Images jostled in Kayra's head: her father dying after being betrayed by Howe, her mother refusing to leave Highever, Duncan taking her to Ostagar so she could become a Grey Warden. Alistair. She remembered the first time she saw him in Ostagar, a lifetime ago. He was nothing like she imagined a Grey Warden would be. She thought he'd be older, more serious, like Duncan. She smiled as she remembered their first words after his encounter with a grumpy mage.
"You know, one good thing about the Blight is how it brings people together."
"You are a strange man."
"You're not the first woman to tell me that."
His laugh echoed in her head and she smiled foolishly. She knew back then that he was special; he wasn't like any other men she met before. She knew she could trust him, no matter what.
Her eyes wandered in the room and fell on Alistair's gift. A rose he found in Lothering. She always kept it on her as a reminder of what was awaiting her if she succeeded. A thing of beauty in a world of darkness. Just like their love for each other. She closed her eyes tight. She recalled their first kiss, the first night they spent together, the hope of a future as King and Queen of Ferelden after the Blight. She was the luckiest woman in all Ferelden. Until tonight, until Riordan's news, until Morrigan. She should have listened to Alistair when he told her Morrigan couldn't be trusted. But she thought all the witch needed was a friend. Tears threatened to flow as she tried to relax. Breathe Kayra.
"I offer you a way out. A way out for all Grey Wardens, that there need be no sacrifice... What I propose is this: convince Alistair to lay with me... You will live, as will Alistair..."
She opened her eyes quickly, hoping the images would vanish, hoping she'd wake up in bed, Alistair by her side, holding her tight. But Morrigan's voice kept taunting her. "If you care for him as you seem to, you will convince him to. Consider what the alternative might be?"
"Bitch" the single word escaped her lips. How could she do that to her, how could she use her feelings for him like that? She tried to be her friend and all she found to thank her was to ask her to make the hardest decision of her life? Did Morrigan really think she'd accept willingly? And what about the child? Unanswered questions tormented her as her mind was racing; trying to decide what was the best thing to do. But what if there was no good decision? "There is always a price to way." That's what she told Morrigan, and now she was wondering if the price was really worth it.
She finally did as Morrigan asked. She went to Alistair's room and she convinced him. "You know I love you, right?" He thought she was joking at first. He was leaning on the bedpost, trying to read her eyes, searching for something that wasn't there. All he could see was pain and shame.
"How can you even ask me to sleep with Morrigan?"
"Trust me. It is the only way." When the words crossed her lips she knew she was trying to convince herself more than him.
With a sigh he finally accepted but he was angry. Angry at her for asking him to do something that disgusted him, something that was against everything he believed in.
"If you really want me to do it, than I'll do it." His tone was cold, emotionless. Her eyes filled with tears as he rose from the bed and walked to the door, avoiding her contact.
On their way back to her room he didn't say a word; he didn't take her hand in his like he used to do when they were alone. He didn't even look at her. His eyes avoided hers when Morrigan and him left her room, leaving her alone with her thoughts. All she wanted was for him to understand why she did it. She feared to lose him. Morrigan was right, he'd do the right thing as king and he wouldn't let her make the final blow even if she insisted. But was life worth living without him?
Wynne's words came back in her head. The old mage had told her that love was selfish and now she realized that she was right. She accepted Morrigan's offer because she didn't want to live without him. She forced him to do it, even if he didn't want to. Only because she didn't want to be alone for the rest of her life, because she didn't want to suffer. She didn't listen to the little voice in her head screaming that something was wrong with the ritual. You're trying to end the Blight by letting an apostate have a demonic child? Why does she even want it? What if something really wrong happens because you chose to accept her offer? What if it's worse than the Blight?
She felt her heart break as she watched the man she loves leave her room, knowing perfectly too well what would happen next. Morrigan looked at her, a smile on her lips, delighted after promising Alistair it wouldn't be that bad and he'd probably enjoy it more than he thought. Kayra's fists clenched as she wanted to hit her for that remark. Instead she turned to the fire and tried to concentrate on something, anything. But that was impossible, images and voices already starting to drive her crazy. What if everything changes between us? What if he can't look at me anymore? What if he can't love me anymore? What if it doesn't work?
And there she was, in Redcliffe castle, sitting in front of the fireplace, wondering again if she made the good decision. She could hear her friends in the next room, laughing, enjoying their evening before the battle. And all she had was her fear to lose the only man she ever loved. She tried to fight the pain but it was too much to bear. She knew she had lost him. What she asked of him was unfair. He didn't want to do it, he wanted to spend the night with her but she forced him. She didn't even listen to what he had to say, somehow she didn't care. She wanted him to accept, without questions. She saw the pain in his eyes when she asked, the flash of anger as they crossed the hall to her room. She let the burning tears run down her cheeks as she covered her face with her hands. "I'm so sorry." She whispered to herself.
After what seemed an eternity she was unable to cry anymore and she just stood there, watching the fire dance before her eyes. She couldn't think anymore, she was too exhausted. At last her head was clear of any thoughts. She heard her friends saying goodnights to each other, their footsteps in the hall, the doors closing. Everything became silent except for the crackling fire. She closed her burning eyes, allowing her inner demons to take control of her thoughts once more. She remembered that night at camp when Morrigan asked her in her own way what was going on between her and "that fool Alistair". "He might be an idiot but he is my idiot. I love him the way he is." Morrigan had looked at her with disapproval and disdain but Kayra didn't care. Love was nothing to Morrigan; she'd never understand what Alistair meant to her.
She shook her head, wanting to get rid of the images but they became worse as she imagined Alistair and Morrigan together in one of the rooms. A single tear escaped her eye and rolled down her cheek.
She was so buried in her pain that she never heard the door open and close softly. She didn't notice the presence in her room. A hand pressed her shoulder as she opened her eyes quickly, surprised to feel the familiar warmth. Her jaw dropped as the image cleared in front of her. Alistair was sitting beside her, a sad smile on his face. He gently brushed the tear with his lips.
"I'm sorry." She started to apologize but he didn't let her finish.
"I love you Kayra." He whispered as he took her in his arms and kissed her tenderly. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I know it must have been hard for you to ask. And I didn't make it easier. I don't say I like the idea, and I still don't trust her but I don't want to lose you tomorrow. And if I'm lucky enough we'll both survive the battle, I'll marry the woman I love and tonight will only be a bad memory."
"I love you too." She whispered.
She pressed her head against his chest, closed her eyes and listened to the beat of his heart as she fell asleep, knowing the worse night of her life was now over. Everything will be alright now.