Ok, I promised myself I would never do this, but this plot came up a week ago and WILL NOT LET ME GO. I'm continuing Fractures, and I'll try not to let it slip by the wayside, but I had to get this out otherwise it might have faded. Thanks to everyone who reads and reviews, I love you all.

Aedan felt supremely satisfied with the way things were working out. Anora was his, as was the throne. With any luck the whining bastard would be dead before they got to Denerim - he hoped the guards didn't quail in their duties just because an archdemon was on its way to them - and in any case if he wasn't killed by the hangmen the darkspawn would get him. He would arrange for Loghain or Riordan to kill the archdemon - if he was lucky no one else would witness it and he would be able to claim the deed as his own. Not that he necessarily needed that particular accolade - it was already clear to the nobles of Ferelden who was in control. He hoped Loghain would die in the battle. He really didn't need the old Hero hanging around after the Blight interfering with things. Perhaps he should arrange for a little accident to befall the man if by a freak of chance Riordan managed to take down the dragon.

A rather profitable little blight all around, he thought to himself as he made his way back to his room.

He was somewhat, but not entirely surprised to find Morrigan waiting for him. They had stopped sleeping together some time ago - her choice, although he had not protested. She'd become strange after a while. Needy.

"What do you want?" he asked. Not unkindly. She was still an attractive woman. If a dangerous one.

"I have a plan," she said, walking towards him with a seductive sway of her hips. He eyed her appreciatively. "A way out. A loop in your hole."

He allowed himself a small smile. "Get to it," he said. "What?"

"I know what happens when the archdemon dies," she continued. "I know a Grey Warden must be sacrificed, and that sacrifice could be you. I have come to tell you that this does not need to be."

"What do you mean?"

"I offer a way out. A way out for all the Grey Wardens. That there need be no sacrifice."

He cocked his eyebrow and sat on the bed. "Really?" he said. "I'm intrigued. Do go on."

She explained. A sex ritual. A baby. The possibility of a god child. It needn't be him, she said. Loghain would do just as well, if he could convince him.

Part of him was tempted by the offer. To father one of the old gods? But she insisted that she leave. She insisted that she be the one to raise it - control it. He had his suspicions about what she wanted to do with the child - possess it, as her mother had once planned to possess her, probably. Use it, definitely. And there was no real way he could stop her from leaving before the child was born. Keeping her on a leash for nine months? With a blight and Anora and the kingdom to worry about? He suspected it would prove too difficult, even for him.

He refused. She seemed shocked.

"Why are you so surprised?" he said. "Did you think after all this time I trusted you? Alistair had your measure from the beginning, much good it did him."

Her eyes flashed. "You're a fool," she said. "Who's to say Riordan and Loghain aren't killed in the first rush of the horde? What if you have to take the final blow yourself?"

He shrugged. "I know the joining ritual now," he said. "Denerim may fall, but there will be more wardens to take that blow should I choose it. I do not intend to die."

"You won't be given the choice!"

"You say that to me?" He got to his feet and crossed the room to her in two swift strides, taking her neck in his hand and gently squeezing. She did not flinch, simply looked at him, her yellow eyes darkening in anger and full lipped mouth twisted in scorn. "I am in control here. You should have left me in the tower of Ishal, chosen a better target for your schemes. I will not be manipulated by you."

She spat in his face. "Control," she said, laughing slightly. He tightened his grip, but her voice was still strong as she continued. "You don't know the meaning of the word. All your petty politicking. You think being married to Anora, executing the son of Maric the savior - you think these things make you powerful? You have no concept of the word. And you will regret making an enemy of me, Aedan Cousland."

"Not if you're dead," he squeezed harder, but she laughed again and he felt the skin under his hands roughen, then change entirely until he found himself holding the fang of her spider form. She freed herself with one kick of her many legs before transforming again - a bird this time - that he was unable to capture before it flew out the only window.

She had left it open - he realised. Part of her must have known he would reject the offer.

Still. It was of no matter. He would go to Loghain and warn him not to admit the witch, no matter what she said. She had no other options.

Tomorrow they would march for Denerim.

He was cold. It shouldn't have mattered, on top of the other hurts the guards had heaped on him before throwing him into the cell, but for some reason it was the cold that was getting to him the most. They hadn't given him a blanket, or any clothing to replace the gear they'd stripped from him when he was led from the Landsmeet chamber. In his smallclothes he huddled, head ringing from multiple blows arms and fists aching from failed attempts to protect himself. His groin ached where he'd been kicked and blood from two missing teeth filled his mouth over and over again, forcing him to spit every few minutes.

He should have listened to Leliana. To Wynne. He should have left when he had his chance. But he'd never truly believed Aedan to be the bastard he'd proven himself to be. The man would fix him with that damned clear blue stare of his and smile and Alistair would forget what he'd been angry about - allow himself to be convinced it was the right course of action.

Most of the time, it had been the right course of action. Alistair wasn't stupid, he knew that wardens needed to do whatever it took to end a blight, and Aedan had done that. He'd saved the circle, sacrificed Isolde to save Connor, supported Bhelen, cured Eamon. But it had taken the death of the elven slaves in the Alienage - sacrificed to fuel Aedan's power - to truly bring it home to him, and by then it was too late.

He didn't know when they were going to execute him. It was possible he would rot in the cells until the blight was defeated. Or not defeated, as the case may be. There was a possibility when they came for him they would be darkspawn or ghouls. But he doubted it. Aedan would defeat the blight, Alistair had confidence in him for that. A blight didn't suit his purposes. You couldn't reason with darkspawn - you couldn't gain profit from them.

At some point he slept. The guards came back and beat him again and the world started to blur at the edges. He hadn't eaten since the day before the landsmeet. They gave him no water. He knew he was delirious when she came to him.

"Shh," she said, stroking his forehead. "Shhh, Alistair. You're safe now."

It was so strange, hearing that voice speaking with tenderness instead of scorn. He was enfolded in her arms and lifted with unnatural, magical strength. The guards were sleeping - or dead - he couldn't tell. She was gentle with him, dressing him in clothing, carrying him until he insisted he could walk, then supporting him through the halls of Fort Drakon. Even in his delirium he could tell something was wrong. The guards were panicking, paying them little attention, although he knew the witch beside him was casting almost constantly as they walked to keep their eyes from him. There was talk of the darkspawn horde, talk of the archdemon...

"They'll be at the gates within a day," he heard one voice say.

"It never went to Redcliffe, the Warden and the Queen will never make it back in time!"

"We'll all be killed!"

When they reached the street he felt Morrigan slump from exertion. He tried to help her as they stumbled together through the streets, this woman he hated, this woman who had saved him. They reached a tavern where she helped him into a bed. She washed him. Cured his wounds. Gave him water and food. But his head would not clear. The fuzziness would not fade. All he knew was the closeness of her - the scent of her surrounded him, the feel of her gentle fingers on his chest, the soothing words she mumbled as her hands caressed him.

"Alistair," she said softly at his ear, and he felt her tongue on his skin, at his neck. "Alistair I'm sorry we let you be taken." He blinked. He never would have thought this woman would be gentle with him. Never would have thought she could make his body respond the way it was.

"Morrigan..." he tried to form the words, tried to catch her hands with his own. But she was deft and they were never where he thought they'd be and sweet holy Maker he'd never imagined they'd ever be there.

"Relax," she whispered into his ear. But he was rapidly becoming anything but relaxed as her hands wandered ever further and ever closer.

"What are you doing?" he squeaked, blinking rapidly, trying desperately to clear the fuzz from his head.

"I need you, Alistair," she whispered. He managed to focus on her and she was completely naked and he suddenly wished he could go back to not knowing what was going on.

"You hate me," he said.

"No," she sat back on his shins, breasts glistening with sweat in the candlelight, her dark hair free and loose for the first time he could ever remember, her yellow eyes glittering with desire and power and.. something else... "sometimes we need to protect ourselves from the things we feel, Alistair," she said, running her hands down the sides of his torso. He arched his back involuntarily, conscious - acutely conscious of the hardness of his erection, the desperation of his lust for her. For Morrigan of all people. Her lips quirked into a more familiar expression. "It seems you too, are harboring thoughts about me you may never have admitted to yourself."

He blushed furiously. "Well, you're... it's not as though.. Maker's breath Morrigan - what do you expect? I wake up from a dungeon cell to a naked woman? I am male after all..."

She laughed. It was a pleasant sound and she looked almost coy, lowering her head until...

Coy was not the word to describe what she was doing now. His head hit the pillow behind him hard as his hands moved of their own accord, gripping the headboard of the bed. He let out a groan that nearly became a shriek when she flicked her tongue against him.

"Holy Andraste," he gasped out through gritted teeth. "Please. Stop."

She lifted her head and he couldn't repress the groan of disappointment that escaped his mouth. Panting, he looked into her face, searching for something, anything that would give him a clue as to why she was doing this. But she didn't give him time to say anything. Swifter than he could have imagined possible, she was atop him, mouth claiming his in his first kiss, even as she took his virginity with a sharp push of her hips downwards. He couldn't stop the helpless shout of desire and pleasure that overtook him, couldn't stop the desperate thrusting of his hips against hers as she rode him, couldn't help but glory in the sight of her as she sat up and leaned back, breasts bouncing, pale skin glittering. He gasped and groaned as she moved ever faster, harder, and gripped her hips in his hands as he spilled himself inside her in a white flash of pleasure so intense he thought he'd broken something.

She collapsed on him, gasping for breath. He didn't know what to do - what to say. Hesitantly he brought a hand up and stroked her hair. She lifted her head and smiled at him, a secretive, content smile that made him wonder again at what they'd just done - why they'd done it.

She gently disengaged from him and lay along side him, letting her fingers trail across his chest lightly. "It is done," she said softly. He blinked, feeling too late a surge of power from her that he was unable to counter.

He lost consciousness.

He woke, alone, to a city gone mad. His head was clear as he dressed and armed himself. She had left him his gear - but there was no sign of her other than that and the sharp, stabbing memories he had of their brief passion. Certainly not what he'd expected from his first time with a woman. Certainly not the woman he'd expected, either.

The inn was unattended and there was no one to give his money to. The streets were chaos - people fleeing to the docks with nothing but the clothes on their backs. He wondered if he should bother to do the same. He could stay, he supposed, and fight the darkspawn horde. He could try to find and kill the archdemon. But that was, he thought bitterly, Aedan's job now. He'd rejected the wardens before they'd thrown him in prison. He didn't want to be part of an order that numbered Loghain in its ranks. Or Aedan for that matter.

He would flee, he decided. If the blight was defeated and he was sighted in Ferelden they would undoubtably execute him. Anora wouldn't tolerate his presence. And if the blight wasn't defeated - well then he could find the rest of the wardens and join the fight for the rest of Thedas. Ferelden would fall, he knew, but he found he couldn't bring himself to care. Perhaps in a week he would examine that feeling and be shamed and full of self-loathing, but for now Ferelden was Aedan's and Anora's. It had never given him anything. From the first moment he'd been rejected, by his father, by Eamon. Only Duncan had ever accepted him and now his murderer was...

He would head for the Free Marches - he'd heard there was always work for a good sword arm there. He would live - to spite them, Loghain, Aedan, Morrigan. Fill out the rest of his twenty-eight years with meaningless toil until the taint took him.

Damn them all.

She watched as they fought through the streets of Denerim, the golem, the dwarf, the elf and the man. The final four who could stand to be with him. He had no healer, but the potions she and Wynne had spent so many nights concocting for him sustained him, as did the unnatural vitality given him by the elven slaves, the potion of Avernus and whatever other means the man had grasped when she hadn't been with him.

She admired him, she had to acknowledge it. She would have preferred the child in her belly to be his, and not the blond boy's, although Alistair had his good points. She smiled to remember them. Indeed, their encounter had been far more pleasurable than she'd anticipated. The pent up sexual energy of the man - a virgin of all things - had made the ritual if anything more powerful than it would have been had she performed it with Aedan.

And she had to remind herself that the soul would not be of either of these men. Only the body. And she suspected that the body would not be important in the long run. Still, it's form should be pleasing.

She was subtle, in the help she gave the party. They had to reach the roof of Fort Drakon. She even tried to help Riordan - it would have been convenient to have the archdemon die in flight - Riordan's death would not be questioned and her secret would be safe.

In the end he was right, of course. He made Loghain take the final blow. It was not difficult, to burst the man's heart in his chest as he struck the blow. He was not expecting a magical attack, and he had no natural defense. No one would question it.

The flight in hawk form from Redcliffe - the extraction of Alistair and the dark ritual had left her dangerously drained, but she could not afford to linger and as soon as she was certain the Hero of River Dane no longer drew breath, she again transformed and flew from the rooftop, making her way west and north. Her task was done, but her work was not finished. Not yet.