A one-shot came to my mind while I was (once again) playing Dragon Age: Origins. I don't own the game.

XXXXX

Ilinda panted as the party consisting of her, Alistair, Wynne and Leliana finished off last of the dragonlings. She downed a lesser health poultice and wiped her hand on her robes from a mix of excess blood she used to power her blood magic and from dragonlings they slaughtered.

She didn't look but knew both Wynne and Alistair had scowls on their faces directed at her forbidden spells but they saved their lives more than once so they were silent. She sighed and proceeded to the next room, wishing to get the first enchanter as soon as possible and get out of this hell made by demons and humans alike.

She heard a grunt and readied her staff and ritual dagger to strike at the first sight of danger… but the sight was worse than what they found at center of the floor.

"Cullen…" she whispered breathily and memories flew around in her mind; the last day where everything was going as how it was supposed to go…

…also, the day where everything went so wrong so suddenly.

"Ilinda, are you alright? Please, say something." She groaned and got up from her bed.

"Jowan?" she shook her head a bit to get rid of the disorientation. She re-focused at the nervous mage towering over her, mumbling things that was getting meaning slowly.

"… Apprentices won't come out of harrowing…" she smiled at her fellow mage and childhood friend.

"You know I am a strong mage, Jowan. Stronger than I look." And she was right. So much magical prowess and even more potential waiting to get tapped were squeezed into a small, petite, elven body.

He knew this of course… he knew she was better than him in magic – non-forbidden magic at least – but still, he couldn't help but worry. He smiled, her almost-arrogant reassurance put his worries for her well-being at rest.

"And now you go to the nice mage quarters up there, leaving me here all alone…" he sniffed dramatically and wiped an imaginary tear. She giggled behind her hand.

"I am sure you will follow me before long." She put a little hand on his shoulder and gave a ting squeeze. He smiled faintly.

"Irving wants to see you by the way." He discreetly scratched the scabs in his palm nervously. He promised himself to tell her about his escape and ask for help later.

"Oh? where is he…?"

XXXXX

"O-o-oh, h-hello. I-uhh I am glad your harrowing went well." She smiled a little and stared up at the flustered, blond templar. Tiny butterflies flied around her guts as she tried to form a response.

"Hello Cullen." She managed to let out, a smile on her face. She could feel tips of her pointed ears burning up.

"T-they picked me to…" he swallowed thickly. "…do the deed if you turned into an abomination. It is nothing personal I swear!" he said the last sentence quickly, without even pausing to take a breath. Her smile dimmed.

"Would you really… do it if it did happen?" he took a shaky breath.

"I would feel terrible about it." He averted his gaze and expected her to snap at him or leave him.

"I understand." She is a mage and he is a templar afterall… and it would be his duty to strike her – or whatever she would change into.

She shook her head, there was no need to think about that kind of thing, she passed and survived.

"I knew I wouldn't fail." She said with a lighter mood, there was no need for them to get depressed because of their roles. They passed the trial successfully. He grinned at her shyly.

"I love how willful you are." He muttered but her ears caught it. She grinned happily and felt her ears get completely crimson and hot. He blinked and understood that she heard his comment.

"I-I-I mean…!"

"Cullen…" he gulped once more. "…do you trust me?" he blinked at her.

"O-of course." She beamed at him and slowly took his big hands into her smaller pair. She held them close with palms facing each other and he felt a little funny. A tiny flame ignited between his palms and he gasped a little. She stared at the flame.

"I can control fire like this because I am willful, I passed my harrowing because I am willful..." her smile dimmed. "If I doubt myself…" the flame flickered in its space. "… I wouldn't win against the demon, I would hurt you, I would get hurt a lot of times…" She put out the flame and paused a bit. "…You would be forced to kill me." She raised her eyes to his. their stares were sad but it was the way things were. But then...

He leaned in…

And in…

And in…

Then his armor chaffed and he froze.

He was a templar.

She was a mage.

"I-uhh I-I am sorry. I-I… I have duties elsewhere." He ran because if he didn't, he would forget his role.

And listen to his heart.

She was paralyzed for a long while… then she rested his hand on the wall in front of her. She sobbed.

He was a templar, she was a mage.

That was what she chanted in her head as she got taken by Duncan while Cullen kicked and screamed against hold of his fellow templars.

He heard her whisper and grimaced.

"This again? I will not succumb! I will not succumb to your foul games! You hear me, demon?! I will not!" he closed his eyes and got to his knees. He tried to clean his mind.

"Cullen! Are you alright?"

"Silence! Your cruelty knows no bounds! Getting in my mind, plucking my thoughts to use against me! Using my weakness to get me!" he was half hysterical at that point, shaking with effort to dispel the 'illusion'.

"Cullen, hang on, we will save you." Cullen groaned.

"If there is a tiny crumble of humanity in you, kill me and stop this!" Ilinda flinched with a gasp but let it go slowly, he must be tortured for days. She gritted her teeth and swore to make sure everyone involved with this madness would pay.

"S-s-still here? A-are you real? Ilinda? A-are you really here?" he was hyperventilating.

"Cullen! Cullen, Calm down! We will get you out of there. I will make Uldred – or whatever it is – pay for what he had done here. Then we will save you." She swore.

"Good. Kill whatever up there! If you leave even one blood mage, we may regret it." She hesitated.

"I… I will see what I can do."

She was a blood mage too now…

She had to do anything to stop the blight.

It was her duty now.

Her eyes darkened with anger as she slit her hand as soon as the caged templar left their eyesight.

Uldred didn't stand a chance. Ilinda was too angry to listen to anything he had to say.

And that anger reflected to her spells as she fed more mana and blood to her spells to amplify their power. It increased their potency but she was utterly drained after the fight, only on her feet because of her willpower. Irving was saying something but she didn't listen and pretty much dashed to the gore-covered stairs after choking on another health poultice to get back to the blond templar.

She found him again; the cage was collapsed and he was trying to shake himself back to something close to normal.

She tackled him, overbalancing them both and making them fall down. Cullen felt something squishy underneath himself and grimaced but Ilinda's sobs and shivering drew his attention back to the elven mage.

"Why…" she whimpered. "Why did this happen? This wasn't how it was supposed to happen! Jowan was never supposed to dabble in blood magic! He wasn't supposed to try to run with that girl!" she growled 'that girl' part. "I was supposed to be left in the circle! Duncan was supposed to go find someone else! Uldred was supposed to be slaughtered like a pig he is in Ostagar!" she sobbed a few more times, then calmed down.

"I… I was supposed to be the first enchanter. Y-you were supposed to be the knight commander. We… we were supposed to be at each other's throats at day, I was supposed to say 'mage this', 'spell that' and you were supposed to say 'maker this', 'chantry that'…" she laughed a little and sniffed.

"Then we were supposed to meet secretly at night, apologizing for the harsh words we said to each other… I was supposed to try to seduce you and you were supposed to remind me that we couldn't do it with a bothered voice." she sobbed again.

"We were supposed to be happy together…" she sighed shakily. Cullen circled his armored arms around her petite body. she sobbed again.

"Cullen… do you trust me?" she stared up; her green eyes landed on his brown.

"O-of course." She bit her lip at his emotion-heavy voice.

"Cullen… I am a blood mage." He quaked and squeezed her into himself.

"Why?! H-how could you…"

"I-I had to! I have to end this cursed blight! Me and Alistair are the only grey wardens left! I-!" he squeezed her again and put his face to her head.

"I-I am sorry. I-I should have remembered your duties. I am sorry." She sniffed again. They got up after a few more minutes.

"L-let's go down before Gregoir starts the annulment." Cullen nodded. They got back to the harrowing chamber and climbed down with the rest.

He didn't show it but Gregoir was happy to see Irving. They talked a bit and Ilinda got a promise from Irving for mage's help in the coming blight. They were leaving with Wynne in tow after she stated her desire to help them with their mission.

"Ilinda!" Cullen shouted after her, causing her to stop and turn to him.

"Cullen." She replied after he got close. She put a hand on his plated chest, right on his heart. "I guess this is a goodbye... the second and proper one" He nodded, causing his plate armor to chafe a little. She sniffed.

"I will miss you Cullen. I will visit again… if I survive." He wanted to say 'don't talk like that', but they both knew how grim her fate is. She stared one more moment at his brown eyes then turned back to the exit.

But he pulled her back and pressed his lips to hers.

Her eyes widened in shock, then closed and pulled the templar's head to deepen the kiss. Cullen pulled her from waist and back in response. They forgot about their duties, roles, world for a few private seconds then pulled back; both red as tomatoes.

"Well, that's one way to say 'goodbye'." Leliana elbowed Alistair after his comment.

"Survive… please." Ilinda sniffed and hugged him again.

"I will do my best. I promise." They separated again and she left, like when she left with Duncan; eyes kept on Cullen until he left her sight.

End

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