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A triplet of drabbles about the Drak Ritual, complementing Succumbing to Weakness.
Posted for HELO, in a way of thanks for the greatest praise I've ever received.
The man who has received more from her than she ever intended to give takes his time. "No, Morrigan," he says finally. "'Some prices for survival are too high to pay,' remember?" And he turns - he dares! - to turn his back on her, on life.
Trembling with wrath - it must be wrath, what else? - Morrigan brings out her ace. "Oh very well, my noble Warden, die if you will, sacrifice your life oh-so-very nobly. But what about your dear friend Alistair? Should he have no say in this? Besides," she lets poisonous sweetness creep in, "how can you be sure that it will be you who delivers the final blow? Even mighty men like you die in battle. It may well be that Alistair will have to deal the blow himself, after all. What a shame: when he finally finds the guts to become a king, he doesn't even live up to his own coronation." By Ned's stiff shoulders she knows that she has hit the point. "So, what will it be, my dear Warden? Will you do for him what you wouldn't do for me?" The pain she feels catches her by surprise, and her voice almost fails her as she hastily continues: "Or had I better present my offer to Alistair himself? Maybe- "
Ned swirls and in an instant covers the distance between them. "No need to freak Alistair on the eve of the battle. I meant to make love to you one last time, anyway." His voice is hushed and his hands tremble - so do hers.
"Just one thing," he whispers in her ear as they draw near for a kiss: "Swear you will not do to the child what Flemeth did to you."
She swears, with the kiss, and with the tear that trails down her cheek before Ned wipes it with another kiss.
Neither is sure who has actually won: they only know that this is the last time.
The familiar process of helping Ned out of the gear doesn't calm her hands; his tremble as they slide under her tunic. Almost nude, he suddenly steps back. "Will you undress for me?" he asks hoarsely. "I want to watch."
'One last time,' Morrigan hears.
She can see his pulse already speeding in the hollow of his throat, and feels the spell-driven desire rise and fall in her in dark waves. Unsure of her voice, she only nods, remembering the time when she felt pride of her body as his eyes followed her curves and she stalled, further provoking his arousal.
It used to give her the feeling of power, then.
She takes her time even now, desisting the urge of the spell as well as her own craving for his touch. She can feel Ned's eyes on her, drinking in every familiar shape, every outline, to retain them in his memory until the end, tomorrow or afterwards, stalling to prolong the moment and shield it from the finality of what is to come.
When she is done with clothes, she continues with her jewels; every single piece his gift, clasped to adorn her with his hands and kisses.
She can feel every single one.
The last piece, the silver rose: the first, and her hands are shaking.
The power of the spell presses on her and she trembles with arousal matching his; with a moan, she raises her hands to undo the pins holding her hair. It falls on her back as a raven veil, and over his face as she straddles him. Then, his hands are where his eyes have been and they both drown in the dark net of her hair, the first and the last time becoming one.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Morrigan watches the low-burning candle for ages, too exhausted to do a thing.
When she finally gathers the resolve to stand up, she winces: she is sore, and can tell that some of the wetness on her thighs is blood. Driven by the urge of the spell, Ned didn't hold back… driven by the despair of this being the last time, she wouldn't have stopped him even if she could.
Long, she watches him as he lies on his back, his lips parted, sunk in a deep slumber induced equally by the exhaustion of the spell as well as the strain of the previous days. She can see the mark of her nails on his shoulders and half-reaches her hand to heal him but there is no magic left in her, not even for the tiniest spell.
There is nothing left in her, and for her, either: no purpose in staying here any longer, one last time, no matter what she desires.
When she bends for her clothes, she staggers, the thought of getting dressed and heading for her own tent suddenly seems overwhelming. She hesitates until she staggers again, and then shakily returns to bed. Lying by Ned's side, she pulls the blanket over them both; he is so deep asleep that his arm, which always used to pull her closer whenever he felt her stir, barely moves. She has to wrap it around her herself and snuggles close, listening to the slow, steady beat of his heart till the exhaustion sends her to the Fade, as well.
The whole time, Ned never moves, in his sleep unaware of her presence, one last time, and doesn't feel the tears flowing on his chest.