Moments of Ned Cousland's relationship with Morrigan, focusing on its development. Morrigan's PoV
Chapter 7: Spring Is in the Air
After the stale dusk of Orzammar, the air is bright and crisp and fresh, and once they descend from the mountains, it smells of spring.
They pass through patches of snowdrops, thriving in the leafless woods, wade through lilac crocuses, daze at the bright gold of winter aconite.
Spring is in the air, with the smell of the damp soil and decaying leaves.
The smell makes her feel as if tipsy, and full of energy, brimming from within.
Morrigan feels her lips curve in smile as she watches Ned, walking ahead; in the warm sun, he has taken off the fur cloak and his hair, slightly overgrown, is ruffled in gentle breeze.
She likes it this way, so that she can rake her fingers through the curls at his nape.
"What do you intend to do, woman?"
Morrigan blinks: being addressed by Sten comes rather unexpected, as the two of them barely exchange a single word within weeks.
Unless she chooses to tease him, which she hasn't done in a while.
And so she replies in her sweetest tone, to outweigh his, which is cold even for Sten: "What do you mean, my dear Sten?"
"With the Warden."
This is most amusing, and Morrigan chuckles. "Ah. Did you desire a demonstration?"
"Your demonstrations are hard to overhear every evening. Do you really think you can control him like that? Has your magic failed you?"
The spring has come, the sunshine is blinding after the dark of winter, and Morrigan tosses her head. "Would you like to try my magic, Sten? I dream about you and I, if you must know."
"You belong to the Warden."
"I belong to no-one!" Her exclamation provokes no response, and so she purrs: "And I'm sure he wouldn't mind."
"But you would, were I interested. The qunari act is… unpleasant."
Sten walks faster but Morrigan keeps up without effort. "Unpleasant? Unpleasant how? Now I'm really interested. I like it… animated."
"You'd be less animated afterward." He keeps staring ahead, as if hoping that by not looking at her she might become nonexistent.
Definitely amusing. "'Twould seem that you are already harbouring some secret thoughts about me."
She laughs, as Sten grunts: "Parshaara! Why do you pester me?" and he breaks from her.
Because you started. "Because 'tis amusing, that's why!" she calls after him and keeps laughing, until she meets Ned's gaze, dark and unfathomable. She feels a pang of unease but then tosses her head again: the spring is in the air, and she won't have her fun spoiled.
I belong to no-one.
As they set camp for the night, she watches Sten bring wood for the fire: for one so big, he moves with grace. When he has sat down to tend to his sword, she rises and approaches the Qunari. She feels Ned's eyes on her but does not heed: waiting for the dinner is boring.
And I belong to no-one.
"You seem so deep in thought, my dear Sten. Thinking of me, perhaps? The two of us, together at last?"
The answer catches her by surprise, and before she can think what to say next, Sten continues: "You will need armour, I think. And a helmet. And something to bite down on. How strong are human teeth?"
"How strong are my teeth?" she repeats with disbelief.
"Qunari teeth can bite through leather, wood, even metal, given time. Which reminds me, I may try to nuzzle."
"Nuzzle?" Morrigan feels the conversation rushing ahead without her control.
"If that happens, you'll need an iron pry bar. Heat it in a fire, first, or it may not get my attention."
"Perhaps it would be better if we did not proceed," Morrigan says rather stiffly, in an attempt to save her dignity. She already feels her cheeks burning.
The Qunari raises his brows. "Are you certain? If it will satisfy your curiosity... "
"Yes. Yes, I think it is best."
As she turns, putting great effort in looking nonchalant, she hears laughter.
Ned laughs wholeheartedly, his eyes shining with amusement.
"Don't you dare!" she hisses and rushes away, to hide her embarrassment.
Ned catches up with her only at the bank of the creek, and when she refuses to stop, he grabs her by the waist and pushes her to the trunk of a massive beech. "So, have you had your way with Sten?" he teases her with a glint of mischief in his eyes, as he presses against her, pinning her to the trunk.
"Don't you dare to laugh at me!" she growls but it only provokes him to laugh again.
"Has no-one ever told you not to play with fire, lest you might get burnt?"
When she angrily pushes against him with her hands, he gets hold of her wrists and holds them to the trunk above her head. "Don't be so bristled, you've asked for it."
"Stop laughing at me!"
His amused expression melts into another and Ned narrows his eyes, pressing even closer to her. "Or?"
Despite her irritation, she feels warmth spreading from her core, provoked by the contact of their bodies.
"Or you will pay for it. I will make you beg for mercy," she says sweetly, baring her teeth.
"You will?" Ned's thigh presses between her legs. "What makes you think that I won't make you beg for mercy? You'd definitely deserve it."
"Don't presume that you owe me because I've decided to be with you! I do what I wish to do!"
"And sometimes you get even more than you wished."
Morrigan curses and struggles to free herself, much to Ned's amusement.
"'Like it animated', uhm?" he chuckles as he kisses the spot under her jaw and then grazes it with his teeth.
She wriggles again but the only effect is that Ned is now firmly nested between her thighs. Standing in such a position is uncomfortable, and so she wraps her legs around his hips. "You're impossible," she snorts.
He lets go her wrists and his hands move to her breasts. "You were saying?"
"Never mind," she gasps.
An unwelcome interruption appears in the form of Leliana, coming to fetch water. Seeing them, she scowls. "Oh, go ahead, the two of you, won't be disturbed. But don't be surprised if there is no dinner left."
Morrigan chuckles. "It seems we have approval," she says loud enough for the departing bard to hear.
"Yeah, but the begging part will have to wait," Ned mutters. "With Alistair around, there is no dinner safe."
Here comes her vengeance. She tightens her hold of him. "I'm not letting you."
Ned groans. "Come on, don't be cruel, I can't do without my dinner. The Grey Warden appetite…"
"You will have to, my dear Warden. Unless…"
"Oh, Morrigan. Can I have my dinner, please? Please? I do beg of you…"
They both laugh, leaning helplessly against the tree.
"You may," Morrigan gasps, breathless and feeling again as if tipsy.
The air smells of spring, even though the night is going to be cold.
The spring has come, and her lover has promised to kill her mother for her.