It's Been Three Months
It's been three months and he finally stopped checking the room for someone who no longer exists. But he did pause at the door to his office and remembered all the times she used to just barge in on him, whether he was in a meeting or not. Cullen had found it troublesome to concentrate on the task at hand at times, but he never got annoyed with her over it. A smile would make it's ways to his lips without his realizing it. He had probably looked like a love sick puppy to the soldiers, but it didn't matter anymore. He had no more distractions.
While he may have stopped checking for her to be waiting for him in his office or his bed, that didn't stop the hurt, and it certainly didn't stop him from remembering everything about her in a renewed clarity he almost wished would go away. His heart constricted every time he thought of her. What good were memories if all they did was haunt you? Time and time again he wished he could forget about her. Wipe away his mind. But he wept at the thought. Someone had to keep her memory alive. It was important for the Inquisition. For him.
She would want him to fight on. To keep her spirit alive in himself. But he lacked her optimism and vigor for life. Cullen could wallow in his self pity for days at a time, the depression he felt was like nothing he had ever experienced before. He'd gladly take the torture he faced back in Fereldon by those abominations that had tried to break his mind. Anything would be better than how he'd felt for the last few months.
Would there ever be a day when he'd wake up and not look for her warmth beside him? Would there ever be a day he didn't catch the scent of the wind and think of her? Drinking hadn't even helped to numb the pain. It only made things worse, and he would never try to compromise his position with the Inquisition. As much as it might hurt, it was one of the only remaining links he had Evelyn. The Inquisition was hers. No one thought about the Inquisition without first picturing her face. He would do all he could to ensure its success. Even if that meant retiring from Commander if he could no longer give himself wholly to the cause.
Taking the first few steps in his office, he strode over to his desk and plopped into his chair silently. While drinking had not helped his problem any, there was one thing he had yet to try that he was sure would take some of the edge off; it might get rid of some of the pain. Opening the bottom desk drawer, he took out a box he hadn't looked at in a long, long time. Placing it on top of some reports, he took a deep breath before slowly opening it to reveal lyrium.
If Evelyn could see him now; how disappointed she would be.
"Commander," Cassandra's voice preceded her, giving Cullen enough time to close the lid to the box before she appeared in the doorway. "You shouldn't be here." She strolled right in and made her way to the desk.
Busying himself with putting the box back in it's place and closing the drawer, Cullen picked up some reports. "There's a lot of work to be done. I don't know where the harm in getting a head start on some of them is." He pointedly avoided her gaze and signed off on a report he hadn't fully read through if only to give him something to do and make himself look and feel busier than he actually was.
"You know very well why. There is somewhere else you should be. Josephine and Vivienne can only do so much. You should be there until you can hire the proper help," Cassandra replied, placing her hand on top of a report he was about to sign. "You're not really absorbing what these are saying anyway."
"I can't," he whispered.
Cassandra's expression softened. "I know this is difficult for you. More so than for anyone else. But you can't keep hiding away and shutting yourself off from the person who needs you most right now."
"Whenever I look at her, I just keep thinking how she took Evelyn away," Cullen looked away, ashamed. He knew in his head he had no basis for that allegation, but he was reminded of Evelyn every time he looked at his daughter, and he couldn't take that right now.
"You've barely even held her, nor really looked at her, Darling," Vivienne cut in, strolling through as gracefully as ever. "Don't worry, Blackwall is with her. She won't stop crying, and I figured a little help from Daddy dearest might be just the thing she needs. You may have lost a wife, but that poor child will never know her mother, and if you don't get your act together, she's not going to know her father, either."
Letting that last statement sink in, Cullen knew he couldn't keep sulking. Standing, he made his way out of his office and across the bridge to Solas' old office and through the main hall to Evelyn and his room, now Jocelyn's new nursery. Opening the door tentatively, he saw Blackwall trying and failing at soothing the wailing babe. However, nothing was good enough for little Jocey. Cassandra pushed Cullen inside and shut the door behind him.
"Good you're here. See if you can't calm her down," Blackwall made to transfer the baby into Cullen's arm.
Holding his breath, Cullen took his daughter in arms and watched as Blackwall left. Leaving the broken, little family alone. Sighing, Cullen cradled her to him and bounced lightly, and before he knew it, the crying had stopped. He went to touch her little head, but she took hold of one of his fingers. Her fingers barely able to get around his whole finger. His breath caught in his chest and he made his way over to his bed in the middle of the room.
Strange how Evelyn had fought off dragons, abominations, the undead, Corypheus himself and had survived some of the worst injuries and beatings, but the moment this tiny thing made an entrance into this world, she couldn't fight back anymore. It was almost ironic, and his eyes welled up in tears at the thought that nothing they could have done would have changed the outcome. This had been her fate.
Sitting on the edge, he looked down into the amber eyes that stared back at him in wonder. It was as though she was trying to memorize his every feature. Like she was afraid he might disappear again. Her skin was so smooth, and she smelled like all newborn baby's smelled. Sweet. She was already bigger than when he had first held her. Growing strong. And he had missed much of her life already.
Maker's breath. He really had been a fool. Pushing Jocelyn away for fear of the memories she triggered. He should have been holding her close and relishing in the ability to keep Evelyn so close to his heart. She may not physically be with him anymore, but she lived on in the child they had created together. He owed it to his daughter to teach her things about her mother. She needed to know she was conceived from the truest love.
"Forgive me," Cullen whispered as he placed a gentle kiss upon Jocelyn's head and smiled down at the bundle as she closed her eyes for a nap.
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