Moment of Sending

A deluge blackened the sky, turning what was supposed to be a quaint walk in the forest into a run for our lives. My hand stretched out before me, searching blindly for cover. I tried to shout over the cacophony of an ocean of rainwater plummeting through cracking branches, but I couldn't even hear my own voice. I doubted he did.

Mud slipped under my boots, almost dragging me down to rend my ankle. I reached forward to steady myself, when my right hand snagged against the tent. My infamous luck saved me again. Working open the flap, I rolled inside, the dog fast on my heels. My husband was a few moments slower, sliding in from the waterlogged ground worms burst free to escape drowning.

Our tent was just large enough for the two of us to stand up if we all but climbed on top of each other. For the moment, I staggered around, doubled over, sucking in lost breath from the running and the pounding the rain beat against my body. Cullen stood, trying to wring water out of his curls so he could see, only to have the soggy locks flop back upon his forehead.

Laughter gurgled in my throat as I watched him sneer through rivulets of water dripping down his face. I knew I looked even worse, my hair splattered across my back like a hood, the shock of cold turning my skin wan. He twisted his head at my snorting, unimpressed, "Why is this humorous?"

"Because you look like a nug dropped into a bathtub," I said, giggling from the image...and a very unforgettable Satinalia with Sera, Varric, and Dorian. Vivienne never did find out how we got it in there.

He sighed, stretching his head up and nearly skimming across the canvas bowing from the still pelting rain. The tree cover kept some of it off, but not enough. It was going to be a long night.

"This was your doing," he said, wagging a finger at me.

"I can control the weather now? I keep acquiring amazing powers without realizing it," I smiled, stepping closer so I could stand.

Cullen snorted, his breath hot enough to hiss out steam. "You swore those clouds would be no trouble. Old Dalish trick." I shrugged, they'd looked not so terribly ominous when we started on our walk. "And you," now he turned to the mabari shaking for the third time across what had once been our dry belongings. "You were no help at all."

The dog only panted, his tongue lolling up at his master. Cullen sighed, then ran a hand along the dog's head, getting a lob of a tail wag for his attempt at discipline.

"It's only a bit of water," I said, unknotting my cloak. It plummeted against the ground with a slap loud enough the dog barked from the noise. I looked down to see how much rain had soaked through my clothes. I may as well have not even bothered with the cloak -- my tunic fully adhered to my body, mud climbing all the way up to my knees. "Ugh, I think the rains soaked all the way through my skin to bone."

Cullen snapped up at that and the cruelest grin twisted his face. "It's only a bit of water." I'd have wagged my finger at him, but he let his own coat drop to the ground. His shirt was washed to being nearly transparent, suckered to reveal the twists of his stomach muscles and chest. I could even see the little v line where hip met the really fun part from his pants sliding too low. I really needed to thank whoever talked him out of armor - perhaps with a fruit basket.

He leaned down to pick up his coat, shaking as much of the dirt out as he could. Giving up rather than being satisfied, he hooked it upon the support pole bypassing through the tent. It might actually dry in a day or two. I snatched up my own, and tried to wad it up with my hand to wring out some of the water. "We'd best get out of these clothes before we freeze to death," I said, haphazardly twisting to face the wall and toss my own cloak against the pile of luggage.

When I turned back, Cullen's warm hands slid across my exposed shoulders, his body pressing against me. Before I could voice a word, his lips burned across mine, the heat from his body and breath revitalizing my frozen veins. His one hand reached back, trying to comb through my splattered hair, while the second slid downward, cupping my breast and easily taunting the frozen nipple before landing at the hem of my shirt.

He kissed me once more, then leaned back and smiled, "I think I can help with that." Gripping to the hem, he lifted my shirt off over my head, cold biting into my skin in its wake. But it didn't last long. Cullen's warm hands caressed up and down my exposed flesh - certainly enjoying the breast part, but taking a few side trips down to the stomach and the prodding of my hip bones. He was far better than any brazier in a lofty castle, as he leaned down, pelting me in warm kisses. Beginning around my collar bone, he worked down and across my chest - pausing after a kiss to warmly blow across my skin. Goosepimples erupted on my arms every time, a soft chuckle his response when he felt them.

It was when he dipped down, his lips trailing under my breast, that I couldn't stand the exquisite torture any longer. "No fair!" I cried, reaching forward with my hand to grab the bottom of his shirt.

Cullen rose, a wicked smile on his face as he helped me free his body from the confines of the translucent fabric. His pale skin glistened from the water, more tempting than any ripe fruit. I locked my left arm around his side, pulling him close, while my hand explored up and down his chest. A scar from a dagger veined across his right pec and down the sternum. Pockets of flesh muddled and scarred after mage fire marked the left side of his stomach. And a discoloration in the shape of a star rested upon his hip, just peeking over his pants. I adored every mark, every scar, because they were his.

He caught my hand, holding it tight to the scar just above his heart. I smiled from the touching move - softly brushing my lips against his, then I smirked and -- with my stump and a little help from my foot -- yanked off his pants. Cullen gasped, chuckling, "Now who's not playing fair?"

Wrapping both arms around my waist, he lifted me off the ground, just high enough I didn't quite but almost smacked into the top of the tent. He pulled me close for a kiss, then threw us both to the bedroll taking up most of the tent's space. My back sank an inch into the blankets then struck against frozen ground, but my body was too far gone to notice the pain. Cullen leaned above me, his arms pressing in beside my stomach, but remaining just high enough I could only kiss him as he dipped his head down.

"I thought you were mad at me, for the rain I somehow caused," I said, peppering his lips with every kiss I could manage to reach.

He rose back, breaking contact and digging a knee beside my hip. Folding his arms, he glowered, "I am." Then he shrugged, the smile returning, "I suspect you'll have to make it up to me." Picking up my feet, he slid off my boots, only shaking his head at the lack of socks. He was lucky I yet had the boots. Cupping my foot, Cullen dug the heel of his palm deep into my arch, both of his hands working away a week's worth of walking.

"By all know what a woman needs!" I cried, losing myself to the foot rub.

"I hope that's not all," he said, gently placing my feet down and dropping to his hands. Crawling towards me, I wrapped my hand around his face and my legs enveloped his waist.

"What else do you have on the menu?" I asked, rubbing my massaged feet up and down the muscles of his back.

"Hm..." Cullen drug it out, his lips dancing across my neck as his fingers drifted down to my pants, finally about to finish the job.

"Hello, friend!"

Cullen's fingers froze, his eyes widening from the voice stampeding out of thin air. I sat up at the intrusion, almost smashing my forehead into my husband's nose. "What was..." he started.

"I just got back from the most dreadful party. You wouldn't believe how abysmal it was. Barely anyone was killed, the cheese course barely lasted for three settings, and they tried to pass the rehydrated droppings of desiccated rats off as wine."

"Ugh," I dropped my head back against the bedroll, "Dorian. That man has the worst timing in Thedas."

Cullen whipped his head around, "Dorian's where?"

I shook my head, "It's the sending crystal in my pack. Don't worry, he'll realize I'm not there and give up soon." I smiled to assure my now perturbed husband, running my hand up his arm - savoring the warmth of his strong skin.

Cullen glared at thin air, probably wishing he could reach out and strangle Dorian, but dipped down for a thin kiss. As my fingers reached around his back, cupping his ass, the heat of his lips increased, our tongues having a little chess match of their own.

"Mae sends her greetings - when she's not dealing with the incompetence of the Liberatum," Dorian's voice echoed from my leather pack beside the now slumbering dog's head. "Would you believe one of them actually managed to set himself on fire? We have no idea how. He only knows ice spells."

"Just ignore it," I whispered. Cullen tipped his head, his lips working back down my neck. There was still the matter of my pants that needed addressing. I wrapped my legs tighter around Cullen's waist, savoring the throb of him against me. It seemed to revive the broken mood as he reached down, about to finish the job.

"Hello? Are you there?" Dorian called out, his voice slightly tipsier than usual.

Cullen paused, but I grabbed onto his fingers to move this along. Surely, Dorian would get the hint by now. A glint caught in my husband's eye, and rather than yank my body free, he circled his finger around the first button. "You're a cruel man," I whispered, loving every excruciating moment. He smiled, carefully undoing the first of five.

"Oh, of course, I understand what's happening," Dorian continued. I squirmed, trying to drive Cullen's fingers on. "Performing your wifely duties, eh? Say no more. Well, continue to say no more."

Cullen's growl shattered the air beside my ear, "I will rend him from ear to ear."

"He's got to be done now," I said, mentally planning a very long and heated discussion with the mage in the morning - preferably while he's still hungover.

"Why don't you throw the crystal outside for now?" Cullen started, waving his hand towards the torrential flood.

I shook my head, "If I touch it, the connection will catch and Dorian will know I can hear him."

"So, put the entire bag outside," Cullen bargained.

"The pack full of maps and ciphers we need to find the missing clan?" My reasonable logic only drew more sneering from my husband, but I ran my fingers across his cheek and pulled his lips to mine. We both paused a breath from each other, waiting for Dorian to begin again, but the drunk mage finally seemed satiated. Perhaps he found someone else to torture back in Tevinter.

Reaching down with my arm, I unhooked my own buttons, each one fighting me without my stump to help. Cullen's hand drifted down my body, caressing his favorite scars on my skin and thrumming his fingers against the indentation on my hips. Finally, he leaned against my pants, letting me get all those damn buttons off. While his thumbs stroked my still frozen nipples, I wiggled out of my pants, kicking them off the bedroll.

Cullen slid off his elbow and rolled fully on top of me. I wrapped my arms and legs around him, merging our body heat together, my skin tingling at every inch he touched with his own. His hips pressed into mine, while the fun bits prodded just outside me. Just a bit of wiggling and...

"That should be more than enough time to finish. Your templar's getting up there in age and they say stamina's the first to go." Shoving Cullen off, I jumped up, snatching my pack so forcefully the dog perked up. Dorian spent the rest of the night talking to the rain while my old templar and I tested the limits of our staminas.

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