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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22. Until the Darkness comes crawling in

The smile on his face vanished the minute he remembered why he had been riding all night long to get to her. Rumour had it Amell had lost her child. Rumour had it the child's father was the same man as the man sitting on the throne of Ferelden. Rumour had it...

"I came as soon as I heard."

She bit her lip as she opened the door a little wider to grant him access to her quarters. This was going to be a long day.

"The child was mine, wasn't it?"

She tied her bathing gown around her middle, buying herself some time to come up with an answer.

"You don't beat about the bush much, do you?"

"You know me."

A negative change in her grimace as she opened her mouth again.

"I used to."

She sighed and gestured him to come inside, closing the door behind him.

There no longer was a point in lying, there no longer was a point in carrying this burden alone. The child was dead, there was no need to protect Alistair from the truth any more. She was sick and tired of looking out for him.

"Yes, yes it was your child."

For a minute there, Alistair looked like he would turn into dust, waiting for the northern wind to come along and carry him out of there.

He sat down at her desk, the only chair that wasn't covered in books, scraps of writing and scrolls, letting his head rest in his hands as he searched for the words that didn't make it to his mouth.

"I - I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything."

She stood no more than three feet away from him, observing his gestures like she wasn't actually there, like she was in fact watching one of the plays they had gone to see in Denerim together when they were younger.

Other people's lives, other people's emotions.

He raised his head, his eyes more confused than angry as he looked to find hers.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"What would I have said?"

"Hmm. I don't know. Let me see. 'I have your tainted child growing inside of me Alistair' would have been great."

She didn't have the strength to take him on in another fight. She didn't want to, he had every right to be angry at her and she would not disagree with him this time.

He seemed to sense the defeat in her as he got up and closed the distance between them, not hesitating for a second and taking her in his arms like it was the last sensible thing left to do.

She started crying straight away as her tensed muscles released all of the stress she had been carrying around with her over the last couple of months.

"I am so sorry Alistair."

"I know," he whispered, rearranging her hair on her shoulder and kissing the side of her head.

She buried her face in his neck, her tears running down his skin as his scent triggered long forgotten memories of him making the nights at camp bearable, of jokes in the middle of battle. She had missed him so much.

"It was a girl," she sighed, "she looked just like you."

"She was all beautiful and noble looking?" he smirked, trying to lighten the mood.

"No - she just had a big nose."

He could feel her mouth form a smile against his skin.

"Your nose then," Alistair smiled back, "mine is very petite."

He touched his nose just to make sure.

She broke their embrace and he wiped away her tears with his sleeve.

They looked at each other like they used to do, the mage and the king. The last time they had really looked at each other like that had been before he marched out to find himself a bride. It had been ages ago, it had been another life.

He pulled her close again, taking a moment to let the news sink in as the room went quiet.

She settled her head against his chest, tracing the lines of his armour's engraving with her fingers.

"You all right down there?"

"It's almost like I never left."

He nodded as his right hand caressed her hair.

"Almost."

***

Cullen didn't like that fact that the King was in there alone, looking ridiculously handsome in that shiny armour of his, probably reminiscing about the past with the woman Cullen 'liked' in a...well...very intense way.

He did not like it one bit.

The thing was that he couldn't for the life of him come up with a decent excuse to disturb them and snatch her away. Where were the life threatening emergencies, the invading demons and the dramatic escape attempts when one needed them?

Gods damn it.

After breaking his head on a possible solution, and failing miserably to come up with one, he did the only thing he could do and continued to work while the two of them were probably getting back together up there.

He looked at the clock. The king was probably half way down to swooping Jaleth of her feet once more.

Like it was all that fair to begin with. The man had had his chance. He was with her and he blew it. It was Cullen who picked her up again, Cullen who slowly pieced her heart back together, Cullen who...

He looked down at the paper in his hand. He had read the same sentence ten times over and still didn't know what it was about. It was no use.

The Knight Commander got up, poured himself a drink and looked out one of the few windows the Tower contained.

The winds were changing.

***

"So, how's the queen?" she asked, kicking back the drink he had poured her.

"I'm not going to talk about the Queen with you." His eyes had narrowed down to small cracks. He was getting pretty drunk.

"Why not?"

"Because - because you are insane woman."

"Why?"

"Because we both know it was supposed to be you on that throne, that's why."

"Oh Alistair, let bygones be bygones."

He took a sip of his drink, then looked at her again. He felt strange being there, so much time had passed between them. But now that he was there, in front of her, it was like nothing had happened, like it was only yesterday when they were back in their camp, comforting each other with stupid jokes and silly stories before heading out to slaughter Darkspawn again the next morning.

"You are hilarious when you're drunk."

"I am? Well what about you? I remember a certain someone staggering through the camp with his trousers on his ankles."

"Let bygones be bygones," he snickered.

She took the bottle from him, their hands brushing in the exchange.

"Maker you are so beautiful," he sighed.

She gave him a face and took a swig from the bottle. She needed it.

"I'm sorry, did I say that out loud?"

"Yes my King, you did."

"I can't believe I can still make you blush," he smiled, "after all those years."

"It's the booze all right? I always get a red face when I drink."

"Yes," he replied, averting his eyes while his mind drifted back a couple of years, "and an itchy nose."

It went silent again in the room, giving them time to retreat to whatever memory sprung to mind.

She started laughing while her eyes focused on a spot near his sideburns.

"What? What is it?" he said, his expression insecure, a little anxious even.

"I am not sure. Hold on."

She got on her knees next to him on the couch and gave the side of his head a closer look.

"Yes, I am quite sure..."

"What?"

"You're getting old."

"I am?"

"There's a grey hair where a..."

"A grey what? That's unacceptable. Pull it out," he smiled, "that's an order!"

"I don't take orders from you any more, remember?"

The smile on her face was doing something to his insides.

"Yes, about that..."

She pulled out the hair with a triumphant smile on her face.

"We have to talk."

"Hah! I knew it. You wouldn't open a fine bottle like this without a reason to get me really drunk."

Her eyes got big when she said it.

"You know me so well."

The grin on her face was irreplaceable. He held her eyes on him a little longer before breaking the news.

"I want you to come back to the Order."

She nearly spat out the last of her drink before opening her mouth.

"Absolutely not."

"Hear me out."

"No."

He poured her another drink, the expression on both their faces still amusing ones.

"Here you go."

"Thanks," she said, taking the drink, "but this won't safe you."

"There's talk of Darkspawn in the Free Marches," he replied, placing all cards on the table.

"Yes, well, there's talk of Darkspawn in Ferelden as well."

"Yes, but the Darkspawn in the Free Marches attack in organised packs."

She repositioned herself, but made sure not to let him notice he had sparked some kind of interest deep down inside of her.

"How's that even possible? We killed their arch demon."

"Yes, well, we could try telling them that but somehow..."

"I don't understand," she said, interrupting him, her face dead serious this time.

"Neither does the Order. They want someone to take the lead in Amaranthine, someone who can train new Wardens and find out what the hell is going on. I want that someone to be you."

The effect of the booze seemed to have worn off in an instant.

"I a not going to Amaranthine," she answered.

"Not for the Order, not for Ferelden, not even for you."

She put her drink down, trying to come up with something to say.

"I don't owe Ferelden a thing, I have done what I could."

He sat back, retreated. He knew her. He knew she would not back down, her words were written in stone.

"You have done more than most."

"Thank you."

They sat in silence, each of them holding on to empty glasses in their hands until the darkness started crawling its way into the room, ending their drunken haze and pulling them back to the reality of the cold stone walls in a damp dark tower.

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