What Drives Us – Burn

Elena stared into the depths of the fires, her eyes on the faces of the bodies within. They had come to Ostagar expecting to find nothing and had instead discovered the King’s displayed corpse and the body of their commander, as well as the taint amongst one of their own. Now they burned three bodies, making certain that the darkspawn could do nothing more to them after life had fled.

She bit her lip as she stared at Morrigan’s face then looked down, swearing she could still feel and see her fellow mage’s blood on her hands. Alistair and Wynne had both offered to do it instead of her but Elena couldn’t let them. For all that she loved them both, Wynne saw Morrigan as a misdirected young woman and Alistair saw her as a barely tolerated annoyance.

Morrigan deserved someone who cared to send her to whatever might lie beyond the fragile lives they lived.

Suddenly she was fighting tears and swallowing sobs, her shoulders shaking violently as she tried not to break down completely. Then large, masculine hands touched her shoulders and Elena turned to bury her face in Alistair’s shirt. It was stained with sweat from his armor as well as more sweat and dirt from constructing the pyre but that was perfectly fine.

He smelled alive because of all that and she really needed to be connected to something other than death.

Alistair stroked her hair then breathed, “I’m sorry, El.”

“You never liked her,” Elena managed to say, her voice trying to choke up and prevent her from talking.

Strong fingers lifted her chin and she stared into his starkly serious eyes. “I’m not childish enough to ignore how you felt about her.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Shh,” he bid and she closed her eyes as he folded his arms around her. Elena curled her fingers into the folds of his shirt and wished vainly that things had been different.

“Shouldn’t we have sensed it, seen it coming?” she asked after a moment. “What use is sensing the taint if we can’t even feel it taking one of our own?”

Alistair was silent for a long moment before he answered, “I don’t know.”

She turned her head then, resting her cheek against his chest while she stared into the fire. They stood there quietly, arms around each other, until the fire died and took with it commander, brother, and sister.

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