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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17. Duty Calls

 

His office was nice and bright, sunlight pouring in from the open window.

Greagoir's things were still there, but Cullen's touch was clearly visible. It was strange how the death of one man could cause so much life to return to the room.

She was nervous, tapping her fingers on his desk as she waited for him to arrive. Time had build a wall between them and she was not looking forward to the talk she expected them to have once he arrived.

Cullen was the new Knight Commander now, whether they liked it or not.

Rumour had it Cullen had no intention of filling Greagoir's shoes for too long though, but he knew some matters had to be dealt with immediately and this apparently was one of those matters.

Jaleth placed her hands around her belly. All of her unrest had a bad effect on the baby no doubt, and she hated herself for inflicting so much stress on the unborn child.

If only she could retreat to her room until the baby was born.

The door opened with a loud screech when Cullen walked in. She focused on the sounds of his feet as she did her best to keep her nerves under control, cursing herself for being such a wimp.

He sat down in front of her, folding his hands together on the desk, his expression dead serious, his posture composed. The Knight Commander act suited him.

"Jaleth."

"Knight Commander."

"Please... just call me Cullen."

"Okay."

Cullen's composed attitude didn't match his battered appearance. His hair was getting a little long, the curls he tried to tame were getting more wild and the dark rings around his eyes told her he was still grieving for his Knight Commander while being swamped with the work the old man left behind.

She couldn't help to notice that all things considered though, he looked pretty damn good.

"How are you Cullen?" she asked, wiping the sweat in her palms away.

It was strange being in one room with him again, alone.

"I'm fine. What about yourself?"

"I am pregnant."

Her smile was charming but she had clearly thrown him off guard. Of course she was pregnant, but he hadn't called her to his office to talk about her pregnancy. He had summoned her here to talk about the note he had received from her apprentice. Jaleth's private life could wait... until the next Knight Commander showed up or something. It was too much for him to handle.

Jaleth was decisive though, the elephant in the room was going to be addressed and it was going to be addressed today, on his watch.

He could not deal with it.

The Knight Commander felt the sudden urge to shuffle some papers around on his desk, or maybe just jump out of the window and drown himself in Lake Calenhad, but his hands were still calmly folded on the desk and his cheeks were the same colour as before. His unrest only manifested itself on the inside.

"You're just a little soft around the edges is all," he smiled.

It was nota happy smile.

He cleared his throat before he continued speaking.

"So tell me, Enchanter, what are you planning on doing with this baby?"

She frowned, the expression on her face clearly stating she had no idea what he was talking about. What was she planning? What kind of question was that? She had expected him to ask about the father, or about her due date or...

It was not like she was in a position to decide anything, or was she?

"I am not quite sure I understand what you mean Sir."

"Isn't it Chantry law that any baby born to a mage in the Circle is taken away to be raised by the Chantry?"

Cullen brushed a hand through his light brown hair, his curls jumping around in the sun.

"Well technically you're still a Grey Warden, which means you have a choice. If you wanted to leave the Tower and raise the child there is nothing I can do to stop you."

Technically.

She tried reading his eyes but there was nothing to see in them, not even a hint of an emotion.

Jaleth's eyes, on the other hand, were big like saucers, emotions pouring over the edges, with confusion as their main ingredient.

Was he really suggesting her to leave? He didn't look like he wanted her to leave, or did he? No, he was merely giving her some options, some hope perhaps?

"I don't know," she sighed, "I don'tknow."

She was not used to a Knight Commander giving his mages options. But then again, Cullen sympathised with the mages once, with Greagoir gone he might...

Could she really raise this baby? Could she see it grow up?

She tapped her fingers on the table again and shut the rest of her thoughts out. Who was she fooling? She was incapable of raising a child. She would make a terrible mother.

The mage took a deep breath and looked at the Templar in front of her. The decision's finality was written in her eyes.

"I can't raise this child as a Grey Warden just as much as I am unable to raise this child as a mage."

Cullen's facial expression didn't change and she felt the need to elaborate.

"Death and destruction is what I am good at, I want to give this child the best shot it has and that is not with me. What if the Grey Wardens would accept a child living among them? What kind of life do you think this child would have growing up between warriors?"

Or cloistered sisters...

Cullen crossed his arms as he stared into the room a little bit before addressing her again.

"What about the father? Can he help?"

Her look tensed as she grasped for her belly.

"Oh," she gasped, sitting back.

Cullen got up, walked towards her, the look on his face more worried then his Templar training allowed him to be. The Knight Commander act crumbled within an instant.

"What is it?"

"The baby," she said, looking up at him with a wide smile that magically waved all of his worries away.

"I believe it kicked for the first time."

She didn't think when she took his hand and placed it on her belly, but he didn't remove it either.

"Can you feel it?"

She moved his hand around until the look on his face confirmed that he had felt it as well. He gave her a smile, or half of a smile, and his eyes were so warm that her heart skipped a beat. She had to contain herself. The sincerity in his eyes made her blush.

Cullen's hand remained where it was until his training got the better of him again.

His cheeks were flushed as he sat himself down behind the desk, putting a safe distance between Amell and himself.

"I'm sorry," she said, "I shouldn't have..."

"It's okay."

Cullen got a hold of himself again, folding his hands and putting his Knight Commander face on.

"Just think about it Enchanter, that is all I propose. You find yourself in a position most mages can only dream off."

She decided to keep her mouth shut this time.

"Anyway, your pregnancy is not why I asked you to come."

She straightened herself, she had not expected this, why else would she be here if not to talk about the bump in her belly.

Cullen opened the drawer of his desk and took a folded note from it.

He hesitated for a moment, carefully unfolded it and handed it to Jaleth.

She recognised the handwriting straight away, it was Helena's and by the way she had written the f's and n's Jaleth could see it had been written in quite an emotional state.

Cullen watched her eyes move over the piece of paper. With each letter she read, her expression looked more and more grim, until she slowly folded the paper back and placed it on his desk.

"I will not accept this," she said.

"I am afraid you won't have a choice. It is your apprentice's decision after all."

"This is ridiculous."

"That is exactly what I thought when I received it."

"Wait – what?"

She got up and walked over to the window, rereading the letter.

It was the first hot summer day and the warm wind on her skin made her close her eyes for a second. Life was so much easier when you lived it with your eyes closed.

"Why did you tell me?" she asked, her back still turned at the Knight Commander.

"I..."

She took a deep breath, dropped the note on the desk and started to march to the door, about to start a war no doubt, but changing her mind at the last minute.

"What do you think I should do Cullen?" she asked, turning around to face him.

The look on her face had been nothing like it had been before. She seemed defeated, the war over before she reached the battlefield.

"You're her tutor. Talkto her."

Jaleth's pondering look told him she at least considered not chopping Helena's head off straight away.

She turned around, opening the door.

"There is one more thing," she sighed, the doorknob still in her hand.

"Let's have it."

The smile on his face didn't make what she had to say any easier. It only made her want to kiss him again instead of apologizing for it.

"I..." she averted her eyes. The words would remain stuck in her mouth.

"Never mind."

She curtsied before disappearing into the hallway, leaving Cullen alone with his thoughts, giving him room to breath again.

The Knight Commander's muscles relaxed as soon as she had left the room.

He opened his desk drawer once more and pulled out another document. It was a letter of resignation, his resignation, and he stared at it with a quill in his hand. It only needed his name on the empty line and he would be free from those damned green eyes and that up to no good but oh so charming smile.

In a month from now, when Knight Commander Tavish would take over, he would be able to leave the Tower in Ferelden to serve somewhere else, anywhereelse really.

He looked at the empty line, dipped his quill in the ink pot an signed it.

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