It's been ages since I uploaded anything because I've been so busy with a new job and real life and such, but I'm making it my goal to change that, starting with this random Dragon Age fic I wrote ages ago. Unbeta'd and only edited briefly by me, but I wanted to start uploading at least a few of the half or mostly-finished fics I've got sitting on my harddrive. Expect a few more Dragon Age and Mass Effect fics in the next few days, and for those waiting on the third part of the "Justified" and "Demigod" series, I swear it'll happen soon.

Anyway, thanks for reading! :)

Alistair wanted to think only of his Irien Cousland when he was with Morrigan, but as hard as he tried, he couldn't.

When his new fiancé had come to him with this plan – "I need you to do something you won't like," she'd said –he'd been horrified and furious. Did she not want him anymore? Was this some way of getting out of their engagement? Had Riordan frightened her so much that she was trying to drive him away?

But he looked at her and any feelings of hurt or suspicion he had instantly vanished, to be replaced with guilt. Sometime during their conversation, between him yelling at her for the suggestion and being furious at himself for whatever he'd done to drive her away, she had begun to cry. Not a wailing cry, or the "pretty" cry that women at Arl Eamon's court sometimes did, but a silent one, and in the low light, he would never have noticed it if he hadn't looked at her face closely. Her eyes were red and tears stained her cheeks – tears she'd hurriedly wiped away with the back of a hand when she saw him looking at her.

She was so determined to convince him. How could he say no when she begged him to do this for both their sakes? Could he be so selfish, wanting to stay as far away from Morrigan as possible, even if it killed one or both of them?

It's killing her to ask me this, he'd thought. She wouldn't have even thought of asking if she thought it might not work. It had to. She wouldn't insist otherwise.

He agreed to her request, and hated himself for it.

She'd come with him to tell Morrigan that they'd both agreed to the plan, then left the two of them alone, and his heart broke as he watched her almost run out the door. He wanted to follow and hold her and never let her doubt that he would do anything for her, even this. He wished he could tell this damn witch where to stick her ritual and chase after the woman he loved.

But he didn't.

Morrigan turned to him and smiled. "You should get ready, and I shall return momentarily, yes?"

Until now he hadn't thought about the actual mechanics of the deed. Like the fact that he would actually have to sleep with Morrigan.

Alistair nodded and she stepped away for a moment. He stood there, staring at the door for a moment, then shook his head, stripped mechanically and climbed on the bed, forcing his mind to shut down and not think more than necessary about what he was about to do.

He reminded himself how Irien had insisted. How it was for both of them, so they could live and be happy together, for as long as the Blight and the Taint and anything else spared them. How maybe, just maybe, Morrigan would keep her promise and he'd never have to see her again after this.

He sat up when Morrigan came back into the room wearing nothing but her underwear. He could face down a charging horde of darkspawn, but nothing had made him want to run screaming as badly as that sight and the predatory look on her face.

She climbed onto the bed and leaned forward to kiss him. He closed his eyes and tried to pretend she was Irien.

But from the first second of the kiss, he couldn't think of Irien anymore.

He tried to distract himself from what was happening by attempting to figure out why that was.

He had no interest in Morrigan, this he was sure of. Negative interest, in fact, which made this whole situation extremely uncomfortable. It would make all this so much easier if he could just imagine that he and Irien were back at the camp, hiding away in her tent. But as much as he tried to close his eyes and fool himself into thinking he was with Irien, he couldn't do it.

He gave up trying for a moment and opened his eyes to look up at the witch. He tried to evaluate the woman objectively, without thinking about her horrible personality. She was exceptionally beautiful –despite his hatred of her, he had to admit that this was true. And she was clearly far more experienced than either he or Irien, though he was completely unsurprised to learn that.

But even as he thought of the positives, his mind immediately countered them. It was that she was too skinny, her skin was too pale and smooth, her eyes too made up, her smile too seductive. And while he was by no means knowledgeable about the opposite sex, he assumed that these were usually desirable qualities. But, as he lay on the bed with his arms around a woman who wasn't the one he loved, he looked up at her and knew why he couldn't pretend, couldn't put his love's face on hers.

It was that Morrigan didn't deserve the comparison.

He missed Irien's rare shy smiles, her blushes, her messy red hair. He missed her scars, which she was always ashamed of and he didn't know why – they were beautiful. They were both scarred, and helping each other heal. He missed that she was as inexperienced and sweetly awkward as he, and that they learned together.

He didn't care how gorgeous or skillful Morrigan was, and this forced time with her confirmed what he already knew.

He didn't want anyone but Irien. He never really had, and now he knew for sure that he never would.

He went through with it because she'd asked him to, because he'd do anything she asked him. And when Morrigan smiled and told him he was "free to go," he pulled his clothes on and left without another word or glance at her.

He found some servants and had them get him a bath, and thanked the Maker that he'd agreed to become the King – they probably wouldn't have done this in the middle of the night for anyone else. He scrubbed at his skin so hard it turned red, and once he was finally confident he'd gotten rid of as much of Morrigan as possible, he dried off and slowly made his way to Irien's room.

When he slowly opened her door, he was surprised to see that her bed was empty, and panicked for a moment. He thought for a moment that she'd run off, that she'd left him – until he glanced down to see her asleep on the floor, sprawled out and looking incredibly uncomfortable, with her arms around her warhound Cito.

He took a step towards them, but the dog raised his head and sniffed at him, then silently snarled at him. Maybe he hadn't scrubbed hard enough, or the dog knew what happened, but he wouldn't have been surprised if it was both.

But the movement was enough to wake Irien from her uncomfortable sleep on the ground, and she blinked red, puffy eyes before seeing him there.

He didn't know how she was going to react, and he didn't want to wait to find out. He quickly crossed the room, knelt next to her, and they fell into each other's arms.

"I'm so sorry," he said, holding her tightly. This was right, this feeling in his heart when he held her. This was why even as beautiful as Morrigan was, he couldn't enjoy himself being with her.

He felt Irien shaking as she sobbed and clung to him. "I love you, I love you, I love you," he told her, over and over.

He didn't know if the ritual would work. Either way, he wanted to pretend the entire experience had never happened. He didn't doubt Irien felt the same. But even as he held her and kissed her, all he could think of was Morrigan's final lie.

"Believe me when I say you will not hate this quite so much as you believe."