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Moments of Ned Cousland's relationship with Morrigan, focusing on its development. Morrigan's PoV
Chapter 6: Insomnia I
She cannot sleep.
Morrigan squirms a thousandth time, to find a more comfortable position against Ned's body, relaxed with sleep.
Why did he want this?
It was quite obvious that she should lay with him – after what they've been through, relief was more than welcome.
She even took over the initiative, not to strain Ned too much – though not as badly injured as Sten or Alistair, he is still bruised and aching from fighting through the maze of the darkspawn tunnels and Caridin's traps. And the golems… The memory of the animate stone, roaring in senseless rage, crushing all that stands in the way, sends chils down Morrigan's spine.
However, when Ned asked her to stay after they were done, her first impulse was to refuse: what use was sleeping in one bed? On a second thought, she reconsidered: partly out of a sense of debt, partly out of curiosity.
The curiosity which she is coming to regret.
Though she must admit that it was even quite pleasant at first, lying next to him in his arms. Quite… warm, that's it – not that it is particularly cold in the Deep Roads, the contrary, in fact, but anyway, the warmth of Ned's body is pleasant, like lying in the sun…
With mild surprise, Morrigan realizes that she might even like this. There's nothing wrong enjoying the warmth, after all. It may well be the reason why he wanted her to stay. It would make sense.
If only she could sleep, though. Ned fell to the Fade almost immediately but she cannot – his breath, his heartbeat, the unaccustomed closeness, his arm around her – it's so unusual that she stays alert even despite the desperate need of rest after her injury.
She touches the side of her head where the skull had been cracked before Wynne healed it. The damned midget… Her last memory is that of Branka madly charging against her; the shock when the spell she cast in her defence totally failed; the instant of fear as she realized she wouldn't be able to avoid the blow, and then nothing. Nothing until she woke in the camp of the Legion, with a mother of headaches, which only slowly subsided.
She definitely needs rest.
Annoyed, she shifts again, staring into the darkness, permeated only with the dim light of the crystal lamp.
Why did he want it?
The thought is persistent, as well as others.
And it is all, in fact, Ned's fault.
Morrigan bites her lip. She needn't have agreed… with the one thing as well as the other.
The idea that Wynne and Leliana should be left with the Legion until they recover, while the rest of them quickly set out to scout inside Bownammar, seemed most sensible at that time. After they had eliminated the mass of the darkspawn army on the bridge, the area was supposed to be nearly empty, and there was no telling how long it would remain so. She herself urged that they should take advantage of the time.
She couldn't have anticipated what they would encounter.
Whom they would encounter.
Morrigan rolls her head from side to side as Hespith's broken voice chants her mad rhyme again, and breathes hard to suppress the nausea which grips her now as it did then, as she was slowly grasping what it was that Hespith was singing about.
Strangely, it is the voice and not the tainted face that scared her like nothing else – well, like only a few things – in her life.
One of those things appeared shortly afterwards. Knwing is one thing; seeing with one's own eyes, another.
Laryn was the name, Morrigan remembers, and the knot in her stomach tightens at the memory of the swollen creature, the distorted face, the wildly beating tentacles. The Broodmother…
She shivers. The walls of the Legion's encampment have been cleansed of the taint with fire, yet she can still feel the soft, slicky and warm touch of the materia covering the walls of the Broodmother's cavern. She has washed, as thoroughly as she could, given the scarce water supply of the uncorrupted stream – and is more than glad that Ned has done the same – but she still feels as if something of that … fleshiness… has clung to her skin.
Breathing raggedly, she feels her palm grow cold and wet. He wouldn't have abandoned her to such a fate, he wouldn't…
He carried her out of those filthy tunnels, didn't he? In his arms.
He didn't mean what he had said, of that she is sure. He only meant to scare her, infuriated as he was with her, though she cannot understand why. 'Maybe you would like to be encased in stone and poured over with molten lyrium yourself? Or do you seriously expect that I should side with one who feeds her kin to the darkspawn and provides womenfolk for violation?'
The implication is sickening.
He definitely overreacted, Morrigan thinks sourly. He almost hurt her, first as he grabbed her jaw so brutally, then as he shoved her that she almost fell. She should be the one infuriated.
Except that she cannot find it in her. The relief in his face when she finally came to, somehow erased her grudge.
And he carried her out in his arms.
Morrigan is not sure why the fact seems so significant: after all, as the only one without a serious injury, Ned simply had to carry her.
– Oh, yes, there was also Oghren. Morrigan twists her lips. She should be most grateful that no-one came up with that idea. The dwarf definitely does not lack the strength but his stature makes the task of carrying one as tall as herself fairly impossible – though she has no doubts that he would gladly have dragged her behind him, mopping the tainted floor with her hair.
She suppresses the urge to touch her hair, to make sure that no filth stuck to it.
With a sigh, she turns her head to examine Ned's profile as he lies on his back, lost in oblivion. The bruise on his cheek is still nasty purple, and so she reaches her hand and releases what little magic she has accumulated, in a healing spell.
He wouldn't abandon any of his companions, not even that drooling mongrel, she knows at least so much about him. He wouldn't have abandoned her as long as he could have done anything about it, and if there was no other choice, he would rather have killed her than let her be taken alive by the darkspawn.
And she would do the same for him, after all – do everything possible to get him out, and if the rescue was past her abilities, she would –
The idea makes her cringe and she suddenly feels as if on the verge of falling. She turns away. She would do for him the necessary, yet the mere thought of his death from her hands is unnerving.
This is foolish, she scolds herself. Pointless musing. They did make it out, after all, and no extreme measures had to be taken.
'Offered to slit yer throat for 'im, if he couldn't bear to do it himself.'
Certainly you would have, you drunk of a midget. Little wonder that even that crazy Branka was sensible enough to leave you. And Alistair…
'He insisted on carrying you out. The reason why is really past me.' The ex-Templar was lying, bandaged and still pale with blood loss, yet telling her that with his characteristic grin.
Being indebted to him for saving her life… Irritated, she squirms with her back against Ned. Her breath hisses between her teeth at the memory of the barely hidden delight with which that repulsive Oghren informed her that it was Alistair who saved her from being hacked in halves after she was smitten down.
Not to mention the fact that the fool nearly got himself killed, as well, and so her debt to him is doubled.
Though she cannot really blame him for not expecting Branka to quadrupple and picking a wrong target among the illusions.
Illusions. How the lunatic did it when dwarves cannot use magic, is totally past her. A true pity that she wasn't in the state to perform a little research afterwards.
Most annoying, among other things, but there is no point pondering the past when there is the present to deal with. There is no escape from facts.
Alistair is an impresive warrior, Morrigan admits grudgingly, and she can certainly trust him in fight. Nonetheless, outside the fight…
Morrigan looks again at the sleeping man next to her. What is it that you see in that fool? she wonders, certainly not the first and only time.
She scowls, as an uncomfortable idea what it is that Ned sees in her, crosses her mind. She instantly scoffs herself: they fit each other, in fight as well as in bed; there's nothing to wonder at…
… except for, why he asked her to stay in his bed tonight. – Alright, bedroll.
Again she shifts, yawning profoundly. This sleeplessness is most annoying by itself, not to mention the weird thoughts it brings up.
In response to her movement, Ned finally also moves in his sleep, rolling to his side and pulling her closer, putting the other arm over her.
As his warmth envelops her, Morrigan feels some of her annoyance evaporate. She might even like this … if she ever manages to fall asleep, that is. She certainly does not wish to pay her debts with too high a cost to herself.
Repaying Alistair should not be very difficult – her magic has already proved helpful more than once in battle, though she never really placed herself between him and harm, and does not intend to. Whereas with Ned…
Strangely, it occurs to her all of a sudden that for all the gifts he has given her, she never gave him anything in return. It always seemed only natural that he should be the one giving, and she is somewhat surprised not to see it this way any longer.
Maybe it has something to do with the golden mirror he gave her on the night before they set out for the Deep Roads: she took it with her, carefully wrapped in cloth. And though he insisted that he wanted nothing from her for that, she has already given thought to finding some reciprocation. Originally, she intended to wait until their return to Orzammar, but maybe she should reconsider: who knows what they may encounter on their way back.
She smiles contentedly into the dark. Yes, it seems that now would be the right time… when he wakes, that is. He will certainly appreciate her gift, it might prove very useful – for both of them.
Morrigan slightly shifts her head, to lie more comfortably. It is truly surprising how well their bodies fit into each other as they lie together. Really, she is even coming to like this, in the end. The warmth is… soothing.
And pleasant. Reassuring.
She might even… later…
She… might… even…