The mirror returns my image with a deceitful gleam. It reveals an image of a young man, of traditional elven beauty – grey eyes, blond hair cut short with a curl of hair which flops at my forehead. Even with two days of stubble, I'm remarkable looking. It's sad really, because if I looked into a spoon the reflection would be more accurate to what I actually see. Blended and twisted features of a man aging beyond his years, eyes the color of prison stone, mouth set in the grim lines of constant grief. To others, I am attractive, but their eyes aren't privy to the truth. The truth that I am darkspawn-becoming.

I take one last look, avoiding my own sorrow-filled eyes, and check the collar of my robes – my favorite robes. They don't fit especially well, and they aren't particularly comfortable, but they are a sort of ironic snub to the unsuspecting Templars remaining in the halls. The high cloth collar sits around my neck with a centered hole fit for a leash and I wonder if the designer hadn't added that touch for the mocking design it was. Even the belt, wide and tight, pulled in like a clamp around my waist. It was the perfect touch for a visit to the new Knight-Commander's office.

It's been five years since I walked these halls and even now the curved walls remind me of blood and decay. It was my home from the age of five, but it never felt of home. Home is that unique sense of warmth and belonging that wraps you in comfortable peace. Home is the rooms filled with love and memories of a lover's soft kisses, a child's laugh or even tranquil fireside chats between spouses. Home is not a prison, where kisses are clandestine, laughter is as scarce as happy children and chats are quiet due to necessity.

My name is Alim Surana, I am a mage, and this was my home which was never a home.
In the walls I do not see the shimmer of pearl-colored stone; I see the blood of my brothers and sisters coursing down in great rivers of red pain. I see the flash of steel swords cleaving flesh from bone. And I hear screams of agony greeted by the icy stares of stoic holy knights and my own betrayal.

I touch my hand against the soft marble-like masonry and hope to let in the anger breathing in and out of the stone. I want the fury of a thousand deaths pulsing through my body when I meet with the new head of the Templar army. The last five years have been a million fleeting moments measured by each heartbeat since I last saw his face.

I wonder briefly, as I step into his office, if my heart will ever beat again.

Of the many regrets drowning in my black soul, the betrayal of my brothers and sisters of the Circle surfaces only occasionally. Somewhere in my mind, they dwell in a dark, muddy sinkhole closed off by threaded webs of denial and duty. The voices of Connor, my brethren, Isolde and so many others cry out for vengeance, but responsibility is a heavy, thick thread, and it can seal off the even the largest doorways. The accusing whispers have long since faded back into those dark recesses, and even today – standing in front of the reason for my treachery – I could not access them.

And I wanted to access them - to feel the bitter shame and disgrace of their denunciation. I needed their voices to muffle the fervor of racing blood pounding in my ears and hardening of my cock at the mere sound of his voice.

"Hello, Alim." My useless, traitorous body paid no heed to the caveat of warnings my mind hissed at it.

"Good to see you again, Cullen." And it was. So good to hear his voice lightly tickle over my ears. So good to trail my eyes down the hard set of his jaw, imagining my lips against the slight shadow of hair at his chin. So amazingly good to smell the pungent aroma of Lyrium, sweat and polished armor. And there was my heart, beating again suddenly – like the awakened gasp a drowned man.

Our hands did not shake in greeting, and I was grateful to hide the clammy, heated skin of my own palm. He went around the desk and sat on its edge crossing his arms. I marshaled my will into a direct gaze – eye-to-eye.

"From your letter I understand you are here for recruits. The king has ordered I acquiesce to any volunteers, but the right of conscription is also valid. I need not tell you that I disapprove."

"No." I murmured. "The wardens have been denied access to mages and Templars far too long, Cullen. While I would have as many recruits as possible, I shall endeavor to take just two mages and two Templars. It is my plan to pluck one each per year from your midst. By all rights I should take ten possible recruits back with me, but I'll not reduce the number of mages down to nil so quickly."

"You forget the reason there are but a handful of mages and apprentices in the Circle."

My eyes narrowed on his accusation. " I do not forget, Cullen."

"Knight-Commander Cullen."

My lips drew up on a sneer. "Knight-Commander Cullen." I stood corrected.

He appraised me for a moment, and the flare of his nostrils tickled something in my memory. A night when I was an apprentice, around fifteen, when I caught the young Templar staring at me, much like this, in open appraisal. Upon eye contact his nostrils had flared and my stomach had flipped, my smile had been genuinely pleased, but not returned. The young warrior had turned a spectacular shade of red and never made eye contact again.

I wasn't that naive boy today. Although he was the subject of a thousand fantasies, in a thousand solo moments in my tent, I wasn't about to be kissed and thrown against the wall - no matter how much I wished for it.

"Why did you come back here, Alim?" His voice was a whisper of a hundred questions, wrapped into one.

Why is the head of the Grey Wardens, here, instead of Waisshaupt – training? Why hadn't I sent a recruitment officer, as I had to the dwarves, Dalish and Denerim? Why was I here when I had so often spoken about this hated prison?

I blinked and made the mistake of dropping my gaze to his mouth. His tongue moved to wet his lips and some unseen force abruptly pushed my palms against his cheeks and my lips against his. His fingers were on my shoulders grasping and I expected to be thrust away, and slain instantly, but miraculously they dug into my skin and pulled me closer. And I was lost.

His lips softened under mine and opened, hesitantly. My tongue had little patience; it invaded his mouth seeking its forbidden, long-awaited taste. Lyrium, I tasted it immediately and the heady flavor whips through my veins drove my blood into impossibly fast rivers of lust.

He pulled me away and my voice cried out against the cold that envelops my wet lips.

"Lock the door." I stood there for a moment trying to comprehend the words which swam through the murky depths of passion. Lock the door. And somehow I moved away to do so.

As I turned back he was unbuckling his armor. My feet were heavy, leaden weights. With eyes wide I leaned back against the door and watched him methodically take off each piece of armor.

His gloves were softly laid on the table, my eyes followed his hands - the delicately haired fingers moved to undo his belt. I couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't function as this slow, torturous strip forced the air from my lungs and my heart into my throat.

He stood there allowing me to study every portion of his magnificent body and my eyes couldn't get enough. His muscled chest sprinkled with light reddish blond hair trailing down to the soft linen trousers which bulged with the weight of his own passion. The ridges trailing off into a v shaped arrow pointing at the subject of my every dream. My mouth watered.

In two steps he was against me, pinning my wrists at my side and nibbling at my neck. My knees went weak and every flick of tongue and teeth reduced my ability to stand on my own. When his hands rubbed over my own heavy bulge, I cried out his name.

"Shh. They can still hear through the door." His words were vibrating against my ear and I clamped down on my lips. Every hair on my body raised in awareness of his touch.

I had always thought of myself as the top, never once imagining this moment of utter capitulation under his masterful mouth. When his hand released mine and pushed the top of my head down, I didn't hesitate to pull down his trousers and take him into my mouth.

His velvet skin slid along the length of my tongue and I reveled in the sound of his ragged breathy response. My mouth held him completely, and slowly rocked and sucked until I feel him grow bigger. My hand enclosed around the base of him, and squeezed - stroking in small jerks, and my reward was the quiet gasp of my name. His breath became hitched as my mouth works faster, his hands digging into my hair and spurring me on. My own orgasm wanted to come before his, as I felt the pressure rise in my body. I wanted to stroke myself in time with my mouth's rhythms but my robe prevented the act. I'm desperate for his release as well as my own, when he pulled out and lifted me up to standing.

His mouth was against mine again, driving me to frenzied heights of excitement as he pressed me against the door. His mouth trailed along my jaw line and I momentarily smiled at the irony - the fact that I had only recently fantasized about doing just that to him.

"Bend over and put your hands on the desk." Again my mind had to fight in order to comprehend what he had said. When it did, my heart stopped. It wasn't until I was in position that it began to beat again, like a wild animal seeing the spear before death.

I wanted to look over my shoulder, but in the most incongruous paradox, I didn't want to look. When I felt his hands grip my robe and pull up, my eyes closed and I bit my lip on a smile.

He lifted it impossibly slow and my hips twitched involuntarily with want. His fingers slid against my sides and I felt the roll of the last bit of cloth slide down my legs.

When his first finger entered me, the host of sensations wracking my body overwhelmed my senses, and I sob out a moan. The second finger twisted in and I was filled with enough lust to dig my fingers into the wood of his desk, drawing blood. When his hard shaft replaced the fingers, my knees gave way, and it was only his arm encircling my waist which kept me from falling.

His first thrust was slow, agonizingly slow. It filled me completely before pulling out and plunging back in. The entries became deeper and faster driving me mad until my hips pushed back needing only the full feeling of him inside me. Each time he pulled out my body cried in loss until he drove into me again. The slapping of our bodies added another sensation to the whirl of emotions my body was battered by, and soon the pressure of my orgasm had become too much to hold.

The fevered pitch of his breathing became the catalyst and as my vision went white, my body tensed with devastating waves of pleasure. When his body tensed and drove into mine on a final cry, my own dam broke and exploded in great heaves onto my stomach and the desk.

Dimly, as the world came into focus, I was aware of splinters driving into my fingernails and blood dripping down my side from his nails. His chest pressed against my back, short breaths in my ears.

As I struggled to get control over my body, his hands softly slid down my sides and over my belly. I felt his lips against my shoulder and neck and tears pricked at my eyes.

I was turned around to face him, his lips capturing my tears and then my lips. And as I wrapped my arms around his waist I realized, finally, after more than twenty years, I was home.