A/N: Written for Shastania at the Prompt Meme, over on the dao_challenge community at livejournal. You guys should check it out; it's awesome and deserves to be kept alive. So prompt, people, prompt.
Change of Heart
"HOLY SHIT THAT IS ONE MASSIVE OGRE," said the Warden.
The rest of the party were thinking along the same sort of lines, although they had not been so crass as to actually voice those thoughts. One large ogre alpha surrounded by a veritable swarm of genlocks and hurlocks at its feet. What a party.
"I suppose we're to use the normal strategy then?" said Alistair, unsheathing his sword.
The Warden sighed. "Off we go."
And so the battle commenced. Morrigan, at her usual place on the edge of the battlefield with Leliana, idly tossed a fireball into the fray and wondered how long this would take – with the Warden and Alistair rushing into the midst of the fight, it often felt like she and Leliana were never under very much pressure. She could, of course, have simply turned into a spider and joined in with a little more action, but ever since the Warden had professed a deep-seated phobia of arachnids and banned her from shapeshifting...
"Morrigan look ou-" she heard Leliana shout, but the end of that sentence never reached her due to a sickeningly heavy blackness suddenly falling upon her.
Leliana shot the club-wielding genlock in the throat, and rushed to Morrigan's side.
"What do you mean, this is the one day where we forgot to stock up on health poultices?" said the Warden incredulously. He kicked his backpack in frustration. "Healing spells? Oh no, I forgot, our only mage is knocked out!"
"We need to get her to safety, at least," said Leliana. "Can we carry her? Perhaps we can set up camp nearby?"
"As long as we're away from the stink of darkspawn," said the Warden, hoisting up the unconscious Morrigan and hoping that he hadn't just distressed her wounds even more. "Come on."
The camp was set up in due time and Morrigan was laid to rest inside a tent. Out of the three of them, only Leliana had even a rudimentary understanding in how to look after injuries and so forth. The Warden and Alistair felt they would be better off sitting by the fire and not getting in her way – and so they did.
"I just asked, and Bodahn says that he has no more poultices left anyway," grumbled the Warden, feeling absolutely useless.
"Oh," said Alistair, feeling equally useless. To be quite honest, he wasn't exactly grieving over the loss of the witch – but then again, he did see the other Warden's point about having a mage in the party.
"I suppose the only thing we can do is hope Leliana knows what she's doing."
It had been almost a week, and while Morrigan hadn't gotten any worse, she hadn't exactly gotten much better either. The three humans still battle-ready were taking it in turns to watch over her while the other two picked off stray darkspawn and chased down travelling merchants. Today, it was Alistair's turn.
"Typical of you to have a near-death experience right here in the middle of nowhere," said Alistair to the sleeping Morrigan. He was oh-so-extremely bored, and polishing his sword had rather lost its appeal after the first two hours had passed. "Though your head looks pretty much alright now, if you'd like to wake up anytime soon..." He paused and thought about this for a few seconds. "Actually, wait, don't. I forgot that I don't like you."
Morrigan sneezed and Alistair jumped about a foot in the air – impressive, considering the fact that he was sitting down.
"Morrigan?" he said, a little nervously. She was moving...
"You're... awake!" he said, not sure if he should pretend to be happy.
"How- how long have I been unconscious?"
"About a week, I'd say," Alistair said. He was a little disconcerted by the fact that there was none of the usual venom in her voice, but he put that down to being asleep for five days. "Er... are you feeling alright?"
"I feel wonderful," said Morrigan, sitting up. "Thank you so much for looking after me, Alistair."
"She's... different! It's like, I don't know, she's been replaced by... someone else! She was being nice and grateful and she didn't even insult my masculinity once!" Alistair whisper-shouted to the Warden that evening.
The Warden looked over at Morrigan, who seemed to be excitedly sharing hairstyling tips with Leliana. "You mean she's not a spiteful vindictive little Bitch of the Wilds? Dude, sweet!"
"She thanked me! Thanked me! And then complimented my hair!"
"Well, y'know, if she's nice and grateful and all that, surely that's a good thing?"
"I suppose that's true... but it's weird! How hard do you think that genlock hit her?"
The Warden shook his head. "She's probably just going through a phase. Concussion, probably. Don't worry; I'm sure she'll be back to her usual horrible vicious self tomorrow. Wahey!"
"But what i-"
"Hello!" said Morrigan. Alistair jumped. Again.
"Hello, Morrigan," said the Warden. "So it looks like you're feeling better today?"
"'Tis most true," Morrigan said, curtseying. "I came here merely to thank you for your attention to me this past week."
"Oh, uh, you're welcome," the Warden replied, glancing at Alistair. Alistair held up his hands in a "I told you so," gesture.
Morrigan laughed happily. "So modest! Now, would you like to try one of my home-baked cookies?"
"You have cookies?" Alistair asked blankly.
"But of course!" said Morrigan. She brandished a tray in mitten-covered hands. "After you went to scout this afternoon, I took upon myself to bake a few sweet crumbly treats." She beamed at them. The Warden and Alistair leaned away from her.
"Really very sorry, but I think I'll pass," said the Warden, smiling nervously. "See you around, Morrigan."
"Morning has broooo-ken!" sang Morrigan sweetly at the crack of dawn. She peered in through Alistair's tent-flap. "Rise and shine, honey!"
"Did you just call me 'honey?" said Alistair, blinking in the sunlight. "Morrigan, it's sunrise! I need sleep! Why are you acting so... strange?"
"Strange?" said Morrigan, freezing mid-dance-step. She lowered her leg back to the ground and sat down in the tent entrance. "Sorry, I don't understand? Please do elaborate."
"You know, strange? Normally you're all 'Rawr, I'm going to call you stupid and hurt your manly pride' to me, and you... you don't dance."
Morrigan sat back, looking shocked. "Really? I... I insulted you? Why, I can't even imagine doing such a thing – I mean, I do apologise!"
"You're apologising!" said Alistair. "You don't apologise! You don't even care about other people! What happened to you?"
"I believe the question is, what happened to you? I do not recall you being so awful!"
"Me? Me? You're the 'let's kick puppies' awful one!"
Morrigan sniffed. "Why must you say such things, Alistair?" she said, clearly on the verge of tears. "In my memory, at least, I have been nothing but kindness towards you, and this is how you deign to treat me?"
"Oh, don't cry..." Alistair was feeling more and more awkward by the second as Morrigan continued to sniff, her face in her hands. "Um, Morrigan... I'm sorry I said that. I didn't mean to hurt you, really." He patted her on the back and wondered what he was supposed to do now.
She wiped her eyes with a hand. "Oh, Alistair, you've made me ruin my make-up... but I shall accept your apology. I hope we can begin again on better terms."
"Of course," Alistair said. "Just, well, please don't start singing again."
"I know, but those frills are just darling!" squealed Leliana happily on the road. "I'm so glad I finally have someone to talk to about shoes! What did you think of the trend last autumn for high-strung sandals? Or did you not have that in Ferelden? How about those embroidered toecaps?"
"I can't believe this is happening," said Alistair to the Warden, partly to block out the incredibly disturbing sound of Morrigan enthusing about laced silver stilettos.
"We'll get her to a healer in Denerim, I promise," said the Warden. He gave the girls a disbelieving look. Leliana was now describing the rather personal failings of Orlesian men to her new best friend. "As soon as possible."
Morrigan giggled loudly – giggled; Alistair's mind boggled – and Alistair supposed he had to agree. Still, he thought, the sooner this mess is sorted out, the better. "I don't know, new Morrigan is more bearable than old Morrigan. It's just hard to get used to, that's what I'm saying."
Later on that day, Leliana found some excuse to talk to the other Warden about the finer points of archery (and perhaps arch support, judging from her inspection of his footwear), and Alistair found himself with Morrigan for a conversational partner.
"Hello, Alistair!" said Morrigan, smiling at him.
"Um, hi," said Alistair. He wasn't sure how he was to go about talking to her – what if she suddenly snapped back to her usual cold self whilst he was in the middle of a friendly sentence? She'd be torturing him for days over it. "Is there something you wanted?"
"Well, I don't know. I just wanted to talk; that's all. So I hear that you trained as a templar?"
"Yes, but - I never finished my training. I'm not the mage-hunting type, for sure." He laughed uneasily and looked to the other Warden for help. He was far too engrossed in Leliana's comments about cobblers and shoemakers from Val Royeaux to notice.
"So I understand. I, myself, have never cared for the Circle or templars, but I'm sure that you must think at least a little differently?"
"I suppose I did enjoy the training, but after watching one of those Harrowing sessions at the Tower, I wasn't so keen on the idea. I..."
The Warden watched him continue talking about his days at the Chantry with some interest, eye-brow raising and relief that his team seemed to be getting on so well – at least after Morrigan's 'unfortunate' accident. Leliana followed his gaze.
"Oh, that is so sweet. They're becoming friends!"
"Oh my," said the Warden, not just a little sarcastic.
"Don't be such a spoilsport – see, look at them laughing!" And laughing they were. It was a strange spectacle. The Warden had to tear his eyes away.
"My brain can't decide whether to feel fuzzy or disgusted," he told her.
That evening, Alistair found that Morrigan was, strangely enough, rather nice company.
"Leliana was telling me a story about those stars," he said sleepily, gazing up at the spots of light in question. "There was a princess... or was that a prince? Or a donkey? And... um, I don't remember."
Morrigan giggled a little, and peered skywards. "I think it was a princess – or at the least, a noblewoman."
"Oh, did Leliana tell you as well then? Well then, I guess my valiant efforts in storytelling were unneeded. What's the story again?"
"Was it not about Alindra and her soldier? She was locked in a tower, and both became stars after death, on opposite sides of a river of tears."
"Hmm. Leliana's stories are always about brave women dying, I'm sure."
They were silent for a while. Alistair pondered over the ending of Alindra's story (why didn't the gods just put them on the same side of the river?), and looked sideways at Morrigan, and thought that she was prettier than he had given credit for.
"You what?" said the Warden, not quite comprehending what Alistair had just said.
"I think she's quite sweet like this," said Alistair, his ears reddening.
The Warden stared at him. "She wandered into my tent this morning singing about blackbirds. Singing. About. Blackbirds. And then she went and boogied around the campfire for a bit. Wait. Rewind. What? Sweet?"
"Er... if that's what you heard, then... yes."
"Sweet as in I-want-to-snuggle-you kind of sweet or I-like-you-as-a-sweet-friend kind of sweet?"
"I... don't know," admitted Alistair.
"Somebody help me. I'm having a heart attack. You like Morrigan. What were you guys doing last night?"
"Talking about love stories, mostly..."
The Warden shrieked a little bit, rubbed his eyes and then resumed staring. "This is not Morrigan! This is a bonked-on-the-head messed up version of Morrigan! You've known bonked-on-the-head-Morrigan for one bloody day! How can this be happening?"
"I didn't say I wanted it to lead to anything! I'm just saying that... that..."
"I don't know! Stop looking at me like I've just killed a puppy! I'm just saying that she's nice, like this. And you have to admit that she's... pretty."
"Alistair," said the Warden a little more seriously, "you do realise that she will most likely go straight back to being the old Morrigan as soon as we see that healer? Or even before then, actually. Just... please don't try anything and then get heartbroken when she literally rips your heart out when she's got her mind back. Oh dear Maker, I'm actually giving you The Talk."
"I won't," said Alistair, and tried to mean it.
Morrigan was wearing a pink and frilly dress.
It was all Leliana's fault, really – well, that and the incomprehensible Orlesian fashions, which had somehow pushed overdone laciness and ruffles back into the spotlight of Leliana's mind. The Warden was not impressed. Leliana was admiring her handiwork. (It took real skill to patch up one of those horrid Ferelden dresses into something wearable like this; she'd been on this project a little before leaving Lothering, and had been looking forward for the whole week to giving it a test run on the new friendly Morrigan.) Alistair was staring, open-mouthed.
"Morrigan, you can't come dressed in that," said the Warden firmly, though still with an undertone of horror.
"Why ever not?" she asked, eyes wide with innocence.
"I think it looks lovely," said Leliana.
"Yeeeees," said the Warden slowly, "but not on the battlefield. Or... anywhere, really. No. Just no."
Leliana looked stung, and Morrigan looked confused. "I seem to remember that you said that dressing more modestly would be a good idea!" she said.
"Modestly? That's modest?" said the Warden, pointing accusingly at the frilly abomination.
"Well, it does cover a lot," said Leliana. "Although I did say that she should perhaps reveal at least a little her perfectly lovely chest, she insisted on the straight neckline..."
"I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I want you to go inside your tent, take that off and put on your scarf-top. Now."
"But-" said Leliana and Morrigan at the same time.
Morrigan reluctantly walked off. Alistair was still staring.
"I think she likes him," whispered Leliana conspiratorially, smiling deviously as she did so.
"Oh ho," said the Warden, grinning.
"She told me she thought he was nice and handsome last night," said Leliana. She was still smiling that devious little smile of the satisfied gossip. "I think it's cute, don't you?"
"I'm nice and handsome too," said the Warden more than a little indignantly. "I mean, yeah. He said something a bit like that about her a few days ago, you know."
"Aww! That is so sweet."
"And somewhat hilarious," added the Warden.
Leliana giggled. "I don't mean to be mean, but imagine what she'll be like remembering all of this when she's back to normal..."
"Poor Alistair," the Warden said between bouts of laughter. Pissing off Morrigan was one of his favourite pastimes.
"But," Leliana said, after they had finished, "it is rather sweet, isn't it?"
The Warden looked at the two of them, walking happily in step with each other, too close together with their elbows brushing too many times to be mere accidents, and laughing far too loudly and cheerfully than what was good for them. "I suppose it is," said the Warden.
It was not fair, thought Alistair grumpily. It was all very well for Morrigan, who couldn't or wouldn't remember that she was probably brain-damaged and therefore didn't have to deal with the whole "don't fall for her!" thing that the other Warden was constantly reminding him about. No, she had to be all innocent and guiltless, saying things about how much she'd enjoyed being with him this past week and why hadn't they stayed up late talking about world peace and roses before and no he would not and should not flirt back, dammit!
"... and, you see, that is the reason why my mother would not let me own socks," Morrigan finished, and looked at him expectantly.
"Oh," said Alistair, tearing himself away from his own thoughts and her eyes. He looked up at the moon instead. "Right."
She stretched lazily on the grass, and said after a while had passed, "So then, I suppose you want to go and search for this Goldanna of yours once we reach Denerim?"
"Denerim?" said Alistair a little stupidly, wondering if anyone had ever fallen a little bit in love with the moon.
"I've heard we will be there in a matter of hours – tomorrow morning, if the Warden is to be believed. 'Tis but a short walk from here. Have you any inkling where she lives?"
"Um, yes," said Alistair. "I think so. I suppose I could convince the Warden to let me have a quick visit." He sighed, and closed his eyes.
"It's nice that we've been spending so much time together. I... really, mm, like you, Alistair," said Morrigan after another pause. Her voice sounded somewhat different to Alistair – it might be the fact that this is an unmistakable attempt to gauge his romantic interest, struggling a little to get the words out, perhaps?
"It's... nice," said Alistair guardedly. Don't think bad thoughts. Don't.
She turned her head and smiled at him; now that was definitely flirtatious, and Alistair's stomach seemed to have metamorphosed into a rather wobbly jelly. "I've been thinking..."
"Of what?" he said before he could help himself, and found he had also turned over towards her. Hmm.
"This," she said, still smiling in that darkly teasing way, and kissed him. He froze, felt his jelly-like stomach squish in an unexpected way, and then started to slightly awkwardly kiss back. A little voice in his head was mumbling about how she'd started it, so it wasn't his fault and so the Warden had no right to berate him for this.
Then she slapped him.
"Ow!" he yelped, scrambling to his feet. "What was that for?"
She stood up. "Taking advantage of a woman not in her healthy mental state is hardly a noble virtue, Alistair."
"You're..." He stared at her, still holding a hand to his cheek. "How...? You... kissed me!"
"I woke up," she said dismissively. "Why, yes, so I did – and now I have a pleasant source of torture material to hang over your head, do I not?"
Alistair shook his head incredulously. "I can't believe this. But... how... what?" He opened his mouth a few more times, but couldn't find enough words to put in it.
"'Tis no matter to you," she said, stalking off into the night. Alistair was left standing there, still stunned.
"There there," said the Warden uncomfortably as he put a hand on Alistair's shoulder. "I'm, er, sorry that it turned out like that."
"I can't believe she'd do that!" said Alistair angrily. He kicked a cooking pot over. "I mean, how long do you think she'd been back to herself for? She was stringing me along!"
"I can't imagine Morrigan pretending to be nice for more than a few minutes, really," said Leliana. "Perhaps it was only during the kiss?"
"Grrrrngk," Alistair said, or something close to that. "I hate her."
Morrigan was standing outside his tent. Alistair was momentarily confused as to why she was not singing some insanely cheerful wake-up song and dancing around the campsite. Then he remembered.
"Hello," he said, sitting up and glaring. "Now what do you want? Is there a little part of my spirit you forgot to tread on last night?"
She paused, seemingly nervous. "Alistair... I... it was nice, that time with you," she said.
Alistair gaped. "I'm sorry? If this is another lead-up to a piece of domestic abuse, I think I'll pass on this one."
"Please cease being a complete moron for one second, and listen!" snapped Morrigan. She took a deep breath. "I wanted to kiss you. That is why I did it. Are you happy now?"
"... no," said Alistair, who was trying to sort out the mess that were his thoughts.
"Each to his own," said Morrigan after frowning and letting her eyes wander over his face. She turned on her heel and headed back to her corner of the campsite.
Alistair sat there and watched her walk away with that cat-like gait, the one that he had walked beside and laughed beside for what felt like a whole lifetime, and one of the strings of his thoughts eventually wriggled free from the knot.
He stood up and ran after her.
A/N: To be honest, I don't know how in Thedas Alistair/Morrigan is going to work out after the timeline of this fic, but that's not my problem. :) I also apologise for the slightly anachronistic things coming out of my Warden's mouth (it's SacredBob Cousland as far as I'm concerned, but please feel free to substitute any male PC).