He heard the shout before he felt the wind getting knocked out of him by a mass of pure muscle wrapping around his waist and tackling him to the ground. He made an undignified squeak as he fell, expecting the harsh ground to smash against his back. But instead he landed on a slightly softer surface. He propped himself up on his elbows to see the Commander smiling like a dork under him.
“What is wrong with you?” Dorian tried not to laugh as he watched Cullen’s face light up. “Do you often assault people minding their own business?”
Dorian stood and offered his hand. Cullen took it without hesitation, but rather than pulling himself up, he just pulled Dorian back down. He used their combined weight to roll them so Dorian lay on his back and Cullen sat perched atop his hips. He balled his hands into loose fists and held them up.
Dorian raised an eyebrow, “Oh I see: you want a fight.”
Cullen smiled down at him and began to throw an easily avoidable punch. Before it could come anywhere close to landing on anything, Dorian threw up a ward, throwing the Commander back a good five or so feet. Dorian quickly got to his feet and laughed at Cullen’s shocked expression.
“That’s cheating!” He snickered.
“That’s what I’m best at, isn’t it?” Dorian waited until Cullen got to his feet before making a run for it.
“If I can’t use magic, neither should you!” He began to sprint after him, dodging the messengers and training troops.
“It’s no fun if you put rules on it!” Dorian called back, only daring to glance back for a second, lest he slam into a tree.
He felt arms around his ankles as soon as he looked forward again, crashing to the ground. He managed to scramble onto his back before Cullen was on his hips again, hands up, ready to block whatever Dorian had for him.
“I’m not going to beat up a cripple.”
Cullen threw his head back as he laughed, distracting him long enough for Dorian to toss him over his head and onto his back. Dorian got to his feet as he waited for Cullen to stop laughing. The Commander eventually stood and got into a fighting stance. Dorian chuckled as he did the same.
Cullen charged at him with a sloppy punch. Dorian ducked to the left, only to be caught in the ribs with a breathtaking blow. He winced as a surprising pain when through his side.
“Ah! Good one. You’re not holding back, are you?”
Cullen laughed as he stood back again, beginning to circle Dorian. “I know you can take it.”
Dorian followed the blond’s lead, ignoring the throbbing in his side. He would definitely have a bruise in the morning.
“You’re sure you want to fight me?” Dorian taunted.
Cullen grinned, “Without your magic you’re defensele—”
He was cut off as Dorian’s fist collided with his jaw. Cullen went stumbling to the ground, more in shock than in pain. Cullen chuckled as he swirled his tongue around his mouth and tasted blood. He spat and remained on one knee staring up at Dorian with a praising look.
“Defenseless?” Dorian scoffed, “Are you so certain about that?”
Cullen threw himself at Dorian’s midsection, draping him over his shoulders and standing.
“Put me down you damn brute!” Dorian said as he laughed, enough to make him lightheaded. Cullen laughed with him, obliging to his request and beginning to lower them to the ground. He let Dorian off of his shoulders before laying down in the grass.
“For a cripple, you can throw a punch.” Dorian teased as he laid down next to him, putting his arms behind his head and staring up at the clouds. “I haven’t done anything like that since I was a teenager,” he reminisced.
Cullen hummed next to him, his panting settling into a content sigh. “I figured we could both use a bit of fun.”
Dorian chuckled, “Our ideas of fun are very different.”
Cullen shifted onto his side to face the mage, “But you enjoyed yourself, didn’t you?”
“Is that what you would like to hear?” Dorian tilted his head to look Cullen in the eye.
The blond shrugged and ran his hand through his hair to brush it back into place. “That would be nice,” he smiled.
Cullen laughed and rolled onto his back again. “I’m sorry for wasting your time, then.”
Dorian rolled his eyes and sighed dramatically, “Now you’re making me feel guilty; that’s also cheating.”
Cullen grinned at him, “Can’t cheat after you’ve won.”
Dorian smirked as he removed his hands from behind his head and started brushing the dirt from his clothes. “Is that what you think happened?”
Cullen shrugged, “I won by forfeit.”
Dorian rested his hands next to him in the grass as he subconsciously started looking for shapes in the clouds. Cullen’s warm fingers tangled with his and he glanced over with confusion. The blond simply smiled at him and squeezed his hand.
“I should, um…” Dorian didn’t want to leave or seem like he was eager to end their interaction, but they were publicly laying in the garden watching the clouds together while holding hands, and Dorian didn’t need Varric to tease him with it later. “I need to get back to my research—”
“I’ll walk with you,” Cullen offered immediately. He tugged Dorian up with him, and they were probably a little too close when they both got their footing. But Cullen obviously didn’t mind by the way he wrapped his arm around Dorian’s waist while they walked.
Technically they were courting, but Dorian simply never imagined that Cullen would want to give people any more ammunition against him. But then again, many things about the way Cullen conducted himself around him surprised Dorian. It almost felt as if Cullen was proud to show off his affection for Dorian. Overall, Dorian figured it wasn’t such a bad thing. He may have even enjoyed it a little.