A.N.: This is a little piece I wrote for myself shortly after finishing The Stolen Throne by David Gaider months ago. It has been languishing on my computer since then, but thanks to the encouragement from AndrastesKnickers and Melismo, I decided to share.

This takes place right after Loghain's confrontations with Maric and then Rowan toward the end of the book.

I own nothing; it's all Bioware's baby.

Loghain turned and left Rowan's room as soon as she agreed with him that Maric needed her. He'd had to get away before he changed his mind, reached out for her, and was never able to let her go. He fled down the hallway heading for the stairwell.

Loghain stumbled as he went down the stairs of the manor at refused to admit to himself that the tears still threatening to fall from the corners of his eyes that caused his blurred vision and his stumble. He caught himself on the wall of the stairwell and then drove himself on faster. He had to get away. He had to get out of the manor. He knew Rowan would have gone to Maric by now. Loghain couldn't stand to be under the same roof with the two of them together. Not yet, not now, not until he had himself under some measure of control. Self-control--that was the key, that was what made him who he was.

Loghain knew the most likely course of his future. He knew once Maric was on the throne that the country would still need him. Loghain would have to be the one to see that all the unpleasant actions were taken care of and handled, unless by some unlikely miracle Maric learned to do it himself. Self-control and discipline would be the traits that would allow him to enforce the decisions that Maric wouldn't or couldn't. He had needed every bit of both those traits tonight in his confrontations with his two best friends. Neither had gone the way Loghain would have chosen, both had gone the way they had needed to.

By the time Loghain hit the outer door of the manor, he was almost running, so he gave himself over to it. He lengthened his stride, and his feet pounded the earth. He didn't know where he was going. He didn't care. He just had to get away. He had to escape the images that teased him from the recesses of his mind, the ones of Rowan and Maric together, with Maric touching her as he once had. Loghain knew her as he had known no other. He knew the sounds Rowan made when she was pleased, the smile, the look in her eyes. He'd never see or hear those things again. They were for Maric now. Loghain pushed himself and ran even faster as he tried to outrace the pain that knowledge carried with it, but it was fleeter than he was. It kept pace with him and punished him with every stride.

Loghain ran until he couldn't take another step. He wasn't sure exactly where he was, but he didn't really care. He had run well past the town and out into the trees of the surrounding forest. He felt the wind pick up as the storm grew stronger, and the rain beat down. He was somewhat sheltered by the trees, but he welcomed the feel of the downpour on his face. It mixed in with the saltiness of the tears he told himself were caused by his running. He stood still as his breath heaved in and out of him, and the stitch in his side was so severe that he had to bend over. The nausea he felt finally overcame him, and he emptied the meager contents of his stomach on the ground at his feet. When he was able, he straightened up. He moved off through the trees, slower now, but still eating up distance with his long-legged stride. He stopped at a convenient stream and washed his mouth out. The water cleared the sour taste of the vomit from his mouth, but nothing could take away the ashen taint of loss.

Done. Finished. Over. Loghain had been the one that had made both his friends face facts they would rather not have known. He had stripped the innocence from their relationships and built walls that would be between them forever. He had forced Maric's hand into ending the life of a traitor and the woman Maric loved. He had given Maric the wife his best friend needed and Ferelden the queen it deserved. He had sent the woman he loved to a man who could never be as strong as she was. Loghain had torn his own heart out of his chest in doing so, but it was done. Nothing would ever be the same between the three of them again. The balance had shifted, and Loghain had lost everything that mattered to him.

Duty--she was his mistress now. It was the only thing he had left.