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Under a Blood Red Sky

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Dasan and Cullen

Dasan and Cullen by Th3_Morrigan at blasteddoodles


 

It's expected to be a noisy occasion when the Herald and his companions return from their travels but hectic yells, people running, a general atmosphere of fear and panic make Cullen perk up. He leaves the smithy and runs back to Haven's city gate. The commotion seems to revolve around the nurse's tent, a crowd has formed in front of it and a halla looks over the crowd.

He shoulders his way through the crowd and past the halla. An elf holds the majestic animal, softly singing to it to calm it down but Cullen pays him no mind. Dread pools in his gut when he sees Adan, the alchemist, come running with a basket full of potion bottles.

"What happened?"

"The Herald, he's been badly hurt," Adan says and slips into the tent.

Cullen follows him, cold sweat making him shiver. If anything has happened to Carver Hawke, the Herald of Andraste and his friend, he could never forgive himself.

The metallic smell of blood attacks his senses as soon as he's inside. The nurse and Adan lean over Carver, who lies motionless on a cot, pressing white bandages that soon turn red onto his abdomen. Cassandra kneels next to them, her face white as snow.

"A rogue templar," Varric says next to Cullen. "Red lyrium crystals growing on his arms, never seen anything like it and he was incredibly strong. I had hit him with four bolts and still he kept going at Carver. I had to reload and then... if only I'd been faster." Varric shakes his head.

Cassandra gets up and comes over to them. "I tried to get to him but I was too late. He... his sword, it glowed red and even though the Herald struck him down, as he fell, he got him. The glowing sword cut through his armor like it was nothing."

"How did you get him here?"

"An elf helped us, his halla carried him," Varric says.

"I can't staunch the bleeding." Adan wipes sweat from his brow, spreading blood across his forehead. "None of my herbs work. He loses too much blood, he will soon be dead."

"You have to do something!" Cassandra cries out, her control slipping for once.

"I'm trying everything I can but..." Adan throws another rag, soaked red with blood, on the ground and presses a fresh bundle on the gaping wound.

That one moment of seeing the wound is enough for Cullen to lose all hope. He has seen injuries like that before. He stumbles to the cot, kneeling down next to Carver's head as if his presence might help his dying friend. "Carver," he says.

"I may be able to help but I need to be alone with him," a foreign voice with an unfamiliar accent says. It's the elf who held the halla outside. He is tall for an elf, skin the color of sundown, and holds himself with an air of royalty.

"You can help him? Are you a healer?" Cassandra asks.

"I have some knowledge of the healing crafts. But I need to be alone."

Cassandra nods. Adan and the nurse get up and leave the tent with Varric and her. The elf looks at Cullen.

Cullen shakes his head. "I'm not leaving."

"Then I can not help your friend."

Cullen puts his hand on Carver's forehead. He feels cold, as if he is already dead. "Listen, I know you'll use magic, I'm not a templar anymore but I can feel your magic. I will not strike you for using magic and Carver here is a friend of mages." He looks up to the elf. "But if anything goes wrong, I don't want him to die alone."

The elf looks at him for a moment and then kneels down next to Carver. "We have no time to lose. Kneel down there and hold his head in your hands." He wipes a few stray strands of black hair from his face and tucks them into a messy bun at the back of his head.

Cullen hurries to kneel at the top of the cot and cradles Carver's head in his hands. "How does this help?"

"So that he knows you're here." The elf places his hands on Carver's abdomen and a golden glow spreads out under his hands. He closes his eyes, concentrating and slowly moving his hands. "The sword went deep. It was not a normal sword, it was infected by evil things."

"Can you help him?"

The elf opens his eyes and looks at him, trapping Cullen in his gaze. "Yes, but it's going to be difficult."

"You have to try, please, we need him. The world needs him," Cullen says. "And he's a good person and a good friend."

The hands still glow golden but the elf looks at Cullen. "Good people are rare." He looks down at Carver, his hand making a complicated gesture. "I feel his lyrium, he was a templar too."

"But he never hated mages. His sisters are mages."

The elf does the strange movement with his hand again and then looks up to Cullen. "Brace yourself."

"For wha..."

And then he feels it, the power, the force of life's essence, exploding from the elf. Blood flies up from Carver, hovering in tiny bubbles in the air as the elf draws his fingers through them. The air ripples.

"Bloodmagic!" Cullen jumps up, drawing his sword, instinctually feeling for his templar powers. His sword is at the elf's throat before he can even think.

The elf just looks, no fear in his eyes. Blood swirls around his fingers, circling like dancers. He holds himself still but he doesn't move away from the blade at his throat. "Yes, and it's his own blood. Isn't that a better use for it than letting it seep into the ground?"

"Get away from him, bloodmage."

"Do you want me to save him?" The blood still hovers in the air, each little bubble vibrating. The mage holds his gaze. "We're running out of time."

Cullen looks at Carver. His face is ashen, his breathing shallow. It doesn't take the knowledge of a healer to see that life is leaving him rapidly.

With a sigh, Cullen sheathes his sword and kneels back at the cot, putting his hands on Carver's cheeks. "Save him. Do what you must."

The elf closes his eyes and hums. The blood sinks down, bubbles merging with each other and diving into Carver's innards like tiny eels. The healer keeps on humming, his tune slowly shifting higher and then lower again. The blood shifts with the tone, moving like insects across the wound.  

"There," the elf says, nodding with his eyes still closed. "Your goddess is surely watching over him. His life he will keep." Under his hand, a glowing splinter of red lyrium rises up until he can grab it. "This poison is vicious, a sickness in itself." He throws the shard away as if it burns his hand.

Under the golden glow of the elf's hands, the bleeding stops. The blood bubbles sink down and dissolve and the wound begins to close from the inside out. Carver's breath, shallow and fast before, slows down and he breathes deeper. Cullen feels Carver's skin warm up under his hands.

The elf drops his hands to his sides, the golden glow dissipating. "Yes, he will live." He sways, his head lolling back and with a sigh he slowly sinks to the side. Cullen, still kneeling at Carver's head, can only just about reach the elf and cushion his head before he hits the ground. Awkwardly stretched over, he pulls the elf over to him, putting his head in his lap so that he can keep watch over Carver at the same time.

"Hey, will you be alright?" Cullen asks.

He gets no answer. The elf is breathing but he seems to have fallen into a sleep of exhaustion. Sweat pearls on his forehead, his brows are furrowed and dark circles are visible under his eyes that Cullen hasn't noticed before. He's had no idea that bloodmagic is so taxing.

He watches the elf, letting him rest. His face is that of a statue, chiselled from the finest stone. In the candlelight his skin glows golden. There is a thin line of red on his throat, where the blade has nicked his skin. Cullen almost touches it with his fingertip. His finger traces his jaw instead before he catches himself.

He shouldn't be touching this elf with the beautiful face, this mage, this — bloodmage.

He flinches away and the elf groans.

"I'm sorry, I..."

The man doesn't open his eyes and the furrow between his eyes gets deeper. "Were we successful?" he says with a soft voice.

Cullen puts his hand on Carver's forehead. "I think so, yes."

"That splinter, is it red lyrium?"

"Yes."

"The land is sick with it, poisoning everything." Disgust creeps into his voice, tainting its warm tone.

His eyes are still closed and Cullen dares to keep looking at his beautiful, perfect face and his soft, dark lips.

"You are the Inquisition, I have heard, fighting the breach in the sky and the red lyrium poison."

His eyes suddenly open and Cullen stares, spellbound. He can't look away from those deep, grey eyes.

"Can I join your Inquisition, to fight against the poison?"

Cullen only realises that he is supposed to answer when those eyes start to squint from grinning.

"It seems the gods have taken a liking to me," the elf says with a smile. "To wake up to such a sight is surely a privilege."

"What?" Cullen rubs his neck and tries to find something, anything else to look at. But his gaze is drawn back to the smiling man resting his head on his thigh. "Ehm, I'm the Commander of the Inquisition forces. Carver, the Herald, ultimately decides who can join the Inquisition. But I'm sure he wouldn't have any objections."

"Did you forget that I'm a bloodmage? You friend is a templar is he not?"

Cullen smiles helplessly. "Carver is not... was not your usual templar and he's been very welcoming to mages. Not to the liking of some people but he's... very determined."

"A stubborn man he is?"

"Yes, very much." Cullen laughs and is startled how unfamiliar it feels to just laugh like this.

The elf smiles at him, grey eyes sparkling. "I can say that what I've seen of the Inquisition so far has convinced me of the good of it. And the beauty of its Commander also helps."

Cullen feels his face heat up. On the cot, Carver is breathing deep and regular. Cullen doesn't know what to do with his hands.

The elf sits up, breathing deeply as he unties his bun and lets his hair fall lose. It flows like a shiny, black waterfall down his back. He shakes his hair out and then stands up with an elegance that Cullen can only dream about. And possibly will.

"You friend needs rest and the healing teas from your nurse. I'm sure he will heal but I will look at him tomorrow again for any more of the poison."

Cullen scrambles to get up and the elf holds out his hand to pull him up with surprising strength. Which brings him very close to the elf, who is almost as tall as him. Cullen just stares, lost in those grey eyes.

"My name is Dasan of clan Lavellan."

"Cullen Rutherford." He still holds Dasan's hand and his breastplate almost touches the elf's coat.

"Cullen," Dasan says the name like he tastes it on his tongue, "I hope I will see you again soon."

"Yes, please."

The elf smiles and turns to leave, his hand slipping out of Cullen's grasp. He ducks out of the tent, leaving Cullen standing with his hand stretched out.

"Dasan," he says, trying the name. "Dasan."

His heart is beating too fast.

~***~

"Cullen," Carver says, with the tone of a long suffering friend. "How long are you going to keep mooning over him until you do something?"

Cullen studies his boots as if he expects them to grow gills at any moment. Which would certainly help right now as the rain has been beating down relentlessly and the ground has turned into a shallow lake. Despite the rain, Cullen has ordered the soldiers to do their daily training exercises. There isn't a single dry person around them, except for an elf with long black hair, sitting under a protective roof for the haystacks.

It is this elf, that Cullen fails miserably at trying to not stare at. Carver wonders if he should pity his friend or hit him over the head.

"Cullen." He waits until the man looks at him and then pulls him aside. "I'm pretty sure I know who is currently the most hated man in Thedas," he points his chin at the soldiers, glaring at them as they hit their training swords half heartedly against each other, "do you also want go down in history as the stupidest and loneliest?" He looks again over to the elf. "I know you get along well, you've been talking for hours in the last few days, what is the problem?"

"He's a bloodmage."

"I know, and?"

"Bloodmages are..." Cullen hesitates, daring another look at the elf, "dangerous."

"That's the chantry speaking."

"I've lived by these rules for most of my life," Cullen calls out, loud enough to have every soldier turn and look at them. He shakes his head and dismisses the soggy wet troop with a gesture. "Go inside, get dry and drink some hot tea."

The soldiers trot off, leaving Cullen and Carver standing alone in the relentless rain. Only Dasan the elf still watches them with an amused smile.

"We're not chantry anymore," Carver says, "and we can question those rules."

"You already did that when were still in Kirkwall." Cullen grins at him.

"Do you remember Merrill? My... friend?" Carver sighs, Cullen is obviously not the only one dodging the definitions of his love life. Lucky for him, Cullen is too busy not to stare at the elf to notice his hesitation.

"Yes, I remember Merrill, dalish mage, lived in the Alienage."

"She's a bloodmage."

Cullen finally tears his eyes away from the long haired elf and stares at Carver. "A bloodmage? But you always patrolled the Alienage, and you never reported — right."

"Yes right. Don't tell me you didn't suspect."

Cullen nods. "I guess I didn't want to see." He rubs his neck, glancing at the elf again, who has now stretched out languidly on the pile of hay. "So her being a bloodmage didn't disturb you?"

"Merrill always said that magic is magic, blood doesn't change it."

"That's what a bloodmage would say, don't you think?"

"But what if it's true?" Carver looks down, rain running down his neck. His reflection is distorted in the water but it's enough to see how much he has changed. He is far removed from the angry young man who did the only thing he could think of to protect his mage sisters — become a templar. "Things are different now. It's all about who you can trust."

Cullen dips his head back, letting the rain fall on his face. "Everything I know has been tipped on its head."

"Dare to take a risk then." Carver puts his hand on the wet fur on his shoulders. "Live a little, you deserve it."

"Do I?"

"Yes. Now go before he drowns in that hay."

He trots back to the chantry building, looking over his shoulder once, to see Cullen walking over to the haystack. The elf jumps up and even over the distance, Carver can see his bright smile.

~***~

"Hello Dasan."

The elf straightens, unsuccessfully brushing hay from his hair and clothes. "Cullen, I was hoping you'd come."

Cullen can just stare, lost once again in those grey eyes. Absentmindedly, he picks a bit of hay from Dasan's hair. "I saw you."

Dasan smiles. "I know. I was hoping for an invitation for dinner or sharing a few ales."

Water runs down Cullen's back as the rain keeps beating down on him. "I'm afraid I'm entirely too soaked to treat you to dinner right now."

Dasan steps closer, stroking over Cullen's wet hair. "Yes, I see. How about we get you dry and share some warm, spiced wine in your tent?"

"That sounds lovely," Cullen rasps as he stares at Dasan's lips.

Dasan's long black hair gets wet as they walk to Cullen's tent but it doesn't seem to bother him. They get a flask of spiced wine from the supply storage and silently slip into Cullen's tent.

Inside, Dasan shrugs out of his coat before he casually lights up a candle and the oven with a magic flame. He pours the wine into the cauldron on top and stirs it. The smell of wine and spices wafts through the tent. Cullen just stands at the entrance, dripping on the floor and his mind in uproar.

"Let's get you out of these wet clothes." Dasan shoves the wet fur from Cullen's shoulders, pulling the coat away and hangs it over a chair. Parting the folds of his shirt, he unbuckles his belt and the breastplate with surprising ease. After very few moments, Cullen finds himself standing in only his wet linen shirt and trousers. He is glad that he bothered to put on a newer pair this morning, at least this one doesn't have holes at embarrassing places.

Dasan ladles some warm wine into a mug and hands it to him. "Here, this will warm you up." He waits until Cullen has emptied the whole mug, puts it away, and kneels down to get the wet woolen socks off his feet. Looking down to him, Cullen feels heat crawl up his spine that isn't caused by the spiced wine.

The elf smiles at him from under his long, black lashes as he discards the socks and then he slowly gets up. He almost touches him, his nose just a fingers width away from his crotch as he stands up and Cullen takes a shuddering breath.

"I... I am..."

"Shh." Dasan shakes his head and puts his hands on the hem of Cullen's shirt. "We're not done yet. This has to go — " he pulls the garment over Cullen's head and lets if drop to the floor. "And this here too," he says as his hands slip under the waistband of his trousers.

Cullen grabs hold of the waistband with both hands. He shivers and his hands shake. He isn't even sure why he acts this way. Not like he has been dreaming of being naked with this man for weeks.

"You're cold and those wet trousers are not helping. May I please take them off? I promise I won't do anything indecent," Dasan says with a soft purr in his voice.

"I.. yes, I..." he swallows the jumble of words that wants to spill from his mouth, something about how very much he wants him to be indecent and how very embarrassed he is by his terrible, desperate wanting. Oh, how he wants, how he hungers, how he wishes to touch his hair, that little scar on his cheek, how madly he wants to kiss Dasan.

The cold air in the tent hits his skin and he shivers uncontrollably.

"Come here," Dasan says, holding a blanket open. Cullen takes a careful step towards him and Dasan wraps the blanket around his shoulders, pulling it closed in front and then places a fur over it. He then leads him to the cot. He lies down first and beckons to Cullen to lie with him. It can hardly be comfortable for the elf.

"I don't think we can both fit there," Cullen says.

"You know nothing, Cullen," Dasan says with a bright smile, "come here, let me warm you."

Cullen sits down on the cot and drops rather inelegantly to the side. Strong arms take hold of him, pulling his back to Dasan's chest. Somehow Dasan manages to pull a woolen blanket over both of them and the elf rubs slow circles over Cullen's arms and chest through the fur. His hands become incredibly warm and Cullen tenses as he realises that he is warming him up with magic. But then the shivers cease and a comforting warmth spreads through his body and his eyes close as the tension drains from his body.

He must have fallen asleep because he wakes to the twilight of sundown, alone on his cot. The flap in the roof of the tent has been pulled aside, revealing a rainless sky, red from the sinking sun. It looks almost normal, untainted by the Breach.

Movement catches his eye. In the twilight of the tent, he sees Dasan sitting in his chair, his head dipping forward as he drifts in and out of sleep. Cullen sits up and the elf startles awake.

"How are you feeling?" he says, his voice a bit drowsy.

There is a sudden assurance in Cullen's mind, a focus he has not had in years. He gets up, walks over to the chair and leans down to kiss Dasan. The elven man is quick to react, his lips opening to Cullen's attack with a smile. Cullen doesn't stop, devouring those gorgeous lips, his tongue slipping in the others mouth. Only when he needs to take a breath, he draws back, letting his lips linger as he gasps.

"I've wanted to do this for so long," he mumbles against Dasan's lips.

"Why did you hesitate?"

"My life, my past."

Dasan stops smiling. "Our past makes us who we are. I won't ask you to deny it."

"I don't want to deny it, I just wish I could forget it sometimes." Cullen sits down on the ground, wrapping the fur around himself and leaning against Dasan's legs. Slim hands stroke through his hair.

"Tell me of this past you want to forget."

Cullen sighs. "I always wanted to be a templar. I wanted to protect people, I believed that mages were dangerous and needed to be watched over."

"Many people believe that. The chantry isn't even as bad as the qun."

"You don't know what I've done... I truly believed." Cullen looks up and Dasan takes his chin in his hand.

"Cullen, I will not be your redemption." Dasan pulls on Cullen's chin, raising him up on his knees so that kneels between Dasan's legs. "I cannot unmake your past. But I believe you have started a new life here and if you want, I would be delighted if I could be part of it. But — " he holds up a finger and a tiny ice storm swirls around it, covering his fingertip in ice, "I'm a mage. Do you want to be with me, a mage?"

The chaos in Cullen's mind quiets down, reduced to the simplicity of the question. He stares at the miniature ice storm on Dasan's finger, trying to find the outrage, the fear of magic in himself. It's not there. Possibly the fear is not gone forever but for now, he feels free.

He takes Dasan's hand and pulls it towards him, staring at his eyes as he takes the ice covered finger in his mouth. The ice melts in his mouth as he sucks on it.

Dasan stares at Cullen's mouth and licks his lips. "Do you want that?" he asks again, voice hoarse and pressed.

Dasan's finger slips out, the tip lingering against Cullen's lower lip. "Yes, I want that."

"Garas amahn," Dasan says and leans down, catching Cullen's lips in a kiss. His black hair falls like a curtain around them.

Hands roam, hair getting caught between fingers, Cullen stretching up as much as he can to get closer. He hungers for the other man, the need to touch him burning in his hands. He finds the rims of his clothes, slipping under, searching, stroking over smooth skin, feeling muscles ripple, shivering, feeling — feeling — touching.

He hasn't touched anyone in so long.

Dasan's shirt falls open under his searching hands and he trails kisses down his chest, his stomach, until his open mouth lies against the bulge in Dasan's leathers. He looks up, searching for those deep eyes.

"Yes," the elf says, lifting his hips to push his pants down. His erection stands proud and dark against the brown skin of his stomach.

Cullen doesn't hesitate, taking him into his mouth, twirling his tongue around the head. He licks down the shaft and then wraps his hand around it to use the slick to pump as he sucks on the tip. He hasn't done this in a long time but soon finds his rhythm, sinking into the feeling of worshipping this man, of giving him all he has, making him feel good and loved. Precum tastes sweet on his tongue and the sounds Dasan makes spur him on to take him deeper, as far as he can without choking.

Elven words that Cullen doesn't know fall from Dasan's lips as he grabs Cullen's hair, not quite holding him but keeping him, guiding him. He speeds up his efforts, humming as he worships, a personal chant, vocalising his joy that he can please him.

"Cullen!" Dasan calls out as he throws his head back and comes. Cullen swallows what he can, stroking one last time before he sits back and leans against Dasan's thigh.

Dasan takes his head in his hands and slides down to the floor to kiss Cullen, pulling him close to his chest. His hand finds Cullen's erection standing hard but Cullen holds his wrist.

"You don't have to," Cullen murmurs.

Dasan leans back to look at him with a smile. "Do you think I won't return the favour?"

There is something biting in Cullen's chest that he tries to ignore. "I don't need..."

"Don't need or don't deserve?" Dasan asks, suddenly serious.

"I... I don't know."

"Cullen," Dasan says softly, giving him a chaste kiss. "Not your redemption, remember? Let me be good for you like you have been for me."

Cullen stares into his beautiful eyes, at a loss for words as the knot in his chest seems to unravel, leaving him open and vulnerable. "I don't know... I don't know how..."

"Moment to moment," Dasan says. He makes Cullen lean back against the cot and strokes over his erection with his fingertip. Then he spits in his hand, wrapping his hand around his penis and kisses Cullen's neck as he rubs him slowly. Dasan hums and whispers, soft words in elvish spoken against his neck and Cullen closes his eyes. The chaos in his mind quiets down and he only feels, for once open and free. He doesn't register what Dasan does with his hands, only that he flies over the edge like a young bird thrown into the air who never knew what flying was.

When he comes back to his mind, Dasan holds him, stroking his hair, still mumbling soft words against his neck. Cullen wraps his arms around him, burying his face into his long black hair and a sigh, that sounds almost like a sob, breaks out from his chest.

"Dasan."

"Yes."

Distrust and fear hovers on the edge of Cullen's mind but the elven mage holds him closer and the feelings hide away. Dasan turns to sit down next to Cullen, leaning against the cot, and puts his arm around him. "Look," he says, pointing to the piece of red glowing sky visible through the tent flap above.

Dasan makes a strange little movement with his fingers and a handful of tiny lights float up, drifting around in the tent. Cullen tenses for a moment but then a smile spreads on his face. How beautiful the lights are. They dance in the air, glittering like flecks of lyrium, some floating up through the open flap into the red sky.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Dasan says, looking at the lights.

Cullen looks at Dasan. "Yes, beautiful," he says.