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Title: Terms and Conditions
Fandom: Dragon Age: Origins
Rating: NC-17
Wordcount: 2837
Pairings: Alistair/Morrigan, Alistair/Female Warden
Spoilers: Yes, through just before the final battle.
Notes: This was actually the first Dragon Age story I started, the idea that grabbed me by as I was playing the first time through and said "Write me!" It's been mostly written for awhile, actually, except for (surprise!) the ending, which took me forever to get right, and am still not 100% on, but I figure it's time to let it go into the world.

This probably is about as close as I will ever get to dubcon. I don't really think it merits a warning, especially not if you know the circumstances from the game, but there it is.


"Ser? Are you cold, ser?"

It took a moment before Alistair thought to respond, before it even occurred to him that the servant in the doorway might be addressing him. "Ser"? "Ser" was a title for nobles and knights, not for bastards, or stable boys, or failed templars. Not even for Grey Wardens. But now...

With a deep breath and a quick glance to the ceiling, he drew his hands back from the fire, where he had, in fact, been warming them, although the chill that penetrated his bones tonight was more spiritual in nature. But as he turned toward the door, he shook his head. "No, thank you, I'm fine."

"Very good, ser." The servant, an older man whom Alistair recognized as one of Arl Eamon's long-serving stewards, bowed to him. "I only asked because you have not banked the fire. Would you like me to turn it down for you?"

Alistair shook his head again, more firmly this time. "I can take care of it. Now, if there's nothing else?"

The steward bowed again. "Only this: The arl asked me to bid you a good night, and to tell you that, if you wish to speak before tomorrow's battle, he will be up and in his study for a few hours yet."

It was tempting -- he could use Eamon's counsel tonight, a dose of his leadership. Or perhaps he only sought an escape from the task awaiting him. "Please, thank the arl for the offer, and inform him that I will see him in the morning. We have a trying time ahead of us, and I need a full night's rest."

"I understand, ser. Sleep well." In one smooth, practiced movement, the servant made a final bow, stepped out of the room, and shut the door, and then Alistair allowed himself a bitter laugh. Between the events of the Landsmeet, and the upcoming march to Denerim, and the looming battle in this very bedchamber, it would be a wonder if he slept at all. A trying time? Eamon and his steward didn't know the half of it. And if Alistair had anything to say about it, they never would. No one would, save himself and Morrigan, and--

He closed his eyes and pulled back from the name, the beloved face it would conjure, the memories and emotions that came with it, joy and wonder and sorrow. No, he would not think of her, tonight. She would not be a party to this... matter. Not now, not ever. He would lock her away in the deepest corner of his heart and keep her safe. Morrigan might have his body for a short time, the child of his body for longer, but his soul? Never.

"Maker forgive me," he murmured, bowing his head and placing his hand on his breast. "Forgive me, my love."

"Are you quite finished?"

This time, Alistair almost jumped out of his skin at the intrusion. Controlling the wince, he turned again, toward the doorway that connected their chambers. He wondered how Morrigan had finagled their sleeping arrangements so as to be in the room next door to his. Then again, perhaps it would be best for his peace of mind if he did not know.

"You."

She had not changed from her half-tattered robes, the ones that displayed far more cleavage than he had ever thought proper; she spread wide her arms and left even less to the imagination. "Who else? And you have yet to answer my question."

Alistair sighed. "Give me a moment."

Morrigan responded with a brisk nod. "I will return in a few minutes, once my preparations are complete."

"Preparations?" He arched an eyebrow.

"Nothing you need concern yourself with," she replied. "I require but one thing of you, and assuming I can trust the sounds that have come from your tent these past few weeks, it seems a task you are quite capable of." She flicked her pale eyes up and down his body; a tiny gesture, and yet Alistair felt stripped naked before her, despite being clad in full armor. It was all he could do not to cover his codpiece with his hands.

Instead, he narrowed his eyes and lifted his chin. "Let's just get this over with."

"As you wish." Morrigan shrugged. "If you are determined not to enjoy yourself, who am I to say otherwise?"

"I'd sooner enjoy myself with a black widow spider," Alistair retorted.

A smile spread across her face, feral and dark, to the point that Alistair half-expected her to show fangs, and she stepped close, reaching for him, drawing a sharp fingernail down his cheek; he sucked in a quite involuntary breath at her touch. "That could be arranged." And then she was gone, before he had time to curse himself for forgetting that particular magical talent of hers.

Alone, Alistair allowed himself a shudder. Why, of all the hedge witches in the world, had the fates cursed him with Morrigan? If only there were another way-- Riordan had trained long years to make this sacrifice and was willing-- or perhaps dying would be preferable after all--

He let out all his breath in a puff of air. If it were only his own life hanging in the balance, he might feel differently. But upon learning the truth, his love had immediately vowed to slay the archdemon, to take the final blow for Ferelden. He would not, could not, risk letting her die.

His determination thus fortified, he busied himself with banking the fire, breaking the last log into hot coals that glowed in their dark grate. Then he stripped completely before lying down on the bed, back propped up against the pillows. Closing his eyes, he took a deep, cleansing breath, and let himself drop into a state of contemplation. Meditation had been one of his least favorite aspects of templar practice -- he had never been much for sitting still, and he could still feel the flat of the knight-commander's sword against his shoulders, the punishment for fidgeting. But tonight was different. He called up a place of calm and peace and took refuge there, praying for strength and for the success of this plan, for hope that they could stop the Blight and live to see the end of the tale.

His breathing slowed, and time slowed with it. It might have been five minutes or it might have been an hour, but either way, the knock came too soon. Alistair opened his eyes to see the door swing silently open and reveal Morrigan, nearly naked. She looked straight at him, eyes open wide, red lips set in a mysterious half-smile. He had to admit that she was, if not beautiful, at least striking: raven-black hair against skin pale as cream, face radiating with life and her fierce intelligence, high cheekbones and sharp chin not softened by life in the shelter of the Tower.

Morrigan met his gaze, and her smile deepened. She said nothing as she approached, neither incantations nor small talk, only strode across the room with slow, purposeful steps, putting a swing to her hips that Alistair could not mistake.

And then desire hit him, like a blow to the face. He wanted her, now, and a part of him -- the dark part, the rebellious part, the part that used to scream in the Chantry just to hear a noise -- always had. The need welled up in his gut, spread throughout his limbs, tingled in his fingertips. He wanted those arms and legs pressed against his, the roundness of her breast filling his hand, a taste of that proud mouth. He wanted, and he hated himself for wanting, and he hated her all the more for inspiring him to want. Did he have no mastery over himself whatsoever? Was his flesh truly this weak?

She closed the distance to the bed and knelt on the mattress, looming over him now, her face uncomfortably close. Her eyes were lit with anticipation, and Alistair strained to keep his back flat against the pillows. He wanted to grasp her, hold her still, take control, but he had a suspicion that giving up control was not on Morrigan's agenda.

Lifting her eyebrows, she leaned in even closer, then twisted sideways and blew out the candle on the nightstand, plunging the room into darkness. Alistair blinked a few times, letting his eyes adjust to the dim glow from the fireplace. He felt, more than saw, as Morrigan finished undressing and shifted her weight on the bed, half-lying next to him. A hand curved around his cheek and pulled, forcing him to meet what he could see of her gleaming eyes.

"Now then," she said. "Shall we skip the preliminaries, or will you require them to perform?" A hand landed just above his knee and skimmed up his thigh, then closed around his already-stiffening member. He held back from groaning at her touch, but only just. "Do I need to pet you, cozen you, tell you what a handsome, strong man you are? Or must I pretend to be--"

"No!" The dread and desire that churned in his belly combined to explode into anger, and he turned, pulling free of her grip as he grasped her wrists and rolled her beneath him. Pulling her arms up over her head, locking her into place with his weight, he looked down at her, eyes narrowed, mouth hard with his hatred and his need. "She has no place here. None. Do you hear me? You so much as allude to her again, and this stops. I walk out of this room and never come back, and you don't get what you so desperately want." His hands tightened, and she sucked in a harsh breath. "Do you understand?"

She squirmed, all smooth skin and taut muscle, and he wanted her even more. Then she looked back up at him, the struggle fading from her face. "You need this to happen just as much as I do," she responded, a gentleness to her tone that he had not expected. "More, perhaps. It is the only way to save both your lives."

Alistair shook his head. "What good is my life if I forfeit my soul? These are my terms, Morrigan. Accept them, or go."

"Oh, very well." Morrigan tipped her head to the side. "I shall not bring her up again."

"Thank you." Alistair relaxed and loosened his grip, and Morrigan pulled herself into a half-sitting position. "So, now that's sorted, and we can get down to business." He placed one hand on either side of her head, braced himself against the headboard, then met her lips in a hard kiss, opening her wide mouth with his own, pushing back against every slight, every insult she had ever flung at him. Her hands came around his back, nails lightly raking his shoulders in response. He ground his hips against hers, and his cock sprang back to readiness; she opened her legs and wrapped them around his waist. And then, with one last prayer of forgiveness echoing in his mind, he parted her thighs, and he took her.

-x-


It had been no easy task, making his way unseen through Redcliffe Castle and to the shores of the lake. Another man likely could not have done it, but Alistair was familiar with the byways that would keep him clear of the guards and servants, not to mention the hidden doorways in and out, thanks to many years spent dodging bullies and housework.

This inlet was a popular with Redcliffe's servants for bathing, not to mention trysts after midnight, so Alistair let out a breath of relief to find himself alone. Grabbing the bucket and brush stowed by the door, he plunged into the water, then filled the bucket and dumped its contents over his head: once, twice, a third time, heedless of the cold air and the sand that squished between his toes. He might never feel clean again, but he had to at least make the attempt. Thus doused, he did a once-over with the brush, scrubbing his arms, his legs, sucking in his breath at the unexpected pain as he hit the shallow scratches on his shoulders. Soap would have been better, but he had not thought to grab any when he had made his exit -- it had been hard enough finding clothing in the darkness. One more hit with the bucket to rinse, and then he knelt down to cup water in his hands and splash his face, again and again, washing the taste of Morrigan out of his mouth, her face from his eyes, her moans and soft gasps from his ears.

Finally, when he felt halfway clean again, he stood, slowly, hands still over his eyes. The night was not too cold, but still he shivered. This was, he knew, as much for penance as it was for cleanliness. He had intended to slough off his sins here, then pass the rest of the night alone, in the Redcliffe Chantry -- he thought no one would question him spending the night before battle in prayerful solitude, even if they would not understand the true reason. But as he exited the lake and made for land, he knew he could not. "Weak," he muttered to himself, with a hard shake of his head. "You are a weak and selfish man." And yet, it was inescapable: he needed absolution; there was only one who could provide it to him; and it was not the Maker. So, after shaking the water from his hair, he pulled on his tunic, leggings, and shoes, and made his way to her room.

He pushed the door open; the light from the hallway fell on her sleeping form, and his face broke into an involuntary smile. Even asleep, her features slack, she radiated beauty and grace. She relaxed so rarely, and it warmed his heart to see it. Perhaps, thanks to Morrigan's bargain, he would have many more nights to watch her in this state of peace.

If she would even still have him. Alistair swallowed, hard. He knew, in his head, that this was a ridiculous worry; she had, after all, approached him with Morrigan's offer, had encouraged him in no uncertain terms to accept it. But still, he fretted. Would rational thought hold up to the reality that he had lain with another woman? Were the circumstances reversed, how would he feel? Not, he realized with a shiver, a question he wanted to probe too deeply. He closed the door with care, undressed one last time, and slipped into the bed behind her, nestling against her smooth, warm, back. She responded to his touch, snuggling into him, making a soft noise of contentment. Alistair let his head fall forward, pressing his nose into her hair, taking a deep breath of her scent: the clean sweat of honest battle, the light perfume that she sometimes wore.

"Alistair?"

"I'm sorry," he murmured, shifting his face to her neck. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"'S'all right." She rolled over to face him. "So. Is it... done? Did it work?"

"As to that last, I can't really say, but... yes. I, ah. Successfully played my part." He looked at her, and found he could not meet her eyes. "I don't want to talk about it. I really, really don't. But." He swallowed past the thickness in his throat. "I think, perhaps, I will have to."

Her mouth twisted into a wry smile. "I admit, I'm not convinced I want to hear it either." She laid a gentle hand on his cheek. "But if you need me to listen, I'm here."

He bowed his head, words coming slowly at first, then building into a rush. "I... I didn't. I didn't want to like it. I didn't want to want her. I tried, so hard, not to betray you and what we share. But then she was there, and-- and I couldn't help it. I'm sorry."

Even in the near-complete darkness of the room, he could see her smile. "Ah, Alistair. Do you know what that makes you?"

"A terrible person?" he replied, bitterly.

She shook her head, and her smile softened. "Alive."

The secret place in his heart exploded, freeing his love for her to suffuse his entire being, gripping him with a longing so fierce as to eclipse any he had ever before felt. He took her face between his hands and pressed his lips to her forehead. "My love, my dearest love." He lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her, again and again. "I want-- I need-- but I shouldn't-- Please."

In response, she rolled him onto his back and straddled his waist. "Yes," she whispered, and then she sheathed him home; there would be a reckoning yet to come, but he looked in her eyes, tasted her lips, and knew he was on the path to forgiveness.

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