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Family Ties, Cousland family

Title: Family Ties
Rating: G
Pairings: Bryce/Eleanor with bits of Fergus/Oriana and Nathaniel/Moira thrown in
Summary: Fifty glances into the life of the Couslands.
Note: In honor of Father’s Day, this goes out to all the dads out there. May they be as awesome as Papa!Cousland is. My dad was the sort that used to tell me things like #23 when I was little, his favorite being that there was an entire family of brownies living in our garage door opener. They also had a cousin who hung out in the fridge and turned on the light whenever we opened the door.
Note the Second: this can be filed under the How Far We've Come series.

#45 – Natural
“I know it’s only natural to be overprotective, but Bryce, this is too far,” Eleanor said.

“What? I can’t dote on my glowing, beautiful, very pregnant wife?”

She rolled her eyes. “I might not be able to see my feet any longer, but I assure you, I can still walk on my own. There’s no need to hover as if I’m about to topple over and be unable to set myself to rights.”

He kissed her cheek. “I know. Just humor me, Love.”

#22 – Quirks
The exact same traits that had made Eleanor a deadly archer – light on her feet, silent as a shadow, and extremely observant – served her well as a new mother. She was able to easily sneak up on her son and avoid having her favorite books torn to shreds in his chubby little hands, quickly scoop him up when he had decided one day to skip straight from crawling about to running to keep him from tumbling headlong into her rose bushes, and keep him from trying to destroy one of the suits of armor that was displayed in a castle hallway.

Give me a handful of Orlesian mercenaries any day, she wistfully thought as she plucked a pair of scissors out of her toddler’s hands that she knew she had hidden in her sewing basket, much to her son’s displeasure. Motherhood is a far more dangerous business.

#04 – Wonder
Bryce stood over his newborn daughter’s cradle, his fingers carefully ghosting over her cheek; he was filled with a sense of wonder at how someone that he had just met could hold his entire heart in her tiny little hands.

#01 – Walking
It seemed that once Moira had gotten the hang of walking around without someone holding onto her hands that the child would instantly toddle over to her father as soon as she saw that he was in the room, her eyes bright and a gurgling laugh spilling from her lips.

#23 – Question
“Why is the sky blue?”

“Because the Maker decided to paint it that way.”


Bryce shrugged. By now he was used to his five-year-old asking a bevy of questions. “I don’t know. Blue is a nice enough color, isn’t it?”

Fergus nodded. “I guess so.” He pointed to the portcullis in front of the castle. “How does that work?”

“Ah, I’m glad you asked. Little sprites live in the gears so that they can raise and lower the gate.”

His son frowned. “But I saw the guardsman tilt that wheel over there! Why would the sprites live somewhere when people can open and close the gates instead?”

“That’s what the sprites would like you to think, my boy. You see, they know that we like to feel needed, so they built that wheel so we’d believe that we were being useful.”

That answer seemed to agree with Fergus. “You’re so smart, Papa,” he said, holding onto his father’s hand. “You always know all the answers to everything!”

#21 – Quiet
With two children running about the castle, there was never a quiet moment. Somehow, neither Bryce nor Eleanor seemed to mind, especially when the sound of laughter echoed down the hallways.

#50 – Defeat
“I don’t get this!” Fergus cried, slumping in his chair. “What use do I have for chess?”

Eleanor reset the pieces. “Why don’t we play another game with these?” she suggested. “Let’s pretend that my pieces are at war with yours. We both have very specialized warriors that do things that the others can’t.”

That captured her son’s attention. “Really?”

She nodded. “The object will be to take as many of the other’s soldiers before being defeated. The game is won when the General is taken hostage.” She touched the Queen piece for emphasis.

“But the General is a girl!”

“And who said that girls can’t be leaders? Her Second,” she picked up the King piece, “knows that she’s fully capable of leading her army to victory.”

“Ingenious way of getting him to learn how to play chess,” Bryce commented, wrapping his arms around Eleanor’s shoulders from behind.

“Oh no, this is War,” she corrected, sending one of her ‘infantrymen’ out onto the battlefield. “And you should know better than anyone else that when fully engaged, I intend to be ruthless.”

#11 – Birthday
“And what do you want for your name day?” he asked his daughter. Moira scrunched up her nose, deep in thought.

“A sword, just like yours!” From across the room, Eleanor smirked and shook her head; wondering just when her sweet little girl she had dressed in ribbons and bows had grown into such a tomboy.

#02 – Waltz
Bryce laughed as he spun Eleanor around her sitting room for an impromptu waltz. She smiled against his lips as Moira ran up to them and tugged on his pant leg with a plea of dance with me next, Papa!

#18 – Balloon
“And this is why I told you to wear something else,” Fergus said, laughing as his little sister’s dress ballooned out around her as she jumped out of a tree, exposing the frilly bloomers she always wore. “I see someone’s fancy pants!”

#03 – Wishes
“Do you ever wish that we had a third child?” he asked, propping himself up on an elbow. It was too pretty of a day to be cooped up indoors, so the four of them had gathered up a lunch and decided to spend the afternoon outside.

Eleanor twined her fingers with her husband’s, watching as Fergus helped boost his little sister up onto a low hanging tree branch. “Oh, I think the two we have make mischief enough for five children. Think what would happen if they brought a younger sibling into the mix.”

#09 – War
The sounds of rushing feet and high pitched wailing made Bryce look up from his paperwork just in time to see his children careen into his study, both of them dirty and with leaves in their hair.“What happened?”

Moira clambered up onto her father’s lap. “We w-were playing and Fer-rgus hit me!” She buried her face in her Bryce’s neck and sobbed.

Fergus made an indignant noise. “She hit me first! I told her I didn’t want to play Dragons and Knights with her, but she smacked me anyway!”

“You didn’t have to push me back!”

Bryce looked at both of them, noticing that Moira’s hand-me-down leggings were torn and her exposed knee was slowly seeping blood. She normally came back from playing outdoors with so many scrapes and bruises that he knew it couldn’t be the reason she was upset. Moira rarely cried; if anything, she was probably mad that her brother had retaliated.

“Pup, what have I told you about picking on your brother?” he asked, wiping away tears that had left dusty streaks across her cheek.

She sniffled. “That I was supposed to ask if he wanted to play before jumping in.”

“And Fergus, what have I told you about hitting your sister?”

His son scuffed his boot against the stone floor. “That I should not hit women, that it is ungentlemanly of me.” He scowled and muttered under his breath, “Even if she did hit me first.”

“Good. Now I want you both to tell the other that you’re sorry.” He listened as they both said their apologies before dropping a kiss on Moira’s forehead. “Now that this is settled, my little ragamuffins are in dire need of a bath. Best scrub up before dinner; you know how your mother gets.” He shook his head as he heard Fergus go tattletale outside his office and then Moira counter with big meanie further down the hall.

“What was all that about?” Eleanor asked, coming in soon after.

“Oh, the usual bickering and warring that happens between siblings. You know how that goes.”

“Only too well. I take it that our dear daughter tried to worm her way out by pulling out the false tears?”

“And you should be proud of me – I didn’t take the bait.” He stood up and walked towards his wife. “We have a while before dinner,” he said, giving her a roguish smirk. “Whatever shall we do with ourselves?”

She tisked. “You can change your doublet, it’s filthy. Honestly, Bryce, sometimes I think you’re as bad as our children.” She said the last fondly, reaching up on her tiptoes to give him a quick kiss even as she brushed off some of the dirt that had transferred over when Moira had climbed in his lap.

#33 – Stupidity
“That’s my sister, you idiot!” Fergus yelled, shoving the village boy who was dumb enough to insult her. “The only one allowed to call her a brat is me!”

#10 – Weddings
He watched his youngest play with Rendon’s eldest, already plotting an elaborate wedding and wondering what his grandchildren would look like, much to Eleanor’s amusement.

#42 – Neutral
“How did you like your visit with the Couslands?” Nathaniel’s father asked.

He thought his answer over. Fergus and Moira were loud, active children, the exact opposite of him and his siblings. Their father was also a direct opposite of his own; Teyrn Bryce had often played with them when his duties allowed, showering his children with affection. He’d even included Nathaniel in his praise, which had surprised him. He hadn’t had to work hard at earning it or anything.

He blinked when he realized that his father was looking at him expectantly, an impatient look on his face. Deciding to go into neutral territory, he tilted his head. “I enjoyed my stay, but I’m glad to be home, Father.”

#06 – Whimsy
He might be the Teyrn of Highever, but he was naught but a ball of putty when his daughter looked up at him with her big hazel eyes, wanting nothing more than to indulge her every whimsical desire, which was how he found himself wearing a strand of costume jewelry and sitting at a low table sipping imaginary tea that had been imported just this morning from Rivain, his miniature hostess informing him that it had survived an extraordinary voyage full of encounters with sea serpents and vicious pirates.

#46 – Horizon
“How many days before Papa comes home?” Moira asked, looking out the window.

“Your father will be home in a fortnight.”

“Do you think that he’s having fun in Denerim without us?”

Eleanor pulled down the blankets to her daughter’s bed. “I’m sure that King Maric is keeping him very busy. He might not have time for any fun.” She knew that her husband disliked going to Denerim on business, but she also knew how close he was to Maric. If anything, Bryce was the one keeping the king out of trouble, not the other way around. She smirked; the two of them were like overgrown boys when they put aside their titles and rank.

Moira looked out towards the horizon. Brother Aldous had shown her and her brother a map of Ferelden during their studies; she might not have the entire thing memorized, but she knew that there was a great distance between Highever and where her father was. “Do you think he misses us?”

“Oh, I’m positive that your father misses us all very much. As soon as his business is finished, he’ll come home as quickly as possible, just like he promised.” She went over to Moira and gave her a hug from behind. “And when he comes home, he promised to bring you and your brother a gift. Isn’t that nice?”

Moira yawned and crawled into bed. “I want my Papa home more,” she said, rubbing her eyes while her mother tucked her in. “Even though it would be nice if he happened to bring a puppy back.”

#17 – Belief
“My father is the bravest, strongest, most loyal man in all of Thedas,” Bryce overheard his son saying, Fergus’s tone challenging the other young squires in their care to say otherwise. He couldn’t stop the feeling of pride that swelled in his chest at the thought that someone had put him on such a high pedestal.

#13 – Bias
“Delilah looks pretty,” Moira said, watching as Nathaniel’s little sister carefully sat beside Arlessa Regina.

“True, but she isn’t as pretty as you.” Bryce knew how Nan had to cajole Moira into the gown she now wore. His daughter might like to wear leggings and tunics more than frilly dresses, but she was still a little girl at heart who loved compliments.

“Do you think I’m pretty, Papa?”

He figured that it was his party; he could break protocol if he wanted to. Scooping Moira up, he placed a smacking kiss against her cheek, which made her break into a fit of giggles. “You’re the prettiest little girl in this hall, Pup. The only one prettier happens to be your mother.”

Eleanor laughed, even as a pleased blush bloomed on her cheeks. “I think someone is a bit biased.”

“Nonsense, my love. I’m merely telling the truth.”

#29 – Jewel
“How much do you love me, Papa?”

Bryce kissed Moira’s forehead as she snuggled closer to his side. “I don’t think you can measure how much I love you,” he said. “That’s like asking how many stars are in the sky; it’s so big of a number that it can’t be properly accounted for.” He tapped his finger against her nose. “I will tell you this; you are my special girl, the jewel of my eye. There’s no one like you and no one that I can love the way I love you.”

#16 – Breaking
Eleanor quirked an eyebrow at the three of them standing around a broken vase: her daughter going it wasn’t me!, her son going it wasn’t me either!, and her husband looking at her with a sheepish smile on his face.

Honestly, she thought as she listened to Bryce explain how a game of Dragons and Knights had suddenly taken a more boisterous turn than usual, it’s as if I have three children at times instead of two.

#44 – Near
Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled outside. Within seconds, Fergus’s bedroom door opened and his little sister darted underneath the covers, her hands fisting in the material of his nightshirt as she curled into a tiny, trembling ball, her bony little knees poking him in the side.

“Hey, remember what I told you?” Fergus whispered, draping his arm around Moira and giving her a hug. “That stupid storm is nothing to be afraid of as long as I’m near.”

#30 – Just
“Come out, my little ones,” Bryce called, watching as Fergus and Moira came out from their hiding place behind one of the Great Hall’s tapestries. He had noticed them before the string of petitioners had begun in earnest and was somewhat impressed that they had managed to stay so still and quiet for the better part of two hours. Today’s deliberations had been difficult, but he had tried his best to mete out just and fair decisions for everyone. Scooping both of his children in his arms, he sat them both on his lap, the chair he had been sitting in squishing the three of them together.

“You look tired, Papa,” Moira commented, snuggling her head underneath his chin.

“I am tired, Pup.” He had made several decisions that he knew hadn’t sat well with some of the nobility, but he would deal with the repercussions later. For now he felt his tension drain away.

“You’re a good leader, Father,” Fergus said, squirming out of Bryce’s arms and sliding down his legs to sit at his feet.

“I’m glad that someone thinks so, my boy.” He’d have to raise the taxes next year in order to pay for extra grain; the summer drought had hurt the crops and a recent outbreak of field fires had done even more damage. At least Amaranthine had fared well; he had recently received a favorable report from Rendon that had lifted his spirits some.

“I think you are too!” Moira said, wiggling around so she could wrap her arms around his neck. She gave him a kiss on the cheek before settling against him. “You’re the best leader that I’ve ever seen!”

He tapped his index finger on the tip of her nose, which made Moira laugh. “Well, this leader has decided to play a game of Seek and Find with two Cousland children! I wonder if I can find any to play with me!” He laughed as Fergus bounced to his feet and ran off, Moira hot on his heels. Bryce’s seneschal had informed him of a desk full of letters waiting in his office, but at that moment, he decided that he had enough of being Teyrn for the day. There were a few hours of daylight left and he was determined to spend them being a father instead.

After all, the paperwork could wait until later.

#25 – Quitting
“I think we should call it an evening,” Bryce said, snapping the book shut. He had already read three just one more story, Papa, please stories more than he had meant to during their usual bedtime reading. “All little rogues-in-training need their sleep if they want to be in top sneaking form in the morning.”

#27 – Jester
“Mama, what made you fall in love with Papa?”

Eleanor looked up from her embroidery. “Your father would have you think that I fell for his handsome good looks and charming ways,” she started, thinking back to the first time she had met Bryce. “But to tell you the truth, what truly won me over was his sense of humor.”


“Yes, really.” She snuggled closer to her daughter. Moira was still the age where she was more interested in beating boys at swordplay than kissing them, but she was old enough now to start appreciating the virtues of romantic stories, of knights rushing to maiden’s rescues. “Let me tell you something very important, my dear. Looks have a way of fading over time and even charm will lose its appeal. Yet if you can find a partner whom you can laugh with through a lifetime of good and bad times, one that makes you fall in love with them over and over again, then you can consider yourself very fortunate indeed.”

Moira sighed. “I hope that I can find someone like that,” she said wistfully.

Eleanor kissed the top of her head. “I hope you can too, my love.” Even though she still had years to go before she’d be of marrying age, Eleanor held high hopes that her children would find the same sort of love that she had found with her own husband. “I hope you can too.”

#35 – Sarcasm
“Oh sure, let’s try to jump across the stream, she says,” Fergus griped, wringing out his sodden clothing while his sister looked on in amusement. “Nothing will go wrong, she says.”

#14 – Burning
“And this, my lady,” Nan said, opening the windows in the kitchen, “is why you need to concentrate on the more feminine arts instead of spending all day whacking boys about with swords.”

Moira scowled at the burnt mass in front of her. “I don’t really need to learn how to cook in order to gain a husband, do I?”

#48 – Virtuous
“Things like this take time to learn. Remember; patience is a virtue,” Eleanor reminded her daughter, even though she had to bite the inside of her cheek to refrain from laughing at the curse Moira muttered under her breath when the embroidery floss she had been working with got tangled for the umpteenth time.

Bryce, who had been reading in a wingback chair near the fireplace, hadn’t been able to stifle the snort of laughter; he ducked his shoulders down and raised his book to shield himself from the glare Moira shot him.

#20 – Bane
“Dairren is the bane of my existence,” Moria muttered under her breath, wishing that she could find a way to escape Lady Landra’s son. Even though both of them were only seventeen, his mother had made several not-so-subtle hints that her son was available; Moira wanted nothing more than to find an out and escape the conversation, especially when she saw the way that Nathaniel’s mouth was turned downward in a disapproving frown at the way Dairren was flirting with her.

“Oh, I doubt he’s as bad as all that,” Fergus said at her side. He had also noticed how his best friend’s hand had tightened into a fist at his side and the quiet sound of Nate’s teeth grinding. “Say, have I shown you the training grounds?” he asked Dairren, darting in and effectively charming his guest away from his sister.

“I owe him one,” Moira breathed as she and Nathaniel made a hasty retreat.

Dairren owes him one,” Nathaniel said, pulling her into a nearby alcove and covering her mouth with a rough kiss. “If he had leered one more time at you, I would have planted my fist in his face, protocol be damned.”

She smiled against his lips, her fingers tangling in his hair. “My hero,” she breathed, kissing him again.

#49 – Victory
“I let you win.”

“No you didn’t. I won that match fair and square.”

“Did not.”

“Did too.” Moira stuck her tongue out at her brother, whom she had just finished sending to the dirt inside the training circle. She was getting better with her sword work; the Captain of the Guard had said something about starting her up on using dual weapons now that she’d gotten the hang of the basics.

Roland Gilmore nodded, handing them both towels and a dipper of water. “She did send you flying on your arse,” he agreed, earning a beaming smile from Moira.

“Not helping, Rory,” Fergus grumbled back.

#08 - Whiskey and rum
“Papa is going to kill us,” she moaned, staggering as she tried to support the Fergus’s weight. She and her brother had taken advantage of their visit to Amaranthine; no one in the Crown and Lion had known they were the Teyrn’s children, so they’d been treated just like any other patron.

Your father is going to kill you?” Nathaniel asked incredulously, tightening his hold on Fergus’s waist. His friend swung his head towards him and Nathaniel’s nose wrinkled at the stench of whiskey on his breath. “My father is going to flay me alive for letting you two get this way!”

Moira looked over at Nathaniel and gave him a brilliant smile. She had only had enough rum to make the world tilt pleasantly on its axis, unlike her brother, who had nearly asked every barmaid in the place to marry him before finally passing out. “Yes, but we had fun, didn’t we?”

He couldn’t help grinning back at her. If it hadn’t been for her brother being in the middle, he would have reached out and kissed her, just for being so endearingly cute. “Yes, I guess we did.”

#28 – Jousting
“I can’t believe you turned down a jousting tourney to be held in your honor,” Delilah said, sitting close to her friend’s side. “I know that if my father decides to hold one for my eighteenth birthday that I would jump at the opportunity.”

Moira shrugged. “You can have your knights on their horses. I think this is more exciting.” It was true that her father had wanted to hold an old fashioned tournament to celebrate her birthday, but she had talked him into hosting another sport instead.

“What’s exciting is that along with the large money prize, you’re going to reward the winner with a kiss,” Delilah sighed. “I think that’s awfully romantic.”

Moira nodded, but didn’t answer. The reward was exactly the entire reason she had asked for an archery tournament instead of a jousting match. Out of everyone on the field, she already knew who the best one was. As if he knew she was thinking of him, the archer in question turned and gave her a quiet smile, which she returned.

If anyone had known about their relationship, they would have accused her of deliberately skewing the event in his favor. She wouldn’t have argued; Nathaniel was never one for horsemanship.

#40 – Solitary
It was only a day after they had seen Fergus off for his trip to Antiva, but Moira found that not having a big brother around was only good in theory. In reality, it was an incredibly lonely experience. For years she’d been his shadow; now that he was on an adventure where she couldn’t follow, she didn’t quite know what to do with her time.

#41 – Nowhere
“If you had to do it all over,” Bryce asked, holding his wife close. “Would you do it again?”

She turned in his arms and cupped the sides of his face with her hands. “I would do it gladly. There’s nowhere I would rather be than here with you and our family.”

#31 – Smirk
Moira couldn’t hide the satisfied smirk when she saw her brother step off the ship after spending a year in Antiva. “I knew it,” she said quietly, grinning at the way that her father chuckled and her mother let out a surprised little sound as they watched Fergus twine his fingers with a young lady. “Some girl finally knocked him off his feet and I wasn’t around to see it.”

#38 – Sojourn
“So, you visit Antiva for a year and come back with a bride, huh?” Moira teased once they were alone. “A trinket or other little souvenir wouldn’t do, would it?”

#24 – Quarrel
He had a way of saying or doing something so endearing that made Eleanor forget just why she had been irritated with her husband whenever they did happen to have an argument.

#32 – Sorrow
Oriana loved her new husband with all her heart and was grateful that his family had welcomed her with open arms, but every once and a while she found herself aching for the familiar sights and smells of the home she had left behind in Antiva. She was suffering from a particular bout of homesickness when her sister-in-law approached her.

The goat ate cheese on Tuesday,” she said in Antivan, looking concerned.

Oriana blinked. “Beg pardon?”

“I asked if you were all right. You’ve been very quiet all week; I thought that you might be a little homesick so I figured hearing something familiar would cheer you up.” Moira bit her lip. “I said the wrong thing without realizing it, didn’t I?”

For the first time since the beginning of the week, the lingering sorrow that had been following Oriana around lifted. Laughing, she took Moira’s hands in hers. “Yes, but your heart was in the right place. Come, Sister. If you wish to learn proper Antivan, I will gladly teach you.”

#34 – Serenade
“Now I’ve heard everything,” Moira whispered, staying in the shadows to better listen to her brother perform an Antivan love song without him knowing that he had an audience other than his bride. It was incredibly sweet and she could see how pleased Oriana was at the display, but Moira bet that it would have been better had Fergus any talent for singing.

#19 – Balcony
“We’re going to break our necks,” Thomas said, looking over his shoulder. He was certain that someone was going to spot them and alert their parents.

Moira pulled up the hem of her dress, showing that she had worn a pair of pants and boots underneath. Tucking the majority of her gown around her belt so it wouldn’t trip her up, she hopped up onto the edge of the balcony. “It’s only a five foot drop to the bottom, we’ll be fine.” She looked at him and arched her eyebrow. “Unless you want to go back in there and flirt with Dorcas.”

Thomas made a face. “Maker, no.” He stepped over the balcony railing and watched as Moira used a nearby trellis to ease her way until she could safely jump down into the garden below. “What would Nathaniel think if he knew his lady was skipping out on a dance?”

Moira rolled her eyes, wondering when Thomas had finally put two and two together when it came to her and his brother. “Nate would have already been in the garden with me and we’d be halfway to the Gnarled Noble by now.”

Fergus poked his head around the garden gate. “Will you two hurry up already? Or are you afraid that my wife and I will beat you at cards again?”

Thomas jumped and landed beside Moira, who was smoothing her dress back into place. “Come on, milady,” he said, draping his arm around her shoulder. “We can’t let that challenge go unanswered.”

#36 – Sordid
There were times that Moira wished she didn’t have a good grasp on Antivan, like when she was minding her own business during a boring dinner party and happened to overhear her sister-in-law murmur something to Fergus. Pretending that she didn’t hear, Moira coughed into her napkin and tried to get the mental image of her brother being limber enough to even attempt doing what Oriana suggested out of her head.

#12 – Blessing
When his first grandchild had been born, he wondered just what he had done in a previous life to reward him with such blessings as a home and family full of love and warmth.

#15 – Breathing
“They start out so little, don’t they?” Bryce whispered, coming to stand beside his son as Fergus looked down at his newborn son.

“I’m nearly afraid to hold him,” Fergus admitted. “I don’t want to harm him.”

Bryce clapped his hand on his son’s shoulder. “Truthfully, I was the same way with you. Your mother and I had never been around babies much; we were so fearful that we were doing something wrong or not doing enough of the right things. There were so many nights that we would stay up and simply watch your little chest go up and down while you slept.” They both watched as Oren yawned and stretched out his legs, but slept on. “There is a lot of trial and error for new parents, but from experience, I can tell you that you’ve just started on the grandest adventure of your life.”

“It’s scary, knowing that you’re responsible for raising someone.”

Bryce softly laughed. “Oh, you don’t know the half of it. Yet I have faith in you; you’ll make a fine father.”

Fergus looked at him. “I know I will. I have the best example to follow.”

#26 – Jump
She was twenty when the kennel master had finally announced that there was a litter of Mabari pups ready to look at. Bryce found her sitting on the floor, a pudgy looking dog jumping in her arms. He hung back, imagining with a fond smile that for a brief moment his girl was six all over again, her hair in braided pigtails and laughing in delight while tilting her face away from puppy kisses.

#39 – Share
“So, what shall the Black Fox do today?” Moira asked, watching cautiously as her nephew made his way through the tree branches overhead. He was just as spirited as his father had been as a boy and shared the same affinity towards the folk hero she and her brother had often playacted as in their youth.

“Today, my lady Servana, we shall overtake Orlais!”

She grinned, glad that Oren was willing to have his aunt play make-believe with him. “Orlais? Isn’t that a bit far? Won’t we need transportation?”

“We do; I think we need to find several horses.” With that, the two of them began to concoct an elaborate heist that took up the better part of the afternoon.

#05 – Worry
“Be sure to take good care of your armor, you know how the left vambrace tends to loosen.” Moira bit her lower lip, her forehead crinkling. Her father wasn’t due to leave for Ostagar until the morning, but she was already missing him. “And watch out with your back. Mama would have a fit if you came back full of aches and pains. And…”

Bryce reached out and hugged her. “You worry overmuch, Pup. I’ll be fine.”

She wrapped her arms around his waist and squeezed tight. “Just come home safely to us, Papa.”

#47 – Valiant
“I’ll kill every one of those bastards that comes through that door, but I am not leaving you, Bryce,” she said, her tone fearless.

“Stubborn…woman,” Bryce rasped.

She cradled his face in her hands and kissed him, her breath hitching and a sob escaping as she felt his skin go cold under her hands and his lifeblood pool around her knees. “And you wouldn’t have me any other way, would you?” she whispered, resting her forehead against his.

“Never. I love you, Eleanor.”

“And I love you, Bryce. In this life and the next.”

#07 - Waste/Wasteland
For her brother’s sake, Moira kept up a stoic front as the two of them returned to Highever. It was only late that first night when she was alone and curled up in her father’s favorite chair in the study that she silently broke down, mourning the emotional ruin that Rendon Howe had made of her home.

#37 – Soliloquy
“I wish you were here. Fergus is doing such a good job in Highever – the people are comparing him to you, which is high praise indeed. He just finished reconstruction on the castle too; he expanded Mama’s gardens. I think it’s his way of dealing with everything. He worries me. He puts up a front of good humor so that no one has any clue that there’s something wrong, but I can tell, especially when he doesn’t realize that anyone is watching. I’m needed in Denerim with Alistair now, but I want to be with him, if only to be there for him when he does allow himself to mourn.” Moira ran her fingers over the back of her amulet, her nails tracing the outline of her father’s familiar face. “I miss you so much, Papa.”

#43 – Nuance

“Yes, my dear boy?”

“What was Grandfather Cousland like?”

Moira ran her fingers through her son’s thick hair. He might have inherited Nathaniel’s looks, but there was a certain tilt to his jaw and subtle nuance to his eye that reminded her every so often of her own father. “He was a good man who loved to laugh and tease his children.” She hugged Tristan, grateful that he was still little enough to want to cuddle. He was already growing so fast; she was both dreading and looking forward to seeing him grow up. “He told the best stories and often read me books at bedtime.”

“Like the Dark Wolf stories?”

She laughed. She might not get out as often as she once did, but she still made sure that the local legends of the Dark Wolf’s deeds were still around. She wondered just what her son would think if he actually knew the identity of his hero. “Yes, but he read me the tales of the Black Fox instead.”

“Would he have liked me?”

Moira swallowed a thick lump that had formed in her throat. “Oh, he would have adored you,” she said, squeezing Tristan tighter. “And he would have more than likely spoiled you rotten, just because he could.” Her free hand went to the necklace she always wore, the raised Chantry symbol a little worn from the years of handling it. She kissed the top of her son’s head, thinking back on all the times that her own father had done the same for her.

Tristan looked up at her. “I didn’t mean to make you sad,” he said.

She shook her head. “No, my love. Thinking about your grandfather makes me happy; I know that if he were here, he would be so proud of how well his children and grandchildren are doing.” Moira bent her head and pressed a messy kiss to his cheek that made him squeal in laughter. “Now come on, Pup. Go find us a good story to read before bed.”


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 17th, 2011 08:09 am (UTC)
"The goat ate cheese on Tuesday" totally cracked me up lol

I love Bryce and Eleanor so much! They're just like the best parents ever lol
Sep. 5th, 2011 12:47 pm (UTC)
Actually sobbing here. But in a good way ♥
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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