Author: Jade Sabre
Notes: I've been wrestling with this one on and off for over a month now, but I think it's finally polished enough to where I can post it, if not perfect. I have a deep and abiding love of the complexities Bioware offered in Dragon Age, and hope this little fic does them some justice.
Reviews would be really awesome!
Much love to my beta Quark, whose mind was possibly traumatized by certain anatomical realizations brought on by this fic.
Disclaimer: Dragon Age belongs to a good many people who aren't me.
Morrigan had always thought it would be Alistair. Ever since her mother arrived home with the two unconscious Wardens in tow and told her what opportunities lay ahead of them because of the Blight, she'd watched the ex-templar with an eye to their eventual union. Of course, it soon became clear that decision to make the union would land on the other Warden's shoulders; Alistair followed her around like a lost puppy, wagging his tail hopefully, eyes wide and pitiful, occasionally even with his tongue lolling out of his mouth. Morrigan sniffed at this behavior; it was an insult to dogs everywhere, and furthermore it boded ill for the future of their child. What sort of Old God would want to reside in a body contaminated by such idiocy? Would it be worth saving such a soul, only to trap it in a drooling human form?
And then of course the Warden had to go and fall for him, which meant Morrigan wouldn't have the pleasure of deflowering him herself; given the girl's lack of experience, however, it was unlikely that his skills would improve to such a point that bedding him would be a pleasurable act without drastic intervention on her part. And the sight of her Warden reduced to such a dribbling lovesick idiot irked her. She liked the Warden when she was cool, in control, willing to do whatever was necessary in order to advance their purposes—when she was a Grey Warden, and not a—a woman. And yet she Wardened as a woman, and as a woman she left thoughtful gifts at Morrigan's tent, and Morrigan found herself wanting to—reciprocate the gesture. Do something for someone else, as it were. It was a new, strange feeling, and she quashed it thoroughly by telling herself that she was going to save the Warden's life, if the woman would allow it, and surely that was gift enough, letting her live on as a hero, safe and alive. It pained her to know that she wouldn't be there to see such things, but so things went, and the pain distracted her from dwelling too deeply on its source.
And Alistair was, at least, a fine specimen of man, as long as he kept his mouth shut. She doubted the Warden would be pleased with the idea, but as they drew closer to the Landsmeet, Morrigan found that she trusted her Warden to make the correct decision, and so she found herself thinking that perhaps she wouldn't torture the man as—as much as she could. Better to make it hot and make it quick, catch him (and herself) in the moment and leave before she could realize that his aforementioned drool would now be in her—
Such thoughts came to a crashing halt, like a tilted tree suddenly tumbling under forces it could no longer resist, when the Warden looked Alistair in the eye and spared Loghain's life. Morrigan cared little either way—it seemed dangerous to leave such a foe alive, but forcing him into the Grey Wardens would be a useful way of harnessing his skills towards a productive purpose—but Alistair cared, very much, too much, as he always did, and so one moment he was there complaining and the next he was gone.
Morrigan didn't miss him; the only person she would miss would be the Warden, and admitting that cost her dearly, as if a little piece of what made her was gone, given to the Warden and never to be seen again, and it was a strange sensation best not dwelt upon, a weakness not to be repeated. What was done was done, and when word came that Loghain had survived the Joining, she set about adjusting her mind to the fact that she would no longer have the pleasure of manipulating a fresh-faced ex-templar but rather the struggle of bedding a bitter ex-teyrn. At least the man's personality was less objectionable; he was practical, and fully aware of the consequences of his actions, and a man, not that it mattered. The Warden seemed able to tease a hint of softness from his eyes when she spoke to him, and those eyes followed her around camp with a frown, but while he never hesitated to speak he never babbled, and Morrigan found herself almost respecting him.
When it came to asking the Warden for permission to play with her pet, she felt she handled the affair remarkably well, pointing out the advantages of the ritual without resorting to an outpouring of emotion. The only information she kept to herself was what she planned to do with the child; she didn't entirely know herself, and the thought of—of planning the child's life, of dreaming for the future, seemed silly and maternal and all the things she was determined not to be. The Warden's eyes were narrowed throughout her explanation, and when she finished, she remained seated on the bed, waiting for the verdict.
"Very well," said the Warden at last. "I will ask him."
Morrigan smiled, for she knew "ask" meant "ordered" and that very soon she would—that soon after very soon she would be transformed into the vessel for the soul of an Old God, and her true life's work would have begun. That was satisfying enough to prepare her for any upcoming lack of satisfaction, and she refused to allow herself to pace or fidget as she stood alone in the room, staring into the fire, emptying her thoughts and gathering her magic.
It took longer than she expected, but soon enough the Warden returned with her pet at her side, and the man had only one question and one concern: Ferelden, and Morrigan was happy enough to assure him that she would never come back to the cold, Blighted land. The Warden glanced between them with concern in her eyes, and Morrigan smiled again to hide her sudden discomfort.
"Let's get this over with before I change my mind," he said, and Morrigan smoothly slipped out the door and he followed, closing it before the Warden could say anything else.
The walk to his guest room was excruciatingly awkward, and Morrigan never felt awkward. For every silent step she took his armor rustled and clinked—even without his full plate on he still wore a chain shirt, which she was fairly certain he slept in. His face was set in its lines, if not exactly tense, and she found her gaze roaming over the hallway, the tapestries, the stone, the carpet under their feet, and just as she again felt a need to fidget they arrived. He opened the door and held it for her with an ironic bow, his eyes on the floor as she walked past and took up a position against the wall, close to one of the bedposts, crossing her arms.
He sighed as he closed the door, and said, "I suppose you won't want to do this the easy way, will you?"
She freed one of her hands long enough to twirl her finger at him. "All off, I'm afraid. It wouldn't do for this to look perfunctory."
He tugged the chain shirt over his head. "Wouldn't fool the magic?"
"Something like that," she agreed, though really it didn't matter. Still, she'd always planned for something a little more…intriguing. Just because the other person in the plans had changed didn't mean she had to abandon them completely.
He hung the chain shirt on one of the armor stands in the room—she suspected he'd commandeered all the extra ones in the castle—and sat on the edge of the bed as he tugged off his boots. "You have the advantage in that case."
He was looking at her breasts without lust or curiosity, and Morrigan felt a stab of disappointment, though she'd known he wouldn't be so easily manipulated. She decided not to reply, and simply watched as he looked away and continued to remove articles of clothing—the precise gestures, leaving no room for unnecessary movement, could only be described as such—until he sat on the edge of the bed in his smallclothes, at which point he raised his gaze back to hers and, without a word, gave a mocking twirl of the hand.
It irked her to have her gesture thrown in her face, but she went about sliding out of her skirt and unhooking her top. As she stood on one foot and bent to remove one of her boots, she nodded at the bed. "Sit back," she said. "Relax, even."
He snorted, and she dropped her gaze to her task; after her boots went her smallclothes, and then she gathered herself, putting the full force of her confidence in her magic and the ritual into her expression, before lifting her head and looking at him. The expression on his face was somewhere between boredom, resignation, and pain; aiming for the latter, she said, "And have you had so many women in your life, Loghain, that the sight of one more is merely boring? Or is it," and she approached the bed, carefully timing her steps, "that I am not the one you wish to see?"
"You'll excuse me if I close my eyes and think of my dead wife," he said, eying her body without any sense of novelty.
"Oh, where's the fun in that?" she said, watching as he shifted towards the headboard even as she crawled towards him, his legs instinctively drawing away from her. She blew out the candle by the bed—not that it mattered, because the candelabra in the corner was still lit—and moved to drop her mouth to his, when she found herself stopped short by his hand, holding her chin.
His other hand was against her sternum, holding her away from him, his large, rough fingers brushing her breasts, and she raised her eyebrows even as he looked, long and hard, into her face, his eyes dark and she thought angry—and then all emotion melted from his face as he grinned at her, wolfishly, and said, "Allow me."
He was hard, his face and his body and his thoughts and his life, and yet he was surprisingly gentle, his fingers tattooing a war beat along her belly as he pressed her into the bed. As soon as she moved to touch him, his arms were iron weights against hers, holding her still while he dipped his head between her breasts and blew hot air against her skin; she waited for the press of his lips to follow, but it never came. Instead he branded her with his breath, and then he was hands and fingers and breath and weight flowing over her body and pinning her down whenever her hands tried to roam—and then her hands were clutching his shoulders, gripping them as if they were her last attempt to gain some vestige of control over the fact that she was in his arms and he was dictating the speed and the rhythm while she tried to gasp—a command, a scream, a spell, something, but there was nothing, nothing to do except surrender and curse him for his silence.
Her arms flopped weakly by her head as she tried to breathe, completely spent, while he carefully settled himself next to her, propped by pillows, radiating warmth without actually touching her. She belatedly shut her mouth and hoped she'd kept her tongue in, working her jaw to assure herself that yes, it still worked, and yes, she could control her twitching fingers and her sudden burning need desire want for—more. She tried to gather her thoughts—she needed to gather her things, and perhaps her dignity, and leave—and then he spoke.
"Why did you do this?"
She rolled her eyes, then closed them. "If you think we have suddenly developed a rapport—"
"Don't be foolish," he said, and his voice was hard where she thought Alistair's might have been defensive. She banished the puppy's face from her mind immediately and focused on her current problem. "But I would know if the joys of motherhood were all you hoped to gain."
The sarcasm in his voice was surprisingly reassuring; it promised, silently, that they had not been changed by the experience, even if something had shifted. "The Warden told you of the Old God," she said. "I seek to save that, as well."
She kept her eyes closed and focused on her breathing, and waited; he finally said, "And is that all you seek to save?"
Her eyes opened and her head turned to look at him, and he was regarding her with amusement and—resignation, though what about, she couldn't imagine. "I could care less about the life of a traitor," she said, sitting up and wriggling her toes and thinking that perhaps she ought to leave now.
"But the life of a trusting Warden is perhaps more precious?"
She was out of the bed and stepping into her smallclothes before she could see whether or not he laughed at her. "And you?" she challenged, once she was at least—covered, though her legs were stained and her cheeks still flushed. "Did you attempt to argue, or did you follow orders as a good soldier should? 'Tis easy enough to tuck one's tail between one's legs—"
"Aside from recent experience robbing your insult of its worth," he said, "I think you misunderstand me."
She glared at him, reached for her boots, and said, "Your duty is to follow her orders." He lay on the bed, naked and uncaring, no matter how she tried to mock him with her gaze as she dressed. "No," he said quietly. "She gave me a choice, and I chose."
"A choice?" She laughed. "Foolish of her, but she prefers to throw her lot with fools. And here you are."
"Yes," he said, and she finally gave up on reassembling her top and crossed her arms and said, "Why?"
"Because she is young," he said, his eyes never leaving hers, "as are you, and you are both in over your heads."
"I am not a child," she said, and he had the audacity to laugh.
"You forget, Morrigan," he said, "that I am a father, and I have seen how a girl looks when she is in your position."
"Is Anora so desperate for a babe?" She had the satisfaction of seeing his brow darken, but his eyes still laughed at her.
She hated not having an answer, and he sighed and said, "The girl is a fool, and I am not a slobbering idiot who cannot see that she will sacrifice herself for the sake of a broken heart. And she is," and for the first time she had the sense that he was revealing something, "in her own way, strong enough to rob me of the killing blow."
"How kind of you, then, to spend an hour of your time with me," she said, returning to the task of dressing herself, because she suspected he understood her strange feelings better than herself, and she was too proud to allow him the realization of it. "Now if you don't mind, we march in the morning, and I would prefer to rest."
"I wish you the luck of it," he said. "My children have a reputation for being…difficult."
She glared at him and he shrugged, and part of her couldn't help but notice he was still naked and there for the taking; as revenge, she summoned a wind to extinguish the candles, and left him alone, in the dark, with whatever feelings of smug satisfaction he desired. The reasonable part of her mind guessed that instead he probably sighed into the darkness and settled into the soldier's sleep, deep and easily broken, such as she had never learned to keep. And so she slipped into her dog form, and padded towards the Warden's fire; the woman's door was unlocked, open, trusting, and Morrigan settled on the hearthstones with a snort, seeking the sleep that came from resting near her master's feet.