Chapter 4Mature

The silky sheets fell away from me as I attempted to wake; realisation dawned on me as I hazily recalled last night's conversation with Alistair. I placed my feet on the cold, hardwood floor. The clothes I wore were left scattered across the room; I reluctantly picked them up one by one and slipped them on as I approached the mirror. There was a loud knock on the door. An Elven servant peered in; he was carrying a silver platter, bearing what looked like breakfast. "The Seeker is waiting in the foyer, Messere." I cracked a small smile out of politeness as he left the platter upon the dresser. He scurried hastily around the room, dealing with other duties. As the Elf left the room, I soon followed; I clasped my hand on the door handle, and peered over my shoulder. The breakfast sat cold.Luxury was never my forte anyway.

Cassandra Pentaghast paced the foyer, her back straight and head tilted slightly as if deep in thought. I approached her slowly, still reluctant to get the show on the road. She noticed me when she next turned around; relief touched her eyes.

"Finally!" She said, throwing out her arms then letting them drop back down to her sides. "I'm glad you decided to come. We haven't told him about you, so he'll never anticipate you being there." She didn't seem to realise that I had forced myself to get dressed and come to meet her this morning. In fact, she didn't seem to care one bit; to her I was just another piece of the puzzle.

"It's not like I had much choice." I muttered under my breath. Obediently, I followed her out of the palace. Strangely, I wished that Alistair could come with me. But he was as busy as I was, unfortunately. I could feel myself growing very fond of him. I'd been here two weeks now, we'd been in the same meetings and I'd watch the glint in his eyes that I took as him wanting to sneak to the taverns and have a pint of Ale. It was only last night that he finally came to my room. I hadn't expected to see him; I had been fully aware of the blush that formed on my cheeks.

We rode our horses out of Denerim. Cassandra did not mention anything about where we were going. But I realised Anders was not actually in Denerim at all. We rode for about five hours along the main highway before we turned our horses up a steep hill. After riding another twenty minutes, we came to what looked like a fortress. Ahead of me, Cassandra dismounted. She waited as I dismounted. She walked beside me as soldiers approached us.

"Welcome to Vigils Keep, Seeker. We're glad you came. The mage hasn't been passive these past few days. He keeps speaking of a revolution." His gaze shifted over to me as he said this. Suddenly I realised, Anders had told me about Vigils Keep. The home of Ferelden Wardens he called it. The place was magnificent; tall, strong walls heightened its defences. Small settlements stood close to its walls, obviously homes to those without one. A huge building sat behind the walls which must have held the throne room. Anders hadn't spoke highly of this place, but then he never spoke highly of anything but Justice.

I followed Cassandra towards, what I assumed, was the dungeon since it was a small building off to the side of many of the others. Two guards stood at the entrance, they didn't stop us as we approached, but they opened the door, instead. Holding my head down, I kept my eyes away from theirs, hoping to hide my growing fear. Back in Denerim, I felt I needed to do this for closure, more than anything else. Now, I was sure that was just a reason to get myself out of bed. I kept telling myself that I needed this but, as we got further into the building, Cassandra could also feel the rising tension. She stopped me by pulling my arm.

"This is no social call, Cameron. I give you ten minutes tops to get what we need. If you get nothing, then we try again tomorrow. I'm telling you now, Cameron, just get what we need then get out of there. No funny business." Her voice was firm, funnily it gave me confidence. I should treat this like an interrogation, nothing else. Anders was just someone I knew, not someone I loved, not someone who betrayed me.

"Remind me again of what you want?"

"I want to know why he destroyed the Chantry in Kirkwall, and what he hoped to gain. Also, I want to know if he has created any conspiracies amongst the Mages to explain about why they are fighting against the Templars." She spoke as if my question exhausted her.

I walked on in front, eager to get this other with. I was really hoping he'd come out clean. Yet Anders wasn't one to tell me everything. As I came to the door, I clasped my hands into fists. I nodded at the guard to let me through.

I saw him before he saw me. His clothes were all bloody, probably from the constant beatings he had endured. His hair was much longer and dirtier than what I remembered. His face was sullen, but his eyes were more prominent. A small glow touched the edges of his eyes and I knew Justice was watching. When Anders noticed me, anger filled his eyes.

"How dare you bring her here!" He screamed to the skies. "How dare you torture me with her presence!" It was only then that I noticed the chains; his arms were strapped to the chair that had been firmly fixed to the ground. Seeing Anders in this state was enough to bring me all the closure I could ever want.

"Anders?" I whispered; I couldn't bring myself to sit across from him, in case he screamed at me.

He glared at me. "You're not Cameron. She wouldn't come here. I don't want her here, not to see me like this." At least he didn't scream. I found it terrifying that he thought I was not myself. What had they done to make him this insane?

"Anders listen, it is me, Cameron. I have come. I want to speak with you." I tried to stay calm as the minutes ticked by in my head.

"How can I be sure you're 'MY' Cameron?" Anders sounded desperate for "his" Cameron. I tried to ignore that statement and get on to what was needed.

"You can't. But I need you to co-operate with me, Anders. Please." I was no longer scared for myself. Seeing Anders like this, I wanted to try my best and get what was needed so they didn't have any more reason to keep him here.

"Get me out of these chains and I'll do anything you want." He bargained. Seeing him like this, made me want to defy Cassandra, but she brought me here to stop whatever was happening.

I raised an eyebrow and him. "I tell you what, Anders, you tell me what I need and I'll see about giving you back your freedom without the chains. Deal?" Perching on the arm of the chair, I crossed my arms.

Anders mind was in focus for a moment as he held his head in his hands. Dramatically, he looked through his fingers at me. "Deal." He said, through what sounded like gritted teeth.

"Tell me why you blew up the Chantry." I ordered, keeping my eyes on his. I tried not to falter in my stance, to not show him how scared I was.

Anders contemplated over this for a moment. "I guess you wouldn't know, would you? Or wouldn't understand. They tried to control us, I had to make them realise that we wont be used by the likes of them." His face curved in anger as he said this. I thought of Bethany, who I lost to the Circle. At first, I was angry but I know she's happy there, so no I didn't understand Anders anger towards them.

I nodded. "Okay, so have you riled any mages into going against the Templars, before and after destroying the Chantry?" I used this moment to sit on the chair and stare straight into his eyes. The glow seemed to leave his eyes as he spoke.

"No. I wouldn't bring other mages into my own mess. The fault was my own." His words were believable, but I couldn't help but feel he was leaving something out. Standing up, I gave one final nod and left the room.

Cassandra was waiting patiently outside, I informed her of what Anders said. But she seemed displeased. "Very well. It's late, we will head back to Denerim in the morning."

As she began to leave I moved in front of her. "What about Anders? He gave you what you wanted. Aren't you going to let him go?" My voice shook on his name at that same moment Cassandra laughed. Suddenly I realised they never intended to let him go. He was a criminal, he killed innocent people and that never sounded as final as it did then.

"He's a great mage, that I admit, but he's also an abomination, maybe not in form but he's gone beyond help." She slid around me and walked away. Watching her leave I realised a tear had rolled down my cheek. Was he to be put to death then? It was too much to bear.

The following morning we arrived early back in Denerim, apparently they wanted me away from the Vigil before they did anything more to Anders. Of course they wanted to start early. The palace looked dim in the early sunrise as we approached the gates. Maids and guards hurried past us to finish their duties before King Alistair's Landsmeet, to inform the nobles we were leaving in a few days for the Circle tower in Antiva. Word had been sent to the King of our findings and he moved the Landsmeet forward. Cassandra left me in the castle foyer to attend her own personal duties.

I went straight to Alistair's office where I knew he'd be, this early in the morning. As I opened the door, I heard raised voices, and burst in. Riona Cousland was perched on the table, her long legs hung off the edge. Alistair seemingly uncomfortable was stood near the fireplace holding his head. When they noticed me, they straightened up.

"Oh, I'm sorry to intrude." I quickly left again not sure about what just happened. I knew something intense was going on from Alistair's awkward stance. I didn't think as I stalked down the corridor to my chambers. A few maids had to hurry out of the way as I pushed past them. Why was I so angry? Upon entering my room, I threw my weapons on the floor and paced. My breakfast from yesterday morning was still on the dresser, untouched.

A loud knock on the door relieved me from my thoughts. Spinning round, I saw Riona Cousland, also known as the Hero of Ferelden, leaning against the door frame. She was as elegant as people had said. Her eyes saw everything, but they glowed with kindness. I felt jealous that she had once been the object of Alistair's lust. She didn't look like someone who had killed an Archdemon. However, most people who kill an Archdemon die.

"May I come in?" Her voice rang out beautifully; it was enough to make anyone fall to their knees in worship.

"Close the door." I had never seen a woman of such beauty, as a kid I was a tomboy and Bethany was the girly one, with frocks and bows. People said I was the prettier one; if I just put my mind to it I'd be a beauty.

Riona did as I asked, then walked over to my bed and sat down. I couldn't look as she did this. "What you saw just a moment ago was an argument. I went to Alistair to try and get him to let some Grey Wardens come on your...trip. He didn't like the sound of it, so I tried to persuade him." Her eyes never left me as she said this. I turned my gaze on her in confusion.

"Why are you telling me this?" I raised an eyebrow.

She gave me a knowing look that irritated me. "You and Alistair, right? He denied it of course. But I noticed the way you watch him. Aren't you the least bit concerned for why his ex-lover had gone to him?" She wasn't making sense; I had only known Alistair, personally, for a few days, and she noticed me staring at him? A blush rushed into my cheeks.

"I don't know what you're talking about. Why would I be concerned?" This somehow felt like a lie. Like I was lying to myself. But I didn't even know Alistair, not like she did. My day had changed so dramatically in the past half hour that I barely had enough time to think. Was there something between Alistair and myself? Did I want their to be? Of course, I thought Alistair was handsome in every way and just looking at him doing his daily things made me want to laugh. But was I even over Anders to feel like that for someone else?

Riona looked disappointed, but slightly smug, as I muddled this over. "Well, whatever you say. I'm leaving." She stood up with so much grace that jealously filled me again. I turned away from her, still confused about her words. The door slammed behind her.

For the rest of the morning I stayed out in the courtyard, practising with my weapons against a guard who had volunteered to help me. He had a nice build that filled out his armour. His eyes were close together but his jaw was tensed and manly. His name, I had regrettably forgotten, and I was too proud to ask him. I silently hoped another guard would pass by and call out his name, in a greeting. My moves were weak as I contemplated over Riona and Alistair. I wasn't quick enough when the guard swung his word towards my knees. He rained down apologies as I stood back up.

"I thought you were going to deflect it, I'm so sorry, Lady Hawke." He helped me up; I shrugged off his apologies with a wave of my hand. I smiled at him to show him I was ok.

"May I take your place?" Another voice said as if this was a dance. I gazed down at Alistair who was staring up at me from underneath his hand; the sun was shining right into his eyes so he had to cover them.

"I'm finished now anyway." I said to both Alistair and the guard. Saying my farewells, I walked away. Alistair followed silently, behind me. As we approached the weapon stand, Alistair spoke.

"We need to talk." Putting his hand on the rack beside me. I was instantly aware of him, and it annoyed me. Why did he have such a hold over me? I didn't know him. I turned to face him. We were inches apart; I could see that he had noticed this as well. His hand drooped to his side.

"Tonight." I said over my shoulder, as I walked away from him.

The End

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