Moments of Ned Cousland's relationship with Morrigan, focusing on its development. Morrigan's PoV

After the rescue from the Tower of Ishal

Chapter 1: Options

Chapter 2: Over the Herbs

Sitting cross-legged before the hut, Morrigan awaits her mother's return, and the changes it will bring to her life.

Finally, the great wings flop against the darkening sky. Morrigan startles as she realizes that Flemeth is about to land directly on the patch of land before the hut, not on the small hillock nearby as usually. She understands only as she recognizes the burdens the dragon carries in its talons and maw.

The two bodies thump on the ground as the dragon unclenches the talons before landing; then it lowers its head and lets go the body of a mabari warhound. A moment when the world shrinks and expands again in a whirl of magic; where the dragon was spreading its wings, now Flemeth stands, stretching her arms. With a look of disgust, she spits profoundly several times and wipes her mouth.

Morrigan comes closer and takes a look at the bloodied forms. "Do they even live?"

"Of course," Flemeth snaps. "Why would I carry dead meat, I pray? – This may change soon, though, if you indulge in senseless prating. This one," she pokes with her foot at the dark-haired young man, "is running out of time."

Ned. His name is Ned. Morrigan kneels down, looking at the torso pierced with arrows.

Together, they carry the young Warden into the hut and place him on the table. "What of the other one?" Morrigan asks, thinking of the blood covering the face and soaking the blond hair.

"Some minor scratches and a cut in the scalp, it looks worse than it is. I knocked him unconscious with a spell, I certainly couldn't use either of them waking in mid-air." She snorts. "I definitely did not save the last two Wardens of Ferelden just to have them squirm out of my claws."

"The last?"

"What, have you grown hard of hearing? It went as I had said. If they are not the last Wardens yet, they will be in a couple of minutes. The field was already taken when I was heading off; what resistance was left won't survive long. Now shut up and be of use."

They continue taking off the young man's armour in silence. The bluish tinge of his face, the sizzling of the blood in the pierced lung, leave precious little time. As soon as they bare his chest, Flemeth places there her hands, glowing red. "When I tell you, start plucking out the arrows. Ready?" Not waiting for Morrigan's response, the red glow increases its intensity.

When the last arrow is removed and the wounds closed, Morrigan softly lets her breath out. She has seen mother perform mighty magic on occasions, yet she never knew that she possessed healing abilities of such an extent. As always, the display fills her with envy. The power

"Good." Flemeth observes the result of her effort. "Let's move him to bed and bring in the other." She chuckles. "You can choose which one you want in your bed."

"That hardly matters now," Morrigan replies with concealed irritation.

Flemeth issues an unidentifiable sound and together they transport Ned to Morrigan's bed.

Tending to the other Warden and the dog is a matter of no time; they suffered no serious injuries, except for the deep bite marks of the dragon teeth as Flemeth carried the mabari in her jaws.

"Why did you take the dog?"

"It's his," Flemeth motions with her hand to the back room where they lodged the dark-haired Warden, "or at least it stood over him as he fell and it managed to take down two darkspawn before I intervened. Good mabaris are an asset."

Morrigan wrinkles her nose. "Your asset smells…"

"Like all dogs do. And so do unwashed males. See to that and finish the treatment, I'll take some rest now. I do not doubt that you will find the activity entertaining."

Despite Flemeth's mockery, the task is rewarding, in a way. Morrigan duly strips both Wardens of every single bit and dumps the bloodied and sweated clothes into the small pool where they do the laundry – where she does the laundry, since Flemeth is not particularly inclined to 'chores'. She frowns at the gambesons: she is unsure if these are ever supposed to be washed. She'd rather die than put on something so disgustingly soaked with almost every fluid the body can produce but the Wardens might be of different mind, and so she puts the padded leather tunics aside.

She takes a bowl of water and clean cloth to wash away the worst of the gore both men are covered with. She starts with the blond one – was it Alistair that the others addressed him? – to get the job done before the effect of Flemeth's spell wears off. She'd much prefer to let him do it himself when he wakes but she still has to treat the minor wounds Flemeth didn't bother to tend to with her magic; besides, if she is to gain the Wardens' trust, she should not waste any opportunity to make them feel obliged.

And it's, of course, a matter of making use of the situation.

Morrigan's lips twist in a smirk. This Alistair has a body of an ancient Tevinter statue, a matching face – and brains of an earthworm. That ridiculous Maker whom these people profess either has an ironic sense of humour, or is jealous of his supposed creatures, to perform such jokes.

However, it is not his brains that Morrigan is going to use. She smiles in satisfaction as she runs her fingers over the well-defined muscles of Alistair's chest and stomach. Will do, she decides, he's sufficiently endowed… in all respects. His abilities in conversation are of little significance; other abilities are not required, either… though she would consider them a boon if he is to be the one of choice. That is yet to be decided, though; judging by the way he was looking at her – my, he even blushed! – he's not particularly skilled and Morrigan is not thrilled by the prospect of dealing with both the lack of wits and of experience. With a sigh, she shrugs. Will do – should there be no other option.

Which, luckily, is not the case.

She fills the bowl with fresh water and moves over to inspect that other option – the one she considers more promising so far. She is more careful when treating him; after all, Ned almost died but for Flemeth's intervention, and he is still far from healed. Morrigan tuts, displeased: she will run out of salves on him even before they set out.

Before they set out… her heartbeat quickens at the thought of the faraway places she is going to see… and at the thrill of the power she is going to gain. Far from Flemeth… on her own. The power she can gain… and one of these two will be her key to it.

She carefully rubs the salve into the closed wound just above the groin and she quirks again: when Ned comes to, he'll be most glad that the arrow didn't go a few inches lower – in fact, she's quite glad, too; options reduced to one are no options at all. Amused, she shakes her head: or would Flemeth be able to cure even that?

As she continues the treatment, Morrigan scrutinizes the Warden's leaner but firm frame, shortly pondering over the two different exemplars of masculinity. A bear and a wolf, she decides. Her own nature certainly draws her rather to wolves, lean and swift… she smiles, remembering the running, the hunting under the moon… the passion of mating.

Her smile broadens. Was the fact that she has placed this one in her bed a sign of things to come, or simply a result of a choice subconsciously made? Well, this Ned did watch her with interest, though he probably thought she never noticed. And he didn't seem so badly inclined towards her as his companions.

Something to build on. After all, it will probably take quite long before her time comes and she would certainly like to find some entertainment meanwhile, and Ned looks like a plausible candidate.

Or maybe she could have them both before she makes her choice, to tie them closer to her.

It's always good if there is more than one option.