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Man Over Magic

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Love is supposed to dignify us, exalt us. How can it be love...if all it does is make you lonely and corrupt?
--
Luther

Magic was made to serve man, and never to rule over him.
--
Transfigurations 1:2, Chant of Light

Man Over Magic
Prologue


There were rules in every Circle, and at first it could seem overwhelming. But soon, following them became second nature. The world outside the Tower walls would fade. Mages became their cloaks and templars their armor. There were rules to follow by the letter and rules that lay dormant, waiting again for the right transgression to be used and justified. In the libraries, mages shuffled between long shelves of books and templars kept their eyes always vigilant, ready for the slightest trace of weakness. In the gardens, mages nurtured plants that would turn into healing tonics or teas or table decorations, and templars would watch with ramrod spines for the first sign of any foul play. In the dormitories, mages would walk and wander and whisper in the Fade, and templars would stand with their blade at every throat, ready to slice across it at the first sign of corruption or weakness.

Evelyn Trevelyan had learned what it took to be a good mage in the Circle at Ostwick. Templars did not tend to loathe mages who were kind and sweet and quiet, and so Evelyn, who was once a willful child, to hear her nurse tell it, became all of those things. She would make one recipe of tea to calm the mages who had their Harrowing soon and another to help the templars keep their watch over the sleeping mages without succumbing to the Fade themselves. She would lower her eyes in the presence of the knights that watched over her, and only speak when spoken to. She would comfort crying children in the dark of the night, and say nothing in protest when the magic was drained from them, drained from her, even for supposed crimes she did not commit.

She wrote letters home with love-bites from young templars on her neck. She counseled younger women who bristled under the attention of their would-be guardians to smile and to give the templars what they wanted. It helped, she told them, to lie back and to think of home, wherever it had been for them, until the templars had taken their pleasure. She surrendered everything to the men and women who watched over her, thanked them constantly for her service, did nothing to distinguish herself from the others.

And all the while no one knew how afraid she was of them. No one knew how she would cry without sound into her pillow at night, and how she would try to cast a pallor over the bites men left on her body. She wanted none of them, none of this, but at the same time, she did not want to become like the mage who set the chantry in Kirkwall aflame. She did not want to become Anders, who confessed his crime at the feet of Viscountess Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall, and earned only her blade in his heart. She wanted none of the consequences even more than she wanted any of the pain, and so she thought, over and over each night: This is how I will live, and this is how I will die

The Circle at Ostwick had not declared for either side, even as the flames came closer to the borders of the Free Marches, and perhaps when the flames came, she would lay down and let them consume her, and think of home, and fade away to nothing but ash.

So it came as a shock when Senior Enchanter Lydia, her mentor and teacher, suggested that she attend the Conclave at the Temple of the Sacred Ashes. Some of the templars who were more amorous of Evelyn, who had known her in the shadows as only a husband should, protested at this. But Lydia made them see sense, declaring Evelyn to be a model Circle mage. “She will remind these rebel apostates what our true duty is,” said Lydia to the Templars, a hand curling ’round Evelyn's shoulders. “She will act on our behalf, and help ensure that order is restored.”

“You are too kind to me,” Evelyn whispered quietly in protest, but her heart sang in her chest. This was a moment, she realized, that she could never find again; one that might change her forever. It was a chance to escape from the shadows of the Templars, to turn away from the eyes of those who looked at her and to give herself more time outside of her robes, more time away from what came from being here.

Evelyn came back from her thoughts to hear Lydia suggest that if the Conclave was successful, she should go through the tests to become a senior enchanter. Evelyn had never considered the idea before, but knew that being a senior enchanter might give her some distance between her boundaries and the templars she feared. She also did not wish to disappoint Lydia, whom she had looked up to ever since she was small. And so she consented to represent the Circle of Ostwick, and to undertake the trials back in the Tower if she was successful. 

As she traveled to the Conclave, she learned to sit up straighter. Her voice, usually never above a whisper, became more confident and loud. She dressed in finery lent out from her parents’ estate for the occasion, and for the first time in a long time, she was referred to asLady Evelyn Trevelyan. The title made her feel almost willful and wild, as she had been as a child, which was so completely unlike herself. She was a different person outside of the Tower walls, she realized, and perhaps she would not spend her whole life making herself small and quiet and nearly unseen.

Then the entire world went up in a cataclysmic explosion that sent her reeling into the Fade, running from ferocious spiders and into the arms of a woman who shone as the sun, and she stepped outside it with her hand glowing green. And nothing was the same anymore.

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Man Over Magic
Chapter 1



The prisoner, Lady Evelyn Trevelyan, soon after referred to as the Herald of Andraste, is certainly much prettier than the stories give her credit for, Commander Cullen Rutherford thought as he saw her at the war table for the first time. That was before he shamed himself for being so unprofessional. 

But it was difficult to remain so in the face of Evelyn, when the sunlight caught her hair and set it aglow, revealing soft lowlights that glimmered like flames. And her eyes, ringed with kohl, darted and moved from person to person, place to place, and in another life, he thought, without that magic inside her, she might have made a good templar. Then the soft pink of her mouth was almost always closed, and he learned quickly that she preferred to listen rather than speak; it was a habit he has always admired in others, and one that might be important, he justified, in the coming days. If the Lady Herald did choose to speak, her voice sounded almost musical, lilting up and down with curiosity and emotion; she was quick to display her feelings, and had infinite patience with all of the Inquisition’s members, from the highest visiting dignitary to the poorest recruit.

There were rumors that Andraste herself was responsible for bringing Evelyn out of the Fade and into the world once more, and it was when he slept that Cullen realized he believed them. When he was alone and he closed his eyes, Evelyn’s image stayed with him, her staff on her back and the light caught in her hair, and he hoped that this was the first sign that he’d become a better man. 

He used to be haunted of dreams of the mage Amell, formerly of Ferelden’s Circle, who looked upon him in his darkest, most shameful moment behind the barrier that held him, and still spoke softly to him anyway, still looked up and at him and whispered that she loved him. 

She was gone now, that Hero of Ferelden, her life given up to slay the Archdemon that shadowed over the world in the Fifth Blight. She had been so beautiful, a flame burning bright against the sky, and the shadow she had cast was long. 

When the Circle had broken near Kinloch Hold, desire demons wearing her face had offered themselves to him. They had been on their knees in front of him, cooing his name and opening their mouths, whispering such perfect sin and proposing such harsh temptations that even now, nearly ten years later, he still struggled to shut them out.

But the whispers were quieter now, and as he slept, Evelyn stood in place of the demons instead, sending them away with a wave of her hand, a shimmer of her mark. He stood inside the perimeter of her barrier, the lyrium in her veins a quiet song at his lips. And inside her arms she promised him forgiveness and redemption and everything else he was desperately trying to chase. 

He woke up each day with the intent of putting his best foot forward on her behalf, to see the self she showed him in his dreams becoming real. In the mornings he greeted his Herald and conducted operations for her, and in the snowy sunlight he saw her walking and pausing to wave at him, as if they had known each other for years and not a month at best.

One nondescript day she was out beyond the lake, gathering herbs and performing small tasks for the staff at Haven. He saw her walk carefully across the ice, thin in some places, to where he stood, on the snowy banks of the lake, at a distance from the recruits who are doing little but disappoint him. 

“Commander Rutherford, it’s good to see you,” Evelyn said politely, her arms full of elfroot as she ascended to the bank alongside him. She even bowed slightly, an old habit of mages from the Circle. Cullen remembered that in darker days, the mages of Kirkwall had kissed the floor in front of him, as if the very earth he walked on was made holy by his presence. He was glad Evelyn does not bow so deeply. He does not feel he would deserve it, nor would he ever deserve it. Not from her.

“And you as well, Lady Trevelyan,” he said, bowing back slightly, his words laced with decorum. He had been much more mindful of his language when he was at the war table, and it showed. He was in the presence of ladies when they held session, and however removed from the title Evelyn was, it would not reflect well on him to treat her as anything but. 

“Might I stay with you a while?” she asked with a smile, her teeth shining like pearls. “I feel like I’ve been awake for days.”

“Of course,” Cullen responded, too used to that feeling himself. For a long while, they were silent, and at the sign of Evelyn’s flushed face, Cullen felt a blush of his own creep across his face. He cursed softly to himself in his head. The woman was too beautiful for her own good, especially considering she was a mage who, until very recently, would never had had the chance to be married. 

At this moment, Cullen realized neither of them had said anything for some time, and he was desperate to erase the silence. He turned to Evelyn and asked, “Was there something you needed?”

“...yes, I suppose,” Evelyn said after a pause, and looking up, she met Cullen’s eyes. With a furious blush, she refocused her eyes back on the elfroot in her hands. She looked so beautiful and modest, Cullen thought, with her face like that. 

“I was thinking of our conversation the other day about which party we might send to for aid closing the Breach,” Evelyn said. “I have already spoken to Sister Leliana about why I should sympathize with...the mages.” 

For a moment, he realized, she almost said “my fellow mages,” and yet she did not. He had not asked her about her feelings about the rebellion. In truth he had been trying to avoid the conversation, not wishing Evelyn any unnecessary pain.

“And now, Commander,” she was saying, still to the elfroot in her hands instead of to his face, “I would hear your case as to why I should instead ally myself with the Templar Order.”

Cullen was taken aback for a moment at the request. Leliana had been much better at presenting her case, and with Evelyn’s mage heritage, Cullen had nearly given up on the prospect of allying the Inquisition with the templars. But if Evelyn was truly still open to the concept…

“Before I ask, Lady Trevelyan,” Cullen said, willing to let the Herald of Andraste speak for herself, “what are your thoughts about the mage rebellion?”

“I have been speaking with Madame Vivienne,” Evelyn said softly. “She says that the rebellion was ill-timed, after...after Kirkwall.” Her eyes glanced up to meet him. I’m not hurting you by speaking of it, am I? her eyes asked him. She was so careful, so thoughtful, so accommodating even in the face of the sky being ripped open. So many other mages would only look at him and wish of ripping out his throat once they learned he had been stationed there. 

But not Evelyn, he realized. Never Evelyn. 

He nodded, bade her continue. 

“She wants the Circles back,” she continued, her voice slightly quivering over the sentence. “I am not sure if I agree with her, but she did state having so many mages here without templar oversight would be foolhardy. And I...I agreed with her then.”

“The potential for abominations is exactly what I would have spoken to you of,” Cullen said, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck where his armor was chafing at his skin. “The templars would also be able to suppress the Breach, and watch over you if—”

If the worst was to come. The rest of his sentence died in his throat. He did not want to think of Evelyn Trevelyan with a templar’s blade in her, the Anchor on her hand puttering out to nothing as her body was committed to the Fade. If he saw that, he realized, it would have meant that he had failed. It could not come to pass.

Evelyn looked up at him. “Thank you, Commander, for your honesty,” she said, bowing again. He opened his mouth to protest it, but she continued speaking and he hardly wished to interrupt her. “I suppose it will not be possible for us to come to consensus, but a decision will be made, never you worry.”

She was about to turn around and leave when Cullen told her to wait and reached out for her arm. His fingers curled tight around Evelyn’s wrist. She gasped at the pressure, and he inhaled sharply at the feel of the lyrium that sang in her veins. It called out to him, reminded him of what he had given up after he had set his philters aside. He closed his eyes tight, breathed out his frustration, then continued.

“You’d be safer here with the Templars, Lady Trevelyan,” he said sternly, his fingers going through phantom movements to remove lyrium from her. It did nothing; he was so out of practice and so far removed from any Circle that it had no effect on her. Yet her eyes remained wide and focused on him, her breath shaky and her heart a hammer in her chest. She knew, he realized, what he was doing to her, and she was wondering why it didn’t have any effect--

“They would keep every mage here safe,” he said, to ignore the way she was looking at him. “That is their job. They would keep you safe, my lady.”

A high blush crept into her cheeks at the sound of “my lady.” He told himself it was simply a sign of respect, nothing more, and yet that blush did not disappear from Evelyn’s cheeks.

“...yes, they would, wouldn’t they?” Evelyn said after a long while, her eyes on the ground. Realizing she would do nothing until he did, he relented his hold on her. She brought up her other hand to her wrist, holding it in much the same way it had just been held.

She looked back up at him. “Then my party and I will depart for Therinfal Redoubt tomorrow, Commander. It will be as you say.”

Cullen’s eyebrows jumped up in surprise. He had not expected such a firm decision so soon, but it did please him to hear his former Order might regain even a fraction of their lost honor beneath her. “You honor me with your choice, Lady Trevelyan,” he said, and he had to fight the urge to kiss her hand where the Anchor idly flared. “I will begin preparations at once.”

Yet even as he did so, part of him wondered if she regretted what she had said, if in her heart of hearts she had wished to go to Redcliffe and investigate what was happening beneath Magister Alexius’ acquisition of the mages. But surely, he told himself, she would have said something if she had protested, would not have promised him she would go to Therinfal Redoubt unless it was the decision she wanted.

She is the Herald of Andraste, he told himself as her party departed the next morning for the stronghold, and she would not do anything she did not truly wish to do.

Chapter Text

 

Man Over Magic
Chapter 2


Evelyn Trevelyan, who proved herself to be Andraste’s will made manifest, emerged from the depths of Therinfal Redoubt with a Templar Order loyal to her name and willing to serve the Inquisition. She had recruited them as free allies, granting them a chance to regain their footing after an Envy demon disguised as Lord Seeker Lucius corrupted their ranks with sabotage and corrupted red lyrium. The travel back through the mountains was hard, and by the time they returned to Haven, the templars were spilling over the sides of the camp, their hands reaching out for lyrium, the one boon the Herald of Andraste could not give them.

For a week after the Templars joined the Inquisition, training exercises commenced in front of Cullen as Josephine worked to secure new supply lines of lyrium to the mountains. When Evelyn would come to Cullen with a cup of tea or sugar butter cookies to entice him into a break, the templars would bow before her, a gesture that embarrassed Evelyn and made Cullen more than passingly jealous. He knew the hearts of some templars, and some of them had impure thoughts about mages in their care. But the Herald of Andraste was above the rank and file, and he made it his duty to weed out templars with ungallant intentions towards Evelyn.

He spent time with her in afternoons by Haven’s thawing lake, drinking the tea and eating the cookies she made for him. She soon came to him with all of his meals, a task he tried to demote to a scout, but one she took back from the scout after he had turned away. She was content to bring the food to him and let him speak of whatever he wished, and when she did enter the conversation, it was typically to agree with him or to ask him for counsel over a problem she was facing. 

He found himself performing more missions and moving more pieces on the war table for her. Josephine and Leliana both asked Cullen what he had done to strike up such a rapport with Evelyn, but following his advice did not grant either woman as much time with Evelyn as Cullen had. 

When he was not looking over his charges or sitting with Evelyn, Cullen was battling against the siren song of the lyrium that surrounded his army at all times. At night he struggled the most with impure thoughts of Evelyn and the call of the lyrium pounding against his head. How easy it would be to give in, he thought, to drink the familiar sweet blue of the philter, to stop the exhaustion and the pain…

But then there was Evelyn, somehow still an arm’s length away as Amell had been, seeing to all of her duties when she was not giving him his meals. The Inquisition grew laden with allies, soon threatening to burst Haven apart at the seams. It was foolish to focus on his own troubles in the face of something so great, and it seemed to Cullen that the Inquisition had nowhere to go but up, especially after the Breach was sealed and the city rejoiced.

Then he saw the lights in the mountains, and his heart sank in despair. 

Evelyn led her party with valiant strength, her staff aglow with ice and spirit magic, letting Seeker Pentaghast and Warden Blackwall charge ahead of her as she flanked behind them alongside Varric Tethras. But then everything moved too fast—the Archdemon and the darkspawn Corypheus—and soon Evelyn stood against the great evil alone while Cullen retreated with the rest of the city further into the mountains.


*

By the time the camp was established at a safe distance, he was too exhausted to go out into the storm with Cassandra and look for her, but he refused to accept his weakness. He retreated quickly into his tent, and wrestled as he did every night with opening the philter again. He pictured Evelyn Trevelyan cold in the snow, calling out his name, her lips blue with cold and going unkissed, her hair never adorned by a daisy crown, never waiting by a chantry to marry a man…Maker, if that man could only be him…

He could not do it. He would not abandon her, not in her hour of need. The hunger sang in relief of being filled and the lyrium, sweet as honey nectar, washed over his lips and down his throat. He felt strength and wakefulness being returned to him, and he nearly sprinted up their ascent into the mountain. 

It was how he saw Evelyn there, shivering and cold, her eyes rolling into the back of her head and his name on her lips. She had been thinking of him, truly, and it set his mind right, knowing he had made the correct decision to take the lyrium, to be strong enough to rescue her.

He kept his vigilant watch over her all through their journey to the castle called Skyhold, and he was relieved to see how quickly she regained strength. On the steps of the castle she declared herself the Inquisitor who would stand to bring order back to Thedas. He rallied his troops in her name, pointing his sword on to her as she stood with her own ceremonial sword high over her head. And in that moment he understood that he would rather die than see her harmed, and that he would do everything in his power to keep her safe.

But even seeing her above the world was not enough to keep her from visiting his dreams at night, and so it was three weeks from then that he kissed her on the battlements. She was shocked at first, her soft lips a perfect O as he pulled away and began to apologize. 

Evelyn only smiled and said, “That was what I wanted,” as if anything could ever be so simple as this moment now, as if anything could ever be so simple as a man and a woman coming together in the wake of a war.

He gripped her tightly as he kissed her, his hands cupping her face as her own grip the armor on his arms, and he knew as he kissed her that he would never have another woman, not as long as he lived.

Nor would Evelyn ever have another man.

Chapter Text

Man Over Magic
Chapter 3


Inquisitor Evelyn Trevelyan had been kept more busy than she had ever been in her whole life. The relief work in Ferelden alone demanded weeks of her time, and she spent long expanses of time away from Skyhold, sealing rifts and righting wrongs and working to stabilize the many regions she traveled through. So she was quite surprised when she found herself with nothing to do for an entire afternoon just as the spring rains broke.

Once her lunch for Cullen was assembled, she tucked all of it into a little basket. She was sure she could persuade Cullen to forget his battle plans for a moment and spend time kissing her instead. And if it happened to progress further than that, what of it?

Evelyn had never been so happy as she had been with the Commander, who held her tenderly and tried to keep her safe and even gave her an extra allotment of guards to help keep her party safe when they were out in the world. The others in her party had seen it as an insult, but Evelyn had felt protected and safe, and let it be. He had done so much for her, she reasoned; it was only fair that she give him everything in return.

She spied into his room and saw sunlight pouring over his face. He seemed focused, but distant; she wondered if she might be able to surprise him if he hadn’t seen her. She moved as quietly as she could, holding the basket behind her, and then tapped him on his shoulder.

In a dark instant his arm gripped her wrist so hard she felt her bone might break beneath the pressure. A familiar sensation of lightheadedness gripped her as she felt her mana sapping from her, and Cullen forced her face up to look at him. She could feel him gaining strength, but even as he saw her face, his grip didn't loosen.

“I didn’t hear you enter,” he said, but there was a dark edge to his voice, one she had never heard before. It frightened her, sent a shiver down her spine and left her arms covered with goosebumps. 

“Cullen,” she said quietly, crying out and then kneeling under the force of his grip, “it’s me. Please. It’s Evelyn.” But she knew that her mana was all gone. She had no defense, no strength to fight against him.

“Stay on your knees,” he commanded. She looked up at him with wide eyes, trying to read the expression of his face. She had heard from the scouts around Skyhold that Commander Rutherford had been much more terse to them lately, but she had chalked that up to stress or exhaustion. She looked down at the floor of Cullen’s quarters and struggled to picture what she might have done to displease him, but nothing came to mind.

“Look at me,” he snapped, and she did, her arm straining in his grip. “You’ll want to hear what I have to say to you.”

“...yes, Commander?” she whispered softly, falling back on what she had learned to do in the Tower, what she had learned to do in a life she thought was behind her.

“I hear from the scouts that Warden Blackwall confessed his feelings for you on the battlements some time ago,” Cullen said, a sneer coming up to his face at the mention of the other man’s name. “Is this true, Evelyn?”

Evelyn’s heart thundered wildly in her chest. She had been embarrassed by Blackwall’s confession, by the way he had called her “my lady.” But she had thought it all past, especially when he had respected her relationship with Cullen. He had even made a promise to never bring it up again. 

“I...he did, Commander,” she confessed, running her other hand in an embarrassed way through her hair. “I promise, nothing--”

“I don’t care what happened or didn’t happen,” Cullen interrupted her, the darkness in his eyes seeming to spread across his face. “You’re mine, Evelyn, and you are not here to fawn over other men. You’re mine.”

Despite herself, Evelyn shivered at the possessiveness of Cullen’s tone, of the cold way he regarded men who looked at her. He was just trying to protect her, she reasoned. To show her he loved her.

“Yes, Cullen,” Evelyn whispered, looking up at her Commander with all the admiration in the world. How truly he must love her, to protect her in this way. If all he wished for was reassurance, she would give it to him. “I am yours.”

“So we are of an understanding,” Cullen said, and he dropped Evelyn’s wrist with a complete lack of ceremony. “Now you’ll make it up to me,” he continued, reaching for his belt. Evelyn’s heart pounded with anticipation, heat spreading throughout her body.

“I want your clothes off,” he snapped curtly.

“...as you wish, Commander.” As he worked on adjusting his breeches, Evelyn began unbuttoning her tunic and shuffling out of her boots. She was only outfitted in her smalls when she noticed Cullen’s erect cock standing to attention outside of his breeches. 

She flushed; though she was no virgin, this was the first time she had ever been in something like love, and she wanted so much to make Cullen happy.

“Those need to be gone, too,” he reminded her, his voice thin with impatience. Obediently, Evelyn untied her breastband and removed her briefs. She flushed again when she was completely naked before him, her breasts heaving and her cunt growing wet between her legs. Templars who’d had her in the Circle had kept her robes on lest they be discovered, and this was the first time she had ever given this sight to a man.

“On your knees,” he said again, and as soon as she had readjusted herself, the head of his cock jutted impatiently between her lips. Evelyn’s head bobbed in understanding, and she then began to lick the length of him up and down, bringing up a soft wrist to grip him at the base.

And then she took him wholly in her mouth, hollowing out her cheeks as she did so. Cullen’s soft moans signaled his approval to her, and her fingers tightened around him. She reached up for his hands and settled them onto the back of her head, his fingers splayed across her hair like a crown.

“Oh, Maker, yes,” Cullen groaned, his surprise quickly dissolving in favor of lust. “Is that what you want, Evelyn?” 

He began thrusting into the wet heat of her mouth, the head of his cock brushing against the back of her throat. He felt her gag around him, but she did not break away from him. “Is this how you want to be fucked?” 

His words were dark, but her mouth made a soft moan that sounded affirmative, and she let her mouth open wider, and she looked up at him with eyes full of such sin that he could scarcely believe people held her in the same reverence that they held the Maker’s Bride. 

Cullen curled his fingers into Evelyn’s hair and she then took all of him inside of her mouth, her lips brushing against the base where his cock met his skin. He felt some of his control weaken at the sensation, and he rooted himself deeply to avoid spilling himself inside Evelyn’s mouth.

She came up for air then, her lips flushed and shining, her breaths short and her eyes looking up at him in admiration. She wanted this, he realized, and with renewed vigor, he gripped one of her wrists and fucked her mouth in earnest. He could hear nothing above the slipping sounds of his cock thrusting in and out between Evelyn’s lips, and his own moans echoed in his ears. Evelyn was mostly quiet save for a few soft moans, her fingers not even dipping between her legs for relief. His fingers took every drop of lyrium they could from her, and when his orgasm came, he fixed her head in place before spilling his seed with a grunt into her mouth.

He planned on instructing her to swallow, only to see Evelyn do so without being prompted. Her tongue lapped at the head of his cock as she finished her work. She looked back up at him with shining cheeks and said nothing but: “Will my Commander require anything else?”

And as she said it, she was smiling.

“You are forgiven,” was all he said to her. “I’d consider finding a champion somewhere else, Evelyn. It would be better if the Warden found another way to serve the Inquisition.”

Evelyn cast her eyes downwards, still naked, still so beautiful, and bowed before him. “It will be as you wish, Commander.”

It did something to him, that bow, so submissive and strange. She was letting him have all the power in the situation, and she seemed to like it. The idea made his head spin. He had made so many promises to himself that he would never fall back into his old ways, and yet...

He was tempted to follow the thread she was laying for him, to order her to stay in his bed and to never leave it and never wear clothes again and never do anything except take his cock ever again. But he had reports due this afternoon and he could hardly afford to skip out on them, so she was soon dressed and taking half of the basket’s contents with her.

As he ate the lunch she had prepared for him, Cullen wondered if he had been too hard on Evelyn. She had come only to give him his lunch and to be a good companion to him, and instead he had shamed her for the attentions of another she had rebuffed. And he had taken her in a way that was ungallant, even as the lyrium sang in his veins and told him that what he did was good, so good, and she had wanted it, truly, she had gotten on her knees before him and told him it would be as he wished.

That night he heard reports from scouts that Evelyn had indeed told Blackwall his services in her party were no longer required, and his heart rejoiced to hear how well she had done, how respectful she had been of his wishes to take his advice.

What a wonder the Inquisitor was turning out to be.

Chapter Text

Man Over Magic
Chapter 4


The war goes on, as all wars do. Scouts for the Inquisition tread further into the heart of Thedas. Corypheus’ general Calpernia wages war against them at every step they take. News of Evelyn Trevelyan’s merciful, quiet judgments, including her divine forgiveness of Ser Ruth, only amplifies the comparisons of the Herald to Andraste herself. Slowly but surely, the reputation of the Templar Order begins to heal under the watchful eyes of their Knight-Commander, Cullen Rutherford, and their Knight-Captain, Ser Barris.

But none of the rest of the world came to Cullen or Evelyn in their quarters. 

One day, at first unlike any other, she knelt before him, the Inquisitor of the world brought low before her Commander. Her wrist was limp, the customary loss of her mana making her dizzy and weak. She struggled to focus on him, seeing only the color of his hair and the brightness of his skin. He was the sun to her, all-seeing, brighter than anything she had ever seen.

“Today you are going to give me something special, Evelyn,” Cullen said to her softly, so much so that she slightly straightened her spine to peer up further at him, her eyes glassy and unfocused. His voice grew stronger, more authoritative: “When did you come to the Circle?”

She snapped her eyes shut in concentration. “I was...seven,” she finally supplied. It had not always taken her this long to remember things. Lately in conversations she felt her thoughts drifting away from her, taking her back to feelings like this, held tightly in Cullen’s firm grip. He just shone so bright, and she loved him so much. It was hard to think of anything else.

“And your Harrowing?” His shadow loomed over her, swallowing her own within its darkness.

She swallowed dryly. The loss of her mana always made her so thirsty. “Fifteen.”

“And how old are you now, Evelyn?”

There was an uncomfortable silence at the realization that neither of them had ever asked the other how old they were.

“Twenty-five,” Evelyn eventually whispered, her eyes on the floor.

“So your phylactery has had time to be lost,” Cullen said succinctly, and Evelyn looked back up at him. His face was lost in thought.

“I suppose…” There was more in her to be said, but she could not think of what it was, not when Cullen’s grip on her remained tight, every drop of mana being lost to her the instant it was regenerated.

“That will not do,” Cullen said, and Evelyn only had time to see the shine of his small knife in the sunlight before it sliced across her weakened palm. 

She bit the bottom of her lip to keep from crying out. In a businesslike fashion he affixed a glass phial to her bleeding hand, his eyes on the progress of the blood into its destination. And not on his lover’s face, wet with tears.

Evelyn busied herself applying a tourniquet of discarded cloth to her hand even as Cullen worked hastily with her blood at a nearby table. He announced his completion when he was done, but she could feel the magic of it pulsing in her stomach and making her feel sick. The mana in her blood felt congealed and heavy, and a sheen of sweat broke out across her forehead.

Cullen’s face was illuminated by the light of the enchantment. His smile made shadows stretch across his face. “There we are, my love,” he said softly, running a hand down her flushed cheek. “Now when you are journeying, you will be safe. If you are ever lost, I will find you.”

He brought Evelyn into his arms, ignoring the way she sharply inhaled as she was brought closer to her phylactery. The tourniquet fell away from her hand in a flash of red and white. 

“I will always find you,” he promised. “Always.”

“Thank you,” Evelyn croaked. Cullen then seemed to see her distress for the first time, and removed the furs from his shoulders to wrap them around Evelyn’s. She reached for the cloth, but he retrieved it on her behalf, applying it with strength. She winced slightly at the pain.

“You’ll need to rest,” he urged her, as if she had cut herself through her own foolishness and he had only now seen the blood. “You leave with me and my troops tomorrow for Emprise du Lion. The situation has...deteriorated there, and I can’t have the Order take another hit to its reputation.”

Evelyn nodded dumbly in reply, but Cullen grasped her chin tightly and turned her eyes to him. “Who will be in your traveling party, my love?” he asked her. It was framed as only a question of curiosity, but Evelyn knew it was more than that.

Names, names. It was one of the other things that was growing harder to remember. “Sera,” she managed to say. “And Vivienne.” 

She wheezed. Air felt both exhilarating and painful.

Cullen prompted, “And…?”

Another sharp intake of air turned into Evelyn’s answer: “Cassandra.”

A flush of pride swept over Cullen’s face. After Evelyn had taken to his suggestion to rid her party of a man who harbored impure thoughts of her, he had asked her after a night in his bed to keep her distance from all of the men in the Inquisition.

It had been more a test of loyalty, an experiment, than anything else, though he could not pretend he was unhappy that she was especially keeping her distance from both Dorian and Solas. They were not good peers for her to emulate, always talking about the benevolence of spirits or the glories of Tevinter or some other such nonsense. No, surely Vivienne was truly a much better person for Evelyn to admire and emulate; she was not only teaching Evelyn to improve her magic, but she was also giving her lessons on presenting herself well to Empress Celene at Halamshiral. It was very rare that Vivienne and Evelyn were seen apart; the Inquisitor had announced her candidacy for the Knight-Enchanter school of magic just two days past.

But that was not the last question he had for her. “How is Cassandra’s Templar training going?” He knew he could not be by Evelyn’s side the whole while in Emprise du Lion; he had insisted that Cassandra intensify her training to keep both Vivienne and the Inquisitor herself safe.

“Very well,” Evelyn said, managing a wan smile. “I feel...I feel safe with her, Cullen.” Beads of sweat poured down into her eyes and she winced against the pain.

“What a relief to hear,” he said, the blood still spreading across the cloth he pressed into her hand.

After she was properly bandaged he escorted her back to her quarters and saw to her until she fell asleep, the sweat now cold with sleep. And he walked back to his own bed in his drafty quarters with his fingers laced tightly around her phylactery, which pulsed and whispered: ‘She is close. She’s here. So close. Just due north...you’ll find her...she will be yours...’

And he nodded off to sleep whispering along with it.

*

The party arrived at Emprise du Lion in the dying gasp of sunset, far too late to begin the missions that lay ahead of both Evelyn and Cullen. They broke bread with the scouts and exchanged pleasantries with the townspeople who had not hidden in their broken homes from them. Ser Michel de Chevin of Orlais even introduced himself to the party, though Cullen did not like the way the former champion to Empress Celene glanced at Evelyn. His eyes seemed kind and his honor seemed to be intact, but those were the men to watch out for, he thought darkly.

So he made it his intent to remind Evelyn who she truly belonged to that night.

Some hours later the after-dinner conversations dragged to a halt and Vivienne and Cassandra were assigned the first shift’s watch. Sera made an immature face at Evelyn and asked her if she’d rather “cuddle up next to your Cully-wully,” an endearment that made Evelyn blush and Cullen wish the snow would swallow him whole.

“Yes, she would,” Cullen answered tersely, his fingers gripping at Evelyn’s wrist. Evelyn struggled not to sway in the snow in front of Sera, though Cullen could hardly see why. What did it matter if everyone knew he kept her on his leash? This was what people did when they were in love, and one of them was a templar and the other a mage.

“Wouldn’t you, darling?” he asked her, and she obediently nodded her head yes to Sera, who left with a lewd remark and a wish for a good night’s sleep. She was no sooner in her own tent that Cullen also turned on his heel, dragging Evelyn along to their own tent.

The snow was barely contained at the edges of the tent and he saw Evelyn shiver as she undid the ties around their bedrolls. He brought a hand over hers, encompassing it.

“Stop,” he said. And she did.

“Strip,” he said. And she did. 

As she removed the light armor that surrounded her body, she did not make one sound. There was no mention of the cold, no suggestion that she might be too tired or not in the correct mood for lovemaking. She simply removed her clothes, undid her breastband and slid her smalls down her legs. He could practically smell the sweetness of her cunt, could almost taste her neck beneath his lips.

He was on her before she had time to react, curling a hand into her hair and telling her to make herself useful and suck his cock like a good girl. 

He made no move to remove his own heavy armor; his belt and his breeches were more than enough work for Evelyn to take care of. He stood up to the full height he could in the folds of the tent, looking down to see Evelyn fumbling and searching for the head of his cock, for something for her to put inside that pretty little mouth.

He could feel his cock hit the cold air for less than a second before he was enveloped by Evelyn’s mouth, that sweet and wet mouth that spoke less and less and never needed to. He thrust into her mouth without regard for her beneath him, even frowning slightly when she gagged and had to pull away from the reach of his hand to catch her breath.

“I didn’t say you were done, Evelyn,” he snarled at her, and in less than a moment, her mouth was full of his cock again. He felt himself stiffen and grow large within her mouth; sex was typically much better for him when she had time to gag on it properly, coating him in her own wetness before he fucked her until her knees gave out. He thrust his cock in and out of her throat, brushing against the back of it, feeling her mouth grow wetter and warmer around him. It felt nearly as good as her cunt, though of course it was one of the best things she had to offer him.

He felt Evelyn’s breaths grow shakier and let her pull away. Her lips were flushed and her breaths were sharp. He ran one finger along his cock and that finger made its way into Evelyn’s cunt, and she cried out wantonly at the contact, clenching around his finger. She was so tight, he thought with relish. Just for him.

“So wet,” he smirked, both amorous and proud. “Very well,” he said, removing his finger and glancing over her naked body. “Assume the position.”

She crawled across the bedrolls, her head near the tent’s entrance as he situated himself behind her. She arched her back in front of him. Her cunt nearly shimmered on display before him just beneath the curve of her ass. The sight alone made his cock throb with anticipation.

He did not warn her but simply thrust into her in one swift motion. She was so damn wet and she cried out as he thrust deeply into her. The feel of her around him, tight and warm, made him begin thrusting into her with abandon, his hips flush against her, letting his own pleasure fall from his lips as she took his thrusts: “Maker, Evelyn, yes--” 

“Cullen,” she whispered, her voice overshadowed by his moans, “t-the tent…the noise…”

He curled his fingers tightly into her hair, holding her in place so that he could thrust his cock even deeper into her. She bit her lip so hard she drew blood.

“Let them hear,” he snarled at her, his thrusts quickening. “Let the whole damn village hear, I don’t care. You just want my cock in you, don’t you? You don’t care where or when, just that you have it.”

When she didn’t respond, he thrust again into her, as hard as he could, and a soft wail fell from her lips. “Don’t you?” he growled. 

He hated repeating himself to her. She knew the rules. He took what he wanted, and she gave it to him. Because she was so good, and she belonged to him, and that was all she needed.

“Yes,” she whispered. “I want it. Please...give it to me...”

“Then you shall have it,” he said through his teeth, and then he began to fuck her so hard that he thought he could come in her any second. The only sound he could hear besides his own moans overshadowing hers was the slap of his hips against her ass, and he smiled lasciviously at the sight of it. Her cunt grew tighter and he could hear his name falling to pieces over and over in her mouth.

Slamming against the curve of her ass gave him an idea. He brought his hands to her mouth, his pointer finger tracing her lip. She took the hint and began to suck it almost as eagerly as she had sucked his cock. Then he brought his hand back and traced the circle of muscle between the cheeks of her buttocks. 

And pressed into her.

She cried out in surprise as the muscles tightened around him, and he had to bite back a laugh at the sensation. If that was how she felt around a finger, then she must never have given anyone the privilege. To think she still could give it to him, that her ass could be that tight around his cock--

It was this thought that washed over him and brought his orgasm to him. He removed his finger from her to keep her hips in place, thrusting three times more before spilling his seed inside her, his breath ragged and sharp as he did so. Evelyn was quivering before him, and when she turned, he saw her face: her mouth a perfect O at the feeling of Cullen’s seed inside her, her thighs stained with his come, her cheeks flushed at the pleasure of his finger inside her at the same time as his cock.

They cleaned themselves up. Once Evelyn’s bedroll was laid out, she kissed Cullen on the cheek and told him she loved him and wished him a good night, as if she had not been impaled on his cock with his finger inside her ass just moments ago. 

She did not reach for any sleeping clothes. Cullen preferred for her to sleep naked so he could take her first thing in the morning.

To compensate, Cullen draped his furs and one of the sturdier blankets he had found in Skyhold over Evelyn’s bedroll to give her enough warmth to get through the night. It would do her no good to freeze to death out here, not when he had discovered another use for her... 


Chapter Text

Man Over Magic
Chapter 5


Later that month, all of Skyhold rushed from priority to priority, all eyes fixed on the glimmering Winter Palace where Empress Celene would be giving a ball. 

The Inquisitor could be seen walking with a tome atop her head in the mornings, practicing her posture on Vivienne’s arm. In the afternoons Josephine would place Evelyn in front of a map of the Orlesian nobility, and Evelyn practiced their names and greetings and smiles that would win her approval in court. Her voice, usually so quiet, grew even more polite as she practiced saying “I’m charmed” or “I am afraid I must decline” or “Perhaps you should have tea with me sometime.” At night Evelyn would sketch the layout of the Winter Palace as best she could remember, labeling places where the assassin could be hiding.

Some visiting nobles tittered about the gown Evelyn might wear in the hallway. Josephine had already commissioned formal jackets in white with glimmering touches of gold and sashes of blue. This was no fairy story, the ambassador had told the nobles. The Inquisition had a mission to end the war and it would do no good to be lost entirely to posturing.

Cullen found all of the preparation to be a waste, his distaste for the Game growing stronger as it demanded more of Evelyn’s time. If the court dared find any fault in Evelyn, he had half a mind to let the war overrun the country.

The night before the party left for the Palace, he came to Evelyn’s quarters. On Josephine’s urging, the room had been redecorated in the Orlesian style. The windows glimmered grandly in the light of the sunset, the pattern flanked by lions. The bed was also opulent; five other women Evelyn’s size could fit within it. 

Evelyn herself was seated at the desk, dressed in the newly-altered finery she planned to wear the ball. She looked beautiful, Cullen thought as she stood to greet him. 

But she would be more beautiful in the green-blue of a senior enchanter’s robe, or in the brown cloth of an apprentice.

In absolutely nothing at all.

“Commander,” she said, bowing to him before looking back up at him. “I’m not...late for tonight?”

“No,” he said, touched by how quickly she was ready to rectify even the perception of a mistake. “I’ve reports for you.” After placing the parchments on her desk, he noticed her jacket pushed up slightly to reveal her blue veins to him.

Evelyn truly was the picture of obedience, the dream of any man.

He took the lyrium from her slowly, her eyes dilating with the loss of it. Her brow furrowed suddenly, her lips opening slightly.

“Commander?” Her voice seemed strained, as if she had worked over the words in this room before. “Might I ask you something?”

Cullen’s jaw tightened. Evelyn was so beautiful when she didn’t speak. How could she not know it? He had hoped she understood the beauty of her silence, but he supposed she had been good enough to earn this.

“As you wish,” he said. His grip on her did not relent. She opened her mouth.

“At night…sometimes…I think of Adamant,” she confessed, her eyes focused on the broad expanse of his armor. “And I…if I were possessed,” she continued, tears in her eyes as she looked up at him, “would you…?”

“Evelyn…” She collapsed into tears against him, her fingers curling into his furs. He could not think of any reason he had given her to doubt him. She was shaking with fear. He shushed her, his lips pressing softly against her earlobe.

“Evelyn,” he said again, “you know me. I am a man who is committed to his duty.”

She looked up at him, her eyes red, her mouth quivering with sobs.

“Of course I would kill you, my love,” he promised softly, running a hand through her hair. “Do you truly doubt me?”

“…n-no,” Evelyn said. Her grip on his furs grew tighter. “Never.”

“There’s a good girl,” he said, pressing a kiss to her forehead. She pulled away from him, wiping at the tears that fell from her eyes.

“My quarters,” he reminded her. “An hour.”

She nodded. He left her to her thoughts.

*

It was no surprise to anyone that Josephine led the party representing the Inquisition to the Winter Palace on the night of the ball. Leliana was at her hip, the two of them whispering some secrets to each other. Cullen followed behind them, Evelyn’s arm in his. 

Behind them trailed Evelyn’s party: the ladies Cassandra and Vivienne, and much to Cullen’s disgust, Dorian. Josephine had argued that Sera would be a nightmare in the halls of Halamshiral. Dorian had been presented as a diplomatic alternative.

Evelyn had only said, “It will be as you say, Lady Montilyet, Sister Leliana,” and that was that. Cullen could hardly take up the opposing argument; he’d had little tolerance for the pranks Sera played on the populace of Skyhold, and he knew that Josephine and Leliana had poured months of work into this single night.

But he could hardly wait for it to be over.

Evelyn’s eyes flitted from one masked face to the other, hearing the whispers of “Inquisitor” and “Herald of Andraste” from one side, hearing sneers about her magical ability in the other. Josephine turned sharply to face her, but before she could say anything, Evelyn nodded to her. She understood that her status had already harmed the favor of the court.

To make amends, Evelyn began curtsying and greeting people, even plucking a lost ring from a fountain and returning it to its rightful owner. The whispers became less negative, Cullen noted, and were more intrigued, positive.

He could not bear to stay more than a few steps from her, but he could hardly leave her unaccompanied. One never knew where the eyes of Orlesians were looking.

As Evelyn approached the fountain, a man in a golden mask came within her path. Josephine’s arm reached out to just stop Cullen from joining the conversation. Her whisper identified him as Gaspard de Chalons, the very reason the Inquisition had managed to make the guest list in the first place.

“You must let her do this on her own, Commander,” Josephine said, her hair curling in tendrils around her ears. “If the Inquisitor looks too dependent, they will not value her strength, nor approve of our mission.”

With reluctance, Cullen nodded his assent. 

Evelyn was the picture of courtly etiquette as she spoke to Gaspard; one could hardly guess she had been raised in a Circle instead of the manors of the nobility in the Free Marches. After a brisk conversation, Gaspard bowed deeply to Evelyn, who returned it with a small one of her own.

Cullen came up behind her and asked after the conversation. “He says he is the rightful Emperor of Orlais,” Evelyn supplied, “though of course he is not the only one making that declaration tonight.” 

She smiled brilliantly, her face stiff as a mask, while Cullen simply looked confused. He had not heard Evelyn speak so much in some time. He knew she was playing the Game, and Leliana and Josephine had commented on how quickly she took to it, especially with supplementary education from Lady Vivienne. But her voice and confidence and strength reminded him of Haven, of a time when Lady Evelyn Trevelyan was not his and his alone. 

And he did not like it.

“I am to walk with him to see the Empress,” Evelyn confessed, her eyes on the bright tile. Her eyes drifted up to Cullen’s, and then she looked down once more, crossing her heart with shame. 

“I’m so sorry,” she said, her voice barely a whisper.

For a long time, neither of them spoke; Evelyn was awash with shame, and Cullen was overwhelmed by jealousy.

“I’ll save you a dance,” she promised quickly, her eyes glowing with the lights from the Palace.

Gaspard might have presented himself as a man of honor. But he was no different than Michel de Chevin, who was now under his command and stationed on the opposite corner of the world. Perhaps if the Inquisition threw its weight behind Gaspard, he could have both men far away from her, even if he must suffer the indignity of seeing Evelyn on another man’s arm.

He grasped her wrist in his hand, and brushed his lips against her glove.

“You’ll save quite a bit more than that,” he corrected her, the darkness in his eyes illuminating the price she would pay tonight. She nodded her understanding, and was swept away in an instant by Josephine, her eyes on his until she was forced to turn around.

*

The ball did not start off well and Cullen had a feeling it would not improve. 

His stomach turned at the way Gaspard reached up the grand staircase to take Evelyn’s gloved hand in his own. Her steps were practiced and patient as she descended. He wasted no time in marching briskly to her when his own name was announced, taking Evelyn’s hand before the announcer had even finished saying “of Honnleath.” He felt reassured having her once more. Josephine’s puckered face proved her dislike of the situation, but hang what she thought. If the Orlesians did not care for Evelyn because she was already claimed, the war could have them.

It was not long until Evelyn had to leave him again to gain information and curry favor with nobles. A circle of admirers cut him off, his only relief the glow of Evelyn’s phylactery. It whispered to him of her location, and it drowned out the words of his circle. 

Evelyn was gone for what felt like hours. Cullen tugged at the edge of his collar, shifting uncomfortably as the barrage of questions threatened to drown him.

And then he saw Evelyn, dancing with the Duchess Florianne. He watched her, wanting to cut in, to wrap his hand around Evelyn’s waist and kiss her flush on the mouth, that every man might know whose name she would be screaming that night as she came.

“Is that the Inquisitor?” asked one of Cullen’s female admirers, her voice petulant. “Do you think she’s pretty?” she asked him with thinly veiled disgust.

“She is beautiful,” he said. He heard the woman mutter something under her breath, but the rest of the truth remained unspoken, hidden beneath his tongue like a pearl as he watched her dance. 

She is beautiful, far lovelier than anyone here, and she is mine. I have known her as a man may know a woman, and she will know no other man but me. 

I will spend my life keeping her safe. She will spend hers obeying me. And if any force dares take her from me, I will find her and I will bring her back to me. 

I will keep her with me all the days of my life. And when the time comes for her to pass into the Fade, it will be my arms that she lies in. I will be the last thing she sees before she passes out of this earth
.

He gripped her phylactery tightly, his breath shaking at the sight of her so close and yet so far. But the circle was hardly interested in that, and so it went unsaid.

*

he night that overcame Halamshiral was starless. By the eleventh hour Empress Celene remained victorious. Gaspard, the only other man in the Palace who had touched Evelyn, was being sent to a prison in Val Royeaux to be executed for treason. Florianne was thoroughly humiliated by Evelyn in front of the whole court, and was being sent to await judgment.

“A small mercy,” Evelyn told her council, her voice still bright, “considering she is about to lose her brother to the executioner’s axe.”

“She must hope you shall have mercy on her,” said Leliana, “as her brother did not find any here.”

“A night well-done,” Josephine added, “to all of us.”

Cullen said nothing to Evelyn. He only stared at her, hoping she remembered she owed him much. But first he would give her even more, and when he led her onto the balcony, he told her he would never have such a chance as this, so he must ask…

“May I have this dance, my lady?” he asked, bowing before her like a prince. Evelyn turned slightly toward him; her face was only missing a tiara to be that of a princess. 

She consented demurely, and he whirled her around to the music, his grip tight on her waist and his hand overshadowing hers. Her eyes glowed with the light of her phylactery. When the crescendo came and the song fell, he kissed her, biting her lips until she parted them for him, his hands curling around the back of her neck as she leaned into him.

When he pulled away, he smiled, but his thoughts were not on the way she looked or the triumph she had secured for the Inquisition.

They were on the small vial of oil he had looted from one of his more recent patrols, and what he might be able to do to Evelyn that night when they were finally, truly alone.

*

Before they had left for Halamshiral, Josephine had told all the members of the party that the Winter Palace had eyes and ears, and it was important to conduct themselves with the utmost professionalism and discretion if the Inquisition’s reputation was to remain stellar in the eyes of the saved Empress. But Cullen had given Evelyn orders, and he knew she would appear in his room in the dying whisper of the midnight hour. He was still dressed in his finery, rifling through his things until he found the phial of oil, the color of the glass a soft purple in the light of the moon.

The door creaked almost imperceptibly, and closed just as quickly. Cullen looked up to see Evelyn’s figure in shadows against the door, the fabric of her nightgown swaying softly as it billowed away from her waist and hips. He crooked a single finger and she walked toward him, wrist out, eyes downcast in front of him. When she was within reach, his fingers tightened around her wrist, and in the moonlight he saw that the fabric of her gown was a sheer, light silk brocade, the color of lyrium. Through the fabric he could see that her nipples were hard and that she had left her smalls in her own room, the gown the only thing keeping her decent when she had roamed the halls to come to him.

When she was sufficiently drained of her strength, he crashed his mouth down against hers. She opened so quickly to him, using what little energy she had to stand on her toes to reach up to his mouth. He tore himself from her lips to descend greedily down her neck, feeling her pulse beneath his lips. At the hollow of her throat, he sank his teeth into her skin and sucked at her as if she was all that was keeping him alive, feeling her shudder beneath him. When he pulled away, a dark bruise was blossoming right at the spot. Evelyn’s fingers traced over the circle his teeth had left on her, shivering pleasantly as she looked up at him.

“You were a triumph today,” he said, pride in his voice, his eyes roaming over the swell of her breasts as she caught her breath before him. “All those eyes were on you tonight, Evelyn,” he continued as he traced over her collarbone, his fingers slipping beneath the thin straps of her gown. “Shall they all hear you tonight as well?”

She bit her lip and nodded.

And he ripped the gown from her in one fluid motion, a soft cry of surprise coming from her as her body was exposed to the marble-cool air of the Palace. He did not apologize for the loss of her gown; he’d buy her another when they stopped in Val Royeaux on the way back to Skyhold, and she was more beautiful this way besides.

He brought her up in his arms, carrying her weight almost effortlessly. When they came to the bed that had been arranged from her, he lowered her brusquely and began kissing her breasts before she had time to properly catch her breath. He took one of her nipples into his mouth, alternating the attentions of his tongue with the angles of his teeth before sliding his hand down the plane of her stomach. Her breath came in short gasps alternated with his name, and without warning, he slid two of his longer fingers inside of her.

Her cry reverberated throughout the room, and he was certain any passing servant in the hall could hear her and know he was laying claim to her body. His cock strained against the confines of his breeches, which were tighter than the ones he was accustomed to wearing, but there was plenty of time for Evelyn to gag on it and beg for it and come apart with it inside her. He had all night, and he didn’t plan on wasting it.

His fingers thrust in and out of her with ease, and her cunt was so tight and wet that it felt like ring velvet around him. She writhed with want beneath him, and the only words coming out of her mouth were Cullen and more and please.

He looked up from her breasts to see the bruise on her throat almost black in the moonlight, and it filled him with want and with need and with lust and with darkness. He made quick work of his trousers and belt and soon buried himself inside her, her legs spread wide to accommodate the length of him, her broken cries only serving to make him harder. 

Evelyn cried out as his cock entered her, her eyes fluttering shut. Her hands grasped wildly for the sheets of his bed, her knuckles white as she gripped them to keep herself where he wanted her. She was so damned tight, and on another night her cunt would be enough to appease him. But they were in the Winter Palace and she had spent most of her night talking with others. And she would surely do what was required of her, he thought as he continued to thrust into her, with what he planned tonight.

The oil was still situated in the pocket of his breeches, but Evelyn’s current positioning made it difficult for him to reach it. He pressed himself once more into her cunt, pressing her to the mattress with his weight. He leaned down to her ear, his lips brushing against it as he said, “Turn around and fuck yourself against my cock, Evelyn.” 

She nodded and cried out softly as his cock momentarily took an exit from her cunt. She made quick work of her transition, her breasts bouncing and her ass beckoning to him as she assumed the position, her back arched and her shoulders high. One of her hands made a reach for his cock, guiding back into her cunt, and he watched as she impaled herself upon him over and over again, pushing herself back and forth to gain the pace she needed.

“There’s a good girl,” he said admiringly, one of his fingers tracing the curve of her spine as she continued to rut against him, the lips of her cunt spread wide to take him as deep as she was able. She was tightening and growing even wetter, her moans becoming uncontrollably louder, and he knew she would come soon. He reached into his breeches and opened the vial, coating his pointer finger with it and pressing his finger entirely into the ring of muscle between her buttocks even as she thrust back against him.

Evelyn’s cry heralded her orgasm, her hips still pushing back slowly against Cullen’s cock as she coated him in her come. He busied himself with coating another finger in oil, pressing it into her ass alongside the other. She keened beneath him, her body shuddering with the sensation of his fingers.

“Do you like that, Evelyn?” he growled between his teeth, using his other hand to stop her from thrusting against him so he could regain control. His cock buried itself again and again in Evelyn’s cunt even as her ass willingly took both of his fingers, thrusting into her hole at the same pace. “Do you want me inside your ass?”

Evelyn’s response of “y-yes” was broken but clear. Cullen soon felt his own orgasm was coming. He pulled out of Evelyn, keeping one of his hands on her spine as the other covered his cock in the oil, the scent of it mixing in with Evelyn’s musk. The scent of it made him feel almost high with pleasure, his head spinning as he lined up the head of his cock with the ring of muscle.

And he pressed into her.

She cried out sharply, her body tensing at the unfamiliar contact. She was so damn tight. He cursed under his breath at the sensation of her tense around the head of him. His hand on her spine steadied her as she shuddered.

“Relax,” he ordered. He could feel her starting to panic, her body trying to reject him.

“Evelyn, take me inside you,” he said sternly, his voice dark at the edges, lacking patience. His hand moved from her spine to her wrists, the magic in her blood singing to him of her resistance, begging to be removed. As he took more and more of the magic from her, her body relaxed in exhaustion, and soon he was buried to the hilt inside of her ass, the muscles gripping his cock so tightly he almost saw stars behind his eyes.

And it only got better when he began to thrust in and out of her, her small cries of pain soon replaced by warm, pleasurable moans that were only overshadowed by his own. His hands dug into her hips, his nails leaving moon-shaped marks as he continued to thrust into and out of her, into that tight little asshole, his, only his, Maker, yes, Evelyn was only his, no one else’s, only--

She was so damned tight, and so obedient, and so open, and soon he spilled himself inside of her, the grunts of his pleasure overshadowing her shaky breaths. She shivered as he took himself from her, small drops of his seed landing on the curve of her ass as he withdrew.

When they had cleaned up, Cullen came to bed first before noticing Evelyn reaching down for the pieces of her gown, her skin almost glowing in the light of the moon. 

“Leave it,” he ordered, and both of the pieces she was holding dropped to the floor, curling in the air like butterflies with broken wings. “Come to me,” he said, and she came back to him, curling up against him, her breasts pressed against his abdomen and her head resting on his chest. 

Her breath was shaking still, and he shushed her, urging her not to speak, commanding her to relax. Soon she had drifted off to sleep in his arms, the kohl around her eyes slightly smudged and her lips still swollen from his debauchery.

This was all he wanted for them, he realized. All he wanted was to keep her safe and all she wanted was to obey him. What more could either of them ever need?

It was the last thought he had before sleep overtook him as well. 

Chapter Text

Man Over Magic
Chapter 6


Outside the walls of the Winter Palace, the war still raged against the mountains and valleys of Thedas, and the Inquisition returned to work to keep Corypheus’ plans at bay. Lady Morrigan returned from the Palace alongside the Inquisition, pledging her aid to them to track Corypheus into the Arbor Wilds. The war council drafted a battle plan to bring Cullen and his troops there to precede Evelyn and her party. Before they had been back a week from the Palace, Cullen and his troops led themselves to Skyhold’s front gates in the early dawn to begin the long march to the Wilds.

Even as the troops prepared to depart, Cullen saw Evelyn hiding behind a small alcove of the castle where they could be alone, away from the prying eyes of his forces. He dismounted his steed and walked briskly, seeing that she was dressed in an Orlesian gown that dipped low to reveal her breasts, a sign that she would spend most of her day convincing dignitaries to send their troops to join his along the way.

His kisses were fast and biting against her lips and her neck, his head reeling at her scent. He wanted so badly to mark the hollow of her throat, which was already fading from their time at the Palace, and he let the trail of his kisses dip down to her heaving breasts. It was wicked of her to tempt him so when he was soon to leave. She said nothing when he told her, only ran a hand across the scar on his lip, her eyes filled with tears of worry as she looked up at him.

He started to speak to comfort her when he saw a flash of something, a piece of fabric in her hand. It was a piece of the silk brocade gown he had ripped apart in the Palace. She took an end in each hand, and tied it with great care around his left arm. A favor from a lady to a knight, as if they were in a story for children.

He was about to chide her for her sentimentality, touching as it was, when she shifted in her gown. For one lewd moment, her legs were exposed, revealing that the second piece was tied tightly around her upper thigh, a promise that he would be able to remove it later. A glint of metal in light caught his eye, and when she stilled it, he saw that it was the coin he had given her at the lake near Honnleath. She was keeping him close to her, even when he was not by her side. He could also see that her smalls were gone as well, that she was telling him wordlessly that she wanted to be taken against the side of the castle like a whore in an alley. He ran a gloved hand against the lips of her cunt and she shivered as she soaked them, a small cry of want breaking out from her mouth.

Andraste preserve him, but he wanted to give in, his heart thundering behind his armor. He wanted to sink his cock into her cunt, to pin her against the castle walls and drain the magic from her blood and bite her soundless open lips. He wanted to come inside her, he wanted her to conceive, and he wanted her to grow round and heavy with his child. He wanted to keep a watch over her always, and place his hand upon her, and feel the feet of their child pressing back against him. And when the babe was born, a girl with her hair or a boy with his eyes, he wanted to take her again, and sire as many children as he could upon her, upon this woman that was his. Upon this woman that he wanted to make his wife.

Maker blight this war for standing in the way of all of that, of all he wanted and what he knew she would want to, the instant he spoke it aloud.

Was any man ever so in love as Cullen was now with Evelyn? He could not imagine it was ever so.

“May Andraste speed you safely there, Commander,” Evelyn whispered as she lowered her skirt, her voice slightly broken with longing. In return, he brought her up for a kiss, biting and rough, before he pulled away from her, returning to his mount and leading his troops forward. 

Evelyn stood solemnly there for as long as she could, a hand on her puckered lips, the other gripping her skirt tightly as the silk brocade rustled softly against her thighs. It would be a long time until she would kneel before her Commander again, and her heart beat wildly in her chest at the thought of it, even as she walked back up the stony stairs to receive her first dignitary.

*

When Evelyn finally made contact with the Inquisition camp in the Arbor Wilds a week later, the first words out of her mouth asked after her Commander. Sera cackled gleefully and made a lewd comment about how Cullen would have her again that night; Cassandra and Vivienne only made disgusted noises and refused to say anything, respectively. Evelyn turned crimson but said nothing else.

“General Cullen led the march at dawn” was all Evelyn had to hear before she broke into a sprint, her heart thundering in her ears as she raced carelessly through the forest. Branches cut at her face and she tripped in rather undignified ways more than once, her barrier the only reason she wore none of these hurts after she felt them. But she could not delay; if the Commander knew she had been here and had dallied, she would be made to suffer without his touch. 

The coin almost burned against her skin, and she felt it more than the marks of any arrows or swords that came to end her life. Her party members rallied around her. Vivienne cast barriers when Evelyn let hers expire; Sera screamed and threw tonics and grenades to distract their enemies from Evelyn; and Cassandra stood before Evelyn to defend her, Cullen’s former shield from his time as Knight-Commander in Kirkwall ablaze in the sun.

But then they found Cullen outside the ruins of the temple to the elven goddess Mythal. He shone so brightly, the water beneath his boots glimmering like jewels, and even in the midst of the battle they were in, with blood on both their faces, she embraced him, her Commander, her lover, her everything. When he kissed her lip he drew blood, and even with her phylactery aglow over his chest, she cast a barrier over him to protect him from danger. 

Cassandra cried out that Corypheus was running into the temple, that Calpernia was inside and there was no time to lose. Evelyn looked in distress at Cullen, who only smiled and nodded her on. 

“You will return, my love,” he said, granting her permission to pursue their adversary. 

She bowed. “It will be as you say, Commander.”

And then she was gone, enveloped by ruins unknowable. Cullen returned to keeping their enemies from pursuing her. There would be time enough for what he had planned, he assured himself as he heard the roar of their foes. After this war, they would have nothing but time. 

He would see to it himself.

*

It was long after sunset when Evelyn emerged from Mythal’s temple, Lady Morrigan still reeling from the effects of the Well of Sorrows. Morrigan was put under watch, both surgeons and templars over her in case the Well revolted within her. Cassandra, Vivienne and Sera all shifted slightly as Evelyn grabbed each scout she could find and asked after where the Commander was. 

The three of them had often made attempts to ask after Cullen’s controlling ways over Evelyn when it was just the four of them. But she denied them every time. “I love Cullen and he loves me” would be her only response. She would say nothing more. 

Though the noises from their tent were closer to pain than pleasure, and Evelyn had to specify which bruises came from battle and which from her Commander, she assured them all she was simply in love. As if people wore bruises on their necks as a symbol that they were in love. As if people let themselves be drained of their power when they were in love. As if people always knelt formally before the person they loved.

“The Commander has duties to attend to, my dear,” Vivienne said, running a hand across Evelyn’s shoulder. When Evelyn turned around, she was in pain, sweat on her forehead and a look of distress on her face. “You may simply share Sera’s tent,” she continued. “It will be no harm d--”

“No!” Evelyn broke away from Vivienne, her breaths sharp. Her party stared at her; it was the loudest she had been in months. “...I mean,” Evelyn said, slightly softer, “I thank you for your concern, Vivienne. But it will not be necessary. Cullen is expecting me.”

Cassandra’s patience wore thin and she snapped: “This is ridiculous. Evelyn, please, we are asking you as your traveling companions not to see him tonight. Staying with us will not make you--”

“No! You can’t make me!” Evelyn’s eyes were wide with panic. She shrunk away from all of them, her eyes darting from Cassandra to Sera to Vivienne, her heart thundering at their betrayals. “...I love Cullen,” she said again, as he had taught her to say, “and he loves--”

Sera made a scoffing noise. “He doesn’t deserve you defending him. You know it, Evie,” she said, using her nickname for Evelyn and trying to make her voice sound soft, but she was more than a little on edge from the sights inside Mythal’s temple. “You think we’re all daft? You think we all don’t know he likes making you weak so you won’t fight back, so he can do whatever he wants to you and make you like it? You think we haven’t noticed how quiet you get around him, how you walk behind him like you’re his dog? It’s not right, and you know it.”

There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Evelyn wrung her hands. How long had the three of them been conspiring to separate her from him? How long had they harbored these feelings in their hearts? She could not let them succeed. She met Sera’s eyes.

“I love--”

Vivienne held out one arm to keep Sera from lunging at Evelyn. “It’s not love when it’s like that!” Sera screamed, straining to break past Vivienne. “Don’t you get it? It’s just like all those stupid stories you heard before the war! How many mages like you got trapped in the Towers by Templars like him?! It’s just like--”

Sera’s words died in her throat as she saw Evelyn bow, her eyelashes brushing the ground beneath them. And Evelyn’s traveling party turned to see Cullen standing before them, his face a mask of disgust and impatience.

“Seeker Pentaghast, Madame de Fer,” Cullen said grandly in greeting, as if he were back in Halamshiral. And then, darker: “Sera.”

Sera muttered something obscene under her breath as a way of greeting, which Cullen pretended to ignore. Evelyn said nothing, did not even move from the low bow she had placed herself in.

“I require a word with the Inquisitor,” Cullen said. When only Cassandra and Vivienne moved, Cullen added to Sera’s face: “Alone.”

Evelyn heard the footsteps of her three companions as they disappeared: Cassandra’s steps small bursts of thunder in her armor, Vivienne’s feet barely brushing the ground, and Sera’s random zigzags as her increasingly profane words fell out of her earshot. She did not dare move, even knowing Cullen was before her. He had to know she had not wanted any of what she had heard from her companions, that her head was still reeling from their betrayal. She was still in disbelief at how they stood there and judged her when the man she loved was responsible for the Inquisition’s victory, when he had worked to protect her from all the dangers of this war, when he had held her close in the dark of the night and held her phylactery when he could not be by her side…

“You may rise, Evelyn,” Cullen said, and Evelyn stood slowly, running her hands over her armor to whisk away the dirt on it. She looked at him, the shadows of the post-dinner fires hiding parts of his face. She could not determine what his feelings were, and that scared her. She knew better than to try to defend herself; the Commander was a man who made up his mind on his own, and he did not like Evelyn trying to sway him.

The silence was even worse than the betrayal of her inner circle, and with shaky, sudden movements, Evelyn pushed up her sleeves, her veins bare and blue before him. Let him understand, she thought wildly, hoping for forgiveness, not above begging for it. Let him know I wanted nothing of this. Let him know I love him. Let him know I would never leave him, not now, not ever, Maker preserve me, I’d die without him--

In one swift motion Cullen took both of Evelyn’s wrists in his own. And pressed. 

The lyrium in her veins seemed to rush to him, her eyes fluttering shut as the familiar feeling swept over her once more. It heralded her pleasure, the headiness of letting go and giving him what he wanted. She stumbled back down to her knees before him, his grip not wavering, even for a moment. She knew he did this because he loved her, because he did not want her to hurt herself as he had her. Her vision swam slightly as the magic continued to be drained from her, and the last thing she saw was Cullen’s scarred lips turned up in a smile as the world went black around her.

*

When Evelyn awoke some time later, she was in a tent emblazoned with the Commander’s customary lion. She was naked, and she shivered pleasantly at the thought of him disrobing her as she slept. She was beneath wolf pelts to keep warm. Cullen’s voice came to her ears, slightly distorted by distance as he spoke to a scout. The conversation seemed to be coming to an end, so she slipped out from underneath the pelts and began to assume the position he liked to take her in the most. She knew it would please him to see her ready for him when he returned, and though her body ached from her excursion in the temple, she did not wish to disappoint him. Not now. Not ever.

After the scout had been dismissed, Evelyn felt the air of the forest night as Cullen opened the tent flap, and she shivered at the cool air against her warm cunt. She had made herself wet thinking of him, but she did not touch herself, saving that pleasure for him instead. She heard him chuckle softly, and she bucked into his touch as it ascended up her spine.

“So you do remember your place after all,” he said, the pride in his voice making her heart swell. “And here I thought the…ladies…” he said after a dark pause, circling around her until he paused in front of her, sitting on the furs of his tent like a king, “…in your party might have turned your heart against me.”

She shook her head wildly. “No,” she promised, wanting to reach out to touch him, but bound not to by her lack of orders. “Cullen, I would never--”

“Of course,” he said, interrupting her, one of his hands making her breath hitch as it reached for his belt, “you would never leave me, would you, Evelyn?” 

She shook her head no again, frantically, as he let his belt fall to his side. 

“You do love me,” he continued, his breeches sliding so slowly down his hips she thought she might go mad with desire, “and you do obey me, don’t you, Evelyn?”

“Yes,” she whispered, “I do.”

Her mouth was dry at the sight of his cock, her cunt overwhelmed with desire. She wanted it, Andraste watch over her, but she did. She wanted it anywhere he would give it to her: in her mouth, in her cunt, in her ass. She wanted it here in the tent, outside in the forest, before the fire in front of everyone…

She did not care. She was his, and she wanted to reassure him that she had not forgotten her true loyalty in the face of her party’s betrayal.

He took himself into his hand, gripping it as tightly as she might, and began to stroke himself, moans spilling from his mouth. Her fingers itched with the urge to replace his hand with her own, to urge his cock into her mouth until she gagged on it. But without her magic or an order from him, she was powerless, and all she could do was watch. Watch and feel her nipples grow hard in the air and her cunt grow even wetter and even feel the muscle between her buttocks open with want. She was here and ready to be taken, and here he was, taking his pleasure for himself, keeping her from it.

It was even more torture than being away from him had.

“Cullen…” Her voice was strained, and she had to struggle to be heard over his moans and tightly clenched eyes. “Please…”

His hand stilled and he looked back at her. “You are proving your loyalty to me, Evelyn,” he said, taking her chin in his other hand, “which is in question after what they said.”

Her eyes widened.

“Oh, I heard it all,” he said with a sneer, letting her chin fall from his hand as she lowered her eyes before him. “You did defend me, but not enough to make them stop. And now you must prove yourself to me.”

Evelyn only nodded, not daring to look up until he told her. Waves of shame washed over her, which did nothing to suppress the wetness between her legs. I could prove it to you, she wanted to say, if you just take me, love me, use me, but she did not want to contradict Cullen, not when he had been spoken ill of and she had not done enough to defend him.

“Look up,” he said with shaky breaths. And when she did, he ran a hand into her hair, angling her face below his cock. A drop of pre-come shimmered at the head of his cock, and Evelyn had to swallow the urge to bring her tongue out to taste the salt of it. She kept her mouth open enough for him to thrust into it to spill his seed, if that were his pleasure--

His orgasm broke over him and she barely had time to close her eyes before his seed spilled onto her face in wet, hot spurts. She bit back tears at the loss of it, at the loss of his seed that could have spilled into her mouth properly, that could have been between her legs or inside her ass. When his moans subsided, he pressed himself to the hilt inside her mouth, and she hollowed out her cheeks to take him in deeper, to lick every last drop of his come from his cock--

The tent flapped open and Evelyn snapped around to see one of Leliana’s spies holding a report on wood, addressed to the Commander. A blush colored her come-covered cheeks, and she began to reach for a cloth to wipe her face or a pelt to cover her body.

Cullen’s wrist took her hand in his. 

“Stop,” he said, and she did. 

“Look at the scout when he gives his report,” he said, and she did.

“Proceed,” he said to the scout, as if the Inquisitor were not naked and covered in his seed, as if the scout was not looking at the Herald of Andraste but at a common camp follower. At a whore.

The report was nothing of import: a mere inventory list of what the troops had uncovered during their night patrols. But the scout kept stumbling over his words, struggling to look at anywhere but Evelyn’s naked form, marked with the Commander’s seed. Her cheeks burned with shame, but Cullen’s wrist on her pulse made her obey. 

Nonetheless, it was a relief when the report was finally left at the tent flap and the scout disappeared into the night. The scout could not have been out of the tent for more than a moment before Cullen thrust his cock again into her mouth.

“Now make me hard again,” he said impatiently, her cheeks hollowing out, “so I can have you.”

She bobbed her head up and down. She wanted him so desperately, and she could feel her body responsive to his every fleeting touch, her skin covered in goosebumps as she felt him grow harder again inside her mouth. He curled fingers again into her hair to help him brush the back of her throat, and her gagging slicked up his cock, made it harder than she had ever remembered it being before.

When Cullen looked down at both his cock and at Evelyn’s face, still covered in his spent seed, he ordered Evelyn turn around once more. He let one finger drift between her lips and thrust it into her. She cried out so wantonly he was certain everyone in camp could hear her.

And she did not care. She did not care who heard her. Not Cassandra, not Vivienne, not Sera, not even the scout who had seen her earlier. She simply wanted him, only him, her mind blind to all other needs and desires.

His cock thrust inside of her cunt and waves of relief and pleasure washed over Evelyn. He fit so perfectly inside her, and she never wanted another man, not as long as she would live. He began pounding into her relentlessly, his thrusting finding a faster pace than even her own heartbeat. Her body still ached with the memories of that day’s excursion, but she would not let even the pain of her own body stop her from serving her Commander.

But her knees began to buckle slightly, and she had to grasp the wolf pelts beneath her hands to stop her from falling completely. Cullen snapped at her to get up and she slowly obeyed, using all of her strength to keep herself at the level of his cock. 

“Such a good girl you are, Evelyn,” he said approvingly, and her heart fluttered in her chest at his praise. “Tell me,” he continued, punctuating his words with thrusts that were so deep she thought she might break beneath the pleasure of it, “where shall I spill in you tonight?”

It was another test, and she knew the answer. She tossed her hair back to look over her shoulder, and only gave him a smile. 

“How would my Commander like to have me?” she asked, and saw his scarred lips break into a wicked smile.

“Shall I spill inside your tight little cunt?” he growled at her, his pace going even faster, and she struggled to keep her position as he increased his speed. “Is that what you want, Evelyn? Do you want my come inside of this wet cunt?”

His words sent shivers of desire rippling through her. “Y-yes,” she managed, “I do.”

“Do you want to bear my child, Evelyn?” She gasped aloud at the question, and she could feel her cunt grow tighter around him in response. He laughed darkly at the sensation. “Ah, I suppose your womb has given me your answer,” he said, and it was the right one, apparently, because he pushed her down to the ground, his cock thrusting into her even deeper. 

“Say you want it,” he demanded. “Say you want me to come inside you, and you want to give birth to my child.” 

“I do,” she said breathlessly, her heart soaring at the thought of it. Her nipples grew harder at the feeling of the wolf fur against them. “I want your come, Cullen. I want to...I want to bear your child. I want you to--”

And with one last thrust he spilled himself into her, and Evelyn cried out at the sensation, at the warmth of his seed rooting inside of her. He fell down against her back as he thrust out the last of his orgasm, his lips biting at the back of her neck. 

“Cullen,” she asked later, when they were both cleaned and naked beneath his furs, “did you...truly mean what you said? About me...bearing your child?”

“Of course, my love,” he said, bringing her chin into his hand and looking down at her. “Would that not make you happy?”

“I am already happy, Cullen,” she began to say, but a ripple of darkness ran over his face, and she let the rest of the sentence die in her throat.

She had never thought much of it, and she had taken many precautions in the Circle to avoid bringing a templar’s illegitimate whelp into the world. But Cullen, she told herself, was no ordinary templar. He was the head of the Order now, and she supposed the forest was as good a place as any to abandon her abortifacient teas. Cullen would be a good father, and be just as protective and loving of any child she gave him as he was of her. After all, if he wanted a child, then surely she did too.

“But I suppose,” she said slowly, “if I did conceive...I would be…” She broke into a smile. “I would be the most happy woman in all of Thedas.” 

“There’s my Evelyn,” he said proudly, kissing her on the forehead as he brushed a finger down her cheek. “Now you must rest. We march back in the morning.”

She nodded and did her best to sleep well, but the Fade had only monstrosities to show her. She walked across the battlefield of a broken Inquisition camp, every member of the Inquisition impaled on a sword or run through with arrows. And within their very tent, the Commander--Andraste preserve her, her Commander--was bleeding out from his stomach, his armor falling away from him like it had been nothing more than a toy.

And in her rage she screamed and re-opened the Breach in the sky, letting it turn its terrifying sickly green, and she ran into the Fade, screaming out for Corypheus, urging him to find her, to look upon his last as she avenged the man she loved--the father of her child--

She woke up screaming, and it was only Cullen’s grip on her wrist and his words in her ear that helped ease her back into sleep, though she shivered beside him, still fearful of ever losing him, still worried about what the world would be without him. 

She hoped the day would never come to pass.

Chapter Text

Man Over Magic
Chapter 7



By Andraste’s grace, Evelyn Trevelyan defeated Corypheus at the Temple of the Sacred Ashes, banishing his like once and for all from Thedas. She came back to Skyhold with his blood smeared upon her face, her spirit blade still within her hand and her eyes in every corner. Every so often she stumbled, held up by her companions. She strained against them, sweat on her forehead and a haze in her eyes, repeating the same words: “No…please…Sera…stop…Cassandra, I…I can’t…no, Vivienne…please…stop…I don’t…I can’t…”

The folk of the Inquisition noticed and whispered behind fans or their palms. Was this what victory cost them? Was there nothing but wars against adversaries, forever and ever, and prices paid by the men and women brave enough to stand up to them?

But then Evelyn saw Cullen, standing atop stone as Corypheus did, his sword in its hilt and a shine on his armor. Her heart lurched. She wanted to run to him. And she wanted to away from him at the same time. She wanted to celebrate her victory with him. And she wished that she had died, that her companions were taking her back in pieces. 

Cullen had been in her nightmares every night since the battle. Some nights he stood alongside Corypheus and sometimes in place of him, the darkspawn wearing Cullen’s stretched face. She had learned soon that he was not there to be rescued, but was a lure to bring her to her death. His voice made her run towards him. His voice made her bow to him. His voice made her stop fighting him. 

And her death was always at Corypheus’ hands, at Cullen’s: his Templar’s blade run over her throat, his gloved hands reaching through her and ripping her apart piece by piece, retrieving a babe with his eyes from her womb before leaving her to bleed out in the Fade and succumb to death. It all ended in blood, his shadow fading away from her, her body broken into pieces.

She had told nobody, shouldering the fears herself, certain that Corypheus was manipulating the Fade to turn her against the one man who had ever loved her, had ever really loved her. And yet her mind bore the scars of the ordeals; she knew that she would rather fight Corypheus again and again rather than come back to Skyhold, this place where she had no power, especially after feeling how much she had against her adversary. How much she had over the world, anywhere but where Cullen was, where all her power became his… 

“I can’t,” she whispered softly, her knees buckling, her lower lip trembling as her companions eased her up to the platform where Josephine, Leliana, and Cullen all stood. 

Only Josephine’s face showed any sort of concern at Evelyn’s state. The newly-elected Divine Victoria had a face of iron. And Cullen’s face was unreadable, unknowable.

“Evelyn…” came Cullen’s voice, his hands reaching out for her. They gripped her shoulders. She wanted to scream, her mind wildly resisting but her spirit still bending before him. 

“Come now,” he said, his hands curling around the small of her back to bring her flush against him. “It’s Cullen, my love. Could you have forgotten me?”

She bit back tears at her fear, her mind reeling now more than ever. Her body’s aches seemed to pass from her as his hand pressed against her back and his furs brushed against her cheek. She chided herself for being afraid of him, of the one man who truly loved her, of the man who had supported her since the day they first met. His fingers came up under her chin, and she looked back up at him.

She swooned into his arms, overcome with exhaustion, and the last the smallfolk saw of their Inquisitor was her Commander leading her up the stairs, her body cold and unresponsive in his arms.

*

The first sound she heard was Cullen’s voice.

“Evelyn,” he whispered when the sunlight broke over the mountains, running a hand through her hair. “Wake up.”

She opened her eyes wearily, obediently, and looked up at him questioningly. She did not open her mouth to speak because he had not asked her to, even now with one of the greatest evils the world has ever known crushed beneath the weight of her magic. It was strange, she realized, how quickly things had changed from a year ago, when they had hardly known each other in the shadow of the Frostbacks.

She yearned for that time again as she hoped it would never come to pass, the paradox making her head feel like it might split.

“Come with me,” he said, and she let herself be led by the hand, her eyes still heavy and her face still warm from sleep. She turned to watch him in the cold light of the day, her eyes wide and the mana in her blood singing. He had not stopped to remove her magic, she realized, and he seemed distant, more thoughtful than the previous night. She was sure she had missed a fine party, but the lack of circles under his eyes told her he had watched over her all the night through.

“Evelyn,” he said softly, tenderly taking her hand in his, “I was so worried for you when you battled Corypheus. You handled it so well alongside your companions, and yet, I was worried what might happen, were I to lose you…”

He embraced her in his arms, wrapping his arms tightly around the narrow curve of her waist. Evelyn only breathed softly, her own arms settling in the small of his back. She was wracked with guilt over the nightmares, which had not happened last night, not within the boundaries of Skyhold nor with the bulk and warmth of Cullen by her side. He was her panacea and her poison, Maker protect her, and she knew there could be nothing else but this.

“Lady Evelyn Trevelyan,” he addressed her grandly, as if he had not ever taken the mana from her blood, as if he had not kept her firmly under his thumb for nearly a year. He knelt before her, and she looked down at him strangely, a slight vertigo washing over her at the newness of the perspective. 

In his hand he revealed a ring of everite metal, smooth and polished and black as a starless night, adorned with a diamond that caught the young light of the dawn within it.

She gasped softly, her eyes widening and a hand fluttering to her throat.

“Will you be my wife?” he asked her, a smile playing over his scarred lips, a shine in his dark eyes. “Will you be mine, Evelyn, now…and forever?”

Evelyn Trevelyan reached for her throat and she could not find her voice. She wanted to say yes and kiss him. She wanted to throw herself off the balcony and be at the mercy of the rocks below. Corypheus was not dead a week and here he was, kneeling before her as if they had courted under normal circumstances. 

She thought of Corypheus wearing Cullen’s face, ripping the child from her womb. She thought of Cullen watching as she threw her abortifacient tea into the fire in the Arbor Wilds. She thought of the length of silk brocade that both of them wore even now. She thought of the darkness in his eyes at Halamshiral when she walked in on Gaspard’s arm. She thought of the snow beneath her palms as he took her in Emprise du Lion. She thought of his bed where she had offered herself to him to appease his jealousy. She thought of the letter she wrote to her parents back at Haven about him, telling them what a good man he was and that when all of this was over, she’d take him to Great-aunt Lucille’s summer ball so they could meet him. They would see that not having a title meant nothing, not when love--true love--

“Evelyn?” His voice brought her from her thoughts. “Did you hear me?”

She nodded quickly, but placed her hands behind her back as to avoid misunderstanding. She struggled to come up with the words to say, wishing now she had been paying greater attention when her mother had told her how to politely refuse a man.

“Cullen, my--my father will expect you to write a letter asking for my hand,” Evelyn said suddenly, a flush washing over her face at her improvisation, her words coming out of her mouth so quickly she could barely keep a hold of them. “And of course Mother would have to meet you too, and there’s a saying that no man is really married to any Trevelyan lady before he is introduced to my great-aunt Lucille--her summer ball is in six months, so we’d have to--”

His laugh made her blood run cold. From his breeches he produced a piece of paper embedded with the Trevelyan family crest, the motto emblazoned above a broken wax seal.

“What sort of man would I be,” Cullen asked Evelyn, her eyes on the letter and not on him, “if I asked you to marry me without the consent of your father?” 

It was then that Evelyn realized she was trapped. Her father’s word had been law when he had sent her to the Circle in Ostwick. It would be law now that he had said she would marry Ser Cullen Stanton Rutherford, the Knight-Commander of the Templar Order, the Commander of the Inquisition’s forces. The Trevelyan name was now synonymous with her actions against Corypheus, and to back down on her father’s promise could ruin her family. She felt the conflict within her rage, but she swallowed down all of her pride and her hope and her dignity. 

Her choice was before her, and now she had to make it.

And she whispered, quieter than the mountain wind: “Yes, Cullen. I will marry you.”

As he placed the ring upon the finger on her right hand, on a place she never thought a ring would rest, she gasped aloud when the metal made contact with her skin. He only smiled at her. 

“Dagna had it enchanted for us,” he cooed to her. “Take it off. Look.”

At the base of her finger, the ring had left a dark burn, one that would never heal, one that would never disappear under an illusion spell or be wiped away by any salve. She was already marked as his, even beyond her phylactery or the bruises he left on her. The sight of it made Evelyn’s stomach lurch, but she knew Cullen’s heart was soaring as he placed the ring back on her finger and kissed her hard. She kissed him distractedly, trying to right herself and the sick feeling present in her stomach.

Her mother had told Evelyn many times as a child, before her magic had manifested, that duty preceded love in all marriages. Evelyn had thought she had beaten her mother’s wisdom, that the love she bore for Cullen was proof enough. She knew better now. But she supposed it could be worse; that out there in the world, women who did not have Andraste’s grace or the Anchor or the Templar Order behind them were suffering much more.

Evelyn had become so good at saying yes to Cullen.

Why would she ever need to learn to say anything else?

Chapter Text

Man Over Magic
Chapter 8


Six months after the charm of Evelyn’s engagement ring burnt the skin beneath the everite black, the sun broke over the snow-capped mountains of Skyhold. She awoke in her quarters to the sound of her mother’s voice, urging her to make haste and begin getting ready. Every distant relative who had even a drop of Trevelyan blood was tucked away somewhere in the castle: an easy feat now that most of Evelyn’s inner circle had left the Inquisition and gone back to their lives. Cullen’s family had come to the castle as well; his family was much smaller than hers, a blessing compared to the long line of relatives she would have to greet today, and they were entirely situated in the towers nearby his quarters. 

Evelyn sat dully in front of the mirror Cullen had purchased from her in Val Royeaux as her mother and sisters tittered over her, brushing her hair out before plaiting it into braids that would please her future husband and his Fereldan sensibilities.

Her eldest sister, Katherine, her pregnant belly showing quite proudly through the skirt of her gown, busied herself weaving daisies into Evelyn’s braided hair. As Katherine wove, she congratulated Evelyn on her marriage, noting that Cullen seemed like a strong and capable man, more than worthy of her even if he had grown up a poor farmer’s son in Honnleath. “His faith has made him a man worthy of you,” Katherine said brightly, and Evelyn wondered if she would be like that too, if perhaps the shadows over her mind would ever leave her again. She doubted it. 

Her other elder sister, Anne, lined Evelyn’s eyes with a softer kohl than her customary color, pinching her cheeks to produce a modest blush and lining her lips with a soft pink to make them shine in the candlelight of the chantry. Anne’s assessment of Cullen was just as positive, and she asked Evelyn if she was still a virgin coming to her wedding-bed, but told her with a wink that she could hardly blame her if she was not. “He’s just so broad,” Anne said with a light giggle that told Evelyn her sister had known nothing of responsibility since she had been married. “And that smile, too! I know saving the world’s its own reward and all, but coming out of it with a man like that? In love with you? How in the world could you be so lucky, Evie?”

Evelyn said nothing in response, only looking down at her ring finger where even now the burn was still fresh, as if it had been applied just a moment ago instead of six months prior. Yes, she thought dully. I’m the happiest woman in the world. Congratulate me. I’m getting married.

“Now, of course you know, Evelyn,” came the cutting voice of her mother, Lady Jane Trevelyan, “that tonight the Commander will expect that certain...acts will occur.” 

Evelyn felt the snow under her palms in Emprise du Lion. She felt the bedsheets tangle beneath her in the Winter Palace. She felt the air on her stained face from the Arbor Wilds as she listened to that blighted report on the haul from the battles. And she felt Cullen’s shadow and pleasure looming over her.

Katherine yanked painfully at a handful of Evelyn’s hair that was still unbraided to help her refocus on the conversation. “...yes, Mother,” Evelyn managed to say.

“There will be time enough for pleasantries after you give him children,” Lady Jane Trevelyan continued, “so I beg you not to make a fuss over nothing. Just do as he says, give him what he wants, and it will be over before you even know it.”

Evelyn felt like she was going to be sick. She had already given Cullen every carnal pleasure he could ever demand of her, and she was certain he would demand them all that night. After the engagement, he had suggested a period of chastity, which had helped her regain her strength; but chastity did not exclude him taking her lyrium or making her kneel before him to suck his cock or letting him spend his seed all over her face. 

I have given him everything and it is not enough, Mother, Evelyn thought, but the words did not leave her. He will only be happy when I am with child, for then I will be too weak to ever leave him, and I will be his, forever.

Evelyn was dressed in a gown of white silk overlain with lace, which both Katherine and Anne had worn to their advantageous weddings to counts in Highever and Starkhaven. The dress was cut grandly, a long train of lace flowing behind her even after it was placed over Evelyn’s petticoat from her Orlesian dress. Evelyn almost did not recognize herself in the looking glass; her waist seemed so small and her skin so light than what she had known of her looks before. She was also sure she had not been so thin when she had left the Circle a year and a half ago. But all she heard was the sound of her family members telling her how beautiful she was, a compliment she did not know how to process when it came from people not named Cullen. 

Anne, the most recently married woman in the room, produced the veil she had preserved for the occasion, affixing it over Evelyn’s braided hair. Like the dress, it had also been their mother’s, and when the time came for Katherine and Anne and Evelyn to have daughters, it would be theirs as well. 

Evelyn tried not to think of it. 

Her father, Bann Henry Trevelyan, entered their quarters and was quickly embraced by Evelyn’s mother and sisters. Evelyn realized how strange it was, her entire family together for the first time since she had been seven years old and sent to the Circle. 

Henry embraced his youngest daughter in a rush and then held out his arm. And he walked Evelyn down the steps to the main hall of the castle, down through the hallways to the garden dedicated to the Chantry, and down the small aisle of Skyhold’s own chantry to marry Ser Cullen Rutherford of Honnleath, Knight-Commander of the Templar Order. 

The Rutherford and Trevelyan clans took up every space available in the chantry, and all of their eyes watched Evelyn walk slowly towards the man she would have for her husband. The daisies in her hands quivered as she walked, the train of her dress spilling out behind her. Henry Trevelyan declared before Mother Giselle that he gave his daughter Evelyn to marry this man Cullen, here before the eyes of their families and of the Maker.

As Evelyn’s father took his seat of honor near the dais, Cullen’s fingers curled tightly around his bride’s dainty wrist. Evelyn felt the familiar swoon of the phylactery’s proximity to her. He kept it with him always, but today it held a place of honor above his heart, the light of the enchantment somewhat suppressed by the weight of his formal wear. It was the same he had worn to the Winter Palace, she realized, and a flash of fear filled her at the thought of what he would expect from her later that night when they were properly married.

On Mother Giselle’s command the two of them knelt before the statue of Andraste with her arms outstretched--the same figure of Andraste that Cullen was sure had heard his prayers, the same figure of Andraste that Evelyn was sure had not heard her cries.

Evelyn barely felt the brush of the metal of Cullen’s ring into her hand. Like hers, it was made of polished everite, but she did not feel any enchantment from it. That, it seemed, was an honor for her to bear alone.

“Come what may,” she said in a demure voice, in front of witnesses, before the Maker, before Andraste, before everyone who had ever loved her, “I will honor you, Cullen, and obey you in all matters. This I swear until my dying day.” And he placed the ring upon his finger, her hands shaking as she did so. 

His hands reached out for hers, against her veins--Andraste preserve me--and she felt her mana being leeched from her blood as Cullen took her chin into his hand. It used to make her giddy, lightheaded; now she simply felt like she might be sick all over her intended’s boots. 

“Come what may,” he said, his voice strong in front of witnesses, before the Maker, before Andraste, before everyone who had ever loved him, “I will honor you, Evelyn, and protect you from all evils. This I swear until my dying day.” And Evelyn’s skin was burnt once more by the enchantment that had been laid on it, but her smile, learned in the halls of Halamshiral as she played the Game, betrayed none of her pain to her relatives.

At the insistence of the Trevelyan relatives, Cullen had been obligated to prepare a cloak to cover around Evelyn, but the Rutherfords had lacked a coat of arms until Josephine called in a few favors from friends she had in the Free Marches and made Cullen’s family lords and ladies. It was a simple shield, split between symbols for Honnleath and the South Reach, flanked by swords to symbolize his military prowess. He draped it over Evelyn, a tangible symbol of the protection she had just been promised. She thought that she was surprised he had not instead decided to hold his Templar’s sword to her for the rest of her life.

Mother Giselle then declared to all present that in the eyes of the Maker, Cullen and Evelyn were now bound to each other for life.

“They will walk together all of the days of their lives, remaining loyal and faithful to their love and to each other,” she declared grandly. “And when their spirits have passed into the Fade, no power can separate their souls, for they are now one soul within two bodies.”

Evelyn’s eyelids fluttered beneath her veil as ladies dabbed at their eyes with handkerchiefs. Cullen squeezed her hands to bring her eyes back up to him.

“Ser Cullen,” said Mother Giselle, “you may kiss your bride.”

Cullen lifted the veil above Evelyn’s face, and her face flushed. How many stories had she read when the bride was near bliss at this moment, her true love close enough to touch, soon to be hers after waiting for courtships and propriety and approval from both sides of the family?

Evelyn had all these things, and yet she still wanted to fall into the Fade. 

Cullen kissed her mouth, making Evelyn his true wife in the eyes of the Maker.

Their families cheered in triumph, their hearts truly moved by the romance that they were witnessing. It truly felt, they told each other all throughout the night, just like a fairy tale. They would someday tell their children and their children would tell theirs that a love like this had never been known throughout all of Thedas, and such a love would never be seen ever again.

*

The Trevelyan and Rutherford families then filed into the main hall of Skyhold, the sunlight shining through to illuminate Evelyn’s Inquisitor throne, its golden relief of Andraste in the flames, unburdened by Maferath, her traitorous husband. As Evelyn walked past it on Cullen’s arm, she felt a small burn of jealousy of the woman who she heralded. Perhaps someday she too would be able to escape from the shadow of the man she now had to call “my lord husband,” and stay by the Maker’s side, and know nothing of the pain that plagued others in the world.

She took to drinking to ease her way through the night. The wine her father had brought was slightly too wooden from its time in the barrels; Henry Trevelyan had not expected his only daughter with magical ability to ever be married, so Evelyn decided she could not blame her father for it. She was used to bitter spirits from the Circle on the few occasions she was allowed to imbibe, and she drank so much of it her lips were almost stained a dark red with it. She saw Cullen watching her, looking at her lips, and she knew the instant they were alone, he intended to take his rights as her husband. 

But before that there were many people to speak of her supposed happiness to. They came up to her throne one by one. One of her other thrones, done in the Fereldan style with wide armrests and furs, suited her new husband well, and he too greeted her relatives and his with grace and happiness. Evelyn’s face felt like a mask as she thanked people for the compliments on her dress or asked after the trials she had been through as Inquisitor or made comments about new additions to the family. 

As the sun set behind the mountains, Evelyn felt her heart sink along with it. Her eyes grew wide as she heard Katherine and Anne begin the call for a bedding, a custom that had been present in their own weddings to their husbands, who each looked fondly at their wives before joining in the chorus. Soon the shouts from her relatives for Cullen to lead Evelyn up to her quarters spread to his relatives as well, their voices reverberating throughout the hall. Evelyn found herself praying for a rift in the Fade, for Calpernia before her, for Corypheus to rise again--anything to distract the others and save her from their demands.

Then the hands came for them both.

Katherine and Anne’s hands both made quick work of the sash and belt Cullen wore as Cullen’s brother Branson and three of his cousins began working at the veil and the laces that kept Evelyn modest. Evelyn’s petticoat and Cullen’s jacket joined the lost articles before Cullen held out a hand to Evelyn, both a promise of protection in the very moment and more to come in the night ahead.

“Evelyn...my lady wife,” he said, and his voice and eyes seemed almost kind. “Shall we go to bed?”

Anne and Katherine’s bright, knowing smiles made Evelyn’s cheeks burn. She grasped his hand as the men removed her shift, only her breastband and smalls keeping her modest. Cullen was similarly exposed, his broad chest completely naked and his breeches sagging slightly, his cock threatening to expose itself at any minute. As Cullen took Evelyn into his arms, both of their families broke out into cheers that seemed to follow Evelyn even as Cullen led her up the stair to her quarters. Daisy petals lined the carpeted walkway that Katherine and Anne must have created for them; Evelyn knew she would rather be trapped in the Fade once more than continue up the stairs.

Her heart thundered as she pressed herself into her husband’s chest, her mother’s words echoing in her head: Don’t put up a fuss. Give him what he wants. Then it will be over. Only it never would, and she would have to give him what he wanted without end. She felt like she wanted to escape her skin, and her heart sank again when he laid her down on her Orlesian bed, her eyes fluttering shut and willing the entire night to be over soon.

“My lady wife,” Cullen said longingly, running callused fingers over her body. His hands found the knot that held her breastband together and he began to yank at it. She watched his other hand, holding her phylactery, carefully place it upon the table with more care than she had been placed on the bed herself.

“My lord husband,” she responded eventually, her tongue dull with the weight of the endearment, as her breasts fell free of her band. He took her smalls into his hands and slid them slowly down her legs. It was clear that Cullen intended to take his time, unlike their quick couplings with the war around them. Evelyn sighed heavily as she realized no one who had been recruited into the Inquisition had been here tonight. 

“You’ve been so quiet,” Cullen said, shrugging out of his breeches, his cock already half-erect before her. Once such a sight would have thrilled Evelyn, would have sent her into her proper position and thinking of ways she could please him. She tried telling herself there were worse fates, worse husbands. None of it stuck. 

“I’m just...so happy,” she lied, shrinking back against the pillows as Cullen inched towards her, his eyes on her wine-stained lips. Her headboard was cold and made her shiver as Cullen loomed over her, his scarred lips inches from hers. 

“I just don’t know what to say,” she whispered, her breath catching in her throat as Cullen slowly drew her legs apart, running a single finger down her lips, from the pearl of her clitoris to the opening below that was far from wet, far from ready. 

“Perhaps words aren’t necessary, my love,” Cullen responded, and she gasped as he crooked his finger inside of her even as his lips came crashing down on hers.

Evelyn’s eyes closed as tightly as they could. Cullen’s finger was joined by another, both of them curling in and out of her as his kiss deepened. She struggled to keep her mother’s words in her mind, to delve through the parts of her that feared her husband to see if she bore him any love still. But it was a useless process. She was not awash with desire, and his fingers were stretching her. Hurting her.

She bit her lip to keep the cry of pain from his ears.

Then he pressed his fingers to her veins. As her mana drained from her, she felt as if her thoughts were leaving her, that the only thing that mattered was his touch and his kiss and giving herself to him as she had always done before. She wondered idly if the wine at the wedding had helped make her feel this way. She was confused for a moment as Cullen then brought a flask of something to her lips, wine over the primal scent of magic.

“Drink, Evelyn,” he whispered softly, and though the scent made her want to gag, a crook of his fingers inside her and the force of his strength over her made her obey. As she drank she felt herself grow flush with desire, her cunt growing wet and tight around his fingers. “There’s my good girl,” he said as he continued to pump his fingers in and out of her, his voice husky with lust and pride. 

A question hovered over her lips, but it was soon forgotten as she succumbed to the taste of the wine, to the enchantment within it. As she succumbed to lust, to want. To need

Desire washed over her and she even whined as his fingers left her, which only made Cullen smile in a wicked way.

“Do you want me, my love?” he asked, his cock teasing her, its head slick with her arousal as he teased her. “Is this what you want?” 

Her chest heaved and the yes that came from her lips was more of a moan than a word. She said yes because brides said yes to their husbands, but she also wanted it, because they were married and she would have him forever. 

Cullen reached up to pin Evelyn’s hands to the headboard with his own as his cock entered her cunt. She was very tight despite her wetness, and the feeling of him inside her made her lips tremble and her back shudder with pleasure. His pace was slow, leisurely, the head of his cock brushing up against the depths of her cunt, and she strained against him, her wrists still in his grip and her nipples hard.

Evelyn soon lost herself in the sensation of Cullen thrusting in and out of her, her wet cunt the center of her world. The mana in her blood was lost to Cullen as soon it was regained, her breaths heavy and her arms limp in his grip. He angled himself deeper, his chest flush against hers as he thrust into her. She cried out, wanting to touch him, wanting to weave her fingers into his light hair or root her nails into the muscles of his back. 

“Cullen,” she whispered, her voice broken by desire, “Cullen, please, I want…”

But her husband only began to thrust into her harder, even as Evelyn strained beneath him. For one moment, his thrust and the movement of her own hips fell out of sync, leaving Cullen to regain his balance with his palms on the sheets. Evelyn breathlessly took his face in her hands, reaching up to kiss him, curling her fingers into his hair.

Cullen let out a small laugh, followed by a grunt, as he re-entered Evelyn, her cunt still growing so much wetter. “That’s all you wanted, my love? To touch me?”

“Y-yes,” Evelyn managed, her breath irregular as she curled her fingers tighter around Cullen’s hair, her thumbs brushing the nape of his neck. “I love you…oh, Maker…Cullen, I love you so much…”

“As I love you, Evelyn,” he responded, and suddenly his cock angled inside her so deliciously right that she knew she would come, and she let his name be broken apart in her mouth as she fell apart, her cunt washing him with her orgasm. He gripped the flesh of her hips when his own orgasm fell upon him, his whisper of “Evelyn, Evelyn,my Evelyn” all she heard as she was brought back to the room. She felt the warm wetness of his seed anointing her cunt, and when she looked down at where their bodies were joined, the white of his seed glimmered against her skin, dripped down inside of her, into her.

When they had both cleaned up, Evelyn looked back again at the flask Cullen had bade her drink from, resting next to her phylactery. She pulled back the seal and inhaled familiar scents that reminded her of amulets of stamina, dawn lotus, cocoa…and something else too, something unfamiliar that she had smelled in the nursery where mages had given birth to their children… 

“The…the wine,” she started as she saw her husband approach her. He took the flask from her and slapped the underside of her arm, as if she was a child wishing to play with a toy that wasn’t hers. “Cullen…what did you…?”

“An enchantment to help you conceive, my love,” he said brightly, as if discussing the weather or patterns of the Inquisition’s forces. “Nothing more.”

Horror washed over Evelyn as Cullen spoke to her. When she had been very young, no more than a slip of a girl at fifteen, she had made such an enchantment for a templar three years her senior. It had been discovered and destroyed, but the ghost of it haunted her even now, in the hands of her husband who had such little patience for her that he had given it into her with only one thought in mind.

But it was only when Evelyn heard the deep breaths of Cullen’s sleep that she allowed herself to cry. She wrapped her own arms tightly around her naked, aching body, trying not to think about the bruises he had left on her or how the seed he had spilled inside her could be taking root even now. And that new title of his, my lord husband, did nothing to ease her fear of him. Becoming his wife had not changed anything in his mind; she had just one use to him, and she did not doubt that he would intend to do so every night. If this was love, she wanted nothing of it.

The height of the balcony beckoned to her as a possible escape, but Evelyn shut her mind to that line of thinking. If she perished, the Anchor would be gone with her too, and robbing Thedas of such a weapon would be the most selfish thing she could ever do. She refused to let her fear of one man be the end of hope for all the world.

It was then that she realized what she would do.

She reached for a robe and busied herself by tying it as she walked softly back down the stairs to the main hall of the castle, a flame floating above her hand to serve in lieu of a candle. The door to the gardens were heavy, but she managed to get them open and bring herself to the garden. She swept up every herb she could think of until her gown could hold no more.

And in the undercroft she mixed them all together until her preferred abortifacient tea was before her. The roar of the waterfall was dull in her ears as she drank the cold, steeped water, the taste of herbs sharp but familiar. She told herself it was better this way, that any child she brought into this world would share the same fear she had of her husband. Her inheritance had been spent in support of the Inquisition; Katherine and Anne’s future children would keep the land Evelyn had grown up on, and that was the end of that.

She walked out precariously to the water-slicked rocks, placing the tea in a secret, dry nook where she hoped nobody would ever find it. She had known what it had been to walk on knives in the Circle, and she could do it now in her marriage, she was sure of it. 

She could endure anything so long as she never had a child.


Chapter Text

Man Over Magic
Epilogue

And it went on like that every night for three months. 

Once the Trevelyans and Rutherfords left Skyhold to return to Ostwick and South Reach, respectively, Cullen soon moved his articles into Evelyn’s quarters. When even the library he owned followed him, Evelyn became nervous. When scouts began looking for him in her room, she became terrified.

On Cullen’s insistence, they had all of their dinners together. Evelyn did not have much in the way of appetite after her wedding, which her husband tried to correct with a watchful eye and constant urging. She ate grapes and bread and cheese and meat to appease him, but none of it stuck to her. 

And then of course there was the wine. Cullen would not let her leave the table until she had at least a cupful of it, teeming with the enchantment that would render her with child. It made her sick to look upon it.

Most days she was too exhausted to fight it, and she let Cullen leech the mana from her skin and let herself be lost to other thoughts as he took her in her quarters, the sensation of his hips slamming against hers and his seed spilling inside her dull and nearly imperceptible to her.

Some days she fought it. 

“I do not want a child,” she would say, and his only response would come from a darkening of his eyes, a look that said yes, you do. And as she drank, desire heaving within her, he told her she was simply nervous because she had never had a child before, and surely she would find herself suited to motherhood when the time came. In the wash of orgasm she would assent and consent, but afterwards, she was always cold.

Another day she said, “I do not want your child,” but that turned out to be a terrible mistake. 

“Then whose child do you want, if not mine, you whore?” he growled at her as he held her face up and forced even more of the wine down her throat, some of it trickling down past her lips. It was only when she had told him, his cock deep inside her, that she wanted yours, yours, Cullen, please, only yours, you are my husband, I want to bear your child, that his grip on her finally relented, and only when he spent himself between her thighs. And that night there were more bruises than usual.

Soon it became easier not to fight. Every evening he would spend himself inside her. And every early morning, in the light of her own magically conjured fire, she would drink more and more doses of the tea she had hidden. 

And afterwards she would kneel before Andraste in the chantry and beg upon the lady she heralded to free her from this. Her mind reeled with what affront she had done to Andraste. Was this her punishment for letting her title of Herald stick after it was revealed it was not the Maker’s Bride who had saved her from the Fade? Was this her punishment for judgments she made that did not bear the look of Andraste’s justice?

But whatever had happened, or would happen, she told herself she would endure. She wrote letters home about how happy she was. She was happiest when she was visiting other regions and dignitaries and Cullen was not with her. It was one of the only times she felt like herself and not a person who came second to a womb.

*

Of course, it all had to end.

On the first day of the fourth month of their marriage, Evelyn slept even more poorly than usual. She was sick in her room’s washbasin five separate times in a single night. She shivered and quaked next to her husband, praying he would not wake up with her eyes shut tight and her arms wrapped around her sore breasts.

She spent the day in a haze, her forehead sweating and her breath warm despite the open windows into the mountain air and the loss of several layers of clothing. When Cullen awoke, he had refused to leave her side. The leather of his glove felt warm and slimy inside of her hand, like the Fade had felt underneath her touch. But no amount of begging or crying could sway him from her side, and so she slept fitfully when she was not vomiting or shivering.

Cullen did not take his rights as husband that night: a small blessing, Evelyn thought, even if she did feel like her death was imminent. When he was asleep beside her, she sneaked quietly out to the chantry first. 

And she begged for the sickness to take her to death.

“I have tried to be as strong as you were, my Lady,” Evelyn sobbed quietly, the outstretched arms of Andraste unresponsive to her touch. “I have tried, but I am a mortal who just became unlucky. Be with me as I walk through the Fade, and I will not be alone. Let me stay by your side, unworthy as I am, to follow you all the days of my afterlife.”

She was crying softly as she came to the undercroft, her heart weighed down with sadness and despair. She wrapped her robe around her in the chill of the waterfall, her footfalls delicate and practiced as she came to her hidden alcove, to the one treasure she knew she could rely on to keep her safe.

But it wasn’t there.

Evelyn’s breaths became short and panicked. Loud. But she did not care. It had to be here, it had always been here, and she had told no one of its presence. She had been so careful. She had written of it in no letters and had not so much as spoken of it to anyone. Maker’s breath, but it made no sense for it to have disappeared, made no sense for it to have-- 

“My love, are you looking for this?”

Andraste preserve me. It was the voice of her husband. 

Evelyn turned around slowly to see him illuminated by the craft-fire, the package of tea gripped tightly in his hand. Despair gripped her even further as he began to lower it, slowly, into the fire. 

“No!” she cried out, rushing to his side. “You can’t--you can’t do this--Cullen--Maker have mercy--Cullen, please--!”

But his grip on her wrist stopped her in her tracks even as he threw it into the fire, a wail falling from her lips as he did so.

“Now, Evelyn,” he said soothingly, as if he did not cause the tears falling down her face, “really, you are embarrassing yourself. We made a promise in the eyes of the Maker, and you know it is shameful for spouses to keep secrets from one another.”

Evelyn only stared at him with tears glinting in her eyes, her breath shaking. She wanted to hurt him. It scared her how much she wanted to. Perhaps he had been right all along to treat her this way, to drain the lyrium from her and destroy her chance to do so.

“And in that spirit,” he continued, “I suppose I must tell you that you are not dying, my love.”

She looked up wildly at him.

“You are carrying my child, Evelyn,” he said brightly, one of his hands reaching down to hold the belly that would soon swell with it. “Does this not please you?” he asked, as if she had never fought him, as if the two of them had been working together towards this goal since they had first been married.

For a long, wild moment, Lady Evelyn Trevelyan, the Inquisitor and the Herald of Andraste, did not know what to do. A multitude of possibilities ran before her: grabbing an old staff from the inventory chest and using it to make her escape. Throwing either Cullen or herself or both down the waterfall to the rocks below. 

But then she thought of the baby.

And her eyes shone with tears. Maferath take him, this traitor, this monster she had been strongarmed into marrying. It was not fair, none of it, and she could do nothing but give into her despair and sob.

She hated Cullen for wrapping his arms around her, as he had done in the chantry when he told her she would come back from confronting Corypheus. For a long time her throat was choked with sobs, but finally she managed to ask: “How?”

He eased her onto his lap as if she were a child rather than the woman carrying his. “You are a creature of habit, Evelyn,” he said simply, his hand on her stomach forcing her to stay on his knee. “Was I not supposed to notice my beautiful bride walking to the same place every night, all because she thought I was asleep?” he asked, and Evelyn crossed her heart with shame. He had seen her then, from the shadows, had seen her drink the tea and squeeze her eyes shut with her wish of keeping her womb empty.

And he had sought to change it.

Now he had everything she wanted, and she nothing.

“Now,” Cullen said, his tone suddenly businesslike, “all dignitaries will be notified by our messengers that you are with child and it is unsafe for you to travel. And of course, we must limit the amount of work you do, my dear, for the sake of the child. And once they are delivered, my love, I should very much like another.”

Evelyn looked down at the floor. All of the advice she had followed her life had brought her here, she realized. Looking down and being quiet made no difference if a man, templar or not, noticed you and had to have you. Bending over and obeying made no difference if a man, templar or not, wanted you and took you to wife. And sneaking around and praying to Andraste made no difference if a man, templar or not, wanted you to bear his child.

Was it nothing but giving into the wishes of others, over and over, like she had always been trained to do? Had the Circle or the Inquisition or Cullen Rutherford stripped her of herself, of the woman Lady Evelyn Trevelyan might have been?

She supposed she would never know.

She looked up at her husband with tears in her eyes.

“Yes, my lord husband,” she said, her words almost washed away in the sound of the waterfall. “It will be as you say.”