A/N: So, after much angsting and deliberation, I have been forced to conclude that it is more important for me to tell the story as it was determined to unfold, rather than try to pad it and draw it out to my original outline. So, I am very sorry for misleading you, but this is, in fact, the last part to Surrender. I hope you guys don't mind. I had a lot of fun exploring the Mahariel character, and I can only hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did.

Thanks again for reading :)


Part Six



They made love in the tall grasses beside lakes, beneath the stars, and in the thick forests at the edge of Ferelden. Any moment they were truly alone irrevocably ended with them eagerly tugging at each other's clothes as they sank to the ground, slaves to the newly forged fire that raged between them. When he was with her, with their limbs entwined and her breath hot against his skin, the Blight seemed very far away, everything and everyone fading away except here and now. Occasionally, he would idly wonder if he had turned into a drooling lecher after all, but every night she would twist in his arms, her mouth hungrily seeking his in the darkness, and for a little while, the world was at rights again.

The frequency of their intimacy wasn't lost on the rest of their little band, and Alistair suffered more teasing in the next few weeks as they made their way to Orzammar than he had for the entirety of his time with the Grey Wardens. However, he did find it was much easier to endure ribbing for being the only one in the group who was having sex, rather than the other way around.

He couldn't say what made him notice the Lyna was acting differently once they had reached Orzammar. The change was barely noticeable—certainly the others didn't detect that anything was wrong with her. There was just a certain detachment in her eyes, a force to her laugh that he found more than a little concerning. Try as he might, he couldn't seem to cheer her from whatever it was that troubled her. She still came to him each night, clinging to him almost desperately in her sleep, and so despite his trepidations, Alistair had to assume whatever the problem was, it wasn't with him.

It took him nearly a week before he finally figured it out, the signs coming together to explain an emotion so foreign for her that he felt he could be forgiven for not understanding sooner.

She was terrified.

Even in the mild depths of the city, he suddenly noticed her glancing about anxiously, her eyes continually darting to the massive weight of rock over their heads as they ran pointless errands for the quarreling claimants to the throne. He had begun to believe so thoroughly that Lyna didn't fear anything, it had never occurred to him that she had never been in a world without fresh air and sunshine. When Harrowmont requested that they journey into the lost thaigs, she could no longer hide her fear from the others.

The Deep Roads were nearly too much for all of them, the oppressing darkness and stale air closing in around them from all sides, but for the Wardens, it was a waking nightmare. Lyna's ivory skin had gone positively ghostly in the dim light cast by Morrigan's staff, her eyes swimming with anxiety as they searched into the warped, distorted shadows that danced ahead of them. The Taint was thick down here, as well, slowing to a crawl in his veins, a haunting echo of the song that drove the darkspawn. Every fiber of Alistair's being screamed out for him to abandon this scheme and go running back to the surface, back to light and life and something other than the dark press of inevitability. Only Lyna kept him from losing it completely, his concern for her overriding the terror that lurked at the edge of his mind.

He found her away from the others one night—or day, it was impossible to tell which—after they had decided to stop despite having finally found a solid clue that they were headed in the right direction. Lyna was sitting on the edge of a long, deep gorge, her knees pulled to her chest and her arms wrapped tightly around them, staring out into the darkness. He was cautious approaching her, recognizing the tension in her shoulders and back as a warning.

She didn't move when he sat down next to her, save for a glance out of the corner of her eye.

"You should be sleeping," he said, keeping his voice quiet to avoid the eerie, distorted echoes that seemed to constantly hover around them.

"Dar'en aravel elah'la shal'en." We are walking in our own grave.

He winced. "Well, that's a cheery little thought."

"I find myself unable to consider any other."

He sighed and put his arm around her. She responded readily, leaning over to wrap her arms around him, her head resting against his chest. Despite her cool demeanor, he felt her trembling and closed his eyes. "Lyna, go back to the city. I can find Branka."

She shook her head so violently the beads in her hair clashed together. "I cannot leave you down here alone."

"Love, I realize that you have this thing with being insanely stubborn, but I promise, no one's going to think any less of you for going back. Zevran might actually kiss you if you take him with you. I can manage this one thing on my own."

"You misunderstand me, Alistair. I cannot leave you down here alone. It may be weeks before this Paragon is found. All that waiting, not knowing if you will return to me…" She shuddered. "Please don't ask that of me. It's too much."

Her fear for him was greater than her terror of this horrible place. The realization was almost staggering. He drew her closer to him and kissed the top of her head, stroking her hair while a realization of his own took form and found words. "Nothing could ever keep me from coming back to you, Lyna."


Arl Eamon looked completely taken aback by the simple reply, his mouth working to protest before he could think of what to say. Alistair held his breath, waiting. Eamon was never speechless for very long.

The arl floundered for a while, settling for glaring at each of them before he crossed his arms, visibly working to keep his voice calm. "I hope you realize the damage you are causing by refusing to stand with us," he finally said.

Us? Alistair thought dryly, but Lyna was already shaking her head, unmoved by the argument. "I am sorry, Arl Eamon, but you cannot convince me that the loss of a single Dalish voice in a human Landsmeet will be the cause for generations of civil unrest. I am not that vain."

"You are the only other Grey Warden in Ferelden! How will it look, when even Alistair's partner can't be bothered to support him?"

She shrugged. "This Landsmeet is but a technicality to remove an enemy from a place he does not belong before the true war begins. We have the evidence we need to succeed in that much."

"You think that simply removing Loghain will solve your problems? The squabbling for the throne will cause countless factions to appear all over Ferelden, each one with a claim no stronger than the last. The fighting could drag on for years."

She met his gaze levelly. "I do not intend to leave that to chance, Arl Eamon. I have some knowledge of the importance of this decision. Ferelden will have an established ruler, one who is capable of uniting both sides of this dispute with no more bloodshed. Even you must admit that Alistair is as controversial a choice for the throne as Loghain."

"There is no one in Ferelden with a stronger claim. The only hope you could possibly have is…" His voice trailed off, his grey, bristly brows drawing together in a dark frown. "You're going to support Anora."

Lyna didn't seem to see any reason to answer to the obvious, and so remained silent. Frustrated with trying to reason with the Dalish, Eamon turned his anger on Alistair. "I suppose I should assume you've already spoken to her about this?"

Alistair nodded, trying to sound confident beneath Eamon's glare, which still seemed able to reduce him to a stammering ten-year-old. "At length. Anora's more than willing to let me step back into obscurity if we give our support against her father."

"And what of those who have fought, and died, to keep Loghain from seizing the throne? People who have resisted him for the sake of your line, Alistair? Are you so afraid to see who you truly are?"

"Are you?" The quiet question caught everyone off guard, including Alistair. He flushed when Eamon glowered at him, disappointment evident in every line of his face, but plowed on ahead, anyway. "Anora's only hope is to discredit her father—she knows that. Those people weren't dying for me, Eamon—they don't even know I exist. Anora represents both Cailan's throne and Loghain's influence. Without me, there's no one left to oppose her. This is the best chance we have for a peaceful transition."

Eamon made a sound between a sigh and a growl, fixing Lyna with a look that said as clearly as words on a page that he thought this entire thing was her fault. "Whether or not you are damning generations of Ferelden to civil war remains to be seen. But what makes you so certain this is the best decision for him?" he asked, pointing an accusing finger at Alistair.

Lyna only blinked at first, staring at Eamon as though the answer should have been obvious. "Because I asked him. It is a courtesy you might attempt, in the future."


He stared at her, looking for any sign—a flicker of her eyes, a quirk of her lips—to tell him she couldn't possibly be serious about this. Lyna offered him no such assurance, meeting his gaze with unnerving gravity. The tumult of emotion she was keeping locked behind her eyes was all the answer he needed, anyway.

"Lyna," he said, and he could hear the pleading in his own voice, "you can't really be asking me to do this. Not with Morrigan."

She shook her head, her teeth appearing momentarily to chew at her bottom lip before she caught herself, schooling her features back into the carefully constructed mask he hadn't seen her use with him for a long time. "I am not asking," she said, her quiet tone belying the illusion of indifference. "I am simply letting you know what options are available to you."

"To me?" He couldn't quite keep the anger from seeping through, stung by her words and determination to keep what she was feeling hidden from him when he was really fine with being such an open mess. "What about us? Don't you care about this at all?"

The mask rippled. "How can you ask me that? I have no desire for you to…" She shook her head and squared her shoulders. "I cannot make this decision for you, Alistair."

He slouched back on their bed, his mind reeling. Of all the reasons his mind had created for Morrigan to want to speak to Lyna in private—this was worse than anything he could have invented. Lyna remained silent, unwilling to influence his thinking in any way. He hated her a little for that.

He knew their chances of getting through the coming battle. For the first time, Alistair was forced to consider the idea that they wouldn't live through this together, that there would be no happy ending and life after the Blight. All the time he had spent obsessing- the nerves he felt over making a fool of himself in asking her to stay when it was all over—they were nothing but the ridiculous fears of an unsure fool. He wished, now, that he had asked her before this, had taken the chance to tell her just how much he loved her before his back was against the wall. It seemed important.

He thought of the sultry witch, waiting for him like a spider in the next room, offering a tangled web that threatened to capture him and hold him fast, but let him live. His skin crawled.

He thought of Lyna, standing before the archdemon, the beast leering down at his little elf with bloodlust gleaming in its demonic eyes.

He rubbed his face with his hands and tried to banish the image. "Then I suppose… I'll be back," he said, taking extra care not to look at her as he strode from the room and shut the door behind him.

He leaned heavily on the stone edge of the basin, watching the drops from his hair fall to the smooth, glassy surface of the water, creating ripples that sent made his reflection waver in a distorted dance. The flickering, writhing image of himself certainly seemed a more accurate representation, giving the way his insides were twisting in on themselves.

He grimaced and liberally splashed himself with more of the rapidly cooling water, scrubbing at skin that had already been rubbed raw with his attempts to get the witch's scent off of him. It was late—he didn't know how late, but the castle had at last fallen quiet, the yards and campsite beyond having finally stilled, resting in preparation for the march to Denerim in the morning.

His room was dark, the hearth along the wall cold. Everyone had anticipated, rightly enough, that he had planned to stay with Lyna, despite Eamon's attempt at propriety in giving him his own space. He wanted to be there now, wanted to wrap himself around her and lose himself in the simple feel of her against him, but he was, quite simply, afraid. He didn't know how she was going to react to this, and didn't think he could survive if he went to her only to have her look at him with scorn reflected in her beautiful eyes.

He went through the motion of washing himself again, his breath coming in short, heavy gasps, his limbs trembling in something like panic. For the first time in is life, he was furious at Duncan for doing this to them, for not warning them of what could happen. He should have been prepared. He should have been able to steel himself against this. He would have…

He sighed and closed his eyes, a flood of calm cooling his boiling blood. He would have fallen in love with her, anyway, consequences be damned.

When the door opened, he knew without looking that it was her. She didn't speak, simply walked up and pressed herself into the curve of his back, her arms coming around his waist. He nearly crumbled at her touch, relief filling him until it was almost painful. He turned in her arms, gently lifting her chin with his fingers to look into her eyes. He was startled to find them swollen, fine red lines webbing at the corners.

She had been crying.

The knowledge was more than he could stand, that this proud, fierce woman that had faced the whole of Ferelden at its worse had been reduced to tears because of him. He didn't have the words to tell her what he was feeling, doubted the words that he needed even existed. Instead, he reached behind him and picked up the dagger still on his belt. He was fairly certain that even among the Dalish, this sort of thing required a proposal of some sort, but he still didn't trust himself to speak. His hands fumbled only slightly as he dragged the blade along the center of his palm.

Lyna gazed at him, her eyes wide, before she took it and inflicted an identical injury on her own hand. She pressed her palm into his, trembling, before she fell against him, her hot tears falling across his skin even as their blood ran down his arm.

"Never again," he swore around the knot in his throat, kissing her hair, her temple, the tears from her cheeks. "Only you."

He felt her nod, her voice still thick as she whispered, "Until the end, emma sa'vhenan."

"You're going to get an infection."

Alistair continued loading up the cart without looking at Wynne, trying very hard not to sigh over what he knew was honest concern. "It's bandaged. Leave it."

"And still spotting. It's obviously deep. I don't understand why you suddenly have this aversion to letting me help you. Lyna, too. She nearly bit my head off when I offered to heal her this morning." Wynne regarded him suspiciously. "Should I even ask why you two have identical injuries?"

"Probably not." He didn't like putting Wynne off, but he also didn't want to hear her opinion of his relationship with Lyna. And he certainly didn't plan to take any chance that she'd keep the wound from scarring. He vowed to himself that he would wear that mark for the rest of his life, no matter what happened with the archdemon.

Wynne was still shaking her head at him. "You're being very evasive."

"Or perhaps he is too polite to tell you that it's none of your concern." Alistair glanced up to see Morrigan on the other side of the cart, watching the scene with mild interest. "Regardless, Lyna is searching for you. I would suggest you allow Alistair to finish serving as the arl's common laborer in peace."

Wynne wandered off, muttering to herself. Alistair turned to Morrigan, torn between being grateful and annoyed by the expected jibe. The witch studied him through heavy-lidded eyes. "I certainly hope you know what you are about, Alistair. I should be very displeased if you treat this matter with your usual capriciousness."

He didn't answer, just stood there gaping like an idiot as she strolled away.

Maybe he wasn't the only one who had come to care for Lyna, after all.

The archdemon reared back and roared, a deafening sound that shook the entire rooftop, sending the lesser darkspawn scattering in fear. Alistair was already positioned for safety when it came down, darting to the edge of the rooftop to avoid being crushed by the beast. The massive body meeting stone still knocked him to the ground, shuddering through the stones beneath his feet. He picked himself up with a groan, his eyes immediately seeking the tiny archer in the chaos that reigned around them.

The dragon was dying, its breath coming in great, shallow gusts as it writhed, fighting to stand. Lyna met his eyes over the heaving reptilian body. She had been forced to stay back for most of the fight, making use of her bow. She stood as though rooted, covered in dirt and blood, her chest heaving and her eyes wide. He imagined he didn't look much better. He gripped his sword, trying to decide just how much faith he had in Morrigan.

It didn't take him long to decide—none at all.

They broke at the same moment, each sprinting for the sluggish form of the archdemon. Alistair had the advantage of being closer, and his longer stride promised he would reach the beast before her. Then suddenly a tearing pain went through his calf and he stumbled, his momentum nearly rolling him into the archdemon's flank. He looked down to see a feathered shaft protruding from his leg.

"Oh, no you don't." He reached down and, gritting his teeth, broke the arrow off before shoving himself to his feet. He didn't pause—didn't have time—before he brought his sword around in a powerful arc that severed the dragon's spine.

The world went solid white, a wave of energy jolting through his system like a bolt of lighting, the blinding light devouring all sight and sound, except that of Lyna's devastated scream ringing in his ears.

Being dead probably didn't hurt this much.

It was the first thought he had as consciousness slowly began to return to him, bringing with it enough pain to have him groaning, uncaring of who might have been around to hear it. He was aware of cold stone beneath him, making his armor dig into his back in a way that he really didn't need with all the other aches clamoring to make themselves known. He shifted, aware of someone hovering near him.


"Lay still, emma lath. Wynne is coming."

He opened his eyes. Lyna was right next to him, her legs curled beside her, sitting with his head pillowed in her lap. Tracks of tears streaked through the filth on her face—they glittered on her long, sooty lashes and shone in her eyes, but she was smiling. Alistair didn't think he'd ever seen anything so beautiful in his life.

He tried to move, but pain shot through him, and he winced. "You're not too mad at me, are you?"

"Yes." She sniffed, running gentle hands through his hair. "I am not accustomed to being thwarted."

"I noticed." He gestured weakly to the arrow embedded in his leg. "That hurt, you know."

"Clearly, not enough. I would apologize, but I would do it again, so I must not be overly sorry."

He laughed, wincing when the action brought the pain flaring back to the surface, but he couldn't seem to stop smiling. "You didn't take it out on me while I was unconscious, did you? I feel like I maybe could've been pummeled with tiny fists."

"I did not, though you well deserved it." She blinked, wiping her eyes, her other hand moving to clutch his. "Never frighten me like that again."

Alistair reached up and smoothed back her hair, drowning in the love that spilled from her eyes. "I promise."


Amaranthine was cold.

Alistair made his way across the muddy courtyard and ducked in through the side door, grumbling that Anora couldn't have at least waited until spring to make her grand gesture. He should have realized that a gifted arling was a very neat and clean way to kick him and his woman out of her castle as soon as possible.

The journey itself had been a bit of a nuisance, coming at the tail end of autumn, but at least the keep was filled with fires and blankets and warm bricks—which turned out to be a handy thing, since Lyna's claustrophobia insisted that she sleep with the shutters at least cracked even when it was snowing outside. Alistair might have complained harder about that, but the feel of her pressed tightly against him at night as she tried to stave off the chill more than made up for it, in his mind.

That Anora had decided to make the trip herself in the dead of winter was the first sign that he wasn't going to care for this visit.

She came with the pretense of checking in to see how the Grey Wardens were progressing in their rebuilding, but he wasn't falling for that. Anora couldn't care less about the Wardens—she had been more than happy to leave everything up to him and Lyna to decide, effectively washing her hands of the organization as well as the man who commanded it.

She waited until the last day before she finally got the point of the intrusion, taking Alistair aside as her men milled about in the yard, readying for the journey back to Denerim. "Before I take my leave, I would like to speak to you in private, if it's possible, and without formality."

He sighed. Nothing good would come of this—he was sure of it.

She waited until she he had led the way back to his study, making a great show of studying the intricate stonework that framed the hearth. "You may have heard that there are some difficulties in Denerim."

He crossed his arms. 'Difficulties' was a bit of an understatement. Anora was on the verge of having a full-on revolt on her hands, if the rumors could be believed. Although her ascent to the throne had been peaceful enough, her decisions in spending the coin to erect a monument to her father was greeted less than enthusiastically by the starving populace. "I've heard something about it."

"There are those who seem to think that they would have been better off throwing in their lot with another candidate."

He shrugged. "The Blight has taken its toll on everyone, your Majesty. Resources are scarce. Once the spring comes and the healing can begin, the people will settle down to a degree." He met her eyes evenly. "One might suggest that you do whatever is in your power to ensure they have the means to survive the winter."

She hesitated, running delicate fingers along a patch of knotted design. "Of course. But Arl Eamon offered another solution, to assist in raising moral for the time being."

Alistair didn't even have to ask. "No."

She raised one perfectly arched brow at the quick answer. "Is the thought so displeasing to you?"

Yes. "I'm a married man, Anora."

She looked startled. "I had heard nothing of this."

"Well, you wouldn't have. We followed Dalish tradition. There wasn't exactly time during the Blight to put together color schemes and seating arrangements."

"I see." She paused. "Well, it's not technically a legal bind. If you should want to, you could make provision—"

Alistair masked the violent flash of fury quite well, he thought. "I think you're better off leaving that sentence right there, don't you?"

Something in his tone must have warned her off. "I suppose." She sighed, pulling the fur-lined hood of her cloak up over her hair. "It was only a thought, and a far-fetched one, at that. I can settle the clamoring another way." She gave him an icy look. "I'm sure I don't have to ask you to keep this conversation between us."

No worries there. "Of course, your Majesty."

"Very good. Farewell, then, Warden Commander."

"Safe journey, your Majesty." May you catch a dreadful cold and look blotchy for days, you presumptuous hag.

"Will you marry me?"

Lyna glanced up from where she sat on the floor of their chamber, dressed only in one of his linen shirts as she sifted through a pile of letters. She raised an eyebrow at him. "We are already bonded, at my last observation."

"No, I know that, but... would you like to, anyway? Make it official in the eyes of the law, as well?"

She pursed her lips, setting aside her work to give him her full attention. "What brings this on?"

"Speaking with Anora, I suppose." For a moment he considered telling her of Anora's offer, but quickly decided if the Queen of Ferelden's body was found bristling with arrows, it might put a damper on the honeymoon. He'd tell her later, when Anora was safely back in Denerim. "She got me thinking."

Lyna got up and crawled onto the bed with him, climbing onto his lap with her arms draped around his neck. "Tell me."

He grimaced. "She just made it clear to me that very few people in Ferelden will consider you my wife, as things stand."

"The Wardens do. You do. Who else matters?" Something of the doubt he felt must have shown on his face, because her eyebrows drew together. "Is it so important to you?"

"To me? Not especially." He lay back against the pillows, idly running his hands along her bare thighs. "I just don't want you to feel like I'm ashamed of you. There's no reason to hide what you mean to me."

To his surprise, she laughed, a sound of genuine amusement. "I have my doubts that you could do any such thing, emma lath. You are not overly skilled in subterfuge." She smiled, running her hand through his hair. "Alistair, if you had no regard for my feelings at all, I would likely scorn you, but there is no reason for this. We know the truth. I am yours, heart and soul, just as you are mine, and that is all that matters. I truly don't wish to get tied up by politics or status or anything else these ridiculous nobles seem to think so important."

He smiled, shifting a bit so she could crawl over him. Her dark hair was loose and flowing over her shoulders, brushing against his skin as she settled at his side. He reached over, tucking a soft strand behind her ear. "Ma'arlath," he whispered.

"And I love you." She smiled when his hands began to slide up her back. "Besides, I do not believe it would be prudent to your position to have your mate argue with a Revered Mother about which deities she invoked for the ceremony. The Chantry seems rather rigid in that regard."

"Stubborn bastards." He drew her more securely against him, watching the way her eyes sparkled in the light of the dancing fire, feeling warm and content and, for the first time in his life, like he was home.




The End