Pairing: Cullen/Ada Trevelyan
Summary: Cullen suffers from migraines. Ada's a healer at heart.
Note: I didn't think that Thedas had any equivalent to caffeine in its raw form, but I figured that Antiva would have at least introduced people to coffee. I know nothing works better for me at nipping migraines in the bud than washing down a double dose of Excedrin which already has a bit of caffeine in it with a Coke or Dr. Pepper. My headcanon says that Cullen suffers from the nasty type of migraines that come with auras as well as the whole sound/light/motion sensitivities because I know that feel and that feel is downright miserable.
The room suddenly grew dim. Cullen inwardly groaned, knowing what was going to quickly follow. Why did it have to happen now, now that he finally had a bit of time to share with the Inquisitor?
“Are you all right?” Ada asked, looking up from the chessboard they had set up in her quarters. Spring rains had made the gardens incredibly muddy and there was always such a rush of traffic in and out of Cullen’s tower for them to concentrate on the game.
Besides, she liked having her Commander all to herself. There had been precious few moments where they could just be alone like this ever since that day on the ramparts.
“Yes. It’s…it’s nothing.” He wanted to pinch the bridge of his nose to stem the worst of what was to come. Even now, the bright, flashing pinprick of light that originated in the center of his field of vision was starting to grow, expanding further and further. He knew that once that halo of light vanished from sight that the pain would begin.
“It doesn’t look like nothing. Are you having a headache?” Damn, but his lady was too perceptive.
There was no use lying. “Yes.” He sighed. “I’m afraid that it feels like a bad one is coming on. I won’t be good company tonight.” He stood, already feeling the initial wave of nausea hit him. He just hoped that he would manage to keep the venison and roasted potatoes they had for dinner down this time.
She tilted her head. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“To my quarters?”
Ada quickly rose from her seat next to him and moved the table they had set their chessboard on out of the way. “In your condition? I think not. Sit.”
Without thinking, he sank back against the cushions. “Ada…”
“Humor me, will you?” She disappeared into one of the storage areas close to her bed. Cullen had heard her talk to several of the Inquisition’s surgeons about having a private store of surplus medicinal herbs, but he hadn’t guessed at where she might be keeping them. She came out carrying several leather pouches and a heavy looking mortar and pestle. She put the items on her bed before turning to him. “Do you have these often?” He knew that tone. It was the clinical voice she often used with the patients she helped treat in the infirmary, all crisp and to the point but with a softness that cut the businesslike quality. He’d always thought that she had an excellent bedside manner.
“It depends. I’ve always had headaches like these, even as a boy. Stress usually makes them worse, and the lyrium…” he clenched his eyes shut as the first real pain struck, feeling like someone had hit him with a hammer right between the eyes.
“The weather probably doesn’t help either,” she said quietly. Cullen relaxed when he felt her fingers at the sides of his face, her skin cool to the touch. It was a fleeting caress though, and he opened his eyes just in time to see her sink to her knees in front of him.
“What are you doing?” he asked, sitting up straighter.
“You’re in no condition to leave tonight, and I refuse to see you go through this uncomfortable,” she told him, unlacing the greaves covering his boots before going for the shoes themselves. She placed each pair neatly side by side beside the sofa before standing up and gesturing towards his vambraces. “Armor comes off, unless you usually like to suffer through these with the extra added weight.” She turned towards her bed to gather up her supplies again. Cullen gingerly stripped out of the remainder of his armor until he was down to his shirt and trousers, then leaned his head against the back of the sofa. He could hear her quietly grinding whatever she had picked up at her desk, and he opened his eyes again when he felt her perch on the arm of the couch.
“What is it?” he asked, looking at the cup she held in her hands.
“Hot water. I was going to offer to make us tea later on, but I think it’ll be more useful now.” Cullen took it from her and inhaled, smelling something vaguely herbal. “Willow bark to help ease the headaches, elfroot for general painkilling properties, ginger for the nausea, and a bit of coffee beans to make certain you feel the effects quickly,” she explained, noticing his reluctance to drink. “I added a small pinch of sleeping draught in there as well. It’s only enough to help you fall asleep and stay asleep while the rest of the ingredients do their work, nothing habit forming.”
“How did you know?”
“One of the lay sisters in Ostwick had similar headaches. They were so bad that they left her in bed for days at a time.” Rising, she went to the fireplace and began to blow out the candles on the mantelpiece. “Light makes them worse, doesn’t it?”
“Yes.” He was starting to feel better with even those few candles doused. Draining his drink in one swallow, he involuntarily pulled a face.
“I know it tastes horrible,” she said apologetically. “The beans are bitter, but they do speed the effects up considerably. Next time, I’ll add some honey to it.”
He didn’t know if the potion was that quick to take effect or he merely thought it was working already, but he could feel his eyelids drooping. Wordlessly, Ada took his cup from his slack fingers and tugged on his hands.
“Shouldn’t be here,” he mumbled, too tired to fight her when she guided him to her bed.
“Nonsense. I like you here.” She hauled his legs up onto the mattress and eased his head against the cool silk of her pillows.
“Not the way…” he tried to cover his mouth to hide a jaw-cracking yawn. “I wanted to be in your bed.”
She had to smile at that. “I know. Something tells me that you’ll have plenty of other chances later on.” Rounding the bed, she slid in the other side. “Feeling better?”
He sighed contentedly when he felt her fingers begin to gently massage his scalp. “Worlds better. Thank you.” He meant to say something else, but the sleeping drought must have kicked in. The last thing he could remember was Ada leaning over him, her lips soft on his forehead.
It was daylight when he woke next. The sun was already high in the sky, and he grimaced at the fact that not only had he slept through morning training exercises with his troops, but more than likely he had also missed the regular War Room meeting. Sitting up, his fingers touched the cold sheets next to him. He spied the note on the pillow, his mouth curving into a fond smile at the flowing handwriting.
Lunch is on the desk. When you’re ready, meet me in your tower.
PS. – EAT. You haven’t had anything in your system for several hours. You’ll just get lightheaded, your headache will return even worse and then I’ll be forced to keep you in bed until you feel better.
He smirked at her post-script. “As if that would be a major hardship,” he mused, his finger running over the quickly drawn heart at the end of her note, his own heart making a funny little looping flip in his chest at the sweet gesture. He did find that she had left him a light lunch, which he quickly polished off. He felt good, no better than good. His head was clear and he felt more focused than he had felt since deciding to quit taking lyrium. That potion Ada had given him was worth its weight in gold and he was determined to thank her.
His swung his office door open and was surprised to find Ada hard at work at his desk. She had pulled a chair from somewhere and was handing out duty rosters – rosters he was certain he hadn’t finished before deciding to take a break the other night. Cullen nodded to the recruits as they filed out and leaned against the wall, sure that Ada hadn’t seen him.
“Am I doing a fair enough job, Commander?” she asked, not looking up from her paperwork.
“I’d say so. I’ve been watching you whip my recruits into shape for the past ten minutes.”
“And I knew exactly when you came into the room.” She looked up and smiled at him. “Everyone got all serious-like.”
“I noticed.” He also noticed the easy way his men had around their Inquisitor. Ada had a way of making everyone feel comfortable around her – Cullen didn’t know if it was her inherent sweet nature or something she learned tending the sick, but she had an aura of calmness that never failed to soothe his jangled nerves. “I wanted to thank you, for last night.”
She rose from his desk and went towards him. “How are you feeling?” she asked. “Headache gone?”
Cullen leaned into her touch when she placed a cool palm against his forehead. “Completely gone. I feel better than I have in ages.” He let his hand wrap around her wrist when her palm slid down to cup the side of his face. “Whatever you placed in that drink works miracles.”
“I’m glad. I went ahead and made several more packets for you. I labeled each with directions for use and which ones to take at night, since I figured that you wouldn’t want to sleep during the –” What else she was going to say was muffled by Cullen’s mouth as he gathered her in his arms and kissed her. Ada was stunned for all of a fraction of a second before her arms went around his shoulders and she kissed him back.
“You spoil me,” he murmured, softly kissing her cheek.
“Someone has to,” she said fondly, her fingers gently running through the hair at the nape of his neck. “Might as well be me.”
He gave her one last squeeze before letting go and looking over at the papers on his desk. “I see you distributed the weekly rosters for me.”
“And the supply requests. Everything looked to be in order, and I didn’t want to wake you just to confirm.”
He quirked an eyebrow. “And the morning training routine?”
“Ah. Cassandra and Blackwall took that over. I think they both enjoyed it a bit too much; you might want to go easy on your newest recruits tomorrow in case they’re too sore.” Even from Cullen’s tower, Ada could hear Blackwall bark formation positions and Cassandra shout out how not to use a shield. “The two of them definitely seemed to be in their element.”
“Remind me to see if they’ll help out more often. I fear that I might be going too soft on my men.”
She couldn’t help herself. Sliding her palms across his chest, she gave him a sultry smile. “I don’t think there’s any danger in you going soft, Cullen.”
He cradled her cheek in his hand. “Charmer,” he murmured. “Yet in all seriousness, thank you. I didn’t expect you to do all of this.”
“I know you didn’t,” she replied. “I wanted to help.”
“You have so much on your plate as it is,” he told her. “Tacking on my duties to the ones you already oversee is…”
She quieted him by pressing her fingers against his lips. “Is something that I gladly did because it helped the man I care for. I’m certain that if our roles had been reversed, I would have found you in the gardens or in the storage rooms mixing potions and poultices.”
“I should hope not. My knowledge on healing plants can barely fill a thimble. I’d wind up giving someone rashvine instead of elfroot. Mother Giselle would more than likely banish me before I truly did anyone harm.” He kissed her fingers. “I would, however, delegate someone who did have the proper knowledge to the task.”
“See? Now to avoid future arguments, why don’t we agree to take care of the other from now on?”
“I can do that,” Cullen told her, sealing his promise with a kiss. When he let them up for air, she smiled softly at him.
“I can do that too.”