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Moments of Ned Cousland's relationship with Morrigan, focusing on its development. Morrigan's PoV.
In between the chapters, happens Necessary Things 19,20 (chapter 20 is the one you want, even though you are most welcome to read the rest, as well ;-) ), and that's why this chapter is a bit AU, despite all that previous "this cannot be allowed to continue".
Chapter : Insomnia II
The darkness is bleak and oppressive: a cloudy moonless night.
Yet, the sky is not reddened with the vapours of the Blight – for now.
Morrigan lets her breath out and instinctively presses closer to Ned's warmth, seeking solace and reassurance.
'Twas just a dream.
Realizing what she has done, she issues a little sigh of resignation.
Never before has she been compelled to do such things. 'Love', not a weaknes? Pah!. A dangerous and subtle one, crawling in unnoticed, until it is too late.
Nonetheless, it is no use denying the truth: she has succumbed to it. To that weakness. She who has always taken pride in being strong.
She sighs again. It's like an illness – like a common cold which cannot be cured no matter what, not even with magic. It's no use fretting over it, it's the way things are.
And what can't be cured, must be endured.
All diseases eventually pass, and so will this love. It's no use fighting it, it's a matter of time. She will become free of it, with time.
And the time is running out.
Tomorrow, they are leaving for Redcliffe. The horde is concentrating in the south.
The Archdemon was sighted.
– his unseeing eyes stare into the sky, reddened with the vapours of the Blight, while his sword protrudes from the dragon's skull –
Morrigan clenches her fists, her breath hissing between her teeth. I won't let it happen. Not if I can do something about it. There is a way…
After all, isn't this why she is here, in the first place? Being able to save Ned is a boon, not the goal.
Though, at times she is no longer sure which is which.
Slowly, she places her hand at her abdomen. So soon…
She had not expected it to end so soon.
A few weeks, no more.
After that, she will be free again. Free and strong again…
… and alone.
Irritated, she claws with her nails against the linen. Isn't it what she wants, after all? To be relieved of her weakness, to grow in her power, with no Flemeth interfering?
It seems to be a part of the illness that one does not wish to be relieved of it. He definitely does not.
Meaning, love can come to some good use, after all. Ned will be less likely to refuse her offer, or not?
If he refuses –
– his empty eyes, staring –
No. She will take use of that little remaining time, to tie him closer to her.
He must accept. He must accept. He must…
As if in response to her own distress, Ned shifts and moans in his sleep. Morrigan remains completely still so as not to wake him but as he issues a small sobbing sound and starts tossing his head on the pillow, she realizes the reason.
Not being a mage, he cannot walk the Fade in consciousness; cannot interrupt his nightmares at will.
This is no darkspawn dream; she has seen her share of these, during their nights together. With darkspawn dreams, the taint in his veins sings and revolts, answering to the Archdemon's call.
No, this is but a human nightmare – one that has been constantly pestering him these days.
Ever since Fort Drakon.
And as he cannot end it himself, she has to do it for him.
As Ned's moaning intensifies, Morrigan rises on her elbow and shakes his shoulder. "Tis but a dream," she says. "Wake up, Ned, 'tis only a dream."
He struggles with the lures of his mind a little longer, then wakes with a fright. As he becomes fully aware of his whereabouts, he exhales a ragged breath. "Thank you," he mutters and wipes his face with his hand. "Have I woken you?"
"No," she replies, lying down.
Ned pulls her to him and buries his face in her hair.
Once again, Morrigan is sorry that Loghain MacTir died such a quick and clean death. She would have poured a slow poison in his veins and watched him writhe for hours.
Never before has she experienced that degree of excruciating pain, tearing down the defences of the mind, leaving only the very core still resisting, with the last strength.
Never has she thought she would experience that through her link to another.
Never has she imagined her own reaction to that.
They hold onto each other, their solace against the night. After a while, Ned's hands start moving over her body, groping their way in the dark. Morrigan fakes a response, as he is proceeding too fast. She knows that it is not desire but despair that drives him to her now – a desperate urge to erase that which haunts him in his dreams; the only time when he is not in control.
She does not mind being used in this way: it's the least she can do for him.
It is only difficult to let her body relax to his touch so soon after her own portion of dark thoughts.
"Morrigan?" Even with his breath already rapid, the man can still sense something wrong.
Or maybe not so much sense as feel; she is well aware how stiff she is, with the knot in her stomach growing tighter, her eyes burning –
"What is it?"
She can feel Ned's breath on her cheek as he leans closer, his hand caressing her face, her hair.
Morrigan takes a deep breath and swallows hard, struggling for self-control – struggling to hold back what she cannot possibly tell him yet. And so she offers at least a part of the truth. "I… was thinking, how this will end soon. This life we have lived – nothing will be the same any more."
Ned is quiet for a while. "I do not dare to think of any future past the Archdemon," he says at last. "After that, everything is just blank. Even you and me – I'm sorry." He sighs. "Back then, as I was trying to talk to you about future – I allowed myself to dream a little, to think of ways to be together. I don't anymore – I can't." He traces the outline of her face with his fingers. "Maybe I'm simply a coward – afraid to die knowing what it is that I am losing."
"You're no coward," she protests, pulling him to her. As she does so, she feels the meshing scars under her palms – not as swollen and puckered as they would have been without the magic healing, but still recognisable.
In her discomposed state, the memory of him, bloodied and bruised and beaten as he lay on the cell floor like a broken thing, brings another wave of stinging sensation under her lids.
She didn't think at that moment that he would ever be able to rise again.
"You're no coward," she repeats, and the anger at the shakiness of her voice helps her regain composure. "'Tis only prudent that you concentrate on the task ahead and don't let yourself be distracted by what may or may not come."
After a moment, he chuckles. "Well, I certainly do not seem to lose my sleep over the future."
"I'm not – " she tries to sit up abruptly, truly vexed. "This is – "
" – ridiculous," Ned laughs as he pulls her down again and turns her on her belly.
"What are you doing? You are – "
" – impossible," he finishes as he starts rubbing her nape and shoulders, relieving the tension.
"'Twould seem that you have finally learned to asses your qualities," Morrigan mutters as she yields to the massage and finally relaxes.
In response, Ned only continues massaging her back with long, even strokes.
"Most irritating man," she murmurs into the pillow.
"I love you, too," he breathes in her ear.
She does not bother to snort and instead, takes pleasure in the touch.
What can't be cured, must be endured – and in this case, even enjoyed.
Especially if the massage is only a start, and their time is running out; she takes comfort knowing that this is not the last time - yet.