, more wonderful than Lace imagined. She finally pulls back, a small, pleased smile on her face different from her usual broad grins. It feels precious and secret, just for her, and Lace finds she likes that a great deal.

“I’m glad we got to see this together.” Dagna hooks her arm through Lace’s and presses against her side. Looking out at the Frostbacks with Dagna’s head on her shoulder, Lace is glad too.

Re: Topside (Harding/Dagna, G)

(Anonymous) - 2015-02-10 05:57 (UTC) - Expand
tarysande: (Default)

Varric/Isabela

[personal profile] tarysande 2015-02-05 09:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Truth or Dare
jillyfae: (pic#8513325)

misdirection, (Isabela/Varric, G)

[personal profile] jillyfae 2015-02-06 06:17 am (UTC)(link)
isabela


It's a beautiful evening, crisp and clear and brightly edged, like only the best sorts of days can manage.

The very air tastes of the horizon, endless and blue.

You're camped earlier than usual, for a jaunt down the Coast, but there are ruins, tomorrow, and no one likes not being able to see the giant spiders coming.

The scritchy-scratchy of all those legs is bad enough when you've got at least half a chance to figure out where they're coming from before they jump on you.

Instead there are tents, and a fire, and good-natured squabbling about who takes which watch when, and if there's enough rabbit for dinner or if someone should go hunt down some more food; but of course everyone thinks it should be a different someone because no one wants to get up again.

Perfectly reasonable. You don't want to get up either.

Eventually there's dinner, and the sun is finally really setting, shadows long and cool and the sky turning dark and blue before you.

Somehow, as most nights seem to with Hawke, there's talking and gambling and perhaps you'd "borrowed" a bottle of something rich and bitter from the Rose to share, until one of the drinking games wanders its way through the camp, and makes its way to you, and you open your mouth and say truth.

You feel everyone go still before you can really see it, before the silence catches up with the itch down your spine, and you shrug, and pretend you don't notice the red glimmers of dying sunlight catching in eyes gone too wide in surprise.

"What, you're all too drunk to think of a single question?" You tease, and laugh, and take too deep a swallow so you can pretend the burn in your throat is just cheap rum.

"What's your favorite colour, Rivaini?"

Everyone groans, waste of a perfectly good question, but you smile at Varric, let your face go still and your voice smooth as you look him in the eyes.

"Gold, of course," and you know he sees the shifting of your eyes, the quick flick of your attention from the glint in his ear to the embroidery on his shirt to the few loose strands of his hair that glow in the firelight.

He blinks, eyelashes gilded by light and shadow, and you roll your shoulders, as if to cast the weight of your words to the wind, before anyone realizes what you've said.

Before you have to realize what you said.

He knows, though, Varric always knows, and after you pass the bottle, and everyone's teasing Kitten to take a larger sip for her turn, he lifts his hand to his mouth, and the barest shift of his fingers flicks a kiss at you through the air.

There's no rum to blame for the burn in your chest this time, but it's a good heat.

You think you'll keep it.

At least for a little while.
tarysande: (Default)

Fenris/Hawke

[personal profile] tarysande 2015-02-05 09:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Unexpected
alias_sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)

Dreams: Fenris/m!Hawke, Bethany fixes [Inquisition Spoilers]

[personal profile] alias_sqbr 2015-02-06 08:08 am (UTC)(link)
MAJOR spoilers for Inquisition. I've tried to be vague beyond "archer male Hawke who romanced Fenris", though I gave him my Hawke's name (Stefan).

This is like 1000 words of Bethany&Hawke fixit fic and 25 words of Fenris/Hawke, because that's what it took for me to convince myself of a happy ending after [spoilers]. But now I am much happier so thank you for the inpiration :)
---------
He was dreaming again.

It wasn't always easy to tell. Awake or asleep, the Fade was always dreamlike, the landscape an impossible shifting mish-mash of ideas made solid, filled with memories and spirits. But it was only when Stefan was asleep that the visions of people he knew seemed real. At least it wasn't his mother this time.

Bethany smiled at Stefan with tears in your eyes. "Are you well?" she asked. "Can you get up?"

"I could," he said. "But why not stay here and have a peach?" He gestured up at the fruit hanging sideways from the tree above his bed. "I'm fairly sure they're peaches today. Yesterday they were tiny curled up kittens, but they don't look as fuzzy now."

"Oh, Stefan, that's...very sweet" said Bethany. "But we have to go. If you come with me I can get us home."

"Are you in danger?" he asked getting up. He had a lot of dreams about protecting Bethany. They were stressful, but better than the ones about protecting Carver. Or that one where a sobbing Fenris had refused to believe he was real.

"Well, I am in the Fade," she said. "And I don't know how long the spell will hold...brother, you do remember where you are, don't you?" She led the way across the uneven ground with a determined stride. He'd forgotten how tall she was, he kept dreaming her as child.

"Of course I do," said Stefan. "I'm in the Fade, and I'm dreaming that my sister has come to rescue me."

"How do you know I'm a dream?" she asked.

He poked her gently in the shoulder. It was soft and slippery, like pushing against a strong stream of water. His fingers slid across the surface without hitting anything solid. "Real people don't do that," he said.

"They do when they're projecting into the Fade," said Bethany. "But...fair enough. As long as you know that..." She went to reach for his hand before thinking better of it. "I'm just really, really glad you're alive. It's been so long, I'm so sorry we left you here..."

"It's not so bad, really," he said lightly. He didn't like to see Bethany sad. "I mean, it was at first, obviously. What with being left for dead to be eaten by a giant spider. But once I survived that things weren't so bad! The Fade's not all giant spiders. Some parts of it are actually quite nice, once you get used to how odd everything looks."

"How did you survive? The way the Inquisitor described it, if Fenris hadn't told me he'd seen you I would have never believed you were alive."

"Fenris told you?" Did that mean Stefan had actually spoken to the real Fenris? Perhaps during one of Fenris's dreams...was that possible? Was it possible that he was speaking to the real Bethany now? Stefan's hard won equanimity started to crack. The only way he'd survived out here for so long without going mad was by holding onto what he knew was true. And one of the things he knew for sure was that noone he met out here was real.

This is a dream he told himself. Enjoy your time with the nice fake Bethany because it's the closest you'll ever come to seeing her again, but never forget that she is fake. And better not to think about Fenris at all. Time to change the subject.

"The great thing about giant spiders," said Stefan. "Is that they can't fit into tiny cracks. So I found myself a nice safe little niche in the rocks and shot arrows at the monster until the others had escaped, then I sat and waited until it was safe to sneak away. Took a while, but the fight went out of the thing once it's master was dead."

"So you could have defeated it if the others hadn't abandoned you?" Bethany's voice had a sharp undertone.

"I don't think so," said Stefan. "It was a pretty big spider. And...hey, an eluvian!"

"Yes," said Bethany, cheerfully. "That's how we're getting you out!"

The cold grey surface of the mirror shivered and rippled. It looked a lot more alive than the other eluvians Stefan had seen, in the Fade or out of it. "You're not going to do blood magic, are you?" asked Stefan. "I know it's a dream but I wouldn't want to risk it."

"Of course not," said Bethany, making glowing shapes in the air with her staff. "Merrill suggested it, but Morrigan and I found a way to...there!"

The surface of the mirror began the boil, and then flashed bright green. "Quick," said Bethany, grabbing his hand. She felt slippery and cool. Stefan thought about saying no, his experiences with eluvians and glowing portals had not been very encouraging thus far. But he wanted to see what would happen next.

He stepped through and Bethany vanished. He was facing a small room filled with furniture and people: Varric and Fenris watching the mirror, Merrill and some woman he didn't know helping Bethany up from lying on the floor. And at the front, the Inquisitor, her hand flashing green as she closed the portal to the Fade. The eerie light flickered across straight solid walls and a flat even floor, and then faded, leaving them all bathed in what looked exactly like clear, normal sunlight.

This. Is. A. Dream. thought Stefan.

"Hawke," said the Inquisitor, "You're alive! I am so sorry I..."

She did not get to finish. Fenris strode across the small space to throw himself at Stefan. "Hawke," he said. Fenris kissed him fiercely, and his lips were smooth and solid and warm.

"Oh," said Stefan. He kissed him back. It felt just as real as the first time.

Eventually he remembered that everyone else existed. He looked at them all, his friends and saviours, and smiled. "So I guess the world didn't end after all."
Edited 2015-02-06 10:06 (UTC)
tarysande: (Default)

Sebastian/Hawke

[personal profile] tarysande 2015-02-05 09:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Prayer
missema: Corrine Dragonborn art by Lyndztanica (Default)

In the Heather - F!Hawke/Sebastian - G

[personal profile] missema 2015-02-06 07:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Edit to add - tiny DA:I spoilers warning for the meager mentions about a romanced Sebastian.

Since they'd come to Starkhaven, all of their plans had changed. They were not at the head of a conquering army nor had they been able to push the usurper off the throne. Instead they were honored guests while they made their claims, with most of the nobility in a protracted catfight for the throne. The Chantry mediated for them, as much as they could in such times of turmoil. She knew it was never going to be as easy as they'd hoped, but there was more resistance then either of them had anticipated.

She did not miss Kirkwall, but Sebastian did. He found no refuge in the the Chantry here, which was too much like the one in Kirkwall, and yet not enough like it for him to feel peaceful. The rolling hills and natural grandeur of the landscape brought him more solace than he could find in any building, and she often found him praying in the fields of heather that bordered the estate where they stayed.

His head was just discernible over the stalks of flowering purple that covered the land, and Hawke headed towards him. She didn't pray, not because she didn't believe, but because without Bethany by her side her words felt hollow and sad. On rare days she sang the Chant with Sebastian, but those days had been few in number since they'd reached Starkhaven. The soft purr of his voice reached her as she approached, and she found herself mouthing the words along with him.

"Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder."

When Sebastian finished, she was kneeling next to him. Not praying, but silent and respectful as he finished his own prayers. He smiled at her, a weak and weary smile, too worn around the edges for her liking. She resettled herself to keep her balance and reached out to bring his steepled hands to her lips. Hawke kissed the tips of his calloused fingers and when he opened his hand to cup her face, she pressed a kiss on the inside of his palm. These hands meant so much to her; they held her when she was ill, pulled her up when she fell, had brought her food when she could not get her own. The man to whom they belonged was her greatest joy in a bleak world.

"Is it time?" he asked.

"Not yet. We can sit for a little while."

"How about a short walk instead? I'm losing the feeling in my knees."

Hawke laughed, the sound rusty in her throat. She held out her hand for him to take, and he kissed the inside of her gloved palm as well before lacing his fingers through hers. She smiled but said nothing, leaning on his side as they walked through the heather fields.
Edited 2015-02-06 19:55 (UTC)
tarysande: (Default)

Cullen/Inquisitor

[personal profile] tarysande 2015-02-05 09:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Until Then
tarysande: (Default)

Aveline/Donnic

[personal profile] tarysande 2015-02-05 09:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I'll be fine.
bloomingcnidarians: (Default)

Re: Aveline/Donnic

[personal profile] bloomingcnidarians 2015-02-09 06:37 pm (UTC)(link)
"I'll be fine. Don't let Kirkwall fall into the sea while I'm gone."

Re: Aveline/Donnic

[personal profile] cumuluscastle - 2015-02-10 11:49 (UTC) - Expand
tarysande: (Default)

Cassandra/Inquisitor

[personal profile] tarysande 2015-02-05 09:09 pm (UTC)(link)
They did WHAT in Varric's book?
alias_sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)

A New Ideal, Cassandra/f!Adaar, Gish, mild Inquisition spoilers

[personal profile] alias_sqbr 2015-02-07 01:09 pm (UTC)(link)
She caught her up in a punishing kiss. Their tongues battled for dominance, but this was a battle she knew she would win.

Evaline gasped Liesbeth.

"That's Knight Captain Evaline," mouthed the redhead into Liesbeth's ample bosom. Her highly illegal pirate bosom. How did something so wrong feel so right?

"What about Dirk?" breathed Liesbeth breathlessly.

Ah, Dirk. Evaline felt a flash of heat as she remembered her last tumble with the muscular brunet. She'd had some good times with that sexy piece of man meat. For a while she'd even thought she loved him. But that was in the past. She'd spent too long trying to fight this, too long pretending she didn't want this feisty chit of a pirate, too long ignoring the fiery flame that burned between them. There was something special about Liesbeth that called to the deepest parts of Evaline's being. Something pure and vulnerable besides her flinty heart hiding in that ample ebony bosom.

"Well, what about you and Wulf?" asked Eveline, archly, her cerulean orbs flashing. "I saw you just the other day admiring his lithe figure."

Liesbeth tossed her shiny mane of jet black hair, causing her ample bosom to bounce enticingly. "He's pretty, but he's not..." She pouted, her full lower lip quivering with delicious petulance. "I'm no good at this feelings stuff, you know that." The brunette pulled the redhead closer and narrowed her almond shaped eyes seductively. "Can we just get to the good part?"

Evaline laughed. Then her rich throaty voice caught in a gasp as the pirate woman's clever fingers found their way under her short leather skirt. Her skin felt hot and slick as the the brunette's fingers reached up towards...


"Are you enjoying the book?"

Cassandra let out an undignified squeak and almost lost her page. Inquisitor Adaar was looking down at her with an uncertain smile. Cassandra felt a flush of embarrassment and tried to purge her mind of inappropriate thoughts about stoic guard captains and sexy pirates. It was hard, she was still reeling from the fact that Liesbeth and Evaline had gotten together at all. Yes, Evaline and Dirk had broken up at the end of the last book, but he'd been so heavily telegraphed as...

She really needed to find somewhere more private to read. Or less embarrassing tastes.

"...yes," said Cassandra. "It is...good."

Herah beamed. It was nice to see her so happy, she'd been subdued around Cassandra of late. "Well don't tell me what happens! I'm only up to book two."

"You...you are reading Swords and Shields? And you...do you like it then?" It had started to feel like Cassandra was the only fan in all of Thedas. Even Varric didn't like them.

"Yes! After seeing how much you liked them I thought they had to be worth a shot, and I'm really enjoying them," said Herah. "I mean, it's not fine art, but it's really...engaging, you know? I care about the characters, and...I never got to hear much about grand passions growing up with Tal Vashoth. It's all so utilitarian. Which is fine if you like it that way, but I always felt like..." She looked down at her feet. "I guess it's nice seeing things work out differently. I mean I know it's hardly an accurate depiction of romance, but..."

"I know exactly what you mean," said Cassandra. She put in her bookmark and stood up, so that Herah was not towering over her quite so much. They started walking together across the courtyard. "So where are you up to?"

"I just met Varius!" said Herah, "And could he be a more obvious stand in for Varric? He even has the earring!"

Cassandra laughed. "I know, Varric is so shameless! And yet the things he does to Varius are so..." She covered her mouth. "Oh, I am so sorry! Forget I said anything!"

Herah shrugged. "That's ok. I never liked him much. He's too..." Her eyes got wide and she grabbed Cassandra by the arm "Oh! But you can tell me...I must know if anything bad happens to Liesbeth! She hasn't shown up again after the big fight with the Sten, and I'm worried she's dead."

"Are you sure you want me to tell you?" asked Cassandra.

"Yes! No! I..." Herah laughed ruefully. "I'm being really silly aren't I? Sorry."

"No more silly than I," said Cassandra. "And it is fun to discuss the books with someone else who cares about them as much as I do. I remember when I finished the first book I stayed up until nearly dawn and then rushed to the bookseller the moment they opened to buy the sequel. And then after that I had to wait six months for the third book to come out! I thought I would die!"

"Oh no, does this one end on a cliffhanger as well?"

"They all end on cliffhangers," said Cassandra, bitterly. "Because Varric is an evil, evil man."

"I know," said Herah. "Do you remember how he left Evaline bleeding to death in a carta prison at the end of the first book? Who does that?" She leaned against the stone battlement, bringing her face down to Cassandra's level. Without Cassandra realising it, they had wandered up to a secluded balcony looking out over Skyhold. Cassandra tried not to think back to the last time they'd talked together in a place like this.

Herah took a deep breath. "Ok, Cassandra," she said. "I've thought about it, and I need to know. Tell me: is Liesbeth dead?"

"Well...." said Cassandra, enjoying the moment. "That depends on how you define dead...."

"Don't make me use the hand." Herah waved her mark in front of Cassandra in an entirely unthreatening show of force. For such a physically imposing woman she was remarkably gentle.

Cassandra laughed. "Liesbeth is fine. There is some misdirection where you see what looks like her funeral, but it turns out she faked her own death to escape the, uh, Qunari." For the first time it occurred to Cassandra that Herah might not appreciate the way the books used the Qunari as a convenient inscrutable antagonist whenever the plot needed some tension. Although of course Herah would be the first to remind her that Qunari was not the same thing as Tal Vashoth. "I haven't quite finished the final book but for now at least she is...happy. And very much alive."

"And does she finally realise her undying love for Evaline?"

Cassandra coughed in surprise. "How did you know? I had no idea!"

Herah's eyes got huge. "No, really? I was joking! I mean I think they're great together but I thought for sure Evaline and Dirk were...Wow!"

"Ah, I am so sorry, I spoiled it!" said Cassandra.

"No, it's ok, I like knowing. Gives me something to look forward to," said Herah, with a big grin. "But that's...wow. That makes me so happy. I know she's nothing like me, but...I always identified with Liesbeth a little bit."

"With Liesbeth?" said Cassandra in surprise. Who would identify with her when Knight Captain Evaline was right there? "But she's so...irresponsible! You are nothing like that!" Although now that she thought to compare them...Herah did also have smooth dark skin, shining hair, and a very ample bosom. True, her skin was dark grey, and her long white hair was braided between two large, metal tipped horns, but she was still just as strikingly beautiful as Cassandra had imagined the pirate woman to be. Maybe more so.

"You're right," said Herah. "I'm not much like her. She's so...independent and passionate. I guess she's...who I wish I was. Or who I could be."

"You are better than Liesbeth," said Cassandra. "Just because you do not run from your responsibilities...and I know you are passionate! You cannot help that..." You cannot help that the object of your passion rejected you. Evaline had rejected Liesbeth too, at first, and Liesbeth had responded by kissing her. Which would be an awful thing to do in real life (and in the book it had just gotten her arrested) The thought of Herah kissing her was not as awful now as it had seemed a short time ago. But one of the things that drew Cassandra to Herah was that she would never behave like Liesbeth. "I hate to think what she would do if she was put in charge of the Inquisition, as you were. Can you imagine?"

"Steal all the gold and run back to Antiva," said Herah, laughing. "And maybe start a few extra wars in the process. Yes, that does put my own failures into perspective."

"You are a fine Inquisitor," said Cassandra. "We all make mistakes, and you less than most. What matters is that you are willing to make the difficult decisions."

"And not run away back to Ostwick, as much as I might sometimes want to."

"Exactly." This felt good, talking like friends. They had not done it much since Cassandra rejected Herah, and Cassandra had missed it. With men, Cassandra always felt they expected her to be something she was not: either a delicate, feminine princess, or a thick skinned pragmatist with no time for sentiment. But Herah knew what it was to a be a woman, yet not what people thought a woman should be. With her, Cassandra felt like she was being seen for who she truly was. Surely they could put all the rest behind them, and forget about all the might have beens. She squeezed Herah's hand.

Herah flinched. Ah. Perhaps they could not. "I am sorry," said Cassandra. "I should not have..."

"No, I'm sorry," said Herah. "You shouldn't have to feel weird about touching me!"

"I do not wish to make you uncomfortable," said Cassandra.

"That's really not the problem," said Herah, heavily. Cassandra felt herself flush.

Herah had not been the first woman to express interest in Cassandra. There had been other noble girls back in Nevarra, some of the few other female Seekers, a few lay sisters during her time in the Chantry...but none of them had had any appeal. So Cassandra had come to the conclusion that she just didn't like women. Of course, it wasn't like she found most men appealing either, nor many of those who identified as neither. Looking at Herah now, thinking about touching her, about how Herah might still feel about her...Cassandra wondered if perhaps it wasn't simply that she was picky.

Herah rubbed her face with her hands. "Wait, sorry, that's not...can we just forget the last minute or so and go back to talking about books?"

"Of course," said Cassandra. The fact that Cassandra returned Herah's interest did not mean they were a good match. Herah was the Inquisitor, she had more important things to worry about. And Cassandra was ill suited for relationships, she wanted impossible things and could give little in return.

That, or she was running away from a difficult decision.

"Wait..." she said, stiffly. "Inquisitor. You...you used to flirt with me, until I told you I could not return your affection."

"Yes," said Herah. "But Cassandra, I understand that nothing can happen. You said you hoped we could be friends, and I want that so badly, if there's anything I can do to..."

"You misunderstand me," said Cassandra. "I am not expressing a complaint. I am trying...I need to understand something. About...about your intentions. If I was to return your affections, what would that mean? Would you court me? Or are you only interested in something purely physical?"

Herah had said she liked the idea of romance. But that didn't mean she was interested in pursuing it in real life, or with Cassandra. Maybe she really had just been flirting. But Cassandra had to know. She stood her ground and tried not to look away or twist her hands in nervousness.

"Anything," said Herah, her voice soft and full of hope. "Cassandra, I...I would bring you the stars."

'The stars' sounded about right: beautiful and perfect and entirely beyond reach. "But what do you want?"

"Me? I want...I want everything," said Herah. "I know, it's ridiculous! A Tal Vashoth romantic, right? But I want to bring you flowers and write you poetry and..." she ducked her head, "...do all the physical things too, if you wanted." Herah stepped closer. She was so very tall. "But Cassandra...does this man you've changed your mind?"

"Yes. At least...I...I find myself...do you think it could work then? Between the two of us? You have so many other responsibilities. And I want...I want everything too. I will not settle for half measures."

Herah smiled. "Since when have I ever done anything by half?" Cassandra laughed. It was a fair point. "I can't promise...I don't know a lot about human courtship. When I've tried it before the humans were...unappreciative. But I know how I feel." She reached down and took Cassandra's hand, then slowly bowed so that their heads were level. She kissed Cassandra's hand, a soft brush of her lips that made Cassandra's skin tingle. She looked up and their eyes met. Purple eyes, beautiful and expressive, looking at Cassandra like she was the only thing in the world that mattered.

(Also posted to Ao3 to avoid the "edit comment ten times" problem)
sarasa_cat: (Default)

Cullen/Shale

[personal profile] sarasa_cat 2015-02-05 09:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Decorations for the midsummer festival in Honnleath
halberdier: Alistair approves of this (Dragon Age: Alistair Approves + 10)

Not a Statue

[personal profile] halberdier 2015-02-06 01:31 pm (UTC)(link)
"Alistair did say that he'd send us an envoy from the Hero of Ferelden, someone who would come in very handy in a fight," Josephine said, trying not to stare at the massive form in the great hall.

Cullen forced his mouth shut, swallowed hard, rubbed the heels of his hands into his eyes and looked again. "It's a statue. The statue from the middle of Honnleath village square," he said, disbelief in his voice. "I used to play on that statue. How is it here?"

"She, Commander," Leliana had silently joined them. "Shale is a she, and a former member of the Inquisitor's House, hundreds of years ago."

Cullen swung his gaze from the statue (talking animatedly with the Inquisitor) to Leliana and back again. "But statues don't move," he said, sounding plaintive.

Leliana chuckled. "With all the unbelievable things you've seen in your life, Commander, is a statue - a golem - that walks and talks and is our Inquisitor's great-great-I-don't-know-how-many-times-great-grand-aunt truly the least believable? Personally, I would have expected you to have more trouble believing a Dwarf to be Andraste's Herald," she said with a small, wry smile.

"Golem. I - I remember First Enchanter Irving talking about golems, once. In a history lesson. I - oh, Maker, I used to climb all over her!" Cullen's face turned bloodless, except for the telltale pinkness of mortification around his ears.

His exclamation had caught Shale's attention, and the golem strode over to the three advisors. She held out a massive stone hand to Josephine, who shook it as delicately as she would the most important Orlesian noblewoman. Shale greeted Leliana with, "I simply must tell you about the shoes I saw-" but interrupted herself when she caught sight of Cullen attempting to be unobtrusive, and still clanking in his armour.

"I remember it- you from the damnable green. You chased the pigeons. You cleaned their muck off my face. You-"

"Cullen Stanton Rutherford," Cullen managed not to stumble over his own name. "I - I never knew you were a-alive. I feel as though I ought to apologise for using you as a climbing frame when I was a lad," he added, rubbing the back of his neck, and blushing.

Somehow, and Cullen wasn't sure how, given that her face was stone and therefore expressionless, Shale looked delighted. "It- you, I keep forgetting that squishy beings prefer personal pronouns, sorry, - you were my first kiss!"

Leliana clapped a hand over her mouth, but that didn't hide her delighted laughter, while Josephine snorted and giggled madly, complaining about her watering eyes spoiling her makeup.

"There was a story. A - a fable," Cullen protested, "that true love's kiss would waken the beautiful maiden from her stone slumber. At midsummer. I - I was elected to hang the bunting. It was a dare," he hissed at his fellow advisors.

"I wouldn't mind if it tried again," Shale said, somehow managing to sound coy and - pun not intended - gravelly at the same time.

At that moment, Cullen was suddenly very aware of how public they were, and how many heads were turned in their direction. Varric was writing as fast as he could, leaning against the Inquisitor's throne. Cullen turned once more to the statue - the golem - Shale, he corrected himself, and bowed, extending a hand towards her. Shale placed her massive stone hand atop his open hand (someone had taught her about romance, it seemed) and he kissed her knuckle, like a knight-errant of old (or at least where he approximated her knuckle should be).

The room behind him began to slowly clap, a chant of kiss, kiss, kiss beginning while Cullen fumbled for a footstool or crate to stand on. Shale leaned forward, Cullen wrapped his arms about her neck, and, much as he had as a lad, leaned in and kissed the golem's lipless mouth. THe golem remained a creature of stone, but the room erupted in cheers anyway.

"You just tell me if the birds bother you," he murmured quietly, and Shale shook beneath him in a quiet laugh. "And, for the record, that one was not a dare."
Edited (I forgot what the actual prompt was *facepalm*) 2015-02-06 13:50 (UTC)

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Josie/Krem

(Anonymous) 2015-02-05 10:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Protection from the House of Repose
OR
A stuffed nug
alias_sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)

Leliana/Morrigan

[personal profile] alias_sqbr 2015-02-06 03:52 am (UTC)(link)
A new perspective
imadra_blue: (Default)

Re: Leliana/Morrigan

[personal profile] imadra_blue 2015-02-06 11:32 am (UTC)(link)
Reflections | Dragon Age: Inquisition (contains endgame spoilers), Leliana/Morrigan, 870 words

Note: I ship this, but I'm still trying to work out how the dynamic would work. Consider this an experiment in that endeavor.




Morrigan peered around the rookery as she made the last few steps to the top. It was dark, despite the morning sun streaming in through the open balcony door. The light never seemed to spread, not even that of the candles, making the rookery the gloomiest part of Skyhold. Leliana sat at her desk, as always, busy scribbling something on parchment. Morrigan waited a moment, but Leliana didn't look up.

"Well, I'm leaving now," Morrigan announced, annoyed. Something had shifted in them both, moving in opposite directions, and Morrigan still didn't fully understand what that was. Something inside of her that she couldn't quite explain craved to understand it.

"So I've heard," Leliana said.

Morrigan waited again. More should be said between them, yet no words came. They had both helped the same Warden stop the Blight, though only of them had survived it. Morrigan could never forget that cold day in the Temple of Andraste as she watched Mahariel pour the dragon's blood into the urn, determined to spite the Chantry that had persecuted his people for centuries. Perhaps he was even justified; it was not Morrigan's position to judge. She hadn't expected Leliana to attack him for it, and she hadn't expected him to kill Leliana without hesitation. That moment, when Mahariel stepped over Leliana as she died, had left a sour note in Morrigan's memories. What disturbed her wasn't that she had watched Leliana died in a pool of her own blood—Morrigan had watched many people die, and in far more unpleasant manners. But she had seen the light go out in Leliana's eyes, as if blown out by a cold and bitter wind. It wasn't the light of life, but something else Morrigan had no word for. Even though Leliana had miraculously survive, that light had not rekindled. Leliana's eyes remained as dark as the ravens rustling their wings about the rookery, no matter their natural color.

With only the sound of Leliana's quill pen scratching against paper and the croaking of the raven to fill the space between them, Morrigan sighed and turned to leave, wondering why she had bothered. Why should she care? She and Leliana had never been friends. But they had been comrades, once.

"Is Kieran his?" Leliana asked suddenly.

Morrigan froze, gazing down the darkened steps to the library, then turned back to Leliana. Hands now folded on the desk, Leliana returned Morrigan's gaze, eyes as dark as ever.

"Does it matter?" Morrigan asked. She knew who Leliana meant. It could only be Mahariel.

Leliana glanced down, a crease in her brow. "No. I suppose not."

"Are you truly going to be Divine?"

"Does it matter?" Leliana asked, glancing back up.

"Ah. Then I take it that it's the same answer as my own. Congratulations."

Leliana chuckled and shook her head before studying Morrigan again. The years had treated her kindly. She was still a remarkably attractive woman—all except for those eyes. As haunted as they were, Morrigan could not help but find them the most alluring part about Leliana.

"You never asked how I'm still alive," Leliana asked. "Do you know?"

"Do you know?"

"Ah. The same answer as my own again." Leliana stood and walked towards Morrigan. "Thank you for your help, even if it was for your own selfish reasons. We accomplished our goals, and now we can accomplish even more."

Morrigan put a hand on her hip and sneered. "Tch. Ten years ago, I'd have said you wouldn't make it long, but it's clear from the trail of blood that led you here that you'll survive just fine as Divine. The real question is if anyone else will. We shall see."

Leliana laughed, a deceptively light sound, one that didn't match her bearing at all. "And you and your son will do just fine. You always seem to get your way."

"Why shouldn't I? No one else will get it for me. Goodbye, then. I doubt this will be our last encounter, but who knows how long until we meet again." Morrigan dipped her head and turned to walk back down the steps, but Leliana caught her wrist and spun her around. Before she could protest, Leliana's lips closed on hers, hungry and wet. Leliana's grip on her wrist grew painfully tight, but Morrigan found herself drawn into the kiss despite it. Or perhaps because of it. The warmth of Leliana's mouth, the need in her questing tongue, shot a thrill down Morrigan's spine, and when Leliana cupped her right breast, a surprising warmth spread between her legs.

And then, sudden cold as Leliana drew back, her pale face flushed. "Goodbye, then."

Morrigan worked her mouth, perhaps rendered speechless for the first time she could recall. Leliana folded her hands before her, silent and ungiving. Unsure of how to respond, Morrigan began her descent back down into the library. When she glanced back into the rookery, Leliana still stood near the stairs, watching her leave, her dark eyes reflecting the candlelight.
Edited 2015-02-06 11:34 (UTC)

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alias_sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)

Flemeth/Solas

[personal profile] alias_sqbr 2015-02-06 03:55 am (UTC)(link)
The Old Days.
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)

Dorian/m!Inquisitor

[personal profile] alias_sqbr 2015-02-06 03:59 am (UTC)(link)
Nerds

"A Bit of History" - Dorian/M!Lavellan, G

[identity profile] lindira.livejournal.com 2015-02-07 08:46 am (UTC)(link)
Very, very mild spoilers for Dorian's personal quest and early romance.
-------

"Making yourself at home, I see."

Dorian looked up from his book at the Inquisitor, then down at the volumes stacked around the large, plush chair he claimed as his own. "Oh, this? Just a bit of light reading. There are so few books worth a glance in this glorified bookshelf you call a library. I thought I might claim what worthwhile titles I could find."

Aeric raised his eyebrows in an amused expression. "So critical."

After Aeric had taken Dorian to see his father in Redcliffe, they had begun flirting in earnest. The Inquisitor was hard to read - quiet, serious, rarely smiling - but never hid his interest in Dorian. And Dorian wasn't sure what to make of it. They had kissed once a few days ago, after Mother Giselle accosted him about the rumors regarding the two of them. But he hadn't gotten around to finding out what the elf thought about it. If Dorian was being truthful to himself, the idea of such a conversation made him nervous.

"My father's library was twice this size," Dorian said with a sigh. "I'd like to say I've read them all, but no. At least three bookshelves on the second floor, completely untouched." He supposed he might never get to read them now.

"You really had that many books growing up? I'm jealous." Aeric leaned against the corner of one of the shelves, folding his arms over his chest. There was a book in his hand that he now hugged against him with his crossed arms. "Books were always hard to come by amongst the Dalish. We had to trade for them, and we tried to avoid human settlements as often as we could."

Dorian was intrigued, having never met another Dalish before. But before he could ask a question, the Inquisitor beat him to it.

"So, what book has passed your scrutiny?"

Smiling, Dorian picked up the book and showed the Inquisitor the cover. "Tales of the Destruction of Thedas. One of Genitivi's."

"Ah," Aeric said with a nod. "I'm surprised you like it. He tends to be a little overdramatic."

"He does!" Dorian said with a chuckle. "But I find that quality a little endearing. Say what you will about Genitivi, he does not lack for passion."

"If you like dramatic history, you might enjoy this one." Unfolding his arms, Aeric stepped forward and held out the book he had with him. "Have you heard of Cypriana Ibis? This is her study of darkspawn and Grey Wardens, Chronicles of the Blight. It's one of my favorites."

Dorian's eyes widened as he took the book from him. "You've read this? Ibis is a Tevinter author!" He flipped through the pages eagerly. The ends of were soft and well-worn, but there were no dog ears or broken binding. The book had been well-loved. "Alexius recommended this book to me a few years ago. I never got the chance to read it. It's good, then?"

"Yes, it's excellent! The way she writes, it sounds almost like a storybook." As he spoke, Aeric's face slowly came alight, the tiniest of smiles curling upon his lips. His deep blue eyes shone with excitement. "Such attention to detail, but the facts are there. She did her research, and it shows." He paused, and Dorian thought he saw Aeric's cheeks turn pink. "Do you mind if I show you a few passages?" the elf asked.

Dorian shook his head, feeling his own face grow warm. "Not at all. Pull up a chair."

After pulling one of the wooden chairs alongside Dorian's big red one, Aeric took back the book and bent over it, turning pages until he found the one he wanted. "Here," he said, and he leaned closer to Dorian to show him. "When Ibis talks about the Blight-touched lands, the way she describes them… 'The blackened lands all but turned to dust, where naught could grow for sin had touched what life and beauty had strived to nurture through it. Where grass had grown, came ash and sand, twisted trees that clawed the sky. When darkspawn came, nothingness pursued them.'"

"Like poetry." Dorian gave a soft smile, his heartbeat quickening as he realized how close Aeric's face was to his own.

Aeric returned Dorian's smile with one of his own. Rare as Aeric's smiles were, Dorian found it stunning, and he could not look away. "Like poetry," Aeric agreed, his voice almost a whisper. Then he leaned forward and kissed Dorian.

As their lips met, Dorian gave a soft gasp of surprise, before closing his eyes and reveling in the feel of Aeric's lips against his own. The kiss was gentle, seeking but not demanding. Soft caresses of skin and tongues that had only begun to know the feel of each other. There was a sweetness to it, an affection that Dorian had not felt before when kissing another. The feeling made his face grow hot, and when they parted - too soon for Dorian's liking - he was pleased to see that Aeric's face was flushed as well.

The smile had fallen from Aeric's lips, but it had not left his eyes. "Did you like that passage?"

"Oh yes," Dorian replied. His heart still hammered in his chest. "I'd be happy to hear more."

"Of course. And I could lend the book to you, if you'd like."

"Please do. I think it might become one of my favorites as well."
alias_sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)

Leliana/f!Warden/Alistair

[personal profile] alias_sqbr 2015-02-06 04:02 am (UTC)(link)
Reunion
imadra_blue: (Default)

Cullen/m!Lavellan

[personal profile] imadra_blue 2015-02-06 06:57 am (UTC)(link)
Fereldans don't talk about that.
imadra_blue: (Default)

Cassandra/Morrigan

[personal profile] imadra_blue 2015-02-06 06:58 am (UTC)(link)
The Witch's Knight
iambickilometer: (Default)

"the testing of steel" - Morrigan/Cassandra, G

[personal profile] iambickilometer 2015-02-08 08:34 am (UTC)(link)
"I know you," Cassandra tells the darkness from without the chapel. A laugh, or the flapping of ravens' wings, and the witch steps into the dim candlelight.

"Careful, Seeker," she says, her voice low and smooth. "They say many things of assumption."

She wore a lavish gown in Halamshiral, but it hid far more than these homespun rags reveal. A witch of the wilds, Leliana said, but Cassandra knows the legend well enough afford it caution. The death of wild men and the laws that followed them. Cassandra has set fire to the veins of lesser mages.

"Morrigan," she says. "You followed the Hero of Ferelden once."

"How well you know your tales," Morrigan replies, her voice mocking, her smile sharp. She picks her way around rubble and candles, sweeping as if still wearing skirts, not quite toward Cassandra but in her orbit, so Cassandra must turn to watch her. "Have you heard the tales they whisper in the night, I wonder? That she followed me instead?"

Leliana spoke little of that, the Warden's personal life, but Cassandra looks at her own hands, dark as the Warden's might have been, sudden as a shout against Morrigan's pale throat should it come to blows. Morrigan reaches her own hand out and takes Cassandra's, manipulating it like a puzzling artifact that could be solved by a keen enough eye.

Cassandra allows the intrusion, and will not remember later why. She says, "There is no sin in the love of a comrade," and it must sound stuffy as a chancellor. She would quote the Chant, but Morrigan might meet that with the sharp end of her tongue, and Cassandra would rather--

But Morrigan laughs, three breaths out, and drops Cassandra's hand. "Idle fancies, nothing more."

"The child?" Cassandra asks despite herself.

"Precocious," Morrigan replies. "Some tales are nothing more, no matter the ambiance."

But she is here in the chapel, and the night was empty before. Wherever she might have thought to find Cassandra, she need not have searched at this hour, so surely, surely, she must have some cause other than torment.

"But the Warden lived," Cassandra says. "And that still does not explain why you have come here."

"A witch comes and goes as she will." Morrigan's smile returns, slow, teeth sheathed yet. "I did not come to tell tales."

"But you have tales to tell."

A flash of motion is Morrigan grasping Cassandra's hand again, raising it to her red lips to press them together in an approximation of a kiss. She leans in again, mouth ghosting against the ridges of Cassandra's ear. "You'll not have them from me so easily," she says, and she laughs.

The flapping of raven's wings. Another heartbeat, and Cassandra stands in the chapel alone as before.
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Cullen/Fenris

[personal profile] imadra_blue 2015-02-06 06:59 am (UTC)(link)
Red Lyrium
imadra_blue: (da:o zevran consider)

King!Alistair/Zevran

[personal profile] imadra_blue 2015-02-06 07:00 am (UTC)(link)
As you wish.
Edited 2015-02-06 10:30 (UTC)
imadra_blue: (da:o zevran smirk)

Warden!Alistair/Zevran

[personal profile] imadra_blue 2015-02-06 07:02 am (UTC)(link)
Not you again.

F!Inquisitor/Cassandra

[personal profile] phdfan 2015-02-06 10:00 am (UTC)(link)
No holding back

Hawke/Warden!Alistair

[personal profile] phdfan 2015-02-06 10:00 am (UTC)(link)
Last goodbyes
Edited 2015-02-06 10:02 (UTC)

Leandra & Hawke

[personal profile] phdfan 2015-02-06 10:04 am (UTC)(link)
Giving in marriage

Cassandra/Cullen

[personal profile] phdfan 2015-02-06 10:06 am (UTC)(link)
Pull yourself together
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Re: Cassandra/Cullen

[personal profile] tarysande 2015-02-06 04:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Faith: Cassandra/Cullen
Dragon Age: Inquisition, mild spoilers for the beginning of the game


#

Cassandra's long strides ate the distance swiftly, and every time her pacing brought her to one of the room's walls, she scowled at it and made a faintly disgusted noise under her breath, as though she could not believe it dared exist to impede her frustrated path. Under other circumstances, this noise might have made Cullen chuckle; he was fairly certain she had no idea how often she uttered it. Now, however, was not the time for laughter. The Conclave was no more; the Temple of Sacred Ashes was in ruins; the Divine was dead; and the only clue they had about any of it lay in a deep slumber they might never wake from, hand pulsing with green fire echoing the great tear in the sky above.

The next time Cassandra came face to face with the wall, her hand clenched into a fist as though she meant to strike the stones down, and Cullen cleared his throat, no less insistent for being gentle. "Seeker," he said. The emphasis on her position brought her around to face him instead of the wall. Her fingers did not relax. Spots of color burned high on her cheekbones, and her eyes flashed with irritated fire.

"What?"

"Breaking your hand won't give us answers."

With narrowed eyes and thinned lips and a slight flare of her nostrils, she took a step toward him. "You think me so foolish?"

"No," he said. "I think you frustrated. Angry. Grieving."

"I am fine."

He arched a brow in reply, and she tossed her head, huffing her irritated noise once more. Her hands released and clenched, released and clenched. Knowing the risk, he lunged out and grabbed them, cradling her fists in his larger hands. He said, "Do you remember what you told me, the day I was mad with withdrawal and begged you to kill me?"

He saw her jaw clench at the memory--he hardly blamed her; the sudden twisting sickness in his gut reminded him how close he'd come to giving up--but her fingers began to uncurl and her shoulders relaxed slightly. "I said, 'This is one day. Tomorrow will be another. Pull yourself together. You are stronger than this.'"

Even with the world going to the Void all around them, he did allow himself a smile at this. "Seeker. Cassandra. This is one day. Tomorrow will be another. Pull yourself together. You are stronger than this."

She snorted, tossing her head, but her palms touched his now, and her fingers curled loosely around his wrists. It was a bit of foolishness, perhaps--speaking of fools--but he lifted her right hand and bent his head, pressing a swift kiss to the back of her hand before he could think better of it, or convince himself how bad an idea it was.

She wore no gloves; her skin against his lips was unbearably soft. When he lifted his eyes, her expression echoed that softness, tinged ever so slightly with surprise. "Cullen," she said, lingering on each letter as though his name were unfamiliar to her, as if she hadn't spoken it a hundred thousand times. She'd never spoken it like this, though. Her cheeks were still pink; he felt his own heat in answer.

"You are the strongest person I know," Cullen said softly, straightening again. He loosened his hands in case she wanted to flee. She did not. "If anyone can lead us out of this madness, it's you."

She sighed, fingers squeezing him so briefly he thought he might have imagined the pressure. "Then we will hope your faith in me is justified."

A knock interrupted them, and Leliana entered without waiting for an invitation. Cassandra pulled her hands away and turned on her heel, all softness vanished as though it had never been. "The prisoner?" Cassandra asked.

"No change. I've had a message from the forward camp. More rifts."

"I'll go myself." Cullen nodded to each in turn. He paused in the doorway, though, and met Cassandra's eyes. "It is," he said. "You've proven that already."

She inclined her head, but not before he saw the ghost of a hard-won smile cross her lips.

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