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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11. Cold Bath Water

 

This was no longer Cullen's room. It was just a space with a desk and a bed in it.

The room reminded him of how he saw himself since Uldred's attack, like an empty shell, a husk, unchanged at the surface, but completely different on the inside.

Cullen kicked off his boots, took a bottle of lyrium from his desk drawer and sat down.

The face staring back at him in the mirror at the far end of the room had rapidly aged. There were lines in his face where there used to be none.

Piles of dead Templar recruits did that to you apparently.

He sighed.

It had been a long day. Jaleth had been unconscious for the better part of it and he had been assigned to watch over her, so that she wouldn't take a demon with her out of the fade. He had watched over her for two nights and it had been total agony. His training was useless in situations like these, when her hair smelled really good and she let him protect her (because she was unconscious, but still).

He had touched her once, on the second night, brushing some hair out of her face.

Her skin felt soft underneath his fingertips.

Anyway, Jaleth wasn't the only one who needed to be watched today. There were a whole lot of mage children running around and they were getting slightly out of control with one of their teacher's in a coma. One kid had burned down a bookcase filled with ancient scrolls, not on purpose of course, but that didn't make any difference to Greagoir.

Seeing the old man go off at the kid made Cullen want to reach out and comfort it. He didn't.

To make things worse, the child had started crying and Greagoir had had a terrible fight with Wynne when she had prevented him from punishing the boy. She had been out of place, yet again, but Greagoir seemed to respect her in his own kind of way and he decided to let it slide. He was too tired to wage these little wars.

Wynne however, became more head strong by the day. No wonder Jaleth was stubborn, she had learned from the best.

Cullen took of his gauntlets and placed them on the desk in front of him. His hands were sweaty and it felt good to release them. He stretched his fingers several times to make them come alive again.

He poured himself some brandy as the lyrium started to kick in. This was the only thing that could make Cullen relax nowadays, increased doses of lyrium. At least the faces of the death would disappear for a while.

The room was quiet.

He had considered sleeping in the dorm after the attack, just to be among other people, not being left alone with the dreams he had when he went to bed on his own.

It helped a little that new recruits started coming in from all over Ferelden. The Order had played its role in defending the land against the Blight and a lot of young men were willing to join up after the arch demon was slain. They all wanted a piece of the glory.

Little did they know.

He still remembered the first time he had to end a Harrowing prematurely. He could not get the blood out of his purple skirt. His hands seemed to be covered in it nd he was sure every mage in the Tower could smell it on him. Ending mages was the only part of his job he had a hard time getting his head around.

So yes, little did the new recruits know. Knowing how to plant a sword in someone's heart isn't quite the same as actually having to do it.

He was in charge of the new faces because the line of command had severely shifted during the siege.

Cullen was aware of the fact that the fallen could not be replaced, but it was nice to be in the company of more men again, like it used to be. The lot of them drinking together after duty, playing cards and discussing the things some of the mages got up to under their watch.

Comradery.

Cullen removed the heavy armour, and a relieved sigh came from him as he stripped the breastplate off.

Breathing was so much easier without the weight pressing down on his heart.

He folded his hands together and bowed his head. He would pray for his fallen comrades, for his sins, for their sins, for her sins, like he did every day, even if the Maker probably didn't listen. He was sure their creator had left them by now.

After he was done Cullen drew a bath, got undressed and placed the bottle of brandy next to him on the table.

It was going to be one of those nights.

The water felt soothing and his muscles started to relax as the tingling sensation of the lyrium spread through his limbs.

Amell.

The thought of her made his blood pump south.

Cullen was unaware of the knock on the door, until it came again. And by that time it was already too late.

She was standing there, eyeing him, and nothing in her posture indicated that she was intending to leave.

Cullen's face turned more red than ever, if that was even possible.

"Enchanter Amell? What are you doing here?"

She was resting against the doorpost, looking at him, measuring him in a very inappropriate way.

"You look different," she said, standing there like she owned the room.

It's the armour, he wants to reply, it makes me look puffy.

"Are you...are you lost?"

She stares at him with a smile on her face. The blush on her cheek spreading to her chest.

"Well yes, I was actually looking for the loo, but I seemed to have taken a wrong turn."

She sighed, changed tactics.

"I wanted to talk to you. It felt like about time we had a heart to heart."

"Can I help you with something?" he tried again.

She pondered for a little while.

"Well you could start by inviting me in for a drink."

He had to admit she had some nerve.

"That would be a little inappropriate, considering we would be alone... and I would be naked."

"Very naked," she pointed out.

Makers breath, she closed the door. Why was she closing the door?

"So..." she said, walking up to him, "how are you feeling?"

"I beg your pardon?" he replied, confused and with his heart pounding like a son of a bitch.

"I asked how you were, I did not ask you out on a date."

His cheeks flushed some more, and Cullen suspected his head would explode any minute now.

He knew her ways well enough to tell she was in a very smug mood. He had seen the look on her face before, when she was dancing with the King at his wedding, just before she wandered off to get drunk with her dwarven friend. It had all been very inappropriate behaviour for a Circle Mage.

She started undoing the laces of her boots.

Perhaps she was drunk right now? She had to be, right? Or perhaps the medicine Wynne had given her earlier that day did something to her brain.

Now that he thought of it, she looked rather good for someone who had been unconscious for two days.

A little too good.

"I am fine," he replied. But as she walked up to him he felt most definitely not fine at all.

What the hell was she doing?

He watched her pull her robes over her head and averted his eyes when he discovered she wasn't wearing any small clothes.

She was smug and beautiful and very very naked and...

Perhaps he should just use his Templar talents and force her out of the door with his mere will.

But he didn't really want her to leave, now did he?So there was no point.

He could no longer ignore her as she got into the tub with him, her body pale as the moon from the lack of sunlight.

"I thought you might want to talk," she said as she just sat there, opposite of him, like she belonged there and nothing weird was going on at all.

"About what happened in the cage, I mean.'

He felt anger rise within him but he reigned it in. The shock and awe strategy was working well for her.

"What happened in that cage is none of your business."

She closed her eyes and poured some water over her hair.

He watched her get wet.

"Oh but it is," she said, as she opened her eyes again. "I wonder what happened in there that made you hate me so much. You never used to be like this."

"Don't speak as if you know me,' he said, angry, at himself for not being stronger, at her for being so god damn gorgeous that it physically hurt him not to touch her.

"That right there, the tone in your voice, that's exactly what I mean."

She had changed. She spoke in a way that deserved respect, she saw through him. He didn't know whether to salute her or slap her.

"The things you said when we found you..." she tried, carefully, knowing she was moving on a slippery slope.

It was a fever, clawing at his head, at his heart. He pulled her in and smothered her words in a kiss.

Marvellous, he would get to hell for that.

She seemed as surprised as he was but her surprise turned into eagerness very quickly.

He pulled loose and she pulled him back in. She had gotten what she came for and she was not about to let him take it away from her again.

"I hate you," he mumbled against her lips, kissing her again.

"Get away from me."

He rose from the tub, covering his nakedness with a towel as soon as his feet hit the floor.

"It's okay, you can tell me Cullen."

The way she pronounced his name made a warm feeling spread through his body.
He turned his back to her, it was easier to speak to her without seeing her face.

"The demon that tempted you, it was a desire demon, wasn't it?"

He nodded.

"And it used my face..." she said in a soft voice.

He heard her rise as well, little water droplets falling from her body into the bath.

She was walking up to him. He froze when he felt her hand on his shoulder.

"I am so so sorry for you Cullen."

There it was again, the soft edge when she pronounced his name.

He shivered. If only he would be wearing his armour, he would not have to bear the feeling of her hand on his body. He could feel her warmth radiating through her fingertips.

How could something so beautiful be evil? Why did the Maker still create mages if magic was such a bad thing? He could lay with her tonight and just not tell it to anyone, ever. That was a possibility right?

He wanted her more than he wanted to serve.

When he turned around to take her in his arms, she was no longer there.

She had dissolved into a dream as soon as he had opened his eyes.

The water was getting cold.

 

 

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