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Someone Like You, Chapter 2

Title: Someone Like You, chapter 2
Rating: G
Summary: The scar on Nathaniel’s knee is finally explained.
Note: I’m using ten_by_ten's prompt of “forest” for this one. Also, I'm finding out that Moira was a bossy, sassy little kidlet growing up. I'm kind of liking that. *pinches cheeks*

“Whatever are you doing up there?”

Nathaniel looked down from his perch to see Moira staring up at him from the ground. “Nothing,” he mumbled, tucking away the small book he had brought with him into his jacket pocket. It was late fall and the weather had turned cooler almost overnight. If Nathaniel breathed hard enough, he could almost see his breath in the weak afternoon sun.

Moira jammed her fists onto her hips. “You’re going to catch a cold up there, and then I’ll not have anyone to play with.” Fergus had fallen ill, more than likely due to their romp in the stream that ran close to Castle Cousland. At twelve years of age, Nathaniel had proven old enough to finally stay for a month with the Teyrn’s family. Since their introduction four years ago, Nathaniel had acclimated to the Cousland children’s loud and rambunctious natures, even if he did find himself wishing for a bit of time alone, which was exactly why he had climbed the tree Moira found him upon in the first place.

“And you’ll catch a cold not wearing your shoes, my lady,” he answered, looking down at her bare feet. Her toes were filthy; wherever she’d been must have been muddy, because the hem of her dress was completely ruined. “Whatever would your mother say?”

Moira snorted. “Mama will probably say that she’s heartbroken to be raising such a heathen.” The way she said it made Nathaniel believe it was a common proclamation from the Teyrna, because Moira didn’t seem bothered with the thought that her mother would be upset by the state of her clothing. “But she’s not here right now, is she?” Moira amused herself by walking along the tree’s wide exposed roots, her arms held out to her sides to provide balance. “Are you going to answer me, Nate?”

Nathaniel rolled his eyes. “I was reading.”

She made a face. “Out here? It’s too nice of a day to waste it reading.”

“And what do you propose we do instead?” He stared up at the sky through the canopy of branches, momentarily lost in thought at the idea that one of the patches of blue that poked out from the orange and red leaves looked something like a charging horse and rider. He must have stared at it for quite some time, because Moira’s voice at his ear startled him.

“Perhaps we can play a game,” she said, hanging upside down from her perch. Her voice was muffled, mostly because her dress had fallen over her head, showing that she was wearing a tunic and a pair of breeches underneath that looked suspiciously like something that had come from her brother’s clothing trunk, especially since the legs of her pants were rolled up numerous times. Nathaniel decided that it was best not to comment.

“Like?” he asked instead, trying not to panic at the thought of Moira suddenly losing her footing and falling to the ground. She shadowed him and Fergus wherever the two boys went, and Nathaniel had long since thought of her as a sort of sister as well as a friend. She was ten, and he often felt that seeing that he was older than she that he should be responsible for keeping her out of harm’s way as much as he could.

That line of thinking meant that he was often as grubby and bruised as she was at the end of the day, but he was quickly discovering that he didn’t quite mind so much, especially since the three of them wound up having such a good time in the process. He treasured coming to Highever, where no one was constantly harping on him to watch his posture and to speak quietly and for the Maker’s sake, don’t do anything to embarrass the family, Nathaniel. A guilty pang shot through him as he thought of Teyrn Cousland – whenever the three of them came back inside dirty and with tangles in their hair, the Teyrn would merely laugh while the Teyrna would sigh in exasperation and order them to bathe. Even though she complained about them tracking mud into the indoor hallways, she would chastise them in such an amused tone of voice that Nathaniel knew that she wasn’t all that upset about things. His own mother would have been furious and Father would have stared down at him in such a disapproving manner that made Nathaniel feel ten times worse than had he taken his hand to him.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love his own parents, but he did enjoy the way that the Couslands had accepted him and his siblings as if they were their own children. He was still as polite as he knew how to be in their presence, but he had long since lost the fear that he would be punished for saying or doing something out of the bounds of the rules of proprietary that his parents had drilled into his head.

“Oh Nate,” Moira said, shaking him out of his thoughts, her braids swinging around her ears as she continued to hang upside down. “You haven’t heard a word I’ve said, have you?” Somehow, she had managed to tuck her chin under the hem of her upturned skirt so that her face was once again visible and Nathaniel saw how her lips had pressed together in a displeased line.

“Sorry, I was thinking.”

“You do that a lot.”

“One of us has to. You’re too busy running off without thinking in the first place.”

She stuck her tongue out at him. “One of us has to,” she replied back, crossing her eyes until Nathaniel cracked a smile. “Otherwise nothing would get done just by sitting and thinking all the time.” She grunted as she swung herself upright, her bare feet dangling close to Nathaniel’s head. “This is boring.”

He reached up and ran his finger over the sole of her left foot, making her screech when he hit a ticklish spot. “I apologize for being such a boring companion,” he said, putting as much sarcasm as he could into his words.

“Then you’re just going to have to make it up to me,” she said primly, climbing down from her branch. “I’ve decided that we’re to play a game of Dragons and Knights. I get to be the knight first.”

“Why is it that Fergus and I always have to play the parts in a game where we get hit with things?” he wondered out loud, not really expecting Moira to answer him. “The last time, you hit your brother with a rock.”

“It isn’t my fault that my aim is so good or that Fergus can’t duck in time, now is it?” she retorted, shimmying down the trunk of the tree until she was close enough to the ground to drop safely down. “Are you going to play or not?”

Nathaniel grinned before climbing down a few branches so he could dramatically jump down in front of her, just like the pirates in the book of stories Adria would often read him did as they jumped down onto their ship’s decks from a high mast. “I’d start running, Ser Knight,” he growled, holding his hands out in front of him, his fingers curled up to resemble claws. “Else I’m going to have a quick lunch!”

Moira screamed in delight, picking up her skirt in her hands as she ran away so she wouldn’t trip. Nathaniel roared after her, chasing her through the trees. Even though they shouted out taunting words to one another, Nathaniel made sure to keep them steered close to the castle. The captain of the guard was always telling the three of them to watch for wolves in the forest, and Nathaniel had heard plenty of stories from Amaranthine to know that the two of them alone would be no match for a hungry wolf, no matter how well Moira knew the forest.

He had lost her around the bend of trees, and he stopped playing long enough to listen around him. He could hear the chirping of birds in the trees above them, but he had failed to hear the crunch of her feet through the thick layer of leaves that carpeted the ground. “Moira?” he asked, looking around. The hair at the back of his neck prickled and his mind went to things darker than wolves or bears that might roam the woods, even in broad daylight. He’d never seen one, but merchants visiting the Keep would tell tales of things called darkspawn that made his blood run cold. “Moira, let’s head back to the castle, all right?” He took a hesitant step forward, then another. “Moira! I’m not playing any longer! Answer me!”

The blow that came from his right took him completely unaware. Something hit his leg with enough force to knock him onto his side, his back banging against a nearby tree. “Ah ha! The dragon has been slain!” Moira crowed, holding onto the thick end of a fallen tree branch as if it were a sword. She’d switched tactics, standing still and quiet instead of running so that she could ambush Nathaniel as he passed her hiding spot. Her stealth had paid off, seeing that he was lying at her feet, completely defeated. “It’s your turn to be the knight, Ser,” she told him, twisting the branch so she could hand it to him, hilt first. It was odd, but the branch was moving with some resistance.

“Ow.” Nathaniel said, his voice unnaturally flat. He sat up and immediately regretted it. Pain flared up from his knee as soon as he tried to move it.

Moira tilted her head. “What’s the matt...” she stopped mid-sentence when she saw red stain his breeches. “Nathaniel, you’re bleeding!” she yelled, dropping the branch, her eyes wide.

“That tends to happen when you stab me with a stupid branch,” he said between clenched teeth. He dared a glance down at his knee and saw that the tip of her branch was stuck in his skin. The wood was partially rotten, but it seemed as if the one strong, sharp piece had pierced his clothes and flesh.

“Don’t move it!” she shouted, kneeling beside him, her hands fluttering above his knee as if she were unsure where to touch.

“Unless you want to carry the end of that branch while we walk back to the castle, then we’re going to have to break the tip off,” he explained, grabbing a weak spot a little ways away from his clothes. Moira made a distressed sound when he snapped off the piece of wood. “Calm down,” he told her. “Just pretend that we’re playing Black Fox and this is an arrow.”

“But the Black Fox n-never sh-hot Karolis,” she wailed, her bottom lip trembling as the first big tears rolled down her cheeks.

Nathaniel sat there and stared up at her, dumbfounded as to why she would burst into tears. Surely they’d gotten worse cuts than this one, even if it did hurt something awful. While she rubbed her eyes with her hands, Nathaniel pulled the bit of wood that had been stuck in his skin out. It was really no bigger than his first finger, but it had been sharp and Nathaniel wasn’t sure that he had gotten it all. “Well, there’s always a first time for everything,” he said, standing up. His knee ached, but he could flex it. His trousers were a loss though; the small bloodstain was spreading and wasn’t likely to come out, no matter how skilled the laundry staff was.

“We have to get you to Nan,” Moira sniffled, wrapping her arms around his waist.

“I can walk,” he said dryly.

“But I stabbed you!”

“It’s just a scratch, really.”

“Nan might have to cut your leg off! Then you’ll have to walk on a wooden leg, like Markus, the blacksmith’s apprentice.”

“I don’t…” He looked down and realized that the side of his tunic was getting wet as Moira silently cried against him. It was odd, having someone like Moira, who normally sneered at a little spilt blood from her own scrapes before continuing their play, shed tears because of some injury that she’d accidentally caused. He tightened the arm he had draped around her shoulder in a comforting hug. “If Nan does, will you carve your name on one of the sides?”

Moira glared at him, her eyes red. “That was not funny, Nate.”

“But I’m serious.” He let go and tugged on her hand. “Come on, we’re almost back to the castle.”

It didn’t take very long to find Nan, especially since Moira had burst into tears yet again when she saw that the bloodstain on Nathaniel’s trousers had grown by the smallest bit. “What have my two ragamuffins gotten themselves into?” her governess tisked, looking down at the both of them.

“Oh Nan,” Moira started, sniffling again and wiping the back of her hand against her nose. “Nathaniel…”

“I fell,” Nathaniel said quickly, cutting Moira off. “We were climbing trees and I misjudged the distance between branches.”

Nan arched her eyebrow as if she didn’t believe him, but she tucked Nathaniel against her side. “Well, let’s see what sort of damage you’ve caused yourself, my lad,” she said instead, ushering the both of them towards the castle infirmary. “And just where have you put your shoes, milady Wild Child? Your mother is going to have fits when she sees you running about in bare feet and twigs in your hair.”

It turned out that Nathaniel’s knee looked far worse than it really was. He had managed to get all but a few splinters of the branch out on his own, but Nan had made sure that the wound was clean after digging around with a pair of tweezers. He had sat quietly through the whole ordeal, but Moira had squirmed and squeaked at his side as if it were her knee getting bandaged up instead of his.

“There,” Nan said, wrapping a bandage over his leg. “It should heal quite nicely if you don’t pick at it, but I think you might have a tiny bit of a scar, just by looking at how you hurt it.”

“That root was pretty sharp,” Nathaniel agreed, nodding. A scar. Wait until he showed Fergus. His friend was going to be so jealous.

Nan glanced at Moira, who looked guilty and miserable before turning her attention to Nathaniel. “A root. Yes.” Nan smoothed her hand over his hair and affectionately patted his cheek. “You’re a good lad,” she told him, her voice soft. “Now,” she told the both of them, clearing her throat. “Lunch is within the hour; I want the two of you bathed and dressed appropriately beforehand. And that means no wearing your brother’s clothing under yours, young lady.”

“Yes ma’am,” Moira said, her tone uncharacteristically meek. Nathaniel watched as Nan gathered up the bandages and jar of red paste she had smeared on his knee that had dulled the pain down to almost nothing.

“I am so sorry,” Moira told him once Nan had left, throwing her arms around his waist again. “Are you mad at me?”

“It was an accident,” Nathaniel said, looking down at the tangled mess of dark curls and braids resting against his shoulder. Sure enough, there were leaves in her hair. “Why should I be mad at you?” This was so odd; Nathaniel didn’t know quite how to react.

“But I made you bleed!”

“That’s what usually happens when something cuts your skin.”

“Will you shut up? I’m trying to apologize.”

“Forgive me. Please, go on.”

Moira scowled, but squeezed him harder. “I just don’t want you to stop being my friend.” Nathaniel was concerned when her voice started to waver again. “I like you, Nate.”

“Well, I like you too,” he said, awkwardly patting her shoulder. What did people do when confronted with crying girls anyway?

She looked up at him, her face blotchy and red. “You do?”

“Of course I do,” he muttered. “I’d be mad at you otherwise.”

She sighed against his shoulder. “He likes me,” she whispered. She said it so quietly that Nathaniel wasn’t quite sure he had heard her correctly. “So we’re still friends?” she asked a little louder.

“Yes, we’re still friends.” Now he squirmed uncomfortably, unsure as to what to say next. “Are we going to sit here forever?” he asked. “Because I heard that the kitchen staff was preparing potato and meat pies for lunch. They’re my favorite.” The handheld pastries were also good for sneaking back to Fergus, who was surely sick of clear broth and plain toasted bread by now.

She looked at him oddly before hopping off the bench they’d been sitting on. “Come on then, Nan said she wants us presentable before we eat.” Before he could react, she went up on tiptoe and brushed her lips against his cheek before running off, her skirts whispering against her legs.

Nathaniel watched her go, a confused look on his face. “She’s stuck on ambushing me today,” he mused to no one in particular, his hand absently rubbing at the spot on his cheek she had kissed. “Girls are so weird.”


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 11th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
They're just so effing cute, always. This was wonderful.
Aug. 12th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)
Really sweet. Aw. :)
Aug. 12th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Aug. 11th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
Awww little Moira with a crush on Nathaniel <3<3<3 Incredibly adorable! <3
Aug. 12th, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)

And this means that Fergus has to tease her about her little crush now. It's in the "I'm Your Big Brother And Teasing Is My Job" part of his contract.
Aug. 12th, 2010 12:55 am (UTC)
Why is it that Fergus and I always have to play the parts in a game where we get hit with things?

Well my boy, when you too are a bossy 10 year old girl, then you can be whatever part you want! haha

I love her immediate reaction of "OH NO CLEARLY I HAVE SLAIN YOU IN ALL OF MY MIGHT". And I like that this appears to be gearing up for some really sweet first-love moments.
Aug. 12th, 2010 03:57 am (UTC)
Seeing that Nathaniel will never be a bossy 10 year old girl, he's just plain out of luck. :D I wonder if dodging rocks and sticks early on helped his dexterity or if it was the other way around and tapping into his (yet to be developed) rogue skills saved him from bumps and bruises.

No one can say that wee!Moira doesn't have a high opinion of her combat skills, can they? Heee. I'm trying to map out the next chapter, and it looks like a teenaged Prince Cailan wants to make an appearance. I have no idea how I'm going to work him into this, but I'm going to try.
Aug. 12th, 2010 04:08 am (UTC)
Haha well he seems to have learned a fairly high pain tolerance early on, either way! He's going to need it, the poor thing.

Yes! I love Prince (errr... King) Cailan! Even though he definitely does not qualify as my usual fare - It must be all that mesmerizing blond hair... and that friendly demeanor! "Ho there, friend!" And maybe some dad!Maric in there too? Maybe?
Aug. 12th, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
I dunno...to be honest, I have very little knowledge of Maric and the most I have of Cailan is of his love for the Wardens and his (glorious) hair. I did get a bit of a feeling during my playthough that there's more to him than either Anora or Loghain give him credit for, but for the sake of this fic, I'm going with Alistair's memory of "Hi, I'm Alistair. Nice to meet you, your Highness." and him going "Oooh! Swords!"

I'm also leaning towards Fergus going "You're jealous, aren't you?" and Nate doing the blustering bit and "Obviously you're insane." while Moira tries her best not to tick off her host's son while loudly proclaiming that she has no intentions of becoming Queen, ever. Because even though she wasn't thinking it just then, she'd rather be an Arlessa!

Dad!Rendon has invaded my brain and I kind of want to write a brainstorming session on him just to get his character straight in my own personal headcanon. I think this pre-Origins version of him is hitting my Sympathetic Villain buttons, even though I'm going to wind up not liking him one bit later on. Nathaniel's mom is still rattling around in my head as too one-dimensional for my liking, even if I hardly mention her on paper. Going to have to fix that soon.

Wow, long reply was long.
Aug. 12th, 2010 04:34 am (UTC)
Well, the main thing you probably need to know about Maric is... that he also had pretty glorious hair. And I imagine they would make quite the father-son pair together! haha Perhaps I will just have to try and work him into one of my fics somehow... though how that will work I have absolutely no idea! I imagine Cailan was quite the charmer in his time - especially the later-teens era of his life - or at least that he thought that he was since everyone would be falling all over him either way.

Fergus would be well placed for some 'you're jealoussss' style digs on ole Nathaniel. (I just realized they have the same hair LOL). And poor Moira - it is always SO awkward turning down any kind of unwanted advance! I imagine Fergus having quite the laugh at both of their expenses.

Dad!Rendon is a tricky sort! Especially in any kind of Nathaniel-romantic-interest situation. I mean, he seems pretty unwilling (at first) to believe all of the 'rumours' about Rendon's death... but then to also be so kept out of the loop on what his father was doing... clearly it's a pretty complicated relationship. As for Mama Howe - it's pretty much an open range on that one! But at the same time... a person doesn't always want to give him mom AND dad issues!
Aug. 12th, 2010 04:56 am (UTC)
that he also had pretty glorious hair.

That right there makes it a shame that Alistair wasn't raised in the castle, seeing that he has his own minor obsession with his hair.

Random person: "You're the king's son! I know that hair anywhere!"
Alistair: "I get that a lot."

It might break down to where I just mention Cailan instead of having him show up in person, maybe have Isolde (because I've decided that they're all going to be hanging out in Eamon's Denerim estate) casually mention what a cute couple they'd be while she, Eleanor and Mamma Howe (I gave her a name, but for the life of me, I can't remember it right now) sit around and do ladylike things.

Or else, he does show up, acts charming, doesn't phase Moira one bit, and decides that he likes her because he's up for a challenge. I have no idea what the age difference is, but seeing as I've more than likely borked up everyone else's, I'm going to have him be the same age as Nathaniel.

I just realized they have the same hair LOL

They do! Hah! Poor Nate; Cailan's rockin' the 'do better than you and he's out to sweep the friend you just might have a crush on off her feet! Can't a guy catch a break? I'm looking forward to getting around teen!Fergus here. :)

I don't think Nate's going to have mommy issues; he has way too many issues dealing with his dad as it is. I'm going to have to do some thinking on that, and I'll probably write it tomorrow night and post it over on iceprincessd if I do.
Aug. 12th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
Agreed - he already has WAY too many parental issues as it is! Not to even touch on how he seems to feel about his grandmother. If you do end up posting something you should link me up! I'd love to read some thoughts on mom and dad Howe!
Nov. 27th, 2010 07:45 am (UTC)
OMG this is even more adorable than the first chapter. If things keep going this way, I'm gonna be squeeing so much my hubby's gonna take the computer away 'til a more squee-appropriate hour lol

I cringed (actually I think it was a full-body shiver) with the description of the branch in his knee. But I literally squeed out loud at the little kiss at the end :D
Nov. 27th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
:D Young!Nate and Moira want to make me snuggle them both, especially since Moira's the type of girl that hits boys to let them know that she likes them.

Poor Nathaniel. I was thinking that he was probably wishing Thedas had band-aids right about then.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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