Summary: Because sugar can't cure everything.
Spoilers: Start with the mage origin and make your way through the rest of the game.
Notes: There's something interesting about what ifs.
If I could have just a taste of you
Would I be addicted?
If I could have just a touch of you
Could I tear myself away?
--Lorna Vallings, Taste
Chapter One: Sweetened Milk
Alistair's weakness is sugar, sweetness. He laces everything with sugar or honey or syrup, even his soup. He accepts tea, but puts spoonful after spoonful of sugar in it, then drowns the rest of it with sweetened milk. When he finds out that Leliana has hard sweets from Orlais, he trades his favorite amulet for it.
When he dies, Amell takes over his vice. She always carries a bag of sugar and a jar of honey in her pack. She hates the way her teeth ache when she drinks her tea, but she still adds milk. She eats so much of it that she thinks her blood must taste like raw sugar at this point, and she's surprised that she hasn't attracted the entire remaining Darkspawn population (not to mention a vampire or two).
They say that time heals all wounds, but it's a lie, and, in truth, Amell likes to interchange "time" with "sweets," because she hopes that they'll all go to her hips and her thighs, and she'll be too unfit to be a Grey Warden—too out of shape to be something that resembles Alistair's pride.
"It wouldn't matter," Leliana says, as Amell carefully chooses some chocolates from a confectionary. "You're a mage. Any extra weight would be hidden by your robes."
Zevran shrugs. "Eh, I like a girl who has something to sway when she walks away."
But trying to recruit new Grey Wardens is exercise, and she actually loses weight, which is frustrating, and Amell goes on a sugar diet, dipping her fruits in chocolate and drizzling her toast with honey.
It makes her sick, but so does Alistair's death.
They say you can always go home, but Amell has no home. Yes, there is the Tower, but it's caving in on itself. There's hardly a gaggle of mages left, and Wynn has her hands full without having to worry about one moody Grey Warden who is trying to eat herself to death.
She's in a town south of Redcliffe when she hears the words: mage-killer. There's a dough in front of her, fried, laced with sugar, and it's delicious, but the two men next to her talk loudly.
Amell stopped wearing her robes. They felt like chains, dragging her down. A reminder her magic could not fix everything: not Alistair, not what he left of her. Instead she's dressed in light, leather armor, a gift from Zevran.
She doesn't look like a mage, but she is. If anything, she supposes, her staff gives it away, like a beacon.
"They say he's a Templar," one man says. "But—Templars don't just go around like…like mercenaries, do they?"
"Perhaps he's a Grey Warden?" another says. "They've been building up. Maybe one of them went crazy."
Amell twitches. She would know if a Grey Warden was going around killing mages.
The two men are looking at her, and Amell sighs. They know. Whether she's a mage or a Grey Warden, they know something. Next time she'll leave her staff in a ditch. In the middle of a forest. With a terminate infestation.
She leaves money on the counter, takes one last bite of her food, and gets up.
This was what living was like. It was staying behind. It was letting the only man you ever loved sacrifice himself so you could live. Why? Because you became a Warden three months later than he did?
Because you're a coward, and you cried.
Amell closes her eyes and whispers to herself, words of magic roll of her tongue, and she feels her skin harden. Time to get rid of a mage-killer.
She's told he's staying at the town inn, a two-bedroom shack on the very edge of the map's border. She can see Redcliffe Castle from its doorstep, and she wonders if someone would give her a home there. Perhaps Bann Teagen who has eyes the color of warm caramel, and a loyalty that could rival her own.
The innkeeper has no qualms about letting her through. Rumors fly fast in a town like this, and the innkeeper doesn't want any trouble (although a gold coin or two will do nicely). Amell gives her three, since she'll bill it to the Grey Wardens anyway.
The door is unlocked, which is good, because Amell would have kicked it down anyway. A trick Alistair showed her, just exactly where to hit, even if you were wearing dainty boots. Nobody makes a good door any more, he would say.
Her breath hitches, because the room is tiny, and there's a shield by the door, and it has the Templar's crest, and it looks exactly like Alistair's did before he took Duncan's.
Electricity courses down her fingertips, and the air becomes tight. Her heart is beating with the sparks.
He's sitting in front of the fire, his back to her. But she notices the broad shoulders, weighed down by the weight of his armor. She doesn't miss the Templar's sash around his waist; she has one just like it in her pack.
"I hear you like mages," she says, because that's the only war cry you can give when you have no army.
He tenses, his fingers brushing the hilt of his sword, and then he stands up.
Amell thinks the sugar must have finally caused something in her brain to explode, because she knows him, and she wants to cry and run away and laugh all at the same time.
"Cullen," she says, settling for the obvious.
The mage-killer pales. But it's only for a second, and then he has his sword out, and she's pinned to the wall.
Electricity sparks around them, but it doesn't touch her skin. He's staring at her, and he looks lost.
So she zaps him.