Disclaimer - Dragon Age: Origins belongs to BioWare and EA Games; it's their sandbox - I'm simply destroying the sandcastles.

Title: Doubt

Author: Jade-Max

Genre: Video Game Fan-fic "Missing Moment" if you will

Characters: Alistair / Female Cousland [Elissa]

Author's Note: Inspired by (an unhardened) Alistair's comment about being terrified to lose Elissa at the end of the game (post ritual) after having defeated the archdemon. In the cut scene, what must have he been thinking as he watched her plunge that sword into the archdemon's neck?


Doubt

The battle had been fierce upon reaching the rooftop, Elissa un-shouldering her bow to land a mighty, well aimed shot to draw the arch demon's attention. Once achieved, she'd tossed the bow aside and pulled her swords, casting a quick, almost feral grin Alistair's way, before plunging into the melee.

Fast and fierce, the quartet worked like magic even as Morrigan called upon the forces of nature. Chilling blasts followed by pulverizing blows shattered resistance and pushed back those who would have thought to encircle them. Alistair put his templar talents to good use, banishing the magic of the Emissaries before ploughing in to hand to hand combat.

Elissa and Zevran worked on his flanks, moving from shadow to shadow to step in behind the Emissaries to place devastatingly accurate stabs to vital areas. Spinning and twirling, they moved out of range as the Hurlocks and Genlocks bore down, leaving a trail in their path as Elissa vaulted over a dying Genlock and raced for the archdemon. Zevran took another route, backtracking to eliminate archers who were taking a bead on Morrigan.

Alistair was quick on Elissa's heels, ploughing aside the remaining and cutting them down in her wake. Morrigan brought up the rear, focusing on the archdemon as she called upon the primal elements of nature to lock it to the deck. Frost covered the archdemon as Elissa reached it, allowing her time to race around the side before planting her daggers with devastating effect into one haunch and pulling it downwards.

Blood spurted, covering her, but she held on grimly, replanting the daggers as the archdemon let out a roar, kicking back with the injured leg. Elissa ducked, barely managing to avoid the blow only to be sent sprawling by a sweep of its tail.

Something cracked as she landed, her head hitting the deck with a painful thumb. Almost immediately, the pain disappeared, the warmth of Morrigan's healing magic flowing through her. That Wynne had ever agreed to teach Morrigan about healing magic remained one of their party's great mysteries - but one that Elissa was ever thankful for.

Rolling back to her feet, Elissa's attention was diverted by a nearby ballista. Inspired, she darted away. "Keep it busy!" she ordered as Alistair's shield took the brunt of a claw attack, his sword - Duncan's sword - flashing in riposte.

"Sure, no... problem!"

Sliding on the blood spattered cobblestones, Elissa was pleased to see the dwarven army spilling out onto the rooftop - belated but welcome - as they set about hacking the darkspawn with determined efficiency. They, more than any other unit under her command, deserved to be at this final battle. Skidding to a stop next to the large crossbow, Elissa sheathed her swords and put her hands to the sides of it, pushing it into position.

She spun, steel flashing in reflex, at a sudden noise at her back and deflected an over handed chop from a Hurlock who'd escaped the other's notice. Dispatching it with a flurry of blows, she turned back to her task, taking a bead on the archdemon. Except it was too far away. Wishing she'd kept her bow, she noted Morrigan on the far side of the archdemon, alternatively freezing it solid for Alistair to land brutal blows, but Zevran was closer and Elissa moved to the edge of the platform.

"Zev!"

The elf cocked his head, back flipping out of the way of a tail sweep and landing with an agility Elissa still envied. He paused, not taking his eyes off the archdemon, and Elissa knew she'd heard him.

"Bring it this way!"

Pain exploded through her back as the word left her lips and she turned with a shriek, one sword already in hand and out to block the next blow. The axe the Genlock had been using was wrenched from his grasp at her sudden turn, her other blade flashing in from the side to take his head from his shoulders. With a hiss, Elissa blocked out the pain as two more converged on her, another three behind them.

Adrenaline surged through her system and she used the falling corpse for leverage, launching herself into the middle of the group with devastating consequences. Surprised by her sudden move, they were unprepared when she set one foot and began to spin, lashing out in a whirlwind of death that, when she came to a stop, left her as the only one standing.

In those moments, Zevran had done as she asked. The archdemon's attention had been focused on the Antivan elf, ducking its head as it stalked closer, Alistair on his back several meters away from what could only have been a stunning blow. Swinging back, she stepped back to the ballista and sighted it. Zevran jumped about before it, tucking into a roll to minimize the damage as he was sent across the cobble stones by the wave of one clawed forepaw.

"Now." The word was whispered as Elissa hit the firing mechanism. The bolt shot from the oversized crossbow, true to form, and impaled the archdemon in the shoulder, rending a wing and stealing what little power of flight it had left.

It screamed, its pain and defiance echoing for miles as it turned its attention her way.

Elissa took note of the archdemon's injuries, of the way it bled and of the way it fought; it wasn't done yet. With a yell to drive back the sting of her injuries, she bolted from the side of the weapon and back into the fray. Flames licked her skin as she ran head long into its released breath weapon, the sting of those burns minimized thanks to the enchantments glowing on her blades.

Alistair rejoined her, their blades flashing almost in unison as they impaled the beast again and again. Morrigan rejoined the fray with a devastating whirlwind of snow and ice before considerately unleashing a series of healing magics on their group.

Zevran lost his footing in the snow as he ploughed back in, going to his knees but not letting it stop him. His daggers flashed, tearing through hide and severing an important tendon on one foot. He took a blow straight to the chest, the claws of the archdemon digging in before sending him flying. A limp rag doll, he crashed to the ground and didn't move.

Falling back, Elissa let Morrigan's magic work, concentrating on keeping the Genlocks and Hurlocks at bay.

And then, the moment was upon them.

Elissa rushed back in as the storm dissipated. Without thinking, she launched herself from the back of a dying Hurlock, straight towards the neck of the dragon. Her blades flashed as she caught hold and unsheathed them, the twin blades diving straight into the neck of the beast.

"Elissa!"

The dragon bucked her off and she landed with a roll, ignoring Alistair's call, her swords still stuck in the neck of the dragon. The archdemon thrashed, attempting to get up, and Elissa raced back in. Her hands closed about the hilt of a sword left by someone in the corpse of a darkspawn, lifting it with both hands, she let out a war cry as she brought it up and over her head to slice into the neck of the archdemon.

Morrigan and Alistair watched as Elissa rose to her feet, her expression a mask of determination and victory as she brought her pilfered sword up.

"No!" Alistair made to move as she brought the sword over her head, knowing he'd never get to her in time, but needing to try - except Morrigan's hand closed about his elbow.

"Don't you fool; you can't help her!"

"Elissa!" Her name was torn from his lips fearfully as she brought the sword down, slicing deep into the archdemon's neck. Energy was released, Elissa's whole form writhing and bucking within the maelstrom. She twisted like a burning strand of hair, curling about the sword she refused to relinquish and Alistair doubted.

He doubted Morrigan and her ritual.

He doubted the outcome; that the archdemon would truly die.

He doubted his ability to stand there and watch as the soul of the archdemon destroyed his one good reason for living.

He doubted what would come next.

He doubted - and he prayed.

Maker please - don't take her from me. Not yet; not now. It can't have all been for nothing. Alistair thought desperately, looking at Morrigan for a brief moment before looking back to his betrothed. Anguished, powerless, he could do little but watch as she seemed to bend with each surge of power as the archdemon died.

This... This has to work - Elissa!

A wave of energy threw him back as an explosion rocked the spire, sending him sprawling several meters away. Morrigan was thrown from him and he blacked out for a moment when his head hit the rock, his helmet rolling free. Coming to with a trickle of blood running down his face, Alistair groaned and pushed himself to a sitting position.

All around him dwarves were getting to their feet, other who had resisted the blow, already at work finishing off the remaining darkspawn. Zevran, to his surprise, was also starting to stir - though he moved very carefully, as if in great pain. Morrigan was nowhere to be seen and Alistair dismissed her from his thoughts almost immediately as his gaze came to rest upon Elissa's crumpled form.

"Elissa!" the hoarse call didn't sound like his own voice as he scrambled towards her, not quite making his feet before he dropped to his knees. "Elissa - Maker, no." He stretched out his hands, reaching for her, but stopped just short, paralysed with the fear that he'd touch her to find her cold. "No, please no. Not her; not yet."

The need to hold her overrode his fear and he gathered her into his arms. Using his teeth, he unlaced one gauntlet - heedless of the darkspawn blood coating the laces - and shook it off, not caring where it fell. His bare fingers caressed her cheek, cool under his finger tips, but not cold. His heart leapt into his throat as he leaned down, looking and listening for signs of life as he laid his palm on her chest.

For the longest moment he could hear nothing but his own ragged breathing and the pulse of his heartbeat in his temples.

And then he felt it.

A single flutter under his fingertips.

Holding his breath, he wasn't certain he didn't imagine it - until her heart fluttered a second time and then a third, as if restarting under his palm.

A sob of relief escaped him as Alistair closed his eyes against the tears that suddenly and abruptly surged into his gaze. They slipped from closed eyelids and he pulled her close, wrapping her tightly in his arms as he bent his head to hers.

Morrigan hadn't lied and they'd come through this together.

"Thank the Maker." he breathed brokenly, cradling her close. "You're going to be alright, my love," he told her softly, his voice ragged and relieved. "It's all going to be alright."

fin