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

Chapter 2: Over the Herbs

Chapter 3: Travelling with Men

Chapter 4: A Night at the Camp

PS: an M-rated chapter, so be warned

A warm, lazy day.

They have obtained their supplies in a nearby fishermen village and made camp by the lake, in quiet agreement that they are not going any further that day, taking an opportunity to rest before they decide on the next course of their journey.

Morrigan, like every reasonable being, lies curled in the shade, not wasting her energy on useless movement… unlike others.

In the shaded glade, Ned and Alistair are parrying; rather for the fun of it than for practice; the interplay of the swords is accompanied with banter and taunting.

Silly and senseless as the activity is, it at least provides entertainment. Even from her distanced position, Morrigan can take delight in the gracious movements of the well-formed bodies, free of the armour for once…

Morrigan can tell that she is not the only one enjoying the sight – the supposed Chantry Sister misses no opportunity to ogle Alistair's impressive frame.

The fool, of course, never notices.

Morrigan's lips curve. And even if he did, he wouldn't know what to do about it.

Her smirk melts into a content smile. Well, she knows what to do… and soon. She looks over at Ned, following the outline of his chest and shoulders highlighted by the sweated, clinging shirt. Judging by the way he kisses, he will know, too

The mock duel intensifies as the men get carried away by the battle excitement until they finally break apart, panting.

"Heck, I've grazed you," Ned frowns, seeing a red spot on Alistair's shoulder.

Alistair's eyes widen in shock. "You… that was my best shirt!"

Wynne's head jerks up from her book. "I'm not mending this, Alistair! You should have taken practice swords when you did not bother with the armour!"

Exactly as Morrigan expected, Alistair makes his best puppy look. "But, Wynne…"

"I said 'no'!"

Morrigan is not so sure about the firmness of the decision: the old biddy, however impressive with her use of magic, has quickly developed quite a soft spot for the ex-Templar… How very ridiculous.

"It's your fault," Alistair pouts in Ned's direction, who makes a mistake bursting out laughing, and even a greater one being distracted. Alistair's assault brings him to the ground where they roll and struggle for a while until they separate and lie on their backs, panting even more and laughing.

Truly, nonsensical… but funny.

"Now I'm avenged," Alistair grins as Ned discovers a loose seam under his arm.

"And we both have to do the washing," Ned remarks somewhat sourly – unlike Alistair's, his shirt had been quite fresh before it obtained its due of grass stains.

"A bath would also do," Wynne remarks to no-one in particular.

"The water will be still cold." Alistair does not seem to be thrilled at the prospect but Ned laughs and pats his shoulder.

"'Won't kill you. Let's have a dip."

Unbidden, Wolf follows them, and so does Morrigan after a while.

Unseen and unheard, she glides down the slope, hiding in the thick underbrush of fern; then she crawls behind the shelter of the rock, for a view.

The men are stripping the last pieces, still in the teasing mood. Something Ned says causes Alistair to throw his boot at him; as Ned easily avoids the missile, Wolf leaps up and catches it in mid-air. The dog then scuttles off, pursued by Alistair wearing only socks, while Ned laughs so much that he can barely stand.

Morrigan also shakes with giggles: nude males should really see themselves when running; the source of their male pride bounces in a most ridiculous way.

Alistair returns, victoriously clutching his boot while Wolf keeps snapping at his heels. Alistair wags his finger at him, then unexpectedly rushes at Ned, grabbing him by the waist to toss him into the water.

Morrigan giggles again: Alistair's action is somewhat thwarted as Ned managed to pull him into the water along.

Silly and senseless as their behaviour is, it is still entertaining to watch.

The young men resurface, shaking off water like dogs, then indulge in an attempt to pull each other under water again.

Morrigan snorts. Had she not been there herself when Ned freed them all from the Sloth demon's trap – a truly remarkable feat for one untrained to deal with the lures of the Fade – she'd never believe that this is the same man.

Probably an outlet for the stress, she decides, though she has been under the impression that men prefer other outlets – given the lack of opportunity, nonetheless, little wonder that Ned resorts to such… nonsense.

Let's hope that this will change soon.

Neither the bath nor the washing takes very long. Wynne will hardly be satisfied with the outcome, Morrigan smirks. She is about to retreat when she notices that while Alistair is getting dressed, Ned remains seated on the shore, throwing pebbles into the water, as if intending to stay a little longer.

Her heartbeat quickens at the opportunity.

After Alistair's departure Ned returns to the water, probably for a swim – or rather, a more thorough and undisturbed bath, which is good since Morrigan prefers her men well cleaned.

As she is about to get up, she hears the movement of a large body in the undergrowth, soon followed by the familiar panting. Wolf approaches her with a soft bark, then he nuzzles against her hand. It's past her why the mabari seems to enjoy her company, since she is definitely not encouraging him, but he does nonetheless.

Following his master's example, 'twould seem.

"Hush," Morrigan pats Wolf's head and he obeys, disappearing quietly in the fern again. Looking once more at Ned, who is swimming off the shore, she steps out of her hiding place and starts untying the laces of her tunic. When Ned turns back, she is already knee-deep in the water.

A few more steps and she plunges herself forward, swimming fast to overcome the initial shock of exposure to cold. She reaches Ned in no time, and smiles provocatively. "The water is still quite chilly. What about a little race as a warm-up? Let's say, over there?" she nods to the mass of rock slabs projecting into the lake, further off the camp. "You may even be rewarded if you win." And she immediately sets out, with a profound splash.

He overtakes her, as she intended, and still breathes rapidly as she arrives a moment after him. Morrigan pulls herself on the warm rock. "You have won, my dear Warden," she purrs. "You can claim a price of your choice."

Ned follows her out of the water even before she finishes the sentence, to claim his price there, on the warm stones.

Morrigan half-closes her eyes with pleasure as Ned's hands, still cool from the bath, move over her body, expertly dwelling on her breasts. She gasps at the contrast of his warm mouth, and archs her back to expose herself towards him. Her insides contract a little in excited anticipation: she knew he would know.

She concentrates on her own pleasure for a while and then she pushes him away a little to take over the lead. She presses her lips to the base of his throat and trails lower, making him lie down. His chest rises in a ragged breath as she aims for his groin. The way Ned tosses his head back as she takes his shaft in her mout, is most satisfactory; being the one who makes him gasp and groan at the slightest move of her tongue gives her a feeling of control which builds up her own excitement.

"Don't rush," he says in a muffled voice, pulling away from the contact; then almost screams as she gives one last vicious suck.

The retaliation follows immediately.

It's not only in fight that Ned Cousland pays back, Morrigan thinks briefly before she stops thinking at all for a while, yielding to the almost violent passion, 'tis good to know.

And most enjoyable.

When they untangle and Morrigan puts her legs down from his shoulders, they remain lying for a while, to catch breath.

"What now?" Ned asks.

"Well, you can swim back or walk along the shore."

"I mean, between the two of us."

"That's quite simple – I intend to have my way with you as long as I enjoy it, and quit when I don't any more. The same applies for you."

"So, no pledges or obligations, only a couple of passionate moments as long as both sides agree?"

Morrigan frowns a little, since she cannot quite discern his expression. "Passion is all that matters in this, and it must be mutual, of course. Passion between equals," she emphasizes, to make clear that he should feel honoured by her offer, though she doubts that he would be able to appreciate that she has decided to overlook his faults.

Still that look the meaning of which she cannot grasp. "Given the lifestyle we lead, the lack of obligation seems... prudent." Slowly, Ned raises his hand and rests it on her thigh. "What if I say that this is never to happen again?"

"So be it – though I'm not under the impression that this is what you intend," she says, watching the hand as is starts stroking her hip with circular movements.

"I suppose I should take advantage of the situation – what if you say next time that this is not to happen again?"

She chuckles. "I cannot rule out the option – though I do not intend to, for the time being." With a satisfied smile, she notices that he is aroused again. "I see the stories they tell of the Grey Wardens' endurance are not exaggerated," she remarks, opening her legs for him as Ned positions himself over her.

"Oh, there are stories?"

They move at a slow, lazy pace. Morrigan watches him as she says: "There are. Some claim that this is simply because the Wardens are naturally stronger and healthier than the average population while others ascribe it to the taint."

He loses the rhythm. "And you? What do you think?"

She sneers a little at his shock. "I like to think it's the combination of both – a natural talent driven by the darker side," she says sweetly. And since he still doesn't move, she pulls him down for a kiss. "Either way, I intend to make good use of both, my dear Warden."

Unsurprisingly, he complies – for all his qualities, he is still a man.

Travelling with men does have its entertaining sides.