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Of Fighting Mad and Crossing Thresholds

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Cullen glanced at the sky and rubbed the back of his neck. It had been several hours since Evelyn and her squad had left Redcliffe Castle to confront a dragon that lived in a valley nearby. He had thought there would be news brought to him by now. In an effort to keep busy during the wait, he had gone to the village of Redcliffe to speak with Corporal Vale. Vale was an Inquisition soldier that had recruited an impressive number of Fereldens to a ragtag militia at the Inquisitor’s behest. His group, known informally as Vale’s Irregulars, had done an impressive job of maintaining order in the Hinterlands in the wake of the Mage/Templar war.

“Commander, do you agree?” Corporal Vale questioned.

Cullen was pulled out of his thoughts, “I’m sorry, Vale. My attention wandered. You were saying something about better equipping your militia?”

“Permission to speak freely, sir?” Vale asked.

“Certainly.” Cullen replied.

“I’ve seen what the Inquisitor and her team can accomplish first hand. They will be fine, sir.”

Cullen clapped Vale on the back. “Thanks for that. Why don’t we head to the tavern for a drink? You can fill me in on your work later - once we get news of the dragon fight. I’m afraid I won’t be much use until I get word of their success.”

********************
Evelyn felt the fierce heat from the dragon’s breath, but her skin was unburned thanks to fire resistance enchantments and potions. So far no one had been badly injured during the fight with the Ferelden Frostback, but she was beginning to feel bone weary from the strain of casting spells and maintaining magical barriers.

“Why won’t you just die?” she finally shouted at the dragon with consternation. Her squad had been pounding the dragon with magic, arrows, and swords for over an hour, and it was still thrashing around and breathing fire. Somehow it had even mustered its offspring to the battle, so Evelyn found herself fighting on many fronts. The dragonlings weren’t difficult to kill, but they just kept coming. “How many bloody eggs does a dragon lay at a time?” Evelyn groused as her spectral sword cut down another baby dragon just before its teeth would have sunk into her leg.

The battle was pissing Evelyn off. In fact, the entire day had pissed Evelyn off. It had started with Bull banging on her door waking her from the few minutes of sleep she had finally stolen. Then Cullen had hovered over her while she got ready checking and double checking her armor and potions. Her horse had thrown a shoe on the way to the valley which delayed their arrival and meant she had to double up riding with Sera. The elf’s descriptions and admiration of Evelyn’s “bouncy bits” made Evelyn feel both awkward and annoyed. Then the team had arrived in the valley, and the dragon was nowhere to be seen. For a half hour, the seven of them had stood around dumbly like someone who had arrived at the wrong time for an appointment. Finally, the dragon had returned to its territory, and the confrontation began. Now the damn thing wouldn’t die. Andraste’s ass, I should have never got out of bed. Evelyn steamed as she threw another barrage of ice at the dragon’s mouth.

“Screw it.” Evelyn huffed in frustration and threw her marked hand in the air opening a small fade rift over the dragon. The rift drained the dragon’s life force while her comrades continued their attack. The dragon staggered and fell over. “Dead!” Cassandra announced spinning around looking for any remaining dragonlings while Bull continued hacking at the dragon his blood lust not yet filled.

Evelyn dropped to her knees exhausted mentally and physically. The Inquisition’s scouts had suggested this would be the easiest dragon to take out. She dreaded what the other dragons would be like if this one was considered a soft target. Feeling a strong hand on her shoulder, Evelyn turned to see Varric beside her.

“Are you okay, Bright Eyes? I don’t see any blood. You hurt?”

“Just worn out, Varric. That bastard took forever to kill. I hope that you can make this sound good in your stories. It felt like a grind to me.”

“Oh, this was nothing compared to Hawke’s battle with the Arishok. Imagine watching the Champion running figure eights around the Viscount’s hall for a good hour and a half with the Arishok trailing behind her. She’d throw up a static cage, cast a fire spell, and then have to take off again to avoid the Arishok’s axe. I think even the Qunari were relieved when he finally died the fight had gone on so long.” Varric recounted.

Dorian ambled over to the two of them. He ran a hand through his hair and snarled, “Damn dragon burned off some of my hair. The nerve...”

Evelyn laughed when she saw Dorian’s singed mane, “I warned you that hair oil you insisted on wearing was flammable. You’re fortunate you aren’t bald like Solas.”

“You clearly have no appreciation for proper hair care. Cullen would understand. I believe he spends more time on his hair than I do mine. Speaking of... we should probably find a scout to send word to the Commander. He has probably worn a hole through the floor pacing waiting for news.”

********************
Cullen had finished a second pint of ale when the Inquisition scout appeared in the tavern doorway. Cullen’s heart clenched as he raised his hand and motioned the scout over to the table he shared with Corporal Vale and some other soldiers. “Do you have a report?” he asked as stoically as he could manage.

“The dragon is dead, sir. No significant injuries to our people. The Inquisitor asks that you remain here in Redcliffe village. She plans on celebrating her victory tonight.”

Cullen mentally whispered his thanks to the Maker. “Wonderful news. Sit down and join us for a drink.”

The scout looked taken aback by Cullen’s invitation and then accepted with a nod. Sitting next to Vale, she ordered a pint from the barmaid and toasted to the Inquisitor and her squad.

Evelyn made it to the tavern a little over an hour later. She burst through the door, and Cullen relished how the setting sun made the red highlights in her brown hair glow. Her face was smudged with soot and her armor was covered in grime and gore. When her eyes met his, she broke into a wide smile then held up something that he first thought was an obsidian great sword. Cullen strained to see what it actually was and then realized it was a talon from the dragon.

“I brought you a present.” she shouted and raced over to his side. Completely ignoring the soldiers and townsfolk in the tavern, she plopped down on Cullen’s lap and kissed him unabashedly. Hoots and whistles echoed through the tavern as Evelyn pulled away from Cullen to tease, “So I killed a dragon today. What did you do?”

Cullen laughed and wrapped his arms around her waist his inhibitions lowered by the ale he had been drinking while waiting for news. “I sat here waiting for you and testing the capabilities of my liver. I’ve just finished my third pint, so you’ve got a good bit of drinking to do if you want to catch up.”

“Bull’s brought his Maraas Lok liquor to the battle site. I’ve already had a mug of it. We may be even when it comes to inebriation. That stuff was like paint thinner.” Evelyn twined her arms around Cullen’s neck and pressed her forehead to his. “I was worried about you,” she confessed.

“Worried about me? You were the one fighting a dragon.” Cullen shouted in her ear. The tavern had grown increasingly noisy as Iron Bull and the others entered and began celebrating.

“I know, but waiting is more nerve wracking.” Evelyn said drawing herself close to him, so she could be heard.

“Get a room.” Dorian suggested when he saw Evelyn draped on Cullen’s lap her arms wrapped around his neck and her lips pressed close to his ear.

“An excellent idea.” Evelyn retorted and started to stand.

“Whoa there, Boss. You don’t get to run off that fast. We’ve got well over half a bottle of Maraas Lok left. He poured the strong smelling clear liquid into a mug and slammed it on the table in front of Evelyn.

Evelyn took a sip and coughed violently. Cullen patted her on the back before taking the mug and holding it up to his nose. Smelling the distinctly pungent alcohol Cullen wrinkled his face and sat the mug down without drinking.

“I know, right? Put some chest on your chest.” Bull laughed then launched into a description of the battle with a combination of reverence and kink. He concluded by shouting, “Taarsidath-an halsaam.”

“That thing you just said - what does it mean?’ Cullen asked. Evelyn turned to Cullen and added, “He said it during the battle, too.”

“It’s a Qunari phrase. Closest translation would be, ‘I will bring myself sexual pleasure later while thinking about this with great respect.’” Bull explained.

“Maker, I don’t want to hear more about your self-pleasuring. Once today was more than enough.” Cullen groaned.

Evelyn looked disturbed, “You shouted that while that thing was breathing fire at us?”

“I know - right?” Bull roared and then gave a heavy grunt.

Unsure of what to say, Evelyn took another drink from the mug. She coughed less but only because she could barely feel her throat.

Bull smiled, “The second cup is easier. You’ve burned most of your nerves by that point.”

Evelyn brought her fingers to her lips and tapped them. “I can’t feel my lips,” she stated with wonder. She caught Cullen off guard by kissing him hard. “Did you feel that? I couldn’t feel a thing. I wonder...,” she leaned in again and kissed him this time with tongue. “So did I use my tongue just then? I meant to, but I couldn’t tell.”

When Evelyn reached for the mug of Maraas Lok again, Cullen clapped his hand over the top. “I think you’ve had enough. We still have to make our way back to the castle.”

“Ohh, and I was just starting to get tingly all over.” Evelyn slurred while her hand ran down Cullen’s chest to his groin.

Blushing bright red, he grabbed her hand while Bull and Dorian hooted at her wanton display. Undeterred, Evelyn tried with her other hand. Cullen caught her other wrist and pressed his lips to her hand. “You’ve definitely had enough alcohol. Time for bed.”

“I’d say it is.” Bull said lasciviously. Cullen narrowed his eyes at Bull and then maneuvered Evelyn off his lap. She was too drunk to stand. “How potent is that stuff?” Cullen angrily asked Bull while holding Evelyn up.

“The Boss will be okay. She’ll have a hell of a headache tomorrow, but she really didn’t get enough in to hurt her.”

Cullen sighed and tossed Evelyn over his shoulder. She grabbed his ass and laughed wickedly before beginning to hiccough. “Maker’s breath, Ev, you should never drink hard liquor,” he said while approaching the tavern’s owner in hopes of getting a room. There was no way she could safely ride a horse, and it was too far to walk to the castle in her current state.

Evelyn giggled and smacked Cullen’s rear as he took the keys from the innkeeper. “Evelyn Elaine Trevelyan, you will stop that this instant,” he said firmly.

She tried to wiggle out of his grip, but Cullen had one arm wrapped strongly around her upper thighs and the other gripping her calves. Evelyn reached out toward Bull and Dorian and gave them a plaintive look. “He’s going to make me behave. I want to have fun.”

“You’ve had your share of fun for the day. Go sleep it off.” Dorian counseled. “Josephine is going to have a devil of a time suppressing rumors about tonight as it is.”

Evelyn looked defeated and allowed herself to flop limply along Cullen’s back. “I’m not drunk,” she protested to no one in particular, “I’m just a little buzzy.”

Cullen snorted as he carried her up the stairs, “Love, you are ridiculously drunk. You can’t even stand.”

“Yes, I can. It’s just the room won’t hold still long enough.”

“I’ve got to sit you down to unlock the door. Just lean against the wall,” Cullen counseled as Evelyn pressed her face against the stucco.

“The stucco feels good to my face. Stucco, stucco, stuck oh- it’s a fun word. You should put your head on the wall. It’s glorious.” Evelyn said while nuzzling the wall.

“I’ll try that another time. Come on. The door’s unlocked. Do I need to pick you up again, or can you walk if I hold on to you?”

Evelyn responded by holding her arms out to Cullen like a child wanting to be picked up by a parent. “Very well,” he said before cradling her and carrying her across the threshold.

“You carried me over the threshold. We’re married now.” Evelyn said while ruffling Cullen’s hair.

Cullen placed her gently on the bed. “I don’t think it works that way.”

“Sure, it does.” Evelyn said with a yawn. The alcohol in her system was beginning to make her drowsy, so she didn’t protest as Cullen removed her armor and washed the worst of the evidence of the battle off her body. When he finished, he propped her on her side and tucked the covers around her. He planned to stay up and watch that she didn’t get sick.

Evelyn looked at him through heavy lidded eyes. “Evelyn Rutherford - it sounds nice, don’t you think?” She fell asleep before he could answer. “It sounds perfect,” he replied then kissed her cheek.