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Damaged [Complete]

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#21
“All right,” Cauthrien agreed before canting her head to better regard him. “Where to?”

Excitement he tamped down as to not seem too eager, too pleased, cascaded along his skin at her agreement. The where to Nathaniel really had not thought yet. There were many places they could go to be alone but not all would do. The estate in Amaranthine might draw too much attention. The farmhouse? Fiona’s touches were everywhere and did he really wish to start something new in the midst of memories of the old? No, he did not.

“Hunting. I want to say goodbye to Fiagai in my own way, in the way I know he’d want me to,” he finally replied. Those hunting trips with Fiagai meant a great deal to both men. Some might see something morose in paying tribute to a dead friend with more death. To Nathaniel and Fiagai, hunting was not about the thrill of the kill. The trill was most certainly there when killing a challenging target, but there was something more at play — peace. For a time, neither man were plagued by their troubles.

“It is where I’m happiest when back in Amaranthine,” he confessed quietly. But most importantly, "And we will not be interrupted.” No knocks upon the door. No expectant eyes wishing to garner attention in the hallways. They could be truly alone.

The corners of his mouth tipped into a muted smile. “I know a spot we can go that even has wild blackberries.” No candy.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#22
“Hunting,” Nathaniel replied after a bit of thought. “I want to say goodbye to Fiagai in my own way, in the way I know he’d want me to.”

It made sense. She knew the pair had hunted together often; such a tribute would mean more to Nate than any formal ceremony, and undoubtedly would have pleased the Chasind, as well. “I can be quiet enough not to scare the game, at least,” she told him. She was of little use with a bow against anything more then twenty paces or so away. Snares and fishing had always kept her well enough fed when she traveled alone.

“It is where I’m happiest when back in Amaranthine.” She was not surprised at the admission; it had likely been the only escape from his father in his youth, and undoubtedly offered sanctuary from the endless demands of duty now. "And we will not be interrupted.”

She had to laugh a bit at that. “Don't be so sure of that,” she advised him. Varel was more than competent in his duties as seneschal of Vigil's Keep, but after this long away, there were sure to be matters that he would think required the Commander's attention. Beyond that, there always seemed to be someone who had a problem that they were certain could only be addressed at the top, and such individuals were often – unfairly, it seemed to her – gifted with a talent for tracking down their target, regardless of location.

A hint of a smile touched his lips. “I know a spot we can go that even has wild blackberries.”

“Now you've convinced me,” she teased him, though that treat would be a welcome one. The window of ripeness was a short one, and the patches she had found outside Denerim would be past their peak by the time she returned. She could - and would - buy them dried and in jams in the marketplace, but it wasn't the same.

The silence that fell between them was a comfortable one, as it usually was, but there was a difference now: currents that, while not unpleasant, were decidedly unfamiliar. “I should probably go,” she said after a time, though she did not move immediately; sitting here with her head against his shoulder, his arm around her waist, was surprisingly comfortable … and comforting, stilling a disquiet that had been within her for so long that she had lost all awareness of it until it had been silenced.
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#23
“Now you've convinced me,” Cauthrien said playfully before their conversation stilled.

The silence was not one Nathaniel was eager to interrupt. Though the uncertainty about what might come next and the sadness about the son he knew never were still there, Nathaniel felt the brush of contentment for the first time in a great while. Cauthrien always had a grounding effect upon him, but this was something entirely different, entirely better. Unlike Fergus or even Fiona, Cauthrien was not only his past and present but also, potentially, his future.

Romantic concepts of soulmates, love at first sight and so on were silly notions meant for the pages of novels. Still, Nathaniel could not deny the connection he felt with Cauthrien. She was no one he should have wanted but he could think of no one else he wanted or needed more. Cauthrien was not the conventional choice many would expect of him like Fiona. Convention was not what he craved, however.

She understood him in a way very few did and he trusted her more than any other person in his life, even Fergus. For a good portion of his life, he strove to meet another’s ideal. In some ways, he still battled against the man his father wished him to become. Most days he proved victorious. Other days, less so. Those failure days became less common thanks to Cauthrien.

“I should probably go,” she murmured, breaking the quiet but making no actual move to separate herself from Nathaniel.

Nathaniel nodded as he sucked in a slow breath, also making no motion to break their embrace. “You should,” he answered softly. He did not want her to go, but that was why she needed to. Things moved incredibly slow to get to this point. That did not justify switching gears and progressing things too speedily especially on the heels of the news of Nathan. She was far more to Nathaniel than simply comfort.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#24
“You should,” Nathaniel agreed, but he seemed no more interested in moving apart than she was, so Cauthrien allowed herself a few more moments of the contact, for once content to simply feel, instead of analyzing the feelings.

After a bit, she pushed herself to her feet and moved to retrieve the Summer Sword, slipping the baldric over her head and settling it into place, the weight of it familiar, right, even after two years of absence. It was part of her history; part of her.

She glanced back down at Nathaniel. Leaving now was the right choice; she needed time to adjust to the idea of them before going further, but she realized that didn't want to part from him just yet.

“Walk me to my room?” she asked him, holding out her hand, feeling awkward and shy and more than a little silly. She was long since a woman grown, but this was new territory for her. She had no idea how others went about the business of courting; she only knew how she would.
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#25
Cauthrien was the first to break contact, slowly rising to her feet. Nathaniel watched quietly as she slipped the Summer Sword back into its rightful place, upon her back. He never thought to find the sword. What were the chances? But still, he tried and hoped. Persistence paid off in more than one way this day.

“Walk me to my room?” Cauthrien asked before extending her hand to him.

His fingers easily slipped between hers and Nathaniel abandoned the ground to stand at Cauthrien’s side. “I insist on it,” he replied. Side-stepping the destruction upon the floor, he guided them toward the door and out of the room.

Servants lingered in the hallway going about work Nathaniel knew nothing more than the busy work of the nosy. Dusting was not usually done at this hour. A faint frown pulled at his mouth. He must have made far more noise than he suspected earlier. Their presence made him hyperaware of the hand within his.

Rumors and gossip was nothing new to either of them. The hens would cluck no matter what they did and he would not live his life within their shadow. Ignoring the others that milled about, he squeezed lightly at Cauthrien’s hand and proceeded to guide them to the stairwell leading away from the family quarters and toward the guest rooms below.

“I did not realize how much the sword suited you until today,” Nathaniel said, breaking the silence that shadowed them since they left his room.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#26
Nathaniel's hand in hers, like her head resting on his shoulder, was both unfamiliar and oddly comfortable. Impassioned declarations were not the style of either of them, but the feeling of falling into step, easing into each other, suited Cauthrien far more.

Eyes followed them, but that was something that she had experienced for most of her adult life to one degree or another. She hadn't flinched from the gazes when there had been only spite and speculation fueling the gossip that lay behind the prying eyes, and she would not now that, for the first time, there would be truth to the rumors.

“I did not realize how much the sword suited you until today,” he told her as they descended the stairs toward the guest wing, where most of the Wardens had been given rooms.

She glanced back at him quizzically. “I don't think you'd seen me with this sword until today,” she replied. The first time she'd met him, at Vigil's Keep, she'd had the clothes on her back and an oilcloth seabag. The Summer Sword had been at the bottom of the Waking Sea, sheer luck the only reason she hadn't been there with it after the storm that had sunken her ship.

“I didn't realize how much I'd missed it until I saw it again,” she admitted. “After I lost it, I thought it was for the best that I had shed the last remnant of my old life.” She stopped outside her room, turned to face him, smiling gently. “But perhaps not all of that life needed to be shed. There were good things … good memories. The Blight … the things that happened then almost buried the rest of it.” Loghain would always – and rightly – be remembered as the man who had dragged Ferelden to the edge of disaster, but he would always be more to her. A reminder, both comfort and caution, that great good and great harm could arise from the same ideals. “Thank you for helping me find them again.”
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#27
Cauthrien gave Nathaniel a questioning look. “I don't think you'd seen me with this sword until today.”

"I hadn't," Nathaniel confirmed. "But I cannot imagine you using any other sword now that I have seen you with it."

“I didn't realize how much I'd missed it until I saw it again,” Cauthrien confessed. “After I lost it, I thought it was for the best that I had shed the last remnant of my old life.” Shedding aspects of the past was something Nathaniel continued to battle. He clung to certain memories, certain items for reasons he never quite understood. His old life was one he still felt very much tethered to. That Cauthrien seemed to so easily shed her past was something he always respected in her.

They arrived at her room. Cauthrien turned to face him, a soft smile upon her lips. “But perhaps not all of that life needed to be shed. There were good things … good memories. The Blight … the things that happened then almost buried the rest of it.” His fingers unlaced from hers, rising to cup the side of her face as she spoke. “Thank you for helping me find them again.”

His thumb trailed along the slant of her jaw, grey eyes seeking our her blue. "Thank you for helping me find some again too," he said softly. Through all the recent disasters in his life, Cauthrien was there with her support and damnable logic.

A quiet fell between them as the anticipation of what was to come and a desire to linger just a little longer, to not part ways filled Nathaniel. He did not want to go, not yet. But he had to. Some things were worth waiting for and not rushing. Not rushing, however, did not preclude a goodnight kiss.

Decorum, concern about being seen, all were disregarded. He leaned toward Cauthrien, his lips finding hers in a kiss far less tentative than the one shared in his room. When the kiss ended, he did not pull away completely, his body pressed lightly against hers, his brow and hers touching. "You should go inside," he whispered, as one of his hands reached for the knob behind them to open the door for her.
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
Staff member
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
307
#28
They reached the door of her room, but she did not go inside just yet, nor did Nathaniel step away. He listened, grey eyes intent on her face, as she spoke of the memories that had been reawakened by his gift. His hand was warm against her cheek as he thanked her for helping him to find good memories of his own.

She honestly had no idea what she had done, besides being a loyal second and a friend. This was nothing she had consciously sought, but now that it had come to her, she could conceive of doing nothing but what she did, which was meet him halfway.

The kisses exchanged in his room had been careful, very nearly chaste. This … was not, and a pleasant frisson chased down her spine, one hand coming up to rest against his chest, feeling the race of his heartbeat matching her own pulse, the thrum of desire familiar in a way, altogether new in others, tied as it was to emotions that she'd always been too focused on duty to feel.

They parted, though not far, foreheads touching and his lips only inches from hers. “You should go inside,” he said softly, reaching behind her to turn the handle.

She nodded, her hand covering his and squeezing lightly as she stepped away from him, a faintly teasing smile touching her lips as she replied, “And you … should clean up your room.” Leaning forward, she softened the rebuke with a last stolen kiss before she stepped inside, closing the door gently behind her.
 
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