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Tupelo Honey - 30_hugs prompt

Title: Tupelo Honey
Fandom: Dragon Age Origins: Awakening
Theme: #1; hazel eyes
Characters and Relationship: Nathaniel Howe/Moira Cousland, romantic
Rating: G
Summary: She was twenty-six. Surely she was old enough to progress past the stage of giggling while asking boys if they thought she was pretty.
Note: I must be channeling The Princess Bride, because every time I think of Nathaniel in regular clothes now, I see him wearing Inigo’s costume. Unfortunately, there will not be a scene in this story where he goes “Hello. My name is Nathaniel Howe. You killed my father, prepare to die.” That would sort of ruin the whole Nathaniel/Moira dynamic just a little bit.


“A bit for your thoughts.”

Moira looked up from the dagger she was sharpening. “Hm?”

Nathaniel put the arrow he had been fletching in a pile with all the others he had recently finished. “You’ve been distracted all day. Is everything all right?” They’d decided to spend their evening in the armory, making an inventory of what weapons were housed there. Nathaniel shook his head; so many of the better weapons had been looted – his favorite longsword among those missing. What had been left were either dull edged or of poor quality. The pieces that Moira had brought along with her during her travels made the walls look a little less empty, and the magical buzzing from various enchantments was almost familiar.

“Yes, everything’s fine,” she assured him, testing the edge of the blade with her thumb. The balance was good and the blade would work well for a throwing knife instead of something that she’d ordinarily use for close quarters combat. “I’m just thinking.”

“About?” He carved a groove on the end of an arrow shaft and proceeded to attach a barbed arrowhead to the end.

Her cheeks turned a faint shade of pink and she shook her head. “Nothing. It’s stupid, really.”

“It can’t be that stupid if you’ve spent this much time thinking about it.” He covertly glanced at her as he worked, noticing that she was biting her lip yet again, which was a clear sign that whatever she was thinking about was bothering her.

She sighed. “I just didn’t realize how important titles were to me.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Well, Warden-Commander is a pretty impressive one.”

She frowned. “And the one that’s been bothering me.”

“How so?”

“Ever since I’ve arrived in Amaranthine, it’s been Commander this and Commander that. Everyone calls me Commander, even you.”

“But that’s who you are.” His brow furrowed. Somehow he felt as if this was one of those Girl Things that Fergus had often lamented about and he was doomed to say the wrong thing, no matter how good his intentions were. “You are our leader and should be given the respect that your status deserves.” And besides, every time that he did call her by her given name, someone in their group would look at him oddly, like he had committed an unforgivable sin – or in Anders’ case, that he had let slip feelings that were best left hidden.

He might act as a glib and carefree mage, but Nathaniel had a hunch that Anders was nothing more than a softie with a romantic streak a mile wide.

She let out a bitter laugh. “Yes, because that’s all I am. Honestly, there are days that I wish I had let Alistair take the killing shot. Then I would have just been the Friend of the Hero of Ferelden instead.” She gestured to the dark green shirt and black breeches she was wearing. “I wear armor and men’s clothing so often that sometimes I forget that I’m actually a woman.”

He looked incredulously at her. “You can’t be serious.” Even a blind man would have been able to tell that she was a female. On their own accord, his eyes roved her body, pausing at the dip of her waist, the flare of her hip. Manners deeply imbedded into his brain kept his gaze from lingering over her breasts for too long, his eyes going back to her face. The view was equally dangerous: underneath a thick fringe of dark lashes, brown eyes that held flecks of green in them captured his attention and her well shaped mouth threatened to draw him closer.

She spread her hands. “Like I said, it was stupid. It’s just that I’ve been raised to believe that well-bred women didn’t fight with swords, that ladies never let their skin turn brown from the sun, that wearing anything less than a dress at all times was something that was just not done.” And of course at the time she had rebelled against all of that – from running around outdoors until the sun left freckles over her cheeks to challenging her father’s knights to sparring matches. She thought it was incredibly ironic that when she was younger, she couldn’t wait to shed the restrictive dresses her station as the Teyrn’s daughter had her wear in favor of the freer flowing men’s clothing and armor that she trained in. Now she wanted the exact opposite.

“It’s the my lady that I think I miss the most,” she confessed, putting aside her whetstone. “Since the Blight ended, it’s almost as if I’ve stopped being me and have become an icon, a living legend. I don’t like it.”

“Such is the price one has to pay when they save the kingdom,” he commented.

“I know, and I am grateful that I was able to help, I really am, but…” she wrung her hands. “This sounds completely shallow, but I wish that someone would look at me like I was a woman for once, not a Warden, and certainly not like some mythical hero.”

Nathaniel’s laugh brought her head up. “If I didn’t know you any better, I’d say that you were fishing for compliments,” he said, going over to where she stood. “Surely a beautiful woman such as yourself wouldn’t need their ego stroked.”

She looked up at him and hugged her arms. “You think I’m beautiful?” she asked, her eyes wide.

He looked away. “I…” He cleared his throat. “You have to know that you’re pretty. Everyone says so.” Inwardly, he cringed. Maker, I was better at this when I had been eighteen.

“But I asked if you thought that I was.” It was entirely different than hearing Teagan or Zevran hand out compliments. Arl Teagan said that she was lovely looking almost as a reflex, courtly protocol so completely imbedded into his being that such words were as natural as breathing to him. And Zevran didn’t actually count; he’d flirted outrageously with anything that had a pair of breasts during their travels that anything he said could never be taken seriously. It was suddenly very important to her to know what Nathaniel thought.

He stared into those hazel eyes of hers and swallowed the knot that had formed in his throat. “I never chased after a single woman while I was away,” he told her. “Do you know why?” They had become familiar over the course of the last month, and he felt that he could admit at least a few of his feelings where she was involved without risking her shying away any longer.

“Why?” Her voice was tiny, even to her ears.

He reached out and brushed his knuckles against her cheek. “None of them were you.”

The honest statement coupled with the serious look on his face took her breath away. “Oh, Nate,” she breathed, her knees dangerously close to wobbling.

“I’d like you to know that the same thing applies now as well.”

Moira blinked and tried not to shiver at the low way he had pitched his voice. She swallowed hard, trying desperately to gather her wits about her. “If that’s true, then why do you heckle Velanna so?”

He blinked, momentarily thrown by the shift in topics. “I, as you put it, heckle Velanna because she makes herself an easy target for teasing. It’s entertaining to get under her skin at times.”

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that you admired her.” The Dalish mage was attractive, even if she was just as prickly, if not more so, than Morrigan had ever been. Moira knew that she didn’t have a claim on Nathaniel any longer, but it never kept the enormous pangs of jealousy at bay whenever she overheard them talk together. “She’s quite pretty.”

By a tremendous amount of willpower, he managed not to laugh at her tone. “If you were anyone else, I’d say that you were jealous,” he gave her a lopsided smile that made her heart do a funny flip in her chest. “There is a great difference between teasing and admiring. I may tease her, but if there’s anyone here that I admire, it would be you.” He put a finger against her lips when she opened her mouth to reply. “And before you ask again, yes, I do think you are beautiful, my lady.” He trailed his hand down to her arm. Slowly, he brought her hand up to his lips, looking her in the eye the entire time.

I think my wish was just granted, Moira thought breathlessly, watching as Nathaniel’s eyes wandered over her body, his mouth quirking appreciatively against her knuckles. The way he was staring at her left no doubt in her mind that he saw her as anything less than a woman. If he put any more heat into his gaze, she feared that her clothes would catch fire.

Her brain caught up with her racing heart, finally noting that he had put emphasis on the word my when he called her his lady. Habit had her worrying at her bottom lip, but she stopped when she heard him softly groan.

“You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you?” he asked, letting go of her hand so that he could put both of his hands on her waist, his nose softly bumping against hers.

“Not intentionally,” she told him, her fingers tracing the edge of his vest. “Though I could ask the same of you.”

The chuckle that he gave her made her toes curl inside her boots. “Would you believe me if I said that I never anticipated this conversation to happen here?”

She drew in a breath when she felt his lips at her temple. “I might, but you’re definitely taking advantage of the opportunity.”

The look he gave her made the previous one seem tame. “Moira, if I were to truly take advantage of the situation, you would definitely know.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead before stepping away. “But I happen to think of myself as an intelligent man. I wouldn’t press my advantage in a room filled with sharp objects within easy reach.” He went back to where he had left his stash of unfinished arrows and gathered them up.

Moira blinked, dragging herself out of the daze Nathaniel had easily put her under. “We should get going,” she said, clearing her throat. She picked up the box of throwing blades and tucked it under her arm. “It’s our turn to go on patrol.”

Nathaniel shouldered his quiver. Smirking, he held the armory door open for her. “As you wish.”

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
phoenixblaze
Aug. 1st, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
Excuse me, I have to scream and squeal like a ridiculous fangirl because Nate said "As you wish."

God DAMNIT, now I need to write Nate/Cecilia. The F!Warden/Nathanial thing works SO AWESOME with the Cousland character. I'm making poor Cecilia into a skank. XD
iceprincessd
Aug. 1st, 2010 06:45 am (UTC)
I had the DVD running while my friend and I were doing our jewelery marathon, so I think that's what prompted the Nate = Inigo comparison.

*tosses bunny your way* Maybe write a different Cousland to combat the "I'm pairing you up with too many people" issue? It worked for my Brenna/Alistair (even though I only have the one story written) and Moira/Nathaniel problem. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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