Unnecessary disclaimer: None of the characters, storylines, or dialogue appearing in the video game, Dragon Age: Origins, belong to me.

Abstract: You knew as soon as you saw her that she was going to be trouble. Alistair/Cousland

You pace back and forth in front of the door, Ella's Mabari on your heels. Everyone is here, except for Morrigan, who has disappeared, and Wynne, who is in with Ella. Most everyone looks worried, battered, and exhausted except Sten, who looks just as sullen as always. He stands as if guarding the hallway, which would almost be endearing if he wasn't an angry giant.

Wynne opens the door and you move to enter. She holds up her hands, blocking the way. "She's fine, but sleeping. Don't wake her," she warns, and her eyes meet yours. "You need to get some sleep yourself, Alistair. But first, I want to check your wounds."

You move away as she reaches for your arm. "I'm fine," you insist. "One of the Circle mages checked me over."

She raises an eyebrow. "And left you with that gash?" she says, nodding towards a particularly nasty cut on your leg. "I don't think so."

She drags you into the room across the hall despite your protests, so you roll your eyes and let her get it over with.

She's busy healing your leg when you hear something, almost like a dull roar. "What is that?" you ask, and she looks up. "It's coming from outside," you add.

Once she finishes on your leg, she allows you to go to the window to check. When you peek out, you see that a mob has gathered below. "Maker's breath!" you exclaim, ducking your head back inside the window. "Is there some kind of riot going on?"

Wynne takes a glimpse for herself, and she looks like she's trying to smother a smile when she turns to you. "I believe," she says, amusement in her voice, "that your adoring public is here to see you."

Your eyes widen, and you take another peek out the window, pulling back inside before they see you. Wynne laughs, and motions for you to sit down again. "I'll make sure someone tells them you won't be out to greet them today," and her voice has taken on that mothering tone that you rarely disobey. "I'm sending you to bed as soon as I get finished patching you up," she tells you.

When she sees that stubborn look in your eye, she lets out a sigh. "I suppose the only way I'm going to get you to rest is if I let you into Ella's room?" She knows you too well to need an answer. "You can stay with her, but if you wake her up you're going to be in a lot of trouble!" she threatens.

You can't help but smile at the old woman ordering you around. You don't have to obey her, but somehow you always do. "I'll be quiet," you promise, and she appears satisfied.

"All finished. You're free to go," Wynne tells you.

You take a keen look at Wynne, then, noticing how exhausted the older woman looks. "You get some sleep too," you order, and she gives you a tired smile.

"As you wish, Your Majesty." Her eyes twinkle, and you can't hold in a smile.

As Wynne heads down the hallway, you step into Ella's room. Those first few minutes you spent not knowing whether she was alive or dead were the most agonizing of your life. She was limp as you carried her body inside, Wynne hurriedly directing you to a bedroom. The mage had announced that Ella was alive and then promptly shoved you out of the room. You're relieved to finally see her for yourself.

As the adrenaline finally begins to wear off, exhaustion sets in. You yawn, but you don't want to fall asleep. You want to be up when Ella wakes. You undress and lay down next to her, struggling to keep your eyes open.

As your lids get heavier and heavier, you know you are fighting a losing battle, and eventually you succumb to exhaustion.

When you wake, you are disoriented until you see Ella's face smiling down at you. She is sitting up in bed with a bowl of soup, looking worse for the wear but most definitely alive.

Her eyes shine in that way that makes you feel loved, and you smile back at her, so happy and relieved to see her awake and smiling again.

"Wynne will want to know you're awake," she says, but you grab her hand before she can get up.

"You aren't going anywhere," you command. "Did Wynne say you can get out of bed?" Ella rolls her eyes at you.

"I'm fine," she protests, but she doesn't get up. "Here," she says, handing you your own bowl of soup. "Wynne left this for you, though it's probably cold by now."

You sit up and take it from her, and the two of you eat in silence. So much has happened that it's difficult to comprehend it all. When you finish your soup, you reach over to draw her close to you. It means everything to feel her body against yours again, but she shrinks away.

"What is it?" you ask, concerned. She doesn't meet your eyes as she slowly unlaces the top of her shift. An angry red scar reaches down from her collarbone to disappear under the fabric of her nightdress.

With careful hands, you lift the shift over her head, and she doesn't resist you. The gash stretches all the way down across her stomach to her hip, and you shudder to remember how it happened to her. In that moment, you thought the beast had killed her.

"Does it hurt?" you ask, and she shakes her head.

"No… well, not much," she amends. "Wynne's been pouring healing potions down my throat every few hours," she admits.

You touch it gingerly, and when she doesn't wince or cry out, you trace it down her body. When you look up, she glances away, avoiding your eyes.

"I never thought I was vain, but…" She trails off with a hollow laugh.

You feel a combination of anger and sadness come over you, and you cup her cheek with a hand. "Look at me," you tell her, and she meets your eyes. "You are the most beautiful woman I've ever met." You begin to trace her scar again. "You're the strongest woman I've ever met," you continue as you finger slowly follows the jagged path towards her hip. "You killed an Archdemon. You survived what no one else in history has. Ever."

You look up to meet her eyes, willing her to believe every word you say. "This scar only reminds me of how amazing you are."

You can see she's fighting back tears as she pulls you in for a kiss. You wrap your arms around her protectively, and never want to let go. When your lips part, you are inches from one another. "Don't ever think you aren't beautiful," you tell her fiercely.

After a moment, you loosen your grip on her. "So…" you begin in a lighter tone, "Has Wynne said anything about when you'll be well enough for… you know."

She grins and pulls you close. "Screw what Wynne says," she whispers before joining her lips with yours once again.

You know before she does that her brother has been found. There's going to be a ceremony to honor her, and you and Fergus contrive to keep the secret from her until then as a surprise. You have to laugh when you see her jump on him in excitement, forgetting that she's still in her plate armor.

As you observe them, you notice her falling into what must be old habits, a sibling relationship that has been put on hold for far too long. Even so, you can see that Fergus can hardly believe the changes in his sister in the past year. You hope that he can handle going back home without her.

Though you try not to be, you are a little jealous when she spends so much time with her brother. But all of those feelings wash away when she turns that brilliant smile of hers upon you, whispering in your ear to meet her upstairs.

When you are alone, her body curves into yours, a perfect fit. After you make love, the two of you lay together in contented silence.

"I can't believe it's all over," you muse, and she turns to look at you.

Her eyes sparkle. "Over?" The laugh bubbles out of her. "This is only the beginning." She grins at you, and you realize just how right she is.

You can see your life stretching out before you, and though you know there will be strife, there will also be joy. That's one thing you can be sure of, thanks to the woman who will share this life with you.

When Duncan first recruited this girl, you were furious that he chose her, angry that he could bear to curse her with this taint that now burdens you both. But now, in spite of everything, you wish more than ever that you could show him your gratitude. She means everything to you, and you want to thank him for bringing her into your life.

You send your prayer upwards, hoping that somehow your words will find him.

Duncan, wherever you are, thank you.

In war, victory.

In peace, vigilance.

In death, sacrifice.

A/N: I want to say a big thanks to everyone who read and reviewed this story. I hope you enjoyed it!