A Late Night Revalation
The Commander is haunted by many things. His past is most of it, but he is haunted by lyrium and nightmares of the future. There are people that know this, but there is one thing that no one knows. He barely knows it himself, but late at night, after too many nightmares driving him to further exhaustion, after too many days fighting bloody battles with things that aren't remotely human, and things that are, after hours upon hours of paperwork and training, he is haunted by a question. An age-old question really, something that they ask in books and fantasy stories, but to the Commander, it is a very real question.
What is love?
On this particular night, the question is not the only thing bothering him. He can hear singing, but he knows its only his imagination. The effects of no longer taking lyrium. He sits up in his bed, running his hands through his hair, rubbing his eyes, peering around at the dark, but the shadows twist his vision. Despite all this, his question still cries out for an answer, an answer that he can't give.
There's a soft sound, something between a yawn and a mumble, from the sheets beside him. He had almost forgotten that she was there, and was glad she wasn't awake to see him jump. The Commander turns his head to look at her. She has her back to him, curled into a tight ball under the sheets. She's still mumbling something, though it's too quiet for him to make out the words. He leans closer, his worried expression softening.
"It hurts." That was what she was saying. Even now, he could see the faint green glow of the Anchor. It was killing her, and he knew it, but he never spoke about it. The Commander reaches over and gently touches her shoulder, but she does not stir from her sleep. She does, however, fall silent, as if hiding her pain, even in her sleep. The Commander smiles a bit and sighs softly. "My love," he pauses. His love. What does that even mean?
The woman who truly believes in him. Those words come to his mind, and suddenly, he knows the answer to his question.
For him, love was her. She embodied every aspect. He knew what love was not. It was not how they describe it in books, full of sweet nothings and romance and the shouts of "I'd do anything for you!" It was not being completely obsessed with someone, and it was not self-sacrifice.
On the contrary, love is selfish.
To the Commander, love was the desire to protect his men to his last breath, to defeat anything that would harm his allies, to live and breathe for his cause. But that was a different kind of love than what his question demanded.
What is love to Cullen?
Her. That was his answer. He wasn't obsessed, simply pleased whenever he could be near her. He didn't want to give her to anyone else. She supported him, aided him in defeating his lyrium addiction, protected him from whatever might try to harm him, and she loved him, simply and fully. Her eyes always softened, even in meetings. On certain occasions, beyond the lust and passion, there was something gentle about her voice, her touches, something that he had never experienced before. To be with him, he could tell what it meant to her. It was the same for him. He only wished he could protect her in the same way she did him. If there was a way to help with the Anchor, he would gladly take it.
Cullen would gladly die for her, because it was his duty. He would live for her, because he loved her.
"Cullen?" Her sweet voice, thick with sleep, reached his ears. His smile widened and he felt like the butterflies in his stomach might make him burst. "Yes, my love?" He was happy to say it, now that he knew what he meant. She sat up, clutching the sheets to her. "Are you alright?"
"Better than I have been in ages."