AN: Sorry for the duplicate postings. Having a problem with the title appearing properly. (User error most likely ;) ) Thanks for reading!

X~~~~X

I awoke screaming.

Leliana reached my side before anyone else. I remember her arms around me, rocking me, singing softly. First there was sleep, then there was terror, then there was Lelianna. I was trembling as if I was cold and could never be warm again. I looked up and saw Alistair in plain clothes lighting a candle in my tent. The light was welcome to fear but would not banish the memories of demons.

Alistair turned to me and took my hand in his. He felt like fire and I felt like ice. His touched burned me and I pulled away. The Fade Alistair danced in my mind and it was revolting. No, the only one I felt safe with was Lelianna. There had been no Fade Lelianna.

Alistair looked concerned but he withdrew with a quick nod towards Lelianna. I saw the others behind him as the tent flap fell back into place. I felt Lelianna's arms around me, bound in leather and chain, which clinked lightly as she rocked me. The trembling began to ease and I began to relax. I stared at the candle, focusing my mind on it and trying to shut out the memories.

I don't wish to speak of the Circle. I don't want to remember it. The demons and the Fade. No, I don't ever want to go back.

X~~~X

It was late and I was settling in to take first watch. Alistair came over and sat next to me. He remained silent for a time, and I was puzzled by his presence. He waited until everyone had settled into their respective tents and bedrolls before he spoke.

"I thought you might want to talk."

"About what?"

"About your nightmare. Was it the archdemon?"

I took a deep breath. I had been enjoying the companionable silence with Alistair but with his question the nightmare memories crept in.

"No. It was about the Circle."

"Ah," he replied. "What did you see?"

"It was... everything. There were wild abominations hunting me. Demons, shades, ghostly figures and transmutation. I was trapped in the Fade. Horrors I care not to explain." I saw Wynne trapped by her sorrow and Alistair dancing like a giddy schoolboy. Morrigan was the only rational one, identifying her mother as a demon.

"Your experience must have been different than ours. I remember being quite content with my sister and her family."

"That may have been the worst part. I was afraid you weren't going to come back to me."

He looked deeply into my eyes. "I'll always come back to you." He blushed furiously. "Well, that is, if you want me to."

I'll always want you to come back to me, I thought, but I kept silent and only smiled at him.

"Even though we haven't known each for long, I've come to care about you. Do you think…?" He looked away shyly.

"…that I could care about you? Yes, I believe I already do."

His gaze returned to mine and we sat motionless looking at each other. I scanned his handsome face, memorizing every inch of it but always returning to his eyes. He leaned forward and took my chin in his hand and gently kissed me. A thrill of excitement coursed through my veins. It was all too brief and over too soon.

Alistair cleared his throat. "That wasn't too soon, was it?"

"No. I don't think so. I enjoyed it."

"So did I." He smiled. I swear I melt a little every time he smiles. He gently pushed a strand of my hair behind my ear. "I should probably go to sleep."

"I should probably be paying more attention to our surroundings," I replied.

"Goodnight Elissa."

"Goodnight Alistair."

I watched as he climbed into his bedroll still wearing his armor. That couldn't have been comfortable but he drew the short straw for second watch so maybe he wouldn't get much sleep anyway. I stared off into the darkness watching for anything unusual. I didn't realize it at first, but I didn't relax until I heard Alistair's soft snoring and I knew he was asleep.