A/N: It has been so long since I updated this story. I've changed it a lot and I thought you all would be angry at me for sabotaging my old posted one, so here's this newly published story that will leave the old version of this untouched. I am going to hopefully get things posted faster. We'll see. Thank you for reading. Sorry for typos. Reviews are updates. -Taryn

The story is post-DAO. DA:Awakening never happens. Concerning the progression of this story, I will be flipping from the past to the future, and eventually, we'll find ourselves in the present. This factor my confuse you, but if you pay enough attention, you'll puzzle out what's going on. You will get to see everyone from Dragon Age 2 except Sebastian. (Sorry, I've never played his added gameplay. I don't know him.) This story will be quite angsty, revolving around romance. Enjoy.


Prologue

"Still friends, right?"

The words had come out so breathlessly they were hardly a whisper. Yet, I knew I couldn't have said it any louder. My chest felt inundated with cold water, like a horde of Darkspawn stood atop it. One struggling heart racing against my speeding pulse, in a hopeless, dreadful competition that would never end.

"Of course," he'd said.

His stiffened voice had done nothing to soothe my nerves and my eyes lifted from the carpet to see a feeble smile framing his lips. Lips I had once kissed... but never again. Not after that night, not after the Archdemon lay dead and Fereldan stood king-less. Alistair had a duty and a privilege; one of which I had given to him because I knew it was a part of mine own duty. We both had duties. And the ones that had brought us together were ending... soon. Too soon.

I was a mage. I could not stand beside him any longer. From the day the Archdemon was dead, I was no longer a desperately needed Grey Warden, given pardons to fight the threat of darkspawn. Slowly, but surely, everyone would come to see only the mage again. Lock me away, again. It should bother me. It should enrage me, but then, at that time, it was not even that fact that bothered me the most... It was that I had not planned on loving him. I had not thought that I would be feeling something.. the heart wrenching need. Never, before Alistair, had I felt so intimate to someone, connected, and to be kissed by those lips...

I could have pushed him. Bullied my way to his side, throwing aside the proper duties that were given to us by the world. I could have crumbled what little resistance he upheld to those duties, the miniscule strength he had put forth for my own benefit, but I could not. Be his mistress? Become an unfavored queen by his side? The taint was in both him and I. Our children would be abominations. At least, no one knew for certain, considering it was not common for marriages between men and women Grey Wardens. Even less likely, a woman in the Grey Wardens willing for a life of marriage and childbirth.

Simply, it was not that I couldn't be his queen, I couldn't be a queen. A mage with that much rule and power? I would be spit upon. They would call Fereldan a Tevinter in the making. Hero of Fereldan or not, I would have eventually found myself in the awkward position of a rebellion, led by men and women with a piercing hatred for my kind and resting on the lips of those rebels would be my name, sneered.

And to share him? Never. To force such a thing, the passing from one bed to another, his marriage bed that would be cold and fake, to mine that would be, yes, warmer, yet still adultery... would have made me feel ill. There would always be the real queen, his real wife, and she would have hated me; seeing me day after day at court, knowing that I was the woman her husband really loved. Even for Alistair, to have him, I wouldn't want to be known as the whore, the woman who stole him away from his wife. I vehemently refused to stoop to such shame. I refused to feel guilt every time the real wife saw me with that hatred in her eyes. To put myself through that day after day, feeling my envy like a blow to the gut every time I saw her, because she got to be the woman publicly at his side, would have only slowly driven me mad.

I knew all that. He knew it. All the emotions crammed into the room around us, felt heavy and unbearable, dampening the rush of fighting adrenaline for tomorrow's war. His words knocked me breathless, imprinting themselves on my heart, and I knew I would not forget them, it would be as memorable to me as the harrowing and the day I became a Grey Warden.

Friends, he said.

Andraste, what does that mean?

I was staring at his lips, struggling for the right words. What would severe the tie the best? Was there something I needed to say, right then, that couldn't be said later? Then I remembered that there might not be a later. The Archdemon awaited me. Morrigan awaited Alistair in the next room; my stomach lurched at the reminder. "Right," I said, eyes sliding from his lips to the wall on my right. "Good."

"I will always love you," he said.

I instantly gave a curt shake of my head, exasperated, nervous fingers tugging on the sleeves of my robes.

I felt Alistair stir. Maybe he meant to move toward me. To possibly hold me in his arms one last time. Would I let him? Should I? Fortunately for my sanity's sake, Alistair controlled the impulse, shifting so that he leaned heavily into the bed post nearest to him. I forced myself to lift my head to look at him one last time, to capture him as he was then; casual, goofy, awkward.

Alive.

A series of painful spasms twisted through my heartstrings, the way a hound gets ensnared in rope and struggles to find its way free. Burrowed inside me, locked away, hushed to the most acute and tedious degree, were my feelings. And, oh, how they fought to be free. How much I wished to damn all consequences. The want was blinding. The ache in my head was due to all the effort I put forth, to put Fereldan first, my duty ahead of feeling, my career ahead of love. The hardest thing I did that day, wasn't kill the Archdemon, it was taking in the sight of the blood caked, sweaty, cheering Alistair after the battle, and turning away, because I was never even meant to have him.

"And I, you," I retorted, softly.

We stared at each other; gray-whipped blue eyes clashing and penetrating a piercing azure.

One move or word and he would close the distance between us. I could be kissing him in seconds. It would be me underneath him tonight, not Morrigan. Part my lips and draw in a small breath and he could have jumped for the chance. And I would do the same, had he only parted his.

Instead, I compressed my lips into a hard line and Alistair turned away. My throat thickened, and I closed my eyes from the sight. I listened to the clanking of his boots against the floor until the click of the door reached my ears and I knew. Alistair was gone.