Usual copyright stuff; Bioware owns Leliana, Dragonage, ect.


Castle Redcliffe was, as well as very large, well fortified and even (despite the recent events) well staffed. It was also bloody cold, as it's guests had discovered when the snow had fallen during the night. Fortunately the normal residents already knew, so when the cold greeted Kallian and her dysfunctional family thick clothes and warm furs were already waiting in their rooms. A fact Leliana was very grateful for, thick clothes and a fur scarf wrapped around her neck as she walked one of the many large corridors of the castle. Kallian had intended for them to merely stay the night after returning with the ashes of Andraste, but Alistair had silently pleaded to have a few days to talk to his adoptive father, and their elven leader had caved almost instantly. Then the snow had hit a few days later and that was that: they were going to be staying for a while longer.

Their own winter clothing was worse for wear anyway, after Haven and the high dragon... just the thought of that massive creature made Leliana's hair stand, refusing to let her thoughts drift to the battle, refusing to shake as she recalled the aftermath. Instead she decided to think about the upcoming celebration. Both Arl Eamon and Bann Teagan had agreed that after everything that had happened to Redcliffe and her people, they deserved to celebrate that at least some of the suffering was over and that their Arl was recovered. A chance to forget about the Blight-at least for a night.

It also meant she was assigned with a task by her hostess. Lady Isolde had quickly picked up on who Kallian was close to, and so Leliana had been taken to one side a few hours ago for a simple instruction, one that coincided with Wynne's to an extent: find Kallian, in Isolde's case to come for an emergency dress adjustment for the night's celebrations. While Leliana could simply wear one of Isolde's old dresses, Kallian was, proportionally, less adult and more teenager. The personal knowledge that she was one drew a grim smile across her mouth as she entered another corridor and walked down the flight of stairs at the end of them, the small bag Wynne had given her swinging in her hand.

She eventually found her quarry perched on one of the benches by the fire in the main reception hall, where the possessed Conner had first been met. Sitting on the table, feet on the wooden slats she was supposed to sit on, Brutus was dozing while she was quietly munching on an apple, gazing blankly into the fire, the furs lent to her by her side, unneeded in the orange heat. Sitting next to her, her own legs dangling off the end and booted toes scraping the stone floors, Leliana turned her head to her leader and friend.

"Copper for your thoughts?"

Kallian gave a faint smile.

"I think my back's cold. So, what's up my friend? You have that 'I want to talk to you' look on your face," Leliana gave her a slightly uneasy smile as she stood.

"It's time."

Nodding, Kallian tossed the remains of her apple into the fire, hopping down off the table. When she landed she froze, arm shooting out to grab the edge of the table, hissing with visible pain on her face. Brutus' head was instantly raised, whining inquisitively after his mistress. Leliana merely looked on with muted concern. Kallian started to make her way out of the room, so the bard walked by her side, an unspoken offer of literal support. Kallian chose to ignore it and talk instead.

"So, what's got you so uneasy? Oghren trying to find out what you wore in the chantry again? Morrigan threatening to blow up someone or something annoying her?" Her cheeky smile became a thoughtful look as her eyes unfocused slightly in thought, even as they walked back to her room. "I wonder if Morrigan's shifted into a bear again..."

Leliana's smile became wider at the memory of Kallian hugging a visible chagrined Morrigan in bear-form. "Want a teddy to keep the cold away again?" Her friend chuckled.

"I never had one. I've got Brutus to hug at night though, I suppose."

'And three people willing to take his place,' Leliana's mind snarked, though she held her tongue. Kallian knew that already; herself, Alistair and Zevran were all interested in her but she wasn't doing anything. It was maddening; after the initial shock of Leliana's confession, Kallian had returned almost to normal with her, except for no longer seeking her out when she was bathing. No discouragement, no encouragement, nothing.

Very frustrating.

Still, ever the optimist, Leliana took comfort at the fact she hadn't been shunned, even as she feared that Kallian was, like she suspected with Alastair, merely waiting for the right time to say she wasn't interested. Such thoughts were pushed aside when they entered Kallian's room however. Sitting on the edge of her bed the elf unceremoniously grabbed the hem of her tunic and gently pulled it up until the bottom of her sling bra and the undersides of her gentle swells were showing. Below that however, was single mass of bruised flesh that ended at her hips, covered in bandages that she was already undoing, Leliana meanwhile retrieving fresh bandages and salves from the bag. While the pile of used bandages steadily grew Leliana applied the healing salves Morrigan and Wynne had created to the new bandages, waiting for Kallian to finish unwrapping the old bandages, whimpering quietly at the occasional pull when dried salve refused to come away from the tender skin. Finally however, she was done, and Leliana knelt down on the floor in between the elf's legs.

"Are you ready? The salve will be cold," Leliana warned. Kallian nodded, tensing with a quiet hiss as the salve coated bandages made contact with bruised skin. Trying to keep her back straight Kallian reached out and grabbed Leliana's shoulder with her hands for support, refusing to cry out in pain as her friend wrapped them around her body, gritting her teeth when she tightened the final bandages to secure them, her breathing becoming shallow as the pain mounted. The knowledge that this would be the final time she'd have to do this kept her from complaining to Leliana. Once she'd got the pain under control and blinked the tears out of her eyes she realised Leliana was trembling.

"Are you al right Leliana?" The trembling stopped after the first word, and Leliana raised her head with a smile that was as pleasant as it was fake.

"I'm fine my friend."

About to call her out on her obvious lie, knocking at the door interrupted them.

"Come in" Kallian snapped, pulling her tunic down with a little too much force, reminding her of her injuries.

The door opened, revealing Bann Teagan. "My lady, I was wondering if you..." his voice drifted off as he took in the sight of Leliana between her legs, the pile of bandages on the bed and Kallian's slightly flushed face.

Leliana stood, pointedly ignoring the questioning look of the Bann as her friend explained. "Leliana just helped me with new bandages."

"You are injured?" Teagan's concerned face drew a small smile from Leliana. Alistair was definitely his nephew.

"It's just bruises. The salve will take care of it in a few hours."

"You should have seen what she was like before..." Leliana muttered darkly to herself. Kallian ignored her, while Teagan apparently didn't hear. With a smile born of those who are confident in their own abilities, Teagan spoke. "I was wondering if you would like to accompany me to the castle gardens? The snow has made them quite beautiful."

And there it was. Tensing ever so slightly, idly toying with a lock of hair, Kallian gave a shy look to one side, or at least, that was what it would have been to Teagan. In reality, she was looking at the mirror on the dresser behind the door, at Leliana's reflection. Seeing the worry in her elven companion's eyes, Leliana 'interrupted' Kallian's reply. "Of course," she cooed with sincerity, "we would love to see them," ever the polite host, the look of annoyance on Teagan's face was less than a flicker, "wouldn't we Kallian?" Grateful for the help, Kallian nodded back at her happily as she gathered her warm clothes. "Yeah, it'd be great."

As they began to walk the stone corridors to the garden, Kallian walked by Teagan's side, extending a hand to Leliana who was slightly behind the pair. While Kallian was paying attention to Teagan, Leliana took her hand and felt a small squeeze in gratitude before it returned to the elf's side. She couldn't help but giggle as she watched the pair in front of her. She never really appreciated how small Kallian was; she came up to her own nose, but it was against men that she truly grasped it. She just reached chest height for Teagan.

"So tell me, how are you ladies finding the castle, now things are getting back to normal?"

"It's certainly an improvement," Kallian dead panned. Teagan gave a grim chuckle.

"Indeed it is." He turned to look into Kallian's eyes. "And all because of you."

"I didn't do it alone..." she muttered, breaking eye contact and holding her left arm with her right behind her back. Unaware of his companion's discomfort, the man continued; "It truly is a fine building, is it not?"

"You'll forgive me if I don't share the enthusiasm," Kallian coolly replied. "I've only visited two Arl estates and neither were exactly for the right reasons." Not meeting Teagan's puzzled gaze, Kallian amended herself. "At least, not at first for Redcliffe. The others get to rest and I get to heal."

"Ah yes, your injury. I may ask, how did-"

"I got them finding the ashes." Her voice made it clear that was all she'd say on the matter.

Leliana interjected, fearing offence to their hosts. "The circumstances were... not pleasant," she added. Not pleasant indeed. She still remembered the blood. No stranger to traumatic battles, Teagan's face hardened as he looked over his shoulder to look at the bard, and nodded grimly.

With that the three walked in silence until they came to a pair of large oak doors, almost black with age. Taking one of the door rings and twisting, Teagan pulled the door open, the metal hinges creaking loudly in protest. The cold air hit them like a wall but despite that and her injuries, Kallian practically bound out into the garden, followed by Leliana. Blinking in the suddenly bright light, Leliana gasped quietly in admiration, feeling vaguely guilty for playing gooseberry. "It is indeed very beautiful Bann Teagan."

It was large courtyard garden, a path around the outskirts of the garden hidden between a tall hedge and the walls of the castle, with box hedges and benches, a statue-possibly a fountain-in the middle. There were a few bushes but any grass or flowerbeds were hidden under untouched snow.

"Leliana's right. Thank you for showing us such a lovely thing." For the first time in several weeks, Leliana saw a genuine smile on her elven friend's face.

Closing the heavy door behind him, the man smiled amiably. "If I may be so bold, it is not as lovely as the company I am present with."

Leliana turned on a heel and giggled. "My, aren't we the flatterer?" Out of the corner of her eye she noted Kallian walking along a path parallel to one of the box hedgerows.

"It is not flattery if it is true," the Bann countered.

"I suppose not," the bard mock pondered, before turning to catch up with her friend, who'd swept the snow off a bench and was sitting down, enjoying the sight of the garden. Teagan merely smiled and walked slowly after them. Sitting down next to her, Leliana lent over, whispering "Alistair's tastes in women seems to run in the family" into her friends ear with a giggle. Kallian gave a muffled groan into the furs covering everything below her eyes.

"I don't have the energy to deal with this..."

"You'll be fine, don't worry." Kallian gave her a questioning look. Not replying, Leliana stood as Teagan approached the pair.

"I feel thirsty, I'm going to get get a drink," she remarked happily, spinning on her heel as she passed Teagan to give Kallian a wink that both saw. To the noble it was 'Go get him' but the elf knew what it really meant.

Snow crunching under her feet as she walked out of sight around the corner of the thick hedge, she walked up to the door and pulled it open, before closing it with a loud bang. Having not actually stepped through it, she sneaked, taking care to step on the already crushed snow, to the snowless path behind the hedge, quickly and quietly sneaking up to where she thought the bench was. Listening for nearly a minute she was worried she'd misjudged her hiding spot, until Kallian's sarcasm cut through the stillness.

"Well. That was subtle."

Leliana heard Teagan chuckle. "In truth, I am glad she left us alone. I have wanted to talk to you for these past few days. Perhaps, if you are willing, we might continue our conversation in the church all those nights ago?"

Ah yes, 'that talk'. Alistair had been positively steaming with jealousy when Kallian had flirted with Teagan. The rogue hadn't even realised they'd been flirting, of course, which made it all the funnier to Leliana. The two on the bench made small-talk with each other for a while: Teagan did anyway. Kallian never spoke more than half a dozen words in any reply, something the Bann eventually commented on.

"Do I make you nervous, my lady"

"You make me self conscious. We know I'm no lady."

"A Lady is not only defined by her birth, but also her actions. At risk of sounding confrontational, you avoid the question." There were a few seconds silence as the elf contemplated her answer.

"I grew up in Denerim's alienage. Humans..." whatever Kallian was going to say trailed off. "Well. Suffice to say, human men make me nervous."

"...I see." Teagan sounded disappointed. "I was afraid that it might be so. I do not travel into Denerim often, but when I do I hear rumours of the poverty of Denerim's Alienage. Most f the rumours I heard were mostly gossip however, some of them were most distasteful. Most of the rumours involving elves I heard however of was malicious gossip involving the late Arl's son, Bann Vaughan-have... have I spoken out of tone milady?" Anxiety in his voice, Leliana could see it perfectly in her minds eye, Kallian tensing at that man's name being mentioned.

"What did you think of Bann Vaughan?" Kallian's voice had become the Grey Warden's.

"He was cordial enough whenever I met him at gatherings but..." the noble hesitated. "I know it is wrong to speak ill of the dead, and I hope you don't think less of me for doing so, milady. However, there were... the rumours. Unpleasant rumours that never seemed to die down, and my instinct always felt his pleasant disposition masked his true nature. I've learned to trust my instincts." Leliana let out a quiet breath she didn't even realise she was holding and felt her muscles relax.

"However," the Bann continued, "his death was most shockingly in its brutality. Whatever my own feelings, he did not deserve such a barbaric-"

"I met him, you know," Kallian interrupted.

"You...you did?" Teagan's surprised curiosity evident in his voice.

"Mmhm," Kallian nodded (Or at least, Leliana assumed.) "I met him on my wedding day."

"Your... your wedding day? Forgive me milady, I was not aware that you were, um..." For the first time she'd met him, Leliana heard Bann Teagan flustered as her own eyes widened. Surely Kallian wasn't...

"I'm not married," his companion interrupted. Leliana felt her skin crawl; Kallian was doing that glassy voice again. "He gatecrashed the wedding just before our vows were made, kidnapped me, my cousin and most of the female wedding guests and... well. To make a long tale short, my fiancée died in the confusion after rescuing me, and by the time I found my cousin, Bann Vaughan and his friends had raped her. So I killed them."

Another pregnant pause.

"Thinking back on it, I dare say he'd probably have waited until just after the ceremony if he knew how close I was to being married." Decidedly not liking where the conversation was going, Leliana started to make for the door. "The sick bastard would probably have got a kick out of raping a newly-wed..." was the last she heard before leaving earshot of the two. Almost running to the door, she made a point to open it as loudly as she could, and slamming it with a booming thud that echoed across the halls and garden. Turning around and walking back along the path, she gave the two a pleasant smile, feigning ignorance of what she'd heard.

"Bann Teagan, is something wrong?" she asked, faking curiosity at Teagan's slightly pale complexion and visibly disturbed face. With a jolt he pulled himself together almost immediately, assuring the bard he was all right.

"If you would not mind, my lord, I wish to discuss something with Kallian." Seeing Leliana's face, he understood her meaning, and nodded, standing up. "Very well. I shall leave you ladies to it." Turning to look at Kallian, who was gazing out across the snow, he added "Miss Tabris has... given me much to think upon. Good day, ladies."

Once he'd left, Leliana sat down next to her friend. Said elf took her friends gloved hand and gave it a squeeze. "Thanks."

Leliana smiled. "No problem. If I may ask though... why did you tell him?"

Kallian turned. "You mean about my past?" A nod. The elf sighed. "I talked with Oghren, after the gauntlet. About what he said. What he said there, it... made me realise I've got to..." she pondered the right words, "let go, I guess. I need to stop letting the memories control me." By the way her eyes crinkled, Leliana knew Kallian was smiling underneath that fur. "Don't drink Oghren's brew by the way. I had one mouthful and was on my back out cold."

The women shared a giggle for a few moments, before. Looking at her elven friend she felt the anger bubble up again with the memories of the battle outside the gauntlet.

"I'm still upset with you."

The elf blinked. "What do you mean?" confusion in her voice.

"Do you truly not have any idea how much you frightened m-us? If Sten and Oghren hadn't struck the high dragon when it... if Wynn hadn't been there to stabilise you..." Leliana trailed off, taking Kallian's hand in her own. The memory of running to the elf's motionless broken body lying in the rapidly melting snow, her hot blood soaked through it... The memory of cradling her as she trembled and sobbed, Wynn and Morrigan working furiously to save their leader, unaware of the others-even Sten-looking on with worry, her own clothes and armour ruined by the blood soaking into them... the memories were just too much.

Her source of distress gave a nervous smile. "I don't think we'll be fighting any more High Dragons for a while Lelian-AH!" she squirmed as the human's grip on her hand became a vice.

"I mean it Kallian. I..." Leliana swallowed. "I don't know what-" she caught herself in time. "What we'd do without you. Don't take any more risks like that, please."

Kallian stared into her lap. The answer failed to appear in it. "I can't promise that." She finally spoke, looking to Leliana. "But... I promise I'll try not to, Leliana."

The bard smiled, releasing her hand. "Thank you." Sitting like that for a long time, the silence grew until Leliana broached the question that had been nagging her mind: "So... you're going to tell Alistair?"

The confidence visibly drained out of Kallian. Lying back against the bench, she let her head fall back so she was gazing at the clouded sky, part of her throat peeking from between her scarf. Leliana had to squash the urge to kiss it.

"I..." the rogue gave a snort. "Heh. I'm a coward. I still can't face the idea of telling him... and I know Oghren will blab it out while he's pissed out of his tiny mind, or more likely Teagan will, if I don't." A bitter chuckle came from the scarf. "If that wasn't why he ran off when you 'interrupted' us." Leliana chewed her bottom lip in thought. As much as she didn't want to she had to face facts. Kallian had rejected her and her confession, that much was clear with her ignoring of it ever happening. It hurt, but she couldn't say she didn't expect it. Kallian was not the first woman to spurn her advances, and she probably wouldn't be the last either.

Besides, the romantic in her could see it now; the knight (Even if he isn't one, her cynic pointed out bitterly) sweeping the hurt and abused maiden off her feet and showing her how to trust and love again (Even if it was you that did it, her cynic pointed out again) and the pair living happily ever after. (If only they could get over the first bloody hurdle. But, that's where you come in, isn't it?)

"Do you want me to tell him?" The red-headed rogue stilled slightly, gazing out the corner of her eye at Leliana.

"... I should be the one to tell him. It's partly why I told Oghren and Teagan; help pressure me into it."

"Pressure you into what?" a new voice asked, causing the two women to jump.

"Alastair!?" Kallian shrieked in surprise; they'd been so absorbed with their talk they must have missed the noise of the door.

"Um... yes?" Standing there with two cups of something steaming, he had that endearingly awkward look on his face. "I... brought soup. Should I... come back anther time or something?"

"No Alistair, don't worry," Leliana smiled, ignoring Kallian's furtive panicked gaze. "Come, sit with us." Grinning at the invitation he sat down in the only available place: next to Kallian. Sandwiched between the two humans, Kallian visibly tensed again, accepting the cup of soup without a word, gazing down into her lap. As the second cup passed her vision she looked up, between the two humans. Sure enough, Alistair had given them both to herself and Leliana. Without a word she practically shoved her own back into Alistair's hand before nearly jumping up off the bench.

"I-I'll go get myself some." As Alistair began to protest she cut him off. "No, you should have one. And besides..." Kallian's emerald eyes locked with Leliana's blue. "Leliana has something to tell you. Sort of. Possibly. If she wants." Before either human could respond she turned and practically ran.

"... I wish she wouldn't do that," Alistair muttered dejectedly.

"Avoid you?" Leliana guessed as she moved over so she was sitting next to him. She received a morose nod.

"Does she hate me Leliana?" He took a melancholic sip from the his cup. "She's always so shy around me for some reason. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. Every time I try to show her I want to be her friend she does something like.... something like this."

"Alistair, we both know you wish to be more than her friend." The templar gazed at Leliana and blinked as the back of his mind realised he'd seen that look before; on Zevran's face when they were arguing over their leader and her affections. He blinked again and the look was gone.

"Yes," he sighed, "Yes, I do. But she keeps running from me like that," he complained gesturing vaguely at the path Kallian had scurried down. " I just wish I understood her..." Chewing her lower lip, Leliana decided.

"Alistair..."

*


*

By the time she'd finished giving Alistair a 'sanitised' version of Kallian's reasons for becoming a Grey Warden their soup had lost much its heat, and Alistair was trembling in rage, his eyes hard.

"...and Kallian wasn't... hurt?" he asked, voice deadly calm.

"She has not said so, no." Some of the tension left Alistair's shoulders.

"But she's scared of me. Scared I'll...." Alistair swallowed as he tested the words, "rape her." the concept clearly sickening him.

"No Alistair..." Leliana took his hand in one of her own and gave him a sympathetic smile. "She does not truly think so. She has said to me herself that it is foolish. We both know however, that some events in our lives leave scars."

Alistair stared at the snow between his feet, ashen faced. "I can see why you're so protective of her." he thought aloud. Considered her words in silence for what seemed an age, he stood. "I need to go think," he muttered, walking away. "I-I'll see you later tonight Leliana."

Watching the young man's retreating form the bard sighed. 'That went as well as it could have,' she thought, 'all things considered.' Taking a sip from the soup she shook her head; it had lost its heat, and she was cold. Pouring it into the hedge she made her way back inside, hoping she'd made the right decision telling Alistair. 'A bit late to have second thoughts, Leliana" she chastised herself, shoving the heavy door open. It was only after she'd walked down the corridor and looked into the main hall, seeing the servants preparing for the night's celebrations she remembered Lady Isolde's request.

"Damnation!"

*


*

Later that evening, after locating Kallian and an emergency adjustment, said elf and Leliana were in her room, preparing themselves for the dinner. Or at least, Leliana (who was already styled, and just needed to put on her dress ) was trying to prepare Kallian.

"Hold still!"

"I'm trying."

"You mustn't 'try' you simply 'must'." she tutted, sliding another hairpin into her friend's hair.

"Can I open my eyes yet?"

"Maker's breath Kallian, you're like child!" Leliana paused. "I suppose that in some countries, you actually are."

"I'm sorry Leliana," the rogue apologised with a smile, "It's just I've never worn make-up or dresses before." A wistful, slightly pained smile appeared her face. Well... except for... you know."

Leliana paused her hairstyling long enough to give her friend a supportive squeeze on her shoulder, before resuming. "If only we both had more hair," the bard sighed, "I could style us in some Orlesian fashions."

"Just so long as birds aren't involved," Kallian smiled. "I used to have more hair... all the way past my waist. I'd never had it cut, since I was born." The elf's voice became sad as she remembered. "I cut it for the first time on the way to Ostagar. I suppose it's why it's so messy, I keep cutting it myself."

"It's very pretty, Kallian," the human soothed, "I'm sure you'd start a fashion if you visited Orlais." She realised she meant it too. "And I'm nearly done, so stop squirming and relax. You're going to be the envy of every woman at the celebration," Kallian chuckled.

"Please, we both know Morrigan will if she lets herself be put in that dress and attend."

They chuckled at that mental image, Leliana resuming her work. After a few more minutes, she clapped her hands together in joy. "All done! Open your eyes!"

Kallian blinked at the reflection in front of her. It didn't look anything like her. She raised a hand, half expecting the reflection not to imitate her flawlessly. The reflection's lips were a deep red, fuller. Hardly any blush, eye-shadow or eye-liner; just enough to draw attention to her delicate cheeks and deep emerald eyes. Her fiery red hair was raised, but a fringe swung around the side, covering half her face. Her dark red dress was modest, with nothing beyond a vague promise of cleavage, and slightly revealed back, but what it didn't show it suggested with its figure hugging design.

She looked... alluring. Sexy, even.

"Even with Morrigan there, every man's gaze will be drawn to you. I am sure of it." Leliana encouraged. "Alistair especially will enjoy your new look," she stage-whispered, ignoring the twist in her stomach.

"Leliana, 'Alistair and I' will never happen. It can't happen." Kallian interrupted as she gazed blankly into the mirror, face unreadable. "He is Maric's son. I am an elf. When the Landsmeet comes around, we are going to have enough trouble getting the nobles to accept Maric's bastard. They will never accept his knife-eared, guttersnipe tart as queen."

"Alistair doesn't want to become king-" Leliana began, Kallian cutting her off with a snort.

"And I don't want a lot of things either, but you know as well as I do what we want and what we get are usually two very different things."

Leliana didn't say anything. She couldn't really; Kallian was right.

"Besides... I think I...." Leliana saw her friend turning pink, hesitating. Her eyes focused on the reflection of Leliana in the mirror, her voice meek and nervous. "I... think I... I've already..." Captivated by her eyes, Leliana was jumped when she felt Kallian take her hand into one of her own, entwining her fingers with the bard's. Kallian broke eye contact, suddenly finding the corner of the room very interesting to look at. Leliana's heart skipped a beat.

"You mean...?"

Kallian nodded, the tips of her ears now red, as she gave the human's hand a squeeze.

*


*

Hm, so much for finishing with 'Hair'. But a weeks ago when I got inspired to write this, it had been snowing like hell in jolly ol' Engalandland (I actually heard an American call it that). As well as building a 7 ft high snowman. I managed to crowbar almost everything I wanted to write in, except for one bit which didn't really work: the idea was when Alistair turned up, Leliana would shift over and Kallian would return to find Leliana put herself between her and Alistair, and Kallian would sit down, much more relaxed since Leliana was 'shielding' her. Aside from the physical metaphore, it also showed they're reached a stage where they could read each other's behaviour and act accordingly-Leliana would have done it unconciously. Thing was, I couldn't really think of anything to have them say, and this flowed more easily anyway.

If you're curious as to the exactl cause and extent of the injury, I was thinking something along the lines of Kallian sneaking up on the dragon while it's snapping/breathing fire at someone, getting on the back of its neck (along the lines of the synch kill) and burying a dagger or two in the base of the skull. Unfortunately she slightly misjudges it and while she dealt the fatal blow, it wasn't instant and the dragon managed to shake her off and bite her. Thank's to Oghren and Sten (Yes, I know it's more than the arbitrary limit of 4, but really, would you go 'Nah, only three of you are coming with me to kill this very large very dangerous lizard'?) It was only thanks to Sten and Oghren wounding the dragon enough to illicit a roar of pain that Kallian got free (if you define free as 'flung at least three dozen yards away' and ended up face down in the snow. Still, she got the bugger; I imagine the head wound filled its brain cavity with blood and it was down within minutes after. Her injuries would have to be healed slowly/sequentially too I guess, hence its become just a mass of (more like massive) bruise by the time they're at Redcliffe. The joys of healing magic is you've got no idea how it would work for 'real'.

So, yeah.... long story short, her armour got shredded. Rather like everyone's nerves.

As for the whole Alistair thing: Kallian is naive with relationships but she's knows exactly what most humans think of elves. I have to say, I ended up romancing Alistair with my first female play through and I saw the 'infamous' dumping coming. I was hoping it wouldn't (the whole 'I love you and will never give you up' themed line [You are now hearing Rick Astley in your mind] he says when you try and ship him off to Anora contributed towards that) but the realist in me knew it wouldn't happen, so neither myself or my character was surprised it happened. Kallian, being snarky, 'flaky' as my friend put it, cynical, and outright pessimistic also realises that Alistair is going to become king. They need him to be for the support, but on a level I'm not sure even she's aware, she also knows that if Alistair is king her own people will probably get a better lot in life too.

In 'Shoes' she wasn't aware he was Maric's son. After that, she has a suspicion that his birthright will become an issue, and when it does she... well. Re-read what she said.

As for the Very Definitely Final Ending, (brace for rant) something that really irritates me with many stories is how what starts off as mutual (often one sided) attraction becomes in less than 5000 words 'I love you forever and always and will do anything for you let's tongue right now'. It seldom works that way in real life and it bloody well isn't going to here.

Anyway, I'm ranting, I'm shutting up, and I'm asking you to add a review please, it gives me self validation seeing them.