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Justify the Means

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After the deed was done, Sera met Natia and Alistair outside the Assembly chambers. ("I understand why you must crown him, but I would rather not have to watch, if you don't mind." Natia had understood.)

"He executed Lord Harrowmont on the spot." Natia shook her head. "I'm not sure how I feel about that."

Sera shrugged, and they walked down the streets of the Diamond Quarter. "At least we saved him from the Anvil. I shudder to think how either of them would have used it." Natia nodded. "Say goodbye to your sister, and then let's get out of this damned place."

---

They left immediately for Haven, where snow already dusted the ground; as they traveled, Sera slowly ceded control of the team to Natia, deferring to her judgment, stepping back to let her take the lead. By the time they returned to Redcliffe with the Sacred Ashes, it already seemed natural for Natia to be in charge -- and that she would spend her nights in Alistair's tent.

---

Arl Eamon stood in his grand hall, shaky but alive, his hand resting a bit heavy on his brother's shoulder, his arm curled protectively around his son.

Natia stepped forward, knelt before him, head bowed. "I am sorry for your loss, my lord. And sorry that we did not do more to prevent it."

"I grieve for Isolde." Eamon lowered his head. "But still, I thank you for your service to me and my people. Even more lives could have been lost, had you not acted as you did. For your services, I name you both Champions of Redcliffe." He looked past them both, at Alistair, who blanched beneath his helm. "And now, we must speak of the days to come."

---

"You need a strong ruler. You need me." Her case made, Anora stepped back and crossed her arms with a decisive nod.

Sera looked at Natia. "She's a commoner," she said under her breath. "An upstart. Arl Eamon isn't going to like it."

Natia looked back at Sera, a slow smile spreading over her face. "Good enough for me."

---

"The Blight is coming and you should go." Sera took Gorim's hand. "Please. Keep yourself and your wife and your son safe. Get out of this place."

Gorim lowered his head, then looked back up at her, eyes brimming. "You know, that if I could--"

"I know." Sera kissed him gently on the cheek. "And I forgive you."

---

"Well, that went well, all things considered," Alistair said as the door to the Landsmeet closed behind them. "Anora kept her word, the Grey Wardens have the support they need, Loghain is dead, and I don't have to be king."

Natia looped her hand through his elbow. "You would have made a good king. But you'll be an even better Grey Warden."

He turned and caught her chin in his fingers. "And I get to stay with you. That's the best part." And without heed of who might be watching, he leaned down and kissed her, grazing her nose with his lips on the way down.

---

Sera disappeared into her bedchamber alone as Natia followed Alistair into the room they shared. He lay down on the bed, and she nestled into his side. She said nothing, and neither did he, but she knew what was on his mind: Riordan's revelation. To kill the archdemon and stop the Blight, one of them would have to die. The thought left her shaken, her insides quivering with dread, but it came with a peculiar sense of rightness, as if a part of her had always known. One life, sacrificed for the salvation of Thedas. It was a fair price, but still a bitter one. After everything they had gone through, for it to end like that... She burrowed her face into his chest, and he brought his arms tightly around her.

Then the stillness was broken by shouting through the half-open door; Natia leaned out to peer into the hallway and she saw Morrigan storming past, head down. Sera ran after her, then stopped, just outside their room. Natia exchanged a look with Alistair, then went to the doorway. "Is everything all right?"

Sera kept staring down the hall, her fingers flexing into fists and then splaying outward. Then she looked at Natia and nodded. "Just fine."

---

Morrigan did not reappear the next morning, nor on the march to Denerim, nor at the battle for the front gates. Natia could have burst with curiosity, but something in Sera's expression stopped her from asking where the witch had gone. She had asked Oghren, Leliana, and the Legion troops to guard the gate, as the three Grey Wardens sought out the archdemon, faithful Dog at their heels. And now they were here, at the top of Fort Drakon, the fiend roaring its last. Their allies had done their work: knights, dwarves, elves, Templars, leaving only the final blow to end the blight. And now Natia paused. She was the leader, it was her responsibility, she was ready -- but she saw determination in Alistair's eyes.

"No," he said. "I won't let you."

"I have to," she said, reaching up to touch his face. "It's my duty."

"No. It's mine." And before either of them could say a word more, Sera snatched up her sword and ran for the archdemon, screaming a battle cry.

"No!" Natia cried, lunging forward to stop her, but Alistair held her back, strong arms pinioning around her shoulders.

"She wants to," he murmured, his voice thick. "Let her do this one last thing."

Natia blinked through her blurring eyes, forcing herself not to look away as Sera sliced the archdemon's neck open from sternum to chin, both of them screaming; then she leapt on the demon's back and thrust the blade through its spine, severing the head from the body. And they both exploded into blue light, a beacon piercing the sky, the power of it knocking Alistair and Natia off their feet, Sera's soul twining with the archdemon's to take it out of the world, leaving the rest of them safe from harm.

---

Sera's body lay in state on the stone pyre. She would not be burned or buried; like the other four Grey Wardens to make the ultimate sacrifice, she would be interred in a tomb at Weisshaupt Fortress. Fitting, for a dwarf to be returned to those ancient stones.

The speeches were done, the boons granted, and soon the victory parade would begin, but for now Natia stood by Sera's side, fingering the cuff of her gauntlet. She didn't feel very victorious right now. "I'm sorry," she said, leaning over the ear of her rival, her sister, her friend. "I wish--"

Alistair's hand fell on her shoulder. "She did it for you," he said. "For all of us."

"I know." She stepped back into Alistair's embrace. "I hope I can be worthy of it."

"You will be." Alistair kissed the top of her head. "Come on, let's go meet your adoring public."