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

Some M-rating again, guess why.

Chapter : A Night at the Camp

Chapter 5: Soaring High

Chapter 6: Insomnia I

The dragon's carcass is slowly freezing, its wings spread in an unnatural position. No scavengers hover in the air; this is a place of rock and air, not living beings.

Morrigan slowly picks her way amid the boulders, her glance every now and then drawn to the lifeless red and black form. It had stood in their way and had to be destroyed, the outcome uncertain for quite some time; yet, she feels a tinge of sorrow for the magnificent creature of fire and free air. To soar above the filth of the world, high above, unrestrained…

One day, she may also acquire the ability, and the power.

Till that day, this is the closest she can get to it; here at the plateau just below the top of the peak.

No wonder those crazy Andrasteans placed her ashes here.

She avoids looking at the shrine and draws her fur cloak closer: good quality fur, better than her previous, and almost unstained with blood as she took it from the body of the cultist whom she had frozen to death. No fur can protect from magic; but crazy as the cultists were, they had at least enough reason to wear decent clothes.

She crosses the streak of stones scorched black by the dragon's fire, as she heads towards the only other living being present.

Ned sits in a hollow, sheltered from the chilly wind, staring at something in his hand. He does not look up until she has approached him.

The sight is nothing like she expected.

He is… crying?

Even more irritated, she recognizes the item that he is holding: a simple-shaped pendant that appeared in his hand during the encounter with that blubbering apparition. Twisting her mouth, she voices her disgust: "Oh. I'm sorry. I never realized that you retired to privacy to snivel over a magic trinket."

Despite the tears, he gives her a look that would freeze stones. "If you have come to twist the blade in my wound, you may as well turn and leave at once."

Morrigan shifts uneasily. Irrational as his behaviour is, and certainly not befitting of a warrior and leader, she did not intend to increase his distress. She clears her throat. "You shouldn't… take that so seriously – the apparition, I mean. It was… supposed to be your father, I presume? "There was certain likeness to Ned, as she recalls. "You should keep in mind that it was just another trick, drawn out of your own mind to haunt you."

He raises the pendant. "It was his," he replies softly. "I have seen him wear it countless times."

Reluctantly, Morrigan accepts the fact, even though the whole affair still seems ridiculous, and suspicious. "Well, even if it is true, why are you so discomposed about it? I understand that it has been some time since your parents'… demise?"

His mouth twists and he turns away. "It has," he admits in a controlled voice. "Nonetheless, I haven't had a chance to stop and mourn them yet. I appreciate your concern but I'd prefer to be left alone."

Morrigan opens her mouth, then pauses, at a loss. Is she concerned? With a mild surprise, she realizes that she probably is, somewhat… somehow. Ned is worth her concern, after all: dragonslayers are not met on daily basis. "I, uh… I apologize for interfering." She makes an uncertain gesture with her hand, irritated once more, this time with herself. She sought him out impulsively, and the situation caught her unprepared. "I – I will leave you."But even as she says so, she realizes that she is loath to go. Most awkward. She feels compelled to say, to do, something – yet she has no clue what it should be, or why.

"It's alright," he replies, still staring at the opposite peaks, but then he looks up, disquieted. "Has anything happened? Did you need anything?"

"No – no. Everything is alright, as can be. I just – never mind, I'll go."

She makes only a few steps when his voice stops her: "Stay if you wish."

He has wiped his face and keeps looking over the valley, at the sharp outlines of grey rocks, brightened with sunlight, rising above the zone of low pines. The view is perfectly clear, undisturbed by any mortal toiling.

Hesitantly, Morrigan returns and sits on her heels next to him; her unease, though, soon overcome by the serenity. There is nothing but the impossibly bright sky, pierced by the distant peaks shining with ice. Ned's quiet presence blends with the background, his breath as natural as the blowing wind

"That… you father… did look quite like you," she remarks after a while.

Ned glances at her. "I have been told that I resemble him, though in stature I have taken after the mother."

This reminds Morrigan of yet something. "You said previously that both your parents died when an ally betrayed you, is that so? However, from what that 'Guardian' spirit said, I conclude that youre mother survived the attack – what happened, then? And why should you feel guilty about it? Was it by any error of yours that she died?"

"My father was mortally wounded. She decided to stay behind and could not be made to change her mind."

Frowning, Morrigan briefly ponders over his answer. "You mean that she wasted her life to stay with a dying man? Why should she do such a –" An idea dawns on her. "So she sacrificed her life because she loved him? You do realize that this only proves that Flemeth was right again. Love is a weakness, and a dangerous one, if it could compel a strong woman, as I believe your mother was, to self-destruction.

There is a ripple of muscles on his jaw and he takes a deep breath before he looks at her. "There is one more side to this. A part of her sacrifice was that she bought some time for me to escape. I was injured; I may not have made it out in time. Would Flemeth do the same for you?"

"Of course not –" she blurts out. "Why – This is ridiculous!" The implication irks her. "I'd never expect or require that of her!"

"Well, I didn't require that, either," Ned replies softly and calmly. "And I don't consider their love for me, or mine for them, a weakness."

Morrigan snorts. "So, and now you sit here and, uh, mourn because you loved them? And you do not think it a weakness, despite what it does to you?"

"Even so. Some things are worth it." And seeing her barely concealed disbelief, he adds: "You shouldn't be condemning what you have never experienced yourself."

"Well, I must admit that it is an experience I certainly do not want," she quirks but even as she says so, she feels a pang of something – uncertainty? Regret?

"Unfortunately, it is not a matter of wanting," Ned mutters, his gaze again straying to the view.

Morrigan only sighs. At another time and place, she would be annoyed by his stubborness but the clear air makes her benevolent. She shifts closer to him and his arms embrace her waist. They both fall silent, watching the scenery.

To fly over the ridges and valleys, in the blazing sun

"What's on your mind?" Ned asks softly as she sighs.

"I wish I could soar high in the air, with my wings spread to the wind," she answers, her gaze intent on the opposite peaks, the grey rock tinged with rich gold as the sun slowly descends to the west. Then, as she feels his embrace tighten, she giggles. "What's on your mind?"

Ned laughs and brushes his lips against her nape. "Well, I didn't have anything on mind but now that you mention it… Shall we go in? It's getting a bit chilly out here."

"I don't mind," she smiles, still watching the sunlight on the rocks.

"The view is overwhelming, I perceive. You seem to be quite transfixed by it," Ned mutters as he puts aside her cloak and uclasps her belt. "I'd hate to disturb you…"

"You are welcome to try", Morrigan half-closes her eyes. She rises on her knees so that he can pull down her pants. The sensation of cold makes her nipples harden and she gasps as she feels Ned's hand slide between her thighs.

Her excitement builds up fast while the granite peaks turn pink with the receding light. The light, the colours, the rocks and the sky, the still fresh air, and Ned's hand, rubbing faster and faster at her nub… Morrigan breathes rapidly, absorbing it all, with every fibre of her being.

She moans in protest as his hand withdraws, then moans again, feeling his shaft pressing against her. She leans and supports herself against the rock, and then he fills her, pounding fast – their gasps, loud in the still air, the frantical heartbeat – she soars high on the wave of her climax, and so does her scream, followed by Ned's.

Turning to kiss him until their breathing finally slows, seems only natural.

In the falling darkness, Ned briefly leans his forehead against hers. "Thank you," he mutters.

She looks at him, puzzled. "What for?"

Instead of answering, he kisses her again. "Let's get back before it gets dark."

As they make their way across the plateau, tightly wrapped in their cloaks against the rising wind, they stop to look at the carcass, impressive even in death.

"The hide will make for a superior armour," Ned remarks. "That smith in Denerim…"

"No!" Morrigan protests vehemently. At his surprised look, she insists: "You already have the drakeskin for a new armour. Leave her here, as she is."

Ned glances at the highdragon once more, then he shrugs. "As you wish."

Together, they head to the entrance of the lower Temple, still magnificent in its emptiness.

Neither of them looks at the shrine of Andraste's ashes, forsaken again in the growing dark.