Disclaimer: Dragon Age does not belong to me and I do not profit by shamelessly whoring its characters the way I do.

Author's Note: I didn't mean for it to sound so similar to the actual dialog in the game, but after seeing that it was headed that way, I just kind of went with it.

"Would you leave all of this, if you could?"

Alistair's sudden question startles her after several hours of walking in silence.

She wants to tell him that she can leave and the fact that she hasn't should have given him answer enough not to ask the question.

But she doesn't.

Because that's not what he wants to hear.

"No. We have a duty to Ferelden, to the land and its people. To all of Thedas, really. It's not like the Blight would just stay here if we left."

He arches an eyebrow and surprises her with his next words.

"What a very leaderly thing of you to say. But I want to know the truth. If you could leave, would you? I'm sure someone would step up to take your place, might even be me if things got desperate enough."

She wants to tell him yes, but only if it meant being able to go back to the way things were. Before the Blight. Before her family was slain.

But that was impossible so-

"No. Especially not if it meant you might have to lead. Can you imagine? We'd all be doomed." She tries to laugh him off, but he doesn't join her so she quickly stops.

"You know, I'm usually the one who deflects questions with humor. I really feel that I'm the most qualified to do it, so you should stick something else because it's my role and you can't have it." He cracks a smile but then stares at her expectantly.

She sighs heavily.

"I don't know, Alistair. I try not to think about it-"

"I think there's a lot you try not to think about," he interrupts her but his voice is solemn and it catches her off guard.

Because it's true. Just how he knows this, she isn't quite sure.

"Where is this coming from?" she asks irritably because this is not the Alistair she's come to expect and she doesn't like where this conversation is going.

Sensing her frustration, he backtracks, shaking his head slowly as he struggles with his words.

"I only meant that… well, it's not exactly like anyone asked you if you wanted to be the leader, it was just kind of forced on you, wasn't it? I guess I'm just wondering if… it just doesn't seem like that's the sort of thing that ought to be forced on someone. Especially not with a task as great as ours."

She doesn't answer right away, because she doesn't know how.

You're right?

That hardly seems the appropriate thing to say and she suspects he might panic if she does.

Still, it is slightly endearing that Alistair, of all people, was thoughtful enough to consider her feelings in their situation. Truthfully, she didn't think him capable of such 'deep' thinking and feels slightly guilty for it.

Perhaps she'd underestimated her fellow Warden.

So she rallies her will and pushes down her self-pity and answers.

"I appreciate your concern, Alistair. Thank you. But no, I would not leave. Where would I go, anyhow? My home is destroyed, my family dead. My place is with the Wardens."

And then, as an afterthought,

"With you."

And she's sufficiently pleased by the blush that rushes to his cheeks because she is an evil, evil woman.