Chapter 15Mature

You were standing in the wake of devastation,

You were waiting on the edge of the unknown,

With the cataclysm raining down,

Insides crying save me now,

You were there when possibly alone.

Iridescent by Linkin Park

4 and a half months later

I'd been dreading this day for months, actually ever since my last birthday. The only difference between this birthday and the past five others is that I wasn't laying in a pool of sick and blood wishing my life would just end. No, for this birthday I sat on the end of a king's bed, trying my best not to wake up the King who was snuggled under the covers. A beam of moonlight crept through the thick curtains and projected a misty haze upon the floor. A slight tap against the window made me snap my eyes up, where I saw a black crow staring in at me. I started, jumping up, and stifling an awkward laugh, still unsure whether or not to wake Alistair.

A nightmare had woken me from my slumber, the same nightmare I've been having for months. It's always about Anders with those piercing glowing eyes and his blade up against Bethany's throat. Her screams are what terrify me the most as I can never save her, which just makes them worse each time.

Smoothing back a loose strand of hair from my eye, I crossed quietly over to a small desk, which was now mine. Only a few of my belongings from my estate in Kirkwall made it too this desk. Mother's necklace was neatly placed in front of the mirror. Alistair had asked one of the maids to clean it for me. I hadn't been grateful at first because he did it without telling me but now, as I look at, it I'm happy. A small book lay beside the necklace; it was dark red just like my hair with an engraving of a hawk in the middle. When Alistair first gave it too me I couldn't help but laugh at his gesture.

A small grin spread across Alistair's lip's as he held something behind his back. My first thought was that he had brought me flowers because that was his usual gift. But as he held out the red book engraved with the hawk my heart fluttered so wildly that I had to clutch at my stomach whilst a burst of giggles turned into hysterical barks of laughter. I couldn't contain the laughs even as the hurt creased into his face. "What's so funny?" He asked.

The laughs were gone as quickly as they came as soon as I heard the humiliation in his voice. "Oh… I thought it was supposed to be a joke. Since that is a hawk." I pointed at the book. "And I am Hawke." It felt as if my heart had fell into my stomach. "But that's not really funny is it?" It hadn't been funny really yet my body wasn't used to happiness so when I actually felt happy, I exaggerated it too much.

"Oh, I didn't even notice that." He chuckled. Only a few minutes later we were both curled on the floor crying with laughter.

A smile spread across my lips at the memory, who'd have thought that was only last month. Picking up the diary, I ran my finger over the hawk. It was ugly and it looked evil from it's devilish round eyes. Was that what I looked liked to people who feared me? Was I just a menace to everyone? Another tap on the window made me look around. The crow was still staring me like it was intrigued with what I was doing. Crow's were just as ugly as hawk's, from my point of view anyway.

Creeping across the room, I held the book firmly by my side. Approaching the large glass, I quickly slipped outside onto the large balcony. The night was cold against my bare arms, the air smelled fresh after a day full of pouring rain. I gazed up at the blanket of stars cast over a vast sky of deep blue; it was truly magnificent to look at. As my eyes wondered over thousands of stars I couldn't help but wonder if someone else could be doing this and feeling what I am feeling. Doubt filled me as I looked down at the city below. Who else would bother to cherish the night sky whilst fearing for their lives in a city like this? Alistair may be the King but he abandoned the city for months on end at the start of the year, in his time away a lot of the city folk took advantage of their King's absence. Rumors spread of women having gone missing and then reappearing, weeks later, raped and half-dead. This was not a good time to be king. I over-heard two nobles doubting his rule, only loyalty to Alistair stopped me from shouting at them. The Landsmeet had made it abundantly clear I was not take part in any political matters, if I did it wouldn't reflect well on Alistair.

Sitting down on a cushioned chair, I propped my feet up on the ottoman that I had demanded for Alistair to bring out here. I laid the red book on my legs, reaching over the armrest; I snatched up the quill and ink that I stashed under the chair. This was the first time I had written in any book since I was in Kirkwall. That memoir was now in the hands of Varric. Unlatching the metal clasp on the book, I opened to cover to fine paper that still had the intricate design from the tree it had been created from. With one hand I dunked the quill in the ink whilst the over held the book open, using the quill was easier than I remembered.

Dear journal,

Alistair is all I have left. It scares me just as much as knowing that I am all he has, excluding his country of course. It shouldn't be this way, we shouldn't be lonely together it's worse than being lonely all by myself because I'm constantly terrified that's he's going to leave me. At least when I was on my own I only had myself to think of.

It's hard living in a castle. It's so quiet. So boring. It doesn't feel like home even though I want it too, badly. I hate having the maids do everything for me; only last week did Alistair order me to apologize to my hand-servant when I yelled at her for trying to clean my blades. It was humiliating and I deserved it, but I avoided him for nearly two days.

I've been writing to my cousin, Charade, Uncle Gamlen's daughter. She's getting married and I'm invited. Something to look forward to, I guess. I'll be glad when I get out of this castle; I'm almost tempted to escape over the walls now, and head to the tavern. The thought of a nice cold pint of ale down my throat is mouth watering.

It's almost morning so I better get back into bed before Alistair wakes up and finds me not there.

After shutting the journal I leaned over the armrest and placed the quill and ink back under the chair. Morrigan suddenly came to mind; I hadn't heard a thing from her since she deserted us in the fight against Anders and his blood mages. Anger still burned in my veins from her betrayal. I couldn't help but think that circumstances may have been different if she hadn't run off. Yet in truth I wasn't even surprised by her betrayal, it was Letecia that really hurt me. She had promised to stand by me to the end; I thought we had grown close; she had encouraged me to go forward. I was going to find them, confront them. However, right this second I didn't know how or what I was going to do if I did find them. I only knew one person who could help me but she was traipsing around Thedas' and I had no idea where to start looking.

The night breeze was relaxing against the small headache creeping into my. I had no desire to even move from this chair. Curling my legs up under me and using my arms as a pillow on the armrest, I rested my head on them and closed my eyes. I didn't know when I fell asleep but when the dreams came, it was a nice surprise to find that it wasn't the usual nightmare. It was the same field as what was supposedly the vision I had seen before, flowers of many colors covered the ground, and it filled my nose with a sense of sweetness and beauty. I could hear birds singing lovely tunes that filled my heart with joy. But what really made this dream even more desirable was Bethany, who stood in a white frilly dress extending her arms out to me.

If it wasn't for Anders standing beside her I would have ran into her embrace. He was smiling, as if nothing had happened, as if he didn't kill Bethany. He took a step towards Bethany and the smile on his face turned into a sadistic grin. I choked back a scream when he drew a blade from his robes. What horrified me more was that Bethany was still smiling; her arms were still waiting for me. She seemed completely unaware of Anders, of the knife in his hands. The scream didn't come even when he grabbed Bethany around the throat but what was even more confusing was the smile still on her face, and her willingness to go into his arms.

Anders smoothed the hair from Bethany's shoulders exposing the glowing skin of her neck. He leaned down and pressed his lips against her throat, I almost thought he was going to bite her when I heard a suckling sound. Bethany's body started to sag and her skin seemed to tighten as if her blood was being sucked out of her. It was exactly like what happened over four months ago, Bethany was being murdered right before my eyes and I couldn't do anything, I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe, but worst of all, I couldn't keep my eyes from hers. I was watching the life drain so clearly from her, yet I couldn't stop it because I was weak. Anders suddenly pushed Bethany away from him; she wobbled idly before collapsing to the ground. Lifting his head to look at me he grinned, then the screams finally escaped my throat. "Cameron." A voice whispered dreamily.

My eyes fluttered open, I was instantly aware of strong arms, embracing me. Uncontrolled tears flowed down my face; I could taste their saltiness my tongue as hysterical moans escaped my mouth. Alistair pulled me fully into his arms and didn't seem to care as I drenched his thin undershirt with my tears. "I hate him." I cried into Alistair's chest. He nuzzled his lips into my hair while stroking my back, which was his usual way of comforting me. But it didn't work this time, not against the anger. Shoving away from him, I didn't care at that moment about the hurt look in his eyes; I sprinted back into the room. Nothing made me stop not even Alistair's pleading shouts. I ran through the castle, passing no one, I couldn't stop, my feet weren't attached to my brain anymore. Every instinct of mine was to turn back and go to Alistair to apologize; I could still hear his thundering feet behind me. His shouts were getting louder and more pleading, I was hurting him more by running. Abruptly, I stopped moved against the wall and slid down it till I was sitting on the floor embracing my knees against my chest. I wasn't aware when Alistair had caught up with me until he slid down next to me breathing heavily. "I'm so sorry." I said, peeking at him from between my red locks.

"What happened?" He asked, his tone a mix of anger and worry. I couldn't blame him for being angry that I shoved him away from me.

I didn't hesitate before realizing it was true. "I need help." I added. "Professional help." Just as he put his arm around me.

I felt him press his lips against my shoulder. "Maybe you need some time away from here as well." He slid my journal onto my lap; I should have felt angry that he had read it, but somehow I felt happy. More so, I felt relief. He finally knew my worries and finally he understood.

"I think I'm going to go find Riona." This time I turned to face him, so I could see the emotions on his face. All I saw was confusion.

"What's she going to do that I can't?" He asked a deep frown on his face.

"She isn't confined to a castle and a country." I instantly regretted saying this as more hurt showed on his face. Before he could say anything, I added. "I mean that I don't want to take you away from Ferelden." Realization crossed his face with his sexy crooked smile that always made me feel weak at the knees.

"You are the most unselfish person I have ever met." He reached out and smoothed his hand over my cheek; I pressed my head in his cupped hand and smiled. "I love you."

He leaned in and planted a gentle kiss on my lips. As he pulled away I said. "I love you too."

I lifted my fingers to his lips; they parted under my touch. I couldn't help but be aroused by this; my heart was beating wildly. We still hadn't had sex and I knew he was only holding back because I was in a bad place, which only made me love him more. "I'm ready." I whispered. My heart was so full of love that it was impossible not to be in a good place at this moment. Alistair's eyes widened and he gulped as I slid my hand into his. Pulling him up with me, I lead him to the nearest door, I didn't know what was behind it but I was far from caring. Opening the door, I found that it was an exact replica of the room I had stayed in when I first came here. Before the door was even closed Alistair pulled me into his arm and planted small kisses on my eyes, nose, and cheeks, along my jaw; finally he crushed his lips on mine. This kiss had more desire and hunger attached to it that started to make my head whirl, he tasted so sweat, it felt like my heart was trying to climb out of my throat.

He pulled away slightly but leaned his forehead against mine. "Are you sure?"

"Oh, shut up." A laughed burst from my lips and I pulled his head back down. His hands slid around my waist to the small of my back and I arched against him as the kiss deepened. Just by holding me, Alistair banished all the guilt and pain, and wiped out the past that had been haunting me for so many years, even if it was only for this moment. The times before had never felt as good as this, so many kisses but none of them felt as mature and desirable as this. Each touch felt like a caress as we pulled the clothes from our bodies. The touch of cool silk pressed against my back as Alistair placed me onto the bed.

His hand slid over my belly as he kissed my collarbone, as I smoothed my hand over his back, up his neck and into his hair that I held firmly between my fingers. My back arched as his mouth moved tenderly down my body. Never before had I felt such over-powering pleasure, not with Fenris or Anders. Never had love felt so uncomplicated. It felt so right being loved by Alistair, his warmth, and his hard muscles embracing me tenderly. I couldn't believe we had waited till now to do this. When he moved down my body and pulled my legs over his shoulders, I wasn't prepared for the intense pleasure that made me tremble with desire. The intensity increased with such ferocity that I seemed to forget everything, all I could think about was what Alistair was doing to me, with his mouth and tongue. The pleasure stopped suddenly and I couldn't help but look down at him to see why. He was staring at me so lovingly that my heart skipped a beat.

"I want you." He said hoarsely, moving up, he embraced me in his arms. Nuzzling my head against his chest; I licked his warm skin. "Do you want to do this? Are you sure?" He asked me again.

"More sure than I've been in a very long time." I smiled brilliantly at him to add more encouragement, which seemed to work as he leaned down and kissed me. It went on and on, growing more and more passionate as he slowly moved over me. A shuddering moan escaped his lips, I was aware of nothing but pleasure and the sweat sensuality of his lips on mine. When we climaxed I was only consumed by love. The guilt and shame seemed foreign. Alistair moved up to embrace me in his arms and we lay wordlessly together until we both fell asleep.

By the time I woke up, the sun was already shining, the bed beside me was empty, and I instantly sat upright. Relief embraced me when I saw Alistair slipping his undershirt over his head. He must have sensed me watching him because he turned his head to look at me. His face was becoming increasingly dear to me and I knew I was going to miss it as dearly when I left to look for Riona. "Lets not leave this room until we really have to." I said in my best seductive voice. It must have worked because he moved towards the bed so fast that I wasn't prepared for the thousands of kisses he placed on my lips. We made love so many times that day, we weren't even aware of the maids outside the door who must have heard us. Embarrassment was the last thing on my mind.

Later we found ourselves feeling heady from so much joy, that we were laughing hysterically. Alistair pranced around the room dancing and twirling; it was hard to not to laugh. As he danced around with a towel, I smiled warmly at him and said, "Thank you." This stopped him in his tracks.

"What for?" He asked, the towel still between his legs, I suppressed a laugh.

"For being you." I shrugged. "For making me happy." Alistair moved towards the bed and sat down in front of me. He reached forward and traced what I knew was my scar that I got from defending him all those months ago when our relationship had just started to blossom.

"All I want is for you to be happy." I knew what he meant by this. He was saying I should go if that's what I needed to get better. I couldn't imagine leaving him at this moment but we both knew that constant lovemaking was not going to help my ever-growing depression for much longer. Alistair pulled me into his arms resting his chin on top of my head, he sighed deeply. He crushed a kiss against my hair before pulling me up to stand in front of the bed. With soft hands he brushed my hair from my face and grinned. "Wanna do something naughty?" He asked in a cheeky tone.

Even with a day full of lovemaking his tone made me blush. "Haven't we been doing that?" I asked just as my stomach growled.

Alistair laughed and patted my belly. "That's a whole other kind of naughty. No, what I'm talking about is a bit quieter. Let's raid the larder."

And that was how I found myself, ten minutes later, eating cold soup on bread from a pan, as Alistair ate cold chicken off the bone. When I finished the soup, I threw it down unsatisfied. "Shh" Alistair laughed before taking another large bite out of the chicken leg. Leaning against the counter, only wearing a pair of pants and Alistair's shirt, which I had wrestled away from him.

I couldn't help but wonder about what he really thought about me leaving. Did he feel sad that I didn't think only he could help me get better? Did he realise that I was leaving for other reasons that I didn't want him to know about just yet? Or was he completely oblivious to that fact? Something deep down told me that he was suspicious and his comment earlier about him only wanting me to be happy gave evidence to that thought. The thing was – I was already happy. This was the happiest that I have been, since before mother died. Yet, how long was it going to last? Alistair couldn't be with me every second of every day and I was scared of the moment he'd have to leave me alone. Which I'm sure isn't healthy.

"I won't be gone any longer than necessary." I crossed my bear legs over one another as I watched his face carefully.

He instantly stopped eating to look at me. "Cam, I just want you to get better. It doesn't matter how long it takes." He put the chicken leg onto the counter and walked towards me placing his hands on the counter either side of me. He pressed his forehead against mine and kissed my nose before pulling me into his arms. I nuzzled my face into his chest as the happiness welled up inside me again. His hands stroked my hair, catching on knotted strands showing my laziness. It was moments like this that I remembered the times after my mother died, when Anders used to comfort me. There were times when those memories would only bring anger and pain but all they brought now was relief, as if now that Anders was dead I could reflect over our memories and remember the man he had once been. "You haven't fallen asleep down there have you?" Alistair asked bringing me out from my thoughts. I sagged playfully in his arms and snorted loudly. "Oh dear." He said, picking me up in his arms. Wrapping my arms around his neck, I stared deeply into his dark eyes. He leaned down to kiss me and I lost myself in his sweat-intoxicating scent. I entwined my fingers around his neck and pressed closer into his warmth.

A taste of salty tears touched my cheek and I instantly realised he was crying, lovingly I licked the tear from his cheeks. "I love you." I whispered.

"As I love you, lets go to bed now, Sweetheart." He didn't stop carrying me as he walked through the castle back to his room. We didn't make love that night; we just lay entwined in each other's love and for the first time in months I didn't dream.

The End

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