Disclaimer; I don't own Dragon Age.

Debt

Loghain is the one who carries her down from the tower, because she wouldn't have wanted anyone to see her so beaten and bloodied, and he owes her at least that much in return for his life.

He covers her with a sheet from the captain's quarters, and carries her down in his arms, wondering why it has taken him an hour to climb the stairs that it took her less than twenty minutes to fight her way up. He supposes he must be getting old. It makes sense; too old to argue, too tired to fight with her.

He knows he should have been the one to die for this, because he owes his country that much for tearing it in two, owes her that much for sparing him when he deserved nothing less than death. But she had refused; she had insisted; and in the end, he had stayed behind, just as she had wanted.

He knows that she wanted him to live; she had told him in no uncertain terms that he was not to die, not to let the darkspawn overwhelm him, because his daughter needs her father and Fereldan needs a general, and he doesn't understand why she couldn't have been there instead. Maker knows Fereldan needs her more than it needs him, needs her more than it needs Anora or Eamon or any of its banns or arls or teryns.

He doesn't let anyone take her from him when he reaches the battlefield, because he doesn't trust them to carry her correctly, doesn't trust them to be careful enough, or respectful enough, doesn't trust them to keep the others from seeing her before they're ready, before Fereldan is ready.

He takes a side alley to the palace, to avoid the crowds and her friends and the majority of the darkspawn corpses. He keeps his pace steady, holds her as firmly as he dares, to keep her from falling from his grasp.

He remembers, when Anora was a little girl, how he'd carry her to bed, held tightly to his chest, keeping her safe from the world, keeping her warm and alive, and know he carries the Warden with the same care, the same caution and possessiveness, because he owes her that much, and because really, she deserves it. Her father dead, her brother missing, and her lover long gone; someone needs to care about her now, needs to protect her from everything that would take her away.

It's too late, he knows. She needed protecting long before now, back when she still breathed and fought and cried, back when she wouldn't let anyone protect her. But he can do this for her now, when she can't do it for herself.

He doesn't expect this to be enough. He doesn't expect her to forgive him, if she can still see him, for failing to do what needed to be done, for letting her take the blow instead. But it's what needs to be done, and he's the only one who can do it.

He owes her this much, even if she would never have allowed him to admit it.