I'll Save You
“So these two worlds were one world, huh?” said Varric, one hand on his chin, propped against the arm of the couch. “I knew something was off about this whole thing.”
“‘Off’ is a gentle way of putting it,” said Dorian, looking up from the coffee table where he was composing a report to send to the Inquisitor. He was going to leave as soon as he was finished writing - he would tell her in person, of course, but it was better to have the account written in his own hand instead of trusting the details to a scribe, or even to Josephine. She was plenty intelligent, he knew that, but he didn’t want her to miss any of the nuance. It was better he did it himself, even as he decided what to leave in and what to keep out - how much to include about the fabric of the world, the nail that had caught the strings and tugged them out of place, the darning that had worked them right again. He should stick to the details; the middle of the Blight was neither the time or the place to wax poetical about the nature of reality, but “Dear Inquisitor: The worlds are supposed to be joined. You can blame Tevinter for this one too; terribly sorry about all that. Best wishes, Dorian,” seemed a bit blunt.
“Are you certain about this?” Cullen asked, putting a gently hand on Eleanor’s shoulder.
Her head listed from side to side. “Ask him,” she hitched a thumb at Dorian. “I’m not sure about anything.”
“Well, if either of you have a better idea, do speak up,” he said, not taking his eyes away from his paper. “Otherwise, let me write. The faster I have this down, the faster I’m off.”
“Alright,” Cullen allowed, and tightened his grip a bit on Eleanor’s arm, to pull her from the living room and out into the hallway.
“Well, this is certainly… unexpected,” he said softly, leaning against the hall closet door.
“Oh, just this?” Eleanor asked, a sharp sarcasm in her voice. “Not say, all of this?” and she moved her fingers in circles at the floor, pointing to her, to him, to the world.
“Ah, yes. That too.”
She crossed her arms and rolled her eyes, but she did it with a broad smile.
“If…” he began slowly, and a color rose to his face suddenly. “If our two worlds are meant to be joined…”
She knew where he was going with this. “Hold your horses, there, buddy,” she said, and reached out, putting a flat hand firm on his chest. She looked back into the living room and lowered her voice as she said, “I’ve told you how I feel. You’ve told me the same. And I meant it when I said that I didn’t have any long-term plans, other than the fact that I’d like to be with you.” Her fingers curled up into a loose fist, pressing weakly on his firm chest as she pulled herself a little further forward.
“Cullen, I like you. I love you, I do. But the status of our two worlds isn’t going to push me into anything… more. Whatever that means. Not yet.” She saw a wounded look in his eyes. “But you also have to trust me when I say that even if that link is broken, for whatever reason, I’m not sure that would be enough to keep us apart.” She winced. “Fuck. That was -”
“ - so entirely corny,” he bit off her words with a smile. “Alright. Point taken.” He reached out and ruffled her brown hair, before taking the back of her head in his hands and pulling her in for a kiss.
Behind them, Varric whistled.
“You two,” he said, “are lucky to have each other. Not a lot a happy couples come out of stuff like this. Speaking from… well, let’s just call it experience.”
“Go to your room,” Eleanor insisted, but Cullen simply took a firm grasp on Eleanor’s hand.
“Could say the same to you,” he said, waggling an eyebrow and heading for the stairs.
“Now, then,” said Dorian, coming from the living room, with a sheaf of paper stacked under his arm and the letter he had just compose in his hand, “I’m off. Behave yourselves,” he said with a wink.
It was Varric who called down from the top of the stairs. “Behave? Sparkler, when have you ever known us to behave.”
He pointed, turning back with a smile. “Exactly.”
“Hey, El?” said Cullen, laying in the dark, smoking a cigarette.
“I love you.”
“Mhm,” she said, laying on her side. She was snuggling a pillow while he sat up, unable to sleep, though she found herself drifting quickly off. “Love you too,” she answered, her voice thick.
Cullen reached out, smoothed her hair with his hand. She made a satisfied noise and didn’t move away from his affections. Her eyes were closed and Eleanor felt herself drawn toward a gentle abyss.
She sighed. “Cul?”
“Are you afraid?”
Eleanor brought her hand to her face, rubbing underneath her left eye, to try and shake the sleep off. She rolled over, sat up, and yawned, fluffing her pillow up behind her back. Leaning over, she rested on Cullen’s shoulder. Her eyes threatened to slip closed again, but she answered him honestly. “Of course I’m afraid.”
Cigarette nestled between his index and middle fingers, Cullen rubbed his hairline with his thumb, his ring finger. “I don’t want to make you go through this.”
“Cullen,” she said, trying to shake the sleep from her voice. “You’re not making me do anything, you know that right?”
“I just -”
“I could have turned you away a hundred times for a hundred reasons. I didn’t,” she wrapped an arm around him and held onto his side with slender fingers. “I could still. But I didn’t. And I won’t. We’re fighting, remember? Together.”
He leaned over to put the cigarette in the ashtray and then tipped down to kiss the hair on the top of her head, smoothing it away from her cheeks as he wrapped an arm around her. “Point taken, El.”
She looked up at him from where her head rested against his shoulder and asked, “Are you? Afraid, I mean.”
She took in a deep breath, sleep reaching into her and grabbing her by the bones now. Eyes closed, she said slowly, “Don’t be. I’ll save you.”
She felt him laugh softly, but if he said anything after that she never heard it, as Eleanor slipped into sleep like slipping under water.
When Dorian returned, he was not alone.
“Evelyn!” Eleanor cried, and ran off of the porch into the snow, despite her slippered feet, to give the Inquisitor a hug, before realizing what it was she was actually doing. Evelyn, however, freely returned the embrace, kissing Eleanor on her cheeks.
“What are you doing here?” Cullen asked from the porch.
“Came to see if it was true, all this about the worlds being joined. I thought this would be the best place to do some looking around.”
“You… mean to go down there?”
The Inquisitor put her hand on Eleanor’s shoulder and answered Cullen as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Of course I do. Once I help you slay a dragon.”
Eleanor apologized for not having a spare room for the Inquisitor, until Cullen offered to move his things into Eleanor’s room. She gave him a sideways, glance, but a smile split her lips, whether she wanted it to or not. What was the point, she realized, of fighting it? The Inquisitor said that she didn’t mean to impose, but Cullen insisted. And then Eleanor insisted. And Evelyn helped them carry Cullen’s things downstairs, arms as full as either of the other’s.
Once the Inquisitor was settled in, Eleanor sat on the edge of her bed, looking at all of Cullen’s things that surrounded her - clothes, books, armor - things not yet put away because she didn’t quite have a place for them.
“Ah, so, yes, I know we just talked about this,” said the commander from the doorway. He looked absolutely put in his place as he looked at Eleanor, who sat crossed-legged, elbows on knees, cheeks in palms, looking at the things that surrounded her. He scratched his temple, looking away.
Eyebrows knit, Eleanor murmured under her breath, “Well, I guess we’re going to need a bigger dresser.”
The first wave of darkspawn appeared two days later.