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Good Life - 30_hugs prompt

Title: Good Life
Fandom: Dragon Age Origins: Awakening
Theme: #25; the curtain falls
Characters and Relationship: Nathaniel Howe/Moira Cousland
Rating: PG
Summary: Desire demons in the Fade play divide and conquer
Note: I went and applied some artistic creativity with what happens when you’re thrown into the Fade during the Blackmarsh. A plot bunny wanted to see what would happen to Nathaniel if he had been around during the Circle Tower quest in Origins, so this was born.

As for the lack of Oghren when he was clearly going with them in the last chapter…for continuity’s sake I’ll just say that Anders spooked him with all the ghost stories surrounding the Blackmarsh and he decided to sit this one out.


Nathaniel groaned, holding the side of his head with his hand. Blinking, he grabbed his discarded bow and sat up quickly. Events were a blur. All he could recall was entering the Blackmarsh, finding Kristoff’s body, and then being attacked by a talking darkspawn named the First. Then they’d been…

“Moira?” Standing, he spun around. “Anders?” Fitting an arrow against his bow, he held it at the ready in front of him. “Moira! Answer me!” He walked down the muddy path, his pulse thundering in his ears. The last he had seen of Moira had been when he had thrown himself over her, trying to protect her with his body from whatever magical blast the First had conjured up. By his reasoning, she and Anders should have been right next to him.

Over here! Nathaniel’s head whipped around to the left, his bow trained at anything that might jump out in front of him. For a moment, he could have sworn Moira had called out to him. Cautiously turning, he walked towards her voice.

“Where are you?”

Come closer! We’re this way! His feet came to a halt when the dirt path suddenly turned into stone. Looking around, he saw that he had somehow walked inside a building. “How can this be?” he wondered aloud. “There aren’t any buildings here this well preserved.” Continuing down the stone walkway, he couldn’t help but notice that the scenery looked vaguely familiar, as if he’d been there before. If he wasn’t mistaken, the area almost looked like one of the interior courtyards at Vigil’s Keep where his mother had kept her roses. That was impossible; they were miles away. But still…

“Moira!” Something was compelling him to put his bow away. Every single piece of common sense he had told him that he shouldn’t, that he should watch for enemies, but he couldn’t keep his arms from putting the arrow back in his quiver and slinging his bow over his shoulder.

The sound of footsteps had him stopping in the middle of the corridor. It was foggy, but he could see that he had indeed found his way into a garden. “Papa!” A small girl around three years of age shot out from a side entrance, her arms stretched out to him. Nathaniel couldn’t stop his body from kneeling down, his arms scooping her up. The girl squealed in joy, peppering his cheeks with tiny kisses. With each kiss, Nathaniel felt his head growing fuzzier and fuzzier.

He broke out into a large smile. “There’s my girl. Did you miss me?” He shifted her weight onto one of his arms, his free hand reaching out to tickle her sides.

“Presents!”

“Evelyn, what did I tell you about pestering your father for gifts as soon as he’s arrived?” Nathaniel looked up and saw Moira come down the pathway. She laughed as she shook her head. “At least let him rest for a while.”

“Moira…” She came closer, her eyes shining affectionately.

“Welcome home, Husband,” she said, reaching out to embrace him. “Did your business in Denerim conclude to your satisfaction?”

“Yes, it did. His Highness is most pleased with Amaranthine’s supply of soldiers.”

Moira nodded. “I had a feeling that Cailan would be,” she agreed.

Nathaniel blinked. “Cailan?”

“Yes. King Cailan.” She laughed and cupped his cheek. “Surely you haven’t forgotten our king’s name in such a short time?”

“But…” he shook his head, as if to clear it. Something was nagging at the back of his mind, but he couldn’t place it. “Forgive me, Love. I must be more tired from my trip than I had realized.”

Moira took hold of his hand. “Come then. Your father is waiting in the throne room for your report.”

He pulled his hand out of her grasp. “My father? But Father is dead.” Something was not right. “You killed him for murdering your family.”

Evelyn fidgeted against his side and Moira looked at him in horror. “What a terrible thing to say!” she told him. “My family isn’t dead; I just received a letter from Mother this morning! And I would never harm your father; Rendon is a dear man.” She put her hand on her abdomen. “Look at what you’ve done; you’ve upset the baby.”

Nathaniel was instantly contrite. “I’m such a fool,” he said, putting his hand on the gentle swell of his wife’s stomach. Underneath his palm, he could feel a faint fluttering, as if the child there was kicking. “My head feels so strange.”

Moira’s hands covered his. “Perhaps you should go straight to our bedroom and rest. I’m sure your father won’t mind waiting for your report.” She winked at him. “Let me get Evelyn settled with Adria and I’ll join you.” She went up on tiptoes, brushing her lips against his. Nathaniel closed his eyes and slanted his head, deepening the kiss. Holding his daughter in one arm and his wife in the other, he felt as if he’d never been this content in his entire life. I never want to be anywhere else but here, he thought. I want to stay here forever.

Still, something was not right. Breaking the kiss, he pressed the side of his face against Moira’s hair. And that was when he realized what was wrong. There was a bitter, smoky scent there that did not belong.

“Lavender,” he murmured.

“What was that?”

“Your hair. It doesn’t smell right.”

Evelyn held his cheeks in her tiny hands. “Papa?”

A feeling of dread came over him. “This isn’t real. You aren’t real. None of this is.” He backed away from Moira, who was frowning at him.

“Get away from him, foul demon!” Nathaniel turned towards the shout behind him, watching as Anders spun his staff around, magic gathering at the tip.

A loud growl came from the child in Nathaniel’s arms. “No!” Nathaniel looked down at Evelyn, whose face had twisted into a look of inhuman rage. Crying out, he threw her away from him. She landed on her feet, snarling at Anders the entire time.

“You’re too late!” Moira yelled, her face turning monstrous. “He’s ours! You can’t have him!” She opened her mouth and howled, launching herself at Nathaniel. Reflexes kicked in and he grabbed for the dagger at his belt. Blood splattered and the demon wearing Moira’s face sagged against him. “My love…” She reached for him one last time before dying.

Nathaniel jerked the dagger out of the demon’s chest, kicking the body as far away from him as possible. Stumbling, he landed hard on his backside. “Damn it,” he groaned, scrubbing his face with shaking hands. “That’s the second time I’ve had to do that.” His head clear, he saw that they were back in the Blackmarsh.

“Doesn’t get any easier, does it?” Anders asked, standing over the second demon, who was still smoking from the bolt of lightning he had lobbed at her. “Looks as if the First, or whatever that darkspawn was calling himself, sent us straight into the Fade. Funny, this place looks a lot friendlier in broad daylight.”

“How much did you see?” Nathaniel asked, wiping his knife on the grass before sheathing it.

“Oh, not much. Just enough to know that they reeled you in with false promises of love and family. Desire demons, gotta love ‘em, right?” He held his hand out to pull Nathaniel up from the ground.

Nathaniel stared at the girl demon. She had his black hair and Moira’s eyes. He looked back at the second demon, the bump at her midsection even more pronounced now that she was flat on her back, her glassy eyes staring up at the sky. False love and family, he thought with a sneer. More like tempting me with what might have been had the Blight never happened, my father hadn’t betrayed the Couslands, and Moira and I hadn’t become Wardens. “Absolutely adore them,” he said dryly, gripping Anders’ forearm and rising.

Anders whistled, glancing down at the one who looked like Moira. “At least they have an eye for detail,” he noted. “In related news, aren’t you the least bit curious about what the second set of desire demons had promised me?”

“Even if I wasn’t, I’m sure you’ll tell me.” Nathaniel looked over the area, noting that there was a contraption that shone in the sunlight. Putting his hand on it, he jumped back when it activated.

“Ah, it looks like that will heal at least one of the tears in the Veil,” Anders said, coming up and examining the mechanism. “There was a similar one where I was.”

“Which means that there’s a third one somewhere else, most likely wherever the Commander is.”

“You’re smart. I like that.” Anders had to catch up to Nathaniel, who was already briskly walking in the approximate direction he recalled the third Veil tear to be. If he and Anders had been attacked by demons, then he wanted to hurry in order to help Moira out. “Socks.”

“What?”

“Socks. The demons promised me a never ending supply of nice, toasty socks. Oh, and my phylactery on a silver platter for me to destroy at my leisure, but it was the socks that nearly won me over.”

Nathaniel shook his head. “You have strange priorities.”

“Thanks, I try.” He would have said something else, but the sounds of battle had reached them. Both men broke into a run.

“Not a word of this to Moira,” Nathaniel said, staring at the mage even as he reached for his bow.

Anders crossed his fingers over his chest. “My lips are sealed,” he promised. “Now, shall we go rescue our Commander before we find out that she didn’t need our help in the first place?”

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
annikainen
Jun. 7th, 2010 11:28 pm (UTC)
:D Great. "Socks" remind me forcibly of a certain Dumbledore and the mirror of Erised... :D But it's nevertheless a very gigglesnortworthy thing to say XD

I'm in the mood of hugging Nathaniel very tight. This isn't helping. How do you give a pixel-man a hug? :(
iceprincessd
Jun. 7th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
Hah! I hadn't thought of that! Anders = younger!Dumbledore? Maybe a distant relative? (ack, the crossover ideas!) It just seemed fitting, seeing that you can give him a scarf as a gift. I thought he'd appreciate a nice pair of toasty warm knitted socks as well. :)

I've been wondering that myself, especially since I've skipped waaaaay ahead and am trying to write the second to the last prompt. My muse likes to see just how much this poor guy can take, which is probably why that prompt is taking forever to write. I don't like making Nathaniel sad. :(
annikainen
Jun. 8th, 2010 11:54 am (UTC)
Then don't make him sad? :( I'm having trouble making decisions concerning my storyline... queen!Cousland is a bit of a desperate situation for a happy ending. Well, we'll see. I wouldn't want to overmodernise their behaviour.

Also, knitted socks ftw <3 I'd forgotten about the scarf, but now that you mention it, it does make sense :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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