A/N: I know what I really should be posting before this new story is the final chapter of my FIRST story that has been dormant for so long! Truth be told, while it has been dormant, I have not. I am so close to finishing it it's unreal! I'm even thinking of a sequel of sorts!

Anyway, I've also decided to post some of my Dragon Age stories I've written. When DA2 came out and completely changed Anders, it really made me sad for a while – he went from being so handsome and funny and cocksure to being this…. Bleh. And I hate his new look too. ANYWAY, I've finally gotten over that, and here are bits and pieces of a story I wrote about Anders and the DA Awakening Orlesian Warden you can create if you chose not to upload your DA:O character. I thought it would be fun to play an Orlesian mage! I was so right! So this is Leonie Caron (pronounce Leo-NEE). She has a strong Orlesian (French) accent, wears her hair in a bun, has thick nude-colored lips and grey eyes, and is a very powerful Battle Mage with an emphasis on elementals. She is soft-spoken but commanding, friendly and light-hearted. Tends to keep things to herself and too fixated on the idea of a perfect outward persona that she thinks is expected of her. You may like it, you may not. But here it is nonetheless.

Chapter 1

Because Fealty is a Virtue

On Personal Quests

Anders shut the door to his room and heaved an uncharacteristically heavy sigh. Today had been trying. And he had much to think about.

The Commander had been… well, he always knew she was a generous person, but she had been… so very good to him today.

He had made contact with Namaya in Amaranthine and found out about the supposed location of his phylactery. The Commander was a mage too, but he had almost hesitated in asking her this favor of tracking it down with him. But she had been right there, and it was hard to pretend Namaya's information had been about nothing. And as he trusted her, he told her.

More than anything he'd wanted it destroyed and in no circumstance did he think it the wrong thing to do – he deserved his freedom. But he had never intended to get her caught up in the Chantry's wrath. She had much more important things to do than fight his battles for him, but that's precisely what she'd done. He remembered sneaking into that warehouse, her, Oghren, and Nathaniel in tow. He was nearly giddy with excitement – he was about to be free.

But it had been a trap after all. He remembered the shock that flooded his system at the sound of that shrew, Rylock.

"And here I almost believed the infamous Anders wouldn't take the bait."

His reply barely hid the disappointment that rang through his bones: "Ah. Yes, I suppose I should have known it would be you."

She snarled and turned her attention to his fearless leader. "You made a poor choice with this one, Commander. Anders will never submit, not to us and not to you."

Her calm, steady Orlesian voice replied less than a fraction of a second later: "'e has made a fine Grey Warden so far." His gaze snapped to her face at this compliment, but Rylock left little room for pondering.

"'So far,' yes. I'll make sure that this murderer is never a bother to anyone again." He immediately leapt to his own defense.

"What? No, you can't arrest me! King Alistair allowed my conscription!"

Rylock's face and tone were unrelenting. "The Chantry's authority supersedes the crown in this matter. You cannot hide within the Grey Warden's ranks."

His hopes sunk with each word she spat at him until -

"No. 'e stays vith us." Again his eyes were on his Commander. Her words were solid steel and her gaze burned with conviction. She… the things she was risking for him!

As Rylock's final words rang out, both sides prepared for battle: "I do not know how you inspire such loyalty, Anders, but it will avail you naught. Now you come with us."

Amidst the fighting, Anders himself had wondered about such loyalty.

In the here and now, he scratched his head. Had that been it, it would have been one thing, but once the battle was over, he'd turned to the Arlessa and said, earnestly, "Thank you. You stood by me and I appreciate that."

And she nearly stopped his heart with a soft smile and the simple words, "You are a friend. Friends stick up for each other."

As if that's all there was to it. As if taking on the Templars, especially as a mage herself, and the Commander of the Grey (with much bigger duties than this) was no big deal. So many depended upon her and she had been willing to incur the wrath of the Templars for him.

Sitting here on his bed he suddenly recalled her slight blush the day before when he'd accused her of jealousy towards Namaya. It had struck him as so very pretty, and although it was nothing he'd seen from her before that point, it had suited her.

There were many thoughts swimming around in his head, but the one that felt right - on the simplest of levels - was this: He ought to make it a point to try and make her blush more in the future. He hadn't known he'd be able to.

Anders knew he was a charmer. He was well-aware that he was a good-looking man and a wizard with words, when it came to women in particular. But the Commander seemed so above that sort of thing. Surely no amount silver-tongued speech could ever undo such a bright, commanding woman.

And yet she laughed quietly at his jokes and grinned at his banter with their fellow companions. And apparently she blushed too. She was just… strong and assured and… warm. And so very beautiful. It would seem she genuinely liked him, not just the front he gave the world.

All of these things had been true before today, but it was as if all of this information, all of these observations were suspended, like puppets on strings, just above his consciousness. And today, all those strings snapped at her selflessness, leaving these thoughts to fall about him.

Perhaps he could… turn up the charm at least a little. Up until now, it had been done on instinct: because she was beautiful and she was there. But now… now

Suddenly he got the strongest urge to talk to her, to see her smile again, maybe make her laugh. If he was lucky, he might even elicit another blush.

So he strode out of his quarters and into the throne room. She wasn't there. But Oghren was. For a second he thought of just heading back to his quarters.

But no. The desire to see her had driven him from there and he would find her now.

He strode over to the dwarf and without any form of greeting, started right in.

"Have you seen the Commander?"

"I sure have. She's 'bout five foot five, shapely arse, easy on the eyes."

Anders rolled his eyes as Oghren burst out into loud guffaws at his own joke. "Very clever. Bravo, dwarf."

"You know, she's a looker, f'r a human. Not'smuch meat on those bonesas old Oghren would like, but a fine Orlesian feast f'r the eyes jus th'same…" He punctuated his sentence with a deep belch.

"You drunk fool, you are completely useless."

"At least I'm not a prissy mage 'n a dress."

Anders was about to get into another round of verbal sparring with the drunken dwarf but just then the giant doors of the keep swung open and the Commander stepped in. Removing her cowl she brushed a strand of auburn hair back into her neat bun and exhaled as the doors slammed behind her in a imposing way. The booming echo somehow added the air of that hidden strength she had to the image before him. Or maybe he was going soft in the head.

Either way, Anders wasted no time. Abandoning Oghren to his drunken mutterings, he met the Commander in the middle of the floor. She turned her gaze up at him, pure cordiality written in the openness of her features.

"'ow are you feeling, Anders?" Even after a day like today she was still the epitome of calm and collected.

He sighed heavily for show and shook his head. She was shorter than him by a good six inches, but she commanded such a tall presence that it didn't feel as though he was looking down.

"All things considered, Commander, I'm doing fine. Today was hardly what I'd hoped for, but I'm still here, so that's something."

"Yes, zat is always something." She smiled that closed-lip smile that reminded him of a mother, glad that her children are all fed and rested. Not that it was condescending, and not that he was a child, just that she seemed so much more in-control and mature than any others at the Keep. Everything about her made him feel comfortable, at ease. A giant ball of contentment started to grow in his stomach, and he grinned at her.

"May I point out that you're all right."

Her eyes widened in curiosity at this statement he'd just blurted out. "I am all right?" My, but her eyelashes were thick and long…

Anders couldn't help himself: "And remarkably lovely, if I'm allowed to say." She lowered her chin and bit her bottom lip, but it didn't hide her growing smile.

"Yes, you are allowed both observations."

His smile grew in response to this. "That's… good to know, my lady." But he was serious, so he decided to reel it in a bit. Smile fading only slightly, he continued.

"Really, when the templars came for me, you could have decided I wasn't worth the trouble. But I apparently am worth the trouble."

Her own look became gentle and she rubbed her full lips together as he spoke. It was something she did sometimes when they were talking, when she was in a good mood. He didn't think she knew how enticing it looked. He hadn't realized he'd noticed it before.

"Anyway, considering I'm usually a LOT of trouble, I should be grateful."

"Vell I am glad to 'ave you around." Her reply was low and soft; he could practically feel the warmth in her voice, and it charmed him.

"And I'm glad to be around." He might as well be honest with her too.

"When you recruited me, I thought I was jumping from the frying pan into the fire. But being a Warden is almost tolerable. It's a pleasant stroll through the park – with darkspawn!"

She laughed at that, replying sarcastically, "So glad I could make it 'appen for you."

"You're a giver. I'm very grateful." Joking with her was so easy. Not like their other companions, who were usually too serious or too hostile.

"I thought it was worth mentioning." He reached out and took her hand in his own.

"Thank you, Commander. For everything."

She smiled up at him so warmly and said, "My pleasure, Anders."

And then, because he was feeling spirited, he brought her hand up to his lips, but instead of kissing it outright, he merely brushed his lips against her knuckles. In no way an improper motion, but Anders knew how one could make any mundane act more sensual. The blush that spread so very faintly across her cheekbones was the best reward he could have hoped for.