• Hello Guest, the Post-Trespasser timeline is open to all characters now. If you want to play your DA:O/DA2 timeline characters in the Post-Trespasser timeline, please check out the thread below. It will give you all the information you need to get up and running in no time:

    Getting your DA:O/DA2 Character ready for Post-Trespasser!

Damaged [Complete]

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#1
((OOC: Justinian 7, 9:35, Evening, @Cauthrien ))

The vase went first. Thrown against the wall in a sudden explosion of energy that needed an outlet. Pottery fragments littered the stone floor and soon found company in bowl upended and emptied of fruit. A mirror was shattered with the hurl of an apple. Curtains framing the windows of the room were ripped from their rods and left to be trodded upon on the room's floor. Once he began, Nathaniel could not stop. Everything kept bottled in over the course of the day remained suppressed no longer.

Old wounds he thought long healed reopened in the wake of Josc’s news. What if he had stayed in Kirkwall? He hadn’t stayed because what he had was not enough. No, he wanted more. He wanted what he was owed. He wanted his revenge. He was no fool to think the arling within his grasp. But Aedan, he most certainly was. The need for revenge blinded Nathaniel and he failed to see what lay within the landscape beyond his desire to give his father what he deserved.

If he had known the true cost…

Those days after his conscription he tallied the cost as he thought it. His life as he knew it was over. Nathaniel was not dead but would be. Aedan made that abundantly clear. Nathaniel was a Grey Warden. Grey Wardens died sooner rather than later. He never for a moment thought his decision to leave might impact anyone in Kirkwall. That his decision to return to Ferelden would mean the death of his child.

He wasn't directly responsible for the child's death. That hardly made the guilt less. If he was there, Josc might not have been on the docks that day. If he was there, he would have done whatever he could to provide for her and the child. If he was there-- But he wasn't.

His arm drug violently along the top of a table, everything sitting upon the tabletop hurled to the ground. A small dish crashed and broke into pieces. A lit candle and holder tumbled to the ground. The candle immediately snuffed out from the fall and wax poured from its tip onto the carpet below. He paced along the rug, boots crushing glass and porcelain fragments further pushing them into the fibers of the area rug.

For so long all he wanted in life was his father’s approval and the arling. He would have happily settled for hearing Rendon say just once, I am proud of you, Nathaniel. One of those goals was achieved thanks to the wardens. He had what he wanted but at what cost? He was Arl of Amaranthine, a title that should have filled him with pride but left him feeling empty at present. He had everything and nothing at the same time.

A derisive snort creased his lips, accompanied by the shake of his head and the search of his eyes for the bottle of whiskey Fergus had his room supplied with upon their arrival to Highever. He located the bottle upon the mantle above the fireplace. Drink would solve nothing. His downward slide into the bottle after Fiona’s death proved that to him. Still, he thirsted and craved the temporary relief he knew slipping into drink would provide.

He was tired of thinking about Fergus, about Cauthrien and now, about his failings to Josc and their child. No matter what he did, no matter the good decisions he made, everything turned to ash. He pushed Fergus away because it was the right thing to do for him, for Fergus and for Breanna.

Cauthrien should have approved of this decision. Nathaniel could see she did not like Fergus’ arrangement with Breanna. Why she would then tell Nathaniel he needed to be with Fergus, he did not know. His happiness, she claimed. What of Breanna's? What he did was best for all involved. He could not be convinced otherwise. Why could she not see that? Instead, she pushed him away and seemed incapable of believing she was the person he truly wanted and Maker help him, she was. Things would be far easier if he felt otherwise, if he could return to those days when he kept everyone at arm's length, using his duty as a shield.

The small box drew his attention next, resting carefully atop a round table near the doorway. Nathaniel pushed the lid aside and dug inside for the lock of hair preserved within. He clutched the keepsake and crossed the room next to retrieve the whiskey from the mantle. Knuckles whitened as he stared down at the bottle. This had been Thomas' fate. So hopeless and lost, Thomas drank to forget and cope. More and more the contempt he felt for his brother was replaced with understanding. What it must have been like for Thomas in those last days, gulping for air, reaching for a lifeline or sliver of hope that never came.

Nathaniel felt much the same now. Unlike Thomas, though, he could not succumb and took a step away from the hearth before chucking the bottle into the fireplace. He sank to the floor, back pressed against the curve of the couch in front of the hearth. His eyes traveled the length of the strands of hair held within his palm. He closed his eyes while running a finger along the end of the strands of hair and tried to imagine what Nathan looked like. Did he look like some combination of all the Hawkes or did he take after Nathaniel as Eunice did? Try as he might, he could not imagine the child's face and was not sure if that was a boon or not. To have known and lost or not to know at all...

No, he wanted to know. To not know was far worse.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#2
Cauthrien returned to her room to find a ghost waiting for her.

The sword had been left there for her to find, leaning against the hearth: a blade as long as she was tall. She recognized it at once: the scabbard was new, the leather Warden blue, embossed with silver, but the hilt was unique, the bronze gleaming in the lamplight.

Mouth dry, heart hammering, she removed the baldric of the sword she had used for the last two years, leaning the blade on the rack beside her armor before approaching the ghost. Trembling fingers traced the side rings, the heavy quillions with the distinctive rounded knobs that matched the pommel. Lifting it away from the hearth, she turned it until the light fell upon the quillion block and the engraving there: the mark of Vercenne of Halamshiral, the greatest smith in the Orlesian Empire, dead since before the naming of this Age.

The Summer Sword had been the last that he had crafted, so named because it had been made in the winter of his life. Commissioned as a gift for an Orlesian nobleman's son, it had been spurned by the boy as being unfashionable; smaller, lighter blades were what were popular in court, and the young man took for himself an estoc crafted by a lesser artisan. Rumor had it that Vercenne cursed the boy, telling him that no matter what blade he wielded, he would fail.

Years passed, the boy became a man, the man became a chevalier, and the chevalier became one of the most loathed knights in Ferelden, infamous for his casual atrocities. During the rebellion, the chevalier met the forces of Loghain Mac Tir at the battle of Avinash. His preferred estoc lost in the fight, cut off from his men, the arrogant knight was forced to fight the farmer's son with the weapon he had never learned to use. Loghain killed him and claimed the Summer Sword as a trophy. More years passed before Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir made a gift of the Summer Sword to a too-tall girl who had devoted herself to mastering the greatsword and earned the command of the King's own guard.

The woman that girl had become wrapped her fingers around the grip – the leather there as new as that of the scabbard, but softer, designed to draw sweat away from the palms – and eased the blade from its sheath. Silverite shone in the lamplight, the patterning on the blade's surface marking that it had not simply been forged but folded, again and again, strengthening the metal. Lyrium runes etched into the silverite coruscated into life, gleaming from the broad ricasso just below the quillions to just above the fuller groove. The sword's edge caught the light in its own way, and she did not need to touch it to know that it would cleave through flesh and bone – and most armor – like butter.

Letting the scabbard fall, she brought the sword upright, both hands on the hilt. The balance was exquisite; the slightest shift in her hold would be all that was needed to set it into motion, and for all its size, it was surprisingly light. Heavier than the blade she'd been using, yes, but still less than ten pounds. A once in a lifetime weapon, now hers twice.

But how had it gotten here, after she'd let it tumble into the depths of the Waking Sea two years ago? A piece of parchment had been held between the sword and the hearth, falling to the floor when she'd moved the blade. She bent to retrieve it now, her bafflement only partially addressed by the name that was the only word written there.

Returning the blade to its scabbard, she slipped the baldric over her head and settled the Summer Sword back into its accustomed position, the side rings over her right shoulder. Then she went in search of Nathaniel.

Like her, he had been given the same room he had occupied when they had guested here prior to the trip to Redcliffe, but as she drew close, she slowed, eying the three servants clustered in the hall curiously. The women's eyes cut to her warily as a crash of shattering glass quickened her step once more; judging from their demeanor, it wasn't the first such sound to be heard, and yes, it seemed to be coming from Nate's room.

Approaching the door, she briefly debated just walking in, lifted her hand and knocked instead. “Nathaniel?”
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#3
Nathaniel swallowed down, the lump that knotted in his throat refusing to unfurl. He drew his legs toward his chest, wrapping his arms about his calves and dropping his brow to lie upon the peak of his knees.

He wanted to lay the blame for Nathan's murder at the feet of the man that attacked Josc. At Aedan's for conscripting him and giving Nathaniel no choice but to stay in Ferelden. At his father.

He could not, though. This was all his fault. Yet another price to pay for blind devotion to a man that deserved none. Why was he not able to see before Aedan forced the truth upon him with Delilah's help? And why still, even with all he knew now, all he discovered earlier in the day could he not hate his father? He willed the hatred to come to burn away the conflict. His father was the worst kind of man. He did the unforgivable and yet--

His anger and anguish mixed together in a pained sound muffled against his knees.

Moisture wetted his eyes. He closed his eyes tightly in an attempt to stop his frustration forming in tears when a knock rattled the door. “Nathaniel?” came through the doorway. There was no mystery as to the voice. Cauthrien.

He could send her away. Yell that he did not want to see anyone. That never seemed to work on her, though. She ignored him back in Denerim when he mourned Fiona. She might very well do the same now. The noises coming from his room as he raged drew attention, no doubt. The servants of the castle never seemed to grow tired of talking about him not that he blamed them. On this occasion, he'd more than given them cause.

His head lifted and palms rubbed against his eyes, clearing away any tears that might have stained his face. "Come in," he called out, tone bleaker than intended.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#4
“Come in.”

She'd heard that empty tone before, and foreboding iced along her veins. There had been no word in the castle of anything untoward happening, though. She opened the door and stepped into the room, closing the door behind her before the women outside could catch a glimpse of the destruction. They'd be dealing with it firsthand soon enough.

The scent of whiskey was heavy on the air as she took in the damages: the broken glass and fruit scattered across the floor; curtains puddled on the floor, their rods askew across the windows; scoremarks on the walls where thrown items had impacted; a table swept violently clear, its contents among the disarray on the rug; and Nathaniel, hunched on the floor in front of the couch, eyes red and swollen, his expression very much as it had been after Fiona's murder.

Nathaniel kept himself under tight control; too tight for one who felt things as deeply as he did. The rampage suggested by the damage in the room did not surprise her; the only question was what had pushed him past the limits of his control. Even Fiona's death had not made him lash out like this.

Picking her way through the broken glass, she slipped the baldric over her head and leaned the Summer Sword against the arm of the couch. She nudged a battered apple out of the way with a foot, then settled to the floor at his side.

“What happened?” she asked him quietly.
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#5
Nathaniel said nothing as Cauthrien entered, only glancing at her briefly before losing himself in the wisps of flame burning away the last of the whiskey from the bottle he hurled into the hearth. The anger lessened as he lost himself in the hypnotic flame but he was hardly whole again, far from it.

The crackle of broken glass betrayed her approach. “What happened?” she asked after taking a seat at his side.

How was he to explain this to her? She already thought he should be with someone else. To tell her that he fathered a child with a woman staying in the castle would do nothing to help his cause.

His hand rubbed against his face, scraping over the day's stubble. He deflected, "I decide to do some redecorating." Sarcasm twisted the line of his mouth and drew forth a wry snort. Weakly, he swept his hand in motion to his handiwork. "I thought I would take a cue from Philippe. Orlesians are so fond of breaking things after all. What do you think? "

That you are not answering her question is what she will think.

If there was anyone that earned his full honesty, that person was Cauthrien. She knew so many of his secrets. What was one more? This one was different, though. This was not some scheme of his father's come to light. This was something he did or as the case may be, did not do.

His chin dropped, gaze falling upon the lock of hair now resting atop his lap. He ran the pad of his thumb against his lips. "I received some news today I was not expecting," he began. "I was a mercenary in Kirkwall. I never told you that." He cleared his throat and shifted upon the ground, pushing himself further into the back of the couch as he straightened his posture. "After I was banished from Bann Errol's upon my father's death. I needed coin to return to Ferelden if I was to avenge my father. Desperate man. Desperate measures so to speak." If he could go back in time and tell the man he was in those days the truth of things. A single purpose guided that man. Nothing else mattered.

"Some of the last jobs I took before I left Kirkwall were with one particular woman." A rueful smirk harshened his expression. "She flirted mercilessly with me and on my last night in Kirkwall I decided to relent and we spent the night together." He gave no further details on what they did. Cauthrien was an intelligent woman and Nathaniel was a man that followed definite patterns of behavior.

He continued, "By the end of the night, I felt… I was tempted not to leave Kirkwall at all. I had a life such as it was there. And I was fairly certain she wanted me to stay." He could still remember the way she looked at him during those last moments they shared together at the Hanged Man. He could still remember the lie he told her as well. "But the pull of my father was what it was and I left before she woke up and thought to never see her again."

A deep breath brought the rise and fall of his chest and the turn of his head unsure what he would find in Cauthrien's expression. Unsure what he hoped to find. Her condemnation? Her pity? One was far easier to accept than the other. "I saw her today when I was in the practice yard. Like me, she is no longer a mercenary. She is Kirkwall nobility and is visiting Highever. Her name is Josc."

That alone was not enough reason to justify Nathaniel's destruction, but he paused, allowing what he said to sink in before he shared the worst of it.
 
Last edited:

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#6
"I decided to do some redecorating." A mirthless smile as he gestured at the destruction. "I thought I would take a cue from Philippe. Orlesians are so fond of breaking things after all. What do you think?"

“Phillipe would likely be impressed,” she responded mildly, accepting the dodge for the moment, waiting for him to go on, as she knew he would when he was ready.

He dropped his eyes to his lap. Following his gaze, she saw a lock of hair, dark against the leather of his trews. "I received some news today I was not expecting," he started. "I was a mercenary in Kirkwall. I never told you that."

She listened as he spoke of earning coin to return to Ferelden to avenge the father who deserved no such actions, the woman he had met in Kirkwall and left after a single night together … reluctantly on both their parts, it now seemed. She knew more of this than he realized, but she did not interrupt, giving him the chance to put words to the distress that had fueled his actions. She was still trying to wrap her head around her own encounter with Joscelyn Hawke, and if she mentioned it to Nathaniel now, it would sidetrack something that he plainly needed to speak of.

He turned his head, searching her eyes. Likely, he expected her censure; he usually seemed to at such times, though he really should know by now that she was not one to judge the mistakes of others. Not with so many of her own strewn across her past. She met his eyes calmly, waiting for him to go on.

"I saw her today when I was in the practice yard. Like me, she is no longer a mercenary. She is Kirkwall nobility and is visiting Highever. Her name is Josc."

She nodded, considering the words, and the barely leashed emotions underlying them, unable to help a rueful laugh. The man really was a rolling romantic disaster. Josc, Jean, Fergus, her. Quite possibly, the safest thing for him to do would be to take an oath of celibacy. Or was he feeling the rekindling of an old flame?

There was more to it than a chance meeting of old lovers; there had to be. Josc had hinted at it, and the destruction wrought in the room had not been prompted by what he had revealed thus far. Even if he still harbored feelings for her, finding her here would have inspired a retreat into brooding solitude, not the explosion that had taken place. “There's something else, isn't there?” she prompted him, still careful. There was a brittleness to him that was very similar to how he had been after Fiona's murder, a bone-deep pain that he had turned to whiskey to dull then, but no hint of it touched his breath now. He had wanted to, though; the shattered bottle in the fireplace made that clear.
 
Last edited:

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#7
Nathaniel turned away from Cauthrien at her laughter, gaze lost within the flames once again. The story was…ridiculous. Even he could admit the confession was comedic. What were the odds really? Which person from his past would appear next? The elven girl he lost his virginity to. Why not? She could roll into Ferelden and tell all that would listen how clumsy he was.

“There's something else, isn't there?” she asked further.

“Yes,” he stated simply, eyes dropping to his lap and the lock of hair resting atop his thighs. “I…” Fingers worked the keepsake within their length, the pad of his thumb brushing against the cut ends of the hair. “…got her pregnant apparently. A son.” Children were often a cause of joy. No such happiness touched Nathaniel’s expression. “Josc was attacked by someone while she was pregnant. Her sibling killed the attacker but not soon enough to save…” Grief knotted his throat. The name no easier to say now than earlier in the evening. “…Nathan."

Rage pulsed against his skin, a burn that began slowly but found easy fuel in Nathaniel’s guilt. The line of his jaw tightened. “If I had stayed…” Could he have stopped his child’s murder? Maybe, maybe not. He would never know. “But I couldn’t. I don’t even know if I had known if I would have stayed.” Bitterness often kept dammed seeped through the cracks and roughened his tone. “No. I needed to revenge my father."
 
Last edited:

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#8
It was more than encountering an old lover that was weighing on Nate, and at her careful prompting, he confirmed it.

“I…” His eyes dropped back to his lap, fingers toying with the lock of dark hair, “…got her pregnant apparently. A son.” Cauthrien's eyes widened in surprise. Josc had not hinted at anything like this, though his next words suggested why: a namesake son, lost before he'd ever drawn breath. Not something to be confided to a new acquaintence.

Ah. Sod it. That definitely squared with the little that Josc had said on the matter. “I'm sorry,” she said quietly, covering his hand with one of her own, squeezing lightly.

Anger tightened his features. “If I had stayed…But I couldn’t. I don’t even know if I had known if I would have stayed.” Self recrimination infused the rage. “No. I needed to revenge my father."

“Because you believed him worth avenging,” she told him calmly. “That he was not was neither something you could know or be blamed for. And you didn't know that she was pregnant, so speculating what you might have done if you had serves no purpose except to punish yourself for what you can't change.” Evidently, she was back to being the logical one. “If you had been there, you might well have saved them from that attack, only to see one or both die in childbirth. Such things are far from rare.”
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#9
“Because you believed him worth avenging. That he was not was neither something you could know or be blamed for. And you didn't know that she was pregnant, so speculating what you might have done if you had serves no purpose except to punish yourself for what you can't change.” Cauthrien continued, “If you had been there, you might well have saved them from that attack, only to see one or both die in childbirth. Such things are far from rare.”

Too deep within the spiral of self-condemnation, he was blind and deaf to Cauthrien’s logic. “I’ve made so many mistakes,” he murmured, voice quiet, bordering on defeated. How many more would he make before his death? His gaze panned to the hand atop his. The way he felt about Cauthrien felt right. But even that was not without its mistakes.

“When I first woke up after my joining, I was so angry. I was alone in my old rooms at Vigil’s Keep only they were empty of anything that had been mine or my family’s really.” Nathaniel never forgot the feeling of waking into a new world alone. No Grey Warden under his command would ever suffer that fate. He always made sure someone was present when a person awoke from their joining.

"Aedan stole from me everything I thought I was owed. That I thought I,” he sneered,deserved. I thought about Josc a lot in those days and what my life would have been like if I never left Kirkwall. Then I adjusted to my new purpose, I bided my time until I could do what I came to Ferelden to do and kill Aedan. I served the Grey Wardens but not him. Then I learned all my father did and…"

“Even after this, I still don’t hate him.” Anger and bitterness faded into something far more forlorn. His eyes searched out hers, expression stripped bare. He only confessed the hold his father still had on him to one person before. Such truths he kept bottled up, stored away where no one could see them; where no one could judge him for such weakness. He exerted control in so many facets of his life but in this, he had none. “I know I should. I,” he squeezed her hand tightly, features twisting,want to, but I can’t. He still has some hold on me I…” The words trailed off with the shake of his head.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#10
“I’ve made so many mistakes,” he said, almost to himself. He barely seemed to have heard her words to him.

So she simply listened as he spoke, the words flowing from him like pus from a wound that refused to heal as he talked of returning to Ferelden, Aedan, Josc, becoming a Warden, until finally touching upon the festering thorn that was the root cause of so much of the pain in his life.

“Even after this, I still don’t hate him.” Grey eyes lifted to hers, raw emotion churning within: anguish, shame, fear. “I know I should. I,” the hand holding hers tightened to just shy of painful, his face screwed into a mask of guilt,want to, but I can’t. He still has some hold on me I…” He shook his head, tried to turn his face from her, but she didn't let him. Slipping the fingers of her free hand to his chin, she gently turned him back until they were eye to eye once more.

“He is your father,” she told him, her words quiet and measured, her gaze steady. “He spent the first half of your life shaping you, teaching you to want his approval, making you believe it could be attained if you just said the right things, did the right things. That you were strong enough not to become what he wanted you to be, even though you wanted to please him -” Her thumb lightly traced the line of his jaw. “That is a tremendous accomplishment, Nate, even if it would never occur to you to think it so. You hate the things that he did, and you have devoted your life to undoing them; there will be some who will think that you should hate him as well, but I am not among them.”

“I don't hate Loghain.” The admission was made without shame or hesitation. “I loathe the things that he did, and I'd kick his ass if I could. I'd tell him to go to the Void if he issued some of the orders now that he did during the Blight, and he'd likely have to kill me, because I wouldn't let him do those things now without a fight, because I know now what I didn't know then.” She gave him a sad smile. “Just like you know.” He knew, as she did, what it was to never quite escape the shadow that you had grown up beneath, the pain of understanding that the one whose approval you sought above all else had proven not simply unworthy of that high regard but shattered everything you thought you knew was truth. He knew what it was to have to build a new truth from ashes, and to fear that the old would always overshadow the new.

“You don't have to hate your father,” she said softly, “because you are not like your father. And that is enough.” Leaning in, she brushed her lips gently against his, then drew back. "It is enough," she repeated, still looking into his eyes.
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#11
No judgment came, only comprehension that was hard for Nathaniel to accept. The gentle determination in both the pressure of her fingers upon his chin and the quiet understanding spoken stripped Nathaniel further bare. Nothing she said did not make sense. Quite the opposite. He craved such understanding, needed to know with a level of desperation he could not even admit to himself that someone understood.

He would always be Rendon Howe’s eldest son. His father’s treason forever besmirched him. He could no more rid of himself of that stain than Cauthrien could wipe away hers. If there was one person that knew what it was like to suffocate beneath the weight of someone else’s infamy, it was she.

Bloodshot eyes, he would have averted save the soft graze of her thumb upon the angle of his jaw, remained fixed to hers. “That is a tremendous accomplishment, Nate, even if it would never occur to you to think it so. You hate the things that he did, and you have devoted your life to undoing them; there will be some who will think that you should hate him as well, but I am not among them.”

Anger seeped away. His grip upon her hand loosened but did not let go. She saw in him things he was unable to see himself much the same as he of her. She saw strength in him where he saw weakness. She saw a good man when the image Nathaniel saw each day in the mirror was anything but.

Shameless, she confessed, “I don't hate Loghain. I loathe the things that he did, and I'd kick his ass if I could. I'd tell him to go to the Void if he issued some of the orders now that he did during the Blight, and he'd likely have to kill me, because I wouldn't let him do those things now without a fight, because I know now what I didn't know then.” Somber awareness curved her lips. “Just like you know.”

“To always have the benefit of such hindsight,” he murmured dryly. Often Nathaniel wondered what he would have done if he knew more at the time. Such thoughts always circled back to his fear he would have done no differently, that he would not have stopped his father. Even now, with everything he knew, he was not sure. His father’s grip upon him was extreme and held long through his death. Nathaniel railed against the truth when first presented with it. The path to recognition was not an easy one for him.

“You don't have to hate your father because you are not like your father. And that is enough.” Her lips were soft, their brush tender and brief against his before she pulled away to repeat, "It is enough."

In an instant, things changed. Cold and sobering water doused whatever fire still fueled his upset.

A first kiss because it was what she wanted or because she thought such affection was what he needed right now? He reasoned out things easily enough, even in his muddled state. Because it was what she wanted. Cauthrien would know what such a gesture meant to him — hope.

His fingers unlaced from hers, rising to caress her cheek. The quiet between them was heavy but far from smothering. Anticipation quickened his pulse and he hovered there in the moment, letting the sensation build before closing the space between them. A tentative press of the lips, he brushed his against hers. Brow rested against brow as he ended the short kiss. A whispered echo, he said, “It is enough.”

The urge to rush things and disappear into the emotional avoidance the physical often brought him, he sought distraction in her hand, fingers coiling about hers once more. “Of all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, you are not one, Cauthrien. I’ve never been more sure of someone."

The sword resting behind Cauthrien finally noticed over the slant of her shoulder, Nathaniel added, the corners of his mouth ghosting into a weak smile, “You got my gift."
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#12
Nathaniel understood her as few others did, but there were times when he could be inexplicably and frustratingly dense. This, fortunately, was not one of those times. The sweep of his fingertips along her cheek was gentle, the kiss that he offered in return every bit as soft as hers had been, sending a pleasant frisson chasing over her skin.

“It is enough,” he echoed in a whisper, his forehead resting against hers, and she knew that he had understood what she had been trying to say. When his hand sought hers once more, she laced their fingers together without hesitation.

“Of all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, you are not one, Cauthrien,” he told her quietly. “I’ve never been more sure of someone."

As she saw strength and honor in him that he did not see in himself, so he saw something worthy in her. She nodded, releasing a slow breath. “I am not so sure of myself,” she replied simply, “but I trust you.”

He glanced past her, a smile touching his lips as he said, “You got my gift.”

“I did,” she confirmed, glancing back at the Summer Sword, shaking her head bemusedly as she turned back to him, “though I thought I was seeing a ghost at first. How in the Fade did you get it?” That he might have commissioned a replica had been dismissed almost as soon as the notion had presented itself. Vercenne was decades dead, and no smith with the skill to mimic his style would attempt to counterfeit his mark.
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#13
“I did,” Cauthrien said, glancing at the sword briefly. She shook her head as she looked back to Nathaniel, a smile touching her lips.“though I thought I was seeing a ghost at first. How in the Fade did you get it?”

Nathaniel’s entire manner relaxed, the tension that rode high upon his shoulders and contorted the features of his face melted away.“When I first learned you lost your sword, I put out word for anyone that fished up a sword off the coast of Amaranthine to bring it to Vigil’s Keep,” he began. His head lolled to the side to rest against the seat of the couch behind them. “I depended on Wade to let me know if the right sword was found."

The shift of his legs upon the ground brought a bit of glass beneath the heel of his boot. Nathaniel pushed the jagged shard away with the nudge of his foot. “I received news from Wade just after we returned from the Deep Roads that someone found the sword. He happily restored the weapon and brought it with him here to Highever.”

He quirked a faint grin, “He never quite forgave me for not giving you better equipment when you first came to Vigil’s Keep.” Many people were afraid to share their true opinions with Nathaniel. Their silence came with his position. Wade was not one of those people. The smith never failed to share his thoughts much to Heren’s chagrin. Nathaniel appreciated that in the man, though. And there was no denying the quality of Wade’s work. There was no finer smith in all of Ferelden.

“I was not entirely sure if you would be happy to see the sword again. I hope that you are.”
There was always a chance such a ghost from the past would be met with displeasure. The Summer Sword was a symbol of the soldier she was under Loghain — his reward to her for dutiful service. But much as Nathaniel’s relationship with his father, Cauthrien’s with Loghain was equally as complicated.

Nathaniel drew Cauthrien’s hand laced within his own upward and to his lips. "It is a beautiful sword," he murmured. Softly, he laid a kiss upon her knuckles before lowering their hands to rest between them once more.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#14
When Breanna had suggested offering a reward to any fisherman who found her sword, Cauthrien had dismissed the notion out of hand as an impossibility. Nathaniel had not, and his gamble had paid off. “I received news from Wade just after we returned from the Deep Roads that someone found the sword. He happily restored the weapon and brought it with him here to Highever.”

His lips quirked in a sardonic smile. “He never quite forgave me for not giving you better equipment when you first came to Vigil’s Keep.”

She laughed quietly, “And Herren was displeased that I was given anything at all,” she recalled. He had warmed to her once more – as much as he warmed to anyone – after she became a Grey Warden. “The blade I chose served me well enough; it was what I needed then.” Taking a ruined sword, bringing it back to life beneath her hands … it had been a rebirth of sorts for her, as well.

“I was not entirely sure if you would be happy to see the sword again,” Nathaniel said, watching her closely. “I hope that you are.”

“I am,” she told him firmly. “When I first lost it, I told myself that it was for the best, but seeing it again, holding it -” Her smile was wistful. “The memories are good ones,” she said. “There was good, and a great deal of it, before the bad. I was glad to be reminded of that.” She gave his hand a squeeze. “Thank you.”

In response, he lifted her hand to his lips. "It is a beautiful sword," he said, but it was not the sword he was looking at as he brushed his lips against her hand, the touch sending an unfamiliar fire dancing across her skin, and the look in her eyes making her breath catch a bit.

“Most men would have sent flowers,” she observed wryly, then, more gently “I am glad that you are not most men.” Carefully, she lowered her head to rest against his shoulder, feeling oddly content for the brief span of heartbeats that it took her to remember.

“I met Josc today, by the way,” she said, tipping her head a bit to look at him. "She was looking for her room. We ate lunch together."
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#15
“Most men would have sent flowers.” Sarcasm gave way to a gentler tone, Cauthrien adding, “I am glad that you are not most men.” She rested her head upon his shoulder. The quiet gesture along with the kisses shared earlier added new and quite welcome layers to Nathaniel and Cauthrien’s relationship. Her presence calmed Nathaniel and made him feel more hopeful than he had in some time. Not everything he touched quite turned to ash after all.

His head canted to touch hers, cheek pressed to crown. “Don’t expect candy from me any time soon either,” he kidded, allowing his contentment at this new intimacy to lighten what had been a heavy mood.

Or so it was until Cauthrien spoke again. “I met Josc today, by the way.” She tilted her head enough to catch his gaze. "She was looking for her room. We ate lunch together."

A frown took hold. “That must have been right after I left her in the practice yard.” He unlaced his hand from Cauthrien’s to, instead, reach around her and settle on her waist. “She surprised me.” A grim but not without humor smirk cornered his mouth. “She likes to do that or at least did. I suppose I don’t really know what she likes anymore.” He changed a great deal since Kirkwall. Who was to say she had not as well.

Nathaniel let out a heavy sigh, realizing what else he left in the practice yard. “Sod it. I left my daggers down there too and my shirt.” He shook his head, more in disbelief of his own carelessness than Josc. “After she told me, I needed to get as far away from her as possible.” He still was not ready to see her. "I was supposed to make sure she got to her room. I'm sure after that and," he quirked his chin upward in gesture to the mess before them, "this, Almaric will beg Fergus not to let me come visit again."

Brow furrowed, he asked, “Ate lunch with her? What did she say?"
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#16
“Don’t expect candy from me any time soon either,” Nathaniel teased her gently, resting his head against hers.

“Blackberries,” she said simply. “I loved picking them alone when I was a girl.” The taste still brought memories of warm summer days, precious hours of solitude that she would not be chastised for, the delighted cries of her sisters when she returned with full buckets and stained lips, having eaten near as many as she picked.

While mention of Josc did not shatter the peace, it definitely sent out ripples of disquiet. She'd rattled him enough that he'd left shirt and weapons both in the practice yard, a lapse that he would have berated any recruit for, as well as failing to see her to her room.

"I'm sure after that and," Nathaniel tipped his head toward the ruin of the room, "this, Almaric will beg Fergus not to let me come visit again."

“Well, she made it to her room without incident, so he should have no cause for complaint on that score,” Cauthrien told him, looking around at the destruction. “But I'd recommend leaving a generous gratuity for the servants who will be cleaning this up; I'm willing to bet that Almaric will not be among their number.” A mess like this went well above routine cleaning duty.

The rest of what she'd said seemed to penetrate. “Ate lunch with her? What did she say?"

“Likely more than she should have,” Cauthrien replied ruefully. “Though she did not mention the babe. She all but admitted that you'd been lovers. I considered asking her to guard her tongue, but I got the feeling that it might have had the opposite effect. It didn't seem malicious; just … mischievous, I suppose." She shrugged; what had happened years ago hardly mattered now, except perhaps to someone like Maura Trestlebridge. "She does like the sound of her own voice, but she seemed genuinely worried about how you viewed her. I think she thought that you might hate her for the news she brought; I did encourage her to speak with you again after you'd both had time to reflect.”

She hesitated briefly before continuing with a bemused shake of her head, “And for whatever reason, she spent much of her time flirting with me. Likely would have gone straight over my head if she hadn't kissed my hand when I offered it to her to shake.” No one had tried that with her in years.
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#17
“Likely more than she should have,” Cauthrien answered. “Though she did not mention the babe. She all but admitted that you'd been lovers. I considered asking her to guard her tongue, but I got the feeling that it might have had the opposite effect. It didn't seem malicious; just … mischievous, I suppose. She does like the sound of her own voice, but she seemed genuinely worried about how you viewed her. I think she thought that you might hate her for the news she brought; I did encourage her to speak with you again after you'd both had time to reflect.”

After a brief pause, she shook her head, befuddled. “And for whatever reason, she spent much of her time flirting with me. Likely would have gone straight over my head if she hadn't kissed my hand when I offered it to her to shake.”

Nathaniel’s tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth as he sucked in a long breath. “I don’t hate her.” How could he? Josc did nothing wrong. Granted, learning as he did, there in public where anyone might witness his reaction was not how he preferred to hear such news. There was no denying he needed to hear it all the same. “I’ll seek her out in a day or two.”

His fingers pressed lightly into Cauthrien’s side, brushing against the fabric of her shirt. “She actually reminds me a bit of Zevran in some ways.” With a wry tug of the mouth, he added before she could ask, “No, I haven’t slept with him.”

Grey eyes panned downward to his lap and the locket of hair resting there. Dark clouds moved in once more, darkening his expression.“I’m not happy he’s dead but maybe…” The words caught in his throat and he did not continue the sentence. He spoke plainly in no need of pity, “I am not much of a father.”
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#18
“I don't hate her,” Nathaniel said quietly. “I'll seek her out in a day or two.”

Cauthrien nodded. She'd expected as much, on both counts. “If it goes well, you might suggest a bit of discretion regarding your past with her.” The Grey Wardens didn't really need any more curious eyes on them. If it didn't go well, or if she let something slip between now and then, they'd just have to deal with whatever the results were.

The hand at her waist shifted slightly, fingers pressing gently against the skin through her tunic, the simple intimacy sending sparks of awareness flickering along her nerves. It was a distraction that she was unaccustomed to, and she almost missed his next remark.

“She actually reminds me a bit of Zevran in some ways,” he mused, lips quirking as he went on, “No, I haven’t slept with him.”

“Has he offered?” she asked with an answering grin. That would definitely have been an unexpected pairing. “I've turned him down twice.”

His mood sombered again as his eyes fell on the lock of fine hair. “I’m not happy he’s dead but maybe…” He let the words trail off, adding simply after a moment of silence, “I am not much of a father.”

“It comes naturally to some men,” she observed. “Others need time to learn. You've never been given that chance.” She did not add that Eunice was a difficult child to like, let alone love. One last, poisoned gift from Rendon Howe to his son. Both father and daughter deserved better than to be trapped in that bitter legacy. “Perhaps when she is fostered at the palace, things between you will be better.” The soon-to-be Queen would not tolerate the nonsense that Nathaniel was seldom present to deal with, and he was a devoted uncle to the nieces and nephews that he seldom saw. “I doubt I would be much better as a mother,” she told him. Turning her head, she pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. Odd, how easy it felt, now that she had opened herself to the possibility. Regardless, she was glad that children would not be an issue. The idea of pregnancy brought with it too many bad memories.
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#19
“Has he offered?” Cauthrien asked about Zevran, mouth spreading in a slow grin. “I've turned him down twice.”

A puff of laughter dusted Nathaniel’s lips at the question and Cauthrien’s admission. “Only once,” he confessed. “I’m not sure if I should be jealous,” his brows furrowed quizzically, “or upset.” He took a moment to consider the options and decided upon, “Neither.” His smile was a small one that brushed against her hair as he pressed another kiss upon her head. "I would proposition you more than me too.”

The good mood was not to last, though. Grim thoughts drifted in heavy and overtook Nathaniel’s mind as he spied the locket of hair upon his lap. He spoke of his shortcomings as a father and hinted that perhaps it was best Nathan did not live.

“It comes naturally to some men,” Cauthrien noted. Fergus easily came to mind. He was a wonderful father as was Bryce Cousland. Fathers make fathers. Should Nathaniel really be all that surprised of his failings?

“Others need time to learn. You've never been given that chance.” No, he had not. His father saw to that. But once he had the chance, Nathaniel never tried. Not really if he was to be honest with himself.

“Perhaps when she is fostered at the palace, things between you will be better.”

“We’ll see,” he replied, not nearly as convinced or optimistic as Cauthrien. It was hard to imagine a time when things between Eunice and he would be less strained. One thing he was sure of, though. Sending Eunice to the Palace was the right choice. She needed a strong and consistent adult influence in her life. Constance could provide that.

“I doubt I would be much better as a mother,” she admitted before laying a small kiss upon his cheek. Heat flared where her lips touched his skin. Earlier in the day he would not have imagined them sitting here like this. He’d thought… It didn’t matter what he thought anymore. She was here and that was what mattered.

Nathaniel let the subject of their parental skills drop. “When we get to Amaranthine, go away with me for a night.” Was that moving too fast? To get to this point had been painfully slow. Given how easily they fell into step with one another, though, he hoped not. He wanted more of this away from peering eyes and responsibilities that shackled them both.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#20
It was no great surprise to learn that Zevran had offered to bed Nathaniel; Nate didn't specify if he had accepted the offer or turned him down. Cauthrien briefly debated asking him, decided she didn't really give a damn.

“I’m not sure if I should be jealous,” Nathaniel mused, “or upset.” He was silent for a moment before choosing: “Neither.” The gentle press of his lips against her forehead was oddly pleasant, and she leaned into him with a sigh, wondering at the unfamiliar mix of contentment and yearning. "I would proposition you more than me too.”

She laughed quietly. “I'd likely as not miss it completely,” she admitted. It had happened before; she'd been so wrapped up in her duties that she'd never recognized flirtation as such until well after the flirter had given up and gone in search of a less oblivious target.

Talk turned somber as they discussed fostering Eunice at the palace. Nathaniel clearly saw it as a failure on his part, but no man could be everything to all people, and his duty as Warden-Commander was one that he could not set aside. Another thing they shared.

“When we get to Amaranthine, go away with me for a night.”

The sudden change in subject caught her by surprise, as did the sudden quickening of her pulse at the idea. Away. At night. With Nathaniel. Doubts tried to rise, but she had set her course, and she held to it. “All right,” she heard herself say, and she tipped her head up, regarding him curiously. “Where to?”
 
Top