Hello! So I've finally broken down and decided to try and write a full-out fic rather than little one shots. Basically, I am a fairly light-hearted person; this fic will have silliness and jokes and innuendo that will make Alistair blush fifteen shades of red. It will be sexual a lot of the time due to the PC. That's just who she is. That being said, however, it will hit a particularly dark path for one chapter which I will be sure to post avid warnings about.

There will be smut (c'mon, it's Zevran) eventually and fluff as well, but Zev's not going to be around for a little while yet. When he does show up, the story will occasionally be told from his POV as well. Most of this story will take place during travel time and camp with musings about decisions. I'm going to avoid game dialogue where I can, sometimes warping it, as well. I'll be more inclined to use the banter straight from the game, though.

Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Age nor its characters; that's all BioWare.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the following people from NSAS: lyss, spamhead, RShara, and especially Calla, along with Lucy and Arlana from the Alistair and Zev Fanclub.

You've all supported me enough to want to do this. HUGS FOR YOU!

p.s. Extra hugs for Calla/Hermia for putting up with me bouncing ideas off her.

p.p.s. Italicized bits on their lonesome = inner thoughts.

Catherine Amell looked from side to side before discreetly sliding out from a storage room on the second level of the Tower. Daintily, she wiped the corners of her mouth, shifting her robes by rolling her shoulders and shimmying about to correct them. A man – what was his name? David? Damon? - quickly sneaked out behind her, brushing off his clothing as well.

They looked at each other for a moment before smirking; the man gave her an appreciative pat on the behind and went on his way, not sparing her a second glance. Catherine's self-satisfied grin only widened as she made her way back to the apprentice's quarters.

He was a particularly talented man; not the best, certainly, nor the most giving, but she had to take what she could get. Quite easily, she could get whatever man or woman she wanted. Catherine was beautiful, but more importantly, she was exotic.

She surmised her parents were Rivaini, or at least, they descended from them. Her skin was a dull sepia; face accented with high cheekbones, full lips, pointed chin, and a defined jawline. Catherine was a tiny thing, though; shorter than many elves, even. Men seemed to like that about her – well, that and her curves. With eyes of chocolate and thick, wavy ebony hair that she kept tied in a loose bun, she painted a lovely picture.

Having beauty was a gift in the prison she called home; she could get away with things no one else could, get to places off limits. Templars didn't notice that you went overboard with your magics if they were staring at your chest when you 'forgot' to button it all the way.

Other apprentices were jealous of her; she was Irving's pet and easily one of the most talented apprentices in the Tower, perhaps even of the mages. Catherine reveled in it. For good or for ill, she was who she was; a powerful, beautiful bitch that deserved far better than being locked away in some stupidly tall Tower that was probably chosen just so the Chantry could overcompensate.

Only good thing about the Chantry – or more specifically, the Templars – was the fact that she was surrounded by sexually repressed young men. That equaled easily flustered, and that equaled entertainment.

It took all of Catherine's willpower to straighten her face as she came up to the apprentice's dorms – more importantly, to Cullen. He was always stuck on 'whelp guarding' after dinner, and she took advantage of that almost every day.

"H-Hello, Catherine." The templar stammered in his usual way of greeting as she closed in on him. "I-it's nice t-to see you. D-done with d-dinner already?"

"Oh, you could say that." Catherine replied innocently, before raking her eyes up and down his armor-clad form. "I could definitely do with something more... filling, though."

His Adam's apple bobbed in a hard swallow. Innocent Chantry boy or no; you'd have to be deaf or stupid not to hear the innuendo. She was capable of subtle flirting when it was needed, but Cullen required the more obvious approach.

Cullen cleared his throat and attempted to smile through an impressive blush; sweat already beading at his forehead. "I-I'm sorry. That you ha-haven't gotten enough." he said, voice breaking spectacularly. "To eat. I m-mean."

Catherine put on her best 'sweet girl' smile. "I don't suppose you have anything to sate my rather... vociferous appetite?"

Oh, dear; I've never seen that shade of purple before.

The flustered Templar just made several strangled noises before clenching his eyes shut and murmuring one of the canticles from the Chant under his breath.

Satisfied with a job well done, Catherine laughed sweetly and patted him on the forearm, promising to 'see him tomorrow' as she entered the dorm. Most apprentices were still out eating, so she was happily alone for the next half an hour. It was purposeful; solitude in the Tower was a precious, rare and fragile thing that she clung onto every second, not unlike someone savoring what they knew could be their last meal.

The young mage swerved her way through the bunks effortlessly, quickly reaching hers with a happy sigh. Ducking her head to avoid the upper bunk, Catherine laid herself down on the thin, prickly mattress and let a small smile creep onto her lips.

It was this time she let herself be a child; a silly adolescent girl who didn't have magic powers that brought Sin unto the world, or Templars eager to run her through. To that end, she lifted up the scratchy sheets that covered her bunk and dug through the straw, wincing and cursing until finally letting out a small whoop when her fingers grasped her prize.

Her prize being a small book – barely as large as her hand. It was bound in cracked, dull leather with a rusty but still usable lock, paper corners haphazardly poked out from various spaces and it smelled of dust and of age. The poor, abused bundle of yellowed paper and leather settled in her lap and limply fell open to the forty-seventh page. Catherine's favorite; she had looked at this illustration at least once every day since Irving had given it to her when she was barely six years old – twelve years ago.

Fingers traced the image in a tender caress; an obvious ritual, should anyone had witnessed it. The drawing was beautiful; lush green foothills covered in tall stalks of grass that would tickle your skin, wildflowers dotted the landscape like jewels and the sun was setting making the sky a wondrous mix of orange, goldenrod, and blood red.

She'd never leave the Tower; never see something like that picture with her own eyes. It made her moments of solitude bitter and acidic, but she never once missed the chance to scan over the illustration of her hopes and dreams.

Perhaps she was just a masochist, but every time she went to set the damnable, taunting thing on fire the spell just wouldn't come. Irving had told her that Greagoir had demanded that such books be locked away lest the mages get ideas about getting free; after all, it's hard to long for freedom when you have no idea what it looks like, but he had given that book to her, despite it all. Other, similar readings had been locked away as ordered. Catherine had no idea why. The First Enchanter knew her quite well; he had to know that it would just irritate her, and irritable mages caused trouble.

Sighing, she shook her head in an attempt to clear her mind. Idly she flipped through the other drawings - of mountains, a village, meadows, cities, and one of a harbor. Her mind wandered gleefully, desperately trying to conjure the feeling of wind and the smell of life with nothing feed her fantasies.

It was useless, she knew. The pungent smell of unwashed robes mixed unpleasantly with heavily scented oils that the women tended to favor, with an added layer of dry parchment for flavor, of course.

The low murmurs of apprentices brought her back to reality; she slid her torturous window to the world back under her bed, sparing a punch for her lumpy pillow before she righted herself back onto her mattress, glaring up at the top bunk as if it were the cause of all her woes.

"Didn't see you at dinner, Cat." the familiar, nasal voice of Jowan stated, pulling her firmly from her reverie. "You really shouldn't skip meals like that, you know. You're all bony as it is."

Catherine snorted, waving her hand dismissively as he sat on the edge of her bed. "You're one to talk."

Her dear friend just grinned and poked her in the ribs. "So who was he?"

She rolled her eyes and turned over to her side, propping her head up on a hand. "Good question. Damon, I think? Something like that." she said, shrugging.

Jowan's brow furrowed. "You ever think about, you know, finding someone." he said wistfully. "I mean... the one. You could settle down with some nice bloke..."

Catherine cocked her head as best she could in her position. "What, you mean love?" she scoffed. "Doesn't happen for people like us, Jowan."

He nodded dejectedly. "I know. That doesn't mean we don't think about it. Or want it."

"All right, spill it. Who're you all wistful about all the sudden?" she teased. "And please warn me before you go off on one of your romantic tirades, please, I may become ill!" Catherine clutched her stomach for effect and dramatically plopped onto her back again.

Jowan let out a long-suffering sigh, but his mouth was twitching. "You're terrible, Cat." She grinned and motioned for him to go on. "I... met this girl, is all. I like her. A lot." he murmured, hands wringing.

"Okay... so, what? You need help knowing what goes where? 'Cause I can--"

"Maker! Catherine!" he said exasperatedly, voice breaking with embarrassment. "That's not what I meant. Honestly, don't you think about anything else?"

"Yes, yes; forgive me for trying to be a good friend and make sure you're well-educated" she replied, kicking him in his bony rump; he grunted and smacked the offending appendage. "So. Met a girl. Like her. When do I get to approve of this lady?"

Jowan looked at her then, eyes soft and lips curved into a small, warm smile. "I knew you cared, Cat."

She chuckled and kicked him again. "Yes, of course I do. Now go to sleep, I wouldn't want you to collapse during your classes tomorrow" she replied in her best 'old biddy' voice.

He laughed and patted her leg before climbing up to his bunk with a final 'Good night, Cat'. The hushed whispers and giggles died down soon after. Lamps were doused, and almost immediately there was just the occasional sound of someone shifting on their sheets.

Catherine just continued to stare up at the top of her bunk, mind wandering. She was happy for Jowan. For all the teasing he puts up with, he deserved to find love; one of the few who truly deserved it, whatever it was.

She knew she should be jealous that her friend had found such a supposedly glorious and pure emotion – all women are supposed to covet that inexplicable emotion, weren't they? - but she found she was indifferent. No point in longing for what she would never experience.

With a yawn, she curled into herself, not bothering to wriggle herself under the scratchy covers. As her eyelids fluttered close and the Fade called to her, she thought of green hills and gem stone flowers and freedom.