Loghain woke to the sound of soft knocking. For a moment, he wondered why his room looked different. When his mind cleared and the memories of the night before returned, heat spread through his belly. But Cauthrien was already gone, apparently arising early and leaving him to his rest, and his disappointment was not insubstantial.

More insistent rapping of knuckles on wood cut through his thoughts. He pushed himself to a sitting position, ran his hands over his face and barked, "What?"

When the door opened and the ridiculous bard and the fussy mage walked through, Loghain groaned.

"I told you he wasn't in his room," Leliana said, looking entirely too pleased with herself.

"Is there some reason my privacy is being invaded this early in the morning?" he demanded.

Wynne placed her hands on the curve of her hip and looked down at him. "Marcus sent for me. He told me you injured your leg further last night."

He glared up at her. "Ah. It is time for my daily scolding then."

He supposed he should be grateful that she had not made good with the threat to bring his daughter along considering where they had found him.

The mage's lips twitched as she sat on the bed and pulled the bed covers from his leg. "No scolding today."

Her inspection commenced in silence. Loghain was taken aback by the lack of sharp words and disapproving glances. "I am all disappointment, madam."

"Leliana told me what happened last night," Wynne said as she unwrapped the bandage. "You reinjured yourself by showing concern for another, and I cannot fault you for that."

The denials born of years of habit came quickly to mind. It was such an odd sensation of bittersweet freedom to not need them anymore.

His brows knit together. "I see."

"I confess, I did not think you capable of that kind of feeling."

"I am not surprised. You have always assumed the worst of me."

"I have," Wynne admitted. She looked up and met his gaze. "But in this instance, it is nice to be proven wrong."

"That is a great comfort, madam," he drawled. "Since you know how much I live for your approval."

Wynne responded with a soft chuckle as she returned to inspecting his leg.

"You should have been there, Wynne," Leliana said. "It was very romantic."

Wynne did not even bother hiding her amusement. "No doubt it was. Although it doesn't seem to have improved his temper any, which is a shame."

Wynne finished fussing with his bandages and stood. "Marcus did well enough with the magics last night, and there seems to be no further damage to your leg." Amusement flashed across her face again. "Just be certain that any nighttime activities you indulge in do not put anymore strain on it, at least for awhile."

Loghain's glare seemed only to increase her mirth. "Noted."

"Oh I almost forgot. This is for you." Leliana pushed the bowl he had not noticed she was carrying into his hands. It surprised him so much that he nearly spilled it into his lap. It appeared to be some kind of porridge.

"And what is this for?"

"Eating, of course!" she said it as though it was perfectly natural for her to be serving him breakfast in bed. "Marcus wants to see you first thing, and I thought I'd save you a trip to the kitchens."

He looked down at the offending bowl, wondering perhaps if she had poisoned the contents. But his hunger, fueled by the darkspawn taint, made his belly growl. So with a growl of his own, he relented and took a bite.

"I would thank you," he said. "But it would only encourage your ridiculous meddling more."

She laughed as she and the fussy mage took their leave, throwing the words over her shoulder. "You are welcome, Loghain."

Shaking his head, he turned his attention to finishing the porridge and then dressing so that within a few minutes of their departure, he was hobbling down the hall to the Warden Commander's study.

When he reached the door, he stopped and regarded it with a thoughtful frown. Loghain was uncertain how long he stood there, but eventually his brooding was interrupted by a hesitant touch on his arm.

Cauthrien looked at him, biting her lip with worry, but he covered her hand with his own. The feel of her warm skin was a balm to his battered pride.

"Follow our duty and see where it takes us, eh?" he asked.

She smiled. "That is the general idea, yes."

It still rankled to be under the authority of another, and Loghain suspected that it always would be so, but the sting was less today than he had thought it would be.

"Well then, we should get to it."

He knocked on the Warden Commander's door and waited, if not quite patiently, at least in silent acceptance until he heard the voice within bidding them to enter.