I should be taking it

Old prompt response (it was “stream of consciousness), figured I’d post two (… even though i didn’t write this today haha) since i missed yesterday. Fanfic for DAI because i am trash

Sword on the table, and Cullen stares through the arrow-slit in the wall of his requisitioned office. It’s never warm in Skyhold, the wind off the mountains freezing and visible with the fingers of snow it lifts and flings. And it’s especially never warm in his office, with the windows and the gaping hole ripped into the ceiling of his bedroom. He has to remember to speak with Morris, to get that thrice-damned hole fixed, but he’s had so much on his mind lately, with—Maker, what was Samson thinking? And abruptly it overcomes him, breaking down the commander’s resilient façade. He sits down hard, turning away from the window to sit with his back against the freezing stone wall.

Red lyrium, Varric says it is, and Cullen thinks about Meredith in Kirkwall, thinks about the twist in his gut when she’d ordered Hawke killed.

“You said we were only to apprehend her.” He hears his own voice in his head as if he were standing in Kirkwall’s gallows listening to himself. The templar in him hates what happened next, but the human in him recognizes it as necessary. And the human in him recognizes that Samson’s actions are not about solidarity to the templars, his actions are about being a hollow man with nothing left to give. Because Cullen is a hollow man with nothing left to give and it frightens him some nights, when the nightmares awaken him and he listens to the wind howling through the hole in his ceiling. It frightens him how easily he could have been Samson, so easily swayed by the promises of a false god. It frightens him that he sympathizes with Samson.

He wants to hate him. But Cullen can’t hate anymore, he’s too tired, he’s always tired now that he stopped taking the lyrium. There’s enough of it, the purest blue stuff that all the templars beneath his command in Kirkwall would have cried to see. The Inquisition takes care of him and he feels so unworthy, dreaming day and night of lyrium, hands shake-shaking when he drills with his soldiers. Cassandra notices it and takes him aside from time to time and he cries in front of her, in front of Cassandra Pentagast, and she pretends to comfort him even though he knows it disturbs her. And he knows he disturbs the little red-haired Dalish apostate who hangs around him, he knows she wants to be close to him but he can’t do it, he can’t—

“I should be taking it,” he whispers into the palms of his hands, which are shaking, no strength left. He wants to be close to the Dalish apostate but mages frighten him, too. Sometimes he watches her sparring with Dorian and they both laugh and throw fire at each other and Cullen feels his muscles clench and his first instinct is to explode into their midst and destroy them, and what kind of a man just wants to destroy pretty girls? It’s the instinct that crouches inside him, the fading remnants of the life he lived before, the remembered murmurs of templars who really hated mages. The feel of magic makes his skin crawl and the thought of it now makes him shake harder until he can’t imagine climbing the ladder that will take him to his bedroom, and he runs a hand through his curly blond hair—

Varric calls him Curly and Cullen smiles a little to think of it, closes his eyes and rests the back of his head against the wall.


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