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“I understand why he did it,” Fiona had said.

It went deeper than she would publicly admit. Fiona had been a Warden, just as Anders had. Both of them had gone from the isolating confines of the Circle to the solidarity of the Warden ranks, and both had since emerged from the Wardens’ apolitical fold. They both understood solidarity, sacrifice, and the means that were sometimes necessary to achieve a difficult end.

Such nuances would go over the heads of the First Enchanters if spoken aloud, however. The Circle wasn’t exactly an environment that fostered that sort of understanding. So among her fellow mages, Fiona usually said that her time with the Wardens supported mage freedom and left it at that.

Adrian, the representative of the Libertarian fraternity, soon proved to be an exception. Not long after the vote at Andoral’s Reach, Fiona found her crying alone in a corner.

“Is everything alright?” said the former Grand Enchanter, sitting beside Adrian.

The redheaded mage choked down a sob, her eyes widening as she wiped away tears. “Grand Enchanter?” Her tear-reddened eyes practically sparkled.

“The Circle is finished. ‘Fiona’ is fine,” she said, giving Adrian a small smile. “Thanks in no small part to you.”

Adrian smiled wearily, tears still leaking from her eyes. “That’s just it,” she said. “Rhys… he hates me for what I’ve done. Nearly pushed me off the roof. What you said, about Kirkwall… I think he was making the same comparison.” In response to Fiona’s raised eyebrows, she clarified, “It wasn’t Rhys who killed Pharamond. It was me, and I framed him because I thought it would change Wynne’s mind if the templars threatened someone she loved.”

Fiona nodded sadly. “I understand,” she whispered. After looking around to be sure that they were alone, she continued, “My time with the Wardens did more than support mage freedom. It taught me that sometimes, to achieve a higher goal, sacrifices must be made to ensure the group’s success. That is why I mentioned Kirkwall. Anders is a Warden just as I was, and his sacrifice was one typical of the Wardens.”

Something unspoken passed between them then. Fiona was no longer a Warden, and Adrian had never been, but it was a feeling not unlike the synchronization of Wardens in battle. Solidarity.

Adrian smiled. “If Rhys is comparing himself to the Champion of Kirkwall, he might want to rethink the comparison. Things happened a lot differently between him and Anders than between Rhys and me.”

Fiona smiled as well, recalling stories of the mage heroes running off into the sunset together as fighting erupted in the backdrop. “I cannot claim to have known Rhys for as long or as well as you have,” she said, “but I assure you, the head he uses for thinking is not the one on his shoulders.”

Adrian laughed, the last of her tears drying as she stood up. “Thank you, Fiona. For everything.”

“A pleasure, Adrian.” Fiona rose to her feet as well. Being the figurehead of a rebellion was a precarious thing, but it helped to know that there was at least one person who wholeheartedly shared her views. Someone she could always fall back on.