From the Ashes We Rise

This is a Dragon Age: Origins fanfic. Warden Amell tries to rebuild her life at the Tower after Alistair got married. Main characters in this story are the mage origin warden, Alistair and Cullen.

Rating M for language and sexual content.

This is my first big fic so all constructive criticism is welcome because I am planning on doing a rewrite.

Dragon Age belongs to Bioware, the artwork I use as a preview is not mine either but I would love to know who the artist is.

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13. Andraste's Arse and some Antivan Wine

 

Some bottles of Antivan wine had mysteriously disappeared from the Tower cellars around the same time she had mysteriously not showed up at a meeting with the pupils.

Cullen was send to investigate, and luckily for her, he knew just where not to find her. Until he remembered the Harrowing chamber, and how she got up there almost every night to look at the stars, especially when she felt like crap after entering the fade to battle some boy's demon.

"Hey you," she smiled, pointing a crooked finger in his direction while closing her right eye in order to get some focus.

Ah, the mystery of the missing wine bottles had not been such a mystery after all.

"Cu-llen."

He let go of the door handle, not sure what his next move should be, or hers for that matter, which scared him even more. He never encountered a drunk mage before. She might accidentally set his hair on fair or something. Cullen liked his hair.

"Yes?"

"You're here," she smiled.

"Apparently I am."

"Come," she said, patting the vacant spot next to her in the window sill.

"It's a cloudless night."

He shook his head and remained in the door opening.

"I can't."

"Andraste's arse you can't! Don't be such a stick in the mud."

He grumbled something about heights and rules and the knight-commander and threw in some blasphemy to boot, but he looked more curious than mad so she decided to fix things with a smile, which usually worked with Cullen in the past.

"Don't be such a stick in the mud, please?"

He looked down at his feet, like he would find the answers for all his problems there.

"We are not supposed to be up here."

"Well, you're not," she grinned, "but I happen to be on official Grey Warden business."

He smiled, in spite of himself.

"Yes, I can see that."

She gave him an amused wink as the warmth of the wine spread through her limbs, numbing her fear. The world usually looked much more pleasant when there was wine involved. The constant doom hovering over their heads during the Blight, kind of drove them deep into the bottle when they weren't on guard duty. She would never forget the first time she saw Alistair drunk, staggering through camp with the biggest grin on his face. A bit like she was right now, but without the staggering part.

She toppled over, but regained herself just in time. Cullen didn't seem that impressed though.

"Please be careful, I am not going to dive after you if you fall."

She started laughing and he couldn't, for the life of him, see anything remotely funny happening at the window sill and Maker she was close to the edge.

"I am a Shapeshifter sweetheart, I am sure I can manage to turn myself into something with wings before I hit the ground."

"You might turn yourself into something illegal before you hit the ground, you mean. The chantry forbids those kinds of..."

"You're so cute when you go all templar-y on me."

"You're drunk."

"I might be," she said, taking a sip straight out of the bottle, "but only a little."

Cullen could only take so much, and when she leaned to see what was going on at the lake, he closed the distance between them and snatched her from the window.

He did not expect her emotions to be all over the place after that. She went from baffled to cocky in two seconds. She also had NO regard for personal space whatsoever.

"You're even more handsome up close," she smiled while touching the stub on his jaw like it was some scientific marvel which needed to be studied.

Her touch was a little more than he bargained for and he immediately let go of her when he realized the mess he was in.

His cheeks were burning a scarlet red and his throat was very dry all of a sudden. She wouldn't allow him to go though, she had him right where she wanted him.

"Cullen," she whispered, her hand stroking his cheek with a sincerity in her eyes that made his legs feel a little wobbly.

She was gorgeous, her hand feeling more soft than it had in his dream.

She tried to speak but started stumbling over her words, like he always did. It was actually quite fun to watch when you were on the receiving end of things.

"I keep making a habit of almost dying, or so it seems, and I just wanted you to know that..."

He placed a finger on her lips, which had the desired effect. She stopped talking.

"You'll only make things worse Amell," he smiled, and he probably had a point.

"I need to get back," he said, trying not to listen too much to what his loins were advising him to do instead.

"Stay," she murmured. It was more a request than a demand and for a moment there Cullen felt sorry for her. It was something in the way she said it, like she was lost in a world that she did not understand.

"Only for a little while," she pleaded, "I promise you I won't make things worse and I guarantee a spectacular view."

She was right about that last part at least.

She opened another window and gestured to the world outside. It was strange seeing the outside world pour into the Harrowing Chamber, mixing with their little world, the world only known to mages and Templars.

The Harrowing Chamber was not a place of life, it was a place of death, too much death. He always associated the Harrowing ritual with a damp scent and a lack of light, nothing like this, the smell of rain that was about to fall, wind blowing through their hair and bright stars to illuminate the dark night.

"It's beautiful isn't it?"

"Yes, yes it is."

"We used to camp under those stars during the Blight," she said, "I could stare at them for hours when I couldn't sleep."

"The Blight," he repeated. It seemed something from another life, something that had happened to other people in distant worlds.

They gazed out of the open window, into the night, each alone with their thoughts.

"Yes, the Blight."

"A lot has changed since then," he said, still not seated in the window, carefully guarding the space between them.

She held out the bottle toward him but he refused.

"Some things stayed the same," she said.

He took of his gauntlets and placed them in the sill.

"Tell me something, if you will," he said, still staring passed her the whole time, watching clouds form the beginning of a storm in the distance.

"Why did you come back? You could have had any position you wanted after defeating the arch demon."

Except the position at the side of the man she loved.

"I... don't know," she shrugged.

"You can take the mage out of the Tower, but you can't take the Tower out of the mage I guess."

She took a swig, wiping her mouth clean of the liquor afterward.

"This was my home for so long. I didn't really know where else to go."

"I thought about leaving," he said, "after the attack I mean."

"Why didn't you?"

"Same reason you came back," he replied.

"This is my home. Plus I can't rely on Greagoir to rebuild this place, he's on awful decorator."

She smiled and turned at him to find him smiling as well. As their eyes met he started backing off already.

"You know, you're damaged goods," she said.

"Well, so are you."

"We should team up."

She handed him the bottle again, to make the silence between them a little less awkward and he took it, much to her surprise.

"Gods, what is this shit?" he asked, trying to keep the liquid inside.

"It's Antivan wine," she smiled, "it's quite fancy apparently."

"Like everything else in Antiva."

She nodded and took the bottle back.

"I used to have a friend from Antiva. Handsome sod, tried to kill me."

"Nice friend."

"Strange times."

They stared out of the window for a while, watching the trees in the distance moving on the wind. A storm was definitely brewing. The water on lake Calenhad was being whipped against the shore.

"We had an awful reunion hadn't we?" she blurted.

She had expected him to back off, but he didn't. It was about time they had a heart to heart.

"We had. I was pretty much out of it when you found me in that cage."

"Hating all the mages."

"Yeah, well..."

"It's okay, I saw what they did here, I saw the corpses, the abominations."

"And still I didn't trust you when you wanted to do the right thing."

She turned her head toward him again.

"You had no reason to trust me."

He glanced at her and again their eyes met.

"What is the right thing anyway hm?"

He handed the bottle back to her.

"I sometimes wondered you know, if I was doing the right thing. If the mages should have their freedom..."

"Yeah."

"Uldred might have been a farmer, Jowan might have had a family."

Jowan.

He was just a name in her journal now, another reminder of the people they had lost along the way, and for what? For love? For a woman that he scared away from him the minute he turned to blood magic, the very means with which he had tried to protect her.

"I had to execute him," Cullen confessed.

She opened the second bottle as if she hadn't heard a word he'd said just now.

"When you decided the Circle had to deal with him, Greagoir had me execute him. I was second in command after Uldred's attack."

She was silent, the bottle resting in her lap, a contemplative look on her face.

"I knew I sentenced him to death by sending him back to the Circle. I just, I didn't have the guts to deal with him myself."

"He was your friend."

"Nice friend..."

"There were circumstances..."

"You sound like a mage," she smiled.

"Still, I wanted you to know that I'm sorry."

"Don't be."

She brought the bottle to her mouth again, but he prevented it from reaching her lips.

"I think you've had quite enough Amell," he said in half a whisper, taking the bottle out of her hands.

She took hold of his hand before the glass hit the sill and closed the distance between them. She could feel his hand tremble when she placed her other hand on his cheek.

"I have. I've had too much of this crap," she whispered, "I've had enough of rules and regulations and mages and Templars and the Chantry and the Circle and Greagoir and..."

She leaned in and kissed him.

She kissed him.

It was a clumsy kiss, but it was still a kiss and he felt his entire body react to it, kissing her back for a second before breaking the connection between them.

"I..." he whispered against her mouth, his training going straight out of the open window, years of oppression escaping through her lips. It's not like he didn't want to kiss her back some more, he did, but it was not about what he wanted, or what she wanted. He simply could not go against everything he had trained for, everything he had believed in, everything he was. His vows...

He slowly broke lose, his gestures hesitant.

"I... have to get back."

She watched him leave without looking over his shoulder, the sound of his heavy boots slowly fading down the stairs as the wind came setting in through the open window, turning her heart to stone.

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